Stop Motion Animation

Lego

My sons both LOVE Legos.  They play with them all of the time and it seems to be the only thing that they care about.  When I am not looking my oldest son Nathan sneaks off and gets one of my laptops (yes, I have two but it was because one of them was broken for a long time and I needed one while the other one was waiting to be fixed).  He doesn’t read or write yet, but he knows how to spell L-E-G-O.  He also knows how to spell things related to Legos by looking at the instructions.  He always navigates to Lego videos on YouTube.  He happened upon one and he wanted me to watch it.  It was a stop motion animation video that was really well done.  After we finished watching the video I told him how stop motion animation worked (homeschooling at its best!).  He said that he wanted to do that.  I asked him to please wait so that I could get ready for the day and then I would help him.  He didn’t want to wait and was very eager and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so we got right to work.  Here are the steps that we took.

  1. Get a backdrop/scene set for what you want to take pictures of.
  2. Find a steady surface or a tripod for your camera and set those up with the camera directed at your scene.
  3. Start taking pictures of the thing you want to make a video of.  In each picture the thing (in our case a Lego man and snowmobile) will want to be moved just a little so that when the video is played it looks like it is moving.  Remember to keep all hands out of the pictures 🙂  This part takes a long time!  My son took over 200 pictures for his short movie.

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    Positioning the Legos just so

  4. Once you are done you want to go through your pictures and edit or delete ones that need to be.
  5. Upload the photos to a movie maker program (we used iMovie)
  6. Add in sound effects
  7. Save your movie and share it with everyone.

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Nathan did all of the picture taking himself.  He was very patient and seemed to enjoy it very much.  My husband and I worked on uploading the photos and doing the iMovie, but Nathan gave us input as to what sounds he wanted to use.  He has been busily taking a whole bunch more pictures, so more videos will be sure to follow!

Drumroll please……Here is Nathan’s Arctic Adventure!!!

 

-Heather

p.s. This project is so not Waldorf, but it is something that he is really passionate about and I would hate to miss such a great learning opportunity that he enjoyed so much because it didn’t “fit in” with what a philosophy says.

p.p.s.  I will be putting a password on my computer so that he can’t continue to sneak off with my computer to watch videos!

p.p.p.s.  I just learned that Lego has an app to make these videos from your phone.  I heard that it is super easy to do.  I’m not sure that my son will be able to keep the phone still though.

A Homeschool Day In The Life Of A 6 & 4 year old

dayinthelife

Over at Simple Homeschool they have been doing a series called, “A Homeschool Day In The Life Of…”  A guest writer will describe one day in their homeschool life.  I thought that I would join in because it has been interesting to see how everyone’s days work out (they are all very different).

This was our Monday

6:45am:  Both boys are up and asking if it is okay to get out of bed.  Yes, it is but we ask them to let us sleep for a bit longer.  That doesn’t happen.  Nathan (age 6) comes and talks to me until I finally get up at 7.

7-7:30am:  I clean the litterbox, feed the dogs, then put away all of the dishes in our dish rack from last night.  The boys play with their Legos.

7:30am:  I get breakfast ready.  My husband prepared steel cut oatmeal last night in our pressure cooker set to a timer so that it would be ready in the morning.

7:30-7:40am:  Eating breakfast and coloring.

7:40-8:30am:  Boys are happily coloring at our dining room table.  I am checking email and reading blogs that I follow.

8:30-9:20am:  Nathan wants me to print out some coloring pages of some new Legos that have come out.  Lego does not have these coloring pages because they are brand new.  He wants to watch Lego videos and I tell him no.  He ends up having a tantrum and being upset with everyone.  He goes to his room to cool off.  Anderson (age 4) stays and colors and asks to listen to the audiobook of The BFG, so I put that on.  I finish looking at stuff on the internet (I need to cut this time down!) and start to write this post.

9:20-10am:  Nathan is hungry again, so I make him an egg sandwich and then go and take a shower and get ready for the day.

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Practicing writing his letters

 

10-11:15am:  We are doing the Language Arts section from the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  Instead of doing the “normal” circle time that is done in Waldorf we sit at the table and recite a few poems and songs that are listed in the curriculum.  We do some active activities to get the bodies moving and then we move to the family room where we review what we learned last week (the letters S, H, X, Y, & Z).  We go over the sounds of each letter and each boy tries to come up with words that starts with those letters.  Nathan practices writing the uppercase and lowercase letters from the above.  Then we read the Nixie of the Mill Pond (a Grimm’s fairytale).  We go back into our dining room and color a tower and a needle for our main lesson book.

