Apr 29, 2009

While I was contemplating our learning path -

I came across some articles by Pat Ferenga that really made a lot of sense to me and I thought I would share some of it here...

I define unschooling as allowing children as much freedom to learn in the world, as their parents can comfortably bear...This is the way we learn before going to school and the way we learn when we leave school and enter the world of work...Certainly these interests can lead to reading texts, taking courses, or doing projects, but the important difference is that these activities were chosen and engaged in freely by the learner. They were not dictated to the learner through curricular mandate to be done at a specific time and place, though parents with a more hands-on approach to unschooling certainly can influence and guide their children's choices....Unschooling, for lack of a better term (until people start to accept living as part and parcel of learning), is the natural way to learn. However, this does not mean unschoolers do not take traditional classes or use curricular materials when the student, or parents and children together, decide that this is how they want to do it. Learning to read or do quadratic equations are not "natural" processes, but unschoolers nonetheless learn them when it makes sense to them to do so, not because they have reached a certain age or are compelled to do so by arbitrary authority. - taken in part from this site - HERE

This makes so much sense to me and it is just what I have been looking for as some kind of definition that really clicks! The one line that really makes it work for me is "as their parents can comfortably bear." This one line gives me a clearer link and as I grow more and more comfortable, as KM becomes more and more self-guided and we both get farther and farther from the PS thinking of "this is what you have to learn and when you have to learn it" mindset, I feel that we will be able to more and more free with our thinking, learning and life in general. CJ of course just really wants us to be happy and fully trusts in me to take the path that will get us to an educated end. I am feeling much more confident as this "school year" comes to an end than I did last. I know that we have the supports in place and that we can make these decisions on our own. We (CJ and I) know what is best for our daughter and we (KM and I) are totally capable of having a learning lifestyle that is fulfilling for all of us.

Apr 28, 2009

First Hike of the Season

So yesterday was our local homeschool groups first hike of the season and we had such an incredible time!
My absolute favorite thing about homeschooling events is getting to see all the different aged children interacting with each other. It is just amazing to me having come from the PS world were children are so segregated from one another all dependent upon where their date of birth happens to fall. Two children born a week apart from one another and living on the same street could never be friends just because one is in 1st grade and the other is in 2nd - why is that? What makes people think that is okay?
ANYWAY - before I go on a tyrannical rant - here are some of favorite pics of SC and KM on the hike ----oh and I just have to mention that this was a two mile hike, the first mile SC was very content in the backpack, but then I decided I needed a break, so I took her out and SHE HIKED THE LAST MILE all by herself!!! WOOOHOOO you go girl!

Apr 27, 2009

Morse Code Day

April 27th is Morse Code Day; this day remembers the birthday of Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code. For this reason every year we celebrate Morse Code Day on 27th April, so celebrate this day with very gloriously and send some messages of love and friendship through various morse code to all you know and love also make the day memorable with your favorite site rumela.

WE LOVE ALL CODES - KM is always looking at different types of codes and runic scripts so this will be right up her alley! Here are some great ways to integrate this into your day -
I will let you know later how we made out!

So we had a VERY busy day, but we did get a chance this afternoon to talk about Samuel Morse while we were in the car and we discussed what Morse Code was/is used for and KM had some fun decoding things, then we got home and she went to google something and saw that the google logo was in morse code today as well - very neat!
We then used the walkie talkies and tried to get code things to one another -
I must say that she was much better at it than I was!

This will be my last "holiday posting" until the fall as we are slowing our studies down a bit and I have just not been really great about getting to them - so we are gonna take a break from and maybe do holiday weeks in the fall - you would be amazed at how many things are celebrated each week!!! Hope you have enjoyed!

Apr 26, 2009

Why do some things just have to be so difficult?

I am really have a hard time trying to get KM to understand the basic concepts of writing. I have tried several different methods and approaches. I am at the point of giving up right about now - I think we are going to just drop the formal writing and try to focus on what she needs to write for her other assignment areas and try to strength those answers. I am thinking in this way it would be more cohesive and if it is connected to something else then it would be more meaningful. I had such high hopes and was really impressed with the Writing Tales curriculum. She even really liked it, but she just was not progressing and we both felt that the content was a bit dry for her age.

