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December 2017 Adventures in Homeschooling

Last year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). 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.

Cardboard Fun:

With all the Christmas shipments (and a couple of new tool purchases for art projects), we found ourselves with an awesome stash of large cardboard boxes.

As well as revisiting this favorite book –

We made all sorts of fun structures.

A castle with multiple rooms and a draw bridge –

A gingerbread house –

Handmade Gifts:

We had a lot of fun making homemade gifts this year. For grandparents, the kids designed and made wood cut out paintings. It was neat listening to them decide what image to make for each person. A fish for grandpa ed because he loves painting, a pie for grandmama because she is the queen of pie making, a girl with a dress for grandma DiDi because she loves buying little girl’s dresses, etc.

As part of our science club, we made bath bombs. So easy and fun! Next time I want to try hiding little surprises in the middle!

Bookclub! A Step back in History…

Our homeschool bookclub is turning into this magical much anticipated event. This month we read Benjamin West and his cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry. A historical fiction story about the father of American painting.

We experimented with making our own colors our of clay and charcoal, made quill pens out of turkey feathers, and practice life drawings of cats.

We feasted on homemade porridge at the “Door Latch Inn”

And even tried Peas with Honey (a funny reference from the books)

And learned how to play Blindman’s Bluff

Some Tinkering Engineering Play:

Hydraulics, robotics, and engineering. What a fun world we live in. So many cool topics to explore and neat things to make. And so thankful for grandparents gift subscriptions, uncles sending cool robots, and libraries sharing their resources.

Homemaking & Home Baking:

We have started having one day a month of learning about simple home making skills – how to fold laundry, how to iron, things like that.

We didn’t make huge batches of Christmas cookies for neighbors this year because our kitchen was torn up for most of December (an unexpected dishwasher replacement) and an expected and much anticipated new countertop and backsplash!

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But when it was finally done, we broke the new kitchen in with a glorious sugar cookie explosion of awesomeness with the help of Grandma DiDi.

Snapshots of Christmas Goodness:

I love this time of year so much it makes my heart hurt. Here are a few moments from December that I want to remember.

   

New Years Eve:

Instead of heading to KS this year, we had a little staycation (and played ALOT of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey) and then had a fun night with friends on New Years Eve

Happy New Year Friends! May your 2018 be as fresh and beautiful as these paper whites, but hopefully not nearly as stinky.

November 2017 Adventures in Homeschooling

Last year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). 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.

Writing and Letter Forms:

As part of our history reading, we learned about Cuneiforms which then led to making our own fonts and lettering.

Harriet had her first show and tell at her Homeschool Access kindergarten class. She worked very hard filling out her “Read All About Me” Poster.

Arlo’s 1st Birthday:

On November 18th, this handsome, ornery, little dude turned One!! I can’t even believe it. He has discovered the joy of food.

He always seems to have a mischievous little twinkle in his eyes.

His tiny makeshift snowman birthday cake made out of cake pops.

Enjoying his cake pop under his new name banner (a one year old tradition for all the kids)

And another birthday celebration with grandparents in Kansas.

Playing with a birthday gift from his Aunt and Uncle. 

Around the World:

To learn the continents, we made our own fun version of pin it maps, really enjoyed this Hopscotch song about the continents, and played map games.

We kept adding to our museum of world monuments by making a great wall of China, a Statue of Liberty, and a Sphinx.

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We took the Statue of Liberty downtown to visit our own tiny Statue of Liberty (right after reading Her Right Foot – which was so great).

We enjoyed another Top Munch box – this time from Germany!

Science Club:

We started an impromptu science club. Our first experiment was to remove the chlorophyll from leaves, then we did some experiments with old Halloween candy, and finally we made lungs out of old plastic bottles and balloons! So fun!

Art and Crafting:

Lucy immediately decided our house was not festive enough and added tiny hats, trees, reindeer antlers, and presents to all the photos/artwork.

 

We made handprint turkeys

Someone got over her fear of the hot glue gun.

I made a ridiculous thing. Peg dolls for days….

