Saturday, 29 November 2014

Our Week: End of November

This week we all had a cold.  I really didn't think we had done much, mostly just rested and played when we felt up to it.  Apparently from the photos we did actually do a tone!!


Oh the weekend our wood arrived!!  We are using our fireplace to heat the house most of the winter.  The boys were a huge help with moving the wood to a spot near the front door.

MJ discovered a new game although he goes by his own rules.  We did play a lot of different board games throughout the week.

MJ gave his brother an interesting log from the wood pile.  TJ decided to use it as a Christmas tree.  He woke up one morning (dressed as a butterfly) and decided to make a star for his tree.


Just for fun one day I brought out a needle felting kit TJ was given.  Looking back I'd have done this one on one or when MJ boys was a bit older.  Two young boys with pokey needles can be stressful.  The little mice they made are adorable and have been used a lot.  MJ's is a motorcycle mouse with wheels...


The wind really picked up this week and it was warmer for a few days.  The boys and I went to play with a friend.  We all had our kits out and tried several kinds included plastic bag kits.  We always have so much fun with our friends.


The howling wind made rather ghostly sounds coming through the kitchen door.  The boys told ghost stories and decided to decorate for halloween.  They made several ghosts, a sign and TJ made an awesome scary costume.  We had a funny time surprising/scaring daddy when he come inside!!


MJ on his own went to get out the pattern blocks (I can hear them coming out again behind me as I type).  He made President Business and Lord Business from the Lego movie.  Later in the day he made me Metal Beard (the smaller one).

Our boys had their friend come over to play.  We did marbles, dress-up, lots of play time and a craft.  Busy little boys having so much fun!


Okay crazy me thought I'd have a craft ready on hand incase we needed to switch things up a little.  I didn't have everything I needed to make a 'less messy' craft.  So we mixed white glue and shaving cream.  It makes a wonderful puffy paint perfect for snowmen and such.  It is also irresistible to very tactile boys.  We may try this again outside in the summer.  Never-the-less the artwork looks great and the clean up wasn't so bad.


Seeing as we were mostly resting and playing this week in the back of my mind I was worrying about the boys and academics.  Of course children are naturally curious and love learning all on their own.  They reminded me of this right when I needed it most.  TJ found a scrabble type game and began making words, then he added up his score from the numbers on the tiles.  We noticed that some of the words were multiplication questions like 4 fours, or 3 twos...

After a while TJ moved on to some crafty things.  He lead me over to his creation and said he had a game for me.  "Which land is bigger, feather/button land or glitter land?"  This lead to some interesting discussions on area.  He was also asked up which area we liked better and why?

Some time this week while MJ was playing with the pattern blocks he called me over all excitedly.  He noticed that three blue (rhombus) made a hexagon.  Then he tried the same thing with the other shapes to see how many trapezoids and triangles it would take to make a hexagon.  It was interesting to see how he reacted to the squares, which don't make a hexagon at all.


One day I set out some playdough with loose parts and cookie cutters.  TJ brought out other playdough toys and made an octopus.  Then he and I made Christmas cookies.  MJ took some loose parts and made paint brushes from feathers.  He tested them, washed them and gave one to each of us.  

The boys made popcorn strings from left over popcorn to put outside.  MJ put his popcorn in a basket to hang from the tree.  Later in the day we saw a squirrel enjoying the treat.  So we made more popcorn and more baskets!


As always the small words and farm play are still going.  I love finding the funny things they add in.  The snowmen became rescue heros and we sent them on some adventures.  MJ added lots of sea-life to his pond.  TJ broke a hairbrush but turned it into a Roto-tiller for MJ's tractor.

MJ is always wanting to make potions.  He was rather insistent on making his latest creation by the fire place.


Near the end of the week my boys were starting to feel better.  The generously shared their germs with me.  I wasn't so great but we went for a walk near the house.  MJ has a bag of farm toys along with his 'snow blower' and TJ backed his favourite friends into his backpack.  We looked at the turtle area of the marsh and talked about what the animals were doing.  We climbed the cliff edge and enjoyed the view.


I can't get over how sweet and kind hearted my little boys can be.  After watching daddy fixing a clock for work, MJ had a handful of clock parts.  We put them into a bag so that we could go on a few errands.  This little guy became so excited to give a gift to every cashier we met that day.  I was so grateful for the kind responses everyone gave to my little guy as he handed them random clock parts from his bag.

