March’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7), Hattie (5), and Beatrice (2). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

March has been a journey of “chasing the spark.” Lots of wonderful explorations lead by curiosity. March was about humor, and Egypt, and computer coding, and St. Patricks day, and musicals, and so much more. I am loving these simple full days with the people I love most. I love being able to share in the education of my children. I love that the world we live in is so rich and fascinating to explore. I love that in both the most mundane moments and the most extravagant they are still learning and growing. Tim and I have looked at each other so often in this last month and said “Man, I love our kids”. What a gift it is to be living out this story as a family.
Thanks for following along with us.

Coding & Quilting:

This pictures captures our two oldest daughters perfectly. Lucy working on learning how to program on Scratch (because she wants to make her own robots) and Harriet making a tiny quilt (that she wants to use for babies, picnics, and snuggling). Love seeing them discover new interests and following “the spark”.

Color and Light:

A few years ago our theme for March was Spectrum. In keeping with the tradition and all things rainbow for St. Patrick’s day, we did a little color work this month.

A new awesome one-player game called Colour Code by SmartGames – like a more interesting version of tangrams.

Color mixing, painting color wheels, and learning about hot vs. cool colors.

And discussions about what it would be like to not be able to see colors. We read I am Helen Keller and the Black Book of Colors. (both of which are great).

We also learned how to write our names in braille!

Ancient Egypt:

For our country this month, we took a trip to Ancient Egypt! (which tied in great with our Rich and Rooted Passover study as well!) .

These were a few of our favorite books we dug into.

The girls set up an Egyptian style Bazaar (which Harriet made traditional shaped Egyptian bread for!). My sisters and I used to play this same game – brings back fond memories.

We added a new game to our collection called Imhotep. It is great! You play the role of ancient Egyptian architects and are working to build monuments.

Inspired by the game, we build some block monuments of our own.

This lead the girls to build a whole city of mini block monuments.

We got this little mummy excavation kit on amazon. It was really great (but do it outside!!). It comes with a plaster block carved with hierogylphics. The kids use tools and act as archeologists to unearth the mummy inside.

I happened to have some Egyptian wrapping paper, so we made bracelets.

We talked about the significance of the Rosetta stone and then made our own clay Rosetta stone cartouches. Lucy did her name in English, hieroglyphics, and braille.

Getting Moving:

Lucy and I are taking up a new hobby – Rock Climbing! We went to a ladies night at the Rock. It was a little momma daughter date night. Pretty great.

We haven’t started up our Monday adventures again yet, but we did try to get to as many parks as possible.

Musicals:

From now until forever, I have officially dubbed March Musical Month. We were given (thank you Patti!) tickets to a local production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and we rented Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat from the library. The girls LOVED both and we have been listening to the soundtracks non-stop (maybe a little too non-stop…go go go joseph you’ll make it some day….go go go joseph….!!!!!)

We went to Cinderella in costume.

Afterwards was a Princess Tea Party where the actors and actresses came out in costume and interacted with the kids! It was great fun.

Reading and Writing:

Our two read-aloud books we finished this month were Finn Family Moomintroll (one of my all time favorites) and The Search for Delicious. Both were perfect for the kids age – funny and light heartened.

Harriet has been working on the first steps of learning to read, so we made some sight word blocks together in fun bright colors.

She also practiced her letters a lot in her sand (cornmeal) box (…that is until little sister got ahold of it…)

The 2nd of March was Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so we celebrated by getting cake pops and reading all the Seuss books.
For writing practice, the girls both wrote out their elaborate plans for their birthday parties (which are in June/September…ha ha).

Character Building:

During the season of lent, we have been going through Jennifer Naraki’s Rich and Rooted Passover guide. I am hoping to make this a yearly tradition as well. There is a lot depth to her guide that we barely scratched the surface.

One Sunday we headed to Fort Collins because their local Islamic mosque was vandalized. We joined with a large crowd of others in solidarity and support of those effected.

Science and Logic:

Grandpapa reading an old family favorite – the Mad Scientist Club to Lucy for the first time.

The girls requested to learn how to play chess. Our local coffee shop has this great “Easy to Learn Chess” game that makes it simple with the little reminder graphics on the pieces.

We finally did some of our Christmas test tube science kits the kids got in their stockings (from the dollar bins at Target).
This is gravity goop –

St. Patrick’s Day:

A selection of St. Patrick’s day books we got from the library –

Grammy Didi reading one of her favorite – Tommie DePaola out loud to the girls.

Getting ready for our annual St. Patty’s day feast and sing along

Aquarium:

All three girls (but mostly Beatrice) have been obsessed with the kid’s show Octonauts. I think they have watched every episode at least 3 times.

In the show, the team of animals are always working to rescue/help undersea creatures. Each episode ends with a “Creature Report” which has cool facts about actual sea critters. The girls have learned all sorts of interesting aquatic facts. So, we thought a trip to the Denver Aquarium was in order.

The girls loved it. We all had a wonderful time – especially petting the sting rays.
The next day when we got back, they did their own “Creature Report”s on their favorite animals they saw. 

