Category Archives: Countries

Entering the Everglades

We have left the depths of the canyon grand into the swamps and marshes of the Floridian Everglades, where crocodiles and alligators are identified by the widths of their snouts and mosquitoes are the most bloodthirsty predators.

This week our focus is on creative writing/art. We started with a little geography reminder as we were in Florida not long ago for our week in Cape Canaveral (which was actually more of a week in space) learned some new spelling words, hit the library for a stash of reading materials, then began our small “project”.

I had Tallinn design some sort of swamp creature, which ended up being an animal with the body of an alligator, legs of a manatee, head of a turtle and teeth of a crocodile.  Sadly, somewhere in the process of being nine months pregnant and having a baby, that beautiful drawing has been lost into the abyss of misplaced art projects.  It never was brushed with the intended paint colors and was lost naked, with only an outline of number 2 pencil. 

After he designed this swamp creature I had him write a little (very little in fact) story about his animal.  If you have a seven-year-old son, you might understand how difficult this type of task can be for an energetic boy. Writing isn’t quite as fun as science and math and just plain being outside, but it was a first step and we will do many more, just not for a while :).

Here is his simple story, using a few spelling words for extra motivation, copied exactly as he typed it on the computer.

Once there was a monster who was big bad and scary.  monster who lived in a marsh.  His mouth was as big as a garbage truck and it eats  people.he was a alligator mana tee turtle and a dolphin the dolphin was eaten by the alligator there were oranges by the swamp it was going southern there were palmtrees and the weather was                  very very very veryhothothothothot.


Everglades Spelling List

1. oranges

2. marsh

3. swamp

4. weather

5. palm

6. manatee

7. dolphin

8. southern

Bonus: alligator


Arriving in Flagstaff

This week was all about the experience, something you can’t get from a book or even a teacher (even if she is an AWESOME one :)).  Enjoy!

It was super cold at the Grand Canyon and the kids managed to find a "patch" of snow.

 Next stop: Four Corners

Everybody pick a state!




And last: Mesa Verde.


View from the top.

super windy cold!
The only two brave enough for the harsh weather.

Good Times!

Farewell to the Farm Life

Well, we ended up doing one more activity after our dinner as I found a fun book a neighbor had passed along awhile back that she had not used in homeschooling.  It was perfect for our week!

Farmer’s Market, a trip to the Farm and a Delicious Dinner

We finished up our week learning about farm life with a trip to the local Farmer’s Market and a visit to a nearby farm.

When we visit Farmer's Market, I usually give them each a couple of dollars to spend how they choose....adding a little math to the equation.

And, we bring along our bikes and scooters as this is a pretty kid-friendly place, nice and open with friendly shopkeepers.




Selecting our fish for the evening


Our favorite hummus bar.

Our full basket of freshness.

Des Moines Dinner Menu

Yellow Beans (boiled with a hint of butter)

Grilled Halibut with Fennel

Fresh Gilroy Garlic Bread

Typically I like a bit more color in a meal, but the children chose the beans and preparing fish with fennel is one of my favorite ways to make it.  First, grill the fish, then cover and set aside, then, after dipping sliced fennel into flour, saute in butter until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Serve fennel atop fish.  Delicious and the kids love it too!

We did one more farm activity that I will share the next time I get around to posting as it was quite fun as well!

Farm Fresh Breakfast

Well at least farm fresh eggs anyway….straight from our chickens and our Papa’s chickens.

I LOVE all the fun colors!

The taste of fresh eggs is simply unbeatable!

Of course we had to include bacon into our breakfast as well.

 And some somewhat untraditional, but simply delicious Pumpkin Clove Pancakes.

I make these quite often in the fall and add a bit of allspice and cinnamon as well.  They are always a big hit in our family, especially when topped with some pure maple syrup!

And what farmer can start the day without a cup of Café?

Now we’re ready to go work some fields…..or at least do some laundry :).

Entering the Land of Many Farms

We have traveled westward again, this time to a land rich in soil, where corn stocks tower and barns are plentiful…..we have arrived in Iowa, specifically Des Moines.  Iowa actually has more farms than any other state in the US, which is why we decided to focus this week on farms and gardens.

