“What line? I don’t see a line.” This was what I actually spoke out loud less than two weeks ago. I quickly scanned my environment, naturally seeing nothing but mere spectators. I was after all, in hot pursuit with my camera in hand, trying to catch a photo of my daughter as she took off from the starting line for the 100 meter race. It was the annual year end Small Christian Schools Track Meet, and I was working hard to capture her energy in motion.
“Excuse me, your standing over the line!”
There it was again. This time I looked more carefully, slightly annoyed that I was going to miss my photo opp. To my horror, I discovered those weren’t mere spectators, but annoyed parents – who happened to all be staring at me, due to the fact that I was standing r-i-g-h-t -i-n- t-h-e- m-i-d-d-l-e of the runway for the L-O-N-G J-U-M-P P-I-T!
Needless to say, I missed my shot.
We did; however, win the meet!
I recently attended the 2009 Homeschool Conference in the lower mainland of our province. This was their second year however, in a new venue, and even though there was less to take home (vendors brought less merchandise due to space constraints), there were still a few goodies to find. That said, I think I’ll be making the trip to BCHEC conference in Kelowna next year. However, I digress – so back to my finds.
My youngest daughter is a birding (and owl) enthusiast, so when I saw this little package labeled Owl Puke, I couldn’t resist. The kit comes with a dissecting tray, a nifty little book, and a sterilized owl pellet. The fun starts when you get to carefully take apart a most disgusting intriguing little owl pellet and look for the remnants of the sorry little rodent creature who fatefully became this owl’s lunch. What kid wouldn’t love that? Okay, so I wouldn’t touch it, but I didn’t let on. I have, inadvertently passed on some of my own fears to my children in the past, so I carefully concealed my disgust and put on my best enthusiastic face. It seemed to work – in fact, she couldn’t wait to get started.
Taking apart owl puke, however, takes time and patience to carefully extract teeny tiny little bones, then sort and clean them. But the fun doesn’t stop there. No, after sorting out the sorry remains in this owl’s lunchbox, the kids can reconstruct the skeletons, and then identify the ill fated victim. For your scientific pleasure, I have included a diagram of the skeletal system of a friendly rodent in your neighborhood. Just print it off, then have the kids glue the bones right on top, or mimic the shape on their own piece of construction paper.
If you wish to conduct this experiment on your own, it’s advised that you acquire only sterilized owl pellets as unsterilized pellets can contain nasty germs. Sterilized pellets can be ordered online at www.hawkquest.org. Needless to say, if you have a young owl or birding enthusiast in your household, I can highly recommend this little kit, it scores high on the Yuck -O-Meter, is suitable for grades 2 – 12, takes more than one afternoon to complete, and is educational money well spent!
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. – Gene Fowler
The last few weeks of our homeschool have been focused on how to write a formal essay. We follow a loose Classical/Charlotte Mason homeschool philosophy, and are transitioning from copywork and dictation exercises to more formal outlining and essay writing. Though we will be doing much more of this more formal style of writing next year, the opportunity came up to attend a writer’s camp through the DL school we are enrolled with. The camp was conducted in a small group atmosphere, and provided an opportunity for each of the kids to brainstorm their ideas together.
I don’t generally insist on formal writing exercises with my kids (they write naturally, why make it feel like drudgery?), but over the years, I have gently introduced them to different styles and methods of writing. As they get older, there is a need for more intermediate writing skills. One of my children is a natural creative writer, but seems to dislike formal writing for information exercises. My other child seems to be the opposite, being somewhat displeased with having learn the formalities of creative writing, but managed to write longer paragraphs than her older sister when it came to essay writing. This is often the way it goes, no? Sigh….
