Thursday, October 18, 2012

October update

This fall has been a rainy one, but we have done our best to enjoy the nicer days outside. The temperature swings and weather fronts have not been kind to me (in terms of migraines) so that has been wearing on me to the point of actually looking forward to winter when it will mostly just stay cold instead of jumping back and forth so often. Although in New England you never can really tell. ;)

The boys on their swing set this morning. 

This week W wrapped up Chapter 30 of Math-U-See Alpha. Next week he will do the appendix clock section and some review/tests. It is sort of funny since we mostly use digital clocks these days. The following week he will start the next Math-U-See book, Beta. He is on page 65 of Explode the Code book 4 and seems to enjoy it at the pace he is going. 

For Story of the World/History we are reading chapter 5 about Medieval India this week, he likes the reading & map work the best, and the many projects that go along with it are fun too (like making a beaded mosaic this week). As for Science, we had our co-op science class this week which was chock full of experiments and now he wants to get some dry ice for more Halloween experiments at home. :) 
vinegar/ baking soda "hand" balloon project at co-op

The boys are both looking forward to Halloween. Here is a preview of my little pirates in character: Jake from "the Neverland Pirates" and Captain Hook. 

Jake battling Captain Hook

Friday, October 12, 2012

Human Body study

W has always been a little (ok, a lot) creeped out by learning about organs, skeletons, etc. I blame the episode of Curious George when George goes inside his own body when he has a cold. Seriously, W still hates that idea! So we tended to skip those Magic Schoolbus themed books as well. He has done way better with more abstract books (like Enjoy Your Cells).

We did a one day unit study of some of the basics, and although he knew about most of them already from reading or absorbing everyday knowledge, it was a nice project to give him a visual and give a little introduction of  the underrated organs that he didn't know too much about (such as the gallbladder).

We used the science workbook My Body, which had copies of each organ and a detailed description of the functions. We made copies so he could color them in and then we could still read the book afterwards for review.

We taped it up on the wall for a couple of days (supposedly safely away from puppies, although Lucy finally ripped a corner so it is down now). The organs were taped so you could lift them up and view the others underneath.

whole body view

He was glad to get this finished, and we will be reviewing the different systems of the body in the Giant Science book. W already read about the Skeletal system, and with Halloween on its way watching our annual favorite The Skeleton Dance was an inspiring and silly way to bring it up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quill pen & ink

Last week we read chapter 3 in Story of the World: Volume 2, The Middle Ages. W learned about monks, and a little bit about what their lives were like. 

I had bought ink tablets & inkwell at a Colonial fair, so we used those as a short cut instead of gathering nut shells to boil down into ink (hey, it was raining!) :) That was a good idea, it took a couple of tablets and W crushed them up in a bit of water, and after a few minutes we had our ink.

making ink

W and his feather pen

a Halloween themed ink picture

We used a feather than Grandma had found in MS, it may be a hawk feather. W soaked it in soapy water for a few minutes, then I cut the tip at an angle to better hold the ink. Both of the boys had fun making ink pictures and attempting to write with it.

That night to go along with our monk study, we made a lentil soup with vegetables similar to what monks would have eaten, with bread & cheese. It was satisfying on a cool autumn day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Museum of Science

We recently took a day trip to the Museum of Science in Boston. W was familiar with the museum due to his overnight experience last spring, but C hadn't remembered going a couple years ago so it was new-to-him.

They had a Shipwreck! exhibit of treasure and materials recovered from the depths of the sea, so that was really neat. Jacob's favorite were the coins, it was amazing to see such old coins in mint condition. If you get a chance to check this out, it is interesting for adults and older kids but it did not hold C's attention as much.

We also took in a Planetarium show of the night sky which was interesting to the boys and highlighted constellations to look for.

We found a large example of Calcite (the kind of rock that their geodes are).

in the space capsule

big footprint!

touching the snake skin at the animal demonstration

The triceratops that W & I slept under during our last visit

I didn't catch C's expression until uploading these photos. My little stinker! :p

C has been talking about "seeing chickens" at the museum. I think he means the chick hatchery. ;) I am hoping we will be able to get back there sometime later this fall to see the Mammoth exhibit which opens this month. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall rocks!

