May 31, 2008

Outdoor Hour: An Outdoor Picnic

We finally completed the tenth Outdoor Hour Challenge assignment, which was to have a picnic. This one took me a while to get to; every time I planned to eat outdoors, it rained. I guess I will have to learn to be a bit more spontaneous with our picnicking!

We had a family fishing trip planned in northern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend, complete with outdoor eats, so we finally had our "picnic." We did get some pictures of hot dogs being roasted, but forgot to take pics of people eating them (probably because we were too busy eating ourselves).

Eating Outdoors

Rob and I saw a beautiful snail and a spider on a walk in the woods (click on an image for a larger pic).

We did see some insect life to go with our focus area, some still to be identified.

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IMG_5508 - Copy IMG_5467 IMG_5294

As an added bonus from kingdom Animalia, we saw two green frogs (one of which was my buddy for the weekend; I was able to identify him by his banjo-like call), a baby painted turtle, and a turtle egg (I think something must have dug into the nest and eaten the other eggs since the nest was open and there was only one egg).

turtle egg

Look at these beautiful red-winged blackbirds! The brown one is the female, and the black one is the male (and, no, I didn't know what the brown bird was until we looked it up at home).


I almost forgot the fish (probably because I didn't catch any)!


Moving onto kingdom Plantae, I was able to capture pictures of ferns in three different stages of development!

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Here is some more plant life:

some kind of fungus some shrooms

My sister found a morel, and her boyfriend found a patch of about five of them. Yummy!


Kathryn and I collected several rocks that we will work on identifying.


We finally had time to pull out our field guides and work on identification, but we were unable to identify everything in one session.

If you are looking for a simple and gentle way to incorporate nature study into your schedule, I highly recommend the Outdoor Hour Challenge. This is the first time I have been successful at sticking with nature study for a decent length of time. Thanks so much for hosting these challenges, Barb!


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Jun. 1, 2008 - Picnics come in all shapes and sizes

Posted by HarmonyArtMom

This was a great picnic! So many things to observe and learn about as well. I am really glad that you are enjoying your challenges and hope that you keep them up. I enjoy reading your entries for each challenge.

Insects are the hardest to identify, at least I think so.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

Jun. 3, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by lahbluebonnet

Wow!We can’t find fun stuff like that around here! Hmmmm, I wonder if we can do the green challenge this summer!



Jun. 10, 2008 - Success with Nature Study

Posted by bbullard

...and what success you have had! These pictures are beautiful, and I'm sure that your children are learning immensely from your picnic and other travels.We hit the beach on yesterday and had similar fun, too, until the oldest lost her glasses while helping her younger sister.We have a (not-so-funny) joke around here that every time unmarked money comes into the house, we have some emergency that seeks to take it.All plans of the Lord to keep us on our knees, you know?God bless you, Andrea.

Hey, by chance are you Bibliophile on a homeschool to college e-mail list?I see that name and noticed your Avatar, so I thought, what are the chances.

Write back when you can.

May 30, 2008

My Most Exciting Homeschool Moment

This week Heart of the Matter wants us to share our Most Exciting Homeschool Moment. My most exciting homeschooling moment(s) was watching my children unlock the secret of those magical letters called the alphabet and open the door into a whole new world of enjoyment and learning. I will always treasure the moment when reading "clicked" for each child, and I am so grateful that I was there for it.

If you would like to participate in this week's HOTM meme, go here.

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May. 30, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Margaret

Yes, that is a wonderful moment in any mom's life, isn't it? :-)

May. 31, 2008 - Reading

Posted by Morning Rose

That's exciting when the kids learn how to read. I'm glad I was there when my then 6-year-old son learned how to read on his own.

May 27, 2008

Homeschool Hi-Lights: Gone Fishing!

Ellen from Fun Learning is hosting a meme called Homeschool Hi-Lights. To participate, write a post about a highlight from your past week of home learning, then go to Fun Learning's Homeschool Hi-Lights post for the week and add your post's permalink to Mr. Linky.

