Category Archives: Adventures in Homeschooling

DIY: Bird Feeders


The sun is teasing us lately. Not only is it shining on our February days, it’s warming them, too. It was 64* the other day. That’s so close to 70 which is so close to 80 which is close to 90 which means it’s basically summer.

When it’s this unseasonably warm, I have to do everything in my power to keep the young ones from putting on their swimming suits and running straight for the hose. This time, I put on my crafty pants and took a craft straight from Pinterest. This is a recipe that is ALL over and comes from many different sites…like here, here and here for example, among many others. Birdseed is incredibly cheap, especially if you buy it at Winco. The rest of the stuff you most likely have on hand (although gelatin is one of those things you have only if you’ve made something in the last year or so with it because it comes in a package of 4 envelopes).

(before we start, let’s talk about this spelling of “gelatine”….Now, I wrote it like that on the paper because that’s what it says on the package. But…I’m pretty sure it’s gelatin…am I right?? have I gone mad??)


You definitely don’t need a cookie cutter for this craft. You can totally free-hand a design or just do a ball or use something else like a jar lid or something. But I live in a house full of unicorn-animal-heart-loving girls so we just had to do it this way.

Dissolve the gelatin into simmering water. Let cool for a couple minutes then dump in the birdseed. So, I’ll be honest here and totally eyeballed the entire recipe. I think I used a little more water and a lot more birdseed. Basically, you want to make sure it’s not soupy at all. Not even stew-y.

Mix in the birdseed.


Dump it out on wax paper (more on this at the end of the post) to let cool so little hands can handle it easily.


We rubbed our hands with olive oil so the stuff didn’t stick too much to our hands and fingers. Fill up 1/2 – 3/4 of the cookie cutter and pack it down really tightly.


Fold the string in half and with the open ends, place them in a spot where the weight will be evenly distributed (so it doesn’t lean too far forward or backwards…we should have placed it in the unicorn’s head).


FIll it the rest of the way up with seed until it’s completely full and all you have sticking out is the loop of the string.

Let it dry COMPLETELY. If you do it in the morning, don’t even think about touching it until after dinner. If you do it in the afternoon, wait until the next morning. Waiting is hard.

But look what you get when you do:6 7 8

And if you decide that plain paper will work just fine, you will get this:9

The gelatin is pretty much glue. It’ll make your paper stick right to the floor. If this does happen to you, get SUPER hot water on a washcloth and wipe up as much of the paper as possible. Then, for what’s left, dab a couple drops of YLEO lemon oil on a washrag and scrub it out.




Language Work


For the most part, homeschooling is going really well. I’m still learning how to schedule and how to be flexible — the flexibility part is hard when it comes to school because I’m so used to organizing things out and having a schedule and a plan and a start point and end point for things. And Maria’s schedule isn’t the same as mine. But I’m getting there.

In the morning today we did a little language work, working on the parts of speech. If I learned this in elementary school, it must have been covered over the course of a couple of hours because I have never had a really solid understanding of adverbs and adjectives and whatnot. I mean, duh, a noun is a person, place, or thing. And a verb is an action. But beyond that, it all kinda blended together. Prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, articles…they can be very confusing.

So to help Maria, we made a “Parts of Speech” flip book where she wrote out each part of speech and defined it, so it would be easy for her to quickly reference it in writing.

On Teachers Pay Teachers (such a great site!) I found a list of words, hundreds of them, that belong to each part of speech. I laminated them and cut them out and put them in library envelopes.

Then, I created sentences on the floor with them. I could definitely be a bit more creative. I also need punctuation cards.

grammar-4I think perhaps you all know about my love of beautiful Montessori materials, right?

Well if you don’t…I love Montessori materials. Most are made out of wood and come in perfect wooden boxes, perfectly organized. Ah, I love them. I purchased this set from Amazon:


And printed a key off the internet for Maria:


She went to work assigning each word a symbol.

grammar-5 grammar-8

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how it would go. If it would be too easy for her and she’d just rip right through it, or if it’d be too hard and she’d be stuck. I was so pleasantly surprised that it was a really great balance between challenging and easy. When things are easy for Maria, it boosts her confidence. Of course it does, right? That’s true for all of us. When we do things without error, we feel pretty good. So it was nice to get a boost before having to ask for help on some parts.

