Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day #15/175 Days

I know that some of the boys worked on their Co-Op projects (famous people this week) since we only have a week between meetings.

Some of the boys also practiced their piano.

Some of the boys listened to Jonathan Park CDs.

We definitely went to AWANA – two hours of instruction and PE.

Short – simple – and totally an “unschooling” day

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day #14/175 days – Co-Op

To say our homeschooling co-op days are busy would be a huge understatement. We left the house at 8am and didn’t arrive back home until about 4:30pm.

Our co-op is currently focusing on Maine studies. Today the children presented their projects on Maine history. They each randomly picked a 25 year history period and had to find at least one thing that occurred during that time frame and present it to the group.

We also had them construct a simple timeline. We hung a large piece of yellow yarn in the hallway. Each group was assigned a 3x5 index card in a certain color (5-7 year olds = white, 8-11 year olds = blue, and 12+ = yellow). They each wrote one fact on the card and then hung it in the hallway in the proper spot.

Once again my 12+ group finished all their projects before snack time. I had them pick their topics for next meeting. We are focusing on famous people. I convinced a few of them to take two people so maybe we’ll be able to spread it out a bit more.

The older group once again headed out to the softball field for a game of kickball. This time it was two girls/two boys on each team. It was also hot! As in almost 80 degrees at the send of September! They played for about 45 minutes (so PE is covered for this group of kids including Lego-Man).

From here we headed to the local park and I let the boys have some more fun time (PE!) after we ate lunch. I wanted to make sure we had plenty of time from the end of co-op until our classes start at LC Bates – we do.

We also took the time to drop off our year end paperwork for 4-H (yeah!).

The class at LC Bates today (for the younger group) was all about school in the early 1900s. I took a lot of photos but since many other kids are visible in them I’ll only be posting a few of Happy.

Our teacher today was Miss Serena (she is fabulous btw!).


She is holding an original book used at the Good-Will Hinckely School for boys during that time. She taught the kids about how the children back then would have to sit quietly and with correct posture (sit up straight!) and raise their hand and (gasp!) line up alphabetically to go anywhere. They had some practice with this since we began upstairs in the museum, went downstairs for some in class time, outside for some game time, and back inside so the kids could try the quills/pens and ink, chalk, and other school items.


The kids (and moms) had a great time learning with Miss Serena.

It was fun to watch the kids try to write on the slates (originals again!) and chalk.


They were suppose to write their name four times on the slate to practice penmanship.  


I was amazed at how well Happy wrote his two “A’s”! He never writes this well for me. I may have to put in a bigger chalkboard.

I was disappointed to find out that the older kids had done the toy segment today. Last time the younger group did it and I was with the older group then. I’m hoping some of the moms in the older group snapped some photos.

We have two more classes at LC Bates and then we’re ending with a field trip to the Maine State Museum (one of my favorite places to go!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day #13/175 Days

Did I mention we’re getting off to a pathetically slow start this year? My fault entirely.

Today was a very quiet day. The boys worked on their CBC Homeschooling projects which are – ohhhh…. – due tomorrow. And it’s on a 25 year period of Maine history.

Lego-Man received 1926-1950. He is focusing on WWII and the air bases in Maine. He discovered some interesting facts about the Bangor International Airport so plans to share that.

Conductor received 2001-2010. I have to say I absolutely love what he came up with completely and totally on his own. I told him we needed to look at what happened in Maine history. He replied, “Mom, I was born, doesn’t that count?” Absolutely my son! We put together a simple genealogy chart and he is bringing in a small 5x7 album I made of him after he was born. I love this kid.

Happy, well, happy has to rely fully and totally on me since he can neither read nor write quite yet. I swapped his dates with another mom who really wanted 1976-2000. We ended up with 1776-1800. Since I can’t typically be there to help him with his report since I’m supposed to be supervising the teen room, I knew it had to be simple and easy. It was…Maine people wanted to be separate from Massachusetts. It took them 40 years. Here is a map of what the colonies looked like then (see how tiny Maine was?) and here is a map of what we look like today. The end.

