Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eclectic Home Schooling: Gathering Up Bits of the World

Eclectic Home Schooling: 
Gathering Up Bits of the World

“Gathering up bits of the world and laying them out in an order her children can understand.” What a description of a mother who chooses the eclectic approach to home schooling!  

My third grade daughter Melody went for a speech therapy evaluation at A.LL Therapy Connection, and I spotted this quote on a piece of wall sculpture as soon as we walked into the waiting room. It is also available as a print with a whimsical graphic design. Nearby, I found the mosaic of a woman with children; it's made up of gathered bits and pieces of color. What else can you find in the picture? Delightful! 

Picture of a polar bear jumping from one piece of pack ice to the next
My favorite polar bear picture
We loved the therapist and the intern, and were pleased with their thorough assessment. We'll be going back twice a week starting next month, and the appointments and daily practice will be a vital part of her education. As we walked out of the therapy room, I commented to therapist about how observant my daughter is of things around her. Just at the moment, Melody asked me, “What is Polar Bear Day?” Huh? She pointed to a calendar on the wall: February 27, Polar Bear Day. Alrighty. That's a question for Google! It's also a “bit of the world” that I want my daughter to understand. Later in the evening, we enjoyed the awesome polar bear pictures here: Polar Bear Conservation at National Geographic

After we left the speech therapy place, we headed to the mall to find an Auntie Anne's pretzel shop. We had a BOGO coupon we'd gotten when they came to do a demonstration at our home school group. We rarely go to the mall, so we didn't know where the store was. Time for some life skills! I had Melody locate Auntie Anne's on the directory list and then on the diagram. Which way do we go? She figured it out and we got there! Yum!

Those are just a few ways this eclectic mama lays out the bits of the world for a little one to understand! What are some other methods we use to gather and present information?

Unit studies: 

In our early years of home schooling with my older kids (now teens and adults), we always used unit studies to cover history, geography, science, literature, creative writing, art, music, and even a little math enrichment. Now that we are no longer in formal academic co-op classes where curriculum was chosen by other teachers, we're back to the original plan! 

Right now we are studying the Civil War and late 1800's era for history. I didn't want to get too much into memorizing factoids or exploring the gore of war. Melody is still in the idea ~ story ~ picture phase of home schooling, and she loves biographies. I loaded up on both chapter books and picture books about famous people like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary McLeod Bethune, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Robert E. Lee, Helen Keller, Alexander Graham Bell, and Clara Barton. (We visited Clara's historic American Red Cross home in Maryland earlier this month.) 

We are also halfway through the American Girls series about Addie, an escaped slave. We have lots of the Cornerstones of Freedom series about specific happenings in the time period, such as the Underground Railroad and the transcontinental railroad. 

Are we reading about the actual war? Yes, a little. We're reading What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? by Jim O'Connor, which starts with an excellent overview of what issues and events led to the Civil War. 

Read more about unit studies here: How to Plan a Unit Study and American History Unit Studies at Our House.

YouTube and Google: 

What a goldmine! Any topic we want is right there on-line. I always have my iPod in my pocket, so sometimes when we're reading a library book, we'll look up something related to an interesting fact or a question she has. (Who was the president before Abraham Lincoln? Look it up!) We have the old NEST Animated Heroes videos that my mom gave us years ago, but not a working VHS player. We found a treasure trove of them on YouTube here: Animated Hero Classics. I have her watch these on my laptop when I need to do something else nearby. We also use YouTube videos to explain math concepts like multi-digit multiplication. She likes the ones produced by MathAntics. The new YouTube Kids app for mobile iOS and Android mobile devices – perfect for a child's tablet. I can't try it out yet because it requires iOS 7, but you can find it in your app store.

PBS Kids: 

On TV or on-line, PBS Kids is a marvelous educational resource. On their web site,, you can find videos, games, and interactive activities. At their teacher resource site,, it is easier to find the specific subjects and grade levels.

Reading whenever and wherever – and talking about it: 

We don't do all of our learning during formal school hours. The evenings are some of Melody's favorite book times. I'll often grab a book from our unit study pile that I think she'll enjoy, and we take turns reading aloud to each other. We read in the living room, in my bedroom, in the dining room, in waiting rooms - wherever! It is important for children to read aloud so they can practice their diction, vocal inflection, cadence, and expression - which they have picked up from listening to you read aloud. Having them read aloud helps you assess their decoding fluency. Which phonics patterns need work? Are they guessing or skipping or substituting words? I often remind her to read the words slowly, exactly as they are written. If necessary, she can track along with her finger to keep her on the right pace and in the right place. As we read, we also reinforce other language arts skills. This year, we're taking the time to notice compound words, homophones, synonyms, adverbs, and alliteration (adjacent words with same beginning sounds). 

