Saturday, December 27, 2014

Owl Moon {FIAR}

We rowed Jane Yolen's calm and wintry story, Owl Moon, the story of a young girl and her father who go owling late one snowy night. The young girl, entranced by the outing, follows her father and applies all the skills he taught her about owling--the importance of patience, quiet, and bravery.

Aidyn loved the understated adventure in Owl Moon and requested an owling trip of our own!

Language Arts: Setting

On the first day, we discussed the setting of the story. Aidyn listed off various answers: winter, nighttime, in the snow, in the forest. I also suggested other stories we have read and movies we have seen and asked him to name the settings until I was sure he understood.

Language Arts: Similes and Metaphors

On the next day, we read Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk: What Are Similes and Metaphors by Brian P. Cleary and learned about similes and metaphors.

We had fun performing some metaphors like "icy glare" and "frozen stare." When we read Owl Moon again, Aidyn spotted all the similes and metaphors and yelled them out:

"...a train whistle blew, long and low, like a sad, sad song."
"And when their voices faded away it was as quiet as a dream."
"But I was a shadow as we walked home."

Language Arts: Hyperbole

We also discussed hyperbole when we read how they stared at the owl for "maybe even a hundred minutes." We came up with more examples like, "Aidyn took a million years to get ready" and "I waited forever for the rain to stop."

Social Studies: Relationships- Father and Child

Looking at the close relationship of the father and daughter in the story, we discussed Aidyn's relationship to his father and things he's learned from him. We continued working on a thank-you letter to Daddy from earlier this month.

Science: Owl Study

We read Gail Gibbon's Owls and learned about different species of owls, how they hunt, what they eat, where they nest, how they raise their young, among other interesting facts. I asked Aidyn to find his favorite fact for copywork and here's what he chose:

We also read Jim Arnosky's All About Owls for more owl facts.

On YouTube, we watched a National Geographic special called Owls: Silent Hunters.

Although we enjoyed rowing Owl Moon, we didn't do as much as I would have liked. We're still adjusting to having a new baby in the house, but check out the links below for more ideas for learning about owls:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

~A Day in the Life~

Homeschool bloggers, at one time or another, write a day-in-the-life post, even though most days look nothing alike. I guess I should finally show what a day-in-the-life looks like around here, even though we, too, always change our days.

Current stats:

Aidyn: 8 years old, 3rd grade, and currently obsessed with Minecraft

Me: 8 months huge pregnant and really just trying to make it to 3:30pm every day (when the husband gets home and cooks dinner and FORCES me to rest)

Homeschool style: Mostly classical, eclectic, with a dash of FIAR

Homeschool philosophy: Set up a strong foundation (enjoyably!), literature-rich, get messy, facilitate learning, support a healthy relationship, and have fun (!)

What we're using (basically): Saxon Math, Brave Writer (Partnership Writing) and BWL (Poetry Teatime Tuesdays, Wednesday Afternoon Movies, Friday Freewrites and all the other stuff) Spelling Power, Story of the World: Volume One (ancient history), Adventures with Atoms and Molecules (chemistry), Song School Latin, Typing Pal Online, and mountains of books from the library.

Classes: Recorder (music) class (1x a week), character class (1x a month), Grade 3-6 science class (1x a week), Pre-engineering Lego class (1x a week), K-8 fun study hall club (biweekly).

Let's do this.

5am~ Rise and shine (for me). I usually get up between 4am and 5am because I'm crazy like that I'm a morning person. I enjoy a severely watered-down teacup of coffee (and dream of the non-pregnant day I will drink a jug of coffee) and traipse around in internetland. I check Facebook, email, secular homeschool forums, Pinterest (if the mood so strikes), and any random Goggle search prompted by a leftover wonder (how do you ease devastating mid-night leg cramps during pregnancy again?).

Sometimes I have a window for catching up on all my terrible shows, and other times I sit in the rocking chair and read a nice book in beautiful silence, or I might do some creative writing.

I need mornings to recharge and ground myself before a homeschool day.


Aidyn staggered downstairs early today and flopped on the couch. He had breakfast while we watched "Mythic Warriors: Theseus and the Minotaur." Then Aidyn watched a Muppet Babies episode of Greek myths while I took a shower.

Around 8:30, Aidyn dashed upstairs to play some Batman video game (modern mythic warriors, right? We'll go with that.)


