In Homeschool this Week (take 8)


Fiona has been enjoying this “Read, Build, Write” activity. We used lots of fall words this week. You can find this free resource here.


Kali started this Self-esteem Workbook for Teens and has really been loving it. This is a great series, they have lots of different workbooks for different issues that teens face.


The boy got braces. Ouch. This is a great self-portrait, don’t you think?


Pajama Day!


Meet Stuart. We found him Geocaching (it’s like treasure hunting). We are getting back into it after a bit of a hiatus. Brandon has a knack for finding them when we’re hiking even when we’re not looking!


A little spontaneous Yoga


In other news, we are trying to finish the entryway right now. I may have mentioned that we are currently renovating my great-grandmother’s Victorian home. It’s quite the project! More about that here.


Fiona spent about 4 hours creating this little friend with found objects. All I did was help her with the hot glue.


She also colored in these leaves and created a little tree with a pretty branch we found outside. We do lots of art and spend a lot of time outdoors!


In Homeschool This Week (take 7)

The theme of the week was tradition, ritual and sacred wisdom. It is important for kids to have family rituals that tie us all together. For example, every Christmas Eve the kids sleep under the Christmas tree. This is a tradition that my sister and I did as children, that we now have passed onto our own children. But there are rituals and traditions that we carry on in daily life, and these are just as important as the big holiday ones.

I found this great book at the library:


From Amazon: “Quality family togetherness—everyone wants it, but it seems increasingly harder to achieve. In a world run by cell phones, computers, and virtual networking, the comfort of human connection grows more important— and rarer— all the time. In a guide newly updated for the next generation, family expert Meg Cox offers a solution. Family rituals provide a sense of home and identity that kids and parents both need. From holidays and birthdays to bed times, meal times, pets, and even chores, The Book of New Family Traditions spotlights hundred of ways to bring the fun and ritual back to family life”

In this book, there was another book suggestion: “The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for Teens”. This was particularly interesting to me as the mom of two teens. I think it especially important for teens to go through the process of the “rites of passage” or “initiation” into adulthood. Native Americans describe these years as “The Thundering Years”. I immediately bought this book.


We started out this week by going out to my dad’s prairie/creek land and observing/drawing nature for an hour in silence. It was the best. Then, we sat down in the tall, dry, autumn prairie grass and read the first chapter of “The Thundering Years” together.

This chapter, “The Way of the Spiritual Warrior”, talked about the intensity, beauty, difficulty, and questions of the Thundering years, and how they are designed to challenge us to determine what path we are going to take in life. A Warrior’s way includes a journey to oneself and to one’s purpose.

The next day we used watercolors and worked into our drawings:




At the end of the first chapter of “The Thundering Years” there were instructions on how to make a Medicine Bag. So we did this as well. Pictured above is Kali with her artwork and medicine bag.


Kali’s completed artwork


I also created an artwork!


Fiona stitching her medicine bag together (not just for teenagers!)


One tradition that we have in our family is Movie Night! Is there anything better than sister snuggles?


Fiona strumming for mommy after bath-time. Music is so important to us.


Yoga in the woods at Blue Mound State Park

We read Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare in the woods, and then left it on a bench for another person to find. I’m going to start leaving poetry in the woods more often!

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
   This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

In Homeschool This Week (take 6)

I am WAY behind on posting (hmm….I wonder why? Homeschooling 3 kids while working from home AND in the midst of major home renovations….why wouldn’t I have time to blog?) So, anyway, we did a whole lot not mentioned, but here are a few pics from our week:


Science experiments at the library with other local homeschoolers. Matt doesn’t let me photograph him very often!


Some random local veggies I had came together wonderfully — eggplant, spicy greens, and sweet peppers. SO GOOD!



We sent more supplies out to the Standing Rock Reservation to help the Native water protectors. Fiona created this artwork with painter’s tape and marker to include in our package.


