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Pssst. Hey, you! Quick question...what do you wear every day? Clothes, yes, I know. But which clothes? What's that? You don't wear the same clothes every day? Some days you like to dress up? Other days you like to put on a comfortable pair of jeans and a teeshirt? Sometimes you need to wear raggedy old clothes for getting down and dirty? Some days you wear dark, drab colors? Some days you wear bright, eye-catching colors? Some days you never get out of your pajamas?

Well, just like I can't really ask you what you wear every day (or what you eat every day, or what you talk or think about every day), you can't really ask a homeschooler what they do every day, or what they learn every day. That's how much our days can vary.

If you showed up at my house unannounced for a quick glimpse at our day, you never know what you might find or what feeling you might walk away with. You could very well find yourself thinking, "Aha, I knew it, those homeschoolers don't do a darn thing."

Or you could well find yourself feeling rather impressed and thinking, "Wow, that's pretty incredible, kids don't get to do stuff like THAT in public school."

You might not find us home at all as we might be out and about on an errand, a field trip, a tour, a walk.

Or you might see some pretty dull-looking schoolish stuff going on and think it doesn't look much different than public school at all.

Which is all to say you really CAN'T define homeschooling by any one moment in our lives. Nor by a day in our lives. Maybe not even by any given week. Instead, you need to look at it more as a whole picture. So what I've done here, as a follow up to last year's original article, "What Does A Homeschooler Do Every Day," (see sidebar to left under "My Articles") is put together a series of snapshots from the past month -January, 2012- depicting what sorts of things you might find us doing at any given moment as we go about our daily business of living and learning.

Cooking and Baking
One day, we made homemade vanilla cupcakes with homemade lemon and orange icing (two different kinds)! and we decorated our cupcakes. Another day, we made homemade banana bread. Still another, Alexa and her dad made Navajo fry bread after wrapping up the chapter on "The People of the Americas" in her Story of the World book (which covers chronological world history in a storytelling sort of way and rounds it out with fun projects and activities). They made some plain and added garlic and salt to some to give it more flavor.



Fun Co-Op Classes
My homeschool group is not really a co-op group per se. We don't get together and teach academic classes to each other's kids; we prefer to teach our own. Mostly, we get together for field trips, tours, social gatherings and the like. But every now and then someone will volunteer to teach more of an informal "fun class" and those are always, well, fun! This month, my husband volunteered to teach a balloon animal class, where, with a combination of video, demonstration, and hands-on instruction, he taught a bunch of kids to make balloon swords and balloon dogs. They loved it!



Field Trips and Outings
Sometimes we go on field trips and tours with our homeschool group. Other times we go do something as a family. In January, we:

Toured the local post office:



Went to the DaVinci Science Center:



Went to the Pennsylvania Farm Show & Rodeo:



Went to Climb-A-Lot Clubhouse (just Ben and I), an indoor playplace:



We watched educational TV shows (stuff like "Before the Dinosaurs, Walking With Monsters" and "Walking With Dinosaurs"), we played board games, we had lots of conversations about lots of different things, we took turns walking on my treadmill, and we read a bunch of books and stories. Some of the books and stories we read in January alone were:

Alexa, Independently

The Woman in the Wall
The Castle in the Attic
Buddha
What Do We Know About Hinduism?
You Wouldn't Want To Be An Aztec Sacrifice!
The Cat Who Went To Heaven
How To Train Your Dragon
The Rainbow People
The Dragon's Gate

Alexa, With Me

The Wall
Talking Walls, The Stories Continue
The Two Mountains, An Aztec Legend
The Ramayana, A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic
The Lost World of the Anasazi

Ben, With Me

The Princess and the Pea
The Nail
Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!
Mr. Who
If I Ran The Zoo
The Butter Battle Book
Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Falling Up (Shel Silverstein poems)
One Little Chicken
Various stories from My Fun with Learning, great Stories from World Literature
Various stories from the Usborne Little Book of Bedtime Stories
He also listened to Magic Tree House audio books.