I am trying to find different articles about when to start formal writing and composition lessons and pros and cons of different ages so if any of you wonderful devoted followers have any insight or any suggestions at all I would be greatly appreciative as I am just utterly at a lose on this one -----

Apr 23, 2009

April Showers Bring May Flowers & Proverb lessons

We made a mural to celebrate some wonderful proverbs this week -

The girls had a great time making the marbleized paper for the flowers. All you need is shaving cream, some paint and some hands that want to get messy -

While SC and SR made the paper into flowers, KM and I worked on the Proverbs lesson from Read, Think and Write - this was a great way to do a multi-age project that everyone had a blast doing!

Talk like...

and say Happy Birthday to him while you are at it!!

Today would have been Shakespeare's 445th Birthday and Chicago Shakespeare's Theater is encouraging everyone to Talk like Shakespeare! They have some great links and downloadable files that can get you started.

We went to the library last night and scrambled together some HBO animated videos including The Tempest and The Twelfth Night. We also grabbed some books on Shakespeare's life and his work at the Globe Theater.

I also thought it would be the perfect day to unveil some of the photos from KM's debut performance as Hermia in Midsummer's Night Dream -

Here she is in the garden scene calling Lysander.
Here she is telling her secret to Helena.

Here she is awakening in the garden.
Here is she is in the fairy forest after the perfomance..

and again with SR.

They did such a wonderful job that the museum has asked them to do a benefit performance to raise funds and of course the kids are so grateful to be able to give back to such a wonderful and generous organization!

I shalt give thine an update on our progress in our Shakespearean endeavors no later than morrow!
Fare ye well!

Apr 22, 2009

Earth Day

Here are some great links to get you thinking a little more green today:
Will have an update this evening with how we spent our earth day!

We actually got very little "Earth Day" related things done today - you see our Public Schools are on vacation this week and we here at GCK are not, but KM had been VERY social on Monday and Tuesday so she needed to buckle down today before her aunt - SR - came over for a sleepover and won't be leaving until late tomorrow (Thur) afternoon. Which left really only today and Friday (at which time we will also have SC) to get her work for the whole week done before her VERY BESTEST BEST Friends from Maine come for their visit this weekend!!! So though we did talk about the fact that it was Earth day, we really didn't do anything extra special, it was also really really rainy outside, but I was thinking that maybe tomorrow I will get the girls out there to do something -

oh but wait to tomorrow is an extra extra special day...
you will have to wait to see!

Apr 19, 2009

One strand has sprouted...

Here is Mr. Grass Headz - we got him a few months ago at the MOS and totally forgot about him until we got the spring bug bite a few weeks ago and stumbled across him.

KM can't wait until it grows enough to be able to style his hair!!!

Apr 17, 2009

Sometimes all you need is a few kind words

I received one of the greatest comments yesterday! It makes me feel so wonderful to be able to share our story and that it helps to inspire others with their decision.

Making the extremely daunting decision of homeschooling your child(ren), whether you are just starting out with a little one or if you are removing your older child from a public or private school, can be one of the most challenging choices parents can make. You are taking on the responsibility to educate and set out a path for another's life. - Of course if you really think about it, that is what you signed on for when you decided to bring the child into the world, but I won't get into that right now. - This responsibility has changed our family and has given me insight into my daughter that I never would have had.

She has gone from a shy and awkward little girl who was afraid to answer the teacher's questions - for fear that if she got it wrong the teacher would be upset because she didn't know it and the kids would make fun of her or she would get it right the teacher would praise her and the kids would make fun of her - to a whirling dervish of knowledge. She was always afraid of getting up in front of a group on her own and Monday night she had a spectacular performance of Hermia in Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night Dream. All she needed was the right environment of a kind mentor and peers that nudged her along with caring, compassion and true encouragement! I feel so blessed to have found this incredible community of families to share this learning journey with.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, but I honestly don't know of a single family that has returned their kids to school because they were unhappy with the way things were working out...the same can't be said for the number of families that I know that have/are pulling their kids out of the current corrupted public and private school systems.