Due to the large amount of time moms were having to put in on the projects for the 5-7 year old group, we are doing away with them. (Yeah!) Starting this coming week they will be working on a lapbook based on Blueberries for Sal and studying Maine, the book, and bears.

Our afternoon was once again full with piano lessons. I’m loving piano lessons!

As soon as we were done at piano lessons I checked my cell phone and saw that my hubby had left me a message. He had left last Friday for camp to go moose hunting. A huge deal since they only give out so many permits for this each year and he finally was picked during the lottery this past summer. He was letting us know he had shot a moose on Monday and was home (!!!) with it right then so we needed to get there quick to see it before he took it to the butcher! The rest of our afternoon plans were cancelled - much to the boy's delight (grocery shopping was on the agenda) and we headed home to get a lesson in moose anatomy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day #12/175 Days – Fine Arts Co-Op

Today was our second time trying our “Fine Arts” mini co-op with my sister. It’s definitely a challenge at times to make the boys understand this is school time and not play time. They get about 20-30 minutes when we first start to play while my sister and I get ready to go. Then we have at least an hour for lunch (it only takes them half that time to eat) and then they have more time at the end to play as well.

We really do cover a lot of ground which is good since we only meet twice a month.

  • Read in Story of the Orchestra about the flute.
  • Listened to the track in SOTO as well.
  • Pulled out a real flute for the boys to try out. They were all able to make a sound with it. (Happy did not get to try as he’s just getting over being ill.)
  • Listed four things on the chalkboard that they learned about the flute.
  • Copied three of them in to their mini-books on the flute
  • Read about the piano in Story of the Orchestra
  • Listened to the track with the piano (all the boys are either currently taking lessons on the piano – mine- or have in the past – my nephew)
  • List four things on the chalkboard about the piano
  • Copy three of them in to their mini-book on the piano
  • Our composer today was Mozart. We read about him in Meet the Great Composers.
  • We also use the Young Scholar’s Guide to the Composers as well and as my sister reads from there they boys fill in the Student Review pages.
  • List four things about Mozart on the chalkboard.
  • Pick two to write in the mini-book on him.
  • Listen to some of his work on the CD from Meet the Great Composers

LUNCH BREAK! The boys were off and running. I did get a bit distracted this morning and never mentioned it to the boys as I didn’t want to disrupt the flow of work. These “things” have been visiting our yard just about daily:


After lunch we began our art study. We are covering art history, an artist study, and art application. For art history we are using videos by Barry Stebbing. We are also using videos from him for our art application. We are using a variety of resources for our artist study. Since I lead the art study, there aren’t any photos. I’ll have to have my sister snap some next time.

  • Watch Lesson 2 in “God & the History of Art” on The 2nd Commandment and how this pertains to art. Discuss.
  • Watch Lesson 1 in “Beginning Drawing” (only did the first 10 mins) The boys drew basic geometric shapes, a pencil, a paintbrush, and a 3D object.
  • Discussed how basic shapes show up in all drawings.
  • Read about Botticelli in Art in Story
  • Viewed some of his paintings online including:
    • Primavera
    • Man with a Medal
    • The Magnificat
    • Madonna of the Book (rectangle and round shapes)
    • The Annunciation
    • Adoration of the Magi
  • Discuss the paintings – using Art in Story
  • Used Discovering Great Artists and had the boys create a drawing on round paper.

We broke here for a walk in the woods. It has been raining a lot lately and this seemed like a good time to burn off some energy since it wasn’t currently raining. We took to the logging roads behind my house.


At each intersection we took turns picking which direction to go. This helped lengthen the walk. We spent 30 minutes enjoying the fall day. And this was near the end of our walk…


Our favorite spot on our property – the town line. The boys are in two places at once!

When we returned we discussed the different things we had seen on our fall walk. We talked about Botticelli’s paintings Primavera which is intended to depict spring and the things about it that would suggest that. We also looked at his painting “Autumn” and what would suggest that season in the painting. They then had to create a drawing of what fall/autumn means to them.

