Latta Plott Hounds Environthon Team

Environthon!! Enviro-what?

Last year I went on a search for environmental education classes for my crew.  All three of my kiddos LOVE learning about nature, the outdoors, and our environment.  Thanks to google, I found a program called Environthon.  Now at that time, I thought Environthon would be a fun way for my kids to go a little more in depth with their environmental studies.

My mind was blown when I heard about all of the information that an Environthon program goes through.  I decided to ask one of our instructors at Latta Plantation Nature Center her opinion on the Environthon program and our children.  She thought our crew would do well, but she thought that they would need a full a year to prepare.


So in September of this school year, we pulled together a group of 7 kids to start an Environthon team.   Our group of 7 middle schoolers met once a week to learn about aquatics, forestry, wild life, soils and current environmental issues.   They hiked.  They measured.  They identified.  They  learned how to take tests took practice tests.  The class was intense but fun.

March 8th came fast!  The day of truth.  6 of the 7 children went to compete at the area Environthon competition.  At the competition, the kids work as a group of 5 (one person on the team is an alternate just in case someone is ill) to take a test.  The test covered information on forestry, wild life, aquatics, soils and current environmental issues.  We were excited that the kids were going and that they had made it through the class.

To our surprise, they qualified to compete at the state level Environthon!  7 more weeks of studying meeting with friends weekly!


The state competition required a road trip with an over night stay.  The kids had a blast hanging out together.  The team spent Friday going to educational stations on each area covered to review for the test and of course, doing some team building activities like playing sharks and minnows and hanging out in their hotel rooms.

Saturday they headed to the testing stations.  The state test humbled our team by showing them how much they still have to learn!  They did not make the top 5, but they did well.  As a parent, I couldn’t be more proud of the how hard they all worked and all that they learned.

Most states have Environthon programs.  If you have a middle or high schooler who loves being outdoors, check it out!

Teaching the Person with Dyslexia to Spell


As a child, I attended Catholic school.  I distinctly remember spelling.  We had a book with ten words a week.  We had to write each word ten times, use each word in a sentence, do some kind of wordplay with the words and finally take a test.  I recall writing the numbers 1-10 in my spelling journal and copying each letter ten times (ie-shirt, 1. s, 2. s, 3. s,…,, 3. sh…).  I rarely actually wrote the word out in full ten times (ie-1. shirt, 2. shirt, 3. shirt….).  I also rarely (if ever) scored a 10/10 on the quiz.  To this day, I struggle with spelling.  Thus, I want my children’s spelling experience to be different.

I thought from the beginning that we needed a multi-sensory, Orton-Gillingham based program.  We started with All About Spelling.  We learned the spelling rules.  The kids did terrific with spelling while we were spelling.  The program did not seem to carry over into daily writing.  Next we tried Apples and Pears.  Initially, everyone LOVED the daily work and the spelling carried over into daily work.  Unfortunately, everyone tired of the curriculum pretty quickly.  (Although, I still like it.)  Last year and this year, my older two kids used Phonetic Zoo.  Again, initially they loved it but they quickly got bored with it.

So what to do?  Well, my oldest mentioned last week how much reading books and copy work helps him with his spelling.  Doesn’t that just say it all?  He works with a dyslexic brain, as do I.  He has just over the past year started reading for enjoyment.  My daughter, a ferocious reader, has never struggled with spelling.

Now I have to make the decision for next year.  My gut is to play a lot of scrabble, read, do copy work, read, and maybe continue to read.

When School Plans Don’t Go as Planned

Do you ever go back through your notes, calendars, blogs and have an aha moment?  Something that follows the lines of-oh yes, I did figures this out once before.  I had a moment today.

Our “school” year this year has not been one of our top years.  Now, I realize that every year does not have to be stellar and filled with amazing memories and moments.  However, this year just feels off.

I did something different this year.  I made all of the work plans for the kids in advance.  The plan and idea was wonderful.   The experience was wonderful horrible. It required very little prep during the week and it was done.  No extra work during the school year.

The problem?  The kids had very little ownership of their work and it showed.  They did many of the items half way unless for some reason they found an interest in it.   We did our end of year testing yesterday which prompted a lot of discussions on the year.

I realized that something was very off.  Then I read through my old blog posts and found this one titled, “‘Montessori is an education for independence not for school, but for life.’Maria Montessori.”  This year, I missed all of these things.  I used external motivators.  I made up the plans and the work.  I taught.  They “learned.”  The work was meaningful to me, but not necessarily for the kids.

I guess I should make myself some notes before I plan for next year!

The Beauty of Boredom

We had a really busy weekend, so we took a quiet day on Monday.  Below is what happened.


Sims built a barn (complete with barn art)


And architectural supports



Sawyer took pictures outside, printed them, and made sign.


Drone car.


Parks built a “drone-powered” car.