We've also been pointing out words that are particularly descriptive rather than vague, such as “stagger” or "prance" instead of “walk” and “whispered” or "shrieked" instead of “said.” The book If You Were a Writer by Joan Lowery Nixon and Bruce Degen is a great way to introduce this concept. Looking for vivid language in books will help her choose interesting words for her own creative writing projects. We also comment on styles of illustrations in picture books and how they, too, communicate information and mood.

While reading, if there is a concept I want to emphasize, or she has a question, we stop and talk about it. I want her to interact with the information and develop critical thinking skills. We both frequently ask why and how questions about what we see on the page. How does this concept apply to us? I was struck by something we read about how the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroads competed to lay more miles of track as they worked from opposite ends toward each other. The Central Pacific got stuck on the western side of the Rocky Mountains, trying to blast tunnels through in the winter. So they sent an extra crew ahead, packing all of their supplies and equipment (including disassembled train engines and cars!) onto sleds and hauling them over the mountain. They were able to simultaneously work on both sides of the mountain, saving valuable time and getting an extra 50 miles of track laid. I drew a diagram of this for Melody so she could understand the concept. Sometimes we have to think outside the box, a valuable skill to model to our kids. There was no rule that they had to work in one unbroken stretch of track from A to B! Then I thought, how can I use this in my own life as a mom? In what ways can I be working ahead and getting more done? So I'm learning a lot from reading aloud with her, too! I wouldn't miss it!

See more here: The Beauty of Reading Aloud and How to Read Aloud and Enjoy It.

Home school co-ops and classes: 

For younger children like Melody, I prefer a relaxed co-op for enrichment rather than for core formal academics, so that's what we're doing this year. I tutor high school and middle school history students at a local co-op. While I teach, Melody goes to a video-based history class. She also takes a current events class there, so she has to come prepared to present a news story she has found on-line. The group is hosting a Geography fair next month. Melody chose North Carolina for her project, so we checked out some books from the library and we'll put together a display board and a speech. 

Taking notes: 

North Carolina notes
Melody decided to take notes as we read about North Carolina. I helped her. We wrote down phrases to remind us of topics to look up again later. We're not very formal or organized about it yet, but even starting small in this practice will help her in later school years. We hope to take a trip to western North Carolina this summer, and we might visit some of the places we saw in the books. How about the Oconaluftee Cherokee village or the Biltmore Estate or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Planning a trip adds interest to learning!

Charlotte Mason Method: 

I love the Charlotte Mason approach to education with her emphasis on living literature, art and music appreciation, nature study, etc. She didn't advocate busy work ("twaddle") but we still use some workbooks since Melody likes them and they get the job done. Miss Mason also believed in keeping lessons short, especially for young children. It is rare that we spend more than 15 minutes on a single paper-and-pencil activity. We don't have a schedule set in stone. She has a lot of say in what we do next, though I have the final word. For nature study, we get outside a lot and go visit parks. On the first Monday of the month, our local botanical gardens has free admission, so we're going next week. Read more here: What is the Charlotte Mason Approach to Education?

Random life happenings

On our way out the door to go to the library, we discovered a swarm of insects on our old tree stump. We went to to a pest control store and confirmed that they were reproductive termites. I decided it would be interesting to check out a book about termites. I had planned to study American Deserts for our next science unit, but switched to insects on the spur of the moment. We also checked out books on ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and ants to supplement what we already had at home. She comes with me to the chiropractor twice a week as I recover from back injuries I got in a car accident a few weeks ago. Dr. Harris showed us a life size model of a spine and explained to her how it worked with the vertebrae and discs.

Songs with borrowed tunes: 

Many years ago, I wanted to teach my kids the body parts of insects, so I came up with this ditty to the tune of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” - “Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen! Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen! Two antennae, six jointed legs! Head, thorax, abdomen, abdomen!” Now that we're studying insects, of course I had to teach it to Melody. She loves to get up and do all the hand motions. 

