Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Measuring Leap

You might think this an odd post to honor our last day of February which also happens to be a Leap Year day but bear with me.  If you've read any of my other math posts you know how much I've wrestled with the idea of letting go of just plain boring full page sheets of math problems.  I've come a long way and today, in a totally unprompted fashion, I decided to take a leap with my 8 year old's math lesson.  She's finished with her Math U See Gamma and I'm not ready for her to start the next in the series.  Instead, we have been skimming through our MCP Level C math workbook.  Yes, I do still have a couple of those ; )

Today's lesson was on comparing and understanding fluid measurements:

She had asked early in the morning if she could make some rice pudding later in the day, but when I saw her math page ... Well, in honor of our Leap Year, I took a LEAP and set out the tools:

The ingredients:

And had a lesson on comparing and measuring fluids, HANDS ON!!! ; D

I'd say today was definitely a manipulatives living math experience.  Hope you've enjoyed your extra day this year!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Tea Sipping Indoors Kind of Day

There were scheduled thunderstorms and showers for today but as of this late afternoon we haven't had any rain.  It is, however, very cold and overcast for our warm California weather.  This prompted the kids to stay indoors today.  So, what have we done.  Well,  my six year old brought out his acrylics and canvas.  Lazy days are perfect for setting up, concentrating, chatting and you still have plenty of time to clean up.  I kind of like how my flash didn't worked, it really shows how thick he put that paint on:

My twelve year old decided she needed some movement while practicing her spanish and put on my 3 Mile Walk dvd and yes, I felt compelled to join her ; ) so I got some excercise too:

My eight year old wrote and mailed a letter to her friend this morning.  And this afternoon, while I was having some nice hot tea, she asked if she could have some too.  I'm always excited when the kids want to join me for tea.  I quickly brought out my small tea pot and brewed some more tea for me and my girls (her older sister didn't want to be left out so she asked for some too.)

My eight year old had her cup with some reading of Miss Happiness and Miss Flower by Rumer Godden.  I really enjoyed watching her reading and sipping.  It was such a lovely sight.  Then her sister remarked "Oh, yes, they talk about Japaneese tea time in the book.  Are you there yet?"

Her comment made me smile even more.  It reminded me of how she has enjoyed the small collection of Mrs. Godden's books we own.  Now, her little sister is too.  If you have a young daughter that enjoys doll stories I highly recommend giving some of these a try:

So there you go, that's how we spent a day indoors: creating, exercising, reading and sipping some tea.  Oh, just in case you're wondering what my little boys were doing.  Well, they just spent their day as usual; playing and hanging out! We'll save that for another post ; )

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent: Reflection and Sacrifice

These last few weeks have been filled with every emotion imaginable.  It only seems appropriate that our next liturgical season of Lent begin tomorrow; a season of reflection and sacrifice.  I didn't have time to plan much for the kids, but fortunately I had pinned a few ideas on to my Pinterest.  This Sunday, while family was visiting, I just pulled a few things I already had and created our Lenten Calendar board:

Every day for forty days we will nail a cross to the path:

I also know that I can't go wrong with some treasured titles and our usual Friday Stations of the Cross Teas.  The kids have been enjoying Lent Time Teas for the last two years.  We start with a reading from The Story of The Cross by Mary Joslin with two stations per week and then pick a book from our Easter book basket.  Many cared classics and lovely illustrated titles:

I'm adding this nature Resurrection scene to our Friday reflection time.  I thought I would have the kids add an item daily, but instead decided  to make seven plastic bags with items to add on each Friday of Lent.  This is just perfect for our nature table.  Let's face it, my little boys will enjoy learning and reflecting, especially when it means that their hands might get dirty ; )

They were more than happy to give up some lego soldiers for the season.  I ordered a few new to us titles that I'm still waiting for.  I'll have to post about them later.  I hope you continue to enjoy your Shrove Tuesday; we'll be enjoying a chocolate chip pancake dinner today. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time Outdoors

" There is no part of a child's education more important than that he should lay, by his own observations, a wide basis of facts towards scientific knowledge in the future.  He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant." Charlotte Mason Volume 1, pg. 264

I find it interesting when a few things that are now natural to us seem surprising to others.  One in particular is when I share the amount of time my younger children spend doing sit down table work.  What do they do for most of their day if not that!  Well, lots of outdoor time and time to create, that's if they're not reading or listening to a story ; )

We don't live in the country and can't go to the park, hikes or field trips everyday; so having an open or at least an inviting backyard space was very important to us.  When we were house hunting over two years ago, the backyard was our biggest obstacle.  I find that ironic; being that I grew up on the second floor of an 800+ square foot one bedroom apartment with three other siblings.  I've mentioned this before: my husband complements me quiet well.  The outdoors and space have always been important to him because he has fond memories and cares to create them in our children.  After much search our home was absolutely all that we needed, in many ways; but the backyard is what absolutely sold my husband.  This is the entrance to our "small mountain in the backyard" as the kids call it:

I just love the hidden niches I found last week while taking a photo tour of the hill. A little proof that the children have made this a living space and a glimpse to their outdoor time activities:

Favorite reading spot.

