A Boy’s Responsibility

What can turn a boy into a man?

Responsibility.

How do you instill responsibility without being a naggy mom?

Allow him his first pet that he buys with his own money.

Meet Mike the hamster.

And how to weave into our homschool week?

A pet project ~

  • Check out two library books on hamsters.
  • Read said library books.
  • Write a paper on The Top 10 Things a Hamster Needs.
  • Write a paper on a hamster’s original habitat and where it originates from.
Results?
One very happy, very occupied, never bored, eager to do school boy!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

The Official Spring Break Handbook

When I saw Mud Pies and Other Recipes online I fell in love and started having daydreams about what I would have done with a book like this when I was a little girl. Oh how my dolls and I would have played! So I knew it just had to be on my official homeschool booklist for the year. Play IS school!

And when my precious 3 year old came to me with a handful of the first dandelions of the year, I knew we had to break it out!

Then I remembered visiting The Forest Room and reading about their fun idea of a make-believe stove. So we made one. What better combination! Since I’ve constantly been defeated at trying to put up the Halloween candy tub for next year, I decided to repurpose it instead.

Even the boys joined in the play.

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.

Monopoly

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 @

A Fun New Crafting Site & Free Resources

My sister shared with me a wonderful link to this blog dedicated to making crafts out of toilet paper tubes. It is called tpcraft.com. How cute is that? Adding it to my resource page right now! The ultimate in upcycling!

By the way, don’t forget to check out all the fun free resource links I’ve collected. Click on Free Homeschool Resources tab above.

The Learning Room ~ Musical Schooling

Weeks Febraury  14 – 25

We’ve been musical schooling this week. A term I made up to go along with our car schooling! It’s been a light two weeks on my end, with planning anyway. We had the heart holiday off and two playdates and beautiful spring weather and my new camera to play with. So I’ve taken the “sometimes lame is better then best” approach the past two weeks by jotting down on recycled scrap paper 3-4 things I knew the kids could get done independently during school time that they needed to work on, mainly math and language arts. I didn’t worry about the plan being perfect or complete or even that it got written down in a notebook or at a certain time. I just made sure they had 2 hours of school work they could work on and I took 2 minutes or less before bed to jot it down on old paper for the next day. What did I do during the two weeks?

Week number one: clean mold. Yep, unfortunate but true. Who knew that doing 3+ loads of laundry a day and 3+ loads of dishwasher a day creates extra humidity which, if mixed with the cold temps outside, makes the perfect breeding ground for mold?

Week number two: dealing with colds and washing mud. Everyone here got change-of-the-weather colds from dramatic 65 degree weather down to 3 inches of snow again. And due to the front of the week spring weather, I had a mountain of clothes that were so caked with mud they needed to be rinsed in the tub before even hitting a prerinse. Then another prerinse, a soak overnight, a morning wash, treating stains and one more wash, a final rinse. Most everything came out clean so that’s good.

Back to the musical schooling

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we discovered an amazing new site called Rhythm Rhyme Results. It is a group of people who are trying to reach out to kids in a new and innovative way. We stumbled on them by mistake through you tube and my kids fell in love with the hip hop educational songs. Gabe was so enamoured of the 44 Presidents Rap that he decided that he will add being a president to what he wants to do when he grows up. I was amazed at the quality of the songs. The educational information packed into each one was incredible and it is not kid-watered-down songs but songs that resonate with truth and justice and higher thinking. It is not catchy little jingles to Barney-like music but true artistic, poetic hip-hop. And since there is no Lady Gaga music playing in our car (we are K-Love fans), it is a rare treat for my kids to partake in this style of music that naturally appeals to their sense of rhythm and love of dancing.

So, naturally, I had to download their music. I went to Amazon and downloaded all the songs I could. We called it homeschooling educational budget spending. And I, being that 80’s girl who loved making tapes of just the perfect mix of songs, mixed us up some CD’s. We mixed them in with some other fun educational CD’s we have from Have Fun Teaching CD’s and They Might Be Giants Science CD and a few free Animaniacs mp3’s and came up with a Grammar Songs mix, a Geography mix, a Science mix, and a History mix. I was so excited that I put it into practice immediately. We had to drive to Pop’s house for his birthday dinner and we listened to the Grammar songs on the way up and the History songs on the way back. Perfect car schooling. They were so good, in fact, that I will be listening to them on the way up to my mom’s Homeschooling Retreat tomorrow even though no kids will be in the car with me. Does that make me a nerd? I’m so making a copy for my sister to use with her preschooler class!

