“We homeschool so…..”

Do you have a favorite or funniest “we homeschool!” anecdote?  Where your child does something differently than other kids and you feel the need to explain the reason why is that you homeschool?

We went on a field trip with our co-op awhile back to a nature center.  Someone gave us a talk about bones, skulls, and native animals. It was really interesting and we learned some great info.  The instructor would hold up each skull and ask to which animal it belonged.  She was expecting the kids to raise their hands to answer but Avery just kept blurting it out.  Each time, the lady would look at her and remind her to raise her hand and then call on someone else to answer.   Avery literally had no idea what the lady meant, she just really did not know the concept of raising your hand to be called on.  Eventually, after like 3 rounds of this, I just blurted out “We homeschool!!”  And further explained that when I ask a question, she’s expected to answer it, not raise her hand.  We were there with our homeschool co-op so everyone laughed and agreed that it was a foreign concept to a lot of our littles.

I did, of course, explain the situation to Avery.  I explained to her that when there are so many people in a group, it can get a little crazy if everyone is blurting things out and so people are often expected to raise their hand and wait to be addressed before answering/speaking.  But really, I was just so darn happy that she was participating since she can often be shy in new situations!

Imagine you are at a dinner party and a song comes on.  Someone asks “Who sings this?”  If you know the answer, do you just blurt it out or do you raise your hand to answer the question?  We just blurt it out.  Maybe a couple people blurt it out, everyone laughs and agrees or discusses if they think it was a different band.  But in general, we don’t raise our hands and wait for the opportunity to answer a question.  I mean, that’s kind of weird if you think about it.

So yeah, I will concede that there ARE some things my kids are missing out on by being homeschooled….mainly how to raise their hands and how to stand in line!

But I think they’ll make it in life anyway.

You are my reason.

I have had a classroom sign saved in my phone as inspiration…a reminder of how I want my girls to feel and be treated when they walk into our “classroom”. When we sit down or go outside or lay in the bed to do our work, I want them to know that they are capable, that they are important, and that they are my reason for everything.

Then my husband made me some blank wooden signs out of scrap wood and I decided to turn that inspiration picture into a sign that can hang in our home.  A sign that my girls can look at and read daily.

I had a bit of trouble with the paint bleeding but I was able to correct enough of that and overall, I’m THRILLED with how it turned out.

Electro Dough

We are at that point in the school year where I am cleaning out the curriculum closet to make room for the new stuff.  I’m basically going through everything to see what I still want the girls to finish, what we never used and can sell/trash, and I’m even finding treasures that I had forgotten about.

One of those was the DIY Electro Dough Kit from techwillsaveus.com  I had ordered this at the beginning of last year in our Timberdoodle kit with the idea that the girls could do it with dad (he worked as an apprentice electrician for a number of years and his dad is an electrician).  The major problem with that plan?  I’m not sure I ever told dad about it or I might have mentioned it briefly but then stuck it in the curriculum closet where he never goes!  And here I was, wondering why he never did it with them….whoops!

We finally took it out today and played with it.  We had a ton of fun but the kit is seriously lacking in instruction/explanation.  The kit has the dough recipe and some brief examples of easy circuits you can make to get started.  No explanation of what the parts are or WHY it works so it helped that we had an electrician making with us, lol.  You can go to their website for more advanced projects and the manual which goes more in depth in the terminology and the WHYs.  So it really depends on your own personal knowledge of electricity and circuits as to whether or not you would need the manual—I need it to help me explain why/how you can turn the lights and buzzer on with play dough but dad didn’t need it.

The thing that I really love about this kit is that we can keep it and do this again as much as we like.  At their ages, the girls LOVED the novelty of getting the lights to turn on using play dough but they weren’t totally interested in the concepts behind it.  But as their curiosity grows or if they have a unit on electricity in their next science course, we can pull it back out, make a new batch of dough, and keep playing and learning!

So for now, this will get put back into the curriculum closet and hopefully not forgotten about this time…

Tinkerlab Art Challenge

Tinkerlab recently did a 5 day art start challenge in which we participated. It was free and used mostly we already had around the house.  There was a Facebook group to share, ask questions, etc. But each day, we got an email explaining the setup, materials, daily journal prompts, and extension ideas.

We are crafty people so daily art isn’t that far off of our norm. However, I did get some great new ideas and some guidance in how I can best foster the girls’ creativity. 

We had a blast with this art challenge and the girls loved the surprise every day of seeing what the setup would be.

Day 1 setup.

Avery’s creation with her painted coffee filters…a Hawaiian Hula Girl!

We will definitely be watching for anymore of these organized art challenges but until then, I will pull out my Tinkerlab book and schedule in different setups for the girls on a weekly basis. They love them and it is so easy to get a setup going (way easier than any Pinterest art projects we’ve tried!).

