Search & Win


Children have a natural curiosity about money.  I wonder if they sense how much we value it?   I wonder whether our connection to money fuels their interest in it?

One of the things that Campster expressed an interest in learning about this year is money.  She has gone in two months from not really knowing her dimes from her nickels, to feeling pretty confident about adding sums in her head.

Here she is doing a project from a great series called "Math By All Means".   A wonderful friend handed down a bunch of these books to me, and we pick them up from time to time to do a lesson from them.  This fall we've been doing the Money book, and the girls have been loving it.

I have a change jar that I use for these lessons.  Campster first sorted the coins into Quarters, Dimes, Nickels and Pennies.  Then, taking just the pennies, she used a magnifying glass to identify the date on each one.  We wrote the dates on Post-its and lined them up in order on the dining room table.  Then we added our families birth years as well.  We talked about which pennies are older than Big Dad (that's really old!) and which ones were younger than Sher Bear.  She learned about dates and became very comfortable with identifying pennies.

I am finding that I will sometimes think that a particular lesson from the book is silly, or won't hold the kids interest.  But when I try it, Surprise!  The kids actually love it.

On the other hand, sometimes I will be really excited about a certain project, only to find that the kids couldn't care less about it.  The tendency used to be for me to try to talk them into it.  But I am learning that it is better to just say "Okay, I can see you are not interested in doing that."   Then I can move on to something else that might be more exciting for them.  Or just take a break from that subject for a while.

By the way, please do notice the torn and worn wallpaper in the picture.  We have just repainted the dining room - and I will be posting "after" pictures soon.  :)

Wish you were here!

Cave Paintings

Campster working diligently on her cave painting.

Sher Bear is completely focused on this activity.
 A good friend is also studying the Ancients this  year.  She is using The Story of the World and the accompanying Activity Book.  We used these with Jor Man when he was K4 - but they are really very appropriate for K - 3 or even older.  Since Campster is in 2nd grade this year, and Sher Bear, the kindergardener wanted to study Egypt, we are doing some of the activities together with our friends.

This particular day was warm, so we headed to our local lake and enjoyed the beach with three other families for an end of summer play time. My friend brought kraft paper (the kind you get if you order stuff from Amazon.com), and some black paint and brushes.

The beach was the perfect no mess place to do this activity.  If anyone decided to paint themselves, we sent them into the water to wash off.

A friend and Campster share the meat tray paint palette.

Wind, waves, sun and friends.  Beats normal school any day!

Campster has painted a cave person and their "Kill"
 To prepare my kids for this activity, I looked up "Cave Paintings, France" on Swag Bucks, and found this great website on the Lascaux cave paintings.  I love that they have an online tour of the caves.  I had seen still shots before in text books.  But I had no idea the complexity of the paintings, let alone the shear number of them.

The kids were inspired to create their own "cave paintings".  We also read aloud a couple of books which I had purchased from the Institute for Creation Research about creation and early man:  Dry Bones and Other Fossils by Gary E. & Mary M. Parker, and Life in the Great Ice Age by Michael & Beverly Oard.

Sher Bear and friend hard at work

Another great resource for materials that fit this time frame is Answers in Genesis.  They have a children's magazine that is excellent.

Sher Bear says it's a dear with antlers
Wish you were here!

Marching through History

My IRL friend, Dorothy, sent me these great pictures of her three sons enjoying Marching Through History.  Taking place in Chino, CA, this festival celebrates the various military campaigns throughout history with full costume and reenactments.

Dorothy tells me "Here are some pictures of the marching thru History event we went to in Chino.  It is really great.

We spent about 30+ minutes talking to this guy about Roman battle techniques.  Including how they could wear these very heavy chain mail.   And he showed the kids how they marched and fought.  

We also talked to a middle ages mercenary from Germany, who told us how much they got paid and why they did it.

We saw a Civil War re-anactment.   Cannons and all.

