Occasionally I receive e-mails and Facebook messages from readers asking for online teaching resources. Some of our favorites for this period of learning have been Montessori Printshop (no subscription required and nominal fees for printable downloads which can be laminated), Making Learning Fun (great printables, no subscription), Enchanted Learning (worth EVERY cent of a subscription fee, which is $20/year for single user), Super Teacher Worksheets ($19.95/year and great for elementary school kiddos), and BrainPop Jr. ($85/single homeschool user).

There are many other online places and people from which I draw inspiration, but these are a great start. I love Pinterest, too, a clearinghouse of ideas and a way to curate lessons and ideas until patterns and themes emerge. We are so fortunate to be homeschooling in a time when we have so many resources right at our fingertips, which we can browse over pumpkin spice rooibos while listening to Chantal Kreviazuk, and feeling cozy in the glow of orange twinkle lights around the window.

These autumn months (September-December) are heavily themed for us in terms of seasonal lessons. Regardless of whatever else we are learning, I try to connect it to the seasons and holidays, if possible. Toward the end of October (and Super Teacher is GREAT for this, because they always offer seasonal math sheets and nonfiction texts, for example), we worked through some Halloween-themed work that built on the standards Katie is pursuing.

So what are we doing lately?

Language Arts: Caddie Woodlawn, big Owl Moon interdisciplinary unit (FIAR) which I am extending to 3-4 weeks instead of the usual two weeks per FIAR book, literary devices, complete sentences, proper nouns, syllabification, real vs. fanciful, outlining/main idea, phonics, spelling, suffixes, comparison/contrast, oral narration, copywork, oral reading.

Math: Real life models of subtraction and addition sentences, more/fewer (language in word problems), doubles, 10s buddies, timed drills for +0, +1, +2, number sense to 100, greater than and less than, graphing/plotting, counting up and counting back on the number line.

History: The world of work, i.e. buying/trading, factories, goods vs. services, scarcity, decision making about needs/wants, money; also, appropriate seasonal history, such as finishing a (historically questionable, I thought) biography about Squanto, the history of the jack-o-lantern, Dia de los Muertos, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, etc.

Science: Owls—life cycle, owl pellet dissection, nocturnal animals, bats; and Eric focused on the life cycle of a pumpkin (we love the text Pumpkin Jack and the life cycle cards from Montessori Printshop, both of which we also used with Katie way back when). We’ve also been troubleshooting our chickens, after an egg-eating incident. They are almost back to work, but we’ve been talking about behavioralism and the behaviorists. Instead of looking at this occurrence as a frustration, we have turned it into a big learning opportunity and project, as well as a chance to practice problem-solving in a real life scenario. This issue has been a blessing in disguise—thank goodness for life’s teachable moments!

Art/Special Interests: several Halloween and Thanksgiving crafts and art projects!

P.E.: soccer for Katie and our new autumn tradition of late afternoon/early evening walks all over our neighborhood. I run almost every morning, but the kiddos need daily exercise, too, beyond what they get just playing and being chased during hide-n-seek around the yard. We love to take that time at the end of the day, before dinner, to talk together and admire the beauty of the world around us and to debrief on the day and just explore. I am cherishing those walks. These years are going way too fast for my liking, and I want to savor as much time as possible with them.
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Eric matches upper and lower case letters to pictures that begin with each letter

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Pumpkin plotting on the axes.

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Owl Moon snack

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Looking at our moldy white pumpkin Jack Skellington and using the life cycle cards

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Homeschooling in a fort the day after Halloween

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Life and learning should be fun! What’s more fun than a cozy fort? We have left it up now for days, and we are all still enjoying it.

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Owl pellet dissection

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Katie loved assembling her voles

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Thanksgiving themed counting cards from Montessori Printshop, which we laminated. I think they were $0.49? GREAT for Eric this week.

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“Ii” is for “Indian”…I forgot to take a picture of “Gg” for “Ghost” and “Hh” for “house”

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Pulling out literary devices in Owl Moon and interpreting them. These are her words, and yes, we have talked about the sublime. I did help her with spelling on this.

After reading a nonfiction article about the origin of pumpkin pie, we made mini pumpkin pies riffing off of a colonial recipe, and we also made “I am thankful for…” pumpkin pie spinners. The orange part rotates and the slice reveals various people/ideas Katie and Eric are thankful for.

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Katie read a nonfiction article on wild turkeys in North America, and then we did a preschool/Kinder craft together. I am more aware about building time in the day for Katie to join in these crafts with her brother. She still wants to, and why not? That’s one reason we school at home…so that we have time to do little fun things like this and so that she and her brother can learn and, more importantly, have FUN learning, together. It has been hard for me, at times, to temper my drive to be working on standards constantly, but for her happiness and mental stamina I know that sometimes I need to back off and just let her play and create. When we do things like this in the morning hours, I later get products from her like the hyperbole explanation above. Play and work have to be in balance, and if we can get work to feel like play, then we are going to get so much further toward our goal of fostering passionate lifelong seekers of knowledge.

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Using the unifix cubes to model math sentences… Those cubes have been one of my best purchases for our academy. We use them all the time, for various purposes, including pattern making and measuring.

Katie and Eric made moon viewers the other day (a paper plate with the center cut out, attached to a popsicle stick, with colored and cut out moon phases all around the circumference. They can hold it up to the moon, look through the hole, and match the real moon to its current phase.

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We tried them out tonight… kind of a funky picture, but you can just see their bodies and Katie’s moon viewer. Waxing crescent! Owl Moon is SO rich for so many different little projects and connections to science. It has been one of my favorite texts that we have studied in the FIAR series.

It has been a busy month!

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