Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

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The Homeschooling Spectrum

10526176_10152691965351404_1599779552232524066_n If you’re new to homeschooling, you may not realize just how diverse the concept of ‘homeschooling’ can be. This graphic has been popping up on homeschooling boards fairly often lately, and I wanted to share it and talk a bit about it, because I think it is a relatively decent simple breakdown of what homeschooling might look like for individual families.

No two homeschooling families will look exactly alike, even if they’re using the same materials. That whole concept is kind of weird, because schools do look very similar, no matter where you’re at geographically, or what age your kids are, or what materials they’re using. In fact, even with completely different materials, ‘school’ in a brick-and-mortar school often looks practically identical to another B&M school. This generalization excludes ‘alternative’ schools like Montessori, Waldorf and others, which are based in different educational philosophies (in fact, many homeschooling families base their methods on similar concepts), but overall, ‘public’ schools look very, very similar.

I’ve been wanting to talk about the difference between homeschooling and ‘school at home’, which is the Red section on the chart, and encompasses things like ‘virtual academies’ that are hosted by states or local ISDs. I may rustle some feathers for saying this, but if you’re Red, then you’re not really ‘homeschooling’. Hear me out – what I mean by that is that you’re missing out on the entire point of being outside the B&M structure of/and traditional education model. Yes, you might be at home, but you’re still dealing with much of the same stress and hassle of B&M schooling, and getting none of the freedom and enjoyment of ‘real’ homeschooling. Not to mention that in some ways, you’re still buying into the ideas that traditional education have drilled into our culture (like testing and grades and grade-levels, rather than focusing on mastery before progressing).

Having said that, Red isn’t all bad. Red has its place in the homeschooling spectrum, and isn’t without advantages. Red can be a necessary stepping stone towards ideas that more fully encompass what homeschooling can really be like. Red is safe, and provides a lot of structure and reassurance for newbie homeschoolers who are hesitant to take the leap into full-on homeschooling. Red is awesome for kids who need to be outside of the classroom but have parents who genuinely don’t want to homeschool, and for kids who just need a lot of structure. Red is a good option for families who live in areas where there is a lack of support for homeschooling in general. Red is also great for families who encounter a lot of opposition from extended family or friends, or for those who know their own strengths and weaknesses, and despite a genuine desire to be otherwise, know that without such a strict outside structure they would end up ‘not schooling’. And then there are some families who choose Red because that’s what they’re comfortable with, and that’s cool, too.

Orange is pretty similar to Red; I don’t see a lot of difference between the two, really. Maybe the difference is more a mental shift than a visible one. That’s actually a pretty big deal. That’s the first step towards stepping outside the box. Even if it doesn’t show in your day-to-day schooling interactions with your kids, that switch in thinking is key if you want to move into a different color. It can be as simple as switching to a 4 day school week, or starting at 10AM instead of 8. Small steps, but important ones!

Yellow is pretty much the middle. Yellow is still parent-led, which is great for young children who are coming out of B&M schools who are used to a lot of direction, or for children who started out in Indigo or Purple and Mom feels like it’s time to add some structure. Yellow is great for socially active homeschool group participation, and for control-freak parents (like me). We started out in Yellow, and it was a really good place for us when we were there. Yellow requires a bit more parental prep, because you’re not necessarily using a boxed curriculum – you may be researching different resources to use for different subjects, and it takes time to plan. But overall, Yellow is a nice ‘middle of the road’ option.

Green and blue kind of go together in my mind, probably because that’s where we are now. We do a lot of field trips, some project-based learning, a lot of note/lap-booking, and still use some structured curriculum. But we also have more child-led learning (interest-based) than we used to because since my kids are older now, we’re tailoring to career paths and personal interests. We have a lot of flexibility with scheduling, and I trust my kids to do what they need to. For us, this was a system of more parental control, lessened as their responsibility grows. It might look much different for another family.

Indigo and Purple also merge together for me, but that’s very likely because I don’t have a lot of experience with them and have a hard time differentiating between the two. I’ve seen Indigo and Purple very well done, and I’ve seen it as an excuse for no schooling at all. I’m sure that colors my perception of child-led learning (or delight-led) and unschooling (which is what those colors represent) in practice, but I know that it can be a very good option for some kids/families. I’m Unschooled. Yes, I can Write is a blog that I’ve been following for years, and she’s a great example (and advocate) of unschooling as a successful model of education. I also have a couple of friends who successfully employed unschooling, and have seen it work (for both young children and teens/young adults).

