Blossom and Root Science: An Overview and Review

So, I am going to spoiler alert here, for those that just want the long and short of it, we *love* Blossom and Root Science.

Now, maybe for something a little more in depth, eh?

First, a little bit about us and our usage so far. My main B&R Science user is my 11 year old daughter. She’s in 6th grade and we have had a beast of a time finding good science for her (and my oldest, too). You name it, we’ve probably tried it, or at least looked very heavily into it. This year she is using Blossom and Root Year 3 science (linked is the sample week). We are finishing up our ninth week right now, so we’ve not used it a full year yet, but we’ve used enough of it to get a solid feel for it.

IMG-9821

Pipe cleaner scorpion

We have also briefly used the Year 1 science for my littlest, but that was back toward January and he just barely turned 5 this September and I could tell while we were doing it that he wasn’t getting everything out of it that he could, so we back-burnered it for bit. He will be starting it again in a couple of weeks (at half speed) as we were equally impressed with Year 1.

Now, what makes this science different? Well, for starters, it’s 100% secular. No flat earth, “kinds” of animals, climate change denial issues with this curriculum. 100% secular and 100% actual science, so that’s an immediate score 1 for B&R compared to *so* many other options on the market for homeschoolers.

Secondly? There’s a little something for everyone. If you checked out the sample I linked below (or go to her site and check out the ones for the other years), you will see that there is an explanation of the “wonder” being discussed that week, followed by the “big picture” discussion points. After that, there are several options for activities, depending on what you want to do or what you think your child would benefit from the most/enjoy the most.

Minimalists have a very basic reading suggestion, meaning if you go this route there are very few books to buy for each year, which is an awesome option as we know how expensive book buying can be!

People that love books have a big list each week of books that would fit wonderfully with that particular topic. Some of them are a little more obscure but I am even able to find some of the titles at my tiny little library in Vermont, so I am betting most libraries would have at least one or two most weeks.

For kids that learn best via videos, there’s links each week for relevant YouTube videos that explain the topic, as most of us know, sometimes kids learn best when *we* aren’t the ones telling them something!

The kids that learn best outdoors have an activity or two for each topic that they can do and enjoy outdoors.

Kids that learn best at a table with a good experiment have an activity or two for each topic, usually with easily found household materials.

And finally, the one that made my daughter the happiest, the section for the crafts and projects kids has a couple of activities that connect to the topic.

Year 1 science focuses on the Earth and the sky, Year 2 is plants and fungi, and Year 3 is the animal kingdom. Based on what we’ve done so far, I think any of these years would work for kids 5-12 (what she advertises it as) or maybe even a little bit beyond that, which is awesome because you can start with a focus your child would be most likely to enjoy.

IMG-9812

3-D spider web with hot glue. She went the extra mile to label the kinds of threads the spider uses.

IMG-9698

One view of a play-doh monarch life-cycle she constructed.

IMG-9695

IMG-9626

Bi-valve poster.

IMG-9636

What happened when I asked her to write a short summary of what she’d learned so far. She went full science fair tri-fold poster with it.

The way I split things up for my daughter is to have her read the big picture stuff on her own (because again, she’s 11) on Monday, a long with the minimalist book suggestions. On Tuesday she reads whichever books I’ve tracked down from the book basket suggestions. Wednesday is video day, she loves video day…because really, what kid doesn’t like YouTube these days?? Thursday is some manner of craft project (a few are pictured throughout this post!). Then Friday we either do another project, discuss what was learned, or I ask her to write a short summary of what she’s learned (for kids that are actually in third grade, B&R has journal pages for each wonder where a child could write what they learned, or their favorite part of the topic, and then illustrate it).

The spine books have been amazing in every way possible. Great information, beautiful and engaging pictures, not too long and not too short. My daughter was AMAZED at the picture of a giant clam, neither of us had any idea they were so stunning!

For the little guy, starting again in a couple weeks, now that he’s old enough to fully understand what we are talking about, I plan to do things at “half speed” meaning we will do each wonder for 2 weeks (though the curriculum says to take your time with what you want to explore more and feel free to take just a week with something your child isn’t super into). It seems as though this curriculum is super flexible because as you saw above, we do some part of the science every day with my daughter, but with my youngest son I plan to split the reading and the videos over two days one week and then the second week we will do two days as well with one of the book basket books spread over the 2 days and one of the activities each of the days. That way the concepts are spread out a bit more and he’s getting a lot of different ways to absorb it. I am extremely excited to start it with him!

