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).

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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 🙂

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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 :).

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Nature Study

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

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

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

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

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

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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.
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Harriet’s “Leaf Lady”
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The contents of the box we put together:

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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.

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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).

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

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Science

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


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We also enjoyed some Magic School Bus “Inside the Human Body” and this really cool Human Body model from Target.
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Which led to drawing white skeletons on black paper of course.

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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 🙂

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A cotton snow storm –

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 –

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And Beatrice’s –

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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.

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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.

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Probably my favorite gift the girls got is this really neat one player game, called Camelot Jr. –
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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!

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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 –

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

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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).

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Here is Lucy’s poem –

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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!

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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…)

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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

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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.

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

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Speaking of Moons….

Harvest Moon

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

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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:

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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

 

 

 

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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).

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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.

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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.

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December Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Advent”

For this entire year (I can’t believe it is the last month of the year already!) I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Advent.” To me December is a month of anticipation. Our family is OBSESSED with advent calendars. We literally have 5 that we will do every day this month. For me it is a way of slowing down and fully enjoying these favorite of days. I am going to share some of my favorite advent traditions here, as well as our own little “activity” advent of 25 perfect December activities – one for each day until Christmas.

DECEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

December 6-12 – Hanukkah
December 13th – The Feast of Santa Lucia – we are hoping to take a trip up to Georgetown to partake in their annual European Christmas Market –
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December 22nd – Winter Solstice – I love the tradition of making a small bonfire outside on this day.
December 24th – Christmas Eve (Also my grandmother’s Birthday!) (for us, it is Christmas eve services, followed by takeout, leaving cookies for Santa, and opening a package that is always pajamas)
December 25th – Christmas Day – (for us it looks like – photos on the stairs before coming down, sausage souffle and cinnamon rolls, opening stockings and presents as slowly as possible, playing all day, a family walk in the cold, and grilling outside)
December 26th – Boxing Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

December 5th – Teddy Bear Bash at the Festival of Trees – 9-11am
December 5th – Handmade for the Holidays 10-3 at the Kress Cinema
December 11-13th – The Nutcracker at UCCC
December 11-13th – Twas the Night before Christmas performed by the Stampede Theater Troupe

Let me know if you have other fun Greeley events I should add to this calendar!

 

The Coon’s Family 2015 ADVENT CALENDARS:

You might laugh at this one. But our family LOVES Jacquie Lawson’s advent calendar she releases each year. It shows up as a Snow Globe on your desktop and each day another little animated short or activity is released. It borders on overly “thomas-kinkade” sappy, but at the same time it is SO great. We all unabashedly love it. This year the theme is Victorian Christmas.
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If you haven’t yet discovered Sparkle Stories, I am so happy to get to be the one to introduce you.  The stories are very simple but sweet original audio stories for kids. They have a specific Advent calendar as part of their Martin & Sylvia Series. Each day showcases a very simple holiday activity. They released the advent calendar in 2014, but it is still great. We listened to it last year and are excited to relive it again this year.
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Partly thanks to having a brother who manages a Lego store, we can’t miss out on the Lego Advent calendars. This year we opted for their Star Wars edition (in anticipation of the new movie). Each day you get a tiny set of legos to build.
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Tim loves playing the Angry Birds seasons (which unlocks one new level each day)
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We are participateing in our church community Atlas’s Random Acts of Christmas Kindness list12314495_10153078112937470_3401969149545698084_o

25 ADVENT Activities:

These don’t have to be done in any particular order, but this is our list of 25 “Christmasy” activities that don’t require much extra money or time, but are what this month is all about for us.

  1. Make Gingerbread Cookies/houses (my sister just recommended this recipe)
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  2. Cut Paper Snowflakessnowflakes 4
  3. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm to pick our tree

  4. Take our time decorating the Christmas tree and tell stories and memories
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  5. String popcorn and cranberries
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  6. Bake Christmas cookies for the neighbors – Here are some recipes to get you started.
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  7. Drive around and look at Christmas lights (especially the Greeley Grizwalds)
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  8. Go caroling
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  9. Eat dinner by candlelight

