Writing Organically

While there is always a time and a place for formal writing and learning grammar and techniques, I find my kids make the most progress through a more organic method of learning. By organic I mean naturally occuring…a term I fell in love with while reading this article in Homeschooling Today.

I have a five year old boy and a three (almost 4) year old girl who are at that age where writing has suddenly become very important. If these had been my first I would have been lining up the preschool-kindergarten curriculum. But they are numbers 3 and 4 sandwiched between six kids and I’d like to think I’m a bit wiser now.

They really don’t need much from me. They seek out writing utensils whenever they possible can…pencils, crayons, markers, chalk, sharpies…whatever they can get their hands on whether it is out to use freely or locked up. They write on everything…paper, scraps, notebooks, recycled material, the walls, furniture, cement. They mark their territory as individualism starts to shine. (As I type my laptop cooling pad sports the name “Luc” in sharpie). They are fascinated with letters and all I have to do is where t-shirts for quick 5 minute lessons as they point out and sound out letters on my chest. They draw picture upon picture upon picture and sign their name to everything.

Why was I ever worried with my first that I had to “teach” writing? God gave them these amazing brains that develop and unfold in His perfect timing. In the same way we don’t sweat teaching our children to talk, I’ve learned that we don’t need to do much for writing either. Showing them how letters are formed here and there, providing them with tracing opportunites so they can “do” school with the others, and writing down (dictating) their stories as they want is about the extent I do now. I know that later there will be copywork and dictation that will ease them into excellent grammar, spelling, and composition work. But, for now, I will thoroughly enjoy watching them discover writing on their own.

Unadulterated passion for learning…

A natural extension of who they really are…

Isn’t that worth stepping out of the way for?

Linking up with ~

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The Elements ~ a Lapbook and Trading Cards

We had a full school week here despite strep visiting our house. There was plenty of sunshine for outside play and bike rides and plenty of rain for inside work. I set up the workboxes for older independent study this week. And the littles got to have fun with a Mario math activity and this cute princess sorting game.

Most of the work was catchup of miscellaneous stuff that just needs to be done…those last few grammar and phonics lessons and the dreaded end-of-the-year-this-is-too-hard-mom math workbook pages. I threw in some history-oriented literature ~ Tom Sawyer for Gabe and the first Meet Samantha book for Lily ~ light history with no extra activities for a little break.

To break up the monotony of the school that needs to be done, I threw in some fun stuff. For Lily, she got to spend each day playing with the Math Interactive Dictionary. She looked up what she was specifically studying for that day and had fun play learning some more about it (base ten, symmetry, inches).

Gabe finally got to start the elements lapbook he’s been wanting to get to. (More science mom, less history has been his rally cry for the past month.) I found a wonderful lapbook on elements over at Homeschoolshare.com based on the book Fizz, Bubble, & Flash: Element Explorations and Atom Adventures ~ a wonderfully living book on elements with lots of fun experiment opportunities. We added these make-your-own Element Trading Cards to the mix (he is cutting them out and using them as the base for his lapbooking) and using The Elements and The Periodic Table: Elements with Style as reference books for looking up information.

And for copywork and poetry memorization he is learning a poem right out of the book.

A Periodic Poem

Each element has a spot on the Periodic Table,

Whether metal or gas, radioactive or stable.

You can find out its number, its symbol, its weight,

And from its position, its physical state.

Elements lined up in columns and rows,

The reason for this order, as each chemist knows,

Is that atoms are made up of still smaller bits,

(Figuring this out tested scientists’ wits!).

In the nucleus, protons and neutrons are found,

And a cloud of electrons is buzzing around.

First take one proton, put in its place;

Now you have hydrogen, the simplest case.

Add two neutrons and one more proton,

and suddenly, the hydrogen’s gone!

Now you have helium, quite different stuff…

You get the picture; I’ve said enough.

These tiny particles: they’re like building blocks

That make people and buldings, flowers and rocks.

They create all of the elements we find

In everyday things of every kind!

I feel like we got a good chunk of work done despite not getting to everything on my list. But my list never gets done. Even when I think I’ve only planned a little, it always turns out to be more then we have time for! How was your week?

Joining Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

First Feedings and Other Musings

It’s quiet here tonight. Everyone is in bed snuggled deep in sleep. Even husband has turned in early in order to rise early feeding hungry teenage mouths. I find myself relishing this little piece of time. It is mine alone. There is no agenda. I am free to play or plan or work as I choose. I dabble a bit in the online library catalog requesting some stories that have been rattling in my head but that I keep forgetting to write down. I wish list a few more good picks from a pleasantly-stumbled-upon blog lushly titled Farmbrarian. I sip my Verona which has been out of stock for over a month and my taste buds delight in reacquaintenance. I listen to an NPR interview with Kirstin Kimball over her book The Dirty Life of which I am reading and laughing over. I am dreaming of a family cow and have pangings similar to baby fever.

