More Playing With Words

I have been thinking about our year of homeschooling and what we liked/ didn’t like/ might want to add etc. for next year.

One thing I am hoping will work well for us is “Tuesday Tea and Poetry” as described in the Brave Writer lifestyle. Basically you gather together to eat yummy snacks and share poetry each week. I have some poetry books around and am on the hunt to add more to make this an easy thing to do.

My daughter and I have also begun to hunt for unique tea cups and plates to serve our special tea and snacks.

Our local thrift store yielded the cute yellow flowered cup for $0.59.

In addition to reading poetry together, I want to explore different styles and methods of writing poetry. One idea that caught my eye was using cut up magazines to play with words.

I started to cut pages today with my daughter and she was instantly engaged and wanting to produce her own work!

Beginning to sort:

A poem for her brother who was born on Halloween:

A few others. The first is about moving and selling your house. Obviously the later ones are about flying and animals.

Last post for pirates and maps

We are finishing up our month of pirates and will be moving on to Japan and ninjas next.

Our last 2 activities were a map worksheet and a boardgame.

The game is called Catan Jr.
My son and I played it twice before realizing I had neglected to read the proper rules about placing ships. The first time through, we also played on the 3 or 4 player side of the map by accident. All my pictures shown how to play the wrong way- in the real game, ships can only go on the dotted “route” lines.

We had fun anyway and will try again by the rules sometime.

After figuring out the real rules, I grabbed an app that is a tutorial for the full game of Settlers of Catan. It has been almost 10 years since I played and I think the kids are old enough to try out the regular version.

Intro to Poetry

My daughter surprised me by asking to learn about poetry the other night. Luckily, I had an easy idea for writing a first poem tucked away in my brain- acrostics. I found a “poetry for kids” website and showed her an example. Then she wrote her own.

And loved every minute of it 🙂

Her first one is called “Tom” after our cat.

On the couch a lot
My pet

Her second was “Tree”

Rest in its shade
Everything is peaceful
Everything is beautiful

Her last one was “Snow”

New as a forming cloud
Outdoors like a bird
White as a dove

I told my son about this type of poetry in the morning. Here is his poem called “Creeper.” A creeper is a type of monster from one of his favorite games; it goes toward things and then explodes.

Packed with gun powder
Especially mean
Rest in pieces


Moving furniture around often leads to changes in our activities around here. We finally put together my son’s desk/ table only to learn that it was not comfy for its intended purpose. Since it was already built, I decided to find a place in the house for it. It is pretty huge, so in the end it wound up nestled by our couch. It has been getting heavy use ever since.

Both kids seem to like doing written work there vs. in their rooms, card games and board games are easy because there is plenty of space to spread out, and toys we haven’t used in awhile are getting played with.

Final Dino Chapters

Today, we finished up the first Magic Tree House book and did a little in the notebooks. The kids were ok with it but seemed ready to move on to non-fiction.

When we did a dinosaur puzzle today, the kids were definitely interested. The pieces had the names and some information about the animals on the backs. Questions poured out of the kids. Wikipedia was used liberally.

Guard kitty:

Some pieces we looked at in more detail.

This first piece led to questions about mammals during the time of dinosaurs. Mammals were around, but in general were smaller than the dinos and ate insects and vegetation. Only one was known to eat reptiles. Some were egg-laying mammals and some were placental or marsupial.

This led to a question about the duck billed platypus from my daughter who said it was the only modern egg-layer. My son said she was wrong and needed to include echidnas. After looking it up, he was found to be right and she declared Phineas and Ferb were wrong!

We looked up lots of ancient mammals and then moved on to ancient fish.

All of this made my son very interested in finding out more about the ancient non-dinosaur animals. I let him know I had some books on hold at the library we could pick up tonight. He remembered that there were ancient creatures in one of our Horrible Science magazines and set off to find it. I found him on our bed reading.

I am really looking forward to reading the non-fiction stuff with the kids and heading to the museums next week!

