Unschool was the way human children, like their mammal cousins, learned for millenia. It was not called "unschooling" because the institution of forced education had never been forced upon children until very recently in human history. What is now seen as a new philosophy is not new at all; it is a deliberate attempt to return to nature;s intent, to return children to their natural, organic state of innate passion. ~Laurie A. Couture

Thursday, October 6, 2011

10 day round up

I realize I am not so great with the updates, so this might be a long post.  Over the past 10 days we have had much fun playing outside (soccer, basketball, races, teeball) , we have been on family walks to the park, we have had lots of magnet play, twister, painting and coloring and some handwriting thrown in.

I realize these aren't the most recent but i don't always remember to get out the camera.  My bad.

We had the opportunity to have a lesson on storms (9/25 i think) and got some really awesome pics of the clouds.  We also discussed the water cycle and how oceans have salt water and lakes & rivers are fresh water.  This led to a discussion of Cory's favorite...killer whales.  Again we discussed how they are mammals even though they live in the ocean like fish.  He never gets sick of whales.

He has spent a lot of time on the computer playing learning games on Big Green Rabbit, phonics and math games on Starfall (which I am considering paying for a membership $35/year) and watching science docs (lots of dinosaurs) and leapfrog cartoons on Netflix and youtube.

Another thing we really enjoy is grocery store math.  We cover how much money we have compared to how much an item costs and how much of an item we need for the week.  He really has fun with this and you can see on his face that he is trying really hard to work it out.  I love that he thinks we need 200 popsicles to make it to next week, if he had his way, he would be right.

October 1st we had the pleasure of participating in a 5K for the juvenile diabetes research foundation, while we did not finish we had a great time and raised quite a bit of money.  Cory also had his picture and story featured on a sign posted on the walk route.  He is my hero!

Other than that, not much has been going on, we have been playing games, dress up and learning how to interact in a positive way with our siblings (read as not fighting).

I will update this with more pictures as soon as my computer stops being fickle.  Until next week, take chances, make mistakes, and see that learning is all around you!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

updates week ending 9/24/11

Lots of fun and discovering going on!!  We have been having a blast playing with magnets, taking measurements, and learning to play board games by the rules.  We have also really enjoyed tons of animal and science docs on NatGeo, the Science Channel, Discovery Channel & Netflix.  Lots of Mythbusters with daddy and picked up 13  issues of Zoobooks at Goodwill.  Cory also figured out that he doesn't want to eat animals after sneaking in a peek of Food Inc while I was watching it.  I thought this was a very grown up decision, his reason being he doesn't want to hurt animals.  Too bad he asked for a hamburger for dinner.  We will revisit this when he gets a bit older!

We got a bunch of new games too, including Twister and Dora the Explorer Candyland.  Besides the hula hoops this is their favorite game.

Back to the magnets...they use these for everything!  It's a set of little colored stick magnets with ball bearings and I swear they are more creative than I will ever be.  They make shapes, letters, patterns and used them to measure how long they are.  So cute to watch them learn and explore together!!

Cory has expanded his writing vocab to include his name, mom, dad, Mara, lion 7 cow.  He wasn't much interested in trying much more at the time so I let it go and beamed with pride that he asked me to show him to write what he did!  Baby steps....

Another cool thing about this week, family walks when daddy gets off work.  When he gets home we leash up the dog and go for a walk; sometimes around the block, sometimes to the park. Either way, much fun to be had!!

Have a good week y'all!!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

lessons you wouldnt learn in PS

1.  When you are mad at mommy and throw down a glass bowl
      a.  it shatters into 3 zillion pieces
      b.  it makes mommy even more angry

2.  Running immediately to your room screaming "I didn't mean to" and "I'm sorry"  works because mommy realizes you knew you made a mistake.

I gave him 5 minutes by himself then went to his room. Conversation once in room...
"Cory, do you understand what you did was wrong?" 
"Yes ma'am."
"Cory is that what we do when we are angry?  What do we do?"
"No, we use our words not our hands."
"Do you understand that broken glass can hurt you?"
"Yes ma'am."
Do you understand that the money I was going to use to buy you a new toy this weekend will now be spent on new bowls for the kitchen?"
"but mommy.....yes ma'am."
(insert lots of hugs here)

I am a very proud mama. I only once raised my voice (when kids were trying to come in to help clean up glass) and steered clear of time outs or physical punishments. 

