Thursday, September 17, 2015

Throwback Thursday!

A series of older blog posts, mostly centered on homeschooling and children, that I began in 2008 as a way to update family on what we were doing.  Maybe some of the posts will be helpful to parents with younger children or new homeschooling families.

Today we read the first of three 'tall tales' in McBroom's Wonderful One-Acre Farm by Sid Fleischman.  We have enjoyed other Fleischman's books, The Whipping Boy and By the Great Horn Spoon, so I expected that this would also be an enjoyable read.

A tall tale is a story with exaggerated, unbelievable elements that are related to the reader as if they were factual and completely true.  Tall tales are part of our American Folklore heritage and also part of my personal heritage, if you've ever had a conversation with my step-dad or uncle.  As McBroom (Fleischman) teases, "I'll tell you about the watermelons in a minute."

McBroom decides to move his wife and eleven children out west in search of a better piece of farm land.  Upon the way, he meets a sheister named Hector Jones who cons gullible McBroom out of his last $10.00.   But the joke is on 'Ol Heck, because the acre of land that the McBrooms are left with is so rich, you could harvest a crop in a matter of hours!  "I'll tell you about the watermelons in a minute."

The reading level of the book is second-grade, age 7.  My children are past this level but it was a book I kept hearing about and had never read so I read it aloud to my fifth grade boy, complete with the country accent it calls for. Of course he rolled his eyes when I said I was requiring the book, which for him can be completed in one sitting, but I saw him smile a few times at the outrageous events that take place in the tall tale. 

I would encourage you to read this book aloud with your early elementary children and add in some fun family activities like sprouting bean seeds, writing your own tall tales and eating watermelon then having a seed-spitting contest. Adding a character lesson about telling the truth would also be a great addition.

And about the watermelon, you'll just have to read the story to find out what happens.

Originally posted 9/14/14 in my blog, Traveling with Children (Consolidating Blog Posts)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Learning: Bay Scalloping in FLORIDA

Sadly, I missed the Sonlight May Blog Party, but I am back on track for June.  One of my favorite learning activities in the Summer is scalloping,  so for this month's blog post, I'll share an edited version of an old post about scalloping in Florida*.  Even if you aren't in Florida, maybe it will inspire you to find something in nature to study with your children and pair it with an activity.  Summer Science has always been a focus for us, especially when they children were younger.  

Bay scallops are bivalve molluscs that can be found on Florida's west coast.  They are usually found living in 4-8 feet of water and are bottom dwellers.   Previously harvested and sold commercially, they are now only available for recreational harvesting during a specific, regulated season.  A Florida salt-water fishing license is required for those over 15 years of age.  Open harvest season for bay scallops along Florida's Gulf Coast usually begins in July and runs through September.  You can find the current season and more info at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission site.

As a family, we enjoy harvesting and eating scallops.  Our favorite place to scallop is on Florida's Forgotten Coast, near Carrabelle, FL, which is right about in the 'Big Bend' of Florida. There is only a certain zone where bay scallops can be harvested.
Bay Scallop Zone Map

 My children float for hours participating in a shallow-water treasure hunt searching for these fascinating and delicious molluscs.

One year, as we prepared for a trip, my ever-present thirst for knowledge reared its head and I began searching for information on the life cycle, migration habits, anatomy and any other information on scallops I could find, including recipes.  A unit study on vacation you ask?  
Why not?
This is what we look for while gently gliding through the water with our snorkel, mask, fins and of course a mesh bag to stash the critters.

Maybe you've only seen a scallop sauteed in butter and garlic or perhaps battered and fried? Upon initial inspection, the bay scallop doesn't really appear fascinating while resting in its natural habitat.  But, wait!  
Bay Scallop Eyes and Gills

The scallop has eyes, brilliant neon blue eyes, lining the edge of both shells!  This picture does not do justice to the gorgeous blue hue.   Doesn't it look like a venus flytrap?
The edible portion of a scallop is actually the adductor muscle that opens and closes the shells.  (There are two shells, hence the name bi-valve mollusc.)  

Ever seen a scallop swim?  Here is a great video showing the amazing maneuvers these molluscs can make.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a page on the anatomy and life cycle of the scallop. Why not plan your own family trip to harvest scallops? 

*This post was previously shared on my old blog "Traveling with Children"

Sonlight Blog Party

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Day in the Life.... Sonlight Blog Party, April

Sonlight Blog Party
The Sonlight Blog Party continues this month with the topic, "A Day in the Life, What does your Homeschool schedule look like?"

A few years ago, I would have had lots of schedules and plans to share but our family season has changed, the children have grown and they are working more independently.  My oldest (17) works at the local grocery store, takes dual enrollment classes at the state college and drives to all of his own activities. That takes some of the chauffeuring off my plate, but makes it challenging to have family time that includes all five of us. Also, I've been working part-time for our church in the Elementary Ministry, so that changes things up from week-to-week.  
So, we are F-L-E-X-I-B-L-E!

Typically, I rise early and have several hours of quiet time to myself before the children rise.  I cherish this time.  When the children were younger, they rose early with me but went to bed earlier and I had time to myself or with my husband in the evening.  Now, they are staying up later and sleeping later.  Since I am a morning person and an introvert, I love having that quiet time in the morning and my children are thrilled to sleep-in.

Each child has a schedule that works for them.  My oldest really keeps his own schedule now, so I don't have to worry much with that unless it affects the family.  My middle child (12) likes a monthly schedule without much detail, and she likes to check the boxes in order.  My youngest (11) works best with a weekly schedule that includes daily details of exactly what to do, but he doesn't really care if the box is checked or not.

Our week consists of  four 'school' days, with co-op classes on Fridays.  If they are behind schedule, I like them to make it up on weekends or sometimes we double up on a day when we are home, in anticipation of upcoming days off.   The 11 and 12 year old both have group tennis lessons at 11:00am on Wednesdays, that I organized with a group of other homeschooled students.  It works great to get a little school done in the morning, head to tennis, grab lunch, then pick up other subjects in the afternoon.  So nice to not be running to extra curricular activities in the late afternoon and evenings.  While each of our days is slightly different, each day of the week is pretty consistent from week-to-week.
For instance,
Monday I try to protect as a stay home day.  We catch up on housework and really get a strong start on school.  Sometimes this is a grocery day, if I wasn't able to get it done on Sunday.
Tuesday-Thursday are school days but also include work for me, tennis and any appointments or errands we need to squeeze in.
Wednesday includes youth group at church.
Friday is co-op day.
Saturday is family fun day and/or home projects day.
Sunday is church, rest, and grocery shop in the evening.

We ALWAYS have Sunday Dinner together after church.  We are blessed to have Grandma (my husband's mom) living in the house with us and she always cooks a big meal.  Besides that we try to have at least two more meals per week together as a family.  Usually, the 17-year old is missing due to his evening work schedule.

I realize as I write this that it is hard to talk of "A Day in the Life" because our days are so different, but that is just the season we are in and I know it will change again. In fact, by the time you read this, my son's college classes will end and our co-op classes will be over.  It will be time to tweak the schedule again and gear up for summer.  

Speaking of summer, I love to make a large poster-board calendar for the summer months. This has become a tradition that I learned from Sheila at Making the Most of Everyday.  I'll be blogging about that soon.

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