More Dinos

The kids and I continued with our dinosaur and fossil stuff over the past few days. We read 4 more chapters in the Magic Tree House book and added stuff to our notebooks. We watched a bunch of videos on Discovery Streaming including Real World Science, Reading Rainbow, and a news report about the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (We will be heading there next week!). For fun we made sticker maps of the dinosaurs around the world and played Dino Hunt which was already a favorite game in our house.

My daughter was asking to play more and more but also pouting a bit. I threatened to take picture of her pouting so she would know what we saw…her face instantly turned into this, lol.

We play Dino Hunt cooperatively to help eliminate conflict. We capture the Dinos and bring them to the present day in 1 big shared zoo.

Here was our final zoo.

The cards are really nice.

More notebook pages.


The kids and I started the first Magic Tree House book this week- Dinosaurs Before Dark!

They are not used to doing lots of written work, so we are baby-stepping into notebooking using some lapbook foldables. I am hoping that by starting out with writing only a few words at a time they won’t get too frustrated and we can add more as we move through the year.

So far, we are doing 2 chapters a day. It seems like a good pace for us in terms of adding pages to the notebook and still having time to do other hands-on things. I am figuring on 2-3 weeks per book to give us time to explore lots of related ideas.

The kids really enjoyed building a dinosaur world to play with last night. We gathered up supplies and went from there. The kids talked about all kinds of dinosaur things while we played.

Today we made “fossils” with Plaster of Paris. They look good so far.

The tree was supposed to represent the treehouse. The kids pointed out there was no treehouse in it…

Here are some of the books and magazines we have so far.

Here are the first pages of their notebooks.


My kids have been moving steadily through “Life of Fred” and “Draw, Write, Now”.

For my son, “Life of Fred” continues to open doorways to so many different topics. A few nights ago, we read about points, segments, squares, cubes, and tesseracts. In the practice portion, my son learned to draw a cube and loved it! He started drawing cube monsters and then trying out other shapes.

Last night, he asked how to draw a sphere, wondering if you could draw off lines from the edge of a circle in a similar way. I told him spheres work a bit differently and use shading.
I remembered our Kistler drawing books and went to grab one from the shelf.

I asked him if he was interested in checking out the ideas in the book and he said “yes”. We flipped through a bit and looked at how light hits a sphere and where the shadows go based on where the light is.

We read the intro together and he did the pre-test…drawing a house and an airplane. He applied his cube drawing model to make a 3-D house and drew an airplane from the top, as he didn’t know how to draw a side view. Then we looked at pictures in the book of how most kids and grownups draw these when first asked.

We went on to read the first lesson together about shadows, foreshortening, overlap, etc. Then he drew his first picture from the practice section- a birthday cake. He even asked to color it in.

It was cool to see him so interested in drawing.

My daughter has surprised me by being more interested in her spelling and handwriting then in drawing the animals from the “Draw, Write, Now” books. They also continue to bring up discussions of other topics nightly. Last night’s writing samples were about baseball and jumprope, which led us to discussing the rules and positions of the players in baseball and made my daughter realize she knew many of the words for the night from typing song titles into her iPod…”Jump” from Glee is in her playlist.

I am so glad we get to homeschool in a way where my kids can enjoy what they are doing and have the time and a ability to chase down the answers to questions as they come up. Everything is connected.

Life Of Fred

I had heard about a set of math books called “The Life Of Fred” for a few years, but was waiting until both kids had mastered multiplication to start with the “Fractions” and “Decimals” ones (as is recommended). Recently, I learned there were now 10 elementary level books available! I ordered the first 8 so far. The books are great! They are chapter stories written about a five year old named Fred who is a math teacher at KITTENS University. As he goes about his day, he encounters math in all sorts of circumstances and also learns about the things and people around him. At the end of each chapter, there are a few short questions to answer before moving on. My son loves the story, is cool with doing the problems, and says he is going to read them all 🙂

My daughter’s pages…she can’t help doodling.

My son’s pages. He likes to make them exciting with extra stuff as well 🙂