Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Friday, September 26, 2014

1 Piano Lesson, 2 Zoos, and 3 Playdates

I thought this was out last super busy week for a while, but then I glanced at my calendar, and realized that we only have a one week break from the craziness.  Oh well, at least we're a two car family now.  It should relieve some of the headache of having to balance everything!

Here's what we did this week:

We were supposed to go up to Lake Maria State Park to study Minnesota's hardwood biome, but plans changed, and we ended up having a play date at a friends house instead.  It was great!  Elise played dinosaurs with her little buddy, and Millie and friends walked around the neighborhood,   She bought junk at a garage sale (a ridiculous old chipped up cat salt and pepper shaker for Grandma Rira for $8!!), then returned said junk back to the garage sale where it came from ;)  (You're welcome, Grandma Rira!  Ha ha!)  Fortunately the guy running the sale took the stuff back.  Oy.  


Our biggest day yet!  It totally did poor Elise in.  We went to the MN Zoo for homeschool day.  The girls got to watch a diver feed the tropical fish.  He answered a question the girls have been wondering for a long time.  Why doesn't the shark eat the fish?  Because that kind of shark doesn't eat fish!  They also attended a talk about turtles.  From there we went directly to playgroup, where the girls played with their friends for a couple hours.  They found a hobo hut in the woods, which was pretty exciting.  :p  After that, we went directly to Millie's piano lesson.  When we got home, Millie had to walk the neighbor dog.  Phew!  What a day!  I was so glad to put the girls to bed and veg out on the couch in the evening!!


Swimming lessons!  Elise is going to learn to swim this year.  She's not afraid of the water, and she tried everything her teacher asked her to do.  I'm proud of my little fishy!  They have open swim on Wednesday afternoon.  Next week we'll come back for that (hopefully with friends).  Afterwards we went home and did school.  After their 3 R's, the girls worked on their DIY.org projects.  Millie worked on her painting challenge, and Elise worked on her zoology challenge.


This was such a great day!  We didn't get out of our jammies (until I had to run to the grocery store to get lettuce and tomatoes for taco night).  We did our 3 R's in the morning.  Millie finished working on her packed about Where the Red Fern Grows.  <--- That's a sketch of Billy when he walked to town and saw his reflection for his first time.  In the afternoon we set up a science experiment in which the girls track the weather using a pinecone, and did an art lesson about texture.  It was so nice to be home all day!!


Friday should have been a stay-at-home day,
 but we were sidetracked by an
invitation from cousins to go to the zoo!  The girls were so eager to go, that they finished all their work by 10:30 AM (that includes a math test, reading practice, and copy work for Elise, and typing, math, english, and piano for Millie).  They can really book-it with the right motivation!

That sums up our week!  We have a fun weekend planned, including a drive up to Duluth to see the fall colors and to cross a few waterfalls off our list.

Want to see what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Check it out here!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

No Excuses! Incorporating Nature Study Into Your Day

 It's not always easy to get outside and do nature study, is it?  In my homeschool, nature study is very important, and high on my priority list.

But, even though it's "high on my priority list," I find it's really easy to put on the back burner when other fun things come up.

Here are a few tips for getting out there and actually doing nature study, even if you're a reluctant naturalist:

Just get out there!  Make a commitment to get outside and into nature for an hour, at least once per week.  Even if it's very informal, kids will pick up on the joy of the natural environment.  It doesn't take any work on your part for your children to observe the smells that waft through the woods or prairie, to see what happens when they poke at a puddle with a stick, throw rocks into a creek, or look at interesting moss growing on a tree.

You don't have to travel far to get into nature! I live in a downtown area, with a lot of brick and concrete.  To get out into nature has to be an intentional endeavor.  That being said, we can always walk or take a short drive to be at least partially immersed in nature's splendor.  Even a man made city park is full of squirrels to observe, ducks to feed, various types of vegetation, and bugs.  Don't feel like you have to drive great distances to get into the wilderness in order to enjoy nature study.

But, what if I forget my printables?  Don't laugh.  This is a biggie for me.  When I first started coordinating our nature study efforts, I thought I had to have pretty printables with areas for the kids to sketch their findings, and write everything down.  Now I know that while the printables one might find on the internet are super cool, they're not necessary.  If you want, or your child wants to record/sketch while they're "in the field," you can make a simple nature journal out of plain white paper, or buy a spiral bound sketch pad from a craft store, or, you could just do nothing.  The sights, sounds, and smells that your children will observe while out in nature will be permanently ingrained in their memories.