Language is difficult. She had labeled “light” as a verb. It is a verb, but in the sentence she had, it was being used as a noun. So we had a good talk about words that are both nouns and verbs and it depends on how we use them as to what part of speech it is. We came up with a few more words for which this is true and that helped her out a lot.

Do you wanna do this? It’s super easy! You don’t need to purchase anything. Color the symbols on printer paper and cut them out. Write words of your own on little strips of paper (we had to make our own nouns because our noun envelope is missing!), no need to laminate them even. This is a great exercise, especially for mid-elementary students (grades 3, 4) and maybe even early elementary (I think Jamie would pick up on this right away and do really well!).

Adventures in Homeschooling


Maria and I are embarking on a journey and the ship departs on September 2nd.

Oh, I’m so clever. All these words that relate back to a fun adventure.

But for real…I’m homeschooling Maria. Starting September 2nd. Let me start with some FAQ I’ve gotten already (yep, so many skeptics and worriers and people just interested in the why and we haven’t even started yet!).

I thought you loved Montessori!

We do. We adore the Montessori philosophy and method of education! And we love Children’s House! Unfortunately, the population here doesn’t quite do their research like I do (you guys, I’ve spent approximately 83,994,312 hours researching Montessori) and doesn’t know how great it is yet. Maria was moving from lower elementary (grade 3) to upper elementary and into a class with only a couple kids. One of my favorite parts of the Montessori classroom environment is having multiple ages and grade levels learning and helping each other. I’ve always been really interested in homeschooling. In fact, I was going to start Maria in homeschool after I took her out of her other school, but went the Montessori school route instead. I’m so glad I did and she had such a great year, but this was a great opportunity for me to jump into something I’ve always wanted to try.

Why just Maria?  Why not the other kids?

See above. Jamie is still in lower elementary with a good, larger group of students. Different ages, different abilities and different grade levels. I honestly don’t know what we will decide to do when he hits upper elementary. Maybe the same as Maria? I’m not sure. We’re still a couple years away. Alice is in Kindergarten and is excited to go back to all her friends and Charlotte is just barely starting play school — you guys, I’m not going to do a play school homeschool curriculum.

Won’t she miss her friends?

yep. Just like she missed her friends from her old school. But here’s the thing about being a parent: you sometimes have to make decisions based on what you think is the very best for your kids, whether it might make them sad at first or not. Maria made new friends at CHMS. In fact, she met 2 of her very favorite people in the world there (anna and sophia). We will see them often I predict and I also think we will have the opportunity to meet up with people all the time through our homeschooling adventures.

Do you think you’ll be able to do it?

uhhh….duh. Having a baby (Ollie) and a baby (in December) will be a little difficult, no doubt. Maria is so independent and so good at following instruction and keeping on task that I’m not worried even a tiny bit. I’m also smart enough, driven enough and competitive enough that I will want to win — you know, beat all those people who have doubts. I’ll make sure this works.

How do you know what to teach her?

Well, there’s this handy tool here in this world called the internet. I have used it a lot to research Washington 4th grade curriculum. Along with lots of chats with my other homeschooling mom friends, books from Amazon, and more internet research, I’m pretty confident she’ll learn what she needs. We’re going to be using a couple text books, some ideas from my own noggin, and lots of Montessori inspired lessons. On any given week, I can almost promise she won’t be learning the exact same things as the kids in the school down the street. But I can also promise that she’ll learn just what she needs, how she needs, and learn and know it well. Scout’s honor.

I’m stoked. I have binders for each subject (because, you guys, I love binders…so many papers neatly organized), fresh text books, the best planner thanks to Lindsay, sharpened pencils and lesson plans that I’m dying to get to. We have ‘field trips’ planned out, projects we’re excited to do, and friends we can’t wait to learn with. She’ll do ballet and violin and my friend Steve let me know that she can do PE with the public schools and 4th grade just happens to do archery! She’s basically Katniss already.

Oh, and I still totally went school clothes shopping for her. Girl’s gotta look fresh for Ollie, right?!

We can’t wait to share with you as we go along – tips, insights, projects, and how we’re doing along the way.