Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nature Walk and Leaves

Last week we enjoyed a walk around the neighborhood collecting fallen leaves.  We tried to find as many different ones as we could.  Today, we used the book, Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees to identify which leaves we had found.  We made a poster board and labeled them.  I'll try to take a picture of the final project once the glue is dry.  =)

Learned About: Identification, Observation, Trees, Fall,

What can you learn from a Tea Party?

Water stages - liquid and steam.  Heat transfer.  Boiling water.  Temperature.  Manners.  Carefulness.  Patience.  Sharing.

What Makes a Magnet?

A few weeks ago we studied magnets. We used the book, What Makes a Magnet? C really enjoyed the little magnet experiment in the book and had fun "fishing" with her own magnet.
Ignore the messy homeschooling room... it wasn't near finished then.  We've made progress.  =)  Can't wait to have it done.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ballet Classes

C's been taking ballet for about a month now.  She's loving it.  It's so awesome when she comes home and is so excited to show us what she learned in class.  She is going to Maureen's School of Dance.  They have great prices if you are in the Western Branch area (Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake.)  They will have an end of year recital in May, and we can't wait to see it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Current Preschool "Curriculum"

C's 2009-2010 Preschool "curriculum"

How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

God's World and Me:  Boz the Bear's Big Book of Bible Fun

Children's Bible read daily.

Scripture memorization.

Attending Story Time at the library twice a week.

Reading books checked out from library.

Ballet class once a week.

Arts & Crafts at home.

Children's Church on Sunday mornings.

Helping mom and dad around the house with age appropriate chores.

Learning while out and about, i.e.:  grocery store, bank, post office, gas station, park, etc.

Various field trips.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Native American Books

Daily Life in a Plains Indian Village 1868 - The text is above C's level, but the pictures led to discussion anyway. I read and explained in 4 year old terms how the Plains Indians lived, what their family roles were, their food, jobs, etc. This is a really good book, they have awesome pictures of so many things that their life involved.

How Thunder and Lightning Came To Be - This is a Choctaw story and I was so excited that I found it at the library. We are part Choctaw (a small part, but a part nonetheless.) So, it was fun to read this to C, it's also a cute story.

Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Ankle Bells

While watching the dancing at the pow wow last Sunday, C loved the bells that some of the dancers had, so today we made her a pair. This was really simple. I just used some ribbon and bells I had on hand, and voila! Ankle bells. (Guess I could have taken the loops of the bells, lol. The bells I had found on sale a while ago, at a craft store in the wedding section.) She's dancing to Native American music as I write this. =)
Example of pow wow dancing where you can hear their bells:

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Before the White Man Came"

I found this treasure of a book at a Friends of the Library Sale while visiting my grandparents. I wish the whole set had been there. Maybe someday I'll find it. It is *. History of America told through narrative stories. Awesome find. =) We read the first poem, "Indian Children," and the first story, "Before the White Man Came." We also read another book called Dragonfly's Tale by Kristina Rodanas. Then we watched a few youtube videos with Native American music:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Butterfly Drying out its Wings

We saw this butterfly outside of the library today.

Observing a Momma Bird Sitting on her Nest

Hopefully, soon, we'll get to see the babies.
Info and call sound bytes: Killdeer bird

Change to Blog

I probably won't be posting anything but pictures from now on. I don't have time to sit down and write. They say pictures are worth a thousand words anyway.... =)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Watching Neighborhood Houses Being Quickly Built

We've been noticing the progress while taking our walks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


C read her first 3 letter words today!
the very first was "cat"

Strawberry Picking

The farmer showed C an example of each stage of the strawberry plant's life cycle.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Letter Box Activity

We're starting phonics, since C already knows most of the letters' sounds. We're reviewing them as we're {semi} doing the Letter of the Week Prep Curriculum.

For this activity, I made 3x4 cards out of cardstock, and used Glitter Glue pens to write the lower case letters. This way it had a nice texture for her to trace with her finger. I put an object in the box for each letter.

First, I had her take the cards and lay them on the table in any order. Then I told her I was going to point to letters and she had to say the letter's sound. So, I went out of order, this way and that, between a and e. She enjoys this exercise because it's fun for her to try to see how fast she can remember each letter's sound and say it. It's also helping her to recognize the letters' sounds faster.

After we do that for a few rounds, I then have her take each item out of the box, one at a time, and place it on the letter it starts with. Then she has to say the name of the object and what it starts with. For example, "Bottle. Bottle starts with buh."

