Rock Painting

Rock painting is something new to us and we all loved it.  Conan was far too impatient to wait for the paint to dry between layers, so he just kept going. 

The top left corner rock is painted as a pumpkin.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Kaia LOVES horses, so 90% of the time she draws and colors horses (the other 10% is family).  What I really loved about rock painting is it forced her to be more creative – she had to look at the shape and come up with something to paint that fit the shape of the rock.

The top left is a flower, top right is a rainbow, bottom left is an eye with yellow shadow, and the bottom right is a blood-shot eye (note the red!)
The top left is a flower, top right is a rainbow, bottom left is an eye with yellow shadow, and the bottom right is a blood-shot eye (note the red!)

Hot Days of Summer

After building a snowman last weekend, the days have certainly gotten warmer.  This weekend was 30C (87F), so we jumped into the canoe and spent 2.5 hrs on the river, followed by a weiner roast with friends at the take-out. 

We stopped on a rocky shore to take a break.  Conan promptly asked for his nature journal, made himself comfortable, and spent a good half hour creating.



Kaia chose to collect clam shells and she thought each one was prettier than the last.


On Sunday Kaia and her dad went canoeing and fishing and then spent a couple of lazy hours swimming at Echo Dale.



We spent about 8 hours outside today – it was a terrific day!

I Took His Hand and Followed

I found this poem at Best Homeschooling and thought I would share. I think it speaks volumes.

I Took His Hand and Followed
Mrs. Roy L. Peifer

My dishes went unwashed today,

I didn’t make the bed,

I took his hand and followed

Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,

My little son and I…

Exploring all the great outdoors

Beneath the summer sky

We waded in a crystal stream,

We wandered through a wood…

My kitchen wasn’t swept today

But life was gay and good.

We found a cool, sun-dappled glade

And now my small son knows

How Mother Bunny hides her nest,

Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

We watched a robin feed her young,

We climbed a sunlit hill…

Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,

We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,

That I didn’t brush the stairs,

In twenty years, no one on earth

Will know, or even care.

But that I’ve helped my little boy

To noble manhood grow,

In twenty years, the whole wide world

May look and see and know.

Song and Dance with Peter Puffin

Yesterday morning we headed over to the Esplanade for the Peter Puffin concert as part of Environmental Week. Now, we’ve been to a Fred Penner concert, which was really good, and we’ve been to a Doodlebops concert (which was very mediocre, which also resulted in 5 stitches in Kaia’s chin). The kids love music, and it was a free concert (we went as part of a homeschool group), so we thought we really couldn’t go wrong. And we were RIGHT! The concert was fantastic – there was a lot of audience involvment and our sweet Kaia was even chosen to sing and dance on stage with other kids – she was so excited. Peter said he’d choose kids who were doing the following really well: sitting up straight, hands crossed in the lap, eyes bulging out with a politician’s smile AND nodding their heads. It was hilarious – I wish I would have taken a picture of Kaia waiting to be chosen – she was so serious about it!



After the concert, we spent some time in the museum and in the ‘Food for Health’ exhibit where Conan made his debut on a cereal box.  It was a morning well spent.


Outdoor Hour Challenge # 2

Outdoor Hour Challenge # 2 – Using Your Words

The Outdoor Hour Challenge instructions were to:

1.  Read page 15 and pages 23 & 24.

2.  Take a 15 minute walk and listen to the sounds of nature

3.  After the walk, talk to your kids about sounds they heard and  come up with one word to describe something they heard (rustling, chirping, etc), two words for something they saew (tall trees) and three words for something they felt (freezing cold wind, rough sticky pinecone)

4.  Optional nature journal entry

1.  Read page 15 and pages 23 & 24.

“The chief aim of this volume is to encourage investigation rather than to give information.”

2.  Take a 15 minute walk and listen to the sounds of nature

Instead of walking, we took the canoe out on the river – it was a gorgeous day.  The temperature was around 23 C (73. 4 F), the sun was bright in the sky and there was a soft breeze – the river was calm and easy.  Although some would argue that Southern Alberta has the most boring terrain, there are some beautiful spots. 

This is the left side of the river.

This is the left side of the river.

This is the right side of the river, directly across from the photo above.

This is the right side of the river, directly across from the photo above.

We stopped paddling for a while, closed our eyes, and sat quietly for as long as we could.  I’m afraid it didn’t last too long, as Kaia was just too tempted to blow the whistle attached to her lifejacket and Conan kept yelling out, “I hear a bird!  I hear a bird!”

3.  After the walk, talk to your kids about sounds they heard…

They heard the few main sounds – water and birds, so the conversation was short.  We spent more time talking about what we saw in the water – bugs, sticks, frog eggs, and watched the birds dive for fish and other food, and then the kids put their hands over the side of the canoe and played in the cool water.

River 3FotoFlexer_Photo

4.  Optional nature journal entry

Today was our first day of nature journaling.  The kid’s couldn’t wait to get started and I was a little hesitant – I have never been a drawer at all – I’ve always been very self conscous of it, as I really don’t possess any talent in that department; however, I did make an honest effort and we all enjoyed ourselves – I think it will be really great to look back at our journals one day and see the progress and remember all the fun we had.

River 4FotoFlexer_Photo

Conan (3) drew the river.

Conan (3) drew the river.


