Monday, August 20, 2012

The Figeater Beetle and Science for My Boys

Have you ever felt like your kids don't think your interesting?  I sometimes do!  There are plenty of times while I'm outside watering or doing yard work that I'll call my boys to see something and there response is "oh, that, we've seen's a ___" and walk away.  But last Friday I had a break through.  Sitting on our window screen was this huge colorful bug:
Figeater Beetle (Cotinis mutabilis)
 I called the boys to see it and this time..."Wow, what is it?!"  Mad rush to get our tweezers and a plastic container for further observation of course ; )  They looked at it, turned it around, used our scopes, took pictures and on and on.

My second grader decided to take out the watercolors and add an entry into his nature journal while my first grader and I did some research on the computer.  We discovered that the Figeater Beetle can be found in California and other humid monsoon areas like Texas.  We have no figs in our backyard so can only guess that our awful humid hot weather brought this huge beetle to our area.  This was interesting!

This is a post that really I'm laughing at myself while I write.  I have four boys and all would rather be outside all day; typical active, energetic little guys looking at things.  But, alas, I'm still a teacher! A planner!  What could my second grader (and brothers) actually enjoy reading for science this year?  I looked through the books I've been slowly collecting and I picked three that I thought would interest him.   Interest being the key word here.  Hmm ... bugs, plants, and animal hiding places!  So good old Mr. Glenn Blough seemed to have everything I needed.  For his first term I chose Discovering Insects by Glenn Blough along with our First Field Guide Insects and to just let him do what he does best: explore outside.  After all, I shouldn't worry to much past this ; )

We had just read the first few pages a couple of days prior to our discovery.  Needless to say my sons were thrilled to spend the afternoon with the Figeater Beetle or Junebug (as it is also called). My boys like figeater much better!  Especially after they saw this short you tube video titled "The Attack of the FigEater Beetles". After we were satisfied with our findings the boys went up our little hill and let him go : D

Boys Science & Nature Study Check!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Crape Myrtle's and First Hook

Our first day is past.  The books got assigned; the planners handed out; the excitement of new beginnings and learning.  After a full mornings work, we headed down to the park with our essentials.  We spent a few hours under the shade of a gorgeous Oak Tree.  The kids always find things to keep themselves occupied, nothing out of the ordinary.  My girls on the other hand... well, they both continued with the spirit of a new school year.

My fourth grader took out her nature journal and made her first entry while under the "pretty wrinkly paper like flowers" (as she described them) of a Crape Myrtle (Lagerstromia):

My oldest has never been interested in much of handicrafts.  She enjoys baking and cooking but does not consider herself artistically creative or crafty.  She is my bookworm!  Yesterday, while I was crocheting, she decided she wanted to learn crochet this year too.  I was so excited and quickly looked in my crochet bag for a hook and ball of yarn.  Her first hook:

Nature Study, check!
Handicrafts, check!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farewell to Lazy Summer Days

It has been a roller coaster summer for us, yet we managed to maintain true to our lazy summer days philosophy.  My friends know that any park day we happen to meet at, I am always sure to carry a few essentials: picnic basket full of water bottles & snacks, my planning notebook/file(s), possibly a tote filled with books and my crochet bag.

Park Day Essentials!!
I spent the summer letting my kids relax & play while I finished putting together our 2012-2013 school year. Oh, yes, and worked on a little crocheting in between just for me ; ) I was struck this year by how much more confident I was in planning our Charlotte Mason education.  I have successfully transitioned my oldest (and myself) from our textbook, workbook, packaged curriculum days.  I continue to glean from the wonderful resources I have listed on my side bar and found some new titles/options on my own to create a year catered to each one of my children using Ms. Mason's philosophy and methods.  The most fun has been going on my used book sale trips and finding wonderful living book treasures to include in our year.  The hardest part is eliminating choices.  I can't wait to share our picks with you as we start to use them. 
Battle Ship round 1
I was watching my kids play Battle Ship at the park today and I couldn't help but notice how they were plotting coordinates and thinking strategies to get the right hit.  Well, to say the least, it struck me!  This is what I've been doing for the last few years.  I plot and strategize and hope for the right hit.  I continue to learn something new from Ms. Mason but I'm pretty sure I've got a handle on living our education the way she describes.  I'm certainly not plotting blindly anymore.  I see the strategy and now we're living it.  I think myself fortunate that there have not been many misses in my CM or other choices so far; just a few detours and adjustments.  And now, with a few Charlotte Mason years under my belt, I'm really hopeful that our choices are sure to be well received and used by our children. 

Battle Ship round 2
We start our first pre-run week tomorrow.  I like to introduce a few subjects the first week and allow the kids to ease into their full schedule by week two or three.  This gives the kids a chance to transition and also gives me a chance to feel for any needed adjustments; although, changes can still be made as we get further along.  The girls (7th & 4th grade) have been waiting patiently to dive into their history, literature and science book selections.   My boys (2nd & 1st grade) will also be pleasantly surprised by the choices I've made for them.  And, can you believe it, my four and a half year old pictured above is ready to start some small step reading and math this year : O  I'm going to take it slow for his Kinder year but I have a feeling he is going to catch on pretty quick.  He picked up so much from his brother learning to read and work on math last year.  Which leaves my two year old; whom, I expect to just be two.  A handful to say the least.

I hope you are all enjoying what may be for some the last few summer weeks.  As for us, we bid farewell to some wonderful lazy summer days.  I should admit, there is no way of getting away from the heat so I'm sure my kids will still be jumping in a few pools and getting some park day sun in the afternoons. After all I wouldn't be a true CMer if the lovely outdoors weren't still involved ; )