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  1. I asked my kids and they voted for the Safari Park. We have annual passed and this is what they always choose. But the zoo is just as great too!
  2. I'm not familiar with Quadrilla but we have the wooden Haba marble run and LOVE it. We've added a few accessories through the years. Highly recommend it.
  3. Let's see...I give each of my kids four presents (but don't use the usual rhyme). Santa only stuffs the stockings. DS12 legos his own set of really good colored pencils and a lightboard to help with drawing (he's always standing at the window tracing his drawings onto new paper) a tower of books (he always wants a tall stack of books so I start stashing them in the summer so he can get quite a few!) Pandemic Legacy my inlaws are getting him a fancy remote control car that works on sand & rocks he'll get books from anybody else that gives him gifts (he is a HUGE reader!) DS5 legos ticket to ride first journey snap circuits stack of books my inlaws are giving him a coupon book with different things to do with them and he'll redeem one a month (they did this last year and he LOVED It - best gift ever!) he'll get puzzles and books from anybody else that gives him gifts DD2 fairy blocks dollhouse furniture (just one room) 3-wheeled scooter books my inlaws are getting her a child size broom she'll get puzzles and books from anybody else that gives her books
  4. Absolutely! Last year I took my three kids (then 1, 4, 11) on a 3-week road trip and it was awesome. We did meet up with my husband midway for a about 5-days, but the rest were just me and the kids. This coming spring I'll be driving them across country and back, meeting up with my husband in Nashville where he'll join us on the road for a couple weeks.
  5. Awesome! My 12-year-old wants to be an ornithologist and he will love this!
  6. My best advice is to peg enchanted education moments into your natural routines. This has helped us tremendously in making sure these types of things get done regularly. For us that is mealtimes, right after lunch (one more thing after lunch is one of the best tips I have every gotten - everyone is full and happy, toddlers and babies are typically napping, you can squeeze in those simple, yet enchanting, projects - then send everyone off to quiet time!), Friday afternoons when we are done with our regularly stuff, afternoon snack, etc. Things you are doing everyday anyway, so you spruce it up a bit by reading aloud excellent literature, or following up lunch with time for art. Popping in a Classical Kids CD while you eat breakfast. Enjoy poetry while you have an afternoon snack. I peg different types of read alouds to different days/meals. I love the short, simple lessons that are rich with beauty and enchantment. I'd take a look at your natural routine, peg in a couple things and see how it goes. Once you have a good routine you can add more, or maybe see that what you added is just perfect for right now. Here are some things that I have pegged in our routines through the week. We aren't doing all of this now, but just highlighting things that have been successful to give you ideas. *Poetry Tea - I pegged this to afternoon snack. we combine this with a baking day so we can cook up a treat, then we all pull off our favorite poetry book from the shelves, set a nice table, eat and enjoy poetry. We do this every single Wednesday. I don't have them memorize, but they definitely do and we have recently started off our time with reciting those we have memorized. *Fairty Tale Tea - Also pegged to afternoon snack. we use our leftover baked goods a couple days later and we read a short (or sometimes tall!) stack of fairy tales. I try to select a tried and true favorite, something new to us (maybe a different version of one we have already read), and then I read a tale from the blue fairy book. *Nature Study - Every single Tuesday no matter (unless we are super sick) what we head out and explore our area, trying to go to different locations, but also returning to favorites so we can watch the change with the seasons. For us we prefer to explore, look in detail with a magnifying glass, take pictures, collect if we can, etc. The day after we will choose one thing we saw, photographed, collected, etc. and do a bit of research. This is done right after lunch. Then we will sketch it in a journal. My oldest will do a short written narration. I'll scribe for my 5-year-old whatever he wants me to write. This year we are trying to focus on a topic each month and reading a few books along the way. But honestly, we've been doing nature study for years without any extras and it has been perfect. Oh, you can also check out Harmony Art Mom - she's has excellent info on nature study. This year we are also loving Nature Anatomy and Farm Anatomy. We have also loved naturexplorers by shining dawn books. *Art - we love art