We have also been practicing multiplication tables with skip counting songs. We sing the 3s the tune of “Jingle Bells” - “3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, and 27, isn't counting fun? 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, and 27, 30 and we're done!” We sings 4s to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” - “4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40.” She was having trouble remembering the last four numbers in that sequence, so we took turns repeating them rhythmically to each other several times before singing the song again. We sing these in the van all the time and it's fun for her!

Mobile apps: 

We can easily take along education on my iPod when we're out and about. The main one we use is Math Fact Master. You can choose any combination of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and tell which number ranges you want to use. It is very simple – nothing flashy - but quite effective. You can find more that look interesting here: 10 Apps for Math Fluency. You can find educational apps for all grade levels and subjects.

Tying it together: 

We hadn't finished A Pioneer Sampler during our early pioneers unit study, so we've continued to read it. As we read the story about pioneers finding and harvesting honey from a bee tree, I remembered that we had library books about bees for our insect unit. We read one of them, Brilliant Bees by Linda Glaser. Later, we watched several videos on YouTube about how bees make honey, and how they use the fascinating waggle dance to communicate with other bees about where food is. Here is another one we'll watch soon: Why Do Honey Bees Dance? and one for young children: Do the Waggle Dance.

Weekly worksheet packet: 

Because we spend a lot of time in the van and in waiting rooms, I like to bring schoolwork along to make the most of our time. Until today, we would lug a heavy tote bag full of workbooks that she wanted to use, and I worried about her leaving an important one behind somewhere. So today I took a three-prong vinyl folder and created a worksheet packet for her. I took a week's worth of pages from each of her workbooks – math, grammar, spelling, reading comprehension, and science – and fastened them into the folder. If she loses it, at least it's not the whole workbook. At the end of the week, I'll take out what's she's finished (unless it's needed as reference for a future page) and put in a fresh batch of pages. It also gives her a goal to accomplish, and now she doesn't have to get out several workbooks every day. Whether we are at home or away, she just needs to grab her red folder.

Art supplies: 

I recently bought a set of 36 Pentel oil pastels and a sketch book for Melody. Her artist sister is going to teach her how to use them properly very soon to create more realistic art than with crayons. In the meantime, she's been having fun making her own pictures. She likes to think of a category – fruits, things you find at a movie theater, etc. - and then draw several items on a page. I have been trying to teach myself chalkboard art. When I was working on a larger board that I had just purchased, I let her practice on a smaller one. She picked what she wanted to say: "Love one another with all your heart"! You can see my latest piece at Blessed Are the Peacemakers.

Role play: 

Melody is really imaginative and often dresses up, gathers props, and makes believe she is a movie director, a Chic-Fil-A worker, a teacher, a cooking show hostess, or whatever else her heart desires. I encourage this! It's not a waste of her educational time. She is creating her own scenarios and dialog, and is a form of oral composition. Check out her hilarious "Cream Cheese Toast" YouTube video that she made two years ago with my iPod, when she was only seven! She ends with "Like this video, or just like me! Press the suffocate button, or I'll be watching you!" Yes, that's another way to use YouTube - make your own videos!

What are some of your favorite methods for home schooling your kids? Tell us in a comment below!

Related posts:

This article link just appeared in my blog feed: Ten Obvious Truths About Educating Kids that Keep Getting Ignored. So many of these have played into the way I try to educate my little one!

And another one from a Facebook link today! On-going Education: 12 Tools I Really Dig by Tsh Oxenreider

Virginia Knowles

Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Week of Home School Third Grade

A Week of Home School Third Grade

[Please note: This post contains affiliate links from Christian Book Distributors.]

A week of home schooling my active third grader often goes by like a blur. This week was no exception. Her question every day is, “Where are we going today?” So as usual we were out and about a good bit. She's pretty alert, and captured the picture of this egret while we were running errands one day.

I look back and think about what we accomplished in each subject:


We stopped using the Horizons workbook before Christmas since it was moving too fast for her. It assumed she had all her multiplication tables down, and there wasn't much sense in continuing with it until she did. I decided then to focus primarily on the multiplication facts, and switch to a math workshop approach with a variety of activities. So as this week started, we were using:
  • flash cards
  • oral practice (in the van)
  • on-line math activities such as IXL and Math Playground
  • Math Fact Master arithmetic app on my iPod
  • Horizons supplemental worksheets
  • best of all, a Multiplication Rap DVD that I bought a few weeks ago at Lakeshore Learning

On Thursday we were in Books-A-Million and she asked me if they had anything for math. I bought the Spectrum Math Grade 3 workbook since it is not heavy on multiplication, and will give her the opportunity to maintain her other math skills like multi-digit addition and subtraction with regrouping. I also just ordered her a new JLab tablet on sale (her old Asus broke) so we'll be downloading some math apps for that.

