Homeschool Day 8: More social studies

Really not the most exciting day school wise. Steven got bored with yoga, so he tried out a cardio video on youtube. And then he continued working on the social studies workbook he started last week.

Then we decided to go for a walk. We’ve all been a little afraid to leave the house. And we were all very careful not to touch anything while we were out. And whenever we turned a corner and saw people we went a different direction, because as much as we’d like to believe everyone is being careful, we just don’t have control over other peoples’ actions. It kind of felt like PacMan. But it was one of the first really nice spring days and I just needed to go for a walk. Hopefully this time next week our back yard will be less mucky and we can enjoy outside by playing some games in a space we have control over.

A rock someone painted and left for people to find.

We did find this pretty rock on our walk. There are a lot of people around (or so I’ve seen on Facebook) who paint rocks like this for people to find. The idea is to find them and hide them again, and I was a little upset that the first time we actually found one was a time when I definitely didn’t want to touch it. But maybe we’ll make some ourselves some time.

This was after the initial tear-filled “what’s wrong with it?”

I just realized it’s April Fools Day. I guess none of us are really feeling like doing any practical jokes. A couple years ago, though, Easter and April Fools happened to be the same day. I made Steven a “soft boiled egg” for breakfast… only I had removed the egg and replaced it with jello! I thought it was pretty funny. He kind of freaked out a bit. Maybe I shouldn’t have used red jello.

And that led me to a thought – maybe we’ll actually find time to decorate some eggs this year! There have been a few years that we bought kits and just never got around to it.

Trying to find the positives of this situation. It makes it a bit easier, anyways. I guess that’s all for now. Hope everyone’s staying safe and doing what they can to enjoy isolation.
~Lauren

Homeschool Day 7: Heart and Lung Science Experiments

Steven did some cool science experiments today to build on what he learned about the heart and lungs last week. We did one that shows how the diaphragm and lungs work together by following the instructions here. If we did that one again, I would probably use a smaller balloon for the “lung”, so it would be easier to see it inflating and deflating.

I would use a smaller balloon inside next time so it would be easier to see it inflating.

For the heart one, we more or less followed the instructions found here because I like how the experiment was set up, but we didn’t have a lot of the supplies. In my online search for an experiment, I had seen other people doing similar things with jars covered in balloons (with tiny holes for the straws – the balloon needs to seal around the straw) and then pushing down on the balloon to “pump”, instead of squeezing the bottle, so that’s what we did instead. Oh, and we stirred some red paint into the water because we didn’t have food colouring.

Once our experiments were done, we got back to our Dungeons and Dragons game from yesterday… and Liam and I were both killed by a large group of mimics. Steven was a little upset that we didn’t get to do everything he had planned. He felt he didn’t have enough time to plan and was quite convincing in that argument. So we had another discussion about how there really aren’t any hard deadlines or schedules or anything anymore, and if he needs more time he can just say so. I expect it will still take some getting used to. But he’s already working on our next game, and this time we told him to just tell us when he’s ready, instead of setting a date we plan on playing.

And this evening we had our first big family dinner over facebook messenger’s video chat. It took a bit to get figured out, but I’m sure it will go smoother next time. We typically have dinners at Liam’s parents’ place fairly regularly, usually with his sisters and their significant others and a lot of Steven’s cousins too, and I know that’s something everyone has missed.

I’ve been trying to think of what else we’ve been missing and how to fit those things into our new reality. I’m really looking forward to warmer days so Steven and I can do yoga on the back porch, but for now I’d settle for less rain and convincing someone to go for a walk with me. We’re all a little afraid to leave the house, but we haven’t seen a lot of people or even cars outside. It should be pretty easy to stay away from other people and not touch things.

This blog has been helping too, just to organize my thoughts a bit.

Stay safe out there!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 6: Dungeons and Dragons (that’s Language Arts, right?)

Today we all kind of woke up on the wrong side of the bed. None of us slept very well over the weekend, and I think it’s finally catching up to us. We had a talk about how we rarely go anywhere (except school, work and boy scout meetings) normally and we’re just doing all the things we normally do, but that it’s different now that we can’t go anywhere, and we’re all going to try and figure out how we can make things easier on ourselves.

Luckily, today was always supposed to be a more laid back day school-wise. Since before we started homeschooling, Steven had decided he wanted to make a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot for us, and when we started homeschooling we looked at the curriculum together and talked about how he could cover some of the necessary items in Language Arts with his one-shot.

Steven getting ready to play Dungeons and Dragons

Liam and I made our own characters for this game, but Steven had to decide what the world they were in looked like, and what challenges they would face. Then he had to present it in an engaging way. But the thing with Dungeons and Dragons is, you never know what your players are going to do. Even if you try to lead them in a certain direction, they might choose another, and you need to adapt and use your knowledge of the setting and the game to either get the game back on the track (or one of the tracks) you had planned, or improvise another direction entirely on the fly.