We made snow candy.
One day this month we finally got a big enough snowfall that the kids could go outside and actually play in the snow. And then we decided to make snow candy. That's where you boil some maple syrup with a little brown sugar and butter and then drizzle it over a pan of fresh, clean snow, where it instantly hardens into a caramel-like candy that you can pick up and eat. In one of the Little House books, Ma and the girls made it using molasses, but we prefer maple syrup. Yum!



Alexa and I continued studying ancient history. When reading about ancient Persia, she made a timeline with pictures that depicted certain events to her, she drew a picture of the ancient city of Persepolis, and she wrote a poem based on Persian themes of friendship, beauty and/or heroics.



After she wrote her poem, we did a paper marbling project where she made some very pretty sheets of marbled paper, and then selected one of them to mount her poem on, which made a beautiful frame/border for it.





When reading about ancient India, she wrote a letter to a friend about what it was like "living" in the caste system, having to stay with the same group of people all the time, and how that restricted her from things she might have liked to do. She listened to Indian music, identified some Indian instruments, and drew pictures of them.





When reading about ancient China, she wrote an essay on how children in ancient China treated their elders compared to how children in her environment treat theirs and what happens to elderly people today and where they end up when they are too old to take care of themselves. She also painted a picture of bamboo, and we ate Chinese food that night.



She does math, just like kids in 'regular' school, but in a slightly more engaging way...we use Teaching Textbooks math a few times a week, which she does at the computer. It consists of an animated lecture, practice problems, and the main lesson problems. We also do Life of Fred once per week which consists of reading a chapter (it reads like a silly story, which she loves) and then doing a few assigned problems called "Your Turn to Play" at the end. See sidebar to left under My Reviews for reviews of both of those math programs. She does spelling/vocab... the words come from her integrated social studies and English material and she does the typical "write these in sentences, alphabetize and define them, take a spelling quiz" kind of stuff. She does grammar, she gets writing assignments (though they're usually more creative in nature and she gets a choice of what to write about), so this is where the more schooly looking stuff comes in. You'd see it, if you peeked in at the right moments.

The kids help with chores and laundry and pet care (we've got a cat, two turtles, a leopard gecko, and saltwater fish). They accompany me on errands, and, yes, it's usually in the middle of the morning or afternoon on a school day- whenever it's convenient for me. (It's nice not having to go with the Saturday morning crowd). We still manage to get done whatever needs to be done with regard to school. We do that when it's convenient, too. We smile and say, "They're homeschooled" when people ask, "No school today?" while we're out. Which, surprisingly, doesn't come up as often as you might think. And which usually gets positive response when it does come up. Even though sometimes, right in front of the kids, someone will go, "Oh, I don't know how you do it, I couldn't be with MY kids all day!"

There are extra-curricular activities...Alexa belongs to a library book club, which she attends every two to three Mondays at the public library. She belongs to Girl Scouts, which she attends every Thursday evening, throughout the school year. She takes guitar lessons every Friday afternoon. And she takes Judo classes every Saturday morning. She's been doing that for over a year now and is often asked to help new students learn falls and rolls. Ben gave Judo a shot for the first time this month and decided it wasn't for him. He enjoyed teeball in the summer and soccer in the fall and looks forward to homeschool bowling league starting up again next month, but Alexa loves judo.



Alexa has completed typing instruction software and is working on getting her speed up. We are continuing to work our way (a bit sporadically) through Getting Started With Spanish lessons, as she's been wanting to learn Spanish for some time. Every now and then we review the State capitals so she doesn't forget them, as she memorized those a long time ago. She practices guitar regularly. For "logic," she has a book of "grid perplexor puzzles." She is maintaining a map this year in conjunction with social studies of some of the continents she's learning about and periodically has to add countries and bodies of water to it. She uses a free health curriculum from kidshealth.org, which we use once a week, and the Meet The Masters art curriculum, which she loves and also uses once a week. One week we'll view a slideshow and read the accompanying script about a master artist. Another week, we'll do some practice activities in preparation for the big art project. And the third week, she'll do an art project inspired by the artist she learned about. This month, she did an impressionist-style painting inspired by Monet.