So there you have it, my overly wordy explanation and love of this science curriculum. I am incredibly glad I found it and am excited to have it to look forward to each year! It feels great to finally have a secular science curriculum that lends itself so well to different kinds of learners.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How I Plan Our Weeks

I’ve got three kids and all of them have their own curriculum and two of them are doing at least two (or three) different programs blended together. So how do I plan it out/keep it all organized?

Well, this is where I introduce you to my little (okay, not so little) friend, my Plum Paper Planner with the homeschool layout. Also the paint on my table…because there’s always paint (or worse) on my table. Sigh. Shout out to Secular Homeschooler for the awesome sticker.

IMG_9656

So, right now, we are about to start week 6 of our homeschool year (already???). My oldest is the easiest, he is just following Build Your Library Level 8, straight up. When I go to make our spreadsheet (see more on that later) I just look at the printed out curriculum and write it all down, so his stuff never actually goes into the planner, not the case for my middle and youngest, though.

So my littlest, and second least complicated at the moment, is working on Build Your Library Level 0  as well as Blossom and Root Kindergarten because neither one is a full match for where he’s at/what he’s doing, so I pull some from each to make up his school days. This is where I sit with my planner and take out my green pen, because green is my youngest’s color. I go through the PDF of BYL on the computer and pull out what we will do, which honestly, is most of the curriculum. I don’t have the art book and I don’t have the cookbook so we tend not to do those things, though I do sometimes find my own recipes online for the items we are supposed to cook.

Then I check out the printed out copy of Blossom and Root and figure out what we are doing from that week of that curriculum. Typically we do the copywork (just letters at this stage, one a week), the literature component, and then the journal. We also use the narration page but often don’t use it for what we read for B&R and use it for what we read in BYL instead. While the overall curriculum is great, 1 short three to four page story a week would *not* be enough for my little, which is why we combine it with BYL. I really like the journals and the stories of B&R, it’s just not “enough” for our purposes. We will use the heck out of Blossom and Root Year 1 science (see a review on the science coming soon!), but we aren’t there yet and unfortunately their K level science doesn’t work for us.

IMG-9648

Where things get trickier is for my middle. Long time followers know she has been doing the same stuff as my oldest but BYL Level 7 last year proved that she needs to wait a couple years to “catch up”. The downside? That left me scrambling trying to figure out WTF to use for her. For the first four weeks we were just following Build Your Library Level 4 and then adding in the science, reading, journals, and narration from Blossom and Root Year 3.

In the end, I decided that the reading levels etc in level 4 weren’t quite enough for her, so this week we are doing the following: history, poetry, and literature from BYL Level 4, science from B&R Year 3, and then a boomerang (Percy Jackson) from Bravewriter. So I sit with my planner and all my materials around me (this is why I DO tend to print curriculum, I am an old school hard copy person) and use middle kid’s blue pen to write down her assignments.

So, when all THAT is done and I have written things in the planner, then I find a time to sit at the computer and open up a google sheet. I write the days of the week, the kids’ names, and then I fill in the assignments. I also add in a check mark column so that what’s been done can be ticked off as it’s done. Everyone loves a good checklist! I also highlight their names in their colors so they have a color coded thing to attract their attention. Then it gets put on our magnetic whiteboard in the kitchen so everyone can see what they are doing each day.

IMG_9649

The whole planning process, with the three kids, takes about 45 mins a week, give or take. If I were less type A or okay with an unschooling approach, it would be much easier, but given that I AM type A, it really helps me to have things all organized and planned out for the week. When I wake up Monday and am half asleep, I don’t need to direct anyone, all they have to do is look at the board and pick where to start!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 Weeks In

IMG-9488

Here we are. It’s more than halfway through week four of our 2019/2020 school year. We are doing it. Sort of.

