Friday, January 3, 2014

An impromptu experiment

Today we went to the Grapevine Arboretum. It is fairly new and honestly doesn't have a lot to look at. (Nevermind that it is January and everything is dead!) The kids needed to burn off some pent up energy and Troy and I just needed a break with them! (I didn't take my camera).

While we were there and the kids were able to explore freely we found many things; fish, leaves, bird nests with babies, rocks, squirrels, hawks, and even horse apples! We found one rather large one and the girls and I decided to cut it open and see what was inside when we got home.

We started with a list of "Observations"
We wrote different things about our horse apple. What it looked like, how it felt, how much it weighed, etc.

We also decided to compare the size with other fruit in the house. Is it bigger than an apple? How about a small grapefruit?
I don't have a scale (shame on me!) so we decided to compare the weight with other items in the house. We determined that 4 lbs of sugar and a 2 lb can of beans was too heavy. But the 1 lb can was just right!

Then it was time to make a hypothesis! What does the inside look like? How does it feel and smell? Are there seeds?

The girls were almost dead on with their guesses! I was very proud. This was a lot of fun and we learned about weight, measurements, comparison, and nature in general. We even looked up if it was okay to eat one of these apples! We also looked up why we write "lb" for pound!

Our finished "Observation Sheets".

The girls loved this and so did I. Jackson wasn't interested which was fine. He and his Daddy are working on their own projects! This is just a small part of what we do in our unschooling day!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our First Year Unschooling!

It has been so long since I have even thought about blogging but today is the day! Our homeschool life...well our life...looks so different than any year before it. We have tried all different types of curricula. We have tried different schedules. We have been in co-op's and we have tried both traditional and non traditional set-ups for "school". Nothing has seemed to click with us.

Many months ago (maybe over a year) I said I wanted to try unschooling. Such a foreign concept and one I am still learning about. This 'year' I have decided to take the plunge. Unschooling, is a broad term I have learned, or student-led learning is the what we have decided to try.

The results? So far it is working! There are definitely kinks but honestly they are not with the kids, they are with my perception of what 'school' is. Here is what our 'schooling' looks like. I have pictures to post too but they are with my mom in Houston! ;)

Daily Devotional (I have decided that this is NOT optional). I really liked how the kids and I started with this last year and stuck to it! I am using a book called, Today is the Day. I bought it at Lifeway a million years ago for $2.50 and am just now using it!

Sonlight Cores B&C I know, I know...Unschooler's do NOT use curriculum, but we LOVE Sonlight! The kids have learned a lot from the history and geography (H&G) portions. So I have tailored it to us! Since we are only pulling from H&G we can cover an entire week in a day.

Media There are many forms of media! We use the internet including YouTube, Google, Wiki, etc to find out about different subjects that the kids may be interested in. The other day we watched videos on how the Great Wall of China was built. We also go to the library every week. The kids pick out the books and I help when they may be stuck on what to find. Jackson is really into graphic novels right now. Our library carries tons of educational ones and so he is learning too! :) We also use Netflix for educational purposes (and fun). The kids love The Magic School Bus and documentaries about animals. The Kindle Fire is used often as well. We have also found some free games online for math and reading.

Reading We go to the library a lot! I also set aside time for them to read. We are new at this still and they don't automatically choose to do something like read (except Char) so I guide them! Ellie is still struggling with reading but it is coming along nicely!

Math This looks different for each child! Right now we have thrown out the workbooks for Jackson. He is still using math skills and I am impressed at how much he is doing without the book! The girls are constantly asking me math questions and are figuring much of it out on their own! We still have workbooks for them because they wanted to keep them.

Basically we are taking each day as it comes! One day may be more "educational" than the other. We may go to the park and learn about static electricity while sliding down the slide. The thing is I am being more mindful of the cues my kids are giving me! I am a guide and they are choosing what interests them! There is much more to what we are doing. We have several mission projects and field trips planned for this year. I will keep you posted on our progress and will post pictures!

Friday, January 4, 2013

What we have done so far!

I have neglected this blog!  Not on purpose. Life has just been busy. The last time I posted it was about Unschooling. I would like to update you on that!

Since we have started school we have moved to the DFW area.  We are now living with my parents. I do not have as much control over when the TV is on or off anymore and because we are sharing a living space our day looks a lot different than what I had first hoped. The good news? We have adjusted well!

Our day starts with the kids playing outside, or legos, or some other fun playtime.  At this time I wake up!  The good thing about having grandparents in the house is that I can sleep in a bit! I wake up, check email, facebook and blogs. We start school about 9 am.

We always start with Bible (Sonlight). The kids and I enjoy memorizing Scripture, praying and talking about the story or lesson.  This Sonlight curriculum has a lot of read-alouds! So I have incorporated drawing or painting of the Bible lesson into our morning while I read the, sometimes endless, pages.

Then we go on to History, Geography (sonlight), and then science.  We started the year with Apologia but I quickly realized that this was not a good fit for our family.  So we are switching (as of January) to unit studies. We just read a fun story "Owls in the Family" and the kids wanted to learn more about owls so we are working on a lapbook about owls.

