In the Bamboo Forest

Today we visited a bamboo forest- well about an acre or so of the stuff, courtesy of a Craigslist ad to come and cut and haul it off for free. It was late in the day when we finally got the call back with information but we headed over anyway. The boys were really looking forward to cutting and sawing the stalks down.

 So armed with a chain saw (for Paul), 3 hand saws and 3 pairs of clippers we headed in. They got right to work.

They sawed down the biggest ones they could find. And tried to help drag them out. And loaded up the trailer.

Annika was past tired, getting hungry and scared of the chain saw. But she managed to have some fun too.

 All in all it was a pretty good afternoon.We got a trailer full of 12ft + stalks and a few shorter ones.  Paul might take the boys back next week and get some more.  Can't beat free building materials!

And now I am off to research DIY bamboo fence ideas.

This post has been linked to the Homestead Barn Hop!


Volcanic Silhouettes Art Project

 I have seen a lot of artwork lately with silhouettes and I always love the effect. I found one volcano related the other day while looking around for ideas with Cale. So today we did a volcanic silhouette, combining a few different ideas. But basically- oil pastels, baby oil, and black paper.

Lakin- age 5

Cohen- age 7

Cale- age 9

Rylan- age 11

Annika- age 1 

I have a couple big complainers when it comes to art projects- and a couple who really love to do them. My biggest complainer did his best show today. He dislikes how his turned out. I like them all, but I can tell he did NOT put his best effort into his work, he was putting his best effort into proving he "couldn't" do it hoping I would let him quit mid-project.

You can find another great project using the same technique on Eclectic Momma and a lot of other art projects on my Art Pinboard.


Topics of Study

 Lakin: Dinosaurs. With clay fossils and handwritten lists of dinosaur names by a little boy who normally "doesn't know how" to write. His beloved prehistoric predator documentaries on Netflix. Stacks of heavy dinosaur encyclopedias and a camera filled with photos of model dinosaurs.

Cohen: Whales, sharks and other sea life. With Blue Planet and Shark Week on Netflix. A list of whale species. Clay dolphins and an oil pastel orca.

 Rylna: Vehicles. With a list of questions about the inner workings of tractor trailers and the speed and cost of the fastest cars. Books on Modern Aircrafts and How to Draw Flying Machines.

Cale: Volcanoes and Earthquakes. With a mud packed volcano. Baking soda, vinegar and red food coloring. A second attempt with a few additions to make the lava flow more impressive and longer lasting. National Geographic and Discovery Channel videos of eruptions and the history of Pompeii. And of course a little volcanic duct tape creating planned for tomorrow.

We started something new this week. More record keeping and accountability. Learning contracts and a couple project helps to get them moving forward and digging deeper. Yesterday I met with each of the boys to go over their new contracts and to discuss my expectations and theirs. I asked them to pick a topic to study while we tried this new system and with the exception of Cohen they all picked something new...Dinos, Vehicles and Volcanoes/Earthquakes. And so far, 2 days in, I am seeing some good changes coming.


National Geographic Super Readers- Review and Giveaway

 Recently I was given the opportunity to review National Geographic Super Readers program. Any program holding the National Geographic name has a lot to live up to and this program does not disappoint.  They have leveled readers on fun non-fiction topics that go from Pre-Reader to Level 3 (Fluent). The topics are those that kids love- animals, vehicles, volcanoes, etc. To go along with the books, parents and kids can go to the Super Readers website and download a poster of all the books along with badges, bookmarks, and other fun prizes to win as they move through the different levels. These all work together to help make learning to read fun and exciting. 

We received 4 books as part of our review package. One level 2 super reader book, a National Geographic Chapter book,  the Ultimate Weird but True and an Everything Castles book. We also received the poster and stickers.

