Monday, September 30, 2013

When Nature Study Just Happens: The Woolly Worm

Out on the farm, Emory found a woolly worm.  Off to pawpaw he went.  

I thought he was going to ask his pawpaw to catch him.  Instead, pawpaw disappears, and returns with a magnifying glass.  Apparently Emory had asked for one, and he observed his little friend until it crawled away.

That's all.  Just the unplanned, natural exploration of a 4 year old boy.

When Nature Study Just Happens Part 1

©2011-2013 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.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! (Review & Giveaway)

We love books in our house, and I love children's books, so I was happy to review Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! by Kathleen Long Bostrom.  This is just one book in a series about a little boy named Ryan, who is teaching his childhood friend, a stuffed monkey named Rufus, about faith and life.

In Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! Ryan takes Rufus to church one Sunday morning.  Well actually, he must take Rufus frequently, because some of the other church goers recognize the monkey!  Ryan guides the toy through getting dressed, fellowship, singing, the sermon and even praying.

The book is for children ages 2-5, and designed to help them understand an experience they may encounter every week from a young age, before they even realize what is truly going on.  However, it could also be used to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to church if they have never been before.

My Thoughts
I don't allow my children to take any toys into church, so they looked at me a little funny when they realized this little boy was taking a toy.  However, I can imagine that some younger children do need comfort items if they are being dropped off in a church classroom for the first time.

It's also a very rare where our church has children of this age sit through an entire service, but there are times when the younger children do not have children's church, so it is important that they learn appropriate behaviors and that children can enjoy church too.

I like that there is a book out there that helps explore church from a preschooler's point of view.  I think the book is most appropriate for toddlers and young preschoolers as the language is simple and child-friendly.  My "just turned 4" year old let me read it to him, but is used to longer, more complex readings because of his older brother.  The illustrations are sweet, and I really think Rebecca Thornburgh did a good job capturing the enthusiasm of a young child, and my 6 year old enjoyed the illustrations too.

There's really no doctrine in the book itself, as it is about the experience of church, so it has a wide audience.  It would also make a great book for a stocking stuffer, Easter basket, or for any children's classroom in a church.  It's a board book, so it's sturdy and can stand up to being in a nursery or even tossed in the diaper bag as a gentle reminder for your young child during a service.

More Info
You can buy Rufus as Ryan from Ideals Books for $7.99, and can follow Ideals Books on Facebook for updates!

I have been blessed with the opportunity to offer one copy of Rufus and Ryan Go to Church! by Kathleen Long Bostrom to one reader.  Remember, even if your children are past this age, it is great for a church nursery or preschool classroom!

Please Note:  One winner will be randomly chosen on October 5th.  Entrants will not be contacted unless they win.  Winner must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen.  Mom's Heart is hosting the giveaway, but is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

This graphic contains my FTC statement

©2011-2013 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.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Random 5 on Friday ~ September 27th

1.  We are really enjoying this fall weather and the great nature walks that go along with it!  Now it's time to start on our fall bucket list!

2.  I found a 5 week free trial of Reading Eggs, so I signed Elliott up last week.  He took the placement test so he didn't have to start at the beginning, and he seems to like it so far.  He even asks to do lessons on his own.  We're also doing a review of VocabularySpellingCity right now, and have a review of IXL about to start, that includes math and language arts.  We'll be all computer'ed out before long!

3.  I gave the boys the freedom to choose our next read-aloud, and they picked Winnie the Pooh.  We read it a couple of years ago, but they're really on the whole "Disney" kick right now.  I think they will enjoy it more this time around anyway, but I told them I'd read Pinocchio or Peter Pan when they're ready too.

4.  The boys have decided they want to build a playhouse in the backyard.  One wants it to be an actual "house" while one wants it to be a boat.  They compromised on a houseboat.

5.  Emory wrote his name!  He was very unsure about his M and R because they didn't "match" but I did the mom-thing and praised his effort, took a picture and slapped that beauty on the fridge!

The Pebble Pond

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Bucket List

Autumn is my favorite season.  No doubt about it.  It might be the crunching of the leaves, the crisp weather, or the anticipation of my birthday.  No seriously, I absolutely love this time of year.  The nature walks are wonderful.  The family bonfires and the hayrides.  There is just something special about this time of year, and I plan to soak it up!