In this box, the objects I had were an apple, a bottle, a cup, a dinosaur, and an egg.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Trip to Siracusa, Sicily

Today, we took a day trip to Siracusa. We saw the Roman Theater, which was under some sort of construction, the Ear of Dionysius, and visited an aquarium!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A is for Ants

Today was the last day to study A, tomorrow we begin working on B. So after homeschooling this morning, we decided to go find some ants to observe. I asked C a lot of questions to encourage scientific thinking. (Science is Simple is a great book to help with this!) I asked things like: Where did she think they were going? What did she think they were doing? How were they working together? etc. She concluded that they were getting food. I asked her to look at them with her magnifying glass and draw what she saw. She counted their body parts, and noticed their color on her own. Later, while looking at an anthill on the sidewalk, she got to watch an ant carrying something bigger than its head. She was very amused with that.

What she saw:

This is what she drew (although smaller, the scanner didn't keep the original size.)
C really enjoyed this science activity today, and I enjoyed guiding her through it. I'm really enjoying the Letter of the Day Prep Curriculum, because it's really not too demanding. We finish up in literally an hour, and we can move on to more relaxed "unschooling" that we both enjoy. I think this is how we're going to end up homeschooling throughout the girls' education. Spending some time doing structured learning, but then spending the rest (or majority) of the time learning by doing and living. I think it's a good balance for us.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hey Diddle Diddle Painting

In A Letter A Day Preparatory Curriculum, week one's nursery rhyme is Hey Diddle Diddle. We practiced it starting Friday of week one, and will continue to sing it throughout week two.

Today, Monday of week 2, (after reviewing what a painting was,) I had C study a painting of the nursery rhyme at Ruth Sanderson's Golden Wood Studio (scroll down to almost the bottom of the page.) I had C tell me what colors and objects she saw. I asked her if she liked the painting, and why. (She said, "I like the animals.") I asked her what time it was, and how did she know. (She said, "Nighttime, because of the dark blue sky, and the cow is jumping over the moon.) Finally, I asked her if she would like to be a painter and paint her nursery rhyme. She said yes (of course, painting!? C is always interested in painting.)

Here is what she created:

The dark blue is the night sky.
The brown lines under that are the cow's legs, but its body faded (she had too much water in her paint.) Beneath that, is a barely there yellow moon.
The purple is the laughing dog.
The brown area to the left of that is the cat playing the fiddle (painted while the paper was turned sideways.)
Then at the bottom is the dish and the spoon. The dish's face was the only thing I helped her with since she was getting frustrated that she had no white paint. So, I showed her how to color with a white crayon and paint over it with the water color to create a white area. She thought that was pretty nifty.

She loved this activity. I really think having her look at and talk about an actual painting really made it even more interesting for her. She was so proud of her painting, and I adore it. We will definitely be doing this type of thing more often.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Curriculum

I've decided to start a curriculum with C, not because I think she has to learn "x,y, and z" before she's N years old, but because I think she needs to learn structure and she also needs to accept the fact that I am the teacher. Sometimes, she doesn't get to pick what we're doing at this moment. She also needs to know to follow directions, etc. So, after some online searching I found this site:

Brightly Beaming Resources

We pretty much did the same sort of routine in the last year ( a letter a week, and learning about a certain topic that she got to pick out) but this one has added activities, nursery rhymes, etc. While C knows a lot of the preparatory curriculum, we're still going ahead and completing it so that she gets into a good school/learning routine. We're only doing "school" for about an hour or two in the morning (depending on what projects she's doing,) then the rest of the day is spent learning through play, activities, and living.

The first week's lesson plan went really well. It covers cows, the letter A, number 1, and Hey Diddle Diddle nursery rhyme. C really enjoyed the projects, books, and videos that I added in. I'll try to post about what she's working on soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This morning, C woke up with a sore throat, cough, and fever. This child, however, is never completely taken out by any sickness (as of yet anyway!) I've pretty much had to force her to lay on the couch under a blanket with a cool cloth on her head. We've read, colored, drank lots of juice and water, and are finally watching Finding Nemo.

While in the mood to read, I asked her if she wanted to learn about germs that make you sick. Of course she said yes. So, we read The Magic School Bus Fights Germs for the first time. It really clicked for her, since she's sick. She learned about red and white blood cells, and how the white blood cells are the ones that fight off the germs. She learned that fever helps the white blood cells work better. (I didn't even know that!) I'm so glad that the author included a page about how washing your hands numerous times helps keep germs away, and another that talked about how rest helps you get well. I think that may have convinced her to stay put. =)

Hopefully, she'll fight off this bug soon, and we can get back to learning! oh wait... we never stopped. =D

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A trip to the Vet

Today, we had an appointment to get the cats vaccinated. At first, C and I were going to wait in the waiting area, and then I thought, "Wait a minute! What am I doing!? I'm a homeschooler! This is a prime learning opportunity!" So, we followed Daddy and the cats into the room.

