October

It’s October, and our year is well on its way. (Even if it does feel like August outside.)

This year I’m putting in the effort to plan our week’s lessons on the weekend, and this has been helpful for me. Writing, grammar, cursive, math, history, science, Spanish, Chinese and more — not necessarily in that order — but we’re getting to all of it. Usually.

We also have a plant project going on that may last all year. We’re learning about trees, especially the ones in our yard, and the plants that grow in the woods. My eldest son got some field guides for his birthday, and he’s making use of them. ūüôā

All the photos in this post were taken on a day hike that we took last weekend. We never plan these excursions. We just wake up and decide it’s a good day to go.

My son requested a science curriculum this year, so we’re trying CK-12’s free, online textbook, Earth Science Concepts for Middle School. He likes it so far, but we don’t have time for it everyday, which is frustrating. There’s so much to do!

We started U.S. history, and I found a cool kids book at the library about Cahokia. We are also going to try another library¬†book about the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, which we learned about on our trip out west. That should be interesting! Haven’t found time for Ancient Rome, though. We’ll have to stick to one history subject at a time.

We finished reading¬†The Mad Wolf’s Daughter, which was fun (book review forthcoming on the home/school/life blog), and now we’re reading¬†Freedom Train, a little book I own because I bought it when I assisted the author at a writer’s conference many years ago (before I had children). It’s a good read and will give them insight into racism and social justice.

My eldest son has finally caught the Harry Potter fever, and he’s already on the fifth book, which he reads at night before bed. My younger son is reading pretty well now too. He likes to read comics in his spare time just like his older brother, and I’m currently reading¬†Old Yeller¬†to him, which he remembers, but he wanted to hear it again. It’s one of those classics that never gets old.

Every morning I roll our round table out onto our front porch to do our lessons. It’s a bit of a hassle to move the table, but I don’t mind. It’s beautiful outside in the mornings. We get distracted by the birds, bugs, our dog, and the sunlight (we have to move the table to and fro as the light changes), but all the distractions are worth it. I let them (the boys and dog) take breaks and run around the trees. It makes me happy to be outside, and I hope the boys will remember their mornings spent on the front porch. Pretty soon it’ll be too cool to go outside.

I wrote a post about our curriculum like I do every year, but this time, it’ll be posted only on the home/school/life blog. (I need to save time.) I’ll be sure to link to it from here. I’ve also written about how I schedule our lessons, and I’ll post that here in the near future.

I’ve never seen a tree grow like this in the woods before. Can anyone guess what made it do that? I have no idea!

I’m enjoying our routine, our learning, our nature excursions, the music in the house as well as local recitals we attend. If you saw the Excel spreadsheet that I meticulously work on to plan each day you would probably think I was one of the those uber-organized freaks. Maybe I am? But I have come to this over six years of homeschooling and realize that it’s necessary when you stay home with two kids and take on their entire education. When you think your kids are probably college-bound, and there are three hours of instrument practice between the two of them each day, you‚Äôve got to be organized. You have to plan meticulously to get everything in (almost everything, anyway) and leave a little free time too.

There’s a lot that goes undone. I don’t cook meals from scratch. I don’t scrub my floors or the bathrooms every week. (Though I do clean. And do laundry. Every single day.) I don’t visit friends or family very much. I don’t take days off or ever visit the bookstore by myself just for the fun of it. I don’t get much writing, photography or other pleasures done. But I consider it a time of life where my priorities are elsewhere.

(There are positives to being busy with kids, though. I don’t spend too much time on social media or dwell too long about negative things!)

I don’t think there are any people who truly understand this lifestyle we’re living except maybe other homeschoolers. I say ‚Äúmaybe‚ÄĚ because believe it or not, I was criticized once by another homeschool mom. It made me realize that within the homeschooling movement, there are a lot of different opinions about how to homeschool.¬†But most homeschoolers have a live and let live attitude because they get judged a lot. And most of them get it. They take full advantage of this lifestyle and know why it’s worth it. Other people don’t need to understand, and maybe it’s a good thing. If every parent who could manage it understood the benefits of homeschooling, then….well, there would be too many homeschoolers, and the resources would be stretched and there would be parents who were doing it for the wrong reasons. (And that sometimes happens now, unfortunately.)

But I‚Äôm off on a trail that I didn’t mean to go down. I just wanted to say that October is here! We have a full year of learning ahead of us. We have good books to read and excursions to take. We have concerts to attend at the local university (we‚Äôve already been to several). We have homeschool science classes to attend at the nature center (yay!). My eldest son will be giving more recitals and attending studio classes and other cool events arranged by his piano teacher. My younger son is making strides on the cello. It‚Äôs all so exciting.

Every time I check off the plans completed for a day or week, it feels very satisfying. I wish I could blog more about it, but you’ll have to make do with these occasional long, windy posts that I write here and there and try to edit into something cohesive. If you’d like for me to write about something specific, or you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send a private e-mail.

I hope you are having a fulfilling autumn too. I wish you peace and joy and perfect weather. (We’re still waiting for that weather here in Georgia. :/ )

Thanksgiving Wreath

This is a Thanksgiving wreath that my son made last year….¬†

We’re having a cozy Thanksgiving at home this year, and the only true activity we are doing besides cooking, eating, and reading our Thanksgiving books is make this autumn wreath out of cotton, natural¬†items from our yard and natural items that my son’s cousin sent him last year from his yard in Colorado (a very cool X-mas present)! My son arranged these on some cardboard I cut in shape of a wreath and glued them down himself with a hot glue gun.¬†

For more autumn and Thanksgiving activities to do with young children, you can read the post I wrote two years ago: November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children.  If you have any activities you want to share, feel free to post a link in the comments section.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I want you to know how thankful I am that you have taken the time to read my blog. I hope you are warm, safe, loved and happy.

