Friday, October 23, 2015

Time for Change...Again

We already changed a lot about my approach to homeschooling, especially in regards to Buddy. (You can read about that HERE, HERE, and HERE.) But the thing I ADORE about moving, is that it is the perfect time to change things. Somehow it seems easier to make habit changes when you're already making so many big changes about where you live, who your friends are, where your library and neighborhood grocery store is located, etc.

They did a lot of this during the 22 hour drive out to New Mexico!
So, we have finally arrived out here in "the old cowboy country" as my kids put it! We're spending lots of time with family and slowly moving into our house. But once we finally get settled and unpacked these are the things I am excited about implementing in our new SW homeschooling routine!

1. Math games! I get the whole workbook thing, it feels like you're accomplishing something. Like you can prove what your kid is learning. But I've started to really, REALLY dislike math workbooks. I have found a bunch of math dice, domino and card games on Pinterest that I am STOKED to try out! You can check out my STEM board on Pinterest to find these games...go ahead and click on the Pinterest link right now so you don't forget!

2. Get input from my kids about what they want to learn. We already do a really good job of looking things up and learning about things they have specific questions about. But so far they haven't had much input about what direction we move in. Does the Bear want to really focus on art? I have no idea, because I haven't asked her. Maybe they are a bit young to even know what they want to do. I guess I'll find out once we get settled!

3. Be less busy! This fall we took on A LOT of activities. And while I'm glad we did it so they had a bunch of fun stuff to do right before we moved, I'm happier that we now have NOTHING to do. I like being at home. I like sitting on the floor playing games and reading. When all the kids have 2 activities each week plus on-site classes to get to we just end up running around all day with very little time to sit and be peaceful. The only thing I'm going to do before Christmas is try to find a co-op/support group that meets for activities.

4. Really incorporate gospel study into our every-day lives. I think I'm going to work on ponderizing a scripture with the kids each week. Find a verse that is uplifting or encouraging to help focus our thoughts first thing in the morning.

Monday, October 19, 2015

All About Moving

We are relocating from the NW to the SW. It is a big change and we have a behemoth of a road trip two days away. But I'm glad to report that everyone seems to be excited for the move.

I was excited for our move (and still am) until we went to our last class of Girl Scouts and sewing group. I guess I hadn't given myself time to think about all the good and fun things we have done here in the last year and a half. As my friend announced that this would be the Bear's last G.S. meeting she got all choked up! And then I was all teary too. It's really great to know that we have such good friends who love us and will miss us.

Some of my good friends at sewing group! Amy, me, Danielle, Kathy and Carin
But we have lots of great things to look forward to! We are moving closer to my husband's family so we'll be able to see grandparents and cousins on a very regular basis, which I think is really helping the kids to be excited and realize they are gaining more than they are losing.

Here is the official list of things we will miss (not in order): the $1200 per child to put toward any curriculum or extra-curricular activity for each of the school-aged kids each year. And all my awesome friends! We've had so much fun at play-groups, exercise group, sewing group and church activities. I'm grateful for their advice and support and friendship over the last year and a half. And being surrounded by lots of natural beauty. I'm sure the desert has its good sunsets, right? But grass, ferns, Redwoods, and the beach 5 minutes away is pretty hard to beat!

What we're gaining: 1. Self-employment which embodies a plethora of benefits for my husband who is the sole bread-winner for our family...and in the end a happier, less-stressed husband means he'll be happier at home. 2. Closer proximity to my husband's family! We currently live about 9 hours from most of my family but will soon be only an hour away from most of his family, plus we've lived in the NW for the last 6 years, so I guess it's his family's turn! 3. And the other main thing we're gaining is cheaper cost of living: we live in California right now, 'nuff said.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Weekly Update: We're Moving!

 The good news is that we won't be any farther away from Disneyland, instead of being 12 hours north, we'll be 12 hours east! Hooray!

This week we've been cleaning and organizing and getting rid of clutter. We're waiting to box things up until this weekend. I scheduled movers, cancelled utilities, got an oil change (we are going to miss the carousel at the Toyota service center!) and finished our samples for the charter school. The Bear and Buddy got to bring home some of their work from classes:

"Monkeys groom to show they care."
The Bear drew a scene, copied it and colored each one differently. She is going to miss this art class!

The kids have been more interested than ever in some of their toys they found under their beds and in books we haven't read for a long time, since we haven't gotten new library books for about a week.