What I discovered during this little writing camp though, was an essay writing method that was easy for the kids to learn and follow along with. In fact, it is a method that seems to work well with children as young as 4th grade! Because the method was shared at a writing camp, I searched the web to try and find a replication of this method in order to share with you. You can take a look here, and here – they are very similar. I would also recommend conducting a little writing camp of your own. Using the steps in the above mentioned web sites, a small group of 6 kids would probably work really well with ages between 10 & 12, or grades 4-6. Once set up, try to pick topics the kids are passionate, or somewhat knowledgable about, this kick starts their creativity and can inspire them to dig deeper into their research. Most importantly, don’t forget to communicate to your kids the purpose of a persuasive essay: to persuade their audience to accept their idea or point of view.
The finished essay can then be typed, or handwritten, or if you wish (as my kids did), cut and pasted onto poster board complete with drawings. Schedule the final week of your writing camp to be a presentation week – the kids can present and read aloud their reports, and encourage one another. If time allows provide some snacks and time for play afterwards. Don’t know what to do with a giant poster board when you get home? Before you recycle, take a photo of the project, and either burn it to a disc, or print the photo and keep for your homeschool records. This way, you can keep the project and do away with the clutter!
In the interim, I’ll leave you with this:
You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke. – Arthur Polotnik
My postings have continued to be sparse at best – so, what’s going on with me? Part of our homeschool journey inevitably involves one’s own individual personal growth, and unfortunately this has taken it’s toll on my blogging. I won’t share any details here, because it’s – well, personal. However, occasionally I ponder the value of sharing personal developments now and then. My main purpose of this blog in the beginning was to encourage those both new and old to homeschooling in their homeschooling journey, and even though one’s own blog is truly their public expression of themselves, I’ve tried to keep this one solely focused on homeschooling. There is; however, part of the word homeschoooling that I sometimes forget about. This would be the home part. So, seeming I have regular readers who quietly follow my blog, I will venture now and then to share some of the home in my homeschooling – entitled House and Homeschool.
So, what shall I start with? Well, how about the fact that it is presently an 80% sure thing that we will soon be building a new home! This is big news for me, considering my little family of four has quite happily lived in the upper level of our home, being a cozy 1000 sq ft, and containing only one bathroom. Big news indeed. In the past, I have occasionally written many posts (on this blog and others) about living and learning together in a small space. Many of you have commented and inquired about some of my creative uses of said small spaces. How do I come up with such ideas? Well, some of you may not know this, but previous to homeschooling, I had a brand new career in interior design. I was just getting my feet wet, so to speak in the interior design world, before I felt led to homeschool my children. I know I’ll return to again, but in the interim, I’m left to redesign my own space and periodically give a friend or two some design tips.
As of yesterday, there is a “For Sale” sign in our front yard, so from here forward, I’ll try and write an occasional post re: the sale of our home and pending build of the new one. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with the before and after pics of my existing living room. This is the room where we like to hang out and get cozy with a book or two.
The home is a 1950’s model, with original hardwood floors and cove ceilings. We chose to remove the texture from the walls in the living room to tie in with kitchen. The opening from the living room to the kitchen (on the left of the before pic) was partially removed and restructured in order to create an open concept living area and accommodate two built in eating bars. The fireplace was re-faced with cultured stone, the heatilator was removed and replaced with a gas insert, wall sconces, pendant lights and pot lights were added to the wall and ceiling. There was not a single ceiling bulb in this living room before the renovations! The built in shelves to the right of the fireplace were removed. Blinds that have the ability to be drawn from the top down were chosen for the window – this allows light to flow in the room, while obstructing the view of the road, as we live on a rather busy one. Be sure to tune in next week for more House & Homeschool! In the interim, feel free to share your own interior face lifts – I will try to add a Mr. Linky, but if that doesn’t work, feel free to link back to your site in the comment box below.
Homeschool Perk#4: You Can Have Your Own Flex Week
I have been writing on a continuing theme over at Heart of the Matter Online for the last few months, with the emphasis being on the many perks of homeschooling. Head on over to Heart of the Matter to read all about it here. While your there, feel free to read through the previous homeschool perks, listed at the bottom of my article on their site. See you there!