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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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Sending a Little Love Your Way…

We always like to get a little creative with our Valentine making around here. This year we played with sorting old stamps (duplicates from my childhood stamp collection) by color. We used vintage stamps, but you could just as easily do this by collecting them from your mail. I love how these turned out. Pretty simple to put together too.
For more Valentine making inspiration, here are last years stitched valentines.

Here’s a great Valentine mix to listen to while you work 🙂

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To make these, we first sorted stamps by color –IMG_0841

Then traced a simple heart shape in pencil on some white cardstock paper and filled in with stamps (we just used a gluestick)IMG_0839

Ta da!

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ABACUS: “Letters” Project Round UP

(Above image is from a Greeley mural created by Wes Bruce.)

The theme for this month’s Abacus project is “Letters” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). I am excited to share where we have been going with it!  To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources!) check out our original post, here.  It’s been a lovely way to spend February.

The first thing we did was to get out all sorts of lettering sheets and make a poster for the month with all our ideas and plans. We had a fun time experimenting with different fonts and styles. I got pretty into this too and had a great time addressing all our valentine envelopes with different fonts. Ridiculous, I know. But so fun.

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Here are a couple of awesome vintage charts I found that you could print out and play with. Ah, the lost art of lovely handwriting.
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Lucy wrote a letter to her first pen-pal.
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We haven’t had a chance to set up letter writing stations around town yet, but we’re planning on doing it soon! We are also still hoping to take a visit to the local Post Office and have a tour (we did go and pick out some stamps on our last etsy mailing errand).

We started illustrating our own animal alphabet book. Its destined to be a classic.

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Tim took a brisk alphabet-photo-walk with Lucy where they found all the letters in the alphabet.
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Speaking of photos, I have been loving participating in the annual Atlas photo a day challenge on instagram.
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Lots of mail has been made and delivered around here, thanks to these cute little mailboxes we picked up for $3 at target and customized.

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Been listening to lots of this album, as well as our ABC playlist (still to come).

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We started a little stamp collection by printing out some of these pages – http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/albums/2014-Issues.pdf and putting them in a three ring binder. Any time we got a letter this month with stamps on it we add them to our stamp “album”. Hattie (who’s 3) in particular has loved this.

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Lucy has been enjoying playing these typing games on the computer.

Tim spent a morning teaching the girls about addresses. I later received this sweet, sweet letter. Keeping it forever 🙂

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A “letters” tie in that I had not anticipated has been my set-design work for Frontier Academy elementary school. One of my close friends asked me to design the set for their show called “Knights of Dawn” (its from one of the Magic Treehouse books). We did a literary theme by constructing the whole thing from oversize pages of the text and old books. Lots of “letters”! 🙂 The girls have loved it.
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Finally, we did a whole “Secret Spy” day that was pretty epic. It involved “lasers”, a spy course, and a top secret code. Read about the whole thing here.
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Share your projects on our facebook group!

– See more ideas at: http://s28969.p27.sites.pressdns.com/abacus-letters-a-creative-curriculum-list-for-february/#sthash.l90fvSMi.dpuf

If you want more info about this whole Abacus project, start here.

To jump in and connect with other families and share what you are working on, join our Abacus facebook group.

Or, to connect see our whole list of Letters project suggestions and resources list, head over here.

Abacus: “Letters” – A Creative Curriculum List for February

Giants and Pilgrims Abacus is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is “Letters”!
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.


A couple of February Dates to keep in mind as you are scheming fun activities-

Groundhog Day = Feb. 2
Valentines Day = feb. 14th
Mardi Gras = Feb. 17th
Ash Wednesday = Feb. 18th
The Chinese New Year = feb. 19th

And if you are in the Greeley area, the Stampede troupe is putting on Treasure Island feb. 27 & 28

 

Letters:

Language/Writing:

Experiment with tracing paper – cool letters, etc.

Learn/practice cursive and calligraphy – I am excited to revisit this myself (later in the month I will post some really cool charts for this)

Penpal exchange for the month (anyone want in on this?)

Keeping Adventure Logs/Diaries

Adventure:

Set up letter writing stations around town

Visit the local Post Office (do they do tours?)

