Our homeschool: October sneak-peek.
October 12, 2011

*** If you have any suggestions or ideas, I’d love to hear them.  As well, several people have mentioned an interest in following along with what our family does with Charlotte.  If this is the case, don’t hesitate to tell me if there is a way that I can make this information more user-friendly for you.  I draw a lot of inspiration from the same books over and over again as well as from several art, craft, and learning blogs online.

For the next few weeks, Donald and I have decided to try organizing our daily activities around a theme of pumpkins and witches.  We already try to focus much of our lives around the seasons and the weather and we’ve noticed that Charlotte thrives on the consistency.  She knows that we have certain rhymes for rainy days, certain stories for autumn, certain songs for morning and night.

We plan to maintain the seasonal and weather-based focus, but Donald and I are also hoping that changing secondary themes once or twice a month will add depth to Charlotte’s daily routine.  If it works out, we’ll switch the themes up in accordance with Charlotte’s interests and seasonal changes.

So.  Pumpkins and witches.  We’ll see how it goes.

I joke with people all the time that for the next few years, all of our ‘homeschooling’ is really life-schooling.  Charlotte is learning from our daily life – from kneading bread to sweeping floors, from harvesting dry corn seed in the fall to sowing corn seed in the spring, from painting garden markers to crafting hollyhock dolls.  Above all, she’s learning from purposeful community tasks (i.e. helping me feed the chickens) and from play (i.e. spending the rest of the day pretending she’s a chick and I’m a hen, or planting or playing with chicken seed).

In planning this, Donald and I tried very hard to keep that in mind.  We created a rough outline of activities for Charlotte and me to fit into our days over the next few weeks.  After setting up a structured story-time that fit well with autumn and our theme, we tried to include activities in nature, in the garden, and in the kitchen as well as field trips and both playful and purposeful activities that allow Charlotte to experience art, science, craft, practical life, and community service.

When Charlotte loses interest, I’ll update on how it all went and, if it went well, will post a rough outline of what we have planned for our next theme.  If it crashes and burns, well, I went out with my boots on.  In the meantime, here is a sneak peek at what our next few weeks might look like:

Pumpkins and witches on the bookshelf:
(I use WorldCat to locate books I do not own in local libraries.)
    -  The Pumpkin Book, by Gail Gibbons
    -  Pumpkin Moonshine, by Tasha Tudor
    -  Winnie the Witch, by Valerie Thomas
    -  One Witch, by Laura Leuck
    -  Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson

Pumpkins and witches at morning story-time:
    -  Oral stories – Hansel and Gretel (Brothers Grimm), Demeter and Persephone (Ancient Greek), The Pumpkin Gnomes and the Great Pumpkin Pie, Baba Yaga
    -  Poems and fingerplays – Five little pumpkins, Little Jack Pumpkin Face, Witch Witch where do you fly?
    -  Songs – The Pumpkin Vine, I’m a Little Pumpkin, On the First Day of Autumn, Ten Little Witches, Dingle Dangle Pumpkin
    -  Puppet show – The Enormous Turnip (Brothers Grimm)
    -  Games – Autumn feeling box (from Peggy Ashbrook’s Science is Simple), wood lacing beads

Pumpkins and witches at afternoon story-time:
    -  Oral stories – Jack of the Turnip, The Owl Witches (from Mayo’s Magical Tales from Many Lands), The Enormous Turnip (Brothers Grimm)
    -  Poems and fingerplays – Five little pumpkins, There was an Old Witch, Pumpkin Head (Aileen Fisher)
    -  Songs – One Day I Found Two Pumpkin Seeds, On the First Day of Autumn, Pumpkin Pumpkin, Ten Little Witches, That’s How a Pumpkin Grows (Brian Vogan)
    -  Puppet show – Feather Woman and the Sky Turnip (Blackfoot)
    -  Games – Shoebox house make-believe, story stones, miniature pumpkin hunts (like egg hunts at Easter)

Wild(ish) and garden(ish) and kitchen(ish) and science(ish):
    -  Visit the local organic pumpkin patch
    -  Carving pumpkins and turnip lanterns
    -  Baking pumpkin bread, roasting pumpkin seeds, root vegetable tangine, turnip salad
    -  Planting children’s garden (inspiration drawn from Sharon Lovejoy’s Sunflower Houses and Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots)
    -  Planting salad greens, brassicas, peas, and tracking sprouting
    -  Building a root viewer (I’ll be using a fish tank)
    -  Continuation of nature journal and nature tales
    -  Nature games and activities (drawn from Jennifer Ward’s I Love Dirt!)
    -  Arboretum autumnal garden-walk and story-time
    -  Family Earth night (an idea I got from my friend Tracy - basically one night a week without electricity, where you focus on family, sustainability, and conservation - we’ve never done this before)

Art and craft:
    -  Painting miniature pumpkins
    -  Painting garden markers (I’m going to let her paint, then I’ll put words on top later)
    -  Nature prints (leaves, nuts, squash, seeds) and collages
    -  Gourd doll (an idea found in Laura C. Martin’s Nature’s Art Box)
    -  Leaf or corn husk crowns
    -  Modeling, clay, or mud project
    -  Gourd prints
    -  Crafting toddler-sized broom from ash seedling and sorghum (harvest, woodworking, broom-craft, sweeping)

Field trips in a nutshell:
    -  Pumpkin patch
    -  Boo at the zoo (or something at the aquarium?)
    -  Arboretum
    -  Nature center
    -  Farmer’s market
    -  Volunteer projects: habitat restoration and edible organic farm
    -  Hikes, sit-spots, and other regular nature activities

Other themes that Charlotte might show interest in that could lead me to jump ship on pumpkins and witches:
    -  Spiders
    -  Acorns and squirrels
    -  Castles
    -  Birds and migration

That’s it.  Wish us luck!

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  1. By Sarah on October 12, 2011

    Dang you are good, woman!! love all the ideas. I have been posting ours on my new homeschool blog if you want to check it out. I love all the nature inspired ideas you have, I need to do more of those.

  2. By on October 12, 2011

    Best of luck, Sarah, with this endeavor. My favorite part of the whole plan is the last part where if Char shows an interest in something else you have already entertained the thought of switching up. Your flexibility guarantees success.

    Happy Autumn, my favorite time of year !~!

  3. By on October 12, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing this!  You are really amazing!  I can’t wait to try some of this stuff out with my son. You have such creative and fun ideas!

  4. By Amber on October 12, 2011

    This is a fantastic list. Thank you for sharing. Since Nate is only a month or so younger, I plan on totally stealing many of your ideas :) Have fun!

  5. By Christy on October 12, 2011

    That all sounds wonderful.  I wish I lived closer and we could join you.

    Have fun and keep us updated.

  6. By on October 12, 2011

    Just throwing it out there…Pumpkin Soup is also a great book about sharing, friendship and the characters are three animals. It’s beautiful and well illustrated. Happy October!

  7. By on October 12, 2011

    Shannon B - Thanks for the heads up!  I’ll look into it!  Do you know who the author is?  I only turned up one Pumpkin Soup in an Amazon.com search, written by Helen Cooper and it sounds similar because it involves three animals, but I wanted to make sure that’s the one you’re talking about?

  8. By Alicia S. on October 13, 2011

    Pumpkin Town! (by Katy KcKy, ill. by Pablo Bernasconi - coolest illos I’ve probably ever seen.) It is our favorite book, like EVER. We’ve borrowed it four times.

    Just so you know, if it were possible, my love affair with this blog has just intesified by a hundred since this post, lol. I have been so excited to read more about this!

  9. By on October 13, 2011

    yes it is helen cooper.





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