Monday, April 28, 2008

Hawaii Report #1

We're back!!! What a fabulous experience for all of us! It was great to see in person so many of the things we had been studying for the past month.

Our first full day in Hawaii was spent at Hilo on the Big Island. Our excursion that day was a trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We drove up to the Jaggar Museum on the edge of the Kilauea Caldera. It was amazing to see....
In addition to learning about the volcano, we also learned a Hawaiian myth. There was lots of stuff about Pele in the museum, but Alex asked a park ranger specifically about that tree you see in the middle of the photo above. He told us the legend of Ohi'a tree and the Lehua flowers. I couldn't find the exact version that he told, but here is the closest one. The park ranger was happy to tell us this legend as it was a special one to him... he had Lehua flowers on his wedding ring.
After we left the museum, we stopped at the volcanic steam vents...
It was actually a cool day so the kids enjoyed warming up in the steam.

One of my favorite stops was at the Thurston Lava Tube....It was dark in there... but really cool. It was amazing to walk through a tunnel that lava used to flow through.

But I think my favorite part of this stop was walking through the rain forest on our way down to and back from the lava tube. It was so lush and green and you could hear birds everywhere. Here's a pic of the kids in the rain forest after coming out of the lava tube...
I think that pretty much sums up our volcano day. My plan is to post the majority of my trip report on my other blog, but I'll post more detailed reports about our outings that were a little more educational here on this blog.

Okay... I'm fading fast... we just got home at 5:15 this morning and I'm sleepy!

Friday, April 18, 2008

the big "field trip" starts tomorrow!

We leave for Hawaii in the morning!

See you in a week!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

she sells sea shells by the seashore...

My goodness... I can't even type that properly let alone say it out loud! Seriously, it took me two tries to type it right!

Yesterday we spent the afternoon studying sea shells.

We started by reading this book....
Shells, Shells, Shells by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace
I must admit, I almost didn't read this to the kids. I had requested it online from the library without knowing anything about it. When I picked it up on Monday, I almost returned it right then because it looked too simplistic to interest my two. Well, you know the old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover"... it applies here. The concept and the illustrations are simple... a bear cub and his mom go beach combing for shells... but it goes much deeper than that. We learned the terms mollusk, mantle, pigment center, operculum, and gastropod. We also learned the difference between bivalves and univalves. It was all done is such a gentle way that the kids really got it. And for an added bonus (especially for Alex) there is a smattering a corny shell jokes throughout the book. It looks like the author has a few other science related books that I may have to check out when we cover other subjects.

After reading the book above and looking at some of the reference books I checked out, we moved on to working with our shell three part cards...

They're a free printable from the Montessori Materials website and you can find them here. The kids not only worked on matching the label to the photos, but they also sorted the shells by univalves and bivalves. It was a nice little exercise to bring home what we had read earlier.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sick day

I've finally rejoined the land of the living! :-)

The bad thing about being a homeschooling mom is that you can't really take a sick day. However, the kids were great and we managed to do quite a bit of school even though I never really left the couch all day. :-)

They did their seat work on their own and then played some of their school computer games. After they fixed themselves lunch and ate, Clara came over and asked if it was okay if they had quiet time so I could take a nap. Sure, twist my arm! So they read for 45 minutes or so. Alex finished the Boxcar Children book he was reading and Clara read through her whole stack of readers that I had just picked up from the library on Monday... sigh. I just can't seem to keep enough books around to keep her happy. Hopefully she'll be ready for longer books soon.

After that I sent them out to the back deck to play for a bit since it was nice out. They came in after a bit and asked if they could hang out with me and watch school movies. I just happened to have a couple from that we hadn't watched yet. So we watched the following movies...

Reading Rainbow: Ocean Life
The kids really enjoy the Reading Rainbow dvd's. The first episode was about whales and they go on a whale watch. The kids were beyond excited since there's a chance that we might see humpback whales on our trip. They really enjoyed the manatee episode as well.

The Living Sea (IMAX)
The IMAX movies are always good for gorgeous visuals... although they're usually light on actual information. The funny thing about this particular movie is that I can remember seeing it at the Museum of Science and Industry while Jeff and I were still dating.

Again, it wasn't what I had planned for the day as far as school but for me never really leaving the couch, we did okay! :-) Today I'm fine (it was just a food reaction the other night) so hopefully we'll be back on track and can start our sea shell stuff today so we can do volcanoes tomorrow!