We've also spent a decent amount of time dreading the long drive that awaits us Wednesday...22 hours in a car with normal traffic. In a Uhaul it could take a lot longer. Ugh.

We've also tried to keep things as normal as possible this week, like going to on-site classes, gymnastics and martial arts. And of course, with all this change and excitement everyone decided to get sick too...lovely. However, I think we're finally done passing this nasty virus around and we should all be healthy to enjoy EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE of our long road trip!

Wish us luck! And I should be back to blogging much more regularly once we finally get settled in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


 We've been working on lots of projects at our house. We've painted Halloween nails and organized and cleaned out all the closets and cupboards of extra junk.

 The Bear finished her quilt top and I finished my entire King sized quilt.

We've made our Halloween costumes!

And we've been working on math, writing, science and social studies samples for the charter school. This was a probability dice game the kids love to play.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Weekend Wisdom

This is a new series I'll be posting every Monday about the fun schooling stuff we do over the weekend..because learning happens all the time, not just 9-3 on the weekdays!

Buddy had lots of fun exploring with magnets he picked up from Dad's Chief Engineer! He found out he could make them spin by separating them into two groups and using the magnetic forces to nudge the group on the ground with the group in his hand. He also had fun exploring what kinds of thing the magnets would hold together through (his ear, paper, his hand, milk lid and more).

My husband is really excellent at giving the kids challenges to earn fun rewards. This weekend he did some spelling challenges. The Bear was challenged to spell prophet, elephant and guitar. She didn't get any of the right the first time around, but with some work she figured it out. Buddy was asked to spell Batman. The first time he tried he forgot the second "A." He then spent 30 minutes writing and rewriting until he had it correct. I was really excited to see how much effort he was willing to put into this project even though he already knew he wouldn't be getting the reward. Next day he was challenged with the word "Robin" which he got correct on the first go!

We spent a while Sunday afternoon singing all together as my husband played his guitar. The kids each took turns singing little made-up songs to whatever chord progression he felt like playing. What was really wonderful was that Buddy was very unsure about the whole thing at first. When it was his turn to sing a song he asked the Bear, "Did you just make up that?" Once he understood that he got to make up any story he wanted and sing it instead of speak it he had a blast singing about kids getting to eat all the candy they wanted and going on slides 59 feet long. The Bear sang about majestic unicorns exploring in fields and little Squeaker made up a song about her beloved Snoopy going swimming at the pool.

Another couple things we did are have a spontaneous discussion during lunch about quarts and pints and gallons and how many go into each. We watched "Australia's 72 Dangerous Animals" on Netflix. We measured each other in centimeters and meters. And we were spiritually edified as we listened to what our church calls "General Conference" where we listened to the leaders of our church give inspiring talks on family, the gospel, and improving ourselves.

What unschooling work did you do this weekend? Leave a link or comment below!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Alternative Activities: Week 6 Wrap-Up

This week, we were slowly getting back into the swing of things after last weeks events...which you can read about here. Now, at first glance I had a hard time thinking about specific school activities that we worked on this week. But that is the thing I LOVE about the whole un-schooling idea, our every day activities, especially for young kids, is how they learn and grow.

Here are a few of our school activities this week:

Yahtzee and card games for number recognition and multiplication/addition practice.

Abstract art and more sewing. The Bear is becoming more independent with the machine and almost is able to thread the machine without help. She is great at ripping seams out and paying attention to the details of her work.

Building car ramps with blocks: physics/cause and effect.

Stamps and stickers because they're fun and help with fine motor strength and letter recognition.

Biscuit Making to go along with our pirate unit.

Mental multiplication. Both the Bear and Buddy love to figure out how much 3 9's (etc.) equals. 

Reading, lots of reading! Pirate books, Nancy Drew (the Bear keeps hoping to find the Phantom Tollbooth so she can re-read it, but someone has checked it out AGAIN!), Cleo the Cat books and I'm currently reading Leadership Education by the DeMille's. Next up will be one of John Holt's books, can't wait!

And of course, the kids went to their usual on-site classes and gymnastics or martial arts. Even though I can't say we did a single page in any work book, I still feel like we had a good week. We were happy reading and working together. Each morning when I finally rolled out of bed, I got up to find each of the kids happily working on their own projects. I'd call that a success!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pirate Unit: ages 4 to 10

During our Italy unit my kids requested a pirate unit. And because I want them to pursue their interests and enjoy working and learning I quickly agreed...even though my husband and I were a little unsure about teaching our kids about pirates. Pirates are the bad guys! And then when I was at the library I found something. All the geography books were shelved intermingled with the pirate books! This was definitely librarian error, because pirate books are labeled j910.45 and geography/map books are j910, but I was super glad for their disregard of the Dewey decimal system!

