Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Native American Study: Making Clay Bricks

We have been using a lot of Moving Beyond the Page recently.  And for the most part I really like it.  It's great for my active, 9-yo son when the lessons get him outside, or moving his body, or using his hands to do something besides push a pencil.

Today was like that.  We got to enhance our study of the southwest Native Americans by making our own clay bricks.  Fortunately, clay is abundant here in our new NC home!  I felt so lucky that we could walk out into the forest that is our back yard, dig up some clay, mix it with water from the stream that runs through said forest, and have so much fun doing this project without leaving the house!

We found all the clay we needed under this old fallen tree.

My 11yo never misses a chance to get her hands dirty and joined us in the fun.

Is there a more perfect way to spend the afternoon than shaping clay bricks in the forest by a clear stream?  Um, nope!

We used a butter box cut in half as a mold for our bricks.  It worked ok.  I think it would be better to use something a little sturdier.

Here are the first two bricks set out to dry.  We were pretty excited by our product!  I wonder if we could make enough bricks to build that outdoor pizza oven we've been dreaming about....

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dodge Ball With Cops and Co-ops?

When we moved to NC last summer, my 9 yo needed some way to engage with our new community.  We were all a bit adrift, looking for ways to network with local homeschoolers.

At that time, my son was really in to dodge ball. I think he had played it at boy scouts one night just before we moved and he LOVED it.  He kept asking me if we could play.  I bought some dodge balls like these and we would play as a family on the neighborhood tennis court,  but that wasn't cutting it for him! He wanted the real deal!

After looking around and not finding an existing dodge ball game/team for kids, I offered to organize one.  We could make some friends in the process, right?  The problem was finding a place where we could play for free.  That's always the catch.  We like things to be f.r.e.e. as often as possible.  :)
 With the help of a local HS mom, I was able to locate an open gym time at a community center. They would accommodate our activity for free...ahhh..the magic word!

 I looked up "how to play dodge ball" on you tube and learned some basic rules. (It had been eons since I had really played!) and invited the HS community to just come play!  Well, it was a huge hit.  6 months later, word has spread and we are getting a turn out of about 30-40 kids.  This has forced me to be a bit more organized and enlist the help of more parents to keep the games running smoothly, but it's been great.

Today we had a really cool treat during doge ball.  During one of the games I noticed to officers standing in the doorway watching.  At first, I was like, "Oh no, is there something sketchy going on that we should know about? Why are they scouting out the community center?"  But they seemed to be totally at ease.  So I asked them if they had time to join in on the fun, and sure enough, they did!  It was a fun treat for the co-op kids to play dodge ball with the cops today!  Pretty awesome.

Sorry that my pictures are NOT pretty awesome.  I was busy reffing the game, holding a toddler on my hip, and catching some action shots on my broken cell phone all at the same time.  Don't you love it?



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Picture This!

These days everyone has a camera in their hands, ready to snap a pic of just about anything.  And I've noticed (probably NOT by chance) that lots of kids these days seem particularly interested in photography.  My three older girls are no exception.

My 6 yo has decided to start a gallery of photos that she has taken and would enjoy sharing with others.  Here's her latest subject:

As her gallery grows, you can see more of her work at a page I'm creating for her here:


We'd also love to connect with friends from near and far that have photos to share.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Making Christams More Affordable with ThredUP

I don't generally shop Black Friday. I just don't.  Why bother?  The sales continue ad nauseam from Columbus Day until New Years...am I right?  I'm just not a shopper by nature. It's a necessary evil in my view.

But I do want to share one little shopping gem with you that I discovered a few weeks back.

It's called ThredUP.  It's a second hand clothing store for women and children ONLINE.  No digging through piles of useless, smelly stuff to find the good deal!

We've ordered twice from them and have been very pleased.  The quality is great! The prices are Great! The packaging is Great! The customer service is Great!  And the company mission and values are something I can really stand behind and support.  I can happily send them my money knowing that no children in China are making my cheap clothes.  I'm shopping "green".  I'm teaching my kids to be thrifty. And I'm conserving my own time and energy. Win-win-win-win-win.  All around!

