Friday, January 24, 2014

Curriculum Choices

Now is the time of year that parents start thinking about next year. .  . and forefront on a homeschooler's mind is 'what curriculum should I buy?'

I get plenty of questions about where to find curriculum and how to choose it.  It's a daunting task because the wealth of material available to us now is endless!  How can we choose between all the GREAT resources at our fingertips?  And many of them really are great; but you can't use them all.   Actually, most parents go about this backwards. They want to hurry up and get 'curriculum' that covers the 4 core subjects, and then they want it to 'work' with their family.  But it really saves time in the long run to turn that around. How can you tell what will work for you and your family?   Rather than rush into a purchase, first sit down and write up or discuss together a few key facts about your family's homeschooling:   

Are you considering something because your neighbor, best friend, sister-in-law, (fill in the blank),  uses it and recommends it?
Are your children young and just starting, school-age, or are they already in high school?
Are you homeschooling for the short term to get over a hump, like waiting for more funds or a prospective move? 
Are you homeschooling for the long term, hoping to go K-8 or maybe even high school?
Are you homeschooling because of academic issues in brick and mortar schools? Did your student already have trouble or problems in that environment?
Are you homeschooling for philosophical or religious reasons?
Do you want a specific worldview presented in your curriculum?

Let's start with the last one first and work up.  ALL education is religious. Even atheism is still a 'religion' because it has presuppositions as starting points and a belief system that forms its particular worldview.  The world would have you believe that teaching your children using your own worldview is 'bad', while insisting that using theirs is 'good.'   But  parents are supposed to pass on all that they hold dear and important!    Narrow down curriculum quite easily by discarding anything that is obviously in conflict with your own worldview. Don't feel guilty. You can inform your children later (in appropriate ways) about how the world operates.   Christian curriculum does vary, so if you are looking for Christian curriculum you will still have to check for anything that might conflict on important areas for you.   

If you are homeschooling out of a philosophical, pedagogical or religious motivation (and I hope if you didn't start out that way, you soon convert),  it is even more imperative that your curriculum match your motives.    While the religious reason is more obvious, the other 2 are next in importance, because they also have to do with your unique worldview. This is where we tackle the 'school at home' vs 'home learning is a lifestyle' type differences.   If you are desiring results fundamentally different from group schooling produced, then definitely don't replicate it in your home!  This category further breaks down into things like Classical, Charolette Mason, Unit Studies, relaxed homeschooling, principle approach,  and on and on.  All of these categories have popular curriculums.   This will require some research time from the parents.  

If  you are homeschooling out of a desire for better academics, the above research is still the place to start.  You can hardly 'mess up' your kids unless you really try, so don't be locked into only the traditional approaches unless they are appropriate.  If you know your student has issues, either not challenged or too challenged, there are resources that target your student.  You will want to use that in your search window.  Many curriculums tout that they are excellent for certain challenges students face, and while I think that can be true, just remember, the one-on-one coaching by a loving parent is the biggest advantage by far over any of those miracle claims. 

If you are homeschooling for the long haul,  then don't sweat it.  Play, get messy, have fun.  . . and while they are making their own forts, you can research, research, research and network, network, network.   Kindergarten is an extension of what you've been doing since birth.  Talk to your children, read to them often and DO things with them, including your daily chores. Many of the activities in group school at this age are just meant to artificially replicate the learning that flows naturally out of ordinary life.  You'll get plenty of ideas online.  Even if you buy curriculum at this age, don't sweat it if you don't use it.  I call that 'research and development.' You have time to test a variety of options and develop your own personal or family style of homeschooling. You might want to borrow resources until you know you'll use them.  By the time your oldest reaches high school, you'll be the expert.  From personal experience I went from one philosophy to a completely opposite philosophy over the course of my oldest child's elementary years;  expect some change in yourself as well. This is a learning process just like anything else.  Do you remember learning to ride a bike?  Didn't you fall a few times? Didn't you need someone to hold you up until it clicked?  Once you learned how, wasn't it easy? Did it take a lot of effort or concentration once you could just do it?   Homeschooling is a learning process too.  Give yourself permission to be a student.  And remember that no permanent damage was done from those learning-to-ride falls.  Your kids will be fine despite a few false starts on your part.

