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Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Night at the Zoo

We're building a zoo. Our big January project is to build our very own zoo. We've already made a list of all the animals that will live in our zoo. The next step is to study each animal and determine what region that animal belongs in. (Arctic, Antarctic, Rain Forest, African Plains, etc.)

We will be building dioramas of each region. The dioramas will be built in those "under the bed" plastic Rubbermaid containers.

After our zoo is complete, we will be hosting a Night at the Zoo event. We will send out invitations to various friends and relatives. We will create a buffet snack table. We will greet our guests and then Kira will give a tour of the zoo, complete with lectures about each region and what animals live there.

We will be posting fact sheets, too, for our guests to read about our animals and regions.

I'm very excited about this project. I've been "creating" this in my mind for a few years now, just waiting for the girls to be old enough to begin.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Reading

Things have happened with leaps and bounds around here. I pulled out those star stickers and suddenly all Kira wants to do is sit in the bathroom and read words. It's awesome.

Her Grandma came to pick her up today, so I asked Grandma to visit our bathroom for a moment. I wanted to show her what Kira was doing. Kira took off running across the house chanting:

"Grandma! Grandma! I can read. I can read. I can read."

As soon as we got to the bathroom, Kira read several of her words before we pushed her out the door. She would have been quite intent to sit there and read all day. In fact, after she came back home, she did exactly that. We spent at least a half an hour sitting in the bathroom reading. I used some of her cards to create simple sentences. We discussed what sentences are and how words are used to create sentences. (haven't gotten to the parts of the sentence just yet...) Then Kira started taking the sentences I had created and manipulating them to make new sentences.

There is no doubt that Kira has definitely got this reading thing figured out now. It's just a matter of teaching her all the different rules and adding vocabulary to her collection of knowledge now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reading Lessons, Continued...

I took a bit of time to reorganize the index cards that are taped to the bathroom wall. Now they are organized into categories according to their "word families."

"Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern - they have some of the same combination of letters in them and a similar sound. For example, at, cat, hat, and fat are a family of words with the "at" sound and letter combination in common." (Enchanted Learning)

After I organized all the words, I added a few new words that Kira has not yet read to me. I know she is able to read them, we just never actually sat down and read each word in that grouping. I added a couple of extra "families" that I know she will have no trouble with, also. 

In the morning, I will show her how I have rearranged everything. Kira is somewhat resistant to the process of reading out loud. She likes to claim that she can't read or that she's not in the mood. In order to get her to be a bit more interested, I will be pulling out the shiny stars. Each time she reads a word for me, she will get to pick a star sticker and place it on the word card to show that she has read that word. I will make her put her stars on the cards in an even interval to prevent her from focusing on one word at a time. In this manner, I hope to give her some motivation to do the reading and reinforce that she is able to do it without any complaining. 

Now I know Kira will be reading all these words whenever she happens to be in the bathroom. It's just the nature of the human brain to find something to occupy itself during times of stillness. (not that my 5 year old is EVER still...) What I need, though, is a way to get her to read those words to me. That's why I'm bringing out the stars. 

I will continue to add new words to the wall throughout the next few months. As each word card accumulates a certain number of stars - FIVE maybe - then it will be "retired" to a different location. Maybe we will create a "word families" box and let her keep her retired cards in that box so she can still practice the reading skills with those cards whenever she wants to pull them out. 

Feel free to throw me a few suggestions. While I'm pleased with how readily Kira is grasping this particular concept, I am also completely open to any and every possible idea to make it better for us both.  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Sorting

I have a HUGE box of buttons of various sizes and colors. I like to use my buttons in art projects and scrapbooking, but I often find myself spending way too much time looking for just the right color or just the right size.


I have a solution. 

My two girls will start sorting my buttons for me tomorrow. I'm going to buy the appropriate number of jars and have them sort my buttons by color / size. This will accomplish a multitude of things.

First, Marisa will get to practice her colors. She will also be able to practice sorting by color. She might get a bit of size sorting in, but I'm not too sure that she's ready for that at the lovely age of *Hell Hath No Fury* 3 years old.

Second, Kira will get to practice her color and size sorting. At the age of 5 years old, she is more than capable of doing this level of sorting. She will also be sorting out the animals, the flowers, and the holiday buttons to add a level of difficulty.

Both girls will get paid a small pittance each day for their work. This will give them an idea of earning their money. They already have piggy banks that they just adore dropping coins in. Giving them a bit of cash to compensate them for the time they spend on such a tedious task will also help keep them motivated. This task will take many days to complete and I wouldn't want them to stop in the middle without finishing the sorting project.

Most importantly, though, my buttons will ultimately be sorted into a system that will allow me to access whatever it is I may want or need at any given time. THIS, of course, is my main goal!

Major Organizing Project = Massive School Lesson for Both Girls

WIN

Thursday, December 3, 2009

School House Rock

I bought the School House Rock Collector's Edition DVD about a year ago. Unfortunately, I could never quite figure out how to navigate through the menu. Yes - consider it to be a bit of blondness combined with a great deal of stress at the time.

I decided to try again now that my life has settled down quite a bit. Luckily, I found the menu to be much more comprehensible this time.

I have spent the better part of the day listening to the never ending series of songs, accompanied by appropriate animations, that teach about a large variety of subjects. We've listened to a song about bones, songs about parts of speech, songs about legal matters, and songs about money. It's pretty cool how these topics can be translated into songs that kids will inevitably learn. My husband still sings "Conjunction Junction, What's Your Function" which he learned when he was a kid.

If you have never been introduced to School House Rock, I highly recommend that you find a copy at your local movie store.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Phonics

I've been spending the last few days teaching Marisa her letter sounds. We make a fun game of the whole process.

I ask her what the letter "A" says.

She tells me that the letter makes some off the wall sound that is completely not what that letter says.

I tell her in a voice that is incredulous that that is NOT what the letter says.

Then I tell here exactly what the letter says.

She repeats what I say about the letter, then we carry on to the next one in line.

We do this for the entire alphabet.

This is the same method I used for Kira two years ago. Kira, however, preferred to tell me that her letters said "nothing" instead of providing me with nonsense sounds. At any rate, Marisa is learning the letter sounds and having fun being obstinate about it. Who knew that "MY" Marisa would enjoy being obstinate and difficult??? (Never saw THAT one coming...)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bob On Site

Kira got a new movie at her birthday party last weekend. (Yes, her party was incredibly late... due to family being out of town for an extended period of time.)

Kira has been asking me lately about how houses are built. Of course I have no clue. This is not my area of expertise. Well, for her party, I gave her a Bob On Site movie that is all about how houses are built. She already has the one about roads and the one about bridges. She really enjoyed those two and learned so much about how these important parts of our world are constructed.

Well, we've been watching houses being built for the last 24 hours or so. It's pretty interesting. The movie starts by showing how Bob's foundations are built, then it shows a video clip of real construction sites with  foundations being built. The movie progresses this way throughout the entire process.

Did you know?
   - It takes a full week for the foundation of a house to dry.
   - Crews spray water on houses while they are being demolished to help contain some of the dust.
  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Atlanta Zoo

We went to the zoo today. The girls had a wonderful time. There was hardly anybody there, so we took our time through all the exhibits without feeling pressured to get out of the way. It was awesome. They played with the panda (through the glass) as he was eating his bamboo. It was pretty cool to watch him sit and eat.

We visited the petting zoo and learned that goats are bovine, akin to cows, and have FOUR stomachs. We also learned that goats chew cud. (I never knew this.)

