Geography Block

Well, we started the year off with a geography block.  I thought it would be nice to start off the year with a block that we could all do together.    Unfortunately, the kids moaned and groaned a lot during these past five weeks but I am not sure it was because of the material.  I think it had more to do with starting school when it is still so beautiful outside.

We worked together most days but each child had their own projects.  The block looked a bit like this.

Week 1: The first week, we looked at how animals use their senses to get to places such as migrating birds, eels, salmon, bees, etc.  We then moved on to maps and mapmaking.

Week 2: This week we looked at how the children view the world.  We also learned about Ptolemy and his way of using lines of longitude and latitude to map areas on a map.

Week 3: Week 3 allowed us a little more time to be hands on with geography.  Parks took and orienteering class at Latta Plantation Nature Center where they learned the parts of a compass and how to use the compass to find markers out in the woods.  During his class time, I sent Sims and Sawyer out to map a trail.  From the map that they made, they learned the importance of using a standard unit of measure as Sims’ steps were very different from Sawyer’s steps so they ended up in different places.  The week ended with Sims taking an Adventure Journaling class at Latta where he learned about the adventures of Louis and Clark and how they wrote an adventure journal and used the compass in their journey.  Sims’ and Parks’ classes have a few more meetings through the season so they will continue their learning of geography throughout the semester.

Weeks 4 and 5: The last two weeks had everyone working a little more independently as they each studied a different area.  Sawyer is in the fourth grade so she is researching NC geography.  Sims chose England, and Parks chose Puerto Rico.  Throughout the last two weeks, they worked on area maps, topographical maps (both on paper and 3D) and geographical areas of interest to them.  The past two weeks were fun to watch as they pieced information together such as how most large cities are near water or on a trade route.  They also enjoyed tracing the rivers and looking at how they flowed over the land.  We have really lucked out with the classes being held at Latta Plantation this session.  Sawyer is taking a class called Catawba Studies in which they are looking at how the Catawba Indians lived on the land and use the natural resources of NC.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today, we also finished up our read aloud book called Secret Water by Arthur Ransome.  The book is an exciting tale of four children who are “marooned” on an island and must map the island before they are rescued.  The best part of the block has been the many ways that geography and cartography have entered our worlds over the past few weeks.  Sawyer read Dragon Rider which had a cartographer as a character in the book.  Sims is reading The Knighting of Sir Kaye which speaks of mapping the forest.  And Parks is now actually looking at maps and trying to figure them out.

Secret Water

First Month Down!

Four weeks down!  Wow!  We are well into our geography block right now.  I say block, but I had a revelation this month.  Although we have been fairly Waldorf-like/Montessori-like in our learning in the past, we are now fairly traditional.  The kids are doing well with their daily work which includes spelling, grammar, math and reading.

Last week, Sims and Sawyer began working on their final project for this block.  By the end of the month, they will each have a paper map and a topographical map of their area, a short paper describing the geography of their area and hopefully, a short presentation.  Parks is participating in many of the activities but we are working on some geography related books as well.

Sawyer is working on the geography of NC.  This week she attended a class which will continue through the semester that focuses on the Catawba Indians and how they lived with the land.  Sims is working on the geography of England (his choice of places in Europe).  Sims’ choice works well with my plan for the rest of the year which focuses on the Romans and the Medieval Times.

Hold On or Put Your Hands in the Air!

Wow!  What a rollercoaster ride of a week!  Monday was Labor Day so we celebrated the day.  Unfortunately, not together as a family but we all had a blast doing our individual activities.  Tuesday we headed to Latta Plantation for an Orienteering class for Parks and some map work for Sims and Sawyer.  We are still in our geography block so I thought these fit in well.  No one was really into the activities and revolted like rebels!Exhaustion had set in!

Wednesday and Thursday were our typical days filled with typical work.  We never found our groove and we all struggled.  The work got completed but it was done begrudgingly.  I guess the idea that summer is over is starting to sink in.  All of the kids around are in school and you can feel the stillness from 8-4 around the neighborhood.  We are also starting to get the looks-you know the ones that say, “why aren’t you in school” every time we leave the house.

TGIF!  We headed out this morning for Latta Plantation Nature Center one more time this week.  Sims and Sawyer went on a hike while Parks and I went exploring a little closer to the nature center.  When the kids returned from their hike, they were excited and refreshed.  We sat a munched on our picnic lunch as we compared notes.  We were all amazed by the many diverse spiders’ webs in the woods.  The webs stood out today because of a light rain we just had.  We also all found some goodies on our journeys.  Parks and I found some delicious muscadine grapes.  Sims and Sawyer found passion fruit.  The day ended with Sims continuing at Latta with Adventure Journaling while Sawyer got her cast removed!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thank goodness for weekends and the magic of the woods!

10 Things a Parent to a Child with Dyslexia Wishes You Understood

Since discovering that my children have dyslexia, I have been absorbing all of the information about dyslexia that I can possibly find. In the process, I’ve learned so much. Without further ado, here are the top 10 things a parent to a child with dyslexia wishes you understood:

via 10 Things a Parent to a Child with Dyslexia Wishes You Understood.

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