Monday, 28 September 2009

Book Sharing Monday

Book Sharing Monday is back! I have selected a book about the Autumn Equinox, which was just last Tuesday, September 22.

"The Autumn Equinox: Celebrating the Harvest" is written by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis. It is a very informative book about the rituals surrounding the coming of fall and the celebrations of harvest, throughout history and the world.

"Long ago, the Chinese relied on the movement of the phases of the moon to tell them when planting and harvesting should begin. The Chinese called the moon the Queen of Heaven, and they celebrated her birthday soon after the autumn equinox. To prepare for this holiday, special birthday cakes, round as the moon, were baked from the newly harvested rice."

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Outdoor Hour Challenge ~ Autumn Series ~ Fall Tree Study

our baby birchbirch leafcatkin from our birch

We chose to study the new birch tree that we planted this summer in our front yard for this challenge. We will observe this tree over the next year, at each season. This birch tree is quite small right now, but we have big hopes that it will grow big and tall!
We decided to include its height on our nature journal page (6 ft 4 in.).
Over the next year, we will discover more facts about this beautiful tree and share what we find here.

Outdoor Hour Challenge ~ Autumn Series # 1 ~ Cattails


We are continuing with the Outdoor Challenge, the Autumn Series started while we were away, so we are catching up!
The first one is about cattails. I honestly didn't know if there were cattails within walking distance from our house, so I asked Andre if he had seen any while playing outside. I was surprised when he said "yes!", he told me they were near the fort that they had made and played around last year, which is just by the farmer's field near our house. He offered to take us there :)
Adrienne took charge of filling out the information for our nature journal, and I took pictures.
There wasn't any water at the foot of the cattails, but the ground appeared damp. It was a small patch, growing in a ditch, next to the farmer's field.
We observed how some cattails were in the process of changing, some were deep brown while others were lighter brown, and some almost white.
We took two cattails home to dissect. We broke apart the cattails and found all the soft seeds. Adrienne suggested the seeds would make a very confortable pillow in a fairy house...

Mystery Caterpillar

mystery caterpillar
mystery caterpillar

We have been trying to identify this caterpillar..but without success.
Anyone know what he is?


Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Our Vacation

Our vacation was perfect. The weather was almost perfect, only had rough seas the first night on the cruise and heavy rains on our drive back home.
I took over 300 photos, so it was difficult to choose just a few to share! I created a slideshow that you can visit by clicking on the link below:

The Disney Wonder is a wonderful cruise ship for families. Lots of fun activities for the kids, and quiet (if you want it) for the adults. To be honest, whenever our kids were busy having fun in their programs, my husband and I didn't really know what to do! We're just not used to it! We did enjoy some quiet moments by the swimming pool and walks on the beach at Castaway Cay.
Castaway Cay is Disney's private island in the Bahamas and it's my favourite place to be. We wondered if anyone would noticed if we "accidentally" missed the boarding call at the end of the day...The boys went snorkeling together for the first time, and Andre loved it. The kids and I participated in a crab race. We chose our crab's name and cheered him on as 8 crabs raced to the finish line! Lots of fun stuff..We kept away from the high heat in the early afternoons by visiting the movie theatre on board, seeing Up and G-Force for the first time, both in 3D.

We were up late every night..a pirate party one night, followed by a viewing on the top deck's huge TV screen of the Pirates of the Carribean movie, another night was a first..watching the soon to be released blue-ray version of Snow White, seen outside, top deck, under the stars..another night was a Broadway-style show..

We also lucked out with our dinner mates, we were paired up with another family, with 3 children from Texas, and had great dinner conversations!

So much fun on board the Wonder, my post could go on and on about all that we did!

The other half of our vacation was a stay at another Disney property, this one on the Atlantic coast of Florida, in Vero Beach.
Vero Beach is a beautiful, relaxing spot, with still lots of fun stuff to do with the kids. A great pool with water slide, mini-golf, a small splash-pad, and of course the beach!

I took part in a beach clean-up, picking up garbage as part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup. I was the only guest that showed up for this activity, which I thought was sad, but I really enjoyed spending the time to help out with the resort staff.