We saw elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, and a whole host of the usual zoo animals.

We hung around the flamingos for a while and watched them sparring with each other.

We watched the otters playing and, interestingly, waiting to be fed. We just happened upon the otter exhibit close to feeding time. Somebody walked by with a set of keys and those critters went nuts. Unfortunately for them, he was not on his way to feed them. Then, a golf cart approached and stopped. I have never seen so many otters piled up on one single rock in my entire life. They sat there staring at this guy expectantly, only to be disappointed by the knowledge that he was simply doing his rounds to empty the trash cans. As we waited and watched, the little otters whimpered and moaned because they were so hungry. (sounded a lot like my two girls throughout the day...) When we finally left, they did a great bit of whimpering. I think they were enjoying our company. I peeked around the wooden fence to see just what all the whimpering was about and all seven of them were lined up by the water's edge staring at where we had disappeared. It was incredibly cute.

We had a really good day. I had intended to take a sketch pad and art set, but decided that it was a bit too cold to try to do much in the way of drawing. Besides, Kira was so excited that she bounced from spot to spot. I think getting her to sit still long enough to draw a picture would have been difficult.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Glitters

Friday, October 30, 2009

Apples Up On Top

... and below... and all around.

We went to the apple houses up in Ellijay, GA yesterday. The apple houses are a place where the local orchards send their apples to be cleaned and packaged. Some apples get turned into pies, sauces, jellies and other delectable treats. Some get bagged up for purchase. These apples are so delicious and so fresh because they are local and not shipped from out of town.

Well, upstairs there is a wall of windows where you can look down into the warehouse area and watch the workers washing and sorting the apples. It's a very neat process that involves forklifts, cranes and heavy machinery.

The first step is to set a large crate of apples into the water bath. The crate is very big and has to be lifted and maneuvered by machinery. The machinery gently lowers the entire crate into the water bath so that the apples can slowly float to the surface. The apples are rinsed off here and moved by a gentle current to the conveyor belt that will take them through an air drying process.

After the apples are rinsed, they move through an air dryer and then onto a sorting table where they are turned continually so the sorter can easily see any bad spots or bruises. The bad apples (and the leaves) are removed at this point. The good apples get to continue on up the conveyor to be packaged in boxes and bags (unless they are surreptitiously retrieved to be tossed to cute little blond bystanders).

You may already realize from previous posts that I am not afraid to ask for special privileges when I see something I want to get involved in. Well, I wanted to get up close and personal with those machines. This was a rare opportunity for the girls to get a look at what happens to our food before we buy it. I waited patiently by the glass paneled door for somebody - anybody - to walk by. My moment arrived and I tapped on the glass then motioned the young man to the door. He obliged me with curiosity. When he opened the door, I sweetly explained that I had a home schooled child who wanted to see what was going on with the apples. He disappeared for a moment to consult with his manager and returned with golden words. We could enter the inner sanctum as long as we remained behind the white line (or rather, the row of pallets that were a considerably safe distance away from the heavy machinery that posed a safety risk).

Woo Hoo!!!

I retrieved Kira from the tables where she sat with Grandma Janet and whisked her away behind the closed door that marked the barrier for those normal customers without permission to enter. (Let me gloat for a moment. I almost didn't ask because I was quite certain that my request would be denied due to safety regulations.) Kira stood on the wooden pallet a few short feet away from the machinery and watched the apples roll and tumble over the table made of spinning metal rods. I leaned down close to her ear and talked to her about what was happening at each stage of the process. We stood there and watched as the apples rolled by. We yelled out questions to the worker who was sorting the apples and he quickly and happily answered. Then, to my startled amazement, he pulled out the most perfect green apple I think I have ever seen. It was the perfect size for little hands. He motioned for me to step closer so he could gently toss the apple my way. Upon receiving his offering, I noticed that there was not a speck or bruise anywhere to be seen. Kira quickly snatched the apple from my hands and began munching happily away upon her gift. She has since declared that the green apple from the apple house was the most delicious apple she has eaten to date.

After we stood and watched for a few more minutes, I took Kira back to the tables and back to Grandma Janet. Risa noticed right away that Kira had a fresh, shiny apple. There was no doubt that I would need to venture back out to the machines with one more cute little blond headed girl in hopes for receiving one more shiny green apple. I would probably have to beg for another free offering, but beg I would if necessary. (It wasn't necessary, of course. Nobody can resist these baby blues...)

Risa was much less interested in the apples rolling along the belt and far more entertained by the movements of the machines. No doubt she would have loved to climb up inside those machines and dissect the inner workings until she understood what it was that made the belts move and the apples roll. That's just how her mind works. She's mechanical in nature. She was quite pleased, however, when her own shiny green apple was gently tossed our way. She smiled and waved and yelled "Thank you." as loud as she could in hopes that he might hear her over the noise.

To add to the wonder of our day, I do believe we made that man's whole week. He seemed genuinely thrilled to be the center of attention and to be able to do something so small as offering an apple to a young child. I hope he spent the rest of the day with that big grin on his face. I know how boring and tedious that kind of work can be. Perhaps our impromptu visit brightened his entire day and not just a few short minutes.

What we learned:

How apples are cleaned and packaged
That there are many different types of apples and each one tastes and feels different
Forklifts can pick up very heavy things with very little effort at all
Honey combs look really neat when you can see them cut up and placed in jars of honey
There are different types of honey
What old washing machines looked like
To be thankful for our modern day machines so laundry is not the chore it used to be
That the bruised apples are not thrown away - they are used to make ciders and sauces and other goodies

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Board Game Day

We joined our home school group on Monday to have a board game day. It was really fun. The girls got to play different games with other kids and start getting to know these kids that we hope to spend a bit of time with over the next year.

The host provided snacks and treats and games. Everybody was asked to bring any special games that their kids might enjoy playing.

Kira spent most of the time following her baby sister around. I was surprised at how shy she became and how long it took her to warm up to the new group of kids. She isn't usually so timid.

I'm looking forward to spending time with these families this year. We're doing a field trip next Tuesday that should be loads of fun.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Contest...

The Pacifier Debate



Time is ticking away.


The counter has begun.

The contest will begin shortly.

Do you want to win free stuff?

Are you ready?


Well, well, well - do I have the spot for you.

Visit The Art and Science of Parenting on Friday evening. I will be posting details regarding my next give away contest right here.


**If you want to be a sponsor, just send me an email at aandsparenting@gmail.com or leave me a comment below.**

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Field Trips for Last Week

I am a bit late in writing about this. I just never got around to it, I suppose.

Last Tuesday, we went to the Georgia Aquarium. It is a regular trip for us, but this time I splurged a bit and paid for me and Kira to take a behind the scenes tour. I opted for the shorter tour because it was less expensive and, well, shorter.

We got to go up to the top of the tanks and watch the catfish being fed. We also got to visit the top of the Ocean Voyager tank, where we were just two short feet away from the massive Whale Sharks as they swam by. I highly recommend this to anybody who loves to watch them in the tank. It's amazing just how huge they are when they get up close and personal.

Kira also had a chance to see a rubber replica of the food that the Whale Sharks eat. She got to touch and hold tiny krill and tiny little fish that looked exactly like what the big sharks get to eat. We learned about target feeding and broadcast feeding. Mostly, though, it was just really cool.

