Field Trip of the Week: Linville Caverns

We wanted to get out at some point this week.  We decided it was too hot to go south to the zoo, so we looked to the mountains.  The kids are gearing up to start a block on geography with Sawyer focusing on NC and Sims focusing on Europe.  I think that our first field trip started the excitement of the upcoming block. 

Linville Caverns is in the NC mountains between Asheville and Boone.  The tour of the caverns is fairly short and sweet but chocked full of awesome and amazing information.  The kids awed at the amazing formations under the ground.  They could not believe that they were actually walking beneath the mountain.  The boys loved it-Sawyer and I liked the idea of it, but were not so sure of the small, tight spaces.  We went over stalactites and stalagmites, minerals in the rocks, ground water, fault lines, total darkness/the absence of light, and mountains.

From the caverns, we headed out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to Linville Falls,  The park has several hikes to the falls which are nicely paved and easy to follow.  We were hoping to find a swimming hole, but we took the wrong path.  Hiking was not on our agenda for the day, so we didn’t go far.  We did get to see another beautiful land/water form around the falls. 


Breaking into the New School Year

One week down…how many more to go?

During the first week of school, we mainly worked on the getting into the routine of doing daily work.  Daily, each child has to complete math, spelling, grammar, reading and three days worth of science.  Everyone jumped right in.  We started on Monday outside on the porch.  We lasted 10 minutes before it started to rain.  We tried to get outside.  :)  The rest of the week went well as far as school goes.

Wednesday we headed to the mountains to check out Linville Caverns and Linville Falls.  I will post on that a little more later.  Thursday morning, we awoke to a kiddo with a swollen ankle.  He hurt it last Friday, went to Urgent Care, and received a -“You should feel better in a couple of days.”  After seeing it on Thursday morning (after hiking miles on Wednesday and climbing on rocks-oh, yes, I am sure that I am up for the “mom of the year award” after this one), I decided to take him back in for an x-ray.  Yep, broken fibula in the growth plate.  If you noticed in the first picture, Sawyer has a broken arm ( which she got last week at gymnastics) and now Parks has a broken ankle.  As one of my friends told me-it may be too dangerous for our kids to homeschool.  Let’s hope the rest of the year goes a little smoother!

I hope everyone has a wonderful first week!

2014-2015! Let Us Begin!

Two more days.  Can summer really be coming to an end?  Not really, but the kiddos will get to work starting on Monday.  If you remember from my year-end post, I plan to get outside more this year.  In our first year of homeschooling, we went places and did work on a rock, on a beach, on a kayak…  The trend to do work outside of the home slowly diminished.  If we went hiking, I just left the work at home that day and we skipped it.  Unfortunately, that turned me off of getting outside-because, well, they still had work to do.

I have reworked our schedules to allow for a bit more time exploring (yep, all those posts on planning are no longer the plan-LOL).  I also moved everyone’s daily work from a magazine holder to a bag.  Hopefully, this will make it easier to just pick up and go (even if it means just going outside to the porch).

Are we ready to start?  I can say, “YES,” for all of us.  As the curriculum came in, the kids started working on it.  Parks has already completed the first 4 weeks of his science program and the older two started the first week.  As much as they will deny that they want to start, I can completely tell that they are ready to start into all of the mystery that I have been reading this summer.

Parks working on his science

Parks working on his science

Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”

Maria Montessori

I am back from a short break of blogging.  Over the past few weeks, I looked over some of my most popular and most searched posts.  My first post on the above quote is a popular search.  However, the post I wrote with it does not go into much detail about the quote.  I thought it fitting that I would use the quote again as I wrote about some of our summer.

The past few weeks have been filled with blogs and articles about the importance of play and giving kids the opportunity to play freely in their environment.  Well, this is what we have done-not because an article or a blog or research told us to but because it is fun, and it is what we do anyway.

My husband and I set up the environments (not really, but we the environments we live in and play in are our choices so I will say that we set them up).  Our backyard is wooded with a sandbox, a zip line, a swing set with slings, a small play house that is now storage for the kids’ inventions, lots of woods, a mountain bike trail nearby, gardens, tools, and supplies.  Inside, the children have art supplies, legos, blankets galore, and food.  They bring their amazing imaginations into our environments and fascinating things start happening.


