Thursday, November 10, 2011

Metal by Grant

My dad works with lighting. A long time ago, a man would come and pick up the extra metal at the warehouse. One day the man couldn't come and Dad did it and he found out that the metal was worth a lot of money. After that, Dad took it.
I first started helping when I was eight. I've helped a lot with it so Dad pays me when we go there. Rowan started to work when he was five. We put the metal in the van to take to the metal yard. Transformers, ballasts, and copper wire are separated. A big magnet comes over and picks up the ballasts and puts them in a bin. Then they put it on a scale and another guy checks the weight. Dad throws the transformers into another bin and they weigh that. Then the copper wire they put into smaller bins to weigh.
It usually takes 3 or 4 hours. We work really hard, but Rowan talks a lot.
Then we go out to eat.
Saturday we got up at 6am and took all the plastic off the copper wire. It took 3 hours. We got $300 for copper wire this time.
I think it's fun to take metal. It's good hard work.

In the summer we go to garage sales and get all the free metal. We get copper wire off of computers that don't work and fax machines. We do it because we get money for it for college.
I like finding metal. It's kinda like a metal hunt.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creating Together

My children love to create. Their mommy can either be a big creative damper or a delightful artistic enthusiast. I usually fall somewhere between those two. But when it comes to art, I 've learned a few things.
First, I have the projects and supplies ready before I call them. Table cleared off, paper ready, brushes out. I also have the website up on the computer. I get the majority of my art ideas from this wonderful website. 

Secondly, when we do art, we have no (or very little) time frame. Artists hate to be rushed through their creation. So I let them take their time and enjoy it thoroughly. I want them to learn to work diligently and put their best effort into their creations. So....even if it means we don't get to afternoon school, so be it.

Thirdly, because of the time and effort art takes, we don't do it together weekly. However, I do have other artistic outlets that they love to pursue when they get the creative bug. They each have a blank notebook and access to scissors, glue, and old magazines. I can't begin to tell you the amount of time they have spent scrap booking both together and by themselves. The young ones love paint with water books.  I have baskets of stickers that I've found at garage sales that they love to use to create pictures or cards.
Lastly, it's the time with mommy that really makes the art time special. I almost always end up helping to paint or color or draw. I have absolutely no artistic talent, but they love me anyway, and they give me pointers!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


If you asked me what was that most important thing that I wanted my home-schooled children to learn, I would answer without hesitation, "the Bible."

The person who knows the Word of God is a truly educated person.

However, this fall, as we went about our home school day, I had a mental image of a scale. On one side of the scale, sat the math, science, literature, music, languages, geography, typing, etc. On the other side of the scale sat the Bible. I realized that if I truly wanted the Bible to impact the other areas of study, the scale would have to be at least equal. As it was, the scale was very scholastically heavy and Biblically light. Adjustments were in order.

So, now we start our day with God's Word. We read a few chapters, discuss them, pray (with a prayer list), watch the 40 day mission challenge, and journal. It takes an hour. We then move into other subjects. At the end of the school day we come together again and read about the early church. We read biographies of missionaries and martyrs. It takes another hour. The day is bookended by truth.

I can tell you this, I have never been so relaxed in my home school day as I am this year. I am covering the most important thing, and with that, everything else falls into perspective. We pursue God first, prioritize our day, and watch Him infiltrate everything.

I heard Rowan talking to Grant the other day.
 He said, "Grant I don't know what to do. I can't stop thinking about God!"
Grant replied, "You don't want to stop thinking about God, because when you do, all good things follow Him out."

This is truly it. I want them to establish the habit of thinking about God all the time. To know, that all good comes from Him, and apart from Him is nothing good.
 The scale is slowly moving in the right direction....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Learning Spaces

We started school yesterday.
I had a terrible earache.
Grant commented, "Do you remember the first day of school last year?"
As if it was at all possible to forget such a day.
He continued, "I was sick last year. That's kinda fun, I wonder who's going to be sick on the first day of school next year."
Ahhh, nothing like anticipation!

