(I know, I know… I still haven’t done the Historic Triangle posts! It’s coming. 🤞🏻)
This past weekend, we down to Charleston, SC to sneak in some history, science, and cultural studies in the middle of fun and family time.
We started off with a downtown Charleston history tour and carriage ride. Maybe it is because I’m gearing up and buying books for our Revolutionary War study, but I was particularly drawn to how SC was influential in the Revolutionary War— instead of the Civil War, which is what I naturally think about due to Ft. Sumter being right there.
We hung out at the Old Slave Market before heading to our hotel. Interesting Sidenote: they didn’t actually sell slaves at the slave market. It was where the slaves (and other household workers) would go to get groceries and other sundry things. (Charleston, tragically, was a major import and contributor to slavery, but most of the selling/trading occurred on the docks of the city.)
My husband has been wanting to go to Rodney Scott’s BBQ ever since we saw the documentary about Scott and his delicious craft on Netflix. Father’s Day in Charleston was the perfect excuse to go!
After indulging in delicious ribs and the like, we spent a few hours at the SC Aquarium, learning about sea turtles, ocean life cycles and ecosystems, and even got to feed the sting rays! It was very fun and we learned a lot… although I will say that the price point for the aquarium was a bit inflated. If you live nearby and snag the annual membership, though, it would be very cost effective after a few trips! (We probably would have spent the afternoon at the beach, but the weather didn’t cooperate… so Plan B it was!)
After checking out, we spend several hours at Boone Plantation. Definitely check out the website for what all it has to offer! I didn’t tell the kids about the tractor tour before we got there, and I’m super glad I didn’t because they had to cancel it due to all the mud from the rain the day before. BUT even without the ride, the time at Boone was worth it!
My 5 year old loved the Butterfly room (we had to go in several times), my 8 yr old loved seeing the horses… and all of the kiddos loved climbing on and in the secret spaces of the gorgeous “Gone with the Wind” oaks.
I appreciated so much how each of the still-standing slave quarters had been turned into mini-museums, documenting the atrocities of that dark time in our nation’s history… and following the timeline to the Emancipation and beyond.
Boone also offers a unique opportunity to learn about Gullah culture, and we got to listen to and watch a wonderful lady speak to us in and about Gullah, sing beautiful spirituals, and give us the gift of learning more about her heritage. If you get an opportunity to go to Boone, please check the times of when the presentations are and fit it into your tours and time there. ❤️
The sun was high and hot by the time we were done at Boone… so we finished out time at Charleston at the fountains downtown. We got to watch our kids get hit by water coming at them at who-knows-how-many-miles-an-hour.
(Yes, the same children who can’t stand to have their hair washed and get water in their eyes. Those ones. 😂)
Like I’ve said before, we aren’t “roadschoolers” in the full extent of the word. We have a mortgage 😂, and can’t take long extended trips, due to an 8 to 5 “normal” job.
But we find firsthand encounters and experiences essential for us in our home learning— so we do it how we can, when we can.
I had a tab working on these already when a friend posted about how her summer checklist with her kiddos is working wonders for their rhythm… and I was like, “I need to hurry and finish these so we can get the benefits, too. Ha!
I’ll be honest; I’m not going to “stress” over whether or not this get fills out completely each day. That’s the great thing about charts and lists and things like this: they are meant to serve you, NOT you serve them.
Can we say that a little louder for those in the back?!
Lists are made to serve you, not you serve them! 😀
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy these freebies. I’ve made 2 versions: the list we will use over here with what we are planning on doing, and then a blank list for you to customize what you need with what’s essential at your house. Print out as many as you need; laminate them; do whatever you like. 😉
I’m probably the only homeschool mom on the planet that doesn’t have a laminating machine. I stick my lists in plastic sleeves and use wet erase markers (which I totally prefer over dry erase, so my kids don’t wipe it off by accident with an elbow).
Does your kiddo love a good under-the-sea story? With the summer NOW HERE (HOW did that happen?!), I thought it would be fun to make a little list of fun mermaid-themed things to do.