February’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7), Hattie (5), and Beatrice (2). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

February has been a month filled with lots of preparations and travel. We went to KS to wrap up some projects and visit family. As for our homeschool activities, they all had this wonderful literary bent to them. Colorado (and KS) are mostly very unpleasant in February – not much snow, just wind and cold. So it has been a perfect month to get lost in stories. Here is our homeschool photo journal for February.

Valentines Celebrations:

We had a wonderful Valentines tea party in Kansas with grandmas and cousins. Pretty wonderful. Lots of Valentines makings…

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Lucy’s valentines – little origami boxes, with Washi tape ribbons, filled with heart garlands she made.
IMG_8595

Harriet’s wonderful gigantic heart.

IMG_8596

Woodworking:

Early in the month, we all drove out to Kansas to spend some time with family and for me to do a book signing for the Bravest Adventure and to build frames for my new series of paintings with my dad. We started Arlo out young on his woodworking skills.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Since we had access to my dad’s wonderful workshop and tools, we slipped another tiny project into the mix – making a toy tabletop theater! Here is Lucy helping with the construction (learning from the best!).

IMG_8636

Fables & Theater:

Thanks to the inspiration from Read Aloud Revival, one of our themes for February was Fables. Here are some of the books we enjoyed. I hadn’t realized what an illustrative force Paul Galdone was until now!
IMG_8814

The girls picked “The Teeny Tiny Woman” as our first fable to perform. Here we are working on the backdrops.

IMG_8698

And here is a photo of our debut show in our newly dubbed “Fable Theater”.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

My little theater painter helper…
IMG_8717

And the ever dramatic Lucy presenting the newly painted facade! Pretty cool, right!?

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Later in the month, we also put on a show of Peter Pan! More on that in a moment….

Story Telling:

Alongside exploring the wonderful worlds of fables and poetry this month, I wanted to jump into crafting more of our own stories. So we invested in a few fun new story telling games. Story cubes – (which I will be honest, I was a little skeptical about, but the girls LOVE. So simple, with endless creative possibilities.)

IMG_8801

And this really charming fairytale story telling puzzle I found on Amazon. The pieces can be rearranged in any order to tell different stories. The illustrations are lovely and the story possibilities surprisingly diverse.IMG_8869

Nature Study:

We really haven’t done much Nature study this month (February… blech). But, I couldn’t not mention how much we are LOVING the new Planet Earth II series. Takes my breath away every time.

maxresdefault

Robotics:

The fun little surprise exploration this month was into robotics. Lucy desperately wants to build a real robot, so we are digging into the worlds of electronics and computer programming. Giving this artsy mama a run for her money….

Deconstructing an old VCR for parts…
IMG_8492

Building “Brush Bots” (like hexbugs) thanks to YouTube… (we also made straw light sabers, but forgot to photograph)

IMG_8502

Poetry:

February being the cold blustery month it is, and as an ode to love poems everywhere 🙂 we did a little focus on Poetry this month. I put together this basket near our breakfast table of all of our favorite poetry books and a few new ones from the library (we fell in love with this one in particular). Each morning we took turns picking poems to read out loud as a family.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Here is the little basket graphic I made. Feel free to use it if you want to make your own poetry basket…
pick a poem sign

We also enjoyed this kids illustrated biography of the poet e.e.cummings. Look how beautiful that sky poem is…

eecummings

Tried our hand at writing some typewriter poems…

IMG_8973

As well as rhyming poems, shape poems, and acrostic poems!

poetry

Physical Eduction:

Along with our normal dance classes and as many park trips as we could manage,
IMG_8845
we practiced a little circus arts… 🙂
Processed with VSCO with g1 preset

Gymnastics at Grandmama and Grandpapa’s house…

IMG_6107

Ice skating…

IMG_8771

and Arlo and Dad watching the superbowl… Does this really count as Physical Education?

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Literature:

Our classic we read this month was J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (beautifully illustrated/interactive version by Minalima). The girls LOVED it. Lucy bawled at the end and Harriet right away wanted to read the entire book again (we did not, ha).

peter pan

As a finale to finishing the book, the girls and I put together our own production of Peter Pan performed on our tiny theater.

peter pan show

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Paris:

Attempting to build Eiffel towers out of toothpicks and marshmallows while learning about all sorts of 3D structures.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Coloring France on our world map

IMG_8725

Eiffel tower drawings
eiffel drawings

Homemade crepes and french pastries for French food sampling…so….yummy….
IMG_8731 IMG_6143

So many fun Paris books. We really loved all of these.
IMG_8806
But especially Paris Up Up and Away. It is filled with intricate silhouette papercuts!
IMG_8809

Speaking of papercuts, we also made one more of these FREE printable paper structures to add to our growing collection of famous monuments.
paper eiffel tower

Art:

One of the Paris books we read – Painting Pepette – is about a little girl who takes her stuffed bunny to several different famous artists to have his portrait painted (Picasso, Dali, Matisse, and Chagall). Each artist paints Pepette in his unique style. We took inspiration from the book and did our own series of bunny portraits inspired by the greats.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

painting peppette

IMG_8783

Speaking of bunnies… Lucy also (probably inspired by the Butter sculptures at the Kansas State Fair) made her own butter, and sculpted it into this fierce bunny.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

That’s all for now folks! March is going to be all about Egypt, Passover, St. Patricks Day, Colors, and Coding… I am excited already….