Next time we’ll be studying the cello and organ and Haydn during our music study. We’ll continue with our art history and art application lessons but I’m not sure who we will do for our artist yet. We forgot to make a list of those to study at the start of the year so I just pick one when putting together our check list.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day #11/175 Days

Our 4-H group is participating in a fun project right now. It’s called “Money Camp.” Today was our second time meeting. The kids presented the projects they were going to work on to make some money.

Let me back up a bit. They kids who are participating in this series of classes are being encouraged to come up with their own small business idea. They are to think of something they can create, create it, market it, and then sell it. This will also help them when they get ready to do their 4-H projects next year.

Their homework was to come up with their product. Before we disussed that too much, however, the teacher showed a number of products she bought from a 4-H booth at one of the fairs. This gave everyone an idea on how to price items and what to make.

Then they went around the room and shared what they planned to do.

For instance…one girl is going to make bath salts and things of that nature. We brainstormed ways she could package them to make them look really nice. One boy is going to make duct tape belts and wallets. We talked about how he could possibly do custom orders while selling them.

My two boys who are old enough to be full-fledge 4-H members are going to participate as well. Lego-Man will be making photo collages to sell. Conductor will be making paper airplanes. We came up with a catapult design that really flies well. He could also potentially do custom orders as these are not time consuming to make.

We meet again in a couple of weeks and will continue finalizing plans to get a tables at local craft fairs.

I know that this money camp was another reason I decided to start my own Etsy store. 4-H is not just for kids!


We had two hours of AWANA club tonight as well.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day #10/175 Days – Art Class

A friend of mine set up a series of monthly art classes. Those who were interested could sign up for one or all. I obviously chose all. Today was our first day. The classes are held in a small studio located about 40 minutes north of where we live. Remember, we live in the middle of no where and everything is at least a 30 minute drive for us.

We had taken an art class at the same studio earlier in the year and it was packed! The primary focus of this artist is clay and pottery and the kids were given as much clay as they wanted to that day to create as many things as they wanted. Not bad for $10/child!

Today our focus was on papermaking. There were only seven students total so it was much easier to move around and snap photos of the process – which I did.


The artist (Karen) already had the paper pulp ready to go. She did give a short mini-lesson on the history of paper and what it was made from. Living in Maine, most of the kids understand that it’s made from trees. In fact, two of the towns we frequent often for various things have large paper mills in them and large amount of families in Maine are supported by the paper and logging industries.

She took each child through the process so that they would know how to do it. One thing I love about these classes is that she doesn’t take a lot of “talking time.” She even said that herself. She likes to show the process and then pretty much let the kids have at it. She then can go around and help as needed.

Here is Conductor going through the papermaking process….

Step #1 – Scoop up some water and pulp on to your screen.


Step #2 – Remove the top part of the frame (the deckle?) and make sure your pulp mix looks good to you. This is also where you could add larger pieces of pulp or make “windows” in the paper (i.e. holes) for added interest.


Step #3 – Flip the screen and remaining piece of wooden frame over on to a piece of scrap wood. Karen said she was trying to figure out a way for the kids to be able to take all their paper home on that day. She ended up going to the transfer station (i.e. dump) and scavenging some large pieces of wood. We all left with the back of our vehicles filled with scraps of wood with paper drying on them.


Step #4 – Rub your hands along the screen with the frame still in place to remove some of the water. (No photo of this step.)

Step #5 - Remove the other piece of the frame.  Place a large piece of white felt on top of the screen and begin patting it to remove as much water as possible from the paper.


Step #6 – Check to make sure the paper will remain on the wood by lifting the screen. If not, continue patting the felt until drier.  Remove felt. Slowly peel screen off.


And there you have it – a piece of paper!


This is a piece of paper that Karen passed around at the start of the class. It looks like mulberry paper (for those who scrapbook or card make) but it’s heavier.