On Friday we visited Rock City, another nearby local attraction. We walked through the city made of rocks for THREE SOLID HOURS. (feel sorry for me please...) We visited Mother Goose Village and saw the diorama depictions of our favorite Mother Goose stories. It was a pretty good day. There was probably more fun there than education going on as I was so busy trying to deal with all the walking that I just wasn't focused on any learning.

Our next big field trip will be to the Imagine It museum in Atlanta. That's coming up in about 2 weeks, I believe. Grandma will be back from California, and she's coming with us, so the girls will have a double treat.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Planning...

I'm making plans today.

I've made plans to go on a field trip to Imagine It with our home school group.

I've made plans to set up a field trip at our local post office - hoping to get enough people to join me.

I've made plans to take a nap today. I'm very tired.

I've made plans to clean the house.

I've made lots of plans today.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Visible Horse --- FAIL!













We gave Kira an Visible Horse for her birthday. I knew when I bought it that this would be something that we (meaning me) would have to put together because it is for older kids.

Saturday afternoon I decided to open the box and see what I could make of it. I was accompanied by an eager audience of two - because assembling toys is so much easier when little people are watching (and grabbing and instructing and 'helping' and just generally being in the way).

I made NOTHING of it.

It's an actual model that requires paints, cement, and Daddy!

I thought it would be an easy 'snap together' type model.

It turns out that the Visible Horse is actually the type of model that you put together with days and days of intensive work and extensive drying.

**Mom hangs head in shame.**


Daddy walked into the room when he heard my sounds of frustration.

Daddy walked out of the room and fell to the floor in fits of laughter. (Lucky he didn't stay IN the room or he may have been showered with unpainted horse parts.)

I have been assured that Daddy will acquire the proper materials for building the model horse and will commence the project with Kira. They will assemble the beast together. My job will be to keep littler hands out of the way (and out of the paint...).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Scrabble Anyone?

I'm so excited over today's lessons. (Yesterday? It isn't Saturday anymore...)

We pulled Scrabble out to play with the teenager this evening. Kira immediately came running over to ask if we could spell words together. It's been a long time since she was reading words at Grandma Shari's house using the Scrabble tiles. I obliged Kira by providing her with a few words to read. She was much faster this time than before. She did have a few moments of "I can't do it!" but that quickly passed as she realized that she could, indeed, read the words. She would run off to watch her Liberty Kids movie and then come back a few minutes later to read another word. She did get a bit annoyed at me because most of her words started with an "f." She asked me why all the words had to start with that letter so I had to explain to her that it was the only letter I had that would work to create a word.

Kira is also learning to write her letters with the help of a very special learning manipulative. I'll be writing a review about that product within the next week. I am definitely loving how easy it has been for her to learn how to write.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Feel that hard spot? It's a bone.

Marisa watched Sid the Science Kid yesterday while we were at Grandma Janet's house. I only have a couple of the DVDs for Sid, so we rarely get to see anything new. Yesterday's episode was about using you brain and how muscles work. Apparently this made an impression on Marisa.

Last night while I was in the shower, Marisa and Daddy has a discussion about muscles. Marisa was telling Daddy about where her muscles are and what they do. Daddy took this opportunity to tell Marisa about bones.

Marisa was fascinated by this new discovery. She was thoroughly excited to discover that she has bones. She spent the next four hours - YES... FOUR HOURS - telling us where her bones were.

Touching her forehead, she would say, "Do you feel that hard spot, Mommy? It's a bone."

Then she would touch her knee and say, "Do you feel that hard spot? It's a bone."

Then she would touch her arm and say, "Do you feel that hard spot? It's a bone."

Then she would touch my arm and say, "Do you feel that hard spot? It's a bone. You have bones inside you, Mommy. I have bones inside me, Mommy."

She chattered about this new discovery for hours on end. Long after Daddy was asleep, Marisa was still going on about bones and how she had all these bones.

I did take the opportunity to point out to her that she had joints to go along with those bones. She was far less fascinated by that revelation that the fact that she had bones.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Preparing for Worms

Yesterday afternoon, after the initial dismay at being presented with pet worms, I gathered the girls to help me prepare the new worm bed. We ripped up newspaper into shreds to provide good bedding for the pet worms. Then we shook in a little bit of their dirt so they would have some dirt to wander through. I used a colander to sift the big pieces and the rocks out of the mess of dirt. Kira and Marisa had fun observing how the fine soil went through the holes while the bigger pieces of soil and rocks and roots stayed in the bowl. I used this opportunity to help them understand the process and purpose of sifting.

After we found the worms - they were rather small - we placed them in their new home with some bread to make them happy.

Today, Grandma Janet added a couple of worms to our collection.

I'm really looking forward to this lesson. I already explained to Kira that the worms will eat our leftover food so we won't have to throw it in the garbage and send it out to the landfills. I also told her that the worms will make their own soil... and how they make it. She was only slightly disturbed by the concept of her worms creating their own soil... I wonder if she realizes that she's been playing in the creations of their bodily functions all this time?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pet Worms

My beautiful little girls went outside this morning to dig in the garden with their Grandma Janet. They came back inside with a box filled with soil and two worms.

Kira has asked if we can keep them.

Well....

I've been wanting to start a worm compost. It looks like this might be the right time to start. I'll be setting up a more permanent location for the new pet worms. With the help of the wonderful book "Worms Eat My Garbage," we are about to embark on a very interesting scientific journey.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rain - Again!!!

There's more rain today. The forecast says it will rain for the next few days. I don't recall having this much rain all at once in quite a long time. When I was a kid it would rain almost every afternoon during the summer, but not long stretches of endless rain. We've had a pretty long stretch of endless rain here.

The girls are awake. They decided that getting up around 6:00 AM was a good idea today. I have NO IDEA why, because they're both grumpy and obviously still sleepy. I think we'll be making a visit to Grandma's today.

So far this morning Kira has tried to engage me in several different discussions. Unfortunately for her, I am NOT a morning person.

I'm trying to find the educational value in continual rain. Can somebody please tell me how to use this non-stop rain for educational good???

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mushroom Hunt

We took the girls to a local state park today to hunt for mushrooms. The extra rain we've been having has caused a massive explosion of mushrooms in our area. Today I decided to take a photo journey through the woods to capture the wide variety of mushrooms that can be found here.

I have not made any attempt at this point to identify these mushrooms. I'm not sure that the girls' fascination goes beyond the general observance that there are so many different mushrooms to be seen. I did take lots of pictures, though. I want to share the photos here. If you happen to recognize any particular type of mushroom, please feel free to enlighten me.

Keep in mind that all these mushrooms were found within an area along a trail that was less than a half a mile long. We did not have to go very far to find a huge variety. (The very last picture looks like just a pile of leaves. If you look really closely, you will see the tiny little mushrooms that are poking up through the mass of dead leaves.)






























Sunday, September 13, 2009

No More Pre-School

Kira decided she was all done with pre-school so I withdrew her from the program. Fun was had, but I do believe she missed being at home. I also think there is a limit to how much can be gained from continual unstructured play when the playing centers around the same toys day after day after day with little variation.

What I learned from her time in pre-school is that she has a fondness for the Science Center. Their Science Center was equipped with magnifying glasses, telescopes, and scales plus a few fake bugs and such. I will be acquiring my very own Science Center fairly soon to accommodate her interest.

