Falling Into Our Winter Homeschool Rhythm
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Our second week back from winter break was a busy one. We added a bit more of our academic subjects in, went on a day-long field trip, finished two more projects from the Rooted Childhood January collection, and spent the weekend romping in the snow at my grandparents’ house in Monument.
As busy as it felt, we weren’t overwhelmed or worn out from it. I feel like we maintained a really good balance between our core subject work and elements of “enchanted education.” The grip I felt on the first grade year has eased with time and I am learning to balance things better.
Making Millefiori Beads with Rooted Childhood
One of the first activities we did this week was to make the millefiori beads from Rooted Childhood’s January collection. I hadn’t worked with polymer clay in ages and it felt good to work so hard with my hands again. Blake was quick to pick up the technique and created several beautiful designs, inspired by the suggestions in the guide. We decided to poke holes through each bead so Blake could make them into a necklace for her friend Angela.
While they baked in the oven, the girls played outside. Then Blake got to work stringing her beads together. It was a satisfying activity. It took longer than the other projects have so far, and the effort paid off for Blake. She was so proud of the gift she made!
Kicking Off Our Homeschool Science Unit on Rocks and Minerals
We kicked off our homeschool science unit on rocks and minerals from Blossom and Root First Grade: Wonders of the Earth and Sky. We’d taken our time on the foundations of Earth science during the first semester, examining the layers of the Earth and learning about plate tectonics and were ready to deep-dive into rocks this month.
We began this week with crystals and minerals, looking through our collection, studying several samples under our mircroscope, and making crystals. For Christmas, we had been gifted a “moon crystal” making kit (a crystal kit with blue dye) so we assembled it together. Well, it’s been eight days now and nothing’s happened except that the dry Colorado air is making the water level in the bin drop dramatically each day—-this kit might be a dud.
Homeschool Field Trip to the National Western Stock Show
Tuesday was free day at the National Western Stock Show so, naturally, we took the day off for a field trip. Despite the free admission, most areas were nearly empty and we felt like we had the place to ourselves. The girls rode ponies, we watched cattle roping and talked about how this skill was used historically (and in modern times), saw hundreds of animals up-close and personal, and participated in many of the activities set up for children.
At the end of the day, we were all quite tired and happy. It had been awhile since we had been on such a long field trip, but it was wonderful. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to jump right in when opportunities like this arrive.
Getting Into Our Winter Homeschool Rhythm
For Blake, we decided to take a mini-break from Singapore Math as she wrapped up the unit on numbers 11 – 20. We’ve been plugging along all year, and she’s been doing really well, but we felt like we needed to throw in something a little different during the mid-winter grind.
Blake’s been very interested in money and commerce, so I bought the Moffat Girls first grade money unit from Teachers Pay Teachers for us to work through for the next month. So far, it’s a hit! She’s really enjoying the change of pace. I like the change of energy but dislike how much printing was involved with the unit (so much paper!) There are lots of hands-on activities we can add to a money unit, and so many great games to play, so I’m sure it’ll all balance out.
We read the story of Aladdin for Blossom and Root First Grade: The Stories We Tell. Aladdin is one of those funny instances when I prefer the Disney version to the classic fairytale (it doesn’t happen often.) Why? Because the character of Aladdin in the Blue Fairy Book is a creep. I read it anyway. I wanted to have a chance to compare the two different versions of his character with Blake to see what she thought about it.
I think as homeschoolers we sometimes have this knee-jerk reaction to just avoid literature that rubs us the wrong way. But when we do, we often miss the opportunity to have really great conversations with our kids about important things, like character and our family values.
For Brice this week, we read Mike Mulligan and continued reviewing the letters. Brice really loves the little chalkboard I snagged at Michael’s in December. It’s opened something up in her. She never used to enjoy drawing, and now she’ll draw and erase and draw again for hours if she gets to use that little chalkboard. It’s funny how children react to different materials.
Our Evening Routine for Winter
This winter, I’ve introduced a new evening routine. After dinner, and before we get ready for bed, I’ve added in something I call “candle time.” We gather at the cleared dining room table, I light a candle, and we model with beeswax, draw, or paint with watercolors. Sometimes I play soft music, sometimes we just talk about our day. I always participate, too. This usually lasts between ten and twenty minutes.
This little moment together has already started to change the tone at bedtime. It’s really helping all of us to transition between our busy homeschool day and our bedtime routine. We slow down, connect, and embrace the calm of nighttime.
After we blow the candle out, we go upstairs and the girls get ready for bed. I tell them a story—- sometimes with props (like our adorable seed babies), and sometimes without them. Sometimes I read from our winter book basket instead. I try to keep the light low and the mood calm. The last thing we do is sing our seasonal songs together. Here’s what they are for winter this year:
- “Land of the Silver Birch”
- “The North Wind Doth Blow”
- “The Mitten Song”
I learned all of these from Lorraine Nelson Wolf’s Come Follow Me albums. We usually start there when we choose our seasonal lullabies.
Constellation Embroidery with Rooted Childhood
On Friday, we were supposed to leave early in the day to drive down to Monument for a weekend with my grandparents. The “light dusting” we were forecasted to have turned out to be a very heavy, wet snowstorm and driving was not much fun. We ended up staying put for the day (a good decision, as hundreds of cars were stuck or involved in accidents that day in the area where we were headed!)
Since it felt like a perfectly cozy day during which to make things, we decided to do the constellation embroidery project from Rooted Childhood’s January collection. We watched Little Women while we worked, and it ended up being a really peaceful, restful day. I feel like we needed that after our busy week.
A Weekend at Gigi’s House (with Lots of Deer and Snow!)
On Saturday, the roads seemed better so we continued with our original plan and drove up to Monument. The girls spent the whole weekend playing in the deep snow that covered my grandparents’ back yard. Good snow gear really makes a difference—-they spent several hours outside, both days we were there, and never wanted to come in.
We were also visited by a large herd of does passing through, and the girls got to watch cross-country skiers coming and going throughout the weekend. It was a winter wonderland!
Resources We Used This Week:
- Rooted Childhood
- Brave Writer
- Blossom and Root Early Years Vol. 2
- Blossom and Root First Grade
- Moffat Girls First Grade Money Unit
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