Skateboarding is hard, but when you learn it’s fun. Then when you’re good at it you can do tricks. Also, skateboarding is a sport. The five major elements of the board are the deck, grip tape, trucks, wheels, and bearings. The gear that you should wear is a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, and gloves. Skateboarding is fun!
I wanted to share a random, happy shot from one of our mornings. As a family, we place much value on decreasing the busyness and increasing the calm. Homeschooling affords us the time to support these values. On this day my little juicer and I made one of my favorite juices (recipe below) while discussing green vegetables and health, organic vs conventional produce, the mechanics of a masticating juicer and whether or not our worms would like our juicing remnants.
Mexican Green Juice
6 Green Applies, 6 Stalks Celery, 4 or 5 Green Romaine Leaves, 1/4-1/3 of a bunch of Cilantro, 1 Lime and 1/4 of a Jalapeno Pepper (seeds removed).
We are both SO excited about finding River Ranch at Texas Horse Park. We learned about this ranch because it generously offers free services to the public on the third Thursday of the month. On that day, we did short little rides in their event arena. We loved it so much we booked a time to return for a one-hour trail ride. We learned a few basics about riding and got the feel for relaxed, western riding. If you want to experience a trail ride yourself, there is currently a Groupon. We plan to return for riding lessons over the next few months and take advantage of the pleasant spring weather to come.
We attended The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show at the Dallas Children’s Theater. I anticipated it being a little young for us, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a thoughtful, entertaining puppet show. It had almost a dream-like quality to it. The puppeteers did a lovely job of becoming their puppets and making their presence unfelt. This theater keeps the shows to 55 minutes with no intermission and has great organization with arrival seating and post-show departure. Kudos to a job well done!
Last month at the Dallas Museum of Art, Jennifer did another wonderful job with the kids, teaching about The Silk Road, trade route. She told ‘stories from the route’, talked about the countries ‘along the road’ and discussed how China became known for its silk. In the art lab, the kids learned to hand embroider. Sebastian enjoyed it very much and asked if we could go to the store to get more embroidery supplies so he could continue to work on his design.
Level 2 robotics floor or basement level’s dino race are where you will find us at the Perot Museum. This trip included a tour of the NASA space exhibit currently on display.
Here Sebastian and friends took a ride in a space vehicle. The simulation makes you feel as if you are weightless and spinning around in space.
Sebastian and I coordinated a ‘famous painters’ series at Painting with a Twist in Richardson. For our first month, we started with studying the life of Vincent Van Gogh and did an ‘inspired by Starry Nights’ painting. This month we are studying Pablo Picasso and will paint a cubism ‘Selfie’. If you are a fellow homeschooler and wish to join us, please register here: Thursday, March 29th from 12:30 to 2p. Use the passcode: HIP HAPPY to register by March 21st.
Sebastian is ready to try out the local skate parks this spring/summer, so I thought it was a good idea to get a few lessons in during the tail end of winter. We are taking lessons at Soar United on Thursdays at 3pm. There is a 4:30pm class. Both are open to the public, feel free to join us and chat about homeschooling! I have learned about my son, that his sport is anything with wheels or blades on his feet. His favorite sports are rollerblading, skateboarding and skiing.
Microsoft taught this month’s class about the Paint 3D software on Windows 10. The kids created or downloaded images which would then appear on the screen and through the computer’s camera. Sebastian finally got to get his picture with his Minecraft nemesis, Herobrine! Here are more details about using Paint 3D.
I want to offer a reminder to those pondering their child’s education; lessons and learning are found every day in everything, use that to drive your ‘curriculum’. Creativity grows from a mind allowed to think and question. Strategic thinking is spurred from reasoning through challenge. Happiness blossoms from a loving, supportive environment that respects and nurtures interests. Raising a happy boy that thinks creatively and strategically would be a good way for me to sum up my goal for this our first homeschool year. Whatever is driving that little whisper inside you to question the status quo, give it room to be a louder voice and research your options.