She does other craft type projects, too, like this bean mosaic she did one day:



She does some hands on science experiments. We're doing basic life science right now and we're still on the section focused on plants, so there have been quite a few plant experiments. Stuff like putting a plastic bag over one of her seedlings and returning in a few hours to note and record her observations. Putting one of her seedlings in a dark cabinet with no sun for five days and then noting and recording her observations ("It lost its chlorophyll!"). Putting celery into a jar of water with food coloring, then cutting into the stem and examining the leaves and noting and recording her observations. Occasionally digging up and sketching one of her seedlings. Drawing and labeling a picture depicting photosynthesis. Weighing a pound of spinach, cooking it, and reweighing it a couple of hours later minus the water weight, and so on. This month we also got out Alexa's pink microscope just for fun and examined different things in it- I was surprised to see she willingly let her dad prick her with a new safety pin so they could examine her blood "in the name of science."



I then moved her on to grammar and joked that it was "in the name of English."

Ben's Kindergarten isn't a very academic one (see my Oak Meadow review under the sidebar to the left to understand what that's all about), so we read fairy tales and stories that introduce capital letters of the alphabet, and then he'll draw the picture that introduced that letter. When we read "The Nail," it showed nails laid out in the shape of a capital N, and he drew that, for example. Then he got to hammer nails into a piece of wood in the shape of a capital N.



When we read "Mr. Who," he drew a big capital O and then turned it into the owl, Mr. Who, from the story. He's got a gentle, Waldorf-inspired curriculum, which is what I wanted for him for now. Kindergarten should be sweet! However, I am also doing sporadic Funnix Beginning Reading lessons with him, so he is also learning to read and write some, and is making good progress with that. We're just not putting a lot of pressure on it or rushing it, because I believe that first grade is time enough for a more academic curriculum. It worked fine for me!

Next month, we have our homeschool bowling league starting up again. We've also got a planned trip to Hershey Chocolate World for a "chocolate tasting adventure," a homeschool group Valentine's Day party, a tour of a hospital, a tour of a pet shelter, and a Maple Sugaring program to look forward to.

Other than that, my kids will continue being kids and doing what they like to do. Alexa writes stories for fun. Ben makes blanket forts in the living room. We watch movies (Dolphin Tale was one we enjoyed this month). They play outside in the backyard with cousins and neighborhood friends. They visit grandma. They play dress up. They put on music and dance around the living room. They play imaginative games. They rough house. They play video and computer games. They bicker. They mindlessly watch SpongeBob for hours on end. They're kids. They learn a lot, and they do a lot. They've got active, full lives, and I'm happy with the way their educations- and their childhoods- are progressing with this wonderful mix of reading, writing, outings, and outside-the-box education.

So, what do we do every day?

We live.

We learn.

We see what comes up.

Nance,
February 2012.
THINGS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT:


THE FAMILY:

Shawn - 40, Husband, Dad, Tattoo Artist, Body Piercer, Business Owner, Saltwater Aquarium Enthusiast, Cook, Mr. Fix-It.

Nance - 41, Wife, Homeschooling Mom, Bookworm, Writer, Field Tripper, List Maker, Planner, Chauffeur.

Melissa - 22, Special Needs. Is in a sheltered workshop/life skills day program. Likes music, movies, shopping, and reading.

Alexa - 14, Left public school in March of 2009 and has been home since, happily homeschooling with Oak Meadow and an eclectic mix of other things. Currently in 8th grade. Enjoys reading, writing, arts and crafts, Girl Scouts, Judo, singing and music, doing her nails, and sleepovers with friends.