We start math. I usually make a quick snack to share (today it was cinnamon and honey apple slices)


writes the date, answers some questions ("what date will it be in eight days?" "what day of the week is it?" "how many days in one week? two? three? four?" "what are the months of the year" etc.), makes three number sentences for the number-of-the-day, counts a random collection of money and records it, solves a problem-of-the-day, answer some clock questions, and counts by 5s, 10s, 100s, and odd and even numbers forward and backward.

Today's lesson reintroduced him to sums of ten. He drew two large circles on a piece of paper. I gave him ten counters, and he placed them in the circles in different combinations. I wrote out each combo on the chalkboard. Then I wrote out all eleven combinations and purposefully left one addend blank for him to solve.

He then did a 45-second timed addition sheet before doing his math page for the day.

10am~ Break

Aidyn ran around the house, playing with an Indiana Jones mini-gun, and had some kind of epic imaginary war.


Spelling Power!

I retested Aidyn on words he had previously misspelled and studied. He only missed one! Then we studied the one word (nice). With each missed word, I write it on the board, he reads it, we break it into parts (by syllable or sounds or some other pattern), he recites the letters in the word (twice), he spells it aloud with his eyes closed, he traces the word on the board, and then finally he respells the word without looking at it.

Then we moved on to our spelling activity (it changes every day). Today, we made a huge list of words that rhyme with "nice." I was expecting simple words, but he blurted out words like "slice," "thrice," and "vice" among others.

THEN, he had the best idea (totally on his own). He suggested I hide the word "nice" somewhere in the house for him to find, and if he finds it he gets a prize. So I took him up on the offer...

I made twenty "nice" decoys, words that rhymed/resembled "nice" and Aidyn's misspelling "nise" to throw him off. I hid the real "nice" on our globe over Nice, France.


We're using the Partnership Writing program through Brave Writer, and this month's writing project is Secret Codes. During this first week, we've been playing with picto-words. We had made a key of picto-words, and yesterday I wrote him a letter using our code words.

Today, Aidyn wrote a picto-coded letter to his grandma and, from what I heard, hid it somewhere in her room.


While he was occupied, I hid all my "nice" decoys through the living room and kitchen. Only one hidden slip of paper had the real word written on it. When I called him, he charged down the stairs and searched endlessly for the real "nice" card.

He eventually found it, and now I owe him a toy next time we go shopping. :)

Word games.

We played with a MagnePoem set to create some original poetry, just for fun.

Aidyn's poem. He insisted "sea" meant "to see." 

My poem.


Today we did chemistry experiment #3: do hot molecules move faster than cold molecules?
I posed the question, and while we debated it out, Aidyn wrote the question in his chemistry notebook. At first, he guessed that cold molecules would move faster because they're cold (he reenacted how his body shakes in cold weather).

He labeled one glass "hot" and another "cold" before I filled them up with hot and cold water, respectively. At the same time, he plopped one drop of red food dye in the hot water while I squirted one drop of blue dye in the cold water.

We watched the blue dye immediately sink to the bottom while the red dye spread all over pretty evenly. Aidyn concluded that the hot molecules spread faster than the cold. We talked about how if you're near a bakery, you can smell the warm deliciousness baking inside, and you can always smell a warm dinner coming out of the oven, but you never pass an ice cream shop and say, "Mmm, that ice cream smells delicious!" (unless they're baking waffle cones). And now we know it's because hot molecules travel and spread faster than cold molecules.

Afterward, we used a spoon to stir each glass. The hot water barely needed any stirring. We talked about how hot tea spreads in the cup more quickly than iced tea.

Aidyn recorded his findings and included illustrations in his chemistry notebook.


We both had chicken and cheese sandwiches before loading up in the car for his afternoon science class.


Aidyn attended a science class with 3rd-6th graders. From what he told me, they each received a packet of questions and needed to visit different science stations to answer the questions (on insects, ants, bees, and metamorphosis). Then they divided into teams and played a Jeopardy-style quiz game based on the questions.


On the way home, Aidyn read a book about piranhas (he's been interested in them lately), and the backseat was filled with "oooh"s and "ahhh"s.

We also listened to some good ole Harry Nilsson songs, particularly these three:

"Me and My Arrow"

"Are You Sleeping?"

"Think about Your Troubles"

2:30pm and onward~

Once we got home, I crashed on the rocking chair to recover. Aidyn zoomed upstairs and, from what I can only imagine, played in his room. Once 4:30 came around, Aidyn went outside, scooter in hand, to play with his neighborhood friends.


When the husband got home, he cooked dinner (salmon, rice and veggies). While he was cooking, I watched a Not-Back-to-School lecture online by Julie Bogart (creator of Brave Writer). The husband overheard most of the presentation, and I'd pause every once in a while to talk with him about it.

