October 30, 2008


Months ago I purchased the FIAR Fall Nature Study and oh, how we are enjoying it! We haven't done every activity, so we have plenty to look forward to when Fall '09 frosts our window.
My country girls love nature anyway and constantly challenge me to delight in the simple pleasures of the seasons: the changing colors, the creepy crawlies, the simple sounds.
One tiny sentence in this nature study inspired some beautiful creations from my kids: Make a rubbing of the bark or a plaster cast of the leaves. We've been doing leaf and bark rubbings since the girls could hold a crayon, so we opted for a bit of variety. And I just happened to have a box of plaster of paris hiding in my craft cabinet waiting for a project such as this.

While they were out gathering leaves, I removed the top of their pencil boxes, lined them with wax paper and poured in the plaster (after following the mixing directions on the back of the container).

They set the leaves in the plaster and rubbed them until we were sure that the leaf pattern was set. After it dried just a bit, we used a knife to loosen and lift the leaf.

The leaves made a nice permanent imprint. Honestly I'm not real sure that this is a true leaf "cast," but it's what happens when I find usual craft supplies laying around and decide to wing a project.

A few days later, the girls were admiring the miracle of plaster, a decided it need a little color. I didn't have any watercolors to give it a soft finish, but I did have some tempera paint. Viola! A remarkable memory of fall:

Even the broken corners add to its charm.

I even think the color choices of the girls reflect each child's personality. But that's another post for another time.

Who knew that stopping to enjoy a fall day would lead to such artistic renderings? Imagine what you can do with your family with the simple nature around you!

October 28, 2008

Election study

It's that time you know. Finally one week left in all this blah, blah, blah jargon. So we're doing a basic study this week so that my kids know what's really going on when we hit the polls next Tuesday.

I started by downloading a fold-n-learn from FIAR. This resource comes complete with info, graphics and ideas to further study this topic.
We used construction paper to put together a file folder of sorts and then made a flip-up section to divide the candidates.
Tomorrow we plan on adding a section on the inside about the history of voting, including women's right to vote. I'm in the process of printing off a basic bio of each candidate so that kids will know a little bit of each man's resume. Next Tuesday we'll color in each state's election returns, just like the big newsrooms do. We'll also spend some time praying for the outcome of this election.

During this mini-unit, the book So You Want to Be President? has been a great humerous overview of all the presidents. It's truly a must-read! (Did you know that Roosevelt's kids brought a horse into the White House elevator?)
If you've got any other ideas, I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment or shoot me an email. I'm sure my kids would enjoy someone else's fun ideas! You know it's so much easier to teach my kids when they think another mom come up with the project. ;)
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October 26, 2008

Skipped the church's fall festival...

and carved a family pumpkin and roasted its seeds instead.

This week has been one of our crazier ones. But we're comfy cosy at home this evening, enjoying each other. We're also listening to Casting Crowns' new Christmas CD. Fall time is great...but Christmas is right around the corner! Yeah!

October 23, 2008

Harvest Hope Food Bank

The girls group from church toured the Harvest Hope Food Bank yesterday evening. We were met in the parking lot by friendly Sam, the Can Man.
We brought with us many canned goods that we collected during the month. All of our food weighed 172 lbs. This is enough food to feed 2 people for 2 weeks each.

The goal of Harvest Hope is to give each person who uses their services 87 lbs of food. That amount should get them through 2 weeks. With government food stamps, they will have enough money to buy food for the other 2 weeks of the month.
These tough economic times have seen an increase of 12 extra people per day using their services. Currently this agency is serving more per day than at any time in the past, including holidays.

To fulfill the need of the community, Harvest Hope takes donations from grocery stores and private citizens. With the holidays approaching, many places are hosting food drives. The food collected is then sorted and organized so that emergency bags can be given to hungry people.

One thing our family would like to do is volunteer to sort or stuff bags. And with the extra people really needing food, they sure can use donations and hands to help.

Cayli has been begging to help, so I think we'll since we found out last night that they'll let 8 year olds join their team. Of course I think my girls secretly want to learn to drive the forklift that organizes bundles for food onto these high shelves.

October 16, 2008

Lizard Lover

I think fall is one of my girls' favorite time of the year because they get to be "friends" with tiny green creatures. Mabry also think these pets also make fashionable hair accessories, too.

During this season we'll collect a fair share of lizards, praying mantises and other creatures that unsuspectedly get caught in my girls' mesh houses.

Kenna went out the other day armed with two ladybug lockets and a bug watch. Poor bugs.

Queen Cayli, however, seems to relish the beauty of fall and was quite content to leave the lizard-catching to her sisters.

One of their assignments this week was to photograph fall colors. Sadly in our area, it's either still very green or red. We do have a little yellow but not a whole lot in between the fall spectrum of colors.

Speaking of vibrant colors...fall brings the state fair at this time of the year. We had fun!

