Investigating and Invigorating; from the seashore to the park and all things inbetween

After co-op this week we drove to the beach to enjoy and beautiful day and explore our beautiful area!IMG_3110 IMG_3119 The next day we participated in our local homeschool association Sports Day event. E was worn out after all the running, hopping, obstacle course running and swimming at the end!IMG_3148 IMG_3149 IMG_3150As the end of the week approached we joined friends for a field trip to a local animal shelter. E saw the rooms where the animals were kept.IMG_3177The girls met a couple of volunteers who come to walk the dogs…IMG_3178And enjoyed some petting time with a friendly cat.IMG_3184She practised her interview skills by asking the receptionist some questions about the shelter and how it operates.IMG_3192  IMG_3203At the end of the day she wrote a detailed journal entry about her experience:Photo on 2013-06-20 at 23.06We finished off our day with a trip to a local berry farm and a walk through their beautiful sitting garden.IMG_3215As we explored the garden we saw these bees hard at work and discussed their important role in our farm ecology and their current threatened status. We talked about the possible outcomes if we don’t protect our bees and made sure to give them wide berth so they can continue their vital pollination work!IMG_3211


Bamboo and the resiliency of Culture

This is our final official learning week of co-op. We started our day off with a recording session to create a cd of all the memory verse songs the kids have learned this year! It was an awesome moment to observe their joy in the songs, their knowledge of the bible and the excellent focus they showed to run through them all in one sitting!IMG_3062IMG_3063IMG_3065
After circle time we looked at a famous painting by Wu Chen found in the book Cave Paintings to Picasso. We practised quietly observing the painting for 1 minute and then each child placed their finger on the tip of their nose if they had an observation to share. Through our observations we talked about texture, perspective and line. This painting also has important symbolism. Wu Chen painted the bamboo as a gesture to Kublai Khan and his Mongolian court at the time that the Chinese culture would not be suppressed by their foreign rulers. The Chinese people value the bamboo for its ability bend without breaking, he also painted a series of characters in the free style of an earlier time when China was self-determined.

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We quickly prepped our paper for our painting project of the day. I explained to the children that we were going to be painting a copy of the bamboo painting. Since it  is roughly 3000 years old  we wanted to make our paintings look a bit older by painting our backgrounds a light gold.
While our backgrounds were drying we read The Legend of the Panda by Linda Granfield. The book features beautiful artwork and concludes with the folklore explanation of why Pandas live in their last remaining wild habitat in Sichuan province. We also talked about their endangered status and the fact that only 1000 pandas remain in the wild.


After finishing the story we used the whiteboard to create a KWL chart which consists of 3 columns entitled Know, Wonder, Learn. The children listed prior knowledge about Pandas in the Know column, we listed new facts that we learned through today’s story under the Learn column then brainstormed questions to put in the Wonder column. We have used several graphic organizers in our co-op lessons and the kids are really enjoying working together as a group to fill in the charts.

We followed our hard thinking work with a fun multi-sensory lesson in Chinese foods! We had some dry goods set up on the windowsill and a large mat on the floor. The children sat around the perimeter of the mat and then we passed around sticky rice balls, tapioca pudding with Taro and Mango, shrimp crackers and milk tea to drink. The milk tea was most popular while the sticky rice balls had a mixed response. The red bean paste was probably the least popular.




We went outside for recess and learned a beginner set of Tai Chi moves then played Catch the Dragon’s Tail and Marco Polo. Catch the Dragon’s Tail was a bit of a dangerous game and seemed to consistently end in a pile up but the children all enjoyed playing Marco Polo and had to be convinced that recess really did need to end!






Inside again we began working on our paintings.

The first step, was to show our furthest background by painting the cliffs. We emphasized the outlines and horizontal lines. We all used grey paint as an additional way to show that the cliffs are further away. We talked about the mountains in our own city and how at a distance they look blue and grey and have few details but that as we get closer we can see more details in them.

Step 2: we added a small amount of black to darken our grey and used fingers, q-tips and sponges to create the foliage in the middle distance.

Step 3: we used straight black paint to add in the strong lines of the bamboo plant in the foreground.

Step 4: we painted simplified characters for the word freedom.


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We had just enough time at the end of our co-op time to learn “Old MacDonald had a Farm” in Chinese. It was fun to sing and discuss the differences with our english version of the song. In the Chinese version the farmer is called Wang Lao which means Old Wang. The animal noises are also different than the way we say them in english, for example the chickens were “chin chin”, the pigs “gong, gong” and the dog “wong, wong”.

Light a lantern and pour a cup of tea… learning about Chinese customs!


This week at co-op we learned about China again and reviewed our memory verses in preparation for our recording session next week! Ms. K brought some beautiful items to display from her time in China.

IMG_2843Ms. K then demonstrated a proper Chinese tea ceremony in which the children were very happy to participate!IMG_2860They were great sports and even though the tea was stronger and more bitter than they were accustomed to they were enthusiastic to learn.IMG_2851They followed the tea ceremony with a lesson on Chinese New Year and created a lantern book full of facts about China.IMG_2870

IMG_2871Ms. K also had a great pictograph lesson using the Chinese Zodiac. She had each grade 2 student say the year they were born then come and place the appropriate symbol on the graph. IMG_2879The kids immediately saw the utility of a graphic organizer for it’s ability to show information.IMG_2885 IMG_2889After co-op we had our final day of sports camp. We were so thankful to finally have a sunny day!IMG_2920They played a version of capture the flag trying to capture soccer balls from the opposing team’s net and get them back to their own net. They loved it!IMG_2956 IMG_2981And at the end of the day there was a certificate and freezies for everybody!!IMG_3056We love our co-op group and look forward to each week’s adventures. What is the highlight of your week?

