Friday, December 21, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland when they return to their new school. 

Send your snowflakes to:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103
Hamden, CT 06514

by Jan. 12, 2013

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Highlights in Our Homeschool This Week...

Chris is still writing his prequel to "The Daisy and Max series" and he started writing a character synopsis "book" for the series.

Katie is writing a Christmas story which she hopes to read to us on Christmas.

Chelsea is studying "geology" on her own.  She saw something on Webkins world and asked me for all of our books about rocks.  This morning she is on the floor surrounded by books and sticky notes.

We watched three Christmas shows.

We made and decorated salt-dough ornaments (from a recipe I found on-line years ago.)

                                            Salt-Dough Ornament Recipe

2 cups water
1 cup salt
1 cup water

Mix salt and flour.  Add in half of the water, then gradually add remaining water.  Knead until dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.

We use our Christmas cookie cutters to make the ornaments and use a straw to make the hole to hang the ornaments.

Bake at 325 F until hard.  This varies depending upon the thickness of the ornaments.  Ours took about 30 minutes.

Let cool and paint.  We used tempera paint and acrylic paint.

We're Reading...

Chris read #3,4,5,6, and is reading #7 in The Alex Rider series.  He is still reading Johnny Tremain.

Katie read The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, M&M and the Santa Secrets, Oliver and Amanda's Christmas, and is reading Amos Fortune Free Man.

Chelsea read The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Cricket in Times Square, and The Boxcar Children #23.

Chelsea is reading Harry Potter #1 to Katie.

Daddy is reading A Christmas Carol to all of us.

I read A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson by Barbara Dana and am reading The Crystal Cave: Book One of The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart.

Places We're Going...

ballet, watercolor class, and driving around looking at Christmas lights

My Favorite Thing This Week...

Piling in the car listening to Christmas music, getting hot chocolate and Christmas star doughnuts at DD, and driving around looking at Christmas lights.

I'm Baking:
cranberry bread and apricot-filled rolled cookies

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Moment...

Someone let the water in the Christmas tree dry up (no names) and our beautiful Christmas tree started to wilt.  We went on-line and determined that we had to re-cut the bottom of the tree.  So there I am holding the very heavy bulky tall sticky tree while my dear husband attempts to handsaw the bottom of the tree while ornaments drop down around us.  Can you see it ?
Remember the scene in Christmas Vacation when Clark (after getting his very sappy Christmas tree)  is reading a magazine and turning the pages and the pages are adhered to his fingers... That was me :0)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wonderful World of Words... on Thursday : Our Favorite Christmas Books

If any of you are out there, :0)... you may notice that I have been a bit behind on my only excuse- "We were making rather merry sir..." which leads me to one of my all- time favorite Christmas books: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  We have three different editions: one from my beloved late father-in-law which has a copy of Dicken's handwritten original manuscript side -by-side with the text (it's fascinating to see all of the cross-outs and revisions, and good for the kids to see that authors don't always get it right the first time), another copy that has beautiful illustrations, and a third small picture book based on the Disney movie. 
We have lots of favorite Christmas books collected over the years.  Here are some of our favorites:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (in my opinion, everyone should own this book)

The Perfect Present Michael Hague

Jolly Old Santa Claus George Hinke

This Is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten

Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve ? by Jan Brett

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

The Three Bear's Christmas by Kathy Duval

Sing and Read Storybooks: Jingle Bells, Silent Night illustrated by Darcy May

The Story of Christmas by Vivian French

Clifford's Christmas by Norman Bridwell

Merry Christmas, Curious George by Margaret and H.A. Rey

Merry Christmas Maisy by Lucy Cousins ( a- lift- the- flap board book)

M &M and the Santa Secrets by Pat Ross ( a beginning chapter book)

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg (another must-have)

A Little House: Holiday Stories from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

These "pop-up" books are works of art :

The 12 Days of Christmas by Robert Sabuda

The Night Before Christmas pop-up by Robert Sabuda

 What are some of your favorite Christmas books ?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

Highlights In Our Homeschool These Past Two Weeks...

We celebrated the girls' 9th birthday, had a lovely Thanksgiving, and kicked off the holiday season the day after Thanksgiving.  We put up all of our decorations and Christmas trees ( we have three: a family tree, a kid tree, and a "grown-up" tree). We strung popcorn for the kids' tree (I wanted to string it for the family tree too, but there's Bentley (1 year old Golden Retriever)...
The kids wrote books chronicling our Christmas Family Traditions.  Chris wrote an expository essay about our Christmas traditions.
The girls have been making ornaments using a variety of materials.
For the rest of the Christmas season we do not always do our traditional schoolwork.  We read lots of Christmas books, bake, watch Christmas shows, make lots of crafts and presents, and play.

What We Are Reading...

Chris finished reading #4 in The Inheritance series.  He read the first book in the new series by Erin Hunter: Survivors (this one is about dogs), and he read #1 and #2 in The Alex Rider Series and he is reading Johnny Tremain.

Katie finished reading #2 in The Warriors series and is reading #3.  She also read Barbie Safe and Sound,A Special Ballerina, and Clawman's Warning.  She is also reading Dragonbreath and Amos Fortune: Freeman.

Chelsea finished reading Indian Captive and is reading Harry Potter #1 to Katie.

I read Criss-Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins and Steinbeck's Ghost by Lewis Buzbee.

I finished reading The Hobbit to everyone for our book club.

The kids started reading our next book club selection The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.

Daddy started reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens to us (one of my favorite holiday traditions.)

My Favorite Thing These Past Two Weeks...

Watching "The Polar Express" while stringing popcorn

What I'm Working On...

Everything Christmas

Places We're Going...

"The Three Wise Men of Spider Creek" play, Book Club - The Hobbit, Christmas tree farm, and ballet class.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights in Our Homeschool this Week ...

Katie has been completing the quizzes on "The Warriors" website (her idea). 
The girls have been making a miniature village out of paper after starting one at their friend's house.
Chris started writing a prequel to his Daisy and Max series.
The kids have been watching "Beakman's World" on Netflix (Thanks Heidi @ Home Schoolroom).
Chelsea made a "thankful book" in addition to the "thankful trees" they are working on every day.
Katie has been completing  Barb's mammal grid at The Handbook of Nature Study. (She has been using Daisy, Sasha, Sheba, and Bentley as test subjects.)
Chris wrote an expository essay about his favorite holiday.

We're Reading...

Chris is reading #4 in The Inheritance Cycle.  He read Amos Fortune Free Man and has started Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes.
Katie is reading #4 in the second Warrior series.  She read The Courage Of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh.
Chelsea is reading The Boxcar Children #23 and is reading Indian Captive: The Story Of Mary Jemison by Lois Lenski.
Katie and Chelsea read The American Girl books Meet Molly and Molly Learns a Lesson to Sarah and Lily (their American Girl dolls.)
I am reading The Hobbit to everyone.
I read Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock (if you need a good cry, this is the book to read) and Eight Keys Suzanne Lafleur.

