In Homeschool This Week (take 3)

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Fiona making “potions”

I am loving the natural curiosity and love for learning that Fiona has. One of my main reasons for wanting to homeschool her was encouraging this! She had fun mixing up “potions” this week with water, food coloring, and salt. She created her own experiment where she tested the taste differences when she added the different ingredients. Plus, it’s just fun to play!

This week in Kindergarten, Fiona continued with her core subject studies, but I feel like she is learning the most by going out into the world and observing and participating in real life, and our discussions as a family. I’m very “unschooly” with Fiona, because she is so smart and I don’t want to put ANY pressure on her learning.

I LOVE this Native American model of education, The Circle of Courage:

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For Kali, Monday and Friday mornings are dedicated to horses! She is learning how to ride and take care of horses. This is a dream come true for her, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she owned a horse farm someday!

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Our time at the horse farm is also really great for Fiona. We are lucky that the farm is very accommodating, and I’m able to do school work with the other kids there as well.

But the main thing we have been doing while Kali is at horseback is to go to the YMCA!

We are having SO MUCH FUN at the Y. Especially Matthew. He is in 9th grade and I have mentioned before that it is hard to get him motivated to learn at times. He is taking “coaching connection” sessions and they are really helping him set goals, and he is really getting into fitness now. The best part is, going to the Y has motivated ME! I am working out several times a week now and loving it! So needless to say, we are getting a lot of Phy Ed in.

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For Social Studies this week, I had Matt and Kali choose articles out of National Geographic Magazine to read, and then we discussed. Ebola and Global Warming were two main topics.

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We found ourselves in Madison one day, so we stopped by Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which is a gem (and FREE). The kids loved the succulent kaleidoscope, and had fun observing monarchs and a TON of hummingbirds (not to mention the beautiful flowers). They also have an amazing (and authentic) Thai Temple, which was a wonderful experience, and we were able to discuss even more about our Buddhist studies.

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We also learned about Monarch Waystations at Olbrich. This is a program that creates, conserves, and protects monarch habitats. This inspired us to devise a plan to create a monarch waystation in our yard. We started by heading out to my dad’s land, where he has been doing prairie restoration for the past 20+ years, to collect seeds from many of the plants such as milkweed and other perennials that are beneficial to the monarchs. We were lucky that he could identify and teach us about many of the different plants. He has quite the habitat already (we will have to get him a Monarch Waystation sign, too)! We are drying out our seeds now and will be ready to plant them in the spring!

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On Friday, we had another horseback/YMCA morning, followed by a picnic lunch, and then we visited the Monroe Public Library for their “Homeschool Hub: Make It” series. This library is absolutely wonderful! The kids made flextangles (check out the free template here, they are really cool and fun geometry), paracord slings, played some new educational apps on the iPads, chatted with their friends, made some new friends, and best of all, experimented with Snap Circuits!! If you have never played with Snap Circuits, I would highly recommend them (and I’m not getting paid for the mention, either). They. Are. Amazing. There are not many things that both my 5 year old and my teens find interesting and challenging!

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Fiona did a great job looking at the diagram and figuring everything out, with a little bit of mom’s help! She was amazed to create a circuit that powered a fan!

Let’s see what else? Kali finished The Island of the Blue Dolphins and completed some worksheets on that. She started reading “Marie Curie: Pioneer Physicist”. Matt continued reading his Twilight book, and Fiona and I just read a TON of books.

The older kids did some reading, videos, and worksheets about chemical reactions for Science. Matt continued with his video editing course. Overall it was another amazing week. We got out into the real world, learned and experienced a lot, and had our challenges and triumphs, too.

14322552_1011745612277971_3379652539635327285_nJust a note that in my blogs I definitely focus on the positive, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our hard times as well. It is REALLY HARD to homeschool (for so many reasons that I won’t get into right now). But it is soooooo worth it!

