Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reading Hour

Winnie had her first library reading hour of the fall this morning. She was a huge ham, as always, and had a blast mildly disrupting reading hour and Ms. Debbie.

We are very excited about HS park day tomorrow. I love Antioch Park this time of year.

We also REALLY want to do this Unschool Conference in February. Water Park for 4 days and unschool conference. Fun! Not sure we can get the money together by then, but hopefully.

My Movie Makers

Yesterday afternoon Zhara and Angus decided that they wanted to start working on a stop action movie using their Lego guys. Today Zhara and I researched more about it, after Adam helped them some last night with it. We found this awesome website full of tips and other Lego movies. She is so excited. She and I have laughed and laughed at the movies on there. Zhara has decided that she needs to make a Lego music video to Superfreak. LOVE IT!!!

We also found this awesome "How to" tutorial on making Lego brick films.

More to follow on our movie making adventure.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PE Day

So today we did some work around home and then packed up the kitten and took her to the vet for her check up. There the kids learned a lesson about why we shouldn't use a Johnson County vet. Holy Smokes, expensive Batman, just for shots. So then we came home, found a low cost spay and neuter clinic and will be taking Lola there on Thursday for the actual surgery. It is, I kid you not, more than $300 cheaper. Money lesson learned.

We came home, had lunch, and then decided today was a day where we really needed to get out and do something, so we went to the indoor pool at the community center. We had a good time at "PE."

Tonight Angus has drum lessons. Tomorrow Winnie has her first reading hour of the fall at the library. Zhara will likely work on doing her research for her Kansas worksheet that we have been working on. Never a dull moment.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ren Fest & Bill Nye

Yesterday we went to the Renaissance Festival with Adam's dad and step-mom. Not my favorite place in the world, but the kids had fun, and Zhara has decided to be a fairy for Halloween, and Angus a knight. Pictures to follow at some point. No offense to those of you who adore Ren Fest... it's just not my thing.

We went to the library while Angus was at preschool this morning, and picked up the Bill Nye video we had requested on Germs, as well as a bunch of new books. It was good. The kids really liked watching it. Then while I was putting Winnie down for a nap, Angus and Zhara watched a National Geographic kids video on Dinosaurs.

Zhara beat the 3rd-5th grade math program yesterday. There are still some things she can do on it, but wow. I hope she isn't so far along now that the Singapore Math books I ordered (that still aren't here, yet) are too easy. Sigh.

Zhara has decided this is the list of things she would like to learn about this week:

fashion in Paris
how homes are heated
why honey bees are dying
working in the US/State/President workbook we got over the weekend at Sam's

Sounds good to me. Okay, off to help her with the workbook, then to the park, and music lessons.

Tomorrow we take the kitten to the vet for a check up. We will call it an impromptu field trip to the vet's. It has to be better than last time when the kids had to be there when the other cat got put down. Ugh, that was awful.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Train Building

Lessons in physics, geometry, engineering, mathematics, and team-building.

This morning, after we did a little cleaning and the kids played on the computer and watched TV, they decided to build an elaborate track set up. Everyone helped. Zhara definitely was in charge, though.

Angus working on some track layout.

Getting Advice from Winnie

Sometimes you have to call in the experts for engineering advice.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Hair

My little blue girl with her new black and blue do:

School Doesn't Stop for Saturday...

At least it doesn't when you're unschooling, I realize. Today Zhara has been writing two stories -- one called "The Thanksgiving Turkey who does Math" and the other about "The Bunny of Multiplication." Apparently animals also REALLY like math.

Last night the older two went with Adam to the store to buy the Wii Fit we have been saving up for. Playing our good friend, Kerri's, has made us want one, too. We had a good time trying it out last night. This morning Angus amused us by showing us how to hit soccer balls with your head and how to trick the Wii when running by bopping the remote up and down and making your on-screen self fall down. He thought that was hilarious. He has also created a Mii named Ted that he is using as himself. Sometimes that child absolutely cracks me up.

After a tiring afternoon of running errands, Zhara and I started making soap to sell at the open house I am doing November 4th. It needs 4 weeks to cure. We are making more of the oatmeal lavender that we loved last time and also a chocolate and rose. She helped measure out the fats. I did the lye and water/herb combos. Then we discussed melting temperatures and chemical reactions. When you think about it, soap making is an EXCELLENT lesson in chemistry.