We schooled for the 9 months prior to our summer vacation.  Since I am their teacher, I know what was taught.  I get to watch as the lessons that we went through during the school year come together in their play.  They used their environments to develop tipis, lean-to’s, and other forms of shelter- learning what will keep out the rain and the wind and what won’t.  They developed tunnels, roads and lakes in the sandbox to allow the explorers to search out their new world.  Worlds and stories were made in the playroom with legos.  My kids do not like to make what is on the box of the legos.  They want to design their own creations.  Their worlds contains boats, fire trucks with the appropriate apparatus, bucket trucks, ticket booths, farms, marinas, police stations, junk yards, stores and more.  They make the worlds come to life.  They name their people based off of the characters in the books they have read or the myths that they have studied.

The creativity is amazing here everyday.  They cook.  They draw.  They invent.  They play in their environment utilizing every piece of it.  So what does this have to do with education?  Everything.  During their play, they are experimenting and working through the scientific method without even knowing it.  They are increasing their vocabulary by using the words that they have learned throughout the year in context of their play.  They play for hours in these environments which will help with increasing their attention span and working memory when we do go back to lessons.  Cooking (which they love, because the love to eat and with all of our crazy food choices-we have to cook everything from scratch) gets them reading, doing math, and sequencing.  (For us, it also teaches patience-why do the brownies take so long to cook?).  They observe as the bees go from flower to flower and know that that bee is essential for our garden.

People ask me if we school during the summer.  Of course, my answer is, “no.”  However, the reality is that yes. there is school going on here-just not formal schooling.  They are not listening to me give a lesson or watching a television or playing a video game.  They are manipulating and exploring their environments, inventing new gadgets for matchbox cars and legos, and educating themselves in a way that I can not.



6th Grade Plans

grade 6

Sixth grade is new to our family this year.  We are jumping into the unknown world of middle school.  We are all excited about this year.  I is filled with some fun blocks and activities.

Sims’ first block will be the same as the other two but he will finish up with Europe.  Thus, we will be using David Sobel’s Mapmaking for children book as the guide.  He will begin with the other two kiddos looking at our house and neighborhood/community.  I am thinking about having him map out one of his favorite hiking or mountain biking trails.  He will also complete a small country project.  He will be studying Europe as a whole but he will pick one country to look at the geographical features and how they relate to the people in the area.

I am very excited about his second block which will be business math.  We will look through some information on bartering and the three types of money.  However, a large portion of this block will be going through the book Your Business Math.  Your Business Math is a Charlotte Mason based math program in which the children manage a “store.”  Sims will manage a pet store while learning vocabulary and business math skills. I am still looking into books for this block.  I am looking at Striker Jones: Elementary Economics for Elementary Detectives and The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible

The third block of sixth grade will be Rome starting with the fall of Greece.  I plan to use Charles Kovac’s book on Rome throughout this block.  Hopefully, Rome will be a fun block filled with some terrific hands on projects.  He will have one big project during this eight week period in which he will have to pick an engineering invention or architectural feature of the Ancient Roman times and recreate it in some way.  As far as reading, I am looking at the Bronze Bow and the Aenid.

Block four will be done as a group looking at geology.  We will explore trees, mountains, granite, limestone, coal, the water cycle, wind, and glaciers.  I am still working through this block so I will post more on it as we do it.

Block five is the next big block for sixth grade is the study of Medieval Times.  Sims already loves reading about this time period and know a good bit of info on it.  I would like to look at the information on how to become a knight.  During this block, he will look at Christianity and Islam, the Vikings, The Norman Conquest, Medieval Society and Castles.  There are a ton of good books around this era so we will have to narrow it down.  Right now, I am looking at The Dancing Bear, The Lost Years of Merlin, and the Castle Diary.

The last block of the year will be on physics.  Sims will work along with the others doing projects on earth, wind, fire and air.  In addition to this, he will also work through the Life of Fred Physics book.  I am fairly certain that we will have to work through the book together, but I think it has some terrific real life scenarios along with the math behind physics.

As far as daily activities, Sims will use Teaching Textbooks for math, Latin Word Roots for Latin, Apples and Pears for Spelling and Growing with Grammar for weekly grammar practice.

Now that all three grades are planned for the year, I plan to take a break from blogging for a bit!  I hope you all have a terrific summer holiday!

Fourth Grade Plans


Sawyer will begin the fourth grade this year.  I have already taught fourth grade using Waldorf Essentials, so I am excited to teach it again with a little more knowledge!  Fourth grade has three main themes including NC history, Norse Myths and Man/Animal studies.