 

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In Homeschool This Week (take 2)

Last week I said that I would not “plan any short weeks that also included two field trips” but then this week we had a regular 5 day school week that included FOUR. What is wrong with me?! Clearly, I am a homeschool newbie haha. In my defense, we do live in Wisconsin, so I have to take advantage of the good weather while I can. I will not be driving so much in the snow.

Monday started bright and early with a twenty minute drive to Kali’s first horseback riding lesson. She had taken some lessons before when she was younger, but she hadn’t ridden for a long time. She has always had a passion for horses and I am so excited that she is getting back into it. I highly recommend the Country View Equestrian Center if you are in the Monroe, WI area.

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As luck would have it, Kali was offered an opportunity to earn more riding time by working doing chores at the stable. So now, we will be heading there on Monday AND Friday mornings! It is such great work experience while also being FUN!

On Tuesday, we headed over to Janesville to attend a picnic for the Rock Valley Homeschool Group. It was a great occasion to meet up with yet another group in our area and meet new friends. We had a blast at Peace Park, and I am constantly amazed at how nice and welcoming all of the other homeschooling families are. This is truly a great community!

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We paused our Social Studies about the Sioux Nation to start a long-term study about Buddhism. We had the most amazing opportunity to see Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala at the Memorial Union in Madison. On Wednesday, we went to the Madison Public Library Central Branch (amazing) to read books about Buddhism and do a bit of Minecraft. I totally count Minecraft as school.

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Then we walked over to see the sand mandala creation. We were all mesmerized by the beauty of the work and the concentration of the monks! In addition, we talked with one of the monks who showed us how to use a prayer wheel, let each of the children use it, and taught us about the symbolism and language in Tibetan Buddhism. It was a really special experience.

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We bought a prayer flag from the monks, and we studied about that on Thursday and hung it up outside so the wind can carry our prayers and wishes for peace around the world. We also continued our mandala studies, and learned about the Eightfold Path. I found two wonderful PowerPoint presentations at TES.com. One was about the Eightfold Path and the other was about the prayer flags, so now we fully understand the significance and also made sure we hung it up the right way. I also found this great worksheet about the Eightfold Path, and the older kids did that Follow the link for more worksheets on Buddhism and other religions as well.

Here’s another link I found with great teaching resources about Buddhism (via PBS).

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Lunch with grandma at the iconic Memorial Union Terrace in Madison. We didn’t just eat chips and beer, btw…

 

So Thursday was our big at home day. The older kids finished their PowerPoint presentation about bees. All of the kids did their core studies on Time4Learning. We read books, did art, music, and more!

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Fiona said, “Am I concentrating as hard as the monks?”

 

On Friday, my 14 year old son communicated (which is nothing short of a miracle sometimes) that he did not like Time4Learning. So, we looked into some other ways of doing his core High School curriculum and we decided on using Khan Academy for math and science, along with other science projects and experiments, and that I would assign him English and Social Studies projects (those are my personal strong subjects, so I feel comfortable teaching those myself).

We absolutely love Khan Academy. Along with using it for math and science, he has also started learning about Drug Addiction in the Health and Medicine section, and is currently writing a research paper on the topic.

Below is a wonderful video about educating for mastery by the founder of Khan Academy:


In Kindergarten this week, Fiona and I made a “hundreds box”. We filled it with 100 pennies, 20 nickles (to practice counting by 5s), 10 dimes (to practice counting by 10s), 4 quarters (to start understanding fractions and coin recognition), a $1 bill (understanding the concept of what is equal to $1), and Fiona’s choice of 100 safety pins, 100 beads, 100 white buttons, and 100 smiley faces (which she drew herself).

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Then we added 100 stickers to the outside of the box and a 100 chart to help her count! Big brother was really sweet and helped Fiona count and taught her some tricks for working with the number chart. Fiona did a lot of work with math this week. She LOVES this box and carries it around everywhere using it for practice!

Overall, we had a great, yet very exhausting week!!!

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via eclectic homeschool