Friday, April 11, 2008

our coral reef...

Yesterday the kids had the itch to play with their craft supplies... so after quiet time I gave in and told then that they could get out whatever craft supplies they wanted as long as they used them to make a coral reef. So, after I found them a cardboard box, they set to work making a coral reef!

Here's Alex's sea urchin....
(needless to say... we have no toothpicks left in our house now that are not part of a sea creature)

Here is a shot of the reef...
and the floor of the reef...
I walked away from this one and let them do it completely on their own. They had access to a stack of library books, and the internet. They did plenty of goofing around but honestly, they worked really hard on this project. They worked on it from around 2:00pm until dinner at 6:00. They sat and read the books together or would get lost for 20 or more minutes at a time on websites with gorgeous color photos of coral and the creatures that live on the reefs.

The scuba divers came from the Crayola site and you can find them here (link to the pdf file). The odd lumpy things on the floor of the reef are sea shells... they worked on those forever. There is a manta ray swimming with the divers in there too.

It was a lot of fun! They're still thinking about what they can add to it, so apparently this is a work in progress.

Thank you all so much for the reading list suggestions!!! I'm definitely going to check them all out! My plan is to compile all of the suggestions into a post here in a day or two! Thanks again!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

quiet time...

Another new experiment in our house... quiet time. It's just a half hour of free (with reading right after lunch. The disclaimer on the "free" is that they have to choose books to read from the stack I provide. The don't have to read every book from the stack I choose but their book has to be from the stack. So far, so good.

Here are a couple of shots from yesterday...

I haven't really worried about Alex's reading because at night he's barreling through the Harry Potter series (which on Book Adventure is listed as around 6/7 grade reading level). He's currently about 400 pages into book four. But, I felt like he needed exposure to other books without taking away his free reading time at night. So, I pulled a bunch of books from our various Sonlight cores and let him pick something to read during quiet time. They're not all big challenging chapter books... just a variety of quality literature for him to choose from. I think in order for this to continue to work, I'm going to need to have a stack of books on hand at all times. The library isn't an option for this (at least for me) because I don't want to have to worry about taking the books back before he's through with them or even before he picks them. I would love book suggestions and/or links to good quality reading lists. I tried to find a few on my own yesterday and didn't fair so well. The ones I found seemed to be more of what you could read versus what is worth reading... if you know what I mean. A friend from our homeschool group has been giving me some suggestions that look fabulous, but I would love to have more suggestions!

The challenge with Clara is keeping enough books around. She's at that level where she needs the "level one" books but she can go through 4 or more in a sitting. I don't want to buy anymore so I guess I'm stuck hauling home bags of books from the library each week :-)

The quiet time is working well for us... lets just hope we can keep with it!

thank you Shannon!

I just checked out the site you recommended and it looks really cool!

In case you missed it in her comment, she recommended a site called Math Worksheet Wizard!

Looks like one I'll definitely be using!

Thanks again Shannon!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

catching up on our hawaii study...

Wow... I've been really behind on posting week! We have actually been doing school... I promise! :-)

I went a little crazy now that I can request books online at the library and now we have a big towering stack of books to read!

One we read this week is...

DK Eye Wonders: Ocean
Lots of text but not so much that it overwhelmed us... we were able to get through it in one sitting. However, it did begin to skip the pages about the arctic ocean near the end. The photographs are beautiful! The kids really enjoyed it!

And since I'm rereading my copy of this...

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
I got out the art supplies (the good colored pencils and paper) and let the kids draw while I read the book to them...

(sorry... when I went to label this drawing, I didn't realize that I had it upside down until I was almost done... so keep that in
I guess the next step is to have them do the labeling... I totally forgot about that... baby steps, baby steps. :-) I thought they did a good job though! They really seemed to enjoy it.

After that we read a fun book I found at the library...Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies
Fun, fun living book about all kinds of sharks that we'd never heard of before. It also went over the parts of a shark and what makes a shark a shark. I have a feeling that we'll be reading this one again.

Then we worked with our parts of a shark three part cards...

They're a free download here on the MontiMats site.

Yesterday we read this book...
Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Magic School Bus books. I love how accessible and interesting they make science for kids BUT there is so much going on on every page that it makes me batty trying to read it all. HOWEVER... yesterday that all changed! Clara is now a strong enough reader that she could read most of the extra dialog that's scattered around the pages with Alex! I read the main text and the "reports" and the kids did the dialog. It was really a lot of fun. Woo hoo!