We will begin the year with a review of form drawings and then delve into NC!  I plan to use David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children as a guide to use mapping in order to study NC.  Some of my plans include having her imagine to be a new settler to NC and landing on the NC shoreline.  How would she draw a map or plan out where she will go?  I also plan for her to work on a three dimensional map of NC.  She will begin her vocabulary in this block with words pertaining to maps.  I have several books that I am looking into for her for this block including: Swift River by Cornelia Meigs, Rescue on the Outerbanks, Celebrating North Carolina, Rascal, The Tale of Ole Green Eyes, and Legends of the Outer Banks.  NC is also home to many pirate stories which I am sure that she will love.

Her second block is a man/animal block.  In this block, we will look at the head, trunk and hands.  We will start with self portraits and begin speaking about ourselves as humans.  I plan to use both Waldorf Essentials and Charles Kovac’s book to look at the cuttlefish, the snail, the seal, the harvest mouse, the red deer, the hedgehog, the eagle and finally focusing on different types of limbs.  Hopefully, we will get a field trip in there at some point to do some in person observing.  For this block, I am looking at reading The Jungle Book- although, I am not positive on this.

The third block is a long one.  We will work on the Norse Myths and fractions.  With Sims, I used the D’Aulaires book of Norse Myths.  I plan to use that again but I also plan to us Roger Lancelyn Green’s version of the Myths of the Norsemen.  I like that Green’s book doesn’t give constant pictures.  I hope this will help Sawyer use a little more of her imagination in her paintings and art.  Sawyer loves mythology so I know she will love this block!  I have found several books to read along with the myths including The Blackwell Pages, The Norse Code, and Odin’s Child: The Heroes of the North Live On.  Hopefully, during the block we will get to some fractions as well!  I would love for her to design her own idea for fractions.  Sims used his arteries and veins to make a “fraction tree.”

Block four will be done together.  We will look at trees, granite, volcanic rocks, different rocks, the water cycle, wind and glaciers.

In her second man/animal block, Sawyer will do more independent research on some bigger animals.  Again, I am hoping these weeks will end in some terrific projects.  The animals that I have planned include the elephant, the horse, the bear, the lion, and a dog.  She will also pick her own animal to present on.

Her final block will be a group block on physics using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book recommended by the Christopherus curriculum.  The spring is always a busy time filled with hiking and getting outdoors.  I put this block here so that we could all enjoy doing some experiments on our adventures!

Again-this is our preliminary plan.  I am sure it will change some, but this will definitely serve as our guide through the year!


Second Grade Plans

second grade
I am excited to do grades 2 and 4 this year since I have experienced them once already. For grade 2, I plan on doing blocks on world geography/form drawing, heroes and saints, folktales, geology and biomes, animal legends and physics.

For the first block, I plan on beginning with a reintroduction to form drawings in order to get back into the school year. Then we will move into geography. For Parks, I plan to have him make a globe and label the oceans and continents. He will also work with the other kids on geography using David Sobel’s Mapmaking with Children.

His first individual block will be on saints and heroes. The last time I taught second grade, I only taught Christian saints. This year, I plan to shift my focus on both heroes and saints-no matter what the religion. Thus, as of right now I plan on teaching the definition of hero and saint. We will then read through stories on Genevieve of Paris, Kun and Yu, Rabia of Basra, Nandanar and Lord Shive, Finn Mac Cool, Judah Maccabee, Elizabeth, Hiawatha, Martin, Francis, Basil and the Baal ShemTov. I think my son will love the idea of studying heroes!

His second independent block, I plan to take stories from the Buddha’ Apprentice at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja. The book contains tales of compassion and kindness that teach the principles of the Eightfold Noble Path. The book also works on teaching meditation to children. Parks is working very hard to control his anxiety. For him, anxiety manifests in the form of anger and frustration. I am excited to bring some stories into his schoolwork that will assist in his control over his anxiety and to work on meditation..

Next he will work on geology and biomes with the other two kiddos. I do not have these blocks completely finished yet, so I will have to give you more input as time goes on. I am planning to do a joint block at this time based on previous years. I found that the time after the holidays is tough for us. Everyone has a difficult time getting back into the groove of school. Thus, if we work together then we can get more done.

His last independent block is on animal legends. in this block , I plan to read to use the Christophorus book on animal legends and the stories from Waldorf Essentials on Grandfather Frog. Finally, to finish out the year, we will work together on a physics blocks. Parks and Sawyer will focus on projects using the Earth, Wind, Fire and Air book.

In addition to his blocks, Parks will work on Teaching Textbooks level 3, Apples and Pears book A (he started this last year and will finish it this year), Growing with Grammar level 2, nature study and journaling.

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