Our final week of summer homeschooling! I wanted to end our summer session with something fun – and also meaningful. This week, Hawaii week, was the first of our Heritage Weeks that we are going to start working on this year, that focus on Wyatt’s ancestry – and what better way to end the summer with a week “in” Hawaii.
Billy’s grandmother, so Wyatt’s great-grandmother, was a born and raised Hawaiian, and so was her family for as far back as you can go. Wyatt and I talked about how Hawaii is a chain of Islands in the Pacific Ocean, read about Hawaiian legends, gods, and goddesses, talked about the native plants and vegetation (including pineapples and coconuts of course, with a tasting!), surfing, volcanoes, geckos (although not like our gecko), sea turtles, and listened to Hawaiian music, especially ukulele music. Wyatt liked Elvis’ version the best. He learned Hawaiian words, like aloha, ohana, and mahalo, designed his own surfboards, and made a grass crown. We also talked about the importance of tattoos in the Hawaiian culture, and gave this little tough guy a few temporary ones.
This was a great unit – we covered a brief overview of Earth, the Moon, constellations, and space exploration, and it was really fun. This was our second to last week of our summer homeschool – we are going to have one more week then we will be off for a week before we start Wyatt’s first day of Kindergarten!
I think constellation day was our favorite. We started by looking at the Skyview App on my phone, laying on the floor of his darkened bedroom, seeing where the constellations were in the sky. We talked about how we couldn’t see them since it was daytime, and how when the sun went down then we would be able to see them. I dug out his Uncle Goose constellation blocks that we got him a million years ago, and he had a blast building tall towers with them after we looked at some of the constellations. We ended by playing a game of Night Sky dominoes. They weren’t really dominoes though, more like heavy cardboard shaped liked dominoes with illustrations on it. They were pretty cool.
Wyatt also made his own constellations – he chose a house and snail lol. I drew them out and he put the stars on.
We read about Vincent Van Gogh, and Wyatt painted his own version of Starry Night. He also painted a moon, using a foil ball as a stamp, and did an Earth lacing activity. It all looks so pretty hanging in our den. We have one project left, and we are waiting until tonight to do it as a family – an Oreo moon phase activity. Anything that involves Oreos, I am there for.
My little artist. This week we spent a lot of time reading and playing around with art, which made both of us happy. Our allergies were crazy so we had to stay inside a little more than we wanted sadly, but at least we made the most of it.
We started the week with Renoir and The Wave, as our inspiration piece. I found this great idea on Pinterest and thought it worked perfectly with our unit study! Since we are homeschooling for the upcoming year, I bought a really nice set of finger paints, and Wyatt was excited to break it open and use it, so instead of the sponge he used finger paints mostly, with a little sponge for dabbing, but not much. As you can see…
We also talked about the lavender fields of France, and made another finger painting rendition of these fields. We added a little extra to this project though – Wyatt helped me to cut the spent blooms off of our lavender plants and we saved them all, and sprinkled the seeds over the painting. He completely loved this project, with the cutting and sprinkling. I loved it because it smelled so good!
Friday we worked on little paper miniature things. Wyatt has a love of tiny toys, he calls it baby size, so he really liked playing with his “baby Paris”. I cut it all out and he just moved the little paper cut-outs where he wanted them. Then he/we made a tiny art museum, complete with Degas stickers for the “exhibit”. Elmo was excited to visit this art gallery!
We are taking next week off, as it is Billy’s birthday week! When we pick up again we will do a week about the night sky and a week “exploring” Hawaii, then a break again before we start up again for fall. I am really looking forward to all of our future projects!
This is my life lately. Reading about education, researching different curriculum, talking to homeschoolers who have experience (Lisa) and those who are like me and taking the plunge this year for the first time (Whitney). I have attended two online conferences and have plans to attend a third. I have read about all the different styles, decided mine is eclectic (big surprise!), thought about Wyatt’s interests and learning style, then finally made my choices. Which was exciting but scary too! On some level I am like this is kindergarten, relax, but then I am also like, it’s kindergarten, the foundation of his whole education!