So what did we think of the program and other National Geographic titles? First off, as soon as the books arrived they were whipped from the box and I didn't see them for quite awhile. So obviously my kids loved them. The leveled reader was Sharks, which completely fits with Cohen's latest obsession with sharks, dolphins and whales. It was well written, full of great information and not at all dumbed down. That is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to readers- the language has been dumbed down so much that it doesn't seem as real any more and kids don't enjoy the reading experience when that happens. The National Geographic book was of good length- challenging enough to help readers grow but not so much that one might give up. The kids had a good long look at the poster too- and mentioned that they wanted a bunch of the other titles. So the program's topics are spot on with what [my] kids want to read.

I think the most enjoyed book was the Ultimate Weird but True title. This is the perfect book for my kids- full of picture and random facts. The type of book that makes them come to you with "did you know..." type statements. If I could change one thing it would be that some of the pages were just too busy for me. I preferred the pages that were broken up a bit more with pictures and blurbs about what made it so strange or interesting. This didn't bother the kids in the least though, and they all read the book cover to cover. Multiple times.

The Everything Castles book was also equally impressive. It has a ton of information, lots of pictures and drawings. There is a ton to read, but it is broken up nicely so that young readers wouldn't get overwhelmed with huge paragraphs. There are a few other titles available- Ancient Egypt, Rocks, Sharks, Dolphins and Big Cats- all of which look equally impressive.

You can find out more information about all that National Geographic Kids has to offer on their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

And now for the Giveaway! I am giving away a National Geographic Super Reader Book, along with a poster, book marks and badges to 3 lucky winners! This giveaway is limited to residents of the US and will end next Wednesday, November 14, at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the MomsMeetSM program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms MeetSM blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of the product. All opinions are my own.


The Leaves on the Ground

Last weekend we worked outside.  Cutting wood, chopping wood, and stacking wood in preparation for the cold air we were to get blasted with during the week. 

The kids wanted to rake leaves too. I didn't think we had a good enough tree, but our flowering magnoila decided to drop a bunch and the boys got to work with their [garden] rakes piling them up.

This was Annika's first experience with leaves, that she remembers at least. Cale kept her entertained by burying himself and popping out at her.

I love taking leaf pictures, but sometimes the kids are less than accommodating and would rather play then pose for pictures or wait for me to be ready before they throw them :)

And sometimes little girls don't understand the meaning of stand with your brothers and would rather throw leaves instead of hold them.

And sometimes you get leaves thrown in your face after asking them to stand and hold leaves for such a picture. Even if you do ask that they throw them up instead.

Sometimes leaves can be dangerous. Or not so much the leaves- but the sticks and nuts and other randomness that can get raked up with the pile.

But it's still fun. To dive in them. And throw them until a full on fight ensues. And apparently it is the most fun to gang up on mom and throw them all on her together.

Two days later the wind started blowing and whistling and blew all the leaves away.


School. Home. Holidays.


We've been very relaxed lately with schoolish stuff. But here is a little of what they have been working on. Rylan has continued his tree list (of every tree he has seen). He's up to about 200 or so. Cale and Lakin spent some time creating with clay. I handed them a box of toothpicks and they went to town making creations like the one pictured. Cohen has spent a lot of time with the How to Draw Whales and Sharks book. He's getting pretty good at them too.



 I rearranged the school/play room. I moved a couple of desks in and a shelf out. I wanted to give Rylan and Cale their own space. Which Annika promptly took over.

Annika's room also got rearranged- you know the whole big girl room thing. The crib was taken apart, a full size mattress brought in. A tall shelf out and a shorter and wider one moved in.  She loves her knew room- rug, bed and the fact that she can almost reach the dolls she's not supposed to get down.




We went low key this year for Halloween. I really hate all the [junk] candy they get. I don't like how it makes them act or the increase in stomach complaints. Usually I give in, but this year the kids pulled together their own costumes using clothes and supplies already on hand and a trip to the thrift store. The little community center down the street held a trunk or treat last Saturday. It was small, very small. But it gave them the experience they wanted from Halloween.

Yesterday we attended a Halloween Festival for the local homeschoolers put on by our co-op. I made cupcakes for the cupcake walk, there were games, crafts, pizza, a bonce house. The kids had a great time. And when we got home Rylan made pumpkin cookies for their Halloween treat- which I much prefer to the junk they would have received anywhere else!