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Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Lesson

This week, we have been continuing with your discussions regarding Ancient Egypt. Yesterday we discussed Egypt being broken into an Upper and Lower Egypt which the kids got a real kick out of. We had learned about the cardinal directions earlier this school year so the kids knew N,S,E and W. So yesterday when we learned that Upper Egypt was actually the southern part of the country and Lower was the Northern part, they found it to be rather silly. We also studied that the two regions of Egypt was ruled by two Kings, the Red Crown King and the White Crown King but that the two battled because both wanted to rule the entire country. The kids learned that the White Crowned King (King Narmer) won the battle and became the first Pharaoh of Egypt.   After our history lesson, the kids worked on their reading (Ashleigh read three books aloud) and Garrett worked on his math skills.

Today we reviewed what we learned yesterday in our history lesson and I was very surprised that the kids retained pretty much everything we covered. Lessons were a bit harder today because both kids were excited. I had bought a second hand globe and the kids were very interested in it. So we started our lessons today discussing how the globe was a map of the Earth, much like the map
we already used for our geography, but that it was round to show how the continents were placed the Earth's surface.  We had a blast finding all the countries we have studied so far as well as looking at countries we haven't explored yet. What they don't know just yet is that the globe lights up and in a dark room becomes a night skies globe which will come in handy when we return to more in depth Astronomy studies in a few months.  With exploration of the globe finished, we returned to our study of Egypt. We reviewed what we've learned and I was shocked that the kids even remembered King Narmer's name which is better than even Mom did..

Our lesson today was about cuneiform, hieroglyphics and the making of papyrus.  Honestly, the kids weren't really excited about today's history lesson, Garrett wanted to work on math instead and Ashleigh wanted to play on her Leappad but we managed to get through the lesson. For our fun activity, I wrote out both of their names in hieroglyphs on strips of paper and they were able to use a q-tip to copy their names into clay. This proved to work out really well and both kids had a blast. Ashleigh did a bit of embellishment on her "L" which was to be a simple outline of a lion but turned out to be a very cartoonish cat but over all, this turned out to be a good project for them. These will be allowed to dry for a few days before we paint them.

 We then worked on reading (We're working our way through the level 2 Bob books) and flash cards for math, then both kids worked on math skills with their Leap Pads.
Final Project

The bird nest is near completion and we should have eggs here in the next day or so.  The kids are not allowed outside to the nest as we don't want to disturb the parents but each day they ask for me to take a photo of the nest so they can see the progress better than what they can view from the window. (Our window is rather cloudy because of the heat here). Yesterday the nest was being lined with down feathers. Today the residents have made a top layer of nest over
the down. The kids told me this morning that we had eggs but they were mistaken but it shouldn't be long. They are so excited. Once we have eggs, we'll do a quick lesson about the parts of the egg and I have a Magic School Bus episode lined up to discuss the development of the chick inside.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Learning about Life



Throughout my kids lives, they have always had pets. But my two youngest had never experienced the loss of a pet before. When our old cat Stormy died after we had him for 20 years, they were too young to understand (Ashleigh was 1 month old, Garrett was 1 year).  My oldest daughter understands as she was much older when Stormy died and when our dog, Avalanche passed. Today we lost our beloved fish, Midnight and my youngest had to learn about the loss of a pet.

Midnight was a betta fish that I picked up a little over a year for our daughter, Alyssa. He was a really dark blue male fantail with brilliant red coloring mixed in. He was just a fish that we paid 3 bucks for, but he was a cool fish and had formed a bond with my daughter over the time we had him. Two days ago, I noticed he just wasn't acting right and upon a closer look, I noticed that he and a few other fish that we had seemed to show signs of a parasite called Ich.. I guess the fish we had gotten a few weeks ago from Petsmart were contaminated and then contaminated the tank. Bettas are a very fragile fish to begin with, so it hit him hard. We ordered medication to treat the tank in hopes that it would arrive and work quickly. Unfortunately, Midnight passed on about 2 hours before the medication arrived.

