A Spring Nature Walk

Spring has officially arrived and we have been spending a lot of time outdoors. We’ve been playing in our backyard, eating on the lawn, and planting our gardens. We’ve also made a few visits to our local conservation area which has 6 kms of trails to explore wetlands, woods and wildlife. On our first visit we found a cracked, hallowed egg and a snake! On our most recent visit we had the opportunity to observe butterflies, birds and several spring blossoms including our beautiful provincial flower, the trillium.

Spring Nature Walk - robin's eggA Spring Nature WalkWe are planning a nature hike with our homeschooling friends this week, complete with a nature scavenger hunt to help the kiddos remember to keep their eyes open and observe their surroundings.

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If you would like to use the scavenger hunt I put together, just click here and save yourself a copy. Then go ahead and plan a hunt with your kiddos or organize a group with other homeschoolers! Enjoy the great outdoors!

 

 

 

 

Nature Scavenger Hunt & Paper Bag Nature Journal

 

I also made these cute paper bag nature journals for the kids. I used a free printable from Spell Out Loud for the cover and inside pages. The paper bag journal also has little pockets for saving treasures from your walk, perfect for preschoolers!Paper bag nature journals

 

 

 

I can’t wait to see how everyone likes them! And of course, to be out in nature with such a cute group of nature enthusiasts!

What is your favourite place to go to be out in nature with your children?

 

Do you want to see some more spring posts? Check out the link up hosted at Teach Beside Me for more spring themed ideas, resources and fun!

Blogging Homeschoolers Spring Link Up

 

Getting Started (Again) With Nature Notebooks

I made a delightful discovery a week or so ago while riffling through some boxes in the basement – a tote bag stocked with three pretty notebooks and several pencils. These notebooks were our nature journals from two years ago! I have some sweet memories of walking along trails with  my girls, examining wildflowers and pinecones, sketching, and searching field guides to determine what our treasures were. A year and a half ago these books were packed up for our move, and then put into storage while we spent a year in our (quite small) temporary home. I’ve had some fun finding things I had been searching for or things forgotten, but these were the most exciting yet!

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What a perfect time to find these journals too – I had recently purchased Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study and have been gearing up to put it to use while enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Nature Journaling - The Handbook of Nature Study

It’s so lovely to look back on Big Sister’s drawings and notes, written two years ago – she’s come a long way! Little Sister had a journal as well, but at two years of age she had filled hers with scribbles. I’m looking forward to seeing what she comes up with now at the age of four!

Mama has a notebook too! My drawings aren’t skilled, but my printing is neat 😉

So far this week we have made journal entries for dandelions (which have invaded our backyard) and the American robin. We have been watching the robins in our neighbourhood and looking up at the trees for their nests (we haven’t spotted any). I’m sure we will be seeing the young robins soon!

Big Sister's dandelion entry
Big Sister’s dandelion entry
How do you include nature studies in your homeschool? Do you keep a nature journal?

 

Linked up here: Hip Homeschool Hop

Classically Homeschooling

A FUNdamental Education!

Our relaxed, year round schedule of home education lends itself well to ensuring that there is much fun being had at our house!  That’s one of the reasons I favour year round schooling – it allows us to have a lighter load and also to “drop everything” whenever there is something else we’d like to do! Some of the things we readily “drop everything” for are spending time with grandparents (who often visit for a week at a time), travelling to spend time with family, play dates with friends, “educational” field trips and taking family vacations at non traditional times.

There is also much enjoyment in our relaxed days while we are at home following our regular studies. Here are a few of the things we have been enjoying while we are learning:

Fun Fridays!

Fun Fridays are something we began this winter and is proving to be so enjoyable that I think we will keep it as a permanent fixture. We have been playing math games while improving Little Sister’s number recognition and sense; and assisting Big Sister’s math fact retention and problem solving skills.