Feeding the world through a small Farmer’s Market!

Finally the Farmer’s Market is here and we are finishing up our products and labelling for the sale! From making and packaging our home-made granola,


to creating labels for our custom felt creations! It was fully integrated learning this week.IMG_2497

Modelling their choices and planning for everyone to wear their headbands at the sale.IMG_2498

Finally the day arrived with some light rain and occasional downpours. Our spirits were not dampened by the weather though as we were so excited to see it all come together after months of planning and creating! Throughout the year we have focussed on global poverty issues with our children and in partnership with Food for the Hungry, we are planning to donate 100% of our  profits to support various  FH projects around the world.IMG_2591 IMG_2593 IMG_2595 IMG_2597

Almost as exciting as the market was the actual presentation of our funds at the FH office! We met the office staff and found out which countries FH is currently working in.


We learned about their child sponsorship program and how little it takes to feed a child in the developing world.IMG_2736

The children were given prayer cards for the different projects so that they can continue to support FH in prayer and to be mindful of the work still to be done.IMG_2744

We watched a video of a welcome ceremony in Burundi and the graduation of a school project in Uganda!IMG_2756

We met Mr. H, the director of FH Canda…IMG_2759

… and E was a ready and confident spokesperson for our group in explaining to Mr. H why were were touring his office and what we had done to fundraise for their organization!IMG_2761

Ms. M had thoughtfuully created a shopping list with the kids using the FH gift catalogue and an interactive, sticker voting system. The children were able to present the funds we raised along with their choices of projects to support. Their top choices were building a school, and a surprising choice of latrines.(Perhaps not so surprising though if you look back at our lesson on the Ganges river in India, they were all appalled at the devastating health effects of poor sanitation!)IMG_2762

I am so proud of these kids and the way they have embraced their global community through learning and acts of service!

Random Acts of Kindness

In our part of the world we have a long weekend in May to celebrate the birthday of England’s Queen Victoria. This is always a holiday that kicks off summer but due to the unpredictable climate in our region summer sometimes looks pretty grey and overcast! Not to be deterred we headed off to do some local exploring along the coast, however, to our surprise, the water was warm and the rain was more of a gentle mist and our kids decided that it qualified as swimming weather! IMG_2274IMG_2304 It turned out to be a beautiful day with outdoor adventure, cultural exploration (their first Korean barbeque) and family connecting! Bring on summer!

IMG_2338 The next day we attended a parade in a nearby historic community and enjoyed seeing the tangible development of modes of transportation. From the pioneer days of covered wagons and horses,

IMG_2375 to huge steam powered tractors…

IMG_2370 … to trucks and cars!

IMG_2358 The marching bands were in good supply as well and we talked about the different instruments and how important it is for the band to keep the correct tempo in order to march and play in unison.

IMG_2372 Following the parade we joined some friends to participate in another nearby community celebration of kindness. 10 years ago a local church started doing small renovation projects for families in need. Over the years this has developed into an Extreme Home Makeover program that is supported by the local churches and community to help one family in need each year improve their home and by extension their lives.

IMG_2397  This single mom and her two boys were living in a mould-infested bungalow with no way of dealing with the problems. The A-OK team completely stripped their house down to the studs and rebuilt it from the inside out! What a thrill to watch this family see their new home for the first time and to join with this community in showing support and love to one another!

IMG_2396 For the kids there were hot-dogs, cake, fire trucks to clamber about in…

IMG_2416 and most importantly, friends to share it with.


The greatest commandment is this, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself. – Matthew 22:38-39

Bees, Butterflies and Caterpillars, oh my!

With a long weekend and warmer summer weather starting school is really winding down, however, we’re not really done yet so without further adieu here are the missing weeks since my last update in mid-may!

First, we went on a great impromptu field trip to the Honeybee Centre as we had run out of honey and wanted to source out some raw local honey to try. This turned out to be a very educational trip with hives to observe, books to look at and samples to try!


E has been embracing Language Arts this term with reading more complex novels, and a new-found love of writing, Hallelujah!!!! She and her cousin are now engaging in a regular pen pal exchange, she has a diary that is extremely PRIVATE and our house is filling up with little signs and cards that she makes every day.


In co-op this week we had a medieval market to teach the children a tiny bit about medieval Europe but also to prepare them for the Farmer’s Market sale they will be participating in shortly. We all dressed in prince, princess and pauper clothes and the kids started by reviewing Canadian money denominations by doing coin rubbings and working out some basic change calculations. (ie. “what are three different ways you can make $1?”)


After practising the money we set up our wares and designated shoppers and sellers.

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Ms. M .made a great observation with the children that a sad or bored seller does not attract customers…


But a happy, enthusiastic seller does! She demonstrated how you can call out to customers and promote the items you are selling to increase business!


A few days later we had the pleasure of attending a birthday party for one of our co-op littles that was based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.


The moms in our group are always amazing but this party really stood out as a fantastic holistic, community learning adventure! From the decor, to the food and the great activities my children were engaged and enthusiastic throughout!

We made multi-media caterpillars with printed outlines and tissue paper strips and glue,


butterflies with coffee filters, clothes pegs and food colouring,


and tiny hungry caterpillar food sculptures with clay. Then Ms. J read the story to the kids.

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They loved every second of it!


What is the best birthday party you’ve ever been to?