The worst part of this experience is my daughter was not here for the passing of her fish. So I had to call her at her father's house in Texas to pass on the bad news, as I knew she would not forgive me if I hadn't told her right away. We gave dear Midnight a proper burial in a flowerpot that my daughter will be able to plant flowers in when she comes home. Midnight was too good for a "burial at sea" and I know if I had just flushed him, she would have been even more upset.

Now my two youngest are trying to comprehend that the fish has died. They original said that Midnight was just sick. I had to explain to them that no, Midnight was sick but that he was too weak to fight off his sickness and he would not be with us anymore. They watched me bury him in the flower pot and I think thats when it hit them.. fish stay in the water and if we're putting dirt on the fish, there must be something severely wrong.  Even now, as they are in their bedrooms (suppose to be going to sleep) I hear them discussing back and forth that Midnight died, he's not coming back, he's gone on to fishy heaven.

So today, we just took an easy day.. We cleaned the tank, did a water change, took the carbon cartridge out of the filter and treated the water. The other fish
RIP Midnight
seem to be doing well. And I spent the day answering questions about fish and about Midnight.  He will be missed, even if he was "just a fish".


On a positive note, the birds were busy all morning today and the next seems ready to go. I had checked on it over the weekend and they had made little progress and I wondered if they have abandoned it. However, this morning the kids woke me up telling me that they had been busy working on it as the kids watched from the window. Sure enough I went out tonight at dusk to check on it and it seems to be complete, right now to feathers lining the bottom. So hopefully we shall have eggs within a day or so. Ash is so excited for baby birds again.




Monday, April 21, 2014

Homeschooling vs Unschooling



Going to go off on a bit of a tangent here so our lessons will be in the next post. But, there's something I want to kinda get off my chest and explore a bit in writing.

Being a homeschooling mom, I find it very helpful to be a member of various groups of like minded people who also self educate their children. I enjoy seeing how others do things differently and many times I am able to take away different things to try with Ash and Garrett with various degrees of success. Over the course of the last few days, I've been reading things that completely make me rethink my ideas of what "unschooling" is and I think we will just be classifying ourselves as very lax homeschoolers instead.

I do like the idea of a child led education environment where the kids get to pick and choose what subjects are of interest to them. This comes in quite handy with Garrett as if he's not interested, he's not going to pay much attention.  And so I considered our home studies "unschooling" because we didn't follow a schedule of math followed by english, followed by social studies, followed by science, followed by health type of learning day. I don't break out the various textbooks that I bought on any given day and force the kids to sit down and study them but instead we jump around and pull information from various sources. Yet we never truely were unschooled I guess because we did use books and I did steer them in the direction of various subjects even if I allowed them to pick what we wanted to study within that subject.

Yesterday I posted in a thread stating that I do not believe my kids should have sex as a teenager. Oh holy hell, the crap storm that started. I wish I could turn back time and not have posted at all. Suddenly I was a bad parent. I was told I was an evil authoritative parent who is restricting my child's natural curiosity and autonomy and have in essence removed their right to consent in what to do with their bodies. I was told that by restricting my children from exploring sex on their own regardless to age, I was disobeying the fundamentals of unschooling. If that's the case, I don't want to unschool. 

I wish I had asked these handful of women how old their children actually were and how old they themselves are. I'd be willing to bet their children are probably still small and do not have teenagers. Actually one who criticized me the most did state she was nursing a child at the time she was writing. I'm also willing to bet they are young themselves. The fact that I'm nearly 40 and have lived a life knowing that some rules are set in place for reasons probably factors severely in why the idea of letting my kids have free reign to do whatever they want, when they want, doesn't work for me. 

