This year was so much fun! I thought I would give you a peek at some of our favorite things from 2012-2013. 1. Field trips are the GREAT. I can’t say enough about how much we enjoy the chance to explore our community. As you can see the boys had a great time checking out the military equipment during Marine Week. It is tempting to think of these trips as just fun but the kids really remember things and tie them back to what they are learning. The science center has a coordinate plane model that works something like an etch-a-sketch. I never noticed it but it immediately came to E’s mind when his math book introduced the coordinate system. It is really a pleasure to go to the museums at non-peak times when we have plenty of time to spend at each exhibit. This year we easily took 25 field trips. 2. Vacation. When we went on vacation this year, we learned about hummingbirds, iron furnaces, and sandstone caves. We had some great discussions while we were there and looked up more information once we were home. Our experience feeding the hummingbirds last fall has prompted us to put out more feeders this spring. 3. Lego Build Days and FIRST Lego League – Like most 8 and 9 year olds these two enjoy Legos. E enjoys the building aspect the most while C enjoys creating stories and dialog. This year E had the chance to join a FIRST Lego League (FLL) team. It was really a fantastic experience. He learned how to do research and make a presentation along with programming and robot building. His coach did a great job involving the entire team in all aspects. This summer both boys asked to go to a camp to learn more programming for the NXT robot.
4. Reading – The boys always list reading books they like as one of the perks of homeschool. I know many people are afraid boys this age would only chose Captain Underpants and the like; but we haven’t found this to be the case. They choose mysteries and a lot of non-fiction. E reads many of our unit study books on his own and then I read those aloud to C. We spend read aloud time with harder books that are enjoyable to them. I have really enjoyed being able to spend lots of time reading aloud again. We read several classics including “Farmer Boy”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “The Secret Garden”, “Trumpet of the Swan” and a few Chronicles of Narnia. We had fun reading “The Tale of Despereaux”, “The Incredible Journey”, and “Hugo Cabret” then comparing the book to the movie.
5. Engineers Week was an incredibly popular idea this year. So popular it lasted two weeks. Every afternoon they built or did experiments. They built cup towers, straw towers, marshmallow and toothpick sculptures, boats, and airplanes. We were studying the Great Wall of China at the time so they built a wall and the Lego Mongols attacked. We tried to incorporate different fields of engineering including civil, mechanical, chemical, computer, and bio-chemical. In the evening we watched Myth Busters and Modern Marvels. 6. Vernal Pool Unit Study Homeschool hardly ever feels more right than when a simple question turns into a unit study several weeks long. “What’s that noise?” The noise was spring peeper frogs and wood frogs. We spent several weeks studying their habitat and finding out about the other animals that live or breed in vernal pools. We spent a lot of time “in the field” including doing a night salamander hike.
7. A desire to learn more about Giant Squids led to several weeks learning about not only Giant and Colossal Squids but other cephalopods as well. This study was really fascinating because we were reading books about discoveries made in late 2012 and watching ground-breaking videos from 2013. We took a field trip to the aquarium to see an octopus. 8. Science experiments are another one of our absolute favorite things. Our homeschool journey actually started because E was so sad about the lack science at school. We put together solar contraptions, studied DNA, had a week of “egg”periments around Easter, observed butterflies, grew crystals, studied acid / base indicators and reactions, and much more.
9. Nature Walks – Being outside when the weather is nice is great. We are so inspired by our walks. Sometimes we make observations that spark questions and inquiries. Mostly it is just fun to see birds, chipmunks, squirrels, ducklings, snakes and frogs.
10. Vision Therapy – C went through a six month round of vision therapy this year. It was a big commitment of both time and money. He did about 30 minutes each day of exercises at home and met with a therapist once per week. After just 3-4 weeks he was reading for up to 30 minutes. At some point we learned that in the past he had seen both red and black letters that somewhat overlapped. Prior to vision therapy he had consistently complained about stomach aches when asked to do reading or writing tasks. Even 10 minutes of reading was a struggle. Vision therapy has made a huge difference for him.
Those are a few of our favorite things from 2012-2013. We are looking forward to what next year will bring. What were some of your favorites this year?