Roadschooling: Northwest Canada Day 4 (cont.)& 5

IMG_0009Because the sun never went down, The fourth day of our trip went on forever. The earliest morning hours were spent driving the Dempster highway (last post), and then we headed into Dawson city to pan for gold. We drove up a treaturous, one way logging road on a cliff in the city of Whitehorse. There was a white tent pitched with rubber boots inside, and a log cabin with a weighing scale and some historical artifacts on display.The staff was amazing. They ran demonstrations and were very hands on and helpful with the children. They all found gold, and it was put into separate viles for them to bring home.

From here we headed back towards Whitehorse and stopped in the Takhini hot springs one last time. Then on to to Kluane national park.

When we got there the dim midnight light of summer turned everything a brilliant green. It had become early morning and the kids were all comfortably asleep in the van, so we decided to shut our own eyes for a few hours. We woke and started a fire for breakfast. The kids headed into the woods to build a fort, and Eric and I re-organized our stuff – a tote of clothes, a tote of food, a jug of water, a tent and our sleeping bags.The park was nearly empty but there were a couple of men on motorcycles up from the U.S., who came to  inform us that they feared their gas had been syphoned in the middle of the night.  It turned out one of their gas gages was broken.We went for a nice hike down to the lake and spent the morning there playing and exploring. The kids were enthralled in a game of make believe that they had to build a raft out of drift wood and sail across the lake to safety. River and I were mesmerized by the brilliant emerald colour of the water.

Soon it was time to head back to Whitehorse. We ate at the Klondike Rib & Salmon Barbecue. It was one of the best dining experiences of our lives. The atmosphere was warm and comforting. customers came up to the table to say hello or comment on the good behaviour of the kids. The service was wonderful. Hana was chilly so the waitress brought over a blanket and cozied her up. To top it off, the food was out of this world. We decided to order all of the recommendations and share – Elk Stroganoff, Reindeer stew, Ribs & Salmon, Arctic Char & chips,  Bison w Wildberry reduction.

After dinner it was time to head south. First we stopped at the river and let the kids play at the playground. We had a surprise for Hana’s upcoming birthday – she had wanted hazel wood necklaces from Taiga naturals (in Whitehorse) for her and her brothers for months, so we had them custom made under the guise of auto repair. We then wrapped them in a newspaper, and asked her to read us an article while we had cupcakes for dessert. Somehow we pulled it off – she had no idea, and was very happy.

It was raining while we headed towards the Stewart Cassier. We drove down it until we could drive no more. We pulled over beside a nice little lake, and fell asleep to the sound of the rain outside.

Roadschooling: Northwest Canada day 4 – tundra

IMG_0015On the fourth day of our Road trip we woke at 4am in a tent in Tombstone territorial park Yukon to the blazing sun. Although it was bright and sunny it was very cold. Eric started a fire as I began to transport the children back into the warmth of van. They ate hot beans while we took down the tent and packed it in. Moments later they were all fast asleep again.

It was Just the two of us on the tundra, with a pack of sleeping little ones in the back. The sun danced all over the landscape, and it was so beautiful that I was eventually overcome with emotion. Being that alone does something to you, it’s sort of like taking a giant breath out after holding it in for a long time. There was no one anywhere forever, and it was exhilarating and comforting at the same time. We drove through the mountains, watching for wild horses as the signs cautioned us to do. Sometimes we were silent, other times we talked about our hopes and dreams, our plans and our fears. It was one of those moments where we looked and really saw each other, like the focusing of a camera lens.

I had decided that I wanted the children to get out onto the tundra, and feel the treeless ground under their feet. There was a colourful mosaic of moss flowers and lichen, and it seemed to me that a picnic on the tundra would be great for lunch. We pulled over, put on sweaters and got out. Everyone went to run – but  then a strange thing happened. We sunk.

