Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Charlotte Mason Discussion Group

The Importance of Eating Outdoors

Considering the wonderful weather we were having, I thought it would be a nice experience to have this discussion group outside. I live in a quiet neighborhood in a small town and had images of birds chirping in the background with a nice fire going in my chimenia while we nibbled on little "finger food" type snacks that would be perfect for any picnic.

Despite my best laid plans, my neighbors who live on both sides of me decided that would be a good night to cut the grass. So much for a peaceful evening.

Chapter 37 in Karen Andreola's book A Charlotte Mason Companion was a short one, but one worth discussing.

Eating outdoors is probably one of the easiest things to do to get you started on a Charlotte Mason lifestyle. If you don't regularly eat outside, purpose to take your lunch outside to your yard (or porch or balcony) to eat once a week. Any lunch, whether you heat it up in the microwave or eat sandwiches - take them outside.
While eating outside, you will be forced to slow down a bit. Observe what is around you. Birds chirping, leaves blowing in the wind, lawn mowers next door (lol). As you observe, discuss your observations and encourage your kids to do the same. This will cause you to eat slower which is a healthful habit.

You can take a picnic anywhere. Your back yard or a park are the first places that come to mind. If you have a busy day and you must eat lunch away from home, pack it in a cooler and find a shady spot in which to eat. It may be on a bench on a busy sidewalk or on a curb in a quiet parking lot.

Once in a while, my kids and I will have an impromtu picnic. We run to the grocery store in between stops (because we have to stop and get lunch anyway) and get a bag of cheese cubes, some fruit like apples or grapes, a jar of pickles, some multi-grain rolls and some bottled water. Sometimes I will let them get the salad bar at the grocery store. Still cheaper and healthier than eating at the golden arches. We take that to a local park to eat before we are off to the next activity or errand. They love it.

The less messy the food, the more enjoyable the picnic. Our family prefers finger foods so we don't have to worry about silverware. However, picnics are the best places to eat crusty bread and have little to clean up. Just brush the crumbs onto the ground and you're good to go.

If you plan a picnic, you may take along some poetry or drawing paper and some pencils. Taking a nature journal wouldn't hurt either.

Eating outdoors is good for you. You eat more slowly and fresh air and sunshine are good for our souls. I hear that all of these things are good for our physical bodies as well. Being together in such a way is also a bonding experience with our children.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Formal

Our homeschool group sponsored a spring formal this year. Actually, it's the 2nd year in a row. I am posting this draft in case anyone else out there is considering doing such a thing. It is well worth it. The original vision was to make it like a wedding reception without the wedding.

The focus of the event was to be an inexpensive evening out for families where we could put on our best clothes and have a great time. Tickets were only $1 each with a $5 cap per family for members and $3 each with a $15 cap per family for nonmembers.
This was a family event. No child could be dropped off. All kids had to be with a parent or legal guardian.

There was a dress code that nobody seemed to have a problem with. Most of the girls wore gowns this year and they looked beautiful. One girl even made her own gown as a homeschool project. No strapless gowns, or gowns that revealed bra straps. Dress length had to be below the knee. No clevage showing. No sneakers or flip flops (doesn't matter how fancy they are) Only one dad wore a tux (that would be my dear husband), but all the other dads wore jacket and tie.

Members of the homeschool group brought finger foods. We didn't have to deal with silverware and since everyone was dressed up we wanted food that wasn't so messy. This was perfect. We just had a couple of dietary needs in the group. We asked for nothing with nuts and gluten-free foods were labeled.

The parent advisor of the spring formal comittee went through great pains to listen to all the music and research lyrics to be sure nothing inappropriate was present. Music was a mix of contemporary Christian, big band era, and old country. Of course we also had the Chicken Dance, Cha-Cha Slide, Hokey-Pokey, etc. There was also a father-daughter dance and a couple of mommy-daddy dances.

DD11 and Hubby - Father/daughter dance

Some moms dressed up for the evening.

No caption is good enough for this picture. I just love it!


One of the many things I love about homeschooling is the way the children learn to be with one another and it's not painful for them. This 18 year old girl had no problem dancing with these younger children at the dance. Of course, she also mingled with her teen friends during the dance, but there was no attitude of "what are those little kids doing here?" These kids all grow up together and bond in a way that is just beautiful.

Dancing the Macarena.
Note: The girl in the green dress made that dress for a homeschool project. We were all very impressed and it gave us some ideas for next year.

We did have a spring formal committee that put the whole thing together - ideas for music, deocrations, theme, etc. The committee consisted of a parent advisor, teens and preteens. They each enjoyed being a part of the event in this special way.

Homeschool Share Blast!


Homeschool Share is a website I use frequently to find unit studies and lapbook resources. The best part is that the resources on their site are FREE! (I love freebies!)

