Garden grow!

Here are the latest pictures of our sunflower garden! These things are getting pretty big! I am wondering…if anyone knows, when do the flowers bloom? The plants are so tall and I keep hoping the flowers will start popping out, none of them have yet.

Here is the entire rectangular sunflower garden/fort:

Here is Emily standing next to the tallest sunflower plant thus far:

And here is a recent picture of our veggie garden. We actually have a tiny tomato growing! Yay!

Another year has come to an end…

No, I didn’t look at the calendar wrong…it’s not New Year’s Eve…just the end of another school year for us! Now, we do school year round, so the end and the beginning sometimes run together, but I wanted to take a few minutes to think about the past year and all the growing and learning my sweet children have done. This might get a bit long, but I wanted to take some time to review our school year.

Sweet Hannah…my oldest, my most stubborn. :) Hannah is a true oldest child. She seems to excel in academics and this year has been no different. But, aside from the excelling, what I love about schooling with Hannah is her love for learning new things. She is constantly telling me about new ideas she has for units for us to do! (David makes fun of me saying I “unitize” everything…”Oh this would be a good unit!”) Well, now Hannah does this as well! “Mommy, we should learn about frogs next week! Or what about squirrels?” I love her enthusiasm!

Hannah is also very neat and orderly. She takes her time coloring and LOVES arts and crafts. I personally think she happens to have maybe a bit of talent in the drawing department,but I don’t want to brag. ;) I love seeing her drawings! This girl would sit at our school table and use markers, glue, stencils, stickers and paint ALL DAY LONG if I would let her! Because Hannah loves crafts so, something new we have done this year has been a HUGE hit – lapbooks!

Hannah continues to do a great job with reading. From what I can tell with online tests and such, she is reading on about a 3rd grade level. In the last few months she even picked up her first “real” chapter book to read…not for me to read to her, but for her to read by herself – Charlotte’s Web!

Hannah and mommy on her birthday!

One of Hannah’s drawings from this past year.

Emily, sweet Emily. :) My middle girl has made a lot of progress in the last year as well! Like Hannah, she too is so eager to learn new things! Emily especially loves learning new things about animals. She gets very excited when we get to examine and study creatures – like our caterpillars and our crickets from this past year. She is the nurturing one who checks on the bugs and/or animals several times a day to make sure they have what they need.

Emily has also made a lot of progress in reading this year! I waivered a little bit in my decision to not use a formal phonics program towards the beginning of this year, because I found myself wondering if it would have been good for her. However, we took a few months off of sounding out words – as she was getting frustrated – and now (within the last 2 months) she has just taken off! She is reading the BOB books we have and loving it! She is doing well with our Queens Language Lessons and sounding out the words in that book as well. She isn’t getting nearly as frustrated as she was back 6 or 8 months ago.

Emily also enjoys the lapbooks! Emily doesn’t enjoy taking her time and doing nice, neat jobs on coloring but she does enjoy the finished product. She isn’t worried about what the coloring or writing looks like, but she loves having her lapbook with all the little books and things in it to show daddy and Nana. She really does learn a lot of the info this way!

Emily got a new bike this year and has shown us that she isn’t very timid on it! She zooms down the street FAST, and thus made David and I feel like we needed to get the girls helmets. :) Hannah has never quite been this fast on the bike, so this was something new for us. She loves riding her bike!

Emily with her “pet” caterpillar!

Both girls love painting!

Sweet baby boy, Caleb! Last but definitely not least, Caleb has had an exciting year as well! Towards the beginning of our school year I found myself getting very frustrated with Caleb because he would cry on the floor whenever I sat down to read books with the girls. And well, a lot of our schooling is reading good books together! Now, I am happy to say that almost all the time (with a very few exceptions) Caleb happily sits on the couch with us and reads along with us! He will listen to me read as long as the girls will!