Imaginative play, always!
A little drawing and nature study spot.
 Believe me when I say that I'm aware of just how blessed I am to have this space.  I also know that if it wasn't here, Charlotte Mason has instilled a sense of appreciation and understanding for outdoor time, that I would seek the opportunities through other local resources.  After reading her Volume 1 this summer and realizing that in order for my kids to enjoy the outdoors I needed to be an active participant in this endeavor;  I know that I have made an extra effort to spend more time outdoors than I ever have.  Why?  Because I want them to have that time to explore, wonder and build curiosity.  I already see some clear results in their studies and it is also creating some great memories for them. 

"It is infinitely well worth the mother's while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather, to cherish in them, the love of investigation." Charlotte Mason, Volume 1 pg. 71

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Little Valentine Poem

Valentines Day
by Aileen Fisher

The aspens and the maples now
have lacy frost on every bough,

And through the woods the shadows go,
writing verses on the snow.

The tops of weeds are sealed up tight
in little envelopes of white,

And listen! in the frosty pines
snowbirds twitter Valentines.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Handmade Valentines

I promised my kids I would post their valentine card creations.  As soon as they know it is February, the scurry through the arts & crafts cabinet begins.  They decide what they're making and then pace themselves for the next two weeks making their 30+ cards.  So here they are:

My lego builder six year old.

My book worm 12 year old.

My fairy princess 8 year old.

I always enjoy stepping back and watching what they come up with.  Especially the contrast in styles.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh Nana, We Love You So

This picture was taken Friday afternoon as my boys watched their Great-Grandmother being brought home from the hospital.  She is over 90 years old and a true matriarch in our family.  My children are so blessed to have two living great-grandmothers that continue to fill them with sweet memories. 

On this Sunday morning we will be praying dearly for our Nana at mass; as she is filled with love and friendship by many visitors in her home. This is where she wants to be and we are so grateful that she can.  God bless you Nana, we love you so!!

ETA: Our Nana joined the angels and saints February 16th. She was surrounded by love and admiration.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Burning Flame Needs Air

Last weeks candle experiment was quiet interesting.  My daughter has started reading lecture two in which you learn about the "Brightness of a Flame".  One of the first demonstrations was to show the importance of "fresh air" or oxygen as an element required for the flame combustion reaction to work.  In other words, for the flame to continue burning. 

I gathered what we had around the kitchen like a tall clear drinking glass (the empty jam jar was too short), the bottom of a plastic champagne glass (we used them for a pumpkin mousse dessert over Christmas and fit perfectly as a stand inside the glass), matches, and the number one candle from her 12th birthday cake a month ago:

After putting the candle on the stand we lit the wick and put the glass over the candle:

Then we waited and watched:

Slowly, one of the elements needed starts to be used up.  By covering the candle "we have the case of a candle being put out by the want of air" pg. 33 The Chemical History of a Candle.  Oxygen is required as part of the combustion equation; thus, you start to see the flame disappear:

An explanation of combustion chemistry is much more complicated than this of course; but we enjoyed a simple experiment showing the reaction when one of the elements is eliminated. I quoted the book because I thought you might find interesting, as we did, that Mr. Faraday continues to use the word air rather than oxygen.  When we read through some of these wonderful books, we are aware that the language or terms might be different and even outdated.  This doesn't deter from using these resources though, it actually makes for more research sometimes.  The way in which it is explained with out all the very highly technical and scientific terms that you would find in a text book actually has made this more interesting and reasonable for my 12 year old.  She gets to read the observations of someone whom all this is a wonder and in return she is inspired by that wonder.  As for my part, narrations become essential so that I can catch very minor (or not so minor) things such as the word "air" within the context and explain that it actually refers to an element known as oxygen.  What a perfect place to start a discussion on the periodic table...hmm.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Instruments: Listening and Looking


This year we have been studying the instruments of the orchestra.  A fellow home schooling mom recommended Alice in Orchestralia by Ernest La Prade just as we started our school year.  The girls immediately loved adding this to their weekly reading schedule.  They continued to use The Story of the Orchestra as an illustrated reference of the instruments.  They've also been enjoying The Instruments of Classical Music CD's.  My younger daughter has been drawing them in an instrument notebook as they listen to a selection. 

I was very excited to attend a cute rendition of Peter and the Wolf at our performing arts theater last week.  It was just perfect for the little boys and their older sisters were very quick to give them their opinions on instruments and sounds.  It was set up as an act with music in the background.  It was fun, but the girls were hoping to see the actual instruments being played.  My oldest daughter also had a chance to visit a Drum Factory on a field trip with friends about two weeks ago.  She learned all about how a drum is made from beginning to end. Again, she enjoyed the experience, but her pet peeve: she didn't get to see them played in a classical piece. (sigh)

Well, this morning the girls were frantically looking in our arts cabinet for a CD.  Alice in Orchestralia had just given them a very nice description of Rossini's Overture of William Tell.  Sadly, I didn't have it.  But, oh, do we appreciate the Internet at moments like this.  We found a few You-Tube selections of the piece.  This one in particular focused in on the instruments being played as the girls listened.  They were overjoyed.  The back and forth between them was wonderful.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before!  They were missing an important aspect of their instrument study:  looking at the instrument as it is played in a classical piece.  They've gotten very good at listening to a sound and recognizing the instrument but they really needed to enjoy making a visual connection!

Next on my list is definitely to get some instruments with some lessons.  I have not been very good about this, but at least they can appreciate the wonderful sounds instruments can create.   We're coming close to the end of Alice and I'm so glad we had a chance to read it, thanks for the recommendation Eva : D