Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Fall, like spring, is a busy time on a farm. Lots of cleaning and shoring up for winter. Building new shelters for animals and feed. Weaning our summer babies and integrating them into the herd. Selecting the new breeding lines and implementing a program. Lots to do and shorter days to get it done.

Fall also brings our much awaited field trip to California's Apple Hill. Apple Hill is a farming community encompassing Camino and Placerville, Ca. There are approximately 50 growers in apple hill that specializes in agrotourism. From you pick orchards to vineyards to petting zoo's there really is something for everyone.

I think it is hysterical that although we live on a farm and have a built in petting zoo, my kids look so forward to this trip. We drive the roads between farms commenting on structures, layouts and what we could dos. Even the 3 year old gets into it.

This year I scheduled the kids a candy making class at one of our favorite farms and the kids were thrilled. The not so thrilling part was that Apple Hill had no apples, there was a late frost. My kids took to calling it appleless hill as the day went on. We refused to be let down and chose to pick our pumpkins out instead. We also pet some animals, talked shop wit a few farmers and toured our old favorite farms. It was a great day despite the appleless situation.

We did notice that a lot of the farms were for sale, even some of the oldest and best. It was a sad thing to see. A mix of age, economy, taxes, regulations and weather have been too much for these small farmers to bare. I am hopefull like minded families will come in and continue the tradition.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Little Turkey

Everything falls into perspective when you open your classroom door and this is waiting for you.

Gotta love that farm life. Especially when it takes 40 minutes to get them back in the pen where they belong. Those little turkeys!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sometimes The Best Things In Homeschool Are Free

Today was a tough one! I have a cold. It was a long weekend. My behaviorally challenged child, who I thought was finally "getting it," took his behavior issues to a whole new level. I was feeling less than supported about homeschool among other things. But we went out to class anyway! I refuse to let life get the best of my kids education. We did our circle time and sat down to work through our drawers. Both of my Kindergarten kids just couldn't get it. The writing portion of the worksheets are not working for them. I was already just at my whits end. I felt totally ill equipped to teach them. I felt like a total failure. It was definitely one of those " I am sending these kids to school" kind of days. I quit, came back, then quit again in my head. The kids moved on to the next box frustrated and looking sad. Erica's new printing worksheets were in there and I was thinking "NOOOOOO". But Something amazing happened. The way she had designed the sheets just spoke to my kids. They both understood in seconds what three weeks of our curriculum had failed to make clear.

At this point I need to tell you that Ava was so proud of herself, so happy, that she was wiggle dancing in her chair. I watched her and it was clear that these moments define homeschool. In a classroom a teacher would be responsible for 30 kids and probably not even notice the kids frustration. A teacher certainly would not be able to get a individualized curriculum for each struggling child. A teacher would miss that cute little dance that sent my heart flying. Teaching your own kids is not always easy and sometimes even the best scheduled plans and the most researched curriculum might need adjustment, but isn't that the best part? As homeschoolers we can do exactly what is best for our children. And sometimes the best things in homeschool are FREE!

Check out Erica's new printables here: http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/2010/09/1-20-writing-practice.html

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tales and Misadventures of Black Eyed Pea

The kids were playing a fun filled game of "chase me" through the living room when I heard the telltale scream. Ava had tripped and crashed into Owen who then fell into Emma sending Emma flying head first into the coffee table. I christen thee Black Eyed Pea.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Emma's Sensory Boxes

My sensory boxes are finally taking shape. I have decided to make my boxes with single color themes and a few season/holiday boxes as well.

I started the boxes by selecting a base product and color for each box. Pasta, rice, split peas and beans are a few awesome base products. The nice thing about using pasta and rice is that you can dye it any color. I used cous cous for the brown and it took the dye perfectly and ended up as our favorite base because it feels like sand or dirt and looks great in the box.

For my pink box I used a mix of white and brown rice because I thought the two varieties would pick up the dye differently and and visual interest.

I started by mixing food coloring to rubbing alcohol. I tried using vinegar, but it made the pasta sticky.

The process was to add the base product to a gallon ziplock then pour the food coloring and rubbing alcohol mixture and shake. I let it all sit in the baggie for about 30 minutes flipping it over every 10 minutes or so to make sure the pasta got an even coat.

Then you pour it out onto a cookie sheet to dry like you see with the orange pasta below. While the pasta is on the cookie sheet you can add essential oils or candle scent to make your base product smell good too!

I used Orange essential oil for the orange pasta, mint for the green split peas, pumpkin pie spice for the brown, Grape for the purple, lemon for the yellow, and apple spice for the red.