 

The tundra is not hard like it seems, it is very lumpy and in the warmer weather it is soft and squidgey. The other reason we could not picnic here was that there were birds in the ground. Birds, living under our feet were flying out as we tried to walk. Everyone was falling over, getting their feet stuck and dodging underground bird (caves?), so we just stood still for awhile, enjoying the ultimate peacefulness. The kids observed the different flowers and mosses, and crept up on some curious ground birds. Soon enough we had to continue our journey because of the wind and cold. We drove on towards the northern most part of the accessible world, and then we got nervous.

What if it rained again? Too much rain and the road would be washed out and we would be stranded. We decided that we would only drive so far and then turn around and head to Dawson city. Tuktoyuktuk was inaccessible to us anyway, so we would have to come back. As responsible decision as it was, it left us with a pang of regret. It quickly dissipated when we returned to the land of humans, and discovered the giant nail that was in our tire, slowly leaking air.

Roadschooling: Northwest Canada day 3

 

IMG_0002On the third day of our road trip we woke in Whitehorse and decided to head straight north. The first stop was the Takhini Hot springs, where we were surprisingly nearly the only ones there. The warm water was a comfort in the chilly morning air. A stop at the “Bean North” coffee roasters for lunch, and we were off.

The Dempster highway is a dirt road freckled with shale and rocks and potholes, that takes you all the way over the arctic circle and into the tundra. In the winter you can drive the last little stretch all the way to the arctic ocean on the ice road. There have even been polar bears on the north end. Through the Ogilvie mountain range, wild horses run free.

The allure of the remoteness, the wild and the raw beauty of a barely touched part of the world had haunted us for months. Between our bouts of excitement had been bouts of nervousness about the lonely highway.

We got to the highway sign and started down it. The plan was to drive the short distance to Tombstone park and then head the rest of the way up the Dempster the next morning. For the first kilometre or so, although it was as beautiful as the Alaska and Klondike highways had been, the landscape was not distinct. Just a never ending roadside treeline.

And then, the trees opened up and what we saw ahead of us took our breath away.

We stopped at Tombstone territorial park and set up camp. It was raining a bit, but not enough to put out the fire. We ate, and then watched the midnight sun peak out throughout the grey clouds. When we were finally tired enough we went to bed, excited for the next days adventures!

Roadschooling: northwest Canada days 1& 2

image Some people have questioned our plans to head so far north, especially with four children. There were even times when I questioned it myself because of the remote wilderness we were heading into. We want the kids to experience Canada’s raw beauty, diverse geography and ecclectic culture so that they have a true perspective on their own country. The first day we drove from Grande Prairie AB all the way to Muncho Lake BC. It was very late when we got there and the sites were full so we slept on the floor of the van in sleeping bags. We didn’t mind the lumps and bumps, because our first stop the next morning was the Liard wilderness hotsprings.

This was our second time visiting Liard hotsprings. The reason we love it so much is because it is a wilderness spring with natural bottom, trees plants dirt etc, unlike the concrete pools that the other springs we’ve visited have been fed into. The water is very hot at the top, and cools as you walk to the bottom of the lower level. There is also a boardwalk that allow you to see the rare orchids that grow and fish that live there because of the microclimate caused by the hotsprings. From Liard we headed towards the Yukon, and we were lucky enough to spot 18 black bear and three grizzlies. We also saw herds of bison, elk, fox, moose and deer.

When we got to the Yukon border there was a beautiful park and beach awaiting us. We swam and built a fire for lunch. After we were all refreshed we headed to Watson Lake in order to see the sign post forest. The kids had a ton of fun running through the signs, playing hide and seek and reading about all of the places people have come from to see Canada’s beautiful north.

When we finished playing we headed to Whitehorse. It was the summer solstice so there was a lot of celebrating going on. We were going to stay at the Robert Service campground but the energy was too high for the kids, so we sought refuge from the blinding midnight sun in the comfort of a hotel room. There was a lot of discussion about the adventures that awaited us in the morning as we would make our way further north.