very, very much. We do this every day after lunch and different days are pegged with different types of art. It is the perfect time for us because I usually read aloud at lunch as long as the toddler lets me, then I have to finish up once she's napping. They'll do art while I read. I read plenty of literature about famous artists Wednesday over breakfast. My favorite are picture books, but there are several books that have a collection of artists that we also use - try Usborne or 13 famous paintings every child should know (this is a great series). We also enjoy the books by Mike Venezia. I did artistic pursuits with my oldest and just used time and practice to get him drawing. The more they draw the more comfortable they get. The key is just giving them plenty of opportunities. I find random art projects online to do and we just do them. One book we have really enjoyed working through is 52 art project for kids - I highly recommend this. We work through one project a week. We have also enjoyed Hodgpodge chalk pastels, working with sculpey clay, projects from Deep Space Sparkle, Harmony Art Mom, and just simply working with excellent art supplies. Maybe you don't want to do this much art, so just peg Artistic Pursuits to every Monday (or a day that works) after lunch - read it at the beginning of lunch, then have the supplies ready for them to create when they finish eating while you are still reading aloud from a chapter book. *Science - we have been loving the science kits from Steve Spangler Science. We subscribe and they come once a month. These have been excellent for us and we have never had to add more than water! We also read plenty from the library and do any experiments we can mentioned in the book. My oldest loved the Magic School Bus videos, books, and science kits. I am hoping to get my 5-year-old some of the science kits soon because he loves the show. We have also started using Mystery Science and give it two thumbs up. *Music - love Classical Kids cds! We also love reading picture books from the library. I don't really do much more than that. I'd love to check out SQUILT at some point. *Literature - picture books are our love language here, with a healthy dose of good literature read aloud. We are working through the FIAR booklist, some titles on the Homeschool Share list. We love picture book biographies and fairy tales. Oh my, I could give you a list of excellent picture books that are worth taking the time to read that would last you a couple years at least. If you'd like me to I am more than happy to share! I love the color fairy books by Lang (The Blue Fairy Book, The Red Fairy Book, etc.). Thorton Burgess is amazing! Bruce Coville has excellent picture books for Shakespeare for a nice introduction. Little House, Charlotte's Web, Roald Dahl, Winnie the Pooh, Pippi Longstocking, Cricket in Times Square, Little Britches, Narnia. I could keep going and I am happy to if it will help. Oh, and check out Read Aloud Revival - she has an excellent list.
  7. Just wanted to pass along that you can get one year of Mystery Science free right now. You get all the current Mysteries free for one year (12-units, plus 3 units that are partial k-1 units). All new content will not be included in the free year. We are loving it and look forward to working through it this year!
  8. Jealous! I am just starting. I am hoping to be more organized this year.
  9. My 5-year-old loves to write lately and really wants to be included in doing his own copywork this year. My thought is to roll with this and let him learn correct letter formation along the way. With my oldest I did HWOT which worked great. There is a 7-year gap between them so I no longer have any of the early writing materials. It has been awhile since I worked through handwriting with my oldest so I'd like something to guide me through the letter formation. My question is if there is one book I can purchase from HWOT that will help me guide him through the letter formation for both upper and lower case. I plan to pick up the slate as well for practice. I just don't want to go the workbook route with him, especially since he really likes the idea of copywork from his favorite books. Also, do you recommend the HWOT lined paper, or do you think he'd be fine using the HWOT formations with the tradition early writing paper.
  10. If I added up my total read aloud time for the day I'd say around 4-hours. We read for about an hour in the morning over breakfast - this is picture books, a bit of non-fiction, etc. Then at lunch I read for about an hour from our current read aloud. I'd read longer if I didn't have a toddler - I don't wish time away at all but I do look forward to the day we can spend our afternoons lost in a book without a toddler begging for attention! The other two hours are chunks of 15-20 minute spurts throughout the day.
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