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Hands On Learning

DSC_4769My children are both really enjoying the experiments, demonstrations and activities we are doing this year while studying astronomy. Science activities and experiments have always seemed like too much work to bother with to me – I was rarely able to get my act together to have all the required equipment and supplies, and we often ended up skipping it. So this year I cheated – I bought the lab kit to accompany our science spine. I’m sure all the individual items included could be purchased for a fraction of the price, but the money has really been worth it in terms of ease of use. I basically just open the box and pull out the baggies labeled for our particular lesson and we are ready to go. So far since Christmas we have built a model of our solar system, melted chocolate using the sun and a magnifying glass, made a solar eclipse, made a model of mercury, and made a lava demonstration. I also plan to have our experiments on Fridays, to add to the fun we are already having with Math.

skeleten

 

 

 

 

Making History Come Alive

DSC_4865History is already Big Sister’s favourite subject, but there are so many ways we add fun to this! History is anything but dry when you take a living book and literature approach to it – no dry, memorization of facts and names required! Even in their play, my girls are constantly reenacting the people, stories, and events of the history we have covered. We have built pyramids with Lego, “mummified” numerous dolls, and the most popular of all activities was building our own volcano and erupting it (half a dozen times at least!) after studying Pompeii. My daughters also LOVE making their own paper dolls, and while only a few have been provided with our Story of the World Activity Guides, there are numerous available online.

Our history lessons this past week have included making Viking paper dolls, putting together a model Viking ship, and making Viking masks, battle axes and shields. I think we have a Viking funeral planned for next week!

DSC_4861

Field Trips and Group Activities

We meet with a small group of homeschoolers in our circle of friends once a month for a group field trip. Apple orchard, corn maize, skating, art studio, pottery and gymnastics have been planned since beginning with this group. We also meet two Fridays a month for gym time or art & music. The local homeschooling group also organizes a huge group for swimming lessons once a year. There are likely many options for social activities and group learning  in your community for homeschoolers, and if you can’t find any, plan one yourself and invite other homeschoolers!

Tea Party!

My girls enjoy having afternoon tea parties at least once a week. There is no particular educational goal here, but we do it because it’s fun and we can!

Tea party!

Book Picnics

In good weather and throughout the summer, we enjoy taking our books outdoors. We pack a lunch,  books, nature journals, and sun hats and head out either on foot or by bike to a park for reading and playing!

 

How have you been having fun while homeschooling? Please share with us what you have been up to!

 

You know what’s also a lot of fun? A giveaway!  This is my first post working with the Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team, and along with this month’s posts, we are offering an amazing giveaway from Picabo Yearbooks! Five lucky winners will each receive 1 Picaboo Yearbook -(softcover, 20 pages, 8½x11 size).  Giveaway is open to Canada only, age 18+.Enter before May13th @11:59pm EST. 

 

canadianhomeschoolbloggingteampekaboogiveaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out Lisa Marie’s review of the Picaboo Yearbook here.

Check out how the other members of the Canadian Homeschool Blogging Team are having fun in their homeschools here.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

 

 

 

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

Hip Homeschool Moms
Classically Homeschooling

Parts of Speech Printables

Are you looking for a visual aide to use with your grammar memory work? I’ve created these lovely prints to co-ordinate with our grammar curriculum, First Language Lessons, that are both practical and lovely. No reason to have hand copied or simple typed cue cards!

 

Beautiful parts of speech prints! Conjunctions
Revised and corrected Conjunction card 🙂

Parts of speech print - noun FREE Printables Parts of speech prints - adjective FREE printables Parts of speech print - adverb FREE Printables Parts of speech print - interjection FREE Printables Parts of speech print - pronoun FREE Printables Parts of speech print - preposition FREE Printables Parts of speech print - sentence FREE Printables Parts of speech print - synonyms FREE Printables Parts of speech print - verb FREE Printables

 

Simply right click on the images and save the files to your computer, and upload to your photo finishing website or print at home!

Enjoy!

 

 

Classically Homeschooling

FREE Printables {Round Up}

ABC Matching Fun – FREE PRINTABLE!

Little Sister has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 6 months. She’s growing like a weed and wearing Big Sister’s hand-me-downs from LAST YEAR even though she is three full years younger. And she’s having a blast riding on her “big girl bike” that she refused to even try last summer. She has also gone from being able to identify only a handful of letters to knowing them all and their sounds (most of the time). We are starting a gentle, slow introduction to phonics with the early lessons of The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I have noticed however, that although she has mastered the uppercase alphabet, she is having some difficulty with some of the lowercase letters.

