Lots and Lots of Pears!

This morning when I was reading though emails I came across a post in one of my local yahoo groups. Free pears, and they actually lived close to us. So we called them up and headed over before Paul left for work this morning. My camera batteries were still charging so no pics of the actual picking- just the results. The boys had a blast running and jumping to try and pick all they could. The tree was covered and had a ton way up out of reach, but we ended up bringing home more than 50lbs. They aren't ripe yet, but in a few days we'll can some pears and maybe make some pearsauce. Too bad they aren't ripe now...the boys are not wanting to be too patient! They've already eated a few that were not quite as hard as rocks!


Homeschool Memoirs: Agendas

This week's theme at Homeschool Memoirs is Homeschool Agendas. Since I haven't entirely figured that out yet for myself, I thought joining in and writing it all down might help me get my thoughts together.
We are on day 33 of our 2008-09 school year. And so far everything has gone smoothly. I planned the first 20 days out and now i am going week by week with some monthly and yearly planning too. I have yet to find a curriculum I love in it's entirety. I like some parts of a lot of different things. And it seems I tend to come back to me for most things we do. My kids are young, it's easy to do. I am sure as they grow I will turn more towards a premade curriculum, but for now this is what is working. We have a school day from 8:30 to 11:00. All actvities must be approved. Basically they have free choice from the playroom/classroom minus one shelf that has the cars and more toy-like activites. All the other kits, puzzles, art, practical life, etc is available. My oldest has a checklist of what he is to do that day on the dry erase board, once that is done (in any order) he can choose what to do off the shelves. Same for my 5 yr old- except no checklist, we cover the basics I set out and then he chooses. But here is the basic rundown for the year:

So for my oldest son, 7 yrs old, in 2nd grade:
Math: he is finishing up his Subduing Subtraction book from Mastering Mathematics; doing a lot with Montessori-inspired math manipulatives made by me. Reading higher number and getting ready for multiplication. I plan on starting multiplication when he is done with the subtraction book. We will still be using a lot of Montessori-inspired activities and manipulatives, aswell as his Multiplication book from Mastering Mathematics.
Language: He is doing Easy Grammar, supposed to be daily but usually just 2x a week. He is also working through Explode the Code 7. 2x a week. He is doing weekly spelling lists of about 10 words, organized by a phonogram. He is working though HWT Cursive, 2x a week and a self directed 15 min writing session of his choice the other days. He has one read a loud of my choice a day. Any other language is free choice from the language shelf (which isn;t quite finshed) but will contain a lot of word study materials: homophones, antonym, synonym, plurals, abbreviations, compound words, prefix and suffixes, alphabetizing, syllabication, etc...
Science and Social Studies: These 2 subjects are done in units with the whole family doing the same things- just more indepth for the older. Usually we don't do both subjects at once. We will study government, ancient cultures, the history of the earth, volcanoes, animals, and some others that I can't think of at the time and I don't have my planner here with me right now. I also have basic sceince equiptment on our shelves: microscope, telescope, magnets, electric kits, classification work for everyday use. He is also required to do georgraphy work 2-3 times a week. If I have nothing in particular planned then he chooses from the shelf. Our geography shelf is still a work in progress too. My plan for him this year is to cover N.America geographically. Countries and US States as well as other marks of interest.
Art: This year I have chosen 5-6 artists to study. So far we've done Kandinksky- which went wonderfully! We will also study various musicians from the classical composers to the Beatles. Art supplies are always available and we will be covering some different aspects of art composition this year in addition to free art. Music is an area in which we are seriously lacking- I really want them to learn an intrument but so far that isn't working too well.

