Field Trip to the Zoo

We love Como Zoo!


Ants in the rainforest

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The Ants Go Marching…

They have arrived!  Ants for our observation kit!

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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-Six

Health and Wellness

New: Check out Our Bluff and Valley page!  Click on those words  (below “Adventures in Homeschooling” at the top of this page) to see what’s new on our land.



IMG_5893Enjoying a last bit of skating before the warming house closes for the season.


Sledding ‘snowboard’ style!  We missed buddies and the warm water of Family Swim Night this week (canceled for President’s Day).

Math and Logic

Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree by Betsy Franco and drawing zero of something.  Using mini-calendars to find the date and write what will be happening this week.  Continue working in Singapore math workbooks, practicing time-telling, playing Money in the Bank and multiplying games from Miss Brain’s Cool Math Games.  Reviewed Left or Right by Susan Meredith and Plus 1, Minus 1 by Ann H. Matzke.

Language Arts


Creating pattern poems with shapes and reviewing parts of speech at the same time with Mixing In Math.  The boys took turns choosing adjectives and nouns and then reading the sentences.

R is for Rhyme:  A Poetry Alphabet by Judy Young and learning about different types of poems.  Listening for rhyming endings in  Jingle “The Sweet Tooth Candy Shop”.  Writing a Cinquain about an African animal.

Continue with spelling and sight words, creative writing journals, and Explode the Code.  The boys have been enjoying Max Finder short mystery books.

The Reader by Amy Hest and Winter Is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer were timely books for this week’s snowfall.  Writing and illustrating in journals about what the boys would pack in their suitcases (The Reader) and what makes them feel warmest (Winter is the Warmest Season).


IMG_5917Experiments with Weather by Salvatore Tocci for expanding and cooling activity.  The jug on the left has cold water and the other has boiling water.  Everyone made a hypothesis about what would happen after shaking each jug.  There was no change after shaking the cold water, but the other one expanded.  Recording experiment and some key terms in Science Notebook.  We missed Groundhog’s Day, so we caught up by reading about the history in that book.  Also recording the weather in Science Notebook and illustrating with Colors of Weather by Laura Purdie Salas.

Woodland biomes and deciduous forests:  animal and plants pictures at Enchanted Learning.  Notebook pages from Homeschool Share.  A Woodland Counting Book by Claudia McGehee, In the Forest by Laura Ottina, Toads by Kari Schuetz, and The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, and Animal Report Forms also from Homeschool Share.  We also enjoyed Eggs 1 2 3 by Janet Halfman and Animal Eggs by Dawn Cusick.  Looking for ways to differentiate reptiles and amphibians with help from this site and Show Me Reptiles by Megan Cooley Peterson.

Checking out types of snakes common in western Wisconsin at Wisconsin’s DNR site Environmental Education for Kids.  We would be lucky to see some on our land:  common milk, garter, prairie ring neck, eastern hognose to name a few.

Social Studies

Focusing on Zebulon Pike and Westward explorations with Zebulon Pike:  Explorer and Soldier by Robin Doak and Westward Ho! by Charlotte Foltz Jones.  Making illustrations in notebook and listing animals that Pike encountered.   Learning about The Oregon Trail and reading If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon by Ellen Levine.  Discussing what it may be like to be a Native American during that time and reading The Sioux by Kevin Cunningham.  Enjoyed Taku Wadaka He? (What Do You See?) written by Joanna Zacharias, a member of the Sioux Community.

Reading “My Quilt” from R is for Rhyme by Judy Young and reviewing our new Bluff and Valley neighbors’ names by putting them on a paper quilt.  Then we talked about who is to the north, south, etc.


Using our Beginning Geography book, sand paper (for the Sahara), and N’cwala section of Celebrations by Anabel Kindersley  for Africa study.  Labeling the map and talking about common animals and terrain.  Enjoyed a photographed story set in Ethiopia, Omer’s Favorite Place by Ifeoma Onyefulu (who is from Nigeria) and discused the boys’ favorite places to play.



Faith Ringgold biography and quilt art idea from 1st Grade Art with Mrs. Brown.  Everyone made one or two quilt patches using buttons, fabric pieces from old clothes, paint, and craypas, and then punched holes around the perimeter.  Then everyone took turns sewing sides together with needle and yarn.  The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons and Quilt Counting by Lesa Cline-Ransome.  Listing ‘qu-‘ words.


Parker is playing C chords along with many of his practice songs.  Miles continues working on F scale, Hanon exercise number seven (right hand only), Hungarian Folk Song (Bartok), and Minuet in G Major.  Ruby is adding to her repertoire, and has taught herself the first handful notes of Vince Guaraldi’s song ‘Linus and Lucy’.  We have added a nursery rhymes playlist to our daily listening, compiled from all our Music Together classes.  We also continue to enjoy our Suzuki discs (first three books), pieces from Chopin, Handel, Haydn, Schumann, and Bartok (mostly ‘school’ time listening), and tons of contemporary music on Spotify.

Week Twenty-Four

Health and Wellness


The hill was pretty fast this week!