Yes, Happy and Lego-Man had a blast making paper too. In fact, Lego-Man made about six sheets! Near the end I even got in on the act. I love doing things like this.




I can’t wait until next month. We’re going to be doing “pottery vessels” and I hear tell we get a turn at the wheel!

I forgot to mention that we also had our second piano lesson following art class. I had packed lunch and we had some time to kill so we headed to a local park to play. Some of our friends from class came with us so our "unsocialized" homeschoolers had a chance to work on those oft neglected social skills. Sorry - I know - the sarcasm just comes out like that at times.

The kids had a fantastic time as did I - getting to chat with another mom - even if it was about co-op planning. ;-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day #9/175 Days

Our first “official” day at home. I’ll be honest though – I still haven’t planned out everything. Even though, we still had a nice productive day today.
  • We began our day with a walk. We went about two miles total and a lot of it was up some pretty steep hills. A good workout and a nice way to start the day.
  • Lego-Man & Conductor took a Spelling Placement test. I do this 2-3 times a year. I use Spell to Write and Read as our spelling basis and they have a very good spelling diagnostic test. They boys are making slow progress but definite progress.
  • Happy & Conductor both took turns trying out a review product for the TOS Crew. We’ll be reviewing Talking Fingers next month.
  • Happy is the guinea pig for another TOS Crew product from Greek n’ Stuff. We’ll be learning the Greek alphabet. This will be interesting since Happy still hasn’t even learned how to read English.
  • I started back to reading aloud. We’ve been working through the Little House on the Prairie books. We’re currently on By the Shores of Silver Lake.
  • Happy & Conductor worked on their AWANA verses. Happy is working on memorizing all the books of the New Testament.
  • They all practiced their piano.
  • Conductor & Lego-Man took some time to work on Mathletics.
  • Conductor took a trip to the Rainforest via Digital Frog. Another TOS Crew review project that I’ll be reviewing next month.
  • We ended our day with AWANA club.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day #8/175 Days – Co-Op

Today was our first official co-op day.  There are things that will need to be tweaked still but overall it’s working out okay. We have three groups and while I started out in the middle group, I’ll be with the older group most of the time. Our group breakdown is ages 5-7, ages 8-11, and ages 12 & up.

Today the children presented their projects they had created on the geography or climate or animals of Maine. The older group whizzed through this and after snack they had a rousing game of kick-ball – boys vs. girls. The girls came back from being down 10 to nothing to loose by only one point. They’ve asked to keep playing next week.


Our next get together – on the 29th – will focus on the history of Maine. At the end of class, they children each drew randomly a 25 year period from 1700 up to 2010. They will then present 1-2 things that occurred that affected Maine history. We hope to create a timeline of their findings.

After a break for lunch and time to play on the playground, we headed to L.C. Bates Museum for the second of five classes we’re taking there.

Class began outside today with dress up clothes. All the children sat on the steps and a few were selected to try on clothes like those worn in the late 1800s-early 1900s. They kids had a great time with this.

After we split in to our two groups. The older kids (ages 9 & up) went in to the classroom and watched a slide show of old photos taken in a nearby town. It was fun to try to pinpoint where the spots were now in modern times. While they did this the younger kids were outside playing with old-fashioned toys. Apparently they had a fantastic time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day #7/175 Days

Today was an “in between day” full of lots of outside activities spread throughout the day.
The boys worked on completing their projects for co-op that meets tomorrow. Lego-Man is doing a presentation on forest animals of Maine. Conductor is doing a presentation on the National Parks in Maine. Happy is doing a presentation on winter in Maine.

They also worked on completing their judging cards for 4-H. We are entering their projects in the last fair (for us) on Wednesday. The boys do not give me as much trouble over doing this now that they have seen the money they can earn for a small amount of time. Now I just need them to finish the rest of the paperwork for the year end.