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

January’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7), Hattie (5), and Beatrice (2). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

This month for our homeschooling adventures, we focused on three main themes – SNOW, CHINA, and BIRDS (as well as lots of other side projects and studies). I love how January can feel a bit slower after the craziness of the holidays. January also feels like a nice long month which affords the time to really dig in. Being able to learn alongside my children has been such a joy this month. I have loved being exposed to new poetry, learning the stories behind the Chinese New Year celebrations, understanding better why we use salt to melt ice, and so much more. Spending days in and out with these sparkly little souls is such a gift. Here is a photo journal of our January days. Enjoy! (and if you have any questions about any of the supplies/books/projects etc, please let me know! )

Snow Week:

Our first exploration for the month of January was everything SNOW. Read Aloud Revival posted a great booklist where we pulled a lot of our inspiration for this week. We particularly loved “Snowflake Bentley”, “The Story of Snow”, and the Robert Frost poem so beautifully illustrated by Susan Jeffres (one of my all time favorite illustrators) –
IMG_8041
We started off our snow study with a series of science experiments – what happens to the temperature/mass/volume of snow/water/ice after time and the addition of salt?

IMG_7957

Once we had a better understanding of the WHY behind how salt effects snow temperatures, we had to of course try making our own ice cream using snow and salt. We basically followed these directions. It was pretty delicious.
IMG_7973

After reading all about Snowflake Bentley, we tried our hand at taking some snow crystal photographs using my little macro lens for the iPhone. Here is one of Lucy’s photos.

IMG_8083

Following along with the scientific mindset, we have been charting the winter sky with paint (and the intention of making these into tiny quilts)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

And charting the winter temperatures… (reading thermometers, bar graphs, F vs. C, etc!)

temp graphing

CHINA Week:

As we continued our passport and coloring map tour around the world, we took a week this month to head to China! Here are the girls coloring on our giant world map.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
The kids particularly enjoyed looking at all of Tim and my old photos and souvenirs  from our 2008 trip we took to China.

IMG_8078

We celebrated the Chinese New Year in style with lots of unusual candies and treats that we picked out from our local Asian market –

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Lucy helped orchestrate the making of a Chinese dragon and a lantern parade –

IMG_8239

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

We painted Chinese calligraphy signs for good luck and made Chinese lantern decorations –

IMG_8339

And did our best to wear authentic Chinese dress –

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Harriet: “Mom? Where do pandas sleep?”
Me: “I think in trees”
…And then I find this after the kids have gone to bed –

IMG_8124

We mailed Chinese postcards to friends
IMG_8139

And enjoyed so many fun books about China – our favorites were the “Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats” book, and the Tintin graphic novel “The Blue Lotus”
IMG_8292

BIRD Week:

This last week of January has been all about birds.
Learning the names of the birds that come to our bird feeder, sketching birds, listening to birdsongs, etc.

December’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

December has been a full month around here learning how to be a family of six, shuttling kids to Nutcracker rehearsals and performances, doing ALL the advent things, baking cookies, celebrating Christmas, and enjoying time with family. Here are some highlights from this month of homeschooling –

ADVENT Activities:

For years, we have enjoyed the Jacquie Lawson computer advent calendars. This years was a British seaside theme.

 

image_7

We also always love the Lego advent calendars. They have a tiny set to build every day..

img_4120

This year we purchased Jennifer Naraki’s Slow + Sacred Advent. It is an ebook that was written to guide families through the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  It includes personal stories, Biblical theology, and four weeks of creative, yet simple thematic plans. We really enjoyed it and look forward to using it again in years to come.img_7291

Advent closed with all of us at a candlelight service together at Tim’s Church – Saint Andrew United Methodist in Highlands Ranch.
Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

img_7601

Getting MOVING:

December is always hard because weather in Colorado isn’t the best for playing outside. And, with a new baby, it’s hard to get the girls out and about. Here are a few of the fun activities we fit in –

Cosmic Kids Yoga (always a hit around here) –

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Tim took the girls ice skating –

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

and sledding!

img_7507

And Lucy and Harriet had their debut in the Nutcracker Ballet as presents! They were stunning.

img_7370

Arlo missed most of the show…Grandma was just to cozy.
img_7383-2

RUSSIA:

One of the things we are doing this year is our Passport idea for Geography/World Cultures. We are “visiting” a different country every month – exploring the food, culture, dress, arts, and music through themed activities. This month, because the girls were part of the Nutcracker, we chose Russia. img_7139

We had a wonderful “Russian” tea time – listening to Tchaikovsky, making these delicious Russian tea scones, and drinking Russian spice tea, and reading the Nutcracker.

