Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!


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Homeschool/Unschool Plan for 2018

We’re going into our second year of homeschooling.  By January 27th Beekee and Sander will have been home for an entire year.  That’s super exciting for me.  True, I’ve been homeschooling Luca right along, but it feels like we’re really making a statement working as a family like this.  It’s definitely a lot of fun.

So what’s our plan for 2018?  I suppose I really should go over that, if for no one else, then for me.  It’ll be good to have a record of a plan here because this is kind of becoming my record of things we’ve done.  It’s also fun to share it with the world.

The first thing I plan to do, once tax money comes in, is purchase the next level of Math U See.  I’m really loving the way they teach subjects.  Thankfully, I only need to pick up the workbook for Luca, given he’ll be moving into the same level that Sander’s already in.  I’ve got to pick up the “level up” kit for Sander, given I’ll want the teacher’s guide to go with it.  I don’t really use the teacher’s guide, so I suppose I could get by without it, but it’s good to refer back to if I’ve got any questions.  The same goes with the lesson DVD.  Sometimes the kids get it better when they can see the lesson explained in a way I can’t do it, because I’m just figuring it out with them.  Then I’ve got to get the kit for Beekee with the fractions stuff.  I’m a little intimidated to do fractions with him, because I always hated fractions, but it’s good that he’ll be learning by Math U See.  I really like the way they teach math.

We’re also going to continue with our phonics lessons.  Luca and Sander are both cruising through Primary Phonics.  All three of them are working with Explode the Code.  It’s been working well for them.  As much as I would like to say they’ll learn to read when they learn to read, I think this really works for us for now.  We may reassess the plan as we get further into it, but we’re going to stick with it.

I know those two aren’t particularly related to unschooling, which is where I wanted to get back to this year, but we’re definitely working towards unschooling.  I’m thinking we’re going to transition to just doing those two books by the start of summer, when I give up on the other books for the year anyway.  I think instead we’re going to start working on making sure we’ve got plenty of science stuff in the house.  For geography I think I’m going to start looking into fun projects we can do for each state.  I would love to be able to do something global, and maybe we’ll look into something more global (anyone have any good ideas for that?) but for now we’re going to stick with the country we’re a part of.  Once they’ve got a good understanding of the place we live in, we’ll expand from there.  Besides, it might be fun for the kids to figure out which states they want to visit when they get older.  You never know, we may even be able to set money aside in a year or two to take a family trip somewhere, and knowing the states would definitely help us plan what we wanted to see.

We’re going to stick with Story of the World for history, if for no other reason than the kids actually like it.  We’re planning to back it up with some other reading about the time period.  We’re getting into the middle ages, which is always fun for kids.  There’s nothing as exciting as learning about knights and castles.  Maybe we’ll map out our own castle grounds or something like that.  I bet that would be fun. Story of the World is a great way to introduce more topics, even if it is heavily Christian.  We’re not a Christian family, so that makes it a little more challenging, but I don’t want to exclude anything.  Since history is so seriously wrapped up with Christianity, it may not hurt at this point to have Christian history thrown in.  It helps understand what the world was really like.  And since we’re outside of the realm of the Bible, it’s not like I have to explain Bible stories that the kids don’t actually know about.  Still, it’s a great place to start.

What I really need to do is start looking into books with science experiments for kids.  I’m sure there are plenty out there.  Anything we can do at home would be a lot of fun, but stuff we can do outside will be great for the warmer weather.  Besides, I really love science, and even if I can’t explain why something happens, it’s definitely fun to see what does.  You can always look up the why later.

For physical fitness we’re starting to use Just Dance on the Wii U.  It’s not a super complex workout or anything, but it’s a lot of fun and it gets the kids moving when it’s really too cold to be out in the winter.  And by too cold I mean it’s 16°F (-9°C), feels like 1°F (-17°C), and that’s the warmest it’s been all week.  Actually, in comparison to how cold it’s been over the past week, this is positively tropical!

