Somehow I got hugely distracted this weekend, which is never a good thing. No lesson planning has been done (yet!), since I was without internet for most of yesterday, and the little bit of time I had online was spent shopping, eek. However, the end result was several lovely new Etsy purchases, so I can't exactly complain.

First, I gave some thought to a setting up a proper nature/seasonal table. Even though the kids are older, I think it is still something that we will enjoy. Maddie, in particular, greatly enjoys collecting "treasures" outdoors and is always bringing me little gifts. I'm particularly inspired by KnechtRuprechtDolls' tables on Flickr. They're simple, yet enchanting.

To begin with, I purchased this simple twig structure from Syrendell:

Then, several gnomes from Luna Farm Creations. This is Sprout:

Midnight (for use during the full moon each month):

Lastly, the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water:

Naturally this is only the beginning and I've already spent hours browsing on Etsy for ideas, trying to narrow down decisions. My absolute favorite gnomes come from PaintingPixie, here are some of her past creations:

They are absolutely breathtaking, each is such a work of art! Sadly, she doesn't have any for sale at the moment, but I'll be watching her shop carefully for new listings or I may custom order a few (though they're all so adorable, I wouldn't even know where to begin!).

We also purchased this gorgeous Earth Mother doll (inspired by one of our favorite Elsa Beskow books, Children of the Forest) from Nushkie:

And lastly (for now!), some adorable wooden figures from Mama Kopp:

Honestly I'm not sure what is going on with our silkworms these days. Yesterday I transferred them into a much larger box, hoping to end the rampant cannibalism that has been taking place. However, this morning we awoke to find fresh corpses, which is quite distressing (they're getting plenty of food, which makes it even more perplexing). Oddly enough, we also currently have several silkworms that are itty-bitty (about 1/4" long), while others are virtual giants - easily 3" long and as fat as 3 or 4 smaller silkworms put together. Then we have one short 'n chunky little worm that has already started spinning a cocoon, while the larger worms seem to have no interest in cocooning.

This little zebra-striped guy is our favorite (and the only one of our worms that is striped):

Cocooning action:

As silkworms spin their cocoon, they move their head in a figure-eight pattern:

Only 30 minutes later and a lot of progress has been made:

This silkworm seems to be thinking about starting a cocoon:

And these guys are molting:

Saturday, as predicted, we had a snow day. This was what our backyard looked like when we woke up:

Naturally the boys wasted no time in going outside to sled and roll some giant snowballs:

Maddie busied herself collecting cool ice formations. Here she examines the ice she pried off of my husband's license plate:

Meanwhile, the cats knew how best to spend their day!

This week we were back to school "as usual" and had what seemed like a very productive week. In History we learned about Moses, the Israelites in slavery, and the Exodus. We began reading Tirzah by Lucille Travis, about a 12-year-old Hebrew girl whose family flees captivity with Moses. We read more about the Egyptians in the Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, watched Episode 1 of Empires: Kingdom of David: The Israelites, The Ten Commandments and wrote about the Israelites in captivity.

In Math, we completed a lesson per day and divided our week between Rod & Staff for Grammar and CLE for Reading. Memorywork and copywork this week was the poem Spring Song by L.M. Montgomery. Maddie memorized the first four stanzas, while the boys worked on the first two. We started Sequential Spelling, finished our first IEW Ancient History writing lesson and completed another lesson from Excavating English.

For Science, we read the first chapter of The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way; we also completed another lesson in Philosophy for Kids.

Friday, today, was a light day since it was my birthday and because it looked like this outside:

No, that's not snow - it's sleet and we have a lot of it! They'd been predicting a massive blizzard today, which is crazy since we were having perfect Spring weather only a few days ago. Then again, this is Kansas! Naturally I'd already packed away our winter clothes last weekend, feeling certain we were done with the cold weather. We've still got snow coming tonight, though hopefully not too, too much.

Elon, always the resourceful one, put some cups outside to gather clean ice, then transformed it into "snow cones" for everyone (using some Torani cherry syrup). I warned them that they probably shouldn't eat it, but naturally he did anyway:

The kids spent the remainder of the afternoon getting sugared up on my birthday cupcakes:

LOL, they were selected by my husband because A) my favorite color is red and B) he thought the "3" and "2" cupcakes could be set aside for me since I turned 32 (unfortunately he failed to inform me of his clever plan and those were the first two cupcakes the kids ate!).