Brave Writer

Any Brave Writer families in here?

Like many homeschool moms, I was recently evaluating the curriculum we used this year and making a plan for what we will use next.  Almost all of the curriculum that we used, “worked” for us this year.  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else out there that might work even better. Something that might excite and intrigue us.  There are so many homeschool curriculum options that I just want to explore them all but, nobody’s got time for that.

I consulted the school principal (aka my husband).  I consulted the veteran homeschool moms in our co-op.  For the most part, everyone else said that they would stick with what worked because maybe next year or the year after, it won’t work anymore and that will be the time to find a new and better option.

Wellllll, I’m not taking their advice. I really did want their opinions and I do value them but once I stumbled upon Brave Writer, I just can’t get it out of my head.  Several of the things that we used this year that worked but weren’t anything special were our spelling, writing, and handwriting resources.  All of those can be replaced with Brave Writer.

I’m in LUST with these ideas and lifestyle changes to integrate “curriculum” into life.  I’m trying not to jump in blindly and buy a ton of stuff right off the bat (Hello, I’ve been on amazon finding THE PERFECT tea set for poetry teatime even though we already have a teaset….PUT THE CAR IN PARK, LADY!).  I’m trying to go slow, I’m reading the Writer’s Jungle right now and want to finish that before anything else.

So, are you a Brave Writer family?  Do you follow it all or just pick and choose components?

                   The tea set that I am currently swooning over!

Year-round or summer break?

Do you homeschool year-round or take a summer break?

I think we are going to be year-round homeschoolers. First of all, our summers are routinely 115- 120° so we don’t spend a ton of time outside. If we’re going to be stuck inside, we might as well get some work done, right?  Also, we’ve taken week long breaks several times throughout the year for vacations and we’d like to be able to continue to do so.

I am planning to wind down as Avery finishes each subject and then do a week break & celebration before moving her up to the next grade.  She is the type of person who needs or wants that clear definition of when she is done and moving up. She has already finished her geography book for the year and has about 3-4 weeks left of math and writing.  As she finishes each subject, I’m planning that she will just have less to do each day and focus more on any subjects that remain (we’ve apparently taken several extra weeks off of spelling because she has about 8-10 weeks left of that).  We should be done around the end of May when traditional schools are also letting out.

We’ll take a week off, bake a special year-end cake, and maybe visit an amusement park.  Then we’ll head right into our next year! 

So, how do you do it? Year-round? And if so, do you always just keep rollin’ or do you make a definition between the grades?

Tinkerlab

Where do you go when you need inspiration, validation, or just new ideas?  Do you have a favorite homeschool mama author or book?

We have a pretty good art table at our house that the girls use often but I don’t often plan or teach art projects.  I grabbed Rachelle Doorley’s book Tinkerlab recently during a sale and I have been loving it!  I was looking for artsy ideas and projects for my little ladies but I found so much more than that.  I was totally surprised to find that I really loved the introduction, the how & why to create a tinkerlab, and the real life examples and experiences.  I loved this part so much that I’m looking for other homeschool mom inspirational books (hence, my request for your favorites).

This book also made me realize that we’re already headed in the right direction with our art table.  Here I was thinking that I was doing something wrong because we weren’t doing organized art projects. When in fact, having that open, free range art space is part of the GOAL.  We have that.  Our art table has paper, crayons, markers, scissors, glue, sequins, feathers, pom poms, stickers, pipe cleaners, stamps, etc etc that the girls are always free to use and create.  Our art table is over a carpeted floor so paint is a mom-supervision-required medium but everything else is a free for all (even glitter, much to my husband’s dismay).  And the girls use the space daily.  Their daily use is what made me seek out more guided art projects.

Although we are doing well with our easily accessible art space, the Tinkerlab book has so many more ideas.  There are 4 sections in the book: design, build, concoct, and discover.  Each section focuses on a different element of the creative mind.  The experiments and set ups in the book are mostly EASY to do and don’t require much more than what I already have at home.  There are a few ideas in the build category that involve small toy motors and wire strippers that I’ll leave to my husband….

So many great ideas for getting them to explore and discover without telling them what to do.  I love that instead of projects, this book has set-ups.  Give your child materials and see what they can come up with instead of telling them what to make.  I love this!

As I was reading, I got a quick set-up going for my girls.  I gave them paint with q-tips, feathers, pom poms, and plastic forks.  Once they got going, I sent them on a scavenger hunt around the house for anything that they thought would be fun to paint with….the only rule was NO actual paintbrushes.  This wasn’t a set-up that was directly out of the book but as I was reading, I was catching on to the idea.

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

A little mess can create a LOT of fun!

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire....

And now I have 500 beautiful paintings to admire….

 

(I bought my copy of Tinkerlab from Timberdoodle. No strings, I wasn’t asked to write about it….just sharing something I love.)