As per usual on Wednesday evenings, the husband and I watched "Face Off," a Syfy show about special effects makeup artists. Aidyn played outside with his friends and checked in every ten minutes or so. There's a gaggle of about three to seven kids out at a time, and they all ride bikes and scooters, play with oversized yoga balls, run around like crazy and get sweaty and dirty. Typical stuff.


Once it's dark-dark, Aidyn comes in from playing and does the back part of his math sheet from earlier (takes him about five to ten minutes). Because the husband gets up early for work and I get up early cuz I'm crazy like that, we both go to bed. Aidyn stayed up and watched "Goosebumps" on Netflix for a while before he fell asleep.

And that was our day!

I'm not sure I would say it was typical, except that we typically do different things every day. Most days we practice Latin, copywork, and dictation, but I followed Aidyn's interests this day to play his "spelling word hide-n-seek game." We also had an afternoon class; otherwise, we would have read a chapter from Story of the World.

But all in all, this is a normal day (in our current lives).

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Our First Poetry Teatime {Brave Writer}

We enjoyed our first poetry teatime today.

I lit a candle, baked some sugar cookies (from a premade mix), and whipped up some orange hot chocolate.

Confession: The Real Reason I Homeschool

I homeschool because I'm lazy.

Random run-ins with family, friends, and acquaintances have led to questions like, "So are you still homeschooling? I could never do that" and "How do you have the patience for that?"

I hear stuff about public school. I went there. I remember. And I think the same thing: I could never do that. Why? Because I'm too lazy.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Easing In to the Brave Writer Lifestyle~ Enjoying Nature

I recently semi-ditched our English curriculum. Why?

As a writing tutor, writer, and lover of all things English myself, I felt like the clunky textbook too closely resembled something from school. It was dry, uninspiring, and way too methodical. Writing should be messy, experiential, and alive! Shouldn't it?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The First Three Weeks of Third Grade: What We've Been Up to

Knocking on wood, but these first three weeks of third grade have been amazing. We both transitioned into our new routine pretty effortlessly. Our first day of third grade went well; the Minecraft shultute, pancakes and gifts were a huge hit.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Field Trip Friday: World of Wonders Science Museum

While compiling my list of 400+ Northern California field trips, I came across a hands-on science museum in Lodi and decided to check it out.

The World of Wonders Science Museum certainly encourages hands-on science discovery. Although situated in busy downtown, the museum showcases a relatively large space filled with dozens of exhibits. Admission is more than reasonable:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Day of Third Grade: Minecraft Schultute

As homeschoolers, we celebrate the first day of school a little but differently than our public-schooled peers. On the first day of first grade, we had sort of a Christmas-homeschool morning with educational gifts like a chess set and a Rubik's cube. On the first day of second grade, our family went spelunking at the Moaning Caverns in Vallecito, Ca.

This year we had another Christmas-homeschool type of morning, mostly because I'm about seven months along in my pregnancy and that's about the only physical adventure I can stand right now. But I still wanted to make his first day special. Lately, Aidyn has joined the millions of other Minecraft fans and, on most days, eats, breathes, and sleeps all things Minecraft.

The night before I made him a Minecraft schultute. A schultute is a cone-shaped holder of goodies, a first-day-of-school German tradition going back to the early 1800s. It's also fairly common in the homeschool world to give these schultutes, but this was our first time.

We filled and overflowed it with all kinds of goodies-- a Minecraft foam sword, kinetic sand, Create and Destroy Fortress Invasion clay, glue sticks, Minecraft benders, a Guardians of the Galaxy dog tag, a Minecraft creeper poster, a box of Buddy Bars, a box of Nerds...

AND a new-to-him scooter. The weekend prior, David and I found a scooter at a thrift store for $7, so we brought it home, cleaned it up, and added new handlebar grips and Minecraft stickers.

He rode it outside before we started school and during every break throughout the day. 

For breakfast, I made him a creeper pancake.

And we eventually started our day.

I regret not taking many pictures of the rest of our day, but Aidyn worked on a sheet of Minecraft Math  (addition and subtraction sheets can be found at this link) until our math curriculum comes in on Thursday. Aidyn took the placement test for Spelling Power, learned about mapping a story with our grammar book, restarted our reading program and listed things he wants to learn about in 3rd grade (most of which are underwater creatures like piranhas and sharks.

 We had a good, Miecrafty sort of first day and are looking forward to the new school year!