“Since 1998, bird watchers across North America have come together for the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). This February 16th- 18th is your chance to participate in the GBBC as a citizen scientist! In 2017 “an estimated 240,418 bird watchers from more than 100 countries submitted 181,606 bird checklists reporting 6,259 species-more than half the known bird species in the world,” according to the February 7th GBBC news release. Participating only takes 15 minutes outside with your little one to record the birds you see. All the materials you need to get started are provided below. So, grab some binoculars and a bird book, and get started!” -Dallas Arboretum
“Our spring #homeschool series kicks off March 12 with #PlantDetectives and CSI in the Garden. When you finish the session, step outside to smell the wonder of spring!” -Dallas Arboretum
We finally took the plunge and invested in a laptop for Sebastian. We wanted a windows based laptop that would be good for gaming (fast RAM), travel (lightweight & thin), Skype/google hangouts (built-in mic & cam), quick to boot up (solid state), lots of room for files (large hard drive), comfortable and easy to use (backlit keyboard, touchscreen & flip back yoga positioning). We went with a Lenovo Yoga. I am sharing this because several people have asked me how and what we decided to buy. I will say that if you can hold out until Black Friday weekend and specifically Cyber Monday, that was when I found the best price. Be sure to compare Best Buy and Fry’s as Amazon did not have the best deals on laptops. We had a spare monitor that Sebastian can use as a ‘second screen’ and we also added an external mouse for comfort.
His laptop has opened up many new learning resources for us that I am really excited to share. If you have seen me lately then you have probably already heard me talking about this first one. Outschool! It is a video-conferencing type scenario, so that second screen comes in handy. Outschool is incredibly easy to use and they have an amazing amount of classes to choose from in the catalog. First, you register, then you pick a class. Some classes are one time and average around $8-$11. Other classes are multiple weeks and some are even a couple of months. Register for something, then on the day and time of the class simply open the ‘Zoom’ link to see your ‘classroom’. If the teacher needs to communicate ahead of time, they will post messages (or follow-up info) in the ‘classroom’. You can search for classes on just days/times you have available or just on certain subjects. If you have a skill to teach or knowledge to share you can register to teach a class too. We have done classes on world geography, polar bears, Winter, the Constitution and learning to make NPCs for Minecraft.
We are starting a new class on Minecraft servers. We have been working on creating our own, so this is going to help us complete that project. Last week we started a class on learning to use a microscope and observing/comparing things underneath it. Soon we will start a beginners multiplication class and I have my eye on a few Spanish classes too. He knows how to log-in and get ready for the class to start. We have a routine where he gets ready early and practices typing while he is waiting for the class to start.
I love that I’m there and able to help Sebastian along if needed, but there is a sense of independence too. He is learning how to use technology to learn about any subject while having an interesting and unique experience with different teachers and students from all over the country and world. Win!
Another source a fellow homeschool mom shared with me is Khan Academy. We have enjoyed the easy to use platform. It is simple to see right where we left off from the time before and I like the assessments. They help me know if Sebastian has the concept or if we need to spend more time on something. We have been using Khan for math and grammar.
We continue to have our monthly classes at the Microsoft store in Northpark Mall. This is such a popular fun event for so many of my homeschool family friends. Lunch and outdoor play are incorporated into these afternoons which makes for a great day of learning and socializing. Techie Factory continues to be one of Sebastian’s favorite weekly classes. The first half he gets to help other students and during the second half, he gets to collaborate with or learn from older students.
Our monthly DMA visit involved studies of Native American art and specifically basket weaving. It was a lovely afternoon so after class, we got to cross the street to Klyde Warren Park and have lunch at the food trucks.
Our friends Parker and Mason had their 8th birthday party at our favorite steam-punk playground, Spark! We are always drawn to their giant ‘light bright’ and of course, we went with a Minecraft theme for our art-making. When we left, Sebastian commented how pretty downtown Dallas looked and that I should grab a photo.
