Friday, August 20, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Want to read more Quick Takes? Visit Jen.

The boys and I are finally settling in to this new routine. Keep everything as normal as possible through the day to accomplish our chores and learning, have a special event after dinner (last night was "floor baseball" invented by the 3 year old), then Skype daddy to discuss the day and sing and say I love you 80 million times.

And now I jinxed it.


Oh, Ann Voskamp. You say the things I've been thinking but unable to articulate.


I've already set our plans for the year, but Sarah's post about Spreading the Feast for her kids gave me a lot to think about for future years. Her plans detail lovely ways to include all three of her children in the different themes. It won't be long from now that I will have a second formal student and we will want inclusive topics.


Now that we've been into our school routine for a few weeks I figured out that some of the re-organization of our spaces isn't working out. Our writing isn't happening at the kitchen table like I thought it would- it turns out Ender needs a little space of his own. His table is set up for him, but I'm still hunting ways to set up the materials he needs. I *love* this writing center! Compact, but still providing all the necessary tools. Have you seen a writing space you love or are you the owner of one?


I'm participating in the Pi Shawl Knit Along on Wendy Johnson's blog. I'm half way through the second PDF and I'm really enjoying the lace! I made a first attempt at lace work about 6 months ago and I ripped back so many times that I actually gave up, which is not really something I do. I was honestly worried that this would feel much the same, but it's been surprisingly easy to follow. I must be growing as a knitter.


I finished the second Lemony Snicket book last night. I'm wondering how these books are so popular with kids. The constant break outs to explain what words mean is really obnoxious and there are several per chapter, practically 1 per page. Maybe it's really funny if you're yonger- am I too old to get these books? Maybe that's the problem. I think for now I'm going to continue the Levin Thumps books instead.


I've been looking for a little inspiration concerning ways to include nature in our home environment, and Kara had a very timely Nature Table post yesterday! I think Ezra is ready to handle a few more fragile things in our own center now that he is three and I'm eager to try out some ideas. How do you encourage nature study in your home, especially if you have under-5's in the home?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Continents & Oceans Mini-Unit

The focus of our year is a broad look at the continents. We are learning about the people and a little bit about the culture, but we are specifically focusing on the different kinds of habitats and animals that can be found around the world.

We're starting our continent study with a little mini-unit to introduce the concepts of continents and oceans.


Where Is My Continent? (First Step Nonfiction)

The ABCs of Continents (The Abcs of the Natural World)

The Seven Continents (Rookie Read-About Geography)

Earth's Oceans (Looking at Earth)

Other Resources:

Melissa & Doug World Map 33 pcs Floor Puzzle (this puzzle will be used every day)

Map Outlines (We use the robinson projection with no labels for this project)

Day 1:

** Read "ABC's of the Continents p. 4-6.
** Read Earth's Oceans
** Color the map, continents brown and oceans blue.

Day 2:

** Read Where is My Continent?
** Outline North America, mark our hometown.
** Discuss these questions:
1. What kind of weather do we have in our city?
2. Do we live by the ocean? Near Mountains? On the plains?

Day 3:

** Read The Seven Continents.
** Label the continents.
** Read "ABCs" p. 7, 10, and 26 (about different habitats)
** narrate (verbally) and illustrate about habitats.

Looking for more continent studies? I'll add links as we add units.

Asia Unit

Australia Unit

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Handmade Days

I've been faithfully knitting over the weekend! Knitting is a big source of relaxation and calm for me. Knitting can be a "mindless" sort of thing where I can zone out if I need to on certain projects, and it can also take up enough focus that it keeps my mind off of hard things (loneliness right now).

I finished the main portion of Ezra's mittens over the weekend, and now they're ready for thumbs and then a lining. The cream yarn below is the angora for the mitten lining.

My apologies for flash pics- it's been hard to get sunny pictures in the last few days!

The multi-colored yarn is the very beginning of a lace-weight pi shawl. I'm following the KAL on Wendy Johnson's blog for a Pi Shawl in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Elizabeth Zimmerman's birthday. This is my first work with lace-weight yarn, my first lace work and my first shawl. That's a lot of firsts, but I'm all about learning new skills this year.