I also learned that setting up our "school space" in Centers might make everybody's life just a little bit easier. That will have to wait for a while because we are limited on space right now. However, in the next year or so I will be able to organize things in a way that will allow us to create specific locations for specific areas of study. I'm a planner so I will spend the next few months making notes and considering all the various possibilities for setting up this type of system.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Animal Deciders

Kira invented a new game last night called Animal Deciders. Yes, this is the name she chose for her new game. It's a very interesting game. Two players - me and her - take turns being an animal. One player pretends to be an animal and tells what they look like, what they eat, and what they do. The other player has to decide what kind of animal is being described.

This game started with Kira telling me that she lives in the water, eats fish that gets stuck in her head, and only has a heart and lungs - no brain.

**blink blink blink**

Um - it took me a few minutes... then I realized she was a Jelly Fish!!! Mind you, she just turned 5 years old yesterday.

We played this game for over a half an hour. Suffice it to say that she stumped me far more than I stumped her. I can now mark off "knows common animals - both land and sea" from her Scope and Sequence.

This has also left me wondering exactly how long it will be before I can no longer keep up with her... (I'm scared...)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Testing Risa

With Kira off to classes during the day, I have a bit of extra time to spend with Marisa.

This morning it was raining. Risa wanted to go out and watch the rain fall. Luckily it is getting cooler so being outside is easier for me. We sat outside for a while watching the rain and looking around.

I took this opportunity to test Risa on her colors. I can now say for certain that she is very clear on all her colors. This isn't the first time I've tested her. I do it pretty frequently. She's really known her colors for a while, but letting her pick out those colors in a natural setting makes it more certain that she's not just following a pattern.

She also counted to 5 for me. This is new. She can now count all the way to 5 all by herself. One more set of requirements that she has accomplished by just paying attention to the world around her...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Case Against Homeschooling

Edited - Jesse Scaccia contacted me with a complaint about reprinting the entire article here on my page, even though I have given the direct link and the proper credits to her to indicate that I did not write the article.

So --- I removed the article and kept the link.

I still think it is well worth your time to read - and respond - to this particular article that Ms. Scaccia has written. It will do wonders for your amusement factor.


THIS IS A REPRINT OF AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED AT TEACHER, REVISED. I'M PUBLISHING THIS HERE BECAUSE THE LEVEL OF BIAS AND LACK OF INFORMATION IS JUST SO DARN AMUSING. I HOPE YOU ENJOY READING THIS AS MUCH AS I DID.

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The case against homeschooling

Jump to Comments

By JESSE SCACCIA

Homeschooling: great for self-aggrandizing, society-phobic mother…… but not quite so good for the kid.

Here are my top ten reasons why homeschooling parents are doing the wrong thing:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pre-School Classes

Kira started Pre-School classes this past week on Tuesday. Our church has a Georgia Lottery funded Pre-K program. We registered Kira, but she was on a lengthy waiting list. Lucky for us, her number came up.

Now, you may wonder why in the world I would put her in a Pre-School program when I have absolutely no intention of sending her off to school next year. This is a common reaction of my friends and family when I mention that Kira has started classes. The thing is, though, that home schooled does not necessarily mean completely schooled at home. There is a great deal of value to be found in classes that are given outside the home.

Kira's teachers are not using any particular curriculum to accomplish any given goals. They do have standards that they are expected to reach by the end of the school year. However, the teachers are given a great deal of freedom in how they choose to accomplish these goals. With Kira's classes, there is a whole lot of playing going on. This is why I wanted her in classes - to play.

I think play is a very important part of a young child's life. There is so much to be gained from just playing. Right now she is learning to adjust to a new situation. She's learning to make decisions for herself. She's learning the days of the week just by association. She's learning group play and group cooperation because there are 19 other kids in the room. She's also learning that sometimes what you get really is all you get because they serve lunch and if you don't like it, you don't get something different. (I'm not allowed to pack a lunch for her, either.)

This new schedule also gives me some one-on-one time to spend with Marisa. I'm hoping to be able to use that time to focus on some of her early learning skills like I was able to focus with Kira. Marisa is learning to live her days without her big sister around to dictate the way the world goes. Surprisingly, this is a big adjustment for Marisa. She has seemed a bit lost this week without Kira around. I hope that improves pretty quickly...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

School Supplies

I did a bit of shopping for school supplies. Here is what I came home with.

Marisa's School Supplies


- 3 different packs of bolts
- 3 different packs of nuts
- 3 different packs of washers
- school box to hold the nuts, bolts, and washers
- crayons, 24 ocunt
- colored pencils
- scissors
- glue
- glue sticks
- markers (broad tips, fine tips)
- 3 ring notebook ( 3" - to start our timeline and mapping book)
- school box to hold the art supplies
- pink milk crate for all the school supplies

Kira's School Supplies


- markers (broad tips, fine tips)
- crayons, 120 count box
- colored pencils
- scissors
- poster boards ( the small ones that come in packs )
- glitter glue (she asked rather hopefully if glitter was "school supplies")
- 3 ring notebook ( 3" - to start our timeline and mapping book)
- school box to hold the art supplies
- pink milk crate for all the school supplies

My School Supplies


- pack of multicolored Bic permanent markers

I already have a huge collection of workbooks that have been amassed over the past few years. Each time I found something that I thought was interesting, I would buy two copies of that workbook so I would have one for each girl. Now, all I have to do is pull out the workbooks and put them in the proper milk crate. Then the girls can decide when they want to work in one of their books. I have no doubt that Kira will be speeding through her workbooks because she adores doing "school work".

Thursday, August 6, 2009

School Break

We're going out of town for a few days without the kids, so there won't be any school projects.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All About Soil

Right now we are watching All About Soil from the Earth Science for Children series. I added the link because the website has a teacher's guide that can be useful in developing lessons for this topic.

Here is what the back of the DVD case says.

"Soil is the loose top layer of the Earth's surface, but what is it made of, and how does it form?
And why is it so important? In All About Soil, children will learn what components are
needed to make the best soils for growing plants while discovering the important role that the
forces of erosion play in the creation of this valuable resource. A visit to a grade school
showcases a unique program that uses lunch leftovers and hungry earthworms to improve
the soil in the school's garden, while an informative demonstration illustrates how sand is
created from the continual erosion of rocks. "

My favorite feature of this series, and others like it, is that after the information is given, the "computer" reviews what has been learned. The program is geared to help children retain the information. It's also really cool to watch.

I enjoy finding programs that will appeal to the children without being overly tedious for me to watch, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Planets Movie Review

Title: My Fantastic Field Trip to the Planets

Time: 70 Mins

Rating: Kids Say - Might Be Good (Mom says - Rent, Borrow, or Buy it Used)

Major Players:

Jake - Cayman Mitchell

Jake's Mom - Jennifer Wydra

Singing Ranger - Car'ynn Sims

Sun - Ed Cosico

Moon - Fred Gallo

Mercury - David Trim

Venus - Rena Wolf

Earth - Jennifer Wydra

Mars - Grant Rosen

Jupiter - Thomas Patrick

Saturn - Irene Ritter

Uranus - R. G. Clayton

Neptune - Michael Chanslor

Pluto - Jack Rein

Well, this movie is definitely different.

Jake missed the bus for a special field trip to the planetarium. He was very upset by this, of course. After his mom puts him to bed for the night, he travels by spaceship to all the planets as he searches for the moon.

Jake gets to meet each planet, starting with Mercury and working all the way down to Pluto. (Yes - in this movie, Pluto is still a planet. )

Each planet gets to tell Jake a little bit of information and then sing a song about itself.