TJ lost a front tooth this week!!!  I also made my first sweater ever (I have no idea why it took me so many years to just do it).  I noticed that the sleeves are a little short.  TJ said, "Mommy it's okay.  It is your first sweater ever and you did a great job.  I don't mind."  Oh how encouraging.  I do think I'll add some length to the sleeves for him when I get a chance.

So there is our week.  My cold has gotten worse but the boys are slowly getting better.  We'll see what next week brings us.  A new month and new adventures!!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Our Advent Plans for 2014


We are all getting very excited to set up our advent table on the weekend!  This is our advent table from 2012.  No idea where my photos are from last Christmas.  Each week we add a new element to our table (minerals, plants, animals, people) and tell some advent stories.  Our nativity family follows the star path towards the centre or stable depending on how we set it up.  On the back of each star is an activity for the day.


Here is our list of activities for this year:
Sunday: Advent week 1 story and set up advent table.
1. Set up Christmas tree
2. Decorate some glass ornaments
3. Make some cardboard Christmas trees
4. Write letter to Santa
5. Visit train display at local nature centre
6. Visit animals and activities at local garden store
7. Advent week 2, Cousin's birthday party
8. Homeschool Christmas part
9. Talk about Christmas star and do star craft
10. Do a kind act for someone
11. Nature Christmas crafts
12. Special movie night
13. Christmas baking
14. Advent Week 3, Christmas event at local heritage village
15. Sing Christmas carols
16. Make ginger cookies
17. Deliver cookies for friends and neighbours
18. Angel crafts or salt dough ornaments
19. Homeschool Christmas Party (another one)
20. Make gifts for family
21. Advent week 4, kids singing in church service
22. Shaving cream dough fun 
23. Bake birthday cake for Jesus
24. Visitors, Special family evening together (movie and a gift)


We also want to see the lights one or more nights, read lots of Christmas books, and make gifts for each other.  Those things I'll fit in where ever it works.

Here are a few of our favourite Christmas books:



I can't wait to hear about what you are doing for advent.  Please do share!!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Highlights from our Week - November Week 3

As always we are having a wonderful time being at home learning together.  This was a very cold week here so we went to the YMCA about five times.  The boys take swimming lessons and attend a Ykids gym time during a day time slot for home schoolers.  


Computer games and things aren't something we've used too often.  They come and go for a few days and then the boys move on to something new.  Daddy uses tablets for work and we loaded a few games on them for the boys.  They were so excited to try everything and are pretty good!  Daddy also joined them with an online story.


The day after we finished clearing the leaves off the yard it snowed.  Oh how excited those boys were to get outside.  They made snow angels and TJ made a whole nativity scene with a choir of angels. 

Later they scooped up snow to melt by the fire.  Their Playmobile toys also joined in the action.  MJ has been playing Christmas all week.


It snowed again.  This time we got a fabulous day with packing snow!  The boys were up and outside in their pj's first thing in the morning.  They made snowmen and giant huge snowballs.  It was so much fun and great exercise.  

Later in the day the boys were having difficulty sharing some Lego motors, so I brought out two pneumatic Lego parts for the boys to explore.  They were fascinated with the air moving the piston.  Lots of interesting creations were made.

I bought the boys some goggles to help them in the pool (strong chlorine).  They immediately wanted a bath to test them out.  MJ wore his goggles for several days, building, baking, to the gym and more.

The boys are doing so well in the pool.  MJ has become much more brave.  He enjoys jumping in, and swimming on his back.  TJ has been trying to swim under water and can even do summersaults!



We invited some friends over for dinner and the boys wanted to bake gingerbread cookies.  We had a great time baking and decorating together. 


I was so pleased when MJ went to the math shelves and picked out the pattern blocks.  When I bought them I had put them in the shelf intending to print out cards to put with them.  The boys weren't sure what they were so I showed them a few ideas on my laptop.  They both worked well together to make a train by looking at the picture.  Then they took turns making new things and taking photos of all their work.  I quietly made an abstract design on the table.  They boys were intrigued and made many wonderful designs over the next few days.


I had checked out a few art books from the library to see what they were like.  We went to visit my mom's house with my sister and all the boys.  The boys and I looked through the book together.  TJ felt inspired by one of Monet's water lilly paintings.  TJ quickly discovered that our watercolours wouldn't give the texture or colours he was looking for.  My mom generously shared her collection of paints with TJ (he was very excited).  Working with great focus and attention he created his version of the painting.  I was pleased to be his assistant colour mixer.

