Thursday, April 3, 2014

library day...time to learn?

My kids have been begging me to go to the library for days!  We finally went yesterday.  Our library rarely has books we want on the shelf,  so we end up reserving books,  or changing what we want to read.

Zariah picked up two books she had reserved. She enjoys reading  books by Kathryn Lasky. She read the first book in the Wolves of the Beyond series over a year ago and was hooked! We went back to the library to get the second book and it wasn't there, so we got the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series instead. I believe she is now on book 4!

I found a "teachers page" to discuss things about the books with her. I am not going to quiz her on her readings, she is enjoying them and I do not want to ruin it for her. I am however, interested in what the books are about. It is neat to learn what your kids are interested in by letting them figure it out for themselves instead of forcing them to learn something!

I want to know what kinds of books she enjoys reading. I also was curious about what kinds of messages these books had. Here is the link for the owl series. I learned a lot just by looking over this page. I was able to ask many questions and get an idea of what the books are about. I like the quick overview, but especially love the life lessons built into each book!

Destiny vs free will
Friendship and family
Learning,  knowledge and truth
As well as much much more!

I was able to have discussions with her about these things, these things that I had no clue were incorporated into books she loves!  Like I said, I am not quizzing her on these things, but I do want to see what she is into. She often tells me about the books while reading them, and since I haven't read them,  I am lost! The overview page will hopefully help me make some sense of what she is talking about.

Also, by paying attention to a child's interests, I am able to offer way more to their "education" than if I just forced her to do worksheets on boring topics. She is into this stuff, so she will learn it.  I got lucky, in that the series she chose is loaded with life lessons and decently written. Either way, she is reading on her own...because she wants to!

I was just interrupted by loud noise outside my patio door...and an overly excited 6 year old.  We had cranes less than 10 feet from my child! They flew right over her head!

Back to books: Here is the link for the wolf series. Zariah has only read the 1st book,  but plans to get back to this series when she finishes book 4 of the owls.

While we were at the library, we picked out many (many) dinosaur and chicken/egg books. I am finally going to start the magic school bus science stuff! This morning we watched the movieThe Busasaurus, I had to sign up for Netflix to watch it, watching on YouTube was a failure...My kids have always been super in to dinosaurs!  We own loads of dino books,  but it seems you can never read enough dino books or watch enough dino videos! This time, I decided to check out scientific books, as well as a few fun books with dinosaurs as the main characters (with Zarina in mind.)

It amazes me how reading one dinosaur book, and actually taking the time to discuss what we read can lead you down a million different paths! One second we are reading, then we are looking at rocks (to talk about how fossils form) then my kids our outside collecting rocks, then read more,  to talk about and compare them to creatures now. Our conversation took so many directions, all from one book! We compared meat eating herds to lions, and plant eating herds to horses...there was so much comparision and guessing. Their brains were going non-stop!

Dinosaurs everywhere  was the first book we read. (We read dino books all of the time,  this is just the one that got our conversation started!) I am not sure how much time we are going to devote to dinosaurs,  probably until they are ready for something different! We have a fossil kit to do sometime, but right now both kids are trying to carefully open rocks...

dino dig kit Zarina got for Christmas.

Zarina read the fossils poem for us this morning.

The above pictures are Zariah designing rock art into dinosaurs and Zarina chipping away at a rock. Their ideas not mine!
Looks like the YouTube video of Zarina doesn't want to play. Here is the link

I let the kids do their rock stuff for a bit, and asked if they wanted to finish reading more dinosaur books together, they opted for reading alone. (Zarina read to Guinea) occasionally, someone would mention to me what they were reading, how it was similar or different from other stuff they had read, I think Zariah moved on to the egg books, though we are not doing egg stuff right now. She asked if we could watch the egg movie, and I had to remind her we hadn't even made fossils yet...she still wants to do that! 

Check out this blogger  if you are confused about what unschooling is, or to explore paleo! I enjoy her blog! Also, please refrain from asking if we are "doing school" or if the kids would pass a test. Learning happens all of the time,  not just sitting down with a paper and pencil in hand. My kids are enjoying learning, it looks different than what you are used to seeing...and that is a good thing!

Monday, March 31, 2014


Last night, I was exhausted! We decided to chill out and watch the movie Annie. This was the version I had at their age! It was a neat flash back for me, and enjoyed by them. I was shocked at how, as a kid, I never noticed the "bad stuff", like undies showing all the time, just how drunk one character was, how much sexual reference there was and more! With that said, this movie has nothing on a modern movie in respect to the implications.

Watching Annie had Zariah asking all sorts of questions. I feel like I missed the boat on "teaching in real time" with her, I was soooo tired! Once the movie was over, it hit me like a train! I looked at her and asked her to re-ask her questions so we could discuss them.