Homeschool Share is having their 2009 Blast. Check out the rules HERE to submit items in categories from Workboxes, to animal studies, lapbooks, all things preschool, the Skeleton Closet, and more! Homeschool Share is a huge site full of free resources and this is one way they add material to their site - by the efforts of creative homeschool moms who share their gifts. Of course there are also prizes as an added incentive!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Just another day in paradise.....

Feeding a turtle at the Shell Factory in Fort Myers.

There is no shortage of nature preserves in this area of the country. We have seen so much in our few days here. It's interesting when we come upon a raccoon or oppossum, the kids skip over them and usually say something like "We have those in Pennsylvania." The alligators are especially interesting to us. Today we had an opportunity to feed alligators.

Enjoying Florida oranges and orange ice cream.

This is our last day here and tonight we are hoping to get one more chance to see a sunset on the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Beach Day!

Here are some random pictures of us at the beach today. Just for fun.

Learning how to use a boogie board.

A little alcove on the beach with picnic tables where we set up and had lunch.

Too cool for words.

Aaaaah! She's turned into a mermaid!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Visiting Florida

Just another reason to love homeschooling. We are visiting family and have the opportunity to see, touch, taste, smell and hear what life is like in Florida.

We got to touch alligators.

My aunt has citrus trees growing in her yard. (This is a lime tree)

She also has tiny lizards running around her yard. Can you see the one in this picture?

We saw the sun set on the Gulf of Mexico last night. Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera were dead last night and this was the best picture I could get tonight.

We are here for a few more days. The kids can't wait to see what we will experience tomorrow. This is homeschooling at its finest. Once again, they are learning so much - where Florida is on the map, what the state capital is, and how the flora and fauna are different from what we have at home in Pennsylvania. I could have handed them a book on Florida and asked them to learn the contents, instead this is a learning experience they will remember for many years to come. I realize not everyone has the resources to have experiences like this for their kids. However, I encourage anyone who is presented with an experience opportunity to embrace it and enjoy witnessing the learning that happens.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


What brought you to homeschooling? I love asking this question. The answers are as diverse as the families I meet. There was a time when families homeschooled for religious reasons only. Today, that's not true.

The reason I educate my children at home is multifaceted. It began with my experiences as a public school teacher. There are many reasons based on that experience alone that I homeschool. I can honestly say that I am guilty of some of the wrongs that happen in a classroom, but I was able to escape the system and use those experiences to encourage others on their home educating paths.

So what are your reasons for choosing to educate your children at home? Do you realize that when you answer this question, you are encouraging others? When you ask others, you are opening dialog for encouragement that we home educating mamas desperately need.

If you have a minute, leave a comment for me and let me know what led you to home educate your children.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Egg Dying and Trail Walk

To find Strawberry Hill click here

We are getting our share of nature study lately. On Sunday, there was a Nature Center nearby that hosted an egg dying and egg hunt event. They had egg dying the "modern" way using fizzy tablets and vinegar and the "natural" way using cherries, tumeric, onion skins and blueberries. After dying eggs, we received a clue to find an egg on the nature trail. Each egg had another clue to the next egg. The clues took you on the entire trail for a very nice walk. Although, dying eggs the modern way was quicker, my kids all chose to color using natural means and the eggs turned out beautifully.

I found this website that explains just how we dyed the eggs at the nature center. This is a very worthwhile project.

"Modern" Egg Dying

Wrapping her egg in an onion peel

Finding plastic eggs with clues in them made for a very nice nature hike. Can you see the beautiful shelf-mushroom over this hidden egg?

The clue to find this egg included the fact that a root of a tree split this rock. It's amazing to see nature in action. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

C is for Collage

This was a "project" for my 4 year old son. I gave him a Sports Illustrated magazine that I bought from the library for a quarter and told him he could cut out all the Steelers he could find. He then glued them all on a sheet of yellow construction paper to make his first collage.

Here are the rules… be sure to post them when you join!
1. Post a photo for each letter of the alphabet of anything that starts with that letter.
2. Write a few short explanatory, quirky, or witty sentences about each photo you post.
3. Only post one photo at a time (the meme can take as long as you want - a month, three months, whatever… you aren’t being graded). You can link them later in a blog post so they are listed in order if you are the list-making type.
4. If you want to join the meme, sign the Mr. Linky and use the “A B See Photo-Meme” graphic in your sidebar. Link your graphic to this post and announce that you will be joining us.
5. When you post a photo, come by and add it to the weekly A B See linky that we’ll be posting on Foto Fridays for those who have some alphabetical photo to share. You can sign it each week as many times as you have posted photos - one time for each photo linked post. Make sure you link back to the HSBA on your posts, too - so others can come and join the linky.