Our summer ended with a 13 day road trip to SC & FL, packed with family visits and five days at Walt Disney World. I will outline some highlights and tips for Disney vacations in separate posts. We intentionally went off season (the day after labor day) and that resulted in a great time with very little wait times for rides. I have fond memories of going when I was a kid, so it was very cool to see W & C there and see the reactions on their faces when they saw the characters and rides. 

Since getting back from our whirlwind road trip, we have jumped back wholeheartedly into homeschool routines. We attended a couple of local co-op classes on rocks/geology, including a presentation by a local business owner of the Quartz Source in Milford NH. The presenter was very knowledgeable about the examples of rocks she brought in to show the kids, and was very patient answering everyone's questions. The presentation was entertaining for kids and the adults alike. Thanks so much to our Milford co-op friends that set it up and helped with the event!


Some of our other adventures have been a fall festival complete with pumpkin painting and scarecrows, a Little House book club day, an Astronomy fair at UNH, and taking a field trip to the Museum of Science in Boston to see the Shipwreck! exhibit and planetarium show about the night sky.

C building his house out of craft sticks for our Little House club

W cheers C on at Constellation bowling, the boys both loved the games at the Astronomy fair.

W has been wrapping up Math U See Alpha (Chapter 28, subtraction) and began Explode the Code book 4 and is learning about syllables. His handwriting is slowly getting better, and he is focusing more on writing lowercase letters. He has also begun The Story of the World Volume 2: Middle Ages. So far for science he has done Astronomy and Geology unit studies. Generally this fall we do "homeschool" in the morning, and the afternoon has time for more reading, playing outside, and inside play like legos, marble run, and of course his favorite apps including Stack the Countries and Cars 2. ;)

C has had fun tagging along on many of our field trips. He is not quite PreK this year, but we want to begin focusing more on the alphabet for him. He loves hands on crafts, games, and playing outside. C is casually beginning Five in a Row, and we read the Salamander Room for his first book together. I have a feeling we will do more projects for FIAR this winter. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It has been a busy summer so far here in NH. We have had nice visits with family and friends over the past few weeks, and have been enjoying spending time outdoors with our puppies and kiddie pool. Jacob has been working on a rock walkway going to the porch. We have had to keep a steady supply of water for the dogs during the heatwaves. 

We have also had a few viruses run through our family (boo).  I am currently recovering from the latest, but the boys seem fine. C has had a couple doctor appointments over the past couple weeks for other minor issues, and W has a regular checkup next week. In other words, it feels like we are there way too much! 

W has been doing a lot of reading too. Some of our homeschool plans fell to the wayside with being sick, but we have a lot to plan and work on through the summer. 

The boys were thrilled to see a newt that Jacob found in the woods.

They all took turns holding it (*I* chose not to!), and made a makeshift box with leaves, water and rocks to observe it for about a half hour before releasing it to a safer spot away from puppies. 

chillin' at Parker's Maple Barn
C toasting marshmallows

W on the 4th of July

On the 4th, we burned part of our Christmas tree, enjoyed s'mores, lit sparklers and played with pop its (or snappers as I used to call them as a kid). Some of our previous plans were cancelled due to thunderstorm warnings but it turned out to be a relaxing day. 

One of the boys took this photo of Lucy

Sherlock the attention hog :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


One of W's current obsession is all things Peanuts, as in the comic strip. We have a few volumes of the Complete Peanuts which he pores over and enjoys on a daily basis. So of course, he has been asking to Google Peanuts and we discovered a Snoopy's Street Fair App for the iTouch which has been a fun game for him. The only gripe I have with it is there are several features "in app" that you have to pay for, so sometimes I like to keep it on airplane mode so the kids can't make surprise purchases. Within the app there is a photo booth which lets you take snapshots with your favorite Peanuts characters. We've had some fun with this, so here are some of our favorites. 