Yellowknife Roadtrip

imageWe found ourselves restless. Overwhelmed with cabin-fever, stagnant stale indoor air  and bad moods seemingly induced by a lack of sunlight. It felt like it had been dark here forever. We were in serious need of an adventure. If I didn’t get beyond these four walls soon, I was going to explode.

A lot of people would choose to go south and lay on a beach somewhere but we had something different in mind.

North to Yellowknife or Sharpknife as Avery mistakenly continues to call it. The trip served as a sort of a “reboot” for us. Eric suggested it out of the blue the night before we would leave on a  1170 km trip each way, 30 hours of driving. Our weekend of Leg of Lamb and Easter chocolate would have a late start this year.

We threw some clothing, water, a few bags of fruit and baby carrots and some books into the van and off we went.

As we drove out of Northern Alberta we watched the sun turning the fields to a golden goodness that our hearts had craved all winter. Colour – any and every colour we saw outside soothed our nerves. We also saw a cluster of deer grazing along the roadside.

As we continued north we noticed the landscape start to change. There was snow on the fields and ice on the lakes and rivers outside our windows. Tree species dropped off one by one, until all that remained for a long time were Birch and Pine. eventually the Birch dropped off too, and the Pine became spindly and sparse. By the time we reached the Mackenzie river crossing, it was officially mid winter again. It was at least 12 degrees colder, the river was frozen solid and the ground was covered in two feet of snow.

To cross the Mackenzie river on the only road to Yellowknife, they built the Deh Cho bridge in 2012. Before that, to cross you would take a ferry or drive the ice road. During the times when the water was open but the ferry was frozen, you would fly or stay put.

We arrived in Yellowknife at around 8:45pm in full sunlight. We checked into the Explorer hotel, and the kids had some fun pretending to be eaten by a polar bear in the lobby. We cleaned up and headed to the hotel restaurant. It was about to close so even though they were more than willing to stay opened for us, we opted for a Bruno’s pizza instead. It was great.

imageWe got news that there was going to be a northern lights show overhead, so we watched the stars come out outside our window like magic. Then once it was sufficiently dark, we got into our pajamas and hopped into the van for some star gazing. We hit the Ingrahm trail and we were instantly in awe of the magical sky. A level of black we had never seen, dotted with a trillion stars. Unfortunately, the situation wasn’t sustainable because River wanted to go to bed, so we headed back to the hotel and had a great night’s sleep.

The next day we toured the city. We had hit the tail end of a festival and so some of the winter infrastructure was still up, including ice sculptures and a snow castle. The lake was still frozen solid – full of vehicles, cabins and a community of year round houseboat residents who can entertain land vehicular company in the winter. The houseboats were brightly coloured and donned solar panels on their roofs. If I lived in Yellowknife, that is where I would want to live!

We made the obvious tourist stops – The Wildcat cafe, Bullocks Bistro, The Dancingimage Moose, the Ragged Ass Road. They were all closed however because it was Easter Weekend.  Our number one destination in every capital city across Canada has always been the legislature building, and this one did not disappoint. We had a picnic in front of the building, and then the security guard gladly unlocked the door and took us on a guided tour through the building which was very informative. He told us that there had been a bear and a pack of seven wolves hanging around the building, so “keep an eye” outside on the trail.

After the legislature, we decided to head south to the Best Western in High Level, which is our home away from our Grande Prairie home away from home. We had dinner – Avery informed us that our waitress would “really like a kiss”, and so he crouched under a nearby plant waiting for his oppertunity to woo her with his undeniable charms.

And so it goes. We had another taste of the northern highway to satisfy our thirst for adventure until the big one in 59 days.

Driving to the End of the World

image

Writing music with Dad

ART

I think all children are artists. From the tiniest fingers all the way up, they seem to love being full of paint and glue and paper mache. They also love to sing and dance and play instruments.