Okay... I think that pretty much catches us up on what we've done beyond our basics so far this week!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

brief summary of our day

I vegged on the couch too late tonight and now I just want to get to bed! :-)

Today was a good, but tough day. After her stellar day of reading yesterday, Clara got overconfident in her reading ability and insisted on reading things well above her level. It's good to have ambition but you've got to have some patience too. The more she insisted on reading, the more frustrated she got. I finally made her stop, gave her some new Dr. Seuss books to work on and dealt with the fallout a bit. But at bedtime she was happily reading through her stack of Dr. Seuss again.

We had a really low key day since the first part of our week was so hectic. This afternoon we read a book on coral reefs and watched the Reading Rainbow episode that went with it. It was cool that I was able to find both the book and the DVD at the library the other day... however, the DVD was so scratched that it caused more frustration than anything else.

After that we read a book on Sea Turtles (this is the book that Clara insisted on reading and got frustrated with). It was a beautiful, well written book... fabulous illustrations. I'll have to add the title and author tomorrow if anyone is interested. They also used the book to figure out which type of sea turtle our plush puppet is... its a green sea turtle. :-)

For something new I'm trying, I gave them each a list of terms related to our Hawaii study and had them build the words with our alphabet cards. Alex enjoyed it and did both his list and Clara's. Clara had a bad attitude by then and barely made it through her own list....

The last thing we did was watch the IMAX film, Hidden Hawaii. I had gotten it from I love Netflix for all of the educational dvds that they have and the fact that I can get almost all.. if not all of the IMAX films from them. I must say though, that the reviews were right, this was a dull one. Alex seemed mildly interested in it... Clara fell asleep. I have a couple more IMAX movies in my queue for our Hawaii unit... I'm hoping those are more exciting.

Okay... for a brief summary, this has gotten rather long! I have to go and post to my other blog real quick so I can go to bed!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


How's that for a creative and descriptive post title?? Sorry... I've got nothing today! :-)

This is my favorite scene from today....
Clara was on a reading rampage today! She even took quizzes on several of the books that she read on Book Adventure.

After lunch we worked on Hawaii stuff again.

To begin we started with this fabulous book...
The Last Princess
Such an incredible story of a very courageous young woman who fought to save her island kingdom. History of the state of Hawaii that I'm sure I had never heard before. The kids were enthralled as I read it aloud. Gorgeous illustrations. It led us to some really interesting discussions over dinner tonight.

After that book, we moved on to reading about fish...
Hello, Fish!
This was a fun, light book that made for a good introduction to life in a coral reef. We frequently referenced the Hawaiian Reef Fish ID Chart that I had downloaded and printed from the Snorkel Maui site. Beautiful little chart if you need a chart of Hawaiian fish for any reason.

After that we moved on to learning about what makes a fish a fish...
What is a Fish?
This book is information heavy so we're taking it slow and reading a section or two a day.

After our introduction to fish, the kids moved on to playing with our new Parts of a Fish nomenclature cards...
I purchased them from Montessori for Everyone and you can find them here.

All in all... it was a very good day! :-)

(we even had a little bonus lesson in small appliance repair as our vacuum died today and the kids and I opened it up to see if we could figure out the problem! LOL!)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

a trip to the field

Ugh... our internet went out last night after I typed this so I had to wait until this morning to post...

Today we were asked to join another homeschooling family for a trip to the Field Museum. I love the Field, but today was extra special... we were going to go and see the Mythic Creatures exhibit! It was fabulous! I have to admit, I didn't know what to expect but we really, really enjoyed it. I honestly wouldn't mind going back again and maybe doing the audio tour.

So, since photography wasn't allowed within the Mythic Creatures exhibit, I'll share these instead...

Hanging out waiting for our friends...

After Mythic Creatures, a trip through the Ancient Egypt exhibit and a snack, we headed upstairs to see the Pacific Islands section to go with our study of Hawaii...
(this is the Hawaiian Island section of a tile map that was on the floor at the entrance to the exhibit)

Okay... so it was dark in there and I just didn't take any pictures in there either. But it had a great display showing how the islands were (and are being) formed. Cool stuff!
Afterwards the kids wanted to play a bit so we went across the street to a little play structure that's there... we honestly about never got them on the bus to go home! (pics of that are on my other blog)