Archive | Home Schooling

Books We Love: Carnival of the Animals

By Kay on Wed, Jan 28, 2009


Carnival of the AnimalsA bit about the book…
While we had listened to a few of the movements from Camille Saint-Saens’s “Carnival of the Animals” (specifically Yo Yo Ma’s performance of “The Swan”), Kate had never really appreciated it the way I wanted her to. So, when I saw this book was at our public library, I decided to check it out and see if it would help her to fall in love with this clever composition. From the moment we read the first pages and listened to the first accompanying piece, we were hooked! Kate couldn’t wait until our next ‘school day’ when we could listen to a few more of the movements and read along in this book.

What we loved…
Barrie Carson Turner has done a fabulous job of commentating and setting the tone for this entire work of Saint-Saens. The first few pages describe why Saint-Saens wrote the piece (although I’m not positive it’s historically accurate, it’s a very cute story) and then describes an orchestra, the different instrument families, and how they are all arranged during a concert. A perfect introduction to the orchestra! The illustrations, by Sue Williams, that accompany this are a great visual for kids to ‘see’ it all, too. Turner’s descriptions of each musical movement and it’s corresponding animal are incredibly written so that you can easily hear the subtle nuances of each piece without getting bogged down in too much verbiage.

Continue reading…

The Thanksgiving Tree

By Kay on Tue, Nov 11, 2008


I was talking with a friend of mine recently when she mentioned this idea she had seen and I decided Kate and I just had to do it! (All of that to say, this wasn’t my idea! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sandra!)

Kate and I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving by thinking of things we are grateful for all month long. And to write these things down, we’re posting them on our “Thanksgiving Tree” on our pantry door.

We took a few pieces of newspaper and taped them together on the back, then drew a large tree trunk and some branches with crayons. Then we drew some different kinds of leaves on another piece of newspaper, cut them out as stencils, and traced and cut many more out of yellow, orange, and red construction paper.

We’ve chosen to write one thing we are thankful for per leaf and also to sign our names to each leaf so we know who wrote which thing. I tried to let Kate choose as much of the craft as possible so that she would have ownership in it all. She was so excited to tape her first leaf to the tree and couldn’t wait to have brother and sister home so they could ‘write’ one, too.

So far, we have about a dozen leaves on our tree ranging from being thankful for ‘our family’ all the way to being thankful for ‘my Groovy Doll’. 🙂 She’s loving adding to it and I love that it’s perpetuating an attitude of gratefulness during this Thanksgiving season.

So, what Thanksgiving traditions do you and your family celebrate?

Our First Day of School

By Kay on Wed, Sep 3, 2008


Since so many of you who read my blog are my friends, and so many of you are asking how our first day of school went, I thought I’d answer you all here instead of retyping it in 12 different emails.  🙂

Ethan's 1st Day of Mother's Day Out

Ethan (my 3yo) did great at Mother’s Day Out at the church around the corner from us – it’s also where Kate went last year and loved it.  He has a huge class of about 12 kiddos his age and 2 teachers.  They said he did great and only got weepy at nap time when they wanted to help him take his shoes off.  He, of course, would have NO one touching his new shoes and got defensive and whiny for mommy at that point.  Too funny what kiddos will get hung up on, huh?  Other than that, he seemed to have had a great day and he said he liked it and had fun.  His favorite?  The kitchen play area.  Hmm.  Do we have a future chef on our hands? Continue reading…

Great Book for Picture Study

By Kay on Mon, Jul 28, 2008

Comments Off on Great Book for Picture Study

At our last visit to the library Kate was disappointed to discover that they didn’t have any ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?’ DVDs on the shelf. (Do you remember that geography-sleuth kids’ gameshow on TV in the late 80s with the catchy intro song by the group, Rockapella? These are the cartoons along the same story lines.) So, I told her that when we got home we would get online and request them via intralibrary loan. While I was online looking for her DVDs, I ran across this book that I thought sounded really promising.  (I’m not really sure why I felt the need to tell you all that, unless I really just wanted to share with the world what a geek I was in the late 80s and still am, apparently, since I can still sing some of that theme song to this day…)

Where in the World? Around the Globe in 13 Works of Art

Where in the World? Around the Globe in 13 Works of Art, by Bob Raczka, has turned out to be my newest favorite book for Kate. It’s a collection of 13 works of art from around the world (duh, you probably got all that from the title) with a page describing the geographical location of the piece as well as the artist and the time he/she lived in. It’s written for kids, so the language isn’t a stumbling block but, thankfully, it’s not sing-songy either. Continue reading…

Kids and the Outdoors

By Kay on Tue, Jul 22, 2008


We all know the importance of getting our kids out-of-doors.  We’ve heard the studies about childhood obesity and ‘screen time’ in front of tvs and computers.  Of course, in Houston, it’s harder to get outside when temperatures are in high 90s.   But, we try occasionally anyways.

When I started studying Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy a few months ago on my search for a homeschooling model that worked for me, I was surprised at her strong thoughts on nature.  She adamantly encourages children under the age of six to have no formal schooling, but to spend as much time as possible every day OUTSIDE.  And, as they get older, that portion of their ‘schooling’ is still important enough to get its own subject – Nature Study.  She promoted Nature Study not only as a way to use up some of that extra energy that all kids seem to have, but also as a way to learn about our world, science, and our creator.  And we all know how a walk in the woods or a beautiful garden can help us regain perspective in life and reconnect us to God.

It seems as though current studies have finally confirmed some of what Charlotte has been saying since the 1800s.  I was just introduced to this site, Children & Nature Network, and have been thoroughly impressed with the information found there.  Check out this video clip from The Today Show about kids and the outdoors.  Makes me wanna go on a hike.  Anybody want to go with me?

So, how do YOU get your kids out-of-doors for free play on a regular basis?  I’m looking for some more creative ideas, especially for our hot, humid city.  Share them in the comments section below.

Holy cow!! Great use of visuals to help explain the proposed budget cuts and their actual impact on the overall budget.

You’ll never fold tshirts the same way again!

If you ever wanted to hear someone put a mommy’s day into a song, try this one! (I guarantee you’ll laugh your butt off.)

A little on the political side, but interesting nonetheless…

Children’s Books We’ve Read