Lots of late night sketching

Decorating paper christmas trees

 

Gaming:

I like for November to be our family game night. So I usually add a few new games to our collections. This year I found these beautiful spectrum cards.

This silly but awesome game called “There’s a Moose in my House”

And my current favorite, Qwirkle

In the Kitchen:

Would it even be November without lots of wonderful goodies to bake?

Two books really dominated our kitchen decision making this November. Baking Class for the kids, and Bravetart for me. Both are great.

   

Homemade graham crackers from Bravetart.

Practicing knife skills

Lucy baking braided bread

And Lucy making her first original contribution to the Thanksgiving feast

And Music:

Music always together. Usually with a little brother crowding in on the fun.

In the Prairie and Great Outdoors:

We got to go home to Kansas for Thanksgiving this year which meant lots of beautiful walks on the farm/prairie.

 

 

A couple of woodworking projects –

we built a teeter toter just for fun out of random scrap boards.

 

And I worked on cutting pieces for an upcoming project in Houston

Thanksgiving:

We feasted and celebrated. It was beautiful. We are full.

Matching Thanksgiving outfits from Grandma DiDi and Grandpa Ed

 

Discovering and Rediscovering the magic of Calvin and Hobbs together.

Our thankful tree

And an adorable pilgrim girl

 

Much love from us,

October’s Adventures in Homeschooling

Last year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (6), Beatrice (3), and Arlo (1). 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.

Anatomy and Physiology:

For October we did a whole anatomy and physiology exploration because – skeletons!
Our favorite layered body puzzle. We all really love this, lovely wood pieces.

I picked up this cool skeleton model at Target on clearance a few years ago. Its great for learning all the organs and bones.

Some magic school bus reading –

Looking at diagrams of the different systems of the body as well as playing with some cool body rubber stamps I found at a yard sale over the summer. (Book is the Firefly Visual Dictionary)

Art:

The girls helped me get my moon painted for my installation piece for the Children’s Museum in Denver.

And helped celebrate the closing of my time as Artist in Residence.

We learned about Leonardo Da Vinci and the Mona Lisa. Here is lucy with her Mona Lisa, smiling her Mona Lisa smile.

Harriet “painting the world blue” at the Children’s Museum’s VW bug installation.

 

Buzzy (and Lucy) painting at easels at the museum

Harriet putting on a shadow puppet show for Arlo

 

 

Lucy and I participated in Inktober (a fun instagram challenge to paint one ink sketch a day for the month of October)

Autumn Goodness:

We collected leaves and tried our hand at preserving them by dipping them in beeswax. Which we then made into a lovely wall hanging.

Collecting and breaking acorns to make acorn flour.

Learning about Andy Goldsworthy (watch this documentary if you haven’t!) and collecting a spectrum of leaves.

A trip to a local farm for fall festivities –

 

 

Our first snow of the year!

Enjoying the fallen leaves by making “leaf angels”

Apple picking!!

Halloween:

And alllllllll the halloween goodness.

Carving jack-o-lanterns

 

 

Howl-o-ween at Centennial Village

 

 

 

Lucy bobbing for an apple –

A trip to Pumpkin-Pickers-Paradise –

 

And we made our own scary movie – “Nightmare Mansion”! Complete with all kinds of cool special effects.

Making Halloween decorations

And our yearly reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (made better by pop up books)

India/Diwali:

Thanks to a delicious Top Munch box, we learned about Diwali and got to taste all kinds of traditional Indian snacks. (and dressed up in costumes…)

Making a mandala from rice and beans –

Coloring India on our giant world map –

Reading Club:

We had our very first Homeschool book club! Our book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was so so fun.

Homemade “golden ticket” invitations –

Picking out candy favors for the party at Rocket Fizz candy shop –

The whole crew with their candy sculptures! –

We ended the night with Chocolate fondue! (a melted river of Wonka’s chocolate)

 

 

Lucy’s homemade candy factory machine –   

Mazes and Labyrinths:

Visiting the corn maze (where we tried the Left hand on the wall trick, and it failed, ha ha because of this bridge in the middle!)

We tried it again at the pumpkin patches maze and this time it worked, phew.

