A common question for homeschoolers is the dreaded socialization question. Any seasoned homeschooler laughs at this question because it is absolutely ludicrous and has been blogged about by many before. I won’t go into all that, but I do want to talk to you about a different method of socialization that has occurred at our house. Facetime. Say what? FaceTime is video chatting on Apple devices. If you don’t have Apple devices, you may be familiar with Google Hangouts or Skype. This has become a regular occurrence at our house. Riley is frequently on FaceTime chatting with her friends, cousin’s grandmas, and she’s even gotten to FaceTime a homeschool mom in Australia. FaceTime has become a regular part of our day. She uses it to help her cousin study for tests and play with their favorite toys (lots of roll playing), she uses it to play games with her best friend who lives two and a half hours away, she uses it to catch up with Grandma. It has become an amazing tool that allows just a little more socialization. Give it a try! You might be surprised by the quiet time you suddenly get while your children are merrily having a playdate in their room on a day that there was no other way to squeeze in a playdate.
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There’s just something about spring that makes us want to be OUTSIDE!!! That’s always true, but for us, it seems to be especially true this year, when winter was much colder and snowier than usual for our area, and whenever we think it’s FINALLY, REALLY, spring, we get some more cold weather!
But we’ve also had some wonderfully perfect spring days! And when we’re blessed with them, we GRAB at them, and take our school outside!
So I thought I’d share some ideas and resources for taking advantage of the lovely spring weather!
This year, my youngest is 5, and is becoming more of a “participant” and less of a “tag along with big sisters” when it comes to all things “school” related. So I wanted to make sure to spark her interest and involve her in our nature studies, by helping her to make an “on-the-go nature study bag” First we talked about what we might need, while we are outside studying nature, and we made a list, then we headed to the dollar store, even though I could have found most of what we “needed” around the house, getting to choose her VERY OWN was part of the fun, and I might have spent $10 on the whole thing. Here’s what she decided, with some prompting, to include:
- colored pencils
- regular pencil
- pencil sharpener
- glue stick
- scotch tape
- measuring tape
- magnifying glass
- small zippered sandwich bags
And of course, a PINK tote bag was perfect for carrying it all! She keeps it hanging on the back door handle, ready to go at a moment’s notice!
I further encouraged nature study by making sure our field guides are easily accessible. We’ve collected a selection of field guides and related books from used book stores, and by asking for them as gifts. One of my favorite ways to figure out what we want is to peruse the book section of the gift shops at National Park sites, and write down the titles that look amazing, then I can add those to birthday wish lists, or search for them in used bookstores, or websites that sell used books.
I already had our field guides all together in a basket, but for the winter we’d had the basket in our school room, easy to grab if we were discussing something nature-related. But with outside-friendly weather, I decided to move them closer to the back door. We have a shelf that holds pots and pans right by our back door, and this winter I started keeping a basket of gloves and mittens on the shelf closest to the door, so it was easy to switch that out and put our basket of field guides there instead. Quick to come inside and grab if we unexpectedly see something interesting, or to grab on our way out, if we’re planning to study nature outside.
A MUST HAVE (in my opinion) nature resource is the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. It’s a BIG book, so not great for taking on a hike, but it’s a great starting place to learn about all things nature!
Often our nature studies are spontaneous, when we see an interesting bug or plant or bird, but sometimes I like to plan things out abit more. This spring, we’ve been learning about a few edible plants, with spring’s late start, there aren’t tons out yet, but we’ve had fun learning about chickweed and violets. We’ve found that both are fun, healthy additions to salads. We’re also anxious to try adding chickweed to grilled cheese sandwiches, and making a chickweed pesto.
One of our weekly read-alouds for this spring is the Burgess Bird Book for Children, free for Kindle (if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download free apps for iPhone, android, and your computer, to read Kindle books). The Burgess Bird book tells stories about talking animals, but weaves lots of great nature information into the fun stories. Each week we read a chapter, and then look up the birds that it talked about on the computer, and find pictures of them, and what their song sounds like. When possible I also find a coloring page for my 5 year old. And then we make sure to keep our eyes open for birds when we’re outside.
Since Dandelions are FINALLY out, I plan to use this Dandelion Unit Study with my 5 year old (with my older girls joining in, when they choose), this week.
You can also talk about wind, and air currents and then head outside to try them out by flying a kite, our our new favorite, just tear off big pieces of streamers and run, letting the wind lift them and carry them along behind you, it’s rather addictive!
One of my favorite nature walk ideas is to go on a listening walk. Do this in different weather, different seasons, and at different times of the day to see what you can hear. It’s a great, fun, way to encourage little ones to be quiet and really focus on observing what’s around them. After walking, completely quietly, for however far works for your children’s ages, find a comfortable place to sit down and talk together about what you heard and saw on your walk.
Here are some other great ideas for spring nature studies:
Learn about Spiders
Learn about animal tracks
For lots more ideas, check my Pinterest boards:
We don’t have a library in Pocahontas, but we love to go to the library. Just a few miles from us is Middleton, TN, another small town, but not as small as ours! One of the things we LOVE about Middleton is our library and librarians too! They are so helpful to homeschoolers. They help us find books all the time. They go the extra mile to help us find the books and videos we need. Of course we took Addie & Vinnie with us to the library. They seemed to like it there just as much as we do. Let your librarians know you appreciate them for all they do!!
Do you know where Pocahontas, TN is? Have you ever heard of Pocahontas, TN? I imagine that you know who our town is named after, right? Well, if you look on the map, you’ll find the tiny town of Pocahontas about 85 miles east of Memphis. We’re very close to Corinth, Mississippi, too!
Our little town of Pocahontas does not have much, no school, no store, no library, no doctor’s office, etc.. We do have a state park, it’s called Big Hill Pond State Park. You can learn more about it here: Big Hill Pond State Park — Tennessee State Parks
So, what do we have in Pocahontas? Fields, farms, ponds, animals, wide open spaces and kind, friendly people. It’s a great place to live!
This is Kilani & Lesieli. Kilani is 7 and Lesieli is 11! They were very happy to have Addie & Vinnie over for a visit. Here you can see what it’s like where we live.
Kilani loves to drive the riding mower. She wasn’t really mowing here, just riding 🙂 Addie & Vinnie were on the porch taking the picture because Dad thought it might be dangerous for her to hold them while driving.
Our friend, Katie, organized this great book club for girls. She’s 10 years old! In the picture above, you can see her holding Addie & Vinnie, the special guests at the picnic.
At this picnic, we got to meet new friends, and we got to see old friends that we hadn’t seen for a while. So everyone had a great time! Addie & Vinnie seemed to really enjoy the snacks too 🙂