Our last bit of the day was piano lessons for all (including me). I found an older homeschool girl (graduated but still home) who has been teaching for a bit. We have a two hour block on Tuesday afternoons for all four of us to take lessons. Today we all received our books and began. I think it’s going to be a good fit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day #6/175 Days – Fine Arts

My sister and I started talking about a month ago about ways to incorporate more of the fine arts in our school year. She came up with the idea of a little mini co-op with just the two of us. One time a month we all head south to her house and the other meeting she comes up here to ours.

We meet at the end of August and planned out what we were going to study. We are using some videos by Barry Stebbing for our art history and drawing lessons. We are using a hodge-podge of other materials to round out everything else.

Today was our first class day. Overall it was a good day. We realized we have too much reading planned for the music appreciation time so we may end up changing that a bit.

Mornings are reserved for music while after lunch is art time. My sister will lead the music time and I will lead the art time.
  • We began reading in Story of the Orchestra about the violin.
  • We listened to the recommended track of the Story of the Orchestra CD of the violin.
  • We listed four things the boys learned about violins on the white board. They then choose three to copy on to their mini books (found at Homeschool Share).
  • Read about the harpsichord in Story of the Orchestra
  • Listened to the recommended tracks
  • Listed four things (one from each boy) and they created their mini books for this instrument as well.
  • Read about Bach in Meet the Great Composers
  • Read more about Bach from A Young Scholar’s Guide to the Composers book.
  • While reading from the above book, the boys had the Student Review pages. Anytime they thought they had heard the answer to a question, they raised their hand, read the question, and answered it. This kept them pretty engaged.
  • Listened to the CD track from Meet the Great Composers of one of Bach’s songs. We had the boys try to pick out violins or harpsichord.
At this point we figured the boys had done enough music. We had wanted to read from Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers but thought it would be too much sitting at this point. There are also notebook pages as part of the Young Scholar’s book but the rebelling over writing had started so we saved this as “homework.”
We let them go have some fun play time while we made lunch. After lunch we tackled art.
  • Watched Lesson 1 of Barry Stebbing’s “God and the History of Art.” This covered “What is Art?”
  • We created color wheels using tempera paint. The boys were given red, yellow, blue, green, and purple and had to create all the other colors needed from those (including orange).
  • I read to them from Art in Story about Rembrandt.
  • We then looked at a lot of portraits (self and otherwise) in a book I have of Rembrandt. The reproductions in it were very well done. We talked about what the people in the paintings may have been and what clues we saw in the painting to support that.
  • The boys then created their own self-portraits simply using paper and pencil.
  • We also talked about etchings and how Rembrandt created those. There were some examples in my book as well so we looked at those.
  • We used some simple etching kits picked up at the Dollar Store to create our own etchings.
Overall a full and productive day.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Day #5/175 Days – Field Trip

Every year there is a fort here in Maine that hosts a Medieval Festival. For that one day everyone pretends they are in a castle rather than an old garrison for soldiers on the river.


It’s always a lot of fun. I was able to convince my boys to go check it out and we met up with my sister and another great friend of ours and spent the afternoon exploring the fort, watching knights battle it out on the lawn, listen to authentic music, and just enjoy the day together.


The best part were two “knights” who were stationed outside the fort entrance. They had all kinds of chain mail, weapons, and helmets for the kids to try on. They were great and answered any and all questions. The boys had a great time touching items and trying them on.

blog3  blog4

The night before we left, I remembered I had an old “Robin Hood” costume from a history fair we had done. It fit Conductor and he was eager to wear it. Happy was sad he didn’t have one. I spent two hours on Friday night making him a night costume using a paper grocery bag, gray primer spray paint, and foil tape. He even ended up with a mini-matching shield. Then we arrive at the Fort and conductor decides he isn’t going to wear the Robin hood costume after all. ::sigh::   Lego-Man snagged the hat though and brought along his walking stick as well. He received many compliments on the hat and all knew who he was suppose to be.

blog2Happy showing off his costume.

I loved listening to the music. The gentleman playing the guitar-like instrument (I think it’s a lute) looks like he could have stepped out of a time machine. The costumes – for the most part – were very well done.