Now we are waiting on the solutions to reach their ideal mixing temp and I promised Zhara we would color her hair with the crazy semi-temporary hair color we got today. It should last for a couple of weeks and then slowly wash out. She is doing blue and black. Photos to follow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Math, math, and more math

Zhara, the mathematician, cannot be stopped. She has a multiplication workbook thing she got from the dollar section at Target. Did the whole thing while Winnie was at tumbling today. Played more math games from Math Missions today. She is all over it.

We also talked about why honey bees are disappearing today and read an article from Mother Earth News about pesticide use that is killing the bee population. She is now reading through the Kids Green Book that she found on the bookshelf and is showing us how peppers rot and things decay in compost.

Angus is, as always, asking to do dinosaur projects and more dinosaur projects, and Zhara is making him "play" school which seems to involve a lot of her saying "no, it's not time for that," and the "books have to be organized here." Giggling a little that her version of school seems so damn oppressive versus how she schools now.

Zhara REALLY wants to dye her hair black and blue. I think I'm gonna let her. Heck, it's hard to say no, when my own hair is rarely the same color for more than a month or two. I really need to find her some good kid's fashion design stuff to work on, too, since she loves fashion so much. She has a kids' sewing machine, so maybe next week we will pull that out and I will show her some basic sewing and sketching skills.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Math Obsessed

Zhara playd on her math computer program, Math Missions, from the library tonight for 4 HOURS! Willingly. Without prompting. To the point that she gave herself a headache and I had to pull her away from the computer. She actually was doing algebra in her head by the time she finished. WTF! This child is a total unschooler.

The Natural History Museum

It's not everyday you get to pose in front of a giant replica of the HIV virus.
Fit right into Zhara and I's germ discussions of the last few days.

We had a blast today. We did the scavenger hunt at the Natural History Museum and peeked and poked at everything along the way. We did dinosaurs, bugs, prehistoric mammals, Comanche the horse from the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the panorama of 200 year-old stuffed animals from the 1880s World Fair... the whole nine yards. We stopped in the middle and went over to the student union for a snack, then back to do evolution, bacteria, viruses, and snakes. Then afterward we had a picnic in the park and played. The weather was perfect and the kids loved it. I really love being an unschooling mom. I really do.

Zhara and Winnie viewing the panorama from above.

Sadly we got to put some more "germ" info into use.
The bees that have ALWAYS been there in the bee tree,
since I was a kid, that are allowed to fly in and out of the building
and pollinate the prairie around the university,
were killed in the past few months by a fungus.
The kids cried reading the sign. It is so sad.
We will be very glad when the bees return.

There are how many insects for every human on Earth?
150 million, you say... "Nasty," says Zhara!

The girl loves her a scavenger hunt. Glad we printed that off before we went.

DINOSAURS! says my little paleontologist with a maniacal grin.

"It's bigger than you," says Zhara, about this giant femur.

Nothin' like LOTS of dead stuffed animals!


I think we can safely say now that we have safely landed in unschooling land. And we love it. The children are so much better behaved. They love the freedom to explore the world and learn about it, and Adam and I are loving watching them. Angus has started to want to sight read. Zhara is seeking out the math games on the computer, not just the design and dress up ones. And all three are adoring reading The Three Musketeers. Makes a kinda nerdy mama happy, I tell you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fun at the Library

We like the library. Okay, we love the library. Winnie has been there as long as she's "been." We go at least once a week. They know us by first name.

This is Winnie's personal librarian, Ms. Debbie. She is possibly the kindest, most gentle person I have ever met. She adores Wednesday in a way only a grandmother normally can. This is Debbie reading Winnie's beloved, Max and Ruby to her today at the library. Yes, Winnie is sitting behind her desk with her. Yes, she is on her lap. Yes, Ms. Debbie does think Winnie is brilliant and hangs the world. It is a match made in literary heaven.

Sometimes you have to just sit down and read the book right there. Zhara found some great drawing books today and is now working on drawing people. We found some Bill Nye videos we haven't seen and got those, as well as Math Blaster and Math Missions, math computer games. Ms. Debbie helped Zhara request a couple of books on being a fashion designer (her desired career since she was 2) from other libraries.

