Monday, June 26, 2017

Nature Study: Mushrooms

I fully admit that I am not strong at nature study, but I am trying!  

Mushroom Nature Study
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Recently, I came across these little books, Small Adventures Journal: A Little Field Guide for Big Discoveries in Nature on Amazon and bought one for both boys.  They have great little prompts for mapping the neighborhood (we'll do the farm), cloud studies, tree studies, using your senses in nature, etc.  I figured this would be useful for giving us inspiration when I'm low on ideas.  The kids also like something more explicit than "study that tree" so this should be helpful for everyone involved.  Some prompts don't have the need for writing/drawing, but most pages have a space to record results.  A few activities will have to be done in a regular nature journal.

I found an activity called Make a Spore Print when I was browsing through it, and thought the kids would find that interesting, so when I saw mushrooms outside one morning, we got to it!  We had to take our regular nature notebooks for this one.

Mushroom Nature Study
Emory's mushroom in grass.  

We brought a variety of mushrooms inside to do the activity.  We looked at some caps under our pocket microscope.  I'm searching for a new quality microscope right now since they've outgrown their beginner one, but the pocket microscope gave us decent results!

It's really simple, and you can find basic instructions for this online, too.  The book said to use light paper for dark mushrooms and dark paper for light mushrooms.  It didn't specify if it was referring to the caps or the spores, and I've already clarified I'm no outdoorsy girl, so we did both, just in case.  

At the end of the day, we removed the glasses and found that these mushrooms did much better on the lighter paper, so I'd say these are dark spores!  I put clear tape over them to help preserve the print.

The first picture was from a mushroom that was still little bit more open and cone shaped, while the lower picture was from a mushroom that was more flat and rounded at the edges--the boys said it looked like a sombrero!  It's the one pictured under the glass above.

It was a neat experience, and we'll probably try to do it again with different types of mushrooms when we find some new ones to study.

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer School 2017

It sounds silly to say "summer school" but I guess that's what it is.  We aren't year-round homeschoolers, because we do not maintain a full schedule the way we do in the winter.  I need a break though--just to decompress, and to plan for the next year, and summer is just when we do it.

I think it's important to continue doing educational and purposeful activities, because I fully believe in engaging in ideas and being a lifelong learner.  Also, I don't want the kids to lose math skills, and keeping a light routine makes it easier to jump back into a full routine come fall.  So even though we don't typically use standard curriculum during the summer, we do make sure we're doing review and lighter studies.  We do this during the hottest parts of the day, but keep it light and informal, giving us plenty of time to enjoy summer activities as they arise.

We don't have a specific schedule, but I try to do a few things during the week.

Mathematics:  Both boys do math drills a few times a week, and the occasional 5-A-Day from Math on the Level to keep their skills fresh.

Language Arts:  Emory is the official reviewer for Lightening Literature Grade 3, but I've had Elliott listening in to the readings and doing the sentence diagramming.  Once the review period is over we'll set this aside for next year.

Reading:  They are continuing to have independent reading (and narration) during the day, and I continue to read aloud to them!  Elliott is reading Stuart Little right now, Emory is reading some readers and early chapter books, and I'm reading The Hobbit aloud to them at night.  They're also listening to Peter Pan on audio book.

History/Geography/Science:  We're doing a Wonders of the World project from Home School in the Woods, which is great for a light summer activity.  We were also just assigned a review for a USA Activity Bundle, great for state studies (and summer travels) and the bird cards are great for Emory, who is also still dabbling in his bird study.  Plus we still do nature study.  We work 10-15 minutes a few times a week, and that's it!

Other:  Vacation Bible School is coming up!  It's possible we'll have other review items coming through, but otherwise, we're just enjoying the light schedule and indulging in more interest-based activities.

That's it!  Simple, but it keeps us purposefully learning while still giving us plenty of downtime!  