MJ and Nanny made potato prints and painted with water colours.  The boys cousin also joined us to use the water colours.  He and his mom enjoyed making funny pictures and trying all sorts of colours.

TJ's version of Monet's Water Lilly Pond painting


We've been running our fireplace all fall.  The boys have been incredibly helpful and are learning many skills and safety things through this experience.  We spent some time modelling with wax by the fire to warm it up.  The boys each made a fish to show our little pet Spotty.  

MJ also wrote his whole name.  He usually just puts an M on the page.  We were all very proud of him.


Having been inside most of the week.  We took the opportunity at the end of the week to go for a walk in the forrest.  The boys explored their favourite spots, followed animal tracks and played in the snow.  It was lovely.


MJ has been interested in the human body for several months now.  We spent a good potion of our week getting ready for a local homeschool Science Fair.  MJ wanted to share some of the pictures he had made.  We also traced his body and added in many organs.  It was great fun.  MJ continually check our books to make sure everything was in the right places.  He did very well explaining his project to those who came by his table.


TJ's science fair project was about discovering the best angle of a ramp to race toy cars down.  He raced three different toy cars down a ramp at various angles to see which one would travel the farthest.  Having been a science teacher in the past I did my best not to take over but to let TJ learn about this experiment himself.  He did most of the write up, including lots of typing.  TJ also explained his project very well to the many people who came over to his table.

It was wonderful to see all the projects that the other children had put together.  There was such a range of ages and topics.  We are very blessed to have many different opportunities in our area.

Looking forward to checking in again next week...

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Our Week - Nov week2

This week has had so much action it is a wonder I took any photos.  We had so much fun.  The boys are very curious and learning happens so naturally around here.  Baking muffins lead to an impromptu lesson on fractions, which TJ understood.  They are both constantly sounding out words and noticing interesting things about language.  Numbers and counting are a favourite too.


Our week started with a fun addition/subtraction math game that the two boys played together.  We used counters to help MJ find the answers, while TJ preferred his fingers and did some in his head.  MJ then used the counters to invent his own game.  Not sure how it was supposed to go as he changed the rules often.  At one point the red counters were seeds and the blue ones were corn that we placed on the seeds.

MJ also got to go with daddy to work in the morning while TJ had a play date.  MJ dressed just like daddy with jeans, a label on his shirt and a work hat.  He was so thrilled by his adventure.

Later in the day TJ was working on making a felt shoe for his store so MJ copied wanting to make a shoe for me.  He traced my foot and cut the material.  When he realized he trimmed it too small he tried all sorts of scarps to find one the right length.  He sewed a few stitches and announced my flip-flip was complete!!

on the weekend we had pizza which inspired all sorts of imaginative play.  TJ used pillows to make a pizza store.  MJ used his box to build some kind of contraption.  He even set up a whole store for me to come and buy his creation.


TJ has been very crafty all week trying to get orders out as soon as he can for his store.  We are so grateful for everyone's support and encouragement.  TJ has now started three jars at home for his money (save, give, spend).  He is learning a lot about money, responsibility, handiwork, and more.  Best of all he is motivated to learn these things on his own because it is his project.  I'm nudging a little to keep going because it is easy for a 6 year old to get distracted and off task at times.


Remembrance Day gave us beautiful weather.  We went to a local farm with my family.  The boys were all over the place with slides, animals, hay, and a giant sand box.  TJ worked diligently to create a village, while MJ tried to fill the tractors with sand.

At several points throughout the day we took time to talk about what Remembrance Day is all about. My mom was kind enough to get us some poppies, reading material and a craft.   My boys seemed to really understand and offered up the sweetest prayers.


The farms have now found a new home in the boys' bedroom so that we can claim use of the playroom again.  TJ painted a few more wooden animals to add to the farm, while MJ painted small pieces of wood shapes.  He also found a ladybug in amongst our projects.  This week while at the craft store buying more wool for TJ, we also picked up some ornaments on sale to paint.


Both boys are entering a homeschool science fair next week.  MJ is doing a project on the human body.  We traced him and are adding all his organs.  I'm dying of cuteness over here.  I'll take more photos for next week.  