I absolutely don’t want to give the impression that the chart is a ladder of sorts that people work their way from Red to Violet – it’s not about that at all. But stepping outside of the Red zone, even into Orange or Yellow, is so liberating! I’m sure people who are in the indigo/violet area would say the same thing to someone like me; it’s all about perspective!

Like I said, we started out in yellow, and have moved into the green/blue area. I am deeply attracted to indigo & violet, but feel equally like I know that they just won’t work for us and am afraid/lack faith or trust in the process. I generally need more structure than that, and I feel like my kids need more direction than those areas provide. I fully reserve the right to change my mind about that, but that’s how I feel right now. The truth is, green/blue is comfortable to me. I don’t feel the need to change it, because it works for us. We still get a ‘backbone’ for things to hinge on, but we also have a lot of freedom. And with my unpredictable work schedule, green/blue lets me work without feeling like I am sacrificing school in the process.

Ultimately, it’s up to each family to figure out where they fall in the spectrum (or, for that matter, if they want to let something like ‘the spectrum’ define them). Many families start out in one color and move to another, either gradually or by circumstance or by deliberate choice. Some families move down the spectrum, while others move up it. Homeschooling is such an individual thing – some families use one method with one kid and another method with their other child(ren).

However you choose to homeschool, make the most of it! Spend time with your kids, stop and see the sights in your town that you have never had time for… make the most out of the time you have with them. It goes by *so* fast! Enjoy it.

Warmly,
~h

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fair 2015

Once again, it’s science fair season in the homeschool world! It’s odd to me that in our area, the public schools all have their science fairs in the fall, but the homeschooling ones  here are all in the spring. Personally, I prefer that time frame; it seems like the fall is all about getting back into routines and then stalling out for the holidays, but in the spring, there’s tons of time and everything is running smoothly. Maybe that’s just my perception, but I’m glad we get to wait until spring!

This year, our local homeschool group is hosting a non-competitive science fair. We have done competitions in the past, but they’re not really ‘fair’ considering the wide age gap among our students. A non-competitive fair lets everyone participate, with different levels of participation. Some students do the traditional results board outlining their projects, others do their projects and experiments at home and just do a presentation, while others do a family project instead of individual ones. We like the variety and options that this model allows us. We always try to plan our group science fair early so that those who want to go on to compete can participate in the Texas Regional Science Fair in Tomball.

This year, the boys are both doing individual projects, with display boards.

PeaGreen: Hydrophobic Sand

PeaGreen’s project is answering the question, ‘Can you use household products to make hydrophobic sand?’. We saw some on TV and he decided he could make some.

I was pretty happy with his choice, and his enthusiasm for this project. We had some decorative sand from a previous project, so it truly was a ‘household product’ experiment. He chose 6 products to test, and a seventh portion of the sand as the control, including hairspray, WD40, and cooking spray. We made a chart for him to use to test his results, and took lots of pictures.

 

 

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LBB: Do Dogs Understand English?

LBB loves his dog, so he’s always on the lookout for something he can do that involves our Max. We came across an interesting premise – that dogs don’t actually understand the words you use, rather, they’re conditioned to tone of voice. So he was all over deciding to test that theory.

My brother and his family recently moved next door to us, bringing their fantastic boxer, June, who has become Max’s very best friend, so LBB had two dogs to test his theory on. He used words that sound similar to commands the dogs already knew, like ‘sit’ and ‘lay’, instead saying ‘spit’ and ‘hit’ and ‘play’ and ‘fray’.  He also tested other words that didn’t sound the same, but said them in the same tone of voice. He was supposed to get pictures, but he had his hands full and it’s been cold out, so this mommy was lazy and didn’t venture out for photography duty (bad mommy).

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Our science fair was at a local state park, and we had a really great turn out from our homeschool group!

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In other news, my sister has been playing with face-paint quite a bit lately, and convinced the kids to let her do them up, comic-book style. Don’t they look great?! I love that Fred’s tee shirt is in a similar theme.

 

 

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Trying to stay warm,

~h

Penmanship & Writing Helpers

Handwriting is one of those things that I’ve gone round and round with my kids over, for basically the entire time we’ve been homeschooling. It’s not that they aren’t capable of writing neatly; more that they get in a hurry and rush through it. I’m a stickler for legibility, and we focus pretty heavily on writing, especially now that they’re in middle school, so I really do need it to be a skill they master.