My oldest is the easiest to plan out, but the hardest to make sure his work is done. He is using Build Your Library Level 8. It is an excellent program, but as it is a program that already has a ton of reading, it gets more and more intense as the levels go up (duh). He’s doing it, it can be done, it’s just taken a little bit of prioritizing for him. Part of the problem, I think, is that since I have three kids I am teaching at once it means him and middle kid are doing almost all of their work independently. We might end up using audiobooks for whichever reader/literature is available to ease things for him a bit, since he’s doing both the reader AND the literature on his own…plus the science and history books. Right now, though, the books on the schedule don’t have audiobooks so he’s on his own.

Middle kid is doing a strange combination of things. She is doing Build Your Library Level 4 as scheduled but I have also added in Blossom and Root Year 3 for her as well. We are in that tricky stage where she’s not ready for the work load of BYL8 but she has already done most of the BYL levels. We did do part (but only the first?? 8? 12? weeks) of level 4 before but that was when she was little, I think 8 years old, because her brother was 10 and we were following along on his level. So, we added in Blossom and Root but they have only released up to year 3 so far and it is a MUCH lighter load reading-wise than we are used to with BYL.

So, she does the reading for BYL as scheduled and she’s doing the reading for B&R as scheduled and also doing the Blossom and Root science, which is absolutely stellar. The best I’ve found in 8 years of homeschooling. Check back later for an in depth review.

And then there’s the little. He just *barely* turned 5 and is doing a combination of Build Your Library 0 and Blossom and Root Kindergarten. Both programs are very gentle and light, which is good for him because his attention span is that of a 5 year old. Our whole school day takes about an hour, maybe an hour and half when we do math too. He does the reading in B&R, which is very, very short, think two Aesop’s Fables a week plus the journal prompt and the narration, which I really like. BYL he follows as planned.

All of them seem to be enjoying the work they are doing and are learning a lot. So far I haven’t lost my mind planning or managing all three, but we will see how the year continues!

IMG-9404

Narration about what happened in our Little House in the Big Woods reading that day!

IMG-9442

Planning!

IMG-9390

She had one backwards. Mom knew because it is amusing that Jurassic Park so prominently features a T-Rex but T-Rex weren’t a Jurassic Era dinosaur.

IMG-9397

Making bread the way Laura Ingalls’ Ma would have (sort of!).

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plans? What are Plans?

Remember my “all sorted out” post? The one I made like a month ago. It all seemed so great and fleshed out, right? I knew EXACTLY what I was doing.

Haha. Funny. Hilarious.

So there was this thing, where I had a weird breaking moment, and decided we *had* to send the big kids to public school this fall. I was going to send the little guy to K in 2020, so if he went in 2020 and the oldest starts high school in public school fall 2020 then the middle should start this fall, right? So she’s not home alone fall 2020. Oldest decided if she was starting, he would too because he didn’t want to be home with “just” the little guy.

All right. Got them all registered at the school. Even got a spot found for the middle kid. So here comes Step Up Day, which apparently isn’t a thing everywhere? News to me. Kids show up and meet their new teacher, see who their new classmates will be, figure out the new schedule etc. Middle goes. Tries it out. *hates* it.

We discuss what she doesn’t like. We discuss why things are different now and how things would change in the fall. We.discuss.it.to.death. End result? She decides she wants to homeschool until high school. Oldest immediately decides if SHE is going to be home there’s no way he’s going to school either.

Well, damn. Right?

So we talk about things more. We talk about what *I* will need to keep homeschooling. We write up a long list of exceptions. Things like, “chores done before schoolwork” because having the house a wreck all day long makes me cranky. Things like, “downstairs and eating breakfast by 8” because I don’t want to spend my mornings waiting around, and the little is still up at 7am or earlier.

So, okay, well. If this is happening, then I need to sort out what we are going to do.

We *did* try the Oak Meadow. In the first damn week we found an error in history, one we wouldn’t have known about had kid not picked that particular assignment. Given the error we found early on in OM 5 science (ants) I just don’t want to use something where I am questioning the accuracy of the material and I CERTAINLY don’t have time to go around vetting all the texts.

In the end, for them, I decided we will start Build Your Library level 8. The only thing I am not 100% sure on is the science. BYL uses a chemistry kit for level 8 that’s not made anymore, so I am going to have to sort that part out.

