We enjoy the fact that we can go on vacation in the off season since we homeschool. With most kids just going back to traditional schools these past few weeks, we took advantage and went to Orlando, FL. The weather was still wonderful, but the crowds were much more managable.
While at the resort where we stayed, we enjoyed watchiing all the wildlife -- including many different birds and lizards. We observed them and later looked online so that we could identify each species. (We used this website: http://www.wildflorida.com/florida_lizards.php)
This all reminded me, once again, that homeschooling is a way of life.
Hi! It's been a while, but I'm going to attempt to be a better Homeschooling Blogger.
Today I want to talk about leaf identification/science, physical eduction and technology. Three lessons in one!
This morning we went for a walk (P.E.!) and picked up some leaves for identification (science!) using the Leafsnap App. I don't remember when I downloaded this little app for my iPhone, but I know I've taken it out and used it on a number of occassions.
As I type this, Maddie is photographing and studying her leaves, using the app to identify her leaves and writing about her findings in her nature journal. Fun autumn lesson that can be geared to just about any age.
What I'm about to tell you didn't take place during school time, in fact, the casual observer might think that it had nothing at all to do with learning, but I've been in this place with Maddie before. If you have kids, I'm sure that you have also. It's the "I can't do it" place.
Here's how it started... Maddie loves Pokemon. Let me rephrase that with the proper emphasis -- she *LOVES* Pokemon. And currently she is obsessed with Legos (a girl after my own heart). So the other day I decided to take a look online to see if anyone had built any Pokemon characters out of Legos since I knew she'd get a kick out of it. I found some and we took a look but then she got that sad look on her face and told me that she could never build anything like that.
I looked her right in the eye and told her that the people who built these didn't know what they were doing at first. They simply gathered up various Legos in the right colors and started putting them together, taking them apart and putting them back together in another way until they got it to look the way they wanted.
That afternoon, she took out her Pokemon guide, dug through her Legos and produced this Cleffa. I'm sure this is only the beginning.
I've always had a fascination with languages -- maybe because I was stuck in Latin in high school and never got to learn a real, living language. In college I squeezed in one semester of German and I've dabble in French and Japanese, but I'm finally getting serious.
A few weeks ago, I purchased Rosetta Stone Software so that Maddie and I could learn Spanish together. This is the leading foreign language software amongst homeschooling families and I can see why. We are on our second week and it is going wonderfully! The immersion technique they use makes learning intuitive and fun. I would highly recommend this software for anyone wanting to learn a second (or third) language.
On Saturday we went to Pilcher Park for a nature walk. I had Maddie bring along a bag so that she could collect fall leaves to bring home and identify.
We are lucky to have a wonderful local park with a great nature center. In fact, it is the same place we went for the book recycling event as well as a maple sugaring demonstration in the early spring.
This morning, as we were hanging out and having our usual lazy Sunday morning, Maddie brought out her bag of leaves and we used some old nature guides (which I got for free at an estate auction) and she pulled out the leaves one by one and identified what kind of tree they each came from.
We're still here and still homeschooling! I'm going to make more of an effort to post to this blog -- especially since we try to do more "fun" things in the summer (although we do have school year round).
Right now Maddie is hooked on the Lemony Snicket books and has read through the first and is in to the second -- The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2). The stories are quite tragic in a comical way (a dark Adams Family, if you will) and I love that they use some amazing vocabulary words. These books are certainly not dumbed down for kids -- but they always explain these big words and even some idioms.
Other than that, we've been working on multiplication and after several months spent doing a little each day, Maddies has memorized her times tables up to 12 X 12. Whew! All I can say about multiplication is that you have to keep at it -- every day. While I'm glad we are through with it, the next challenge is division -- yikes!
Now that Maddie is beyond the "begin to read books" I have started looking into chapter books. There are quite a few out there and at first she gravitated to the typical kid favorite characters -- Adventures in Bikini Bottom (Spongebob Squarepants) -- but I wanted to find a series that she could get excited about.
The answer just may be the Magic Tree House Series. I bought her the Magic Tree House Boxed Set - Books 1-4 for her Birthday and she has been reading a chapter every day out loud during school time. She loves the books and flew through the first one! She also asked for one of the study guides (Mummies & Pyramids which goes with book #3) and we are going to the library to get more.
If you are looking for a fun, exciting series that will get your child interested in reading and teach them something at the same time -- check it out!
This summer Maddie has been working her way through her favorite workbooks, but we have also been doing more arts & crafts, and over the last week the theme has been weaving. While at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, I bought a kit for Maddie from The Spinnery that included a nice metal potholder loom, plain jersey loops and kool-aid. Kool-aid? you ask. Yep! You can actually dye the loops with kool-aid and that's just what we did:
Here's the first batch which we did in a tie-dye kind of style. We are already on our third batch. The last two were done using two similar colors so that we could really smoosh them and get out all the white spots. Basically all you do is put the loops in a microwave proof dish -- we used a pyrex pie plate and did 36 loops at a time. Then you sprinkle on the kool-aid -- we used 2 packages for each batch of 36 loops. Then spray the loops with water. The spraying is the magical part -- the dull powder turns into bright color which spreads throughout the loops. After that you smoosh the loops, adding water as needed to saturate, then microwave for about 3 minutes. I stirred mine a couple times because I have a really old microwave that has hot spots. Cool and rinse.
Putting on the first layer of loops -- the "warp".
Then the actual weaving! adding the weft! Although Maddie is only 5, she was able to do the weaving with pretty much no problem.
There are pot holder loom instructions available online from Harrisville Designs which include several other projects -- check it out!