Places We're Going...

geography club-Egypt, ballet, and on Sunday a ballet production of "Hansel and Gretel."

Things I'm Working on...

working with the kids to sort toys to donate to Goodwill and still faux painting bricks on the school room walls.

My Favorite Resource this Week... ... Chris occasionally need extra practice that his Singapore Math book doesn't provide.  This week we have used these fraction worksheets for extra practice.

I'm Cooking...

Parmesan-crusted chicken, meatloaf, lasagna, pork loin,chili, and spaghetti.

My Favorite Quote this Week...

From Katie to Chelsea: "What's wrong sad sack ?"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wonderful World of Words : Our Favorite Thanksgiving Books

There are so many good holiday books out there.  These are some of our favorite Thanksgiving books:

My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola (a board book great for toddlers and young children)

Thank You, Thanksgiving by David Milgrim (simple text, great for emergent readers)

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Craighead George (picture book packed with lots of information)

Let's Celebrate Thanksgiving by Pater and Connie Roop (a book of questions and answers about Thanksgiving)

Fancy Nancy Our Thanksgiving Banquet by Jane O'Connor ans Robin Preiss Glasser ( the girls love Fancy Nancy and this book came with 30 stickers.)

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp (This was a Reading Rainbow book.)

The Night Before Thanksgiving by Natasha Wing (written in rhyme, modeled after "The Night Before Christmas.")

Clifford Puppy Days: Giving Thanks

This First Thanksgiving; A Counting Story by Laura Krauss Melmed

Clifford's Thanksgiving Visit by Norman Bridwell

It's Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky (great Thanksgiving poems )

Who Will Carve the Turkey This Thanksiving? by Jerry Pallotta

Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Dianne Stanley

If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620 by Ann McGovern

The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward ( a step into reading, step 2 book )

Nate the Great Talks Turkey by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie by Herman Parish

Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes

A Turkey For Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting (one of my all time favorites)

A to Z Mysteries Mayflower Treasure Hunt by Ron Roy

New Friends in a New Land by Judith Bauer Stamper

The Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall

Tapenum's Day: A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times by Kate Water

Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters

Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters

On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice and a Passenger Girl by Kate Waters

Magic Tree House Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker Pilgrims by Mary Pope Osborne

What are your favorite Thanksgiving books ?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights in Our Homeschool this Week...

     We made thankful trees, raked and tried to make a dent in the piles of leaves, and played in the snow for hours. (It has all melted now.) The kids made a snowman and lots of snowballs. (I made hot chocolate and snuggled by the fire and read; it was lovely.)

     Our reading of The Hobbit for book club has inspired us to paint our schoolroom.  The girls and I painted "rocks" behind the fireplace and we are working on painting faux bricks on the walls. (Chris was content to sit on the couch and chat while we painted.) We are making the support poles in the basement into trees.  The kids are now calling our schoolroom the hobbit hole.  Anyone have any "hobbit" decorating ideas ?

We're Reading...

     Chris finished reading #3 in The Inheritance Cycle and is rereading book #4, Katie is on the 4th book in the 2nd Warrior series and is reading Clementine and the Family Meeting, Chelsea read #21,#22,and#23 in The Boxcar Children series.  Katie read Ivy and Bean No News is Good News to Chelsea and I began reading The Hobbit to everyone.  I finished reading The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson, The 24 Hour Bookstore and Jumonia by Kevin Henkes.

Places We're Going...

ballet, watercolor class, and friends' house to play and have dinner

Things I'm Working on...

making lists of all of the things I have to do to get ready for the holidays.

My Favorite Thing this Week...

the look on the girls' faces when I said they could paint the walls.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wonderful World of Words

     I love to read.  I am always looking for good books.  There are a lot of books out there...

  In our house, it's a challenge to find good books that we haven't read yet.  So on Wednesdays I thought I'd share with you a book I/we (my kids don't always read my recommendations) have enjoyed.  Why Wednesdays ? (I liked the alliteration :0).

My pick of the week:

The Seven Tales of Trinket by Shelley Moore Thomas (2012)

The author had me at the first page:

MY FATHER WAS A TELLER OF TALES.  It runs in the blood, I think, for never have I loved anything so much as a story.
Except for my mother, of course.
I loved her well.
Her death was the worst thing I've ever known...
... My mother's last breath begins this story, for each story has a beginning.  That is the first thing a storyteller must learn.

     Don't let the beginning put you off.  This is not a sad story.  Before I hand my kids a book with such a beginning, I tell them what happens.  We are big fans of happy endings ( I used to read the last pages of a book first, to make sure it had a happy ending.)
     Trinket follows an old tattered map in search of her father.  On her journey the adventures that she shares with Thomas the Pig Boy are her seven collected tales.  The author uses folklore from Wales, Scotland, and Ireland to weave her story.  Shelley Moore Thomas works as  an elementary school teacher and a professional storyteller.  It shows in her writing.  This book would make an excellent read aloud.  Lexile level is 730, recommended for ages 8-12.
I read lots of books, so the question for me always comes to, would I buy it for my library? Yes...
     Do you have any any good book recommendations (children's or adult) ?  Let me know, we are always looking...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights in Our Homeschool this Week... Chris finished writing his book (typed 49 pages) and read it to us.  Great job Buddy !  We spent a lot of time preparing for our Halloween Party.  Chris made Melted Witch Puddles, Katie made Creepy Crawly Cupcakes, and Chelsea made Pumpkin Pops.  We also made several games for the party.

We're Reading... Chris finished reading Eldest and began reading the 3rd book in The Inheritance series.  Katie is reading #3 in The Warriors series.  Chelsea read #19,20 in The Boxcar Children series.  Chris is reading Gregor #3 to the girls.  Katie read Ivy and Bean: No News is Good News to Chelsea.  Chelsea read Mercy Watson (several of the books) to Chris and Katie.  Chelsea is reading The Boxcar Children Halloween Special to me.  I am reading The Passage by Justin Cronin and The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson.

Places We're Going... a production of "Treasure Island" at a local theater, geography club-Egypt, ballet, and a book store.

My Favorite Thing This Week... I loved watching the kids make their Halloween Treats.  They were so proud of their creations.

Things I'm Working on... I put away all of our Halloween decorations, and decorated for Thanksgiving.  I'm reorganizing the schoolroom again.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights in Our Homeschool This Week... We went to a homeschool science fair this week.  Chris's project was Bearded Dragons, (he brought Max), the girls' project was rabbits and they brought Daisy.  There were so many amazing projects.  We learned a lot and had a great time.