The songs are rather entertaining for the kids. They are also well designed for the use of music to enhance content retention. The songs are short and easy to learn, so kids can sing them even when the movie isn't playing.

The final song is a walk through all the planets. It's a rather catchy tune - if you're five. (Adults will find this to be somewhat annoying.)

----------

We watched this movie twice this morning. About halfway through the second viewing, Kira determined that she was done watching this. I'm hesitant to recommend this movie. It's a bit annoying from a parent's perspective. There's also the issue of Pluto no longer being considered a planet. I suppose this would be easy to explain, though.

Basically, Kira likes the movie. I didn't really care for the movie, but there is educational value. The movie gives specific detailed information about each planet. For example, Jupiter sings about his red storm. Saturn sings about her rings. Mercury sings about being first. The last three planets sing about being cold. It's pretty clever for helping kids remember small bits of information.

I do have to add one final note on this. The conversation between Jupiter and Saturn has a couple of sexual innuendos embedded. It is VERY discrete, so young children would never catch on. Saturn wants to be told she's pretty and Jupiter comments that she should tell him he's the biggest. It's a lame attempt at parental directed humor. I can understand the use of this type of writing in major movies where parents will be taking their children to the theater to watch lengthy films. It has no business in a child's educational video. That one little exchange just irritated my parental sensibilities.


Southeast Homeschool Expo

I am so excited. I get to go to the Southeast Homeschool Expo this weekend. This will be my very first home schooling convention.

Yay!!!

My husband is taking the day off to stay home with the girls on Friday. Let's face it, taking a 3 yr old and 4 yr old along for an all day convention is not a good idea.

I am, however, taking my mother-in-law along with me. Actually, she's driving, but I invited her to join me. Randall isn't at all interested in this sort of thing, and I didn't really want to go alone. She's good company and very interested in our plans for schooling the girls.

Now all I have to do is wait for Friday to get here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Library Take

I went to the library yesterday to return the previously borrowed movies. I left with a new stack of movies. This time all I got was movies, but I did get quite a few.

Here's what I came home with.


Eyewitness Human Machine


Meet the Letters (I have to admit that this was not terribly impressive, especially in comparison to the Leap Frog Letter Factory movie.)

The Magic School Bus Super Sports Fun

I Love Big Machines


The Way Things Work --- Sensors

Winnie the Pooh Shapes and Sizes

Reading for Children: How A Book Is Made


Popular Mechanics for Kids: X-Treme Sports

Eyewitness Volcano

Rescue Adventures

My Fantastic Field Trip to the Planets

Building Big Tunnels

Building Big Bridges

The Magic School Bus Holiday Special

Popular Mechanics for Kids: Firefighters

Earth Science for Children: All About Soil


Popular Mechanics for Kids: Radical Rockets

Eyewitness: Plant

American History for Children: United States Constitution

American History for Children: United States Expansion

----------

After reading this list, and other posts, you may realize that I have a fondness for Popular Mechanics for Kids. I really do enjoy the series. The kids learn a lot from watching the program, but honestly, so do I. It's fun to watch, even from an adult perspective. It isn't corny or goofy.

You may also realize that I'm rather fond of the Eyewitness videos, too. Yeah - I am. They're really good videos. They're informative. The girls enjoy them.

As for The Magic School Bus, I actually own most of theses. The few that I don't own, I borrow from the library from time to time. There just isn't enough good stuff to say about Ms. Frizzle and her Magic Bus.

The American History for Children is new to me. I stumbled across it at the library and thought I would see what it was like. The box says it's for ages 4 to 10, so it should be pretty useful. History is my least favorite subject, due to the boring nature of the textbooks that were forced upon me during my own schooling. I hope to make that subject much more entertaining for my girls.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Facebook ...

Who Needs School is now on Facebook.

If you love my site and have a Facebook profile, please consider becoming a fan of my Facebook page and suggesting that all your friends become a fan, too.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Instrument Land

Kira has recently become obsessed with musical instruments. You can read more about this in "Kira's Current Obsession." Today happened to present me with the perfect opportunity to take Kira to the music store. After a bit of research, I decided to take her to Sam Ash Music Stores based on how close they were to my house.

Marisa went off to Grandma Shari's house for a while today, so I took Kira to do a bit of learning. She was very excited to be going to "Instrument Land." (That was her description - not mine.)

When we walked into Sam Ash Music Store, we met Steven - the sales manager. I explained to him that Kira is home schooled and suddenly very interested in learning about music instruments. I explained to him that we came to the store to explore the instruments - not to buy them. He was so wonderful and told us that each area was staffed with a specialist who would be more than willing to help us with any questions we may have. He also said that we were welcome to pull any instrument down and play with it. Even knowing that I had no plans to purchase anything, he was very helpful and very welcoming.

Steven walked us over to the violins and introduced me to Samantha. Then he pulled down a Kira-sized violin and bow for us to explore. Kira sat on a little stool and Steven showed her how to hold the violin and bow, then how to pull the bow across the strings to make the sound. Kira had a great deal of fun "playing" the violin for a few minutes. Steven wandered off to help other customers while Samantha continued to help us with our adventures. Kira also played a Cello and a Bass while we were in the string instruments. Samantha discussed the differences between each instrument and their sounds with Kira until Kira became restless and wanted to move on to something else --- THE DRUMS!

We made a short visit to the drums, then Kira changed her mind and wanted to see the trumpets and saxophones. The gentlemen in that area was so sweet and helpful. I didn't get his name, though. He told me, but I seriously failed to listen. Anyways, he pulled down a couple of different trumpets for us to hold and explore. Then he talked to us about the other horns hanging on the wall. He pulled a flute out for us to play with. I sat down on the floor with Kira to show her how to blow on a flute to make sound. We both failed pretty miserably with that endeavor. I know HOW to do it, but it's been so many years since I've used that skill that my ability to make the sound was almost completely gone. Finally, he pulled out a harmonica and used an air 'thing' to make sounds through the harmonica.

We did return to the drums after our venture into the horns. The guy over there handed me a set of sticks and set us up with the electric drums and headset. How cool is that!!! Now, kids can play drums to their little heart's content and Moms don't actually have to HEAR the noise. I am so THERE with this concept.

Kira sat and played the drums for a good five minutes before she was ready to move on. Of course, I had to have a go at this new concept of electric drums, too. We returned the sticks to the counter and thanked the guy for letting us play, then we moved on to the guitar room. Jim, the guitar expert, was absolutely amazing. He helped us play with the guitar. Then he pulled down a ukulele to play with. The ukulele is actually a pretty good size for little hands to play with. He also pulled out a banjo for us. Banjos are HEAVY. By heavy, I mean that I could barely hold the thing. Oh. My. Gosh. I had NO idea.

Before we left the guitar room, Jim gifted Kira with her very own guitar pick. He even told her if she happens to lose her pick that she can come see him any time she wants and he'll give her a new pick.

After all of that, we wandered back over to the horns where I bought Kira a very inexpensive harmonica. Since we left Instrument Land she has been practicing with her new harmonica. She has learned how to blow softly to make soft sounds and to blow harder to make louder sounds. Needless to say - she LOVES making those really LOUD sounds.

She also figured out pretty quickly that she could make sound while blowing air out as well as while sucking air in. (Hey Mom. I don't even have to stop to breath. --- SIGH!!!)

My plans for a field trip to the instrument store proved to be a great idea. The staff was so helpful. Kira had fun. Hey - I even bought something.