Z and I read some on France today and decided that we would make a French-inspired meal for dinner tonight. We found a kid's french cookbook at the library today. We have decided to make ham and cheese crepes and glazed carrots for dinner and strawberry and nutella crepes for desert. We stopped by the grocery store for a few extra supplies. Hope mom can make crepes without screwing them up too badly.

Tomorrow we are going to KU to the Natural History Museum. We found a kid's scavenger hunt on their website and printed it out so we would have a fun game to play while we're there. Angus never tires of staring at the dinosaurs.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More on Tuesday

Spent the afternoon working on real world math. The kids found change around the house today and decided that they wanted to pool it and spend it. We went to Quik Trip. They had 87 cents. Zhara had to figure out how many lollipops they could buy at 10 cents a piece. She knew that they could get 8, but they decided that they didn't want 8 lollipops, so they instead chose to get 3 lollipops and 3 pieces of gum for 5 cents a piece. Zhara figured up how much it would be and how much she had to give the QT employee. They saved the rest and have decided to save up for an icey next time. They checked the price while there. It was fun and they had a good time figuring out the amount.

Then we took their lollipops to the park and read two more chapters of The Three Musketeers while they enjoyed their treats. Zhara has decided that she would like to learn more about France and Paris in particular, since we are reading a lot about Paris in the book. I am printing out some kid's Paris facts now and I figure we can look over them and talk about them tomorrow. Maybe we'll read A Tale of Two Cities, at some point also.

We played at the park with their friends, and this evening Zhara drew some on the computer and she and Adam did a science experiment with warm and cold water and a balloon to determine that molecules shrink and expand when exposed to differing temperatures.

Angus LOVED drum lessons and will be going each week now. My musical family...

Day Two: Fun with Microscopes

Happy Mabon (first day of Fall). Everyone here is ready for the leaves to really start falling so that we can jump in piles.

Today we started out the day with Zhara doing Spanish. She really likes Rosetta Stone and is starting to learn some basic nouns.

Then we read some more on germs. We learned about the four kinds of germs -- bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. We looked at some pictures and talked about some historical epidemics caused by germs. We also discussed common illnesses caused by germs, as well as the helper germs that make our world go around.

Then we took out the microscope (a huge hit with everyone), and looked at some prepared slides. We don't have a super high-powered scope, so we saw basic structures only. Then we talked about other things we would like to look at. We looked at one of my eyelashes and identified the follicle and the sides of the hair itself. We looked at cells from the inside of my cheek, and some mold we found in the bathroom -- yuck! I said perhaps there would be less mold if Zhara would do her chore of cleaning the bathroom more often. She declared herself uninterested in ever entering the bathroom again after seeing the moving mold bacteria under the microscope -- blech!

Angus and I practiced some sight reading. He is not a great phonics guy, but a really good pattern/sight reader. He is still really learning to recognize the alphabet. My mom, a special ed teacher, noted today when we visited her for lunch at her school, that kids on the spectrum (as Angus is) tend to be MUCH better sight readers than phonics readers, which definitely holds truth for Angus man.

Zhara worked some more on Math Quest cards. She did some work in fractions, multiplication and division. We are really looking forward to getting our Singapore Math books in the next few days.

Everyone is loving reading The Three Musketeers, and we are already planning on making Heidi and then The Swiss Family Robinson our next two books.

Tonight Angus has his first drum lessons, and he couldn't be more excited.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day One: The Adventure Begins

We had fun today. We really did. I am amazed how I am drawn to letting her chose her own subjects and do her own thing. She seeks out things that I never would have thought she would find interesting, and she's really good at them.

She had an absolute blast today doing her math games. We got the Brain Quest math cards with 6 questions on each one. She did a great job, even adapting to some questions that she didn't expect to be able to do, and figured them out. Double digits multiplication, some geometry questions, comparing fractions, and a start of division. I was really impressed by how she figured it out herself when just prompted by a couple of questions to think about a problem a different way.

We read 4 chapters of The Three Musketeers. Angus is loving it. The boy really loves his sword fights.

