Drawing Game for the Car

We played a fun game while driving from Hot Springs, SD to Fort Robinson, NE. After seeing a wild horse sanctuary, Ruby asked me to draw a horse body and legs, and then she drew the rest. We did this game with cattle too. It was fun to pass the drawings back and forth and talk about houses and cattle!


If these photos don’t show up now, I’ll update when they get uploaded;)

Ice Candles

We are in the process of making some ice candles using plastic bowls, orange rinds, dried flowers from an arrangement, and freeze-dried cranberries (we accidentally bought them thinking they were the yummy dried cranberries). Once they freeze solid, we’ll put tiny candles in and place them outside. In our climate, they’ll probably be around until April!




Week Thirty-Eight

Health and Wellness


P’s new skills this session: underwater somersaults and swimming

Last swimming night for the spring season.

Ride Right:  Bicycle Safety by Jill Urban Donahue good review.

Adding Popcorn recipe to the kids’ cookbook, with emphasis on putting the top back onto the hot air popper before plugging it in.



Using the iPad camera feature (self-portrait mode) as a mirror for pop style self-portraits

Roy Lichtenstein’s ABC by Bob Adelman and learning about pop art.  Drawing self-portraits and using Lichtenstein’s style to colorize with primaries.  National Gallery of Art’s site for more about Lichtenstein and a language art activity.


M working on Melody (Robert Schumann), Hanon exercises, and sight reading pieces.  P reviews book one songs with both hands (previously only played in right hand).  Continue listening daily to Suzuki songs from books one through three.

Math and Logic


Playing a game in Using Numbers Book 1 by Ann Montague-Smith

IXL Math online practice.  Clock bingo.  Using Numbers Book 1 by Ann Montague-Smith for games and practice using numbers 0-20.


Pattern snake to tie into learning about reptiles and snakes this week

Language Arts


It’s nearly the end of the ‘school year’ and I finally have a system to keep reading logs and reading time books at the ready. Good thing we’re carrying on into the summer…

Continue with spelling practice and creative writing and language arts work books


P is learning about compound words, so we are making cupcakes. He measured the ingredients. R is scooping the batter into the tin.


Frosting cupcakes

Our easy, nearly vegan cupcake recipe for 10 cupcakes:  Whisk together 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, 1/4 cup cocoa.  In a glass measuring cup mix 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, 1/3 cup coconut (or veggie) oil, and 1 cup milk.  Mix with the dry ingredients and divide into cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes.

Played with Rory’s Story Cubes, which involves rolling the six dice and making up a story based on those pictures.



A thin, gray-brown snake slides over this piece of wood.

Looking into what type of snake we saw this weekend at the land.  More pictures at Our Bluff and Valley page (top menu bar at website).

Ant by John Woodward and being surprised at the upclose picture of their jaws.


Planting veggies transplants and fruits. Watering plants and seeds.

Turtles and Tortoises by Renee C. Rebman.  Illustrate and write key characteristics about these reptiles (and recall other reptiles).  Frogs by Nic Bishop and Snakes by Jeff Corwin and listing other amphibians.  Looking for other amphibians (The Salamander) in Greece! Rome! Monsters! by John Harris.


Creating with the snap circuit set

Social Studies



Greece! Rome! Monsters! by John Harris and illustrating and writing about ancient monsters.  Recalling where we’ve heard of monsters such as Cyclops, Griffin, and Basilisk in books and movies.

Peggy Rathmann’s Officer Buckle and Gloria:  community helpers and how animals help them do their jobs.

Geography continent and ocean review.  Yankee Doodle Riddles:  American History Fun by Joan Holub for review.

And finally, in preparation for our trip out west next week, Smoke Jumpers One to Ten by Chris L. Demarest and John Perritano’s The Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Week Thirty-Seven



Pitcher plant in the kids’ section at Great River Road Learning Center


A bit more about the carnivorous plants on display


Many orioles and gold finches at the park


Checking for eagles and boats fishing

Great River Road Visitor Center in Prescott, WI


Learning more about ticks at EEK! (Environmental Education for Kids) and pitcher plants from National Geographic and Wisconsin DNR sites.