Our Book Club was another highlight this week.  It was so much fun talking about Treasure Island with our friends and playing in the park after.

My Favorite Resource this Week... I'm not sure if any of you ever have this problem...

But if you do...  read the book to your children.  Maybe it'll help, maybe not...  But it sure made me smile every time I looked at the cover when I was having that problem this week ...

We're Reading... Chris finished Eragon by Christopher Paolini and is rereading The Eldest (#2 in the series), Katie finished reading #2 in The New Prophecy series and started #3, Chelsea finished # 17, and started # 18 in The Boxcar Children series.

We finished reading Treasure Island for our homeschool book club.  We met this week and began reader response journals and had a great discussion.  We ate pirate booty on pirate plates.  We were still discussing the book and having fun after an hour and twenty minutes, but another group was scheduled to use our space, so we had to leave.  Next week our book club is going to see a production of  "Treasure Island" at a local theater.

If you want to "read along" with us, our next book club book is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The movie will be released on Dec. 14th and Denny's is launching "Hobbit" inspired food on Nov 6th.  On the menu : Shire Sausage Skillet, The Ring Burger, Gandalf's Gobble Melt, Hobbit Hole Breakfast, and many more.  Here is a link to an educator's guide to The Hobbit that you may find useful.

I read The Seven Tales of Trinket  by Shelley Moore Thomas and am reading The Passage by Justin Cronin.

Chris finished reading Gregor #3 to the girls and has started reading #4 to them.

Places We're Going... Homeschool Science Fair, Book Club, Dr.'s appt., vet. appt. (Sheba, our cat still has something going on with her ear), and ballet.

Things I'm Working On... I am working on starting an adult book club.  I'm looking for great books. Any suggestions ?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights in Our Homeschool This Week ...

Chris has been doing research on rainforests for the book he is writing.  He has completed 40 typed pages so far. 

Katie and Chelsea have been teaching Sarah and Lily (their American Girl dolls) about space.  The dolls now have their own Reader Response Journals :0).

We have been rereading all of our fairy tale books and some from the library.  We have had a lot of fun trying to guess who the fairy tale characters are in "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix. (Caution : Please preview this first before you let your kids watch it.  Some material may be too scary or inappropriate for some children.) (And if you have seen it... let me know... don't you just love Rumplestiltskin?  His laugh gives me the chills...)

We have begun our America in the 1700's unit.  For a list of the books we are reading, see Planning Our Year American History. 

My Favorite Thing This Week...

Going to a corn maze in the shape of a turkey.  We started out all together in the maze (as we do every year) and every year the girls and I get annoyed because Daddy and Chris look at the maze map.  So this year, the girls and I left the boys and ventured off on our own.  We had a great time racing to see who would come out of the maze first.  The boys using their map, beat us out.  However, we did help them when we found them in the maze lost.  We ended our day at a Japanese steak house that recently came to our area.  As the chef was cooking, he would fling food in our direction and we would have to try to catch it with our mouths.  He also had a hula girl squirt bottle in which he would periodically shoot at people around the table. So much fun...

We're Reading...

Chris read #3 in The Archer Legacy, and he reread Eragon ( the author, Christopher  Paolini was homeschooled and began writing Eragon at age 16.)

Katie finished reading #1 in the second series Warriors:The New Prophecy and started #2.

Chelsea read The Boxcar Children #12,13 and is working on #14.

Chris is still reading Gregor #3 to the girls, and I am still reading Treasure Island to everyone.

I am reading The End of Your Life Book Club.

Places We're Going...

... ballet, Dr.'s, dentist, vet.'s, haircuts, and corn maze

Things I'm Working on...

... going through the kids' fall and winter clothes, jackets, boots, and snow pants to see what still fits.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

Highlights In Our Homeschool this Week ... Chris has joined the girls in producing their puppet show.  Everyone has changed parts several times. It's been harder than they thought, so production has stalled. 

Chris has inspired the girls to write stories this week.  He has been writing furiously and is on typed page 35, chapter 8.

Katie has been using printables from Barb at Handbook of Nature Study to identify the trees in our yard.  Quite a feat, because we live in the woods.

Our projects for the science fair are finished.

My Favorite Thing this Week... Chris taught the girls to how to play "Magic."  It's a fantasy card game.  The girls were so excited that they were old enough to play it, and Chris was so excited to have someone to play it with.

We're Reading... Chris read The Archer Legacy #2,3.  Katie finished Warriors #6 and started The New Prophecy (also Warriors) #1.  Chelsea is reading The Boxcar Children Halloween Special.  Chris is still reading Gregor # 3 to the girls.  I'm still reading Treasure Island to everyone.  I finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (for adults), and started The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

Places We're Going ... Ballet, geography club, fire station tour, and good friends' house to play

Things I'm Working On... putting together a fairytale unit.  I was inspired by the show "Once Upon a Time" on Netflix (we don't have cable).  I really enjoyed the show.  After our fairytale unit, I'm going to watch it with the kids.  I think they'll love it (word of caution: this show may be too scary or not appropriate for some children, so preview it first.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Favorite Halloween Books

We are always looking for good books to read.  Here are some of our favorite Halloween books...  Do you have any favorites to share ?

In the Haunted House Eve Bunting
Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins Dianne Ochiltree
Bat Jamboree Kathi Appelt
The Ghost-Eye Tree Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
The Littlest Pumpkin R.A. Herman
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! Lucille Colandro
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything Linda Williams
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together Mary Ann Hoberman
Mummy Math :An Adventure in Geometry  Cindy Neuschwander                                                                         
Happy Halloween, Mittens Lola M. Schaefer
Pumpkin Day Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
Trick or Treat, Little Critter Gina and Mercer Mayer
Happy Halloween, Biscuit Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Cam Jansen and the Mystery at the Haunted House David A. Adler
Spooky Buddies movie novelization
A to Z Mysteries: The Haunted Hotel Ron Roy
Howliday Inn James Howe

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link-Up

Highlights In Our Homeschool this Week... Chris has been working hard on his "book."  So far it's 30 typed pages !  This is from a kid who used to dislike writing. 

The girls have been furiously working on a production of a puppet show.  They were inspired by a local puppet festival that we visited.  So far they've made puppets, found a script, and are working on the scenery.  SOOO CUTE !!

The kids created more Halloween decorations for our family/schoolroom.

My Favorite Thing this Week... Winding up toy mice and putting them under the door of Daddy's and Chris's dressing room while Chris was trying on Halloween costumes (yes, I did just celebrate my 43rd birthday.)

