Picture Post-Signs of Summer in the Garden

Our Produce is starting to come it!  So far we have only gotten zucchini but the others are growing well!

Pops of color all around!

Even the animals are enjoying the summer weather!

Building Self-Confidence

Don’t you love watching those little moments of self-confidence growing in your kids?

I had one of those moments today.  For the past six weeks, the kids participated in a sailing class.  Sims loves sailing, and he makes it look easy and fun.  So much so that Sawyer and Parks asked if they could take the class this spring with him.

sail 1Being new to sailing and younger than Sims, they learned to sail on smaller boats than Sims.  The smaller boats required them to sail independently.  Neither of the kids enjoyed sailing on these boats.  In fact, I wasn’t sure that they were going to complete the class.  Luckily on Tuesday, they took a make-up class that changed their opinions of sailing completely around.

The best part came tonight.  The class was small so the instructor decided to take out the bigger boats which required two people to each boat.  Sawyer started out the class very nervous and unsure of herself.  She was excited to have another person on the boat with her.  What she didn’t know was that her partner was just as new to sailing as she was or more so!  Tonight I watched as she skippered the boat, performed problem-solving, and instructed her crew.  She found out how much she really did know about sailing.

sail 2

To many people, Sawyer appears to be very self-confident.  We know her at home to doubt herself at times.  As she gets older and is on her own more, I want her to know how to trust her instincts and to be confident in who she is and what she does.  I see her confidence growing at the barn each week, but that is an area that she feels comfortable.  I enjoyed watching her rise to moment tonight in a situation that she did not feel comfortable in and with people who she does not know well.

sky 1

Block 2

Believe it or not, we have actually schooled throughout the fall.  Unfortunately, I have not updated my blog on our progress!  Well so far, we have completed 4 blocks.  I plan to get up to date as soon as possible.  Let’s start with block 2!

Block two included shelters, botany and alchemy.  All fun blocks!  Parks worked through his first block on shelters.  For this block, he memorized the poem Here is the House.  He also used this poem as his copy work for the the month.  He learned about the different types of houses around the world and used the different types of house names to practice alphabetical order.  The second week, Parks looked at the different ways that we protect ourselves from the environment. Then he wanted to learn about animal shelters and Native American shelters, so we researched both of these for the remainder of the block.

Sawyer began her education on botany during this block.  We began botany by discussing all of the essential nutrients and life giving elements of the soil and the air.  We discussed the importance of dark and light for plants.  We then went into the parts of a flower and plant nomenclature  Overall, we followed the Charles Kovacs Botany book and followed plant life from the simplest up to the most complex.  Thus, we started by discussing mushrooms/fungi progressed to mosses and ferns and finished with flowering trees.  We watched tulips open and close with the light.  We examined moss under magnifying glasses.  We went to the local nursery and looked at all types of plants.  Overall, we both are looking forward to delve more into the topic of botany in the spring!

Sims’ second block was a favorite.  We ALL enjoyed it.  He studied the history of alchemy and chemistry.  Beginning with the book Alchemy and Chemistry by Stefoff, he learned some important definitions and the journey of field.  From alchemy, we discussed the elements of earth, fire, water and air and some of the most natural chemical reactions-photosynthesis and respiration.  He also used the book Photosynthesis by Silverstein throughout this week. The last two weeks of the block were filled with lab experiments using fire.  We all gathered around candles and the fire pit as Sims worked through his experiments. In preparation for next month, Sims also read “The Alchemist.”

In addition to their main lessons, everyone continued to work through their math-u-see work, spelling, Latin and reading.

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Monarch Garden


Beginning in the spring and through the summer, we love watching butterflies.  This year, we decided to join our friends with the monarch migration.  The monarchs migrate from Texas and Mexico north through NC.  Along the migration path, monarchs rely on varieties of milkweed to lay their eggs.  The young caterpillars then munch away on the leaves as they prepare to transform!


Monarch Chrysalis

We found a nice spot in the front yard of the Latta Plantation Nature Center.  First we had to clear out all of the poke berry bushes and weeds.

Next we planted many different varieties of milkweed for our flying friends to land on!

Now we will watch it grow!  Hopefully, we will have the privilege of being a stop on the long journey of the monarch!


2014-2015 Year End Wrap Up: Grade 6

The year is coming to an end, and it is time to reflect on each child’s progress over the past year.  I wrote about our second and fourth grade plans in the two previous posts if you want to check them out.  Sixth grade proved to be a big year for Sims. Similar to Sawyer, he did not rock all of goals but he surpassed my expectations on a few other activities.  Here are the goals that I made for Sims at the beginning of the year (hind sight is always 20/20.  I put in writing goals for the older two but I had no plans work on writing this year.  The plan was to focus on grammar.  Just reminds me to make sure my plans and my goals actually will work together).