Our highlight last week was a fishing trip to northern Michigan with my family. We went up Friday and came home Monday (the reason for the lateness of this post). Nathan is the only one who caught a fish other than my sister's boyfriend, but it was a great time nonetheless; the weather was beautiful and it was so nice to enjoy the outdoors together. The pics of the kids are a bit blurry because Rob took them from across the pond, but I decided to share them anyway.
We had some great nature study opportunities while there. As soon as we arrived at the pond, the kids found a turtle's egg in the side of a huge pile of sand. We also saw and identified a couple of green frogs, a painted turtle, and a lot of beautiful red-winged blackbirds. All of our nature study pictures will be on my next Outdoor Hour Challenge post.

I enjoyed a personal highlight too: I checked out Anne of Green Gables from the library in audio book format, as that is our current family read-aloud and I thought it would be fun to finish it on the trip. After listening for a couple of minutes, everyone said that they like the way I read it better. I thought it was well done personally, but it was a nice, unlooked-for compliment. We did finish the audio book and everyone enjoyed it.

Have a wonderful and adventurous week of learning!

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May. 27, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Shari Ellen

That sounds like a great family outing. I’m glad that the weather cooperated. Finding a turtle egg would have been a huge hit with our family.

May 26, 2008

Café Chat: Generational Blessing

This week's Café Chat topic is "What is a positive tradition or godly character trait that you learned from your extended family that you hope to pass down to your own family?"

My husband and I are blessed to have a godly heritage from both of our families. I had a very godly grandfather who had a positive impact on me. One of the character traits that he passed down and that I hope to pass down to my family is his work ethic. He was always a hard, cheerful worker; he truly worked as unto the Lord. My mom is exactly the same way, and my dad and my husband's family are also very hard workers.

Although he worked hard, my grandfather also played hard. Early in our marriage, my husband and I were at my grandparent's home for a visit and a mountain bike excursion in a nearby town. My 70-something year-old grandpa decided that he wanted to try out Rob's bike; he went to get on and jumped right over it to the other side. Not at all deterred, he climbed back on and proceeded to ride down his long, winding gravel driveway. A couple of months later, he bought his own mountain bike.

My mom definitely "inherited" both of these traits, and my husband is quite a bit like my grandpa in these character aspects. We hope to pass down the ability to work and play hard to our family (so far, the kids have the "playing hard" part down). It may seem strange that I chose such dichotomous traits, but I tend to work hard without play, so the balance is important to me.

If you would like to participate in this week's chat, go here.

May 23, 2008

The Great Outdoors as a Classroom

This topic for this week's Heart of the Matter Online Meme is The Great Outdoors as a Classroom.

Before I began writing this post, the only "outdoor classroom" activities my unimaginative mind could think of were our Green Hour Challenges. However, once I began going through a few pictures, I realized that we have had several outdoor learning experiences.

Click on the thumbnail images if you would like to view larger pictures.

Rob'sWe viewed the lunar eclipse together in February; it was absolutely breathtaking and well worth tolerating the freezing temperatures outside.

I finally bought the boys Backyard Ballistics, and they made a paper match rocket and attempted to set it off outside. Unfortunately (did I say that?), it was too cold to light it.

the leaves are inFor our more recent earthworm study, we collected different types of dirt, layered it in a plastic pop bottle, and added some leaves and worms so that we could observe soil mixing in action. That project is still on my kitchen counter (covered with a towel, of course; the worms like it dark). It apparently takes some time for the worms to mix all of the soil up.

the ends are pinnedWe set up an "outdoor classroom" for our very first dissection - right in our driveway. The kids begged me not to do it in the kitchen. :-) I set up a couple of tables and taped dissection diagrams to them so the kids could use them as guides. It was quite an interesting experience; we will be dissecting grasshoppers next.

The girls love to do their schoolwork outside when the weather permits. They have a little area on the side of the house set up with chairs, a couple of outdoor decorations, and even a birdhfeeder-turned-mailbox that they use to exchange notes and drawings with some neighborhood friends.

Gardening is full of potential learning experiences. We sometimes will discuss the history of a plant, or even plant something after reading about its history. Math is important for planning our garden beds and properly spacing plants. Gardening is a natural way of incorporating life science or nature study into the curriculum. One of the best aspects of gardening is that the lessons do not necessarily have to be planned or contrived; they happen naturally in the actual process of planning and caring for the garden. I wrote a post listing quite a few gardening links last month in anticipation of the upcoming gardening season; we are now awaiting some consistently warm weather to begin planting.