 

A favorite game – Labyrinth! (Master Labyrinth is really fun too)

And we had a blast solving all the mysteries in Graham Bases “Mysterium” book

Electronics:

We got our first Tinker Crate in the mail and it was so fun! The girls built their own spin art machine! So well designed and educational! Can’t wait to do more of these. Thanks grandmama!!

We also have been having a blast with Snap Circuits – a very cool electronics kit for kids. This is Lucy making an FM radio! It worked!

 

Miscellaneous :

I missed posting this in August, but here is our yearly newspaper, the Coons Delivery

Harriet Orchard lost her first tooth!

The tooth fairy brought her this homemade doll – her name is Sky

The girls made a play dough feast out of a batch of homemade play dough we made.

And finally, we took the girls out to their first experience in really fancy dining at Acorn in Denver to celebrate my time at the Children’s Museum. They did a great job trying lots of new foods. Not a great photo, sorry, I was too busy snarfing down all the things…

Pools, Parades, and Picnics – July’s Adventures in Homeschooling

This year we began homeschooling Lucy (8), Hattie (5), Beatrice (2), and Arlo (8 months). 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.

During July, we don’t do any structured homeschooling, but we did still have some wonderful adventures as a family. Here is a little photo journal of our month.

4th of July:

We kicked off July with a bang – enjoying backyard BBQing, fireworks with friends, a fantastic parade, and some adorable vintage outfits on Arlo (that were Tim and his brothers when they were babes).

Artsy Fun:

Inspired by Dogman, Lucy started drawing her own series of comics (it’s called Robot Rambush and Robot Hoverton)

A dress sewn by Lucy for Beatrice (with zero help from mama)

A pretty cool art invention discovered by Lucy –

And I started up my residency at the Denver Children’s Museum!

We also sewed this sweet little quiet book page all together in anticipation of our big camping trip.

Camping

This month we took our first family camping trip. We went up the Poudre Canyon to Roosevelt National Forest and camped at a beautiful lake there. I wouldn’t say it was as idyllic as these pictures make it look ha ha (kid throwing up from the winding roads, miserable heat in the afternoon, whining children, and bugs all put a damper on the idyllic). But we did it, and it had some really beautiful moments.

Skipping rocks.

Arlo was a camping champion.

Reading Harry Potter out loud around the breakfast morning campfire.

 

Enjoying the Outdoors:

A picnic at our favorite Homestead Park

Enjoying their favorite Willow tree in the evening

A not-done-in-time-dinner from mama lead to a lovely restaurant put together by Lucy and Harriet at the “Flower Cafe” outside on the patio.

And a favorite summer tradition around here – UNC’s Concerts Under the Stars series – with the Greeley Philharmonic. Umbrellas are open here, but it only sprinkled for a few minutes and then cleared up for a lovely evening.

Reading:

This month we read –

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker (how have I never read these before!?) and the new illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The girls also worked super hard to complete their entire Summer Reading Program at our local library.

Poolside:

Summertime at its best.

And a session of swim lessons for all three girls.

Theater Camp:

Thanks to a little help from Great Grandma Goose, Harriet and Lucy got to take part in a local theater camp. In one week they put on an entire production of Snow White! The girls each had real parts and even had to memorize lines! Lucy was one of the narrators (Red), and Harriet was one of the seven dwarves (Wallflower).

Bike Fundraiser:

As a family we all helped put on a really cool fundraiser event called the Greeley Wheelie for Turn Around Bikes – a local non-profit that takes donated bikes, refurbishes them, and donates them to kids in need.

 

 

Bugs, Berries, and Binoculars…. May’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.

May had lots of ups and downs for us. We wrapped up our homeschooling season with tons of fun adventures and explorations including taking a long trip to Kansas mid-month to rest and reset. Enjoy these tidbits and snapshots of our days. Life is pretty great.

Science Explorations:

A trip to Grandmama and Grandpapa’s farm is never complete with out learning some new birds and doing a little birdwatching.