And remember this ugly guy? It's a nasty wheel bug. I've never seen one before and hope I never see another one. Apparently its bite is painful.
Many thanks to my cyber friends who helped me identify this little fellow. Some fellow homeschooling moms also suggested two more sites to our growing list of online bug guides:
Bug Guide
Insect Identification

So, what's your favorite fall activity?

October 14, 2008

The uglier, the better

So, what do you think this thing is? Other than ugggggglllyyyy, that is. You'd think that since I've lived in the country for 4 years now and even graduated from a pretigious country highschool, I would know the precise names of 2-inch-long, 6-legged (so we know it's not a spider), red antennaed, brown and ugly bugs.
But I don't and my fascinated children are on a search. We caught the uglyness and put it into our classy bug condo (gotta love recycled spaghetti sauce jars!) and Kenna proceeded to investigate with a magnifying glass.
While Mabry was looking through a few bug ID guides I asked Kenna what the bug was doing. And she said it was acting like this:
Her drama coach would be proud!
Since eNature and I have come up short on names, do you have an idea of what this thing is?

October 13, 2008

Chore Chart

With dirt-loving, mess-making kids, chores are a necessary evil for our family. Knowing that my kids like checklists and I prefer not to sound like a broken record day after day, I printed off a custom made list from this site. I picked a picture for the top and then typed their name and personalized to-do list, stuck on the fridge and viola! my house is clean.

I kept their lists basic: make your bed, clean your room, unload the dishwasher, fold laundry...But I also added an extra space: Ask Mom. Everyday they have to ask me for something else to do. My list for them is 2-3 miles long, for it includes things like: clean out the car, wash windows, sort laundry, help in the kitchen, etc. Just stuff that doesn't have to be done everyday, but needs to be done when I think about it.

So far, so good. We're on day 4 and they are still checking away. How long do you think this will last?

October 10, 2008

Week in review

Those pesky, mudane but mandatory 3Rs consumed most of our week. But we found some time some explore the life of Helen Keller using our senses of touch and smell. The library has a shelf of embossed picture book with the words in written text and braille. The girls enjoyed feeling their way through a book about an airplane flying through the clouds.

Later in the week I cooked a few sausages, put them on the table and blindfolded the girls. One by one they tried to find their food. Not an easy task using only your sniffer.

We also enjoy another poetry party, using our teapot filled with milk for dipping brownies! Yummy! Brownies just seem to go better with the magical poems of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Up into the cherry tree
Who should climb but little me?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad on foreign lands...

...To where the roads on either hand
Lead onward into fairy land,
Where all the children dine at five,
And all the playthings come alive.

Grab your kids and enjoy a poetry party! Milk, brownies and Stevenson's poems proved to be a delicious memory to help earse the day-to-day duldrums of necessary schoolwork.

October 6, 2008

All good things must end...

This is the stuff childhood memories are made of, so I froze this moment in time, as Matthew reads the last page of the last chapter of the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. He's been reading the to girls regularly over the past six months as they made their way through all seven books of Narnia, further up and further in.

What are you reading to your kids?
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October 2, 2008

Helen Keller

Yep, we're on another subject. We started the new school year planning to study the whole wide world...but we've stalled in a little town of Tuscumbia, AL, otherwise known as the birthplace of Helen Keller.

We're reading through Margaret Davidson's book, Helen Keller, and using resources such as Through Her Eyes and Miracle Worker and whatever else the county library shelves have to accentuate our learning.

I assigned our first project today, a timeline of her life. I recently posted about our timeline cards the girls create, and now we are continuing the line. So we start with HK as a baby in 1880, but we also added in cards from other authors whose works we are reading right now. Kenna is charged with putting the important dates of Helen's inspirational life on our timeline.

Every morning at breakfast I read from the Little House on the Prairie series. Currently we are half-way through On the Banks of Plum Creek, where 8-year-old Laura lives with her family in a dugout. The real Laura Ingalls Wilder was born in 1857, and had a daughter in 1886, so her life over laps Helen's life. Pretty nifty, don't you think? Cayli volunteered to follow Laura's life on our timeline.

In the evenings, the girls are awe-struck by the Chronicles of Narnia, as read by their daddy. He's wrapping of the final book in the 7-book series, but Mabry is fascinated by all creations of C.S. Lewis. So she gets to document his life. Amazingly he was born in 1898 and died in 1963 (the same day as President Kennedy, for all you history buffs). So he roamed the earth, albeit on another continent, at the same time as Helen and Laura.

I will make cards for all the historical dates: WW1, the Great Depression, WW2, etc to put this all into perspective for the girls. I'll post pictures once their timeline masterpiece takes some shape.

In the meantime, we explored our senses today. I blindfolded each girl, spun them around, and told them to find our piano. It took a bit of time, as the darkness frustrated them as they walked into chairs and tripped over Micah's clutter. But what a great sampling of those who live without sight daily!