...

...
If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead ~ Adlai Stevenson

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Musings...

Outside My Window...
Cool and overcast, with a chance of rain. And maybe more rain later in the week. Unfortunately, while I very, very much want the rain, it is supposed to rain Friday, which is just not a good day for that! With recent weather, etc., the kids didn't see their friends for a month, since Friday is the primary time we get to hang out. And so they would be really bummed if it rained again this Friday!

In the House and Garden...

I harvested my first artichoke for the year! (Isn't my purple colander pretty?) And I have about 7 more growing so far. I realized this weekend that we could also make better use of the front yard for growing some veggies (that's where the artichokes are). Maybe some Rainbow Lights Swiss chard, some kale, and next winter, I'd like to put in a row of asparagus plants. Thankfully, it is okay around here to grow edibles anywhere on my property, unlike some cases I have read of. Ridiculous, huh?

And around the house, even though we have gotten rid of a lot of stuff, I still feel we have too much. I feel cluttered. I think my mind lately is aspiring more to this than this. I wonder which the husband would find more appealing?

In the Kitchen...
http://www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_OatmealI've been looking for simple, make-ahead yummy breakfast ideas lately, and then remembered this fabulous refrigerator oatmeal. I made some for the kids and I for today, subbing in strawberries for raspberries in the raspberry/vanilla recipe (I also didn't use jam, but put a little raw sugar in there, and I used regular [whole milk] Greek yogurt). YUM! It is creamy, and a little chewy. I'd like to try some of her "newer" flavors too -- apricot ginger sounds great, and I bet the kids would love the pineapple-coconut!

I'm also making a couple of soups this week for a friend's mother, with Cassia's help. The mother is at home, dying of cancer, and all she wants these days is soup. So I am making a batch of butternut squash-orange soup, and a mild chicken tortilla, so I've got bone broth going in the crockpot right now.

In Our Homeschooling...
The kids really loved all the readings about the Buddha last week, and we did indeed watch Little Buddha again--our favorite parts naturally are the ones that depict the life of Siddhārtha Gautama / Buddha. This week, we'll read the second chapter on Buddhism in Human Odyssey, and some of Demi's Buddha Stories. Cyrus is really enjoying the challenge of Jousting Armadillos & Other Equations, so he'll continue with that, and Cassia is getting faster and faster with math facts, using Knowing Mathematics.

Reading & Watching...
We're about halfway through The Wind in the Willows. Cassia and I are enjoying a story each nights from The Serpent Slayer & Other Stories of Strong Women. We'll be watching Cosmos again this week. Last week we finally watched the first lecture from HHMI's Changing Planet, and plan to watch another this week. The kids are still making their way through the Dr. Who series. Movie night is still up in the air, though we've been talking about Indiana Jones!

On the Agenda...
Cassia was bummed that Easter got in the way of derby practice this week. She may be in a bout on Saturday though! Cyrus has fencing practice two nights this week, and I am down to the last few weeks of classes myself. M may or may not have more job interviews this week. Definitely a quieter week ahead (knock on wood)!

Have a good week!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Homemade Biology / Nature Studies...

This post is all about Cassia's upcoming sixth grade year. My friend Jessica has been talking about finding your child's passion(s), and going with it. Although I am taking a different approach with this concept, I am really listening and paying attention to what the children want, and my girl wants very much to study biology. At first, I pulled out a biology program that I bought sometime back, with the best of intentions. Going through it, though I will say it is very well done, and very thorough, it wouldn't really appeal to her -- she's not an encyclopedia-loving child. So I offered her a homemade biology curriculum, based on living books with plenty of hands-on, and she loves the idea! We'll also work in nature-related fiction/literature, to round things out, though I am being very picky and am limiting what I plan, so that we can actually accomplish it.

Our "spine" text will be All About Biology. This will help me organize the rest of our studies, and assist me in making sure I cover the basics.

From there, I hope to add in other titles from my home library, including The World in a Drop of Water, Life in a Bucket of Soil, and several other All About titles (Moths & Butterflies, The Insect World, Animals & Their Young, etc.). I am purposefully using vintage books for the most part, as they are well written narratives that intrigue and interest Cassia, though we'll likely add in some titles from the Scientists in the Field series when she wants to explore in more depth.

And finally, to tie in a bit of history and some good fiction, we'll read Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists, as well as A Girl of the Limberlost, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, The Secret Garden, and Gone Away Lake. I may add in more fiction, but those are the minimum four I want to share with her over the next year.

Another important facet to this study will be revisiting nature studies. I have Anna Comstock's marvelous book on hand, as well as A Child's Story of the Animal World, which is beautifully written and chock-full of great information! I'd love to have both kids (and myself) keep sketchbooks for this.


As for hands-on, I have plenty of books for that too, among them 101 Great Nature Experiments, Janice VanCleave's Biology for Every Kid , and The Amateur Zoologist. We also have two microscopes, some owl pellets, dissection kits and specimens, AND, if we get around to anatomy as part of our studies, I also have The Body Book.


For some of this, I would like to possibly bring Cyrus on board. He wants to do a year of integrated science studies before moving on to conceptual physics in ninth grade. He's thinking about using Paul Hewitt's Conceptual Integrated Science Explorations, which might be a good idea if he's going to use a book by the same author the following year, but here and there I'd like him to at least listen in a bit, and get in on some of the projects. Or maybe he'll choose a homemade year of science too... we'll just have to see!