The next stage was the hardest! Finding interesting trinkets that encourage the use of all of your child's senses can be trying! I added a lot of textures by adding pom pom's, curled ribbon, buttons, a bowl and some type of scoop, painted letters and shapes, toys and trinkets to each box. As we go through them I will add something that Emma can taste to each box.

I prepped our fall box to go the extra mile by finding some apples, Thanksgiving and Halloween trinkets to add and remove as the holidays come and go. One of the activities will be to identify the new items and the missing items!

I am putting the finishing touches on the boxes and then they will go into the storage closet and come out one at a time. Emma, Ava and Owen got a hold of the "pink" box tonight as I was working on assembling all the boxes. They immediately instigated a 2 hour exploring session and a lot of begging for school to have a Sunday school day added to our week!

Our Curriculum Part 2 (Kinder and Tot)

This year I decided to do Kindergarten with both Ava and Owen. Ava is a little young but she wants to do what Owen is doing and as long as she is able to do the work I can't think of a good reason to say no. With the program I have put together I think she will do fine. I can always do a different Kindergarten with her next year if necessary. Emma is going to do a pre/tot school along with us and is proudly sporting her own desk and set of workboxes.

Our day starts with circle and board work with all the kids. We review the weather and are keeping a graph. We discuss the month, day, and year and the pattern our colored numbers are creating. We have a shape, color and a journal as well. The little kids and I do our journal as a discussion and Wyatt is required to write his out. We also do our scripture reading at this time.

We move to our separate work stations after circle time. We are using Bob Jones, "K5 Beginnings" for our base curriculum. I love everything I have used from them in the past with my older son. The Kindergarten math book even has a farm theme! It is perfect for our one room schoolhouse! The social studies program is worked in and so we are learning about towns and careers. Here is our board and our "houses" and the kids in their fire hats:

The "Beginnings" program introduces two letters a week. Owen and Ava already have a pretty solid foundation with letters and sounds from using Erica's, at Confessions Of A Homeschooler's, wonderful letter of the week program. You can find it here:
http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/ . The kids and I enjoyed her printables so much that I am using them again as reinforcement for Owen and Ava. Emma can do some of her printables so I fill her boxes as she is able. I have laminated some of her sheets for each letter so they are more durable and can be used over and over and the others I use as worksheets and add to their binders. The kids love these and look forward to finding them in the workboxes.

For our bible portion besides the scripture reading we do during our morning circle and board work time, they have a scripture memory verse from Jolanthe at:
http://homeschoolcreations.blogspot.com/, they are awana's printables. The printables are easy and cute and a blessing because all my kids are loving the little photo albums she suggested using.

This week was amazing. It went really well and was much smoother than I had anticipated. The kids and I enjoyed it and they begged for more each day when we wrapped up. We laughed a lot and had no tears! Among so many other things we learned about our families. Owen and Ava made family photo albums:

They were both very proud of their work. Owen had everyone in a cowboy hat, everyone but Ava because "she is a princess". Ava was hysterical! She had a long dramatic story for each picture. One of Sarah playing volleyball, sick with "green chicken spots", one of Anna crying because "you forgot her in the car and went shopping (has never happened by the way)".

The only foreseeable problem is that I am a curriculum junkie. I am always looking and needing more. I spent last weekend and I anticipate spending this one searching, finding, printing and laminating. I never have enough! I am finishing up some sensory boxes and holiday theme kits and some activities for Emma's tot school and then I need an intervention!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Our Curriculum

I was so nervous about this year. Starting homeschool with a repeat second grader seemed almost easy. He already knew his numbers, he knew how to read. It was just adding to the skills, reteaching some basics and behavior control with him. This kindergarten thing was a whole new ball game. I was going to be responsible for everything. I needed to be ready to teach letters, numbers and all the basics of how to put it all together. If they did not get it or there were mistakes it was all on me. No teacher to blame. For some reason it was overwhelming to me in a way remediating second grade never was. I have spent countless ours researching, reading and shopping. It is a lot of information so I am going to break it into two posts. Here is how it all came together for third grade.
For Wyatt's third grade year we are doing Sonlight http://www.sonlight.com/3.html . We absolutely loved Sonlight for second grade. The program consists of history textbooks followed by novels that reinforce what you have learned. Wyatt's retention went through the roof last year with the stories from the novels acting as a trigger for all the real information. I learned and remembered as much as he did and way more than I learned as a child. Jacob is 4 grades ahead of Wyatt and in a private school for junior high. Every year the two boys are studying the same time frame in history. Sonlights books are more thorough, more interesting and Wyatt's retention is better than Jake's. Jacob actually borrows our books in his spare time and complains his are boring by comparison. That is by far the best indication of a great curriculum if you ask me.

