Anna's Photography

Toria has been our resident photographer for a few years now and she’s starting art school in the fall to specialize in it, but she has some competition in the family.

Anna has become quite a photographer herself.


Check out her Flickr page here.  She’d love it if you followed her, too, if you’re a photography fan yourself.


Big Changes in Our Little House

Toria has some big changes coming up. She is going from this school…..

vv CollageTo this one……….

ppcShe’s been accepted into Perpich Center for Arts Education.  She’ll be focusing on media arts (especially photography), though she’ll also have the traditional subjects and can take additional arts.  It’s for grades 11 and 12 and is a public high school in the Twin Cities.

She applied a few months ago and had several steps to get through the approval process, including her application, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, an interview where she had to present approximately 15 photos to the panel, and a photo assignment where she had to take a photograph to capture the meaning of six words like layer, catch, diffuse, corner, etc., plus do an impromptu photo assignment the day of the interview.

The school has a residence hall for outstate students (approximately 30% of the students live too far to commute daily and live in the dorm) so she’ll be staying there.  Luckily, she’s already pretty independent and self-sufficient and we have lots of friends and family in the area.

She’ll be about 3 hours from us and I imagine we’ll be doing a lot more driving to the Cities.  She informed me tonight that there’s a Trader Joe’s up there too.  She knows what will lure me to the big city.  😉

I am very proud of her for getting accepted and very excited for her.  The school seems like a perfect fit for her.  She’s already toured it and talked to many of the current students and teachers, plus some who attended in the past.  She is in love with it and they offer lots of opportunities we couldn’t provide, plus it’s the kind of environment she thrives in — full of diverse, artistic people who are excited about learning and growing. And she really is a big city girl, despite her small town roots.

We have a lot to prep to get her ready to head out in August.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying the last of my time homeschooling 5 children.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France

“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” ~Pauline R. Kezer

10 Fun Ways to Learn Today

It’s been a while since I posted one of these so I thought it would be fun to do another.  Here are some fun ways to work in all sorts of subjects with a bit of fun…

  1. Spit ball geography: Get a big world map and play a different game with it every day this week.  For today, try launching spit balls at countries that other people call out!  Here’s how to make spitballs, or you could also use a dart gun.
  2. Balloon challenges: There are all different variations to try with this one.  Blow up a balloon and bop it with family members as you take turns calling out math problems.  Kids have to answer before they bop it back up in the air, and everybody works as a team to try to keep it from hitting the ground.  Or take turns calling out items in a group (for instance, elements from the periodic table, states, words that start with M….).
  3. Sistine Chapel Art: Lots of folks have done this classic art idea.  Tape coloring pages of the Sistine Chapel on the underside of your table and let the kids color them on their backs as Michaelangelo did.  Here are coloring pages to print out if they want to use those (or they can create their own masterpieces) and here’s information on how Michaelangelo created the Sistine Chapel.
  4. Lego homeschooling: Here is a compilation of all sorts of Lego lesson plans, from Lego chemical reactions (complete with printables) from MIT to a Lego balloon-powered car to plans for building the Nile River from Legos to a subscription to the free Lego Magazine and more.
  5. DIY flash cards: Give the kids index cards and art supplies to make some really fun flashcards to teach any math facts they have trouble remembering.
  6. Famous person Who Am I: Gather the kids and put a sign on each one’s back with a famous person written on it.  Have them go around the room asking questions to figure out who they are.  You can use historic figures, artists, authors, you name it.  You can also use elements for older kids (Am I a gas?  Am I poisonous?).
  7. Make an educational video: Challenge the kids to give a 2 minute report on any subject they want to research and record it as a video.  If they like, they can use fun editing apps to add text and music.  If they get excited about the project, you can even start a family blog with a new video every week.
  8. Use window markers to do math problems: Enough said.  🙂
  9. Photography Challenges: Let the kids use a digital camera and agree on some fun challenges such as taking a picture of something for each letter of the alphabet, 3 kinds of clouds, each state of matter, etc.
  10. Do the purple cabbage pH experiment: This is one of our all time favorite science experiments.  Even I have fun mixing and matching to make the cabbage water turn colors (and even turn it back!).

Anna is off in Arizona visiting one of her best friends, so I have one less child to occupy and educate for the week.  Now I’m off to find some Lego fun to play with Jack, and then I have a small girl who’d like to “eed yots of books!,” a boy who’d like to play a phonics game, a teen who wants to do some poetry exercises and a house that could use several hundred hours of cleaning (let’s be honest, it’ll be lucky to get one!).   🙂

Welcome Fiona!

Fiona Rose and I are home and doing well.  She’s absolutely beautiful, sweet, charming, funny and wonderful in every way.  🙂

Here’s the baby announcement that Victoria made (yes, by herself!) with photographs she took of Fiona.  I told her what shots I wanted and how I wanted the announcement to look, and she did such an awesome job!   The photos are not photoshopped or retouched.  I am so blown away by her photography skills!

We are all madly in love with Fiona.

I’m feeling pretty amazingly lucky these days.  🙂


How Are You Going to Teach XYZ????

One of the most common questions homeschoolers hear from outsiders is “How are you going to teach ___”.  You can fill in the blank — calculus, chemistry, algebra, physics, whatever.

That question always perplexes me.  It’s so easy for people (children, grown ups, teens, anybody) to learn things!

There are books, online videos, tutors, classes, web sites, video games, scripted curricula, family friends, PSEO… Really, there are dozens of ways that are so much better than the old “30 students in a classroom with a teacher” method!

Case in point:  Victoria’s photography


Victoria is 13 years old and has become an excellent photographer.  This is despite the fact that I know nothing at all about photography or cameras.  Her dad has taught her a little bit, but she is almost exclusively self taught.

Friends sometimes tell her, “I wish I had a fancy camera like yours so I could take pictures like that!” but the truth is, her camera is complicated and it’s much harder to take good pictures with it than it is with a point and shoot.  I know — I borrowed it one night at the pageant and tried to take pictures with the thing.  It was a bit of a train wreck.

So how did she learn?  She read books, web sites, manuals and blogs.  She experimented.  She talked to professional photographers and asked questions.  She practiced.  She brainstormed.  She joined Flickr groups.  She read and studied and tried things out.

And I happen to think she’s done a better job teaching herself than most outside teachers could have!

Although I admit I may be a bit impartial.

(All photos by Victoria Bayer)

There is an old saying that teaching is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.  I love to watch my children tend their fires.  🙂

Random Snapshots

I’m raiding Victoria’s Flickr page for some random shots she’s taken lately.  You can see she’s learning Latin, having fun with photo apps on my iPod (some of these were done with the Hipstamatic app), doing art and some other fun stuff…

I love her style!  🙂

And here’s a few new rambings I have elsewhere…

And with that, it appears I’m about to get sick again.  Aren’t we supposed to be past that in the third trimester?  Sigh…

Ah well, she’ll be worth it!




Victoria's New Photography Blog for Kids

Victoria has started a new blog to show off kid photographers. There are 14 photographers right now and it’s only a day old!  And it’s already had 500 page views!

Check it out here….

Opossum Sauce

She has it limited to kids she knows right now.

She’s also featuring weekly challenges.  This week’s is:

Snow White colours(red, white and black)
Take a picture with red, white and black as the main colours and send it to me(don’t blog it) by May 1st and the top 3 will be featured on this, and my other blog (with full credit)