Frieda and a giant W head at the ice cream parlor

Our dog Sherlock (with Woodstock)

Our own lovely beagle Lucy with Snoopy

C helping Snoopy as WWI flying aces

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Basin

After attending the NH Porcupine Liberty festival over the weekend we didn't have much time before we had to start heading home, but we wanted to stop and see something while we were in the White Mountains region. So, we decided to go to the Basin. There is a small plaque stating that Henry David Thoreau visited there and wrote about it. I bet he swam in it too, although there are "no swimming" signs there now. Pshaw. ;)

The boys were troopers camping during a severe thunder and lightning storm. We had a small 3 person tent which had a rather large puddle and damp sleeping bags the next morning. I assured W that usually camping is not like this and can be a lot of fun, hopefully next time we have better weather. At least during the days the weather was clear and they had fun playing games and on the playground.

a flower from C :)

Another family found a butterfly perhaps affected by the rain, and showed it to the boys

having some fun

a pretty view

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

It has been a very busy spring for us so far. We are working on planting our garden and several projects around the yard. More on this soon! We have also fit in visits to the Zoo, a Manchester Fishercats baseball game homeschool night, Brimfield Antique's fair, a moon rise party/bonfire, 2 different birthday celebrations, along with our usual homeschool work, co-op, and church activities. We were very proud to see W sing a song with his Church school classmates in front of the congregation last week as part of a music service. All of the performers all did a great job!

Each of these probably deserve their own post, but for now I will share some photos of Southwick's Zoo from our visit last week.

a kangaroo lounging about

Southwick's Zoo is privately owned and located in Mendon, MA. Some of the animals we saw included: lions, a tiger, kangaroos, camels, zebras, emu, flamingos, various primates, giraffes, rhinos, an alligator, peacocks, and macaws. At Southwick's there is also a tram train ride through the woods and we saw animals local to North America including elk, deer, swans, and turtles. They also had a goat petting area which was a hit with the kids, they wanted to go in twice. 

C and a goat

May was a great time to visit, as it was much less busy than when the boys and I went with their grandparents 3 years ago in August. C was just a baby then and W was 4, so neither one remembered going there. They have several rides, including a skyfari sky ride which was fun, but I think the next time we will skip the added fee for train/sky rides and focus more on the animals, of whom there are plenty to see.

Bengal tiger


Each exhibit has a world map highlighting where the animals are from, and we pointed these out to W to identify the continents.

thankfully not the real lion ;)

W gave the skyfari a thumbs up

a posing peacock

giraffe exhibit

a colorful mandrill

We had a wonderful time and hope to visit again soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Night at the Museum

T Rex model at the MOS

Last week W participated in the Museum of Science Overnight program. We had a lot of fun exploring  the museum, watching the lightning show, and seeing different demonstrations. In the morning there was a short planetarium show. It was a little scary for W when the Moon zoomed in closely! He said he thought it would squish him. I liked hearing all the "oohs" and "aaahs" even from the bigger kids watching the show. The technology has gotten a lot better in recent years and when the presenter zoomed in on the planets and their moons it was neat. Then we went to an Omni IMAX presentation of Amazing Journeys. This was my favorite part. It was amazing seeing the migration of monarch butterflies, Canadian geese and many other animals. 

happy W

W had a fun time sleeping in his sleeping bag. We got to sleep in the dinosaur area. I had brought along an air mattress for us to share after reading that a lot of parents find the air mattress as a "must have". It was a good idea! It was a late night for us, neither of us are used to lights out at midnight, and then an early wake up call for breakfast before the shows. Then we had a little time to see some other exhibits (the chicks and tamarins) before heading on our way. W also hit the gift shop and spent some of his birthday money on dinosaur toys for C since he had to stay home.

First grade is the youngest age range allowed to spend the night at the museum, so W was among the younger kids. There were several school groups, so it was pretty busy although not as packed as a busy day at the museum in general, although since there were hundreds of kids in groups with a ratio of 1 adult to five kids, it was pretty hectic! I would do it again though, when C is old enough to join us it will be more fun. I think Jacob would like it too (really with the air mattress it isn't too bad). ;)

the earth

This week will be a busy one, plus with a warm forecast here I am sure the kids will spend a lot of time outside while we try to squeeze in some homeschool work. W has an eye doctor appointment tomorrow and co-op Wednesday. 

W is on chapter 18 of Math-U-See Alpha, and we only have a few more chapters of Story of the World Ancient History. We went to a homeschool curriculum sale over the weekend and found a used copy of MUS Beta with the teacher book and dvd (score!) I also found the next SotW workbook, Before FIAR for C, and the Prairie Primer. W picked out some geoboards and C got a couple of storybooks. I love curriculum sales! :) Helping out other homeschooling families and getting good deals it is a win-win. W is almost all set for second grade.