When school time came yesterday morning, little Rose grabbed my hand and ran me to the basement. Part of her excitement to start school, was the location of the classroom.

Really, at four, school consists of reading together. So I decided to spend Rowan and Rose's school time snuggled up in bed! All their books are in the handy little drawer under the bed.
After our reading time, I bring them up to the school table for about 10 minutes for handwriting and calendar work. I want them to be comfortable and familiar with the desk since they'll be there eventually.

Grant spends the majority of his morning working at this table. He completes his individual checklist while I am taking turns with the "R"s. After lunch, I spend some time with him on grammar and science. I correct his math and we talk about stuff. Rowan and Rose are in quiet time after lunch so we are undisturbed.
Grant also likes to work on the computer. As of right now, the kids are allowed a half an hour each on Tuesdays. This wards off the constant asking for computer time. But Grant's math is on the computer so it's nice for him to be able to move to a different station to work.
This year, Avonlea is doing things completely different. Based on my study of the Brontes, she is focusing on art, music, and languages. She spends a small amount of her day on math/science and the rest of the time on her passions.
Here, she is working on illustrating a story that I wrote.

The reasons for the different stations is two fold.
First, with four kids, it is difficult to not distract each other. We are obviously very verbal, so close proximity produces mayhem.
Secondly, I want to subconsciously encourage the idea that learning is not regulated to a table, or even a sitting position. Learning happens at the nature table and the frog aquariums and the Lego box and cuddled on the couch. Learning areas are scattered over our home so that learning is the natural outcome of just being here.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Charlotte Mason

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Reading

It's been awhile since I've had time to write anything schoolish and that, perhaps, is because I'm revamping everything. I'm reminding myself, again, what my purpose of homeschooling is, and changing my curriculum accordingly.
But for now, I thought I'd just make a list of books that my children have been enjoying of late. Every summer they participate in the library's summer reading program. Usually, they read for 3-5 hours a day during the summer and wrack up minutes like professionals. This year however, I've limited them. They can read for one hour during the day and then for a while before bed, depending on what time they get up there.

I actually enacted this change in February when I noticed a tendency toward seclusion in my older kids. Everything I have ever read concerning homeschooling has told me to make my children readers, to encourage them to read much and well. children are excellent readers, but if my 11 year old spends her whole day locked up in her room with the classics, who does that benefit? Not herself, because she will have missed the chance to interact with her family. She would have missed the cute things her little sister said. She would have missed the board games I played with them, the walks we took, the songs we sang. She would have missed the blessing of serving together. Heidi, Pollyanna, or ever Anne, seem stale substitutes when there are real friends to be had.

Grant also, was pulling away, neglecting his brother and their games of war to lay on his bed with a book. Which provides the truer education? Well, both, in moderation.

So my restrictions have been in place for several months now and it's good. My children are learning discipline, they can't always have their curiosity gratified in one sitting, they have to be patient over many days. Because of that, they are choosing harder books, that take longer, because they know they're not going to be able to finish them soon anyway. Grant just finished the complete works of Grimms fairytales. It was 800+ pages and took him a month.

Also, they are playing together much, much, more. Avonlea is investing precious time in her little sister and the results are bountiful for both of them. Grant has the time and energy to engage Rowan and to read to him. They play as a group more often, simply because they have the time. They all have more time to hear God's words and my words.

So by all means, encourage your children to be readers, the written word is powerful. But beware, that it is not replacing the real life, flesh-and-blood, words of interaction.
Our children will be shaped by words.
Whose words?

Here are some of their favorite summer reads so far:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM
by Robert C. O'Brien

Summer of the Monkeys
by Wilson Rawls

Dangerous Island
by Helen Mather-Smith Mindlin

Eighteen and on her Own
At Home in North Branch
Grandma's Attic Series by Arleta Richardson

Ginger Pye
Eleanor Estes
Neither of the kids really liked this one because they cut off the dog's tail or something???