Printable upper and lowercase letter tile matching activity pages FREE! - www.learningmama.com

So I created these fun little match-up sheets both to keep her busy during our morning lessons and improve her identification of the lowercase letters. The cute little pictures will also reinforce the letter sounds. We are using these letter tiles. After all the work of putting it together I thought, why not share them with you?

Big Sister helping out and enjoying in the fun!
Big Sister helping out and enjoying in the fun!

I hope your little students enjoy them as much as mine did! Click on the FREE Letter Tile Match-Up Printable image above or the link below to get your activity pages.

ABC Match-Up Fun!

 

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I’m linked up!

Hip Homeschool Moms



Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 3

 

My oldest daughter has been drawing quite passionately since our last lesson – she will sit at the table for an hour or more at a time with her sketch book and work away on her pictures. One day last week I invited her to join me with our books and a pile of Eric Carle books for inspiration. I even found myself having fun with it! One of the pictures we found inspiration in was this duck from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Using Eric Carle's Brown Bear for drawing inspiration! - www.learningmama.comI love how Big Sister thought to add cattails to her picture, I wish I had thought of that! We both thought it looked like mama duck was looking over her shoulder at her babies so we drew in some ducklings.

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Drawing From a Still Life

Next up for our lessons from Drawing With Children is Lesson 3: Drawing from a Still Life! I reviewed this chapter several times knowing that it was going to be a more difficult one. Although this lesson is for learning to draw from a still life, the author takes the reader through the lesson of drawing a picture of a still life. This is necessary because she walks you step by step through the process needs to be able to refer to specific, predetermined objects. After completing the lesson, we can make the transition to drawing real objects and constructing our own arrangements.

The photo of the still life is an arrangement of a teapot, vase, cup of kitchen utensils, and an abacus on a placemat. I decided we would only do Level 1, which is only the teapot and the vase. We discussed choosing where to start, placement and drew preliminary sketches before starting the lesson.

Like the previous lessons, step-by-step directions are given for drawing the objects. Big Sister had a much harder time with this lesson than the two previous. She made many mistakes (although the book discusses that there are no mistakes!) and we talked about how to adjust/cover them up. When the time came to add detail to her picture, and therefore incorporate some of the things she was displeased with into patterns etc. she had lost interest in her picture and wanted to be done. The next day, however, she was willing to give it another try and did a much better job of it. I think this week we might have some fun setting up our own arrangements from household objects and, now that it is spring, we should be able to get lots of practice in using our nature notebooks as well.

Drawing With (My) Children Lesson 3: Still Life - www.learningmama.com
Mine, Big Sister’s and Little Sister’s first attempts at Lesson 3. Big Sister was not pleased with all with this attempt but happier with her second try the next day.

 

The next lesson will cover much more advanced concepts such as volume drawing,  positive and negative space, and lighting. I think we will stop here though, it’s getting pretty tough and I think we will revisit this after we have had some time to practice (and mature!). Instead, we will go back and do the second level lessons for lessons 1-3 which should keep us busy for some time.

While the sample pictures of children’s work in the book is quite impressive, I do think it is a bit much to expect that a non-art experienced parent teaching their children at home will have similar results as those who have received the same instructions provided in formal lessons by a skilled artist.  I really wish this book had more of the early level instructional lessons because this has been a lot of fun and I’d like to keep the momentum going!

This post is fourth in a series reviewing our experiences using Mona Brookes’ book Drawing With Children:

1. Drawing With (My) Children: Our Homeschool Experience Using the Monart Method

2. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 1

3. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 2

 

 

Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 2

With much excitement and anticipation, we moved on to Lesson 2 in Drawing With Children!

Since our first lesson, Big Sister has been very interested in drawing. She worked her way through Ed’ Emberley’s Drawing Book of Animals while waiting for her next lesson. It’s so much fun to watch children learn as their interest is piqued!

We began our drawing lesson with some of the recommended warm-ups with Little Sister joining in. She really liked finding the elements of shape in our surroundings, as well as the Random Warm-up (p. 65) where we practiced making all of the elements in various colours. Then Big Sister repeated the Level 2 exercise for determining starting level, and she improved a bit so I gave her the Level 3 exercises as well. She did fairly well, so I think we will end up trying out all three levels for each lesson.