Meanwhile, the little dude? I’ve learned working with an asynchronous kiddo presents challenges. We started reading Missy Piggle-Wiggle. He did all right with it, but still didn’t have the attention span that was needed to really grasp what was going on. I also LOVE the science for Blossom and Root Year 1, and he enjoyed it too…but while he enjoyed it I know he wasn’t “getting” out of it all that he could be.

So, since I already bought it, I’ve decided we will start Blossom and Root K this fall. The literature seems pretty decent and like it will be engaging enough for him. Science and such are gentle enough but still solid. The language arts section will be a bit “below” his level but I will bulk that up somehow, Logic of English? Explode the Code? Not quite sure what. The rest should be mostly on level for him, given his attention span. (As a disclaimer, I am NOT knocking his attention span! He’s only just about to turn 5. This is expected and 100% normal. Just the things I was planning on doing would require more than he currently has, and that’s okay, it just means an adjustment on my part.)

So, there we go. That’s my current plan. Let’s see how much it changes before we actually start in the fall 😉

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All Right, a Choice has Been Made

Yep, that’s right. I finally made a decision for the upcoming 2019/2020 school year. It took approximately forever, but at least it’s done now.

For the upcoming year I will be homeschooling all three of my creatures, ahem, I mean children.

My oldest will be in his eighth grade year, my middle in her sixth grade year, and my youngest will be doing his kindergarten year.

In the end, we all decided together that the middle school and high school experience were too different to justify a “high school with training wheels” situation. There are days in middle school where there are 11 transitions in the school day for sixth graders, that’s an awful lot in my opinion. In the high school they have 5 class blocks, which is a much more acceptable expectation. There are quite a few other differences as too but the one that baffled me the most was the 10:20 lunch time in the middle school (for a 7:25-2:10 school day) vs a more reasonable 11:30ish lunch in the high school. Who eats lunch at 10:20am???

After that choice was made, it was time to change things up a bit when it comes to curriculum. We have loved Build Your Library for grades 1-6 (and about half of 7) but I feel like we are stagnating and that the kids aren’t getting enough writing practice with that approach. So, we decided that both of the older kids will be using Oak Meadow grade 7 curriculum this year.

Oak Meadow has been around a very long time and seems very solid when it comes to writing assignments and content (we’ve used their science for grade 5 for half of last year and enjoyed it/gotten a feel for it). I do feel like their reading isn’t quite to “grade level” but we will supplement that with audiobooks during lunch, which is something we have all enjoyed for a long time now.

For math my middle will be doing Math Mammoth grade 6 and since my oldest has aged out of Math Mammoth, the plan is to use Foerster Algebra 1 likely paired with Math Without Borders’ video lessons (but I haven’t ordered that yet).

Then, there’s my youngest. I absolutely *loved* the teacher my big kids had for kindy. He is thoughtful, socially conscious, empathetic, and just all around a great teacher. He still teaches at the school my little guy would go to. The problem? Cut off for K is September 1. Hardline. No ifs ands or buts. Absolutely zero wiggle room. Guess who was born September 4th? Yep. That’s right.

I know many will give me the “boys do better a year later anyway” spiel but I know for my little, if he waited until fall 2020 to enter kindergarten, he would be bored out of his mind academically, and that’s REALLY not want I want him to think of school. Learning shouldn’t be boring, not in K. Since my older two were in the school I know the material covered and a great portion of it is reading basics (sight words and the like). Plus numbers and he already counts to 100 by single digits, 5s, and 10s. I’d take credit for that, but it’s all him. He’s just a sponge.

Finding material for him was challenging because he is an advanced reader and wants to know *everything* BUT his attention span is that of someone about to turn 5…very short! In the end, I settled on Blossom and Root Year 1 for him. The selections are a little longer and a little more “dense” and they work on word families etc instead of just letters (like their K level). Math is included in Blossom and Root, but we are also going to V.E.R.Y.S.L.O.W.L.Y start looking at Math Mammoth grade 1, just a couple of problems a day.