I also went on a nature beach walk where I witnessed the Disney Animal protection people (can't remember their title!) dig up an empty sea turtle nest. They do this after they know the eggs have hatched to count the eggs and log the information with the state of Florida. That nest had 128 eggs! Only 3 were unfertilized, all the rest had hatched! It was amazing to see.

During both of these early morning activities, my kids were catching up on sleep! We had many late nights on the cruise!!

We spend one day with my husband's grandfather, his wife, and grandaughter, and my husband's aunt also came up. They all live in Florida and it was so great to see them and spend the day together.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

We are back!

Just arrived back last night, catching up on everything and will update with lots of photos soon...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Vacation time!

We will be on holidays until September 22. See you soon with lots of photos!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Before we leave...a homeschooling report

homeschool shelf

I enjoy reading other homeschooling blogs and their weekly reports, so I thought I would try sharing a little of what we do.
I keep track of what we do every day in a Lesson Plan Book. It is what works best for us. When we first started homeschooling in 2005, I used to write down what we were supposed to do, more like traditional lesson plans, but found after that first year that it was really not helpful to us. So I quickly switched to writing more of an overview of the year, broken down by subjects and child. We knew what our plans were, and how often each subject needed to be done to complete in that school year.

I had decided that since we were starting in August because our vacation in September, we would start with just the bare necessities to slowly ease into our routine. We did want to have most of our days free to enjoy the summer!

Here is a report of our last month of "school".


Adrienne = Pet Store Math, completed May, June, July, August, and September.
Andre = Singapore Math, completed lessons and corresponding exercises (28 to49)
Celeste = played a variety of counting games and started calendar work with me

Handwriting Practice:

Adrienne : practiced traditional cursive handwriting in Happy Scribe copybook (20 pages)
Andre : practiced italics cursive in Happy Scribe copybook (20 pages)
Celeste : completed all the handwriting readiness sheets from Donna Young website, and the tracing drawings from the same site (she loves those!), also practiced making letters of the alphabet with her Wikki Sticks


Adrienne: completed lessons 2.12 to 3.7 in Growing with Grammar


Adrienne: completed 2 book reports on novels read (The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Robe of Skulls), also completed the Sweet Inspiration assignment for Roald Dahl Day
Andre: completed book report on Magician in a Trunk (Time Spies series) and the Sweet Inspiration assignment, wrote a letter to her pen pal.
Both also worked on writing all the mini books for our Ocean lapbook.
Celeste: wrote a letter to her pen pal (told me what she wanted to say, I wrote it and she copied it on her letter).


Celeste: completed with me the first 19 lessons in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, played on Starfall
Adrienne: read many novels, graphic novels and magazines on her own, and read aloud selections from the Elson Reader.
Andre: also read novels, graphic novels and non-fiction books on his own, along with selections read aloud to me from the Elson Reader. Andre also reads a lot of picture books to Celeste.


We learned about the Ocean, using books, dvds and the internet; completed an Ocean lapbook together.


Adrienne and Andre : Completed the Drawing Level Exercise in Drawing with Children, also completed the cactus pastel/glue project.
Andre completed a couple of drawings following instructions in how-to books (shark, Egyptian eye)

Nature Study:

We learned about five different animals near us by completing the challenge from Outdoor Hour challenge

There is our report. It seems like a lot maybe, but we had every afternoon free! What I have enjoyed the most over the past month, is seeing my children get back to reading again, for pleasure. They didn't read as much while they were attending public school, and it's just nice to see them enjoying that again. My oldest daughter is devouring books again. We have to keep going to the library for more every couple of days! My son is also back to picking up books on his own, and discovering new subjects that spark his interest (ocean at the moment!).

We will soon be leaving for our vacation, so this blog will be quiet for about two weeks.
See you soon!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Book Sharing Monday

Since we are reading Roald Dahl's books right now, I thought I would share one of my older kids' favourites..especially Andre!

"Revolting Rhymes" written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake is a collection of six fairy tales that Roald Dahl gave a comic twist too. Some are very funny, but a bit violent and the language isn't always the most polite! Celeste didn't really like these...but Andre and I laughed when I read aloud the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and how really she's just a little thief!