Apr 16, 2009

National High Five Day

National High Five Day falls on the third Thursday of April each year. The holiday originated at the University of Virginia in 2002, and has since spread across the nation, and around the globe.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding National High Five Day. If you find yourself getting carried away, it is best to simply extend your outstretched hand to the next stranger who walks by, and repeat until the High Five is reciprocated. Then move on. Repeat. - copied from official site

Check out the documentary on this phenomenon HERE!

Apr 15, 2009

Egg and Vinegar Finale -

So we finished up the egg and vinegar experiment today. The egg had been in the vinegar for 6 full days - you can see the first set of pics for this HERE. Today we decided to take it out and see what we really had left.
This was the membrane that was left over when the vinegar ate all the calcium.
KM then examined it under the maxscope.
We then compared the membrane from the vinegar egg and the membrane in the shell from my breakfast this morning.

We were very surprised at how movable and elastic like the membrane that had been soaking in vinegar was. It had the texture of paper, but was stretch like elastic. VERY STRANGE!

I will say that I am very glad that the vinegar smell will be gone from my kitchen -
for a while anyway!

Shhhh...Craziness has slowed down a bit!

Well things finally feel like they are getting back to an even pace, of course an even pace around here still means we are going at warp speed most days, but hey we will rest when we are dead - right?

KM and the other kids from the coop did an UNBELIEVABLE performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on Monday night! We were all blown away by their performances. Hopefully I will have some pics by the end of the week, as of course I forgot my camera and our camcorder died out about a minute and a half into the performance. There were lots of others taking pics and video though, so we should be able to get a copy soon. The kids were so proud of themselves and had a fabulous time, but it was EXHAUSTING!

The weather has been gorgeous this week and finally feels like spring is here to stay so we will be spending a LOT more time out and about in the warm sunshine!

Well I am going to go enjoy the quiet for a few minutes before we head outside to finish reading The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White.

Be sure to find some time to enjoy the day!

Apr 12, 2009

Building Barbara Bones -

When I ordered this book I had assumed that it would be a perforated book -

So after three days of cutting...

and almost an entire roll of tape...
we have completed building Ms. Barbara Bones!
and she will be the featured central piece of our human body exhibit!

Apr 10, 2009

What happens when you have...

an ordinary hard boiled egg -


after only a few minutes it looks like:

and after a few hours -

and after 36 hours

Click on the pic so you can look at them closer and you can really see what is going on.

Stay tuned to see what happens in the next episode of Vinegar and the Egg!!!

For anyone who missed the reference let me just say we have been watching a bit too much of Rocky & Bullwinkle around here lately!

Apr 8, 2009

Moving right along -

is what our week has been doing. I can't believe it is Wednesday night already! Our spring session began on Monday and it is going really well. KM seems to be enjoying doing science everyday. We are using a new series for us from Usborne called Adventures of the Human Body in Ten Terrific Weeks. She really likes the shorter lessons and the hands on charts, projects and interactive websites. We are also making a collage on an area of wall in the playroom where she can display all that she is learning - kinda like a HUGE lapbook. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the program and am going to be looking into the Knighthood one once we get into the Middle Ages. It gives a really good outline using books that you can easily get through most library networks.

Another new thing we are trying is doing the Writing Tales lessons twice a week - we had been doing the full weeks lesson all in one day on Friday, so that it took her two weeks to get through the story as it is meant to be done. Now we are doing one on Wed and one on Fridays so that she gets the first and second drafts of the story done all in one week. This will allow her to finish the program by the end of this spring session and then she can decide if she wants to move on to level 2 or go onto a different writing program. KM has always detested writing! She would dictate things to me with no problem so I had always thought that it was the actual physical writing,but I am beginning to think it was more about the pressure of it being accurate and creative that would get to her. With this progymnasmata writing program she really seems to be becoming much more confident in her writing. It doesn't take her nearly as long to get it done and there have been fewer and fewer mistakes lately. That is why we decided to move it up to twice a week - she feels she can handle it. Although this curriculum is below "grade level" in comparison to everything else that she is doing, it has really been a perfect fit for her to gain the confidence that she needed. I think I am going to try to convince her to do the second level starting next fall and then move on to more essay and expository type writings after that. I don't think she will give me much of a hassle with it, but this is one area that I feel I don't want to rush through as I am seeing such a huge amount of progress.

