Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Switching Up Science

   What homeschooler doesn't switch approaches and programs midstream on a regular basis? Seems to come with the territory. So it shouldn't be surprising that despite the fact that we're now halfway through our school year I've gone and taken a new approach to Harry and Catherine's science.

   I was browsing the Well Trained Mind forums when I found a reference to Aha! Science. I went to the website, took a look around and decided that it looked interesting. Harry really likes Creativity Express Online, his art program and another online subject, so I thought it might be good to try him with Aha! Well, it's only $15 for a year and turns out it's right up his alley. He enjoys it, retains what he's learned and I have the added bonus of having a website that tracks his progress and grades so I have something to stick in his records. Wonderful!

   But that wasn't the only change I made. We own a little over 2 acres on the edge of a forest. We have laying hens and raise meat chickens and turkeys in the summer. We have a large pond that hosts everything from toads to a muskrat. Certainly we can do a fair bit of science just by walking out our front door, no?

   So the kids are starting a blog where they'll record observations, pictures, experiments, etc. that have to do with our property. We have some microscopes, a water test kit, fertilized chicken eggs, an old aquarium and other tools to help in that. Over the next 12 years they'll record a year in the life of and on our land. I'll post the blog as soon as they get it up and running, hopefully by next week.

   Meanwhile we got a start last week taking some pictures of the pond and today we were outside again playing around with some of the remnants of yesterday's work and enjoying the beautiful weather.

The burn pile yielded lots of charcoal that Catherine and Harry (yes, he is in his pajamas and housecoat) used to draw with. 

Catherine spent some time writing at the edge of the pond.

Lauchie and I chased, and were chased by chickens. No pictures of that though!

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was brilliant. Not too cold and lots of sun. We decided it would be the day, after we finally got the yard cleaned up.

First order of business when cleaning up rural property is the burn pile.
Old cardboard, christmas trees, old pallets and branches get chucked in the pile and set alight. The wood in the foreground doesn't. It's firewood for next winter and it will be stacked when we get some new pallets to stack it on.

Lauchie had a great time, although he never cracked a smile. It was up and down and up and down and up and down the back stairs for him.

Much of the work was picking up garbage that had tumbled out of the car or been dropped by the kids or picked out of garbage bags by crows. We got a fantastic surprise when we picked up a small pile of stuff on the lawn.
Its a Yellow Spotted Salamander. I hadn't seen one in years and was a little taken aback by how big it was (hence my fingers for reference). They hide under logs and such during the day so to make sure he was okay we put a few things back on top of him that we'll clean up today if he's moved. 

Resources I'll be using: Harry - Salamander printout from Enchanted Learning
                                      Spotted Salamander Facts

              Catherine - Yellow Spotted Salamander

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It's springtime. I have a new smart phone and a Blogger app. Wheeee!!!