Friday, February 21, 2014

Snow Surfing and Science Experiments

Boy, this week has been different for us. Not because we didn't have lessons, because we did. Not because we spent too little time outside, because we didn't. And not because we had an unschooling day, because we've done that before. But because we've been more relaxed than ever, done more hands on things than before, and involved some interesting science things that we haven't done before.

Monday was a typical day here, even if we did do last Thursday's lesson plans instead of ones I might have made for this week (if I'd been on top of my lesson plans like I usually try to be). I made some mini taco bowls (inspired by a post over at Our Busy Homeschool where Tristan walks you through how to make them), we omitted the guacamole and re fried beans and instead of regular taco meat ours was turkey taco meat. The children really enjoyed having a mini taco bowl buffet set up and ate really well. Next time I think I'll use flour tortillas instead of corn as that was the only drawback for the campers.
Yup, celery stalks in a jar as a centerpiece to prick the campers interest.
Celery added to water with food dye
I wrote a post describing our entire day on Tuesday which you can check out here . Every time I write one of these I notice that although lesson time may officially be over at 4 PM we're still learning and doing all the way until we're asleep most days. Tuesday we did start the celery experiment, you can find a simple explanation of it here and in many other places on the Internet including YouTube. I remember doing this as a child and figured that it would go over pretty well with the campers. (I included the link above for the celery experiment because that one links to another experiment that we'll probably be doing soon.) We also did some experimentation with "expanding pills" but for photos and details on that one you'll have to check out the post about Tuesday.

10 AM 
7 PM

Wednesday showed up to our lightened lesson work for the rest of the week. Only Language Arts and Arithmetic from our lesson books. ECJ took his spelling test on Tuesday (only 2 wrong out of 25) and YCJ will take her's on Friday but by then she'll have had two weeks with the same spelling words. We also went to Daddy's afternoon doctor's appointment with him and learned the ABC's of Asthma (yes, there is a book with that title) and found out that Mommy had lost a little weight. After we got back home, ate a snack, and completed our math lessons we went for a long long walk. Campers splashed in melted snow puddles, climbed snow mountains, and generally burned off excess energy. We also checked our celery experiment a couple of times. 
Celery @ 11 AM Thursday
Carefully cutting bottom of celery
Showing the xylem to the campers 
I woke up Thursday morning with a massive migraine. This doesn't happen to this extent very often anymore, even with a migraine I can usually function pretty well because I've dealt with them for so very long (around half my life). This morning was different. My head hurt so bad I felt dizzy. None of the children wanted to do their "official" lessons so we called an unschooling day. We've done these before and although some of these unschooling days don't look like much has gotten done I've found that the campers learn one heck of a lot on most of them. We observed the celery and then (much later) in the afternoon I sliced the end off of the celery and showed them the xylem (the little tubes in the celery that help draw water up to the leaves). The campers were also quick to point out how much dye drained out of the celery when it was cut and how happy they were that we're dye limited (love when I don't have to bring that limitation up).

There was a lot of crafting done. YCJ even broke out her bracelet craft to do with Peanut without any prompting on our part. Which is a big deal for a girl who constantly says that her baby sister is driving her bonkers.

All three children worked with tools with Daddy (mainly I didn't help because my head hurt so badly but I did do a bit) who was taking some junk back to the scrap yard today. ECJ went with Daddy and really enjoyed it. All three campers like doing anything they can with any scrap we do, they've learned over the years that if they help they can earn a dollar or two of spending money by doing this. Although this is the first time that either girl was able to do much with the tools (some of those wires are hard to cut!).
They exercised and stretched a lot in the attempt to be able to do the splits (mostly YCJ here as Peanut can still do them and ECJ doesn't think splits are too comfortable to do). Building with Legos went on and imaginative play. Contests on how far paper planes would go and much much more. Lots of reading happened, thanks to the 42 books we took out at the library, and by early evening my head was feeling well enough to read some more about Medieval Life to the campers (what we're currently working on for History). They're super interested in this time frame and even though we're going to skip through this time period rather quickly right now it's only because we'll be doing a more in depth study of it during our summer months. Peanut just couldn't wait to learn more about it and picked this book out at the library, I grabbed several books leading into the colonization of America while we were at the library and we'll be looking at those the first few weeks in March (we may have to extend their return dates).

That brings us to Friday. I could wait until tonight to post about today and add some more pictures but I'd like to concentrate on just working with the kids today. Daddy is going to be gone most of the day running errands with the neighbor (Daddy's friend) so we'll be all alone and busy! Lessons getting finished up, we'll be beginning a rather in depth study of the weather with figuring our how much water is in a few inches of snow when it melts (the campers are wondering why all the adults are worried about flooding when there's snow on the ground), and as much other things as they figure they can handle doing. We might even get some more outside time because the forecast is calling for almost 40 degree weather with possible light snow showers (unlike our rain/snow/sleet mix we got yesterday). 

Peanut (prek/kindergarten) has been a deciding factor in our planning for future weeks. Although she can do five straight days worth of lessons she much prefers to only do 3 or 4. After looking back over my records of our unschooling days, and talking with Daddy about how they might get worked into our scheduling, it's been decided that Wednesdays (the day that most of the campers don't like doing lessons) will typically be unschooling days from here on out. Within a few weeks Peanut will have finished several more workbooks and be down to only a couple that she works on consistently. I really enjoy when she tells us that she'd like to have more of "x" and we're able to accommodate her.

YCJ (third grade) is now ahead of schedule with her Arithmetic and is catching up with her Language Arts. The "discovery" that she can read has made her more willing to do her English lessons. She is very excited about the regular unschooling days being scheduled now because as she puts it, "It gives me more time to craft and make stories up." I'm all for working with art supplies and creativity, not to mention using our imaginations to write fiction works.

As for ECJ (sixth grade) he's still working at his Language Arts and Arithmetic at an accelerated pace and really enjoying it. It really takes him only a few minutes more each day than his original work load. He's also enjoying reading Pet Cemetery surprisingly. Though he is still reading it during daylight hours and not right before bed. He's done OK this week chore and lesson wise, even voluntarily explaining some science information with Peanut and leading our Bible lessons on Thursday. 

Posts that you may have missed this week:  
Tired of February Menu
We Did Something!
Things are Different Now
One Day in February
What's Working for ECJ

Who I'm linking this post up with:   
Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Homegrown Learners
Faithful Mom of 9
Great Peace Academy

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  1. Hope your head is feeling better today! I'm always surprised at how much my kids learn when I record our unschooling activities. The Medieval Life book looks great. Jeremiah is studying that time period now too. Is that Stephen King's Pet Cemetery that you're talking about? I saw the movie many years ago. Don't think I'd read it at night either!

    1. Yes the migraine finally eased thanks for the concern. The Medieval Life book is pretty good it outlines a lot of the entire lives of the times including labeled pictures of clothing, bedding, peasant life, and manner life. We borrowed it from our local library. Yes, Sephen King's Pet Cemetery is the exact book I'm talking about. It was his choice to read it not mine. I don't blame him at all for not reading it at night. I think he was just tired of books like Little Women lol

  2. Looks like you had a busy week. I'm super impressed how your kids work together and share. :)

    1. Yeah that was a pretty busy week. I'm sorry, but I have to laugh about the comment of them working and sharing well together :) Most of the time it's like pulling hair to get them to be nice to each other unless it's something that one feels they know more about or something that peaks all of their interest. :) Normal kids :)