Tagging along to see what happens

First things first:  recess!  With all this beautiful snow to play in, why not start the day out right with some outdoor fun?


Pick-up hockey with buddies at the rink every afternoonIMG_5573

Still enjoying our pre-dinner hours at the rink.

Feelings by Aliki.  As we read the short stories and cartoons, we would chat about the emotions.  Using similes to describe self.  For example all the items started ‘quick/cold/strong/brave, etc. as…’ and the boys completed them.  One of Parker’s similes was ‘cold as penguin water’!



Filling each glass with different amounts of water (5 3/4 inches to 3 1/4 inches) and comparing their pitch.  Trying to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Predicting if the highest and lowest guitar strings will look the same when plucked.  Then plucking, observing, and comparing their movents.  Rubber-Band Banjos and Java Jive Bass:  Projects and Activities on the Science of Music and Sound Alex Sabbeth

Squish!  A Wetland Walk by Nancy Luenn and ‘Wetlands’ by Seymour Simon from The Big Book for Our Planet.  While the boys listen, they draw pictures of wetland animals, insects, and birds and write key words in their Science notebooks.

Language Arts

IMG_5568Reading Ten Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle and activities to go along with the book such as skip counting by tens, and put paper ducks to the north, south, west, east, etc. as we read.

Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco and writing about feelings.  The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant and writing and drawing about a family visit.  Miles noticed that the adults ‘chat and chat’ and the kids ‘play and play’.  He also recalled that in warmer weather we race them to the corner as they drive away.

Vowel Family by Sally M. Walker was a story about vowels and their function in words.

James Marshall’s Mother Goose and funny jokes from Knock, Knock! Who’s There?, a compilation from fourteen artists such as Chris Raschka and Tomi Depaola.

Miles has been enjoying reading books about animals on BookFlix.  Read What and Where:  The Sound of WH by Robert B. Noyed and Cynthia Klingel and wrote a list of words with that blend.


Waiting for the ‘pitch’.  We used various spelling words and language arts questions (such as what is a synonym for sleepy) to play indoor ‘baseball’.  For example, one of Parker’s ‘pitches’ would be to spell box Then he would run to first base (a paper taped to our floor).

IMG_5587Reading The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle and listing contractions and compound words.  Also discussing if fireflies are invertebrates/vertebrates and so on.

Math and Logic


New games from Miss Brain’s Cool Math by Kelli Pearson.


Money in the Bank (from Miss Brain’s Cool Math) is a coin counting game.  The first player turns over a card, and if it is black, then the player takes that many cents from the ‘bank’ (next to the little sign).  If it is red, then they put that many cents into the ‘bank’.  After a few rounds, we counted coins and reviewed skip counting by fives and tens.IMG_5515

Decimals and practice putting prices in order in our toy store.  Decimals by Claire Piddock.


Using small calendars to talk about our week.  For example I would say, put a p (Miles would write ‘piano’) on the second Saturday of the month.  IMG_5565

Recording sheet for Pigs in a Pen game.IMG_5567

Another game from Miss Brain’s Cool Math by Kelli Pearson.  Roll dice, put the ‘pigs’ (coffee beans) in rubber band ‘pen’ and repeat with other ‘pen’.  Choose math operation (Parker adding, Miles multiplying) and record the equation.

We also played fraction games (sorry, none pictured) and did cookie fractions by looking at fractions in a recipe.  The recipe called for one stick of butter, so we talked about what fraction of a pound that is.  This recipe also called for one tablespoon of water, and we figured out what fraction of a cup that is as well.  Miles practiced reading the recipe all the way through before beginning to measure.


Adding family ages to a number line

Using tallies to track how many times we skated, sledded, and swam last month.  Skating was the winner with 17 times!



Learning about Henri Matisse in Snail Trail:  In Search of a Modern Masterpiece by Jo Saxton.  Everyone made a snail (complete with ‘googly eyes’ in the style of Matisse.   A Book About Color by Mark Gonyea and making gumball machine pictures, discussing how colors may affect our mood and feelings.


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Mike Venezia.  We were surprised to learn that Mozart could play the violin perfectly at age four.  Continuing to listen to Suzuki discs one through three, as well as a huge variety of music.  The boys enjoy their piano lessons.  Miles practices the F scale this week, as well as Bartok’s Hungarian Folk Song, Swinging Beat, and other Suzuki book review songs.  Parker has been getting the hang of adding left hand C chords to many folk songs:  French Children’s Song, Lightly Row, London Bridge, and Go Tell Aunt Rhody

Social Studies


My Family by Sheila Kinkade and Our Grandparents:  A Global Album by Maya Ajmera.  Make family trees, listing all the way back to great grandparents.


Making a mini-book about Chinese New Year, taking notes from Celebrations by Anabel Kindersley.  We’re also planning to study Carnival (Brazil) and N’cwala (Zambia) in February.

Welcome to My Neighborhood by Quiara Alegria Hudes, making a map of our neighborhood, discussing what is in our neighborhood, and writing directions to favorite spots.

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