Thursday, October 1, 2015

Beyond the Books: September

Can you believe it’s October!  The time seems to be slipping by, yet I adore this time of year!  Especially this year!  After being away from a place where “harvest time” has such meaning, I can’t get enough of all the autumn-ness going on right now!  From the colors, to the leaves crunching, harvest produce, cheery pumpkins, crisp air, and holiday anticipation!  Ah, I love it! 

Last month I shared some ways we took our home preschool outside or even just found different ways to learn.  I thought I might keep up the pattern every month to possibly give others some ideas.  And maybe you’d share more of yours with us?  I always appreciate new inspiration!  I am not one to plan things out well, but sometimes just seeing someone else's ideas can spark an idea that would work for the particular circumstance. 

Eclipse: Fynn has been asking about fractions (halves and quarters) a lot lately and I realized it’s a little difficult to explain because it changes depending on what it’s a fraction of.  I knew math was going to be hard for me, but I thought I’d have a couple years of smooth sailing!  Nope.  I think I'm starting to impart the idea of what a half is at least, and being able to go outside and watch the super blood moon eclipse was a fun way to teach about what half of a moon would look like!    While we waited for the moon to rise, we saw the beautiful sunset over the lake and looked up to watch the stars come out.  We even saw one shooting star and a couple planes and satellites.  Wow, why don’t we do this more often!?  Josh pointed out the Big Dipper and it made me think about how I’d like to learn the constillations some day.

Now that is something that’s wild: the sky.  Sometimes I feel like it’s hard to find a truly wild place anymore down here in the lower 48.  Even in Alaska, for that matter, it’s not easy to get to the wild country.  But the sky, it’s always right there, and every clear night your eyes can wander galaxies away.  How does that song go?...”I don’t care, I’m still free, you can’t take the sky from me…”

Geek moment over.  Before we went out that night, I showed the kids a couple YouTube videos (SciShowKids was by far my favorite)  explaining what was going on so they could kind of have an idea when we got out there.  And I guess some little ones can be frightened by the odd moon, so we wanted to avoid that scenario if at all possible through education.

Trees: we ended up exploring trees a lot this month as we watched their leaves go from many shades of green to the vibrant oranges, yellows, reds and purples.  Also fascinating has been discussing the variety of ways that trees will naturally try to plant new trees:  seeds!  We discected several evergreen cones and found the “treasures” (seeds) inside. 

And I’m not certain what these (pictured below) are called that fall from the maple trees, but we’ve been calling them helicopters or whirly-gigs.  I’m pretty sure God made them that way as a toy for forest-wandering children as well as a seed transport mechanism because my kids could toss these into the air and watch them whirl forever!  They are rather hypnotizing.
  A big horse chestnut tree behind our house also started dropping it’d mace-like bulbs, then spilling the shiny brown nut.  It was like treasure hunting here every time we went out, too!  Now I have a whole bucket full I’m not sure what to do with!  Any ideas?  We took a closer look at the areas where the branches had been cut last month and we discovered sap: the smell, texture, color, and even the taste!  Then the little ones started using it as an adhesive!  They glued twigs and leaves to just about anything, even a letter they sent to Grandma. 

We still have a lot to learn, but I feel like we made some great progress!  And of course there is just the joy of jumping in a big pile.  PE?  Oh and leaf rubbings for art class?  We did also discuss why the leaves that had fallen were a different color and becoming dry and brittle (disconnection from the sap stream). 

Animal Wisdom:  Something that I feel is very important for anyone to learn is how to interact appropriately with animals and we are getting so many more opportunities here!  Having pets in the house is an awesome start and really helps them to be unafraid of animals (and decreases the likelihood of allergies!)  But I'm always so excited when they can meet new critters!  Our sweet friend from whom we buy eggs always lets us go visit the chickens, feed them a snack and check for eggs!  It's such a treat when they're not your own!  She also has some rabbits they love to pet, too!  So soft!  We talk about walking slowly and quietly and gentleness with all the animals and especially the eggs! 

We also got to visit ducks and were later confronted by a gaggle of geese at a new park we visited this week!  With the ducks we got to talk about not chasing them and what were good snacks to offer them.  Did you know that bread crumbs are not good for them?  I didn't until this past year.  You can learn more about that from Stella123 here.  Then the geese came at us as we were walking in another part.  Our little animal lover was so excited and started to run at them with open arms to hug them all!  We learned how to be cautious with geese and remember that they are wild animals and can hiss, bite, and scratch.

Fractions: We discovered this a little with the moon, then we got some pears from the farm stand across the street and got half and even quarter concepts a little more engrained.  MMmmmm!  What a yummy way to learn math!

Writing: I’m struggling a little with ideas for this one.  We have done a little book work, then tracing with the chalk.  It also seems to help him if there is a purpose to his writing.  Copying letters over and over in a book is tedious, but when he wants to  write a letter to his friends or relatives he  seems to be much more motivated. 

Library story time:  Sometimes, you hear too much of Mom’s voice and just hearing  another seems so much more enjoyable.  A couple age-appropriate stories, songs, and activities they were able to engage in along with others their own age.

Museums: At the beginning of the month we went to a science museum.  It was a bit overwhelming and we didn’t get to see everything.  But I so remember going to science museums growing up, and even though I hated reading through the signs, the concepts I saw demonstrated there quickly came back to me when I had to read about them later on. 

Then there was the Smithsonian museum day and we got into the local historical museum free last weekend!  The little ones are just beginning to understand that there has been quite a bit of  time before right now.  Lots of questions about how life went on without engines or electricity.  Great questions and ones I want them to think through!  I want them to figure out alternative ways to do things, how to do without, and know what is important. 
Dorris Ranch also had a fun pioneer day at their recreated village.  The kids were taught about the Wagon Trains, frontier life, trapper life and native life.  They got to practice hoeing up the hard dirt by hand, washing clothes with a wash board, hauling water, grinding flour, writing with a quill and some native children's toys. 

Music: A very thoughtful and generous couple from our church decided to lend us their keyboard for as long as we wanted it! Wow!  And there are all kinds of drum beats and instrument sounds built in.  The kids are loving playing around with it!  No formal lessons yet, but what a fun introduction!  And we found the ukulele, too, so now the rest of my crew can all play their “ ‘tar’s” together! 

 Then Monday night we all went to see one of the artists we know at a concert held behind an ice cream shop in town.  It was really a lovely venue with a giant mimosa tree growing in the middle.  The kids loved the harp, piano and guitar and danced along to the upbeat songs.  A late night, but well worth it!

Our little guy nailed it this week when he told me he goes to lots of schools.  I asked him what he meant by that and he said, "Well I have homeschool and Sunday school and Daddy school and Grandpa electric school and outside school and..."  The list went on, but that's all I remember and I just thought, Yes!  He gets it!  Learning is everywhere! 

Grandpa Electric  (and construction) school:  I've heard several other homeschool moms talk about this and I love the idea.  If there's someone else in your life who's knowledgeable about something (especially if it's something you do not excel in!) consider asking them to teach your little one a skill.  Most people (especially Grandpa!) are more than happy to share their knowledge!

Sunday School crew discovering bugs and making their own salad from things they picked from the garden:
Projects around the house: paper making, baking together (apple oat muffins!), drawing a picture together, building a barn for their toy animals with Daddy, corn husk doll making, and map reading with Daddy and Grandma. 
I enjoy writing these out because it helps me remember that they are learning and getting new experiences all the time.  I think like any mom I often worry that I don't do enough.  And maybe I don't, but they're learning anyway!  If you'd like anymore information on any of these projects, please let me know!  I'd love to hear what you are interested in! 

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