C watched and observed the Vet tech examining the cats' ears, eyes, and teeth. She watched them get their temperature taken, and receive their shots. She noticed how the vet was gentle and caring with the cats. The vet tech was great and answered all of C's questions.

C really enjoyed being able to experience and learn from this. I wish I had thought to take my camera so I could take a picture of her with the vet. She would have loved that. =)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Parade of Presidents

Today was the local homeschooling group's Parade of Presidents event. All the kids were invited to research and present a president. C picked (well, pointed to a picture of, rather) Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president. I explained what a president is and what his job is, but it proved a little difficult. I should have either chosen the first or current president to make it a little easier on her. It was a little hard to explain that Wilson was a president in the past, not now.

She did really well on her presentation though. I went up with her expecting to have to prompt each fact with a question, but instead she did it all by herself. She named her president, and told her facts: that Wilson liked baseball, and that he had pet sheep at the White House. We kept her presentation short and sweet. She really enjoyed putting together the project. She punched out all 28 stars, and we practiced counting them. She colored and cut all the pictures, except the baseball picture, and she glued the cotton balls on for the sheep. She's very proud of her display.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Recently, my grandma sent C these big Popsicle sticks. I think she sent them for arts and crafts, but little did my grandma know that these are perfect for manipulatives! So, today we worked on patterns. This was the first time I directly introduced the concept to C, although I'm sure she's seen them on a few educational shows. She did really well.

We first worked on AB patterns, and that seemed a little easy. She also did well on AABB and AAB patterns. I even threw in a third color, and she was able to finish the patterns. She then wanted to start being the teacher, and made her own patterns for me to finish. This was a fun hands on math activity, and I think she really enjoyed it.
We've also been working on rhyming words, counting to twenty, concept of telling time, and of course reading a ton. She's also been working on spelling on her own. The other day, she was writing out valentine's cards for us, and she was trying to spell "daddy." She spelled the dad part. For her sister, Delilah, she spelled DLL, so I can tell she's recognizing the consonants, but not all of the vowels. She can hear the vowels if I sound out a word one letter at a time, but she's not doing that on her own yet. It's so exciting to watch her progression.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Party

Today the local homeschooling group had a Valentine's Party! This was Carlee's very first Valentine's party, and she had a blast!

First, she decorated her Valentine mailbox:
Then they played Valentine Bingo!
Then we decorated cupcakes before devouring them. All the other kids were at the other table, but all the chairs were taken. Plus, I think Carlee was feeling a little crowded, so she wanted to do her cupcakes by herself:
Then it was relay time! This was Carlee's turn racing to put a spoonful of heart candies in her team's cup:

Prizes! So exciting!
Then it was time to deliver valentines to everyone's boxes!
This was a lot of fun! We're going to miss this homeschool group when we move.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mount Etna

Today, we drove up to Mount Etna to play in the snow! Carlee's warm winter clothes came in handy. At first, she had fun playing, sledding with Daddy, and making a snowman (like in the books she's been reading.) Then a few ominous clouds crept in and the wind picked up. The wind was so strong that it scared her, so she was pretty much done. We enjoyed Italian hot chocolate on the way down.

She mentioned a few interesting things:

"Mommy," she said, "the clouds are white. Snow is white, too. So maybe the clouds make the snow!"

Obviously, you and I know the reason clouds make snow is different than hers, but I loved the hypothesis she came up with on her own. She also observed the clouds moving very quickly and hypothesized that the wind was moving them. She impressed me with her unprompted scientific thinking. I love how her little mind works!

Hopefully I will have a few pictures to add soon. =)

Friday, February 6, 2009


As you can see, we are still having fun studying winter. It is definitely not cold enough here to be dressed like this, but we are hoping to head to Mt. Etna tomorrow to play in the snow! Today, we talked about what type of clothes we wear when it's very cold. Carlee had the bright idea to play dress up with her winter clothes. We discussed which body part each article of clothing kept warm.

We read The Mitten by Jan Brett. I asked questions about each page after reading to check Carlee's listening skills and comprehension. She is doing much better at listening and remembering details in stories.

I drew simple pictures of a mitten and glove and let Carlee color and decorate them. We talked about the differences between the two. She also practiced her writing.

Other books we've been reading lately:

The Snow Child by Freya Littledale

Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett

Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan

My Favorite Time of Year by Susan Pearson

Avalanche by Michael Rosen

Don't Wake Up the Bear by Marjorie Dennis Murray and Patricia Wittmann - This is one of Carlee's absolute favorites. She loves how in the end the bear chooses to eat berries instead of the animals. She thinks it's absolutely hilarious. She has this one just about memorized.