Language Arts:

She has several language arts workbooks, but the ones we used this week were Daily Grams 3rd Grade and Nonfiction Comprehension. When we bought the math workbook, we also got the Spectrum Spelling Grade 3. We already had the Spectrum Word Study and Phonics workbook (free from a church rummage sale), but I think she needs more targeted help with spelling instead of that.

We took turns reading books out loud every day and often in the evening. We brought books along to our therapy appointments on Wednesday to read while we waited. One night she read me a bedtime story until I fell asleep! A few times she gave me oral narrations of what we had read. As we read, we pointed out homophones, compound words, proper nouns, and other grammar concepts. We also discussed synonyms and antonyms.

Life Skills:

On Monday, we decided to take a little extra effort planning dinner meals for the week. Leafing through recipe books was a lot of fun for her. She wrote down what we intended to make each night, and we discussed how to balance out the meat entrees and side dishes. Then we decided what ingredients we needed and wrote out a shopping list. It was all out of order, so we rewrote it according to grocery aisles. I reminded her to use more legible handwriting, which took a few tries. Then we went shopping, looked at nutrition labels and unit pricing, and talked about how to choose the best products.

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, her baby nephew came to visit. She couldn't touch him since she had just gotten over a case of impetigo, so she did a little puppet show and sang songs for him instead.

On Thursday, we shopped on-line for a new tablet for her. We read reviews and compared features before we picked one.

Since we will be flying to Maryland next week, and she doesn't remember her one air trip as a baby, we prepared a little by reading the book If You Were a Pilot by Virginia Schomp. Also in the career realm, she picked out A Day in the Life of a Musician by Linda Hayward.

History and Science:

Our current unit study is on early pioneers and farming, though we don't confine our reading strictly to that. We have also been reading biographies and short stories about notable women of the 19th century, such as author Louisa May Alcott, teacher Ann Sullivan, and first female physician Elizabeth Blackwell.

We tried starting Caddie Woodlawn a few weeks ago (see my free study guide), but didn't get too far with that yet. I had hoped to be done with this unit by now, but we've still got a lot of great books to finish. My goal is to have at least the library books read before we go out of town next week. I will save Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series for after we study the Civil War.

A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840  -     By: Barbara Greenwood
Here is a sampling of the many history and science titles we read (all or part) this week:
  • A Pioneer Sampler: The Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840 by Barbara Greenwood (my favorite resource for this unit - part fiction, with lots of factual and practical sidebars)
  • The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh – an easy and fun read
  • A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynn Cheney (wife of Dick Cheney, VP under G.W. Bush)
  • Hooray for Beekeeping! and Hooray for Sheep Farming! published by Bobbie Kalman – great for science!
  • Pioneer Bear by Joan Sandin
  • Westward Ho! The Story of the Pioneers by Lucille Recht Penner (Landmark Picture)
  • An American Pioneer Family – How They Lived by Robin May
  • The Value of Friendship: The Story of Jane Addams by Ann Donegan Johnson – the story of the Hull House settlement house in Chicago is one of my favorites, and Addams is a wonderful role model of justice and mercy

On Monday, we went to Brightlight, my favorite used bookstore. I had about $30 store credit, and we blew it all on books and a DVD for her. 

Some of the books
from Brightlight
Among other titles, I bought A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynn Cheney, Kirsten Learns a Lesson (American Girl book for our current unit study), Dust for Dinner (an easy reader on the dust bowl for a later unit study), and Kit Kittredge (American Girl DVD on the Depression Era). She watched the DVD that afternoon, and I watched it with her the next day. Very educational!

Draw Write Now, Book 3: Native Americans, North America, The  Pilgrims  -     By: Marie Hablitzel, Kim Stitzer
On Tuesday, we pulled out some easy drawing books to sketch farm animals and Native Americans. One was Draw Write Now Book 3: Native Americans, North America, the Pilgrims.

On Thursday, while waiting for my iPod battery replacement, we went to the nearby Adjectives Market antique and art store. The two floors are full of historical and beautiful things, so it made a great impromptu field trip for an hour. How vintage typewriters worked definitely piqued her interest.

