Saturday, September 1, 2007

Holiday Road

We felt like the Griswold's trekking cross country in the family truckster to visit family on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line in August. We started our trip visiting as many Pittsburgh sites as we could including Kennywood where our family fun day was threatened and cut short due to tornado warnings. After that, we headed for Tennessee - not an easy task with a potty training three year old in the van. During one "Raymond Rest Stop" along side the road, the police arrived (probably to make sure we didn't have a dog tied to the bumper.) After Tennessee, we journeyed to Altoona, Pa where we wanted to visit DelGrosso's Amusement Park. Alas, the parking lot was empty and visions of John Candy continually reeled through our heads.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Early Childhood Education - up to grade 3

I came across this article this morning and hope you have time to read it. Print it out and sit down with a cup of tea, or soda, or kool aid - whatever your preference, and read it.

Every year, people come to me asking what curriculum/workbooks their Kindergarteners or even 1st graders should be in. Others stress over the fact that their child is 8 and can't read yet. I am a strong advocate for early education (up to 3rd grade) being a time when the child explores and discovers his world. I don't think kindergarteners should be working out of workbooks - unless they want to. That means, they genuinely have a desire to sit down with a workbook and do the pages in it without mommy standing over them to be sure everything is right. For these early learners, get out the play dough. Better yet, let them help you make playdough. Take them on a nature walk. In this area, Codorus State Park is a wonderful place to go. For that matter, the Littlestown Community park is well suited for a nature walk. Give them wooden building blocks and see what they come up with. Be sure to take pictures along the way and put them in one of those little photo albums you can get at a local craft store for a dollar. Then have them go back and tell you about the pictures without a lot of prompting. They will get so much more out of these kinds of experiences than working on a workbook because this is real life happening. I believe that workbooks at an early age can zap the love of learning from them. (That is actually my primary reason for wanting to homeschool - so they don't loose their love of learning.)

With all that said, here is the website for the article that I hope everyone can read.
http://www.squidoo. com/learningsyst em/

There is a video on this website that I don't quite get, but the article is awesome. If any of you want to discuss the article, let me know. I love talking about stuff like this.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Iditarod Ends

Whew! The last musher rolled into Nome yesterday morning at 2:56am. This has been such a rewarding unit for us to do. I plan to do it next year for our co-op group. There are so many activities that can be done with this theme that we were only able to scratch the surface this year and all subject areas can be included.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


We have a play area in our finished basement. It's where the kids can play and where most of our toys are housed. We try to get our children to keep the area straightened up simply because, I have to walk throught their play area to get to my computer. When I came to the basement yesterday, I couldn't see the floor. For a split second, I was going to give them the straighten up when you're done lecture.

Then I saw what they were doing. They had taken all of their stuffed animal dogs (all shapes and sizes), had ropes tied around them and had a box they could sit on right behind the dogs. They were mushing! I am thrilled. They have made a connection and they are choosing to "play" what they are learning about.

This is yet another reason I love homeschooling. We aren't using a one-size-fits-all curriculum, and they are walking away with something. My husband suggested they take a picture and send it to the musher they are following for this year's Iditarod. They were thrilled with the idea.
I feel that, for today, I can breathe easy because they are learning something.

Monday, February 19, 2007


We are so excited to be studying the Iditarod this year. My 9yo loves animals and is fascinated with the sled dogs used for the race. Each child has chosen a musher to follow. We will be able to plot where the mushers are during the race that begins on March 3.

I love unit studies and am able (thanks to the internet) to piece them together rather inexpensively. All subjects can come into play when doing a unit study. That's life. When you wake up in the morning, you don't say "Okay, at 8am I am going to do 'nutrition', then at 8:30 I am going to do 'science' . " Subjects are integrated throughout your day. Something as simple as going to the grocery store incorporates math, reading, health & nutrition, etc. I feel unit studies are a much more natural way of learning.

So anyway, the Iditarod. We can cover these subjects: history (the first "serum race" happened in 1925), reading (there are a few living books available at our library), geography (mapping Alaska and the race routes), writing (write letters to the mushers to say that we are following their progress and praying for them), biology (study the sled dogs and why they are ideal for this race), climate/weather (check for daily weather reports online; discover why Alaska is "blizzard prone"), art (create a picture of aurora borealis and/or made a diorama of a sledding team), math (keep charts of mushers' progress), and health (define diphtheria). I'm sure other subjects will come up along the way.

As other unit studies we do, a lot centers on how excited I get about it. When we are finished, my kids will love to show family members their latest notebooks and lapbooks for many months to come.

I leave with a quote from Charlotte Mason today: "Give your child a single valuable idea and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information"