Our first activity was to work on our own urban farm…

Our City Hens


Tallinn measured some spaces for planting seeds

 After measuring out our space, we came back inside and drew a grid using a book a friend let me borrow awhile back to maximize our space for growing vegetables.

Selecting our Seeds

Our plot size was 5′ x 7′, so we made a grid to correspond, marking off square feet using square inches, and then decided which seeds to plant in each square (as was recommended by the Square Foot Gardener).

This was actually quite technical to do and my brain was on overload by the time we were finished, but such a great way to incorporate math, especially for a boy who loves to build and design.  Maybe someday we’ll actually build and plant the garden we designed :).

Des Moines Week Spelling Words

1. farmer

2. market

3. harvest

4. barn

5. seed

6. water

7. pumpkin

8. garden

9. planted

Bonus: vegetable


Eating Like Astronauts

A trip to the Discovery Science Center

It wasn’t quite possible to “make” an authentic astronaut/space meal, so we ventured to the Discovery Science Center to pick up some traditional astronaut dessert…..freeze dried ice cream and ice cream sandwiches.

They were a little broken from the trip through space 🙂
The kids still enjoyed them, broken and all.

While we would love to stay and explore space a little longer, we’re blasting off to our next destination: Des Moines.  Shifting from the starry skies to fields of harvest.  See you soon!

How far from the sun….in inches of toilet paper?

I found this space activity felt pad for $1 and couldn't pass it up!

I saw this little activity initially on Pinterest and quickly added it to my board.  Then, for some crazy reason, it was no longer there.  Fortunately, I managed to find directions on a couple of other websites (here’s one).   One listed the distance of the planets and moon from the sun in inches and another had print-outs of the planets.  We combined the two sites to create the activity below.

Planet cut-outs, proportionate to the sizes they actually are.

We used the orange golf ball to represent the sun.

Eventually, as our living room is not 50+ feet, we ran out of room for the neptune and uranus, but did get as far as Saturn (roughly 28.6 feet of toilet paper). 

A little science, a little math, a lotta fun, this is what I call home-“schooling”.


Having a BLAST!

I saw this fun book at the library just as we were checking out!  So perfect for our study and Tallinn was so pumped to try it out.  It was practically easy enough for him to do himself.  I just helped track down a necessary ingredient (antacids) and adhered a bit of tape.

The directions suggested using a film container to put the antacid and water into, but, considering it’s been about a decade since I have seen one of those, we used a test strip container.  (One of the typically unseen benefits of diabetes, I guess).

First step….insert 1/2 antacid.

2. Quickly add water.

3. Close the lid

4. Stand upright

5. Stand back


*This provided hours of entertainment and Tallinn was thrilled that his went the highest :).  Loving our week in space!

Cape Canaveral

Our third stop on our trip around the US landed us in Cape Canaveral, with zooming rockets and launching shuttles!  And so began a week learning about space and science.  I think this might be why I love studying this way, with each week bringing a different focus comes excitement and newness, while still keeping our basic structure.  Basically, I think I get bored easily and need to change things up a lot.

So, we arrived in Florida and busted out our space books right away.

Thank you local library!

Another reason I was excited to get to our space week was an art project I saw in Family Fun Magazine, a George Seurat-style pointillism piece using a pencil eraser

After practicing some drawing of different rockets, we lightly sketched our scene on canvas.

Using acrylic paints, we slowly filled in our different planet, asteroid, galaxy and rocket shapes.

Car's finished piece


Tallinn's finished art work, done on canvas.


My finished piece, done on watercolor paper.

I LOVE how these turned out.  The whole time we were working Tallinn expressed his disbelief that George Seurat didn’t need to use a pencil eraser to make his tiny dots.  His is now up in his room and looks awesome!

Spacey Spelling Words

  1. rocket
  2. planet
  3. shuttle
  4. orbit
  5. space
  6. cape
  7. blast
  8. earth
  9. Bonus: astronaut

*For our weekly verses this year we are memorizing a verse a week from Ephesians 6 on the armor of God.  While it was fun last year making the verses somewhat match what we were learning, I didn’t feel like the kids retained them as much as they weren’t related.