Then it is time for individual work. Ellie is still very dependent on me for most of her work. So Jackson usually starts with math. I only help when it is a new concept or if he is confused. This leaves me time to work with Ellie.  She is really not getting math.  I noticed recently that she is relying on me to tell her the answers. So we have started over.  We are taking it very slowly. Today was the first day I saw the light bulb turn on.  She is starting to understand the concept of adding.  We will most likely do Kindergarten math again later in the semester. For now we are sticking with some little books that are meant to reinforce addition and other basic concepts.

I also like to take this time to help Charlotte. She only gives me about 10 minutes max!  She loves to play Sound-o Bingo, which is bingo with only letters and their sounds.  She also loves playing cards. Ellie joins in too.

Ellie reads to me and works on other LA and is usually done well before lunch. Then she is off to play with her sister!

Jackson and I work on ELA together and then he is working on an additional geography program that is based on the US.

That is it!  Oh, we have just started Health too.  Like just started today! So I don't know how that will go yet,

The unschooling has not really happened like I wanted but I feel a lot less pressure this year than I have in years past. We have had a lot of big life changes since October including: a move, Troy out of work for 2 months, 2 deaths, and me having to be the full time caregiver for my father. I have learned to let a lot of things go. My kids are benefiting from that.

All-in-all, it has been a good year!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Did I get your attention?

We have been homeschooling for 3 years now.  Already we are looking into year 4.  Jackson will be in the 4th grade, Ellie will be in 1st and dear Charlotte will be only 4 years old (I don't believe in homeschooling that young but we do have some fun activities planned). I have actually purchased all of our curriculum.  We are doing a variety of things.

There is a giant box in my living room full of books. Some are for reading some are text books and some are teacher's books.  This big box is starting to feel daunting.  I don't know if I can do ALL of that next year!  We live a very busy life and the thought of getting behind is overwhelming!! 

I have been scoping the blogs and have come across several unschoolers.  Here is a quick definition: Unschooling is when you don't necessarily have a structured "school environment".  Children are free to learn through play and exploration.  Some extreme unschoolers wait for their kids to ask to learn.

I am not on board with the extreme scenario of unschoolers but I have been thinking that maybe, just maybe this could be for us.  Jackson HATES sitting at the table with a text book and hours of writing and reading.  The boy is smart, he just wants to move around. Why not let him have that freedom? We already take more time for breaks than we do for learning.  In the meantime he is outside exploring, playing legos and now...wait for it....reading! All of these "breaks" include some kind of learning.

So how can I incorporate this with out school day?

I am thinking.  I still want to use that big box but I also want to not feel tied down to that big box. So one idea that I am working on is "Unschooling Boxes".  These will be little boxes (or baskets) with different items like crayons, lego, magnifying glasses, paper, pens etc.  The kids will always have access to them and will be able to work on them whenever they want.  The catch? There will be no more TV and video games!!  I am so excited to try this.  I will have to blog about it and let you all know how it goes!! :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just a little update!

Wow!  I have been gone a while! I am sorry about that.  It is not on purpose.  I just never can seem to find the time to post something that I think you all want to really read!!

So what is going on here? I am working and loving it.  It has been an adjustment to say the least but the kids and are getting the hang of it.  I had a hysterectomy last week.  I am recovering well.  I am hoping to go back to work next week. 

Jackson is doing well.  We are struggling with some heart issues.  He is at an age where he obsesses over things.  We are trying to teach him about false gods.  About allowing something to consume your mind so much that your focus is taken off of the Lord.  This is something that both Troy and I struggle with too.  We are not perfect but if we were then what would be the point?!

Ellie is still Ellie.  She is excelling in her schoolwork and is reading really well.  I am so proud of her.  She is super sensitive and I am still working on my own responses to her. I don't get her sometimes.  Remembering that this a gift that God has given her helps me to be more compassionate with her. She loves going to work with me.  She LOVES art.  She loves her teachers. 

Char is Char! She is a mess.  She is super bright and witty.  Because of this I am constantly laughing at her antics.  She is a mess and we love her for it!  Her outfit of choice is Minnie Mouse pajamas and to be honest I think that is a GREAT choice!

Troy is employed but looking for a new job. He has an interview today! Yay! We are praying it is better pay and a place where he is appreciated.  We want him to have a fun job!

Friday, January 20, 2012

I want to be a mermaid

We have been really busy.  I am rarely home anymore and at times I think it is taking a toll on the kids.  But then there are those times that they act like Goofy Goobers!

While at work Char came up to me with a head of wet hair.

Me-Shocked "Char! Why is your hair all wet?"
Char- As plain as can be without any incedents... "I want to be a mermaid, Mom.".

Well, there you go! We all had a good laugh and I let her run off and finish playing.  It is the little moments! Right?

Monday, November 21, 2011


My house is quiet.  Too quiet.  There is no laughter, no yelling, no screaming, no stomping on the laminate floor. It is quiet.  Why? you ask. My kids are at Grammy and Popsy's house! A few weeks ago when Mom called to see if we would come there for Thanksgiving she also asked if they could take the kids a few days earlier.  All 3!!!  This has never been done before.  So yesterday I met my dad halfway between here and there and dropped the kids with him.  The ride home was nice and quiet.  Once I was able to get home and be still it was too quiet.  I almost couldn't stand it.  This morning I have been very productive.  I miss the kids but I am enjoying the silence. We will see how the rest of the week goes.