If you are homeschooling for a short term goal, then curriculum choices are much easier. You'll want to use the same or something as close to what you expect your students will go into once they return to school.  At least, find out what the group school will expect your student to have as a knowledge base when he or she re-enters the school, and make sure you've gotten to that point, even if you got there by another route. The exception may be Phonics and Math tutoring;  if you are homeschooling because the school's method wasn't working, you'll obviously be using something different.  Either way, you'll be using more of a textbook/traditional approach in expectation of returning to that environment.  

Are your students young? Been in school? Already in high school?  If young, you have the time to follow the above suggestions; if already in middle or high school you may not have time to research methods or do a lot of leg work, since your student needs to be thinking about credits and graduation.  This is where your motivations will help you, though.  Do your high schoolers want a completely independent study program? Are they looking to move on quickly or take their time?   By this age, I am a firm believer in 'identity directed' learning.  That means they are searching for their identities, and their course load is reflective of that.  College-bound students may choose a typical schedule of courses, but most students would benefit from a load that more reflects their interests and talents.   Dancers should be doing a LOT of dance. Carpenters, carpentry. Programers, programming,  artists, art.   Those who are not so sure, a variety of opportunities so they can discover what they enjoy or excel at. 

Using a program picked by others is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it meets the requirements of the other questions to ask yourself.  Since there are so many choices, it makes sense to narrow the field by taking a poll from those you trust. I would consider the favorites of others as simply narrowing the field of research, but still compare their choices to the needs  and philosophy of your own family.    Sometimes finding one resource will lead you down a path to many more that fit right into your needs.   

The one thing I didn't have you ask was price. That is also a consideration, but I feel that all the other options are available in all price categories, so while you may need to limit [unless the sky's the limit] spending, you can still concentrate on the type, style and worldview of the curriculum you choose, even if it's free. Some of the best educational resources are also the most affordable.    So now,  with a little reading and online searching, you too can become a curriculum junkie expert like the rest of us homeschool veterans. 

Some places to start:
The Well Trained Mind: http://www.welltrainedmind.com
Spell To Write and Read:  http://www.swrtraining.com/id27.html

Of course, I'm listing my recommendations, mostly ones I agree with in content and style, but that's not to say I agree exactly 100% with all of it.   Another site that seems good for general homeschooling on everything, but too large for me to endorse, is http://a2zhomeschooling.com


Happy Surfing!!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sharing an epic story

       Humans love story.  We thrive on it.  Jesus taught w/stories and many great teachers have done the same.  We have a longing to know a place or event through the people involved.  We also love an epic story- something bigger than us.  Something grand and noble that gives us purpose and value.   That is why we love the likes of  Tolkien, Narnia,  and Harry Potter.   

Stan Williams of the Moral Premise says: 
The moral premise is at the heart of all successful story telling from ancient history right up to the modern day. We find its controlling nature in the writings of Plato, the Bible, and Aesop. We find it in English Classics from Henry Fielding on…and in the many good stories of modern stage, movies, and television.

Being able to share a grand story with others gives us a special bonding and sense of belonging.  It can be as casual as waiting in line at the midnight showing of the next movie sequel or it can be as deep  as drawing a family together with the sweetest memories.     

Stan goes on to say: While the physical, explicit story or plot line is what a movie is about, the psychological or moral premise is what the movie is "really" about.  

I believe this is how God makes us, in order to draw us into His story and to realize we really ARE part of an epic grand story where we have unsurpassable value and purpose. And so, we love the type of story He wants to write for us and I think we internalize it when we read great books. 

      Reading out loud as a family is one of the most cherished memories my children have and it is/ was a major part of our homeschooling lifestyle.  [and one of my most cherished childhood memories too, Dad]   I urge you to take up reading together in your family. Pick books that You love- the passion, interest, and love will be infectious to your kids.   It will provide the fertile soil for many a great discussion in later years.  

My husband and I loved the Belgariad series before children, so when they were old enough to understand it, but not quite old enough to read it themselves, I started reading it out loud. My husaband wanted to hear it too.   As subsequent children became old enough to appreciate the story, I read it again.  Sometimes an older kid or my husband would request it saying, "Hey its been a few years since we read that, maybe its time to read it again."    I have read many other books.  Charlotte's Web, Narnia, Black Stallion, and Harry Potter, but the Belgariad is our family story.   Don't be afraid to read an 'older' book.  The beauty of reading out loud is that you can 'edit' as you go when necessary with something you would never let them read on their own. Within reason of course.  You get pretty good at it.   