So after much deliberation, the materials have all been bought and printed. My husband brought it all home to me yesterday and I very nerdily enjoyed going through it all and placing it into different binders. It gave me that first day of school thrill that I always had when I would get all my new school supplies, all shiny and unused. Then I realized, Wyatt’s first day of kindergarten was going to be so very different than mine was. I was actually in the newspaper my first day of kindergarten – I had bad allergies and was holding a handkerchief, in my little smocked dress, holding my mom’s hand in the hallway, but I must have looked like a little bereft schoolgirl because that was how they captioned it, about being sad. Wyatt will have an entirely different experience. None of the first day nervous anticipation, no filling of the brand new backpack with shiny new supplies. I need to think about how to make that day special for him!
For math, I chose Math Lessons for a Living Education. I love that it has a central story read aloud for every lesson, and I know that Wyatt will enjoy that aspect as well. However, I bought the first textbook and it is a little low for Wyatt so we started it already, and I will buy the next level up around Christmas I think. He is enjoying it so far, so that is good! It is a Christian curriculum, which wasn’t my intention, but it works!
For Language Arts, History, Geography, Art, Music, and Nature Study, I chose Blossom and Root’s Kindergarten curriculum (which is 30% off right now). I am absolutely in love with it, and I am so excited to start it with Wyatt. There is a huge emphasis on reading and books and nature, which we love in this house. The history and geography section starts with the history of Wyatt, then his family, then begins to explore his place in the world, from our community to the wider world. I can’t wait to begin it with him. We also had to choose a few heroes to study, and Billy and I chose MLK Jr, Benjamin Franklin, and Jane Goodall. This program looks like it is all about joy and ease and beautiful art and language, all good things that I want to influence Wyatt’s learning. The art and music component is amazing as well. Wyatt is going to be studying some real masters this year, from Monet to Diego Rivera (I so hope that we can get in to the DIA safely to show Wyatt the enormous Rivera mural there) to Edward Hopper, and Bach and Joplin and Chopin. It sounds more intense than it really is, but how awesome that this is what he is being introduced to. I felt he needed a different math component though, which is why I went with Math for Living Education. Not because I felt the Blossom and Root was lacking, but because Wyatt needs a little structure in some areas.
I am also adding in the Chickie and Roo Kinder Nature Beginnings Language Arts program. If I knew what next year had in store for us, whether we are committing to homeschooling for elementary or not, then I might just stick to the Blossom and Root, but I wanted to add in just a touch more language arts as well. Wyatt I think needs just a little more reinforcement and structure, and he loves to do table work.
I will also be adding in some mini-science unit studies of my own as well throughout the year. Wyatt and I are going to be so busy – but in a really good way. I am super excited for this school year, and I hope that he will love it too!
This week was the first week in our two week unit study about France, and we had so much fun! This week we focused on famous landmarks and symbols of France, read a few books, and tried a few new foods – or at least Wyatt did.
We read Anatole, about that cute little bike riding, beret wearing mouse who has quite a refined palette for cheese tasting… and then of course we had to eat cheese too. Wyatt tried baked Brie. He was not impressed. I’ll give him a few more years.
We read about The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, which was really an interesting book!! I had never heard of this historic event, and was pretty fascinated with it. The picture book is very long, so I had to summarize the pages a bit to keep Wyatt interested, but I went back and read it myself. We talked about giraffes, their natural habitats, and looked at maps, both a world map and a map of France, to view the journey this giraffe made so long ago. We plotted her walk from Marseilles to Paris (425 miles in 41 days!) and laughed thinking about the raincoat that the French tailor sewed for her. This was a very fun day; Wyatt loves giraffes so it was cool to be able to include them in this unit.
We did some table work as well, math and patterns and all that good stuff, but the bulk of what we did was exploring through reading and trying new things. We also started a new read aloud – Linnea in Monet’s Garden. It is so cute and coincides well with our “journey”. We stopped reading The Little Prince – Wyatt is not ready for it yet and that is ok. Another thing for another time. But he is enjoying Linnea.
This week was a departure – in two ways! We “traveled” to the Great Smoky Mountains and learned about much of the flora and fauna and traditions of the area; and it was also a departure from our normal version of homeschooling. This week we skipped table work and did more exploring and reading on our own.