IMG_3104We have also gone outside to do math activites. Once we had a contest to see who could draw the most lines on a square of sidewalk with chalk; then we did some related activities from a book by Marilyn Burns. We studied a sunflower to try to identify the Fibonacci pattern last summer, one of the most amazing instances of God's orderly and artistic Hand in nature, in my opinion.

We often do our read-alouds on the front porch in the spring and fall, when it is just too beautiful outside to be indoors.

I love being outdoors just to marvel at the majesty of our Creator. There are so many lessons to be learned, and seeing His hand in nature never ceases to fill me with awe.

The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

If you wold like to participate in this week's HOTM meme, go here; I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts.

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May. 23, 2008 - lovely!

Posted by JamieLee

Great verse to add in! The outdoors really is the best classroom ever - after all, God made it!

Thanks for sharing.

May. 23, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by CranialHiccups

I've been eyeing Backyard Ballistics for a while now. Thanks for your list of ideas for different nature studies!

May 21, 2008

Summer Reading

The time for summer reading has already arrived! The Old Schoolhouse is hosting their first Summer Reading Splash, complete with a blog here at HSB where children can enter weekly contests to win - what else? - books, or even a series of books. What could be better? TOS has also provided a helpful list of reading goal-setting ideas.
The Summer Reading Splash began on May 19, continues through July 31, and is open to all ages (even nonreaders). Reading logs and a bookmark are available for download here. By completing a reading log and submitting it to the Schoolhouse Store at the end of the Summer Reading Splash, your child will be able to choose a free E-Book.
Here are links to some other Summer Reading Programs:
Veritas Press (also see their Summer Reading Coupon Book - these are incentive coupons for you to give to your children, not store coupons)
Barnes & Noble
Scholastic Summer Reading Buzz (info at the Teachers and Parents pages)
Don't forget to check your local library; we always enjoy our library's summer reading program.
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May. 22, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Jocelyndixon

Oh I saw the TOS email about the summer reading and the blog. It's so cute! lol I hope everything fares (is that the right use?) well with you and your reading this summer!


May. 23, 2008 - Hi

Posted by Anonymous

Hi, Andrea!
Just stopped in to answer your question about the graphics. I got them from stock

I tweaked them a bit by changing the color. Glad you liked them. Have a great weekend! : )


May 19, 2008

Homeschool Hi-Lights: Extracurricular

Ellen from Fun Learning is hosting a meme called Homeschool Hi-Lights. To participate, write a post about a highlight from your past week of home learning, then go to Fun Learning's Homeschool Hi-Lights post for the week and add your post's permalink to Mr. Linky.

We finished up our early colonial times studies last week. Our unit celebration will coincide with a birthday party in early June, so that post will have to wait.

The highlights of last week revolved around extracurricular activities. Allyson and Kathryn had their spring piano recital on Friday, and Nathan and Jordan participated in a 6-hour mountain bike endurance race on Saturday.
This was Kathryn's first big recital. She played three pieces from her lesson book and did a wonderful job.Kathryn
AllysonAllyson performed two pieces from her lesson book and In Dreams from The Fellowship of the Rings movie. She played beautifully.
Nathan and Jordan got quite a workout on Saturday. They raced for 6 hours as a 2-boy team against adults. The race producer suggested that they race in the Advanced Open class as there was no one else in that class when they signed up. This was their first cross-country race, but they signed up for the advanced open class anyway. Nathan rode four and Jordan rode three 7-mile laps.
The boys took third place in the advanced open class (out of three teams). However, they would have also taken third in the sport class (where they would have raced), so they deserved it. :-) They each won a vest. This is a picture of the boys with their spoils.The Spoils
Have a wonderful and adventurous week of learning!
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May. 19, 2008 - Extracurricular

Posted by Morning Rose

Your girls look so pretty playing the piano. Our boys have been learning to play piano this year too.

Your boys did great on the big bike race. That's a lot of riding!

May. 19, 2008 - Wonderful

Posted by cricket

What great accomplishments!
Be blessed!
Terri Sue

May. 20, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Shari Ellen

What an exciting weekend your family had. Your kids should be proud of themselves and what them accomplished.

May. 20, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous

I see real evidence here that you are sheltering your children from the outside world. They never get out and about or socialize with anyone, do they??