Over the years, we’ve tried various methods for improving penmanship, none being particularly helpful (other than the old standard of ‘practice, practice’ practice’). We’ve gone through 2 workbooks of Handwriting Without Tears, tried pre-writing hand warm-up exercises, ‘ZOOM‘ technique, and used tons of practice worksheets, used grid paper and Mead’s Redi-Space notebooks, tried note-taking in various forms – I think we’ve done fairly well at ferreting out all of the tricks of the trade, and to give credit where credit is due, all of these things have helped. I have definitely seen improvements – vast improvements over when we first started – but nothing that is an ‘a-ha! moment’ where it just ‘clicks’ for them. But homeschooling is nothing if not try, try, try again, and so the search continues. I found something new that I will be implementing with the boys when we start again in January and I thought I’d share.

It is actually an idea that I found in a video, from a Pinterest pin on writing and hand-lettering for art journal purposes. The video used Photoshop and a purchased font to create what is essentially a worksheet for the author to print and trace in order to learn a new style of hand-lettering. But I thought the same technique would work well for improving handwriting (only simplified quite a bit). For example, you can create a new MSWord.docx or other word processing program and use a very light font color. That would be the easiest way to achieve the same effect.

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What you end up with is a page they can trace over. This picture is a sample of what that can look like; for ‘real’ use, I’d probably either type it or have them type it first, then trace. The font in this sample page is called Architect’s Daughter, and I downloaded it from DaFont.com (free for personal use). I also like a script font called Gruenewald VA – it is visually similar to what my boys are used to from HWT.

The reason I an sharing this is because I wanted to reassure other moms with older homeschooled kids (especially boys) out there that you’re not the only ones that struggle with legible handwriting! It’s something I am constantly harping on. If you’ve read here before, I often refer to myself as a ‘mean’ homeschooling mom, because I do make my kids erase and re-write thing that are hard to read. Our rule is, ‘If I can’t read it, I can’t assess your progress; ergo, you must re-write it’. Also, “Mom’s not going to go blind trying to decode these marks into words. Just NO.” And, “Are these words?!? In English??” and “Are you kidding me??? O_o” Sometimes, I change the wording.

In any case, I have dreams of one day having beautifully hand-written notebooks from my kids, but for now, I will settle for ‘legible’ and call it progress well-done!

Care to share your tips for handwriting help?

Warmly,
~h

 

Holiday Cheer!

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I was feeling Christmas early this year. We were all sick through Halloween, so my holiday season has felt ‘just out of reach’ this year. Once we passed Thanksgiving, I was ready for double-Christmas! So we cleared out the holiday boxes and got the tree set up. I love having the tree in the middle of the living room. It’s definitely in the way, but it’s so bright and pretty – we can live with it for such a short time.

Our tradition has been to get an ornament each year. We get a ‘family’ ornament, and a ‘personal’ ornament. The family ornament is in a theme – this year, it’s gnomes (although only the kids got gnome ornaments – Loverly Husband and I both got glass ones). In the past, we’ve done snowmen, Santa, reindeer, robots, gingerbread… all kinds of things. For the ‘personal’ ornaments, though, I was feeling a little more crafty, so we did salt-dough ornaments!

I found a recipe online that was 1c. salt, 1c. flour, and 1/2c. (ish) of water. I doubled the recipe, and tried to dissolve the salt in the water to see if that would give us a little bit smoother texture, and it wasn’t great,. but it turned out okay. It’s not like ‘cold porcelain’ clay (which is baking soda/baking powder kind), but it did form and roll well, and the ornaments held their shape, and are nice and solid (we dried them in the oven overnight on low, low heat).

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CAM01307Our homeschool group has been hard at play, too – we had a ‘winter craft day’ last week, and our Christmas party today. The last few months, the moms in our group have planned some absolutely amazing group events! The kids got to exchange board games, which was a nice change from toys that end up broken or lost within a couple of weeks. We LOVE games and have an extensive collection in the school room. Our current favorite is ‘Scattergories’, though ‘Balderdash’ will always be my personal favorite (aside from Cards Against Humanity, of course).

We’re out of school now – closing our 4th year of homeschooling! It’s been quite the journey so far, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store!
Happy holidays!!

Warmly,
~h

 

Go With The Flow

When it comes to establishing habits and patterns in your life, experts will say that you have to do it consistently for anywhere from 2 weeks to one month for it to become your new normal. While there may be some grain of truth to that, I think there’s more to it than just committing to something new for a while and expecting the new thing(s) to magically become ‘how you are’. Particularly  when it comes to making changes to habits that you’re pre-disposed to having or that you’ve had for years, or doing something totally new in your life that also works against your nature.