Mommy's lesson learned today: using logic and empathy with a 4 year old works!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Topic of the Day: Whales

Cory is obssessed with whales and they are often our topic of study. Suits me just fine.  So browsing youtube, we found this video; he and Mara were entranced

We also read a bit about Orcas in the Wildlife Explorer & I pulled out a map to show them the oceans. Whales prefer colder waters but live in all oceans.  I told Cory that the ocean is the whale's habitat.

We then had a short devotion, and thankfully our devotion book is animal based and had a page on whales.  It talked about whales singing and the verse was Psalms 13:6 (I will sing to the Lord because he has been so good to me).  Then we sang bible songs (Jesus loves me & God is wild).

After our lovely (and way out of key) signing time, we sat down and drew pictures of what we think whales look like. Cory did really good, Mara wasn't interested and colored a pic of Dora & Boots instead; she's getting better at identifying her colors!

Then we watched this...

So, subjects covered:
animal science
spelling (whale, ocean, fish)
math (we counted whales and fish in a couple vids)

And all before noon   :)    Lovin' this unschooling life!!

After lunch? Disneynature: Oceans & some discovery channel or animal planet docs

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Zoo Trip!!! 8/30/11

Man, I gotta tell ya, the learning opportunities at the zoo are amazing and so much fun!  We knocked out science, math, spelling, history, geography & nutrition to name a few..

Our first stop was at Once Upon a Farm, we had a quick lesson in antique farm tools:
the whole wall was full of cool looking tools, but I couldn't back up far enough to get them.

(what are your thoughts on what this is?)

Then we had the pleasure of hanging out with this guy:

Cory got a kick out of getting to pet the sheep and I explained how we shave the sheep to get their wool to make clothes out of. He was fascinated that we wear sheep hair. LOL

And then there were chickens; I gave fellow spectators a show when I started pointing and naming breeds. Here are the Silkies I love so much!

And here's Cory with the feather he wanted to bring home, but I told him it would be better to take a pic. You can't see it well enough in the pic but it is a beautiful gunmetal gray.

After that we took a break in the expo building, enjoyed the AC and a snack, along with a game of tag with some other kids that were enjoying the AC also.

Then we were off to see the penguins and learned that some penguins live in the arctic and some live in Africa; he was surprised that some like the heat and some the cold but they all enjoy fish!!

We then decided we needed more AC and headed over to Teton Trek where they house the wolves, bears, elk and a few more wonderful animals.  We ate a light snack inside and the kids had fun with the interactive computers and learning about the animals & their habitats

And finally, what seemed to be the best part of the day for the kids - socialization! This is where we spent the majority of our time.

Who says unschooling can't be fun?!  I beg to differ....my kids learned more on this trip than they ever would have in a classroom.  Does your 4 year old know the difference between a mammal and a reptile or a carnivore and herbivore?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

8/22 - 8/27 2011

it has been a great week around our house, so many impromptu lessons and even a few structured ones.  Mostly digging deeper into animals, ocean life & space.  on monday the 22nd we had the pleasure of watching live streaming video of the ocean (thanks to Visions '11 ROPOS dive 1466)

tuesday we focused on family and the importance of sharing & caring. our list of spelling words for the week were:

i love spelling city and am considering paying for an account. we use the free services right now and i am pretty happy with that.  kids also had fun drawing pictures of mommy and daddy, we are still working on fitting the whole family (5 of us) on one sheet.  they are both still the age where everything is huge.  we practiced writing and cory is still working on his name and a couple numbers.

we had alot of plaing outside and in the pool where we learned its not nice to push our sister underwater; said actions result in a timeout.  While outside we also knocked out our science project of the day by planting lettuce & spinach seeds.

the kids really love the youtube videos and we found lots of great counting videos and phonics and animal videos. we also counted the members of our family and are working on putting together a pictorial family tree! (YAY for art, math & history all in one project!)

stories read this week include:
I Love My Daddy Because
Grandfather Buffalo
Little Fur Family
Big Brother Little Brother
Born Yesterday

mara even got in on the fun and loves doing arts and trying to write!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

New Stuff & Starfall

I totally forgot to post about all the goodies we picked up at the bargain barn the other day!  so here it is in pics:
(this is more for my oldest but the little ones enjoy looking at it)

All the games and books were under $10.00 total!  I love the Bargain Barn!!!

Now onto another one of my loves & Cory's love too..   Starfall, they sell curriculum and such but also have a wealth of free learning games on their site for little ones and parents to click through.  Cory normally spends about 2 hours a day on this site!!