Now for my 5 yr old, in K:
Math: We are covering the Kindergarten basics. Money, measuring, time, calendar, beginning addition and subtraction. The goal being to get him counting to 1000 and thoroughly understanding numbers and thier meanings and well into the mastery of additon during the year. He's got a couple books, which he chooses from. We do mostly hands on, manipulative based work, and a lot of Montessori inspired work too.
Language: He is working through the HWT printing book, he can form all uppercase and most lowercase. So our goals are to get the letters neater and on the lines. He has a weekly spelling list of 5 words, mostly CVC words right now and I will increase them as I see fit. He also is working though explode the code 2 1/2 and 3 sporadically. He really enjoys his work from the Language Shelf which he does daily during his free choice school time. His portion of the language shelf consist of words/picture matching- CVC, blends with short vowel and phonograms- word/item boxes, simple syllibication and alphabetizing. He also does one required read aloud to me a day.
Science, Social Studies and Art will be the same as above, since those studies aren't seperated by grade. Overall his year will be simple, more child-led, where if he doesn't want to do my chosen activity he can counteroffer a new one. If he's having an off day he can read to himself or do other approved acivities.

For Cohen, age 3:
I have no real plan for him, other than to spend more time working with him in general, covering things of his interest and mine: counting, letter sounds, basic preschool stuff. I try and get him focused on a few things per day. Pouring, sorting, coloring, lapbooks, being read to and "reading". But he is there with us for all our studies so he absorbs what he sees.


Summer Leaves

I love leaf pictures. I take a million every year....I so I immediately got my camera when I saw Rylan and Cale raking in the back yard yesterday...

This is what big brothers are good for...

And this is the last thing you see before your face is covered in leaves...

A fancy leaf hat...
The jump caught in mid air...

And mister gap tooth himself, whose horse tooth FINALLY got knocked after weeks and weeks of being way too loose and sticking way to far out of his mouth. He still has one more to go....his new tooth has been completely in behind it for a couple months now...and it is barely hanging, but he won't let me near it....I should go and encourage more rough-housing with daddy to get it knocked out too...


1000 eggs

When our chickens first started laying, the boys and I decided to keep track. We wanted to see how many we got a day, so we knew about when all of the chickens were laying. We've just kept going.....

When we got to the bottom of the page I was going to stop, but they didn't so we kept tallying on the back. We got our first egg on June about 2 mo and a week ago. Yesterday we hit 1000! Rylan says we should still count. To find out how many eggs we get in the whole year. He's already put out his estimate. I might just leave it soley up to him now though. But I think it is safe to say that they know how to read, write and count with tally marks now!


Animal Research Project (Lapbooks)

Last week we were discussing animal classification, and on Friday I had both Rylan and Cale choose an animal they wanted to do a project on. Rylan chose a Brittle Star and Cale chose a Hermit Crab. Sunday we cleared out the library on all the books on invertebrates, ocean life, crustaceans and echinoderms. They both wanted to do a lapbook, but we did it a little different than we have in the past, since this was supposed to be their projects. I read most of the books to them of course, and helped find internet pictures and resources, but as far as the lapbooks, I wanted the majority of the work to be theirs.

The first thing I did was make up a set of Animal Reasearch Questions, based on the information I wanted them to find and the questions we all came up with together during our brainstorming session. The questions are relatively simple, since my boys are young: animal type, habitat, parts, food, etc...You can find them here under What kind of animal is it? along with the files for the Animal Classification Box.

We read through the questions, then started to read in our books. My oldest used the index and table of contents himself. They dictated notes to me when we came across answers to some of the questions. Then I gave them a basket of premade mini-books. I basically just used all my scraps from previous lapbooks and folded them in half or triangles or whatnot. No templates or printing. So when they were ready to start they would pick a question, pick a book and answer. They each helped find a page full of pictures off the internet to glue in their books. My 5 yr old needed more prompts and spelling help. He dictated more. My 7 yr old did almost all the work himself. I think I wrote 1 question for him.

Cale finished his yesterday and is vry proud- it is completely him- right down to the backwards and upside down cover (which is on the back). Rylan finished his up this morning. And he "presented" it to me when he finished. He used the book to help him but most of the facts he recalled; he was really interested in the basket star. Cale "presented" his to Paul this morning too. He needed a little more prompting for answers, but recalled most of the info too.