We're Reading... Chris read The Billionaire's Curse #1 in The Archer Legacy series, and is working on #2.  Katie is still working on Warriors #6 and read Magic Puppy series #1,2 and started The Spiderwick Chronicles.  Chelsea The Boxcar Children #10,11 and The Magic Puppy series #2,3,4,5,6,7, and 8.  Chris is still reading Gregor #3 to the girls, and I'm still reading Treasure Island to everyone.  I read #1 in the Alex Rider series, and am reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (yes, I did get a Kindle for my b-day :0)

Places We're Going ... ballet, geography club, puppet festival, and shopping for Halloween costumes

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reader's Response Journals

     Reader's Response Journals are something I first learned about while studying to be a teacher.  Although many of the things I studied as a teacher have not been useful to me as a homeschooler, I have found that Reader's Response Journals work well for us.
     A Reading Response Journal is basically a journal in which the student responds to literature.  It is a way to generate discussion about literature, validate your child's opinion, and connect reading and writing to further enhance meaning.  In a classroom setting, I have used Reader Response Journals as an opportunity to dialogue with students individually about the books they are reading.  Because I have only 3 "students" now, I have much more time and I can actually talk to each of my kids about what they have written.  I also don't write in their response journals,
because I want them to have complete ownership.
     Just like anything else, "quality" takes time.  It also takes modeling by the "teacher" and by modeling, I also mean that you should have your own response journal (and yes I do. )
Katie and Chelsea have 3 Readers Response Journals.  They have 1 for American History which they record what they've learned by reading history literature.  This is not a true response journal (in my mind, but they call it that), the girls also have one for all other books they have read, and a separate one just for Magic Tree House books.  This was their choice.  Chris has an American History Reader Response Journal and another for books that he has read.  I have just one. 
     My goal in our journals is to generate discussion among us (we share our entries) and create a community of readers and writers.  Sharing is optional (everyone always wants to share.)  A Reading Response Journal should be a place where you can write about what you have read in whatever way that you want.  It is yours.  There is no right or wrong way to do it.  That does not mean that you do not provide your student direction.  I have a list of questions/ideas that I have posted to get everyone thinking.  These questions have been compiled from a variety of sources (teacher textbooks, my brain,  and

How do I get started ?

     Have your child decorate a notebook (it can be any kind), I like a mixture of lines and blank pages
Write about a book that you and your child have read together , then share what you have written.

Good prompts to help you get started:

What was your favorite part of the book ?
What did you like ? dislike? and why?
What did you feel while you were reading ?
I didn't understand ...
I love the way...
My favorite character was... because...
I felt sad...
I felt happy...
I wish the ending...

     In my journal I also record passages that strike me in some way.  Sometimes I write them, sometimes I photocopy them and glue them in.  In their Magic Tree House Journal (they insisted on sharing this one) the girls use stickers and decorations appropriate to the content of the book.

     Remember there is no right or wrong way to do it.  Reading Response Journals are a great way to build a community of readers and writers.  Try it.  And let me know if you do.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week... Chris is writing a sequel to his first "book" ; he's written 16 typed pages (Great job Buddy !) and he wrote a synopsis of his first "book."  He also managed to squeeze in some time to work on his science fair project. 

Katie and Chelsea have been doing a number of mad libs this week.  I love them!  It makes me feel better because we don't use any curriculum for grammar (and I'm not sure we ever will.)  The girls have also spent a lot of time working on their Readers Response Journals (these deserve a separate post, which may happen soon.)

We all have spent time working on our Government/Election Unit.

My Favorite Thing this Week... Decorating the house for Halloween and watching Bentley (1 year old Golden) react to the decorations

My Favorite Resource this Week... Microsoft Word... not for me.... for Chris
He has been using it to write his "book".  The grammar and spell check features are an instant editor and teacher.  When he first began using the computer for his writing, I thought I would never make it through.  He is a perfectionist  and all of the squiggly red and green lines were quite upsetting.  Now the lines are appearing less frequently.  I have noticed an amazing improvement in his writing.

We're Reading...
Chris is reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising series #1)

Katie is continuing with the first Warriors series #6.

Chelsea has read The Boxcar Children #9, Magic Puppy New Beginning #1, and Spooky Buddies (movie novelization.)  She is working on Magic Puppy series book 2(while she waits for the next Boxcar Children books to arrive.)

Chris is still reading Gregor the Overlander #3 by Suzanne Collins to the girls, and I am reading Treasure Island (for our book club) to all of them.

I finally finished The One Year Adventure Novel (reading it, not writing it)  I am still very much missing my Kindle.  For those of you who don't know, she finally gave up.  She was 4 and well-loved and well-used.  I miss her terribly (honey, are you reading this ?)  Tomorrow is my birthday...

Places we're Going and People We're Seeing... We met with our homeschool geography club this week.  We are learning about Brazil.  We made Brigadeiros (a Brazilian candy similar to chocolate truffles) to share. 
The girls went to ballet class.
We made an emergency trip to the vet with Sheba (10 year old cat) with a huge unexplained(Bentley??) hematoma on her ear.

Things I'm Working on... We decorated the inside of our house for Halloween. (Does anyone else decorate early/go crazy with decorating for holidays ?)

Friday, September 28, 2012

American Government/Election Unit

After wrapping up our 1600's America unit with a visit to Plimouth Plantation in Ma, I decided to spend some time  learning about our government and the election process.  As with everything else in homeschooling , I began by gathering good books.  These are the books that we will use:

The Voice of the People: American Democracy in Action by Betsy Maestro and Guilio Maestro
Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts by Syl Sobel
House Mouse Senate Mouse by Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Marshall the Courthouse Mouse: A Tail of the US Supreme Court Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Duck for President Doreen Cronin
Woodrow, the White House Mouse Peter Barnes and Cheryl Barnes
Shh, We're Writing the Constitution Elizabeth Levy
The Counterfeit Constitution Mystery Carole Marsh (this is just for fun that I found in my library)

I found two good web sites: Children's Books and Web Sites about US Government
Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids

I originally wanted to have the kids create lapbooks and I found one on Homeschool Share; however one of my kids made some very audible noises, so I improvised.  We used some of the lapbook resources and some information from Ben's Guide to US Government for Kids and made it into a book.( All I did was take the "lap" from book, and we were fine.)

We divided the book into sections:
The Constitution
The Three Branches of Government:
How Laws are Made
Election of the President
Electoral College

We left room in our books to add more information as we study about our government.  As the election draws nearer, Daddy will be in charge of up-to-date current information (he was a political science major.)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly Wrap -Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week: The kids finished reading all of our books about 1600's in America.  They have been working hard on their science fair projects ( we will share when they display them at the science fair).  We've had a light "schoolwork" week, because we've been traveling.  Before we left Maine, we visited a farm with good friends and picked 25 pounds of apples. We also picked our fall pumpkins.
 Yesterday we spent the day at Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts.  It was a great wrap-up to learning about life in the 1600's in America.  It's a living history museum:

...explore a fortified town that is a re-creation of the Pilgrim settlement as it appeared seven years after the arrival of the Mayflower.  Costumed role players portray the lives of documented residents of 1627 Plymouth.