Lesson 2 is Drawing from Graphics, and it begins with some drawing tips. The author discusses following your feelings, overlapping, making adjustments and changes, where to start, making preliminary sketches, texture, and shading. I went over the basics as suggested, and showed Big Sister the examples in the book of drawing with objects overlapping each other and how to make adjustments when you aren’t satisfied with your work (transforming, adding on, covering up, and tracing).

Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 2 LIONS! - www.learningmama.com
Little Sister’s attempt.

 

Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 2 Lions! - www.learningmama.com
Big Sister’s Leo! I love the little birds she added flying overhead.
Drawing with (My) Children: Lesson 2 Lions! - www.learningmama.com
My Lion.

Then we got to the fun part: Leo the Lion!  Leo the Lion is the Level 1 project for this lesson and a photo of an embroidery graphic is given, along with a simplified drawing. We made some preliminary sketches to determine how big to make our lions, leaving room for whatever else we wanted in the picture (trees etc) and then jumped right into the step by step instructions.

Little Sister came back to join us for this part, and it only took a few minutes before I wished she hadn’t. All that wonderful information offered by Mona Brookes in the introductory chapters regarding attitudes, environment and quietness while drawing? Our drawing lesson soon became an example of what not to do! What developed in my dinning room was what one could only describe as a toxic art environment: Baby Sister screaming in the high chair as I doled out pieces of grapes and Cheerios. The Frances Audio Collection playing in the background (Little Sister popped it into the player when she became bored of all the talk about overlapping and adjustments). And the piece de resistance was Little Sister crying, and then having a full on tantrum while trying to draw the lion and imploring me to draw it for her. She was just so unhappy about her ability, it was heart breaking really.

Little Sister eventually settled down and finished her lion with us but was greatly displeased throughout. I think it turned out pretty cute though! Big Sister had a lot of fun, and despite Little Sister begging her to come play, she decided to keep at her work and add a tree and birds to her landscape.  I think I’ll break out the Eric Carle books this week so we can practice copying some simple, animal graphic shapes.

Animals are so much fun to draw!  What have your children been enjoying drawing lately?

 

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This post is third in a series about our implementation of Mona Brookes’ Drawing With Children. You can check out the others here:

1. Drawing With (My) Children: Our Homeschool Experience Using the Monart Method.

2. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 1

4. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drawing with (My) Children: Lesson 1

So far, we have been having a lot of fun with Drawing with Children!  I bought a sketch pad for each of us to use for our drawing lessons to increase the “specialness” factor with the kids. I’m also hoping that when we are done they will be pleased to have all their drawings kept nicely in a book and not end up in the recycle bin.

The first step in the program is to determine your starting level. The girls were quite excited to find the dining room set up with scratch paper and all sizes and colours of markers after our daily quiet time.

I had copies of the Level 1 & 2 exercises from page 44 for the three of us and we sat together to complete them.

Drawing with Children, determining your level
Little Sister, Age 4

Little Sister (age 4) was able to duplicate with some reasonable ability just under half of the images. According to the guidelines, she isn’t ready to start the lessons yet and should start with some of the visual warm-ups and try the exercise again in a few weeks. She lost interest in our drawing lessons long before we got to any of the guided drawing exercises anyway.

Big sister was able to duplicate all of the Level 1 exercises and almost all of the Level 2 exercises. I think I’ll have her repeat the Level 2 before we start our next lesson, as well as the Level 3 exercises.

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DSC_4807I then moved on to introducing the The 5 Basic Elements of Shape: The Dot Family, The Circle Family, The Straight Line Family, The Curved Line Family, and The Angle Line Family. We practiced drawing these elements on our scratch paper with various colours. We observed our environment to find each of these elements in the room.  Then we moved on to the mirror imaging warm-up from page 69. These were quite difficult as you can see – even for mama! After we had completed our lessons, I did find full lesson plans for homeschoolers and printables from Donna Young which had some much easier mirror images.

