Sunday, October 15, 2017

Our Year of Learning

This year is 3/4 of the way through, and our Year of Learning has been a great success so far!

This year's theme is not as structured as themes of past years. We don't have set days or months that we do certain things. But that wasn't the point of this year. The goal was to focus on cultivating a family culture of learning and progressively engaging in lifelong education.

For instance, our homeschool method has been pretty organic and guided by what Kate and Edwin are interested in learning. Some days Kate works on her Alphabet Workbook:

Recognizing letters, being able to write them, and sounding out basic words is pretty standard in Kindergarten, but we're not pushing Kate to learn to read in any certain amount of time. She pulls out her book whenever she wants, and on her own does a tracing or matching picture a couple times a week.

In the meantime, we read a TON. The kids are always bringing me stacks of books, and we visit the library every week. I love when I find Kate and Edwin reading together. :)

Even when we go to the park they love to read with friends!

Edwin, Kate, Liz, and Caleb reading a library book at Night Ridge park in Rocklin

While Kate is at her Learning Center on Wednesdays, Edwin and I go to the library for story time. This week was all about DINOSAURS and they even got to make their own fossils!

Edwin was in heaven. He was so focused and worked on his clay footprints longer than any of the other children.

The stories we read direct the lessons and projects we work on. For instance, this week Kate brought me a book about volcanoes. We read about types of volcanoes, and where they are in the world. Then Kate and Edwin used our World map to mark the Ring of Fire (a border around tectonic plates where 452 of the World's most volcanic activity can be found). Afterward we watched some YouTube videos showing lava flows and the volcanologists who study them.

We also read about deep sea creatures and marked on our map where all of the oceans are and named them, largest to smallest (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic, and Southern).

Sometimes our craft projects turn into great opportunities for learning! With all the pumpkin painting and Halloween decorating we've been doing lately, Edwin had asked for a spider project this week. Thankfully we have an abundance of paper and crafting materials in our house, haha! Together we cut out spider bodies and legs with black cardstock, and practiced our scissor skills while we talked about how many legs spiders have.

We practiced counting, and learned about fractions and sets of numbers, then Kate asked where on spider's bodies they have their eyes, so with the National Geographic Kids website we watched some spider videos and learned that spider bodies are VERY fuzzy, and many spiders have eight eyes. :O We learned about black widows, tarantulas, jumping spiders, and peacock spiders, as well as where they live and what they eat.

Cutting, gluing, crafting, cute holiday fun, and a science lesson all-in-one!

As a family we also focus on daily gospel learning. Reading illustrated scripture stories together has become a stronger habit, and we recently started indexing name batches with the kids (as part of a stake conference goal, but also just a good excuse to help Kate and Edwin understand family history and genealogy work.)

The kids get to practice letter-recognition, basic reading, and typing skills, while we help process records for family history research. :) Win-Win!

The homeschool chart has also turned out to be an awesome visual representation of our day. The kids love pulling cards to see what we've done and what we can still find to do, and they love helping with family work along with other projects. They are my little buddies, always by my side, and we build our day of work and learning together!

The Year of Learning hasn't been reserved to just kid-focused learning either. Jon started his PhD studies this month, focusing on neurological research to fuel his critical analysis portion of a 3-year Creative Writing doctorate.

The kids love looking at daddy's "brain book" with him, and it's fun to see how much the kids notice and pay attention to the learning that Jon is doing after work each day.

I also started a program this month for certification as a Nutrition Coach!

This course is a jam-packed guide to nutrition science, the design of the body, and how to work with varying individuals to meet their specific nutrition needs (managing disease, stress factors, and other issues that may complicate the overall balance of nutrients and maximum wellness).

The kids helped me set up my study schedule and carve out some daily school time:

Edwin, however, was more interested in when we would be eating lunch. ;)

Even working on this blog post today the kids helped me type, upload pictures, and arrange everything together. :) It's awesome to see their little minds at work.

I'm so excited to see how our Year of Learning has evolved in ways I never would have imagined back in January! It makes me hopeful that homeschool will keep growing into a lifelong love, and that we'll never want to look back. I also hope that when our kids remember their childhood they will see colorful experiences, lots of family outings, and opportunities to learn with constant creativity.

I'll leave you here with Kate's name that she typed out all on her own:

kate alston/

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October Begins

This last week we...

Picked out our pumpkins!

Edwin wanted to roll his ;)

Went to a Coldplay concert! <3 p="">

Visited the dentist :) :) -- no cavities!!

Enjoyed the Eggplant Festival :D

Rehearsed our family evacuation plan for FHE:

And decorated for Halloween :D

Lots of love to October!

Monday, October 2, 2017

General Conference Peach Pastries

This weekend was General Conference, which also means time for baking and eating delicious food!

I've never been a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, but we do like fruity pastries around here. ;) For Sunday we decided to try a peach pastry that I had saved to Pinterest long ago.

To my dismay, I pulled up the recipe and it was all in Russian. HAHA

SO with some quick thinking, skimming, and deduction, I followed the pictures, threw in my own ideas, and came up with this recipe:

1) I bought that delightful Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry from the store
2) Let it thaw out
3) While the pastry dough was thawing, I pre-heated the oven to 350, and cooked up a bag of frozen peaches with butter in a medium saucepan over low heat on the stovetop. I let the peaches get thoroughly warmed and then drained the butter/juice into a bowl.

4) I cut the unfolded pastry sheets into fourths

5) Using a steak knife I sliced four corners of the square pastry pieces and made sure to leave about a half inch of the centers of each side in tact.

6) I scooped about 1/3 cup of cooked peaches into the center of each pastry square.

7) Then I connected opposite corners of each pastry border into the center to make a star-like shape criss-crossing over the peach pile.

8) Melted butter was brushed over the tops, and cinnamon sugar was sprinkled, then into the oven they went for 20-30 minutes! (until golden brown and puffed to delicious proportions)

9) Powdered sugar was sprinkled for the final snowflake effect.

These peach pastries were enjoyed by all!

The kids said such cute things like, "These are BEAUTIFUL!" and "oooh, delicious!!" :D That's definitely a win in my book!

A conference morning treat that's easy, delicious, AND beautiful?? I'll for sure be making these again! <3 p="">