 I found way more books than these, but after looking through all the books, these are the ones I selected specific activities or chapters to read from. My 3 favorites were: "Lives of Pirates" because it had fun pictures and just told stories from the most famous pirates throughout history. I also really loved the two geography books below. "Maps and Globes" is an overview of what maps are with simple explanations, takes 10 minutes to read through it, and it's a great place to start learning about maps. "Be Your Own Map Expert" has a bunch of fun activities to do with maps.

Ideas for a Pirate and Map Unit

Read "A Pirates Life for Me!" and "Maps & Globes." This is a great place to start because they are both basic overviews of pirates and maps. Then let the kids make their own pirate map. Buddy used the library books as references for what to put on his map. The Bear wanted to draw a map of how to get to the park. We also discussed why people started making maps and what they are used for.

Other piratey activities to do through out your unit. You can do these in any order you want. And they can be tweaked to accommodate older or younger kids depending on their interest and ability.

Pirate weapons: pistol, dagger, cutlass, cannon, swivel gun, fire pot, grappling hook, and long-handled axe. (Big Book of Pirates is a good one for this.)

Navigation on the sea: Use chapter 3 in "Geography for Every Kid" to learn how to find latitude using the North Star. Learn about other tools navigators used to find their locations like the cross-staff, astrolabe and compass. Practice using a compass as you go on a walk around the block. Locate the North Star and see if you can find your latitude using the instructions starting on page 26 in "Geograpy for Every Kid." We were lucky enough to get to see the blood moon at the beginning of our unit, so it was an extra fun way to start our evening of star gazing!

Geography: locate where famous pirates are from (and where they plundered) on a map of the world. You may want to do this all at once by googling locations like the Caribbean, Spain, Bias Bay, Madagascar, North Carolina with the word "pirate." Or identify pirate locations over the week as you read about each pirate in "Lives of the Pirates." "Best Book of Pirates" also discusses piracy in different areas of the wold, including the African coasts, the Caribbean and the Orient. Discuss and identify in "Geography A to Z" different kinds of land formations to include on a pirate map. Make another map (I'm assuming you did my first day's activity), but this time add lots of detail and make sure you include a key and compass rose.

Honor: Many pirates, like Black Bart, had very strict rules. Learn about the pirate code of conduct in "The Pirate's Handbook" page 10-11. Then create your own rules for good behavior and fair play. You could also talk about consequences to your actions after reading about what pirates did to each other and what happened when they were caught by Naval officers in "Big Book of Pirates" page 45 and in "See-Through Pirates" pages 18-19 (think: hanging, flogging, being stuck in a barrel with cockroaches and rats, marooning, leg irons, and keel-hauling).

Flags: identify all the different pirate flags that pirates sailed. Yes, it wasn't JUST the Jolly Roger. Check out "Best Book of Pirates" page 8-9 and "Pirate's Handbook" page 18. Make your own pirate flag, make sure you think about what the images and colors should represent.

Types of Pirates: What is the difference between pirates, corsairs, buccaneers and privateers? Read about them in "Best Book of Pirates" page 4-5. Find where these different types of pirates were typically found on your world map. 

Buried Treasure Activity: Hide a special treat (or some fun pirate book covered in it looks like treasure) somewhere in your house. Make a map of your house with your kids and then mark your "buried treasure" with an X. You could even mark the path you want your kids to travel and delineate the way they need to travel with special markings. Like 'walk' would be marked with a line; 'run' would be marked with a dashed line; 'bunny hop' would be marked with zigzags and 'crawl on your belly' would be marked with S.

More Ideas for Bigger Kids: watch "Peter Pan" or "Pirates of the Caribbean" (depending on the age of your kids). Get a biography on your favorite pirate. Go Geocaching! Learn more about Queen Elizabeth I and her role in privateering. Learn more about female pirates. Discuss different motivations for people becoming pirates (many of these are mentioned through out the reading you've done). Create your own pirate name. Write a journal entry from a pirate's perspective or a merchant crew-man's perspective. Draw or paint a picture of what your pirate ship, costume or pirate hang-out would look like. Bake some biscuits and discuss food preservation, scurvy, and other food-related pirate topics.