Back to school, back to life

“The giving of love is an education in itself.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Second grade and Kindergarten!

We recently kicked off the new school year and I’m still in shock that I’m officially teaching not just Ella in second grade this year, but Gavin now in kindergarten. Three years into this already and it feels like yesterday that it all began.

I jumped into homeschooling not really knowing how to swim, but I never imagined the rewarding and truly incredible experience that treading through with faith would bring from it. I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to continue another year with it.

Though it isn’t the usual hustle and bustle normally found on a first day of school, which I fondly remember. I still like to treat it specially. A few new outfits, and setting up the desk for them to discover on the first day are a couple of ways to keep a sense of excitement about the new year! Ella also wanted her first day of school hair and we had the rare apple fritter and blueberry breakfast! 🙂

Preschooler!!

This is a glimpse of what our school/learning area consists of. They are enjoying the shared space now but in time I see us growing out of it. For now it works though and Grant definitely wants to be a part of it. Of course this is where the ‘official’ yet unofficial work gets done when it comes to workbooks and specific lessons. Still a lot of our learning happens in the kitchen, around town, or snuggled in a bed with books, to name a few of the unique learning opportunities which are what I so love about all of this!

And really these school days are not so much about me knowing exactly what a perfect education means, or possessing all the skills as the perfect teacher. What I do know is that the love I have feeds through my desire to play the biggest role in their learning at this age. Hopefully it fosters a love of learning in them that continues throughout their entire education, no matter what direction it takes in the future!

The Empty Nest: Part 2

To follow-up on our lovely little nest find:

Conveniently spread out over the span of a couple of weeks, we took our time with the study of our nest. We used a couple of bird worksheets (here and here for a few ideas if needed!) The kids also made this nifty little bird mobile which we found the printable for on this site. We changed it a bit however, and decided that it needed a sturdy oatmeal box as the tree and real leaves to make it more realistic. Fun stuff!!

The bird mobile

Then there was the bird nest experiment, that I found on education.com. I also needed to adapt this for our own use. This experiment could have been more thorough had we already invested in a microscope and some petri dishes, but we just aren’t there yet. It was a very neat little experiment though. I had Ella write out her official hypotheses on whether she thought there were other living organisms in the nest, besides the bird and egg/s that inhabited it. She decided that, No, it only has seeds and probably no other ‘living’ things really.

She was right… (unless of course a microscope would have shown otherwise.) But our findings after leaving the nest under a hot lamp for a few days, was that nothing else had set up home in the nest after all.

Come out, come out, wherever you are…

Looking for clues

After discussing the reasons why birds make nests the way they do, and the benefits to making a nest in a hidden, far to reach place, we watched a couple of videos that I was able to find on YouTube of a real bird building its nest. Then I challenged them at making a replica of a nest and for a minute we joked that they should make it without using hands! They quickly saw what a hard thing that would be to carry out, and now appreciate the amazing skill that birds possess to create a nest using only their beaks!

Here is what they came up with:

Looked pretty good to me!! (Bendaroos, yarn, plant base stuffing and burlap made nice materials for that.) While their nest wasn’t as structurally sound as the real one, its colorful style added so much ‘flare!’

Speaking of nest styles, the nest that we found had one particular clue which stood out about what type of bird was living in it. After desperately scanning several sites to try to identify this nest, we narrowed it down. I should add that this bird nest identification business is a tricky thing! We noticed that there appeared to be a hole towards the bottom of the nest and that the description of a House Sparrow nest stated that it might have a hole about to the bottom of it. Normally the sparrow nest might be taller than ours, but it also depends on the location. The position in the tree that we found it was about roof height which is also a quality of that type. Luckily we also saw the egg which was a smaller greyish, white color with speckles and about the size of a dime and connects it to the House Sparrow description as well. There were plenty of qualities that immediately crossed off other birds from the list, such as mud used on the nest, an enclosed nest, many feathers used throughout the design and the type of grasses used.

I think all clues point to one answer in my non-expert bird opinion: It’s a House Sparrow nest!! 🙂

Overall the nest study turned out a success and was a fun way to end the ‘official’ school year these past couple of weeks. Be sure to be on the lookout for abandoned nests… it just might be the inspiration needed for a little study on the sweet little winged friends, whom love to bring us happy song!

“Did you ever see an unhappy horse? Did you ever see bird that had the blues? One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.” ~Dale Carnegie

And then there were Legos…

Some of the best days are spent doing things I didn’t plan…

Like when Gavin is begging me to build him a Lego house.

And it literally takes me the bulk of the day to fulfill this wish for him. He know’s mommy has never known her full potential at Lego building and seriously doubts a successful outcome, but he had every bit of faith in me with this assignment.

 

I couldn’t resist a couple of details, like the flower walkway next to a pond… or the fancy barbecue on the upstairs deck…

 

And of course we have the living room… a side from the kitchen and bedrooms.

Yes, that’s a drill on the coffee table, why I don’t know. 🙂

Gavin and Ella both asked for the garage.

It was definitely a Lego day and mostly because we are three days out from the last day of school, workbooks are drying up, and summer fun days are starting to nudge at us. We took a run in the morning through our “old downtown” and had some real interactions with map/key concepts as well as stopped in the pet store for some learning. The kids got to pet a few snakes, Ella pet a scorpion and they watched the effort that goes into maintaining all the animal cages. It was an eventful day even though the Lego’s ended up as the bigger portion.