For example, homeschooling.

For many of us, taking on the full responsibility of educating our kids is a new thing. If you had a child in school, then going from being the mom who gets the kids up, fed, packed and out the door to school everyday, to being the parent who gets to revel in the first (or third) cuppa long before the kids get out of bed seems like a luxury. And it is, don’t get me wrong! But all too easily, in even the strictest of homeschooling homes, ‘relaxing’ can go too far. To be fair, so can rigidity – but this post isn’t really about how relaxed or rigid your homeschooling style is. It’s about moving from your reality to a space that is more in line with your ideal (provided your ideal is at least somewhat realistic).

Lots of parents, when they first start homeschooling, have this vision of educational perfection in their heads. I am not excluded from this misty-eyed vision of homeschool naiveté; it’s such a great fantasy! But that fantasy rarely takes into account your level of introductory excitement vs. your maintained enthusiasm. It also rarely takes into account the family’s routines and patterns.

‘What is she talking about?!’, you’re probably wondering. Hang in there – I’m getting to the point, I promise!

So, as a new homeschooling parent, you may have this vision of greeting the sun, coffee in hand, with snuggly children all around you. The sun rises, the birds sing, the children yawn and stretch and get ready for the day. While you gather your materials, they brush teeth and finish breakfast and everyone gathers at your knee to  start their daily lessons, while you (indulgently) pat them on the head and offer gentle re-directions and instructions as needed. The little darlings are blissed out, understanding their privileged state of learning at home, and showing deep respect and appreciation for the time and effort that their dear mother puts into finding the right curriculum and materials and blah, blah, blah… you get the picture.

Only to find out, disturbingly, that instead of this beautiful fantasy, you end up with a life that looks more like the after picture in this equation and wondering what the heck you did wrong.

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So what’s the trick? How do you go from your frazzled reality to a more peaceful new world? More importantly, how do you get started in such a way that you don’t automatically fail after a week?

The answer to both questions is ‘go with the flow’. What I mean by that, is to plan on a routine or schedule that flows within your already established patterns. If you’re not a morning person, then creating a schedule that requires you to be up with the sun is probably not going to be realistic. It’s easy to plan on paper – but when we have an ideal that doesn’t reflect the reality of our lives, instead of making adjustments and keeping that momentum going, all too often, we chalk it up to failure and nothing gets done that day….or week, or month. While ‘try again tomorrow’ is a good theory, it only works if tomorrow’s plan is better than today’s, and being creatures of habit, we rarely take the time to analyze what went wrong today and make changes (that we implement) for tomorrow.  

If your patterns run toward more productivity in the afternoon, it may be wise to schedule a lazier morning and have your more in-depth studies later in the day. However, if you notice that your precious little darlings work better in the mornings, it may be necessary to work towards making an earlier start. This may take some time to accomplish, but it’s worth it if it’s what your kids need.

I notice that, in my family, none of us are ‘morning people’, however when it comes to schoolwork, if we are up by 8AM and start school by 9AM, the day seems to be more productive overall. If we wait until 10 or 11 to get started, then it’s like pulling teeth all day to get their work accomplished. This sucks for me, because I could win sleep marathons if there was such a thing; no time is better for sleeping, in my opinion, than between 4AM and 11AM. MY most productive time is typically between about 11PM and 2AM. But my kids are not that way, so I’ve had to make adjustments to ensure that we get at least a couple of days during the week where we are up early and working earlier in the day.

So how do you make those changes? Small steps add up to big ones. Start small – it may be a matter of slowly adjusting your schedule over the course of weeks or months to get where you want to be. You could take a different approach and designate one or two days as ‘this’ schedule, and one or two days as ‘that’ schedule. We tend to take the second approach; one day home, one day out. One day early, one day later. It works for us because it doesn’t require the odious task of making a permanent change that contradicts my personal needs (or desires, if you wanna get technical about it. Habits… how’s that?).

Another facet of ‘going with the flow’ is your ability to put in the time and effort – meaning, in short, homeschooling is hard. And time-consuming. And HARD for the parent. It’s much more-so if you choose to construct your syllabus, rather than rely on a boxed curriculum. Much of your free time is eaten up with school planning and studying so that you can provide for your kids. Realistically, after a couple of years, that gets old. Your eventual need for a break can outweigh your intent, and there’s no shame in acknowledging that. Implementing a change that helps the situation is better than dealing with burnout (which can last a long time).

