A homeschooling blog we created to share our stories and adventures as we live and learn as a family.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Our kitty, Lewis is home, after being missing for two weeks. We are so very thankful to the thoughtful person who called the local shelter to report a stray cat. To say my children (and I) were devestated is an understatement and after two weeks of tears we are so thrilled to have him home. He has been snuggled and petted and snuggled some more and could now very well be the most spoiled cat ever.

So far we've been able to keep Lewis, our bird-rodent-bug hunter extraordinaire, from the chicks, who have grown so much I hardly recognize them as the little fluffballs who came to us two weeks ago. They have feathers and giant chicken feet and a chickenish look in their eye now.

We've enjoyed the last (hopefully) of some very rainy weather by staying in our pj's late, snuggling up with good books, and cooking some delicious breakfast food. I saw the baked oatmeal at http://www.soulemama.com/ and after realizing that life is too short to go without this, decided to make it one morning. I found the recipe here :
It was a delicious accompaniment to my usual green smoothie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

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. Inspired by

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Reading - How We Learn It

When we started out as a new family, long before we actually became a homeschooling family, I knew I wanted to instill a love of books and stories in my children. I read to my children in utero, and when they arrived we read as much as possible and brought books along everywhere - to the beach, on picnics, to church for wiggly toddlers and basically any place where we might have a minute or two to sit and thumb through a few pages. I wanted them to hear stories that are rich in content and beautiful in language, so from the beginning we read classics like Just So Stories, Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Charlotte's Web, The Wind in the Willows, and the Little House series. I looked for beautifully illustrated versions of Mother Goose and children's Fairy Tales. I remember staying up late with my then 6 year old D, night after night, unable to put down the Harry Potter books, even though he was already yawning. In the car we listened to books on CD - so, so many books on CD! We love absolutely anything narrated by Jim Dale. He is amazing!

When my children expressed an interest in learning to read, I tried to help them along, keeping it fun and lighthearted. We sang songs about the letter sounds. We played a lot of games. We used sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet A LOT! My kids loved those. A good friend of mine showed my some old primers she used for teaching reading, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1957, called the Reading for Meaning series. These are 'whole language' primers and my kids have truly loved reading them. Having been written in the 1950's they provide lots of opportunites for historical/cultural teaching moments, such as "Yes, that mommy does look beautiful baking cookies in high heels and red lipstick, but your mommy prefers to kick it in sweat pants" and "nowadays some mommies go to work too!" I supplement with MCP's phonic readers as well so that they have some phonics learning as well. D started decoding words at about 5, but really loathed reading what he called 'baby books'. I encouraged him to sit with me and read a little bit each day, but eventually he decided that he wanted to do it on his own. I was a bit skeptical, but he took some books upstairs to his room (where I was sure he was jumping on the bed and building with LEGOS) and in a few months was a fully fluent reader! I have no idea how it happened, but it did, and I can honestly say I had very little to do with it. He was about 8 when he began reading chapter books.

From the time she was very little, J has wanted to learn to read. When she was a toddler she would sit with us on the couch for story after story, as long as we would sit with her. K, however, is a wiggler and has gone through times when it was very difficult to get her to sit and listen to a story. So I told stories while she played with play dough or while she snuggled in bed. Now she asks for the Three Little Pigs every night and loves acting out the voice of the wolf (done in Jersey-shore/Cake boss type accent). J is six now and just read her first chapter book - a Magic Tree House book! She is very, very proud of this accomplishment and I am very proud of her too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The chicks - week 1

We've had our chicks for a week now and they are growing so quickly! We've already had to move them to bigger housing as they outgrew their little cardboard box fairly quickly. They now have feathers on their wings and it is hilarious watching them try to fly. Mostly take a running start, then dive-bomb each other like fluffy, beaked kamikazes. We decided to start a growth chart for two of the kids' favorite chicks, to track their growth over the following weeks.

Night, night.

Dude, check out my tail feathers

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Here's what I've been up to in the land of knitting...

A mother's day scarf for my mom.

Some knit purses for the girls.