We also decided to do away with spelling and vocabulary in the traditional sense. We are incorporating vocabulary into literature, using Number2.com daily and we are continuing with Latin using the Minimus program which I managed to get through Paperback Swap - SCORE! It amazes me how much she has already picked up and how quickly she has begun to really get the roots. She has also been using Word Coach on the Wii and Spelling Challenge for her DS. It amazes me how many educational games there are out there for things that I never would have thought of! It makes life so much easier when they are truly enjoying the things that can get so monotonous!

Our local homeschool coop is finishing up for the season and we will be having our closing ceremony this coming Monday, which will include the older kids performing in Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream. They have been working on it since January and have really done a great job! They are all so excited about the upcoming performance and are already talking about doing one again next year! It is so amazing to see such a truly great group of "tweens" who are thoroughly enjoying Shakespeare!

Our other programs are all pretty much moving along the same as they had been -
  • Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra is still holding up to our expectations and likings
  • we are continuing on in our timeline of history - we are just getting into the First Humans and the beginnings of Civilization and are supplementing the text with lots of living books and projects from Ancient Science.
  • KM is moving right along through the Piano Adventures series and still loving it!
  • Next week we will for Health will be starting another NIDA free program called Brain Power! and KM will starting an astronomy unit - hopefully as a cooperative thing with one of her friends.
All and all things really are just moving right along! Now if the weather could just move right along into spring we would all be perfectly sublime!

Apr 7, 2009

Metric System Day

The metric system just makes so much more sense to me and I truly don't understand why it is not used as the standard measurement here in the US, but hey what can we do today but celebrate this common sense system!!!

Here are our links for today -
I will update you later with what we did to get more metric!

----OUR DAY JUST GOT AWAY FROM US!!! CJ was home for the day because they had an outside job and it was TOOOO wet! This ALWAYS throws things off to begin with, but we also had errands to do, costumes to get in order and a new history unit to do. KM did look over some of the metric links on her own this morning though and her favorite was the National Institute of Standards and Technology - HERE and when she printed out the Metric Pyramid it seemed to all make sense to her! Maybe we can take some time later in the week to take a look at some of the other sites!!! Let me know what you guys got done and had fun with!!!

Apr 5, 2009

Spontaneous Playdates Lead to...


We got bit by the spring bug this morning and decided we would get some seedlings started and the garden area started - we have about a month until the last frost, but we figured if we get it going we will be on the right track -

We had put these pieces of bark aside when we were splitting wood during the winter and I came across them this morning so once they are dried and ready I will be sure to share our project!

Then KM was out scootering when we had unexpected visitors stop by - she was very excited and this led to a spontaneous playdate - the best kind of course!

This also left me with an afternoon in a quiet house -
so I tackled some things I just hadn't had time to get to lately!!!

First was the front closet -
hey there really is a floor there and I can even SHUT THE DOORS!

We just finished our winter session so I took some time to get the spring lesson plans laid out!
I always feel sooooo much better when I have things outlined and a direction to head in!

Then I headed into the playroom and changed some posters and got some project areas ready!

I got the astrology study mural background up...

Took the dinosaurs off the map and got it ready for first civilizations...

Put up the GCK Homeschool Art Gallery latest features...

I also came across this Grass Headz that we got a few months ago at the MOS and we forgot all about it - KM will be happy to get this started - I will keep you posted on how he turns out!

KM had a great afternoon at her friends and I got a TON done around here which will make our week sooooooo much smoother!

I just love it when things all come together just right!