ARKive Videos…the new way to view nature

We were sent this amazing link through our homeschooling group.


What is it you say? It is an archive of thousands of videos of animals in thier natural habitat. Get it ARKive!  Not only do you get the video, you get all the classification and habitat information right to the side of your screen. Amazing.

It is more captiviating then National Geographic because there is no narrator to get in the way of the experience. Just the animal in its natural habitat doing whatever it does.

I can see this being an ever useful daily tool. We just read Owl Babies (one of my all time favorite children’s picture books) then went to ARKive and typed Owl in the search engine and watched real baby owls.

“They look just like the picture, mom!” I heard as little ones sat captivated to the screen.

ARKive video - Long-eared owl feeding chicks at nest

I see whole new applications going on as we read through The Burgess Animal Book for Children!

Here’s another fascinating one we watched…a beaver felling a tree. Who doesn’t want to watch that? REALITY TV in its truest state!

ARKive video - American beaver felling trees and storing food for the winter

Added to my Free Homeschool Resources list under Nature Study!

Our snowy neck of the woods…

Mmmpphhh….sorry, my mouth was full of a warm, wonderfully delicious buttery chocolate croissant that my dear hubby just dropped off in the middle of the morning. The perks of being married to a chef. The perks of living at the place you work!

And our other perk….

Waking up to the most beautiful frosted forest. Reminds me of reading Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening with the kids during Christmas past!

But don’t worry, spring is still here, although a bit hidden!

The Learning Room ~ of Mice and Men

This week was a productive school week despite our whole crew getting reinfected and having another sick week! Daddy had to go in early all this week and that always allows us to get more schooling done. (Daddy is very distracting for momma in the best sort of ways!)

Between bleaching everything, boiling toothbrushes, cleaning puke bowls, double hot-washing sheets, and cleaning carpet, we amazingly started a new unit study on how our government works. And I’m so excited to share with you the books we found.

First, let me just say I will be putting together a post soon on all our resources for others to share so come back and visit us again!

I’ve been wondering when to do the whole government study thing for a while now. How do you fit that into a history schedule that you’ve got going that is rather chronological in order? But then Gabe casually walked up to me one day and asked what a President’s cabinet was if it wasn’t the kind in your kitchen. And Pop came up to me and casually asked if very soon he could take the kiddos down to the state capitol for a field trip. So I guess now would be as good as time as any to get started.

We read Vote! and We Are Citizens to start the week. These were both very helpful in getting a foundation of understanding about why all this government stuff even matters.

Then we read through this sweet little series by Peter and Cheryl Barnes that explores the three branches of our government. Why hasn’t anyone told me about these books? May I just rave for a minute about how well done they are!!! It is about a group of mice that go through the government process just as we people do. It is told in lyrical rhyme and just flows beautifully. And the attention to detail is amazing. It is a true living book that captures my youngest non-readers, who get a great introduction to concepts, and gives a great overview to my emerging readers, and provides great detail (architectural and historical) to an older child who is ready to dig in for a bit of research. It provides more complete information then I ever received in elementary social studies and it pulls everything together into a neat little package about why these things get done.

Woodrow for President takes us through the voting process including campaigning, primary versus general elections, parties, qualifications, virtues of good citizenship and so forth.









Woodrow, the White House Mouse takes us on a journey through the jobs of our President as well as an introduction to the White House and it’s different rooms and purposes. There is more information here then I ever learned in elementary school!








House Mouse, Senate Mouse teaches what the Legislative branch does and how the senate and house of represantives works together to pass a bill into a law. It also gives us an introduction into the workings of Washington D.C. and where all this takes place.








Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse introduces them to the Supreme Court and how that works. It also takes us inside the Supreme Court and compares to a courthouse that might appear in your town.









You can get the teacher guide to go with (which I did) and it is a wonderful resource full of discussion ideas, prompts for activities and research projects, how to get involved (through correspondance ~ complete with addresses they will need!), additional reading and kid-friendly websites for additional research. It also has a few coloring pages for the littles to feel involved and some copy-friendly templates for activity worksheets.

My kids LOVED reading these. I’m glad I sprung for them since my library didn’t carry them. We received used copies in good condition and the kids were tickled that all of our copies were autographed by the authors. One even had a typo in the book that the author had fixed and signed “Oops!” with her name underneath.

Gabe also read How the U.S. Government Works which is a bit dry but concisely explains concepts that he will need to know more about being the oldest. Mainly I wanted him to see why the three branches of government were started and this book does a good job of explaining in simplistic, yet detailed terms. He did an oral narration to me on the book and we went over how to say each of the branch names. I laugh everytime I think of how he was pronouncing legislative!

The older two worked on their math, of course, and Lily was excited to have finished her Kumon: Counting Coins book and her Kumon: Telling Time book. And I reread all the Moncure vowel books to the littles as well as Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosuars which rekindled Luc’s first love and spurred on a conversation about the tools needed for digging up real bones. (I love this book. It is perfect for homeschoolers who are trying to teach creation-based science even though this book is secular.)