Let’s not call it a “lesson plan,” because that might sound too much like school, okay. 😉 For the sake of the post, we’ll name it Mermaid Day. (Sidenote: did you know that there is actually an International Mermaid Day? Oddly, it is March 29. Seems like that could have been a little better thought out and have a summer date, no? Anyhoo.)
I like to keep things organized a bit, so let me follow the structure I have used for my other themed days (like Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day).
There are so many stories you can enjoy on Mermaid Day. Of course, you could go the classical “Little Mermaid” route, a la Hans Christian Anderson. (I adore the illustrations in this book of Anderson’s works…) But there are other books that would be fun to read and listen to as well. I’ll link a couple below!
The fun things about these read-alouds is that you can use them to spring board some fun activities. With Mermaid School, you could encourage your children to create their own kind of Mermaid (or anything!) school and go! And of course, with How to Catch a Mermaid, you can give the kids an array of supplies to design their own mermaid trap!
Just this morning, my 2 year old wanted me to fix her lunch. At 9:13 am.
Surely, I’m not alone in this, right?
Anyway, we know that snacks and summer go hand and hand, so why not have fun and make them Mermaid themed?
Here is a fun idea!
Although this video is focused more about making this for a party, there’s no reason why it can’t be used for Mermaid Day, right?
ARTs & Crafts
Take some time to learn how to color or draw a mermaid or two! Here are three options that can work well for Mermaid Day, depending on how old your artist(s) are and what they feel like doing. 🙂
Want a plethora of mermaids to color? Check out my Mermaid Coloring Book on Etsy. 🙂 You can print out a book for each kiddo, or just print a variety of sheets to color on throughout the day or summer! Click on the image below (or click here) and it will take you straight to it… with an additional 25% off. Because Mermaid Day. 😉
If your younger kiddos want to take a step further and learn to draw a mermaid themselves, this is a fun step-by-step video that will let them do just that.
Buuuut… let’s say you have some older kids and the other two options aren’t their thing. This video offers more advanced drawing instruction and creates a much more “realistic” option. Just note: her final sketch has a mermaid whose arm placement is strategically around the chest area… but you still see some skin. If your family is not comfortable with that or drawing your own modifications to your own drawing, then just skip this next video. Or at least preview. 😉
Now, if you want to go ALL in for Mermaid Day in the craft department, you can make your own mermaid tale. A post from IKATBAG has a great step-by-step article on how to make a mermaid tale that can be walked in. Definitely check her out if that’s something that you think is something you’d love. Click on the image below to be escorted to her post. 🙂
closing thoughts. 😉
Of course, the list here is NOT exhaustive. For PE, you could always go to the pool and do mermaid relay races. And there’s always movie night, pulling out your Mermaid Popcorn, and watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and using a fork to make a fun hair-do.
Regardless of what activities you choose, I hope that Mermaid Day might prove to be so fun that you make is a tradition every single summer. ❤
The end of the school year is fast approaching– if you don’t school year round, that is.
We actually do over here, in a very modified way. We finish up our main yearly curriculum and then jump into a theme that helps unify our summer learning a bit. No structure at all doesn’t work well for us right now… and that’s okay.
(A little caveat: We actually just got back from a “end-of-year” celebration trip to the “Historic Triangle” in Virginia– Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. It was so great to wrap up Cycle One of our Gentle Feast learning this year. In history, we studied the discoveries of the Americas, indigenous peoples, and the first settlements/colonies. With Jamestown being less than 8 hours away, it seemed like a great way to see history, and not just read about it. I was amazed at how much my 2nd grader retained from our readings! Williamsburg and Yorktown were a little out of her knowledge-base at the moment, but both places definitely set the stage for this coming year of Colonies through Revolutionary War through George Washington. More on all of this later!)
Back to summer learning.
Last summer, we did Gather Round’s Oceans unit as our main summer “spine.” It was fun and we liked it… and I seriously considered doing GR’s Human body unit this summer for a while.