11:15-11:45:  Break time.  The boys go off and play with their Legos.  I get the paper and supplies ready for water coloring next and quickly check my emails.

11:45-12pm:  We do the water coloring painting for the week.

12-1pm:  Lunch and the boys listen to James and the Giant Peach on an audiobook.  After lunch it is free play and the boys go into the family room and play with their Legos while listening to the audiobook.

1-2pm: There is an online conference put on by NASH (National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers) that I listen to for an hour.  Nathan takes photos for the stop motion animation videos he wants to create.  Anderson plays with our big cardboard brick blocks and then with Legos.

2-3pm:  We talk about our skeletal system and then do a project of cutting out paper bones and putting them together on a piece of paper to make a skeleton.  We also feel our own bodies to feel the bones.

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3-3:30pm:  Take the dogs for a walk and play outside afterwards.

3:30-4pm:  Boys play outside and I browse the internet.

4-5:15pm:  Prep for dinner, make it (we were making homemade pizza), and do dishes too.

5:15-5:45pm:  Dinner.

5:45-6:30pm:  Feed the animals.  The boys play, I sweep all of our floors, and my husband starts putting together bookshelves.

6:30-8pm:  The boys and I go to the library.  I have items that are due and that need to be picked up by today or I incur charges.  The boys play on the computers there and we read some books.

8-9pm:  My husband gets the boys ready for bed and then he reads to them for bedtime (usually we start bedtime at 7:30).   I’m on the computer during this time.

9-11pm:  My husband and I watch some TV and then we go to bed and we each read for 30-45 minutes and then go to sleep.

This was our day.

-Heather

 

 

Weekly Menu

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I plan our dinner menu for the week because I hate shopping.  If I can get all of our groceries in one trip out it is so much better for me than having to go every day.  I also like knowing what is planned ahead for the week.  (Christopher adds that it’s also a good move on the economy front; there’s almost no unused food in the fridge so nothing goes to waste!) Every Friday night or Saturday morning I like to plan what our family is going to eat for dinner for the coming week (Sunday-Saturday).  Our dinner ideas come from cookbooks and recipes I find online.  I am not very good at being creative when it comes to food and I find it very hard to cook without a recipe (I have done it before though!).  As I am figuring out what we need for the meals I keep a grocery list and add the items that I need, but I divide them up into three categories: Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Safeway (I mostly just go to Costco & TJs, but sometimes there is a random item that both of those don’t carry, so off to Safeway we go).  Once I have our dinner menu planned I go through any staples that we will need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and add those to the list.  We have a big chalkboard in our dining room (for school) that has a dedicated area for groceries that we need that are not a part of our usual weekly list.  Since I like to be efficient when grocery shopping I take my list and I put the items in order of how I would encounter them in the store; for example, on my Trader Joe’s list I always put items in this order: bread, fruit, veggies, etc because when I walk in the door I’ll come to the bread first, fruit second, and veggies third.  It makes shopping easier for me and I find that I tend not to miss an item from the list.  We do our shopping either on Saturday or Sunday and preferably in the mornings when it isn’t as crowded (just an FYI, one TJ employee told me that Sundays are their busiest day and I would have to agree for anytime after 10).

I also put our dinner list on this weekly dry erase planner.  Below is a picture of this week, so you can see how I do it (just so you know, we always have a vegetable with our dinner, but I don’t usually add it to the board since I usually just figure out that day what we will have).

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Usually we eat healthier than this – but Christopher is traveling part of this week, and when he’s not around to help I tend to go with easy meals like nuggets or mac & cheese!

Sunday:  Pizza!  We make homemade pizzas (dough too) and we have this every two weeks on Sunday night.

Monday:  Quiche (I don’t have a specific link for this because I think that I’m going to use a mish-mash of different ones)

Tuesday:  Hamburgers (we also make our own buns)

Wednesday:  Quinoa salad (quinoa, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and some ranch dressing)

Thursday:  Chicken Nuggets

Friday:  Mac & Cheese (we are going to a kids’ centered potluck and figured that this was easy and a hit with our kids.  We also add in a whole bag of mixed veggies)

Saturday:  Chicken Tikka Masala using our Inspiralizer (butternut squash noodles are sooooooo good!)

