Archive for February, 2012

February Wrap-Up

February has been a really busy and fun month! We started a new family hobby, took several day trips, had a lot of fun in school, and did a lot of reading. ūüôā

At the beginning of the month, we tried geocaching for the first time and all of us (especially Matt!) are hooked! ¬†It’s such a fun, inexpensive, and active way to spend an afternoon outside. ¬†It’s also fun to find out just how popular it is around here. ¬†When we ran a search we found that there were 126 caches hidden within 5 miles of our house!

We took field trips to Dauset Trails nature center to see the owls (for our current homeschool unit) as well as to the Atlanta Zoo. ¬†Dauset Trails is one of our favorite places to visit on a day trip. ¬† It is a privately-owned nature center that houses many wild animals that have been injured or cannot be released into the wild. ¬†Lots of birds, local wildlife, even a cougar and black bear. ¬†There are also beautiful gardens and trails, a reptile/amphibian center, a farm, and duck and fish ponds. ¬†And it’s all free!


Our trip to the Zoo also turned out to be free, thanks to the pass program at our local library. ¬†I’ve been checking for about a year, but the pass is always unavailable. ¬†Finally, they had it in, so we had a somewhat spontaneous trip to plan. ¬†The Atlanta Zoo was a lot smaller than the ones I visited growing up, but we still had a great time. ¬†And the smaller scale meant we got to do a little geocaching in historic Grant Park, too.


Autumn and I took this last week off of school and I really enjoyed the little break, though I think Autumn will be happy to get back to routine tomorrow. ¬†She’s getting started in her second grade math book and we’re enjoying a unit study based off of Owl Moon right now. ¬†We’ve been busy with homeschool co-op as well; learning about lots of artists in the class I’m teaching and making lots of messes with paint, pastels, and crayons. ¬†Autumn is also really enjoying P.E. and the science class she is taking.

We’re wrapping up the end of the month by getting started with soccer again. ¬†Autumn just had her first practice with the local soccer association (first time we have done anything other than Upward) and she loved it. ¬†First game is Saturday!

February Reading

Actually managed to get all my goal reading for February done! ¬†Since having a kid, I never seem to have any reading time, but I’m trying to make a change. ¬†To start, we’ve cut down our TV time and are no longer watching any in the evening until after Autumn is in bed. ¬†As a result, we’re reading aloud almost every single night. ¬†I made a list of books I would like to read each month, along with a read-aloud. ¬†So far, we have done the read-aloud books for February, March, April, and have started May’s!

What did I read?

Organized Simplicity – I’ve got to admit that after the first couple chapters I was ready to lay this one aside. ¬†It seemed a bit over the top, but I kept reading. ¬†Largely because I was on the treadmill at the gym with nothing else to read on my new Kindle. ¬†And as I continued to read, I not only started to appreciate the writing more, I also started to feel convicted and get some good direction. ¬†We’re slowly trying to work through some of the activities and challenges presented in the book. ¬†(While I can’t take off 10 days to completely declutter and clean my house, I am trying to get it done…just in baby steps.)

The Billionaire’s Vinegar – This is one of those books that I’ve been “in the middle of” for a long long time. ¬† I decided this was the month to finish it. ¬†A fascinating non-fiction story of people with ridiculously large amounts of money that are willing to spend huge amounts on very old wine…and the man who takes them all in with fakes. ¬†I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had known a little more about the subject of rare wines, but the plot was compelling, if at times a bit long. ¬†And, hey, it’s finished!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – This was the book group pick for this month. I did enjoy this book, but it is not one of my favorites. ¬†While the mystery and story were fun, unexpected, and well-written, I had a very hard time liking ANY of the characters involved. ¬†I assumed from the beginning of the book that the¬†protagonist, an 11-year-old girl, had Asperger’s or something similar, but maybe not? ¬†She was obsessed with chemistry and, while her character was very interesting, I couldn’t really identify with her. The family was very¬†dysfunctional¬†and the sisters treated each other very poorly.