Not only are we trying to organize a morning Waldorf homeschool arts and crafts class at the Creative Arts Centre, but the kids are about to try out a new art form this spring – drama. I stumbled upon a drama teacher while perusing kijiji for a french tutor, and convinced her to teach homeschool classes. Hana has been trying out different character portrayals. Strasberg would be proud. Or…something.

LITERATURE

image

Hamming it up with a friend on camping trip

Elijah and Hana are taking part in the “Collins 2014 writing contest”, and listening to all of Hana’s references to the classics makes me so thankful that we’ve been reading the greats. Dumas, Dickens, Twain, Pyle, Kipling. We’ve worked our way through the entire list of 100 or so children’s classics, some of them several times. I can assure every parent, reading the classics with  your kids is so  worth it! Hana is always drawing parallels and contrasts between awesome literature and real life. It helps her explain a lot of what would otherwise be a struggle. Hana’s currently independently reading Anne of Green Gables. Last night I ran upstairs at 10pm to put away the laundry, and there she was teary eyed, nose in book.

“Anne just discovered that Marilla wanted a boy!”

LANGUAGES

Currently the kids are studying French and Spanish. A fellow homeschool Mom offered to help Hana with French grammar and dialogue at the library Wednesday afternoons, which has been great. She also has four kids, two of whom are around Hana’s age so it works out really well. Because of this, Hana now understands the common meaning of the word “homework”.

RAWNESS

image My kids seem to prefer grabbing an apple or carrot to almost anything else I offer them. I used to discourage it, in fear that it would ruin our dinner, my meal plan and our budget. Thats until I got a juicer for Christmas and it took over our lives. We have been juicing kale, beets, spinach, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers. It’s taking us down this road to raw food.

Up until then, we had been on a culinary adventure eating our way around the world. We sort of got stuck in Japan and we never wanted to leave. Now we seem to be eating mostly plant based foods with small amounts of fish and seafood. Everyone seems to be thriving, so we’ll just continue.

EXTRA

The kids are also looking forward to yoga, gymnastics and a new homeschool science group. It’s nice to spend more time “out there” now that the minus 30 weather has eased up. We’ve been skating and sliding quite a bit too, which the little ones especially love.

Travel: 118 days until our “North West Canada Road trip 2014″.

image Here is our plan so far. Make it all the way through the tundra to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic for the summer solstice in 24 hour sunlight. Then down through the rain forests, waterfalls, hot springs and ocean beaches of British Columbia. We will tent, hike and swim as much as we can. I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with family, and  finally going whale watching!

The True Selves Project 2014

014

Our 2013 Vision Board

As you can see from our New Years 2013 “vision” board, we had grand plans. We accomplished almost all of our goals with a little carry over, ie: see a zebra.

We welcomed our newest addition, travelled across Canada (All major cities, landmarks & national parks), studied French & Spanish, downsized our house and carbon footprint (moved to a smaller place), paid down debt, visited with family, camped, met our newest nephew, took yoga, art classes, pottery, acrobatics, dance classes, gymnastics, karate, learned piano, ate fresh lobster, swam in the Ocean, and watched Cirque du Soleil.

Because of our success in fulfilling much of our 2013 vision board, we decided not to wait for New Years Eve to start setting our resolutions.

image

Eric in Movember stache

When Eric arrived home from a management development course, it occurred to him that what we could do is apply the fundamentals of project management to our life in order to meet with higher success next year. Out of it came what we call:

“The True Selves Project”

We spent many nights identifying our goals and discussing what was important to us as individuals and as family unit.  We came up with an initial “list”, ie: family, politics, romance, happiness, nature, simplicity, health, travel, learning, creativity, financial freedom, service, minimalism, and adventure. The steps to our project went as follows:

  • Establishing ground rules
  • Developing a clear end statement
  • Developing a strategic goal statement
  • Goal alignment
  • Identifying stakeholders
  • Discussion of priorities
  • Developing a workflow
  • Doing a risk assessment
  • Action on arrow
  • Creating a time chart

We then drafted our financial plan,  5 year travel plan, a family learning plan and our family health plan.