 

Art:

Make Sewn Letter mobiles 

Mod podge a set of Alphabet rocks

Illustrate our own animal alphabet book

Take an alphabet photo walk – #almanacalphabetseverywhere (put them together, spell names, etc.)

 

Building:

Construct valentine mailboxes – this one is particularly adorable

Table mailboxes

 

Reading: 

(Various age appropriateness here)
The Jolly Postman
by Allan Ahlberg
Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Vocab – “Epistolary”


Movies

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller (awesomely bad 90’s movie)

Spellbound – spelling bee documentary

Word Wars – Scrabble documentary 

For the Romantics:
You’ve got Mail
P.S. I Love You

 

Music:

The Postal Service

Abc playlist -We will post ours on Giants & Pilgrims this month

 

History:

Illuminated manuscripts – I used to make these with my art class using parchment paper, that we would burn the edges of and metallic ink or gold leaf to embellish the drop caps with.

Stamp collecting – I am printing out some of these pages – http://stamps.org/userfiles/file/albums/2014-Issues.pdf and any time we get a letter this month with stamps on it, we will save them and add them to our stamp “album”. The pdf has some nice history stories behind each stamp.

 

Technology:

Typing games on the computer (suggestions anyone?)

Play with the typewriter


Kitchen:

Alphabet pasta/soup

 

Math:

Roman numerals

Learn about addresses

 

Games:

Scrabble
Boggle
Spelling Bee
In the Car – the alphabet game (could be a race), letter finding game, etc.

 

What would you add to this list?
Share your projects on our facebook group!

February Desktop Background and iPhone Wallpaper

Happy February! A month made up of love, chocolates, football, letter writing, mardi gras, the Chinese New Year, Ash Wednesday, ground hog day and oh so much more. We plan on spending the month digging into the theme of “Letters” (more coming on that tomorrow). And, if you are looking for more February inspiration and sparks, here is a beautiful Poem written by Tim called Send, a recipe for Simply Perfect Chocolate Brownies, and a downloadable pdf of envelope templates to start your valentine and letter writing endeavors. Happy February!

 

iPhone wallpaper:
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Click small image below to view large size desktop file.
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Thank You Notes

My mother has always taken me to task when it
comes to writing thank you notes. I asked her to share her heart on this here in our November almanac.
Betony has also designed a thank you card you can print from home, if you want to let my mom take you to task in her thank you note challenge too.

On Thank You Notes

by Dianne Coons

“When I was a little girl, I have fond memories of my mother writing thank you notes at the kitchen table while drinking coffee with LOTS of cream.  I got to draw pictures for my grandparents, aunts and uncles, or family friends that were included in her letters.  I thought at the time it was much fun.

However, as I got older and had to write my own notes…it became a drag.  Mother was insistent!!  Today, I know why.

Yes, there is the email and a text, and for practical reasons (like letting them know you received their gift), it works great, but nothing takes the place of a handwritten note.

During this Thanksgiving month when we sit at the table and remember all the things for which we are thankful, take a minute to send a personal note to others and share why you are thankful for them.”
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February Almanac Ephemera FREE Download: Envelopes

How great is it to get mail? To tear into the envelope and hear from a friend? Here’s some envelope templates. Make your own out of old maps or other crazy such things. And here’s to getting real mail!

 

 

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February Almanac Poetic Intro

Welcome to the month of February and to our online Almanac. It’s good to navigate these pages together for the good life.

For our Giants & Pilgrims February Almanac theme we chose the word “Send”. Most of the pages deal in this theme: the way we communicate to each other, the letters and notes we give, how love and care is something easy to feel, but hard to say. We felt this would be so appropriate to talk about within this month!

Here’s a poem written to expound upon these ideas. Encouraging the gathering of our words to go out to those who need to hear them.

February is a written letter
Words forming at the tip of our tongue
about to be spoken

 We believe in this edge 
of winter
Bending towards the promise 
of spring

 And so we dare to 
Tell, share, say, send
this love so easily felt;
so hard to put into words

 Against the fear we intend
to send it anyways