  10. Go Ice Skating (The Greeley Ice Haus or the Ice skating rink at Centerra are good choices if you are local)
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  11. Go on an icy walk and then have hot chocolate with marshmallows
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  12. Make snow angels
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  13. In Hutchinson, where Tim and I grew up, they have an INCREDIBLE night of illuminaries in the Hyde Park neighborhood the Saturday before Christmas. Blocks and blocks are illuminated. They don’t allow traffic through and instead have hay rides of carolers and horse drawn carriages. I would love to have our own tiny version one night.
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  14. Write and send Christmas cards (just wait until you see the adorable family photo I have…)
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  15. Go sledding – just need a little more snow first!!
  16. Get matching pajamas for our whole family. Shhh… don’t tell Tim…and have a family game nightmatching-family-pajamas
  17. Eat a candy cane – I have heard that the Hammond Candy factory tour in Denver is pretty cool
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  18. Make a wreath (isn’t this gold feather and leaf one pretty?)
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  19. Read all the Christmas stories out loud – We love: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Max’s Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, and so many more…
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  20. Go to the Nutcracker (or at least listen to it)
  21. Write letters to Santa and deliver to the Currier Inn Reindeer Route mailbox.
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  22. Lucy really wants to have a Christmas scavenger hunt. I am not sure what that means, but I’m working on it.
  23. Keep the bird feeders filled and chart the visitors
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  24. Have a Christmas movie watching and present wrapping party
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  25. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas and Ice Skating – the two shows we would always watch on Christmas day at my grandparent’s house.
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November Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Bread”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Bread.” To me it is a month of reflection and purposeful simplifying of habits. “Bread” is about that which sustains us. Bread is foundational and simple. Yet speaks deeply of home and family. I want this month to be about three things – ritual, simplicity, and giving. Sometimes it is the everyday routines that are most beautiful. The activities repeated over and over again until they almost become prayers. I just read this little snippet from a book I am reading and love how it is put –


“We do chores twice each day, 7 days each week, 365 days each year. Where we live there’s nothing unusual about this; many of our neighbors adhere to similar schedules, and have for half a century or more. Sometimes I consider the math: Twice daily multiplied by 365 is 730, multiplied by fifty years is….36,500. Thirty-six thousand chore times. It is almost impossible for me to fathom, it feels insurmountable. But of course it is not. Sometimes, chores are just chores: haul the water, throw the hay, run the fence. Cold, hot, wet, dry. Hurried. But often, I think of chores the way I suspect some people think of a practice – meditation, or yoga, or a prayer. Maybe aikido or a musical instrument. I like to think of chores this way; it seems to give me license to sink into them, to inhabit them in a way that would otherwise elude me.”

From Home Grown by Ben Hewitt

For us these daily rituals are making beds, morning coffee, feeding the animals (birds, bunny, and cat), preparing meals, a quiet walk around the block before dinner, reading together at bedtime, cleaning up the house after kids are asleep, and ending the day with a cup of tea in the rocking chairs on the front porch – I want to dig in to these simple practices this month.

NOVEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

November 1st – All Saints Day
November 3rd – Election Day
November 11th – Veteran’s Day
November 26th – Thanksgiving Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

November 6th – My “Becoming” Art Show! (At the Atlas Gallery)
November 28th – Indie Arts Greeley Winter Market at Atlas Theater
November 20th – Becoming CD and Art Release Party at Atlas Theater

 

HOME & KITCHEN:

A purposeful slowing down and simplifying –
not buying as much,
not driving as much,
looking at our devices less,
getting rid of clutter,
eating simpler,
not planning as much.

Put flannel sheets on the beds and get out the cozy pajamas and house slippers.

 

 

Read this article called “Bread is Broken” about the Bread Lab – and find some heirloom wheat varieties to sample

Weekly bread baking – be ritualistic about this. Be able to make our loaf from memory and hone it down to a family recipe. Make the girls part of this ritual – kneading, punching down dough, taste testing.

Here is my families favorite bread recipe. It is called Rabbit Hill Oatmeal Bread. My parents had it on their honeymoon on the east coast and it has been a family favorite ever since. It is a rich caramel brown bread that smells deeply of molasses and home. Slather it with extra butter and eat it warm with no adornments needed.
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My father always does a reading before any special meal. Tim and I have come to love this book called Common Prayer. Each day follows the same liturgy as it takes you through 365 days of reflection, with additional prayers for special events like moving into a new home, losing a loved one, or holidays.