Of course, the real lesson here is that when I do need to make any big purchases for instruments - now I know where to go. If they're this great when you tell them you aren't going to buy anything the moment you walk in the door - think how wonderful they will be when you walk in to make a major purchase...

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Butterflies Everywhere

We took a day trip yesterday to Pine Mountain, GA. The purpose for our trip was to visit Callaway Gardens Butterfly Conservatory. I've only been to Callaway once before, and this was my first time to visit their butterflies. I was very excited, maybe even more than Kira and Marisa. I have to say that the Butterfly Conservatory definitely lived up to my expectations. We spent a good bit of time wandering through the flowers and watching butterflies do the things that butterflies do. I could easily spend several hours in the conservatory if it were a bit cooler and a bit less humid. No doubt I lost several pounds just from being in the extreme humidity.

The butterfly experience would have been sufficient for our day of education. There is a field guide that can be used to identify which butterflies you are seeing. There's plates of fruit for the butterflies to nibble on, so we got to spend some time observing them while they were eating. I never knew butterflies had such long tongues! It was quite wonderful.


(This is a group of Owl Butterflies and Marisa's hand. As you can see, those butterflies are bigger than her hand. That is NOT an optical illusion.)

But I got lucky!!!

After we left the Butterfly Conservatory, we had a picnic for lunch. When we finished eating, Kira decided she needed to use the bathroom, so I took her back inside the building. I decided on the way in that we would just poke our noses into the butterfly room one last time. THIS was the best decision I made yesterday.

As we were walking back towards the butterfly room I noticed that there were people inside this little observation room area. They were sorting pupa. I tapped gently on the glass, and the guy inside brought a tray of sorted pupa over to the window for Kira to see. He even picked a few of them up so they would wiggle around. This was just so cool. We looked for a bit and then waved and thanked him. I thought that was the extent of our special treat.

HE had somethin else in mind.

He waved to me and motioned for us to come inside.

WHAT? IN THERE? REALLY???


We rushed around to where the entrance was. Kira and I were admitted to the interior room where this group was sorting out the pupa and preparing to pin them up for continued development.

Let me just stop here and tell you how very COOL this was. I can not express just how grateful I am that this guy was so nice to us.

Anyways.... Kira and I got to hold several different pupa and discuss what types of butterflies would emerge. One of the guys in the room had a newly emerged butterfly sitting on his finger. The butterfly was waiting for its wings to dry - which apparently takes about 2 to 4 hours.

We talked about where the pupas come from. Apparently there are butterfly farms all over the world. The farmers harvest the pupas and sell them off to places like Callaway Gardens to replenish their butterfly population.

We talked about how they package the pupa in layers of cotten to protect them during shipping.

We talked about how tough the pupa skin is in comparison to the caterpillar and the butterfly stages.

Mostly, though, we held the different pupa and experienced just how incredibly different each species is. Some were rough and prickly. Some were smooth and shiny. Some of them looked like polished stones and were very slippery to hold. There were green pupa, and brown pupa, and shiny gold pupa. There was evena gorgeous yellow pupa - the color of a canary. That one was very shiny and smooth. That one was my favorite...

As if the pupa experience wasn't enough, when we left the room there was a Blue Morpho butterfly sitting on the ground. We both sat beside the butterfly, and when it didn't fly away I reached down and very gently scooped the creature up into my hand. It still didn't fly away....

I put that beautiful blue butterfly on Kira's arm - and there it stayed - for over ten minutes!!! She absolutely loved that butterfly and determined that the creature wanted to come home with us. (No, Kira. Really - the butterfly must stay at the Butterfly Conservatory.)



Grandma Janet called to find out why we were taking so long in the bathroom. I told her what we were up to, and she headed back inside with the rest of the gang. That lovely little butterfly let me move her from one kid to the next (including the Grandma) without even trying to fly away. She was so content to just be with us. We were blessed with her presence for another ten minutes or so, then we were ready to carry on with our day. We tried to place her on some flowers, but she didn't want to leave us. I ultimately had to pass her off to one of the guys who had been in the sorting room. He gushed about how amazing this experience was because the Blue Morpho, as he put it, NEVER DOES THIS. That species is not generally people friendly. Apparently it is nearly unheard of for the Blue Morpho to land on anybody for more than a second. When I told him how long she had been hanging out with us, he was astounded.

(Thank you, God, for giving us our own special miracle!!!)

I can't really determine who got more out of this - me or Kira. It was such a beautiful day. When Kira was being blessed with the Blue Morpho, she gazed down at that butterfly and said - with tears in her eyes - "This has been just the bestest day ever." (I almost cried myself over that one.)

I did purchase one of the interior field guides so we can learn more about the butterflies we encountered. I also purchased a local butterfly field guide so we can study about the butterflies we might find in our own back yard. Of course, there were a few frivolous purchases made, too. Marisa chose a butterfly that hangs from the ceiling. (It's almost as big as she is.) Kira chose a butterfly that grows in water and shrinks when it dries. They put those gift shops at the end for a reason...

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sandbox

We're at the sandbox again today. We spend a lot of time here. The girls get to make new friends every time we come, plus they've learned a great deal here. They have both learned some very important problem solving skills because they like to take buckets of sand up to the top of the play area, but there are no steps to get to the top - only ladders. Both girls have learned how to carry their sand buckets to the top by moving the bucket one rung at a time.

It's fun here, too. They get to expend their excess energy while I get to do some much needed work on my websites.

I'm sure we'll also begin studying measurements soon. This is a wonderful place for that particular discovery.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kira's Current Obsession

I thought the topic of musical instruments was going to be a passing fancy. It seems that I was wrong. All Kira can talk about these days is musical instruments, how to make them, how to play them and how they work. I'm really not sure where this came from or where it will go.

I was brainstorming with my husband today to try to come up with something useful for teaching Kira all about instruments. One thing that we came up with was a field trip to one of our local music stores. We have a couple of stores within easy driving distance that I can take Kira to for a bit of an impromptu lesson. One of those stores is Ken Stanton Music. They are very well known here in the Atlanta area. I haven't contacted them, yet, but I have no doubt that I can show up at there store and find somebody willing to help me explain some of those instruments to a curious little girl, especially if she flashes one of her pouty faces at them. She's an expert pouter. (I know this sounds a lot like a paid advertising post, but it isn't.)

What I like most about home schooling is that I can use field trips like this one that we are planning to give my girls a very detailed and personal education. The experience of walking into the music store and seeing thousands of different instruments that can be viewed, and maybe even held, is far more valuable than anything that could ever be accomplished with a few books, or even a few dozen books. You just can't get the proper perception of size and weight from a picture in a book.

I'm not sure when I'll schedule my visit. Kira is pretty into the instruments right now, so I'll probably be going within the next week or two. I can't do it this week because we already have too much going on. Although ... Saturday might be an option if I can get one of the Grandma's to watch Marisa for a while. Hmm...

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Library Take

My visit to the library today brought a bit of interesting fare.

Kira chose three books to bring home with her. I gave her a limit this time because the last time she brought home nearly twenty books and never even opened most of them. Lesson learned!!!

Here's what she chose:

Goats by Sara Swan Miller

Baby Animals by Seymour Simon

The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive by Joanna Cole

I also brought home six movies. The movies at the library are by far my favorite resource for home schooling. We can gain a huge volume of information from watching these movies.

Here's what we chose:

Eyewitness Cat --- (Did you know that the purring from a cat is caused by vibrating bones that are located at the base of the cat's tongue? I didn't know this until about 5 minutes ago...)