So now, I am reading the tale of Garion all over again and it washes me with memories, warmth and love and I hope to pass it all on to the current crop.  

We do love series books. One book is simply not satisfying enough. So we tend to read during holidays.  At the birth of a new baby my husband takes the week off and we all lay around the bedroom while I read.  Sometimes late into the early morning.  

Our second favorite time, and more regular, is Christmas Break. Again, Dad can usually take days off or 'work from home' because offices aren't open and everyone is more or less around to join in.   

And lastly, we read on vacation. My husband taught me that the purpose of vacation is to slow down and relax. We like to go to the beach.  We'll go for 2 hours in the mid-morning then come back to the condo for lunch and a reading session or we'll stay longer at the beach but read together on our beach towels. . We'll go back to the beach for 2 hours or so in the evening  when everyone else is  leaving to clean up for dinner.   We head to the condo as the sun is setting, eat a late dinner and read most of the night.  Oh did I tell you we were mostly night owls?

We did a similar schedule even at Disney World.  Condos are usually rented by the week, so that gives us plenty of days to see what we want and lounge around in the hotel room and read.  Don't try to see it all. 

Lest you think I have alien children, let me assure you, I do not.  Our family reading almost always included an infant, toddler or young child.   I have 2 bam bam boys. [they're older now and might not like that description but it was true] and the rest of my children were or are normal antsy, wiggly, talkative types.   It was and is hard and there's a lot of scolding sometimes, but mostly we planned well and took plenty of breaks. 

Some of the ways we coped with children too young to sit still and quiet:

1. Allow reasonable movement.  an exercise ball they can sit on and bounce. Beware of fighting over it. Maybe they switch with each chapter, the child on ball needs to be far enough away from all others to lesson temptation. 
I have a rocking ottoman a child can lay across and rock. A rocking chair would work too.  
Setting up 'stations' that they can walk to while listening helps them stretch their legs and allows them to 'switch' attention while still listening.  Especially my bam bams; they could be running circles and hanging upside down but they heard and retained every word.  I did have to keep them confined somewhat because it distracted the others, but if I was reading just to them, I let them move more. 

2. Provide snacks-  This can be a 'station.'   Christmas Eve is always hors d'oeuvre and hot chocolate. That just means ritz crackers with various toppings: sardines, sliced boiled eggs, cheese slices, pepperoni, olives, and mayo for example.  Building their own little masterpiece gives them something to do. Popcorn is another favorite.  Fondue could work.  Food that one assembles as one eats does double duty. 

3. Provide something for the hands to do.  
A small pile of legos on a hand towel for example. A small amount because digging through a large bin makes a terrible roaring noise. They are to pick out what they need before the session begins. A small hand towel helps muffle noise and also designates one child's stash and space from another's. If it's on his hand towel it is NOT for you.   
Play dough and other modeling agents are also good. It's good therapy and they can start over w/ new creations as they get bored of older ones.  
Paper and drawing/ coloring supplies are the most common around here. I like those design coloring books with all the little spaces to fill in- very time consuming. They come in geometric shapes, butterflies, leaves and many other themes.  Try Dover brand.  
One of my favorite activities is a puzzle.  You can do small individual puzzles or you can have one big family puzzle that several are working on together.  
My older girls know how to knit, so they did a lot of knitting.   
        If I am reading for bedtime though, I read in the dark using a flashlight and all children have to be laying down w/ their covers so they will be more likely to fall asleep. But that's a different goal. 

4. Take breaks. Some books are simply too difficult to put down, but when the kids are getting too restless we take a break. Everyone gets a chance to restock on food, use the bathroom, check their email, or whatever. We might reconvene in 20 minutes, 2 hours or 'after dinner,'  just depending on the situation. 

5. Switch readers.  I don't do this if I can help it. I am visual and prefer to 'see' the story in print. But I did take turns with my oldest, I think she was like me and enjoyed the long stretches of reading. None of the others showed as much interest, so I didn't  encourage it as much as I probably should. It gives the new reader something to do if they're getting bored with the station offerings and the new voice helps the listeners have something 'new' to listen to as well.  If you can relinquish control. 