It was a homeschool day, and there were lots of hands-on activities.  We ground corn and sifted it to make flour ( a tedious process which really made me appreciate our modern conveniences), we kneaded dough, we picked out onion seeds from a flower to harvest, we walked on stilts (o.k. we didn't, but the kids did), and played games that children played in the 1600's.

In addition to the Pilgrim settlement there is a smaller Wampanoag Homesite.  We watched a Wampanoag woman cook turkey over an open fire, played Wampanoag games, and sat around the fire on furs talking to a Wampanoag.

Then we finished our day by visiting The Mayflower 2, a reproduction of the original.  It was an amazing day.  I'm so grateful that my kids are able to learn history with us in this way, instead of the way that I learned history.

My Favorite Thing This Week: traveling and learning with our kids

Our Favorite Resources this Week : The kids love The Magic Tree House Fact Tracker:Pilgrims, and we found A to Z Mysteries Mayflower Treasure Hunt.

We're Reading: Chris has finished The Nicholas Flamel series and has started The Fellowship of the Rings (he has already read The Hobbit )Katie is reading #6 in The Warriors series, Chelsea read The Boxcar Children #6 and has started #7, Chris finished reading Gregor the Overlander # 2 to the girls and has started reading #3 to them.  I have not really read anything this week.  My Kindle finally died (she is/was 4 and was well loved and very well used). 

We're Cooking We're Eating : Not much cooking going on because we're traveling, but I did manage to make an apple pie before we left.  Our favorite dessert on our trip has been cupcakes at Cupcake Charlie's in Plymouth, Ma.  I had an apple pie cupcake ( yes with apple pie filling inside) ; need I say more ?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week ... In addition to our daily checklists, this week we worked on  researching our geography club country of the month (Brazil), worked on our science fair project, wrote letters to GeeGee (Grandma), and I started working with Chris on writing expository essays.

My Favorite Thing this Week ... going to our friends' house to play, talk, and eat yummy fish chowder and an amazing chocolate harvest cake.

My Favorite Resource this Week ... Schoolhouse Rock DVDs... they make learning fun.  I still remember the songs from Saturday mornings... "I'm Just A Bill", "Conjunction Junction What's Your Function ?"  Does it bring back any memories for anyone ?

We're Reading... In addition to American History book selections, Chris is finishing #6 in The Nicholas Flamel series, Katie read A to Z Mysteries Haunted Hotel and is working on Warriors #5, Chelsea read The Boxcar Children series #4,5.  I read Stages of Homeschooling: Enjoying the Journey (Book 2) by Barbara Frank, and Down the Rabbit Hall: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams.  Chris is still reading Gregor the Overlander #2 to the girls and I'm reading Treasure Island to everyone.

We're Cooking... I'm slowly easing into cooking again.  This week I made meatloaf and lemon parmesan crusted chicken.  Ted grilled the rest of the week.  Have I mentioned how much I'm going to miss him grilling ?

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing... We went to The Chicken Barn which has antiques and LOTS of used books.  It's really in an old chicken barn and I could curl up and read in there all day.  We also went to our local library and a new playground.

Things I'm working on... Getting ready for our camping trip next week to Plimouth Plantation in Massachusetts. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

O.K. So Maybe I'm Not An Unschooler

I first began homeschooling five years ago. Before becoming a mom I had been an elementary school teacher .  So when we began our homeschooling journey, I had already wrestled with a lot of questions involving my teaching philosophy.  Are you chuckling yet?  Do you know where this is going?  I didn't know anything (I did/do know lots about teaching methodologies/philosophies etc.), BUT I didn't know the important things.

  I spent our first year recreating school at home.  We had fun and we learned a lot.  But...I had a vague unrest- nothing I could put into words, but we weren't where I wanted us or thought we should be (I don't mean academically.)  At the end of the year my son had tested three grade levels ahead.  Yes, I was proud of him/us but... My goal was to create lifelong learners.  I wanted my kids to love reading, writing, and learning.  They loved to read and write, but did they love to learn?  Were they just working to make me happy ?

 I have always loved to read and write, but formal schooling killed my curiosity and love of learning.  It took me a long time to get it back.  Guess who helped?  My kids, of course.

 The next year I relaxed a little, and when the twins were kindergarten age, I had to relax even more.  They wanted to play instead of "school", so big brother wanted to play.  We read, and played, and read and played.  We didn't use any formal curriculum.  They were learning,... I was an unschooler.  I knew they were learning, but I didn't feel any better than the first year when we sat at a table to do schoolwork.  They were happy, but I wanted unbridled joy and enthusiasm ( I have always been a bit of an over-achiever.)

Last week I saw it.  I saw the unbridled joy, enthusiasm, and love of learning in all of my kids.  Does that mean I've figured out my label? Nope! Does it matter? Nope! What matters is that their love of learning is still there, and I saw it.  The trick is to create more opportunities for it to shine through.

 When someone asks me about homeschooling, I always grapple with my answers.  I don't use curriculum, I like some structure, I like parts of unschooling, throw some Charlotte Mason in there...  So what am I? I think we as homeschoolers try to categorize ourselves so that we can define ourselves, and others can get a quick snapshot of who we are as homeschoolers. I am eclectic, but not sure I want the label.  I don't know what I am.  But I do know that it doesn't matter what your label is, what matters is keeping their love of learning alive.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week... In addition to the kids' regular checklist of activities ( see A Day in the Life post) we worked on "Last Days of Summer Outdoor Challenge 2012" ( thanks Barb at A Handbook of Nature Study blog), finished our summer photo books, and started working on our science fair projects ( a homeschool mom friend is hosting a small science fair), and we went to see the movie "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" (during school hours :o)).

My Favorite Thing this Week... The kids have been adamant about checking off every box in "The Last Days of Summer Outdoor Challenge", so last night we ate dinner outside, listened to crickets, played flashlight tag, made shadow puppets with flashlights, watched the stars, saw a bat, told ghost stories, and roasted marshmallows.  It was lovely.

We're Reading... Chris is finishing the last book in The Nicholas Flamel series, Katie is reading Warriors series #5, Chelsea has read The Boxcar Children series #1,2, and is working on #3.  Chris is reading Gregor the Overlander #2 to the girls.  I'm still reading The One Year Adventure Novel,  and I need to start reading Treasure Island to the kids (this is their homeschool book club book for this month.)

I'm Cooking... Ted is still grilling, but I'll be taking over cooking again soon.  I did make popovers twice this week though.

Places we're Going and People We're Seeing... The kids started their watercolor class this week and Katie and Chelsea are starting ballet Friday. 