Eyewitness Natural Disasters

Danger Rangers Fires and Liars

Popular Mechanics for Kids: Slither & Slime and other yucky things
( I absolutely adore the Popular Mechanics for Kids movies. )

Between the Lions: Season 1

Wild & Wacky World: But What Can I Do? All about helping others ( This is new to me. Kira saw it on the shelf and assured me that she was definitely old enough to watch this. It appears to be a religious based series that focuses on morals. )

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We gathered the pots. We gathered the bowls. We chose some wooden spoons.

The music began. (Okay - it was more like banging...)

The spoons weren't enough. We needed pencils. We needed metal spoons. We need dinosaurs.

The music began again. (More banging...)

The kids explored the various sounds that each "drumstick" would make on each "drum."

Lucky for me, the experiment only lasted a short while before they were bored and moved on to some other - less noisy - experiment.

I'm sorry, did you say something? Speak up. I can't hear you.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coloring Books

I stopped at the Dollar Tree this afternoon and picked up a couple of new coloring books. I needed something new to help entertain the girls for at least a little while so I could continue working on painting the bedroom walls. This painting project has turned into a never ending test of my endurance.

I set Kira and Marisa on my bed with their new coloring books and new crayons. Kira happily searched through her book and found all the mazes and anything that remotely resembled dot-to-dots. She thoroughly enjoyed tracing tonight. Usually she gets so frustrated with tracing because she has such poor control with a pencil. Tonight she spent a long time tracing whatever she could find. She was genuinely disappointed when all the tracing stuff was finished. Perhaps this is the key to helping her improve her writing skills. Find more coloring books with tracing.

I can't really tell you what Marisa was doing. She wasn't nearly as vocal about the whole process as Kira. There's something about Mommy trying to get anything done that brings out Kira's chatter bugs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Liberty's Kids

This has been an absolutely beautiful day. I was blessed with a visit from my brother today. He stayed with the girls for a couple of hours while I was able to visit the thrift store. I love the thrift store. That is my number one source for school supplies. I hit pay dirt today. I stumbled across this series that I had never heard of before - Liberty's Kids. I bought three VHS tapes. I would have bought more, but they only had three different tapes.

Here are the titles I bought:


The First 4th of July

The Boston Tea Party

Give Me Liberty

This series is an animated adventure that depicts the historical events of the founding of The United States of America. Well, since tomorrow is the 4th of July, I chose to play The First 4th of July first.

I have to say that Kira isn't all that impressed at the moment. The content is a bit older - aimed for ages 8 to 14 - but the entertainment value is still there. She'll absorb some of the information just from watching the adventurous cartoon. It's a start...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Skeleton

I had an appointment with my chiropractor today. I've been talking to him for a while now about borrowing his skeleton for a bit of show and tell. The skeleton model he has is child sized, which is just perfect for a lesson in bones. Well, both girls happened to be with me today so I had Kira ask the doctor if we would be able to look at his skeleton before leaving. Of course he said yes. Kira is very hard to resist, and the approval was already there from previous conversations.

While he was working on my back, his wife pulled out the skeleton for me. When I was all done she told me where it was so that I could give a bit of a lesson.

Marisa was a bit afraid at first. After all, skeletons can be bit scary if you've only ever seen them in the capacity of Halloween. She quickly warmed up, though, and came over to explore this new toy. We sat in the floor and discussed the different parts of the skeleton and what certain bones were responsible for. Both girls enjoyed touching the model and bending the different parts.

When we were done, I demonstrated how a skeleton could give a hug. Kira, though a little leery, allowed the skeleton to hug her. Marisa flat out refused.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Killer Jellyfish

We watched Killer Jellyfish from the Natural Killers series today.

The Jellyfish DVD is a documentary that talks about jellyfish from Australia that are known killers. The kids get to learn how jellyfish are born and how they hunt.

Here's the information from the back of the DVD cover.

- The sea wasp, a type of box jellyfish, is the most deadly creature on earth, with enough venom to kill 60 people within four minutes. It haunts the beautiful shores of north Queensland in Australia. But it is not alone.

- It has an almost invisible cousin, known as the Irukandji jellyfish. Packed in this fingernail-sized creature is a sting so agonizing that not even morphine relieves the pain.

- Discover how two researchers risk their lives to unlock the secrets of the Irukandji jellyfish, and how Queensland's swimmers are learning to protect themselves.

----------

Kira was prompted to ask me what the word "gravitate" means because the researchers were talking about how the jellyfish gravitate to certain areas to follow their prey.

Personally, I love watching this particular DVD. Each time I watch it I learn something new. This time I learned how jellyfish polyps clone themselves to create multiple jellies from one single fertilized egg. It's really cool to watch the computer generated animations of the process.

There is also a computer generated animation of the stingers process when the jellyfish sting. That is pretty neat to watch, as well.

Magic School Bus

I'm starting out Marisa's day with a Magic School Bus DVD. Kira is still sleeping, so she isn't enjoying the show just yet.

The Magic School Bus Catches a Wave

This DVD has 3 different episodes about water. The first episode covers the water cycle. All the kids go on a field trip where they turn into water and live the water cycle for a while. They change from water drops to water vapor and then to ice crystals and then to clouds. After they turn into clouds, they turn back into water drops and rain. The cycle continues for a while until they are able to make their way back to school via the water purification system.

Even though I've seen this DVD several times, I can't quite recall the other episodes. I believe one is about erosion and how water can break rocks and shape mountains. There's a third episode, but I really can't remember what that one is about.

UPDATE: The third one is about sinking and floating. They talk about water displacement and other such concepts.

I love The Magic School Bus. It's perfect for teaching Science concepts. The kids love watching the shows and don't even realize just how much they are learning.

The Magic School Bus also has a series of books that the kids enjoy reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Diego

Marisa wanted to watch Go, Diego, Go this morning. I really enjoy that cartoon. There is so much educational value to be found in watching shows of that nature. The disc we were watching today was all about ocean creatures. I love how both the girls interact with the show, answering the questions and being involved in all the action.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Glitterfy.com - Glitter Graphics

Monday, June 8, 2009

Letter Sounds

I spent a good bit of time with Marisa today chatting about nothing in particular. One of our conversations revolved around what the letters say. She started this by asking me what the number 4 says. After I told her that the number 4 doesn't say anything, we continued the discussion moving on to the letters.

Marisa is learning her letter sounds the same way that Kira did. The only difference is that Marisa doesn't insist that the letters say "nothing" all the time. Still, it's a fun game for her. It's a bit tedious for me, but hey - that's what I'm here for.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Coffe Shop School

Today Kira and I wandered off to my favorite Starbucks to sit and work on school. Kira loves to do worksheets, so I brought along her current workbook. She completed 16 different pages out of her workbook - front and back. Just WOW!

She also made her very first purchase today. She decided that she wanted a brownie, so I sent her to the counter with $3.00 to make her purchase. (I was sitting right by the counter.) She told the lady what she wanted, and patiently waited for her change and her brownie. After she returned the change to me, I had her choose 2 quarters to place in the tip box. She asked the lady at the counter where to put the tip money. She even said 'thank you' and 'have a nice day' after her purchase was completed. Her reward for such a wonderful accomplishment was a brownie that was apparently very yummy. The brownie really didn't last long.

After she finished her workbook pages, she spent a few minutes finding different shapes in the coffee shop and outside the coffee shop. Then she pointed out what the different customers were doing.

