Monthly Archives: September 2016

Aside
(The title of this post is “Summer Through Kids’ Eyes, and What We’re Doing for School this Year” – I don’t know why it is not at the top, in big, bold type like the titles usually are, but it does show up at the bottom of the post.  Weird!)
A couple of weeks ago, I asked the Kids for their impressions of Summer 2016.  Though it wasn’t an assignment (Why would a homeschooling teacher-mom ask for a “What I During Summer Vacation” essay?  Except for one week when they were at Bingle Camp, I was with them 24/7.  Well, maybe 18-22/7.), the Girl wrote the following short essay:
This summer we went to the lake two times, went swimming at our grandparents’ hotel pool twice, learned how to swim, still didn’t get our tree fort, but I did get a door.  We went to Denali Park for three days with our Youth Group, which was pretty fun, except it rained for two out of three days.  We also went on a really long hike in Gulkana, and volunteered at our local Stone Soup Café [an organization providing meals to those in need].  I auditioned for the Fairbanks Youth Concert Orchestra last week, and I got in!
-The End- 
The Boy said that, though he could remember everything, due to the fact that he has an excellent and deep memory, he has trouble accessing the memories on demand. 🙂  We’ll see what he comes up with in a few days.
***
This year I am trying a more structured approach to school.  I’ve tried being structured before, but always in the back of my head was the idea that I should be letting them choose what they want to study, and that I should trust that they will learn what they need to learn in their own time.  Well, I’ve tried that approach, too. (Probably not as well as I could have.)  The thing is, I have not really committed to Unschooling / Project Based Homeschooling,  or a more formal approach.  Inconsistency is worse than choosing a “wrong” approach, I think.  So, this year, since the Girl (7th Grade! When did that happen?) has repeatedly asked for tests and quizzes in the past, and since the Boy (5th Grade! What??) seriously needs help learning to focus on tasks that are not of his choosing,  we are going formal.  Here’s the rundown:
Language Arts:
Daily Grammar Practice, Levels 5 and 7 (Both)
Cursive Practice with Pictures (G)
 -Cursive Practice with Jokes and Riddles (B) (An example: Why did the teacher go to the beach?  She wanted to test the water.)
The Writer’s Jungle/Bravewriter (Both)
-Reading and writing across the curriculum (Both)
Foreign Language:
Rosetta Stone German (G)
How to Train Your Dragon Dragonese (B) 😉
Science:
Real Science Odyssey: Biology Level II (G)
Sassafras Science Adventures, Vol. 1: Zoology (B)
-Dover Human Anatomy Coloring Book (Both)
-Selected Topics in Marine Biology, as requested (G)
Social Studies/History:
Layers of Learning, Year 2:  The Middle Ages (Both)
-Many, many historical fiction books, and readings from several history texts (Both)
Crash Course History videos (on youtube) (Both)
PBS Learning Media
Social Studies/Geography:
-Layers of Learning, Year 2, focusing on Europe for the first semester
-Mapping The World By Heart – This textbook is one we will use over several years, and by the end, they might actually be able to draw a map of the world by heart…but even if they can’t, they will certainly have a better idea of where things are than they do now!
Math:
 –JUMP Math 7.1 and 7.2 (G)
JUMP Math 5.1 and 5.2 (B)
-Supplementing as needed with Khan Academy
Physical Education and Health:
-Swimming at Fairbanks’s Mary Siah Recreation Center (Both)
-English Country Dancing (think Jane Austen) (G)
Janice Van Cleve’s Nutrition for Every Kid
Home Economics:
-Sewing lessons with Mom (Both) (Girl wants to learn to make her own clothes; Boy wants to make his stuffed toy designs real.)
-Cooking – Raddish monthly cooking kit subscription, the cookbook produced by our PAC (Parent Advisory Committee – Kind of a PTA/Booster organization for homeschool) (G, though B might participate sometimes), and Janice Van Cleve’s Nutrition for Every Kid
Art and Music:
Atelier video-based art program (Both)
Beethoven Who? CD-based music appreciation course (Both)
Layers of Learning Year 2 arts topics as appropriate (Both)
-Harp lessons, concert orchestra practice and performances (G)
Whew.  I think that’s everything.  Looks enough, doesn’t it?  It might actually be too much – we’re almost through September and still haven’t had any formal art lessons (though both kids produce plenty of artwork, daily.  Boy has piles of drawings all over the house.  The piles themselves are becoming art installations.  Sigh.) I’ll give details and examples of coursework for each class over the next few weeks.