While the kids had their fun, I spent a leisurely afternoon browsing the new Sonlight catalog and using up my birthday Amazon gift cards (yay for those!). Next week promises to be crazy busy as we'll begin using the EarthSchooling Waldorf Enrichment curriculum I ordered (belatedly celebrating Nowruz, for starters) and preparing for our little road trip, while somehow continuing our regular lessons. Yikes!

Spring Song by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Hark, I hear a robin calling!
List, the wind is from the south!
And the orchard-bloom is falling
Sweet as kisses on the mouth.

In the dreamy vale of beeches
Fair and faint is woven mist,
And the river's orient reaches
Are the palest amethyst.

Every limpid brook is singing
Of the lure of April days;
Every piney glen is ringing
With the maddest roundelays.

Come and let us seek together
Springtime lore of daffodils,
Giving to the golden weather
Greeting on the sun-warm hills.

Ours shall be the moonrise stealing
Through the birches ivory-white;
Ours shall be the mystic healing
Of the velvet-footed night.

Ours shall be the gypsy winding
Of the path with violets blue,
Ours at last the wizard finding
Of the land where dreams come true.

This week was a short week because my husband decided on Wednesday that the kids should be allowed a spring break (the neighborhood kids were out of school this week), so we completed only 2 days of school. In addition to our regular lessons, we continued our study of Ireland. We read more from The King of Ireland's Son, which the kids are enjoying as it incorporates many Irish fairy tales and legends. We also read from Shamrocks, Harps, and Shillelaghs and Pot o' Gold: A Treasury of Irish Stories, Poetry, Folklore and (of course) Blarney (an excellent book which I'm so happy I purchased!). Copywork was poetry from the latter and the kids learned about the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. We also watched several documentaries, including Patrick, The Celts: Rich Traditions and Ancient Myths (long and a bit boring) and another film about St. Patrick on History International. The kids completed a packet of Ireland-related worksheets incorporating extra math and language arts assignments, as well as a few coloring pages, puzzles and mazes. I also assigned reading from this month's Calliope magazine (which was about Ireland) and we listened to Irish music all week. We had planned for an Irish dinner that didn't materialize and never got around to any crafts, but were busy nonetheless! I think we're all getting pretty tired of Ireland though. :-)

On their days off the kids stayed quite busy with a number of projects. Jaymon helped a neighbor boy dig/prepare a large garden (now all the neighborhood kids want gardens!)...while neglecting to do his own. He & Dominic started some additional seeds and he made great progress training his new bird, Ace.

Maddie watched entirely too much anime online (though she's learning some Japanese from it and does read all the subtitles!), experimented with new hairstyles and exchanged Sora for a friendlier bird she named Sunshine. She also played Lego's intermittently, coming up with some stunning creations, and "invented" a new snack - Wheat Thins smeared with peanut butter, topped by a jumbo chocolate chip.

Elon was probably busiest of all (as usual!), here's an example of what he did today:
  • Started creating chain mail rings from some heavy gauge wire (he's got something in mind for these, though I'm not sure what!)
  • Did some interesting experiments with oil and water and made several oil lamps.
  • Created a paper boat and then a mini "lake" for it to float on.
  • Watched an episode of Modern Marvels about bread and was thus inspired to invent his own cracker recipe (which ended up as something like hardtack, which he loves to make, lightly dusted with sugar).
  • Worked on an "unbreakable" creation of Lego's...he's learned that by interlocking the blocks in a certain way, the finished product is much less likely to break under stress.

Meanwhile I've been swamped with planning - first, I'm still working on my "new & improved" curricula schedule - combining Winter Promise & Sonlight. While working on that, I got heavily sidetracked, resulting in the creation of a new website pertaining to the history of science and medicine (not quite finished, though hopefully soon!). Then, because the weather turned warm again, I got further sidetracked by planning a roadtrip for the family in two weeks. I'm still working on the road trip and, because I tend to overdo everything, it's taking virtually all of my time. My husband thinks I'm crazy and quite honestly, I probably am!