For breakfast we always have the same rotating meals: steel-cut oatmeal, home-made yogurt, eggs, banana pancakes (Christopher’s special recipe), and buttermilk waffles every Sunday.  For lunch it is usually leftovers or sandwiches.

Lastly, I try and do at least one or two vegetarian/vegan meals a week so that we cut down on how much meat we eat.  This week that meal is the Quinoa salad.  We usually add some chicken or tuna to our Mac & Cheese.

Have a delicious week!

Heather

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from my link (Amazon only) I will get a small percentage from the sale with no extra cost to you.  The extra money will go directly towards supplies for our homeschool.  Thank you for your support!

Review of Paddington Bear

Before I begin with my review of Paddington Bear I wanted to preface this with my family’s thoughts on media.  Since we are going with a Waldorf approach to schooling one of the big ideas that they stress is no media for the younger kids.  This idea spoke to us and works for us.  Are we 100% media free?  No and my husband and I have a hard time weaning ourselves from TV (we don’t have cable or satellite, but we do have Netflix).  Our boys will get to watch an occasional video here and there, but it’s not often.  This past year my family started a tradition of watching a movie once a month.  We usually do this at home and it has been a hit.  When we were in London this past November we saw a poster for the Paddington Bear movie.  We didn’t know that there was one that was coming out.  We had read the original Paddington Bear and we all really enjoyed the book.  When we got home we watched the trailer (the one above) and the boys were laughing and it looked innocent enough and it got great reviews, so we decided that we would watch it when it came out.

Opening weekend we went to the theater on a Friday morning and the boys were both really excited about it.  It was also fun that this movie was set in London because we were just there and we could point out some of the sights that the boys saw.  The movie starts out good and there were some funny parts, but then it got kind of dark.  There is an earthquake and Paddington’s uncle dies by being smooshed by a tree (it isn’t explicitly stated or shown) and Paddington’s aunt tells him that he needs to go to London.  Paddington gets to London and meets the Brown family who decides to take in Paddington Bear.  The movie is funny and upbeat until we are introduced to Nicole Kidman’s character.  She finds out that there is a bear from Peru that has just arrived in London.  She wants to find this bear and kill it and stuff it because she is an evil taxidermist.  She did a good job playing a villain and the scenes with her were a bit scary.  My oldest son (six years old) doesn’t do well with scary at all.  About an hour into the movie I checked with my son to see if he liked the movie;  I wanted to make sure that he was doing okay because I felt that it was a little scary for young kids.  He told me that he didn’t like the movie and wanted to leave.  I had told him earlier that if there were any scary parts that I would leave with him when he wanted to.  I checked with my youngest son to see if he wanted to leave and he didn’t, so he went and sat by his dad while I left with my other son.

My husband and my youngest watched the whole movie and they were not that impressed with it.  My youngest probably mentioned a couple of things about it and then moved on to other subjects.  My husband told me that basically all of the funny parts were in the trailer (I would have to agree from what I saw).  We also talked about how the movie had a lot of scary parts to it and we didn’t know why they put that in there.  We understood that movies have a formula of having a villain and the hero has to overcome them, but we really thought that this movie would have worked without that.  In the book Paddington gets into a lot of mischief on his own because he was a bear living in Peru and now he is in the city of London and doesn’t understand things.  There were so many things that he would do that the boys would laugh and laugh about because it was silly.  The parts in the movie where we laughed were the parts where Paddington was doing something wrong because he didn’t know better.  I really thought that had the filmmakers gone in that direction it would have been a much better movie.

If you have a sensitive kid I would not suggest watching this movie unless they are a bit older.  If you have a kid that isn’t sensitive they would probably enjoy it, but it may not be a movie that they are excited about afterwards.  I wish that we didn’t spend our money on this movie.  I would definitely wait for it to come out on video.

-Heather

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from my link (Amazon only) I will get a small percentage from the sale with no extra cost to you.  The extra money will go directly towards supplies for our homeschool.  Thank you for your support!

