Friday, March 18, 2016

A week of "low tide" and it was so fun!

This was our first week of intentional "low tide" and it was restorative. Not a week off, not a break, but a bit relaxed and unschoolish.

For more on the tidal homeschooling concept, see Melissa Wiley's site here. I also appreciated listening to her interview on the Ed Snapshots podcast episode 24.

We have been plugging away at our normal to-dos since the beginning of 2016, and while we had a week totally off in February due to a nasty flu bug, that wasn't a restful break. That was just getting through the bug and recovering.

I could sense that our family needed a little something different for the week, and it felt low-tidey to me. I facilitated some of our goings-on, but stepped back a bit and watched to see what would happen.

Bird study: Last weekend, I restocked seed and added a new bird feeder to our yard. I placed some bird guides and binoculars on a nearby window. We had many visitors this week, and observed, looked them up, and used a bird app to hear some bird calls. I wasn't leading the ship on this; it was kid-driven with me making just a few contributions as a facilitator.

Lego: My son's Lego Contraptions set arrived on Monday, and he holed himself up in his room for most of the day building. He used some of the instructions, but also made some of his own creations. For $13, the set was money well spent since we didn't have Lego gears, those types of axels or other do-dads like that.

Audio books: We had a few outings this week, and all listened to parts of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz during those drives. I started it last week as a read-aloud to just my son while we were spending time in a waiting room, but switched over to the Audible version performed by Anne Hathaway ($0.99 on Audible when you already own the free Kindle version. Be sure to buy from Audible if you want that specific performance, and it is a performance -- who knew she could do so many voices?!).

They also listened to more of House at Pooh Corner (for the 2nd or 3rd time? Viv is currently obsessed) at bedtime.

Nature study: Hoo-ahh! Went to two nature parks with two groups of friends this week. The weather was starting to warm up a bit, and time outside felt great.

The second park we visited had a creek. When we got home, we were curious what it was called. We looked it up, saw where it fed into, and what THAT fed into, and so on and how you could in theory follow it all the way to the Gulf. Cool!

THAT led to a discussion on the water cycle, but also weather patterns. Johnny already understood how the water cycle functioned, but he was less clear on how rain and storm systems got to our state. What put that in motion? Did it have anything to do with the earth's rotation and seasonal tilts? he wondered. Oh. Let's go down that path, then.

Science discussion: Discussed warm fronts/cold fronts, the impact of Earth's rotation on weather patterns, the Coriolis Effect, video clip demonstration of water draining at the Equator and at points slightly to the north and south. Wondered if the rapid rotation of Jupiter and Neptune helped contribute to the violent storms there (likely).

Saw that rocket launches and airplanes need to factor in the Coriolis Effect when planning their flight paths.

He liked seeing the connections between meteorology, astronomy, physics, and rocketry. They're all related!!

These discussions between my son and I are rapid, and they are often me asking questions to him to clarify something, because I am unclear but HE knows and will explain it to me. I look it up to confirm and he's right. This kid! I need to really, really brush up on my science understanding so to have better discussions with him.

I think this time of year is a good time to study weather a little more closely, so I thought we might take the opportunity to segue into a little weather unit. I am going to read aloud Everyday Weather and How it Works by Herman Schneider and illustrated by Jeanne Bendick.

This book came highly recommended on Nicole's weather book list at Sabbath Mood Homeschool (her book selections are really good. Check out what she has to say about Charllote Mason living science).

We already enjoyed Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean, and Pitter & Patter. Pitter & Patter is a simple picture book that I saw on the library shelf and grabbed it.

Daily Word Ladders: I saw samples of this book on Amazon and did a few on the screen with J to see how he liked it. Word puzzles and games are so fun to me, and if it is a way to sneak in spelling, vocab, and handwriting, then yes send it to my house. We did a few ladders together using a dry erase cover and marker so that he could do them again sometime, or I could use them with his sisters later. So far, so good! There are several levels in this series and I started with the first.

Read-alouds: Besides the science books I read aloud this week, I also read a few chapters of our current just-for-fun, Indian in the Cupboard. Not quite PC, but opportunities for discussion on certain topics presented themselves.

Silent reading: J read plenty to himself this week, as usual. Pretty sure it was all science non-fiction, but he also did read a Star Wars Lego library book to his sister. Twaddle? Yup. Building read-aloud practice and building a relationship with his sister? YES. WORTH IT.

Play: Lots of playing. Time outside in the yard or at the nature parks, building Lego together, just playing. My 3 kids bicker and fight. This week, they got along pretty well and that is so wonderful!

So, while we didn't do formal math, handwriting, a phonics lesson, history, fine arts stuff, I would still call this week educational and a total success. Yay for low tide!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lots of nature study happening here!

I knew we could do better with nature study, and I'm glad that we are making progress. My main goal is to get us all outdoors, observing nature, and just being out in creation. The sketching and nature notebooks can come later.

We are having a warm burst of weather and took advantage today by meeting up with other homeschoolers at a nature park. It was new to us, and we will be back. It has a pond, trails, and wooded areas to explore and we saw two little snakes, some flowers starting to bud, rotting logs, and a lot of wild onion grass.

The sunshine and warm weather did wonders for my well-being. The weather looks good for tomorrow, so we're going to try and do the same thing, only this time at a different nature park.

One of my kids isn't super thrilled about being out in nature (this is boring! I want to go to a playground!) sigh. I hope more outings with friends at fun places will help on that front. Once we got going with things, the attitude improved.

At home, we have enjoyed observing a lot of birds. This weekend I restocked our bird feeders and added a suet feeder (no takers on that one yet, that we've seen). So many visitors! At least a dozen varieties. We also saw Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, right on schedule, waddling through our yard and finding a place for the nest.

I had a child's pair of binoculars and a bird field guide laying on the window sill and we used that to get a little more out of our watching. All of the kids were really into it, and I love how naturally it all came together.

Looking forward to getting to know more of these creatures.

Last, we are the proud owners of 3 hermit crabs. In our experience, hermit crabs are easy to care for and also entertaining to watch. One decided to molt immediately after settling into its new home, so who knows. We added some playmobil toys to see how they like climbing on them.

We will read Holling's Pagoo coming up.