Go! Diego Go!

My 3 year old is obsessed with Diego. We've got books and 1 movie (b-day present) and he always picks Diego to watch when it's his turn to pick at their 30 min movie time. For a few weeks now he has been Diego. This is the first time any of my kids have pretended to be someone or something else for an extended period of time. So awhile back I was blog browsing and saw the Tot Books at Carisa's blog. I made up the Cars one for him, which he loved. So since the older boys are getting ready to do an animal lapbooks I thought I would work on one for him. Originally it was going to be small, but I wanted to add a bit more so the final product is a full file folder, but depending on the age of the child you could skip somethings if you wanted to make a Tot Book size.

It's fairly simple: pockets for upper and lowercase letters, shape tracing, beginning sounds, number 1-10 (with spanish words too), a simple maze and line drawing, a positional word book. He hasn't worked on it finished yet, but he discovered half the booklets last week and has been reading and counting with them all week. All files can be downloaded here .

***all images are copyrighted and can be found at Disney Clips. Files can be used for personal use only. To view more Tot Books visit Carisa's site.


Random Pictures from our Week

Here is Cohen with his new grinding set. I've been saving egg shells for awhile and he is having a blast grinding them (and cheerios too)
This is one of Lakin (16 mo) favorite things to do right now. We got this tiny little spoon with something else and it is just right for him to transfer the popcorn kernels from bowl to bowl.
And here is Lakin's first experience with pouring. He did well actually since I only put a tiny bit of water in it. Of course getting the little teacup to his mouth with out spilling that was a little harder.

Here's Cale working on his place value, 10s and 1s.

And Rylan working on skip counting 2-9 (12 times each). He worked really hard and enjoyed pointing out the factors that the different numbers shared.

We got this egg a few days ago. We've only gotten one this small once before. They sure are cute...but yolkless

And finally the bunches of birthday balloons seems to have tied themselves into one big bunch that I am kicking all over the house. The boys however are loving hiding themselves in them.


Today's Baking: Tortillas

Today we decided to try out the boys new baking set by making some tortillas for lunch. It's a really easy recipe I found on a blog somewhere:
2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp oil

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup warm milk
Mix the first 4 ingredients. Slowly pour in milk while stirring. Knead for 2 minutes. Rest in bowl under plastic wrap for 20 min. Break dough into 8 balls and rest for another 10 min. Roll out to about an 8 in diameter. Heat a pan to med-high and cook each tortilla for about 30 seconds on each side. Keep the cooked ones wrapped in a napkin while you cook the rest.

First I rewrote the recipe step by step in a way my oldest could read it. They measured and stirred everything. The boys wanted to actually knead this. It is a very stiff dough so there was a lot of pushing on a ball and not much kneading. After about 2 rounds each they took it to the Kitchen Aid and let the dough hook have it.

Their favorite part is of course the rolling. These are really yummy and tasted great with our fresh egg burritos for lunch.


More Butterflies

I think this has been the Summer of the Butterfly for us. We started our study with the emergence of the cabbage worms that ate their way through our broccoli. We watched 5 emerge into butterflies, completed a butterfly lapbook and now everywhere we go the boys are shouting out..." I see a tiger swallow tail!" or " There goes a painted lady!" They've learned the names and can ID the 5-6 types we see in our yard. We never did find a Monarch egg/caterpillar this year. And the tobacco hornworm didn't make it, although we did see a dead tobacco moth on the driveway last week and Rylan immediately asked if it was a tobacco moth.

Earlier in the week, on our way outside we found this hanging near the latch to our chain link fence. It was still drying.

We watched it for a few minutes before going off to pick raspberries. Rylan actually stayed with it for about 20 minutes. Scaring the dogs away if they got to close. Cale kept coming back and trying to pick it up and Rylan would try and scare him away too :) He was just getting ready to leave it when it took flight. They watched it fly up to the house and back and landed on our shed.