Planning

planning

I’m not one of those super planners where I have planned out the whole school year before it even starts.  I just can’t plan that far ahead because so many things can change and that would also mean that I would have to do be a mega planning session, which doesn’t sound fun.  I decided that I would plan two weeks out at a time.  Then on Sunday afternoon I would realize that I hadn’t planned anything for the coming week, grrrrr!  I would furiously be figuring out what we were going to be doing for that week.  I’ve come to realize that this is a pattern for me.  In high school and college I would save projects/reports until the very last minute.  I don’t like to be stressed out, yet I do it to myself.

I decided a few weeks ago that I am going to try and stick more to a schedule of planning. To make it more successful for me I was going to plan four weeks out.  With four weeks of planning that would give me a bigger cushion in case I forgot to plan one week.  Ideally after we finish a week of school I would plan the week that was four weeks out.  Well, as you can guess that didn’t quite work out.  We finished two weeks and I realized this past Friday that I hadn’t planned for two additional weeks and I needed to get on the ball!

Here is my planning process that I go through.  First, I go and grab all of the books that I am using, a pencil, my eraser which I use a lot, and my planner.   Let me tell you about my planner real quick.  Another homeschool blog recommended it.  You pay for the editable pdf and then every year you can customize it to your liking.  It is also geared for homeschoolers.  It’s alright.  I do better with a hard copy, so every year I print out the pages and then bind them (I ended up buying a comb binding machine on Craigslist because I figured with all of the binding I would be doing it would save me money in the long run).  I think that there are probably other homeschool planners out there for sale that would work great and not require any work on your part.

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Here is what my planner looks like

I start by filling in what week I will be teaching and all of the subjects we will be learning about.  They are as follows: Social Studies, Math (Waldorf teaches in blocks and the weeks that I was planning were Math, but sometimes it is Language Arts), Art, History, Science, Language, Music, and Handwork.  I start off by figuring out what I will be teaching from the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  This is our main “work” for school and is usually the one that we focus the most on.  For this curriculum schooling is done in three days.  I figure out what three days that will be and fill in the information.  Next is Art.  Usually with the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum there are art projects (painting, modeling, or coloring) that go along with the lesson being taught.  Sometimes I supplement with other art projects that I think would be fun for my boys.  Then I do Social Studies.  Social Studies is really simple.  We just moved, so we were learning about our address and the new state we live in.  My sons aren’t good at remembering the days of the week and the months in a year, so I planned that in for a few days.  For History a friend had recommended A Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, so I decided to get it.  We just read one to two chapters (they are very short) a week and try and do an activity that I come up with based on the subject matter.  For music we are working on learning how to play the recorder using Learn to Play Recorder Book 1.  For Science I have been using Real Science Odyssey and Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding.  I’m on the fence about the second one (hopefully, I’ll get to a review on just that curriculum later).  For Language we are doing Spanish.  My son went to a Spanish Immersion preschool for a couple of years, so he had a good foundation, but unfortunately a lot has been lost.  We usually just go over some basic words.  If I feel any of the subjects above need some hands on activity to go with it I usually search the internet for something that I think the boys would enjoy.

On the opposite side of the planner I list out the days of week and figure out the order of how the subjects will be taught and add in any extra notes (the space is bigger).    We do each of the subjects about three days of the week, so there is always one day where we are not doing one of the subjects.  Thursdays are always free days because it is garbage day and I tried doing school, but the excitement of the garbage trucks coming makes it a very difficult teaching day.  If we have a meetup or field trip planned then I try and squeeze in more school into the other days or I do Thursday afternoons or the weekend.  We’re very good at adapting to changes if there need to be any.

Then the Sunday before we do school on Monday I take a look at my planner and see what I have planned for the week.  I make sure that I have everything I need for the week.   Ta da!

Is your planning similar to this?

-Heather

Please note:  This post contains affiliate links, so if you purchase from my link (Amazon only) I will get a small percentage from the sale with no extra cost to you.  The extra money will go directly towards supplies for our homeschool.  Thank you for your support!

Shredded Chicken

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Please excuse the pictures.  One of my goals this year is to actually learn how to use my DSLR and start taking better photos.

I know that I heard about the shredded chicken trick from the internet, but I can’t remember where (I’m sure I saw it on Pinterest) and I’m sure if you do a Google search you can find it there, but I thought that I would share it here because it is a timesaver and sooooo easy!

