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!

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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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.  🙂

Woodworking-The Marble Maze

Marble Maze

Parks received a set of tools this year for Christmas.  Thus, I thought he would have fun doing a block on woodworking and using his tools.  Well as luck would have it, Sims is taking a Wildlife Biology class on Tuesdays this month which is the day that he used to work with my dad doing physics.  I am sure my dad would love to work with Parks on woodworking-right?

Of course.  🙂  Last Tuesday was their first day working together.  I found a project on The Creative Homemaker blog on how to make a marble maze.  This was the perfect first project.  The first week, ,my dad and Parks worked on measuring out the maze, squares, measuring, and drawing straight lines.  They also used the drill to predrill the holes for the nails.  Parks’ homework was to paint the maze.  We used tape to keep the squares nice and square (this was the only part that I helped with.  I helped him place the tape).

Today, they finished up their maze.  They nailed the roofing nails into each corner.  There are a lot of nails in this project, but Parks got through them all today.  I thought he would need the rest of the week to finish it up.  Adding rubber bands around the nails was the final step.  Parks is very proud of his maze.  He is also very excited about his next project!

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Week in Review

I am shocked that it is already Friday!  Where did the week go and where were we?  I find it funny how some weeks we never leave the house, and others we are rarely home.  This week was one of those rarely home weeks, which was much needed.  The Lake Norman area was cold and rainy this week.  I am not sure that I would have left my cozy bed if I didn’t have too.

The week was filled with fun activities and classes for the kids. We started the week at the Discovery Place in Charlotte to check out their new exhibits and play.  The kids had a blast playing with the cubelets which are tiny cubes that connect together to build a robot using circuits.  Monday, Parks had his Chemistry of Soil class at Latta Plantation, and I got to walk with a fellow mom (I love those days!  I learn so much from my friends!).  Tuesday, Sims and Sawyer had their first day of Wildlife Biology at Latta.  Meanwhile, Parks started his woodworking unit with my dad.  Tuesday afternoon, we all met back at Latta Plantation for Parks’ geocaching class.  He was very excited for this class and did a terrific job explaining geocaching from an 8 year old’s point of view(focused completely on trading objects in the cache) to the new participants.  While Parks was at class, Sims, Sawyer and I went on a nature walk where we looked for seed pods and seeds.

Wednesday we snuggled in for the day and caught up on some work.  Thursday morning we were up again and headed out to Latta for Parks’ “Finding your Way” class.  He learned about trail markings and how to set up signs for others hiking after you.  Of course, the other two kiddos quickly found something to do while Parks was in class!  We went with two of the park instructors to help them set out orienteering markers for a night race this weekend (Sims and Nick are going to try out the race so we will see how it goes-of course, they will not do the same course that we set out).

Today, we awoke to the most amazing sight-blue sky and sunshine!  Gorgeous!  We quickly packed up and headed back out to hike with our friends.  The hike started off with a chill but quickly warmed up!  Again, I got the opportunity to chat with two fellow homeschooling moms and enjoy the beautiful day!  It was a busy week which will be followed by a slow and quiet week.  Keeping the balance keeps the sanity!  Have a fantastic weekend!

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“Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.” ~Abbé Dimnet, Art of Thinking, 1928

We took the entire week to get back into the school spirit.  Another plus of homeschooling, no one has to jump up and be ready at 6 am after two weeks off.  We used Monday as a planning day.  Sims is starting his block on Rome.  Sawyer is beginning NC history (her last block was more on NC geography) and Parks is finishing up Life of Fred Cats and starting a unit on woodworking.  So of course, we hit the library and sat on youtube looking at videos on Rome, NC and woodworking ideas for kids.

Tuesday, we woke up and hit the books.  Luckily, the ball kept rolling throughout the week.  It was nice to be back on a schedule, even if ours is a very loose schedule.  Everyone jumped into reading, maths, grammar and main lessons with copy work daily.  Next week, we will add in spelling, extra projects and their classes at Latta (although they did one class this week).