If you haven’t played before, there are lots of resources online to get you started, a lot of which are free or inexpensive, and it might help to watch some gameplay and tutorials on YouTube (Try Handbooker Helper and Critical Role… I may be a little obsessed with those guys).

If you want to play regularly, I highly recommend at least getting the core books (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual), but here’s a link to get you started with then rules at least. You will also need pencils and paper and a set (or twenty) of polyhedral dice, but there’s also apps for that if you don’t have them on hand and can’t go out. Maps and miniatures are all available as printables online too, or you can play with just your imaginations. And if you have no idea where to start your game, find a pre-made module to run. A lot of them even have characters already made up to play with.

Homemade printable minis from the Canada Day one shot I ran. The one in front is from “The Log Driver’s Waltz”, I unfortunately don’t remember where I got the other artwork from (I wasn’t really planning on sharing at the time), but I’ll update if I find it.

Steven has been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a couple of years now, but he watched us play and wanted to join long before that. If you’re looking for something simpler but still with just as much potential for imagination, Hero Kids is great for all ages. The math and mechanics are much simpler, the characters are cuter, but the possibilities are not limited at all. It’s just as much fun for adults as it is for kids. I noticed this morning that they currently have a Lockdown Bundle on sale for $5.99 (USD, I think?), which includes the core rules and some pre-made games to get you started, loads of content for the price. And Hero Kids comes with everything. Printable minis for all the characters and monsters, maps for the adventures, it’s all there. You just need some 6 sided dice, which you probably have somewhere in your house, and if not there’s still an app for that.

My Hero Kids collection.

We didn’t quite have time to finish our game today. I think Liam and I might have had more questions about Steven’s made-up setting than he had answers for. But that’s part of the fun! We’ll probably continue playing for an hour here and there over the next few days, after the regular lessons we have planned are done.

Hope everyone’s Monday went smoothly. Stay safe!
~Lauren

End of Week 1 in Isolation

Honestly, other than the constant feeling of impending doom, isolation isn’t really abnormal for us. It’s been nice to be home, not going to work and spending time with my family, and I don’t really miss going out because we honestly don’t really go out. We have missed dinners with family and our monthly DnD game, and Steven asked today when he would be able to have his cousin over for a playdate, but those are all things we’re working on being able to do while social distancing.

Errands have been a little more complicated, but we’re lucky to have family members (in this case Liam’s awesome sister) to help us out with our weekly grocery trip.

Groceries! Don’t mind the super dirty storm door… that someone apparently drew on…

We normally do a big grocery trip a couple of times a month and I’ll often grab a few other things on my way to/from work. But we’ve been trying to only send someone for groceries once a week and get everything we will need for a week or more. It means fewer points of contact for us, as well as for the people helping us and for the people who still need to work so we can get food.

We’ve got a system for unpacking groceries now too. Basically, Steven keeps his hands clean and runs around opening doors for us and helping remove things from boxes that we’ve opened to avoid contamination… and then we still disinfect everything we can and wash our hands even more than we already were for the first couple days after those groceries come into the house.

Found this after I posted the other memes on Friday and had to share.

I’ve really been trying to focus on the here and now because if I start trying to think even about the next few weeks I kind of drown in the uncertainty. I’ve never dealt well with uncertainty, and there’s a lot of it going around these days. I called my work a few days ago to arrange an unpaid leave of absence since I used up all my vacation days last week and I was planning on staying home for at least another week. It turns out they are working on having people work from home, which I had been told before I left was highly unlikely. So I applied to work from home and am waiting to hear back.

I’m so grateful that I will (hopefully) be able to work from home, but now I’m in this weird limbo that’s giving me some (additional) anxiety. I was expecting to be off for at least 2 weeks, we planned for it financially, and I was honestly looking forward to a second week off. But now I don’t know when I’m going back to work. I don’t know when I’m going to hear back, or how long from then it will take to get set up at home, or when I’ll actually be expected to start again. And, as it often does, it took me most of a day to process those emotions and that anxiety and form it into words, and in that time I was maybe a little grumpy and less fun to be around.

I’m pretty sure my family is used to me having days like that by now, but I always feel bad when it happens. Especially when it’s a day that I’m home. It feels like wasted time, wasted potential. I can’t help thinking of all the things I could have been doing if I hadn’t been in a funk. And it’s not like I didn’t accomplish a lot on Friday, it’s just that I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be, I didn’t connect with the people around me as much as I wanted to.

So I tried to push that out of my mind and enjoy this weekend. Steven and I coloured some pokemon pictures I had printed. He says we should do that more often because “it’s a good bonding activity”… he doesn’t yet understand why I’m laughing at that, but he’s not wrong. I feel like we might be doing more of this in the future.