You don't need to be able to identify every plant, bird call, or cloud formation! Really, you don't!  If your child asks a question that you can't answer, use it as an opportunity to learn more about it later.  Here are some good online resources for identifying things you might find in nature:

Rocks                                 Clouds                              Trees
Plants                                 Birds                                 Reptiles

Form a group that meets up on a regular basis. If you need accountability to make sure you're getting out there, form a group!  Get the word out on Facebook, meetup.com, or in your homeschool group.  Plan to meet up weekly (or monthly, or bi-monthly, whatever fits into your schedule), and just do it!

My two favorite resources for nature study are:

Nature Seeker Workbook, by "The Old Naturalist" Lawrence Wade
Handbook of Nature Study website.  This has been our go-to resource for years.  It is clearly a labor of love by the fabulous woman who takes the time to educate about nature, with this resource.

This is a fantastic time of year to get into the nature study habit!
Just get out there, have fun, and make some memories!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Latitude is Flatitude

Three outings in one week, again?!  Yup.  It looks like things will slow down in two weeks ;)

Here's what we did this week:


We stayed home on Monday.  I love starting out the week with a stay-at-home day.  We did the 3 R's in the morning, then geography in the afternoon.  We're still in the "explore the map" phase of geography, so the girls learned about the compass rose, latitude and longitude, the prime meridian, and equator.  The girls seemed kind of interested in this lesson, but they're not in love with geography yet.  That's all going to change in 3 weeks (stay tuned).

She's 6!

This was a big day!  Lots of celebrating to do, as it was Elise's birthday and our 14th anniversary!  We started out the day with a visit from Grandma and Grandpa.  Elise said "They're finally going to see our house!"  He he.  After their visit, we went to a playground for playgroup, where the girls played with their friends for a couple hours.  In the evening, we went to the Mall of America to hit up the Lego Store and Buffalo Wild Wings (Elise's choice).  It was such a fun day!


Ugh.  This day was slightly tragic.  Millie was supposed to have a biology class, but I got lost trying to find it :(  Booo!  I eventually found it, but it was at a huge park, and despite walking and walking, we couldn't find the group.  Bummer.  We ended up going back to the mall because Elise had money burning a hole in her pocket.  She needed to buy some Breyer horses. The girls did their 3 R's in the afternoon.


3 R's in the morning.  Elise and I read Raising Dragons this week, she did her first dictation, and we did a super fun project (a fire breathing dragon made out of a toilet paper tube and crepe paper). That book was so sweet!  We both loved it.

Then, another big breakthrough for us! The girls stayed home alone for 1.5 hours while I had coffee with a friend!  I feel so free!  First a car, now 1.5 hours to get coffee...what's next?!  It was fabulous.  The girls did fine.  They just played Legos and watched Wild Kratts the whole time.  In the afternoon, we had nature study.  We're using the Nature Seeker Workbook for nature study this year.  It's truly the most amazing nature study guide I've ever come across.  Every lesson is amazing.  Today we learned about bugs and identified trees.  It was a perfect day to be outside.  We have to soak up all the sunlight we can before winter sets in!


Today we drove an hour to Nowthen, MN for the Waipiti Buckskinners event.  It's a bunch of history buffs doing things like dipping candles, knitting socks, selling merchandise, metal working, hatchet throwing, and did I mention selling merchandise?  It was pretty fun.  Millie wants to work/camp there now.  :)  She wants to start her own business.  She has a pretty good idea.  Now to implement it, I guess.  Eeeek.  Afterwards we went to a bar and grill.  It really seemed more like a bar.  I had the quote from Sweet Home Alabama running through my head the whole time, "You have a baby...in a bar."  Ha ha.

Find out what other homeschoolers were doing this week, by clicking here!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Auditions, Biomes, Circuits, and DIY.org

Another week with great educational diversity, here at Two Cowgirls Homeschool Academy!

Here's what we were up to this week:


 We woke up early and ventured out for a two hour drive to Fairfax MN to go to Fort Ridgley State Park.  It was so cool!  Our reason for going there was to observe the prairie, and fill out a workbook about it.  The added bonus was being able to walk around the ruins of Fort Ridgley.  What an interesting history!  Millie and her friend went on a walk into the woods by themselves, and had a great adventure.  A memory maker, for sure!  In the evening Millie had her first *real* play audition! 


We did our 3 R's in the morning.  Elise and I read Corduroy this week, which included a sequencing activity, and learning to sew a button on...you guessed it...a piece of corduroy.  Millie is reading (and very much enjoying) Where the Red Fern Grows.  In the afternoon, we went to a park for playgroup, then piano lessons.  


Today was SciGirls!!  It finally came :)  We've been planning and obsessing organizing this class for months and months.  The first class was a success!  The girls received a challenge to make a fashion accessory using a battery, LED lights, and conductive thread.  This is something that was totally new to these girls, which is awesome because it's hard to come across science activities that haven't been done a million times.  While Millie and I were at SciGirls, Elise went to her Lil' Naturalist class with Grandma Susie.  Afterwards, they went to the Mall of America and Buffalo Wild Wings.  Fun!


Finally a day to stay home!  We did our 3 R's in the morning, and the girls worked on DIY projects in the afternoon.  Both girls earned their Makeup Artist badges.  While they did that, I had my Becky Home-ecy day (more on this later).  I spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  It was great!

Mirrorless make-up application challenge
Fake an injury challenge


Another stay at home day!  I love these days :)  We did 3 R's in the morning, and science in the afternoon.  We learned about decomposers, producers, and consumers.  See the cute classification cards in my picture?!  They're available for free here.  The girls made food webs, which also happened to be one of the challenges for the "Biologist" DIY topic.  They uploaded their webs to the DIY website, and then spend the rest of the afternoon playing, cleaning,and getting ready to spend the night at Grandma Susie's house.  Bud and I are leaving bright and early Saturday morning to get a new car for me in...wait for it...Omaha!  Road trip!

It was a great week, and although we went out 3 times instead of my ideal 2 times, it was low stress and fulfilling.  The upcoming weekend will include; the first day of Sunday school, a new car, and a birthday party for Elise.  Weeee!

What do other homeschoolers do all week?  Find out here!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Geocaching, Color Wheels, and Maps

We made it through our first week of 1st and 5th grade!  It was a pretty ideal, short week.  Here's what we did:

Tuesday was our first day of school.  It was a perfect day, everything went very smoothly.  I wish every day was like the first day!  I already wrote all about it, here

Wednesday we had out first DIY club meeting!  I certainly won't be earning a weather forecasting badge, because we were rained out :(  The kids didn't seem to mind.  They had a great time!  We ended up driving a few blocks away to a park with a shelter to finish our project.  The kids learned all about how to make and hide a geocache!  They made one, filled it, and hid it in the woods.  One of the kids took the coordinates home to log it on the geocaching website.  I was so busy, I didn't take any pictures until the end, when all the kids disappeared into the woods, and I found these two little girls (Elise and her BFF) walking through the woods alone.  Oops.

Thursday we went to the farm to do school.  It was fun to do school in a different environment!  I was surprised that we actually got work done (even piano practice!).  The highlight of our day, and the reason for doing school at the farm, was our art class.  We talked about primary colors, secondary colors, and the color wheel.  The girls did a little mixing of colored water, and found items from nature to match each of the colors in the wheel.  We got rained out today, too!  Eh, we're not afraid of a little rain ;)

Friday we stayed home (finally!).  After the girls finished their regular work, we did geography.  We read Me On The Map, then put together booklets mapping our home, city, state, country, and world.  It was fun!  This was mainly an activity for Elise (as was the color wheel), but it was good review for Millie, too.

It was a great week!  I'm looking forward to this week, too.  We have a LOT planned!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Not Back To School - First Day 2014!

I feel like I need to say something ridiculous like "Their futures are so bright, they have to wear shades," because it was so bright out this morning!  It was hard to get pictures in the lighting, but I did the best I could ;)

Here are the girls, just minutes before they kicked off 1st and 5th grade:

 After lunch, they had "special interest" day, where they got to decide what they wanted to learn about.  The girls chose to have a lemonade stand (Entrepreneur class?  Math?)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer 2014 Wrap-Up

It's over!  Summer as we know it is over for 2014.  Of course, that doesn't mean we're going to sit inside with our sweaters until next June.  It just means that tomorrow, school will be in full swing!  I'm so excited to get back to our regular schedule.  It feels really good to want school to start, after my difficult year, last year.  I can honestly say that I'm totally refreshed, and ready to start again!  This summer felt really, really long.  I don't know why, but it went on forever.  It was the best summer I've had in years (maybe because I needed it so much!).

Here's how we ended our summer:

A certain little girl would probably consider the highlight of her summer ;)

And now we're ready to go!!  C'mon 1st & 5th!