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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Horses of Courses.

What little girl or boy doesn't love animals and horses. So this week past I decided to indulge the fantasies a little with a horse unit study. We read some really excellent books on, Lippizaner Stallions, The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)and the Rodeo. We delved into the world of horses more by watching two movies, National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor and Black Beauty. I wanted to read them Black Beauty but couldn't find a children's version. And DD five is very visual and I knew having tried to wade our way through all the Little House Books that she can only handle so many pages without some illustrations. Our small library is scant when it comes to books that aren't just 'twaddle' as Charlotte Mason puts it. I am not a follower of CM completely but I do see the value of good literature over books that are just a quick read with no learning value. Anyway I was hoping to also find the movie Misty as the video store online said they had a copy but alas they did not. So we made do with what we had :)
We made thanks to my wonderful ingenius man lovely lapbooks in the shape of barns. I was having a massive headache over creating something unique. I wanted them to have more fun with the lapbooks then just two folders. We do so many that it can become too routine. So in the name of fun education I racked my brains and everything I came up with seemed to complex or not quite adequate. So I enlisted my loving DH to come up with something and voila two folders are put together, taped on the back and cut slightly to create a barn shape. It was genius! Here are pics of DS's And then DD's I posted not all of the images because the information in the lapbooks are the same. I made this up using some sources like http://www.homeschoolshare.com/ and using images I found added with my own text. I downloaded a couple of horsey print fonts to use. And we used the scrapbook paper that you can get free here http://www.scrapbookscrapbook.com/ If you have any questions about this lapbook please leave a comment and I will get back to you asap.

The kids loved them. And DS loved that he didn't have huge amounts of copywork this week. There was so much to cover. And I will say here for those of you who are creationist's or believers of a young earth you may want to be forwarned we teach evolution and creation. However do feel free to use this design for a lapbook yourself.
We started with the beginnings of horses and discussed timelines. We learned about the terms B.C., B.C.E, A.D., and C.E. and what they meant. We looked at horses developement in the world when it was pangea. And we continued through history to when horses were hunted by man. Cave paintings of man and what they meant. How man came to domesticate horses and what domestication meant. We looked at horses and how they came to be reintroduced to North America. And Canada in particular. We talked about how Canadians treated the first horses here. And how that treatment led to the creation of the Canadian Horse, or the Little Iron Horse. From there we took a look at selective breeding and talked about how man came to create the Zorse by breeding a horse to a cousin the zebra. We talked about DNA and Chromosomes and how they are the makeup of all animals. And what that would mean to horses. We looked at the Northwest Mounted Police and how it came to be the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their role in our country today. And we covered the Canadian Rodeo. And also we looked at the Lippizaner Stallions. We did the basics too of what male horse is called, what a female is called and what a baby is called. And finally when all our heads were swimming with this information the kids made up their own creative stories.
DS is showing some editorial skills naturally. Due to his lack of interest in creative writing last year I was letting him go easy this year by creating stories and copying them. I was only correcting punctuation and capitalization. When creative writing this year I have them dictate to me their stories and I write them on the whiteboard. They are then required to copy them down. Or if they are very long I will make a cursive sheet for him to do and a trace the letter sheet for DD.
Well this time DS noted a word omission by me :) and when he read it he realized the last part of the story made no sense. So we talked about editting and how he could rearrange or omit part to make it better. He chose to omit. I think it was because it shortened his copywork time. lol. But I let him do it since it was his story. :)
DD sat studiously writing her work down. For the first three sentences. Then she wanted to draw a picture of her story. And draw, draw, draw she did. It is amazing to me how many details she includes. I think the next step in her artistic pursuits is to get her to add more color.
All of that sounds like an emmense amount of information to convey in one week. But let me say that I make the information short and to the point. I do some ridiculous bad drawings on the whiteboard to convey my points as I am telling them the information. Which not only gets the point home but it is entertaining to see how awful my quick pics can be lol. And they love to critic my works of 'art'.
Further I don't require at this point in their learning that they retain all the information. Being that DS loves information I give it to him. And DD is encouraged to remember the most interesting fact that means something to her. She is only five after all.
My idea is that we will do these mini units and expose them to a huge array of topics. I will see what they are interested in and what completely bores them to tears. From there in the next year I can delve into the topics more indepth and require more from each student to be doing and retaining. Small baby steps forward into the world of learning. To get them to grasp the vastness of the world. The insurmountable task of learning all there is to learn in life and to make it interesting. And if at all possible to instill a insatiable love of learning.
Math this week was shortened because of the length of time put into the unit on horses. My requirement was the DS complete a large math problem on the board. The first one was addition in the hundred thousands something he has never done. I said 'before you melt down and panic. Realize it is the same as any other addition work from right to left.' So he looked relieved and got to it. And DD was required to answer verbal questions in addition, flashcards, and whiteboard pictoral math problem. They also played go fish. DS of course knows his numbers but DD is practicing all of them still. I opened a new pack of cards we got from a sale and discovered they actually had colorful pictures of fish and that they had the names of the fish underneath. So the kids had fun learning about different fish as well.
Friday they had finished the lapbooks and I thought they deserved some fun so I let them use the computer for some fun free games