(screen shot of the ABC movie)

I cannot tell you how much we love this site, there isn't words. Now I don't own any of their products and they definitely don't send me free stuff, this is my honest opinion of them, I am not paid or compensated in anyway by them (although that would be awesome).  He loves the click-through books, the movies and the games, seriously he plays on it for hours.


While I am not taking my son to have him "officially" evaluated, I did check a few lists to see what children are expected to know upon entering Kindergarten. Some were more detailed than others, but most were very basic skills, lacking all the skills we think they should know.

So here's the not-all-inclusive breakdown of what Cory can do:
  • recite his ABC's
  • count to at least 15
  • identify primary and secondary colors by name (although he doesnt know the terms primary and secondary yet)
  • identify basic shapes including star & heart
  • sit and listen through a story
  • get dressed by himself
  • hold a pencil and write his name
  • draw a face
  • put a straw in a juice box
  • make a block tower
  • identify animals as mammals/reptiles/birds/fish
  • can identify at least 20 animals by name & sound

Considering he isn't even Kindergarten compulsory age yet (if attending public school he would not start till Aug 2012), I think we are doing pretty good.

Things We Need to Work On:
  • coloring in the lines
  • letter recognition
  • number recognition
  • patience
  • cleaning up
  • playing nicely/sharing with Mara
  • how to build a sturdy block tower (w/Daddy)

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Lesson in Litter

We walked to the park by the house last night so the kids could run out some of their energy and when we got there Cory looked around and said "What a mess mama, people need to cycle (meaning recycle).  We need to pick these up and put them in the can!"

I was so happy I almost cried!  He really does listen when I speak of environmentalism.  So he helped me and Mara pick up all the water bottles and soda cans laying about the playground THEN proceeded to play.  I couldn't be more proud!

Do you teach your children about environmental issues?  If so, do you use any learning aids?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Day 4: Free Day

Day 2 & 3 passed by pretty smoothly with lots of learning and questions i never thought I would be answering to a 4.5 year old, like "Mama, why is a whale a mammal if it swims like a fish?"  "Mama, why do carnivores only eat meat? Are we carnivores?"  I LOVE IT!!!!

Yesterday we had fun with clay, Cory made a dinosaur:

We did some fun math activities that I passed off as games and with each pice of art he drew I showed him how to write the letters to the names of his animals. "cow" ended up looking like "cowwww" (one big zigzag line), but considering he just started trying to write on Monday, I couldn't be happier.

He did instigate a lesson on the weather this morning, we talked about the water cycle and ways to use less water. 

I am very excited that a couple of fellow homeschoolers have some curriculum (one is Calvert K and I don't remember the other one) they are no longer using that they are sending my way. Not sure if I will follow it to the T, but it will be good reference, as is the Shelby county K curriculum listed on the school systems website...alot to learn might I add.

Overall, 4 days in, he is wanting to learn more everyday, and showing the interest and asking the questions.  I have not had to "force" him at all.  If he is not interested, it can wait.

Did some checking today and found the school we will definitely be registering with next fall - Homelife Academy.  It's cheap, it's legal and it doesn't butt in my curriculum.  Score.

Speaking of curriculum, here's some pics of our current setup (which I might add will change as needed):
This notebook is amazing!  It is mail order and has it broken down into categories - mammals, fish, birds, invertibrates, conservation and a couple others.  The kids love it and will look through it on their own and make up stories about the animals.  His favorite seems to be big cats, orcas and sharks.  Disneynature Oceans and Earth are also on the favorites list.

We are currently taking donations of manipulatives - magnets, legos, playdough/modeling clay, anything for arts and crafts projects and math games.  Please email me at hipvegmama@yahoo.com if you would like to donate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

kindergarten - day 1

I must admit I was kind of worried that the kids wouldn't be interested in anything I wanted them to do. But boy was I wrong!  After they woke up and had breakfast, I asked what he wanted to learn about.  His answer:  whales.  We played Hungry Whales (I threw cottonball fish on the floor and they raced to see who got the most, then Cory counted them).  We looked at pictures and videos about whales, read a couple pages of Eric Carle's Animals Animals, and whales quickly turned into all sea life.

After lunch, the lessons continued with watching Disneynature's Oceans and a couple shark week programs on National Geographic Wild.  And then, they got to fingerpaint..

And Cory really enjoyed puzzles, we have an ABC one and a numbers one.  I was quite surprised actually, I never knew he liked them, he usually just throws the pieces everywhere.
He actually named most of the letters when putting them in place!

And it only took him about 15 minutes to figure out how to write his name:

(pic coming once I can get photobucket to upload it)