We are also using the Homeschool In The Woods Time Travelers Series, http://www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/ , If you have never seen her stuff you have to check it out. We did her Old Testament package last year and LOVED it! The artwork is amazing. Jacob and Sarah would come home and beg for me to print them out copies and I will confess I even printed some for myself because the lapbook was so beautiful when it was all put together. I felt like a real artist. This year we are doing the Time Travelers starting with the Explorers and working our way along with our Sonlight history. Her materials are really a stand alone product and they are serving the purpose of filling in gaps and giving us a deeper knowledge of some time periods. Wyatt is feeling like the smartest 3rd grader ever which is a real change after so many years struggling in school. I knew it would be a hit with Wyatt because it is so hands on, but I can't describe the joy in this kids heart when he is working on this material. He does the reading, completes some projects for his notebook and gets to do things like tying sailors knots and building a ship out of boxes. Here are a few shots of him in action.

Here Wyatt is tying knots and coloring maps.

I am not a huge fan of Sonlight for language arts. Wyatt needs a more solid program. I decided on Bob Jones for English with Spelling, Vocabulary and a Daily Language Review by Evan Moore. I think it is a solid routine and he has a much better grasp since we switched.

Math is Bob Jones as well and I love their books. The materials are thorough, colorful and well laid out. http://www.bjupress.com/category/Grade+3+Materials+for+Homeschool?path=1048. He was very behind in math when we started homeschool and we caught him up and he is loving math, where it was a struggle before.

Science for Wyatt is really extensive this year. I purchased Jeannie Fulbright's "Exploring Creation With Astronomy" http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/astronomy , we have used her books before and really enjoyed the immersion approach. Then I ordered my Sonlight and it came with a biology and life science curriculum. Wyatt could not decide so he decided to do it all. Sonlight uses a lot of Usborn book which are just plain fun and this science also has a Lyrical Life book with a CD of songs, a big hit here on the farm. So we are doing biology, life and astronomy with notebooking to boot!!!

Our Bible is a group subject so we read and discuss, but then I was blog surfing my favorites and I hit the gold mine. Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations has created a whole system for scripture memorization that follows Awana. We do not do Awana at church but the kids will be doing her program at home. Check it out along with her other amazing ideas and printables at, http://homeschoolcreations.blogspot.com/search?q=awana .

Our last subject will be foreign language. We were planning on doing Prima Latina for Latin but Robert was debating between Latin and Spanish. I have a week or two to decide so I will be praying on it!

So add that to some lapbooks, crafts, nature journals, field trips and centers and we will have a awesome school year! So far it is all fun and exciting. Wyatt is doing great and we are both having a blast. I tell you by the time I am done teaching him I am going to be a genius!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Boys Of Fall

Jake and Owen are playing football this season. I usually try to keep a cool facade when my kids express interest in a sport so I don't unduly influence them. When the boys came and asked me I couldn't help but start shaking my internal pom pom's and reflecting on my days as a Pop Warner cheerleader. I have to say there is just something about a boy in a football uniform! My heart be still!

We have an awesome league here. It is all about the love of the game. Pop Warner has even teamed up with The University Of Nevada Reno for a special day of training. It was so cute to watch these big boys of football get down on the ground and run plays with even the littlest guys in football (by this I mean Owen at 36 lbs and 5 years old, he is the smallest)

After practice they players all posed for photos together and even signed some autographs.

The boys are looking forward to UNR's season opener, when they get to be down on the field to cheer on the players.

This weekend was Jamboree for both boys. Owen's was first on Friday night. I do have to say that the Tiny Might teams are unfairly stacked. Our team was a last minute pull from other overly full teams. Of course the other coaches sacrificed their youngest and smallest players. Our team, Wolfpack Powder, is made of the smallest, youngest, first year players. That being said these boys are full of heart and will be a force out there on the field. After the first two scrimmages I saw the animal in Owen come out. He really started to get it and was all over his man. I was ecstatic.

Here is my little stud! All geared up!

On the sidelines with the offense. Just in case you misunderstood SMALLEST player.

Owen is number 33 and here he is blocking that huge kid in the right of the frame.

When you cant push them over backward just pull them down on top of you. This poor number 34 never knew what hit him. Owen would tackle him, the play would end and he would get up and Owen would tackle him again. He got so frustrated he started stomping his feet and crying! I was so proud!!!!!

Here is the cutest victory dance ever created on a football field. You think he likes the game?

Jake's Jamboree was this morning. His team is huge so out of three games he only got to play one.

He is number 78.

The VICTORY dance! Jake got a holding call and he was bummed but I was proud of him. This is his first year and he did awesome. I can't wait for all the games this season. I did try to kiss the boy and he said "awww..MOM", so we all know I will be kissing the heck out of him all season. I think Rob might even get in on the action.