Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Nature Study ~ Backyard Birds

One beautiful, sunny, spring-like morning last week, we began our schoolday on the back deck. The bird sounds were everywhere ~ and our bird tree was full, so the kiddos and I headed outside to study the nature in our backyard. My assignment for the kiddos was simple, "let's make a list of the birds we see and/or hear".

Armed with our handy dandy Birdsong Identiflyer and our favorite bird field guide, we set to work.

Birds that we heard: geese (we heard them and then saw a flock flying overhead), crows, woodpecker, blue jay

dd6's bird book

Birds that we saw: robin, house wren, killdeer, eastern bluebird (the killdeer was chasing the bluebird), and house sparrow

ds8's bird book

When we came inside, we had our normal circle time. While I was reading aloud, my two older kiddos grabbed some pencils and blank paper and created their own bird books...

And I thought nature study would be so hard to implement into our schedule.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Birthday Outing ~ I Made This Pottery

We started a new tradition this year ~ the birthday child gets to choose a fun family outing for us to go on. When ds turned 8 a couple months ago, he chose bowling. Dd6 chose for us to go to a "paint your own pottery" place.

When we arrived, the first thing the kiddos had to do was choose which piece of pottery they wanted to paint ~ there were cups, bowls, plates, plaques, animals, eggs...so many to choose from.

Then we proceeded to the color wall ~ here's where they got to see all of the paint colors available and decide which color/colors they wanted to use.

After the kiddos had their pottery and their paint colors picked out, they got to choose paint brushes, stencils, sponges, a palette to squeeze their paint onto...this place offered a myriad of supplies.

Once they had everything selected, the kiddos settled down to work.

Dd6 surprised me with her patience ~ she painted her dog's eyes, nose, tongue and color (all were very small)...and she waited patiently for the paint to dry on each spot before putting on a 2nd (and 3rd coat).

Ds8 also worked diligently on his painting project ~ carefully painting the inside of the mug first (just like the "pottery lady" recommended).

Ds3 just had a blast mixing all of his paint colors on his plate ~ he also experimented with a couple different sponges...and he really wanted to try out some stencils, too :)

I can't wait to see what ds3 chooses to do when his birthday rolls around :)
Taking time out for some family fun is definitely a finer thing!
To see what finer things others are celebrating, check out Amy's blog.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Schoolstuff ~ Circle Time

A few weeks ago I spent an evening planning our next nine weeks of circle time. I had determined over Christmas break that I really, really, really wanted to implement circle time into our homeschool day. I hoped that if I planned the work, that I would work the plan ~ and I did, or should I say we did...

We are currently in our eighth week of circle time. I think the kiddos and I would all agree that it has been a wonderful addition to our day.

I have kept the plans pretty simple. We have a four-day school week, with the fifth day reserved for errands, field trips, and other things that come up. We begin each of those four days with circle time. This time includes a devotional, poetry reading, singing, read-aloud, art study, and AWANA verse review.

Devotional ~ We've been using Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson as our Bible/Christian character resource. Each week a family way is introduced along with a scripture that reinforces the concept that we're studying that week. For example, on week five the family way is "We love one another, treating others with kindness, gentleness and respect."

The scripture verse for that week comes from John 4:11-12 ~ Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (NIV)

Clarkson has also provided more passages of scripture to discuss that week that pertain to the particular family way, discussion questions, and suggestions for prayer time. I have used some of these additional suggestions ~ the ones that I felt my kiddos could handle ~ to add to our devotional time in the morning.

Singing ~ We also have a time of singing during circle time. My dh and I came up with a selection of hymns that we want our kiddos to learn. I, in turn, chose three hymns from that list ~ and we sing one of these selected songs each day. On the fourth day we sing a traditional or folk song, usually one that the kids already know.

Poetry ~ Each week I have been reading one poem from Favorite Poems of Childhood to the kiddos ~ I read the same poem everyday for all four days of circle time. I think Brandy had recommended this practice in one of her circle time posts. I love how we get to really know the poem by the end of the week, just by simply taking a few short minutes each day to read it.

Art ~ One day each week the kids and I study one page from A Child's Book of Art. We simply study the page (each page usually contains two to three works of art), we talk about the people and objects that we see in each piece of art, colors, things we like, etc.