Caleb loves the songs I play each morning for school! Don’t be surprised if you hear him rattling off some of the books of the Bible, because he can *almost* say them like the girls can. :) He also sings our spanish songs, can count to 10 in spanish and knows what cat, dog, baby and several of the colors are in spanish! Little ones are such sponges at this stage, so I’m excited that he is willing to participate in our morning routine…he is learning too! He also recites part or all of several of our memory verses with us!

Caleb also loves playing outside and is very interested in the different things we have planted this year. He gets excited about the bugs like Emily and also gets excited about the plants growing. When I go outside I will often hear, “mommy! Look how tall our garden is growing!” So cute! :)

All 3 of the kids love helping in the kitchen, too!

Caleb doing jellly bean math with us!

Another wonderful year of homeschooling for us. Though I get frustrated and don’t feel like I am the most patient mommy in the world, I wouldn’t trade this time in our lives for anything! I love hearing my kids reciting God’s word. I love hearing my children learning to read and sounding out those words. I love to hear my kids singing praises to Jesus. I love to hear my kids get excited about turtles and telling Nana all about them. I love to see my kids drawings and how proud they are to show daddy their artwork. I love spending our mornings snuggled on the couch reading from God’s word and from wonderful picture books. I feel so blessed that I can homeschool my children!

Turtle Unit Study

Since we found turtles on our nature walk last week, we have decided that we would like to learn more about turtles. This isn’t what I had planned But, the FIAR title that I had planned isn’t in at the library, though I’ve had it on reserve for almost 2 months now! Basically, I have checked out about 12 books on turtles. I will go through them and choose 1-2 to read each day next week. Then, we will do some type of coloring page, craft or activity about turtles. It’s not going to be a full-blown very detailed unit plan – which is what I’m used to, but we will see how it goes! Generally the good books we read make up the most of our unit anyway, we learn a lot from reading good books! And, I have found a few lapbook components and coloring pages to keep us busy as well.

So, we will learn about turtles next week! Here are a few things on the agenda.

Books to read:

All About Turtles

Emma's Turtle

Turtle In The Sea

Little Turtle and the Song of the Sea

Activities and fun ideas:

*we will practice drawing turtles with our Usborne I Can Draw Animals book!

*HERE is a great picture of a sea turtle to color!

*Learn about the 3 main types of turtles: fresh-water, salt-water and land dwelling

*Of course we will walk back down to our turtle spot and observe the turtles there, we will try to draw them in our nature journals as well.

*HERE is a turtle report form page from HSS

*We will not be doing this entire unit, as it focuses on things other than turtles, but we will read the book and look at some of the facts found here on sea turtles! Turtle Bay unit on HSS

*vocabulary for a turtle study: hatchling = a baby turtle or animal that hatches from an egg, tortoise = turtle that lives on land, egg tooth = baby turtles (hatchlings) have an sharp tooth which they use to open the soft shell of their egg as they come out, ectotherm = an animal that relies on its environment to warm and cool their body, (turtles move to the sun to warm up and find shade to cool down) carapace = the top part of the turtle shell, plastron = the underside of the turtle shell

*Here is a turtle poem, you may know how the rhyme and motions go! I hope to write this poem in our nature journals and decorate the page with turtle drawings.

The Little Turtle

by Vachel Lindsay

There was a little turtle.

He lived in a box.

He swam in a puddle.

He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito.

He snapped at a flea.

He snapped at a minnow.

And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito.

He caught the flea.

He caught the minnow.

But he didn’t catch me.

Turtle facts:

*Turtles live on every continent except Antarctica – why not there? It is too cold!

*What kind of turtle is the biggest? The leatherback sea turtle, which can grow to be 8 feet long and can weigh up to 1900 pounds! Yikes! The smallest is the speckled cape tortoise, it grows to be 3 inches long.

*Do you know what a turtle’s shell is made out of? BONE! On top of that bone is a layer of horny scales called scutes. These scutes are made of keratin, which is the same material that is in your fingernails.