We are now official members of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (when you have a big family, memberships are cheaper!). So we had a blast playing in their new children’s discovery area. LOTS of cool science-y things to play with.

Water tornados!

Aren’t these giant light boxes cool?

Getting Outside in the Sunshine:

As part of our outdoor adventures, we downloaded a geocaching app and while we were in Kansas had a great time “treasure hunting” for geocaches.

Here is one we successfully found inside a hollow tree.

And this is an abandoned schoolhouse from the turn of the century where there was supposed to be a geo-cache which we could not find.
But still pretty neat to explore – especially since the whole building was surround by wild blooming prairie roses.

As the weather got hot, we playing in the water a whole lot (Kansas has a monopoly on really cool free waterparks)

And while we were in Kansas, we relived some of my childhood memories of summer nights playing softball as a family. I love Lucy’s determination in these pictures.

Mulberry picking for days.

Not sure what is happening here, but Buzzy and her cousin Clarkson are working hard.

The girls’ first canoe rides out at the farm.

Strawberry picking at Great grandmother’s house

And these girls are ready for summer!!

Music:

Lucy has discovered a new instrument love in her little red Ukelele. Thanks to a pretty patient dad and some YouTube videos, she is picking it up fast!

 

Math + Reasoning:

Grandmama found a real winner of a game called “Outfoxed“. Similar to Clue but good for slightly younger kids, it is a great game of mystery and deductive reasoning. The girls LOVED it. We probably played at least 10 games while we were visiting.

Which by the way, I also have a new favorite game – Qbitz is soooooo fun! I cannot wait to own it.

I hit the garage sale jackpot this month and got all sorts of cool Montessori math manipulatives – including these amazing tangrams.

Can’t wait to play more with these beautifully made tools.

I also discovered that Sudoku is SOOO much more fun when played with beautifully colored marbles (Colorku)

Insects:

One of the main themes we played with this month was insects. And, inspired by Pinay Homeschool’s blog (she has so many great ideas), I started trying leaving out some trays for Beatrice to explore. At 2.5 she is right on the line of wanting to engage a bit more with what her sisters are doing. So for several mornings of the month, I prepped a tray the night before for her to explore during our homeschool time.

Here are some of the different trays I tried…

They were surprisingly fast and easy to put together and she loved them.

Beatrice investigating the world….

Sensory trays and plastic insects

A sticky mosaic craft from

Bugs pressed into kinetic sand

For the Very Hungry Caterpillar day we made a caterpillar themed snack to go with our tea time…

Those are grapes on skewers

Here are some of the Insect themed books we enjoyed. The Dianna Hutts Aston/Sylvia Long books are amazing.

Learning about bug classifications

And nomenclature

Illustrating butterfly life cycles

Harriet’s:

Lucy’s:

It was a bit of a splurge, but this beautiful puppet from Folk Manis was too wonderful to pass up.

Our visit to the Denver museum of Science and Nature fit right in.

 

Searching for worms and bugs under rocks in the garden.

We also got one of these cool butterfly hatching kits. It was amazing to watch the miraculous transformation of our caterpillars over the course of the month.

We released our five beautiful Painted Ladies in Hyde Park in Hutchinson, KS

 

History and VIKINGS!

As a fun tie back to our History studies from the very beginning of the Homeschool year when we learned about Leif the Lucky, we made a special trip to Denver to check out the Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Vikings exhibit.

Here is Lucy with a Viking learning how to spin wool.

The best part of the exhibit, in my opinion, was this beautifully handmade to scale viking ship.

Here are are girls standing next to the boat and also a reconstructed guess at how the vikings would have made sails – can you imagine how much work would go into shearing, spinning, and weaving to just get a small bit of fabric?!

Some stunning gold Viking jewelry

Geology:

Another one of our themes for May was rocks and minerals. Thanks to all of the mining history in our state, Denver has a pretty incredible collection of Gems & Minerals.

This is a reconstructed crystal cave at the museum

and some pretty incredible crystals formations

And a pot of gold found at the end of the rainbow. 🙂

We got this kit off of Amazon to start learning on our own some of the different types of rocks and minerals. It was so fun!