We’re also planning to do some more physical fitness type stuff when we can fit it in.  We want to go ice skating when we can.  It’s not super cheap to take the whole family, so we may not get to go often this year, but we’ll definitely try to go when we can.  In the spring I’m going to start running.  I think I’m going to invite the kids to come with me.  We’re not going to go very fast or for very long, but running is a good lifestyle.  Plus, there are some 5k runs that have spots available for kids.  I think it would be really fun to do a 5k as a family one of these days.  I think it would be great for all of us.  On top of all that, I’m going to start looking for places we can go on nature walks.  There may not be many options easy to get to from here, but we’ll do what we can.  And then there’s the plan for swimming in the summer.  We’re planning to get beach passes, and to make the most out of them.  We’ll have to get the kids new swimsuits for this year, but we’ll worry about that as the weather starts to turn warmer.  We’ve got a lot of physical stuff we can do, so I’m not too worried about that.

If we can manage, we’re also going to try and swing a membership to the Museum of Science, which means we’ll be spending a lot of time at the museum too.  We’ll be there at least once a month when the weather is warm enough to hop the train.  That’s going to provide tons of learning opportunities, which the kids will definitely love.

So that’s our plan for 2018.  I’m feeling pretty good about it.  We’re definitely going into the new year on a much better track than we were last year.  I’ve got a bit more of an idea of what works and what doesn’t work.  I think things are just going to keep getting better from here on in!

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New Year’s Day 2018: The LEGO Build Day

Given we had so many LEGO kits for Christmas from my parents, we decided to take a day to build some of them, and not all of them got built because we had other things to do, but the last one will be finished tomorrow, so yay for that!

This is Chomp-Chomp-McGomp-Gomp, or so Luca decided to name him. I’m not really sure what he is, but there are two of them, one black and one brown. They look pretty cool if you ask me!

This is Luca playing with the kit before it’s even done. He couldn’t wait to get a chance to play with it. If there’s one thing LEGO kits teach kids, it’s patience. Even if they aren’t doing it themselves, they have to wait until it’s done.

And this is called “Mom messed it up so now it’s on Dad to figure out what she did wrong and fix it.” After this point he claimed the whole set and did it all for me. I suppose I can’t complain about that. I still got to do the set I wanted to do.

This is what it looks like completed.  I’m not entirely sure what the kit is because I really don’t remember the movie that well (what can I say?  I’m a bad Star Wars fan…) but Luca really likes playing with it.  We’ll see how long it lasts in one piece before it gets broken up into it’s components.  Hopefully it lasts for a little while.

This is Sander spilling out all his LEGO pieces on the table.  He wasn’t entirely sure what to make of all that stuff.  It was a pretty large kit, and totally more complicated than he was ready to handle.  He got to all of step 15 (out of 136) and decided to give up.  I had to finish it for him, which I didn’t mind because LEGO kits are fun!

While we were doing LEGO stuff, Luca was mixing the batter for our pancake dinner.  It was a team effort to get them done.  Corde put the ingredients together, Luca mixed, and Oz did the cooking.  What a way to start the year.

This is Sander when he was still interested in building his kit.  He did pretty well, but Little Big Planet sounded like too much fun, so that’s what he did.

 

This is the completed project.  It’s some kind of TIE interceptor, from the looks of it.  I’m not exactly up on the new movie tech.  I absolutely loved building it.  It looks amazing too.  I’m really going to be upset if they pull this one apart…

This one I’m throwing in because Beekee took the picture.  That’s Nika in my lap, and the rare picture of Oz and me together.  There aren’t many pictures of either of us out there, so it’s sometimes nice to have one.  Plus, Beekee got to take the photo, which he was really excited about.  We may have to get the kids into photography this year!

And this is what Nika thinks about the new year.  She’s not normally a cuddle pup, but today she was so relaxed in my lap that she fell asleep, with her paw in her face.  She’s such a silly pup!

And since she was in the mood for lap sitting, she took a moment to cuddle up with Luca too, who was very happy to have a pup in his lap.  He and Nika are pretty close, which is cool.  At the same time, I know he’s going to be heartbroken when she eventually passes because of that.  Thankfully that’s a good long ways away.

So what does this have to do with homeschooling?  Well, LEGO kits teach patience and engage the brain to put them together.  Cooking is a fun thing to do with homeschooling.  Then there’s photography.  I’m always amazed at what we do on a daily basis that falls under “homeschooling”, well, more unschooling, but you get the idea.  Life long learners for the win!