I'll have more on the trip later, but essentially we'll be visiting a number of stops along the Santa Fe Trail, a handful of fun museums, and a whole slew of Kansas ghost towns (the boys, like their mama, have developed a passion for exploring abandoned places). With that in mind, I'll need to decide this weekend how to finish out our month. It hardly seems practical to return to ancient civilizations with our upcoming trip...Maddie, in particular, has never studied the Santa Fe Trail and westward expansion, so I may need to design a quick study of that for the remainder of the month. We'll see how that goes!

For those who enjoyed the Free Dover Coloring Pages, I've continued to keep that list updated and will be posting many new pages this weekend. And lastly, we've given up on hatching our silk worm eggs, it just isn't happening without an incubator. Meanwhile our adult silkworms have turned cannibalistic, which is kind of alarming...and gross! I think I need to find a much larger container for them this weekend, hopefully that will help.

This week's "Weekly Report" isn't really much of a report because it's been a mostly uneventful week, so, there's not much of interest to write about. We've continued our study of Ireland, but I'm no longer sure that we'll be able to stretch it for the entire month since we're lacking resources. All of the books and movies I ordered from Amazon at the beginning of the month have yet to be shipped, which means they very likely won't arrive in time to do much with them (so frustrating!). While I've been trying to work with the meager materials we do have, the result has been rather light school days (excluding Math, Language Arts & Science, which remain the same) and I've noticed that light school days lead to disorder very quickly. Nevertheless, I've had a super stressful week personally, so was somewhat relieved with the more relaxed schedule. I guess we'll see how it goes next week. The Crafty Crow has posted a wonderful list of St. Patrick's Day crafts and treats which might liven things up a bit, and I've started thinking ahead to Easter by ordering our Pysanky supplies (thanks to this post on TWTM Forums).

Aside from school, we've added two lovely parakeets to our menagerie:


Sora (which means "sky" in Japanese)

They're being kept separately because the kids hope to train them. Ace is Jaymon's bird and Sora is Maddie's.

And, despite the sudden freezing weather outdoors, my seeds have been flourishing:

Sadly, that's really about it for now!

As we've been busy planning our water garden and overall backyard, we've also been busy planning our vegetable garden(s). I finally got some seeds started, and the boys have busy with theirs as well. My husband is creating a 4' x 4' plot for each boy to [intensively] grow what they wish, and there will be a plot for a few "experimental" plants as well - mostly those cultivated from kitchen scraps and seeds/spices, à la "Don't Throw It, Grow It!"

A few of the experiments:

In other news, many of our silkworms have been busy molting. The period before and after each molt, when the silkworms are eating and growing, is called an instar. Silkworms go through a total of five instars in their life. When a silkworm is ready to molt, it stops eating and remains perfectly still, its head raised in the air, for at least a day or two. While they remain motionless, a new skin is forming underneath the old and when the new skin is fully developed, they begin to move and leave their old skin. According to Sylvia Johnson's book, often their first meal after the molt is the skin just shed, however few of ours have been doing this, preferring fresh food instead. This leaves us with bunches of dried-up old skin, attached to the sides of their box, ick. In the picture below, an old skin is shown on the left, while a molting worm is shown on the right:

A group of molting silkworms:

Lastly, we were recently alerted to a fun science project that we've signed up for called The Great Sunflower Project. Each participant will be mailed 'Lemon Queen' sunflower seeds to plant (or you may buy your own, as long as they are 'Lemon Queen'). Once the plants are in bloom, they will then need to spend some time on observation, recording the flowers that are open (and thus producing pollen) and each bee that comes visiting. The results are then recorded online or mailed in. The project is being coordinated by San Francisco State University's Biology Department, in an effort to understand the challenges bees are currently facing.

