Week in Review

Week in Review

The weather in NC continues to be cold and wet like most places this time of year.  Of course, we are not letting that slow us down.  This week the kids had an Adventure Journaling class at Latta Plantation where they went to journal in the snow on Tuesday.  Wednesday most of the slush melted only to be replaced with fresh new snow.

The kids were up bright and early Thursday morning to get in some sledding and playtime.  One of the nice parts of NC snow is the quick disappearance.  It snows and it melts.  Thus by the afternoon, we were able to visit with friends.  The kids had wars, built forts and went exploring through the woods for wild animals.  They had a blast telling us about their adventures that afternoon (and I had a blast hanging with my friend’s, laughing with my friends and learning from my friends).

Then today, Sims and I went on our Friday hike (the other two kiddos chose not to go today).  I had no idea how much fun it would be to head out on the trails after snow fall.  We decided to look for tracks.  Within the first half mile, we identified skunk, raccoon, deer (buck) and rabbit tracks.  We then headed down to Gar Creek to check out some of Sims’ favorite spots at Latta.  When we returned home, we were welcomed by trail markers leading us to a snow owl family in the back yard and lunch in the dining room.

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Next week starts our last quarter of our “school year.”  I amazed at how quickly this school year has passed.  I hope everyone ha a terrific week!

Local History Blocks-North Carolina

Our family resides in North Carolina.  Thus for Sawyer’s local geography and history blocks, we focused on North Carolina.  As usual, Sawyer completely did not want anything to do with this block.  I can’t say that I blame her.  I remember North Carolina history-sort of.  I remember reading in a textbook about Raleigh (our state capital) and the people of Jamestown but that is about it.  I remember the information being dry and uninteresting.

The geography of North Carolina, I explained in more detail here.  She learned the regions of North Carolina and made a few maps of the region.  We went to Linville Caverns to look at the mountains of NC in a different way than we normally do.   We planned to get to the Outer Banks of NC but that hasn’t happened quite yet.  Sawyer researched animals native to NC and trees native to NC.  It was a rough block but we tried to make it as interesting as possible.

For the history portion of NC, I went to the library and started checking out books on NC history.  The books were just as painful as the textbooks I remembered as a child.  After some more researching in the library, I found North Carolina Parade: Stories of History and People.  It is an old book filled with amazing stories. The stories tell the history of North Carolina through the eyes of the people-the new settlers, the Native Americans, the poor in the mountains, the rich planataion owners, the farmers, the soldiers…. The book brought North Carolina History alive and relatable.  We LOVED this book.

One of Sawyer’s favorite stories spoke of a little girl who met George Washington.  In the story, the young lady made hoe cakes and eggs as a quick meal for the traveling gentleman whom unknown the girl was George Washington.  After the story, Sawyer researched hoe cakes recipes.  The internet had many recipes to choose from which worked well as another lesson.  Which recipe would most likely be the one that the girl used?  After many searches, Sawyer found the most simple recipe out there-cornmeal and boiling water.  She found the recipe on The Hillbilly Housewife’s blog.   The hoe cakes are delicious!  The boys ask Sawyer to make them every couple of weeks.

In addition to NC geography and history at home, Sawyer participated in a class at Latta Plantation Nature Center.  The class entitled, “Catawba Studies” taught her about the Catawba Indians who inhabited our state.  She learned how the Catawbas used the natural resources native to NC to build their houses, their pottery and their weapons.  We really lucked out with this class!

Overall, I think the two blocks went together well.  Sawyer was not the least bit excited about NC at first.  Now, I have found her reading books about Blackbeard the pirate and the Cherokee Indians who were forced out of NC.  She makes hoe cakes and she is interested in visiting Raleigh and the Outerbanks.  Her interests were sparked which is the goal. I enjoy watching her use the information we went over to expand her own interests in NC history.

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The Wisdom of a Horse

The Wisdom of a Horse

My youngest child is drawn to animals.  He is the epitome of an animal lover.  Thus, I was not surprised when he wanted to go horseback riding at a young age.  When he turned 6, he used his birthday money to go to the barn at a local park and ride a horse.  He was a little guy-not only because he was six, but he was a small 6 year old.  He strode right into the barn and requested to ride Tonka-a draft horse, the largest horse in the barn.  Unfortunately, Tonka does not fair well in the arena so Tonka was not an option.  However, the lady at the barn offered Parks another option-Belle, another draft horse.

He cherished every minute with Belle.  This experienced sparked something inside him.  We then found a barn that would allow him to ride and take informal lessons.  He did well until he didn’t.  There came a time when he just continuously became frustrated at riding.  It was too soon.

For his eighth birthday, Parks asked if he could attempt riding again.  I took a new approach this time.  I agreed to set up lessons if he would agree to work on confidence, self control and impulse control when with the horses.  He agreed and off we went.  He started in the little arena with a lovely horse.  He rode confidently.  He is now only five weeks into his lessons and each week he amazes me.  When we arrive at the barn, he is able to get his horse from the pasture, brush him, saddle him and ride with minimal assistance.