 

MAKE:

Showcase pressed leaves and the last remnants of autumn by making these lovely sun catchers.
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We started a tradition last year called the Thankful Tree Table Altar a beautiful idea conceptualized by our friend Greg Nordin. – Each day we each add a leaf to the tree of something we are thankful for. It is a lovely centering family activity.
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Get out the Knitting and quilting baskets

Make these simple useful baskets from clothesline
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OUTSIDE:

Rake leaves just to jump in them
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Thanksgiving mixes – for us, Thanksgiving/November music is old hymns, warm crackly records, and layered folk voices. Every year we make a themed playlist. Here is one favorite from 2006 –

BOOKS:

We have recently discovered that books about food, like Dragons Love Tacos, provide great inspiration for getting our very picky eaters to try new foods and enjoy meals. Now I just need someone to illustrate a really thrilling book about broccoli….
Pick a book, make a meal around it, and read the book while eating it.
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Anticipation of the first snow Books:
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For me – The Life Changing Practice of Tidying Up
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Several people have recommended books recently about simplicity living – clearing out clutter. One idea that stuck out to me challenged you to ask three questions when evaluating whether to keep something or not. “Is it beautiful?” “Is it useful?” or “Does it bring you joy?” If the answer is not “yes” to any of those, than it is time for it to move on.  I am giving myself a challenge of Weekly filling a tub to donate to a thrift store. Areas of attack:

Kids Clothes
Basement Storage
Games and Toys
Kitchen Extras
Knick knacks and decorative items

Speaking of donations, I want to spend more time this month donating time, money. and food to places that need it. Always baking an extra loaf of bread to send with a friend, participating in a food or coat or toy drive, and finding ways to bring the girls into the acts of giving as well.
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Time to get baking. Happy November!

October Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Lore”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Mostly for the month of October, I just want to soak it in. October is my favorite month and it always just seems to fly by. I love the way the air feels, the way it smells, all the tastes, the colors. Everything. And, I am pretty married to our traditions. I just want to do October-y things in October. So, bear with me on this theme, because it is pretty loose. Normally I would insist on something a little more narrowed down, but I love that most of the things we would want to explore anyway in October fit within “Lore” and it adds some depth to our stories we would already be telling.

October Dates to Take Note of:

October 1st – International Coffee Day (very important…we make a point to celebrate this everyday at about 7:00am)
October 24th – United Nations Day
October 31st – Halloween
And don’t forget that November 1st is All Saints Day/November 1 & 2nd = Day of the Dead

Local: Greeley, CO events:

Oktobrewfest – October 2nd-3rd (sorry if you missed this!)

I don’t have any other events for October, someone help me out. What goes here?

List of Ideas and Inspiration for LORE:

MYTHOLOGY/ANTHROPOLOGY (is that what this category is…?):

Make a wall/chart of Witches, goblins, pumpkins, fairies, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, changelings, silkies, chupacabras, etc and learn some of the folklore behind where they come from.

 Learn about ancient Egypt and Make mummies – wasting a roll of TP and playing a mummy game would be fun too.
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Spend a day learning about Day of the Dead and doing day of the Dead activities –

Common Practices for Day of the Dead Day of the Dead is annually celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. The first day, called “Día de los Angelitos” (Day of the little angels), is dedicated to the souls of deceased children, while November 2nd is set aside for the souls of adults. Before these days, families may clean their homes to prepare for the arrival of the souls of their loved ones. Many also visit cemeteries to decorate the graves of the dead with their favorite items and flowers. Graves and ofrendas are decorated with papel picado, photographs, cherished objects, marigolds (cempasúchitl), and skeletons made of paper or clay. Food and drink are placed on the ofrendas for the dead. It is believed the dead enjoy the tastes and smells of the food. There are many important foods associated with Day of the Dead. In particular the main dish is mole, which is meat (usually chicken or pork) cooked with a sauce made from chilies, chocolate, peanuts, and other ingredients that vary by region. Pumpkin candies, rice pudding, and tamales may also be offered. Bakeries produce special bread called pan de muerto in the shape of people or bones and decorated with pink sugar. Stores also sell skulls made of sugar or chocolate, adorned with names, for children and adults to eat.

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These look neat to make too – (I can’t find the original source for this image, but I think these just use those precut scrapbooking paper wrapped around a candle holder)
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Learn about Greek Myths
I especially like this book – 
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Create our own little Apple Holiday, complete with new traditions

FILMS:

We don’t do Scary movies around here (seriously don’t get that at all…) But, we do love halloween shows –

Pirates of the Caribbean (since Lucy wants to be a Pirate for halloween)
Big Fish
Nightmare Before Christmas
Adams Family Values
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Ghost and Mister Chicken
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Old Nic at Night Shows:
Sabrina the Witch
Laurel and Hardy
Adams Family
Little Rascals Spooky Hooky
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Bewitched
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There is nothing better than watching old black and white spooky films with popcorn, fancy root beer, and or hot cider. So October to me…
(By the way, we just discovered that Tiny but Mighty Popcorn and it is wonderful! A new favorite…)
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LISTEN:

Lore podcast (Grown-ups Only)
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Listen to all our Halloween mixes!