This was a wonderful learning experience for both of us. I think this may become a favorite spot for studying. That has absolutely NOTHING to do with the hot chocolate here. HONEST!!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Slugs and Such

I spent a few hours away from the house the other day. In my absence, Daddy was in charge of the girls. After about an hour of being gone, I received a text message informing me that my children were covered in slugs. Apparently the girls decided to round up all the slugs that live in our fairly wild yard for the purpose of having a nice visit with them. I think my girls may have even offered up a bit of cakes and tea for the slugs to enjoy while they visited. One never can be sure...

At any rate, I heard the tales of all the slugs that were plucked from the yard. Both girls had several slugs on them crawling all over their hands and arms. Daddy hates slugs and finds them to be quite disgusting, so this particular fascination of the girls seems to make life for Daddy a bit difficult.

So what are the girls gaining from this experience? What value is there in allowing an army of slugs to march parades over your body?

Well, I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps the girls are learning to interact with nature, or observing the way these creatures use their bodies to move along their chosen path. I haven't really asked the girls what they learn from the slugs. Perhaps I will ask them tomorrow when they are awake.

I can tell you this, though:

I AM NOT GOING TO LET THOSE SLUGS HAVE THEIR PARADES ON MY ARMS JUST TO FIND OUT WHAT THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE BEHIND SUCH EVENTS MAY BE!!!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Scrabble

We spent the day at my mother-in-law's house for Memorial Day. My husband, his mother and I decided to play a couple of friendly games of Scrabble. I happen to really love that game, but rarely have the time to play. While we were playing, Kira sat down and asked a few questions about the game. She asked if she could play, but of course she is a bit too young. However, I decided to play a game with her over on the side while the game of Scrabble was being played.

I took a few of my letter tiles and made some simple 3 letter words for Kira to practice reading. She sounded out several words before she was too tired or bored to continue. She even read a couple of 4 letter words. I was actually very impressed with how well she did.

I've decided that I'm going to have to pull out the Scrabble tiles here just for the purpose of building a few words for her to read every now and then. She seemed to enjoy being able to "slam" the words together after sounding out each individual letter. (Yeah - that's a concept learned in the Leap Frog Talking Word Factory movie...)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Home School Group

Today was a great day. We had our very first meeting with a new home school group that I've found. There are several kids that are the same age as my girls, which is just wonderful. The group will be relatively inactive for the next couple of months because it is summer time, but when the school year begins in the fall there will be co-op classes to attend. I'm so excited to finally have a group of parents and kids that I think we will fit in nicely with.

The kids all played and ran around. My girls, of course, were very intent on getting as dirty as they possibly could. I'm sure there's some educational value in that....

I'm looking forward to getting to know these other families and their children. I think we're the only "unschoolers" in the group, but that's okay. Everybody has their own methods and their own needs, and this group seems to be very accepting of each others' methods.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lessons for Today

We've had a very busy day today.

Kira spent an hour playing Jumpstart World Pet Playground. This computer game is geared to children ages 4 to 8. The game has a couple of different functions on it. One game that can be played teaches and reinforces the beginning letter sounds of words. The other game is about ordinal numbers and choosing numbers that are lower than the given number. Kira was only playing on the beginning levels, so I'm not sure if the higher levels allow you to play more complicated games or not.

The object of Pet Playground is to earn enough gems to buy a pet. Then you have to buy the things your pet needs and take care of your pet. It is really quite interesting. She gets to learn about working for what she wants.

In addition to the computer game, Kira was introduced to the concept of actually working to earn money. She earned her very first dime today by helping her Daddy load the clothes into the washing machine.

Kira and I walked to the Dollar Tree to get a piggy bank for her money because she did not already have one. After I made my purchase, I allowed her to earn the change by telling me the names of the different coins and the monetary values of each coin. She earned $0.83 today. She's saving her money for Horseland Ponies because she doesn't want to wait until her birthday to get them. Her birthday is in September - a long time from now.

I notified the Grandma's that Kira would now be "for hire" should they have any jobs they want her to do. I also gave them a general monetary suggestion for how much they should offer if they plan to give her any jobs. The biggest key here is that she is not getting paid for doing her normal chores.

Digging for Worms

The girls were outside this afternoon with their Grandma Janet when I came home from a trip to the library. They both promptly ignored my arrival, afraid that I would call them home and spoil their fun.

I did stop by the gate for a bit to see what it was that had such rapt attention from them.

I watched for a bit as Marisa gently held something in her hand. I asked her what she had, and her reply was swift and assertive.

"MY worm!"

One of the favorite pass times of my two girls is to dig in the garden for pet worms. They are blessed to have plenty of worms to dig for. The garden overfloweth with worms so finding one or one hundred worms is not such a daunting task. This digging is a great learning experience for the girls.

I sometimes feel sorry for the poor, defenseless worms that are destined to become the momentary obsessions of my girls. The worms rarely suffer more than a time of frustration before they are returned to their homes in the soil, but it must be somewhat unsettling to be held high above the ground while you wriggle around seeking the freedom and safety of your burrows, only to find yourself suspended in the open air where any bird or predator can clearly see you. (poor little worms...)

On a side note, while I was out today I had to stop by the bank. The sidewalk in front of the bank was littered with a few dozen worms that had been forced out of the ground by recent rains. The worms, of course, were no longer among the living. I was silently grateful that my two girls were not with me to witness this mass carnage, for I'm certain that my four year old - a sensitive soul - would have been quite distraught at the sight of all those dead worms laying on the ground. If I had possession of a broom at the time, I would have swept the walk clean of the worms to protect the innocence of any unsuspecting children who might have passed that way. Alas, a broom is not something I happen to carry in my car on a regular basis.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Paint

Today we painted.

I gave each child a stack of paper, a paper plate for mixing their paints, and an egg carton filled with various colors of paint.

The girls spent a good bit of time painting various pictures using wide brushes, skinny brushes, and - yep - their fingers and hands.

The mess was impressive, but they had so much fun. Maybe they even learned something while they were painting.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

Kira and Marisa are playing in the rain today. I'm not quite sure what they are learning from this, but they are intent on their games.

They both have a bowl, and take it to the drain pipe off the side of the house to fill it with rain water. Then they empty their bowls into a bigger bowl.

Marisa tried to take a much bigger bowl and put it under the drain pipe only to find that the bigger bowl wouldn't fit.

Kira insists that they are just playing, but I'm convinced that there is quite a bit of thinking going on out there.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It All Began...

I have been sifting through an old blog that I started last year, but quickly abandoned after losing interest in the topic. I made the following post on August 29, 2008. Since my current focus has been on Kira and her obsession with fire, I felt that this post deserved to be copied into the new school blog. Here is how we became stuck on the topic of fire.

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**The Fire Triangle**

Did you know there was such a thing called the fire triangle?

This is the terminology used to describe the combination of things that are needed for a fire to exist. Without all three of these objects, there can be no fire.

So what are these things, you ask - and why in the world am I discussing it. Well, my dear child has decided, after seeing an explosion on television, she needs to learn everything there is to know about all the different types of fire. She NEEDS to know what types there are and how they burn. We are currently reading about forest fires. We also visited our local fire department. The fire chief is putting together a packet of information, including a video, just for us so Kira can feed her current addiction.

So - now that I've told you where this newest obsession has come from, I'll share with you what is involved in that triangle.

To make a fire you need --- AIR - HEAT - FUEL --- yes, those three things must come together in the right combinations in order for the fire to exist.