That was all we did “formally” (due to the sick thing and all). But there was a lot of unschooling going on as well.

Lily was wondering about day and night and how God didn’t create the sun and moon till after the first days of creation so how could there be day and night yet and when did the first day actually start? Man, does she have some deep thinking in there! My husband and I were just discussing this the other night concerning our version of day compared to God’s in relation to the whole young earth-old earth theories. I had her flip through What Makes Day and Night after our discussion and set up a little hands-on experiment for her to observe for herself how the sun is connected to us counting days.

Gabe decided to get creative this week. He spent days working on this project of writing his own story. (Could be that his Mario game was taken away in a discipline decision. Imagine that…imagination blooms!) He was very serious about his work and frustrated when he finally put it all together and then couldn’t read it right beacause he had no idea what a margin was. We discussed the importance of margins and he went back and took the time to redo the whole booklet in order to get it just right. I was pretty impressed at how well he did with the quotes and comma usage.

Gabe was also seen carrying around his Painless Grammar book wherever he went…the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, to bed. That boy cracks me up. Who reads grammar?

Lily’s new Highlights magazine came in the mail and she just discovered the Table of Contents. I explained to her what this was, why it is used, and how to use it. She excitedly spent the next hour looking things up in her magazine.

Language Arts…check!

Gabe also found this Word Processing book in my pile of library books to go through (you know, that pile of books you have going that need a decision on whether to write this title down for future use.) I noticed him reading it on quite a few different occasions and finally said, as casually as I could, that he could use the computer if he actually wanted to try any of the exercises. He jumped on the chance and learned how to open and save a document, create a folder, store documents in his folder, and write a letter.

Letting Go of Supermom: the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, it’s true. I’m sorry to report that they found her, unconscious in the middle of her pristine living room floor. The emergency crew said they’d never seen a house so clean or kids so sad. It was a terrible thing to have happen during the week before Christmas.

Maybe it was the elaborate Christmas decorating and four dozen Martha Stewart style cookies she made for the missions society Christmas bake sale and the late night gift wrapping marathons and the two shifts of bell ringing for the Salvation Army and the organizing of the Christmas pageant at church for Christmas Eve that sent her over the edge.

Or, maybe it was keeping up with her usual two loaves a day of homemade bread, daily wiping beneath the bottom drawer of the fridge and twice daily toilet bleaching routine (she has boys, you know!) and the requisite starching of the children’s turtleneck shirts before they can wear them to their twice weekly playgroup that killed her. It’s hard to say. Either way, she’s gone now.

The oldest kids say that she started to look sick a few months ago, right after the seventh baby was born. She started getting up even earlier so that she’d have time to make it to the gym three times a week and work on that “baby bulge” that so disturbed her.

To compensate, she ordered “Super Mom” vitamins. They helped right away. Her energy came back and she kept right on running. Until last night, when, without warning, she just collapsed on the living room floor. There was nothing anyone could do. She’d worked herself to death.

I took a meal over to the devastated family last night. The house was still clean; the kids are compulsive cleaners now too! They were grateful for my ham and cheese casserole, and shushed the little one when he asked why the bread had a “Market Basket” store sticker on it instead of being homemade. It was the best I could do. The middle child said she’d rather they’d have always had store -bought bread if it meant they still had Mommy. (Read the rest here.)

This is an excerpt from an article in Homeschool Today called Super Mom is Dead by Jennifer Miller.

As I finished reading the article I laughed as I looked around my house. We’d had a full morning of school today. We learned about being a citizen and how to vote and what an election and campaign are. The kids worked on independent creative writing stories and Gabe discovered why we need margins when making a book while Lily discovered the magic of how a Table of Contents works. We started the next book in the Little House series and even did some math.

But the winds of spring were calling. The smell of the outside mingling with the inside told me that this article was spot on and, instead of doing stuffy bills for the afternoon, we should go outside and partake of the day. This is what our house looked like before we went out. And this was after our 5 Minute Tidy before lunch!

Dining Room

Yes, the bills will still get done ~ at some point ~ today. The table will still have to be wiped before dinner and the dishes and laundry will still have to be put in. At some point I will have to decide to actually make dinner and then come up with a meal plan. The clutter will still have to be picked up before bed time. And the beds will still have to be made. But I am not a supermom!!! I am going to stop feeling guilty about buying store bread this week. And because I am choosing to accept this about me today, we did have time to enjoy this…

~ Playing in the new fort. ~

~ Wearing daddy’s special crown of gold. ~

~ Fresh air and tummy time for Eli. ~

~ Afternoon cup of Joe and writing for mommy. ~


Needing to Count

I need to count today. I come to this day depleted and tired, cranky with only words that tear down instead of lift up. My children feel it. I feel it. It is like a snowball rolling through my days picking up negativity along the way. Two weeks of sick kids. Kids who were healed getting reinfected and worse then before. The house falling farther and farther behind. More laundry then I’ve done in forever when I already do a lot of laundry. And me sick, down for the count, with them.