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Some Highlights of 2017

What can I say, it’s been an awesome year, and a great year of being back to homeschooling.  As you may (or may not) remember, the year started with the kids in school.  Well, it’s ending the right way.  Only Corde’s going back in the new year, and we’re not even sure for how long that’s going to be.

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We did a lot of interesting things this year.  The kids had their first martial arts classes.  As much as I loved taking them to jujitsu, they didn’t exactly love it.  We ended up quitting that, and the kids really seem happier for it.  However, I won’t count it as a failure.  They tried it.  They didn’t love it.  We moved on.  I mean, I suppose we could have made it possible for Beekee and Luca to keep going, but with the frequency they wanted to stay home, it wouldn’t really be worth it for one or two days a month.  On to better things, right?

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We ended up doing some pretty cool things at the library this year.  We went to a KEVA plank build day.  We went for a couple of LEGO build days.  Then there was the leadership program Beekee was a part of, where he got a citation from the state representative.  They really made the most out of our library this year.

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Corde made her first muffins this year, which she was super proud of.  Since then she’s made cookies and brownies quite a few times.  She even did really well at the culinary program at her school!

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There was also that summer like day in February.  I still can’t believe we were able to go out with shorts and short sleeves in February!  They all thought it was kind of cool to be able to walk through snow in summer wear.  I can’t blame them.  When does that ever happen around here?

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Corde had many looks this year, but the biggest change of all was getting her first pair of glasses.  Thankfully, she loves them and thinks they make quite the statement.  She’s lost (and found) them a couple of times, but she’s gotten pretty used to them.  On top of that, she graduated middle school!

 

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Luca had an oral surgery this year, which took most of his top teeth, but he was such a trooper through the whole thing.  At first he was upset and wanted his baby teeth back, but then he got a Toothless (the dragon from How to Train Your Dragon) and that made it all better.  Now he’s perfectly happy with his cute little smile!

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For Independence Day we went to see the fireworks on the Charles River.  This is becoming quite the family tradition.  We’ve gone every year since we’ve moved up here, and we may even go in the next year too.  The only down side was losing Sander’s DS in the river, but it could be worse.  His DS and the game were replaced for his birthday and Christmas this year, so he’s got them back again.

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One of the highlights of the year was the trip to Fort Warren with my dad and my sister.  Not only was it the first time the kids were ever on a boat, but they really loved the old historic fort.  I think their favorite part was getting to explore the darkened rooms with flashlights, but what kid wouldn’t love that?

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We had not one, but two trips to the Children’s Museum this year too!  Talk about fun!  I don’t think this place will ever get old.  I can see them wanting to come back as teens and hoping they can find any little kid they know that wants to go.  I can’t blame them.  There’s so much to do there!

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I think one of the things the kids loved the most was the WWII reenactment.  It was rainy and gross at the start, but it was great to see the tanks roll out.  The mock battle was pretty good too.  I think this is one thing the kids will be talking about for years.  Who knows?  Maybe we can wrangle enough people to go again!

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After walking the Freedom Trail on a positively frigid day, we got to do something Sander and Luca had never done before, and we hope becomes a part of our winter traditions, skating at the Frog Pond.  Okay, so we’ll probably go to the place closer to home, but it was definitely fun.  We want to get the whole family to go next time.

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Let’s not forget the epic gaming day on Christmas.  We played so many games all week.  I think we’d all forgotten how much fun family gaming night can be.  We’ll definitely have to do that more often.

So that was our epic year.  I hope yours has been a great one too.  I’m not sure if we’re going to do this again every year, but for this year, at least, it was fun.  Now it’s time to kick back in my nice warm house and enjoy the rest of the evening.  It’s cold out there and we’re glad to be home, even if we don’t last until midnight.


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Because It’s Cold Out

This year we’re really looking forward to finding some more unschooling types of opportunities.  We want to get away from the traditional book schooling as much as possible so we can hopefully break away from it entirely.  At least that’s the goal.

We wanted to start out this weekend with ice skating at the local rink, but it looks like that’s not happening.  It was 10°F (-12°C) out there with a -9°F (-22°C) wind chill.  It’s expected to be about the same all week, which is not exactly the ideal kind of temperature to go ice skating in.

In truth, we’re finding it’s not the temperature to do much of anything, really.  The kids want to be sitting up on the chairs in the living room because they’re soft, comfy, and warm.  They don’t want their feet on the floor where the icy draft blows.  It’s especially tough because they like to work on the floor in the living room, which is the coldest floor in the house.  It means we won’t be doing much work out there until the temperature rises.  I don’t want the kids to be freezing.