"This famous wicked little tale
Should never have been put on sale.
It is a mystery to me
Why loving parents cannot see
That this is actually a book
About a brazen little crook."

Andre absolutely loved this version of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf...

"I'm going to eat you anyway.
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers."

I won't give too much away...but if you are a fan of Roald Dahl and your children are a bit older, you might really enjoy this one.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Outdoor Hour Challenge ~ Finding the extraordinary in our backyard

Here are our findings on the 5 critters we chose to learn more about:

water drops on leaf bug
leaf bug

This beautiful green insect is a Broad-winged Katydid. It's about 2 inches long. It lives year-round in Florida, but only from July to October where we live. It feeds on leaves, but it looked quite happy on our flowers too! We loved how he can camouflage himself so easily in the middle of a green plant.

another visitor at our front porch

This toad gave us a bit more trouble to identify it and we are still not completely sure if it is an Eastern American Toad or a Fowler's Toad...Both have ranges that include our area. This toad had come for a couple of nights right on our front porch. The first time my husband noticed him when he came home from work,the second I did when I came back with my dog from our evening walk. I called my son over and he picked it right up. I am not a huge fan of toads, but I like the colours and the patterns on his back.

North American funnel web weaving spider
North American funnel web weaver spider

The spider the kids found one day on our driveway looks like a North American Funnel Weaver Spider. Thank goodness we don't live in Australia, where these funnel weaver spiders are deadly! It still hasn't discouraged my oldest daughter from wanting to visit that country!
There are many spiders around our house, mostly orb weavers, so this one was of interest to the kids.
These spiders are known for weaving their funnel shape spider webs where they feed on their prey after attacking it. We do have a few of these webs around our house, but I haven't been able to take a decent photo of them.

European Mantid

The Praying Mantis that posed for us is a European Mantid (aka Mantis). People call the praying mantis an aggresive insect because they eat things three times its size and its mandables can pierce human flesh. The Praying Mantis is native to Europe but was brought to America at the end of the 19th century for agricultural reasons.
This praying mantis spent a couple of days right by our front door, going from one side to the other.


The Brown Grasshopper is our last little critter that we studied this time. We found a few interesting facts about it:

"Grasshoppers grow and mature through a process called metamorphosis. The egg hatches into a worm-like larva which moults to become the first in a series of nymphs. Nymphs look like miniature adults without wings and reproductive organs. They moult and pass through five or six stages on their way to becoming adults.
When grasshoppers moult, they swallow air to build up pressure in their bodies to split the old cuticle.
The moulted exoskeleton, like the skin shed by a snake, is a perfect replica of the grasshopper’s body. It includes the antennae and eyes, and even the insides of its mouth and anus! "
from Canadian Geographic website.

This was a great introduction for us to the Outdoor House Nature Study. We have been doing our own version of nature study for years, but not as organized. We just have always enjoyed looking at nature, wildflowers, insects, animals, birds, even trees. I am looking forward to trying out some of the other challenges Barbara Mc Coy has on her blog Handbook of Nature Study .

Ocean Unit Study

We have been studying the ocean since the beginning of August. We chose to learn more about the ocean since we will soon be sailing on the Atlantic!

We read many books, listed right below the blog title. We also created 2 lapbooks. Adrienne and Andre did one, and Celeste a smaller version. We used the "In the Hands of a Child" Ocean Habitats Project Pack as our base to build our lapbooks (which was a free download at some point on currclick).

Ocean Unit Study

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Photography and Art Challenges for Kids

Here are two photo and art challenges that might interest your family:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, better known in our house for the Celebrate Urban Birds, is hosting a challenge called "A Murder of Crows and Other Spooky Bird Tales". They point out that a murder is the name for a large group of crows. This is a photo-video-art challenge. You can write a story or poem, take a photo or video, do a painting about crows, pigeons, starlings, or any kind of bird doing something strange. The deadline is Halloween, and there are some pretty cool prizes like binoculars, birdfeeders, CDs, etc...

National Geographic is hosting an International Photography Contest for Kids. It ends November 2, 2009 and is open to kids 6 to 14 years of age.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Backyard Outdoor Challenge : Finding the Ordinary to be Extraordinary

We have decided to participate in the Outdoor Challenge and to start it off, we will be studying five ordinary things from our backyard and learning more about each of them.