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming

The Enchanted Castle
E. Nesbit

Daddy Long Legs
by Jean Webster

Daughters of the Faith Series
by Wendy Lawton
Avonlea's favorites

Baby Island
by Carol Ryrie Brink

The Complete Works of Grimms Fairytales

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers
Maria Augusta Trapp

Little Men
Jo's Boys
Sequels to Little Women by Lousia May Alcott

Happy Summer Reading!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kittens Growing Up by Avonlea

The kittens we hold in our hands are sooooooooooo cute. The one in front with the white face is Marius, the gray is Cosette. The one far back but that you can see her face is Aspen, and the one you can't see hardly at all we've nicknamed,"Mean One."
Cosette and Marius looking like their mother.

Aspen, my favorite, on my shoulder. They are so cute!

A poem -

The kittens we hold in our hands are very,very, cute.

We make them laugh and smile, and giggle too.

They meow and eat and grow up big, that's the truth.

Also, you like to cuddle and hold the wee kittens that grow up old.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Arizona by Avonlea

This is a canyon we danced in front of. 85 degrees, wind at our backs[if there
was any] it was hot, but pretty. That's me with the red shirt on.There's a prickly pear
cactus behind me,"ouch!" In the background of this picture, you'll see the outline of Superstition mountains.


Choo, choo! All aboard for a Ghost Town! Ghost Towns were when people would desert the town, like after a gold rush.

A barrel cactus I believe.Look it that hole! Small animals live in cactus holes to escape the heat.

They look nice and fuzzy from faraway, but up close they're spiny!

Oooooo! A good looking cactus!

I really enjoyed Arizona. I'd like to go back............... some day! We also went to the zoo.There were Koalas there.............. so cute! Yes, we had fun.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Snow Poem by Avonlea

To be read slowly....


The snow covers mountains
The ice skims the lakes
The newly fresh snow
is sprinkled in place
The trees stand mighty
with their green and white leaves
The houses show on top of their roofs
That they have opal and diamond
to use
The children play in a nestled valley
The opal comes to them
in their sally


Sally defined: a short excursion; jaunt

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Three States I Would Like To Visit by Avonlea

There are three states I would like to visit someday. It would be exciting to go to new places. The states I would like to go to are: Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine.

The first state is Vermont. I enjoy snow and there's lots of snow in Vermont. Next, is Massachusetts. Cape Cod in Massachusetts has beautiful scenery. Lastly, is Maine. I've seen pictures of Maine's beautiful fall leaves.

I would like to visit these three states someday. I would like to travel to Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine because their beauty makes me gasp.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Children's Hour by Annie

"Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupations,
That is known as the Children's Hour."
This poem has been making the cinnamon roll circuit of my mind lately and has finally arrived in the middle. The middle being where action takes place.
There was little I needed to revamp for school this semester, fall went very smoothly (despite a very thorny Rose). The only curriculum things I altered were spreading a week of grammar out to two weeks (filling in with more journaling and poetry), and adjusting a few things on Avonlea's checklist. Avonlea really loves languages and cajoled me to let her take Spanish. She also is very interested in calligraphy. So I bought a Spanish course and a calligraphy book and gave her free hand in them.
The only major change I added was the addition in my day of a Children's Hour. I ask things of my children all day. They, for the most part, obey without grumbling. So many times when they ask me to do something with them I have a legitimate excuse, "Sweetheart, my hands are covered in chicken grease right now," "I don't really think a bike ride in 30 degree weather sounds appealing," "I hate monopoly." etc. So....I told them on Sunday night, that I am setting aside 3-4pm every day for them. NOT for their education, NOT for their nourishment, NOT for their laundry or dust-balls, but for THEM.
So this week, Avonlea, Grant, and I finish afternoon school, get the babes out of quiet time and discuss what we are going to do with our hour. The first day we played sardines (like hide and seek) for the whole time, Tuesday we played red-light green-light, mother-may-I (which I discovered they had never heard of), and duck-duck-goose. Today, they wanted to bake brownies.
So for one hour, I am theirs exclusively.........and it's the best spent hour of my day.