Math and Logic

Continue IXL practice, workbooks, and review games.

Health and Wellness

Family swim continues to have the kids diving into their suits after dinner.


P excited to join the team

Coach pitch practice and game.  Now we have two players on the team!


Working on water flow project


Building sand structures, rivers, and dams…and washing them away


The final purchases for fruit and veggie garden at the land

Began putting up deer fence at the land.  More pictures at Our Bluff and Valley (or at website, click on link at top of page.).

M visits dentist for well-check, review dental hygiene.


P cutting pepper swords. Then he colored the food pyramid’s veggie section on the recipe print out.

Adding Pepper Swords to the kid’s cookbook and reviewing Yellow Rice (yellow from tumeric) and Sunrise Smoothies.


The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel and A Jungle Expedition:  Henri Rousseau by Susanne Pfieger.  Practice illustrating jungle animals using colored chalk and cray-pas.


Play home made music ‘baseball’ and composer review (Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Liszt, Mozart) games (from a couple months ago).  Players answer a question and then move to the next base (piece of furniture).

Listening to Suzuki discs one through three in the morning.  All work on their practice songs throughout the day and at the pre-lunch designated time.  Having a regular practice time right before lunch seems to help make sure that we get to all the songs to work on, not just the easy and fun ones (that get played all day).

Social Studies


3rd Precinct Open House


Sheriff boat


SWAT’s armored truck was a favorite.

Explored all the exhibits at the 3rd Precinct’s Open House and community helpers review.  R loved the horses from the mounted patrol exhibit.

Yankee Doodle Riddles:  American History Fun by Joan Holub.  Work on Junior Ranger Activity Booklets for Mississippi River Visitor Center and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Language Arts


Practicing spelling list on the sidewalk (a bit tricky with chalk)

Shel Silverstein’s A Giraffe and a Half, a clever story-poem for practicing rhyming words.  Continue workbooks, creative writing, and spelling practice.

Week Twenty-Eight

Health and Wellness


Snow day!

Family swim night…good, splashy fun.  Enjoying the huge snow piles and buddies at the play park.


The sights and sounds we see before and after piano lessons make being at MacPhail even more enjoyable.  Before some lessons, we are greeted by music of a choir practice or studio recital (sometimes harp or piano) as we enter the building.  Last week we were drawn to the entry way (which is also a performance space) after lesson by the booming voices of a ensemble singing a Cabaret (Wikipedia link) tune.  We also enjoy guessing what instruments other students are carrying or wheeling (yes, some huge cases have wheels!) to their lessons.

A couple thoughtful Suzuki quotes from last week’s Gavotte Newsletter:  “If you have the spirit of a young child, you never age.”and  “Music is the language of the heart, without words.”.


Chant Arab with hands crossed!

The boys enjoyed Bach’s Big Adventure by Sallie Ketcham, a story of Bach’s childhood in Germany and how he meets Johann Adam Reincken.


Listening to Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte.  Enjoyed seeing Susana di Palma and Zorongo Flamenco perform and tell us about flamenco dancing at The Cowles Center.  We got to practice palmas (two different ways to clap), arm and wrist movements, and say ‘Ole!’ and ‘Guapo’ when we saw something that we enjoyed.  Musicians and singers played guitar, cajon (Wikipedia link), and castanets.


Wood from the land

The above project is from Susan Schwake’s Art Lab for Kids.  We learned about Amy Rice, a Minneapolis artist, and looked at her mixed-media ‘Zinnias’, which is a painting on a piece of wood.



Clay dough desert scenes: barrel and seguaro cacti and gila monster on sand paper squares

Desert ecosystems and some of the mammals, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates that live there and food webs of the desert.  ‘Desert Monster’ by Gerry Bishop from Ranger Rick for details about gila monsters.  Desert by Sean Callery, Cactus in the Desert by Phyllis S. Busch and Show Me Reptiles by Megan Cooley Peterson.