From there, we sprang into motion. We restructured our budget, and purged our environment. We worked out our fitness routines and classes/courses on the family calendar, to ensure that we would maintain the slowness and peace of our home.

I walked through the house identifying areas that needed organization materials (ie: shelving units, hooks baskets etc.).I also purged the freezer fridge and pantry, ordered a juicer and made a shopping list of materials. I also posted for sale agreed upon items to offset the costs, ie: tv, xbox, extra furniture, books.

I applied for night jobs, so that we can fast track our remaining debt while still achieving other goals such as extensive world travel with the kids. This way, we can continue to homeschool and keep home life at the top of our priority list, while supplementing our income ONLY UNTIL we meet all of our identified financial goals. When we no longer have debt payments, the money saved will be more than my income. I want to be present during their childhood, and there is no compromising that. I don’t want them to notice that I am gone, unless for reasons of personal growth, but not in pursuit of extra money – there is no amount worth more than time spent as a family.

So, here we go. Bring on 2014, because we are ready!

A peek inside of Waldorf math

  • imageMath was never my subject in school. I got by until grade 10. I approached my teacher at a time I was struggling, and he told me he didn’t have time to explain things to every individual student, and fair enough. He had a lot of students. It was at that time that I “quit” math.  I figured I wasn’t “good” at math, and I decided not to take it any further. I was “good at art and english”, and it can only be one or the other, right?

If there is one thing that I feel Waldorf does right, it’s math. Elijah is 5, and is imagelearning all four processes with no problems so far. It isn’t because he is more intelligent than the next kid,  or because he is wired that way, but because of the way Waldorf introduces math.  It doesn’t teach, it uncovers the magic of numbers and patterns. In grade one, the numbers are revealed very slowly through nature, intuition and social conventions, always whole to parts.

  • One is the sun and a circle. It encompasses all other numbers. One is the self.
  • Two is me and you. Two eyes and two hands. Two is opposites; night and day, high and low.
  • Three is a triangle. It is sun moon earth. breakfast lunch and dinner.
  • What is 6? six is the sides of a honeycomb cell. It is 2 3’s and 3 2’s. It is 4 and 2 more.

Hana’s last math block (Grade 3 math block 2, or “November”), was on Measurement of time. I will skim through it here, as an illustration of what Waldorf math looks like for us.

We opened up the month with a discussion of what measurement means. We began in

imageEgypt, Mesopotamia, Iran and the Indus Valley where evidence of the earliest whole systems of measurement have been found.

Next we began to look at patterns of seasonal changes as time markers – animal migrations, temperature changes,  and deciduous   and fruit bearing trees cycles.

Then came moon phases.  The earliest evidence
I could find of recording time measurement is that an ice age hunter 20,000  years ago carving lunar patterns into a stone near modern day Scotland.  We used  lumps of clay to emulate this, and discussed the moons effects on the earth.

Next came constellation based calendars, or zodiacs. We learned some of the constellations, and discussed how they “move” around our sky.

Lastly came the sun.We watched several Youtube videos of the earth traveling around the sun that highlighted different things such as the solstices and equinox, which hemisphere experiences what season when, and night and day.

We explored several calendars including: Babylonian zodiac, Chinese zodiac, Aztec calendar, Hindu calendar, Islamic lunar calendar, Ancient Celtic “Ogham” alphabet/calendar, and we learned the “Song of Amaergin”.

We then focused on the Gregorian calendar and how it came to be.We learned the origin of the names for months and days of the week in the languages we are currently studying.  We spent the last week on clocks and measuring time in seconds minutes hours and days.  We learned about many different time telling devices, such as the sundial and the Chinese candle clock. All in all, it was a great block.