So I need to count to restore. To remind myself of His goodness. To remind me that we thank when He gives and we thank when He takes away. To remind my selfish spirit that it cannot stay.

#365 ~ new baby teeth at four months old

#366 ~ coos and smiles just for me

#367 ~ little ones who look to me for…well, everything

#368 ~ being sick on hubby’s day off

#369 ~ quality coffee that doesn’t upset the stomach

#370 ~ a husband who cooks good soul food so I don’t have to

#371 ~ two cars that work and allow our family freedom

#372 ~ this house that is blessing us and allowing us to save

#373 ~ all the learning tools I need for my children already under my roof

#374 ~ father son football

#375 ~ getting to go back outside after dinner

#376 ~ getting out the spring baskets

#377 ~ children playing with birds and chicks and bunnies

#378 ~ a renewed love of all things Peter Rabbit

#379 ~ the way a Beatrix Potter book fits so perfectly in little hands

#380 ~ kids seeing first prairie fire

#381 ~ leaf beautifully charred

#382 ~ taking walks by myself

#383 ~ the soft hairs on a single blade of grass

#384 ~ taking pictures of spring

#385 ~ trees framing moon

#386 ~ a husband who takes kids outside to play so mom can rest

#387 ~ good conversation with the one you love most

#388 ~ a quiet house for prayers to flow

#389 ~ documentaries

#390 ~ deer frolicking in the sunset

The Learning Room – School Shenanigans

Spring is upon us and it is bearing green. I will admit it is making me not want to work. I open the windows and smell the breeze, listen to the sound of the birds and it all makes me want to sit outside with a good book and a hot cup of coffee. And you should, I hear you saying. I know, I know. But I am inside looking at heaps of laundry that needs putting away and dishes piled up, a kitchen floor that needs mopping, more laundry that needs done, toys that need sorting ~ again ~ and a learning room that desperately needs to be organized now that all our new books for the year have come in. Sigh. It has been a rough week of kids being sick. But we went outside anyway. We declared it school. We were finding green for St. Patrick’s Day and looking for new signs of spring returning. Plus P.E. right? Can’t forget the exercise. It was good for our souls despite the wind whipping my hair at 60 mph! And the kids came back with quite the treasure trove of miscellaneous rocks and twigs.

Our school theme this week concentrated on the holiday. I love weeks like that. Some homeschoolers look at holiday worksheets and crafts and unit studies as too much extra busy work.  Let them enjoy it. Take a school break. But I have found that my kids actually look forward to it. Not a one was asking to not do school. And when it got too late in the day (since we were having company over) and I had to finish up dinner and have the kids get to chores, there was a loud chorus of groaning and please can we do some more school coming from their lips.

We found the most wonderful little freebie this week from Living Books Curriculum. It was a little holiday package with a living biography of St. Patrick and mapwork, copywork, and a fabulous color sheet. I let the kids color with the coveted color pencils while I read Amy Steedman’s Our Island Saints (Love her work! You can find more of it here.). It was a phenonomal example of a living book. I stopped periodically to have the kids narrate back what had happened and they did flawless narrations and remembered much more detail then I thought they would. One of those yeah-Charlotte-Mason-really-works!!! kind of days.

We then, as a group, worked on the Trinity Shamrock from Little Blots. This is a beloved favorite every year and we’ve done a different project for it each year. I love the depth that this tradition will bring to their adult faith when they get older.

Since we ran out of time we finished up the next day with a wonderful, simple phonics game for the littles and a St. Patrick’s Day Lapbook for the two older kids.

I worked with the two younger ones and we read My “e” Sound Box and Play with “a” and “t” to supplement.

The two older students had to use this time to practice working together. They each read St. Patrick’s Day and Let’s Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day then had to use teamwork to figure out how to fill out and put together their lapbooks. I stayed out of it and allowed them all the time they needed and the freedom for their result to turn out how they saw fit.

St. Patrick's Day Lets Celebrate St Patricks Day

We used these fun little cards in the children’s treat bag and then again as copywork. So our little St. Patrick study took care of language arts, history, and art this week.


And for math we broke out the Monopoly game for the first time. I helped Luc along but we let Gabe and Lily fend for themselves. Gabe did excellent and had no problem using his multiplication and money counting skills. For him it was more about learning what a mortgage is and what property value means. For Lily it was a chance to do practical work with the money counting skills she’s been learning and some practice in triple-digit hundreds addition. For Luc we kept it simple in allowing him to count out his spaces on the board. The kids loved it. I think this game will start coming into rotation often.

Linking with Weird, Unsocialized Unschoolers @

Seeing Green

~ Breakfast ~

Buttermilk Coffeecake with Green Buttercream Frosting

(in the shape of a shamrock, of course!)

Green Milk

(drunk in our cool new St. Patty’s shirts)

~ Lunch ~

Green Mac N Cheese

Grahams with Green Buttermilk Frosting and Gold Sprinkles

~ Dinner ~

Slow Roasted Corn Beef

Roasted Cabbage, Potatoes, and Carrots

Irish Soda Bread

(And no pictures because my battery ran low!)