I'm not one to criticize how other parents raise their kids. I see alot of unschooling parents say they don't restrict television and computer usage, do not give their kids chores, they don't set a bedtime for their kids, no curfews, ect. I think doing these things is a disservice to our kids though. The responsibility of a parent is to teach our kids responsibilities and that certain behaviors result in negative results. If they are taught they can do anything they want, when they want and that they don't have to do anything they don't want to do, what happens when they join the workforce and are given restrictions, deadlines and demands by their boss?  Without the knowledge of knowing there's a time for play and that follows after other responsibilities, then they will either lose jobs or have a hard adjustment period until they learn that lesson. 


I do not consider myself an authoritative parent but I also know that my job right now is to parent and not to be my kid's friend. I do not see myself as a bad parent because I do not allow my 14 year old to go out and learn about sex through exploration with some young boy. What exactly does that accomplish? Sure they learn first hand about the physical aspect of sex but they will most likely also learn about the joys of sexually transmitted diseases first hand as well. They will also learn that sex is nothing more than a physical act between two people rather than learning about the emotional closeness between two people that would normally lead to sex.  My son is too young to even know what sex is right now but even with him, restrictions apply. By the unschooling philosophy I'm suddenly being told I should adhere to, I should never restrict his curiousity. Well, my son has a curiosity of the outdoors. To the point that he has opened his window at the early hours of morning when others are asleep and has gone exploring. Maybe I'm doing him a disservice by restricting his curiosity but you can bet your happy butt I put locks and alarms on his doors and windows to make sure he doesn't get out. If that makes me a bad parent well, so be it.

I am not my children's friend. That is not my responsibility right now. My responsibility is to teach boundaries and responsibilities to my children in the hopes they grow to be responsible and contributing members of the future generation of this world. If I do my job right then they will hopefully see me as a friend once they are adults but for now there's a line between being their friend and being their parent. In school a friend was that person who was by your side while you're getting in trouble because that dumb idea sure seemed fun at the moment. My kids have plenty of friends, they don't need me to be one as well. That doesn't mean I cannot be a trusted ally to my children as they learn. I can be someone they come to talk to and my oldest knows she can talk to me about anything. The difference is, where a friend would tell my kid to go ahead and have sex with a boy because he's the cutest guy in the school even if he's never spoken to my daughter before last week, Mom is going to tell her that obviously this guy is only interested in one thing and that's not whats between her ears. That she will only be a line of conquests in a list of many for this boy and once he gets what he wants, he will move on. Mom will be the one telling her that any boy who respects her is not going to try to get in her pants immediately and will not pressure her to do something she doesn't want to do.  A friend is the one who will tell my kids a few alcoholic drinks at a party won't hurt her, that all the cool kids do it. A friend will say hey, go ahead and drive that car drunk, nobody will know, I do it all the time.. Mom is the one who tells her she shouldn't drink but if she does, I would rather her call me and tell me to come get her rather than driving or getting in a car with someone who has been drinking. My daughter knows if she calls me, I'll get her, no lectures or yelling, so long as she makes it home safe.. Sure, Mom will sit down with her the next day and discuss it with her but I'd rather that conversation wait til the following day when she's home safely then risk my child avoiding a lecture that night and wrap herself around a light pole or kill a family on the road. 

I like the idea of child driven education  but this concept of no restrictions is not for me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fun Day

Fridays tend to be our Fun Day. It always seems to end our school "week" on a high note. School week meaning our actual studies from our books. They don't know I'm sneaking learning in on the weekends, so long as its fun, but we don't consider that part of our school week.

We started the day with doing a virtual lab online through the National Geographic Website. Since we've been discussing whales this week (and will continue with it next week) we loaded up the Blue Whale virtual lab where we were able to compare to size of a Blue whale to various objects we were familiar with. Shortly after the kids got to see the space shuttle Endeavor make its flyover and final landing here at Edwards AFB, we took a trip to the California Science Museum to go see it up close so the kids were very familiar with how big it was. One of the comparisons that the virtual lab compared the blue whale to was the space shuttle, so that was a real eye opener (the shuttle is slightly bigger, btw) and
we discussed various parts of the whales circulatory and respiratory system.  The kids thought it was alot of fun and I was happy to have found this lil gem online (thank you Pinterest!!)

