We took a walk today...finally.

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One of the biggest things of the CM method I wanted to implement this year was nature walks and nature study.  And if I grade myself according to the quantity of time we actually spent doing any of those things... I failed miserably.  At least, the way I would grade it.

However...

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My son LOVES nature.

So I must be doing something right.

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We have read a lot of nature books.  In the winter, when I was a sissy- yes, despite the very mild winter we had- we stayed indoors a lot.  We watched the birds and we read books.  He does love the nature books.  Though he did NOT seem to appreciate the Burgess book on birds....everyone on Ambleside raves about it.  But my boy?  He was bored out of his mind.  I finally put it down for awhile.  I got the Burgess chapter books instead.  Much less valuable information is inside these little gems, but he loves them. And we still read his nature magazines and other books.  And since the kid recognized , all on his own the other day, a red breasted grosbeak... the first I've ever seen and have never pointed one out to him in a book (in other words, he looks at the bird book himself quite often), I'd say we are doing okay.  🙂

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I'm still using Ambleside as a guide for next year...but I am going to use a lot of my learning I absorbed from Teaching From Rest to tame things down and simplify quite a bit.  There's no need for me to be stressing.  This kid is a sponge.  He's soaking up knowledge everywhere we go.

I'm continuing things through the summer but at a much much slower pace and with time to enjoy life and , well, especially nature!  At least, that's the plan! 😉

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Wrapping It Up: May and June

So it’s been quite a while since I have posted anything here. I am missing the blogging and writing but am also feeling a bit more balanced in other aspects of life- actually a lot more balanced. I just need to figure out if I can ever really add writing back in….and if I can, how and when! But here’s a bit of a catch up for those of you left wondering…..

My Writing World

Well- It’s been vacant. I haven’t written a blog post since the end of April. I haven’t worked on a manuscript since maybe the beginning of April- might have been March. I haven’t even corresponded with my critique groups which appear to be disappearing from the radar. It seems I’m not the only one lagging. I never did complete the course work for the class I paid for. All in all, the writing world is off the map right now. So on to other things….

My Book World

Well my reading has certainly picked up. I became determined at the end of May that I was going to enjoy my summer- and while I have LOTS of work to do over the summer- I ...continue reading "May & June Wrap-Up"

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I've realized I haven't posted a whole lot of what we are doing on the homeschool front other than the things I'm investigating regarding the Charlotte Mason method - especially the nature part of it!

Well, the nature part of it is, indeed, a great deal of what we are doing these days - I won't count the last two days that have been overwhelming and where I was feeling quite lazy and just not my best as we didn't do much of anything on those days. My son really looks forward to our 'nature walks' and our time outdoors.

The other day we made these:

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We simply selected some colored paper and grabbed a bottle of craft glue.  On our walk outdoors we collected various samplings of 'nature'.  This was done through my verbal prompting of "what are we able to pick up that is part of nature?" Fortunately we didn't come across anything dangerous or that would have disturbed a creature's home - we'll save that lesson for another day.  Then we came back to the front step, sat down in the sunshine, and made a collage - dripping glue across the page and mounting our finds where we thought they'd look nice- adding more glue for the heavier objects such as acorns and sticks.  This very simple activity really delighted my son.  He was very proud to hang our creations on the refrigerator when they were dry.  (We used a glue that would dry clear - otherwise it would have been quite the white gloppy mess!)

My son has been creative on his own as well.  We have a man here putting in a floor to the room we are finishing to be my husband's 'man cave' - complete with Steelers' colors:

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So my son decided he should build floors too:

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Apparently 'hard wood' floors can be installed with cardboard bricks 🙂
And we also needed a 'soft floor'...
And we also needed a 'soft floor'...

Our reading adventures vary each day.  Sometimes we simply do one short lesson or activity.  Other days we do several, dependent on my time frame and his attention span and willingness - ALWAYS dependent on his willingness - though snacks do help 😉

We have almost gotten through our first "prayer time".  That's what I call our lessons using the words to the Our Father. This is a picture I took awhile back - sorry I haven't updated it.  I will when we are done.  We have covered all of the lines except for the last (and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil).

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First I wrote each line on a sentence strip twice.  Next I cut out the words from the second strips.  We started with just the first line, reading the strip, then giving him each word (in order at first), telling him what it was, then having him find the matching word and placing the word on the strip.  Once this step is mastered, the words are given out-of-order and only told to him if he didn't recognize it right away.  (I was pleasantly surprised at how soon he started recognizing them on his own - but words he didn't are just told to him right away unless I am confident he can sound it out.  It's important that he not be given much opportunity to get it wrong as that only gives the mind chance to practice it wrong which is not what we want.  So it's really REALLY okay to just tell him what it is if it's a word that isn't so easy to phonetically sound out such as 'earth' or 'hallowed'.