So, that’s the plan for this coming year. Oh, did I mention that “this coming year” starts tomorrow? I didn’t, did I? Well it does. We are going to do 6 weeks starting tomorrow and then take off 5-6 weeks in July/August for summer camps/vacations/etc. This gives us a chance to see how the new set up is working and then allows me a bit of time to figure out how to tweak things, if they need tweaking.

Here’s to hoping for a good year!! It will my my oldest’s last year homeschooling and my youngest’s first year!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Will Make No Sense

You can’t say you weren’t warned.

Also, it will be long. So there’s that too.

Every year we discuss the pros/cons of continuing to homeschool vs kids going back to public school. It usually happens around March/April because that’s typically when we send in our end of year report/assessment/etc for the state (we have a state with relatively “high” requirements for homeschooling, see me for why it’s still a bunch of busywork bullshit, maybe a blog post someday…).

For new followers, this is a brief history of school for my kids:

Oldest went to public K and started 1st. He made it until just into October before he was DONE and we decided to homeschool. He then stayed homeschooling until January of his 4th grade, through until just after Halloween of his 5th grade year.

Middle kid went to public K too, 2 years after my oldest. There were some changes in standards that happened in that time and I found myself baffled after finding out they were teaching persuasive essays in kindy. To kids that could barely (if even at all) read. It was…something. She never went to 1st at all, and when given the chance to homeschool with her older brother, jumped at the chance. When we got to 3rd grade year she decided (and I helped her decide) she would try the local public school again. My oldest was attending for that section of his 5th grade year so they rode the bus together etc. She, too, lasted until just after Halloween and has been home since.

My youngest has been attending half day Pre-K at the local school. I am not too worried about any choices about him just yet. So at least there’s that.

So there’s the background.

Here we sit, facing the fall. My oldest’s 8th grade and my middle’s 6th grade year. Honestly, I can’t think of any other decision that’s confused me in such a way. Which I suppose is either a testament to how easy I’ve had it when it comes to facing tough choices or to how good I usually am at making a choice in any given situation, perhaps a bit of both.

To be helpful, both kids are also 100% sitting on the fence. Not even sitting, superglued there, just like myself.

When it comes to why, well. It’s complicated. Where I am homeschooling there’s not a lot of options for older homeschoolers. There’s maybe two or three options and all are extremely expensive and not really activities my kids would be into. We have tried numerous things over the years have yet to find one that they try for a year and go on to do another year of. Field school, theatre, art days, etc. None of it sticks. They don’t really make any connections with other kids, whether that just be the nature of them or the nature of the programs or the other kids in the programs…no idea. Not once in all the years of activities have we been given a number for hanging out later nor have my kids wanted to give our contact into to anyone else. This also counts for many, many summer camps (not homeschool related in any way) with the longest being 2 weeks for my oldest and a full month-long one for my middle.

At public school my oldest was invited to one friend’s house and they hung out here practically every weekend playing video games…until he moved away. Then he made one more friend but hasn’t seen/talked to him in awhile, probably just the result of neither kid being in the same place they were when the friendship started.

My middle, though, even in that couple of months she was in 3rd grade, made a very strong friendship with three other girls. We see them here and there and she chats with them online etc. They visit as schedules allow during school breaks etc. Summer camps are planned with each other, it’s a thing. Even still being homeschooled, it’s held, which I am glad for because those girls are all awesome.

School here, for grades 6+, starts just after 7am. The bus comes at 6:35 meaning wake up time is 6am. When I was a teenager and school started at 8am, there was talk of how even that was too early for the teen brain, that they literally wouldn’t learn anything that early. The research still HEAVILY supports that, but apparently the local district decided to double down and make it even earlier. *shrug* Why not, right? After an early bus ride and early start to the day there’s 23 minutes for lunch and that’s it until school is out at 2pm, with bus drop off around 2:20/2:30 in the afternoon. When they come home it’s expected, per the student handbook, that there be 60-80 minutes of homework, because nothing says “just spent 7 hrs at school doing what the teacher said” quite like another 1-1.5hrs more homework, right?