With actual studies done, we decided to paint our "artifacts" we made the other day. Both kids decided to paint their items black, although Ashleigh decided the inside of her dish was going to be pink.  I kinda
think more paint got on the kids rather than on the things they were painting but its washable poster paint, so I'm not going to lose sleep over paint in their hair. Kids get dirty, thats what baths are for.

With our plate and mug (minus the handle thanks to Newton, our cat, knocking it off) painted and put up to dry, we proceeded to start our ocean box for the diarama that we will be working on thoughout our Zoology 2 study.  While we aren't ready to start placing anything actually inside the box, we wanted to have it ready to go for next week when we are ready. Since the kids will be sharing
the box together rather than making 1 box each, we found the biggest box we could find (from a printer I bought some time back) and we lined it with blue tissue paper.  Of course, halfway though we ran out of glue stick and could not find where I hid the rest of them, so we had to finish using scotch tape.  We managed to get paper on all sides and everyone was happy with the outcome. The kids are really excited
about being able to put the various ocean creatures we will learn about in it.




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading and History

I felt we had a pretty productive day today with our classwork and we hit a huge milestone today as well..

The kids had said they wanted to start hearing stories of Greek/Roman mythology. This was started by watching "Drive Thru History" and discussing the Roman Colosseum as well as hinting vaguely on them when discussing Italy. We will be reading from the books Favorite Greek Myths by Bob Blaisdell and A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Before our reading today, we started by watching The History Channels episode on Zeus from "Clash of the Gods" series.  While there are some topics in this series that is a bit too mature for my kids, those topics are only briefly mentioned and went over their heads. The main story of Kronus, Rhea, Zeus and his siblings were easy enough for them to follow and the series was able to keep their attention. We followed this up by reading Chapter 1: Gods and Titans out of Blaisdell's book and discussed what we learned. I was pretty surprised how much they actually had comprehended regarding Kronus swallowing his children, Rhea substituting a rock wrapped in a blanket for the baby Zeus, and then Zeus tricking Kronus in order to release his siblings.  The kids really seemed to enjoy the reading but were upset as our kindle version of the book has no pictures.

After having mom read to them it was time to work on their individual reading. This is always an issue with Garrett, who will not sit still long enough to read a story. However, with Garrett I am able to spell out a word and he is able to tell me what the word is or I can call him over, point to a particular word and he will again tell me what it is.  Today I decided to try Ashleigh with her individual reading while Garrett worked on math skills with his leappad.  Ashleigh chose to read the Level 1 reader Cat Days from the Penguin Young Readers series.  I should explain, we do not do sight words in our house. I'm strongly against the concept of sight words and the idea of getting a
child to memorize a list of words and call that "reading". In my opinion, reading is about phonics, being able to sound out a new word, put those sounds together and deduce what the word is. I feel skipping phonics and instead relying on memorization puts a child at a disadvantage when encountering a new word that wasn't memorized. 

Cat Days was simple enough for a first read as there was a good amount of repetition in it with new words to sound out. Ash was easily able to read the book out loud by herself with minimal help from Mom.  Dad happened to call at the time while we were reading and he was able to hear her reading aloud by herself.  It was a proud moment for all of us.