Now we are to the point where he doesn't need the strips other than for the last two lines we've added.  For the rest, I give him a pile of words for about two lines.  We spread them out so he can see them all.  I verbally prompt him with what the line is that we are working on and he finds the words and lays them out in order.  It's so fun to watch and he is so pleased with himself.

I've also highlighted all the words he knows by sight on our prayer sheets that we use for morning prayers.  Even though he doesn't really follow along yet, he still holds a sheet and this gives him visual confirmation of all the words he is able to read on the sheet.  He gets very excited when more words are highlighted.  Once we have the Our Father completed, I will probably select another prayer from this sheet to cover next or something else from Liturgy, so that he can find it in the Liturgy book at church and feel able to read along.

These are the highlights of the last week or so.  It's certainly not everything. In addition we've done just a little writing on the chalkboard (which incidentally he seems to be better at than on paper), a lesson and a half out of Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons, word building using Delightful Reading from Simply Charlotte Mason, practiced his sight word cards which he LOVES to count when we are done (up to 56 of those now), and have read lots and lots of stories including books from the library on chipmunks, squirrels, rats and mice, and apple picking!

Some of you may wonder why I don't write so much about my older son.  Well, he's kind of busy getting all tough and muscular on the football field:
football #17Seriously, football has kept him quite busy but of course he still has his school day.  But he's much more independent and does most of his work completely on his own.  I do still read aloud to him and we have reestablished that routine this month too (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is our latest). I hope to begin some practicing of oral narration with him so as to incorporate at least a small amount of the Charlotte Mason approach with him next year.  I think using that approach for a subject or two could be very beneficial for various reasons.  Still, with all the time that football has taken up and with the incredible energy it takes, he's kept up rather well in my eyes.  True, he is sort of behind in several subjects according to the schedule, but I'm confident he will catch up in no time once the football season is over.  Though on cold nights, it doesn't feel like it will ever be over.  And it's given me a bit of reading to do as well.

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Our first drawing after a nature walk. My son got a little carried away.... while I was drawing the leaf, he drew an acorn ( upper left if you can see it), a snake (it was dead on the road...ick), a tree, the neighbors, and many other things which we did NOT see....you know- like a toilet. LOL. Once we get the sketch pad that will be officially our nature notebook, I think I'll limit it to one or two things we REALLY did see 😉

With the autumn leaves changing all around us, color has been on my mind.  My son and I often observe the fallen red leaves in our driveway and yard (woods) on our daily nature walks.  Today we brought one back and drew a picture of it.  So for this next writing exercise I thought of this one that involves color:

Select one color - maybe it's your favorite or maybe it's the color you are wearing or maybe it's just the first color you see when you look up from this screen - and write about a memory you have that can be associated with that color.

For me, today, I'm choosing red.  Red is full of memories for me and when I was first thinking of this exercise I thought of Mrs. Allred, my fifth grade teacher,  of nosebleeds as a younger child, and the color of my own hair and the nicknames I inherited as a result.  All of these are encircled in memories, but as I was actually typing this I thought of a memory I haven't thought of well, maybe since it occurred.  As a young child of seven, I lived in a trailer park for about a year (the trailer was this old looking, faded blue thing). The back yard (the only yard, really - there was no front) ran up a hill.  At the top of that hill was a small garden held in by a stone wall.  In that garden there were strawberries. RED, ripe, juicy strawberries! Perhaps they were wild - my memory isn't enough to tell me if they had purposely been planted there or not, but I remember the small, bursting with flavor strawberries.  The smell, the sweetness, the juiciness of those delicate fruits.  I remember picking them---  my first experience in picking berries -- and the excitement of finding the red treasures under the cool green leaves and fragile white flowers. I remember the coolness of the dirt as my fingers played among the runners and weeds looking for crawling beetles, wriggling worms and, of course, more berries lurking in the shade of the plants.  Thinking back I can recall the heat of the sun and the buzzing insects in the air. I recall the people, my aunts and stepmother, and I can almost envision what my stepmother was wearing... mostly I remember the strawberries.  Luscious!

Feel free to go into much more detail with your own writing.  Encourage your child by (if you are a homeschooler using this) sharing a color and a few memories it makes you think of from your own childhood.  Remember, also, a memory doesn't have to be from years and years ago.  For a child, especially, the memory may be from the week before or even just a day ago.

My memory is much more vivid than I would imagine and I know I could write more.  I could play around with this exercise and tell if from different points of view.  I could also select a different memory associated with the same color or choose a different color.  Have fun with it.  You never know what a color may make you remember!  I wasn't expecting this one 🙂

Also, feel free to share what you come up with!