I've been able to outfit myself and my 4 daughters with multiple outfits for unbelievable prices.  And it's stuff they love! They wear it!  This is a great way to cut down on that Christmas budget and get some really nice, affordable things for your family.

Again, I hate to shop.  Hate it.  But it's actually fun to sit with one of the kids at the computer and "go shopping" together for half an hour or so.  A few days later their box arrives. It's so fun to open and unwrap all the nicely folded items from the tissue paper.  I haven't been able to corral my son long enough to shop with me online yet, but I'm itching to do it!

I will have to post some pics of my beaded black blouse an my chartreuse silk skirt that I scored for myself. Or the like-new white, lacy Christmas dress I just got for my baby girl. Some of it is name brand, some of it is brand new with tags, some of it has been more worn than others (they do have "basement bargains for more worn things), and I feel like the price is fair and reflects the state of the item I've ordered.

PLUS: Free returns if you accept in-store credit for the returns.  Some items are final sale and can't be returned. No biggy.  I haven't needed to return anything yet!

I love it so much that I would work there if I didn't already work so hard at home!  :)

So I'm sharing my own personal "affiliate" link with you and hope that you will kindly use it if you find this information to be of value to your family.

Here it is in URL form: http://www.thredup.com/r/LZWOV4

Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Start With Just Today

In our 3.5 months here in North Carolina, we've had some very cool experiences and visited a lot of really great places.  Field trips abound here!  It's really fun to be somewhere new and have so many places to explore and discover.  Everything is an adventure when you are living somewhere totally different!

Unfortunately, I've also been very busy.  Aren't we all? It's no excuse. But I've been very slow to document all of the fantastic trips we've taken.  I feel the need to backtrack and catch up.  But not today.  Someone once counselled  me to always start journaling with Today.  Just today.  if you try to back up and catch up, you inevitably get overwhelmed and give up.

I think that was great advice and can apply to lots of areas of my life: Laundry, relationships, weight loss, pretty much everything.  Just start with making today better.  Then do it again tomorrow.

So I'm taking that advice and just starting with today.  If I happen to find time to backup and cover past events, I will surely do that.  But here's where we went today: Yates Mill!

What a gorgeous fall day to visit an old working corn mill.  The park was hosting a home school day and we were able to attend with the younger 4 kids.  Such a treat!  I learned a lot.  We started in the classroom (no pics) to learn about artifacts and archaeology.  The lesson and activities were very fun.  But the best part of course was taking the short walk to the mill on the other side of the lake and watching the hydro powered mill come to life!  Talk about living history!



After looking at the mill from outside, we headed up to the front porch for a corn shucking demonstration.  Very cool to watch the hard dry kernels pop off the cob when run through this old but very efficient machine.

Then we headed inside.
The kids waited in line two by two to take a look at this
And then they got to poke their heads in through a little window in the wall to see the inner workings and cogs and belts of the old mill. Pretty incredible!
It was pretty loud too.
That's under the mill! And the little window is original.

We sat down to learn more of the history and how the mill operated.  We learned that a group of boys  claimed the mill as their clubhouse in 1967 after it was shut down.  They called themselves The Church Keys and their graffiti is easy to spot.  There is also graffiti from the 1800s and early 1900s.  Kinda cool!

After the tour we took a moment to just soak up the sunshine and the beautiful view.  Gorgeous day! We also learned that local churches used these waters for baptisms up until the 1950s.  

Super fun day.  I would do it again. And what a great place to take family photos.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

UNC Homeschool Day

Being totally new in the area, there is always so much to explore! Today we went to the UNC Chapel Hill campus to participate in their homeschool day at the planetarium and science center.

We saw a show called Cosmic Colors in the planetarium followed by a viewing of our night time sky. Very cool! I'd recommend it if you get a chance to see it where you are.  It was a great tie in with our astronomy studies from last year, as well as my 6th grader's study of light and energy this fall.

Unfortunately I had to miss quite a bit of the Phantastic Physics presentation because the little one was getting tired and loud! We had to head outside for a while.  But when I came back in guess who I found standing up at the front volunteering to help out in an experiment?

I think it must be a childhood rite of passage to play around with a van de graaff generator!

The science building is really neat!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Future of Education

Does this stir your soul and bring the fire back to your homeschool vision the way it does for me?