On Friday morning, I remembered getting an e-mail about a Civil War reenactment about 25 miles from here. Prior to the main weekend events and full battles, they were having a home school day with some of the historical exhibits and cannon firing. Though I wasn't feeling very well, we decided to go on the spur of the moment. We arrived late but still had plenty of time to see what was there and to visit with friends we had called to join us. 

Cannon fired
(no live ammo - flour mixed with the
gunpowder made the "smoke")

Our friends with a reenactor

Here we are!

Jacob's Ladder at the toy table

Wood working booth
Fry bread and lemonade -
the perfect end to the day

That's the main stuff we did for school this week! What does your typical week look like?

Virginia Knowles

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Alpha Virtues Song

"The Alpha Virtues Song"
by Virginia Knowles
Sung to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me"

I can be ALIVE today!
Jesus died to make the way.
Now I can be born again.
Eternal life will never end.

BELIEVING in the Lord is right.
We walk by faith and not by sight.
When we come to God in prayer,
He will show us that he cares.

COURAGEOUS people are so brave
Because they know that God will save.
They go ahead and do what’s right,
And turn the darkness into light.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

DILIGENT means working hard.
Don’t be lazy!  Do your part!
When you have a job to do,
Keep on working ‘til you’re through.

We should be ENCOURAGING,
Saying only helpful things.
You can share about God’s grace,
With a smile upon your face.

FORGIVING is the way to win.
Jesus pardoned all our sins.
You should pardon others, too,
When they do bad things to you.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

We should be so GENEROUS,
With what God has given us,
To the needy, to the poor,
We should give and give some more.

HUMBLE people know they’re small.
God is bigger than us all.
We should serve, but never boast
About how we love God the most.

Jesus was so INNOCENT!
He had no sin but still he went
To the cross and took our place
So that we could know God’s grace.

     Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
     Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

JOYFUL, joyful people sing,
Praises to the Savior King!
When they see someone who’s sad,
They will try to make them glad.

KIND to others, we should be,
Doing all the good we see,
Don’t be rude!  Be kind and sweet,
To the people that you meet.

LOVING others is the way,
To make God happy every day.
Jesus loves to see us care,
For other people everywhere.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

MODEST clothing we will wear,
Not too fancy or too bare.
A gentle spirit and quiet heart,
Is the very place to start.

A NOBLE man makes noble plans,
And by noble deeds he stands.
But first he takes the time to pray
For the Lord to guide his way.

We should be OBEDIENT,
When we do wrong we should repent.
If we follow God’s commands,
He will guard us with his hands.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

PATIENT people learn to wait,
Even when it seems so late.
When other people bother us,
Let’s be calm and never fuss.

A QUIET person is not too loud,
Or too busy or too proud.
Listen when God speaks to you,
So you’ll know what’s good and true.

REVERENT people seek the Lord,
And they love his holy word.
They worship God throughout the day,
As they work and as they play.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

SELF-CONTROL is good for me,
I can do what’s right, you see.
I tell myself not to be bad,
Because it makes my Savior sad.

TRUTHFUL, honest, we should be,
Living with integrity,
We tell the truth and we will try,
To never ever tell a lie.

UNITED people make a team,
God has given them a dream.
Strong and weak each do their part,
And work together with one heart.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

When there’s a war inside of us.
More than conquerors we shall be,
Jesus’ power can set us free.

Jesus wants us to be WISE.
To choose the best, to win the prize.
Don’t be foolish, just be smart.
Let Jesus be Lord of your heart.

EXCELLENT doesn’t start with X,
But still it tries to do its best.
Learning new things is the way,
To get better every day.

Let’s be like Jesus! Let’s be like Jesus!
Let’s be like Jesus! The Bible shows us how!

A YIELDED person wants to please.
He seeks God’s will and then agrees,
To do whatever God will say,
With happy heart he serves all day.

ZEALOUS people keep God’s word,
They preach so that it will be heard.
The glory of the Lord comes down
And fills up hearts all over town.

Many years ago, I started writing a curriculum which featured one virtue each week, from A to Z, with stories, craft ideas, Bible time, science, social studies, etc. I wrote this song to go with it. I got about half way through the project before abandoning it for lack of time.  However, many folks around the world have enjoyed the Alpha Virtues song so far.  You can sing it to the tune of Jesus Loves Me!  Every three verses or so, sing the chorus, “Let’s be like Jesus” as noted. 