Instead, I’ve landed on to doing my own kind of thing: Homesteading school.
We are going to take the summer to learn about life skills, survival skills, safety skills, and how people used to live back before we had a lot of modern conveniences. I think these skills aren’t something that should just stay in the past– for a lot of reasons.
(That’s another blog post sometime, I think.)
So, to go along with these skills, I wanted to find some living books to support and enrich us.
Enter Little House books.
We haven’t read them together as a family yet, and I think they will definitely fit the bill with what we are trying to accomplish together this summer.
Because we are all eclectic Charlotte Mason-y over here, and my daughter has asked to start learning how to write and practice cursive, I decided to go ahead and make us some copywork pages to go along with it.
And then I decided that I might as well have a print version of the copywork as well, since J occasionally likes to do letters as well (I don’t push it, since he’s not 6 yet… but if he wants to participate, I don’t discourage him).
Something my girlie likes from a handwriting books she did back in Kindergarten was when copywork was paired with a coloring or drawing/thinking prompt, so I included that in the sheets that I put together as well. Take a peek!
I’ve decided to go ahead and make a page where I will put any samples, pages, etc. that I make as we learn and go along this summer. I’m even making resource of songs that are included in the books for my husband to make simple piano arrangements of! So excited about that. (#perksofacomposinghusband)
If you are interested in downloading Little House and Homesteading freebies, seeing where to get entire downloads and getting ideas to incorporate in your own family, feel free to check back on the Little House/Homesteading Resource page! It’s a work-in-progress right now, but I can’t wait to see what it grows into!
Also, if you have any cool resources, ideas, or have done something amazing with either Little House or Homesteading, I’d LOVE to learn from you! ❤
I’ve always been a little jealous of people who have “a thing.”
You know, THEIR thing.
It’s the thing that they always do and are ohsogood at. It’s “the thing” that they do or create or whatever that’s just a part of them. A significant slice of their identity, if you will.
Me? I don’t really have a “thing.” I’ve always been more of a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” type.
When I went off to college, I had the hardest time picking a major– not because I didn’t know what to do. No no. It’s because I wanted to DO IT ALL.
I was almost a humanities major, but I ended up not being because I heard that “no one gets a job with a humanities degree.” (I’m not sure if this is the case or not; all I know is I was kinda scared at the idea of not being able to get a job after college, so that statement was definitely a deterrent to my dabbling in all the things for four years and getting a degree in it. )
Last fall, while I was lesson planning for the speech club I coach for, I happened across the idea of rotating curiosity… and all of a sudden, my dilemma in college (and in my life, actually) started making a lot of sense.
Rotating curiosity is what happens when a brain– maybe your own– gets fascinated on an idea, project, etc. You dig in, researching all the things. Starting all the projects. Buying all goods. Painting all the paintings… whatever it is. Depending on how long your brain is fixated, you will pour time and attention into this new things for about four to six months… and then?
The curiosity starts to level out to a non-exciting plateau… that is, before another idea/project comes along and revs your brain back up.
Off to research, plan, and implement all over again!
Now, some people might rotate a bit faster than others; there’s not necessarily a “set time” to be curious on one set thing. But no matter how fast or how slow, it is there– an ebb and flow of new things to think about and (perhaps) actually do.
Once I realized that rotating curiosity is actually”a thing,” and not just some weird deficit in myself, something began to shift in me.
You see, I always felt badly that I couldn’t just “stick to one thing.” Or be an expert on a *certain* craft. Or really be proficient at a *certain* art or communication subset. I would tell myself that maybe if I would just not move on and be consistent for more than a few months, maybe I could actually become really, really good at something.
However, rotating curiosity itself seems to be a sign or symptom of a type of of people– people who love learning and who aren’t content to just pass by a hyperlink that says “for more information about <<such and such>>, click here.” One could be said that rotating curiosity makes me– and people like me– experts in the process of education: being exposed to an idea, researching it, analyzing it, applying it. Basically, we bloom taxonomy our whole lives, ad nauseam.