Here are some other first-day-of-school traditions and ideas:

First Day of School Traditions
Back to Homeschool and End-of-the-Year Celebrations on Pinterest

And if you're wanting to fit Minecraft into your learning:

Minecraft Activities, Coloring, and Worksheets Pinterest page
Learning by Playing Minecraft-- Resources for Parents and Teachers

And if you want to make your own schultute:

Make a Schultute!
Make a Schultute for Your Child's First Day of School


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

400+ Northern California Field Trips

Oh, California, you have so much to offer. We live smack dab in the middle of California, which means we're within the agricultural belt that runs down the state. We have the beautiful and busy Bay Area to the west, the quiet and peaceful splendor of Gold Country to the east, the capital of Sacramento only an hour away, and Southern California only 5 hours south.

We've spent a lot of time exploring our state, for educational and entertainment purposes (usually both!). Because we're Northern Californians, the list favors this area. If you have any more suggestions, please let me know and I will add them to the list! Links marked with asterisk are places we've visited and can vouch for.

Northern California

{Amusement and Theme Parks}

Great America in Santa Clara*
Children's Fairyland  (storybook theme park) in Oakland
Sonoma Train Town in Sonoma
Emerald Hills Golfland in San Jose
Gilroy Gardens (family theme park) in Gilroy
Nut Tree Theme Park  in Vacaville
Pixieland in Concord
Raging Waters in San Jose
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz*
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo*
Small World Amusement Park in Pittsburg
Pixie Woods in Stockton*

Adventure Playground in Berkeley

{Animation and Film History}

Cartoon Art Museum (animation) in San Francisco*
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont
Lobe Pine Film History Museum in Lone Pine
Central Coast Aquarium in Avila Beach


The Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco
Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco
Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey*
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum in Santa Cruz


Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco
Precita Eyes Mural Art Center (tours available) in San Francisco
Cantor Arts Center in Stanford
Peninsula Museum of Art in Belmont
MACLA (Latin American art) in San Jose
Tannery Arts Center (classes and tours) in Santa Cruz
Palo Alto Art Center in Palo Alto
Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento
di Rosa in Napa
Arte Americas (Latin American art) in Fresno
The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford
Haggin Museum in Stockton

Children's Art~
Museum of Children's Art in Oakland

Lace, Textiles, and Glass~
Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley
UC Davis Design Museum in Davis, specifically UC Davis
Bay Area Glass Institute  in San Jose
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose

Manteca Walking Tour of Murals in Manteca

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco
Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco*
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley
C.N. Gorman Museum (Native American Art) in Davis, specifically UC Davis campus
Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento
Bakersfield Museum of Art in Bakersfield
Fresno Art Museum in Fresno

Performing Arts~
Museum of Performance + Design in San Francisco

{Biographical Education}

The Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco
John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site in Danville
Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen (between Sonoma and Santa Rosa)
Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa
National Steinbeck Center in Salinas
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in St. Helena
Bucks Owens Crystal Palace in Bakserfield

{Career Education}

San Francisco Fire Department Museum in San Francisco
Napa Firefighters Museum in Napa
Sierra Sacramento Valley Museum of Medical History in Sacramento

{Children's Museums}

Randall Museum in San Francisco
Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco*
Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito
Habitot Children's Museum in Berkeley
Junior Museum and Zoo in Palo Alto
Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose in San Jose
KidZone Museum in Truckee
Playzeum in Yuba City
Sacramento Children's Museum in Sacramento
Children's Museum of Stockton in Stockton*
Children's Museum of the Sierra in Oakhurst
Imagine U Interactive Children's Museum in Visalia