Sims (sixth grade): 1) Begin note taking with research 2)increase independence with reading and activities 3)time management skills 4)Vocabulary 5)Independent with writing a well planned 5 paragraph paper 6) Journaling

Wow, did I go wrong with these goals.  In the beginning of the year, Sims did work hard on taking notes, doing vocabulary and writing.  After Christmas, his enthusiasm to write did not remain.  Thus goals and 1, 4, and 5 were not met at a level that I feel comfortable with.  On the flip side, he found the love of reading!!  I will take this over writing any day.  He read more books than I was able to keep up with.  He used to always kid Sawyer about how much she reads during the day until this year.  He read the Hatchet series, the My Side of the Mountain series and many other books.  I must say, once again, that I LOVE Learning Ally (If you have a child with a reading disability, I HIGHLY recommend checking into Learning Ally).  Sims also really stepped it up this year with being independent and managing his time and work load.

Ok, onto curriculum!

Spelling: Sims started the year with Apples and Pears and quickly asked if he could find another program.  I have to admit that this hurt a little bit because he was doing so well with Apples and Pears.  The carry over with spelling into other writing is amazing.  I researched programs and we decided upon IEW’s Phonetic Zoo.  He loves it.  The program is simple to use. Overall, Sims’ spelling improved over the year.  Even better than improvement is his awareness of spelling.  He wants to spell words correctly and really started asking how to spell words more this year.

Grammar: Growing with Grammar worked well for Sims as well as the other two kiddos.  He easily read the lesson in the lesson book and then used  new information to complete the assignment.  The assignments were easily modified on days that he did not want to write as much (which were few).  The lessons are written directly to the student so he only needed help when he didn’t understand a concept.

Math: Sims completed the first half of Teaching Textbooks level 6 and quickly became bored with the program.  I guess he is feeling more comfortable looking at other curriculums because he again asked if we could look around for something else.  We ended up with Math Mammoth Grade 6.  He loves is.  Overall, the content is more on a seventh grade level compared to the other sixth grade math programs that we looked at.  The lessons are short but require some mind work.  🙂  He will continue to work through that book next year as of right now.  Sims also used a lot of practical math this year with more hands on projects.

Main Lessons:  We loosely followed the Waldorf Essentials sixth grade curriculum.  Sims really enjoyed the lessons this year though.  He worked through business math using the book Striker Jones which made the subject very interesting and appealing to a sixth grader.  He LOVED Roman history.  We spent way too much time on this and did not get through nearly as much Medieval History because of the amount of time we spent on studying Rome.  Sims also thoroughly enjoyed physics this year.  He worked with his Grandad using the Lego Technics Educational sets.  He also did the physical science program from Education Exploration.  Both were terrific programs.  Sims also worked through geology with the other two kiddos.

Enrichment: Just as the other two kiddos, enrichment takes over!  Sims took Adventure Journaling, hiking classes, survival classes, Boy Scouts, gymnastics team, drumming, art, wildlife biology,archery and horse back riding.

Overall, sixth grade was a year of growth for Sims.  I cannot believe how much he accomplished this year.  He keeps inventing new contraptions and working to improve items that he owns (most of the time, he truly makes improvements-sometimes, the “improvements” cost us).  He fell in love hand crafts such as leather working, backsmithing and wood working.  I enjoy watching him transform into an amazing young man!

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Finding Passion: African Drumming

All three of my children live with music in their souls.  (I am not sure where they got this from because neither my husband nor I are musically inclined.)  No matter, our house fills with music daily – the radio, feet stomping a beat on the floor, singing or an instrument playing.    A friend of ours asked if we would be interested in learning more about African drumming-how quickly can we say, “YES!”

We began taking a class with some fellow friends/homeschoolers in March.  The class was only supposed to last 4 weeks but we are still going strong!  The instructor brings the drums to life!  He teaches the kids about the history of drumming and the importance of drums throughout history.  He teaches the kids how to feel the energy of the drums and how to use the drums to pass the energy from one person to the next.

This week, he explained how the drums are made.  He even had the kids stretch a new piece of goat hide over an old box drum so that they could learn how to make their own drums.  The best part of the drum circle for me is watching the kids go into a trance as they drum.  It is amazing to hear them come together to produce the music.  All you can do dance!

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