I chose the Great Smoky Mountain area because pre-COVID, we were planning a trip to the National Park, Gatlinburg, Dollywood – it was going to be a whole big thing, our first big trip as a family, first theme park for Wyatt. However, it is now on hold for a bit. And well, now we know a bit more about the area for when we do go!
We spent a day talking about the National Parks, park rangers, and specifically Great Smoky Mountain NP. We talked about preparing for a hike, and I gathered a bunch of materials for Wyatt to choose from to pack his own adventure bag. He chose to pack all of it, and to eat his snacks immediately. I guess he is not a minimalist and does not believe in traveling light. This was also the first challenge in the Wild Explorers Club that I signed Wyatt up for. We are working on the first badge, the Wolf Badge. It worked out nicely!
Then we talked about log cabin homes and Davy Crockett, the Native American tribes that lived there (we were going to make a Cherokee pinch pot but never got around to it – another time), and watched a video of the synchronous firefly event – something I would love to see one day! We just learned about fireflies last week so this was sort of fun to revisit again. We had a day spent on Folk music, and then finally learning about salamanders, the Smoky Mountains are known as the salamander capital of the world! We read the Salamander Room, talked about salamanders, chose our own favorite animal and drew “rooms” for them (fox for me, frog for Wyatt), and finally today as a surprise to Wyatt, we are adding a new member to our family – a leopard gecko! Not quite the same thing but after reading about different types of small pets a leopard gecko sounds like a good fit for our family. We will set up the enclosure today and talk about setting up the room for a gecko, then add in our new friend!
This week Wyatt is learning about the Great Smoky Mountains, and I thought it would be a great time to add in some music! He is a huge music lover of all kinds, and while we almost always have music of some sort playing in the house, I have never purposely included it in our plans – mostly because I am not well versed on music, at all. But I thought this was a good basic intro for him!
I found these folk instrument flash cards online and used them not really as flashcards to quiz him but as a way to talk about the different instruments used in folk music. Then I collected any instruments that we had around our house that were listed and set them out for him to play with. I usually have his small instruments out for him in a basket, but the guitar and ukulele are usually put away and for occasions with supervision. The guitar was his grandfather’s and is special to me for that reason. I want him to to use but treat it with respect which is sometimes hard for five year olds who are learning still.
We talked about all the instruments, the types that they are, played around with them, and then listened to music on YouTube. I specifically searched for fiddle music, banjo music, etc so that we could hear what each sounded like, and also threw some in just for fun.
We watched a few Lindsey Stirling videos because I personally love her style. I was surprised that they were not Wyatt’s favorites, because they are so lively and upbeat but I think she was his least favorite! He really loved the harmonica pieces we listened to and Abby the Spoon Lady.
Afterward we constructed a cereal box banjo/guitar but we are still working on the neck – I will update with photo later! I turned it inside out, taped it all back together and had Wyatt decorate it before adding the rubber band strings. His grandfather was an artist and was so talented with calligraphy and design – Wyatt decorating his little art project while we listened to country music just really made me feel like his grandfather was with us for a bit.
So it was a very basic intro but a good one! I am going to look into music for homeschooling as this kid seems to have music in his very soul!
We have been focusing on life with wings the past two weeks, and have learned about birds and fireflies! Fireflies just feel so summer to me. I wait for them to start blinking their lights every year and when they finally do, I feel like ok, now it is summertime for real. We are doing a little less structured school for the summer, but still learning and creating and keeping up with skills so we avoid that summer slide – which is a real thing and with this year being so abbreviated at school, I felt like I would just keep going.
Last week was bird week! We talked about different nests and eggs, worked on number identification, patterns, letters, and also more nature study type things, like bird identification and listening to different bird songs and calls. Wyatt’s favorites are chickadees and woodpeckers – mine will always be owls of all sorts (in fact we are spending a whole week on owls this fall..) We also measured our “wingspans” and learned that Wyatt’s wingspan is similar to that of a barn owl while mine is close to an osprey.
Art is always a fun part of our week and for bird week we painted with feathers, made a feather branch out of construction paper and a branch (fine motor skills and cutting practice!), and made a bird kite that was more fun to make than fly. Wyatt’s painting though – I don’t think he intended to paint a bird but do you see it? I think I am going to frame it!
