Friday, April 29, 2011

Kids in the woods

I love this time of year - the weather is warm enough not to require layers and layers of stuffy clothing, but not yet too hot. Most of the bugs are still sleeping (the stinging ones, anyway) and the kids are always up for a hike. Today we invited some neighbourhood friends along with us to a side loop of the Bruce Trail that we hadn't visited before. It was food for the soul. The highlight was the egg sack that the kids discovered in the pond, which of course ignited planning to come back and see what has hatched!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Learning Happens

Sometimes the 'lessons' in our days come about so naturally you can't help but smile. Just after lunch today I decided to check my e-mail before setting our plans for the rest of the day. Lo and behold, an e-mail from a friend - who is going to Kenya in 54 days!! This is her second trip to Africa (lucky girl). She is planning to help arrange micro-loans for families in a small village in Kenya, and will also be working to build and stock a small community library. Voila - afternoon set.

The kids had a blast going through their bookshelves and picking out books to send to the new library. We checked out Kenya on the map, and marvelled at what a trip it would be to get there. The boys wrote letters and drew pictures for their new 'friends' across the sea, sharing in the excitement that the new library must be bringing. We also re-read One Hen - How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by: Katie Smith Milway (a great way to help kids learn about micro loans, and how small ideas can have a big impact). We even shared ideas of what we would do with a small amount of money to start a business - Charlie would become a lumberjack, and buy the saws that he needs to cut wood to build houses and cook food. William thinks that livestock would be a good idea - pigs, chickens, goats..."And we really could have chickens here, couldn't we Mama?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Slithering Snakes, Batman!!

The area where we went hiking today is known as 'snake hill', so we were expecting to see a few critters slithering across our path. What we weren't expecting to see was a 'snake tree'!! This cedar tree by the side of the trail had easily 6 snakes in it (that we could see) and likely many more that we couldn't. The kids thought it was great. Although snakes have never been my favorite animals, even I have to admit that it was pretty interesting.

Spring Walk In The Rain

Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
~Langston Hughes

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweet, sweet cookies!

I could give you all sorts of education-heavy reasons to bake with your kids - learning about temperatures, time, measurement and baking soda. But really, today it was all about the icing.

“Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold.”
~Judith Olney

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!

Wishing you all a happy Easter, filled with family and friends...

and maybe a little bit of chocolate!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Having Faith

Ever since we began homeschooling 'officially', I have struggled every so often to do battle with the type A, controlling and rather up tight aspects of my personality. Especially when it comes to reading and writing. I guess that those things that feel most important to me are the same areas where I most want my boys to feel comfortable. Makes sense, right?

These past few months I have had to fairly consciously shut up that little voice inside my head when it comes to Williams reading. Our focus has been mostly on reading itself - cultivating a love of books, more than the act of reading. Will has been coming along well, knows how to read, and is comfortable picking up an early leveled reader and having a go at it. He has been making progress, but I was still, well, you know.

So I read up on un-schooling. I tried to reaffirm my faith that he will get it when the time is right, in spite of me, not because of me. I journalled about my worries so that I could get it off my chest on paper, and not lay it on William. I took long deep breaths,and focused on long term goals - like keeping him in love with stories.

And then, the other day, as calmly as anything, he reports that he is tired of the 'learning to read' books. He pulls Witches, by Roald Dahl off the shelf, and digs in.

So that is what Will is reading now. Not at a great clip yet, but happily, joyfully, consistently, and without the tiniest hint of frustration. And with no pushing from me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mindstorm explored

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
~Oprah Winfrey

Monday, April 18, 2011

Creativity Greenhouse

Charlie, in particular, has been feeling very artistic lately. He is all about drawing, painting, sculpting..anything that gets his creative juices flowing. As a way of him getting a bit more 'expert' experience than mama can provide, we arranged a few classes with our home school friends at the Creativity Greenhouse - a local art studio for kids. The instructor there is fabulous - offering up great ideas, and letting us customize a program for the kids that we think they will enjoy.

This time around the kids are exploring ancient civilizations using art. They have done gold tiles and canopic jars while studying Egyptian culture, and Greek theatre masks. Next on the books is Roman and Mayan art.

Play in the park!!

Afer our visit to the Creativity Greenhouse, the boys and their friends headed across the street for some play in the park.

As an aside, you just have to love a city that knows enough to leave the huge, hollowed out trunk of an old tree intact in the park instead of pullign it out, don't you?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cold, wet fingers, but happy smiley faces. The errosion table made it through the winter!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.
~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Salt Dough

Often the simplest things are the best. The cardboard box that the expensive toy came in...the sidewalk chalk instead of the oil pastels, and this stand-by recipe for salt dough. Charlie and I whipped up a batch this afternoon (in about 1 minute flat!) and he had a great time creating masterpieces. His favorite was this hammerhead shark...

Salt Dough Recipe
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1/2 cup water

Combine the salt and flour. Stir in water. Create something wonderful. Let air dry for a few days, turning over if possible so that it can dry evenly.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Science co-op - Dirty Water

This week at science co-op, we played with dirty water!! The talk was all about pollution, and all of the many ways our lakes, rivers and streams are contaminated every day. They made a filter out of their own bodies, and learned about particulate, filtrates, and residue, and then built their own filters to try and clean out the debris.

The water was still a rather un-natural blue when it came out of their filters, but was looking a whole lot better than when it went in!