img_7144

Canon has a whole set of the amazing (FREE!) printable paper models of famous building. So we made St. Basil’s Cathedral! The instructions and cutting were a little too tricky for the girls, so mom and I did most of it. My puzzle loving brain had a blast. I want to make more!
img_7281img_7163 img_7175  Here are the books we read about Russia. Thank you High Plains library!img_7337

History:

Our favorite history activity this month was visiting Centennial Village’s Homesteader’s Holiday.
Centennial Village is a living history museum in Greeley (actually where Tim and I got married!).
Here are the girls making hand dipped candles in the old Carriage House –
img_7233  img_7236

And Beatrice exploring outside the historic church – img_7242

STEM:

Lucy saw an experiment in The Dangerous Book for Boys on how to make a Battery. She has been asking about it for a while so we decided to try it. And it worked!

img_7426 img_7429  Battery making led to playing with our Snap Circuits Jr. kit – a great toy that teaches the basics of Electronics.img_7430

We also picked up a cool new single player puzzle game called Katamino that is quite the brain teaser. Harriet got quite into it.img_7482

Art and Handicrafts:

With the flurry of gift making and house decorating, we spent a lot of time MAKING this month.

Making foil stained glass windows –img_7152 img_7154
Making Foil star garlands and stick stars (for our Nature Pal Exchange friends) img_7324 Making Waldorf window stars –img_7346

Making handmade Christmas presents – img_7529

Making all the Christmas cookies – Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

And making a stocking for this handsome little man –

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

MUSIC:

The girls have continued with their music classes at Union Colony Children’s Music Academy which they love. Tim has been working on tracking for our new album -which means we have amazing musical visitors in and out of the studio. Our friend Sigourney was kind enough to let the girls try out her stunning concert harp.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

NATURE STUDY:

For our nature study we received this super fun box of nature crafts from our nature pen-pals in Florida.img_7479

WRITING:

We did lots of letter writing this month – tons of thank you notes, pen-pal letters, and of course some super sweet correspondence addressed to the North Pole.

img_7285 img_7400

On a different side, Harriet has really enjoyed playing Reading Eggs on the computer.readingeggsmap

READING:

We enjoyed so many wonderful stories this month. (Especially thanks to lots of time sitting nursing!)

mousemotorcycle5 children-little-house_300 bestcmaspageantever 51q26fig4pl-_sx428_bo1204203200_ img_7343
We also really enjoyed Read Aloud Revival’s Christmas Book list recommendations – img_7423

Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for following along!

img_7299

img_7397

November’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

November was such a beautiful and memorable month around here. Most importantly, we welcomed the newest addition to our family on November 18th – sweet Arthur Thaine. A Boy! Heavens!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset
We are still adjusting to what it looks like to have one more around here, but mostly things are going well. Momma needs more sleep, all the girls are in need of a little extra snuggle time, and chaos is reigning just a little bit more in our house, but it is all so good and everything feels right. And we are all relishing the tiny ears, coos, and fluffy hair of  our tiny Arlo.

Here is where we have been during the month of homeschooling –

COOKING and MATH:

Since November is meant to be about all things feasting, we took a break from our normal Math rhythms and learned about fractions, addition, and measuring through the very practical handicraft of cooking. I found this highly reviewed kids cookbook on Amazon. (And these inexpensive but very practical aprons  – the kids each picked their own color). We also got these fraction sticks to help explain how fractions work – very helpful when measuring ingredients.

004956-r1-015-6_2 img_7159

The girls – with very little help from me – made ‘grab and go’ granola bars, popcorn balls, homemade orange juice, breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits, perfect grilled cheese,  parmesan chicken bites with dipping sauce, and more. Lucy especially loved the independence of doing everything herself. And all the recipes were tasty! The cookbook also has lots of fun stickers and punch outs in the back.

img_6484 img_6536

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Our cooking month’s finale was of course a grand Thanksgiving feast.

Processed with VSCO with c3 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

One other little note on Math –

We have LOVED the new BigNumbers Ap from Dragon Box. It sneakily teaches lots of cool long addition and subtraction.

img_6792

GAMES GALORE:

Our second theme for the month of November was Games!!

A couple of new favorites that we added to our collection:
gmc2-1 sum-swamp-2 pic38668 51u2tp9c1pl-_sy355_
img_6478 img_6481 img_7129

CURRENT EVENTS:

A day was spent on our political system, voting, and elections.

A thank you note written to the president for his service.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Watching election results come in –

img_1533

A visit to our city hall

img_6605

And dropping off our ballot.

img_6603

READING AND LITERATURE:

Here were our reading books for the month:
taleofdespereauxbookcover  the-pilgrim-stories-new

Plus ALL the Thanksgiving books (especially thanks to Read Aloud Revivals beautifully curated list):

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Tea time mostly had to move inside because it is starting to get CHILLY here! Not nearly enough snow yet though…
img_6573

Art and Handicrafts:

Especially while passing the time waiting for the newest addition to our family, Lucy, Harriet, and I all worked on our own little illustration projects.
Me on a whole series of Alphabet Letters (the first part of are available here).

img_6490

Lucy on a whole series of Christmas Reindeer to sell at Indie Arts Greeley (a wonderful local craft show that has become a family affair)