Waldorf has certainly changed what math means for me personally, and I am so glad that my children will only ever see the magic and beauty of it.

“Math is art, math is movement, math is nature…math is everything!” – Hana

Friday Challenge: Always Something to Prove

imageI have been researching homeschoolers’ academic achievements lately to diffuse some expressed concern about what options will be available to my children later on. I am a public school supporter, and we are registered with the public board therefore I consider us “public schoolers”, and I don’t like comparing in-school students with home school students. There are brilliant teachers out there who benefit the lives of children everyday. Unfortunately, comparative analysis is the format within which I find much of the evidence that homeschoolers have a great chance of academic success. For instance:

  • Homeschoolers score 30-40% higher on standardized achievement tests than imagetheir peers. Homeschoolers score in the 89th percentile, while public schoolers score in the 50th percentile (“Homeschooling Works” and “Progress Report 2009″, http://www.hslda.org)
  • According to the U.S. department of education, homeschoolers on average test 1 year ahead of their peers. The longer they homeschool the wider the gap. By 8th grade they score on average 4 years ahead of their peers
  • The best schools in North America including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Berkley, MIT and Duke actively recruit homeschoolers. In Canada there are homeschool admittance policies for every school I looked into, including McMaster, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Brock university, WIlifred Laurier and Mcgill with the exception only of Queens. According to the “Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents”, Canadian universities also actively recruit homeschoolers
  • A higher percentage of homeschoolers graduate from colleges and universities than their peers, and once in college or university, homeschoolers maintain a higher GPA than their peers (“homeschool population report 2010″ – http://www.NHERI.org).
  • In public school, socio-economic factors correlate with the success of the student. Not so in homeschooling families. The educational outcomes of homeschoolers do not correlate with factors such as parents education or income levels, (“Homeschooling: From Extreme to Mainstream”, http://www.fraserinstitute.org ).

image

A great example of whats possible: The Colfax family.

For you veteran homeschoolers out there, this is old news. For the rest of us, inspiration.

Dave and Miki Colfax homeschooled their four boys through out the1980’s. As described by them, it was mostly self lead learning, ( similar to un-schooling), accompanied by hard work helping to build and maintain their farm. So, what became of them?

Grant Colfax graduated from Harvard medical school. He is an infectious disease specialist. President Obama recently named him the  director of the White house office of  National Aids policy. John Colfax earned his MA in biological anthropology as well as a law degree from the university of Michigan. He then earned his MD from Harvard medical school specializing in emergency medicine. Reed Colfax has an A.B. from Harvard, and a law degree from Yale. He specializes in civil rights litigation. Garth Colfax is currently a computer specialist, who works with the developmentally challenged.

There is a long list of notables who were homeschooled, or imagehomeschool their children including  but not limited to: Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Taylor Swift, Venus and Serena WIlliams,  Abraham Lincoln, Michael Bolton, Franklin Roosevelt, Leonardo Da vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Kristen Stewart, the Wright Brothers, Mozart, Hans Christian Anderson, Margaret Atwood,  Mark Twain, Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, Katherine Hepburn, Kristen Stewart, Elijah Wood, Claud Monet,  Winston Churchill, Margaret Mead, Julian Assange, Leanne Rhymes, Justin Bieber, Agatha Christie, Michelle Kwan, Florence Nightengale, Thomas Edison, Louisa May Alcott, Condaleeza Rice, Hilary Duff, Tim Tebow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dakota Fanning, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilara, Pearl Buck, Theodore Roosevelt and Virginia Woolfimage

Celebrity homeschoolers: Jada & Will Smith, Bill & Melinda Gates (while travelling), Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, John Travolta & Kelly Preston,  Lisa Welchel, Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise, Gwenyth Paltrow & Chris Martin.