READ:

Read all the Stephen Kellogg versions of American Folklore books: Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Mike Fink, Johnny Appleseed, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett
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Read the Littlest witch by Anna Elizabeth Bennet – one of my favorites as a kid, I am excited to revisit it with my own kiddos.
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Read Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg – If I remember correctly, some awesome halloween scenes in this one.
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Read some Edgar Allen Poe
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Find a good kid version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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PLAY:

The Telephone game (the connection is about how folk lore is passed on through generations)
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Visit a pumpkin patch (We always go to the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch)
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ART:

Make Shadow puppets – or just get some from one of the many wonderful Etsy shops

Carve Pumpkins and make Turnip lanterns (the original jack-o-lantern!)
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Sew Halloween costumes but also learn about the characters they are portraying (right now Lucy wants to be a pirate and Harriet a Princess, not sure about Beatrice…)

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SCIENCE:

Save old spice bottles and make pretend Potions
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Also make homemade Soda potions

September Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Animalia”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 3, Beatrice 10 months). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme.
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

 

Growing up we had this book as a kid by Graeme Base called Animalia. It’s the basic idea of an ABC book taken to the next level – as many things that start with a letter as possible entertwined together on one page with catchy alliteration poetry. My dad and I would play a game where we would see how many things we could find that started with the letter on each page. It would be in the hundreds per page. Inspired by that book, this month’s theme is “ANIMALIA” – think the animal kingdom, animal alphabets, zoology, fables and more

 

September Dates to Take Note of:

September 7th –Labor Day
September 13th –Grandparents Day
September 19th –Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 21st – International Peace Day
(We also have two little cuties who have September birthdays)

Local: Greeley, CO events:

September 12th –Chalk-a-Lot at UNC (a fun family art event – they will be trying to break the world record for longest continuous chalk drawing)
September 12th –Potato Day at Centennial Village (one of my favorites)
September 19th – Poudre River Trail-a-Thon – we haven’t ever been to this, but it sounds great!

List of Ideas and Inspiration for ANIMALIA:

FILMS:

There are so many good family movie nights here…

Dr. Doolittle (I prefer the old one of course)
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Milo and Otis
We Bought a Zoo
Babe
Homeward Bound (Old version is called the Incredible Journey)
Gorillas in the Mist

BOOKS:

Animalia by Graeme Base
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Animalium by Katie Scott & Jenny Broom
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All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
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…and oh so many other great books from the perspective of animals (Redwall, Wildwood, Charlottes Web, etc…)

SCIENCE & NATURE:

Learn about animal taxonomy (remember “Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools”?)
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Animal tracks – maybe make plaster casts of them
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Learn about endangered and extinct animals – could make little clay models of them
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ART:

Funny animal combinations
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Painting and drawing animals – there are some great books on this. Learning how to simplify to basic shapes is a great lesson.
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Help the girls Sew little felt animals
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OUTINGS:

Take a trip to the Zoo (or wild animal sanctuary)

LITERATURE:

Read animal fairy tales – three little pigs, billy goats gruff, etc.
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Learn about Aasops Fables
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MUSIC:

Listen to and talk through the Carnival of Animals by Saint-Saëns – also this Ap might be a fun add on too

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DRAMA:

Play Animal charades
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Put on a play of one of Aasops Fables or a Nursery Rhyme
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Make animal hand shadow puppets

August “Newspaper” Round Up

Rather than posting pictures of all the activities we have done this month around the “Newspaper” theme, I thought I would instead share this simple photo journal of our tiny home newspaper we created. We will definitely be doing this again, it was such a fun project. Watch for a second edition of Coons Delivery! Almost everything was done by the girls – from naming the paper, to choosing the stories, telling the stories (they dictated as I typed), to the layout and page design (with a little technical help from mama), the photographs, and the illustrations. Enjoy!

Here is a pdf of the finished paper so you can read their adorable stories:
The Coons Delivery

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. Click here to check out the original list of Newspaper ideas.IMG_6620
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