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

And Harriet on a whole series of Christmas Trees that she also sold at Indie Arts Greeley’s Winter Market.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Here is their practice set up for the market –
Note: I love this tradition. I feel like they are learning so much through the process – talking to customers, making change, money math, etc.
img_7064

We made concrete candle holders and poured soy candles (which Tim’s scented in various wonderful Christmas scents)

img_6944

15196086_10153880909290706_6125340426821684027_o

The girls rolled beeswax candles

img_6763img_6771

And we got out our little loom and started work on a colorful scarf (alongside our Native American study)img_6790

History and Culture:

Instead of choosing a country to study this month, because of Thanksgiving, we decide to read about and explore Native American stories and culture.
Here is a sampling of the library books we found –
img_6774

Good old fashioned audio tape books are the greatest –

img_6777

An unseasonably warm November made for perfect teepee building weather – and the perfect location for tea and stories.img_6780
img_6782

Our history study of Jamestown lead us to creating a lego reenactment of Jamestown, John Smith, and Pocahontas.

img_6472

Nature Study:

This month’s nature outings weren’t anything grandiose. Just simple quiet times visiting and playing in some of our favorite spots and soaking up the last warm days.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Swinging on willow branches

img_6625

Weaving willow branch baskets

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Colorado sunsets

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

img_6668

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

And a little moss collecting from beside our house made into a simple terrarium.

img_6674
Sketches of what moss looks like through a microscope.

Processed with VSCO with f3 preset

And leaf jumping of course.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

CHARACTER:

For November, we continued our family tradition of making a Thanksgiving tree table altar.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

And finally, to get into the spirit of Christmas/Advent, we put together a box for Operation Christmas Child together.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

October’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”! Our hope is that these posts will help spark creative direction and inspiration for your family as well as giving us somewhere to be document and record our experiences.

READING AND LITERATURE:

Here were our reading books for the month:

We read Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux (one of Tim and my all time favorites), The Boxcar Children (which Harriet LOVED and has been watching the Netflix movie of over and over again), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (the new beautifully illustrated version), and a really cool pop-up version of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe (which also led to the Calvin & Hobbs Monster Drooling Poem based on The Raven, and the Simpson’s Halloween episode of The Raven – both SOO funny and good).

taleofdespereauxbookcover516bwsj5sol-_sy344_bo1204203200_img_0129jjkh_raven_pop_up_book9781419721977_int_page_6-1024x683

We are still loving our morning reading out-loud tea time on the front porch. Although it is starting to get chilly!!

img_5577img_6368

For our History books we read these two – (we are going through Beautiful Feet History’s Early American series in order). We really enjoyed both books.

967454jamestown-new-world-adventure

As part of our history study (and since we finished the Columbus book last month) I thought it would be fun to carve soap boats on Columbus Day. I usually set out our morning activity the night before. On this particular morning, the girls got up without waking me up (like they usually do) , and happily carved through all 8 bars of soap on their own, and this is the scene I woke up to. Soap everywhere, but no one was bleeding and they were thoroughly pleased with themselves. Pretty hilarious.

img_5687

img_5690

Geography/Culture: Mexico

One of the things we are doing this year is our Passport idea for Geography/World Cultures. We are “visiting” a different country every month – exploring the food, culture, dress, arts, and music through themed activities. This month, Harriet and Lucy chose Mexico as our country to visit.

img_5575

I have been using the book “Give Your Child the World” as a reference for books. I think the High Plains librarians are starting to hate me because of how many books I put on hold each month. Oh Well. Sorry guys.

51tbiu1igl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

As recommended in Give Your Child the World, here were the Mexico themed picture books we read through from the library.

cbdcfcda6c9ed1206827a01249c1aacb 9780679889366-l  51s4qzqfqyl 61gway8vzll depaola-tomie_the-legend-of-the-poinsettia 512vim1exdl 513nko9u9cl-_sx369_bo1204203200_ arroz-con-leche-rice-with-milk-9780833587626 51ihji4bvwl-_sx323_bo1204203200_ 51fbt5ljxyl And the movie – the_book_of_life_2014_film_poster

Elena’s Serenade and The Legend of the Poinsettia were probably our favorites.

One of the major reasons we picked Mexico was because we wanted to do a Day of the Dead celebration. The girls fully planned, prepped, and decorated for this themselves!

Getting Lucy started on Adobe Photoshop early 🙂

img_5698

day-of-the-dead-invite

Like the invitation says, we decorated with Papel Picado and marigolds, painted faces, watched Book of Life, Colored skeleton faces, ate Mexican food and authentic Mexican candies from our local Mexican grocery store, and made skull rocks. This will definitely be one for the books and I can see it becoming a yearly tradition :).

img_5774 img_5777  img_5789 img_5795

img_5824

Nature Study

We have been using this ebook as a guide for our Nature Study. And it is SO beautifully done.
cropped-cover-photo-1

It has a simple activity each corresponding with the season, paired with a recommended book list, an art piece to enjoy, a poem, and art ideas.