6.. Allow some discussion and bantering. After a really great part everyone may be laughing and high Fiving one another, or discussing how stupid the character is being. Allow a little steam to be let off. It's like comedians learning to pause until the laughter dies down.  You need to be able to do the same. Young children may have questions about something or you may need to define a word or explain a skip in G-rated terms.  Take the time to do so.  

7. Take your time.  One of the Begariad rotations took almost a year to complete. We started it with the new baby, took it to the beach and finished the series over Christmas.  We read in-between times, but during normal busy family schedules it is just hard to get in the extended reading times needed.  I also read just to the current kids at home and that's easier to schedule as I count it towards 'school' and I don't have to compete with other adult or busy teen schedules.  I try to always have a book or series in progress to the currently homeschooled. 

NO-NOs: I don't allow electronics.  Computer games are 'stories' of their own and I can't believe they can really get into a book if they are looking at a screen, it's just not the same to me as drawing or knitting.  Nothing with a battery has always been our rule.  [and what parent doesn't want another opportunity to ban them for a little while?] 

I do hope you take an epic adventure with your family real soon!

ps. The series is now printed in two large volumes: There are also additional tales from the perspective of other important characters. We've read those too. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Teachable Moments


It seems that posting on my homeschool lists inspires me to blog. That’s a good thing! This time I was mentioning how I varied the ‘teaching moments’ by usually grabbing a chance when it shows itself.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love to plan. I spend the summer mapping out the next school year.  It feels great and I get excited to start. [Hey, it’s inspiring]  Following through, however,  is not so much fun. Those are details that are meant for mere mortals, I guess.  Of course, I try, but its just not my forte.  My forte is however, spontaneity!
When a kid asks a question or  a child doodles on the wall. . . It’s time for a quick lesson! [Not That lesson, but an art lesson!]  I grab the closest piece of scrap paper and voila! School accomplished for the day!  String several of these together and it makes a great portfolio.   So, I thought I’d post a few photos of those more impromptu sessions we have had in the recent past and their explanations. 

I bought 'removable' chalkboard paper from a craft store. It sticks easily to the wall but is NOT removable if you keep it in one spot too long. This one is low to the floor right by the kitchen. Chalk tends to stay on the floor underneath, though there's a kitchen drawer close at hand. This way, if my pre-schooler seems interested, I can take a few minutes to work on her letters before getting back to 'chores' or school with the big kids. She is also free to use it whenever she wants.  Above: we did a few letters and then tried a word. She also had to practice making hearts. 

I have 2 good sized dry erase boards that I scored from a business closing. I have one place to hang them on the wall- so they take turns in that spot, otherwise they are leaning against various walls in the house, depending on where we feel like working in any given season.  Dry erase makes impromptu learning easy. Just grab a marker and start teaching! Change of subject? Just erase it.  Reluctant writers can't resist markers! Above: preschooler learning 'hop.'

So one morning we wanted to try that restaurant technique of squirting the pancake batter from a bottle or pastry bag.  The kids quickly figured out you could 'write' with it.  It wasn't as easy as we thought, but we made some letters and words.  We could then 'read' them before we ate them! Yum. 

The chalkboard off the kitchen:  Our youngest learned out to write her name on this. There is always a fair amount of doodling and 'artistic' license.  After writing her name, we erased parts and did them over in different colors.  Note some phonogram review on top.  This chalkboard is in our entry hall, so its also useful for party signs or family notes.  Its low to the floor  to be young child friendly and easier to just sit on the floor.




The dangers of Knowledge!! Our preschooler wanted to write my 'name' so I taught her 'mom'  She did give me an invitation to a 'show' she was planning, however she apparently couldn't resist practicing on our suede chair.  I'm a little conflicted. 1]I'm happy she remembered how to spell it and form those letters, 2]I'm disappointed she didn't use cursive.  Maybe the curve of the arm and the softness of the fabric made it difficult.  3] oh, she wrote on the furniture. . . but now every time we sit there together we can sound it out and read it!

This was cool.  We have combined several partial Risk games into one game. One set was apparently Roman numeral shaped pieces.  The kids were having some difficulty telling them apart [it was hard] and remembering their value. It inspired an entire session on Roman numerals and how they work.  Glad that chalkboard was close at hand!!  Note the numbers on top- I always start with 0.  It's a pet peeve of mine that we have 10 digits, they are 0-9 which we use to make all other numbers; not 1-10!   Using 0-9 helps explain place value and counting higher and higher. 