This morning Zhara worked on some of the Rosetta Stone spanish, and we read through some of the germ workbook. She did not care for the on-line Infection game from the Natural History Museum. I don't blame her, it looked pretty boring. We did go to the library today and found a bunch of new books, including several on germs and epidemics. Who knew my girly-girl would be into learnign about infectious epidemics. Whatever, sounds cool to me. She drug out the microscope last night and is insisting that tonight or tomorrow we try and see what we can see in it. She wants to see germs. She really loved the blown up germ pictures and models in the kid's epidemic book we got from the library. Who knew they even made kid's epidemic books, I mean, really!

Yeah, so also, who knew that I would be the person starting to be drawn to child-driven unschooling-ish ideas. So not fitting with my super-planner self, but I can see it working for my kid, and it's crazy to watch, it really is.

We got a very sweet e-mail from Zhara's class today, saying that they are reading her blog and keeping up with what she's doing in homeschool and letting us know what they're doing in regular school. We are very lucky to have gotten such an awesome 3rd grade teacher who is so willing to keep the lines of communication open, while still allow Zhara to seek her own learning path here at home.

Okay, must get ready to go to Zhara's guitar lesson.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Math & History

Ordered Singapore Math 2A and 2B tonight. That seems to be where Zhara fits. I think we will try and use that for math.

Also ordered a kid's everything book of European History. My plan is to eventually have one on world history and one on American history and then use the individual sections as jumping off points to learn more on those individual time periods, then pick out fiction, philosophy, and non-fiction books to accompany.

Spanish, Anyone?

So Adam got the Rosetta Stone programs he "acquired" (we will leave it at that) to run tonight. Zhara is flying through Spanish and loving it. She did almost 2 lessons. On a Sunday. Unprompted. Then she worked some on the English one. Which is actually cool, as it allows her to learn more about nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc.

Now she's in playing checkers with dad to work on her strategy. Or at least to have a really good time playing checkers. :)

Zhara's Book

Made up a fun workbook of facts, history, and information about germs and germ theory. I thought we would head to the library tomorrow so she could check out some books, too, if she'd like. Made sure I left lots of space for drawing and writing in her "workbook," too. Nice part is that there will already be resources later on when Angus and Winnie wants to learn more about germs.

She and I decided to start reading some of the "great" novels, as well. We are starting with The Three Musketeers. We decided that would be fun since she has two best friends -- Sam and Layla.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feeling Germy?

Zhara has decided that she wants to study germs first, so germs it is. I am printing out some stuff that we can look over for basic concepts, and I thought we could hit the library for more info. I thought it would be fun to tie it into some current events about the hysteria regarding swine flu and the histories of outbreaks and influenzas. I like the idea that Rebecca Rupp has in her book of creating fun workbooks that the kids can read, write, or color in, so I'm trying to make one up for Zhara. I'm gonna add some blank pages for her to write and draw her own stuff in. I found a cool website from the American Museum of National History with germ games for kids. I think she'll like that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our Space

Our bulletin board:

Our schedule (at least for now).

And look, we even have storage!


Well, we withdrew from public school, so I guess here we go.

Zhara now has her own blog on a link to this page. Feel free to check it and see "Whats' Zhara Doing?" :) Each day I plan on having her do a short journal time on it, so we can keep up with what she's doing and to keep her writing.

We have a basic weekly plan for now. It very well may change as time goes along. We are going to do rotating subjects for Math/Science, and Social Studies/Language. Every two weeks we will switch to the other two core subjects. Basically because I want to see what she is actually retaining after a short break. That has been some of the problems that we have dealt with with public school

Her teacher was great about it, and has offered help when and if we need it, as well as some great resources. She has been a terrific teacher and will be missed, but I think we will still see her frequently. We have plans to drop by school some and e-mail regularly to keep in touch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here We Go

Well, we have decided to homeschool. Mostly because we just cannot do the worksheets, teach to the test formula that my children's school follows anymore. It's a good school, but it's not good for us, so here we go.

We have 4 kids. The oldest is my step-son and lives 2 hours away. He is with us 1/2 time, but will continue in traditional school. Zhara is 8, she is leaving 3rd grade on Friday and coming home to learn. We are both very excited about the possibilities. Angus is 5. He is still in preschool and will be there until the end of the year. He will be old enough to start kindergarten at the beginning of next year, and we will see how we feel when that comes along. Regardless we will be working more on letter recognition and writing until then. Wednesday is 2. She is precocious and crazy and wonderful and will be doing everything, I am sure.