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Thursday, July 31, 2014

How You Can Learn From Geoboxing.

It's been a few years now that we have been homeschooling.. In the beginning we tried various swap groups it was a real let down when you put all of your creativity into making a cool flat traveler or card and never received one in response despite your best efforts that can happen.
What we have learned is that some groups are more prone to that because of the anonymous nature of the groups. One year the kids made Christmas stockings and filled them with special goodies for a stocking swap. They were so excited by the prospect of getting a stocking in return. They never got those stockings. It was really disheartening so we took a break from swaps for a year or so.
Then we discovered Homeschool Swapping Adventures on Facebook run by Jenny Morris. Wow! She runs a tight ship. If you don't participate you will get tossed from the group after two missed swaps. The group runs postcard swaps, birthday card swaps, flat traveler swaps, state map swaps, and of course the Geo Box swaps. This was her brain child. I would like to add it is costly to do a good Geo Box...so we are limiting them to the summer months when things around here are a little slower and we have more time to go out into nature to source some cool natural items.
This month we were set to swap with a family in Louisiana. What fun when the package arrived. There's always the anticipation of what may or may not be included. Generally a welled packed box will include some brochures and other local information. What else it may include is always a surprise. It's a terrific way for children to take a virtual tour of a region and learn more about it.

This Geo Box was a huge success with Cajun chips, Praline candy, cotton from plantation, maps, postcards, a crawfish magnet, an alligator keychain, jumbalaya mix, a small cookbook, a state map, and a wonderful write up about Louisiana as well as several activity pages. Be sure to tune in tomorrow to see what we have in store for them!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day Tripping in the North.

Day trips are a favorite pastime with our family. We love to get out in nature and enjoy everything this great piece of the Canadian Shield has to offer. One enjoyable trip we try to do at least once a year is to the Canadian Carver in Pancake Bay, Ontario. It's full of wonderful gifts but more exciting to us, is to look at all the terrific woodcarvings made by Canadian artists. It's about an hour up the Trans Canada Hwy to get there from here but well worth the drive.

Today the kids were hoping to squeeze in some summer swimming along the shore of Lake Superior. It's only +13C though with a gusting wind. When you see white caps on the water it generally means a storm is brewing and it's pretty nippy. Not to be deterred they still waded in a bit braving the waves and chill. This gave me a chance to beachcomb anyway so it was good. I found some really interesting things to add to our next Geo-Box which is destined for Louisiana but more on that in another post I think.

Chestnut Grove Academy Field Trip Friday Blog Hop

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Canadian Content Sources.

With school around the corner you may be asking yourself if finding Canadian curriculum or content is even a necessary piece of the homeschool environment. We can't answer that question for you. However we would like to share with you some choices you may not be aware of. All of these materials, companies, and resources that we are sharing with you aren't ones we've tried necessarily nor are we being paid in anyway to share themwith you. I just believe in helping other homeschoolers locate materials that may prove useful to them.


The Homeschool Beaver







Kaleeka Press

Maple Tree Publications

Solid Oak Publishing Canadian History

As you may know this is far from a complete list. There are other good Canadian materials and products out there. We will attempt to keep you abreast of all new information. So be sure to check back often for other great resource opportunities. Our other pages also have wonderful links to free resources too.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chore Talk.

Raising children is an ongoing task. For years I have been 'training' the kids to do this chore or that chore. We have used incentive programs and we have used various programs like the chore jar popsicle stick method  to get them involved. My view is if we are all home and making messes we all pitch in to keep things tidy and clean.
Finally after years of struggle I am seeing an end at the tunnel. Why? Consistency folks. It boils done to that one hard to follow rule. I am spending my summer 'vacation' from book work to train the kids to do their chores.
Get up, take care of pets (they each have one), have breakfast, get dressed, tidy rooms, and pick one or two voluntary chores that aren't something too simple. If they have clothes to put away they have to do that too. My goal is to have them get this done so that come September they can do it without prompting and they can do it speedily so we can hit the books before noon...dawdling seems to be a pastime here. I know it doesn't sound like a lot but when they have so much bookwork during fall/winter I didn't want to make it overly difficult. Also sticking to a routine should in theory make it easier for them to remember the steps to make the day flow more smoothly.
Now what that means is all the other chores will be left to me. Well I don't mind if I know they are doing their part. It's actually nice to see them pick out their chores for the day and do them without any complaining. Why because they have the freedom to choose. So yes somedays they may choose something as small as tidy couch cushions and other days it may be sweep the floors. My job now is to make a list of chores for them to pick from so they don't overlook certain things.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Accepting the Clutter as Messy Perfection.

