Sunday, September 30, 2012

Science Sunday: Identifying Caterpillars

My husband found this caterpillar outside our back door, so of course he brought it inside for all of us to see (homeschool dads are the best, aren't they?)  After everyone had a chance to gently touch it and watch it scoot quickly along, we put it back where Daddy found it, and decided to try to identify what type of butterfly or moth it would become.

We flipped through the field guide, looking at all the yellow caterpillars and all the fuzzy caterpillars, but we could not find it in our guide, which mainly pictures butterflies and moths without their caterpillar form.  After searching on the internet for "fuzzy yellow caterpillar," we found out that it is a yellow woolly bear caterpillar.  These caterpillars are usually seen in the early fall when they have almost finished their feeding season and are getting ready to hibernate for the winter.  It will grow up to be a Virginia tiger moth (Spilosoma virginica).  Once we found this information on the internet, we were able to find the Virginia tiger moth in the field guide.

Since we are learning animal classification in science (Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day), the boys drew a picture of the caterpillar in their notebooks and added the classification:
Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Arthropoda
Class:  Insecta
Family:  Arctiidae
Genus:  Spilosoma
Species: S. virginica
{Linking up with Science Sunday}

Friday, September 28, 2012

Homeschooling Outside the [Curriculum] Box {and a Giveaway}

   Our homeschooling style, if I had to label it, would be academic/Charlotte Masonish/hands-on/eclectic/hodgepodge.  As a new homeschool mom, I found a curriculum that we loved, but I soon discovered that we needed to branch out from it for some subject areas.  Letting go of the "need" to check off all the boxes and learning to use the curriculum and not let it use us was a struggle, but once I did, I finally "got" it.  Much of our curriculum choices have come about through trial-and-error, and because each of my boys has a different learning style, not all of my "hand-me-down" curriculum has been successful with the younger ones. 

   A new homeschool mom with young kids who is on a history curriculum support loop I am a part of has struggled this year with trying to "do it all," and she and her kids have been miserable.  Once she relaxed a little and stopped requiring them to do everything, they are all much happier.  She was questioning her choice with the curriculum, but several veteran homeschool moms encouraged her to cater it to her needs and the needs of her kids:  don't require all the copywork, skip some of the questions, let them narrate and you write for them.  The important thing is to find your groove, immerse yourselves into learning, enjoy this time with your kids, and adapt the curriculum to fit you. 

   With one child in an elementary grade, one in a middle grade, and one in high school this year, I am certainly having to take that advice.  Also, while looking at the bigger picture (transcripts anyone?), I have to remind myself to take things one day at a time.  Even a high schooler benefits from one on one time, hands-on projects, discussion, and shared learning, so we do a little bit of this/a little bit of that, and sneak in extra things when we can.
   My high schooler's curriculum includes:  Beautiful Feet U. S. and World History for Sr. High, Beautiful Feet Geography, I. E. W. Writing for American History/for Literary Analysis/and for Geography, Movies as Literature, Wordly Wise vocabulary and English from the Roots Up flash cards, Teaching Textbooks math, Apologia science, Power-Glide Spanish, an on-line film course, a literature discussion group using Progeny Press literature guides, listening to The Story of the World CD in the car, homeschool art classes, homeschool history museum classes, guitar, and whatever else I am forgetting right now.  He also writes scripts and writes a blog.  Do we check off all the boxes in the instructor's guides?  :) 

Sometimes you just have to stop and build card houses.

Be sure to click on the Not-Back-to-School blog hop button at the top of the post to visit the other review team members and peek inside their homeschools.

Since we're celebrating Not-Back-to-School, Home Educating Family has a giveaway for YOU!  Simply leave a comment on this post for a chance to win the On the Go planner.  Winner will be announced on next Friday's Not-Back-to-School post.

Congratulations to With Love and Confection who said:
This made me laugh AND cry at the same time! What precious memories you are making for your little characters!

All prizes must be claimed within eight weeks.

{Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entrants only.
  This giveaway is not tied to any social media site.}

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thank you!