Art & Making:

Lucy and Harriet began writing a play and creating their own masks and props for it. Probably one of those whim projects that will never get finished, but fun nevertheless to see their wonderful creative spirits.

We saw some really wonderful monumental sculptures in Denver.

we sorted all the crayons by color…:)

And finally, as a kick off to summer and a celebration of the official end of our homeschool year, we had a lovely outdoor tie dye session. Now we have all sorts of red white and blue gear for July 4th!

 

April 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.

I was worried about putting together this post from April because April had moments of being a bit of a homeschooling slump month. We took a week off for “spring break” (which was really so we could fully enjoy family being in town). I had trouble hitting my stride with planning and inspiration. But of course, as these things go, once I start to compile the images, all my worries about “did we do enough?” are put aside because I feel full. Filling our days with these littles by our sides and digging into learning together just feels right. So Onward we go…
Here are some of our April Adventures in Homeschooling…

Art & Art History:

Harriet has discovered a new little love for coloring. Currently she is working her way through the Secret Garden coloring book while listening to the Audio book of the Secret Garden. Just like me, the girls have an easier time sitting and engaging with a story if they have something to keep their hands busy.

I am pretty sure my entire knowledge of Art History as a kid came from this game – Masterpiece. I am not even sure if they still make it, but it’s pretty great – involves lots of math/money understanding as well as great exposure to famous paintings, and has quirky clue-like characters. Still a little old for my littles but Lucy (7) picked it up right away. 

Baby Animal Days:

Each spring, our city puts on an event called baby animal days. It takes place at Centennial Village (a beautiful restored historic town where tim and I got married). It’s just a wonderful excuse to play outside in a lovely setting and pet all the babies.

Some good old fashioned stilt and wooded horse play

And speaking of baby animals, we had an important, but very sad life lesson with a little kitten that was dumped on us in a grocery store parking lot. She was obviously a bit too young to be taken from her mama. We took her to the vet and they sent up home with Kitten milk replacer, but from the very first day she did not look healthy or spunky. By her third night she had passed away. I was a very hard first experience with death for the girls.

Spirituality:

Our wonderful friend and neighbor Tammi has this incredible set of felt bible stories. On Mondays we have been walking down to her house where she treats the girls to a retold biblical story.

We have also been enjoying the illustrations and retellings in “Stories from the Bible.”

Easter:

Easter this year was such a treat. My sisters, a nephew, and parents were able to join us, Tim only had to do one service at his church, and the weather was just gorgeous.

We even all got to go to an Easter service together – which rarely happens since Tim works for a church.

Since my sister was in town, we got to do all the Easter fun together! Our best win was choosing to do a little easter egg hunt put on by a local ReMax instead of going to the insane large city one. It was a blast, and just the perfect balance of fun activities (a bouncy house, photo booth, lots of snacks, egg hunts for each age group, and an Easter bunny) and not too many people.

These are some of the lovely new Easter books we enjoyed this month.

   All the kids on Easter morning – baskets this year had new water bottles, rain boots, Kinder chocolate eggs, and bubbles! (Plus a couple of new Max books for the little ones)

My mom brought up with her a Ukrainian egg dying kit for making Pysanky eggs that we used as kids. It is this really beautiful and satisfying process that involves layering beeswax over progressive different dyes (the colors are crazy intense). After the final layer, you carefully remove the beeswax to reveal a multifaceted design.

My mom also put together a stellar egg hunt/treasure hunt in our back yard where the kids each found a giant treasure filled egg with their name on it!

Engineering/Making

Lucy capacity for “making things” is off the charts. She always has some wonderfully elaborate creation brewing. We found a pretty cool graphic novel on Amazon called HowToons. The story is about two inventor kids and as they go through the story they make inventions to solve challenges. In the novel it shows them how to build them themselves. Here is Lucy making a marshmallow shooter.

 

And now time for a battle…

Netherlands:

Inspired by the beautiful tulips popping up near our driveway and also the Holland stories in one of the history books we just finished. We decided to have our country we “visited” this month be the Netherlands.