When I started homeschooling I was like a lot of housewives. I prided myself on my clean and orderly home. Clutter was kept to a minimum and cleaning was scheduled regularly. Okay maybe I had aspirations of living in one of those glossy magazine images. But when you have kids and definitely when you are busily homeschooling cleaning can take a back seat to enjoying the fullness of life. So as time passed I struggled on letting go of the immaculate counter tops, sparkling clean floors, and neatly put away laundry. Then it occurred to me. Do these things really matter. You may have noticed as I have that dishes are always seemingly dirty, there's an endless line of laundry in the tub, and food is always being consumed leaving crumb trails here and there. So I could succumb to the insanity I was feeling over my glossy magazine dream slipping away or I could accept this new normal. Acceptance doesn't come easily for this perfectionist. It's something I regularly struggle with. My house isn't magazine perfect but when I asked the kids if they noticed the HUGE mess we had in our livingroom one day and they replied that 'No, it's just our cozy home.' It hit me like a tonne of bricks. Kids do not care if they have picture perfect homes. It's the love between the walls that matter. Of course I am not going to slip into complete slobdom. However choosing to let small irksome messes not be irksome but rather viewing them as messy perfection. The perfection lying in the fact that it's orderly in it's disorder rather than immaculate. Cleaning will always need doing and it's evidence of having lived so embrace it.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Fairy Kingdom 2014.

 This year after much admiring of other fairy gardens all winter, my daughter and I decided to undertake a fairy garden that was a little different. Why be confined to a small area when we had a whole area of yard freshly filled in. We had a large pond in our yard for a number of years but decided we wanted to fill it back in this year. Although I do miss the birds and other wildlife that came to have baths and drinks from it. I admit this fairy kingdom is coming along nicely.
The main part of the garden is separated from the upper garden area by the fence by a walkway aka the bridge we had over the old pond. We thought why not make the fairies have a whole village and then make a castle. Currently the castle is on hold until I find a better adhesive for stone work.
I wanted to share some of the gardens features with you though as it has been so much fun working on it this summer.

Our little clothesline...clothing still in the works
Three mini whirlygigs for the fairies to gauge
wind speeds before take off.

The fairies love moss. We have both scotch and
irish moss in the garden. They also like to corral
animals on occasion for fun. Here we have a wee
hedgehog rounded up.
The fairies are art enthusiasts. Many statuary fill the
kingdom accenting the foliage and making it
a more pleasing environment for them.
The fisherman fairy home is right next to the pond.
Basking in the sun is a small green frog. In the background
you can see wire and paint flowers. The idea for those was
found on Pinterest with a few tweaks to make it work.

The fairy tree of lights. Made from sticks and twine.
The tree features marble and wire lights. Our friend
the owl has taken up residence.

We hope you have enjoyed your tour so far. As the garden progresses throughout the season we will be sure to add more pics.


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Pinterest the Revolution!

 You know when I was growing up etch a sketch was the coolest toy on the market. Internet was a word not in our vocabulary. Computers were just hitting the market at insane prices and had black screens with green dot matrix writing. If you wanted to be creative you had to do it yourself. I once made a fancy pattern on paper and showed it to my mother. She smiled and said that although it was lovely she was certain someone somewhere had already made that pattern. I couldn't claim it was an original design. As disheartened as I was at the time when she told me that, I realize now it's true. Since first getting my internet ready computer 14 years ago I have seen many shifts in cyberspace. I delved in wholeheartedly to learning the ins and the outs. I spent hours learning html with CoffeeCup programming. I made websites because it was easy and the thing to do.
Fast forward fourteen years. I had to take a lot of time away from developing my skills online to raising kids. Something I love doing. I easily get bored with one skill set and trade it in for something new anyway. One reason I make a great housewife but lousy employee. Well anyway, what I have noticed since beginning homeschooling is a large amount of uncreative, regurgitated work online. Copy and paste rules supreme. I have also found that as I continue to homeschool and the days are eaten up with school, housework, and life that I have less time and energy to spend on my own creative thoughts.
 Enter Pinterest. It has revolutionized my life. I can go there and freely find ideas to help in any area of my life. Whether it's cooking, homeschooling, building things, or art. It's all the internet blobbed together in one comprehensive site. I no longer find myself needing to Google things and look at the images they have. I can find all the ideas I need on Pinterest.
So if you haven't already become a Pinteresting person I encourage you to go. It may seem a tad confusing when you first join. Give it a week to familiarize yourself with the site. It's like having a wellspring of information in one easy to navigate site that links you to the rest of the internet. Pinning ideas to boards (saving them in folders) for later and knowing your information won't be lost when your computer crashes next. Oh we've all been there. You're using your trusty computer when boom it suddenly starts acting up and everything is lost. Well that won't happen with Pinterest.
So if you are unsure of what it's about try searching through these great homeschooling Mom boards by clicking on the image below.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Letter of Intent for Ontario Residents.