Get out your stand mixer and put the mixing attachment on (see picture for the one I’m referring to).  Put your chicken in the mixer’s bowl.

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Turn the machine on and let it run for about 30 seconds on low speed.  You will watch the chicken get shredded before your eyes!  It’s amazing and a little life changing.  Once it is shredded to your satisfaction you turn the mixer off.  I wish I had known about this trick earlier because shredding chicken using forks took forever!

I used this process tonight when making this super easy 5-Ingredient White Chicken Chili.

-Heather

Let’s Begin

homeschool

My husband and I decided when our oldest son was just a baby that we were going to send him to the local Waldorf school.  We loved what the school offered and really liked the philosophy behind Waldorf schooling.  We started going to the parent & child classes there and fell even more in love.  Fast forward to when it is time to enroll for school and we looked at the tuition and decided that we couldn’t afford it, plus we would have another son going there soon after, which means double the money (tuition was around $15K starting in Kinder and gets more expensive each year).  We were sad about it, but we decided to explore our options.  We were set on the Waldorf way of schooling (delayed academics, more free play, and a focus on arts and creativity) and just couldn’t see ourselves sending our sons to public school.  Growing up my husband went to Montessori, public, private, and was homeschooled and he said that being homeschooled was his favorite out of all of them.  We decided that homeschooling would be our best bet.  We began to research it a lot and came to the conclusion that this was the right fit for us.

We still wanted to employ Waldorf methods so I got the Christoperus Kindergarten Curriculum.  There wasn’t much to the curriculum because in Kinder the kids are supposed to mostly be playing.  They suggest circle time with songs and movement, stories, and arts and crafts.  Much of this I had to research on my own.  Soon after we started homeschooling life threw a curveball at us and we moved up with my parents to help take care of my dying dad.  During this time there was no schooling, but there was a lot of playing.  At about this time I came across the Lavender’s Blue Curriculum.  I looked it over and saw that it was exactly what I was looking for!  Kelly, the woman that created the curriculum, basically lays it all out for you.  She has what stories, songs, and arts and crafts to do week by week.  It was easy to navigate and with everything going on I needed something easy.

When we first began homeschooling for Kindergarten I wanted to start a homeschooling blog.  I would come across different homeschool blogs and often found the information helpful in some way and I figured that our journey could be helpful for others too.  Time and life just got the best of me and it never got done.  I decided that come September when we started homeschooling first grade I would have the blog up and running, ha!  Earlier in the year we decided to move from the LA area.  We knew we wanted to move up to the Portland area, but we didn’t know when our house would sell and then how fast we could get another house.  We moved in with my mom and on the first day of September we moved to our new house in the Portland area.  As you can imagine my blogging dreams were put on hold because we had a lot of cleaning and unpacking to do.  Plus, we were getting all new flooring put in and that meant we were relegated to a couple of rooms.  I did make it a priority to unpack all of our school supplies so that we could get started on school.

We started first grade the middle of September 2014.  My oldest son was almost 6.5 years old (Waldorf recommends first grade start at 7, but I thought it was close enough and he was ready).  Kelly, the lady who created the Kindergarten curriculum I loved, came out with Lavender’s Blue First Grade Curriculum and I bought that to use.  My youngest son was almost four when we started and I mainly wanted him to focus on playing, which he does a lot of.

Again, the LB curriculum is working well for us (I’ll go into a more in-depth post later).  As I have been digging more into Waldorf I have found some things that aren’t really working for us (circle time) and my sons really love science and Waldorf doesn’t do much science in first grade.  In January I started supplementing with other curriculums to add to what we are doing (again, I’ll do another post on this).  I really like the concept of unschooling and project based learning, but as of now if it was up to them all my boys would do would be Lego related and I feel like they needed a little more than that.

Fun facts:

  • My boys love Legos and if they had unlimited money that is all that they would buy!
  • We are a family of introverts and all of us would prefer to stay at home versus going out, which is good for this introverted mama.
  • The boys are currently obsessed with Roald Dahl.  Right now we are reading James and the Giant Peach.
  • John Irving is my favorite author.
  • The boys are awesome travelers and have been since they were babies.
  • The boys are best friends, but they still manage to find many opportunities to fight.
  • My husband brews his own beer and I’m sure that I’ll get him to post about that on here 🙂