Nature Outings:

We have designated Monday as our outdoor adventure days. It’s our day off together as a family, and we just love it. This month we visited a local cemetery where we did some grave rubbings.

Processed with VSCO with g2 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Took a family bike ride on the Poudre River Trail to look at the changing leaves –

img_5671 img_5426

Went on a nature outing to our beloved Homestead Park to search out our favorite trees and do a little Pond Study.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with g1 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

(Harriet studying a sample of pond water we brought home with us)

img_6365

And of course October wouldn’t be complete without an outing to a pumpkin patch!!

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Along with our weekly nature outings, we finished up our Nature Pal Exchange box (and received one back in the mail from North Carolina!). It was such a fun project. I am already looking forward to the next time we do it.
img_5703

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Harriet’s “Leaf Lady”
img_5535

The contents of the box we put together:

img_5731

Music

All of the kids are really enjoying their music classes through the Union Colony Children’s Music Academy here in Greeley. It uses the musikgarten approach which I am loving more and more all the time – especially as I see how it grows and expands with the kids.

img_5502
img_6373

Math

We needed to switch up how we were doing math. No one was enjoying it. So this month we used the book Bedtime Math (which is so fun).

51sxv06ognl-_sx258_bo1204203200_

We added some more tactile/playable elements to our routine (counting bears, a shape rubber band board, an abacus, etc…)

img_5573img_5913

img_5489

Science

We have really enjoyed various Steve Spangler Science videos. We broke out the cornstarch one morning and recreated his cornstarch slime experiments.


img_5767

We also enjoyed some Magic School Bus “Inside the Human Body” and this really cool Human Body model from Target.
img_6053 img_6054

Which led to drawing white skeletons on black paper of course.

img_6399

Art/Handicrafts

Since we read Hansel & Gretel (candy house and witches…), we made Hansel & Gretel dolls to play with. My friend Lindsay had given me this amazing tea towel that has a beautifully illustrated pattern already printed onto it. The pattern is from Sarah Young’s etsy shop. Now that I have made them, I think we are going to need the little red riding hood one too 🙂

img_5683

img_5736

A cotton snow storm –

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

We used a fun little kit to make these Halloween luminaries.

img_5740   img_5749

We did some major papier mache magic with tape and cardboard to make Lucy’s “Spooky Tree” halloween costume.

img_5893img_6310

We played with our freshly organized rubber stamps to give our letter writing days a boost.

img_6335

Since we are reading the Tale of Despereaux, the girls sewed these very simple little felt mice from this pattern.

img_6377

img_6382

And of course what would October be without a night of carving all those wonderful pumpkins with hot chocolate and popcorn of course and a spooky playlist.

img_6387

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

And, finally, I will leave you with a very spooky (and hilarious horror film by Lucy)


Happy October friends! Thanks for following along!!!

September’s Adventures in Homeschooling – PART TWO

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”!

To read the first half of this post, go here.

READING AND WRITING:

Here were our reading books for the month:

The One and Only Ivan for fun (it was so good), and Columbus as our history story (we are going through this series in order). We really enjoyed both books.

51dlkub2rol-_sx352_bo1204203200_ il_570xn-822668261_ksom

We have continued with our morning Tea Time and book reading on the front porch. It is so lovely, I’ll be sad when it gets too cold to continue.

img_4545

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Speaking of books, I am learning that sometimes you have to go with the momentum. One morning I had planned on having the girls do a couple of pages in a math workbook. They had other plans. They were super wrapped up in playing with their calico critters. I never want to interrupt play, so we brought the two together. The girls made tiny math books for their Critters. It was pretty sweet.

img_4384 img_4385 img_4387 img_4394

This picture is a another funny example of learning to let things happen organically. I was trying to work on Harriet’s letters with her and she (and I) kept getting frustrated. Finally I gave up and let her go play with Beatrice. Not two minutes later I look over and she is copying the words from these puzzles.

img_4336

Tim devised this fun matching game for Harriet’s alphabet work using alphabet pretzels.

img_5091

We have been doing a weekly letter writing session – thank you notes, pen pals, love letters, etc. A lovely repercussion has been that the girls are starting to get lots of mail back. Which they LOVE.

img_4922

img_4926

One day when we needed to get out, we did a scavenger hunt at our library. The purpose was to get the girls familiarized with how to find books on their own and use the library computers. It was really fun.

img_4566

 

Birthdays:

We have two girls with September birthdays. We have a tradition around here (see all the past ones here) where the girls and I work together to design them a birthday invitation/postcard. Here is Harriet’s this year –

img_4549 harriets-b-day-invite

And Beatrice’s –

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

img_5356

Some birthday ideas worth stealing/using again –
My mom came up with this awesome little treasure hunt using picture clues. Each clue was only partially drawn and the kids had to figure out what the image was in order to find their next clue.

img_4768

As part of Harriet’s party, we drew a giant chalk maze on our outdoor patio. Later (not pictured) the kids drew their own obstacles in it to make it trickier.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Probably my favorite gift the girls got is this really neat one player game, called Camelot Jr. –
f58ff954-3571-4220-817e-a270f0fd516d_1-b834cfafebf115f62cc27960078b15b8
img_4808

MAKING PROJECTS:

Lucy’s using an old reading book from Tim’s mom’s second grade class. We have been having fun coming up with projects around each story. This month was tree houses, camping with star gazing (in other post), a planets science kit, and cactuses. Here are some photos of the tree houses. I used to do a similar project for Architecture when I taught middle school. You just find a good “tree” stick and plant it in a can, fill the can with rocks, and then start building!

img_4370 img_4374 img_4382

SEWING:

These projects were more mama-made and kid-enjoyed, but I had SUCH a fun time making them I couldn’t not share.