Section 1 was released on Sunday and I finished it pretty easily in a few hours that day. I'm sure it gets harder (or at least takes longer) from here.

I *am* keeping track of the things I really need to get done before Brian comes home in a few weeks, so the next cast-on after I finish Ezra's mittens is for Ender's mittens, and then their hats. I'm trying to fight the urge to start my own winter set until I finish theirs.

I also have two socks in progress and I *really* need to finish the baby sweater for my neice before her birthday party in early September. Hopefully when I've cast on another 2-3 projects I'll hit the "finishing rush" that I get and finish all but 1 or 2 WIPs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New York, New York!

We were extremely fortunate to be able to go to New York a few weeks ago. The trip was a gift from Brian's parents to celebrate his graduation, and we were glad to have them along for the week!

The first stop was to Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Brian is a huge baseball fan and he has always wanted to see the museum. We spent most of a day there and I think Brian could have stayed another day or two if the boys would have been agreeable to it.

Ezra's favorite part? The "holy cow"! Ezra *loves* cows and he made us stop and take pictures every time we passed this cow. Almost half of my pictures at the Hall of Fame are of this cow!

Our next stop was NYC! We visited the Statue of Liberty:

We spent a full day at the American Museum of Natural History. Ender *loved* the planetarium and the IMAX movie about Hubble. We just finished up our little unit that was an intro to space and Hubble was part of our reading. The movie detailed some work astronauts did to repair Hubble and Ender watched so intently you would have thought it was some intense thriller! (Ezra slept through both by the way.)
The other highlights for Ender were the mineral room and the Hall of Ocean Life. Ender's first and on-going collection is rocks and minerals. We spent a full hour in the mineral room looking closely at each sample. In the Hall of Ocean Life there is a life-size (100 foot!) blue whale hanging in the room. Ender stood at the panel for the blue whale for ages looking at pictures and asking us to read portions for him. When we got home it was the first thing he wanted to talk about and the first picture added to his notebook.
Ezra was MADLY in love with the dinosaurs! Those rooms took the longest to go through because Ezra wanted to see every little bit.

Another special thing for Brian was seeing the new Yankees stadium. One of the things he would love to do is to see all the different major league ballparks, and this added another one for him. As a bonus we got to see A-rod hit his 600th home run!

What trip to NYC with children would be complete without playing on the big floor piano at FAO Schwarz? Ender totally came out of his shell even with about 2 dozen people around and he was BREAK DANCING on the piano! It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Other stops on our visit included the fabulous Purlsoho. I had a budget that I met, and then my lovely mother-in-law stopped me before I got to the counter and said, "you are NOT finished shopping". She told me to pick up more as part of my Christmas present! I happily said yes to more yarn.
We also visited ground zero, Central Park and Times Square. There was some great food, and the subway was a good experience overall.
Ender asked to move there. We were surprised that he did so well on the whole trip. In general Ender doesn't do well with last-minute change and loud noises and both happened abundantly on the trip! He took it all in stride and handled it all well.
We are so thankful for this opportunity to visit a place so different than our home and for Brian to have the chance to fulfill a bit of his baseball dreams.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Letter A

Today we're sharing our letter A pages. We followed the routine I wrote about last week, and added a bit to our notebooks each day.

The materials for our notebooks are as simple as paper and a 3-ring binder. I'm using cardstock so that the pages will not pull out easily.

The elements used on the pages for this week were from Homeschool Share.

First, our title pages:

It would have been easy to make pages like this on the computer as well, but the boys requested "silly letters" (as Ezra calls them).

I presented several different activities to the boys and had them choose things to include on their pages. Ender's only extra page requirement was to include some letter A copywork- just 1 word starting with A. He chose apple since he painted an apple for his page.

Ezra chose some of the same things as Ender but he also had a special game to help him learn upper and lowercase A.

Our alphabet notebooks have been a great way to include Ezra (3-years-old) in our morning, and being able to tailor them a bit to each child has worked really well.

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