Ben - 8, Has never been to any outside school. Currently doing 3rd grade at home. Enjoys computer, video and board games, especially Minecraft and shooter games, silly jokes, soccer, rough-housing, and occasional cuddling and reading.

Adelaide - 13 months and my little ray of sunshine. :)

We are a relaxed/eclectic, secularly homeschooling family living in Pennsylvania and thoroughly enjoying Life Without School!

CURRENT CURRICULUM/MATERIALS:

Alexa is using: Oak Meadow 8 Civics; Oak Meadow 8 English; Oak Meadow Basic Physical Science; Story of the World Middle Ages; and Teaching Textbooks Math Pre-Algebra.

Ben is loosely using the Oak Meadow 3rd Grade curriculum (minus the math), Teaching Textbooks Math 3, and Reading Eggspress.

I've always been a fairly relaxed homeschooler. While I've buckled down more this year with my 8th grader, in general we do school around life, not life around school. We use mainly a fun, hands on curriculum that isn't overly time consuming and isn't dry or textbookish, and we're always willing to drop it for the time being if something fun, interesting, or educational comes up outside the house. Living is learning!


ABOUT ME & MY BLOG:

Welcome To My Blog!


MY ARTICLES, ESSAYS, & RAMBLES:

The ABCs Of Relaxed Homeschooling

A Perfect Day

Affidavits, Objectives & Samples, Oh My!

A Kindergarten Dropout

Homeschooling, A Year Later

Preschool Or Not?

I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

A Day In The Life Of A New Homeschooler

Homeschool Poem

What Does A Homeschooler Do Every Day?

What Does A Homeschooler Do Every Day Part 2

What About Socialization?

Why Homeschool?!

Dear Judy Molland

What I Really Mean When I Say I Homeschool


MY REVIEWS:

Funnix Beginning Reading Program Review

Getting Started With Spanish Review

Growing, Growing Strong Review

Insect Lore Negative Review

Life of Fred Math Review

Little Passports Review

Meet The Masters Review

Movie Review: Snowmen

Oak Meadow Review

Sentence Composing For Elementary School Review

Story Of The World Review

Teaching Textbooks Math Review

Times Tales Review

Typing Instructor For Kids Platinum Review


OUR BOOK LOGS:

Alexa's Third Grade Book Log

Alexa's Fourth Grade Book Log

Alexa's Fifth Grade Book Log

Alexa's Sixth Grade Book Log, Year 1

Alexa's Sixth Grade Book Log, Year 2

Alexa's Seventh Grade Book Log

Ben's Pre-K Book Log

Ben's Kindergarten Book Log

Ben's First Grade Book Log

Ben's Second Grade Book Log


SCHEDULE SAMPLES:

Oak Meadow Kindergarten Schedule Sample, With Pics

Oak Meadow 4th Grade Schedule Sample, With Pics

Oak Meadow 5th Grade Schedule Sample, With Pics

Our 6th Grade Stretched Over Two Years Plan

Some Of Our Most Fun/Interesting Projects & Activities, Oak Meadow 5th Grade


USEFUL FORMS & THINGS:

Homeschool Affidavit

Homeschool Objectives, Elementary and Secondary Level

Homeschool Portfolio

Summary, To Include With Portfolio, Example 1

Summary, To Include With Portfolio, Example 2

Standardized Test Results


MISC:

Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles A-I

Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles J-R

Books Featuring Homeschooled Characters, Titles S-Z

52 Books In 52 Weeks, Mom & Daughter Style, 2011

Homeschooling Quotes & Funnies

Our Fresh Air Fund Experience

Funny Things Alexa Has Said

Funny Things Ben Has Said

My Favorite Links

How I Got Alexa's Eczema Under Control!

My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, PART 1

My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, PART 2

UPDATED!My TTC, Pregnancy, and Miscarriage Saga, Part 3UPDATED!

The Family Who Wouldn't Change The Toilet Paper

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