Dipping Our Toes into the World of Homeschooling

So far our homeschool life looks a lot like our regular life - lots of pretend play with our trusty train tracks, animal figurines and blocks, lots of play dates with friends, and lots and lots of reading aloud.  Moses and I throw in 15 minutes of focused phonics time while Abigail is napping, and we call it good.  We're looking forward to adding a little more formal math and writing work before the summer is over.

But our most fun so far has come from the little "unit studies" we make up as a family based on what the kids are currently interested in.  Over the winter we did a unit on knights which was inspired by this passion on the part of our kids.  In the spring and summer we've been reveling in the world of bees and other insects.  We've plowed through a tall stack of library books, taken lots of opportunities to observe insects on our walks (Abigail is especially on the look out for ants, her favorite), and attempted a few bee related art projects with a definite emphasis on the process of creating more than the finished results :)  The pictures below are from last week's craft where we used hexagon shapes to stamp a bee hive to help us remember that bees make their hive out of 6-sided honey comb.

Here's my favorite moment so far from our bee unit:

After reading about how bees fly for miles to collect nectar from flowers and then transport it back to the hive where they fan it with their wings to turn it into honey, we flipped the page to see a beekeeper smoking the bees into a stupor and slicing open their wax cells with a hot knife to extract the honey.  Moses was outraged: "What?!?! He's stealing their honey??? After they worked so hard to make it?!!"  Clearly he has his father's sensitivity to injustice :)  Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to the day when he realizes where chicken nuggets come from!

We discovered some really great new books in our survey of our library's books on bees.  Here is a count down of our top three:

 3. The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons This was our favorite source of scientific facts about bees.  It explained complex concepts like metamorphosis and evaporation in a way Moses could understand.

2. The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco I adore Patricia Polacco and everything she has written!  I'm also intrigued by the fact that she lives a short distance from my childhood home, yet I never heard of her growing up.  This book chronicles the adventures of a little girl and her grandfather as they track down a wild beehive by chasing the bees back to their home. Every book we've read by this author emphasizes loyalty to family, observance of tradition and care for the broader community - this one is packed with the same good values.

1. The Honeybee Man by Lela Nargi  This book completely stole our hearts.  I have read and re-read it more than any other story over the past few weeks.  It follows an urban beekeeper as he cares for his "family", the bees he tends on the roof of his triple decker apartment building.  His love for his bees, his city, and his neighbors comes through on every page.  We adored The Honeybee Man!