Fall Bucket List

What are your plans for this fall?  I love to hear about favorite traditions!  

©2011-2013 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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Children are Always Learning

This week's Blog Cruise topic is Sneaking School Into Busy Days.  Now to be honest, I wondered how to approach this, because I am learning that we don't "do school" in the traditional sense.  I am coming to the realization that I have a hard time separating learning from life, so I have a hard time with the idea that I have to sneak said learning into our days.

You see, those busy days are school.  No matter where we are at, or what we are doing, how many errands I have to run in a week, or how crazy life gets, there is always something my children are observing, hearing, or learning.  I am slowly learning that while I might not be defined as an unschooler, I am coming to understand and embrace their philosophy and lifestyle.  You see, we have a formal math and language arts program, but I don't plot them out on the calendar or force the lessons.  We don't rely on textbooks, and I don't have schedules or color-coded charts.  Don't get me wrong.  I did try all of that.  I just couldn't make it work for our family.  So I abandoned it.  I abandoned lesson plans for real life experiences, and I abandoned formal curriculum for hands-on projects, and I abandoned the idea that school only happens when all the boxes are checked for the day.  So now you might be wondering, how does she know her children are even learning anything?

The same way you, or any other parent knows . . . children are always learning!

I Let the Kids Lead
First, you have to understand that I do continuously research homeschooling methods, learning styles and curriculum.  I try to implement new things that I think will work for my children, draw them in, or inspire them.  I just do not let it rule my home.  I may plan to read a certain book for our read-aloud, but the boys might ask for a different selection.  I am okay with that.  I might have a structured reading lesson planned, but my 6 year old might ask me if he can play Reading Eggs "every day for reading from now on forever" and I am okay with seeing how that plays out.  I might plan to study trees for nature study, and they wander off to examine the insects.  I let them.  I even offer them books about the ones they find most fascinating.  I want to nurture their curiosity and encourage them to explore.  I want them to understand that their interests and desires are important, and that I will respect and honor wise choices.

Studying apple trees {my plan} lead to studying cicadas {their desire} 

We Read to Our Children
I believe this is one of the most important things that any parent can do for their children, and it is probably the common bond among most homeschooling families.  We all love to read to our children.  We read to our children to introduce them to new ideas, new thoughts, new topics, new interests.   I read poetry, Mother Goose, fairy tales or folk tales.  I read magazines, historical fiction, science books, Bible stories, or classic literature.  I read to my children, with no strings attached.  It's important to read for the sake of reading, with no expectations of narrations, or comprehension questions or any other requirement other than to just enjoy the reading and take from it as they will.

Providing a variety of books for their pleasure

We Provide Interesting Experiences
We cannot ignite a passion if they are not exposed to new things, so we are always looking for unique and interesting experiences for our children.  It is not just about taking our children on exciting vacations and field trips--although that is fun, and we do try to plan outings whenever possible!  It's more about the experience and what they choose to take away from it.  Sometimes it could be as simple as taking a class at the hardware store, or going to museum book sales, or visiting the nursing home, or planning a birthday party, or finding a new park.  We invite the kids to participate in these experiences, because each one teaches them something different.

Watching a jousting tournament at a Renaissance festival

I Observe My Kids
Are they asking questions?  If they are asking "why" or "how" then they are seeking new information, and it is my job to help them find the answers.  If I don't know the answer, I try to help them find it as soon as possible while the question is still fresh and they are still curious, because true learning happens when there is an interest.

Are they applying what they have learned?  When they are using new vocabulary correctly in conversation, when their imaginative play includes something new they have learned, or when their drawings are becoming more complex and detailed, I know they are growing and learning.

Do they share new knowledge with other people?  "Hey momma, did you know...?" is a phrase I hear quite often after my 6 year old has learned something new.

What do they want to do?  Are they interested in trying new things?  Go with it!  Is there something they are passionate about?  That "obsession" is probably just their natural way of assimilating information in a way that makes sense to them.  So instead of thinking that my child only wants to play with Lego, I can remember the STEM applications of the toy, and give him a new challenge!