5 hours and we only talked to 5 people in depth.

Learned all about the first flint guns.  Lots of people really into history...

Lots of fun."

It's enough to make me want to move back to California!!

Next years event will be October 1 & 2, 2011.  Anybody wanna meet there?

Now, to stack the deck:  Notice what time periods were of particular interest to each child.  And strategically place books on that period around the house for them to "discover".  

I know this works, because my Jor Man, who is fascinated with Greek myths ate up a book that had been on our shelves, but he had missed.  Sometimes kids just need to see the cover, or even the inside of the book to get interested.  I left D'Aulaire's Greek Myths lying open on the sofa - and the next day, he had devoured it.  

How great are these costumes?  Getting to play the part adds such richness to the learning experience.  Some kids are kinesthetic learners, and really need this type of experience.  But everyone can benefit from coming at a subject from many different angles.

I'll bet these boys will always remember this day!

The Redcoats are coming!!  

Pirate training!

Current day warriors
Wish you were here!


We have been cleaning out the basement.  So much junk.  So many memories.  I am learning to treasure the memories and let go of the junk.  Watching a few episodes of Hoarders made it clear to me that I really wanted to let a lot of old stuff go.  I am not a hoarder.  Yet.  But my grandmother was.  And my father had his own form of hoarding - mostly paper in his case.  He kept every note, every email.  What a process it was to clear out the stuff when they passed away.  I don't want the people who love me to have to do the same (not that I have any plans to die any time soon!).

The kids and I made piles.  One pile was stuff to go to the transfer station (dump), one pile was to give away to friends, and one pile was to put away.  We were able to clean out half of the basement.  Now the kids ride their scooters and bikes down there.  This will be especially helpful this winter when it is too cold and wet to play outside.

Some things I found in the basement peaked the kids' interest.  This old typewriter was one of those things.  It doesn't really work anymore.  Some of the keys get stuck, so you can type, just not fast enough to make it worth it.

I was surprised at how it all came back to me.  How you roll the paper through, and then open the carriage, and line it up so that the paper will be straight.  And how you hit return at the end of the line.  I wrote my high school and college papers on this typewriter.  It was mine.

The kids all took turns typing on it.  It didn't work very well because they ink on the ribbon was dry after 20 plus years of not being used.  The kids got a real kick out of hearing about how we used to type things, because there weren't computers.

What old items do you have lying around?  What would your kids find fascinating?  Take them out, play with them for a while, and then send them to the trash.

Wish you were here!

The Big E

It's happened.  Jor Man is officially too big for a ride at the fair.
The Big E, as it's affectionately called, is officially known as the Eastern States Exposition.  It's like the county fair, only it's for all of the New England States combined.

We got free tickets for the kids through MASS HOPE, the Massachusetts Christian Homeschoolers Organization.  Big Dad took the day off to spend it with us.

There were rides galore.  The kids saved up their allowances and bought wristbands which allowed them to ride all the rides all day long.  Good value.  It also eliminated the problem of having to choose which rides to go on if you only have so many tickets.  The fun houses were a big hit.  So were the slides.

The big kids really enjoyed the bumper cars.  But Sher Bear did not.  Unfortunately, once the ride starts, you have to see it through.  Later, she was really adventurous and had a blast. 

Campster makes the Maple Syrup Cotton Candy disappear!
And then there was the food!!  Of course, things were complicated by the diet that we have been on ever since July.  No gluten for us.  But there was maple syrup cotton candy.  And milk shakes.  And baked potatoes.

Jor Man, Sher Bear, and Campster
I was interested in looking at the cows and the sheep.  We missed the sheep dog competition.  And Jor Man really liked the BMX bikes demonstration.

We will definitely go again next year, and we will be better prepared for the day.  I want to schedule things out and plan the day better.  This time we just winged it - and ended up walking a lot more than probably was necessary.

