Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Introduction to Nature Study

Thursday is science day, and today was our first day of doing a nature study. This is a new concept for us, so I'm not sure if I'm doing it right or not but we had a good time. We spent about 2 hours walking around the forest that borders our neighborhood. We found a ton of cool stuff and made sure to listen, look, and smell all of the things around us during our walk. Since it was an intro, I didn't have her focus on anything in particular but just let her walk around and explore.

All our goodies.
We also started a nature notebook using some free journal pages from Handbook of Nature Study and Free Lulu downloads. She filled in part of her mushroom journal page today as we found a handful of white, fuzzy mushrooms on our walk. Below are some pictures from our day:

Checking out something on the leaves.

Finding the last of the honeysuckle

These are little leaves stuck in a huge web

The mushroom we found peeking out of the ground
A spider web and egg sac?

Magnifying the mushroom.

This moth was fluttering around looking for nectar. I was finally able to keep her still and quiet enough to snap a picture of it.

Some sort of berry on a tree that we want to research.
I think this is Goldenrod, but I'm not really sure. It was covered with some sort of flying bugs that were mating all over the place.

A beautiful flower we need to research and see what it is.
Enjoying the sweetness of honeysuckle.
It started sprinkling and she wanted to see if rain tasted like salt water.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How Our Year Is Going So Far.....

We are about a month into our Heart of Dakota curriclum, and I'm almost about to set it aside for a bit. While I do like it, I'm finding that I want to focus more on reading, writing, spelling, and math for first grade and not worry too much about science and history. With the way history is woven through the Heart of Dakota curriclum, it would be hard to focus on reading and writing without also doing the history part of the curriclum. I'm not sure if I'll be picking it up again after Christmas, or if I'll just set it aside and use it as-is for second grade.

So far, here's what we're doing:

Math - sticking with Singapore. I am going to use flashcards and drill to help cement addition facts.

Reading - Phonics pathways, explode the code, and a new book I just got, Dr. Fry's 300 most common words which I'm using for reading and spelling instruction. I may pick up the Heart of Dakota spelling list towards the end of the year, but for now I'm finding that using the same reading sight words as her spelling words is helping her retain the information. While she was learning the spelling words provided by HOD, after I'd test her she wouldn't retain how to spell it. With Dr. Fry's book she works all week with the words through a variety of activities.

We are still using the emerging reader's set from HOD, and we're currently working our way through the Early Reader's Bible.

Writing - She has a writing journal where I write a prompt and she completes it.

Science - she loves science. While I decided to scrap the schedule of science provided by HOD because it just jumps around too much, we were still working our way through God's Wonderful Works from the beginning. But my plan is to actually set that aside for now and introduce nature study. We will work on science on Thursdays and continue with nature studies until it gets too cold, and then we'll go back to our science text.

History - on hold for now

Electives - karate on Tue., Thurs., and Sat., library on Wed., art on Fri.

And that's pretty much where we're at with our schooling right now. After the Christmas break, I'll re-evaluate and see if I want to start up BLHFHG again or just use it for second grade.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fort Benton Civil War Days

This past weekend was the Civil War period demonstration at Fort Benton. I took Avlyn and a couple of her friends to the event. It takes place in Patterson, MO., which is about an hour from where we live. We had just finished reading Abraham Lincoln by the d'Aulaire's, so being able to see what went on during the Civil War was a great way to connect history to our reading. Below are some pictures of our day.

Here the girls are learning how Civil War gun cartridges were made. He showed how they rolled up paper, put in the bullets and gunpowder, and then sewed up the top to keep the powder from falling out.

Here's what it looks like. To load the gun, the soliders untied the yarn and dumped all of the bullets and powder down the chamber. It would shoot the length of a football field.

Checking out a campsite of the soldiers. The girls touched everything, and the brigade left nothing empty. There was actually tea and coffee in the pots.

A stagecoach that rode around giving rides or barreling through battles.

Preparing to fight.

The preacher tried to make peace between the sides, but the Confederates shot him.

Then they charged the Union soldiers. You can see a couple of them already going down in the battle.

This is a cemetary at the bottom of Fort Benton. To the left of the girls is a site where many unkown Union and Confederate soliders' bodies lie. The cemetary is a mix of new and historical grave markers. The girls were very interested in finding graves from the 1800's.

An undated grave marker of an infant.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Homeschool Freebie of the Month - September

Freebies are getting harder to find. Maybe it's the cost associated with mailing out free items, or maybe companies just aren't giving away educational products like they used to. This month's freebie is actually a website called Deep Space Sparkle.

Created and maintained by a first grade art teacher, it provides a number of beautiful art lessons for free. While her step-by-step instruction booklets have a fee, she provides enough photos that you can easily see how a project begins and ends. We are kind of on our own for real art projects this year, as I'm finding our curriculum just doesn't offer the type of art that intrigues my daughter. I fully plan on using some of the free art project ideas from this site. Happy homeschooling!