My Conclusion?
I can play audio books during lunch, and I can ask random math questions in the car, and I can have my preschooler hunt for letters while we're running what feels like an endless amount errands.  And yes, I do those things, but not because I am trying to sneak anything past a defiant child or into a hectic schedule.  It has just become a part of the way we do things now.  This is how we, as relaxed, eclectically Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, do school all the time, and those busy days do not present a challenge, but an opportunity for learning and growth.

To see how other families also find learning opportunities during busy seasons or hectic schedules, head back over to the Cruise Post!

©2011-2013 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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Flip Flop Spanish (Schoolhouse Review)

 photo flipfloplogo2_zps6d551453.jpg

One thing my children want to learn is Spanish.  So far I have exposed the boys, but we have been inconsistent and hodgepodge about actually learning.  Recently I was given the opportunity to try See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish from Flip Flop Learning by Señora Gose, and I was very excited.  I knew I would have two very happy little boys!

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Señora Gose is a bilingual mother and Spanish teacher who also writes curriculum and supports the homeschool community.  See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish (retail $129.95, currently priced at $99.95) is a multi-sensory Spanish program "for ages 3 to 93" and can be used for the whole family.

What's Included?
3 Sets of Flashcards
4 Audio CD's
Whiteboard Paddle & Dry Erase Marker
45 Lessons {that are already hole punched} for two years of instruction

The cards within each color set are numbered, and the lesson plans tell you not only which card, but also what color/number (v26 would be card 26 from the Verde stack) so it makes it much easier to find the ones you need for the lesson very quickly.  Searching for the cards was the most amount of prep work involved.

This is a really easy program to follow.  The lesson plans are well laid out, but everything is right on the the CD too, so instead of "teaching" I get to participate too.  I just put in the CD, flip to the the track that is listed on the lesson plan, and we all follow the directions.  Sometimes she speaks a little quickly, so I have to pause frequently so the boys have a chance to find the card, make the sentence and/or repeat the phrase, but luckily they are okay with that.  The tracks are very short, so it's easy to repeat just a small section or only part of the lesson if necessary.

The "flip flop" comes into play, because one side of each card is a picture, and the other side has the English and Spanish word/phrase.  Children can flip it over, read it and flop it back down.  I think this is helpful for tactile and visual learners.

The lessons are designed so that you complete the same lesson three times a week.  The repetition helps with fluency, recognition and speed.  I found this very doable, because the lessons are short and fun.  We have really enjoyed this curriculum so far.  My boys are 4 and 6, and while my younger son enjoys the lessons with us sometimes, it's really a great fit for my older son.  Both boys will randomly call out words they know.  Sometimes we practice in the car, but I have heard the boys using the words in conversation too.  One evening, after the first couple of lessons, my older son told me: "Necesito el helado." (I need ice cream.) I looked at him skeptically, but he gave me a smile sly smile, and said "No really, I do!"  His reasoning was that he could practice the words we had been learning!

I like that it really is conversational, and not based on worksheets, which makes it appropriate for my younger kids, but there are also optional writing and drawing exercises for older students.  Señora Gosa also provides her email address should the older students have questions about grammar.  I think this is a valuable resource.  I also appreciate that early in the lessons, she starts giving instructions in Spanish too, so while it's technically not part of the "lesson" there is even more exposure to the language than you realize.

The program is a bit pricey up front, but I can recommend it because it is a two year program, and can be adapted for the whole family and multiple learning styles.  Plus, it is fun!

More Resources
Tips and Games
Flip Flop Spanish on Facebook
Señora Gosa on Twitter

Remember to check out more reviews of Flip Flop Learning from the Crew!

©2011-2013 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, September 19, 2013

An Interview with the 1st Grader

When I was doing the Birthday Interview with the 4 Year Old, Elliott insisted I do one with him.  Since his birthday is still a few months away, I suppose this was more of a "back-to-school interview" type interview for him.  I'm finally getting it posted!