The coolest part of the Big E, and what sets it apart from the county fairs, is the States Avenue.  There is a whole street with miniature state capitol buildings for each of the New England states.  Inside each of the buildings are booths and vendors specific to each state.

Did you know that the US headquarters for LEGO are in Connecticut?  Yeah, neither did I!  Now my kids are signed up as testers.  :)

Wish you were here!
This is a Maine baked potato.  Yum!!

The Shoulds

I haven't blogged in over a month.  I thought about it.  I thought "I should blog."  But I didn't want to.  Well, I wanted to a little.  But mostly, I thought I should.

So, as you may have noticed, I didn't.

Grace was here for a visit (it's not her fault).  And at church one morning a friend of mine made a comment about school and homework.  You know what I said. . ."So why don't you home school?"  Her answer is the one I always hear.  "Oh, I could never do that.  I am not disciplined enough.  You have to be really self-disciplined to home school."  LOL.  Umm.  No, you don't.

So I turned to Grace, who knows me super well - and I asked her "Would you say that I am disciplined?"  She thought about it for a minute and then she said, "Paisley is very good at not doing anything she doesn't want to do."

I took it as the compliment that she meant it to be.

How often do the people around us (I'm talking grownups) complain about all they have to do in their lives that they don't want to do?  They are depressed and unhappy about what they "Should" do.  And, in effect, we have a belief as a society that this is at the core of what being a grownup is all about - doing the things we don't want to do because we believe we should do them.

School is very effective at teaching people to do what they Should do instead of what they Want to do.  And once we are thoroughly convinced that this is the job of all grownups to do the shoulds, we can go one of two ways:  regress into being a child forever (35 year olds that still live with their parents) or buck up and make ourselves do the things we think we should and be unhappy about it.

I am working out a third way for myself.  It is neither lacking in responsibility, nor is it characterized by unhappiness.

Passion is something that cannot be mustered.  But it can be encouraged.  I want to live out of my happiest, most passionate self.  I want to pursue joy and time with God.  I want to make my life a walk with my creator that invites others to meet Him, too.

So, I haven't been writing lately.  But I wanted to today.  Usually, I have a rule that I don't write on Sundays.  But today I am sick, and I felt like writing.  What a rebel!!

I am enjoying watching my kids learn about the world and about God and themselves because they want to learn.  They want to interact with the information.  They are excited about it.  They will remember it.  They will want to share it.

Are you doing life because you want to today?  Or because you think you should?  What would you do differently if you only did what you want?

I've been working on listening to God.  The other day I was stressing.  I have a friend, newly diagnosed with cancer whom I wanted to see.  I also was late for a homeschool event.  And I'd promised to take the kids to Target.  I could feel the stress in my neck and shoulders.  I took a moment and sat down to pray.  "God" I asked "What do you want me to do today?"

"Tend you garden."  Was what I heard.  I have a garden.  It is in need of tending.  But, really, with all that was on my list of things to do?  Drop everything and weed?

"But it's cold outside."  I complained.

Then I asked again.  "God, I am trusting that I will hear from you and no one else.  What do you want me to do today?"

"Rest."  He said.

Ugh!!  I thought.  But I promised the kids I'd go to Target.  And the homeschool group is expecting me, and. . . and. . ."  All shoulds.  Hmm.

So, I asked him again.  "Are you saying I should stay home today, and rest and weed?  Or are you saying that I should go with a restful spirit?"

"Whatever you do today, rest while you do it."  Aha!!  Rest while you do it.  There is a concept.

So off we went.  Slowly.  No rush.  Resting through the day.  Savoring it.  Enjoying it.

And there was a moment at a friend's house while I was sitting drinking Chai Tea where I saw though the kitchen window - she and her husband pulling weeds from their garden.  Chuckle.

The garden still needs weeding.  And I came down sick the next day.  Guess I really should have rested more.  The point is that I rested through the day and enjoyed it, instead of stressing.

Wish you were here!

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