The girls created a beautiful new mural above our bed with lots and lots of dutch tulips, a windmill, and stars.

For one tea time we sample a Dutch delicacy – Hagelslag – which is basically buttered bread with an unreasonable amount of sprinkles on top. It was surprisingly awesome.

Letter Writing:

We have continued our weekly Monday letter writing practice. And you know what? When you write lots of letters, you receive lots of letters. Seems like a good metaphor for life…

Math:

This next month (May) I am excited to really play with math a lot thanks to an incredible garage sell set of stuff I got (Montessori anyone?) but, in the meantime, for April, we had a nice time playing with our Brain quest books.

And discovering that Math is way more fun worked on while listening to favorite tunes on headphones.

Reading:

Our classics read aloud for April was Wind in the Willows (we still have about 1 chapter left). I found this beautifully illustrated version on Abe Books. The pictures by Inga Moore are so lovely and the editing is better than some other versions I have seen.

The day we started it was one of those perfect moments of all the stars aligning. We brought a picnic to eat under our favorite willow tree at our favorite park while I read aloud. The story starts with two new friends, Mole and Rat, packing up a picnic and heading down the river to a favorite willow tree. In the story their picnic is cold fried chicken – the very thing I pack us.

Our fun read-aloud (and also audiobook version) book was Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes. Although maybe best for ages 8 and up, I couldn’t recommend this book more highly. Such a fun quirky adventure story. We all loved it.

Letter Play:

Harriet has been doing really great with her Letter and letter sounds. Thanks to Pinay Homeschooler’s free printables we have been enjoying playing some phonics matching games. She is getting really got at it!


On April Fools day, the girls were sadly disappointed that the pan of Brownies turned out to be a pan of Brown E’s

Another new favorite book for letter play is Oliver Jeffers “Once Upon an Alphabet” book. Quirky and delightful with lots of hidden connections you don’t catch until the 2nd or third time through. 

Sensory Play:

Sunny days call for “car washes (bikes)” and play with rainbow sensory foam (so so easy – just a 2 Tbs dish soap +1/4 C. water  whisked with the kitchen aid and then colored with a few drops of food coloring).

We also played this fun memory game that Lucy found in a magazine. One person lays out 20 items covered with a towel. And then you uncover it for 30 seconds to look at them. And then try to recall as many items as possible.

Plastic melted bead crafts

  Button play with Grandmama at the CO antique button show.

 

Spring Nature Study:

A bunch of fun Spring themed books from our local library.

These are my new favorite…

Nest studies

Flower dissecting and learning about the different parts. 

Outdoor Play:

Scaling poles

Climbing trees

Swinging in hammocks

Exploring treehouses

Jumping on trampolines

And eating outside as often as possible.

Thanks for following along. See you in May!

Much much love, Betony

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. 

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) –
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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?

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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.
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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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And did our best to wear authentic Chinese dress –

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

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We mailed Chinese postcards to friends
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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”
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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.

 

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

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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.
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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) –

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Tim took the girls ice skating –

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and sledding!

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

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

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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 –
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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

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And making a stocking for this handsome little man –

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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We also really enjoyed Read Aloud Revival’s Christmas Book list recommendations – img_7423

Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for following along!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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GAMES GALORE:

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

A couple of new favorites that we added to our collection:
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CURRENT EVENTS:

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

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

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Watching election results come in –

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A visit to our city hall

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And dropping off our ballot.

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READING AND LITERATURE:

Here were our reading books for the month:
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Plus ALL the Thanksgiving books (especially thanks to Read Aloud Revivals beautifully curated list):

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

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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)

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

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

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The girls rolled beeswax candles

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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 –
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Good old fashioned audio tape books are the greatest –

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An unseasonably warm November made for perfect teepee building weather – and the perfect location for tea and stories.img_6780
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Our history study of Jamestown lead us to creating a lego reenactment of Jamestown, John Smith, and Pocahontas.

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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.

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Swinging on willow branches

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Weaving willow branch baskets

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Colorado sunsets

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

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Sketches of what moss looks like through a microscope.

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And leaf jumping of course.

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CHARACTER:

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

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

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