We will use the Handbook of Nature Study, the internet, and the few books we have in our house to help us find information on the following critters that live in our backyard:

Here is our list:

  1. top photo: spider

  2. in the group photo, top left corner: grasshopper

  3. top right corner: leaf bug

  4. bottom left corner: toad

  5. bottom right corner: praying mantis

You can click on the Outdoor Challenge button above to read more about this backyard exploration. I will report in a few days with our findings..

Roald Dahl Fun

marvellous medicine creation
What a fun day we had! We started our Roald Dahl author study this morning. I thought we could keep at one day, but I realized I was so wrong to think that way. We need at least a week, if not more, to really enjoy his work.
I had picked a few of the activities from the Roald Dahl Day website and the first assignment the kids tried was called "Sweet Inspiration". They had to imagine that they were going to invent a candy for Willy Wonka. It could be any type of candy, and they had to choose the ingredients, make up the recipe, and the advertisement for their new product.
Andre created Dragon Fire Gum, which is the spiciest gum in the world that will also last forever. It has interesting ingredients such as sand block (I am told by him that dragons use those to sharpen their claws or was it their teeth?), exploding candy bombs, and cinnamon. The gum needs to cook at very high temperature for 2 days...I loved seeing his imagination at work!
Adrienne also came up with a great idea. Fairy Paste is her creation, a new candy that cleans teeth and taste like sour apple-watermelon! Her ingredients included fairy dust, cavity-filling caramels, and sour watemelon nerds. I am told I can reveal any more of their secret recipes...
We read the Revolting Rhymes and lauged so hard! What a great twist on some of those fairy tales...
The last activity for today was based on George's Marvellous Medicine. We had read the book at the beginning of this summer and all loved it.
Today I asked the kids to make up their own recipe for a marvellous medicine. It was not to be tested of course, so anything went!
Adrienne came up with most of the ingredients in the recipe. She had 24 different items, most coming from the bathroom and the kitchen!
You can see the photos from that activity above.
Great fun!
We also read part of the D is for Dahl book, which is helping us learn more about this creative author.

Road Trip!

We will soon be leaving for a long road trip. We are driving from our home in Ontario to Florida. It takes about 20 hours one way. Whenever we go on vacation, we usually drive, so our children are used to the long distances. And I usually bring a few things to keep them occupied in the car. This time, this is what I am planning:

~ I reserved a couple of Harry Potter books on cds from the library to listen to in the car. Last road trip, we all enjoyed listening to Inkheart and the Narnia series.
~ I am bringing a few small notebooks to journal or doodle in, for myself and the kids. Little notebooks will be a good size for the kids with pencils, colouring pencils, and markers. For myself, I started a new art journal, after finishing the Wreck this Journal project, so I will be bringing that one along with a few micro pigment ink pens.
~ We have 2 felt books with many felt pieces that the girls love playing with, and we will be bringing our Guess Who travel game too.
~ We found a couple of fun sticker books (from Usborne) that will keep all 3 kids busy with their hands too :)
~ Another fun find was the Holiday Doodles cards (also from Usborne) that has many different write on/wipe off activity cards like mazes, finishing the doodles, decorating things...
We are starting to pack for our trip, part of it will be spent in Florida on the Atlantic coast, the other part of our vacation will be spent on the Disney Cruise and we had to choose a few of our "dressier" clothes...a difficult task somewhat because we don't usually dress up! But we managed! We will be packing the rest of our suitcases next week. The pink suitcase is Adrienne's, a wonderful and useful gift from her Nana.
We are all getting very excited and counting down the days!!!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Our glue-chalk pastels cacti

We decided to give this project a try after reading about it at the Art Projects for Kids blog. Kathy does a wonderful job of explaining exactly what to do so we just followed her instructions and voila! ... our chalk pastels cacti! We had never done an art project that involved glue and chalk pastels, but we loved it and will try more in the future.

Adrienne's Cactus

Andre's Cactus (at noon, sun no shadding!)

My cactus (at night!)

Sketch Tuesday ~ Underground

scorpion by adrienne 12
worm by celeste 5
earthworm by andre 10
earthworm by alex 37


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