Note: You may want to clarify what each verse means. Looking back after all these years, I see that many of them could be misinterpreted. This is not about perfectionism or earning God's favor. And even children need appropriate personal boundaries, and there is a time for them to assertively speak up and object if those are crossed - even if they are generally supposed to value quietness and obedience and other related virtues. Just a thought!


Monday, September 15, 2014

A Home School Day with Just One Child

This year, as I mentioned in my last post, My Ideal Plan for Elementary Home Education, I am only home schooling one child, my nine year old daughter Melody, who is in third grade. While home schooling and juggling my other responsibilities is still quite a challenge, I have to say it is so much less complicated with only one to teach.

We usually start school around 9 AM with math flash cards. I have found this is the ideal way to get her brain turned on for the day. She thinks it's fun, and it is a fairly easy review of what she already knows: addition and subtraction facts up to 20. We each take half of the deck of cards and take turns answering the problems. Then we switch piles. When she gets to the problems in her math workbook, she's got the facts fresh on her mind. If we start in straight with the workbook, she is likely to moan that she can't do it. So the math flash cards are a great way to start the day. 

Unfortunately, I found when I opened my flash card box that our subtraction facts cards only had the easiest facts. So I got out stack of index cards and a marker and completed the set, just like I made the addition set many years ago for a different child.  I keep the sets of math fact cards in a zip lock bag.

She knocked out her math workbook - part of a test and one lesson - pretty quickly. We would normally move right on to Daily Grams, Wordly Wise and other language arts skills after that, but she asked if we could read next. I like to be somewhat flexible with our schedule to keep her interested.

So we gathered up a stack of history and science books from the shelf on her desk, and headed into the living room. We started school a month ago with unit studies on explorers and the oceans (they went together splendidly!), and now we are working on the Early Colonial Era and weather. We have a lot of books on our own shelves, and we find even more at the library. 

We read several books about subjects like Pocahontas, colonial homes, and hurricanes that morning. We usually take turns reading, usually by page. I often remind her to read the words just as they are written, since sometimes she's in a hurry and leaves out or changed them. We don't just read for our unit studies. The hands on activity in our weather unit this day was learning about the water cycle by boiling ice cubes until they turned into water vapor. I also have some colonial and weather activity books that we will be using this week.

I took a few quick breaks to do laundry and other small tasks while she got out her Asus tablet, which was a birthday present from her siblings and me. She has games and educational apps on it, and it's great for all the times we're in the car running errands or picking up the other kids from after school activities.

Lake Lily
Melody asked if we could go somewhere. I've been planning to get a family membership at the Orlando Science Center and went on the web to check that out. I decided to wait on that a bit longer.  She suggested going to Lake Lily, and that sounded good to me since there are not only water birds to feed, but a lovely Victorian era home tour at the Waterhouse Residence Museum. 

Instead of taking a picnic, we decided to eat lunch at home. A day or so before, I had fixed several containers of ready-to-eat salad with chunks of chicken, bacon bits, and hard-boiled egg. That was easy enough to grab.

We also had a few errands to run - the bank, library, Redbox to return a DVD. I like to make the best use of teachable moments, so I asked her what route we should take based on all of our stops. We also talked about why people use the library book drop, how the book drop works (there is a cart inside that they can roll out), why they were building an overpass, what the big crane was doing, and all sorts of other ideas.

We finally arrived at Lake Lily and decided to feed the birds first in case it started raining. The egrets were much more aggressive than the ducks at lunging for the bread bits we brought.

Then we went to the museum and found that the tour started around 1:45. 

We had a wait a little bit on the porch and she took the time to read the informational placard.

I was delighted to see that many of the items in the home were similar to ones we had seen in our colonial homes book. Since both eras were pre-electricity, butter churns and other tools were pretty much the same. She paid attention during the tour and asked a lot of questions, which was fine since there were only two other people. We also went over to the adjacent carpentry shop before we left.

Kitchen with butter churn

Sewing and darning basket
By the time we finished up, I knew we weren't going to get any more school work done at home. I did have her try to recall some of the things she had seen. Maybe we'll write about them this week.

All in all it was a great day of school! I liked the mix of skill drill, seat work, unit study reading, and activity.

You might also like to read: How to Plan a Unit Study

I took a lot more pictures at the museum that you can see here: The Waterhouse Residence Museum at Lake Lily.

In February 2015, I followed up with this post: A Week of Home School Third Grade

Virginia Knowles

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