Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Chronological History of the World; Unit Study for Secular Homeschoolers

This is our first-official year homeschooling our first-born son, in that I have to notify the state, since he will be turning 7yrs this school-year. We've been doing just the three-R's before now, 'unofficially'; but this is the first year I'm to be held accountable to my home state of Maine for my son's education.

I'm ready for the challenge.

We'll continue with our three-R's. But this fall I'll be adding a combination unit-study of history and science. I thought it would be easier for both my children, and myself, to just start at the very beginning, with how the Earth came to exist, and how land masses formed, and how life came to exist and evolve into life as we know it today.

I didn't realize what an undertaking it was going to be when I made the decision.

I had thought I would put the whole entire planetary time-line on one squidoo lens; that was silly. There's just so much to cover, and there are a surprising amount of free resources on-line to pull a program together! Obviously nothing beats good books, both fictional and non-fiction, but to fully flesh out the unit-study, you need to find resources somewhere to create activities, and projects, to ensure that that information gets embedded in those little brains for a life-time. You need printables, worksheets, graphics, pictures, diagrams, timelines, charts, visual aids--aargh! It's a lot of work! And sifting through the innumerable christian-based materials out there can be tedious.

But I've taken all the "leg-work" out of it, and put all of the quality links related to the chronological history of the earth, and incorporated science into a unit-study that will carry you, and me, through at least the next four years. I'm so pleased with it! This is the first in the series, as I mentioned, there's just so much to cover, and so many quality links to utilize, that I've decided to chunk the units into time-periods. I hate to divide them into periods of time defined by civilizations, because this is not meant to be a study of man-kind, but more an investigation into the Earth.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We Saw Moose at Little Austin Pond!

I feel it's incredibly important to create lasting memories for my children's childhoods. I will put myself through the great misery of sleeping on the hard earthen ground inside a tent with my boys and hubby--and the dog--in order to cement such lasting memories for them.

I say it that way, and all of that is true; but what is also true is that I actually enjoy being in the great outdoors, in the far-flung reaches of wilderness where nature's beauty and glory are everywhere if only you choose to look--to take the time to slow down and literally smell the flowers. Nature--the beauty of our Earth--inspires me continuously. In everything I do.

We went to Little Austin Pond, which is in an obscure part of north-central Maine, to camp overnight with friends. The kids enjoyed the beach--which was no where near our campsite, but still fun.

And best of all there were Mountains and Moose. In my mind, somehow, the one is synonymous with the other, and I love both with equal fervor. When I see mountains, no matter how large or how small, my heart sings with indescribable emotion, so strong and so powerful that it can not be ignored.

"MOUNTAINS!" I screeched as we were driving the to the pond.

I think Keith, who, despite our nearly-ten years of marriage, had not yet experienced my emotional outbursts over nature (particularly mountains and moose), was shocked and surprised.

"What?" he dared to ask as the kids echoed my screeches from the back seat.

"Mountains!" I cried exuberantly, reaching out the window to gesture at the looming form of the mountain beyond the dirt road and the trees and the marshes. "MOOOOUUUNTAAAIINS!"

I had to actually master my enthusiasm so that I could repeat myself more calmly over the joyful yells of the boys, so that Keith could finally understand what we were yelling about.

And to make the whole trip worthwhile this guy was hanging out in the marshes along the rutted dirt road that winds itself around Little Austin Pond. We'd visited the beach one last time before we had to make the drive back to civilization, and home--and showers!--and there he was waiting for me.

He didn't care that we stopped to gawk; he was too busy with his Brunch. And he was so beautiful. Keith can't understand why they're so gorgeous to me, and maybe many other people would echo his sentiments. But to me, they represent mountains and wilderness. They speak to me on a gut-level, and touch my heart because they represent the mountains that I call home.

Moose, like many other northern-hemisphere creatures, are at risk of extinction now, due to climate changes.

This knowledge gives me great pain.

To think that some day moose will have to be preserved in zoos, as Tigers, and Elephants have been, in order for the continued existence of their species wounds me deeply. And it only reaffirms my desire and motivation to do all I can in this world to prevent such sacrilege.

These are good articles discussing climate change and the animals in question. The Forest Ecology Network has plenty of articles, information, and links for you to check out.

I love moose, and mountains, and all the creatures great and small that make Maine home, like me; so I may be a leeeetle biased. Fortunately the internet is a wealth of resources, so you don't have to take my word for it. See for yourself.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Importance of Nature

I don't know about my readers, by for myself, it is crucially important to me to feel connected to this world around me. I have to feel the wind, the water, and the soil on my skin. I have to touch the rough bark of the trees, and listen to the wind as it rustles their leaves. I like to smell the soil in my garden, to dig in the earth. It is part of me, and I am part of Earth.

I want my boys to have such a relationship with our home planet. We are all connected, and it is imperative that we remember that when we harm our Earth, we harm ourselves as well. So many people in cities, and suburbs, I fear, have lost touch with our Earth. It has been bred out of so many of us. Just to be satisfied with the status quo, and the mundane of every day life.

But not so for homeschoolers. My heart clings to the hope that we homeschoolers can lead our fellow man out of the darkness that has been imposed on the masses by the system. If we can help people to realize this connection between us all, we might yet have a chance to save my beloved Earth.

Homeschoolers spend time outside. They do nature studies. They realize the importance of conservation and recycling. Homeschooled children are not incarcerated all day, so they have time--and the inclination--to play outside, exploring, and discovering things about our world that you cannot learn in a book in a schoolhouse.

So many traditions from childhood have been all but lost. But homeschoolers keep them alive. Catching fire-flies. Watching turtles bask on a log in a bog. Inspecting the lichen on a tree. Building a fort in a brush pile. Attempting--and/or succeeding--in constructing a clubhouse.

The most simple--and free!--things in life are right outside our doors. The whole world is a homeschooler's playground, and it's waiting for us...

Find out more about homeschooling in nature, and encouraging your kids to get outside, at my squid-lens at:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Study History Chronologically

I'm in the process of gearing up for the up-coming school year. Our first official year of homeschooling our first-born. I'm so excited!

We've been doing school-sessions for years now anyway, and already we study the three R's. William is probably reading at a first-grade level. He struggles with handwriting, but has made significant improvements. And he has a good grasp on adding and subtracting sums, the concept of time, and money.

Fortunately we're a very sciencey-sort of family, so that has come naturally, and largely through life's experiences (and maybe a little help from mom or the library). I have already a great program called REAL Science, Level One, that we started, and will likely take back up at the end of summer.

We will be taking up the subject of history soon, and so I find myself trying to pull together resources wherever I can get them, regarding the
chronological history of the world from a strictly secular point of view.

NOT easy.

I'm trying to put everything together on a new lens at squidoo, I can't wait until it's finished. Until then you can check out my newest lens, regarding companion planting and my fav. ten allies in the battle against garden pests.