And yes, I just used “bloom taxonomy” as a verb. Sorry about that.
(By the way, if you just looked up or clicked on that taxonomy link… I want to say hello there, fellow rotating curiosity friend! Ha!)
I think the best thing about learning about rotating curiosity and its existence is how influential it has been in helping me accept a part of myself that I have struggled with for a long time.
So, instead of fighting it or feeling bad about it, I decided to take some time to analyze how I to use this cycle to my advantage.
Let me share some ways in the past few months I have embraced and worked with the advantages of rotating curiosity in my life… and maybe how you can use them in yours.
Allow whatever your current fixation is to anchor your day in enjoyment.
Let whatever it is that you are currently “in to” be this nice reward you give yourself throughout your day, especially if you are facing tasks you don’t like or are in the midst of a monotonous season. For instance, around Thanksgiving this past year, I started painting peg dolls. (If you don’t know what they are, feel free to go down that really cute, free-play rabbit hole.) I painted Native American and Pilgrim playsets, and then used my momentum to jump into Christmas season and paint Nativity sets. I filled my Instagram feed with peg doll accounts and loved the inspiration of seeing cute wood toys and getting ideas from different faces and animals… until I didn’t. So, I unfollowed the accounts once I got tired of pegs and put my supplies away. Right now, I’ve rotated onto crochet, and 4 baby blankets later… can feel the passion waning again. Once I’m done with my current project, I’ll put it away and move on to something else. And that’s okay. Because I’ll know I’ll be back.
That leads me to my second tip in using rotating curiosity in your favor.
Use your current fixation to go deeper into the topic and add to your skill set.
I find that I tend to rotate through creative cycles. I crochet, and then I get tired of it. I paint, and then I get tired of it. I handletter, and then I get tired of it. I embroider and felt… and then I get tired of it. You get the picture. Here’s the thing though– I always come back. It rotates back around, and when it does, I take it one step further. I learn a new painting technique. I try a new crochet pattern. I learned a new way to shape or space my letters. Take advantage of your curiosity cycle to become a little bit more knowledgable about what you are interested in each time. That way, eventually, you will become a “jack of all trades, a master in SOME.”
Find out what type of fixation is good for you to use as an anchor.
For instance, I love writing and reading– but don’t use those as an anchor of enjoyment for me right now. Why? Because I like to do both of those things uninterrupted. Once I’m in an “idea playground”– whether because I’m writing or because I’m infatuated with someone else’s words– I don’t like being bothered. In fact, I can get a tad grumpy if I’m interrupted 100 times. This tendency doesn’t serve me or my children well during the day… so I just avoid it, and leave idea playgrounds for when the children are in bed/aren’t around. Podcasts and audiobooks are also in this category. Meanwhile, I can answer 1,000 questions and crochet another row of a blanket at the same time… so that works for me.
And last, but not least…
Unleash the power of rotating curiosity on something that you are already doing… that you can’t rotate out.
Let me give you an example. Back in March of last year, I started toying with the idea of sourdough bread making– in fact, I got curious about it. <<Insert buying an authentic sourdough starter from San Francisco here.>> I read a ton of articles, got myself a basket or two– and off I went. Here’s the thing with sourdough, though. It becomes a little bit on-going. Unlike a crochet hook and a skien of yarn, I can’t just tuck it in a basket in a closet for months and instantly revive it when I feel like it. Nope– it’s a little bit like a pet or one of those Tamagotchi pets from the ’90s. You have to feed it, and deal with it’s discard. And if you forget to do either one of those things– it’s not going to make it.
So here I am, a year later… still making sourdough.
One year is a pretty long rotation of curiosity for me– and to be honest, it did start waning. But I didn’t want it to. So what did I do? I started rotating my curiosity in various ways about making bread itself. I rotated through scoring designs. I rotated through various recipes for the sourdough loaf itself. I started figuring out how to tweak it for dinner rolls. Right now, I’m fiddling with how many cool things I can make with the discard INSTEAD of just dinner rolls and boules. With each rotation, recipe, scoring design… I get a little bit more proficient. My bakes improve. My repertoire of what I can do with fermented goop discard becomes more and more useful and creative.