I’m talking about getting help with school. If you can outsource in any way – whether that’s just having Dad (or Mom if you’re a homeschooling Pop), or Grandma or Grandpa or a homeschooling friend or co-op or community lessons or a tutoring center … if you can lighten your load, then don’t be afraid to take advantage of those resources. Some of them are costly, and for many (us, included) that takes them off the table – but some solutions just take effort to implement! A mini-co-op, for example: choose one or two days a week and one or two friends who have strengths in subjects you’re weaker in and school together. There are many free online resources that can lighten your load as well.

This year is the first year that I am out-sourcing some of the kids’ work – and ‘lo, it is *glorious*.  Math is not my favorite subject, and it’s my weakest subject, both for my own skills and my ability and confidence to teach, so we outsourced it this year. Having Maths off my plate to plan and teach has relived SO MUCH of my stress – I can’t even tell you. I’m not totally un-involved; we’re using Khan Academy, and we all have accounts. I ‘play’ too, and we compete. I brush up on my skills, learn new things, have my finger on the pulse of their lesson and it’s fun, too. But being able to oversee, rather than instruct has made this year so much more enjoyable for me (and less stressful).

Another way to ‘go with the flow’ involves maintaining the connection and relationship and communication you have with your child(ren). Successful homeschooling is a two-way street; it involves the kids just as much as the parents. Some days, the vibe is just ‘off’ and as any seasoned homeschooling parent can tell you, it’s far better to reschedule the day than it is to try to force something that’s going to make everyone miserable. I tend to build in ‘slacker’ days on our schedule so that we can either take that day with a lighter load, or play catch up if we needed that slack earlier. It all evens out in the end, and makes for much more harmonious days as we go.

So what are your tips and tricks for ‘going withe the flow’?
Warmly,
~h

Halloween Fun

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Halloween really is my favorite time of year. Unfortunately, this Halloween has sucked, because we’ve all been sick. We never get sick – like, seriously – NEVER. But this year, PeaGreen got a cold, then Loverly Husband had the flu, and LBB and I both have been feeling off-and-on sickly for the past couple of weeks. I’ve felt so drained and not holiday-spirit-ish that I didn’t even decorate the house for Halloween like I normally do. Boo to that (and not in the fun, scary way).

We did have some friends over for pumpkin carving though. Much fun was had by all:

Costuming went well; well enough, anyway. I think the kids are kinda getting out of the ‘let’s dress up’ phase and into the ‘I want to look cool’ phase. There are some aspects of growing up that aren’t worth it, I think. But they did turn out rather well, despite the last-minute-ness of it all. Our homeschool group had their Halloween party this week, and so that’s where the bulk of our costume effort went. We had company all Friday afternoon, and neither LBB or I felt up to ToT’ing, so we ended up grabbing pizza and bags of candy from the store and staying in to watch a scary movie this year (Cabin in the Woods, if you must know). CAM00907

Other than Halloween mini-goodness, we’ve been hard at work on the school front as well. I started making up a list of all their work for the week and giving it to them on Mondays, with more freedom to choose the order they want to work in. If they want to work ahead, that’s their call (though the must finish the day’s assignments each day).

I know there’s a lot of debate about this, and we’ve taken a long time to finally decide if it was right for us, but we attached monetary incentive to their work (both schoolwork and chores).  Overall, our kids are pretty fortunate/spoiled – they have always had chores to do (which they have to do as part of their contribution to our family), and when they want something, we pretty much buy it for them or give it to them. But lately, they’ve been asking for either money, or larger things that we don’t necessarily want to spend money on. So after much thought, we decided that a job well-done is worth rewarding. For schoolwork, we decided on 10 cents per completed assignment, plus $1 per day for completed chores, and instituted a savings plan on money earned. They put a minimum of 20% in their primary saving account (which we match), a minimum of 10% in their secondary savings (which is a shadow box frame with a picture of an item they are saving for, and a dollar amount to reach before they’re allowed to open it), and a minimum of 5% to be donated to a charity (or put in savings towards a larger donation later in the year).

We’ve been doing this for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been interesting to see how they feel about it and how it’s affected their willingness to work, and has brought into question ‘work for reward’ and all that jazz. Interestingly enough, it hasn’t really affected their willingness to work all that much, either on school assignments or chores. They are still required to do their same lessons, and same chores, and *if* they complete them, they earn their money. If they don’t, then they still have to complete the lesson/chore, but haven’t earned their money. The good thing (for me, at least) is that they’re not constantly asking *me* to buy them things, which is awesome.