Our plant “pink splash’ before clipping


After clipping

The scientific method and hypothesis about what will happen to the plant after clipping .  Discussing basic needs of plants.

Math and Logic

Introduce division and basic terms (divisor, dividend, quotient) and three ways to write equations.  Review adding, subtracting, and multiplying facts.  Continue Singapore math workbooks.

Language Arts

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep by Moira Kemp and looking at wool products in our home (blanket, socks, yarn).  Measure and cut yarn to make a cat’s cradle (wikiHow link).

Using Audubon Guides to the National Wildlife Refuges and Field Guide to the Southwestern States for book skills such as using the index and table of contents.

Miles has been enjoying a Star Wars paperback and Reading Rainbow Readers’ Silly Stories to Tickle Your Funny Bone.  Both boys are nearing completion of their Explode the Code and phonics books.

Social Studies


Peach tree with tissue paper blossoms

Learning about Hina Matsuri in Celebrations! by Anabel Kindersley.

Ancient Sonoran desert people of Arizona and Casa Grande from the Nation Park Service.

DK’s A Life Like Mine:   How Children Live Around the World’s Home section.  Discussing types of homes, where people live, and how homes differ in the world.  Marveling at different types of places to live in Homes Around the World ABC by Amanda Doering.

Week Twenty-Seven

Health and Wellness

Hooray for family swim night!  We love reconnecting with buddies while snorkeling, diving, and treading in a 92 degree pool!


Trying out cross country skiing and snowboarding at our bluff and valley land

Check out Our Bluff and Valley page (go to the website if you’re reading this in your email) for new weekend snowboard, sledding, and crosscountry ski pics.  The boys illustrated and wrote about their new snow sport skills in their language arts journals.

Now that the ice rink is not maintained, we have been enjoying checking in with our fun park buddies while playing on the huge snow piles.


Listening to Suzuki piano school one through three discs and nursery rhyme playlist (from our old Music Together class days).  Reading Handel by M.T.Anderson and journaling key interests about this composer.  Listened to to Handel’s Water Music and looked at illustrations of the scene as it may have looked on the River Thames in the 1700s.

Continuing to have great lessons with our teacher at MacPhail.  Miles is learning how to use the different pedals.

Math and Logic

Attempting some of the Iditarod’s 30 Problems to Solve.  Math bingo games and Singapore workbooks continues.  Working on perimeter of squares, rectangles, and different types of triangles.

Language Arts


Scrabble Jr



Whose Coat Is This? by Laura Purdie Salas and writing words rhyming with coat as well as words with the ‘oa’ blend (snowboard).  Jan Brett’s Three Snow Bears and looking at some native artifacts and animals at her site.  The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and learning key words such as dojo, sayonara, and sensei.  Comparing both stories with the traditional ones.

The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal for funny ‘The Less Famous Friends of Mary Mack’ and practicing words that rhyme with different colors.  We read ‘Week at a Glance’ as the boys filled out blank March calendars.

Iditarod’s Daily Grammar Sentence Practice, as well as working on phonics, Explode the Code, and Writing books.



We made ice floes as we talked about the arctic

Ice Is Nice!  by Bonnie Worth and listing mammals and birds of the Arctic and Antarctica.  A Polar Bear’s World by Caroline Arnold.  ‘Life on the Ice’ by Hannah Schardt, an article about harp seals, in Ranger Rick magazine.  Miles wrote acrostic poem about snow.  CK-12 for Polar Climates.  Arctic Tundra and Polar Deserts by Chris Woodford covered modern and ancient people as well as mammals and geography.

Project Wet’s hydration activity for elementary ages and journaling about importance of water and ways water travels out and comes into our bodies.

Social Studies

Iditarod begins March 2 and we will follow at their page.  The Great Serum Race:  Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller and more about Alaska at Alaska Kids’ Corner.


Inuit finger mask project

Learning about the native people of the arctic and Alaska in My Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews, which is a story about a girl living in an Inuit village in northern Canada. Learning more about native people of the arctic and tundra at this site.