I also like to do 'teaching moments' while waiting in doctors' or mechanic's waiting rooms and even in the church pew.  Even if you forget to bring anything, those places always have advertisements and pens- just grab some of that paper and use the white space. [for my youngest we can play 'find the phonograms']  If I'm on top of things, we can pack lap dry erase boards, markers, notebooks and any flashcards or books we want and off we go-carschooling.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Discouragement


Recently I answered a post by a homeschool mom that was feeling discouraged. I thought I would share my response here as I think it may be useful to all of us. 

I think feelings of discouragement are more common than we admit.  We see those other posts, read those magazine articles or look up statistics and we wonder what we're dong wrong. Why isn't my child making leaps and bounds? Why isn't my child succeeding in that way?    It's an easy thing to slip into, but we need to be aware and watch for it.   We need to keep our focus on our own kids and make sure our goals actually fit for them. Not what we want. Not what those other kids are doing.  

While in the mean time, we should review and revisit our tools. Any other profession will have continuing education or conferences of some type. Professionals know they have to keep on top of their game.  So, why don't we? A refresher course- re-reading the book, watching the video or attending the class again- all ways we can refresh our teaching.   Our job as teachers is worth the effort or expense for extra or updated training.  

The other thing most professionals do as well- is refreshing the 'spirit'. They might not call it that. But some time reflecting on why we do what we do is also very helpful. I have loved attending the real refreshment retreats. [http://blog.apologia.com/live/ ] So much so, that I also keep the program  with my notes in it for re-reading throughout the year. I highly recommend it.  If you can't do a 'real refreshment' you may want to do your own. Set aside some time where you can reflect on why you do this, where is God leading you? What is He calling you to do in this manner? What scripture verses speak to you? Mediate on Him. 

My children are never going to make those great leaps or probably ever be 'above' grade level in some areas,  but they are continuing to progress in all areas at their own personal rate. [bumpy and uneven at that] Sometimes I need an attitude adjustment to help me see how very talented and smart my kids really are. . . I have come to accept that my children and my homeschool will not look like anyone else's, even if sometimes, I need a reminder. 

blessings,

Friday, December 7, 2012

15 Day Sprint to the Finish Line

Countdown to Christmas Break! A sprint to the finish line.
So, over the Thanksgiving weekend, the kids and I discussed how we would handle the relatively small amount of time until Christmas. As is the usual case, the days leading up to Thanksgiving week were getting more and more loose and we weren't exactly where we wanted to be in our subjects. [not that I feel you have to live by a schedule, but if you have Goals, you do need to work on them in order to accomplish them- so balance those 2 truths!]  We all agreed that we wanted to get further and end the 'semester' on a winning note.  So to that end, we decided what would be realistic goals for each subject  and what would be a realistic number of days until we took a break. [I, the mom, love the breaks almost more than the kids!]  We decided on 15 more days of  official 'school.'  We determined that Cordell ought to finish out the current math book, reach list Q-5 in SWR, complete the current SoTW book, stay current in Latin, adding in vocabulary work, and memorizing his Sneetch Duo for our Speak Out.  Melodie would get 15 sides of math and 8 drills in, reach Q-3 [or catch up to her brother if desired], complete the current SoTW book, stay current in Latin, adding in vocab. and Memorize the Sneetch Duo for our Speak Out. I also added working w/ their younger sister as a goal. [either phonogram game or reading a book] and 1 hour of recreational reading per day and piano practice as those things were being neglected too.  They just tested into new TKD belts, which was also a goal. It is Nice to have 1 goal checked off early on.  So, to help us all stayed focused,  I made up a grid and wrote each day's goals on it for each child.  They are to check them off as they do them.   In practical terms, I am only homeschooling 2 students- so that's all that is listed here. But I am also including the pre-schooler on the 15 day 'sprint to the finish.'    And you could say the 15yr is on the same sprint as his community college classes and his co-op class are also winding down- all to be done by the 18th.  That is also our Speak Out night and so with that last deadline, we can truly start our Winter Break.  Just in time for parties, visiting siblings and all kinds of other good things!