*Why does the turtle have a shell? 1)the shell protects the turtle from the sun, 2)the colors on the shell provide camouflage to protect them from their predators, 3)the shell provides a place for the turtle to withdraw in times of danger

*Do turtles have teeth? No! Instead sharp edges along their inner jaws cut and tear their food.

*Do turtles have ears? Not on the outside of their heads like we do! Instead, they have an inner eardrum that picks up low sounds and vibrations from the ground and water.

*Where do turtles nest? All turtles nest on land, even sea turtles! Turtles dig a nest in the dirt or sand to lay their eggs. All turtles lay eggs. A sea turtle lays between 80 and 200 eggs at one time!

*What are predators for baby turtles? raccoons, oposums, foxes, birds and humans. Predators of sea turtles are sea birds, sharks, fish and otters.

*Turtles have long lives. Freshwater turtles may live to be 40 yearsold. Sea turtlesl live to be 80 years or more. Tortoises can live up to 150 years old!

Little Nino’s Pizzaria

This coming week we will be rowing the FIAR title, Little Nino’s Pizzaria! I have been wanting to do this book for a long time and we are finally getting to it!

Here are a few of the books we are reading for this unit! There is another older book that explains how to make a pizza with a picture each step of the way, this book is called Pizza Man by Marjorie Pillar.

Little Nino's Pizzeria

Hold the Anchovies!: A Book About Pizza

Here are some fun ideas and activities we will be doing!

*Thursday – going to a local pizza place to watch them make pizza and then eat lunch there with friends!

*Survey various people and ask what their favorite kind of pizza is. Also, ask what their favorite place to eat pizza is, and then graph the results!

*Make a pizza book according to the directions on this page, a great pizza unit study for primaries!

*At beginning of week, have kids each tell me how to make a pizza. We will write this down and illustrate it. (then by the end of the week we will see how far off they were!)

*one day we will make English muffin pizzas for lunch!

*I had the idea to try a different kind/type of pizza each day we are rowing this book…but I’m not sure if I’ll be this brave or not! I do hope to try a dessert pizza at some point during the week!

*we are going to learn about the basic food groups. We will evaluate some meals we have had lately to see if they are nutricious. We are also going to make lists of foods that fit into each category.

*Math – we will do a little bit of math with fractions this week. I think I will do this with a frozen pizza one day for lunch!

*Here is a cute online game type page on making a pizza and the ingredients you need.

*Here is a P is for Pizza coloring page.

*How do you like your pizza? A cut and paste page!

*Here is a printable food pyramid for children. We will print this and go over what it means.

*Look for printable food pyramid to color and discuss with kids.

*Here is a free Italy lapbook if you would like to learn more about Italy with your pizza!

Butterfly Lapbook

I think this counts as our FIRST, official lapbook! This is the first time each girl has made her own and we have spent the week learning the different things about butterflies found in this lapbook. I admit, I was a bit skeptical about whether or not the girls would actually learn anything from doing school this way! I knew they would love the cutting, pasting and pretty pictures…but would they learn the information? But, my doubts were diminished as the girls told me facts about caterpillars and butterflies that I had never heard before! And today, they showed Nana their lapbooks and told her all about how caterpillars have 16 legs, they have no nose, they breathe through holes on their backs, butterflies have a proboscis – which is like a straw to drink nectar! These are their words, not mine! I am officially a new lapbook FAN! In the past I have printed off parts of lapbooks and we have put them in our school notebook. I am sure we will still continue to use both methods.

Most of these lapbook components came from homeschool share – remember the site I’m always telling you about with FREE literature based unit studies? Well, they also have a bunch of free lapbooks! Now all we need is a better printer!

Here are some pictures from the butterfly lapbooks we have worked on this week!

The front covers

The inside opened

Butterfly picture cards

Types of flowers that butterflies like

Hannah’s labeled butterfly

Hannah showing Nana her butterfly lapbook

Hannah is very proud of her work!

Emily is proud of her lapbook, too!