There are some (okay, like a fucking lot) that say they should adjust to, “the real world” and just deal. Okay, I get that, but how often does the real world involve being in a room, listening to one person for 7hrs a day, with only people your age? Even in college classes don’t start until 8, you will have students of various ages (all the way from high school to the elderly), and you only have, at max, 18 credit hours a semester. That’s not 7hrs a day with no break except 23 mins for lunch. What about the working world? Well, typically there’s at least SOME choice as to what hours you want to/are able to work and in most cases white collar jobs are 9-5 *and* you get breaks and a proper lunch and work with people of all ages, cool huh?

So, clearly I have issues with the public school when it comes to schedules, but you know what I can’t give them here homeschooling? I can’t give them a school filled with over 500 (I think?? Maybe even more?) students from various demographics. Poor, rich, black, white, disabled, refugee, etc etc. The homeschool community locally, by and large, is middle class white families. People that can typically survive, comfortably enough to manage purchasing curriculum/finding curriculum on a one income salary. Sometimes the homeschooling parent also has a side job, and some of the families are *very* frugal to make it work, but most of them are just like our family when it comes to economics, race, and age.

When it comes to actual education, well…that’s when things get tricky too. I know, without a doubt, that I can give them far more chances to explore their interests here at home. My oldest? Super into coding. There are no options here for him to code at his level in his age group. There are men and women working the tech field now that don’t know some of the shit he knows now. I take no credit for this, this is not bragging, it’s all his work and I understand none of it. Homeschooling has allowed him the freedom and the time to explore these things. My middle? She loves arts and crafts. She is constantly coming up with projects to do and paintings to paint. She’s also a voracious reader. I read a lot when I was a kid and she puts even kid-me to shame. Homeschooling has allowed her ample time for all these projects and to enjoy the adventures in Septimus Heap, The Warriors, and all manner of other books she can get her hands on. I believe she’s hovering just below 40 books so far in 2019. It’s April. And this is on top of her other schoolwork, which is largely reading books…

Schools often don’t cover other important life skills. Cooking, bills, balancing checkbooks, credit scores, taxes, managing money, etc.

But you know what? There’s also something to being taught science by a teacher that, like, learned science. Could I teach myself the science needed to teach my kids? Absolutely, I’ve taught myself countless things since leaving school (true fact, I graduated high school *and* have my BA without having EVER taken biology. Cool, right? Or maybe not so much).

My oldest is also not so great at what we call, “people-ing”. It’s not that he isn’t great with people, quite the opposite, he’s quite happy to talk to anyone about any of his interests. What it means is that day after day, week after week of listening in class, ignoring all the other stimuli, staying on task, plus putting on the “face” that is expected at school, plus navigating the minefield of social stuff is just 100% draining. He comes home 100% worn out. Where some would say, “Oh he’d adjust”, the answer is no. He wouldn’t. He has always been and will likely always be like this. All adjusting means is learning to put on that face that he’s *not* overwhelmed, stressed out, and completely uncomfortable and keeping it there longer. I want better than that for him. I’ve lived it. It sucks. And, again, it’s not real world stuff, it’s a situation you only really encounter in school. Even in open office environments most people are working on their own for a great deal of the day.

I know my kids well enough to know that if they went to public school full time that their interests and passions would have to fall by the wayside. There would be homework to contend with and exhaustion from being up way earlier than science says kids this age should be (or would have been if they went to school when I did/where I did). There is only so much to give, and if you spend it all, it’s gone. It’s not a matter of just sending them to school and then letting them keep learning here at home during breaks or after school. It’s gone.

At the same time? I am TIRED. I am tired from homeschooling and planning and making sure work is done. I am tired from having people here literally 24/7 and never being alone in my home. I am tired of making sure the books we need are here when we need them and that I cover what needs to be covered. I’ve been at this, essentially, for 7 years. Not as long as some, but a lot longer than many.

So, yea. I’ve talked with so many people about this choice. I’ve gotten various opinions. I’ve talked to trusted friends. Friends that are knowledgeable. Friends that know kids. Friends that are educators. I’ve talked to life-long homeschoolers and those that hate homeschooling but understand my family and our dynamics. I’ve talked it to death. All the opinions I’ve gotten have been good but they are all 100% valid, but they are too also 50/50.