Kaia (5) drew the water with bubbles and trees in the background. Kaia (5) drew the water with bubbles and trees in the background.
Kaia drew a beaver dam.

Kaia drew a beaver dam.

My first attempt at a landscape.
The photo above is my first attempt at a landscape.
We had an amazing day on the river – can’t wait to do it again.

Outdoor Hour Challenge #1

I’m really excited to get started with the Outdoor Hour Challenge from the Handbook of Nature Study Blog.

Our first ‘assignment’:

  1. Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study
  2. Spend 10-15 mins outside observing
  3. Talk to the kids about 2 things they found interesting
  4. Throughout the week, find out more information about those 2 items

1.  Read pages 1-8 of the Handbook of Nature Study

This was really interesting – the book was written about 100 yrs ago (give or take a decade or two, but still!) and it is shocking at how everything still applies today.  A couple of quotes that really struck a chord with me:

“Nature-study cultivates the child’s imagination, since there are so many wonderful and true stories that he may read with his own eyes, which affect his imagination as much as does fairy lore; at the same time nature-study cultivates in him a perception and a regard for what is true, and the power to express it.”

“Out-of-door life takes the child afield and keeps him in the open air, which not only helps him physically and occupies his mind with sane subjects, but keeps him out of mischief.  It is not only during childhood that this is true, for love of nature counts much for sanity in later life.  This is an age of nerve tension, and the relaxation which comes from the comforting companionship found in woods and fields is, without doubt, the best remedy for this condition.”

I am not sure if it’s because I’m getting older that I wish I was more of an ‘outdoorsy’ person, but I do – I think both of these quotes are true and really should be a reminder – it’s crazy how little time many, many kids spend outside these days.  So here is one of our first steps to improving our family’s love of nature.

2.  Spend 10-15 mins outside observing

We took our dog, Meeka for a walk at our usual spot – the off-leash area at Kin Coulee park and the kids were watching the robins.  As our walk continued, we were lucky enough to see a beaver swimming in the creek.  We read the park sign about the Northern Leopard Frog and watched the Red-Winged Blackbirds playing in the water; and nevermind the dozens of dog breeds we encountered on our walk.  We promised the kids we would go to the kid’s part after the dog park – they lasted about 5 minutes playing before the bridge was too tempting to resist.

 3.  Talk to the kids about 2 things they found interesting

Kaia mentioned how pretty the girl robins are with their bright orange tummies, which prompted our first real discussion about robins.   She also wanted to catch the Northern Leopard Frog, but we discussed why that wasn’t a wise thing to do. 

So we’ll carry on with learning about robins and frogs.

4.  Throughout the week, find out more information about those 2 items

I assumed that the females didn’t have orange tummies, but was mistaken.  They have the same coloring as the male, only not as bright.  Robins200px-Turdus-migratorius-002 are as common as mud, so we’ve talked about them a lot this week.  After walking Kaia to school this afternoon, Conan and I sat on the sidewalk in front of someone’s house and watched a robin pecking for lunch.  We were so still and quiet that the robin hopped towards us and stopped about 5 feet in front of us, which thrilled Conan to bits.  We talked about what they eat, which prompted a lively conversation about worms.  When we walked up to our house, there was a robin on the lawn and Conan was thrilled that his ‘friend’ followed us home.  He asked if the bird will stay here in the winter (in all the snow), which brought on another conversation, including what they use to build their nests, and what they eat. 


180px-Northern_leopard_frog_1I had to do a bit of coaxing to get the kids interested in frogs this week, so we went back to Kin Coulee and re-read the sign about the Northern Leopard Frog.  We talked a bit about the life cycle, what frogs eat, how far they can jump, how fast they can swim, and other fun facts.



I’d say that our first Outdoor Hour was a success – tomorrow I’ll take a look and see what our 2nd challenge is.


I love books.  I mean, I REALLY love books.  I get all giddy when a book order is delivered to my door and I could spend hours thumbing through them – I never know which one to read first.  But today is an exceptional day, because I can use all 3 books simultaneously.  So what was delivered?

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Book # 1 Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Yikes. I must admit, it looks a bit intimidating. Oh well – we’ll jump right in and I’ll learn alongside our 5 yr old! I have read tons of reviews for this book and if it does what everyone says it will, Kaia could very well be reading beginner chapter books within 6 months. That would be a pretty good return on 15 minutes a day!






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Book #2 Games for Learning by Peggy Kaye

The back of the book reads, “The games cover all of the important areas of the school curriculum from kindergarten to third grade:  reading, writing, spelling, mathematics, logical thinking, and even science, history, and geography.”

I cannot wait to get started with this book – I love sly education.






May Misc 037Book # 3 Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

This is the book that I think I am most excited about – all 887 pages! 

Following the Charlotte Mason method, we plan on doing a ton of outdoor activities – nature walks, studying birds, animals, plants, the solar system, rocks, etc.  Since I really don’t know where or how to start, we’ll be following the Outdoor Hour Challenge site. Each week they give you (the educator) instructions that you will carry through with your students and then ‘report back’ via a link to your blog to show how you did in the challenge. It’s not a typical challenge with a ‘winner’, but rather something to challenges ourselves and to give ideas to others, which is nice. Since both kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE being outside, I think we will all really enjoy our ‘Nature Study classes’. In fact, I think Kaia was born in the wrong era – she would have fit in beautifully as a sister on Little House On The Prairie. I think this book will be a hit for the whole family.