Mirror Imaging Exercise from Drawing with Children
These were hard even for mama! Mine on the left and Big Sister’s on the right.

 

Next we moved on to the abstract design warm up. By this time Little Sister was off building with blocks or playing dollhouse. Big Sister however, was loving every minute of this. We did the Level 1 warm up and will probably do the Level 2 or 3 before starting our Lesson 2 project.

Drawing with Children Lesson 1: WOW! I CAN DRAW EXERCISE - www.learningmama.com
WOW! I CAN DRAW EXERCISE. Mine on the right and Big Sister’s on the left

The final exercise combines the 5 elements into recognizable objects. Big sister was quite surprised with what she was able to draw!

The lesson concluded with the guided drawing of a bird. Starting with a dot for the eye, descriptive directions using the elements of shape are given. Step by step illustrations are also provided. Big Sister was quite proud of her work, and since it is spring, she coloured it in like a robin. The lesson (and finished result) was so enjoyed, that we repeated it again a few days later, and Little Sister even decided to give it a try.

Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 1 Birds - www.learningmama.com
Little Sister’s chick!
Drawing with (My) Children: Lesson 1 Birds - www.learningmama.com
Showing off her work!

 

 And now it’s time for me to prepare for Lesson 2, as Big Sister has been asking for drawing lessons almost daily!

How do you teach art in your homeschool? Do you know of any great learn to draw programs suitable for beginners? 

 

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Drawing With (My) Children: Our Homeschool Experience Using the Monart Method

A recent addition to our homeschooling activities has been the introduction of “art class”. For our first few sessions I did some searching online for tutorials and ideas and came up with some simple yet enjoyable projects. The first was crayon etchings, and the second was watercolour pencil drawings.  Then I had the realization that I DO have an “art curriculum” sitting unused on my shelf! A few years back I purchased Drawing With Children but was somewhat overwhelmed with the prospect of implementing it and following through with my plans. I loved the premise of the method, and the examples given of children’s work is quite impressive. But life was busy (pregnancy, move, newborn, move) so we just stuck to the basics for the time being and focussed on “The Three Rs”.

So now that we’ve got our own grove going, why not give it a try?

Here are the basics of the book:

The author of the book, Mona Brookes, proposes that drawing (like music, dance and other artistic subjects) should be taught through basic instruction. She refutes the notion that drawing evolves naturally and that you shouldn’t give young children any guided instruction in drawing. She has broken drawing down into it’s basic components which she calls the basic elements of shape. When learned and practiced, these elements make up the basis for the drawing of all subjects. This melds very well, by the way, with the tenets of a classical education’s grammar stage. The Five Basic Elements of Shape make up the “grammar” of drawing.  I really appreciate her philosophy that anyone can learn to draw well, that drawing is a  learned skill, and not only possible for the few of a us who are gifted with it.

The book contains step by step instructions for 5 lessons. The student begins the program by determining their starting level (1 of 3) which encompass children from approximately age 4 to the adult beginner.  Then The 5 Basic Elements of Shape (dot & circle family, straight, curved and angled line family) are taught. There are warm-up exercises and teaching tips, as well as information on selecting good art supplies and preparing your environment (and attitude!). We are very excited to see where our learning takes us! This is really the perfect project for us, because it will feature the teacher learning alongside her little students!

So check back often and follow along with us to see how we are progressing! We are sure to be having fun!

We don’t expect children to play the piano, study dance, or learn a sport without showing them the basic components of these subjects. Why do we expect them to understand the complexities of drawing on their own?

Have you used Drawing with Children? What are you doing with your little learners for art?

This post contains affiliate links.

 

This post is first in a series about our implementation of Mona Brookes’ Drawing With Children. You can check out the others here:

2. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 1 BIRDS!

3. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 2 LIONS!

4. Drawing With (My) Children: Lesson 3 DRAWING FROM A STILL LIFE

Hip Homeschool Moms

A Few Things That Have Made This a GREAT Winter!

I’ve seen a lot online about February Blahs and Homeschooling Burnout, but I have to say, that February was a great month for us!  Like most of us, I did grow tired of the snow, cold and short days; but the homeschooling itself has been the smoothest it has ever been! Now this may be in part due to the fact that we are not currently selling a home, buying a home, planning to move, unpacking a move, pregnant or caring for a new baby. Which does, in fact, describe much of our previous homeschooling journey up until this point!

