Birthday Week and Project Month

This is birthday week in my house. On Sunday my three-year-old turned into the four-year-old. (sniff sniff) Next Sunday my six-year-old will be turning seven. Time continues to fall through my fingers like water. All I can do is savor every moment.

I don’t do birthday parties every year, but I want the occasions to be memorable and fun for the boys. Last year the six-year-old had a party, and I plan to give my four-year-old a party when he turns six, but this year my husband and I told them we’d take them anywhere they wanted to go. My four-year-old said he wanted to see “dinosaurs,” so we went to Tellus Museum again (which, by the way, I wrote about for my column this week, and I’ll post that review here on Thursday). Both my boys got to dig for fossils at that museum, and they had a blast. One night this week we’ll have their grandparents over for cake and pizza.

In my county, public school started on August 7th. Wow! I’m very grateful that we’re homeschooling so that we can enjoy these hot, humid, rainy days of summer. lol True, the weather has not been cooperative this year, and we haven’t gotten outside as much as I had hoped, but after a very busy June and July, and I wouldn’t want to make my boys go back to school so soon.  I want them to have time to play and do what they want to do.

August has turned out to be “project month” for us.  We have finally been able to get to many small projects that my six-year-old has been pestering me about for a long time. We also did some projects that I wanted to do, and then there are projects that have popped up along the way. I hope I’ll find the time to write about some of these for upcoming posts, but for now I’ll list them here. (If there’s something you want to learn more about, just ask me in the comments.)

The Six-Year-Old’s Project List:

  • Papier Mâché bugs! This was his #1 “must do” projectHe has been wanting to do this for a long time, and I was stalling because I know it’s messy, and I wasn’t sure how to do it. It was fun!
  • Carnivorous Plants – This has been a long-term, true project-based homeschooling project! We have been reading about the plants, finding them at botanical gardens and growing them at home.
  • Molecule Set – This is a set we bought once, and he wanted to put the molecules together again. He likes for me to read to him what they are. I supplement this activity by getting out a poster of an atom and a periodic table of elements. I also found this NOVA Elements app, and he really enjoyed playing with it. I would recommend it for older kids, but I’m surprised that my son was able to figure some of it out because he was interested and kept at it! I learned a lot too!
  • Compare his meteorite with other rocks under microscope – This was easy enough to do one day.
  • Legos – This is his specialty, and all I have to do is give him time to do it.
  • Ant Project – I suggested to him that we could try to study the tiny ants we found in our yard, which are not common ants, according to the data we were given by the School of Ants. We did that one day, and we observed them disappear into the ground in our flower beds! Perhaps this is why they are so hard to study!
  • Curiosity Rover – The six-year-old recently became more interested in the Curiosity Rover, so we have checked out some books about space robots at the library, and we watched a fantastic documentary about the Curiosity Rover.
  • Learn about squid – We took a trip to the library, and we’re reading some books on this subject.

Mama’s Projects with the kids:

  • Dogwood Propagation – I really want to learn how to propagate dogwood trees. My botanist friend gave me some directions, and I had the boys help me. However, I don’t think my cuttings are doing very well. 😦 Must try again next year.
  • Hummingbird feeder – Don’t know if you’d call this a project, but I’ve had four hummingbird feeders (all gifts) in storage, and some of them I’ve had for years. The six-year-old wanted me to hang one up. We finally did, and we’ve had a blast watching some female ruby-throated hummingbirds fight over the feeder. (We identified them using our bird field guide apps.) We have to change the nectar every few days. I’ve been trying to get some photos of them despite not having the right camera lens. You can see a few of my first attempts on my photo blog.

The Four-Year-Old’s Projects

  • I don’t mean to leave the four-year-old out, but right now he’s content following along with what we’re doing. He does have a special interest in dinosaurs and whales, so we’re checking out a lot of books about those subjects at the library. He’s also requested me to make a dinosaur for him with clay, and as mentioned before, we’ve taken him to see dinosaur fossils at various museums.
  • When the six-year-old was in camp this summer, the four-year-old went with me on errands, and while we were shopping I let him pick something out that would be just for him to do. He picked this little birdhouse (see photo), so I let him paint it one day. I was impressed that he wanted to paint it all white! It’s very pretty and hanging in a tree outside.

Other Fun Stuff

It seems like there’s always something to make or do. Our friends invited us to tie dye shirts with them, and that was fun. We love our shirts!  For the boy’s birthdays, I tried to pick out presents that would keep them entertained. The four-year-old got a “digging for fossils” kit, and he and his older brother have started to whittle away at it – it will take a long time to complete. I also got the four-year-old ZOOB pieces, and they are a huge hit!  The seven-year-old will be getting a new Lego set that he has been asking for too.

Unlike the public school kids, I will be starting our “school” in the first week of September. (If this isn’t school enough for you!) I want the boys to have plenty of time to play with their birthday presents, and it gives me a little more time for planning, although I already have a rough schedule prepared. I wonder how we’ll fit everything in that I’d like to do while still giving the boys plenty of downtime. I remain flexible, as always.

My son’s project for the fall is mushrooms. He wants to learn about them and grow them. I’m excited about it, and though it might take me awhile to get around to it, I’ll be sure to write about it.

How is your summer going? Have your kids started “home” or public school yet? What exciting projects are on your horizon?

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