Homer Price – Our read aloud for this month. This is just a fun book that I loved as a kid. ¬†Funny, charming, off-the-wall adventures of a boy growing up. ¬†DH read parts of this to Autumn as well, and I have to say his version (with voices) was a lot better than mine. ¬†He also caught a lot more of the jokes dealing with classical characters than I did. ūüôā

First Geocache


Rowing The Story of Ferdinand

I…I mean Autumn…learned a lot with this unit. ¬†It’s amazing how much I’ve been learning for the first time as we study for Five in a Row. ¬†Almost all of the printables for this lapbook came from HomeschoolShare or EnchantedLearning. ¬†For everything else, as well as lots of links to videos, etc. check out my Pinterest board.

Geography: Spain was a new stop for us with Five in a Row. ¬†A lot of our geography time was spent determining what a peninsula is, learning about the flag, and making another “circle map” like we did for Mirette. ¬†We also talked about culture, food, etc. ¬†Also, ran across the cutest little paper dolls from all around the world.


Science: Noses and Smelling, Bath Salts

Since Ferdinand’s favorite thing to do is to “sit and smell the flowers,” we studied how the nose works and how we process scents. ¬†Books from the library and an episode of The Magic School Bus helped with the explanations and then Autumn narrated back to me how it all works. ¬†We made a shaped mini book showing all the work the nose does. ¬†Then Autumn experimented with mixing different fragrances and seeing what she could come up with.


To go along with the scent study, we made lavender scented bath salts with purchased fragrance and Spanish lavender from our flower garden.  We mixed Epsom Salts, baking soda, and fragrance together and then jarred them up with some sprigs of fresh lavender.

Vocabulary: Bullfighting Terms, Vocab Cards, Spanish Books

Autumn learned lots of new words with this unit.  We also printed a couple Spanish books from Enchanted Learning.

Language Arts: Interjections, Repetition 

Since these are both used a lot in the book, we used this chance to learn about interjections and repetition.

Science: Cork Trees

  I was fascinated to learn about cork trees in this unit.  I had never even thought about a lot of the things we learned about, like how environmentally friendly wine corks are!  We found some great videos on YouTube and then did this mini book.  It also led to a bit of a rabbit trail on Iberian Lynx and Autumn insisted we add a picture of one to her book.

Math: Measuring Inches and Feet

In the book, a tree shows Ferdinand’s height as he grows. ¬†We played with measuring tape and then worked on translating feet into inches and yards using Autumn’s MUS blocks. ¬†I don’t even know how many measuring tapes she has. ¬†Every time we go to Hobby Lobby, she insists on having her own 40% off coupon and buying another one!


Art: Drawing Cows and Picasso 

A drawing book from the library on how to draw farm animals was lots of fun for Autumn.  She enjoyed practicing drawing bulls and this is her version of Ferdinand.

As we have been every unit this year, we chose an artist from the country we were studying and read Mike Venezia’s book. ¬†This time it was Picasso. ¬†Then, we did this fun “Fractured Friend” activity from Discovering Great Artists. ¬†Autumn started with a photo of one of her uncles then drew a picture. ¬†Next she chopped it up and re-assembled it in the style of Picasso.


Crafts: Funny Hats and Poppies 

Inspired by the “five men in funny hats” in the story, Autumn made these hats using some cardboard hat kits I had picked up for pennies each during a clearance sale. ¬†Her favorite by far is the one with flowers cutout from a gardening catalog. ¬†Autumn also enjoyed making coffee filter poppies.


Spanish Feast: We had our feast at the very beginning of the unit this time, so that my mom and sister could take part as well.  We looked through lots of Spanish food recipes and tapas ideas and made this huge feast inspired by what we saw.  We were actually able to get several food items from Spain (Marcona almonds, candied walnuts, cheese, sausage) on mark-down at the grocery store.  Amazing what you can find when you are looking hard! Autumn and Miriam made banners to decorate the dining room and we cooked, and cooked, and cooked.  It was delicious and we were eating leftovers for a week.

Drama:¬†We did drama cards again with this book, since Autumn loves them so much. ¬†I think it inspired her, because one day after school she gathered up a bunch of her stuffed animals and items from her room and put on a “play” of Ferdinand in five acts. ¬†She played several of the characters. ¬†I was the only audience, but I did snap a few photos. ¬†It was so cute. ¬†This is also why my house is never clean – she pulls out EVERYTHING!! ¬†Can you guess which scenes these are from the story?