MJ also asked me to make an instruction booklet for his farm... so TJ wrote numbers on sticky notes which they placed on every item in MJ's farm.  We took photos of everything and compiled it as a booklet for him.  MJ was very pleased that we understood his request and did it right.


At the end of the week we got together with another homeschooling family.  My friend had a book of wonderful outdoor craft/art ideas.  The three boys went around the yard making different layers in a jar.  They added a dino somewhere in the jar and topped it off with interesting plants.  MJ of course wanted to do something different, but that was just fine with us.  At the end they did a little show-and-tell to explain what they did.  TJ was so excited to show his friend how to make a teasel hedgehog too.  The boys played a lot of lego together then we went to the park.  They skipped the playground and ran to the trees to make a pine needle nest with pinecone eggs.  MJ climbed a tree on his own and called me when he was half way up!  Gotta keep an eye on that one now.

I can't wait to hear what you have been doing.  Please do share about your adventures...

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Our week: Beginning of November

Our week was great.  We always do so many different things!!

We went to the Brott music festival this week.  They offered some concerts specifically for kids. My boys and I had a wonderful time.  Our whole concert was geared for younger ages and was all about different animals.  

Later at home we played our own music to sound like different animals, moved around like animals, drew pictures and wrote poems.  TJ wrote about wanting a dog and MJ wrote about a bird and lion.


I just love to peak inside my boys' imaginations.  They are still very much into farms and this week added new elements.  I was happy to see how detailed the farms are now and enjoyed playing too.


I was so excited that our math manipulative arrived!  I put out the base 10 blocks for the boys to discover.  TJ was very proud of his towers.  He quickly caught on to using them to help create large numbers.


MJ focused hard on making towers with the parts.  He counted every level and has brought them out a few times.


While TJ and I were doing a fun math sheet with the base 10 blocks, MJ was in heaven watching daddy fix clocks.  He even got some new parts for his tool kit!!


In TJ's little world the hippo and lion were discussing what to plant in their gardens, the cows escaped in an orderly fashion and some how the goat was putting up a big fight  here!


Near the end of the week TJ and I went to our local university for a Let's Talk Science day.  First his age group went on a tour of the green house.  We were both so excited to see some carnivorous plants in person as TJ was learning about those recently too.  Later his group did a few smaller dinosaur activities like making a fossil and digging for fossils (chocolate chips from a cookie).

Afterwards we got to visit one of my sisters who works on campus!  MJ spent the day with my other sister and his cousins.


As I mentioned in my post the other day.  TJ has opened a little store.  Both boys were really into their finger knitting.  TJ has now had three orders and his hard at work to fulfill them.  I was such a joy to teach MJ to finger knit and share in his success.


I am having so much fun!  I can't wait to see what we get into next...

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Boy's Crafts: My son's new business

My 6 year old son is quite the entrepreneur!!

Finger-knit Skinny Scarf

This afternoon I suggested that we might listen to an audio story.  It was a Sparkle Story about knitting.  I asked if he wanted to do some handicrafts with wool and yarn next week.  Immediately TJ ran to my office and brought back some yarn to do finger-knitting.  He worked away while listening to the story.  We talked about what he could make and decided on a scarf.  While working away TJ said he wanted to sell his projects (much like the boy in the story).  In one afternoon he finished the scarf and started on another!

Finished skinny scarf


We gathered together all his completed handiworks to start with and he will continue to make more.  We talked again about how to sell items and what to do with things that don't sell.  TJ figured we could sell things on my computer and gift anything that doesn't sell as a Christmas present.

I created a FaceBook page for him and loaded the pictures he took.  I'm trying to let TJ do as much as possible with this venture.  He does need some help as he doesn't read much or know about the internet (or computers in general).



Little brother wanted to learn how to finger-knit too.  Oh it was a precious moment to be part of his joy in learning how.  MJ was so excited with every loop he pulled off.  "Mommy I'm doing it!  Look at me finger-knitting!"

I hope you'll help to support this creative adventure.  He is taking special requests and hope that everyone will like what he's made.  PLEASE do come and 'like' his Facebook page Boy's Craft

 TJ's store is called Boy's Craft (he made that one up). The Facebook address was harder to do because the one we wanted was taken already.  https://www.facebook.com/madebyaboy

"This is TJ. I have a store.  I hope you enjoy all the stuff you buy."

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Catching up: End of October

I can hardly believe how fast time is flying by.  We are well into the fall and the time change is behind up.  Here is a look back at the end of October and all the fun things the boys have been doing.