Read Aloud ~ We are currently reading through Little Pilgrim's Progress (4 days) and Old Mother West Wind(1 day ~ science/nature). The kiddos love this morning read aloud time. They have been especially enjoying my reading of Little Pilgrim's Progress. I usually plan to read two chapters each day, and every day the kids ask for "just one more!" I try not to indulge them each time because if they had their way I would finish the entire book in one sitting :)

AWANA ~ We currently have a first year Spark and a third year Spark in residence. While I read the first year Spark's manual with her, our third year Spark is off in a quiet spot reviewing his verse(s) for the week.

And that's it. This has been such a lovely addition to our schoolday ~ it definitely sets a wonderful tone for the rest of our day...if only I had implemented it sooner :)

If you give a boy a camera...

...he'll run outside and take a picture of the squirrel in the tree.
Then he'll see his sister looking for more nature with her binoculars, he'll take a picture of her also.

Then he'll come across a bunch of colorful aquarium rocks piled up on the patio ~ he thinks they would make a fabulous photo.

Then he'll head inside and take some pictures of his Star Wars lego creations,

and a Star Wars puzzle that he originally put together a month ago.

Which reminds him how much he enjoys taking apart sections of the puzzle and putting it back together ~ so he'll return the camera to his mother and get to work on the puzzle.
I always find some very interesting pictures on our memory card after I let ds8 have the camera.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A new six-year old

We have a new six-year old in our house. Her daddy brought her flowers on her birthday, a tradition he began many years ago.
And the package guy brought her something she's been wanting for many years ~ a doll that looks like her.

Happy sixth birthday sweet girl!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Menu Plan ~ March 14 thru March 20

This week I'm planning my menu around the fact that I have some potatoes in the pantry that need to be used up and a ten pound bag of carrots in the fridge that we just got from Costco.

toast & jelly or cereal
bagels & cream cheese, apples
baked macaroni, homemade bread, leftover veggies

toast & jelly
snacky (crackers, cheese and fruit plate)
Cheesy Beef and Rice, raw carrots & dip

Baked Oatmeal
dining out, celebrating dd6's recent bday
Three Cheese Pasta, mixed veggies

chocolate chip pancakes
pb&j sandwiches (dd3 has sunflower seed butter 'cause he's allergic to pb), apples & oranges
hot chicken sandwiches, raw carrots & dip

cereal & yogurt
cheese quesadillas, apples & oranges
potato soup, homemade bread, homemade applesauce or mini apple pies

chocolate chip pancakes
grilled cheese sandwiches, apples & oranges
homemade pizza, carrots & dip

bread machine cinnamon rolls
hosting a little girls' luncheon for dd's 6th bday
ground beef something, mixed veggies

Head over to Organizing Junkie to check out more menu plans.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Signs of spring

The kiddos and I were so excited to some green and purple in our landscape, especially after seeing mostly white these past few weeks (it takes a while for over two feet of snow to melt!)

Ds8 was able to grab a picture of an eastern bluebird pair that has recently taken up residence in our birdhouse (that boy has an uncanny ability to get great pics of birds).
And, of course, one of my favorite signs that spring is approaching ~ clothes-drying weather!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winter Nature ~ Woodpecker Sighting

During mealtimes (especially breakfast and lunch) we enjoy watching the different birds that visit our "bird tree". It sits just beyond our backyard and we have a great view of it from our kitchen table.

We've seen our share of robins, house wrens and cardinals, and even an occasional bluebird...but I don't believe that we have ever had a woodpecker visit our tree before, at least not that we've seen. While we were eating lunch today my 8yo excitedly announced that he thought he saw a woodpecker in the tree. And sure enough, when I looked closely I was able to catch a glimpse of him!

If you look closely, you'll see a spot of red, that's the woodpecker's head...

Our bird tree has been pretty empty this winter ~ we were so excited to see some birds return today ~ and even more excited that a new-to-us bird visited. We're definitely looking forward to spring and hopefully more visits from our bird friends.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The warmest place in the house

Ds3 has staked his claim on the warmest spot in our home ~ right on top of the heat vent :)
(don't worry, we have a heat pump so the vent isn't really that warm)

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