Things I'm Working on... trimming trees and getting ready for fall.  What are you doing to get ready for fall ?


Monday, September 3, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" My Interview

Today I am over at Savannah McQueen's blog Hammock Tracks.  
I was surprised and happy to learn that she wanted to feature me in her weekly column, "Who Home Schools?""  

To read my interview click here: My Interview 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week:  We only had school three days this week.  We are slowly getting back into our routine.  My favorite school activity this week was making summer "books."  Every year I print out our summer pictures and the kids each make their own scrapbook.  It's always fun and it's nice to remind hubby on those cold winter days how beautiful Maine is in the summer (I think Maine is perfect in all seasons; hubby needs convincing in the winter.) 

My Favorite Thing this Week: We had a impromptu get-together with friends and did lovely touristy things.  We played miniature golf, had popovers at Jordon Pond (Acadia National Park), dinner overlooking Bar Harbor, and ice cream (at a place that has lobster ? ice cream; no one was brave enough to try it.)

We're Reading: I'm still reading The One Year Adventure Novel.  Chris is reading The Alchemyst series #5, Katie is reading Warriors series #5, Chelsea just finished Magic Tree House #48, Chris is reading Gregor The Overlander series #2 to Katie and Chelsea, and Katie and Chelsea are buddy reading Bunnicula to Daisy the bunny.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing:   My brother and sister-in-law and kids came to visit from Connecticut.  We had a great time relaxing and playing in the lake.

Things I'm Working on:  I'm trying to pull together an election/government/ electoral college unit.  I found some good books, but I'd like to do a lap book.  Does anyone know of any good resources ?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop: Day in the Life

This year the twins are in third grade and my oldest is in sixth grade. The kids wake up between 6:00 and 7:30 am.  Before 9:00 am they are responsible for getting dressed, brushing their teeth, making their bed , taking care of Bearded Dragon Max and Daisy the Bunny, and eating breakfast.  Then they play until 9:00 am.  Mommy and Daddy wake up between 7:00 and 8:30 am (depending upon how late we stayed up the night before.)  Then we have coffee (either in bed,the porch, or the living room), I read blogs and check e-mail, and Ted reads the news on-line and takes the dogs out.
Whoever is out of bed last makes the bed, and I put the dishes away, followed by daily vacuuming (we have two Golden Retrievers.) During this time there is a constant, "Bentley !!! No!!!" (Bentley is our one year old Golden Retriever puppy who steals stuffed animals and shoes.  For extra fun this morning, he grabbed one end of a roll of toilet paper (still attached to wall) and decorated the house with it.
By this time its usually around 9:00am.  Daddy goes into his office (he works from home), and the kids and I head downstairs, Bentley takes a nap, Sasha gets comfy on the couch ( she thinks it's hers) and Sheba (the cat) follows us downstairs.  Depending upon how I feel, I start by working with the kids or allow them to work individually.  Some days I need more coffee and time to face the world. 
The kids have a daily schedule of things to accomplish and a list of optional activities.  I am very flexible with this.  One day Chris just wanted to work on writing his current story, and he asked if he could skip his list.  Absolutely !  Last week Katie just wanted to sit and finish reading her book so I said, "Of course."  Before our whale watch last week we spent an entire day just learning about whales.
Katie and Chelsea's Daily Schedule (independent work):
Read an American History book ( I have a basket of books from the time period 1600's that we are studying) and write in your American History Response Journal
Math workbook pages ( after we have done a lesson together)
Reader Response Journal

After any group activities (this varies greatly: last week it was whales, this week we will write "summer" books together, and I read A History of Us to them daily) they are free to choose optional activities until lunch time. 

Katie and Chelsea's optional activities:
Write a story
Science Nature Journal

Chris's Daily Schedule of Independent Work:
Read an American History book and write in your American History Response Journal.
Math workbook pages ( after we have done a lesson together)
Journal or Reader Response Journal
Computer Game programming

Chris's optional activities:
Write a story
Science Nature Journal

By this time it's lunch time, and we head upstairs to have lunch with Daddy.  After lunch we have been swimming in the lake and/or going in the boat  (of course this will change soon ).  Then the kids play inside or outside.  After 2:00 pm they are allowed to use electronics.  Today they are snuggled in K&C's room and Chris is reading them the second book in the "Gregor" series.  Between 5:00 and 5:30 pm we have dinner and the kids take showers etc.  After dinner everyone reads until bedtime.  The girls are in bed at 8:00pm and Chris is in bed by 8:30pm.  Then Mommy and Daddy read, watch Netflix, or do computer work.  Once a week we have movie night after dinner and then there usually isn't time for reading.

This year we will meet weekly with other homeschoolers for a book club, and the kids are taking a water color class once a month.  As it starts to get cooler, we usually add more extracurricular activies.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up Link Up

In Our Homeschool this Week:  We had two days of more structured learning and two days of sorting, organizing, and rearranging school supplies and our family schoolroom.  We spent a good amount of time reading, writing, and researching information about whales.  On Wednesday we took the kids on their first whale watch.  We saw a glimpse of the elusive Fin Whale (second in size only to the Blue Whale) and three male Humpback Whales.  On the boat ride out to the whales, we also saw a number of Gray and Harbor Seals.  Quite amazing ! ( Well most of the trip was anyway.  If you go on a whale watch be sure to take Dramamine.  Daddy took two.  The kids and I condescendingly said we didn't need any because we've had lots of experience on boats and have never been sick.  I'll spare you the details, but be sure to take Dramamine BEFORE you get on the boat.)

My Favorite Thing this Week:  I loved watching the kids' faces when they were watching the whales.

I'm Reading: The One Year Adventure Novel textbook by Daniel Schwabauer.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing: In addition to our whale watch we made a visit to our local library.  The kids have been pestering me for some time about getting their own library cards, so we did.  They were very excited (the kids, not the librarians :0).

Things I'm Working on: I've been doing around the house projects that I've kept putting off.  I've painted trim, put up shelves (well I supervised :0), and painted our schoolroom picnic table with black chalkboard paint.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nature Scavenger Hunt

We kicked off our first day "back-to-school" with a nature scavenger hunt.  I used the book Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey through the Fields, Woods, and Marshes of New England.  I LOVE this book and so do the kids.  I have found them flipping through it on a number of occasions.  What I really like about the book is that it is color tabbed with the months of the year.  This allows me to quickly flip to the current month and discover what's going on around us.

I made a list of things I thought/hoped we might find:

Find a tree with holes.
Find a mushroom.
Find a caterpillar.
Find a spider web.
Find two types of ferns.
Find a wildflower.
Find a frog.

