Monday, December 31, 2012

Educational Outline 2013

So, in the last few weeks, Emma and I have been a bit more structured in her learning. We seem to be doing well with it, but we quickly realized that structured learning every day was a bit much for us (going from 0 to 5 days would overwhelm anyone I guess). So we have made a few changes.

Beauty of Spring Dec 2012 (2)

Starting with January, we are going to allow the "Horse Diaries" series to direct our learning (yes our learning, because there is a lot I will be learning as well). Each month we will read one of the books in the series, and focus on that horse breed throughout the month. Along with the horse breed, we will pull one or two other areas of interest from the book.

January is a little odd, only because we randomly chose the other subjects, but the next 5 months tie in a little more closely to the books.

What will we learn about each month? In addition to focusing on a horse breed, we will focus on one artist, one science concept, and one geographical location/culture. We will mix in some math worksheets (Emma really enjoys these), as well as reading and writing. For the writing, Emma will create a story based on the subjects we are focusing on and work on it throughout the month. Oh, and we plan to keep up with the letters to family and friends.

Let me use January as an example.

The book we will be starting the month off with is Maestoso Petra. The story is a Lipizzaner horse and takes place in Vienna, Austria in 1938. Before I was smart enough to tie in more of the story to our learning goals, we had just randomly decided to learn about Leonardo da Vinci and crystals. So, for January, we will do a bunch of science experiments to learn about crystals (rock candy, borax snowflakes, etc.) as well as recreate some works of art by da Vinci and maybe learn about some of his inventions. 

Here is a quick peek at the next 5 months. 

Book: Golden Sun
Horse Breed: Appaloosa 
Location/Culture: NW United States, Nez Perce Tribe
Art: Native American Art
Science: Horse Anatomy 


Book: Yatimah
Horse Breed: Arabian (we have already done a Horse Geography sheet on the Arabian, but we decided to go back and learn more)
Location/Culture: Northern Africa/Middle East, Nomadic Bedouin
Art: African/Middle Eastern Art
Science: Human Anatomy (to compare it to Horse Anatomy from the previous month)


Book: Risky Chance
Horse Breed: Thoroughbred
Location/Culture: England
Art: Shakespeare
Science: Oil/Energy (not related to the book, but we will be in Texas this month with Da while he goes through some training, so we thought it might be neat to talk about these two topics and maybe try to schedule a field trip)


Book: Black Cloud
Horse Breed: Mustang
Location: United States- we will be learning about the history of horses
Art: Cave Paintings
Science: History of the earth, continental drift, geology (we will be in California for most of May and June, so we will begin learning about the ocean as well this month)


Book: Tennessee Rose
Horse Breed: Tennessee Walking Horse
Location/Culture: Civil War/Slavery
Art: Poetry
Science: Ocean life

Sadly, that is all that has been published for the Horse Diaries series. There is one more book that comes out in the next few weeks. We also need to go back to the first 3 that we have already read and tie them into our new learning system, but for now, I think that is a great game plan.

As I mentioned, there will also be math worksheets, reading, and writing. We still plan to write 1-3 letters a week to family and friends, so if your interested, e-mail me your address and we will add you to the list!

I hope that 2013 brings fantastic things your way!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Horse Geography

So, I thought I had written a post a long time ago about our horse geography, but I didn't. So, here it is now!

About a year ago, I had the brilliant idea to use horses to teach Emma geography. She loves to learn about horses (has for about 3 or so years now) so we decided to use it to our advantage.

I created some blank worksheets that we would be able to use for all different breeds. One side is dedicated to breed characteristics, the other side is dedicated to the horse's origin. Here, this is what they look like.

horse geo blank1

For this sheet, we just record the name of the horse, it's hand height, colors, purpose, temperament, and origin. We use one of the small rectangles to record our references, and we use the other rectangle to tape (or glue) a picture of the horse (so Emma has something to go off of for her drawing). The big rectangle on the bottom is for her drawings. 

horse geo blank2

For the origin sheet, we record the continent, country, language (we also look up 'horse' in that language), climate, and terrain. We print up the flag and map from the horses origin and glue/tape them onto the sheet. Emma looks for the origin in the world map at the bottom then colors the area in. 

At this point, the info we put on here is mostly just basic stuff. As Emma gets older, we can increase the difficulty level of the info, or use the info to write reports or what not.  

Once the sheets are filled out, we add them to our Geography binder. If we have printed any information to use, we also include those pages into the binder as well. Any drawings that Emma has done of the specific breeds will also be included in the binder. 

Here are the two we managed to get done last year. 

horse geo exmoor
Exmoore Pony

horse geo exmoor0001
Exmoore Pony Drawing

horse geo fellabella

As is typical with us, we lost interest after these two. I think we lost interest because I was a little too exuberant about it. This time we will take things a bit slower, and Emma is a year older so that will help as well. 