{City/Local History}

California Historical Society in San Francisco
The Alameda Museum in Alameda
Berkeley Historical Society in Berkeley
Hayward Area Historical Society in Hayward
Dublin Heritage Park and Museum in Dublin
The Carnegie Museum in Livermore
Museum on Main in Pleasanton
Oakland Museum of California (art, culture, history, and science) in Oakland
Richmond Museum of History in Richmond
Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek
Union City Historical Museum in Union City
Colma Historical Museum in Colma
Millbrae Museum in Millbrae
San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City
Los Altos History Museum in Los Altos
Alpine County Museum in Markleeville
Amador County Museum in Jackson
Amador Whitney Museum in Amador City
Angels Camp Museum in Angels Camp
Bodie State Historic Park  {Ghost mining town} in Bodie
Calaveras County Museum in San Andreas
Roseville Historical Society in Roseville
Community Memorial Museum of Sutter County in Yuba City
Emigrant Trail Museum (at Donner Memorial State Park) in Truckee
Downieville Museum in Downieville
Eastern California Museum in Independence
El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville
Folsom History Museum in Folsom
Fountain & Tallman Museum in Placerville
Gatekeeper's Museum in Tahoe City
Gold County Museum in Auburn
Golden Drift Museum in Dutch Flat
Grass Valley Museum in Grass Valley
Groveland Yosemite Gateway Museum in Groveland
Hattie Weber Museum in Davis
Lake Tahoe History Museum in South Lake Tahoe
Mono Basin History Museum and Upside Down House in Lee Vining
Red Barn Museum in San Andreas
Rocklin History Museum in Rocklin
Sacramento History Museum in Sacramento
Shenandoah Valley Museum in Plymouth
Tuolumne City Memorial Museum in Tuolumne
Tuolumne County Museum in Sonora*
Central Sierra Museum in Shaver Lake
Clovis Museum in Clovis
Coarsegold Historic Museum in Coarsegold
Dinuba Southern Pacific Depot Museum in Dinuba
Eastern Fresno County Historical Museum in Auberry
Escalon Historical Museum in Escalon
Exeter Historical Museum in Exeter
Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park in Oakhurst
Gustine Museum in Gustine
Haggin Museum in Stockton*
Hill House Museum in Lodi
San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum in Lodi
Kern County Museum in Bakersfield*
Kern Valley Museum in Kernville
Historic Firehouse No. 1 in Nevada City
Manteca Historical Society and Museum in Manteca*


African/ African American~
Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco
The African American Historical and Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park (African American history) in Allensworth

Asian Art Museum in San Francisco
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum in San Francisco
Chinese Culture Center (Art) in San Francisco
Chinese Temple and Museum Complex in Oroville
All About Chinatown Walking Tours in San Francisco
Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Oakland
The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture in Hanford
Japanese American Museum of San Jose in San Jose
Chew Kee Store (historic Chinese herb shop) in Fiddletown
Chinese American Museum of Northern California in Marysville
Bok Kai Temple (Chinese temple) in Marysville
Japanese Garden at Micke Grove Park in Lodi
Stockton Cambodian Buddhist Temple in Stockton

Hippie culture~
Magic Bus San Francisco (Hippie culture) in San Francisco
Haight-Ashbury Walking Tour in San Francisco

India Community Center in Milpitas

Museo Italo Americano  (Italian American heritage museum) in San Francisco

Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life in Berkeley

Latin America~
Mexican Museum in San Francisco
Arte Americas (Latin American art) in Fresno

GLBT Museum (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History) in San Francisco

Native American~
State Indian Museum (Native Americans) in Sacramento
Chaw'se Regional Indian Museum (and Indian Grinding Rock SHP) in Pine Grove
Owens Valley Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center Museum in Bishop

{Factory Tours/Farms}

Fortune Cookie Factory  in San Francisco*
Fortune Cookie Factory in Oakland
Slide Ranch Organic Farm in Muir Beach
Alembic (musical instruments) in Santa Rosa
Jelly Belly Factory (free) in Fairfield*
Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center
Blue Ox Millworks in Eureka
Hilmar Cheese Factory in Hilmar*
Bravo Farms  (cheese factory, tree house, petting zoo, shooting gallery, fruit stand) in Traver
Mrs. Grossman's Sticker Factory in Petaluma
Countryside Farms (tours available) in Stockton


Takara Sake Museum in Berkeley
Fortune Cookie Factory  in San Francisco*
Fortune Cookie Factory in Oakland

{Gardens and Arboretums} 

University of Santa Cruz Arboretum in Santa Cruz
Filoli (hikes and tours) in Woodside
Marin Headlands (hiking trails, history and nature center) in Mill Valley
Hakone Estate and Gardens (Asian gardens) in Saratoga
San Francisco Botanical Garden in San Francisco
Golden Gate Park-- Garden of Shakespeare's Flowers in San Francisco
Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding
Japanese Garden at Micke Grove Park in Lodi


Heidrick Ag History Center in Woodland
Sierra Nevada Logging Museum in Arnold
Antique Farm Equipment Museum in Tulare
Ag Museum Frontier Town (free) in Merced

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose*
Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County in Chowchilla

Haas-Lilienthal House in San Francisco
Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont
Camron-Stanford House in Oakland
John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez
Shadelands Ranch Museum in Walnut Creek
Thorsen House in Berkeley
Sanchez Adobe Park in Pacifica
Bernhard Museum in Auburn
Locke Dai Loy Museum (former Chinese gambling house) in Locke
Governor's Mansion State Historic Park in Sacramento
Sacramento Old Schoolhouse Museum in Sacramento
Vikingsholm in South Lake Tahoe
Hill House Museum in Lodi

