Friday, December 3, 2010

{This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Australia Unit

We spent this month learning about Australia.

Our focus for these continent units is not to be all encompassing, but to give Ender a little look at the people and animals that live in different places. We are not keeping to a specific schedule, but generally we read a little each day, Ender gives an informal narration and about once a week I write down his narration and he illustrates his work. We did use a few components from some lapbooks available on Homeschool Share, but we used them as crafts or notebook pages instead of creating an actual lapbook.

These books were selected for my kindergartener, though this unit could be used with older or younger kids by adjusting the amount of written work. My 3-year-old tagged along during the reading and on a few coloring pages, but of course none of the written work. We did not use lapbook components that included an inappropriate amount of writing for my son's age unless we could adapt them in a way that he could write something shorter, but by including all of those components this could work for a student through 3rd or 4th grade.


Great Barrier Reef
Australia in Colors
The Pumpkin Runner
Wombat Walkabout
Dingoes at Dinnertime
Katy No-Pocket (Sandpiper)
Aboriginal Designs

These two links are to DVDs that we really enjoyed, found at our local library:

Families of Australia

Other Resources:

Australia activities and lapbook
The Pumpkin Runner activities and lapbook
Marsupials lapbook


 World Map Outline (we used the robinson projection with no labels for this project)

1. For the first activity we found Australia on the map. Ender traced around Australia with a marker and we talked about how far away Australia is from our home.

2. For our second activity we found Australia on the map again and discussed the types of habitats that can be found there. I had Ender guess what types of animals live in Australia based on the habitats, and then we talked about the animals that actually live there.

3. We used the book Aboriginal Designs as a starting point for some interesting artwork.

Other Continent Work:

Continents and Oceans


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Waiting for the Manger

As we brought boxes out of storage last weekend in preparation for Advent, we gave the "big job" (the tree) to Ender and Daddy. It was Ezra who came alongside me to open the most carefully wrapped pieces. 

"Who is this?" he asks, holding the pregnant figure carefully.

"Mary. She has a long way to go. Do you see her belly? There is a baby in there."

His face lights up. "That's baby Jesus!"

We pull Joseph from his wrapping, followed by a few sheep and a donkey. Next a shepherd, and he listens closely to the story again.

Where were the shepherds that night? In their fields, and it was the angels who came to tell them!

"They should go in the stable now."

I explain that it isn't time yet. We have to wait.

The creche is empty, waiting for a pregnant mother tired from her travels, ready for a moment of rest. My little three-year-old looks at the pieces scattered around our living room- wise men together in one place, the farthest to travel, the shepherds in makeshift fields, Mary and Joseph traveling... and he says "That's a long wait."

That night we light the first purple candle and Ender fills his little brother in on Advent. "It's a lot of waiting, but it's exciting!" he says, and Ezra catches on.

This is expectation at its finest; the very best of endings where a babe is born to become the man who will save the world. He is the reason we sing, the reason we celebrate, the reason we give of ourselves.

At the end of the evening shepherds, wisemen and a young couple are set for their slow journey to the manger over the next month. There is a tree ready to hold Jesse Tree ornaments and a circle of candles as our reminder of the wait- one lit, the others awaiting their turn.

Every little piece is for these two boys, to show them the journey taken by a young expectant mother and her husband, a journey taken by lowly shepherds and great kings- the journey they too must take to find the manger, the Christ!

Ezra lingers downstairs, and he reaches to touch Mary.

"When does the baby get home?" he asks.

"Soon." I say. "Every day they get a little bit closer, and on Christmas we will get to see the baby."

He smiles. "I can't wait to see Him."


Ann Voskamp invites us to write this week about preparing for the coming of Christ.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas: Finishing up!

I thought I'd share my Christmas handmades again as I'm getting closer to the end! I finally crossed the finish line on Kernel about 2 weeks ago and I'm pretty close to finishing the boys' requested sweaters.

Kernel Scarf:

Pattern: Kernel
Yarn: Maggi's Linen [Rav link]
Needles: US size 6

Once I got the hang of the repeat and could "read" it well it went pretty quickly. I feel like I'm a lot more confident in my lace skills after this project, and I hope that I continue to gain confidence as I work more and more lace. I also learned to graft with even tension for this project. I've grafted sock toes before, but this was harder grafting work for me personally. Trying to maintain the same tension as I had knit with was a little bit of an adventure (read: I may have had to graft a few times)

This scarf measured 55" long and 7" wide before blocking and after blocking grew to 67" long and 9 1/2" wide.

Also in the Christmas queue:

 Ender's sweater:

I'm following Elizabeth Simmerman's EPS for the measurement here and I'm through the first decrease on the yoke. Another good evening of knitting and I'll be finished with this! I know it's just plain stockinette, but that is as requested.

Yarn: Cascade 220 wool [Rav link]
Needles: US size 8

Ezra's Vest:

Pattern: Diamond Back argyle Vest [Rav link]
Yarn: Hobby Lobby I love This Yarn [Rav link]
Needles: Size 8

 This has been a nice little intro to intarsia for me! I was able to complete the front in about 3 hours one night and didn't get too tangled up in all the loose threads on the back.

All that is left is to weave in 50 gazillion ends, stitch up the sides and shoulders, and add the ribbing at the neck and arms. It won't take long, it's just getting up the gumption to take care of all the loose ends!

Additional Christmas gifts:

1. A requested prayer shawl for my mom: in progress, 13 repeats to go of an 8 row repeat across 300 stitches. I'm finishing a repeat in about 90 minutes, but I've been really working at finishing the sweaters first.

2. Slippers for each of the boys. I have to grab yarn for this on Friday and I've made a goal for myself of being finished with Ender's sweater and Ezra's vest by then, as well as being another repeat or two farther in on the prayer shawl. I'm planning to use the Elf Shoes pattern by Pamela Wynn. [Rav link]

3. And maybe more? I might be crazy. We had our drawing for the 2 people we'll be buying for on my side of the family so now that I know who we're gifting I kind of want to knit them each something. Yeah... I don't know about that either. Totally depends on how fast those Elf Shoes go. Oh yeah- and did I mention that these 2 gifts would have to be ready for the 18th? We'll see what happens here...

Monday, November 29, 2010

School on the Fly

While we are not really any one type of homeschooler, my unschooling tendencies have been popping out during this holiday season. Aside from daily pages (a little reading, a little writing, and a little math) our school time has become "pick a book off the list, pick a project, create, create, create!" It's leading us to some fascinating places.

:: Our recent read of Peter Pan as well as the timely gift of a playmobile pirate ship from grandparents has led to a multitude of treasure maps, the wearing of eye patches and plenty of "ARGH!!!!"

:: Ender saw me looking through a cute little book all about making Little Birds and he declared one of the birds for himself. When I told him he'd have to use a real (read: sharp) sewing needle for this project, he looked a little bit daunted, but I assured him I'd be right there if he had questions. He has stitched up one seam at a time and later today he'll be ready to stuff the body and complete that portion. I'm so glad he chose a project he's going to love.

:: I ordered a stack of books from the library for our Christmas reading, and we'll be picking those up later today. I love being able to point the boys to the reading basket and say "pick one!"

:: I cut up strips of paper with some easy open-ended activities on them and these have been great for having a bit of structure for Ender but a lot of freedom to interpret what each activity means. I've included the PDF I made if you'd like to use it.

Things to Play

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