I follow some amazing blogs.  Many of them post about provocations or activities they leave out for their children to discover.  This has been great for the boys to explore in the mornings while I am finishing up my office work.


I had been feeling like we had neglected form drawing. Form drawing is So I set out a beautiful table of coloured pencils, some farm examples, objects to place along the forms etc.  MJ came in, grabbed a blank paper and drew me a car.  Then they moved on to breakfast.  No worries I thought, we'll get back to this later or in a different way.

However, TJ came into the kitchen and asked how his venus fly trap was doing (he had received a little kit last Christmas).  We looked at his little plant but I could tell he wanted more.  We looked at our Usborn plant book and followed the internet links to some amazing videos.  Afterwards I hinted that perhaps we could invent our own carnivorous plant and draw it on the big paper we had out.  MJ made use of what was immediately in front of him.  He was eating breakfast so he asked me to write about a bread snatcher plant.  The form drawings on the table became intestines, tubes and other parts of his plant.  He stapled all this papers together to make me a book about his bread snatchers.  It was so much fun to work along side this creative boy. 


TJ took off to sit by himself (next to the heater, he is like a little cat).  He drew and talked to himself for quite a while.  Every so often we'd get updates on new elements that were being added to the plant.  TJ's plant has nectar that attracts bugs, a slippery tube leading to a venus fly trap, and a waste pit!  There are two tanks to flush out the plant when the waste goes out and fire ants to scare away animals that might get waste dropped on them.  Awesome isn't it!!!  TJ asked me to label his drawing and then write a description on the back.  Next he said he'd like to photo copy the work and mail it to different family members.  TJ wrote a letter to accompany his picture and we made copies.  I too became excited to send off his letters and trust that they were well received.


One day MJ came to me and said he wanted a crocodile vest.  "Sure," I replied, "but what is that?"  MJ explained to me that he wanted to make a crocodile costume vest.  We dug up some old sweaters from my upcycling pile.  MJ was very specific about what he wanted (lots of buttons) and where they should be placed.  We sewed all the buttons on together and he loved how it turned out.  TJ wanted to make a dinosaur costume in the same manner.  He cut out teeth for me to sew on.  I was impressed with his idea to sew gloves to the arms to add claws.  We had so much fun crafting together.  They have worn their costumes to play in, sleep with and for outings.

During the last week of October we went to a homeschool Halloween party.  There was yummy food, pumpkin decoration and a scavenger hunt.  The boys played well and had a lovely time.


I love getting inspiration and ideas from blogs I follow.  One blogger had tried an idea she gathered from someone else.  Here is the link to the original idea  which of course I had to try.  I used a White-Out pen that proved tricky to use.  The results were pretty good.  The boys made some interesting patterns, even I had some fun.  TJ made his name with the rocks while MJ used wooden blocks to do his name.  I'm hoping that the rocks come out often and lead to some new interesting explorations.


Oh my little MJ just loves stories.  We have been working through our math gnome stories with great interest.  The boys jump right in to help with counting and different math processes.  MJ always needs to have a turn telling me a story afterwards.  I love his little adventures.  

We started finding and borrowing different games to play.  MJ explored letter sounds with Up-Words (sort of like scrabble).  

The boys Mid-Week church program had a dress-up night as it was close to Halloween.  This year's theme was cowboys.  Oh man these kids are cute.  We don't go trick-or-treating but the boys didn't care as they went to two parties that week and dressed up lots.  On of our neighbours came by with a treat bag for each of the boys on Halloween.  The boys were so thankful we made cards the next day to show our appreciation.


Right after Halloween Value Village thrift store had all their costumes on 50% off.  I was going to buy one costume each, but the prices were so amazing that we loaded up.  Aren't they so cute!!  TJ wore the bug costume all weekend (inside, outside, bedtime).  I love that their imaginations are so rich and that we have plenty of time to play.


Dice games.  So simple, so many to choose from and so much fun.  We had a number of dice that I pulled out.  I taught the boys how to play war with the dice.  I also printed out some paper dice games.  The boys are getting much faster at counting and adding.  They are so interested in math.  I often catch MJ counting has fingers and asking about numbers.

So now we are all caught up to the end of October.  A big Happy Birthday to Grandma and Grandpa Scott hope your vacation is going well!

I do hope you share what you have been up to as well...