While we are enjoying the continuation of some of our previous selections (Story of the World!), we have also begun some new things that are working out really well.

Nature's Workshop Plus! Science Kit for Exploring Creation Through Astronomy - www.learningmama.com
Nature’s Workshop Plus! Science Kit for Exploring Creation Through Astronomy

New for us this winter is studying science with Apologia’s Young Explorer Series, and All About Spelling.  I’ve already posted about how wonderfully AAS is working for us. Astronomy is going well also, and I am so glad I decided to opt for a less writing intensive approach for Big Sister and more hands on work than last year. Our previous science selection involved notebooking which she found very tiring and produced quite a bit of resistance. We also did very few of the suggested experiments. Since then we have been doing lapbooks which seem to be more enjoyable for her at this stage of her development, and I have purchased a prepared science kit that covers all the experiments in our astronomy book. No excuses! Absolutely everything is included except for a few perishable items that can’t be shipped in a box (like whipping cream). Last week we made our own eclipse and it even included the flashlight (and the battery) that was required.

popsicle stick bird feeders
Popsicle stick bird feeders!

Fun Fridays! are still going strong and Big Sister just revealed to me today that Friday is now in competition with Sunday for her favorite day of the week. We have been playing Math Bingo, dice games, and more instead of our formal math curriculum. We’ve also made popsicle stick birdhouses, crafts, art and co-ordinated our science experiments to fall on Fridays. We wrap Fridays up with pizza and movie.

A very welcome improvement in our daily schedule has been the introduction of a formal read aloud time after lunch.  While I am a firm believer in the importance of books, reading, and reading aloud, this one had really slipped since the arrival of Baby Sister. From very early on Baby Sister was a book grabber and a poor napper, so reading aloud got the short end of the stick and was relegated to an only at bedtime activity. But for the last few weeks we have had success with curling up on the couch with a few good books for 15-30 minutes after lunchtime clean-up. Baby Sister crawls around on the floor contentedly and we snuggle and read. It seems like a great calm, quiet, segue-way to our daily afternoon Quiet Time.  The podcasts from The Read Aloud Revival have been a great encouragement to me, and really got me re-committed to this practice.

Homeschool organization in a simple spiral notebook - www.learningmama.comAnother thing that has been working really well for us is a simple organizational tool – a spiral notebook.  When I first heard of this method, I was very skeptical that it would contribute anything worthwhile to our days. The basis of the system is to set up a daily checklist for each child in a simple spiral notebook. The child completes the items on the list and checks them off. Very simple. I didn’t think it would work for us because almost everything we do is teacher dependent.  We don’t do a lot of workbook or busywork type activities in our day. BUT I have found that my daughter really enjoys seeing the day’s activities (even housework!) laid out for her. For the first two weeks, she was really into checking each activity off the list but the novelty seems to have worn off.  It does however provide her with the ability to be independent about some things such as her math corrections and beginning the required reading for science. It is also helping me to be organized the night before and to make sure I’m ready for each day’s activities. I am also writing short, fun notes to my daughter and she is illustrating her day with stick figures of her doing each subject. Additionally, I’ve added three independent activities to the checklist that I can’t believe I didn’t require sooner: 15 minutes each for independent reading (from our book basket), reading to Little Sister (her own selection), and piano practice. The payoff here is that Little Sister is getting even more read aloud time, Big Sister is getting through all the awesome supplementary reading suggestions from SOTW’s corresponding history and literature selections and daily piano practice is actually happening. Don’t you just love it when something so simple works so well?

Crayon etching for art class www.learningmama.comWe’Watercolour pencils www.learningmama.comve also added a time for “art class” to our weekly activities. So far we have done a crayon etching and pencil water colours thanks to some Youtube inspiration. A few years ago I purchased Drawing with Young Children and I’m planning on starting the lessons from that next week.

Do you know what else is working really well for this mama lately too? The positive numbers on the thermometer, the longer days and the beautiful sunshine! I’m sure we will be adding nature study, and lots of outside play very soon!

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