Monday, September 26, 2011

Snap Circuit

Last year the boys were introduced to Snap Circuit through one of the science in schools programs that we have been a part of. Basically it is a snap board that acts as a base for kids to build on using electronic circuit components.  They can build circuits that make lights flash, alarms sound, fans run, and all sorts of other projects.  I don`t imagine that this will replace Lego as the building toy of choice, but they sure had a great afternoon playing with it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day at the Lake

Homeschooling is such an important part of our family life, and both Jim and I have made compromises over the past few years so that we can educate our boys at home.  One of the biggest decisions that we have made is to choose jobs that give us the flexibility that we need to keep the kids with us during the day.  The good news is that, for the most part and with some much appreciated help from loving grandparents, the boys don't have to spend time in either school or day care.  Still, one of the costs is that between my work schedule and Jim's, there is precious little time when the four of us have a day of together.

Today was one of those rare and much appreciated days.  We celebrated by heading off to Blue Mountain for to try out their mountain roller coaster (no cameras allowed, sorry!) and then spent a bit of time by the lake in Collingwood.

It was peaceful, quiet, and wonderful to have some family time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What a sentence...

I know this makes me sound like a bit of a literary nerd, but you can't beat a sentence like this...

"In the loveliest town of all, where the houses were white and high and the elm trees were green and higher than the houses, where the front yards were wide and pleasant and the back yards were bushy and worth finding out about, where the streets sloped down to the stream and the stream flowed quietly under the bridge, where the lawns ended in orchards and the orchards ended in fields and the fields ended in pastures and the pastures climbed the hill and disappeared over the top towards the wonderful wide sky, in this loveliest of all towns, Stuart stopped to get a drink of sarsaparilla."

~ E. B. White, from  Stewart Little

Friday, September 23, 2011


There is nothing that gives me a more wonderful sense of abundance in the world than picking apples.  To walk through rows and rows of beautiful, ripe apples, to fill a bag so quickly, to see so many other people out enjoying the same experience, and still there  are more apples to pick. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Homework! Oh, Homework!

William very pointedly picked out this poem for copy work today...

Homework! Oh, Homework!
by: Jack Prelutsky

Homework! Oh, homework!
I hate you!  You stink!
I wish I could wash you
away in the sink,
if only a bomb
would explode you to bits.
Homework!  Oh, homework!
You`re giving me fits.

I`d rather take baths
with a man-eating shark,
or wrestle a lion
alone in the dark,
eat spinach and liver,
pet ten porcupines,
than tackle the homework
my teacher assigns.

Homework!  Oh, homework!
You`re last on my list,
I simply can`t see
why you even exist,
if you just disappeared
it would tickle me pink.
Homework!  Oh, homework!
I hate you!  You stink!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More books for Kenya

A few months ago, we got an e-mail from a friend, Natalie, who was helping to build a small community library in Kenya.  We dug through our shelves and sent over some boxes of books, and then waited to hear any news. 

When we heard that the library was built and still in need of more books, we called in the troops - no one has an excess of books if not homeschooling families.  So Natalie graciously offered to come out and talk to our kids about the library.  She brought photos of the library being built, the community who is making it happen, and of life in Kenya in general.

The kids really enjoyed talking with Natalie about the people that she had met in Kenya, and wrote letters or drew pictures to send along with the books.
But by far, the best part was this - seeing a picture of some of the kids at the new library, reading one of the books that Charlie and William sent over with the first round.
To see more pictures of the library being built, and to get in touch with Natalie if you happen to live close by and have books (or cash) to donate, here is the link to the Tei wa Syana Community Library site.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

World Wide Drumming Circle

Charlie especially has been going through a `drumming phase`lately, drumming on furniture, trees, people, or anything else that he finds that seems appropriate.  When i heard about the world wide drumming circle, I knew we had to go.  It was hosted at Mountsberg,  one of our favorite conservation areas, which was an added bonus.  The purpose of the day was to come together with others and celebrate peace.  There were drumming circles throughout the day, and a workshop for the kids to make their own drums or rattles. 

Friday, September 16, 2011


We met up with our Friday Friends group this morning at the local conservation area to learn about insects.  We always have a great time there, and the staff are wonderful.  Today`s exploration saw the kids searching out insects in 3 different habitats (woods, lawn and meadow) and comparing the results. Although we did this in an organized group, it would be an easy project to take on as a family.  We collected as many specimens as we could from each spot, compared them, and had some great conversations about diversity.

Of course, the highlight of the morning was putting grasshoppers in the same container with the praying mantis, but I guess that is kids for you...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

National Film Board Animation

We were lucky enough today to take part in a kids animation course at the National Film Board in Toronto.  I am always amazed at how many great, free programs are out there for kids.  We were there for 4 hours, and the kids learned all about animation, made flip books, tried their hands at drawing on film, and then teamed up to make an animated shorts using claymation. Our little group created a great story about a cow and a monkey surfing at the beach, only to be joined by sharks!!  High drama, of course.  The kids wrote out the story, molded the characters from clay, and then moved them through all of the actions while the teachers snapped the pictures.  At the end of the day, everyone got together in the theatre to watch the animated masterpieces.  I am hoping soon to have a link to the final completed version to post, but until then some still pictures will have to do...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Books and Butter!!

One of the things that I appreciate the most about our home school group is the fondness of all of the members for books.  If I am ever at a loss for something good to read, a quick e-mail or questions dropped at a gathering leaves me with a list of good reads to pick up on the way home.  There is also such wonderful sense of shared adventures when we read the same books.  I announced today that the boys and I had started to read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and my heart swelled with everyones' reactions.  It is like finding that a good friend will have to chance to visit a mysterious, magical, special place that you have seen yourself.  Peoples' smiles reflected what a great time they had had with those books, either with when they themselves were children, or with their own kids more recently. 

The other thing that is wonderful about our group is the tendency to try things on our own - to experiment with new things, and most notably to rekindle some of the skills that used to be essential to family life - knitting, soap making, sewing, canning, and (here is the connection - I swear there is one!! - butter making.

The boys were very interested to read about Laura and Mary helping Ma to make butter at their little cabin in the big woods, and I knew that we could give it a try ourselves.  The other moms in the  group were quick to offer suggestions, most notably to add marbles to the room-temperature whipping cream in a glass jar to speed up the process.  The kids did some excited shaking (of the whole body variety) and a few minutes later - ta dah!  Fresh, home-made butter.  I guess it is not so much of a lost art after all.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tie Dye in the Park

Today was our first day out with a group of friends from the home school group who have formed a co-op that gets together every week for something fun.  Today we were int eh park to tie dye whatever the kids wanted - we did handkerchiefs (nothing like blowing your nose on something brightly colored, you know!) 

Monday, September 5, 2011