How old are you?  6

What's your favorite color?  red

What is your favorite food?  apples and bananas {this boy can put away some apples}

What's your least favorite food?  Onions

What do you like to play?  Lego

What's your favorite movie?  All the Disney movies {he's eyeing Disney World right now}

What's your favorite book?  Blueberries for Sal

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A Firefighter {??}

What's your favorite holiday?  Christmas

What's your favorite subject?  Math.  I like the blocks.

You didn't ask me what my favorite season is!

What's your favorite season?  Summer!

©2011-2013 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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Being a Baby

going for walks

playing music

eating grass

This post is linked up to Wordless Wednesday at Only Passionate Curiosity and Beauty Captured at The Pebble Pond.

©2011-2013 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.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Sale and other Frugal Finds

This post contains affiliate or referral links.  Please read my disclosure for more information, and thank you for your support!

One of the best things about homeschooling is the books.  I love books.  I love buying books.  I particularly love buying children's books.  It's a vicious cycle, I tell ya!

I have even been known to drag my husband and kids to a book sale on vacation, courtesy of Book Sale Finder!

Recently there was a library book sale, and I find these to be one of the cheapest places to buy used books, and it is an easy way to support the community.  Saturday Eleanor and I hit the local library sale to see what we could find.

When I go to book sales, I always look for fun and unique books that I wouldn't find online or are too good to pass up.  Some of my favorite finds?

The Shape of Things by Dayle Ann Dodds  {fun book for my preschooler}
Let's Go Home by Cynthia Rylant
Puzzle Maps U.S.A. {Elliott is interested in U.S. Geography right now!}
On the Banks of Plum Creek {I already snagged several other at a museum book sale}
A Bear Called Paddington and several other Paddington books by Michael Bond!
Poetry for Young People:  Robert Frost
Oxford Book of Poetry for Children

I also found some science experiment books!  Elliott loves anything hands-on, and since he got a microscope that we haven't used much, I figured this might encourage us to get it out.  The one in the middle is called Lucky Science:  Accidental Discoveries, and I thought it looked fun.  Then Astronomy is on our nature study list for this winter, so I grabbed this experiment book, because you know, ya never know!

Afterwards, I decided to go to Goodwill.  Normally I find a few books there, but they are rearranging and most of the books were in totes on the floor--not my browsing style.  However, I found a few a random handicraft items in households and 3 CDs.  I didn't get the Baby Einstein because it's Baby Einstein, but because it was unopened and I just like having different things on hand.  Then Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker will be fun for Christmas.

I also found a couple of board games.  Who doesn't love Sorry!?  Goodnight Moon is more for Emory, and the wooden number matching puzzle is definitely for Emory because he counts everything right now.

A quick trip out and we were able to find books, music, handicrafts goodies and games.  I love adding frugal finds to our homeschool supplies!

©2011-2013 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.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When Nature Study Just Happens

"Hey momma, what's this green stuff?"

"That's lichen."

"What's lichen?"

"Well, it's sort of a type of fungus . . . "

And then he was gone.

The next day, when we were back near that tree:  "What's this stuff called again?"


"Can we take some of this lichen off the tree for our nature journal?"


Emory's getting pretty good at finding insects.  He was absolutely thrilled and dragged me over so I could see.

He is not particularly scared of anything he finds.


"Charlotte" here hung out for several days.  I think she was a black and yellow garden spider, or argiope aurantia.  I was not allowed to relocate her, as the boys found her enormous size fascinating.  She provided a lot of great opportunities for observation, because we observed her markings, and also noted that her web was in an open/sunny area and along the eave of our house.  Her web also had the zigzag pattern and she was usually flipped upside down, except in this moment when the dog brushed into the bush and she flipped over quickly.


Then there are times when Daddy gets involved.  One time he called and says "I'm bringing something home for the boys . . . "  Apparently when Husband arrived at work, several people were staring at Mr. Rhino, who was already dead when they found it.  Of course Husband knew the kids would enjoy seeing it.

Then there was the time he walked inside with a "Hey boys . . . "  I could hear Emory oohing and ahh-ing from the other room!  Manny here was fun because his little head would turn slowly back and forth if we entered his line of vision.  He was very observant himself!

I don't need to plan a science curriculum.  The boys of this family are doing that on their own.

This post is linked up to Mom's Library and Homeschooling on the Cheap.

©2011-2013 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.