Another really fun aspect to the day was the launching of these great crossbows.   The last time we went to this Fair (seven years ago) they had a huge catapult launching pumpkins in to the bay. They had a smaller one launching apples that the children could launch. This was the only big weapon we saw this day and we stood here for a good 15 minutes or so watching them load and launch at their shields down below them.

blog9Another authentic looking gentleman.  He was loading the crossbow.

They were all having a very good time firing these off.

Two group shots of all the kids.

While we toured the fort (I do have lots of photos of the inside too), we came to the food storage areas (root cellars). One of the last ones had a hole to the ground above for air ventilation. This area was pitch black other than the hole shining light down. I took this shot with no flash.


All in all it was a fun day. The boys were able to see some of what we had studied about last year in history.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day #4/175 Days - Fun Day

Today we headed to a nearby town (okay it was about 45+ minutes away) to set up for yet another fair. Our 4-H group is trying out putting in projects in another county. Not sure how it will go but it only took us a little over an hour to set up.

Because it didn't take as long we were done earlier than I had planned. We headed to the nearby bread store. While doing all this driving we listened to an audio book - The Boxcar Children. Both Lego-Man and Conductor have read the books, but it's always fun to listen to them as well.

I needed to get groceries but didn't want to go with hungry kids (or mom) so I surprised the boys with a trip to the playground. We pretty much had it to ourselves.

We had a lot of fun playing.

We then headed to the grocery store and stocked up for the week. After we headed home to unload it all. The boys watched some videos.

Then we headed back out to the library. Why didn't we go earlier? Our small town library is only open on Wednesdays from 2:30-6:00pm and Saturdays from 4:30-6pm. I typically order all our books from the state library system. However, every once in a while I like to take the boys to a real life library.

The boys had a great time picking out new books to read. Our little library has now automated as well. When we return this stack of books, I'll sign the boys up for their library cards as well (they need a birth certificate or photo ID).

All in all a good - fun school - day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day #3/175 Days

Here is an "unschooling" day....

  • Happy & Conductor played a game of Made for Trade
  • Conductor finished working on his walking stick.
  • All the boys played outside for over an hour this afternoon.
  • They played some Wii sports this morning (before they lost the TV remote and thus lost all TV, Wii, and computer privileges for the day. This is an ongoing issue.)
  • Lego-Man read quite a bit (more than an hour).
  • They all watched a "digital field trip" of a desert. This is a review product so more will be coming on that later. It was cool though.
  • They played more games tonight with Daddy.
  • They listened to audio books (Lego-Man listened to Your Story Hour & the two younger boys listened to Magic Tree House).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day #2/175 Days - Field Trip

I'm continuing to "sneak" in days of schooling without the boys knowing or guessing or well, it's not "formal" stuff yet. I have had friends tell me to follow my own advice, so that is what I am doing.

Even though today was Labor Day, my hubby decided to work. He wants Friday off instead. Since Daddy wasn't home, we I decided to take the boys on a hike. Even having a friend overnight didn't stop me, I just brought him along.

This waterfall is only about 20 minutes away from us. The boys had gone with me once before but didn't remember. It had been a couple of years. It's very pretty. We only saw two other families. One was hiking out as we were hiking in and the other was hiking in while we were hiking out. We had the whole area pretty much to ourselves.

The falls are pretty. The highest one is just as your enter, but you can continue to walk up and further in to see smaller ones. All told we spent about 30 minutes in the woods.

The boys also played a ton of Wii games today - mostly Wii sports. They enjoyed a rousing game of hide-n-seek as well. Since we live on 100 acres, they have plenty of spots to hide!

Lego-Man and his friend also went for a walk in the afternoon on the logging roads behind our house.

Conductor was a bit jealous of Lego-Mans's nice walking stick so he decided to make one. He took a piece of slat wood and spent the afternoon sanding it down. He did a really nice job on it. He worked hard and was very diligent in finishing the task he set before himself.