I told the kids they could use a photograph, draw a picture, or take a sample to use in their nature journal.  We used Naturally Curious and A Handbook of Nature Study to identify some of the things we didn't recognize.  Some of the mushrooms we found were difficult to identify, but we found everything on our list!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up

In Our Homeschool this Week... We are still enjoying the long, lazy days of summer.  Still debating when to start our more structured forms of learning.  This week Chris is reading The Sorceress (book #3 in The Alchemyst series), Katie is reading book #4 in The Warriors series, and Chelsea is reading book #47 in The Magic Tree House series.  Chris is continuing to read Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins to the girls.

Chris is working on making video game #3 with The Gamemaker's Apprentice, and we are eager to try out Kahn Academy's new computer programming game site.
Katie's doll Lily wrote a newspaper this week.  Highlights include:

Chris, the famous video game designer is at it again.  He is making his third video game of the year!  Buy his video games today.

My Two Favorite Thing this Week...   Having friends spend the day and taking them to "our island."

 ... Watching the rain on the lake (Rainy days are cuddle up reading days, movies, and/or video games.)  When the kids were younger and we lived in Tampa, Florida (aka lightning capital of the world) we would read Patriccia Polacco's picture book Thundercake.  We don't usually get thunder and lightning here in Maine, so Thundercake sits sadly on the shelf. 

I finished Reading... The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover and am still working on Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer.

I'm Cooking... Ted's still grilling.  I will really miss that when summer ends.  Highlights include:Steak with blue cheese butter, southwest chicken fajitas, Tennessee pork ribs, ginger lemon pork chops, and for movie night ... queso fundido.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing... We have been mostly staying home and enjoying our lake.  After our "Grand Adventure" this spring we are enjoying spending time at home, (to read more about our 2 month trip across the country in an RV, CLICK here>> 3kids5petsinarv.)

Things I'm Working on... getting ready for "school" and working on the One Year Adventure Novel Curriculum (for me :0).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our Schoolroom/Family Room

 Today I'm linking up with "The Not Back to School Blog Hop."  This week the feature is home schoolrooms.  Although our house is small, we are lucky to be able to use our basement as our family room/schoolroom.  Although, our learning takes place everywhere, our family room is where we have our library, art supplies, school supplies, games, toys, "movie room", and computer.  Chris's Bearded Dragon Max and K & C's bunny Daisy also live down here.  As you can see, our cat Sheba enjoys lounging on our picnic table.  Fortunately, Sasha and Bentley can't get into the family room because of the spiral staircase.

My desk is right behind the picnic table.

These are the toy shelves and Chris's lego area.
This is our movie area and where we usually curl up to read.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

In Our Homeschool this Week... Chris has made two computer games with The Gamemaker's Apprentice.  The girls have been testing out his games.  Chris is reading book 2 The Magician by Michael Scott, Katie is reading Warriors book 3 by Erin Hunter, and Chelsea is reading Magic Tree House book 46 by Mary Pope Osborne.  We went to the bookstore yesterday to pick up the new Magic Tree House book.  The girls were very excited.  They started a reading response journal (on their own :0) about Magic Tree House books.  They found Chris's old journal, tore out the first page, and used stickers from the books to illustrate their journal.  Sooo cute....  Katie designed and sewed a skirt for Chelsea's American girl doll. 

My Favorite Thing this Week... floating in the lake

I'm Reading... I finished reading Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca Cohen and Shadows of a Down East Summer by Lea Wait.

I'm Cooking...  Ted is still grilling.  Highlights this week: mushroom stuffed grilled pork chops, jalapeno sausages in tortillas, and prosciutto wrapped shrimp.

Places We're Going and People We're Seeing... We went to a public pool with water slides and met some friends there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Watching Eagles Talk

Unless you see two eagles together, it can be very difficult to determine the sex of Bald Eagles.  While swimming in the lake yesterday, we saw "our" eagle perched in her tree.  Of course the great debate ensued as to whether our eagle was male or female.  Fortunately, our discussion was solved relatively quickly.  From seemingly out of nowhere another Bald Eagle hovered in flight, talons extended, as if to land in the tree.  "Our" eagle immediately started squawking, and the hovering eagle answered back.  "Our" eagle squawked again and the hovering eagle immediately took off.  How do I know our eagle is female?  Easy.  I just watched the interaction. Mr. Eagle came home and said ,"Honey, I've been out all day and I can't seem to find any fish.  She squawked back, "Get out there and don't come back until you have some fish."  And off he went.  If you have ever doubted that animals can communicate, just listen to eagles talk.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Planning Our Year

Reading: We all pursue our own interests in reading.  Everyone always has their own book to read, but sometimes Katie and Chelsea read a series aloud together or Chris reads a series aloud to the girls.

Writing: We keep nature journals and regular journals.  The kids write stories throughout the year when they're inspired. The kids also make photo books and write about our adventures.  I'm not a packaged curriculum fan, but this year I'm going to use "The One Year Adventure Novel" writing program, except it's not for the kids, it's for me. :o)  Chris has previewed some of the materials, and is not interested in the workbooks or quizzes (nor am I), but he is determined to write a "book."  Since I have no idea how to teach that, I figured I should learn.

Math:  We will continue with Singapore Math.

American History: See post: Planning Our Year- American History

Science: We will use The Handbook of Nature Study and Naturally Curious.  Chris is going to study chemistry on his own using Chemistry Level 1 by Rebecca Keller.

Chris will also pursue computer game programming on his own using The Gamemaker's Apprentice  book and computer program. Katie and Chelsea are interested in beginning cursive this year, Chris has no interest. :0)

We will meet homeschool friends for a book/geography club once a week.  We will also continue our watercolor classes, and the girls would like to start ballet.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fairies Welcome

A friend of mine is reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, I downloaded a sample, but I just couldn't persuade myself to read it;  I am already fully convinced about the importance of spending time outside.  I was looking for a book with simple, easy- to implement ideas to keep the kids busy outside.

Fortunately, Barb at A Handbook of Nature Study blog recommended Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get out of the House and Connect with Your Kids by Rebecca P. Cohen.  It is exactly what I was looking for.  Some of the ideas in the book are things we already do, and some ideas (create your own drive-in), I've never thought of.  I'm also excited about assembling a s'more, wrapping it in aluminum foil, and leaving it in the sun for 10 minutes,( s'mores during the day without a hot campfire :O).

This morning Katie and Chelsea were out the screen door before I had finished my cup of coffee:

Maybe the kids don't need this book for ideas, perhaps it's really for the grownups who have forgotten.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

In our homeschool this week Chris finished reading The 39 Clues series and began reading The Alchemyst, Katie is continuing with The Warrior's series, and Chelsea is continuing with The Magic Tree House series.  Chris has started reading The Overlander series by Suzanne Collins to Katie and Chelsea.  Katie and Chelsea made a "window" for their American Girl "house", and Chris made countless Lego creations.