Cowboy Memorial and Library in Walker Basin
Oakdale Cowboy Museum in Oakdale

Lone Pine Film History Museum in Lone Pine

Invention, Technology, and Tools~
The Museum of American Heritage in Palo Alto
Computer History Museum in Mountain View
Intel Museum in Santa Clara
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park in Folsom
Roseville Telephone Museum in Roseville
Bolt's Antique Tool Museum in Oroville

Columbia State Historic Park in Columbia*
Fort Tejon State Historic Park (Civil War reenactments) in Grapevine
The Renaissance Institute (hands-on workshops) in Hollister
American Civil War Association of Northern and Central California (Civil War reenactments at parks throughout northern/central California)

The California State Miltary Museum in Sacramento
Museum of the Forgotten Warriors in Marysville
Sutter's Fort State Historic Park in Sacramento
Central California Historical Military Museum in Firebaugh
Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center in Richmond

California State Mining and Mineral Museum in Mariposa
Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley
Forest Hill Divide Museum in Foresthill
Griffith Quarry Museum in Penryn
Old Hangtown's Gold Bug Park and Mine in Placerville
Kentucky Mine Historic Park and Museum in Sierra City
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in Nevada City
Underground Gold Miners Museum in Alleghany
Kennedy Gold Mine in Jackson

The California History Center in Cupertino
The California Museum in Sacramento
California State Capitol Museum in Sacramento


The Beat Museum in San Francisco


Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies in San Jose
Musee Macanique (free) in San Francisco
Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall Tour in San Francisco

{Natural History}

California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley
The Bone Room (natural history store)* in Berkeley
CuriOdyssey in San Mateo
Carolyn Parr Nature Center in Napa
Mono Basin Forest Scenic Area Visitor Center in Lee Vining
Sierra College Natural History Museum in Rocklin
Buena Vista Museum of Natural HIstory and Science in Bakersfield
The Discovery Center  in Fresno
Giant Forest Museum in Tulare County
Great Valley Museum in Modesto

{Nature Center}

Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek
Carolyn Parr Nature Center in Napa
Giant Forest Museum in Tulare County
Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding
Oak Grove Regional Park and Nature Center (educational programs, nature trails, golf course, children's playground) in Stockton

{Offbeat Tours/Museums/Experiences}

Tour an historic prison at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum in San Francisco*
The New San Francisco Dungeon in San Francisco
Madame Tussauds in San Francisco
Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda
Burlingame Museum of Pex and Classic Toy Museum in Burlingame
Folsom Prison Museum in Folsom
Mammoth Ski Museum in Mammoth Lakes
Musuem of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Olympics in Tahoe City
The Upside Down House in Lee Vining
Old Jail Museum in Truckee
Preston Castle (former reform school/paranormal center) in Ione
Reiff's Gas Station Museum (1950s nostalgia) in Woodland
Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno*
Hocus Pocus Magic Shop (and vintage props and oddities from famous magicians) in Fresno
Bravo Farms  (cheese factory, tree house, petting zoo, shooting gallery, fruit stand) in Traver
Musee Macanique (free) in San Francisco
The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz*
Bigfoot Discovery Museum (free) in Felton
Magic Bus San Francisco in San Francisco
Alcatraz Island Tour in San Francisco
Santa Cruz Surfing Museum in Santa Cruz
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
King of the Windmills in Stockton
Ken Fox's Great Statues of Auburn in Auburn


Exploratorium (hands-on science museum) in San Francisco*
Lawrence Hall of Science (hands-on) in Berkeley
The Discovery Museum Space and Science Center in Sacramento
Explorit Science Center (hands-on) in Davis
The Discovery Center (hands-on) in Fresno
World of Wonders Science Museum (hands-on) in Lodi

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology in Berkeley

Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco
Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland
Lawrence Hall of Science Planetarium in Berkeley
NASA Ames Visitor Center in San Jose
Lick Observatory in San Jose
Rosicrucian Planetarium in San Jose
Fukitsu Planetarium in Cupertino

Rainforests of the World exhibit at California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco
Rainforest Cafe in Anaheim*, Ontario and San Francisco*

Earth Science~
Black Diamond Mines Reserve in Antioch

Essig Museum of Entomology in Berkeley
Bohart Museum of Entomology in Davis, specifically UC Davis campus

Utility Exploration Center (Hands-on and free!) in Roseville

University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley

Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley
Junior Museum and Zoo in Palo Alto
Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding


Stockton Indoor Sports Complex in Stockton

Stockton Roller Hockey in Stockton

Ice skating~
Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton

Stockton Ports in Stockton*
Delta Speedway (auto races) in Stockton
Stockton 99 Speedway (auto races) in Stockton
Oakland Coliseum (Oakland A's and Raiders) in Oakland
AT&T Park  (San Francisco Giants) (tours available) in San Francisco

Rollerland in Merced
Stockton Indoor Sports Complex in Stockton


United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in Davis

Cable Cars~
Cable Car Museum in San Francisco*

Classic Automobiles~
Blackhawk Automobile Museum in Blackhawk
The Duarte Garage and Lincoln Highway Museum in Livermore
California Automobile Museum in Sacramento
Reiff's Gas Station Museum in Woodland

Cruises (local)~
Opportunity Cruises (Educational cruises available/Stockton Delta history) in Stockton

Ships and Airplanes and Rockets~
Alameda Naval Air Museum in Alameda
Lightship LV 605, RELIEF in Oakland
Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland
SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond
USS Hornet Museum in Alameda
USS Potomac in Oakland
Flightdeck (flight simulation) in Mountain View
NASA Exploration Center in Mountain View
Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos
Moffett Field Historical Society Museum in Moffett Field
Aerospace Museum of California in McClellan (near Sacramento)
Tahoe Maritime Museum in Homewood
Flight Test Historical Foundation at Edwards Air Force Base
Castle Air Museum in Atwater
Hillier Air Museum in Modesto

San Francisco Railway Museum in San Francisco
Golden Gate Railway Museum in Sunol
Sonoma Train Town in Sonoma
Niles Canyon Railway (train rides) in Fremont
The Niles Depot (museum) in Fremont
Golden State Model Railroad Museum in Richmond
California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento
Folsom Railroad Museum in Folsom
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park (with movie props)* in Jamestown
Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad in Fish Camp
Sierra Railroad Dinner Train in Oakdale

{Zoos/Animal Encounters}

Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka
Oakland Zoo in Oakland*
San Francisco Zoo in San Francisco*
Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose
Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary in Folsom
Sacramento Zoo in Sacramento*
Micke Grove Zoo in Lodi*
Jack Tone Ranch (horse ranch; visitors welcome) in Stockton
Applegate Park Zoo in Merced
Fresno Chaffee Zoo in Fresno*
Charles Paddock Zoo in Atascadero*
California Living Museum in Bakersfield*
Feline Conservation Center (tours available) in Rosamond

More Ideas:

Contact these local establishments and set up a tour in your hometown:
  • animal shelter
  • antique store
  • art/craft store
  • bakery
  • bank
  • beekeper
  • car dealership
  • cave/caverns
  • cemetery 
  • college campus
  • courthouse
  • dental lab
  • eye doctor
  • farmer's market
  • fire station
  • fish hatchery
  • ghost town
  • greenhouse
  • grocery store
  • hardward store
  • hiking trail
  • an historic site
  • hospital
  • ice skating rink (Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton) 
  • jeweler's shop
  • library
  • local monument
  • newspaper 
  • nursing home
  • pet store
  • pick-your-own farms
  • pizza parlor
  • police station
  • pond
  • post office
  • power plant
  • recycling plant
  • religious facility (different than your own)
  • skating rink ( like Rollerland in Merced)
  • sports team/activity
  • state park
  • soup kitchen
  • theatre
  • TV station
  • veterinary office
  • virtual field trips
  • water treatment facility

This is an ongoing list of field trips in the Northern California region. You can even see some field trips we've taken. If you have suggestions and places to add, let me know!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

{Return to Reading}: Perfect by Rachel Joyce

"The rift between the past and this moment is so huge it is like being marooned on a square of ice, seeing other patches of his life also floating around him, and unable to piece them all together. Sometimes it is easier, he thinks, to live out the mistakes we have made than to summon the energy and imagination required to repair them" (Joyce 376).

Perfect by Rachel Joyce circles around the theme of lost time. Byron Hemmings, a bright 11-year-old, discovers that the powers that be have decided to add an additional two seconds to time. Terrified, he worries that two seconds is the difference between something awful either happening or not happening. His story exemplifies how two seconds can completely alter someone's life. 

I have a tendency to look back too often, at the past, at what could have been, at mistakes I have made. Nostalgia is a pain as real as heartburn. And what is even more devastating is that the past is already written and unchangeable, but the ache to change it or recreate it burns just the same. 