We ended the day by filling Garrett's request for a quick history lesson. Reading from A Story of the World, we learned about Nomads, how they lived and how they eventually migrated to the Fertile Crescent. The kids really got a laugh out of today's lesson. The story of Tarak eating lizards or not having a bath for 7 years really got a rise out of them.  The concept of eating lizards caused lots of giggles until mom told them that while she had never eaten a lizard, she had eating frog legs and that they tasted like chicken. The kids have decided they want to have Lizard Stew (somehow, I do not see this happening anytime in the near future.. haha)  Then when we got to the part where Tarak and her brother are playing in the river and it says that they hadn't had a bath their entire lives, another giggle fit ensued.  Both kids said "ewwwwww" and said the water would be nasty after they finally bathed. We had a great time with today's history lesson (opposed to yesterdays lesson) and I think the kids are really looking forward to continuing lessons.  Unfortunately, our "artifacts" were not completley dry so we were not able to paint them today. Garrett's mug is now a cup because our cat knocked the handle off and it broke in half but Garrett wasn't too upset about it. Tomorrow during our crafts time, we will paint the cup and dish and we will also be preparing our "Ocean Box" to go along with our Apologia lesson.

After all our lessons were done, we put Disney's Hercules on just for a fun watch to go along with our
Mythology study.. Ashleigh hadn't seen it before (how we have ever Disney movie except this one I don't know) and really enjoyed it. Garrett didn't care much for it. He would rather watch documentaries then cartoons, with exception to The Magic School Bus.

Both kids have been keeping a close eye out the window watching the pair of finches building their nest. We went out to have a quick look and the birds have busy. We're starting to see a familiar circular shape to the sticks and grass the birds are carefully placing in our satellite dish.  I wish there was a way to hook up a camera of some sort so that we would be able to see the nest making in progress up close but we are happy with viewing through the window.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Science and History Day

Today we continued our study of ocean creatures as well as began our study of world history. While we are using books for both of these studies, I am allowing the children to pick what they want to study.  So they chose to begin by studying whales.  We are using Apologia's Exploring Creation
Zoology 2 : Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day  for our units on the ocean. We like Apologia's approach to science because their books tend to be more like reading stories without being boring.  Boring is not good in our household.. If it doesn't keep their attention, then we won't accomplish anything that day.  This is the second time we have used Apologia's science books, the first being when we studied Astronomy last year.


Today we began talking about whales. The kids like whales so it was a good platform to begin with for us. We started with discussing the scientific classification of whales and dolphins (cetaceans) and the fact that whales are mammals and breathe air just like humans do. We discussed the two types of whales (toothed vs baleen whales) and compared the baleen to the bristles on a toothbrush. They enjoyed learning about the fact that unlike fish who's tales are vertical and swish side to side, whales flukes are horizontal and swish up and down. This lead to watching a youtube video of Shamu swimming around his tank to demonstrate this movement and then comparing that to watching our fish swimming in their tank. Next we refreshed on the five senses and discussed what senses whales use in order to find food. Lastly, we talked about how whales communicate with each other and watched a video where we could listen to whales singing underwater.

Our "fun" activity to coincide with our discussion was to color a picture of various whales and then draw one of our own. Ashleigh decided to use her leappad to draw hers rather than to draw on the paper which resulted in a picture of a whale eating pizza. Gotta love it.. haha

A very colorful pod of whales
We also started reading from "The Story of the World - Volume 1" today. Ashleigh tends to enjoy being read to, so this was right up her alley. Even Alyssa participated today. We read together the introduction which discusses what is history and archeology. This book seems like it will be alot of fun for us as again, it reads like a story more than a boring history book. We were to tie in some of our past geography lessons into the story by discussing the Nile River (which we covered back when we discussed Egypt) and learn what Ox were (Ashleigh did not like Ox as she does not like cows either).  It also allowed us to tie in our past lesson of botany by discussing how the wheat would not grow without rainfall because we already learned that plants need sun, nutrients and water in order to grow.  We also got to revisit our lesson regarding the city of Pompey from our volcano unit when we read about the deserted village being covered in dirt, mud and grass and how archeologists discovered and then dug the village back out. We also discussed how archeologists are able to learn about history through written records as well as from artifacts.  We watched a few videos on archeology but honestly, the kids weren't too excited about these and paid little attention.