My favorite thing this week was watching Bentley (our 1 year old Golden Retriever) blow bubbles underwater.

Things I'm working on : organizing our playroom/schoolroom/family room.  We installed shelves in the "kitchen" of Katie's and Chelsea's doll house to help and control their clutter treasures.  We are also making room for a computer desk and computer.  Chris is very excited about creating his own video games, and we are going to try The Gamemaker's Apprentice:Game Development for Beginners by Jacob Habgood and Mark Overmars.

I'm reading: I just finished reading An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and The House on Tradd Street by Karen White.  I have plenty of kid books on my list to read, but need some ideas for some "grown-up books."

I'm cooking : Ted did most of the cooking (grilling) this week.  I made blueberry coffee cake and blueberry lemon bread (our blueberries are in season :O)

Places we're going and people we're seeing: On Saturday we went to an art show in Bangor.  Chris, Katie, and Chelsea had some of their art work on display.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Looking for Goblins

In the summer, we try to grill outside as much as possible.  It keeps the house cooler, I don't have to cook, and it makes it feel like a party.  This year we moved our picnic table closer to the grill so we can hang out with Daddy while he cooks.  Unfortunately, we have been inundated with mosquitoes this year, so we bought a lot of tiki torches and surrounded the grilling area.  We call it the tiki room.

Two night ago Daddy was grilling and the kids were blowing bubbles in the tiki room.  One of the kids went to chase a bubble outside of the tiki room.  I reminded them that there were mosquitoes outside of the tikis.   That's all it took.  Someone yelled, "Quick, get back inside the circle of safety."  Everyone was looking around and Daddy went into the shed and brought out a washer.  He held it up to his eye and started looking around.  Soon everyone wanted one, so they could see too.  "Do you see any goblins?," someone asked.  We continued with our Monday night grilling and looking for goblins.

For those of you shaking your heads, read The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerilizzi.  We really enjoyed the series and there's also a movie.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Planning Our Year- American History

Last year our American History "curriculum" mainly consisted of the dvd series "Liberty's Kids."  We all loved it and learned a lot.  This year we've decided to explore American History using literature.  For background information and to keep us organized chronologically, I will periodically read to the kids A History of Us: Making Thirteen Colonies by Joy Hakim.  We are beginning in the 1600's.  These are some of the books we will read:


The True Story of Pocahontas Lucille Recht Penner
Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims Clyde Robert Bulla
Tapenum's Day A Wampanoag Indian Boy in Pilgrim Times Kate Waters
Sarah Morton's Day A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl Kate Waters
Samuel Eaton's Day A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy Kate Waters
On the Mayflower Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice & a Passenger Girl Kate Waters
New Friends in a New Land A Thanksgiving Story Judith Bauer Stamper
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation Diane Stabley
The Pilgrims of Plimoth Marcia Sewall
The Witch of Blackbird Pond Elizabeth George Speare
Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Tree House) Mary Pope Osborne


If you lived in Colonial Times Ann McGovern
The Courage of Sarah Noble Alice Dalgliesh
Ben and Me Robert Lawson
Indian Captive Lois Lenski
The Sign of the Beaver Elizabeth George Speare
Johnny Tremain Esther Forbes
What's the Big Idea Ben Franklin? Jean Fritz
If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution Elizabeth Levy
Shh! We're Writing the Constitution Jean Fritz
Thomas Jefferson's Feast Frank Murphy
George Washington Our First President Garnet Jackson
George Washington's Breakfast Jean Fritz
American Revolution Magic Tree House Research Guide Mary Pope Osborne
Revolutionary War on Wednesday Magic Tree House Mary Pope Osborne
If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution Kay Moore


Abraham Lincoln :The Great Emancipator Augusta Stevenson
Abe Lincoln's Hat Martha Brenner
If you Lived at the Time of the Civil War Kay Moore
The Drinking Gourd :A Story of the Underground Railroad F.N. Monjo
The Underground Railroad  Raymond Bial
To Be a Slave Julius Lester
Go Free or Die A Story about Harriet Tubman Jeri Ferris
The Mystery on the Underground Railroad Carole Marsh
If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon Ellen Levine
Wagon Train Sydelle Kramer
Sarah, Plain and Tall Patricia Maclachan
A Gathering of Days Joan W. Blos
Little House on the Prairie series Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Trail of Tears Joseph Bruchac
Sing Down the Moon Scott O'Dell

I think that will keep us busy for this year in American History.  We will also listen to The Story of the World Vol.3 Early Modern Times audio book by Susan Wise Bauer.  If you have any suggestions for books that I have missed, I would love to hear from you.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Little Spies

Although we learn year round, summer is the time when the kids pursue their own interests with occasional nudges from me.  The rest of the year, I lead them more.  I am always happily surprised, when left to their own devices, what they choose to do.  This morning I went downstairs to our playroom/art room/ library/family room and found the girls hard at work.  Not wanting to disturb their concentration, I watched from afar.  They had a dictionary and various books spread out on the picnic table.  Later, I asked if I could take a peek (this is the first page):

The Big Spy Handbook

1.  A spy is not afraid of anything.

2.  A spy must not be seen.

3.  A spy never fails.

4.  A spy has great disguises.

I took this opportunity to remind them of some of the great books that we have that they haven't read yet:

Harriet the Spy Louise Fitzhugh

Trixie Belden Mysteries  Julie Campbell

Ato Z Mysteries Ron Roy

They were very excited about reading books about spies/detectives and asked if they could take them with us when we went out on the boat today.  Maybe it's because I'm their mom, but really... how cute is that ?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Sorting

     Summertime is my favorite season of the year.  It's the time that I'm most relaxed, and tend to do most of my reflection on our "school" year.  I recently finished reading, The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.  Although written for classroom teachers, The Book Whisperer is still a resource many homeschoolers will find useful.  For me it was an affirmation that I am on the right path: no worksheets, no spelling tests, and no grammar exercises.  If you want your children to read and write well, let them read and write.

     Reading the book also caused me a short moment of panic.  Donalyn Miller requires her students to read 40 books from the following genres:

poetry anthologies 5
traditional literature 5
realistic fiction 5
historical fiction 2
fantasy 4
science fiction 2
mystery 2
informational 4
biography, autobiograpy, memoir 2
chapter book choices 9

We have all read more than 40 books this year (except Daddy :O)). It was the genre requirement that really started me thinking.  Am I encouraging the kids and providing them with enough different types of books?  This thinking lead me to a complete reorganization of our library.  We sorted all of the books into genres and labeled the shelves.  After two days our library is sorted and reorganized.  Suprisingly, our library is pretty well stocked with the different genres, except for science fiction.  We do not have a single science fiction book.  Anyone know of some good science fiction?