Here is the first one we have done since we started back up again. 

arabian horse geo
Arabian Characteristics 

arabian horse geo2
Arabian Origins 

After starting up again, I realized that Emma was ready to learn about continents as well, so we have divided the binder up into continents. Each horse is placed into the section of it's continent. 

I used this site to print up maps of the continents. 

Well, that's about it. Feel free to use these worksheets (just click on the link below the picture). If you find them useful, let me know! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Structured Itch

So, it seems to be that time of year again when I feel the need to be more structured with Emma's education. It is totally me, and has nothing really to do with Emma's level of knowledge. I am pretty confident that she is where she needs to be (on a personal level, not a dictated level).

Reading to Fredin

Her reading is going really well. Her favorite books to read the the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. I have to say, I have never heard a 6 year old read a book with such inflection. She LOVES these books and we love listening to her read them. Of course by the third time around she has pretty much memorized them, but then she forgets about the books for a few weeks and actually has to read the words again.

There are other books here and there that she will read. Later this week she is going to be reading this book to me.

So what do we consider structured around here? Each morning she will spend a bit of time doing "school" stuff. This morning she worked in a math workbook for about 20 minutes while she listened to an audio book (Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris). 

Tomorrow we are going to grow crystals using a little kit that Gramma had bought for Emma a while ago (I know, finally!). I have printed up some info and we may also play around with making some borax or salt crystals as well.  

On Wednesday we are going to do some horse geography after we attempt to make it to the Homeschool P.E. class that is offered down town. We ran into the homeschooling family today that we met while skiing on Thursday and they mentioned the P.E. class and that they would be there, so we are going to try and make it. It starts at 0900 and for us to make it we would have to be out to catch the bus at about 0820. Seeing as we haven't been getting out of bed till 0800 or later, that may be a problem, but we will see. 

Thursday will be reading day where Emma will read the above mentioned book to me (plus a few others), as well as some super short and simple stories I have written for her to read and illustrate. 

Friday will be dedicated to making her birthday cake/cupcakes. I can't believe she will be 7! 

Also, each day (or just about) Emma will be writing a letter to friends and family. If you are interested in receiving a letter, and would have the time to write back (even just a quick hello), send me an e-mail and we will add you to the list. It will be really great for Emma if she gets replies to her letters, otherwise she might loose interest. 

Each weekend we will sit down and figure out what she wants to work on for the following week. At the end of each month we will sit down and figure out goals for the next month. 

Our goals for the remainder of this month are for Emma to read me 3 books, finish 2 horse geography sheets, and to finish up her K-1 Math Readiness book. All very doable, but the math book may require a few pages each day. 

Well, I think that's about it. I promise that I will write a post about the horse geography stuff soon (maybe even tomorrow seeing as I will be getting it ready for Wednesday anyway). 

I hope everyone had a great Monday!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Making Friends

is really tough! Granted, we have only been here for three weeks (today as a matter of fact), but I think Emma was expecting to have made some friends already.

Out and About- Emma's Photos (34)
"Red Light!" by Emma

We did get to meet some people last weekend at a family work function. We even talked about getting together during the week with one of the girls and her mom, but man was this week brutal! With Da working till 6 or later every night except for Friday (which he walked in the door like a Zombie at 4:30 and was passed out in bed by 5:30), it didn't leave much time for fitting in social calls.

Out and About- Emma's Photos (33)
"Groceries" by Emma

So, our mission this week is to get together with some potential friends. We may see if there are some classes we can sign Emma up for, we are going to try to get to the homeschool meetup that happens every Monday on base, and we are going to try to see if we can meet some new people at the library (which we have already been to twice).

Out and About- Emma's Photos (23)
"It's Time" by Emma

Other than that, I guess Emma and I just need to be patient and let time work it's magic. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Emma's Mystical Table- Christmas

So, for those who didn't catch it in this post, Emma has a special table that is all for her. She loves to decorate for the holidays and seasons. Jared and I really don't. Not wanting to crush her enthusiasm or her creativity, we have set her up with a table all her own that she is free to decorate however she chooses.

*Actually, she is free to decorate anywhere in the house, but this makes it a bit easier to coral her decorations and limit what she can purchase*

So, here are Emma's photos of Emma's Mystical Table.

Emma's Mystical Table2 (2)
Emma's Mystical Table

We promised Emma that we would get her a tree to decorate for Christmas, but also a tree she could decorate throughout the years. Right now this tree is too small to hold anything other than little paper ornaments, but if she takes good care of her tree, the tree will get pretty big. 