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Year in Review (2016-2017)

Now that our school year is over, I've been looking back over everything we've done.  It helps for portfolio purposes as well as helps me plan out next year.  By this time last year, I'd already written up this year's "curriculum plans"believe it or not!  Needless to say, plans are for throwing out the window in the homeschool world!  We still had a good year though!

So here's an overview of what we used and loved (and didn't love) for the past year.

2nd Grade

  • Logic of English Foundations - Loved!  He completed another level and his reading exploded.  I'll definitely use this again with the girls.  
  • Lightening Literature Grade 3 - We received this right before the end of the "school" year to review, and I find it CM adaptable.  I'll have more to share later, but definitely feel like we could use this for his 3rd grade LA 
  • Reading - Lots of quality readers and non-fiction (nature/science) books were his preference this year
  • All in One Homeschool Math 2 - I had started this as an interim program while we searched for a good fit for him, but he ended up liking it and I left him there.  He could have moved into 3 but we're keeping it light this summer so he's just reviewing for now.

4th Grade

  • Logic of English Essentials - We found this dry, tedious and time consuming, though maybe the newer edition is better.
  • Easy Grammar 5 - After reviewing another LA program in between, I found this one to be the best fit--short and simple lessons, but quality material.  I'll probably carry this over into 5th grade.
  • Reading - various books for reading practice
  • Teaching Textbooks 5 - His choice, but he ended up not caring for it at all.  He found the lessons long and way too many practice problems considering the type of review they do.  He did well though, so I let him reduce the amount of work as long as his work still showed mastery.  He does not want to use this again.
  • Math on the Level - This is a review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and I'm trying to get into a groove with it since it's summer time, but I know I love the 5-A-Day Online component!  It's fabulous for both boys for summer review!  

I only offer her activities as she desires at this age.  I do not require formal schooling at 4 years old.  These are activities she enjoys and requests, and we definitely go at her speed.  
  • Preschool workbooks - if she's wanting hardcore worksheets, I whip out some basic preschool books.  She works in these at her own pace, and only when she's interested, but gets practice with alphabet, numbers/counting, matching, patterns, etc.
  • Before Five in a Row - My favorite resource!  Lovely living books and simple activities!

Family Subjects

  • Apologia Astronomy - After a review they wanted to continue, but it didn't suit us for the long term.  I really wanted to love it, but one year on one topic was too much for me.  We made it through the first semester, but couldn't muster through after Christmas.  If it were a semester course, we might have been able to finish it with different thoughts.
  • BFB Early American History - I wrote a Final Thoughts post on this already, so I won't go into detail, but I found it CM friendly--living books and the guide was adaptable.  I will likely buy more of their products going forward.  They're on my short list for next year in a couple of subjects.
  • Five in a Row - This wasn't our primary curriculum, but we did a few units to tie into our history studies (and this also got us some of our science during the second semester).
  • Art - They took art at co-op and learned about Benjamin West in our history.  They did art at home through various lessons from FIAR, ARTistic Pursuits, Art for Kids Hub and ArtAchieve (review); we'll carry over the remaining ArtAchieve lessons into Art/Handicrafts first, since they are subscription based.
  • Music - Music Appreciation class and beginning guitar lessons at co-op, Christmas program and exposure to a variety of music through casual listening
  • Poetry - We love Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization though I am inconsistent with it.  I'm trying to figure out a plan for next year so I don't forget it.  It's so quick and easy to do!   
  • Other -AWANA, Jr. Church, co-op, play dates, park days, numerous fun reviews, nature study, farm fun, learning about the elections and voting during an election year, field trips, family reunions and so much more . . . 

I have no doubt that there was learning and growing and maturing that could never be quantified in a blog post!

As for myself - I've been doing better this year about summarizing our monthly activities.  When I first started homeschooling and blogging, I often did Weekly Wrap-Ups, but that just isn't happening anymore.  Instead, I resolved this year to to do monthly summaries.  So here's more details about our year!

©2011-2017 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.