To finish off our week. We planned a fun field trip for the kids to have pony rides. The rain in the morning made me wonder if we should cancel. But we decided to perservere and we got to the farm a couple of hours from home to find...more rain. While we waited for the sunny spot to come we were treated to looking around the barn at the horses. And the farmer brought her miniature horses in from the field. They hadn't been in all summer and they were filthy and full of burrs. She let the kids brush them down. I got in on it. What fun! Except we tried to avoid the manes and burrs.

We all had our favorite horses out of the stable. DD liked the Pinto, DS like the Bay Pony he was going to ride 'Echo', DH liked one that was a Dappled Grey and I fell in love with the nuzzling big Bay. And finally the sun arrived. We lead Sugar and Echo, the ponies out to the riding ring and the kids we so happy to get a mini riding lesson. My DS such a city slicker kept saying 'look I am driving!' It was so much fun and the kids didn't want to leave.

I told them we could go back as they also had a trout pond we could fish in.
And then one the way home we spied by the side of the road a huge flock of Canadian Geese preparing to leave for the winter.
And with them a flock of thirty or more Sandhill Cranes.
Further down the road we caught sight of someone waiting to cross and stopped to get a picture and closer look. I don't recall seeing one of these guys so far north since I was a little girl many moons ago. DH helped the fellow off the shoulder of the road so it didn't get hit.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Check This Out If You Are A Homeschool Blogger.

I just stumbled on this when looking for info. I thought others who homeschool with blogs may be interested. :)
Join Me at The Homeschool Post!
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Week three, term one, dragonflies and robotics.

So this past week was shorter for us because we take the time Dad gets off to have family time. We went fishing again, had a family bbq, saw some really amazing wildlife along the way and just generally had a lot of fun.
The three days we had for school seemed to short to get into a big lesson on anything. So I prepared a dragonfly lesson for my daughter to continue in her bug scrap/lap book via her request. I also continued with reading and got her going on Starfall.com again. I was really happily surprised to see that she was trying more to get her letters and sounds right. She needed little prompting and whizzed through her workbook activities on beginning sounds. My little visual learner is creating some of the most artistic letters, each one doing something unique. I could focus on her trying to make them the way they 'should' be or I could realize this is her getting an opportunity like very few to be creative and imaginative and learn in a way that suits her. When I see the detail and intense emotions she puts into her creations I know I am on some good unexplored path and I hope it continues.
My son, budding robotics engineer, had the opportunity to make from the ground up a small robot. He learned how to use a hot glue gun and soldering iron. He learned patience is needed and not to be frustrated when things need readjusting. And he had a wonderful time.

He also learned some of robotics background information and notebooked on his findings. We studied parts of the Nasa program at http://prime.jsc.nasa.gov/ROV/ the Rover Ranch.
He initiated learning to read more of the complex words by having me read and point to each word. I would say his ability to pick up new words and there pronunciation is quite impressive.
After his lessons and copywork, we took the time to explore further what the periodic table was and he made a homemade spectrometer. The spectrometer allowed us to see the color spectrum that various light makes. It was surprisely simple to make and we have put it in a special box for further experimentations.

Today we finally are having nice fall weather and so DH and the kids are getting a start on the new front deck. It's slow going with the clay nature of the soil.
And I am finishing up this weeks lesson on horses. Which I am so excited for, I think the kids are really going to enjoy this week. We have a list of three movies to watch and discuss. And a field trip to a ranch at the end of the week for some real pony rides just for them. :) Shhh it's a surprise they don't know about the lessons usually before we begin so that way I don't hear when we have to do copywork or something mundane 'when are we going to....'. I am also pretty happy with the clever topic add in's on genetics and measuring :) This unit study thing could be a fantastic way to learn if it provided a more balanced approach to learning.
And of course we plod along with french lessons although DD is still complaining about having to learn it. :(

DD asked me the cutest question the other night at dinner. 'Mom is public school over?'
'Yes.' I responded. 'And how does that make you feel?'
A look of relief flooded her and she said 'good now I won't have to say everyday how much I hate school.' :0P
Which is what she said pretty much all the last term of PS last year. She detested the 'criss cross applesauce' of circle time, as she is tall and sitting cross legged for a prolonged period was really hurting her back.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Our Classroom!