Happy Thanksgiving

{Thanksgiving Wreath}

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!  

We’re having a cozy Thanksgiving at home this year, and the only true activity we did besides cooking, eating, and reading our Thanksgiving books was make this autumn wreath out of cotton, natural¬†items from our yard and natural items that my son’s cousin sent him last year from his yard in Colorado (a very cool X-mas present)! My son arranged these on some cardboard I cut in shape of a wreath and glued them down himself with a hot glue gun.¬†(This¬†idea and the cotton was¬†courtesy of Dotty at the¬†William Harris Homestead¬†– thanks, Dotty!)

For more autumn and Thanksgiving activities to do with young children, you can read the post I wrote last year: November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children.  If you have any activities you want to share, feel free to post a link in the comments section.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, I want you to know how thankful I am that you have taken the time to read my blog. I hope you are warm, safe, loved and happy.

 

November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to create history lessons around each holiday this year. ¬†In addition to this, I want to do general activities to celebrate each season. ¬†However, I still feel the need to keep things extremely simple with my boys. ¬†At ages 5 & 2, they just aren’t ready for big projects or crafts. ¬†When I do initiate crafts, it’s usually me doing most of the crafting, or the boys take over by making it a cutting-up-paper-into-tiny-bits session. ¬†Whether it’s their ages or that they are boys, long sit-down lessons and activities don’t work for us. ¬†(And this also goes for just the five-year-old when the two-year-old is napping too.)

So here are the simple things we did this November to celebrate autumn and Thanksgiving:

  • We had a gorgeous autumn in Georgia this year, so I wanted to celebrate those beautiful leaves. ¬†We collected leaves and laminated them. ¬†Last year I tried ironing them between parchment paper, and it looked awful. ¬†I asked my sister – a first grade teacher – what she recommended. ¬†She said she just laminated the leaves. ¬†Guess what? ¬†It works great! ¬†After laminating them, I strung some up over our window and the doorway into our activity room. ¬†I tacked the others up to our bulletin board, and I labeled the leaves that I knew. ¬†(Tree identification will come when they’re older too.) ¬†(This it the laminator I purchased over a year ago – a worthwhile investment.)
  • We planted bulbs. ¬†And garlic. ¬†I’ve never planted garlic before, so I’m excited to see what will happen. ¬†Planting seeds is a favorite pastime of my five-year-old, which I have written about extensively in this post.
  • We read our Thanksgiving books:
    • What Is Thanksgiving?¬†by Harriet Ziefert – A sweet, lift-the-flap book about a mouse who asks his parents “What is Thanksgiving?” ¬†It’s very simple and dedicates only two lines to the history of the holiday. ¬†It’s mostly about what we do now to celebrate Thanksgiving. I would only recommend it for very young children.
    • The Story of the Pilgrims by Katherine Ross – I highly recommend this book for the approximate ages 4~6 or anyone needing a beginning lesson on Thanksgiving history. ¬†It starts in England and talks about a group of people call Pilgrims and why they left, their journey in the Mayflower, their first difficult winter, the encounter with the Indians and what the Indians taught them, and it ends with the big feast. ¬†It’s simple enough for youngsters but full of interesting details.
  • As we talked about Thanksgiving and what we give thanks for, I used A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings (collected by Eliza Blanchard). ¬†My boys love animals, so these poems and prayers were fun. ¬†The illustrations are beautiful. ¬†It teaches respect for animals, and it gave me a chance to talk about praying and poetry. ¬†Needless to say, this isn’t a book I will use only for this season.
  • The night before Thanksgiving, I told my five-year-old a story about Jack and Piper and the big Thanksgiving feast they hosted in the forest. ¬†All the forest animals were invited, and on this day, there was no bickering or squabbles. ¬†One by one, each animal said what he was thankful for.
  • Besides these simple activities, I have spent as much time outdoors as the weather permitted. ¬†We visited Ft. Yargo, the Botanical Garden, and spent lots of time in our own yard.

Maybe next year I’ll get around to baking, more crafts and more history lessons. ¬†Or maybe we’ll just spend more time outside.

What’s your favorite activities for November?

Pumpkin Patch


This was originally published on October 17, 2009.

I took my crazy little man to a homeschooling field trip yesterday.¬† Unfortunately, there were many visitors at the farm, and I didn‚Äôt know who was who, so I only met two of the other homeschoolers!¬† (One I already knew.)¬† Oh well…maybe next time!

But we had a great time despite some chilly weather!¬† He got to pet some farm animals, watch the pig races, ride a cow train, and, of course, pick a pumpkin.¬† He also got to wear his new jacket…next time I‚Äôll remember to roll the sleeves up!

(FYI:  This was his response when I asked him to smile.)

If you live near Athens, Georgia and want to go pick your own pumpkins (or strawberries or blueberries), you can visit Washington Farms too. I know there are other places around this area that also let you pick your own fruit. ¬†If we try others, I’ll be sure to write about them in future posts.