New at Zhen this semester we are attending a music class for music mixing. Sebastian is already three lessons in and compiled his first song: The music style is electronica, but he is learning to record and mix in vocals, too. The software used for this process is called Ableton. In addition to needing a stable laptop with adequate hard drive space and fast memory, you need microphones and an interface. He already wants to lay in video for his youtube channel, eagleprescott.com. Slow down child, we will get there!
Lastly this month we had a worm composting class at Texas Worm Ranch. It was good for them to get their hands in the dirt. We learned so much about worms, how to compost, how to use the worm casting and of course they sent us home with our own box of worms! 🙂
Education.com was kind enough to provide us with a project on sound localization. You can read below for all the details. To access a variety of study materials on ANGLES, visit Education.com’s website here.
What? Where? If you can tell when someone’s sneaking up on you, your ears might have a good sound localization ability, meaning they’re great at judging sound direction.
How well do people sense the direction of a sound?
- Grassy field
- Lots of string
- Nails or wire stakes
- Plastic freezer bag
- Jingle bell
- Tape measure
- 2 or more friends
- Can your friends determine the direction of a sound? How well can they pinpoint the direction that a sound is coming from? Create a hypothesis, your best guess about what is going to happen. What directions are the easiest to identify? Which ones are the hardest?
- First, you’ll create a semicircle so that you can make sounds in different places. To build your circle, put a nail in the ground and tie one end of a spool of string to the nail. Measure out 30 meters of string and pull the string taut. Put another nail in the ground and tie the other end of your string to the nail. This length of string will act as the diameter of your semicircle.
Walk along the string until you get to the middle. Put a nail at that point, and tie more string to that nail. The new string should be 15 meters long. Walk to one end of the diameter, holding the new string. Start walking in a curved path, holding the string taut. As you walk, you or a friend can hold a plastic freezer bag of flour with the corner clipped off and use it to mark a semicircle on the grass.
- Now it’s time to make some noise! Ask one of your friends to stand at the midpoint, the place where you put the second nail. Put a blindfold on your friend so that he will have to use only his ears to pinpoint the direction of the sound.
- Measure out another 15-meter length of string for yourself, and give your 2nd friend his own 15-meter length of string and a jingle bell. Tie the ends of these strings to the nail close to where the blindfolded subject is standing. You and your friend should stand at the edge of the circle, holding your strings to either side of your blindfolded friend.
- Have your friend with the jingle bell quietly move along the edge of the circle, stop, and jingle the bell. Ask your blindfolded test subject to point to the place where he heard the bell. Walk around the edge of the circle to move your string so that it lines up with the place your blindfolded friend is pointing. Ask your blindfolded friend to take his blindfold off and measure the angle that each string makes with the semicircle’s diameter. Place the results into a table:
|Test Subject||True Angle||Guessed Angle||Difference|
- Do five trials for each blindfolded test subject, then ask your friends to switch jobs.
- How accurate were your friends’ guesses? Was one person more accurate than the others, or were they all similar? What directions were most difficult for your friends to guess?
Surprisingly, you and your friends probably will have had a harder time determining the precise direction of sounds that happened in front of them!
How do people tell where a sound is coming from? Different animals have heads and ears that are capable of capturing sound in different ways. Owls have flat facial disks that act like satellite dishes, capturing sound. Many bats have large pinnae (“ears”) that collect sounds.
People have pinnae too—but we call them ears. The part of the ear that processes sound is actually on the inside of your skull, and the things we call ears are our sound-collectors or pinnae.
Our pinnae sit on the sides of the head. This means that it’s easy to hear sounds that are coming directly from the left or the right. When a sound is above us, below us, or behind us, it can be harder to pinpoint exactly where the sound is coming from. However, we make up for this weakness with our eyes! Humans usually use our eyes to detect things that are right in front of us, because our eyes point forward.
We can still accomplish sound localization and determine where a sound is coming from even when that sound isn’t directly to the left or the right of us. A sound that comes from behind us and to the right moves into our ear pinnae and gets amplified in a certain way—meaning the sound is louder in one of our ears than it is in the other. Then, the brain takes that information and decodes it. Over time, we will have heard many sounds from this direction, and we get trained to realize that the particular amplification pattern this direction produces means that this sound comes from behind us and to the right.