One question was if it was real...
Another was about the movie theater, did they have live performances before the movie?
If orphans were/are real...

Now, I'm not sure how to figure all of this out! A quick google search has multiple answers as to if it was "real". We will dig deeper into orphanages and orphans. It may be impossible to know for sure if "Annie" was a real person, as search results show her as real, but also as a comic strip made up during the depression era.

The kids were very interested in the live performance before the start of the movie at the theater. I explained to them that musicals have always been something of interest for people. We talked about how a recorded movie happened after live entertainment. We dug deeper, but it is hard to put into words on a screen...

Lastly, orphans...this is hard to discuss...but we will.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What we do

Last night, after enjoying our fresh syrup and super expensive organic strawberries...the kids asked for a craft. Now, I mentioned the dollar score on Ebooks I downloaded for the magic school bus activities. It is through scholastic I think. Anyway, I looked through the list of art activities and there were a few in the book that were not "scheduled", so I let the kids pick from those.

Zariah opted for the robin and Zarina chose the mouse in a house. It was a simple DIY craft, where I did not help much. They wanted something fun, and I was up for letting them follow directions on their own. I did have to help them stop, and think about what it said a couple of times, but overall they did the projects alone,

 Notice, the worm is in the outside, she didn't follow directions at first...I showed her how it was meant to be, and she understood it was meant to look like the robin was plucking the worm from the ground!

Today, I have read 2 books to Torrin several times. His favorites are "the napping house" and " I love you through and through". The girls taught him what the snake says "sssssssssss" and they have also been working on tidying up their room so we can make crackers!

Zariah requested some time telling (clock) worksheets.

The first one was too easy. Say the hours kind of thing.

The second one was too hard. She could tell the time 2:15=two fifteen, but she was having some trouble with the point of the worksheet. The worksheet wanted her to write it as quarter past, quarter til, half past...we went into how a quarter of something just means one fourth (1/4) and with money she knows a quarter is 25 cents...but with time I was able to show her 1/4 of 60 (60/4) is 15. We took the clock and divided it into 4 parts. Now, tomorrow...she may not remember this! She asked for the worksheet, so I provided it. I am willing to let her try it, and walk her through it. Had she not asked for it, I probably would not have printed it.  Not only did printing the sheet SHE asked for show her how to tell time, we were able to talk fractions and money...not to mention baking (quarter cup, half cup...) this was a whole open door for me to talk with her. After she decided she has enough with that sheet (we went over the "answers" and then some!) she excitedly said to me, "I'm going to make a fractions sheet!"

Enough said.

Feeling amazing!

I have been feeling so good!

It is almost disturbing how great I have felt!

I am not sure if it is the sunshine peeking through, slowly melting away the last traces of winter, or the taste of fresh maple syrup, or maybe that I am finally finding peace in my choices.

We boiled down our first bit of sap, and made the sweetest, most amazing tasting maple syrup! I got my first order of coconut flour yesterday, so we made homemade pancakes with HOMEMADE syrup! It was the best meal we have had in awhile.

The whole family was happy.

The whole family was a part of it!

The girls have been doing an amazing job at helping collect sap. ( I have pictures but am unable to upload them from my camera-the easiest way to put pictures on is with my tablet)

They are so eager to run to each bag/pail/bucket and see what the tree has given us that day.

They listen to the birds singing, and run their hands along the trees.

We take note of the moss peaking through the patches of snow...being in the woods in magical!

Being with my family, in the is magical.

I have come such a long ways since the birth of Torrin. This child has changed me forever. He has changed me for the better. I feel as though he has put me on the path I am destined to follow. My family is happier than ever. I am learning it is better to be alone in friendship, than to be surrounded by negativity.

Learning is part of being a human being! I am 26 years old, and I swear I have learned more since turning 25 than I did the first 24 years of my life! Everything I was taught...most of it isn't even important. Learning basic math, reading and writing-those are important and it stuck around. There is SO much I was not taught-that would be so much more important in my life!

I find myself sad right  now though.
Sad and hurt.

I been questioned on what my kids are learning. If they would "pass" a test. If we are "doing school".

What kinds of questions are these?


Who the hell are you to ask?

My kids are SMART.

My kids are generous and caring.

My kids are eager to check on their chickens, and give extra love to the ones who need it. They are counting eggs, they are noticing that 1 carton is a dozen which equals 12-and that if they have 2 dozen minus 2 eggs = then they have 22 eggs total-MATH.

They know how much a dozen is, they know how to add them up and subtract.

My kids are quick to try and calm their crying brother, to find a solution to end the crying when needed. Often they will sing to him, offer him a favorite toy, or even just make silly faces or offer a hug. They are problem solvers. They are compassionate-which is more than I can say for many people questioning my children!