Since Christmas [or any holiday/birthdyay] can be a distraction to the regular routine, I try to find ways to combine them.  I came up with a way to use our Christmas Train to encourage phonogram work with the preschooler. You never know if kids will cooperate with your fantastic ideas, but thankfully this time, she agreed it was neat.  The game worked like this: I held up a phonogram card, which she was to 'read'. If she read it. [and of course, I helped if needed] the card could have a ride on the train.  She was the conductor and in control. Always a plus.  She was to say 'Bye bye ____ [insert phonogram] and 'Hello ___' as it went around the tree.  We'll be doing this activity often while we have the set-up available. Who doesn't love to play train conductor and enjoy the Christmas scenery?
The phonogram gets a ride around our Christmas tree

Well, we still have other things going on too, with Tween parties, homeschool dinners, bake sales,  a field trip to the spy museum and of course, the Midnight Showing of the Hobbit. [for the teen group].

Add to all that- shopping, baking, decorating and cleaning,  it will be a great accomplishment to keep up with the schedule. But so far, with Cordell's help mostly, I am staying on track and it looks like we'll be able to reach our goals!

All I have to do now is come up with wrap up history activities to go with finishing the book, or for co-op; finishing a unit.  That's today's task, along with s'more cookie baking . . .and maybe some gingerbread if I can fit it in. . .


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Independence

This post is a  reminder to me when I forget:    My job is to work myself out of a job. 

'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' Jer. 29:11

A Friend recently recited this scripture and it immediately spoke to me in a specific way.  I felt God was saying, *I* have plans, not you.  I can relax, because I'm not the one that needs to own the plans of my children.   What a relief!

So, now I strive to sit back and enjoy my emerging adult children.  Smile more.  Have fun. 

It's kind of like helping butterflies open their wings. 
You shouldn't do it. 
They need to do it in their own time. You should just watch from the sidelines.   [Provide a safe environment, of course.] 

Knowing when to push or help and knowing when to step back: It's like playing Chicken! You can't really tell if you are right until the very last minute and it might be too late then!  So, what do we do?

Well, I've recently been concentrating on this corollary truth: 
The only person you can control is yourself. 

I am working on controlling myself, rather than focusing on other's behaviors.  Obviously, I still have to be the mom, but in the moment, the person I need to be controlling is ME.  As long as I'm doing that, then it's okay to stay and be the mom. If I'm not controlling myself, then I'm not being 'the mom' anyway, so time to take a break.  'Rinse and repeat' as the saying goes. 

Two resources that have been helpful:
http://teachingselfgovernment.com/
http://celebratecalm.com/

Both are saying basically the same thing, just in a different way.  These are not primarily 'parents' advice' than they are lifestyle changes.  Which is really the only true change, is it not? I appreciate the CC audio Cds because I can listen to them over and over- and some of us need more repetition. It has been very helpful. 

Peace. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Seasons are achangin'


It is definitely getting cooler around here. Especially at night.  I love the smell of the cool air.  Of course, the upcoming change in the season is a hot topic and prompted me to want to Do something with it.  I found a cool 4 Seasons lapbook, but nah, too much for now- we've already got some lapbooks going.  What I've been wanting for a long time is a HUGE tree that changes with the seasons.  So, finally I stayed up all night and got it ready so we could put it up today.   I taped some sheets of packing paper* together to draw the trunk. Then I cut it out.  Drew some freehand leaves on card stock as my templates, traced a page of them and photocopied them onto more sheets. [Do you remember the old days when we would have had to trace them all?, whew!]  The kids helped color the trunk and cut out the leaves. The youngest wanted apples on the tree, so she made some. . .  I ran over to the store and bought removable adhesive for the leaves, since we'll be taking them down for winter and putting up different ones in the spring.  We all worked on hanging them.  Some are 'falling.' The sign says, 'Leaves Fall in Autumn.'

The plan is for:

  • Autumn colored leaves for Fall
  • Snowflakes /snow for winter, [we're ever hopeful here on the Mason-dixon line] 
  • Pale green buds and flowers for spring 
  • Big dark Green leaves for summer- and maybe some bugs, lol. 


I hope to save the pieces [or we could add/replace] but the idea is to keep it going.
I will also add some info on the Seasons.  Tomorrow I hope to make a 'circle' of time. It's a paper plate of the 12 months, color coding the 4 seasons. Maybe I'll show it to you tomorrow.

oh, and Happy Constitution Day! [whoops, posting too late, well, belated then.]

*I love it when packages in the mail include packing paper! I keep mine in a large paper shopping bag. It's so useful to have big sheets of paper handy.