For those of you up north and out west, you will get a giggle out of our adventures this week.  For the south, this week was COLD!  By cold of course, I mean below 32 degrees.  We were freezing, but I am determined that the cold will not stop us.  Monday we went for our walk and saw a hawk in a tree.  From that day on, we have seen the hawk everyday in the same area.  After speaking with a neighbor, the hawk is there all the time.  Evidently, we had a new neighbor move in, and we never knew it.  We look forward to watching him through the seasons!  Wednesday, the weather began to drop.  Parks had his first horseback riding class in two years.  He was VERY excited.  The cold was not about to stop him.  He bundled up in his ski gear and running socks (yep, I didn’t notice that one until he was on the horse and half of his leg was showing) and went to his lesson.  He loved it even though by the end he couldn’t feel his feet or his hands.  Thursday the temperature dropped to single digits (note that in the south, we have heat pumps which cannot keep up with the cold.  Thus, you could not warm up inside either).  Sims and Sawyer had a three hour class outside.  I spoke with the instructor, and we decided to cancel the class..  Why, I am not sure.  The kids built a fire and played outside all afternoon.  Personally, I bundled up by the fire inside and read my book.

Friday, Sims and Sawyer had Adventure Journaling (a class is based on the adventures of Lewis and Clark) at Latta Plantation. Before the class, the kids played on the frozen pond.  Yep, another problem in the south.  Kids have no idea what happens when you stand on ice in a pond, but they do find out real fast.  Sims and Parks fell into some COLD water up to their knees (luckily, this is a tiny pond).  So, Sawyer went to class, and we went to get dry socks for the two boys who wouldn’t listen to the adults but learned the lesson anyway (I wish that I would have gotten a picture but I thought it might be looked at as one of those “bad parenting” moments if I was taking pictures instead of helping them.  It was pretty funny).  We were gone about 45 minutes and headed back to the nature center where another instructor took us bush wacking through the woods to find the group.  Parks and I got to join in the class which was fun.  We hike this park ALOT, and we had never seen the spot we were at.  Evidently there are 14 homesites in the park but only 9 have been found.  The instructors have found one of the homesites, and this is where the class was.  The kids had to make a map of how they got to the abandoned house and what they thought happened to the house or who they thought lived in the house.  Then we packed up, headed to the nature center and listened to the stories.  It was a terrific way to end the first week back to school.


Second Grade Block-Buddhist Tales

Parks is in the second grade and is third child.  He is a listener.  He loves to listen to stories whether the story is being read to him or not.  Thus, he has heard most of the folk tales and fairy tales time and time again.  Originally, I planned on doing another block on folk tales until I an across the book “The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime: Tales of Compassion and Kindness for You to Read with Your Child-to Delight and Inspire.”   I enjoy reading folk tales due to the wonderful life lessons that they teach.  Well, “The Buddha’s Apprentice” did not let me down!

The stories contain action and adventure in addition to amazing lessons.  The book consists of 18 short stories, each focusing on one portion of the Noble Eightfold Path.  Thus, the stories focus on right concentration, right intention, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right view, right speech and right mindfulness.  In addition to the amazing stories, the book also introduces the art of meditation.  If you are not comfortable teaching your child meditation, do not worry.  The book provides a section on how to introduce meditation to your children.

Together in this block, Parks and I read through “Bella and the Magic Soup” focusing on right concentration, “The Magic Moonlight Tree” focusing on right intention, “Ester and Lucky” focusing on right livelihood, and “Egbert and the Fisherman” focusing on right speech.   We also did the meditations that went along with the stories.

Parks truly enjoyed each story and the illustrations that accompanied each story.  I enjoyed the lessons.  Parks easily  figured out what each story was teaching and loved discussing each one. If you are in search of stories with a lesson but need a break from traditional folk tales, I highly recommend “The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime.”

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