The idea that homeschoolers do not take education seriously is perplexing. Whether we un-school or homeschool, we make that level of commitment and dedication because it is in the best interest of our children. We sacrifice time money and sometimes our sanity, because imagefor whatever reason, our kids would benefit from doing something different than attending public or private school. Sometimes the reason is autism, attention deficit or another special need. Other times a child needs extra attention in a certain subject. There could be time conflicts with traditional school hours and a parents work schedule inhibiting sufficient family time. Some people travel a lot, or want to study different material than what is covered in the common curriculum.There are language barriers that keep a child from reaching their full potential that wouldn’t exist at home. Some children are born athletes or musicians who want to focus their time and energy on nurturing their talents. Finally, Some families simply prefer learning together in the comfort of their home, and are able to do so.

Attending a public school is superior to home schooling for many reasons for many people. Academics is not one of them. I think that homeschooling is a viable option, and it is the best choice for us. I am convinced that homeschoolers such as my children have every future opportunity that children who physically attend the school do.  So for all of the people who have questioned the future opportunities of homeschoolers, I hope this helps ease your mind.

The Journey: Cooling down

imageI welcome the cooler weather every year with open arms. To me, it represents big hearty meals, sweaters, darker days lit by candle light, howling winds, and eventually the clean sparkling snow. I just want to cuddle up in a pair of big socks, with a cup of tea and a great book.That time doesn’t often come, but when it does, it’s exquisite.

I have decided to start doing 2 posts a week. Tuesday posts will be about the Journey of homeschooling & Family life, and Fridays will be the about the current Challenges we are facing.

Homeschool: “Block 2″

Where block 1 (September), was Language Arts, Geography/History, Art & French, Block 2 (October), is Math, Geography/History, Science & Spanish. After our main lesson everyday, we have been spending most of our time outside, walking the trails, climbing trees and exploring the parks. There have also been several afternoon play dates, and a homeschool field trip during which the older two learned about the fur trade.

Math: Hana has been working on review work, most recently long divisionimage. Next week we go over basic fractions and decimals.Elijah has been going through number values, and is now being introduced to the four processes through the Christopherus “Squirrels”.

Foreign Language: Instead of switching from French to Spanish I simply added Spanish. The kids have no trouble at all keeping them separate  so far. Besides reciting poems and songs, doing vocabulary, Living Languages, Duo Lingo, Mango and Rosetta Stone, the kids have been watching movies and identifying words and phrases that are familiar. Hana also summarizes the movies in her notebook with an accompanying drawing. Elijah is working on basic phrases and common words.

imageGeography/History: We have completed our unit on prehistory and the journey through Hominid evolution, and now have begun the story of human civilization. Currently we are studying Mesopotamia, modern day Syria/Iraq/Egypt. We have been discussing how and why nomadic people started to settle, early language and writing. There has been a lot of map work, which the kids seem to love.

Other: We are trying to put our family cookbook together, so that I can bring it into the print shop. It is full of the children’s art work, favourite child-friendly recipes and photos.

Travel:

We just returned from a week long trip through central and western Alberta;image Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Jasper through the Glacier Parkway. We got to visit with our family, as Eric’s parents were in for a family wedding, and we got to see cousins and his step Grandmother (the bride-to-be). It was a great time sharing meals especially the Dim Sum, and swimming in the hotel pool. My brother lives in Banff so on the way home we stopped by to have lunch with him and take a tour to Bow falls. We also had a meeting with the kids school board facilitator in Edmonton which was wonderful. Our facilitator is an integral part of our homeschool journey, and I am very grateful to the public school board for the way they have organized their resources for homeschoolers.  I enjoy discussing education philosophy, techniques and materials with a fellow homeschooler/public school teacher. She has a broad perspective and a lot of experience that is very helpful to me.

We are road tripping up to Yellowknife in 8 weeks to try out some dog sledding and northern lights. Hopefully we will get to eat some local foods and enjoy some art and culture.