 To end this history lesson, we decided to make our own "artifacts". Out came the clay and together we made a small plate, a mug, a toy tadpole (Ashleigh did not want to
make a toy ox and decided on a tadpole instead) and a coiled piece of rope. These items are now drying so we can paint them in a day or so.

Overall today was a successful day..  Ashleigh is currently in a state where she doesn't want to sit still and pay attention to much of anything or will just be an overall chatterbox when it comes time to have a discussion.  We did have one slight meltdown during our discussion on archeologists because she honestly didn't care about it much at all so I don't know
how much of that she will actually retain this time around but she seemed to get everything else so I don't really mind if my kindergartener doesn't care about archeologists.. LOL   During our review, she remembered everything regarding the whales that we learned although she did want
to call baleen whales Baluga instead (she likes baluga whales.. lol). 

OOOH, I almost forgot.. The kids were really exited today. Their bedroom window has a up
close and personal view to the back of our Directv satellite dish. Now, normally, this would not be very exiting.  But, every summer we have a pair of house finches who build a nest in the bracket of the dish and choose to raise their family there.. This puts the nest literally about 10 inches from the kids window. It seems our finches have returned as the kids were excited and telling us that the birds were building a nest. My husband went out to check and sure enough, the old nest from last year had been removed and they had begun placing the start of a new nest in its place. So hopefully, we will have a new clutch of eggs to observe and document.  This was a really fun activity for the kids last year as we took daily photos of the babies, observed both mom and dad caring for the young, and were lucky to watch (from the window) as the babies took their first flight and left the nest. For now, the nest is nothing to write home about but we have already begun our photo diary and since the kids are older this year, we will probably use this as an opportunity to discuss physiology and anatomy of a bird.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Great Time to Start

Welcome to Counting Pinecones. This is basically a diary for me to keep track of lessons that my children do in the course of our homeschooling journey.

If you're curious about the name, well, I have my son to thank for that.. My son is spectrum (Einstein's syndrome) and the two things he's most fascinated with would be water and pine cones. There are pine cones all over my house since there's a small pine tree outside my front door that drops them each year and my son collects them. Pine cones have become a staple in our home and many of our first lessons in counting and basic mathematics involved the use of those pine cones since they were so plentiful. It seemed only fitting to name this blog after those early experiences with my son.
 
First, I should state I am not much of a blogger. I've tried this a few times but never found anything interesting to write about. I mean, we're an average family who live less than average lives. Even my parents get bored when I give them updates on what we've been doing because really, it's pretty mundane. We live on a military base out in the middle of nowhere, there's nothing to do and our days primarily consist of staying at home. We eat homecooked meals as there's really nowhere to go out to eat at within a 30 mile radius and our entertainment consists of television and the occasional board games as there's nothing to do here.  We are basically John Q Public, only even less exciting.

Learning about the Renaissance with Thaddeus the Dentist

The only thing that makes our family a bit different from the typical modern family is that we have chosen to homeschool our children. There's an elementary school less than 3 blocks away from our home but we instead chose to be in charge of two of our children's education. Our oldest daughter who is a 9th grader in High School does attend public schools but our two youngest are learning while sitting in their pajamas (or in my son's case, shirtless as he has sensory issues) in the comfort of our home. Originally this decision was one of necessity: our son is special needs and sitting in a traditional classroom setting really wasn't an option. To make matters worse, the school did not offer a special education program and wanted to bus our son 45 minutes one way to the closest school that did offer special education. This was something we did not feel comfortable with and instead opted to keep our son out of school and instead teach him in a home environment.

One year later and we were debating sending our youngest off to the nearby school for Kindergarten. California, however, seems to have a shortage of qualified teachers and we learned that classes were being combined (Kindergarten with 1st Grade, 2nd with 3rd) with one teacher trying to teach both grades. My husband and I discussed this and finally decided that public education just wasn't appropriate for either of our children and I added full time teacher to the list of many other titles that I currently have.