Here’s a link to a great article I read this week,
“Why Daydreaming is Critical to Effective Learning”


via one of my favorite FB pages: U is for Unschooling

In Homeschool This Week (take 5)

Online Resources That I Love This Week:

Thug Notes (not for everyone and DEFINITELY for teens/High School): A very different take on literature analysis. My teens LOVE this.

ReadWriteThink: Excellent site with lots of free printables and ideas for reading, writing, and thinking!

Democracy Now: An independent, daily, global news resource that I find very valuable. I watch this daily with my kids for “Current Events”.

Crash Course: An insane amount of excellent videos on a wide range of topics. A must see.

Books That I Love This Week:

An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi
My teenage son LOVES to argue with me. The problem is, he doesn’t exactly use any LOGIC to win his arguments. This is an awesome book for all ages, even adults, to learn about that little thing called Reason.


Physics: Why Matter Matters by Simon Basher
This book is AWESOME. We found it at the library, and it is such a great introduction to all the different concepts in Physics. I might need to buy this one. Even my Kinder loved it, yet it still has enough information and detail to be appealing to the older kids. There are a whole series of these books — worth checking out.

On Thursday, the teens did their work for Math on Khan Academy and their Spanish on Duolingo right away in the morning while I was getting some of my own work done for our small business (i.e. accounting). Fiona did some art and imaginary play, and then we created special index cards with all of her school subjects and activities (along with some fun things like “do jumping jacks”) and put those into a basket so that she can pick them out throughout the day.

Then all three kids started a project I found on the website ReadWriteThink, which has some great resources! They created found poems! I set out a few books for this kids to pick from, without telling them what we were about to do. Then they selected a section of the text, and edited it down until they created a poem (essentially). The full instructions can be found here.  They turned out great!

During lunch we discussed poetry form a bit more and I read some poems aloud, which my teenage son promptly made fun of. Oiy.

After lunch, we continued our discussion about “Animal Farm” by Orwell. We watched the Thug Notes video on it (my kids love these….yes they are inappropriate, that’s why my kids love them).

After this, we were going to continue on with our movie-based Literature unit and start The Color Purple, when my son asked me, “Who was the first human?”

Well, that’s a big question. Let’s stop what we are doing and do some research about that. We ended up starting the Nova series “Becoming Human” on PBS (via YouTube).

Which leads to the next question from my son, “Who was the first white person?”

I responded, “Did you know that race is a social construct?”


Our research led us to the TED talk, “Nina Jablonski Breaks the Illusion of Skin Color”. Awesome video and explanation.

Side Discussion: Know Your Sources — how to sort through all the nonsense out there.

Also, Race may not be real, but racism is.

Question #3: “So what about the first ever life on this planet?”

OOOfta. They are hitting it hard today! We dipped our toe into the immense ocean of this discussion by watching a video on Crash Course – The Origin of Life. Obviously, it is a very short explanation but it started a discussion.

That discussion escalated very quickly into a heated debate between my son and I, where he used comedic tactics (and absolutely NO data or logical points of any kind) to try and win an argument with me against evolution. It was…..interesting.

So…we watched a little TED talk by David H. Cohen “For Argument’s Sake”, which was very interesting to me but my kids were still laughing so hard they didn’t pay much attention to it. Yeah, school was done after that.

However, I immediately looked up some teacher resources about LOGIC, and found this gem of a book, which I ordered immediately and cannot wait to dive into. It is called, “An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments” by Ali Almossawi, and you can find the entire book for free on his website, or purchase the hard cover on Amazon.

Our afternoon of “Question School” was a success and a challenge. I want to continue doing this a lot, because I want to know what do my kids really think about and what do they want to know? If they are learning questions that they are asking themselves, they will definitely be learning and retaining the knowledge better!

In Other School….

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Fiona created a “twiggy hat” out of some found bits of nature

She also had fun at the Library this week, and played Blokus, I Spy, and read lots of books


And we’ve been playing a fun math game at home for adding and subtracting with dice and wooden shapes:


Most of all, I love it when my kids make music!