And upon close inspection, we found about 6 of these hanging on our fence:

We'll have to keep an eye out for them next year so we can catch more of them. I haven't ID'd this butterfly yet- they are small, really pretty markings, dark orange on the outer wings. We'd been seeing them all around out cosmos for weeks.

My First Award!


I've been blogging for nearly a year now and I have recieved my first award! Thank you to Adventures of a Montessori Mama for nominating me!

I'll have to think on this next part....any blog listed on my sidebar, aswell as my friends listed on the sidebar of my homeschoolblogger blog are my favorites. I hardly ever come across a blog I don't like or can't learn from....

If you're named (below), and you want to share more bloggy goodness *no pressure here*:
1. The winner can put the logo on their blog.
2. Link to the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you’ve nominated.

so if I don't end up back to officially nominate....browse the blog list, all those blogs are great!


Animal Classification

I worked on this project all last week. We are discussing animals for the next few weeks, with the main part of the time being spent on an indepth animal "report" for both Rylan and Cale. I am thinking they will do a lapbook or something similar, but I want this to be them. But I will help them get their ideas focused and brainstorm for content to include. This is also a duel purpose unit on research. But before we jump into their projects I wanted to go over animal classification again. We did this a little last year, made a big poster and everytime we saw an anmimal we would glue it's picture in the right place. And draw a symbol for it's habitat.

So this year I made this:

Our animal classification box. There are divisions for Invertebrate/Vertebrate/Arthropod, then into the classes: mammal, bird, echinoderm, insect, etc...

Here is the control chart. I downloaded it from here.

Then there are animal picture cards 3-4 for each class. I based them off the ones available at the above website. I didn't like them so I found my own pictures and printed them on business card paper (makes it so much easier!)

Then there are reference cards that tell a few facts about each class:

We've been working through it together. So far sorted all the animals into their Phylums and the vertebrates into classes (no I didn't actually use the phylum/class terminology with them...) Tomorrow we tackle the invertebrates, before they choose which animal they want to do their reports on.

Birthdays and Chickens

Last birthday post, I promise!! Thye boys had a blast at their party and spending time with their grandparents and uncle. They got some things they will really enjoy using. Lots of art supplies, legos, sciency-stuff: butterfly, frog and aquasaur habitats, k'nex, the kits they picked out from the Montessori Services catalog- my mom got them the Egg slicing kit, peeling a carrot, and the grinding (Mortar and pestle), plus the big baking accessories for them to share. I was pretty happy with their selections- I must admit I have gotten a little picky on what I want them to play with, and it doesn't help that Paul's family is a battery-operated family. There was one thing I am not too happy with- and it wasn't even for the b-day boys!! Paul's mom and grandmother have also started the tradition of bringing the NON-birthday boy a present. The 3 older got one on Lakin's and Lakin got some yesterday. It may not be that bad, except that my MIL called me and asked me before Lakin's b-day if I wanted them to bring something for the other boys and I told her NO, I didn't want that started. She said she just wanted to make sure, but then showed up with presents (3 total for each). I just don't like it. They need to learn that it's not always about them and somedays are special for others. If they feel left out- which I don't think my boys would- then tough! Anyway....back to the other thing I wasn't happy about- Lakin's un-birthday gift:

I made it 7 years without owning anything like this. It's the new extreme Tickle-Me Elmo. Yuck! They of course find it funny. I doubt it will take more than a week before I can stuff it in the closet though. Really the only character stuff we own is the Thomas the Tank Engine wooden trains. Nothing else, and I like it that way!!!

Rylan and Paul also went out last night to pick up the replacement chicks. They are cute. Easter Egg chicks. Hopefully both girls! They are cute though- they boys love having babies in the house! Rylan seems okay...he did get a little teary eyed yesterday when my dad asked him about Shadow and wouldn't talk about it.

This is HIS chick. So far nameless. She looks a little like Phoenix did.

And here is the 2nd one. She's a little more flighty right now, but hopefully will calm down with 4 pairs of hands wanting to hold her all the time.