Next week Corde goes back to school.  It isn’t going to be much warmer then.  (I guess I’d better get her hat finished!)  I kind of wish she didn’t have to be standing out in the cold waiting for that bus in this weather.  It has me wishing she would make up her mind on homeschooling.  Then she wouldn’t have to be out in that cold, but the experience of the exploratory shops is good for her, so there is something to be said about that.

I think if we get back to “school” next week we’ll probably be working in the kitchen, with the space heater out there to warm our toes while we work.  It’s not as drafty as the living room, but it’s still not exactly warm.  We’ll probably be working with hot chocolate, just for the fun of it.

This cold is definitely putting a damper on the things we wanted to do this winter.  We don’t exactly want to be out in the cold.  I think this means next year we’ll have to plan ahead, just in case.  We just weren’t expecting this cold so soon!


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Christmas 2017

This was our tree this year.  In the past we’ve done a different “tree” for each of the kids, but this year it only made too much sense not to.  All their gifts fit under the same tree.  That’s the first time it’s happened in a while, but hopefully not the last.  We didn’t get a lot this year, but it was good.  It felt like just the right amount of stuff for all of them.

Sander used to be obsessed with trains.  He’s not as into trains as much as he used to be, but it’s still a thing for him.  It was only too fitting that there was a train game waiting under the tree for him!

This was one of the few pictures I managed to get of Corde for Christmas, and a picture of Beekee too.  You can see some of their loot piled up, not much, but something.  They each got two Pokemon decks, which is what that was about.

Nika even got a present, well, only one that she really got early on.  She got a stocking full of dog toys too, but that didn’t get the attention that the bone did!  She already bit off a hunk of it that she carries around the house.  That one’s going to last her a while!

Luca’s favorite gift this year was Just Dance 2016.  They loved the Just Dance game they got from the library, so we decided to pick it up for them.  The thought was it’s physical activity, so it will keep the kids active.  I mean, they don’t really need something to keep them active, but it’s good in the winter when the weather isn’t great for getting out.

This is how excited Luca was to be opening presents.  Can you tell Pokemon was a theme?  They got a lot of Pokemon cards this year.

It wasn’t long after the presents were opened when this happened.  We hadn’t even had breakfast when they started playing.  They were super excited to get back into playing again.  They even taught Sander to play.  Luca tried but got bored pretty early into it.  That kind of patience takes time to develop.

However, he did have plenty of patience for checkers, with help, of course.  They got special Mario Bros. checkers, which made it extra fun.  The “king” pieces are hats.  They had an incredible time of it.

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While waiting for breakfast we got into Ticket to Ride.  The kids had a blast with it.  Luca and I played on a team, but Luca got bored after a while.  We continued to play without him.  Everyone really enjoyed it.  I won by a nose!

Someone rolled a twelve when we were playing, and if you know anything about Settlers of Catan, you know that meant there were a lot of sheep right at that moment.  I had more sheep than I knew what to do with!  It’s fitting that a knitter would get all the sheep!  If only it were real sheep…

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I’m pretty sure we weren’t quite playing to the rules, but for a first time out of the box (and having not played since before Corde was born) we did pretty well.  It was a lot of fun.  At the start it seemed like it was going to be a really long game, but it picked up quickly.  Once again, I won.  It seems to be a theme of the day, but everyone had a good time (except for Luca and Sander who were playing video games).

Then there was Beekee’s chess set.  He got one of those chess sets that folds in on itself.  One of the clips on it is broken so we may have to get it replaced, but he had a good time learning how to play.  I still won (though I was trying to let him win!)  He was a pretty good sport of it though.  I told him to keep practicing and he’ll be beating me in no time!

Luca couldn’t let Beekee be the only one that played chess.  He did pretty good, though I did guide him through what moves he should probably make.  I think remembering what all those pieces do was a bit much for a first try out, but Luca did well.  We wound up with a stalemate, which Luca decided was close enough to winning.