He is learning about how to communicate without using words.  He is learning the importance of “willing” the horse to trot and to work with him.  He remains calm around the horses.  He is gentle and caring.  He knows that he and the horse must trust each other.  I am not sure why my youngest felt the need for horses in his life, but I am forever grateful. The horses can teach him things that I have not been able to in a way that works for him.

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Moving from Handwork into Hand Crafts and Craft Works

One aspect of the Waldorf philosophy that I enjoy fostering is using the hands.  All of my children enjoyed and continue to enjoy finger knitting.  They find it calming.  My daughter learned how to crochet and knit about a year or two ago.  She works at creating new crafts such as pouches, hats, water bottle holders and such.  The boys had no interested in knitting.  Legos were the main way that they connected with their hands.  Obviously, legos are not the ideal Steiner material but for us, they did the job.

Lately, I have observed a change in the work that the children are choosing.  Parks is into whittling and creating with wood and clay.  Sawyer is sewing and designing clothing.  Sims is working on leather, creating with wood and building with raw materials.  Of course, I researched the change that I was observing.  Evidently the kids are following the natural progression, and I didn’t know it.

They are maturing out of handwork and delving into hand crafts and craft works.  Hand crafts involve the entire body and evolve from the outside in (compared to handwork which works from the inside-ie you knit a hat but you must carve a spear).  The kids are learning to give the materials a new shape.  I look forward to watching these new skills grow in each of them!

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Woodworking Block

Woodworking Block

Our first block of the new year is finishing up.  Parks worked with wood this month.  He received a set of real tools for Christmas that he wanted to put to use!  The cub scout’s pinewood derby was another nice activity that coincided well with this block.  I used the book, “Woodshop for Kids” by Jack McKee as my starting point.   The author’s introduction explains how to simplify activities and to trust children with real tools.

Then, Parks and I went to the library to get books on tools.  We also looked on Pinterest and through the Woodshop for Kids book together looking for activities.  He chose to make the marble maze, a balloon powered boat, and a top.  I went through the marble maze in a previous post.  Parks and his grand-dad worked on the balloon powered boat this week.  While they were working, I ran the other two kiddos to a class.  When I arrived home, this is what I saw in my kitchen.  LOL.

No one was around but I did hear them in the bathroom.  My first thought, “Ah man, someone cut themselves with the saw!”  Thankfully, I was completely wrong.  They were in the bathroom filling up the tub to run the boat!

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The top was an easy and fun project.  Parks simply cut a dowel and inserted it into a wooden wheel.  It works beautifully and will be even prettier when he finishes painting it!


Of course our lives wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have a spontaneous activity happen that fit within the block!  One afternoon this past week, we attended a class at Latta.  While we were there, one of the staff was cutting bamboo into small pieces in preparation for the Fairy Festival happening in a week.  He gave the kids a lesson on splitting bamboo with a machete, cutting bamboo with a hacksaw and cleaning out the inside.  Each child made a bamboo cup that they have been using all week.

All in all, I believe Parks enjoyed woodworking.  He is ready to work on his own-at least, in his own mind.  :)

2015 Goals

We are three weeks into January and I think I have our goals for 2015.  I am not sure why but I had a tough time deciding on what to focus on for this year.

1. Continue to work on bringing everyone together with cleaning.  Last year, I had grand plans to have everyone helping out.  My plan to have everyone pick a chore each day didn’t even come close to happening.  However, the kids are finally starting to see that helping out a little can go a LONG way.  Right now, each child empties part of the dishwasher, feeds and cares for an animal (Sims-dog, Sawyer–bird, Parks-cats and fish), and does his/her clothes.  We are also focusing on picking up as you work.  Thus, while you are waiting on the water to boil for oatmeal, measure out your oats and then put them away.  It seems so simple, yet it doesn’t happen.  I am hoping that maybe by the end of the year, we will all pick a chore and do it.

2. Build a community.  We do not belong to a co-op or homeschool community.  Our area has a large community of homeschoolers but it is difficult to connect without a co-op.  (We choose not to join a co-op because I enjoy having control over our curriculum and to allow the kids to follow their interests as much as I can.)  I have some AMAZING friends in my life right now (as do the kids), and hopefully, we will continue to find more like-minded people who want to come hang out in the woods with us.

3.  Be mindful of our actions and words.  Many times, we are just going through the motions.  I am noticing this a lot with the kids.  This year, I would like us to slow down and be aware of those around us more, what we are putting into our bodies and how we treat each other.

4.  Continue to get outside.  Hiking weekly and getting outside has been amazing for all of us.  We must keep this up!

OK.  Now our goals are set.  We are responsible for them for the next year!