Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I took Norah to a traveling touch tank exhibit at our local library. We just got back from a vacation where we went to the beach and saw many of these animals in their natural settings, but Norah was really excited about the idea of having crabs coming to where she lived or maybe she was excited with the idea of having a calm professional help her learn to touch one safely, since I am scared to death of their claws and still freak out when crabs move around on the sand near my feet.

Norah insisted on touching every animal in the exhibit, so that meant she had to wait in line twice to earn more time at the tanks. But she was willing to wait patiently, so I was willing to let her. I spent the time trying to entertain Avril and find library books.

While Norah was enjoying the traveling touch tank exhibit at the library, I signed her up for the library's summer reading program. She listened to the librarian's explanation of the reading program and expressed a lot of excitement over seeing how many hours she could spend reading.

For the first five hours of reading to herself (or being read to), she gets a small prize and an entry to win the bigger prizes. So, she came home the first day and read for two and a half hours! No kidding! I kept track of the timer myself and it's even hard for me to believe. So, I worry that the librarians will think I am exaggerated her time when we go in with a full five hours in just a few days.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We went camping with several other home school families at Rocky Neck State Park.

A view of our entire campsite. This shot was taken from the bathhouse, close but not too close to the bathrooms. It was the perfect spot for our family.

All the families in our group were situated around the outside of one circle. We "shared" a field that backed up to all our sites.

A view into our "two bedroom" tent.

Our site was five minutes from the beach, so we went once on Friday, once on Saturday.

Avril was fearless of the water. We had to watch her close or she would have crawled in head first or I guess I should say, she did crawl in head first, so we had to stop her before she went in too far.

Norah "swimming."

Don't worry, Dad. It only looks deep. She was really standing and pushing her arms out and back. The water only came up to her chest for a hundred yards out.

Baby's first taste of sand. No kidding. I snapped this picture just as she brought her hand to her mouth for the first time.

Norah made fast friends with a little girl from the site "next door," also five years old, also a homeschooler. We had her "over" for breakfast one day and Smores the next night. It was so pleasant to be around another five year old who seemed to bring out the very best in Norah all weekend. The two of them rode their bikes together around the big circle, single file. They helped each other look out for cars. And, this little girl told incredible stories. I was so impressed with her ability to communicate and had to wonder, "Is this what Norah seems like to other people?!"

This teenager, also home schooled, set up her art supplies under a tree. She let Norah come and sit and draw with her for hours. I had a great time chatting with this girl in front of the campfire, too. She is an aspiring writer, so we had a lot in common.

The board walk leading to the beach.

Norah found and brought home this huge clam shell.

She collected all the seed weed she could find and piled it by our feet.

We bought a beach umbrella (for the baby, of course) and packed a picnic.

Dwayne plays with the girls on the water's edge.

Avril loved to sit in this muddy puddle and tear down the drip castles her dad and Norah made.

Avril's seat. We had to improvise.

We managed to teach Norah the importance of keeping the zippers shut. Here, she is getting dressed one morning and needs to talk to us from inside the tent.

I love Dwayne's camp coffee. It's the only coffee I ever drink.

She's too big for his lap, but that doesn't mean the love stops.

The youngest kids, including Norah, collected money from all over and managed to get a lemonade out of the machine. They shouted hoorays and came racing across the field with it held high like a trophy. They were so proud of themselves. We split the lemonade for them three ways in plastic cups.

Scrambled eggs and toast on the last morning.


Monday, June 28, 2010

I thought I had better point out that Norah learned how to make "finished" drawings before she started illustrating the pictures you have seen for her narration notebook. I used Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes to introduce her to drawing.

We worked through every drawing exercise the book offers, from the birds...

to the horse...

to the lion.

But the book runs out of exercises. It stops "holding your hand" and eventually, you have to come up with your own, meaningful subject matter for drawings. I found this very challenging until Norah started using the subject matter from the stories we read to come up with pictures to draw. Now Norah usually has an abundance of meaningful and often challenging things to draw.

In the photo above, Norah is in the middle of drawing an illustration for her narration notebook. I encourage Norah to base her pictures off the illustrations in the book and other images we find online. Notice that the book is propped open so that she can see the drawing of a lamp stand from the story we read. I also found the image of a genie's lamp online, so I sat my laptop on the table for her to use as another reference.

I discuss the pictures with Norah before she draws anything. She has to "visualize" what she will draw and how it will fit on the page before she puts marker to paper. These are all strategies Drawing with Children teaches.

This is the picture Norah ended up with that day.

I have to encourage Norah to keep going until her pictures look "finished," meaning they have background details and are filled with color. Sometimes, we have to set a drawing aside and come back to it, if Norah is showing signs of fatigue. It is difficult for a five year old to focus on one task for a long time. But, Norah loves to draw, so she grows eager to return to the task, eventually. And she and I are always proud of what she accomplishes after diligent effort.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I am sharing a few short clips of Norah playing t-ball, for the grandparents, since they don't get to see Norah's games in person.

While their daddy was setting the example of servant-leadership

and vacuuming behind the couch cushions,

the girls played on the piled-up pillows.

I grabbed the camera, of course. (It's what I do.)

And got some beautiful shots of my family at their best.

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."
John Bowring

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Every two to three weeks, the child should also memorize a poem and recite it to you. Memorization and recitation of poetry is an important part of the reading process; it exercises the child's memory, stores beautiful language in his mind, and gives him practice in speaking aloud...

The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
We chose a poem from The Children's Book of Virtues for Norah to memorize.

I got the idea from The Well Trained Mind, originally, but I am not following their advice exactly. I adapted the memorization techniques to better suit Norah.

I recorded the poem a few times on a tape for Norah and I also typed it out. We keep the print out of the poem in our pile of school books, so we will see it and remember to practice it everyday.

Norah reads the poem once without the tape, then we play the tape and she says the poem along with it a few times.

Eventually, Norah will know the poem well enough to start practicing without the tape or the paper. At that point, I will make her stand up and stand still, etc. We will also work on eye contact, posture and expression. I plan to let her dress up and recite this for her dad after dinner one night. We're keeping the audience small since it will be Norah's first recitation. I'll video tape it and post it here in a week, so you all can see it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Norah narrated and illustrated another story for her notebook. This one was "Lazy Tom" from The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book.

Click on the photos below to enlarge Norah's narration and read it with greater ease.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


And Then.

Avril and then Norah taking their first steps with the same walker.

Now and then I like to compare my pictures, to see how quickly my kids have grown. This serves to remind me how quickly time flies, how what seem like insignificant minutes add up to hours, days, years.

For what is your life? It is a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. James 4:14

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is one of the best home school resources I've ever found, The Well Trained Mind's online forum. I shouldn't really say that I found it, because I was told about it years ago. But, now that I am in the thick of homeschooling, I use it almost daily. I can post a question here that I don't have anyone else to go to about. It can be something random or something very specific and since there are always hundreds of homeschooling moms of all flavors, from all over the place on this site at any given time, my question is always seen and usually answered within minutes.