A sound that comes directly from the back of your head is hard to figure out because it doesn’t move as easily into your ear pinnae. It might echo off something in front of you, and that could help. Usually, people turn their head slightly when they hear a sound behind them, and this helps their ears capture the sound and helps their brain decode it.
Project Author: Tricia Edgar
For more fun science projects, go to Education.com!
Great article just published on Business Insider. Here’s the sum-up but give this one the five minutes it will take to read. There are several more worthy articles linked inside too.
1. Personalized learning is a strong method of instruction.
2. Students can learn more about what they really care about.
3. Social media gives kids a way to form lasting friendships. *We have met lots of friends through our local homeschool Meet-Up group, too.
4. Students don’t deal with cliques or bullying.
5. Students may achieve more in the long run. *Note the comments and linked article from the homeschooled Harvard Junior.
January was a good month for learning and experiencing new things. We started the year off in Santa Fe, NM where Sebastian went snow skiing for his first time. He absolutely loved it, so much so that we re-arranged our plans to accommodate his request to ski an extra day.
The views in and of downtown were as stunning as they always are during the holiday season. Santa Fe never disappoints with their breathtaking sunsets, southwestern style and luminaria-topped, adobe buildings. Sebastian hadn’t been back to Santa Fe since he was 3 so it was great to re-introduce him to a town we love so much.
We spent a day exploring the psychedelic, Alice-in-wonderland like atmosphere at Meow Wolf. We found many, many hidden treasures. You can start your adventure at the mailbox and follow the mystery of what happened to the family that used to live in the house. Otherwise, you can just wander the eclectic mix of art and portals. Despite the crowds, this is not an experience to miss when visiting Santa Fe. I recommend visiting later in the day when the families with little kids typically have to go home for nap-time.
While it ended up being a much shorter visit to Los Alamos than I would have liked, we were able to see part of Bandelier National Monument. We made it to the cavates which were my ‘must see’ part of the park.
When we visited Shidoni Gallery, we also spent time at Tesuque Glassworks with a glass-blowing artist named David Shanfield. He gave us a front row seat to observe the process and craft of hand-blowing glass. We brought home one of his signature glass flowers in my favorite colors, teal and blue.
Here are a few more favorite shots from the mountain in Santa Fe. All my photos from Santa Fe, Bandelier, the Mountain and Meow Wolf are on my photography website, LoveCameraEarth.
Since New Year’s day is typically a time of reflection and resolutions, I thought it a good time to ask you to look at your norm and consider how it could be improved. I’m sure you are already at the gym, grinding up a fresh glass of green juice or deciding what fish to bake for dinner (or at least you will be by tomorrow), but I want to push you farther than that.
I know for me, I question everything. Why do we do it that way? Do we have to? Can we change it? How do I change it? This type of thinking started with my food and the way I eat which naturally expanded to my body, how I care for it and help it heal. The progression continues with how I choose to educate my child and the daily emotional state I want for him. More than anything I want him to be in a positive, healthy state of mind and confident with himself, his abilities and choices.
I talk to people every day about homeschooling. I understand that not everyone can or wants to solely take on the challenge of educating their child(ren), but what so many don’t understand is that there is nothing about ‘homeschooling’ that means ‘alone’. You are only alone if you choose to be. If you push yourself for experiences, friendships, and adventures, they are out there. I consider myself Sebastian’s manager or personal assistant. I teach him subjects that I can and want to teach him. The rest is outsourced to instructors, groups, and environments of my choosing. That’s the difference. People and places that I have vetted to ensure he is getting the most out his time. That he is a getting a rich, fulfilling experience free of negative factors. It doesn’t mean that we don’t run into difficult people or challenging tasks, but we are together to talk about and work through them. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have a child for other people to do the majority of the raising.