Two clothesline baskets for egg collecting –

img_4489 img_4490

And two very colorful capes just for fun. This pattern was so easy and straight forward.

Processed with VSCO with c2 preset

Well, that’s all for September! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

September’s Adventures in Homeschooling – “Abacus” Round Up PART ONE

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (7) and Hattie (5). We’re including this on our Giants & Pilgrims blog as all our family adventures seem to impact our art & music so much! Also, we just like sharing the stories. So we’ll be sharing posts on the themes we’ve been covering each month and calling the adventure “ABACUS”!

But this month I realized I have to start splitting these posts into multiple parts! Sorry for the length, but there is just so much good stuff to include. Looking back, I can’t believe how much we did in September!

I’ll try my best to categorize images by themes. Please feel free to ask questions about any resources or projects in the comments below and I’ll do my best to clarify!

Autumn Leaves:

One of the themes that has come out this month was “Autumn Leaves.” We have been listening to this playlist a lot. We also had a lovely morning of writing our own poetry (which of course had to be typed out on my vintage Royal typewriter).

img_4541

Here is Lucy’s poem –

img_4543

Inspired by the gorgeous ones at Mirus Toy’s etsy shop/instagram we decided to have our first homeschooling woodworking project be to make our own flower presses. The girls measured, I cut, they sanded, drilled, and stained all the pieces. It was a perfect first project. Our first batch of flowers and leaves are pressing right now. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

img_4881

img_4929

Here are the finished presses. The girls designed their own tops and then I helped them wood burn the designs (they both drew their inspiration from a fancy spoon we have. Who knows…)

img_5303

We also went on a lovely scootering/scavenger hunt following UNC’s beautifully done Guided Tree Walk. It was so much fun.

img_5295 img_5296

Finally, this was a little morning Art exploration table with inspiration art piece from Tom Thomson, music by Vivaldi (Four Seasons: Autumn of course), and tissue paper “leaves” and glue to play with.img_5293

Australia:

One of the things we are doing this year is our Passport idea for Geography/World Cultures. We are “visiting” a different country every month – exploring the food, culture, dress, arts, and music through themed activities. This month, Harriet and Lucy chose Australia as our country to visit.

img_4353

This involved lots of Australia stories, maps, stickers, and videos of boomerangs and didgeridoos.

img_4519

The girls also enjoyed some Cosmic Kids Yoga (specifically the kangaroo episode). These would probably be too young for some kids, but our girls (2, 5, 7) still love them. And it’s just the ticket when you need a moment to yourself.

img_4925

We also checked out a stack of books from our wonderful library and did a little Australia “research”img_4931

Wizard of Oz and Kansas:

Since we had planned a quick but exciting trip to the KS state fair in mid-September, I thought it would be a great time to read Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz. Since it is still a little old for Harriet especially, I chose this beautifully illustrated by Charles Santore version. It was just perfect for us. Everyone got SO into it.
wizard-of-oz-9781604335422_hr-1c5e51fe3e80dd8e60865154b743d8b2d

Harriet even broke out the old Dorothy costume and her ruby slippers.

 

We made some Wizard of Oz paper dolls just for fun. I thought someone else might have fun with them too, so I made a wizard-of-oz-paper-dolls printable pdf. Just print out onto cardstock, color, cut out, then hole punch on the dots (I used an extra small hole punch), and attach with mini brads.

img_5175 img_5176 img_5195

Oh AND Tim took the girls and I to the Candlelight Dinner theater production of the Wizard of Oz! Their expressions and gasps of surprise were worth every penny.
14102836_10153653641495706_5707790865185816069_o

Once we made the trip to KS, we had some good old Kansas State Fair fun.

img_4621 img_4624 img_4625 img_4627

img_4643 img_4657

 

I especially loved these Moon photos taken by the Hutchinson Newspaper. They were inspired by Paper moon photos taken at the fair in the 1900’s.

img_4641

….although Beatrice’s face almost broke the camera… (he he. There is always one…)

hn_20160912000421395519-2

Speaking of Moons….

Harvest Moon

We have been using this ebook as a guide for our Nature Study. And it is SO beautifully done.
cropped-cover-photo-1

It has a simple activity each with corresponding with the seasons, paired with a recommended book list, an art piece to enjoy, a poem, and art ideas. Truly, right now it is my FAVORITE thing. This month the weeks we got to were on the Harvest Moons and the Autumn Equinox. I already shared some of our harvest moon goodies and a playlist here.

harvest-moon-goodies

But I thought you might also enjoy seeing these salt watercolor paintings we made.