   Thanks so much to everyone who voted for Learning Table!  The list of Top 25 Teacher Moms was officially announced today, and I'm so honored to have made it to the list:

Drumroll, please...we're announcing this year's Top 25 Teacher Moms! These moms apply their training as educators in their own homes to help their kids dig into learning. Click through for a shortcut to their best posts, and check out their blogs for fresh ideas for your own family: great children's books, fun family activities, and creative ways of turning everyday play into memorable exploration.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello Monday {Hello Fall}

Hello Monday is our place to welcome a brand new week and reflect on the old one. 

It's fall! Yay! It's 63 degrees here -- perfect, perfect.

Hello to sunshiney weather, and girls who are happy to roam.

Hello to opening windows and enjoying the cool breeze.

Hello to a little bit of fall festivity inside.

Hello to Mr. Ridiculous. He was sleeping like this!

Hello to mushrooms everywhere, but the gnomes are too fast for pictures.


Hello to growing chickie-babies, who are now officially "the girls.
{Linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello Monday}

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Science Sunday: Perspective

Our maypop (passion flower) vine is loaded with fruit.  When the boys and I went to check on it, we noticed the leaves were all chewed up, and we took a closer look.

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar
The vine is covered with caterpillars, who seem very hungry indeed.

Taking a closer look, we noticed their spiky bristles and stripes.

Looking even closer, we saw their glossy skin, and we felt how sticky their legs are.

And looking closest of all, we found their eyes (they look like they're wearing shades), and we saw tiny little hairs on their bristles.

Nearby, we found one that had formed a chrysalis.
We looked in our field guide to try to identify the caterpillars, and we thought they were either Gulf Fritillary or Variegated Fritillary.  The kind folks at Shady Oak Butterfly Farm helped us identify them as Gulf Fritillary caterpillars.
A change in perspective can reveal all kinds of details.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Weekend Wishes {Fall!}

Happy Fall, Y'all! 

The Not-Back-To-School series will be back next Friday,
 but you can still leave a comment on my Homeschoolers are Unique post
for a chance to win the Well Planned Day Wall Calendar from Home Educating Family. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Planning Unit Studies for the Holidays

    The holidays are just around the corner (at least according to the stores,) and since I like to incorporate them into our school calendar, I plan now for some holiday-related books and activities.  I schedule chapter books beginning in late September so we finish them by Thanksgiving, and we read picture books as we go along.  I also like to gather materials early, so when the hustle and bustle of the holidays hits, I am a little bit ahead of the game.


Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books:
In November (Cynthia Rylant)
The Landing of the Pilgrims (James Daugherty)
Pilgrim Stories (Margaret Pumphrey)
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims (Clyde Robert Bulla)
Thank You, Sarah (Laurie Halse Anderson)
The Thanksgiving Story (Alice Dalgliesh)
Three Young Pilgrims (Cheryl Harness)
We Gather Together...Now Please Get Lost! (Diane deGroat)

Our Favorite Books About Family:

Diary of an Early American Boy (Eric Sloane)
A Gracious Plenty (Kate Salley Palmer)
Grandpa's Gizmos (John Menken)
Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas (Cynthia Rylant)
Miss Fannie's Hat (Jan Karon)
Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney)
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs (Tomie dePaola)
The Old Woman Who Named Things (Cynthia Rylant)
Our Tree Named Steve (Alan Zweibel)
The Pink House (Kate Salley Palmer)
The Raft (Jim LaMarche)
The Relatives Came (Cynthia Rylant)
Through Grandpa's Eyes (Patricia MacLachlan)
When I Was Young in the Mountains (Cynthia Rylant)
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (Mem Fox)

Family Fact Sheets: 

 Every year at our Thanksgiving gathering, everyone fills out a fact sheet. I draw an outline of a face and include questions, such as name, age, favorite Thanksgiving food/dessert, what you're thankful for, favorite/funniest moment of the day, most memorable part about the day, etc.  I make copies of these on cardstock and put them somewhere near the dining room table along with some pens and crayons or color pencils.  Everyone, adults included, fills out a fact sheet and draws their self-portrait sometime during the day.   I have gathered them each year and added them to a family Thanksgiving scrapbook.  This is a neat keepsake and a fun way to see how much everyone has changed.