My kids are eager to help in the kitchen, grabbing measuring tools and supplies. They are gaining life skills. They are learning to work together, as a team!

So what if my kids play with their lego's all day today-they are BUILDING. They are using parts of their brain so many kids fail to use! They are playing with their figurines too-they are "writing" scripts for these animals that continue on more than just for 5 minutes. They could to it all damn day! Their "toys" become real, they have names, do see that THESE kids who do not "appear" to be "doing school today" are writing plays in their heads.

They can make this stuff up in 5 seconds flat, and remember each detail of each animal to continue play tomorrow! My kids have imaginations! They are learning to work together (there are 2 kids controlling 10-20 animals)

I could go on and on-but you can't make someone believe you.

I will leave with some links that you should read if you dare to challenge or question my ways or my children.

They are my kids-and they are happy! You have no right to quiz them or bother me about what it is they are doing. Especially when the answer clearly is: MORE THAN YOU! My kids are learning about proper nutrition, how to stay fit and healthy, plants, animals, families...they are learning so much more than a brick building can offer.

Early childhood

What a child should know

Give children back their childhood!

The book I am reading currently: The unschoolers handbook you should probably read it if you are confused.

I ask-be mindful of what you say to me about my children. You could burn a bridge forever. My kids are my world, you have no right to judge. Be mindful of what you say AROUND my children, they are watching everything you say and do. Every moment is an opportunity to learn...what do you want them learning from you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Exploring science

I have been having some technical difficulties, so I am having a hard time linking up all of the places I found information. I AM SORRY!!

Today, my girls watched/participated in an online webinar on renewable energy. It is offered for free, and I try to sign us up for these classes though they are a little over their heads. I feel that by exposing my kids to these online classes, it gives them the opportunity to learn from someone else, and opens the door for us to talk about new topics. As a family, we already talk about solar and wind power. Our 5 year goal is to have enough renewable energy to power our home!

( I am not sure if the link will let you click on it or not, or even how long they will keep it up for viewing.)

 I like that they talked about wind, we have driven by the "wind farms" several times, so my kids do know about them already!

The "teacher" asked where the kids have seen solar panels, my kids were mute... I reminded them about the solar panels at the police station (we will be driving past them the next time we go to town.)

By the end of the class, the girls had learned out to make a solar oven. I plan to pick up the supplies and let them try it!!

 While the girls were engaged in the renewable energy webinar, I am reading "The unschooling handbook, how to use the whole world as your child's classroom" . I checked out this book a week ago, and never even opened it until today. I am constantly telling my kids to READ READ READ , and man do I miss reading! I have so many books on my MUST READ list, that I am unable to read for fun! Most of my must read books have to do with teaching the kids, parenting, gardening and green living. All of those things are very important to me, so my "fun" reading is on the back burner.

I am having a hard time getting super into the book. There is a lot of great information, and I find myself thinking a lot, but I am distracted by the kids...and most of it is just what other unschoolers have said. I do think it is a great resource, and I plan to keep on reading!!

 So, as I read, (page 8, is slow going!) it talks about how the adults in the lives of the children are super important. It states that if the parent enjoys reading freely, is curious and tries new things, the child is likely to do so as well. This puts my fears at ease just a bit. I am always searching for more information, and exposing my family to new things (healthier eating, gardening, chickens, maple syrup...lots!) I also see my kids "building" things that they would never think of if they were stuck in a classroom, or not given the freedom to do so. My kids are constantly using their imaginations and wanting to learn new things, this all happened after I stopped pushing  "school papers" down their throats.

It makes sense that kids tend to remember more of a topic when they decide to learn about it, rather than simply memorizing something they are told to learn about.  The funny thing is this: when we started our homeschooling journey, the focus of the "curriculum" was memorization! That was the WHOLE point of the curriculum, man do I feel dumb now! I don't want my kids to memorize facts, I want them to be curious and want to explore more, on their own!

Man, we have come a long ways with the transition from homeschooling "strict" to just going with the flow.

When we first started homeschooling, my fear was that my kids wouldn't live up to the ideal of "homeschooled kids are smarter than their public school peers". I was worried a neighbor, or family member would quiz them, and make them feel stupid. Now, I do not worry about what they think when they see my kids have played with Legos all week long. My kids are so much more creative than they were when they finished up at public school. They are happy! They are learning how to be heard.

With the kids intro to more science stuff today (and our gift of science experiments we gave this weekend), I hopped on Pinterest and found a site that helps you use The Magic Schoolbus to "teach" science.

With looking at each "item" on this site, I chose to dig deeper into this one.   I clicked on the link, and ended up buying the e-books she suggests. I have printed out 2 so far, and let me tell you-the one looks really dumb. I am glad I only paid $1 each! The one that looks dumb is the game one.