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse, a story set in Russia, and discussing World War II and experiences of Jewish children, women, and men.

Hello World! by Manya Stojic and learning how to say ‘hello’ in Inuktitut:  Kiana!, Russian:  Zdravstvuite!, Japanese:  Konnichiwa!.

Finish The Oregon Trail by Mel Friedman and If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine.  Learning about the Gold Rush and Joe Juneau (Wikipedia).



Look!  Drawing the Line in Art by Gillian Wolfe and using joined-up/writing lines as a background, as in Bernard Perlin‘s (link is to his site) piece titled ‘Orthodox Boys’.

Week Twenty

Happy New Year!

Health and Wellness


Ringing in the new year with lots of sledding and ice skating.  We continue our afternoon park trips, but have been ice skating with buddies instead of playing on the equipment.

Continue discussion and stories from E is for Ethics by Ian Corlett.  This week’s topic was generosity.  Looking for opportunities to be generous as well as reflecting on gifts of generosity from others.


Continue listening to Suzuki Book 1-3 discs.  We are adding some Haydn to the mix (topic from most recent group performance class) as well as the Schumanns and Brahms.  Enjoying Haydn’s Surprise and Farewell Symphonies.  We made up a fun baseball on paper game (like the one we played in class) where teams took turns answering serious and wacky questions about composers, notation, and sometimes named Suzuki songs in two to three notes.  Enjoyed details about 1800s (Romantic period) composer Brahms from Mike Venezia’s Johannes Brahms.


During our anual conference, our piano teacher inspired us to make a couple enhancements to our home music program:  learning the recorder and adding daily review chart.  We are currently using Carnegie Hall’s Recorder Basics.  This week’s focus is on rest/play positions, breathing, and playing Hot Cross Buns.  We are also learning where G is on the recorder and then finding it on the piano.


Used Ruby’s toy to practice and compare ‘birthday’ (as in blow the candles out) with ‘slow and steady’ breaths.  Then, using a real birthday candle they blew ‘slow and steady’ breath to make it flicker and then a ‘birthday’ breath to blow it out.  Discussing where breaths can come from (chest vs diaphragm).   Slow and steady breaths are more useful in playing the recorder.IMG_5128

Adding a new daily practice sheet.  The boys will review these songs after working on Hanon exercises and Suzuki book focus songs.



Snap Circuit projects galore

What Makes the Light Bright, Thomas Edison? by Melvin and Gilda Berger.  Mike Venezia’s Thomas Edison.


Static experiments (his hair is usually flat on top) and discussion of electrical charges from DK’s I’m A Scientist Kitchen by Lisa Burke.

Math and Logic

The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires.  As we read the book, the boys drew a gingerbread cowboy and included various shapes (for example 2 circles, 3 rectangles…).


Shape bingo with coins.  We used coins as bingo markers and reviewed the values.  When someone got bingo, they added up their coins used.  For example, when Parker got a bingo after using a nickel to cover the blue oval, his total was seven cents.

The Pizza That We Made by Joan Holub.  We assembled paper pizzas and practiced fractions by adding toppings.  For examples, I put this fraction card out and Miles put pepperoni on half of the pizza.

Language Arts


Story Cubes.  Everyone took turns rolling the six picture dice and making up a story using each picture.  Then the person gave the story a title.

 Silly Milly and the Mysterious Suitcase by Wendy Cheyette Lewson and compound words.  Comparing gingerbread stories with Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray, and  Lisa Ernst’s The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers.

Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin and activities for all from Homeschool Share.



Georges Seurat by Mike Venezia and Pointillism.  Chosen because he lived in the 1800s (like others we’re studying: Thomas Edison, Brahms, Schumann).  Seurat was interested in science’s discoveries about how color, lines, and shapes influence our emotions.

Social Studies

IMG_5159Adding more names and faces to our history timeline.  To the far right (not in this picture) are names and important events in America.

Previous Older Entries