Emma's Mystical Table (11)
Tree Unicorn

Her tree is watched over by a plethora of unicorns and horses, but only one is special enough to sit at the base of the tree. She also has some moss collected from NH, snail shells from IA, and rocks from who knows where in the pot. 

The carousel horses around the pot were picked up at a garage sale in the last 2 years. She just had to have them. 

Emma's Mystical Table (10)
The Sign

I drew the letters, she colored them. I am kicking myself because I didn't think to call it "Emma's Mystical Table" till right after she finished the sign. We may change it later when she is able to draw the letters herself. 

Emma's Mystical Table (9)
Another Unicorn

This unicorn is a Schleich model unicorn given to her by a friend in Tucson a few years ago. This was her very first model unicorn (at least I am pretty sure that's which unicorn this is).

Emma's Mystical Table (7)
Carousel Horses

These pretty little rocks were a found treasure one of the times we went snooping around Gramma's back room. 

Emma's Mystical Table (6)
Da's Ornaments

Some of Da's ornaments made the cut for Emma's table. 

Emma's Mystical Table (5)
Fairy Garden

This picture is a little fuzzy, but these clay figures (tree, mushrooms, birdbath, stepping stones, centuar) were all made by Emma at The Exchange in Cresco. She worked really hard on them and they are so stinking cute!

Emma's Mystical Table (4)
Centuar (half man, half horse)

Emma's Mystical Table (2)
Fairy House

This is the fairy's house. The centuar was originally going to be a chair for the fairy house, but when Emma realized the scale was WAY off, she was disappointed. I mentioned that the chair sort of looked like a centaur (we were listening to Harry Potter at the time) and so she went with it. 

Emma's Mystical Table2 (2)
The Whole Shebang

I actually took this picture because Emma didn't get one with both the table and her garland in it. The garland has more ornaments, many of them from Emma's first Christmas as well as many of Da's ornaments on them. 

Well, I hope everyone enjoys decorating as much as Emma (or else doesn't have to decorate). I look forward to seeing and sharing what else she does with her space.

Have a wonderful week!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bedtime Reading

I love reading out loud to Emma. We don't read out loud a whole lot during the day, as we are typically busy creating, playing, and listening to audio books or music. But every night at bedtime, we read out loud. Some nights Emma will read a book to me (she really loves the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems) before I read a few chapters to her.

We just finished the third book in the Wolves of the Beyond series. It is the second series by Kathryn Lasky that we have read/listened to. Emma loves the Guardians for Ga'Hoole, and this series ties in with that one, but from a wolves perspective instead of the the owls.

One of the things I love the most about this series is it teaches Emma that even a creature (or person) with a disability can achieve wonderful things if they keep trying.

Anyway, this isn't really a post about a book review ('cause I am terrible at giving book reviews, just ask Jared), this post is about what Emma does while I read.

Until a few nights ago, Emma would fidget, braid her dolls/horses hair, squirm, and just generally annoy and distract me while I was trying to read to her. I love this series, but some of the words are pretty tough because it's a made up language (wolf language, bear language, owl language- they are all hard to pronounce).

I finally had a bright idea. Why not give her a little notebook to draw in while I am reading to her. She can draw about what we are reading, or about anything she wants. The first night I gave her the book and pencil, I was slightly amazed at her drawing.


Here are her drawings from the rest of the book (the last 2 or 3 nights).

The Whistler

Wolf hunting a Caribou

"The Wolves of the Beyond"

Horses (not in the book)

A Spotted Collier Owl going to gather embers from a Volcano. The pile of bones is what Faolan stands on to keep watch of the volcanoes. 

another horse (not part of the story). 

I love watching her drawing evolve. Lately she has been using her model horses as models for her drawings and I have to say (not that I am biased) that her drawings are amazing. I love each and every one.

What else have we been doing, education wise... Noting specific or concrete. We have decided to start up our horse geography again (apparently I never mentioned it). Each time she gets a new model horse, we will research the breed (size, color, temperament, etc.) and where it originated (people, culture, food, language, etc). Emma seemed to enjoy the work in the past, and I think if we tie it in to any new horses she gets, the research will be even more meaningful.

Well, in three days we head out for Montana. We will be stopping at Mount Rushmore as well as Devils Tower on the way, so lots to learn in our immediate future!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and that this coming week treats you well!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

More About Books

So, I have decided to make a list of books to read/listen too with Emma. This list is mostly for myself, but I thought I would post it here so 1.) I don't loose the list, and 2.) Just in case anyone else is interested in a list of books to read.

Reading (2)

These books are in no particular order. We will read them or listen to them as they become available.

