Welcome to our home education blog.

We, as a family, are continuing to define what home-school looks like in our home. Now in the 4th season of our journey, I see more changes on the horizon. 
The key, I think, is to believe in what we are doing, to re-define it continuously for ourselves, being open to the evolution of learning. To always explore. 
This blog is about that exploration. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flat Stanley fun.

We took a bunch of the Flat Stanley books out of our local library. Jack has been reading them for his silent reading the last few weeks, and really enjoying them. Today we decided to sit together and read one out loud. Jack picked the Flat Stanley and the magic lamp. 

It spawned many discussions, including these:
  • what we would wish for if we had 15 wishes
  • the adventures we would like to have
  • the types of hybrid pets we would like, the liophant is so cute
  • the relationship between Stanley and his brother Arthur, sibling rivalry and the specialness of brother-friends
  • what it would be like to be famous and have no privacy
  • consequences
  • similarities between this story and the Aladdin movies, which we have recently watched

I have been looking around for suggestions on how to do our own flat stanley project after seeing some awesome photos from the website galleries. I especially like this one with Clint and Stanley on the red carpet... I love Clint Eastwood! I wonder whose stanley he had with him. so cute!

In any case. We have a few ideas brewing if you have any ideas for us, let me know. This is a growing unit for us, I think. It could be big. Because I love the homeschoolshare.com resources here are some ideas for a lapbook to go along with furthering our interest in Stanley Lambchop. 

speaking of lambchops and sweetpeas...


In other news my kids have decided to eat spinach. weirdos! There is power in packaging! They are only interested in being strong like Popeye. I will take it, if it means my kids will eat something green. Solomon just showed me the sandwich he made with toast, cheese, jam and spinach... okay eww.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

education beyond our doors.

A recent visit with family in Saskatchewan opened a few more doors to discovery. 

A farm has such a wealth of learning opportunities, and a chance to explore and enjoy the sights and smells of animals. 

We had opportunities to feed and brush horses, and experienced a farm accident (Ephraim fell under the wheel of the pony wagon-wanting to play like the big boys) He is A-OK.

We pet and held a baby sheep and fell in love with the big Great Pyrenees, Snickers, who protects the flock.

We walked in with the giant Legacy bulls and tried with all our might to witness a calf be born, always missing it by a half hour! 

We weeped for a dead baby bunny found on the path.

We helped bottle feed 3 week old puppies who have been rejected by their momma. 

We learned the difference between hay and straw.

We treasure hunted in an abandoned old farm house.

We developed deeper connections with family that we see too rarely. Cousins, Aunties, Uncles, Great Grandma, Grandma and Grandpa.

We realized we didn't bring enough changes of clothes for everyone.. mucking about in pastures is dirty business. Phinehas spent a great deal of time sitting in puddles of unimaginable yuckiness. 

We stocked up on clothes and rubber boots at a small town thrift store.

We learned some new words, like brindle, which describes the colour of our dog, Lenny.

We tried out the weigh scale that Uncle Trevor uses to weigh the calves.

And we passed on some of our talents by teaching cousins to needle felt and making tutu's.

We are blessed by you Branvolds! Thank you for great memories and loads of learning. 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Values and Character

One aspect of our Olympic study that stood out for this Mom, was the code of ethics or Olympic creed, oath and individual olympian standards, character traits, values and etiquette expected and encouraged from participants throughout the games. And so we begin our new unit... 

Values To Live By.

Books we will read for this unit theme will include:

We have been loosely following the Konos curriculum  which breaks down unit studies according to character development themes.  For example, under the character value of self-control one might cover the topics of Body/appetite, Dance, Emotions, Poetry, Speech and Singing as weekly units. 

It is a wonderful curriculum that is geared towards multiage learning together and especially towards the boy learners, with lots of hands on activities. The beauty being also that you can cover one or two this year and then revisit the curriculum in later years again and cover other topics or the same topics to greater depth. 

I would love to find someone to use Konos with in a co-op setting as it is a lot of work to prep for just us... which is why I use it more as a resource and am loosely following it's lesson plans with much liberty taken in my own tangents. 

Kudos to my sister-in-law, Cindy, who introduced us to Konos and graciously lends us her books! 