I accidentally downloaded this once on the iPad, which takes away 1 of the 3 downloads allowed. Not the smartest move. I choose to download on the laptop and save to the external hard drive, hopefully I don't lose them this way!

Now, I know I was just talking about UNSCHOOLING, and now you hear me say "teach/learn". I explained to my kids that I know they like science, I am simply printing a few tools for us to try. We are not going to sit down and memorize facts, but rather look at a few resources that are available.

I would have looked for experiments for us to try out I figured we might as well enjoy some fun movies and explore some "similar" items at the same time! I also know that Zariah craves crafts, and I was very interested in the craft book.

I am not even sure how we will incorporate this stuff. I don't really "PLAN" to incorporate it at all, but offer it as a fun thing to do. I just know that my kids are constantly learning, and there are days when it is just too crappy to go outside. Which means, we may watch some movies-I like when the movies serve a purpose more than just "fun". Also, there are a ton of books in this series, I know we are bound to end up reading some of them. Someone already did the "hard work" in assembling crafts and poems to go along with the books/movies...might as well try them out!! I hate seeing my kids zone out watching movies, and I am hoping that if we incorporate fun crafts or songs with the movies-they may retain a few things. There will be no pressure-the second it looks like the fun is going away-we will call it quits for the time being.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....

This posting was from Yesterday-3/17-and was also posted on my MAIN page.

Today, it is so cold! We only have the wood stove going, not the wood furnace. Everyone is huddled in the living room near the fire! Part of me wants to bake something, but all I have is oat and grain supplies and I really want to stick grain free. I could always make something just for the kids...I have a taste for coconut, but all of my ideas are cold.

Anyway, with us all hiding out in hour living room, I decided to look on amazon prime for something "educational" but fun. Unfortunately, the magic schoolhouse is not free, I'm quite upset by this! I got to thinking, and did a quick search for Mr. Rogers, what do ya know, free!

The girls were a bit confused and concerned, the first episode is in black and white. They asked me several times if it would turn to color. I'm not sure what the girls thought about watching this show, but I do think mr roger sends a few great messages.

Episode 1
I really liked hearing his song about liking people the way they are. How he wouldn't change a thing, but keep you just the way you are! What a great message!  They also talked about change. Sometimes change can be scary and not fun...but change can be good as well. Something's don't need to change, like the people we care about.

Episode 2
Funny thing, he starts with a song of course, and the girls kind of roll their eyes. Then he has them guess what is in the bag,,,THEY WERE GUESSING! My kids like guessing games, and they also like creating things from a recycled item. Mr. Rogers was trying to "repurpose" his burlap bag, and the kids actually had ideas.
In this episode, he is still talking about change. I am amazed by the lessons and learning opportunity in each episode that I missed as a kid! He explains what the headline of a newspaper, and defines words in normal conversation. He talks about how new toys are fun, but things we have had for awhile make us happy.

After the 2nd episode, Zariah says to me, "I like these, but they are weird, he sings a lot!"

Now, at this point, I am considering shutting it off, this is way more tv time than my kids generally get. However, it is still cold, and though it doesn't look educational in comparison to the documentary movies, they are learning about kindness and so much more! I'd rather have a kind, generous, loving child than a math know-it-all!

Episode 3
I had to smile at the "I'd like to be just like my mom" song. It was cute...I can only hope my kids would sing it!

Mr. Rogers asks,"Who washes the glasses in your house?" and of course Zariah says "daddy..." Yup, I'm a great "house-wife" haha!!

This wasn't a very well liked episode...they touched on the topic of trust, and how the king wasn't trusting anyone...

They wanted to continue watching a few episodes, so we shall!

I am not sure what the 4th or 5th episode are about. It sounded like more on the king being upset by change, and people wanting peace and love. Seems appropriate for the year they aired. 1967&1968 I believe. (Around my mothers birth)

Zariah stopped me to say that episode 6 is in color! Zarina thought it looked way different! Also, we just realized he has a fish!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Done with winter

We are done with winter.

When given the opportunity to create whatever they kids draw flamingos!
Think they are ready for nicer weather?

This past weekend, Zarina went out with Nathan (on foot) to collect sap. Zariah didn't even make it to the wood line before she walked home and put her imagination to work!

Zariah created a (cardboard) iPad, cell phone, DS, and portobello DVD player with movies. Now, she was either really bored, or being really creative!

Zarina kept up with her dad, and I am sure she will out hiked this spring!

Yesterday, while Nathan butchered a deer, Zarina observed...and even asked questions! "Is this where he was the blood darker because of the bullet...where is the bullet...can we have venison for dinner?"

When asked if she was learning how to skin and butcher so she could do it someday, she simply replied, "Yup!"

Zarina has also taken quite an interest in reading! I am so happy! She checks out over 10 books most weeks!