1. The Harry Potter Series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
2. The Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
3. The Chronicles of Narnia (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
4. Charlotte's Web
5. Stewart Little
6. The Borrowers
7. The Black Stallion
8. The Little House on the Prairie Series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
9. The Velveteen Rabbit
10. Huck Finn
11. Tom Sawyer
12. Snot Stew
13. Fantastic Mr. Fox
*updated 3Oct12*
14. The Spiderwick Chronicles (1,2,3,4,5)
15. The 39 Clues (1,2,3...)
*Updated 12Nov12*
16. The Wolves of the Beyond (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
17. Horse Diaries (1, 2, 3...)
*Updated 17Dec12*
18. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (1,2,3,4)
19. Once Upon a Marigold
20. A Mouse and His Child
21. Black Beauty
22. War Horse (one of Emma's favorites)

I need to make breakfast, but I will update this list as I find more books that I think we might enjoy. I would love suggestions, so please leave me a comment or send me an e-mail letting me know what your favorite book was as a kid.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Love to Listen

Beautiful Sunrise- Photo by Emma 4Nov14 (1)

We have rediscovered our love of listening to audio books as a family. I think the reason we had stopped listening to them as a family is that Da was having a hard time concentrating on his school work. Now that he doesn't have school work to concentrate on, we are free to craft and listen to audio books all day long.

Unfortunately, that is sometimes what we do. All. Day. Long.

Not that I am really complaining because while listening to audio books is when Emma and I get most of our creating done. Maybe I should try listening to audio books while doing some chores...

Our current favorites are Harry Potter (we are on book 2), and The Underland Chronicles (we are waiting for book 3 to be available).

Last night we started listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and we finished it up this morning. Did you know that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was originally published in 1900? So cool. I loved the story. I had never listened to the story all the way through before, only heard snippets of the story as Gramma read it to Emma. I have seen the movie, but books are SOOOO much better. Always.

I think we might have to start listening to more of the classics.

If you are wondering where we are getting all these audio books, I will let you in on a secret (that isn't really a secret). Through our public library, we are able to borrow audio books. For Iowa, we go though NEIGHBORS, and until our Ames library card expires, we also utilize WILBOR. At this point we are limited to 3 books from each website, but some of the books can be returned early.

If you have a library card (and really, everyone should have a library card), you should check out your libraries website to see if they offer an on-line library as well.

We are always looking for book recommendations, so if you have any favorites, please share them!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Emma's Watercolors

Emma has been enthralled with watercolors lately (check here and here). She likes working on a smaller scale, and her latest work was created on 1.5"x1.5" pieces of watercolor. On her own, Emma decided to do an alphabet set. Here is the "A."

To see the rest you will need to pop over to our flicker site.

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Would You Rather...

Out and About- Emma's Photos (51)

In the car the other day, Emma and Gramma were play the 'Would You Rather...' game that Emma invented. They had been playing for a while, but I was only half paying attention. For whatever reason, this is when I started paying more attention:

Emma to Gramma- "Would you rather be a 'D' or an 'A'?"

Gramma- "An 'A' so I could be first."

Emma- "You could be an apple, or appaloosa. Would you rather be a 'P' or an 'F'?"

Mama- "I would rather be an 'F' because 'P' ends up the butt of a lot of jokes. Would you rather be a ballerina or a construction worker?"

Gramma- "A construction worker because I get to build things. Emma, would you rather be rich, beautiful, or intelligent?

Emma- "I am already beautiful, so I would like to be rich."

Mama- "Do you know what intelligent means?"

Emma- "Um, no."

Mama- "It means smart."

Emma- Oh, well I am already smart too, so I would rather be rich."
(This led to a short conversation about money, beauty, and intelligence)

Da- "Emma, would you rather have feet that smell or a nose that runs?"

Emma, Gramma and I just started laughing. Sometimes Da is just hilarious :0)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

This week in Photos

Here are a few photos from this past week. 
Emma making clay creatures for her Ocean Diorama Art Class

A beautiful leaf discovered on our way home from the park

Goofy photo from an old camera- We are standing in front of a Grampa Ott flower.

Emma working on her bike skills

Walking home from the park. 

One of Emma's favorite things to see on our walk home

Horse! This horses name is Cash. We think.

Emma's horse made from clay. His name is Midnight. He was created from a hunk of clay by Emma with the help of Christine from The Smoldering Bowl. It took Emma about 3 hours of steady hard work and concentration to create Midnight. Emma's first time working with clay that requires firing.  

Emma's reading is going really well. She is finally convinced that she can indeed read and so she reads, or tries to read, just about anything. At this point she doesn't like to read for very long- it still takes a lot of concentration so her brain gets pretty tired, but she will read an entire Elephant and Piggie book. I love listening to her read them. She reads with such enthusiasm and spun! Totally fun. 

That's it for now. I will try to do another post next week or so. 

Have a fun weekend!