This brings me to ask you to look at where your child spends the majority of their time. Who are their biggest influencers? Do those people have your child’s best interest at heart? Do they share your values? And if they didn’t would you even know?
A 5-day work week has 120 hours. If your child is asleep 9 hours a night then that is 45 hours, leaving 75 hours that they are awake. If the average school day is 7 hours, then they are at a public, government facility 35 hours a week, typically by the time they are 43,800 hours old. This leaves 40 hours during these five days for passion learning (sports, art, music, tech), dinner, family bonding, and HOMEWORK! (what the heck did they do for 35 hours during the week?) These numbers worsen for middle schoolers and high schoolers.
Why do I ask you to look at this? Simply to ask yourself if this is the best use of their time? You only have 18 years (157,680 hours) to mold and shape this fellow human being into a healthy, happy, loving adult. How can you best accomplish that goal? When you really look at them….are they their healthiest? happiest? most well-rested? We all know that rest, a good physical and mental mindset is the minimum necessary to learn and absorb new information.
I stumbled upon the following video a few weeks back and have been holding on to it waiting for the right time to present it. Today is my action day. The video breaks down 6 problems with our school system. They begin with explaining that our schools were first created during the industrial age to instill skills necessary for factory workers. Be on time. Take directions. Complete the task given. Don’t deviate from the instruction. The basic structure of kids sitting in a school room, taking instructions, listening to a lecture, memorizing facts and only being valued on the results of a written test has not changed for at least a 100 years. Is this what we value in today’s modern times? Contrary, we want workers who are creative thinkers, problem solvers, successful communicators, and collaborators. Is this new, modern person who you are raising?
At school, they have zero autonomy and no control over the structure of their day. They are even told when they can/cannot talk and when they can talk, how loud it can or can’t be! In a successful career, you are asked every day to independently make decisions about what to do and when. Would you be happy being told what to do all day, every day? We place this high value on teaching language at a young age…..why is teaching autonomy and self-control so undervalued that we don’t give over even a portion of this freedom until so much later in life? Who ultimately wants to control us so badly that it must be indoctrinated so young?
If you get nothing from my ‘food for thought’ at least consider where you stand on standardized testing. There is a reason that there are now SO many groups of parents in Texas assembling to fight against STAAR and opting out! Follow the money if you’re a doubter. Do you think 13 billion per year for standardized testing is good use of the Texas education budget? Could we do more with that money and modernize our system to individualized learning?
“The Big Picture framework allows us to personalize each child’s education. Each child is a unique individual with different needs, talents, and interests. But a standardized system has no room for such differences. By personalizing education, we are able to cater to the unique needs and interests of each child. So education can be about what the child wants to learn, their passions, interests, and curiosity. This makes education relevant and engaging for each child, as opposed to a standardized system where knowledge is force-fed to children regardless of what they want to learn – their interests, talents, and needs.” This excerpt is taken from a forward-thinking school called ‘Next‘.
I encourage you to spend 5 minutes watching this video as I only touched on a few of the ‘problems’ discussed. At the very least, question your day-to-day and be 100% sure that public school and traditional learning is best serving your unique, little human(s).
We started the journey into multiplication and cursive writing. It is a pretty cool thing when your child asks to learn a subject. Sebastian’s curiosity with learning to write in cursive could no longer be held back, so we jumped right in.
I have noticed that as he learns and excels on a topic, this builds confidence. That confidence pumps up his self-esteem which in turn gives him the self-motivation and desire to learn and ‘own’ the next topic. It seems to just be continuing to feed on itself. Allowing him space and time to absorb the material as it comes naturally seems to be key in this confidence building.
Sebastian finished his replica of ‘Loneliness in Autumn’ just in time to give to me for Christmas. We had it framed and now it hangs in a prominent place in our home! I could NOT love it more! The final piece was framed in white and is 24″ x 36″.
Additionally at Zhen art this month, they made ‘printing pads’. They carved reverse images in the rubber mat and then stamped them onto heavyweight card stock. Sebastian made snowflake decorated cards that said ‘The Prescott’s’.