And a poncho for J. I have a work in progress that I can't wait to share in a few weeks.

Friday, May 13, 2011

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our peeps

Our chicks arrived today!

They are quite possibly the cutest little balls of fluff I have ever seen and we are all quite smitten with them. We have never owned chickens before so this is truly an adventure for us. We've done a lot of reading and research, but as with any new endeavor, we are learning as we go. Today was very exciting for the kids (okay, and for me too).

Even Sophie was excited, fretting over them like a little mama all day.

They truly provided hours upon hours of entertainment today.

More on the chicks to come, but now we are going to kiss their little fuzzy heads good night and hope they stop peeping for a bit and get some much needed sleep.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Old Sturbridge Village

We had a great time at Old Sturbridge Village this week! I forgot my camera, but a good friend of mine was nice enough to share the fabulous photos she took.

History, Geography, and Cultural Studies: How We Learn It

We are winding down our school year and I thought I would recap what we have learned this year, and how we went about it. Last week D finished up his year-long study of world history from 1849 - present. Since he began homeschooling almost three years ago we have been using the Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer to study history and geography. We follow a classical approach, breaking world history down into four units, studying one unit per year. The summer before he began homeschooling we read Volume One, Ancient Times together and D was hooked! During second grade he learned about medieval history, in third grade he learned early modern history (from late Renaissance to the gold rush) and this year he finished up the fourth volume, from the gold rush to the fall of the Berlin Wall. D listens to a chapter or two on CD per week or reads them from the book, and does a corresponding map to go along with the learning he has done.

I think that there is no easier way to make learning history tedious than to give kids text books and to ask them to memorize dates and take tests, only to regurgitate information that they will quickly forget. I want history to come alive for my children, and I want them to always find meaning in what they are learning. So we read lots of historical fiction, take lots of field trips, and do lots of projects. This year D has read Farmer Boy, The Sign of the Beaver, David Livingstone Foe of Darkness, Number the Stars, Meet Addy, Stawberry Girl, Snow Treasure, Anne Frank, Life in Hiding, and Harriet Tubman, Go Free or Die, and has listened to the novels of Patricia Reilly Giff on CD just to name some favorites. We visited Plimoth Plantation, and yesterday went to Old Sturbridge Village for the first time! Next month we'll head to Battleship Cove to check out some WWII era subs. D was so very lucky to be able to travel to Greece and Rome with my dad and his wife last summer and to visit the ruins, museums, and cathedrals of many of the historic places he'd learned about over the past years.

Public schools seem to focus on U.S history, which makes sense in a way. It's good to know about the country where you live and ours is a very large and diverse country to be sure. But I want my children to be curious about the world around them and accepting and knowledgeable of other countries and cultures. So we focus on world history, but I also try to find creative ways to introduce U.S history each year as well. D has learned about famous presidents, important documents, the three branches of government, and the 50 states - mostly by reading books, watching movies (Brainpop and School House Rock are favorite sources)and playing stack the states on his ipod. Our new favorite book is the Scrambled States of America and we can't wait to get the board game!

J has been learning all about world culture this year. We use the book Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta and Richard Johnson as a jumping off point to learn about the world we live in. It's a book of folk tales from around the world. So we read several stories each week, and then put a flag sticker of the country we've been reading about from her Flags of the World book into a passport that we made in the beginning of the year. We also use globes and puzzles to learn geography. So far she's 'traveled' to countries in North America, South America, Africa, and Europe and this month we'll be reading and learning about Asia. We try to do a project for each continent - for example, we made clay beads last week when we were reading about Africa. When we learned about North America we did some crafts with quilting squares and made a southern-style meal. We also read lots of historical picture books and early chapter books for young learners. J loves the Little House books and some other favorites are the D'Aulaire's books of famous people (we love Abe Lincoln and Columbus), Follow the Dream, the Story of Christopher Columbus, Farmer George Plants a Nation, Martin's Big Words, Paths to Peace, Squanto's Journey, and Across a Dark and Wild Sea.

Happy history learning!