Then this week we learned about fireflies, or lightning bugs depending on who you are. Again it was a more unstructured, more nature study versus school kind of week, perfect for summer. We did continue to review skills, and read books and listened to Leo the Lightning Bug on CD a million times. We made a cute little lightning bug and then fun glow in the dark firefly jars. We ended the week with an ice cream dinner then watching for fireflies in the yard. It was a good very summertime feeling week.
And that is it for our homeschool the last two weeks! Next week we are doing a very fun unit on the Great Smoky Mountains; pre-COVID we had a vacation planned to the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood which is now on hold until next year, unfortunately. So we will be visiting and learning about the the area virtually! It is a more play based week with an emphasis on art and music and geography and history – I am excited to see how it all goes for us!
This week was not originally intended to be deer themed – but when I saw that the Full Moon for July is the Buck Moon, I decided to switch it up. We started this small study with the new moon, and I loved the symmetry of it. I love it when a theme comes together!
We are still schooling over the summer, but taking it a little easier – less table work, more play. Although my boy asks for table work so I had to find more as the week went on. I guess I love a theme, and he loves a routine. We worked on the letter D, pattern recognition, handwriting, counting and number identification, and read a few cute books. We learned simple facts about white-tailed deer, about their white-tails, how they have hooves, about antlers. That a male deer is a buck, a female a doe, and a baby is a fawn. That they live in herds, and eat plants. All in all, it was a pretty easy-going week, with lots of opportunity for whimsy and drama, with his deer mask and antler crown.
Our art projects this week were particularly fun. We had bought sun art paper to play with for the summer solstice, and we had some leftover, so we pulled that back out and made some deer sun art. Then last year, when we were participating fully in the Kid’s Moon Club, we made an antler crown for Wyatt, which he loves to wear still. So this year, we made one for his little toy badger Henry, that he loves to pieces and sleeps with. So now they both have little antler crowns. My cousin said that Wyatt looks like a character from Peter Pan in his crown!
This week was bee week! I was really looking forward to this one. I might say that about all of them though, as I am the one who really picks the themes…
This week we had some great activities, and great books, including our new read aloud of Winnie-the-Pooh! We started Sunday by going in search of bee hives – I thought I knew where one or two were but they turned out to be empty this year.
On Monday we started with the letter H, for honey and hive, played a memory match vocabulary game, talked about the different types of hives, and “created” a hive out of Honeycomb cereal. Oh and snacked on some honeycomb cereal with drips of honey on it, which was as sticky as it sounds.
Tuesday, we continued working on the letter H and vocabulary, did some sorting and pattern work, and started our fun counting book, complete with little wooden bees. In the afternoon we set up a pollination creation garden, where Wyatt created a little garden (inspired by our Monet’s waterlilies art from pond week) and I filled two of the flowers with powdered Tang to “bee” the pollen. Then we dipped a paintbrush in water, and used it to transfer the pollen from flower to flower. It turned out really cute!
Wednesday was such a sticky hot day, and not from honey but from humidity (another H word!) We did some table work, planted some seeds to grow a pollinator garden, then made homemade honey playdough, which was really fun. Wyatt loves to pretend bake and cook (and really help bake) so this activity was a hit.
Thursday I reserved for music and reading and poetry exclusively. It was a fun day! We listened to Flight of the Bumblebee, talked about the waggle dance that bees do to tell the other bees where to find flowers, and read some poems and rhymes. Friday we were going to make honey soap but decided to save it for Saturday when Billy could participate. So look for that update on my Instagram!
Next week we are going to take a little break, but then resume again the following week. Wyatt missed a month of school or so with the COVID shutdown and I didn’t start working with him right away, so we are going to keep working over the summer, with small breaks.
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This week I went crazy with the book buying. I love love love our copy of Winnie-the-Pooh and I wanted it to be a special one. If you were going to pick just one or two books though, I would go with Why Do We Need Bees? and Follow that Bee. Although Are You a Bee is really good too!
And that is about it! It was a really fun week, filled with so many good reads! I feel so much more knowledgeable about bees myself now! If you have any questions about the materials I used or how I adapted them, let me know. You can comment here or send me an email!