But every good day must come to an end, and the creation met its tragic end…

 

It’s a tough thing to see hard work fall on the floor to a million pieces. But what is remembered is the fun that was had while it lasted!

And there’s always tomorrow….

P.S. Lego mini golf

I thought I would share this post this morning. I remember having such a love/hate relationship with the bubble sheet on those tests in school… You want to love them because they don’t require a written answer or true knowledge on the question at hand. I could essentially get away with the ‘best educated guess’ if it was something I wasn’t sure of. Or the opposite, which was hate it because the answers were so similiar that I’d end up stewing on that one answer, and over thinking it. And how much of that stewing and stressing was over something relevant in life today…that’s the real question!

Cooperative Catalyst

We know bubble sheets are unrelated to “real life”.

I think we made the “education thing” up by constructing much nonsense about the written word being the supreme method of sharing ideas and information.

I think we have forgotten that sharing experiences and doing things together are matters that (1) allow us to learn and (2) make us human.

I began asking a question of Paramedic and EMT students (HS grads/GED) to kick-start discussions about medical-legal issues. I ask them to write down the first word that comes to mind when asked “What Are You?” I ask that question three more times, and request they again write their answer down.

The answers generally deal with biological sex, sex/gender/family roles and issues, race/ethnicity, nationality and intellectual capabilities. We discuss how the answers frame their current worldviews and how their worldviews will affect their future work as EMTs and Paramedics. We then consider…

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We’ve been chopped!!

As in “Chopped” by our cooking judges…

Team G’s judged Ella and I tonight as we played a pretend game of the cooking show Chopped.

Cutest judges ever!

My kids love watching the Food Network when they visit their grandparents, it’s only a given that they love to play it too lol! So tonight when Ella wanted to help me in the kitchen, we had to give the boys a job or I probably wouldn’t have heard the end of it! Judging was the answer. Can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen right?!

The babies

So Ella and I got right down to work. I let her do most of the prepping and she wanted to help marinate the chicken. She went a little shake happy with the garlic powder though, so we were nervous about what our judges would have to say about that…

Gavin kept us on our toes the entire time!! He had us with 10 minutes left on the clock…oh for about an hour…. Longest 10 minutes known to man I think. But it was funny. We were enjoying every minute!

Yum!!

By the way, this zucchini recipe I found on Pinterest of course 😉 I love to incorporate it when I can cause it’s easy and yummy!! Ella also played announcer by giving ingredient and cooking updates along the way.

The green beans are in the pan now and she’s adding some oil…oh and some spices….”

“The zucchini things are coming along nicely!”

I of course had my own sentiments…

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
W. C. Fields

Loving my new glass 🙂

Well you know what I mean, I didn’t add it to the food tonight, but it sure is nice to sip along the way!

The meal was ever satisfying and the judges actually DID enjoy it!! Here they are eating away at the meal and the artichoke we had to go with it…

So how was it that the judges loved us but still had us chopped? That brings me to the kicker of this story. Never mind that Gavin was messing around by going back and forth between chopped or safe throughout the entire dinner, leaving us totally confused. No it wasn’t that which got us chopped.

So our favorite little green stemmed friend, the artichoke… he decided to show his ugly side tonight. Or buggly side I might say. This long standing, family loving tradition of artichoke eating has NEVER, I repeat, NEVER shown this side of himself before. I WAS APPALLED!! I mean was I dreaming when I compared a perfect artichoke to a perfect man.. beautifully compacted in a bit of smooth yet tough exterior, sweet and consistently perfect on the inside with a heart that is to die for?!

Oh wait you mean there is also no such thing as a perfect artichoke either?! Darn, well we learned that the hard way tonight.. the vomiting in my mouth hard way when about halfway into eating one of the chokes, Gavin pointed out some strange black dots clustered around some of the leaves. Right away inspector Mommy was on the case and with a little prodding through the next few layers I discovered what I feared I would.

Ughh, It still makes me shiver as I think about it again. A little white worm sticking out through a couple leaves underneath. Plenty of wormy poops to go around I might add…Just typing it is killing me now because the thought of what we may have eaten is just the most disgusting thing to me. Of course in the moment Mommy had to have her bearings and swiftly toss it in the trash before any major revelation by the kids of what “it” was. All they needed to know was that just as much as we need and love to eat a plant like our trusty artichokes, other insects in this world love it too…

And… gulp…must eat like us…gulp… unfortunately we were sharing ours with another friend tonight. You know I love a natural learning experience, but did it really have to come in the form of a creepy crawly in our food tonight?!! Seriously, I had to chop myself from our little game because if I had known to inspect an artichoke better than I did, we could have avoided this I think. Shame on me!

MOMMY LESSON #405: WHILE CLEANING/PREPARING ARTICHOKE, CHECK FOR ANY LIVING FRIENDS WHO MAY HAVE SET UP HOME FURTHER IN. 

I was totally surprised by this episode tonight and can you imagine that we still were able to finish off the other artichoke?! Well it was already almost done anyway which is about the best part remember?!

IT’S THAT BEAUTIFUL HEART WE ARE ALWAYS AFTER…

An artichoke heart is a work of art…

Yes it is all about the heart!!

And that was our evening, eventful as always! Join us next week on chopped if we can be trusted again to safely inspect our food haha 😉