Observing birds from eggs to fledgelings

We are more of an "Unschooling" family then what is traditionally considered homeschooling. We do occasionally do worksheets and lessons from textbooks but much of our lessons are from sources like movies, youtube, storybooks and personal experiences.  This style developed over the course of trial and error last year with my son. I originally went into homeschooling with the idea that it was basically just public school at home: very structured with a very clear and concise plan as to what should be learned, when it should be learned, and in what order. The problem with this is that my son does not learn that way. He cannot learn that way. Trying to make him learn that way resulting in nothing more that alot of shouting and frustration for mom and alot of tears and frustration for my son.  Neither of us were happy.
Learning about Butterflies

Origami while studying China
That's one of the great things about unschooling. We don't have to be unhappy.  We don't have to spend hours at a table, my children's heads bent over a textbook upset because mom is forcing them to do it in order to "learn" the way the school system says they should learn. The same outcome can be accomplished in ways that don't involve a structured 6 hour day full of textbooks and worksheets.  I could use a textbook to try to teach my children about the value of coins, getting upset when they don't pay attention or I could make the same lesson fun by throwing a handful of coins in the air, allowing them to collect as many of the coins as possibly and having them identify the value of each and total up the sum of what they've collected.. The first method accomplished absolutely nothing.. The second method has my kids asking for me to do it again and again.

I've been asked many times if I expect my children to get as quality of an education at home as they would in a traditional school environment. I answer this question honestly. No, I don't.  I have little faith in public schools after having a teenage daughter who has been in the system for 10 years now.  Schools today are too worried about standardized testing that results in money from the state. They teach the tests and really nothing more. My oldest daughter is in high school and cannot tell you where the state of New York is located. She cannot look at a non-digital clock and tell you the time. She has never learned to write in cursive and even her printing is hard to read.  There is no longer any home economic classes like when I was in school where students learned basic cooking, cleaning and sewing skills. There's no challenge in her school so long as she can pass the yearly test the State
Even momma bobcats need a break from time to time.
requires.  On the opposite side of the coin, my son (1st grade) and my youngest daughter (Kindergarten) can identify all fifty states of the United States as well as several countries throughout the world. They can identify many historical figures such as the Queen, the important Presidents, Ben Franklin, Galileo Galilei, and Nicola Tesla. My kids help with meal planning (organization), shopping (consumer math) and cooking (home economics) and my 7 year old can help make some mean tacos and olga bread.  We've observed the life cycle of a butterfly, watched birds hatch from eggs and documented their growth every day from hatching til they day the fledged and left the nest. We've observed a bobcat and her kittens in our yard (from a distance), grown tomatoes and flowers, made volcanoes erupt, watched hummingbirds from our front porch, cooked and eaten authentic foods from countries around the world.  Do I expect them to get as good of an education as what the school could offer? No, I expect better.

Garrett browning meat

Which brings me to the purpose of this blog. As said before, I've tried to blog thing before but had no clue what to talk about. I blogged about our move from Michigan to California when my husband was stationed here by the Air Force but beyond that, I had nothing to really write about. However, today on a facebook group I am a part of for Unschooling, someone mentioned blogging what we do each day in order to keep record of what we learn. I never considered doing it, but the idea is awesome.  So that's what I'm going to do... I'll use this blog to document our studies and our activities. I'm starting this late in our school year (although, our school "year" is 24/7/365 instead of just from August to May like traditional schooling) which is sad for me as this year we covered the development of butterflies from caterpillars, the pyramids of Egypt, volcanoes and many other really fun units. It would have been nice to document them better for posterity.  Now, I can. And who knows, maybe someone just starting homeschooling or unschooling who is in the same position I was in, getting frustrated and at their breaking point because the standard model of education doesn't fit their child, well, maybe they will find this blog and realize that it doesn't have to be that way.
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