Every week I receive free samples of coloring pages and more from the Dover Sampler. Until this evening, it had foolishly never occurred to me to save these pages for future use, even though the samples are only online for a brief time. The samples are not only useful for coloring, but also for notebooking pages, collage and other art projects, so from now on, I've decided to start saving the samples for future reference and use. I added all currently available samples to my Flickr account and while at Flickr, noticed that another enterprising person had done the same thing - though she started well before I! For ease of use, I've categorized all of the coloring pages here (both hers and mine); for her entire set (which includes tons of free clip art samples), see: Collage-Able. Note: To download a full-size image: Above each image you'll see an option "+ All Sizes." Click on that to download the original page-size image.

*I will be updating this page weekly as new samples are posted.*

Ethnic Designs

Drawing Instruction*
These are not coloring pages, but rather, drawing instruction pages. Instead of organizing them by book, I've chosen to organize them by subject matter for ease of use.
Wild Animals
Sea Life
Domestic Animals
Birds & Butterflies
Miscellaneous's something that's not Dover but also great fun, samples from The Anti-Coloring Book: Sample 1 | Sample 2 | Sample 3 | Sample 4 | Sample 5. We also love the Rosie Flo coloring books by Roz Streeten!

From Rosie Flo's Music Colouring Book

Monday: On Monday we had a relaxed day, no official "school" but instead a mini-celebration of Theodore Geisel's birthday. The boys made green eggs for breakfast (unfortunately, we were out of ham!) and we read a brief biography, followed by a few of his classics. I spent the rest of my morning planning our unit on Ireland while the kids watched educational programming and bemoaned the sudden cold weather we'd been hit with.

Tuesday: On Tuesday we completed our AWAD work, followed by a lesson from "Excavating English" and some additional vocabulary/spelling words. We then labeled Ireland on our world map and read from "Ireland, The Culture" by Bobbie Kalman. This was followed by individual mapwork, a reading from "Ireland: Peeps at History" (which I can't really recommend, it's dry and rambles on and on) with narration and a discussion about what we'd learned. Next, we read from A Field Guide to Irish Fairies, learning about the Dullahan. Afterwards, Math and stories from "Donegal Fairy Stories" and "Favorite Celtic Fairy Tales." Lastly, the kids read a story from their CLE reader and completed a workbook lesson.

Wednesday: Wednesday was very similar to Tuesday in that we read from and discussed: "Ireland, The Culture," "Ireland: Peeps at History," A Field Guide to Irish Fairies and Donegal Fairy Stories. All of the fairy stories are leading up to this awesome splatter fairy painting project that I hope to do sometime next week. We also did some Math and a lesson from Rod & Staff English, followed by an afternoon of activities for Science/Geology.

At the park

Thursday: Thursday was a light day since we spent the afternoon at the park (it was nearly 80°F!), collecting walnut shells and other treasures for our fairy house and getting to know other local homeschoolers. Everyone completed another Math and CLE Reading lesson and, because our silkworms arrived, we spent some time researching them online (the instructions that arrived with the worms were pretty meager). Now I'm glad that we bought live worms as well as eggs because I'm a bit doubtful that the eggs will hatch, I hadn't realized that an incubator was the best way to hatch them! We also made some oh-so-good Monkey Munch (à la Jon and Kate Plus 8) and watched a video: Visions of Ireland (which I don't recommend watching before bedtime, the music had half of us asleep only minutes into the video!).

We love these little guys!

Friday: On Friday we again read from "Ireland, The Culture," "Ireland: Peeps at History," and A Field Guide to Irish Fairies. The kids did a Math lesson while I started reading "The King of Ireland's Son" by Padraic Column, and then drew their own leprechaun. Unfortunately, because we had just read that leprechauns are often intoxicated, the boys found it amusing to draw their leprechauns holding a bottle of beer (Maddie's is holding a lollipop instead).

After reading, it was time for science. Today we learned about Sedimentary and Metamorphic rocks. We combined peanut butter, marshmallows and chocolate chips to make sedimentary rocks (monkey munch would also work!) and melted half of the mixture to make metamorphic rocks:

After some worksheets and a vocabulary review, we headed outside to make marbleized paper (which loosely relates to learning about marble, a type of metamorphic rock).

All was going well until the wonderful (not!) Kansas wind kicked up and we had to go indoors, lest our work be blown all over the neighborhood! This weekend we'll wrap up our school week by watching a documentary on The Celts and, because we learned about traditional Irish dance today, Riverdance.