Hi friends! We have had an amazing fall!! And I have A LOT to catch you up on! Let’s start at the end of summer. My neighbor (also a homeschool mom) noticed there was a chrysalis hanging on some milkweed on the side of the road on her morning hike with her kids. As luck would have it, we had just had some guest speakers come to our local bee club to talk about raising monarchs. I remembered several important things from this talk that will come in handy later so pay attention. They mentioned that 1 – monarch caterpillars ordered off the internet have trouble migrating, so if you want them to migrate, they need to come from the wild. 2 – only 1 in 10 chrysalis’s will survive in the wild because of predation, but almost all of them will survive in a butterfly tent. 3 – the caterpillars eat milkweed, and pretty much only milkweed. And 4 – sometimes the chrysalis’s fall off the tent and you can just re-attach them with a bit on needle and thread! So the boys walked down the street prepared to dig up some milkweed with a chrysalis on it and what we found was a plant absolutely crawling with monarch caterpillars of all sizes!! We kept the tent our on our front porch, which is well protected from direct wind, but still outside ( I also remember this was somewhat important for them to maintain their drive to migrate).
What took me so long to do this?!? It was super easy and FUN!!! We checked on our caterpillars once a day and cleaned up their droppings. When they were ready, they would crawl up to the top of the tent and make their chrysalis. we ended up with 12 butterflies that emerged!!! We had a few chrysalis’s fall, but we just reattached them as instructed in our bee meeting and they were good as new! Then I found out you can also order stickers to stick on their wings so that when they get to Mexico, researchers can track how far they have migrated!! Ya’ll…I am geeking out!! I will definitely be doing that next year!!!
Next I want to tell you about the new curriculum we are trying out this year!! We have really been enjoying it and I forsee us using it for many more years. It’s called A Gentle Feast. I’ll leave a link at the bottom here if you’re interested or want to check it out. She has a 2 week trial for free on her website. It’s a Charlotte Mason curriculum that is similar to Ambleside. Julie Ross is the creator of the program and even though you do pay a small amount for access to her resources, you get lifetime access, and there are some really amazing things that she has put together. Her program is easy to follow and easier to stick to!! It’s got a great booklist (that she keeps updated when books go out of print) full of amazing living books and it includes all subjects except for math. We are continuing to use Right Start for math and absolutely loving it!!
We have also started using menu covers for our morning time!! I found another local mama that makes them! They have a poem, scripture memory, shakespeare sonnet, a hymn, and a folk song! Some of this is included in our Gentle Feast Curriculum so i keep going back and forth if I really need to be buying hers, but it’s so thoughtful and well designed, I can’t help myself!
Our math curriculum we continue to use is Right Start Math. And we love it!! It teaches students to think about math in a different way than any other math I have encountered. And encourages students to “think in numbers”. Their abacus that you use with the program is color coded in such a way that groups of 5 are grouped together. The extensive research put into this program showed that the brain can usually recognize up to 5 objects easily without counting. So the abacus capitalizes on this by allowing students to picture the abacus in their heads and manipulate it in there. Allowing them to do complicated mental math quickly and efficiently.
Ok that was really fancy talk, but here’s the thing…it really works. Even for old dogs! I am getting better at mental math because of teaching my boys the techniques! The other thing that is cool about this program is that there is no ONE right way to do the problem!! WHAT?!?! I know what your thinking…math is cut and dry, black and white, right or wrong. But how many times have you gotten the right answer, but gotten the question wrong because you didn’t show your work, or didn’t find the answer the way the teacher wanted you to? It’s happened to me a lot!! And this curriculum teaches all the techniques, and then asks the student what works best for their individual brains! Perfect! We are all different! Why do we have to do math the same way!?!
In an outside math lesson one day we had an adorable visitor who was attracted to the bright colors of our math manipulatives! Which transitions us nicely into my next topic to catch you up on…..BEES! The girls are doing really well!! And I am so proud of them! They have built up their hive nicely and now its time for winter preparations!!!
We used Oxalic Acid to treat them for mites (a crucial step to have healthy bees going into the long winter) and have been feeding lots and lots of sugar syrup! I have my fingers and toes crossed they will hang in there all winter! If anyone wants an OA demo or step by step, let me know in the comments!!
Also bee related, we helped our friends at Little Leaf Springs Farm rescue a very well established swarm that had made their new home on an open branch! These girls would have certainly not made it through winter out here on their own. Now they are snug and happy in a new box! ready for winter!!
And now your pretty much caught up! We went on some beautiful fall hikes, did some Halloween trick or treating, and a few other fall traditions (like apple picking). Stay tuned in the new year for a homeschooling and farm update! Let me know what else you’d like to hear about in the comments!!!