Road schooling Canada 2015: Day 3 & 4

DSC_2683We woke at Spruce Wood Provincial Park Manitoba. We had arrived there in the middle of the night and pitched a tent as quietly as we could and everyone fell immediately asleep. In the morning we lit a fire and Hana cooked a quick breakfast  so that we could find the time for a long hike through the Spirit Sands and then find somewhere to swim because it was already starting to get very hot.

The Spirit Sands are a series of Sand dunes sacred to the traditional people of this spectacular part of Manitoba. Home to the “Devil’s Punchbowl”, the hognose snake and many pincushion cacti, it is definitely worth the 4 km hike – because with small children, you MAY wonder at some point, while climbing sand covered steep hills that feel like mountains in the sweltering heat, if it is worth it.

After returning from the hike we headed for Winnipeg and straight for the Forks. We shopped the market and picked up some fresh food for the van. We played in the gardens, and then hit the road for Ontario and drove through the whole night, and stopped at the day sight at Kakabeka falls for some shut eye. When we realized we’d pushed it too far, we headed to Thunder Bay for some coffee and breakfast, and then on to Sault Ste. Marie.

When we got to Marathon we discovered that the Highway was closed due to an accident, so we had to hang out and wait. We decided to head to Shriber Beach on Lake Superior. Wow. We had a picnic there, collected beautiful sea glass and did a little hike of the coast.

Eventually the highway opened back up and we headed towards the Saulte where our family lives, and spend a couple of days there hanging out before continuing the journey East.

Roadschooling: Northwest Canada Day 19,20,21 & 22

DSCN9895 Courtenay – Chemainus – Sooke – Botanical Beach – Vancouver

We left Ucluelet and headed for Courtenay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. We stopped along the way for a walk through Cathedral park and then in Qualicum beach for fresh clams and oysters.

We stayed in Sooke which is a new favourite place on earth for me personally, and headed to Botanical beach to do some exploring and try to spot the Orcas. It was a misty grey day and we lucked out in finding heaps of colourful sea glass and sea creatures.

Our time in Courtenay was spent with family, sharing meals and spending days on Miracle beach and Saretoga beach. We visited Eric’s uncle’s horses which was a great treat for the kids.

Hana also attended a showing of Les Miserables at the Chemainus theatre which was a huge highlight for her.


Once back on the mainland we spent some time in Vancouver, going to Granville island and the Vancouver aquarium. It was hard to leave the close proximity to the ocean behind, but we knew that the time had come to begin our journey east.





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.


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.

Block 2 or These Days

imageThe air has turned to that exhilarating cool. The one that fills you with a knowing that something is coming. The kids have been making leaf art, knitting hats, building forts and climbing trees at the park. There may not be the Maple and Oak trees that I ache for, but autumn here is a brilliant yellow dotted with the deep red of crab apples, both of which are nice markers before the starkness of winter.The chill in the air has inspired me to knit mittens, socks, hats, and a Christmas sweater for River.


These kids are insatiable. I have come to conclude that no matter the chosen methodimage of homeschooling, (Classical, Reggio, Montessori, Un-schooling, Waldorf, etc.) there are some things I must do to ensure their continued success and love of learning:

  • Keep in mind the type of learner I’m dealing with, ie: auditory, visual, etc.
  • Keep out unhealthy distractions
  • Fill their environment with high quality resources
  • Be outside as much as humanly possible
  • Set a good example*
  • Let them lead when possible
  • Be adaptable, and stop or change when things aren’t working

* This point doesn’t only apply to things like self dicipline and organization. I sometimes think that pursuing my own interests and passions can be selfish because it takes me away from necessary work, until I frame it in the context of their experience of watching their Mom achieve goals and be a lifelong learner. Then, it becomes not only alright, but necessary. Things like getting lost in a book, taking a course in Greek history, painting a picture or learning a new language  are all very valuable not only to me but to my children. I want them to live every moment fully, and not settle for the status quo. I hope to still be studying and learning new things when I am in my 80’s & 90’s learning along side my great grandchildren and my great-great grandchildren, sharing ideas about classic literature, politics and art.

imageWe have just begun our 2nd block, which is Math, Science, History/Geography & Spanish.

Math: Hana is doing a lot of review work of the four processes while Elijah is beginning to understand the value of each number. Throughout the day, he keeps running up to me saying things like: “I know what else six is – eight minus 2!”.

Geography/History: we are at  the time when hominids Left Africa, and we are mapping out where and when they went, and who “they” were at what times; Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Cro-magnun /Neanderthal or Homo sapien. To better understand how information is gathered about these ancestors, we have been modelling fossils and artifacts out of clay.

Spanish: We are currently beginning greetings and basic conversation, ie: “Hola, Buenas Dias”, and beginning basic vocabulary and numerals. Strangely, they don’t find it confusing to switch from French to Spanish as I thought they would. It almost seems as if it has made it easier. Even Avery is counting in three languages, understanding that it all means the same thing. Two, deux, dos.image

Science: we are exploring Autumns effects on nature, discussing anthocyanins, caratenoids and the loss of chlorophyll in leaves.

For our afternoon crafts we have done tissue paper stained glass, water colour, started a rainbow braided rug for circle time, and worked on our knitting.

Extracurriculars: Hana is currently in jazz ballet and acro, and Elijah is in karate. They would say their highlight of the month was sleepover night at a friends place in the middle of the week.

I LOVE the fall.