So there they are: 4 ways YOU can use the power of rotating curiosity to your advantage. I hope they help shape your thoughts as you use your unique gift. And if nothing else, I hope that’s exactly how you see rotating curiosity now– a gift that keeps you a curious, life-long learner.
The Big Four
Imagine: I’m not sure if you celebrate “pi/pie day”– but if you do, you know it is going to sneak in soon on 3/14! It happens to fall on a Sunday this year, so making a pie might include my husband, so that’s exciting because he’s a much better baker of desserts than I am. Maybe with his touch, we can pull off one of the creative pie crusts in this So Yummy youtube video clip! Also, I think it would be so fun to tap into your kids’ imaginations by cutting out some paper into large circles and have them design their own pie crusts and transfer that idea from paper to an actual crust!
I don’t know about you, but I simply love the “individual pie” idea around the 7 minute mark!
Encourage: If you don’t follow Jami Nato on Instagram, you should. She’s an amazingly funny and deep individual. Her stories crack me up… and her posts touch my heart. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her speak in real life, and her authenticity and humor are just delightful. She’s walked through deep waters and did not drown, and uses her experiences and stories to encourage women on their journeys in marriage and motherhood. Give her a follow and see for yourself! I particularly needed the perspective she offered in this post at jaminato about growing babies and making memories in the young, exhausting years.
Educate: Are you looking for a made-for-you lesson plan for St. Patrick’s day coming up? Go ahead and take a peek at this post from last year that I put together. It covers ideas to touch on Language Arts, Cooking, Music & Art, and even Physical Education by learning a few Irish jig steps!
Enjoy: Sometimes, a wonderful way to infuse enjoyment is by just making something you do every single day feel a little extra special. That’s exactly what Beth at charcutiesforcuties on Instagram does with her kid-friendly, fun-themed food boards. Her Dr. Seuss “green eggs and ham” idea was so very fun– and simple! Go visit her and check out her other fantastic meals!
Hello there, fellow Gather ‘Round users! Although I don’t used GR for our main curriculum during the school year, I LOVE using it for our breaks. We loved the Christmas unit, and decided to use the Oceans for “summer” school this year. I find our family works best with some “structured” time during the hot months– and this Oceans unit study seems like it will fit the bill so nicely!
We just finished our first lesson, and are already loving it!
Before starting Oceans, I did hit Thriftbook.com and an Usborne party to snag some great picture books, etc. (You can check those out in my saved “Oceans” Insta Story!)
I would normally head to the library to snag most of these, but since libraries are closed right now (thanks, Covid!), these links are the next best thing!
These videos are in no particular order, but all of them are recommended in either the pre- or early reader levels, and both ages are close enough to enjoy them together in my opinion. 🙂
Here we go!
The Dolphins at Daybreak Chapter Book Links
There you have it!
Hope these links help you and your kiddos enjoy your Oceans unit even more!
Want a little St. Patty fun tomorrow… but don’t have time to print a bunch a stuff out or prepare a lesson plan?
Here’s a handful of ideas to throw together a great day of Irish-themed learning!
Irish Storyteller Michael R. Kasony-O’Malley of Columbus, Ohio shares “Bridgette and the Lurikeen,” an old Irish folktale about a girl and a leprechaun. Fun storytelling and Irish culture combine in this fun retelling!
Feel free to ask your kids to narrate the story back to you, ask them their favorite part, or even to reenact it to check their understanding and attention. 😉
For those kiddos who are older and might want try their hand at some creative writing, have them try writing their own limerick! According to britannica.com, “the origin of the limerick is unknown, but it has been suggested that the name derives from the chorus of an 18th-century Irish soldiers’ song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” So, definitely some strong Irish roots there!
Cooking (and math. and science. and snacks.)
Make a whole Irish meal! Or just pick one or two! Snacks are good, too!