Family Interviews:

Because Thanksgiving is a time for family, kids can take advantage of having everyone together to document family history.  Kids can compose a list of questions in advance and interview their grandparents to learn more about their past.  Answers can be written down or recorded, or the interviews can be filmed.  Kids will find that grandparents love to tell stories from their past.

Letter Writing:

After reading Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, we did a quick search on the internet and found the actual letter Sarah Hale wrote to Abraham Lincoln in 1863. 

For practice in persuasive writing, kids could write a letter to a public official suggesting a holiday they think should be on the official calendar: Lego day, dessert day, sleep late day...

Nature Study:

With beautiful crisp weather and trips to the apple farms and pumpkin patch, fall is a great season for nature study.  The books In November by Cynthia Rylant, The Raft by Jim LaMarche, and Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel inspired us to make an easy bird feeder to hang in a tree. 

Cut off top and scoop out the seeds from a small pumpkin.
 Use an apple corer to punch holes in the sides for stringing twine,
fill with seeds and hang.

It is also neat to study the changes in nature in our own backyard at this time of year--making leaf rubbings, drawing pictures in nature journals, writing descriptive essays and poems, and taking photographs. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Science Sunday: Animal Classification

We are learning about the system of classification in science, and to help the boys visualize it, I made categories on colored paper and pulled out some of their plastic animals.

They first had to figure out which Phylum each animal belonged to, and then further divide them into Class.

We soon discovered that we have  lots of mammals, but we talked about how they each were the same and how they are different and could be further divided.  The boys noticed things such as differences in their skin coverings, feet, and antlers/horns/tusks.  We talked about their teeth and what they eat (plants or meat).

There were some animals that the boys knew went into the Phylum Chordata, but they didn't know where to put them from there.  We pulled out our field guides for help in classifying snakes, alligators, frogs, lizards, and sharks.  As the boys get comfortable with these broad categories, we will move into learning how to put them into the correct Order, Family, Genus, and Species. 

{Linking up with Science Sunday}

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homeschoolers are Unique... {and a Giveaway}

Homeschooling is the greatest show on earth.

We have very strict dress codes.

Integrating schoolwork into the day is a balancing act.

We learn about science by scaring the neighbors,

from Dads who drop watermelons
 and water balloons off the roof to demonstrate gravity.

We study nature up close.

We spend lots of time at the kitchen table,

where little brothers learn from big brothers.

We play with legos and call it science.

We keep weird things in jars

We learn from living books.

We are the rocket-scientists of tomorrow.

We take our pets to school with us.

Our classroom is air-conditioned.

We like to travel.

We aren't afraid to try new things.

We study history by going there.

We learn by doing.

We start reading at very young ages,

and we color-coordinate our outfits to our books.

Yearbook Photos

Most dramatic
Most likely to succeed
Teacher's pet

Over achiever
Class clown

We collaborate on projects.

We study architecture.

We learn by doing.

The world is our classroom.

Our brothers are out best friends.

Our time at home is time well-spent.

Be sure to click on the Not-Back-to-School blog hop button at the top of the post to visit the other review team members and peek inside their homeschools.

Since we're celebrating Not-Back-to-School, Home Educating Family has a giveaway for YOU!  Simply leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a Well-Planned Day Wall Calendar.  Winner will be randomly chosen and announced on next Friday's Not-Back-To-School post. 

Congrats to Tammy, who said:
I made it 6 weeks before I pulled my oldest out of public school and began this journey. That was 17 years ago. In only 7 more years I'll be eligible to retire with full benefits! Okay, so I won't have a pension or 401k but I'll have the benefit of believing that I followed God's plan for our lives.

September 7, 2012 5:07 PM

Tammy, your comment on last Friday's Not-Back-to-School post was chosen by, so if you'll contact me with your mailing information, Home Educating Family will start your magazine subscription.

All prizes must be claimed within eight weeks.
{Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entrants only.
This giveaway is not tied to any social media site.}