Steven and I also spent quite a few hours cleaning his room. It’s his Saturday chore, but his room was such a mess that he didn’t know where to start cleaning on his own. Hopefully, now that it’s clean again he’ll be able to maintain it himself for a while.

Steven’s collection of collectables, some of which were lost in the depths of his messy room until today.

Oh, and Steven cooked toad in the hole for brunch today. Actually, yesterday he also helped make the English muffin loaf he wanted to use for eggs today. He’s decided he’s going to cook something every Sunday. I think his plan is to get back to the basics because he’s a little out of practice. We just haven’t had time to cook together as we used to the past year or so, but we will have time for the foreseeable future.

Steven cooking toad in the hole, with homemade english muffin loaf.

Hope you had a great weekend and are staying safe!
~Lauren

Homeschooling day 4: Math

We decided to do long division for our first day of math, because it would be easy to get it out of the way. Steven has always been really good at math, so it didn’t take him long to figure this out.

I printed out this cheat sheet that I used to explain long division and that he could refer to when he got stuck. Then I printed out a bunch of long division worksheets from homeschool math. I love that site, because I can click “create pdf” on the type of worksheet I want as many times as I want and it just keeps generating new problems, with answer keys too. I did the first 2 or 3 questions with Steven to make sure he understood and then left him to it.

Steven at some point decided that the solution to frustration is popping a bubble of bubble wrap and then going back to work. And then used this as an excuse to take a break and go search his room for “fresher” bubble wrap. But we have been talking a lot about coping mechanisms, and this one seemed pretty harmless, so I congratulated him on apparently finding something that worked for him (and timed how long it actually took him to find bubble wrap so he didn’t get too sidetracked).

By the time he finished all the worksheets and I marked them and he corrected the ones he had gotten wrong, it was lunch time. After lunch, since I didn’t really have anything else planned for the day, I got him to work on the workbook I had printed out from edHelper. They’ve been releasing a lot of free and fun workbooks for math, reading and writing. Lots of puzzles and drawing and creative writing. It is an American site, so some of the questions needed some extra explanation. And some of the questions involved sections of math that he hasn’t learned yet, so I told him to skip those for now. But overall I think it was more interesting and engaging than just regular worksheets.

Hope everyone’s having a good week (it’s almost over!)
Stay safe,
~Lauren

Homeschool Day 1: Language Arts

We started our first day a little late, and to be honest, all 3 days so far have been a little off schedule. But we decided not to get too stressed out about it. Flexibility is one of the perks of homeschooling, after all. We have so far ended up back on schedule by the end of the day.

Steven and I started with 20 minutes of yoga (I have a subscription to The Yoga Collective, I love their videos, and there are lots of good beginner ones) for Phys Ed and then took a break to make some smoothies. We then drank the smoothies while playing “Who is it? Guess it!” in French for French class. It’s a game much like “Guess Who?” that has the option to play in English, French or Spanish. Then we moved onto the subject that would take up most of the day, Language Arts.

In preparation for the first day of homeschooling, I had started googling ideas… and ended up looking at art projects because I love art and there are some crazy creative teachers out there! But we had decided that Monday was going to be Language Arts, so I needed to find something to work on reading or writing or oral presentations.

I had found this awesome blog post about an art teacher’s class making birds sculptures, and I just kind of expanded on it to turn it into a Language Arts lesson too. I made a printout that asked Steven to write out 10 of his personality traits, and then relate those to traits a bird might have. Then I got him to write why he chose each one… and by the time he finished that, he was ready to move onto something else, so we set that project aside for now.

Steven working on his “If I was a Bird” project. Wearing the same shirt he wore the day before and not caring about his messy hair. The joys of self-isolation!

My plan is that on Friday (for Art), he will make a sculpture of his bird, and then next Monday he will turn what he has written into a script for a “nature documentary”, which we will film. But since he was clearly done with it, for now, I let him continue on his self-assigned project, which is a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot that he wants to run for us (that’s got some Language and math and stuff, right? I’ll write more about that later, for those less familiar with the game). The plan is to run that for half the day next Monday and finish up the bird stuff for the other half. Though he might finish the bird assignment in other free time when other lessons are done. He worked on it a bit today too.

And while he was working on his project, I managed to make a huge pot of soup and cross some other things off my to do list. I think I was worried homeschooling would be stressful and take up all my free time, but that hasn’t been my experience so far.

I think the biggest struggle on our first day was convincing Steven that he didn’t need to stress or rush. That he could work on something else if he was getting frustrated, and the other project would still be there when he was ready, he wasn’t holding anyone else up. By the end of the day, he was even saying things like “and if we need to take a few days of summer for school, we can”.

I think that’s all for now. Stay safe everyone!
~Lauren