It's Birthday Time in Tennessee; Part 3

Today is Cohen's 3rd birthday.

He came a week late like Rylan did...after having contractions about every 10 minutes for 2 months. He's the sweetest child. He's grown up so much in the past year. This time last year he wasn't talking hardly at all. He spoke in sounds..."Daddy!Daddy! Moooooo!!" meant "Look! I see a cow!!" Every animal from cow to dog to elephant was said by it's sound. Even the word big was a sound- think of the sound you would make if you were trying to pick up something heavy. That was big/heavy for Cohen.

He talks now. He can count. He knows his letters. He is always asking "what does this say" He tries to keep up with his big brothers, and loves to play with his little brother.

Their party in in a few hours. And then his birthday dinner of "Pasta and pear!!!"

Happy Birthday, Cohen!!

It's Birthday Time in Tennessee: The Cake

The birthday party is tomorrow afternoon. I had a terrible time with this cake. I ended up just doing 2 flavors- chocolate and carrot cake and making it smaller than originally planned. Afterall, this year we are just having a small family party.
Note to self: NEVER use carrot cake for carving or molding!!
The head fell on me 3 times!! I told Paul if it falls again they are getting an ice cream cake from down the road. The body and nest are chocolate, the eggs and head/tail are carrot cake.
Not my best work, but it looks like a chicken I guess. And I know they will like it when they see it in the morning, and that is what matters.


Shadow Flew the Coop

It was probably about the worst thing that could have happened on his birthday. Rylan chose Shadow for his own the day the chicks arrived. He named her. He held her. She quickly became one of our tamest birds. She sat with him when ever she was out of the brooder box. She didn't struggle to get away. She looked at us and cocked her head to the side when we talked to her.

Yesterday afternoon we walked outside and there she was. Rylan ran inside at the sight of the bird. She was black and during the 3 foot walk I was really hoping I would see golden feathers on her. But no. None. Shadow was the only solid black bird. You can imagine my reaction to the dog who walked up to me with feathers in her mouth. She was so scared of me she didn't attempt to come in for over 4 hours.

I walked inside and went straight to Rylan's room. He was sobbing in his bed. I felt almost as sick as I did when Bailey died. After holding him for a few minutes I had to ask him if he knew who it was....he shook his head. I had to tell him HIS bird was gone. He screamed even harder for a good hour.

Eventually he did calm down. He sat on the couch holding his stuffed animals. He asked if we could shuck the corn on the cob inside. He wouldn't go out back where we usually do it. He wouldn't go get the eggs. He wouldn't walk past the chickens yard to play outside.

He's okay this morning. He wants to get another chick, which we offered to do. He wanted to get another Black Rock, but has decided on an Easter Egg Chicken since we found some local. Paul and I have the job of clipping feathers now. We should have done it sooner, but they hadn't flown over since the last attack (from which the chicken fully recovered), when we added height to the fence. At least kids recover fairly easy, although I know he misses her a lot.

It's Birthday Time in Tennessee; Part 2

7 years ago I became a mother. August 9, 2001.
At 1 week late, the doctors decided to help him a long a little.
I guess he's always been a mama's boy.
7 years seems so old, he's not a little kid anymore. Losing teeth, gaining independence. He's the best big brother his little brothers could ask for. He takes care of them so well....he fits the roll well. He's the boss. He's my quiet observer. I see so much of myself inside him, and so much of his daddy outside!

Happy Birthday, Rylan!


It's Birthday Time in Tennessee; Part 1

Today my son turns 5.

He came into this world 3 weeks early, the day before his brother turned 2. He tried to have trouble breathing and was taken to the NICU only to breathe on his own 5 minutes into his stay. They still kept him 5 days.

He's grown so much....especially emotionally in the past year...he's always willing to help in the kitchen; collect eggs and take out the compost. He's ready and waiting to start school in the morning with no fights at all. He's independent and wants to do everything he can all by himself. He's a free spirit, with his head in the clouds, and I wouldn't want him any other way.

Happy Birthday, Cale!