Finally, there was my fortune from our traditional Chinese food dinner.  Luca, Sander, and Beekee (the picky ones) had hamburgers, while Oz, Corde, and I ordered Chinese.  Beekee actually ate some of the Chinese food, which Corde said was too spicy for her.  Then I got this fortune and couldn’t help but laugh.  What better fortune could you get on a day like today?

No, not quite the end.  I had to share what our shepherd thought of the snow earlier today.  Yes, we got a white Christmas (we had one 4 years ago in Texas too!)  She’s such a silly pup!


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Highlights of Yesterday and A Little from Today

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This was yesterday.  All the kids got handmade bottle holders for when we go out places, that way I wouldn’t have to hold their water bottles for them.  It’s a great idea, and they look super cute.  Also, look at that, I’m in a picture!

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They got some pretty awesome stuff.  There were only a couple pictures of Beekee, but I swear, he does exist!  Here’s proof!

Also, that Mario Uno game, they’ve played it a few times now.  It seems like it’s pretty fun.  It’s got a couple specialty rules, which makes it different from other versions of the game, I guess.  Whatever the difference, they really like it.

There’s a picture of Sander and Luca with their loot in there, and Corde (also proof that Corde does exist!)  They’ve been busy with their toys all day today too, which is nice.

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This is the picture I was talking about yesterday.  See that dive into the bag?  He was bound and determined to get those presents without help!

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And the final picture, just how far into the bag Luca actually went!  Ignore my messy house, but I thought the picture was pretty darn cute!

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And we made cookies tonight.  Luca has determined that these are cookies for Santa.  We haven’t mentioned the Santa thing at all this year, but I think he picked it up from Christmas movies.  Whatever, we’re going with it.  Imagination is everything in this case.

And the picture is dark, but we’ve already got presents under the tree!  This is a first for us.  Usually the presents end up going out late at night, after the kids go to bed.  That’s because I wait to wrap everything until last minute.  This year we actually got on it early, so there’s something under the tree on Christmas Eve!

It’s not long before everyone is off to bed and waiting for Christmas when they can open everything up.  This has already been a fantastic Christmas Eve!

 


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Christmas, Round 1

My aunt and uncle came over today to do their presents with the kids.  They normally do their gifts on Christmas Eve, but without having a car we can’t get out to the Christmas Eve event.  Instead they come to us, generally the weekend before Christmas.  It certainly makes for a different experience then when we’d get the gifts in the mail in Texas.

This was Luca’s favorite toy this year.  We could probably cancel the rest of Christmas and he would be good with it because he’s got a Toothless.  I had no idea they even made this stuff.  Luca loves all his other toys, but this by and far takes the cake.

Sander and Beekee both got some Star Wars LEGO sets.  They’re always a hit with the kids.  The kits never stay built long, but they love having all the pieces to build with.  When they some day decide they no longer want the LEGOs here I think we’re going to donate them to the library for their LEGO days.  We could easily triple the amount of LEGOs they have if we donated them now!  If the kids keep getting them we could supply everyone and then some!  They really have a lot of LEGOs.

Look at this!  An actual picture of Beekee!  When does that ever happen?  I swear, he’s the hardest kid to get a picture of.  He’s holding one of his favorite pieces.  They all got a couple of these “block head” people to build.  They’re really pretty cool.  We’re debating on getting some glue and making them permanent so we can set them all out on display.  We’ll see if that ends up happening.

And I can’t forget Corde.  You don’t see much of her anymore.  Still, I didn’t want to leave her out.  She got a whole bunch of art supplies for Christmas, pens, markers, and some really awesome coloring books.  This is just one of them.  They’re so detailed!  I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of her coloring book collection.  I may just have to get some of them for myself!

On top of all their favorite stuff, they also got a whole bunch of card games.  We’re going to have games to play for days, which should be fun.  I think we’re going to start including a lot more game time in our “homeschooling.”  It teaches kids so many skills, strategy, math sometimes, teamwork for some games, and definitely patience.  I’ll probably be posting more about the games we play when we start playing them.  That may be something we do tomorrow before we start baking.  We’ll see if we get to it.

So Christmas has only started for us and we’re already off to a wild start.  I wish I had pictures of some of the highlights, but I wasn’t able to catch any.  Maybe I’ll share some when my uncle sends me some, like Luca diving into the bottom of his bag to get more presents.  They really had a lot of fun with it.  I can’t wait to see what they think of their presents on Christmas Day!