Nature Outings:

We have designated Monday as our outdoor adventure days. It’s our day off together as a family, and we just love it. This month we were able to play at Windsor Beach:

img_4321 img_4326

We had a backyard camping adventure (inspired by one of the stories in Lucy’s reading book):img_4509  img_4557

And we spent the first day of Autumn exploring the sights, smells, and sounds at Homestead Park. Our favorite. img_4963

I also had a great time playing with our new Mobile Macro Lens (so fun!)

img_4979

And finally a drive up the Poudre Canyon to search for fall colors, have a picnic, and search for flowers for our new leaf presses. We are doing something called the Nature Pal Exchange this next month and are busily collecting goodies for our box.

img_5226

img_5244

 

Harvest Moon Playlist and More

Tonight is the harvest moon so we thought it was high time to make a new autumn “Moon” themed playlist. I love how old-fashioned and mellow this mixtape is. Enjoy!

 


And, just for fun, here is our Harvest Moon themed table/art/reading for the day. Lots of these inspired by the book “Exploring Nature” with Children by Lynn Seddon which I have been loving.

harvest-moon-goodies

 

And finally a Poem for the evening –

The Harvest Moon by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
And their aerial neighbourhoods of nests

Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes

And harvest-fields, its mystic splendour rests!

Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,

With the last sheaves return the labouring wains!

All things are symbols: the external shows

Of Nature have their image in the mind,
As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;

The song-birds leave us at the summer’s close,

Only the empty nests are left behind,
And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

 

Our First Month’s Adventure in Homeschool: August Abacus

For a lot of reasons that I am not going to dig into here yet, we decided to homeschool this year. I am so excited to share our monthly explorations and adventures here with you. I will keep everything under the tab “Abacus”.  I have been nerding out on everything “home education” – reading all sorts of parenting books, learning about all the different approaches, coming up with monthly themes, etc. I have been particularly inspired by Elle Garrels blog The New Domestic, ambleside online, and everything Charlotte Mason. That said, we are starting by exploring a mix of different approaches and mostly just exploring and having fun with it. We have also done a whole space “redo” of our dining room as our homeschooling space, that once it is fully done I promise to share pictures of here as well.

Part of my purpose of sharing our monthly activities and themes here is to keep a record for myself. Especially for those days when it feels extra hard to get anything done – and to be able to look back on for fun.

Here is our photo journal of our August:

The “First Day” photo:

IMG_3678

All our goodies set out on the work table for our first day + a garden bouquet with tansy and chamomile:
IMG_3674

The girls looking very studious:
It’s funny, because we got some math books to just “play around” in. At first Harriet did not want anything to do with it. But now, I can’t get her to stop. Not sure what caused the switch, but I’m not complaining!

One of the things I am excited to do this year is our Passport idea for Geography/World Cultures. I picked up some of these play passports on Amazon . We are going to be “visiting” a different country every month – exploring the food, culture, dress, arts, and music through themed activities. We also got this really great giant map of the world and the plan is to slowly color it in as we visit the different countries.

IMG_3683

Thanks to the Olympics, we chose Brazil as our first country to visit.

IMG_4286

For our Brazil themed activities for the month, we watched The Boy & The World (a beautifully animated Brazilian film), listened to Brazilian music and tried our hand at Samba beats, ate Brazilian food for our monthly cooking club, watched the Brazil olympics opening ceremony, and made our own gold medals out of Clay.
IMG_4251

IMG_4234

IMG_4256

IMG_4281

IMG_4284

For our outdoor/P.E. activities, we practiced lots of swimming, learned how to slack line, and went on a glorious family adventure bike ride along the Katy Trail in MO.

IMG_3814

IMG_3828

 

IMG_3958

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

For our nature/science explorations, we are going to be doing a once a week nature day where we mostly just have a lot of time outside to explore and follow our curiosity. But, the plan is also to always bring nature journals and field guides and see what sparks our interest. This last week we spent a peaceful refreshing morning at Homestead Nature park in Greeley.

IMG_4215

IMG_4216

No week at the Coons’ house would be complete without art projects and painting.

 

 

 

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

For writing, we created our second issue of “The Coons Delivery.” This funny family newspaper is completely conceptualized and written by the girls. All I do is type up there dictation. They even have a hand in the fonts and layout. All the photos and pictures are taken/drawn by them (with the exception of the comic which Lucy insisted I drew but she described everything how she wanted it to be).

IMG_4241

The Coons Delivery_issue 2-1

The Coons Delivery_issue 2-2

Here were our reading books for this month –

The Blue Fairy Book for Literature (we read Beauty and the Beast), Leif the Lucky for History (we are following Beautiful Feet History’s Early American List), and Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy just for fun.

IMG_4257IMG_425817910570

For our reading time, we have a new favorite ritual. We bring tea, blankets and a snack on the front porch. We have been trying out the Charlotte Mason idea of living books/narration – really loving it so far.

IMG_4267IMG_4265