And now I am here thinking of my littlest one.

He started solids this week.

And he is loving it.

I am a bit saddened. I waited until 6 months…long enough to build up my milk supply and get a few teethers in. I know I could go a full 12 with only breastmilk. I did with Ivy. Not by my choice but hers. She refused any sort of solid food whatsover whether it was rice cereal or applesauce. She wanted only mom’s milk and food did not interest her in the slightest till she was about a year old and then she went straight to table food. I worried and fretted for nothing. She was a fat little butterball getting all the nutrients she needed with plenty of cushion on her. But I would’ve liked a little more freedom. Freedom for daddy or grandma to feed her some solids so mom could do a grocery shopping trip or library trip alone. And with the annual garage sale outing coming up I started with this little guy. He takes to the spoon like duck to water.

Still, he had his first non-breastfeeding poop yesterday and a part of me cried a bit on the inside. No more cinnamon-yogurt-yeasty smelling diapers. Sniff sniff. I will spare you the picture! But the thought turns my attention back to cloth diapering and finding a detergent that works for hard country water. So I am all ears if anyone has any suggestions. Until then, I will enjoy a little me time.

Wide Open Spaces

We had some escapees this past weekend. I walked out ready to scold children for not staying up on chores when they commented on watching the horses. I had no idea what they were talking about at first until Lily pointed out the window.

And there they were in all their splendid glory. I was mesmerized. Being allergic to horses (or the hay they are kept around), I do not get many up close encounters of the equestrian kind. I just had to go outside and snap some pics. The nursery rhyme of all the dappled horses kept running through my head as my fingers clicked striking images. They just lazily stared at me with a passive interest munching on our weeds. Tree branches cracking as they stripped branches of leaves. Sounds reminding me of the massiveness of their musculature. Very Jurassic Park. Very primal. Horses…literally in my own backyard.

I was so sad to see them scooted on back to their own pasture an hour or so later.

Lazy Composting

After 5 years of gardening experimenting, I’ve learned a few gardening tricks that really work. Well, learned may be a bit of a stretch…more like learning the hard way by failing miserably!

My favorite gardening trick ~ lazy composting with egg shells and coffee grounds.

How it works ~

Plant three beautiful heirloom tomatoes in good soil with lots of compost.

Eat a really yummy breakfast of pancakes and eggs.

Drink your morning cup of coffee.

Rinse out your egg shells and mix it in with your leftover coffee grounds.

Sprinkle it around the base of your tomato plants.

Work it into the soil a bit with your fingers.

Voila…instant calcium and nitrogen fertilizer.

The result ~ Heirloom tomatoes you can actually eat that don’t have blossom-end rot.

Things Unseen…

Note ~ I wrote this post back in August of 2010. I think I meant to publish it or add a photo first before publishing. I’m not sure. But somehow it escaped posting and ended up sitting in my dashboard. While cleaning up I found it, reread and thought this is still just as important to me this day! Enjoy!

BLESSING # 421 ~ That He sees and that is enough

Wow…I am speechless as I read Ann’s lovely words, words that soothed my soul today. Our day was full and there is still more to do. I think about this blog often and have words in my head, sometimes even pictures on my camera. But time slips as my family priority intrudes and takes over. So, for now, I will give a glimpse of Ann’s insightfulness (PLEASE visit her site and read the rest…a balm for your day!) as I ponder my own priorities and the dark recesses of my heart.

Ann’s wise words:

Who can see the spelling lessons? The breakfast made this morning? The next chapter of The Yearling read, the last child rocked early in the morning, the prayers whispered in the middle of the morning? I try in a week and a lot may get done, but the right things?

I think how I want a crumbless, smudgeless, spotless house, a house with empty laundry baskets, empty sinks, empty garbage cans, with floors like mirrors and mirrors like water, and a pantry lined neat like books in the study and pies lining the counter like sweet children all in a row…

I want things seen.

The seen things can be idols…

Too often, sadly, I want product, others to see product, so they can see: I have worth. Stinking idols…

Again, today, I must: Slay the idol of the seen…

I’ll whisper the mantra that orders all priorities:

Unseen. Things Unseen. Invest in Things Unseen.”

~ 2 Cor. 4:18

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE ~Thank you, Ann!

Spring Shabby Chic

Having 6 little kids hardly affords me the luxury of styling my house in that Victorian shabby chic style of the magazines. All my pretties have moved higher and higher and higher so that now I have one small shelf way up high that little kids can’t touch. (Although I might have a few more high spaces if they weren’t taken up by my other love of homeschooling books!) So, what to do? Well, move out to the country…obviously. Doesn’t get more shabby chic then this.

My little piece of home paradise ~