Another thing we’ve been working on again pretty hard-core is labooking. We were pretty gung-ho about it for a while, but then kinda slacked off because it seemed too ‘young’. After the workshop at NASA, and taking a look at some of TheBusyMom’s lapbooks, I got inspired, and took out some of the older lapbooks we started but never finished and have been working on them again. I also helped the boys start new ones, lapbooking their research project instead of writing it all out in a form like we had been. They are enjoying it – maybe just for the switch in format if nothing else. For my own assignment, I’m working on a lapbook for the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, which is one of my favorite places to read about. I haven’t been, but I plan to go one day!

I will post each book on my ‘Lapbooks’ page, and on its own page with links when they’re finished, but I wanted to give you a sneak-peek.

Something I also wanted to mention is that we’ve been schooling pretty consistently now since mid-August. Normally, we school for 4 weeks, then take a week-long break, then repeat. After about 4 weeks, we all seem to lose focus, and get grouchy and tired, and the week break is revitalizing and gets us back on track. This is the first time since we started homeschooling that we’ve gone this long without a break, and I am pretty impressed with that! I don’t know if it’s because we took a longer break during the summer, or if the boys are just older and better able to concentrate/focus for a longer period of time, but I am pretty thrilled with it. We have another 4 weeks to go and we’ll break for December (at least that’s the plan now – we may school into December this year). That puts us ahead of schedule for the school year, which is great.

Till next time!

Warmly,
~h

 

 

Space Center Houston

Last week, we got to go to Johnson Space Center’s Homeschool Day – FINALLY! We’ve been planning to go for several years now, but they always schedule it close to the end of October. The Texas Ren Fest, Coushatta Pow-Wow, Balunar Fest and Halloween all have fallen within a few days of each other for the past several years, so we haven’t been able to go. But this year, they planned it mid-month, and we made it!

I am so glad we went! It was a really great experience. They hosted several classes and workshops, for the students as well as the parents. I sent the boys to a STEM for Homeschoolers class while I went to a notebooking seminar hosted by Heidi St. John of TheBusyMom.com. She’s a Christian blogger (just to warn you), but overlooking that, she had a lot of great ideas if you’re looking into transitioning to notebooking. We’ve been lapbooking for a long time, but have kind of gotten away from it. The last few lapbooks we did were kind of boring and very ‘stock’. Heidi brought some of her kids’ lapbooks, and they were fun and interesting, so I got inspired! I think that’s one of the keys to combating burn-out; seeing how other moms run their homeschool. New ideas, fresh perspectives – especially when you’re struggling with a bump in the road, listening to something new can help you rediscover your joy in homeschooling.

The boys got to work on several projects during the day. They started out with a STEM class, and got to work with household materials to demonstrate scientific principles. I have yet to get a full report, other than a few grunts and, ‘It was cool’, so I can’t give you many details about it. I walked in just as they knocked over a big tower of steel rods, which was fantastically noisy, but didn’t hear the hows or whys of it.

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After STEM and notebooking, we had lunch in the big cafeteria. While we were eating, I realized how amazingly calm and peaceful the environment was. Normally, with that many kids, there’s an element of controlled chaos that rides the line between overstimulation and total anarchy. Inevitably, there are kids running around, babies crying, and frustrated parents trying to get the most out of their money for the day. But this was nothing like that. There were kids of all ages, from high schoolers to babies in slings (and breastfeeding!) and overwhelmingly, the vibe was serene and happy and easy-going. It was a moment that made me really happy to be part of it.

After lunch, we headed to the Silver Moon Lounge for Robotics 101 with Dr. Monique. There were 8 tables with 2 stations each for the kids to work on programming a Lego bot. I would post links to the kits they used, but I can’t seem to find them right now (it’s 2:30AM and I am tired – maybe tomorrow, lol).

After some initial grumbling, they got into the swing of it and were able to create a program, save it, run it with the robot (test it), and make changes to the program in order to get it to operate within specific parameters. The name of the game was ‘Don’t Kill the MiniFig’, and the object was to create a program that made the robot run the length of tape, getting as close as possible without knocking over (killing) the Lego minifig at the end of the line. LBB came closest, but after running a few programs, we ended up leaving a bit early to catch the last tram tour for the day of the grounds.

After a long day of space fun, we were all pretty tired and ready to get back home. But now that we know how close NASA is, it’s definitely something we will keep on our list of activities!

CAM00892Warmly,
~h

 

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