As a parent I worry that my son isn't living some idyllic childhood, isn't swinging on enough swings, playing with enough cousins, or creating enough carefree memories like I did. I look back and see my "perfect" childhood and mourn that Aidyn might not be living his. But it's a silly worry.

I catch him in the depths of childhood wonder and imagination ("I think I might have ice powers after I read that spell book," he told me yesterday.). I watch him sled down the stairs on a "magic carpet." I see him bond with his cousins, eating ice cream sandwiches in the back seat of the car or staying up late on summer nights. 

His childhood may not include everything mine did (which might actually be a good thing), but he's effortlessly creating his own. The past isn't meant to be recreated. It cannot be brought back. But in looking backward, we can see the beauty and possibility of today. Someday today will be a memory, and we have the power to influence and shape it. 

Perfect reminded me how hung up we are on time, especially time past, and the frustration we feel at our inability to change it. For some reason, we are hell bent on living out what has happened to us in the past, allowing ourselves to be defined by it. It can feel imprisoning to always be that person who we were. And again, it's silly, especially when, each day, we have the new and awaiting possibility of doing Something Else.


For the past couple of weeks, I have made an effort to return to reading. As a child, teen, and young adult, I had love affairs with books, but after years of college coursework and forced readings, I lost that love for simply picking up a book and getting lost in it. 

I recently picked up Tolstoy and the Purple Chair  by Nina Sankovitch, a gentle memoir about reading books to escape back into life. 

Sankovitch's book is ushering me back toward books and the rewards of reading. I have been randomly plucking books from library shelves, such as 1914 by Jean Echenoz and The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide.

If you have a book recommendation, I would love to hear it! Have you read anything lately that I shouldn't miss?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

3rd Grade {Sanity} Schedule

I recently posted our 3rd grade curriculum goals, and, to be honest, the long list majorly  kind of freaked me out. A few weeks ago, I outlined a new schedule for third grade given the new changes this year, most importantly our baby boy set to arrive at the end of October!

As Aidyn gets older and more mature, we're leaning more toward a classical learning style though we're still eclectic and flexible.

This year we are finishing up SOTW: Volume One and attempting to finishing SOTW: Volume Two. We'll see how that goes.

We are also continuing to work on language arts skills, especially spelling. Aidyn has become a quick and proficient little reader so I imagine his breadth of reading will expand this year. I sincerely hope he gets bit by a major reading bug.

We are introducing Latin this year with Song School Latin, and Aidyn is actually excited about learning a new language. And not just any new language, but a cool dead new language. We'll try to liven it up as much as possible.

We are also focusing on chemistry and earth science this year (our kitchen table will be a rotating experiment lab), and working on a new big book of Saxon math.

After a very recent move, we're pleased that Aidyn has some neighborhood friends and has resumed his play-all-day-until-we-force-him-back-in-at-9pm habit. After school, the outdoor play with friends will be just the break we both need.

The routine below is more for my sanity throughout the school year than anything else. In other words, it's my buoy when I've waded too far in.

First Half of Third Grade:

Normal Week:


Reading (SRA textbook activities)
Writing (copywork)
Free Reading
Outdoor play
Outside classes: CrossFit P.E. and Pre-Engineering Lego class


Reading (read-aloud)
Writing (dictation)
Chemistry experiment
Free reading
Outdoor play
Outside class: Recorders (school band)


Reading (SRA)
Writing (retelling)
Free reading
Outdoor play
Outside class: Hands-on science and (once a month) Character class


Reading (read-aloud)
Writing (handwriting practice)
Earth science
Free reading
Outdoor play


library, field trip, messy activity, "catch-up" day, movie, etc.
Outside class: (once or twice a month): Study club with K-8th graders


Finish any read-alouds from the week
"Catch up" with Daddy
Outdoor play

FIAR week: (1x a month)


Phonics (Explode the Code)
Read FIAR book
Social Studies/Geography related to the book
Writing (copywork from the book)
Free reading
Outdoor play
Outside classes: CrossFit P.E. and Pre-Engineering Lego class


Phonics (Explode the Code)
Read FIAR book
Language Arts related to the book
Writing (dictation from the book)
Free reading
Outdoor play
Outside class: Recorders (school band)


Phonics (Explode the Code)
Read FIAR book
Art related to the book
Writing (retelling the book)
Free reading
Outdoor play
Outside class: Hands-on science and (once a month) Character class


Phonics (Explode the Code)
Read FIAR book
Math/Science related to the book
Writing (handwriting)
Free reading
Outdoor play


field trip, activity, movie, hike, etc.
Outside class: (once or twice a month): Study club with K-8th graders
Outdoor play