What’s great about being in the kitchen is that it can cover soooo many subjects! Measuring? From counting, to fractions, to multiplying (if doubling or halving a recipe), it’s math.
For those of you who don’t know, prior to becoming a homeschool momma and having an at-home wellness business, I used to teach. You know… like, outside my house.
In fact, I still do. One day a week, I get the major blessing of teaching some pretty amazing homeschooled highschoolers speech and debate. They work hard, learn a lot, and go out and actually compete with their communication skills. I’m pretty proud of them. 🙂
Before that though, I taught communication courses in storytelling/performing and public speaking on the University level. I traveled as a debate coach and judge in colleges and universities from SC up to PA and through the midwest. I was the faculty advisor for our collegiate debate program. I was crazy busy, but it was so fun and rewarding.
Since then, I’ve exchanged road trips with college students for field trips with my own kids… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been asked so many times if I can tutor speech and debate, but I don’t want to spend my all day trying to arrange and remember tutoring slots.
Instead, I’ve come up with the idea of an online communication coaching “club” of sorts. There are lots of perks for a very reasonable price. Space is limited, however, because of me wanting to keep things in balance over here with my own kiddos and responsibilities/privileges.
As the instagram post below mentions, my kiddos and I had fun this week reading the Vietnamese folktale, The Fly. It opened up a lot of fun conversations about how to be clever with words and use them in creative, problem-solving, even funny ways.
Language Arts is such a GREAT way to sneak in some of those Big Juicy Conversations that we love to have over here… but you know something else I love to use Language arts for?
As a springboard for Art… art.
Today, staying in theme of flies, we decided to draw them.
Now, we do have a separate, more “classical” art curriculum that we use and enjoy. It officially covers things like shape and light and balance.
But there’s a time and a place for all types of learning, right?
If you don’t already know about, please check out Art for Kids Hub on Youtube. My 7 year old, especially, could watch several of their videos and just draw her day away!
Now, their channel isn’t an art curriculum, per se. But there is definitely value in learning basic things like step-by-step instructions, watching how people make and do certain techniques, etc. It’s nice to see a demo and to be able to pause and rewind if they need to see something again. There’s also a more immediate “look at this!” pride that comes from doing these little videos and being able to draw something in just a few minutes.
Art Hub has SO many videos of all different types of things to draw (and even simpler ones for pre-school ages) that you can more than likely find a video to incorporate in whatever you are learning about. (Hello there, unit study activity!)
With easy resources just a click away, there’s no reason to not incorporate a drawing or two on a Friday.
We do a LOT of “together learning” over here, so one would think that all the kiddos would be okay with breaking up and rotating through some one-on-one time for individualized language arts and math. But no…
Anytime I just needed to work with my 7 year old for a few minutes, the 4 year old and 18 month old would interrupt 24,301 times… drawing our simple 15 minute individual lessons WAY TOO long. Frustration would grow, and it just wasn’t happy. So, I started saving those quick lessons for 7 o’clock at night– after the two youngers went to bed. Uninterrupted, we breeze through the lessons, especially since E is excited that she gets to stay up “late.”After we finish the “leftoevers” from the day, I let her choose something she wants to learn with me. Sometimes, something from our learning from the morning inspires it… sometimes, it’s just her and her amazingly random interests.
It is so fun, sitting together, looking through resources, using keywords on Google to find articles. Of course, YouTube comes in super handy, too. (Depending on what she is wants to look up, I’m a little more careful about videos. Sometimes innocent-looking videos suddenly can throw language or content in there that I don’t prefer for her at her age.)
Here’s a sample of how nightschool looks for us most nights.
I honestly love what we are starting here. I love the collaborative feel of the last hour together. I love being free from distractions and just concentrating on her– my oldest. I love learning beside her, and fanning the flame on her interests. I hope she learns a lesson that is more important than spices or mummification or cricket or whatever it is that strikes her fancy– that learning doesn’t stop at a certain age.
That life itself is learning.
We just need to take whatever tools we have at our fingertips…