Being that I am planning to do a unit covering a multitude of values... I am picking and choosing from the Konos activities and themes to best illustrate our general focus on each. Believing that in the future, when we re-visit them as complete units, we will have a memory of this mini theme, and that we will have developed a few of the all important values like playing fairly and thinking of others first and attentiveness... I can dream.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Luge riders... what a scary fast sport. 

Most of the work on the Olympic lap book is done by Jack but we have all worked on it together, from colouring, cutting, researching, cheering for and watching olympic coverage on TV to trying out sports that are new to us, exciting and dangerous.  We had much help from the resources found on the side bar under olympic unit theme. It is amazing to find such awesome helps on-line. It is also the first time we have done a lap book together, the boys did one at co-op last year about the rain forest but I was otherwise engaged singing pre-school finger songs... this is all new to me (not unlike scrapbooking though) fun.

We read lots about ancient greece in preparation also. One of the books we really enjoyed was The Greek News made to read like a newspaper, it covers (lightly) lots of the everyday lives of ancient Greeks in the 800b.c.-300b.c. era. (It even had an article about homeschooling vs. formal schooling for boys - girls were homeschooled exclusively...)

It gave us ideas for some crafts.

- Olive leaf wreaths to crown the olympic winners.
- Greek style jars with painted figures depicting our favourite modern day olympic sports.
- Designing our own symbols (depicting our qualities and characteristics) Zeus is represented with a lightning bolt and an eagle.
- Jack also felted an eagle and the boys made a model of Mt. Olympus out of cups.
- of course a podium and medals for the stuffies as well.

(doesn't Mt. Olympus look majestic in the morning sun light?)

One aspect of the lap book is to learn a little about each of the sports. We found this neat video showing how a curling stone is made, which answered all our questions about curling. (not exactly what the purpose of it is... but a nice appreciation for the stones....)

Some of the other activities that have made this unit interesting, have been trips to the library to find books about winter sports. We are keeping a log of what we read during the olympics as well as making personal goals in other areas, like math for the month of February. We are hoping to reach gold in achieving those goals. Video games with an Olympic winter games theme; keeping track of medals earned in the Olympics and researching deeper our favourite Canadian Athletes. 
We have read a bit in the bible about the olympic too, which is pretty cool.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I found this video to go along with a "canadian version"
Much of the resources we find for our units have an american bent to them, so finding some canadian content is important to us. I also bought this beautifully illustrated book, Life in the Boreal Forest. We are planning to make a lap book on our habitats unit but my printer is not responding to our new location... and so while we wait for tech help (Cristina, where are you?!)

Our habitats unit has taken us all over the place, beginning in the beautiful world of coral reefs. We have been making a couple of barrier reef dioramas and taking a closer look at some of the animals that call a reef their home. One thing that has caught Solomon's interest is all the partnering relationships in the ocean. 

Symbiotic relationships are found everywhere, so our discovery has taken us in that direction for the time being. Which also creates interest in the food chain and exploring what habitats provide the animals that live there and how animals adapt to their habitat changing etc etc...

There are so many paths to branch out on with this unit. It really has been a fun journey to welcome us back into the groove. It is good to be back to learning together! 

Friday, September 11, 2009

Exploring has taken us into new territory.

My two oldest children started public school this week. 
While we get things in order; financial things, moving things, emotional things, mental health things, stressful things. I was finding too much going on and that I was easily overwhelmed and dysfunctional when it came to school. Unmotivated to motivate. I need a "pick up the pieces" break. Mike and I are at peace with our decision to enroll the boys in the local community learning facility... They are blessed to be in the same class and have a really nice teacher-this based on two days observation... but I am trusting my gut instincts, which is what it's all about.

As my friend Audrey said, "It's for the greater good." 

As my sister-in-law, Cindy says  "Even if it is a bad experience (public school) it will be a good experience." 

We learn where ever we are, after all. We will not stop learning from home during this deviance from our ideal world, into the "real" world, as some may have it. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

twinkle twinkle little star

This is our stepping off spot to our year of Local Canadian History. If you have any resource suggestions to send our way throughout the year we will greatly appreciate your input. I am excited to explore Canada's First People with the boys.
(edited to add: I realize that the Black Lodge Singers are american, but the Pow Wow is very much a "local" tradition)