The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules. Anyway… I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done.  ~ Rob Gordon in the movie High Fidelity

Linking with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

The Learning Room ~ More Project Work

We have continued on with project work this week. I feel our biggest accomplishment was sticking to the generic schedule ~ doing school work from 10-12 each day no matter if chores were done or not and using later free time to pick up the slack on chores kids were too lazy to get done in a timely manner. For me, who has a huge tendency to get distracted by side projects, this was a major win for the week. And the biggest benefit of having them work on projects for school, aside from the obvious freeing up of my time, is seeing from an unbiased view what they actually need work on.

And, can I just rave for a minute more about Junie B. Jones? That little girl has stolen our hearts and our lunchtimes! We have read through two of her books this week and will be going to the library a week early tomorrow just to get some more. This is the most endearing book series and just begs to be read aloud. I wish they had been around for me as I was an emerging reader!

Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)

Lily, age 7,  has officially finished her first chapter book all the way through. I think she felt very proud of herself! She did much better at her narration chapter summaries this week due to last week’s coaching. The Junie B. Jones project dominated much of her time and thought. And she slowed way down on the Fancy Nancy project I think due to the fact that it involves a lot of writing and that was tiring her out so she kept procrastinating. I finally had to goad her on a bit so that I could get her to the fun part of the project (cutting out and decorating the hearts – you know, the fancy stuff).

Her area of most-needed-improvement was her penmanship. We only picked out one sentence from each of her narrations to use as copy work to go along with her picture narration. I felt this was just the right length to model good grammatical sentence structure and work on penmanship as well. Well, let’s just say her penmanship is wayyyy under par. I thought maybe this was just a hurrying-through-my-work sort of thing when I see it in her everyday play writing, but now I am having second thoughts. I also thought as she got older some of it would work itself out naturally, especially with her being a girl and having the desire for the pretty cursive handwriting. Again, I was wrong. I didn’t want to bombard her with over-criticism so we worked on putting her finger between words to properly space them and I think I will come back next week with some excersizes to address the neatness issue. Maybe it’s time to invest in an actual cursive program for her. Anyone out there using a good one that isn’t too hard for a first grader to use?

With Gabe, age 9, we needed to cover narration versus plagerism this week. I picked narration as part of his project work hoping that because it was based in books he already loved to read the narration would come more naturally. I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He basically wanted to stay immersed in his math books, not because he was working on something challenging but because he wanted to avoid narrations. I called him on it and he admitted it and said this invention stuff was just beginning to feel too much like history. All of the sudden the books weren’t interesting anymore. So we, again, went over how to do a narration. Then I had him just bite the bullet and sit down to do the task at hand whether he felt like it or not. He did a great job but I had a nagging suspicion as he kept glancing back towards the book that he was actually copying the information. I had just read an article on plagerism in the new edition of Old Schoolhouse Magazine and had thought how we had really not ever discussed it before. So, on my suspicion, I checked his work and found I was right. After praising how well he did at staying on task and finding all the information asked of him, I asked him if he knew what plagerism was and we practiced, much to his disappointment, how to redo his narration without copying. We discussed how this was why mommy required narrations so that his brain could constantly be exercised in coming up with his own sentences because that is a very hard task to master, even for adults.

So even though the work we did was not high in volume, I felt we definitely made up for it in quality by learning some very important skills this week.

Unschooling Fun ~ lots and lots of fun Valentine’s card making going on here! Again, see sidebar for the great free vintage clip art sites! Even the hubby got involved and made some really cool paper heart airplanes. He is so talented!

Onto mommy’s unschooling fun ~

Making PDF’s: mommy is learning how to convert word documents into pdf files (oh how I love them!) and how to upload them to the blog world so that I, too, may share and give back to this wonderful online community! Here is my first conversion I tried. It is the worksheet I made up to go with Lily’s Mission Addition project.  So please click on it and leave me a comment on if it does or does not work!

Mission Addition Worksheet

Also, I’ve been researching point and shoot cameras versus DSLR’s. I really (stressing the really) want a DSLR camera! I long to take my photography to the next level and get that great bokeh (fancy word for depth of field, wide aperature, cool-looking blurs – see how I’m learning?). So far I’ve come up with that, though DSLR’s have really come down in price, they still might not be quite in my budget yet. Maybe I am asking the impossible but, a challenge to you dear readers, who out there has a point and shoot camera that they love that takes pictures similar to a DSLR? I am all ears, my friends!

Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Unschoolers @