Monthly Archives: January 2011

Listen to the Sounds of the Body

As alluded to in my last post, we had a fun science project with Grampa recently. It definitely comes in handy to have a doctor in the family.

The jist of this project was to have the boys trace their body on paper, and to guess which different parts of their bodies would yield some sort of sound when listened to with a stethoscope. Then they got to actually use a stethoscope on the different parts of their bodies to test their hypotheses.

It was amazing for us to discover how noisy our bodies are. Once we all got the hang of learning to use the stethoscope (yes, there is a small learning curve), we laughed and had a lot of fun trying to describe the sounds we heard in our innards. For the most part, the boys were pretty accurate guessers. There were only a couple of body parts that didn’t make any sound when they thought they would.

Thanks to Grampa, for finding time in his busy schedule to spend the evening with us and let us use his high-tech equipment. 😉 It was a fun project.

Nope, no noise in the nose!

Fake recording our data (I asked Henry to pose for the picture but he neglected to take the cap off the marker to make it entirely believable)

NOW we’re talkin’!

A Day in the Life

I’m joining in the fun at Simple Homeschool today as we share glimpses into each other’s homeschooling days.

This is our first “official” year homeschooling as Henry is of kindergarten age. So far, we’ve fallen into a rhythm that I’m happy with. Typically, I try to do school with the boys during nap time for the girls. But more often than not, I try to take my cues from the way the day is unfolding and fit whatever I can in whenever I can.

I sit down on Sunday night to plan our learning week. This is just a rough list of things I’d like to see happen by subject. I keep this list (complete with boxes I can check off) in a binder that I use to account for what we did each day. So none of our days are fixed; some days we might be schooling for several hours and other days, none at all. We shoot for four days a week, though.

We’re using RightStart Math (which we LOVE), Mudpies to Magnets for science, Getty and Dubay for handwriting, Storybook Art for art, Children Just Like Me for social studies, Hooked on Spanish for Spanish, and I’m up in the air right now with our Reading curriculum. Henry completed the Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten reading level in four months but is currently on a reading strike. I borrowed the BOB books from a friend to see if that would interest him. It didn’t, but it interested Samuel, who has been dying to learn to read. He’s doing well. I’m trying to back off and let Henry have a little break and we’ll come back to reading when he’s ready, but in the meantime, we still do spelling games and other word games that are non-book reading.


This is how our day unfolded yesterday.

5:00 a.m.: Rise, personal devotional and scripture study

7:00 a.m.: Get myself ready for the day, kids are up

7:30 a.m.: Scripture reading with the kids around the kitchen table

7:40 a.m.: Work on the poem we’re memorizing while the oatmeal cooks

8:10 a.m.: Breakfast finished, kitchen table cleared off, kids get dressed

9:20 a.m.: Out the door to a friend’s house (kids play while moms make laundry detergent)

12:20 p.m.: Back home for lunch

1:30 p.m.: Thing One down for nap

1:50 p.m.: Thing Two down for nap

2:00 p.m.: School, which consisted of reading to the boys, working on our art project for the week, doing a math lesson for Henry, and prepping our science project for later in the day. School time was also peppered with multiple interruptions from Thing Two, who kept needing potty breaks as an excuse to get out of napping.

4:00 p.m.: Henry (age 5.5) was playing with play dough, Becca (age 2.5) was still napping, Samuel (age 4) was playing in the front room with some toys, so I enlisted Kate (the non-napper, age 2.5)  to help me unload and load the dishwasher and help me start dinner.

5:00 p.m. Dad is home from work. Becca wakes up from nap.

5:20 p.m.: Read to Kate in the front room because she lost the privilege of watching her Wiggles show

5:40 p.m.: Grampa arrives for dinner and to help with science project

6:00 p.m.: Dinner

6:30 p.m.: Kids get ready for bed, no baths tonight

7:00 p.m.: Kate to bed

7:10 p.m.: Boys do their science project with Grampa while Becca sits at the kitchen table and draws

7:40 p.m.: Bedtime stories

8:00 p.m.: Bed

8:15 p.m.: Joe and I fold two baskets of laundry while we catch up with each other

9:00 p.m.: Lights out

My mom has always told me, “Flexible people are happy people.” I’m finding this to be my mantra with homeschooling and rearing four young children who are three years apart. Yes, I get a thrill when a day goes exactly according to plan and yes, I like happy, cooperative children. But I’m learning that if I can be less uptight about things when they don’t go according to plan and the kids are monsters, I can still go to bed happy.

We’re loving the journey!

Trying New Things

I finally got brave enough to jump into some art mediums other than drawing and painting. We’ve recently tackled “It Looked Like Spilt Milk” by  Charles G. Shaw (Storybook Art, page 33) and “Snow on Snow on Snow” by Cheryl Chapman and Synthia Saint James (Storybook Art, page 86).

The kids did a project based on “It Looked Like Spilt Milk” with my parents while we were in Chile. They blobbed some white paint in the middle of blue paper and then folded the paper and opened it back up. Once dry, they looked at their image from different angles to see what it looked like and wrote their impressions on the paper. Such fun.

If Storybook Art hadn’t had this other project to go along with the book, I would have left it alone. But I was really curious to see how this one would work.

You take shaving cream and white glue and mix together. Plop a blob down on a piece of paper and let your kid explore and shape and create. Whatever they come up with will dry puffy.

This was such a sensory activity for the girls and Samuel that they didn’t get past smearing the shaving cream mixture all over their paper and the table. Henry had the only picture that dried puffy.

Here they are:

Kate, loving the feel of pure squishiness


It took Becca a minute or two to fully embrace the experience.

Henry was very deliberate in his creation.

I was a little more skeptical to try “Snow on Snow on Snow” as it was a cut/collage project, but figured that we needed a baseline to determine time between projects such as this. As we read the book together, I tried to draw the kids’ attention to the pictures, asking them how they would create a scene like that, or pointing out that nothing was drawn; the images we were looking at were void of detail and drawn expression.

My takeaway was that my littles are still a little too little for a project like this. They had lots of creative ideas but haven’t developed the fine motor and scissor skills to execute independently. Henry wanted to draw his objects and then cut them out, which was fine. Samuel had a whole story in his head that he dictated to me while instructing me what pieces to cut out of which color papers. The girls also had specific ideas of what they wanted on their snow scenes, but ultimately ended up more interested in the glue sticks (as you will be able to see on Kate’s picture).

Here’s what they came up with:

Here is Kate’s Frosty the Snowman at the bottom of the sledding hill, complete with flecks of goldfish cracker that stuck when she sneezed without covering her mouth. All of the yellow on the green background is dried glue from the glue stick.

Becca and her tutu were pretty proud of the “nummy” (cat), doggie, and baby frolicking in the snow.

Sam liked the idea of the “nummy” and wanted to copy it, although he was insistent on cutting his own tail for the cat. He put glue on the wrong side of the cat so it had to face the opposite direction from where he originally intended it to face. So he changed the story to be that the cat was running away from something scary. Enter the shark. Then he liked the idea of Becca’s baby, so he wanted to have a mother holding a baby. Evidently, they’re not as scared of the shark as the cat is. The snow at the bottom of the picture and the giant snowflakes (big brown and white squares at the top) were Samuel’s original and independent contribution to the project.

Henry was the only one to work independently 100%. I get the house on the snow but am a little unsure of what the red arch is. I was very pleased with his efforts, though.