Every year the same questions seem to be asked by the new homeschool crowd. So for any Ontario resident who may stumble across this blog. Should you not know how to proceed it's quite simple. Fill out a letter of intent which can be found on the OFTP (Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents) website here. Send it in to your local school board and they will send a return form saying your child is exempt from regular schooling because you are teaching them at home. You don't have to wait to get permission. Begin homeschooling as soon as you are ready and able. Picking curriculum can be a tough thing but there are great review sites out there. As well we have a review page here on our site for materials we have used. Good luck and enjoy the adventure!
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Friday, July 18, 2014

New Look and News

So you came here looking for a blue page with pencils? Find our new look instead? We hope you like it as much as we do. In an effort to streamline the page and see it grow this year we needed to make a change. Please note we have coupled our environmental science links page with the science page. All the links remain the same. We did away with our early learning resource page as our children are reaching middle school age. We also dropped our unit studies page as it was clunky and not as functional as we would have liked. You can still find all the other great free resource links as before.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Learning Never Ends.

Summertime is cool this year in Northern Ontario. We have to come up with ideas to keep us amused on occasion inside as well as out when the rain and wind kicks in. So today while the kids were playing I was investigating how to blog more efficiently. How to find and add affiliate links. Affiliate what? Affiliate links are links that lead you to another site, generally a business. It's a form of advertising which is said to skyrocket in the next few years. I was happy to find easily a few companies offering such programs.

Why would I want to do this you may be asking yourself. Why add ads when one doesn't have to. The affiliate programs make you money. Monetizing blogs is a relatively easy way to make some cash on the side. The thing is when you are completely new to this world it's very confusing. Jargon abounds and that's why I thank my lucky stars that I don't mind learning new skills. Ten years ago I didn't even know about blogs. Five years ago I started to investigate and begin this  blog.

Homeschooling isn't just for the kids. Being a teaching mother means learning to learn along with the kids and showing them that learning can be fun and beneficial as well. I hope that by sharing this journey with you, you too can learn how to monetize your blog. Of couse as time goes by I will also be sharing our adventures with you.
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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Summer time!

Normally summer has meant year round schooling. We decided this year to take off the nice months of the year. In Canada there are so few anyway. Most of the winter is book work and we needed the break.
So we put the books away, got out the sandals, and sunblock and got to work on a large fairy garden..pics to come.. We started learning wire crafting to make some decorations for the garden. We leaned landscape design with garden making, laying of landscape fabric, soil, mulch, plants. My son has also developed an interest in herbs and their medicinal, culinary, and aromatherapy uses. So we devoted our deck planter to herbs and tucked some into our small urban vegetable garden. Which can hardly be considered anything other then a learning experience it's so small. Each year we plant a couple of favorites like peas and tomatoes and try one or two new crop plants. So this year we have nestled in four baby cabbages, a small row of spinach, and some beans. All will be very much appreciated and enjoyed come harvest time. With the rain we've been getting lately the garden is also growing a lovely selection of weeds which need pulling. Our daughter is headed off to her first summer camp experience. One week away from home! I don't know who is more nervous her or I. I went to this camp as a child around the same age as her. It's hard to believe looking back some thirty years that it was my life. So many changes along the road of life. So after this rambling post I just wanted to assure you my readership that I will be posting pics of the gardens very soon.
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