So finally I have a working computer :) I can now post pictures of our classroom. It works for us for now. This is our first full year homeschooling and we decided that having a space allocated for book work or lessons would be more functional then not. The room used to a storage room. Imagine it if you will piled box upon box high with little to no room to enter. And my apologies for the color being slightly off.

French Corner and Library with workboxes, workbooks, encylcopedias, dictionary, extra storage on top shelf.

Double Cupboards for storing future curriculum and extras. I also put teacher supplies in here and any done work that I want to hang onto.

Bulletin Board that changes monthly to reflect things we will be studying. Computer Corner not fully functional yet. But soon I hope :)

Our whiteboards. One is hung lower for DD five to use for writing. And our alphabet up above borders the wall. Also a cutout of numbers one through ten in french and english.

Our art area. We used an old side table with two bar stools we picked up yard saling. And mounted in the wall is a piece of wood that DH cut holes into to set cups in for pencils, marker, crayons, scissors, glue and so on.

I put above the art desk a small bulletin board for some of their drawings and or work.

Our word wall with small magnetic board is opposite the art centre.

On the back of the class door I hung one of those shoe bags and put our flashcard sets in it. And on the opposing door to the furnace room I put a school schedule so the kids and I can keep track of upcoming appt's or field trips.

Overall I am pretty happy with our class organization so far. I miss my storage(junk) room but in a way it is better to not have a catch all room anymore. :) I love that the class opens into the main recroom which is used for a playroom and school as well. We have a sectional that has an octagon coffee table for playing file folder games on or board games. It's nice to sit on the couch for reading times and talks. And we have charts and a globe there as well for learning.
In the main part of the home we try to keep it home and not school. However I did post the kids dino mural over the back of the couch. Mostly because it was the only place large enough to accomodate such a large piece of work. I hope you have enjoyed your tour of our indoor classroom as much as I have had making it up.
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Friday, September 3, 2010

Squirrels and Going Squirrely!

So as much as I hate to say this I wish my kids would be cookie cutter kids some days. I wish on occasion that they would be little office workers who follow their instructions to the T. But...reality sets in my son ,7, who has issues with writing anything..is flopping on the desk and moaning. No he isn't sick, he is moaning because I am asking him to.. GASP.. copy five words off the board onto a mini book. It is exasperating to say the least to have him whining, breaking one of are school rules, and procrastinating for no reason other then in my mind sheer laziness. This was following hot on the heels of DD ,5, who threw a holy fit over having to actually use scissors to cut out a rectangle of paper. "I CAN'T DO IT!" she yells as her mantra every time she becomes frustrated. Sometimes it seems like they wish I would do their work for them. I have to explain I have already gone to school and done all of the work. And in fact I am still doing the work to bring it before them. It takes the patience of a saint some days to make it through without throwing a fit of my own. Yes I dare say this past week I went a little squirrely waiting for work to be completed and attitudes to adjust.
That being said. They absorbed..somehow the information that they were taught. Their squirrel lapbooks were completed beautifully and french lessons continued. I think when I am able, my good computer died, I will post a page for showing off projects whether they are art or lapbooks.
All that aside last weekend we had a lovely family outing with our canoe to a scenic and very private rock island with tall pine trees. We canoed across the small inlet to a beach bordered by forest and got to experience first hand the tutting of a red squirrel who didn't appreciate our company so close to it's home. The dog had come with us. She isn't much for getting wet and it showed as she waited for DH to gingerly lift her out of the canoe and onto shore. Getting back into the canoe she apparently thought she would be left behind. So she made a fantastic yet very ungraceful bound back into the canoe.
We saw an interesting underwater grotto hole likely for the otters we had observed swimming there the previous year. Or perhaps it belonged to the beavers who also were near by.
We fished and caught nothing other then sunburned faces. DS was so discouraged since he could see the Pumpkinseeds right there in the water. "Ah well next time," I told him.
September is going to be a whirlwind as I have a craft show in early October to prepare for. And the kids swimming starts. I also managed to get a hold of the Girl Guides for my DD who is very excited to get going. My DH and myself are also going to be building a new front deck for the house before the ground freezes. We will be using some of the wonderful boards he earned for time spent at a friends sawmill. The idea was to start the digging of posts this long labor day weekend. But rain has been coming down now most of the week making the ground very wet. We may have to dig it anyway as time is short here in the North and winter freeze will come by the end of October. The kids are eager to help with the digging as they love getting in the muck.
I was really disappointed with the dying of my computer as I wasn't able to pull all this past years pictures off of it before it gave up the ghost. Happily I did manage to save my favorites. So now I can keep adding to this blog the links for the unit studies when I have more free time.
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