 

Summer Through Kids’ Eyes, and What We’re Doing for School this Year

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The Sun’s Going Away!

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Well, so much for maintaining a weekly posting schedule over the summer!  It is now late-September and our brief sun-time is waning.  Last Saturday was our final Farmer’s Market of the year, and this morning we saw our first snowflakes.  I’ve dug all my potatoes and stored them carefully away. (Good thing we didn’t get too many, since storage would be an issue – no root cellar.  Still, I’d have liked to get a bit more than “about double” what I planted.)  There are still carrots and beets in the ground.  Frost and moose very sweetly took care of the rest of my vegetable garden.  The Boy is now quite fond of moose, since he didn’t have to choke down any kale or cauliflower this year.  There is still buckwheat to harvest, and maybe enough barley to make a couple pots of soup.  And I just collected the last of the tomatoes and peppers from the greenhouse.  Oh, and we tried growing a couple of tomato family relatives called “Sunberries” and “Garden Huckleberries,” which are supposed to produce mega crops of dark purple berries that are best picked after a few frosts.  Well, maybe the “mega” part works farther south.  I picked a handful of Sunberries from the 35 or so plants I put in, but the Garden Huckleberries barely even set fruit.  Fortunately, those were two gift seed packets from Mom-in-law (Hi, MIL!).  They were actually a few years old, which is why I started so many – I didn’t really think many would germinate.

Though we did get some produce (enough to be thankful for!) it’s been a kind of disappointing year in the garden.  While I did manage to get some ripe tomatoes and enough summer squash to not mind composting a couple, we were overrun by chickweed

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The chickweed is still growing.

and bird vetch

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Bird Vetch – the Kudzu of the North

(and plantain, lamb’s quarters, dandelions and clover . . . ), and it was a very wet summer.

We did not get very far in our horizontal priority list, but we did manage to move our ducks outdoors! Hoorah!  The Husband build a lovely outdoor coop for them, with a nice enclosure, several covered areas and a pool for bathing.

They weren’t exactly “free-range”; there are too many free-range dogs and cats in our neighborhood to let them wander the property outside of a sturdy fence, and the property is too large to enclose (well, with our budget).  They did get to spend most of the summer outside, though, eating all the mosquitoes their little hearts desired (and as much chickweed as we could give them).  Meanwhile, the indoor coop has had a makeover.  The Husband emptied and cleaned it, and we’ve repainted the coop side with fresh white paint and polyurethane to protect the floor.

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I had to include The Husband or it would have been hard to see anything in the all white coop.

 

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Ducks back in their winter quarters

We are still working on the storage/work side.  That part can be done with the birds back inside, but since the return to winter quarters had to happen, those quarters needed to be ready first.

Currently we have 20 ducks and 2 bantam chickens.  They all returned to the coop but some are just visiting.  Several, at least, will take up residence in our freezer in a week or two.  Egg production has declined somewhat this year, and our spring hatching disappointingly produced only three healthy ducklings (and one of those even needed some help to get out of her shell).  Time to bring in some fresh blood.  Next spring we’ll order some new birds to improve the gene pool a bit.  We considered just starting over in the spring and sending all of them to the freezer, but that would mean no fresh eggs at all over the winter.  Store-bought isn’t enticing after having fresh for so long!  Also, we don’t have a stand-alone freezer.  Trying to fit 20 ducks in the above-the-refrigerator space would be a nightmare.  Hopefully, now that the birds have returned to the consistent 14-hour days and 50-60 degree temps of the indoor coop, they will think they’ve already been through winter and start laying like crazy.  If they don’t, we’ll have to do some investigating to find out who’ll survive the cull.

This time of year is always fun.  All the many things that should have gotten done over the summer but didn’t are still waiting.  School has started for both the teacher Husband and the homeschool Family.  The weather always seems to be gorgeous on days we are scheduled for indoor activities and iffy, at best, on those days we could work on those let’s-just-get-it-done tasks.  Let me tell you, wading through wet, waist-high bird vetch and slipping on overgrown chickweed to pick buckwheat in the cold rain is not my favorite part of autumn.  It’s all good, though.  The smell of autumn, the return of sunsets and the sight of the butterscotch birch and cottonwood leaves against the intense blue or smoky gray of the sky makes up for the yucky bits.