:] Good post and I liked your pictures!

Mrs. C

May. 20, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Jocelyndixon

Oh wow. How fun! Looks like you're all having a great time. Thanks for sharing the photos.

Sorry I haven't been around in awhile. :)


May. 22, 2008 - How Fun!

Posted by Anonymous

Looks like your gang had so much fun! Your children are so beautiful!


May 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ May 19

Today is another Menu Plan Monday. If you want to see others' menus for this week or post your own, go to

I made such a huge pot of black bean chili and had so many other leftovers that I hardly had to cook last week! That hardly ever happens, but it was great. :-) I adding much of last week's menu plans to this week's.


Breakfast: Cold Cereal or Smoothies
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: Black Bean Chili (leftovers)


Breakfast: Oatmeal Muffins
Lunch: PB & J
Dinner: Creamed Tuna & Peas


Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese


Breakfast: Yogurt with Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Salad


Breakfast: Blender Batter Pancakes, fruit, milk
Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner: Spaghetti


Breakfast: Smoothies
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Fresh Fish (hopefully)


Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers or Sandwiches
Dinner: Fresh Fish (hopefully)

May 17, 2008

Café Chat: Generational Sin

The Internet Café started a brand new meme last week called Café Chat. This week's topic is "What is one habit, negative pattern, or sin that has been passed down your family line from generation to generation that you do not want to pass down to your own family line? What steps are you taking to make sure the habit, pattern or sin is not repeated in your own family?"

One of the generational sins that I struggle with is being critical of those closest to me. Not only is this a sin, but it is a deeply ingrained habit that I have been struggling with for years; unfortunately, my loving and patient husband can attest attest to that fact.

I try to make sure I apologize as soon as I become aware that I am being critical in a way that is not redemptive (different from constructive criticism). I still often need my husband to point this out to me. I also try to make sure I show outward affection to my husband and family, as this is not natural for me and it helps my family know that I am serious about repenting for my sin. I am quite honest in talking about my struggles with my husband and children - they are aware that I am sinning when I am being critical and that I know that I am sinning.

My biggest weapon against this generational sin is prayer. Thank you, Lord, that you are forgiving, merciful and willing to unconditionally dispense grace and love to me in this battle; and thank you for the power to break this sin in my family so that it goes no further.

"Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven." Psalm 85:9-11

If you would like to participate in this week's chat, go to the post for this week's topic.

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May. 17, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Maisie

I like the honesty (with your family) that you talk about. It's embarrassing to be honest about sin, but important and necessary. I guess that it would be helpful if I had my husband point out to me when I was being critical or if I was putting him down. It would probably help a lot.

May. 17, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by lori@allyouhavetogive

What an honest post...thank you for sharing...Isn't it funny how when we REALIZE that those people who raised us were just people....then we can honestly look at what we don't choose to repeat....

Great post!! Thanks for chatting with us!!
In Him,

May. 18, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by

Thanks for being so open, and honest sweetie.

May 16, 2008

Dog Show Field Trip

This topic for this week's Heart of the Matter Online Meme is recent field trips.

We had a really fun and informative day at a dog show in March.

The terrier races were extremely amusing.

Dog Show 074

Dog Show 119

The obstacle course was amazing!

I was quite impressed with some of the creative and educational displays.

Dog Show 053

The kids loved petting the dogs...

Dog Show 046

Dog Show 042

and meeting a star! This is St. Bernie from Snow Buddies:

Dog Show 037

My favorite part was the duck herding!

Dog Show 051 (2)

Dog Show 053 (2)

Dog Show 050 (2)

If you would like to participate in this meme, go to the HOTM Field Trip Friday post.

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May. 16, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous

Looks like fun. I think the agility and herding would be interesting to watch. I didn't even know dog shows had herding.

May. 18, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Shari Ellen

I've never been to a dog show before. We've only seen them on TV. The duck herding would have been fun to watch.

May. 21, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by lahbluebonnet

The dogs and ducks are too cute! It reminded me of the movie, "Babe."

May. 28, 2008 - Untitled Comment

Posted by AuntLisa

That was one of my favorite days. Thanks for sharing it with me and my girls. If we are all not bankrupt because of gas prices (JK) lets try to do that again next year!
Love ya