We attended ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ at the Dallas Children’s Theater. This was a sweet way to start December. The actors moved all around the stage and auditorium on ‘ice skates’ (roller blades) so it was a fun to be in the middle of the action.
We had our monthly rollerskating date at Thunderbird Roller Rink and Sebastian got an early Christmas gift, Cardiff skates that clip on to his tennis shoes. What is lovely about these skates is that they can expand in size from a boy’s 12 to 5 (or girl’s 12 to 6). They are quick and easy to get on and off too! Bonus! There was a little adjustment to getting used to skating in them since the design is slightly different on 3 wheels, but it wasn’t long before he got the hang of it. While these are called ‘street skates’ they were allowed at the roller rink and we decided since they can be fast, we will restrict their use to the rink. Now since Sebastian has really gotten into skating and isn’t going to use these on the street, we decided to look at tennis shoes with the wheel also know was ‘Heely’s’. We decided on these since they also offer the light-up feature. He is normally a size 2 and I went with a size 3. They fit more like a 2.5, so I’m glad I sized up. We also did not install the 2nd optional wheel. I may let him on occasion for fun, but not when we are using them as everyday shoes. We also pulled the laces and put in bands similar to these, but ours were (and can be purchased) from Learning Express, too.
Techie factory has a new teacher, Mess! She is awesome!! Sebastian has been a coding fool. We have plans for him to attend Techie Factory’s weekend 3-D printing camp. This is something Sebastian has been asking to learn about so what a great opportunity! He will be studying a printer like this one. We will report back on the printer and camp in a few weeks.
More good times at the Microsoft store in Northpark Mall. A new group of puzzles for the Minecraft Hour of Code Tutorials came out and the group had a great time getting through them. On this day and evening (Dec 7th) that we were at Northpark the Dallas Symphony Orchestra played in the mall and it was AMAZING! Next year, I’ll be sure to look at the mall’s line up of holiday entertainment to plan to attend.
This month’s art class at the Dallas Museum of Art was all about families. Jennifer and the kids talked about families and looked at families in other cultures, specifically African nations. Afterwards, as a family, we worked on panels to represent our family. We used the eagle, trident, and P to represent our family. Our friend Florian used flags (Romanian and United States) and family initials to represent his family. We used a technique to paint where you could only use dots to make your image, Pointillism.
After class, the boys had an empty DMA kid’s area to play in (Homeschool perk! Weekday public spaces are typically empty!!!) Afterwards the temperatures were moderate which allowed us to get lunch at the food trucks across from Klyde Warren Park. We were able to enjoy the park for almost 3 hours on this lovely afternoon. The boy’s soaked in every minute of playtime and green space. Win!
We attended this event called, The Compassion Experience. Here is what it is about, “Visitors will be given headsets and invited on an audio-guided journey through wheelchair-accessible and kid-friendly exhibit space, featuring replicas of the homes and environments of real children who have grown up under the weight of extreme poverty. Visitors will journey with the children from poverty to hope and will experience new countries and cultures along the way. Guests will hear the child’s life story through headphones, as told by professional voice actors in an immersive experience. The stories featured are all true and told with permission and direction from the Compassion-sponsored children who lived them.”
Over the month we celebrated birthdays, had dinners with friends, wore Christmas jammies and counted the days until TONIGHT! All my gifts are wrapped, Santa’s cookie plate is out and Sebastian is dreaming of sugar plums. I could not be more grateful for all the experiences and new friends homeschooling has brought into my life. All it takes is time and patience the rest gets filled in along the way. If homeschooling has been calling you, then take the leap in 2018! You will never regret spending more time raising, teaching, mentoring and guiding YOUR child. Merry Christmas! ❤
My Microsoft class is so much fun. We did coding at Microsoft. Another time at Microsoft, we made a robotic finger. It was cool. My friend Ella was there too. When we go back to Microsoft, I want to do a challenge on the game Minecraft. The person that finds diamonds first, wins the game. I went to go eat after Microsoft at La Duni in Northpark Mall with my friend.