If there’s a pro/con list out there, including a weighted one, I’ve done it. I’ve made various “pacts” with myself about it. I’ve said, “All right, if the little guy doesn’t qualify for an IEP next year and won’t have bus service or speech to do at Pre-K then I will just keep them home and homeschool the three of them.” Well, we got the report back and he doesn’t qualify anymore…but I still haven’t made the choice. I’ve said, “Okay, we will just TRY public school for the first chunk of the year and go from there.” Then I find myself thinking about how that’s the best part of the year in which to homeschool.

Next week we will get the IOWA full battery standardized test. I will be administering the tests to both kids (one kid in the AMs and one in the PMs over the course of about a week). I keep thinking maybe the results of that will give me a better idea what to do…but no matter the results, I can’t imagine that will actually make a decision for me either.

So here I am. A mom, just trying to do the best for her kids, knowing that all options suck, just for very different reasons and trying to weigh which is the best out of what’s available.

Private school is not an option (all religious and/or $$ and/or too far of a drive). Charters aren’t a thing here. Accelerated/gifted classes aren’t a thing here. Public school for a class or two per semester *IS* an option but *NOT* until high school (9-12).

If you made it this far, feel free to weigh in…see if you can sway me one way or the other…but good luck. *shrug* *sigh*

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Ant Report!

So, my oldest is a very reluctant writer. He always has been. He’s a literal kid and getting him to read something (or come up with ideas on his own!) and put them into his own words is…a challenge. At best.

Lately he’s been VERY interested in ants. He’s learned SO MUCH in the last couple months, more than most people would ever know about any bug in a life time.

So, because I can, I want to share the report he wrote. I am SO PROUD of the work he’s accomplished on this, with absolutely zero being bugged (get it? heh) by me.

Inside the Lives of Ants

by Aaron

Everyone knows ants. They’re those tiny little creatures you see on your lawn or sidewalk. They are the ones that make those tiny little dirt-hills in your lawn. Sometimes you may even see large masses of ants on the pavement! Those ants are fighting for territory.

Inside ant hills there are different kinds of ants. Some kinds of ants have majors, which are really big ants with huge jaws. They are the jaw-force of the colony. Then there are worker ants, who forage for food and water. Finally, there are queens. The queen’s job in a colony is to lay all the eggs which turn into workers, and soldiers, and more queens, and males. Colonies only produce males and queens once the colony is old enough.

On a special day, known as nuptial flight, queens and males produced by a colony will come out of their ant hill and fly into the sky. Yes, some ants have wings. In the air the males and queens, called alates with their wings, find mates. The males die, and the queens fall to the ground, break off their wings, and dig a tunnel in the ground.

Once the queen makes her tunnel, she lays eggs and cares for the eggs until they are larvae. The larvae then molt three times and turn into pupae. Then, the pupae eclose into workers, who then take over and the queen continues laying eggs. The workers forage for food, care for the queen, and care for the brood.

There are many different species of ant that do many different things. Leafcutter ants are one species of ant. They find leaves and cut them and bring them back to the nest to grow their fungus gardens. Then they eat from the fungus gardens. Tetramorium ants or pavement ants live near pavement and eat food that humans drop on the sidewalk. Lasius or Formica (2 different kinds) ants are probably the ones that dig up your lawn. Carpenter ants are known to live in peoples homes if the wood is damp enough to chew through. They are very big ants that you might see on wood. There are many, many more kinds of ants in the world.

Ants that come into your home are looking for food. To get rid of ants, it is not as simple as wiping them away. Since there is a queen, the queen just lays more eggs which eventually turn into workers. And soon, they will be back again. If you want to rid of them forever, you can make something that the ants have to bring back to the nest to kill them. But if another queen makes a nest near your house again during nuptial flight time, more ants will come.

Ants communicate using pheromones that other ants can smell, and they make tiny noises that humans cannot hear. They can also communicate by touch. Pheromones are how ants swarm food so fast. One ant finds food and leaves a pheromone trail behind. Then the other ants follow the trail refreshing as they go. Then after a minute or so they have swarmed whatever it was they deemed food.

As you can tell by reading above, different kinds of ants live very different lives. And there is so much to learn about ants because they are very sophisticated creatures. Those creatures that most think of as pests and boring are actually really cool.

Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 8.48.04 PM

One of his queen ants with it’s very first worker! He’s very proud of these two!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment