Old Florida Museum

Monday was Homeschool Day at the Old Florida Museum in St. Augustine. Of course things started out with is arriving in St. Augustine without any shoes in sight for Charlie. So a quick side-trip to CVS down the street to purchase some Spiderman flip-flops was in order.

I love the fact that things started out right away by making the kids work! Here is Hailey grinding some dried corn.

corn grinding

Next stop was the Timucuan Indian Chief’s house. We learned that the chief of the Timucuan Indians were usually females. Cool twist huh? Hailey got a kick out of making a necklace from oyster shells.

oyster necklace

She quizzed the guide quite a bit about all of the animal skins that were decorating the inside of the of the house, but the antlers were her favorite. She found one set that weighed nearly as much as she did. Here she is posing with a much smaller version.


Charlie didn’t want to touch anything in there. In fact he freaked out as soon as we walked in the hut. Although he did manage to warm up enough to walk around without clinging to me, he was never too far away.

Just outside we got to see what how a bow drill worked. It took a few tries, but eventually Hailey got the hang of it. While we did see a bit of sawdust I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my time drilling holes like that!

indian drill

The next tent was the archeological dig site. There were boxes of sand filled with all kinds of fun artifacts and ecofacts for the kids to unearth.  Armed with shovels, buckets, and sifters, the kids went to work. After they had a few things in the bottom of their buckets we walked over to the tables where they would examine each piece and try to decide what it was. The guide in the tent was very knowledgeable and helped us figure out that what we thought was and old piece of shell was really part of a crocodile back!


Next stop was the early Spanish Colonial section. Here we got to see the type of hand drill that the Spaniards used. Both of the kids really enjoyed using that drill.

colonial drill

There was weaving.


The old-fashioned ball-in-cup toy that you can still find today.

ball in cup

A game similar to checkers.


And of course candle making. Hailey really got a kick out of being able to try this out! We even got to take some back home with  us!

candle dipping

We were then directed to walk back behind the buildings and told, “Don’t touch the tree!” Apparently there were a bunch of “white fuzzy bugs that sting”. I didn’t see any, but I suppose that’s a good thing.

The last stop was the Early Florida Settlers section that showcased a myriad of tools and toys that were used by the Florida Crackers. We were told that they got that name because of the sound that the whips made when they were herding cattle from the brush.

We looked at the hand plow, but I couldn’t convince them to try it. Hailey got to grind some dried corn off of the cob with a very cool looking contraption. I wonder how they thought up some of these tools?


We headed into the one-room school house to escape the crazy heat on the last official day of summer. The kids loved writing with the quill pens from ink wells.

quill pen1quill pen 2

After heading back outside we found the winning activity of the day. Clothes washing! Yes, that’s right. The kids highlight of the day was washing clothes the old fashioned way. Charlie, the water lover that he is, got a huge kick out of pumping water into the basin While Hailey and another group of kids washed, wrung out, and hung clothes, repeatedly. I mean come on. Why can’t I get them to do hard labor like that?

water pump


Look What the Cat Brought In

This month for science studies we have been learning all about reptiles. Little did I know that the reptiles would decide to make themselves so readily available for evaluation!

We had gotten a bit of a late start on school work for the day, which is really not all that unusual, when Hailey announced that the cat had a dead lizard that he had been playing with. Now our cat is an indoor cat, but loves to spend a quick minute or two out on the back porch first thing in the morning. Apparently he found this poor, unsuspecting lizard and carried him inside to use as a play toy.

Hailey picked up the lizard by the tail and brought it over to me with a terribly sad look on her face. Truthfully, the lizard looked as if it had died a while ago as upon a quick glance it had a dried stiff look to it. I told her to go ahead and throw it out when she suddenly screamed and started crying. While you never can tell what melodramatics she may have in store for the day, I certainly was not expecting that reaction while walking to the trash. I peeped around the corner and Hailey looked up at me with this pitiful face, still holding the lizard by the tail, and screeched, “He bit me!”

lizard hailey

Doesn’t he look dead to you? I suppose that he had either been exhausted by molting or by the fact that a cat had decided to pick him up and take off with him.

lizard close

I mean come on. You can’t blame me for thinking the poor thing was dead. I looked him over carefully, but didn’t see any sign that he had been harmed by the cat. So we laid him a protected area in the garden to complete his molt in peace.

Today’s Nature Walk

Today was a yet another beautiful sunny day, so we headed outside for a a bit of a nature walk. What was the first thing we saw. A gorgeous great blue heron!


We stopped by the pond out back and saw a plethora of little minnows in the shallows.


And a little blue damselfly flitting around.


When we turned around we were greeted by two of the local Canadian geese ready for a swim.


On the way back to the house we came across this little buckeye butterfly.


The other day it was really, really windy out and I was surprised to see this little guy trying to cling on to a blade of grass. Every once in a while he would get blown off and would quickly try to attach to another blade. You can see how his wings were kind of blown around.


Paint Your Windows!

I thought that this idea to paint your windows for Valentine’s Day was too adorable to pass up! Of course, the kids love it when they can paint anything, but when you tell them they get to paint something that would normally be off limits they enjoy it that much more.



I cut out some simple little paper hearts from the scrap paper pile and attached them to the window with double-sided tape. We used red and yellow paint with a bit of dish soap mixed in. The soap is supposed to make it a little bit easier when it comes time to remove the paint. We will see how it goes.


Once we pulled the hearts from the window to show the cutouts, I couldn’t just let the hearts go to waste so we made these little dangles to hang from the light above the table. I have been adding in the valentines that the kids have received from their homeschool valentine exchange. They have really enjoyed getting something in the mail each day!


Our Strange Schedule


An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. ~ Benjamin Franklin


When I first started homeschooling I envisioned a perfect and smoothly run day. We would wake early, have breakfast, clean the kitchen, begin schoolwork by 8am and be finished by 11. Well months later, I have finally resigned myself to the fact that this will not work for our family. What stands in the way of being able to accomplish this? I bit of everything I guess.

My military hubby has a schedule that constantly changes. Different days each week. Six weeks of days then six weeks of nights with an occasional deployment thrown in. Of course, one of the fortunes of homeschooling is that we can spend the time that he does have off with him. So if he works the weekend then we can spend weekdays with him. If he works days then we are there in the evening. Nights? We are there in the day. Even if he is sleeping…

My daughter is a night owl. She definitely inherited this from both Mom and Dad. The only reason that we rise early now is because of that wonderful military discipline. (Although mine is finally beginning to wear off. I do love sleeping a bit late.) Even though we have always had a bedtime of 7:30 for the kids, she has a hard time falling asleep before 10 at night. Of course, then I can’t wake her up before 8:30 in the morning without tempting her with some delicious yummy breakfast breads.

lily-of-the-valley-arrangementThe little one has stopped having his regularly scheduled naps. When we first began I tried to have school time while occupying the toddler, but I quickly found out that it was much too frustrating for me to have to stop every 30 seconds to redirect the toddler misadventures. Alas, neither of my kiddos continued to nap regularly after 2 1/2 so the idea of trying to get work done during those precious few minutes was also out of reach. Oh, he still needs the nap (desperately!), but would rather reach the point of a crying, whining, heap in the afternoon rather than relax quietly in his soft, comfy bed for a few minutes to recharge.

Then there is me. I have realized that I will probably never have enough energy to keep the perfect house, but it drives me nuts to have a mess about while trying to do anything else. I feel so much more at peace if I can start out with completing the chores and then move on to other things. I mean, I just can’t really relax until the house is at least moderately clean. The heap of laundry will make me shudder and a dirty kitchen makes me cringe.

So, how then do we fit our school-day into our topsy-turvy schedule? Throughout the day we take reading breaks. If the kids ask a question about anything that I might actually know the answer to we take time to explain it. Different types of clouds, why can birds fly, why is the moon out during the day? So what about the more structured learning? We do that at night of course! Since the little toddler-man forgoes his nap he absolutely crashes at 7pm. That’s when we fit in schoolwork with princess nightowl. She loves having the time all to herself and feels special since I “let” her stay up late.

Valentine’s Day Book Basket

Are you ready for snuggling up with your kids on Valentine’s Day? Here are some great books to fill your Valentine’s Book Basket. Head to the library quickly – or they will all be gone!

The Story of St. Valentine ~ by Voice of the Martyrs

Saint Valentine ~ by Robert Sabuda

The Night Before Valentine’s Day ~ Natasha Wing

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch ~ Eileen Spinelli

The Valentine Bears ~ by Eve Bunting

Cranberry Valentine ~ Wende Devlin

FIAR Out of Print Titles

If you use the Five in a Row Curriculum you know that there are some books that are no longer being published and can be difficult to come by. For those of you that are interested in obtaining these books at garage sales, thrift stores, and library book sales here is a consolidated list of some of the most prized FIAR titles. If you are looking for complete FIAR book lists please check out the lists compiled at HomeSchoolShare. They also have other lists grouped by geography, science, unit studies, lapbooks, and more.

Want to print this list? No problem. Just click here for a PDF version.

Note: Some formerly out-of-print books are now being republished as indicated.

Before FIAR

Yellow Ball ~ Bang, Molly

My Blue Boat ~Chris L. Demarest

The Quiet Way Home ~Bonnie Becker

The Red Carpet  ~Rex Parkin

Jenny’s Surprise Summer  ~Eugenie

FIAR Vol 1

Cranberry Thanksgiving  ~Devlin, Wende & Harry

Another Celebrated Dancing Bear  ~Scheffrin-Falk, Gladys  ~ (Now available at Purple House Press)

FIAR Vol 2

Giraffe That Walked to Paris   ~Milton, Nancy

Babar, To Duet or Not To Duet ~De Brunhoff

Down, Down the Mountain ~Credle, Ellis

All Those Secrets of the World ~Yolen, Jane

Gramma’s Walk ~Hines, Anna Grossnickle

FIAR Vol 3

Andy and the Circus ~Credle, Ellis

The Wild Horses of Sweet Briar  ~Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie

Henry the Castaway ~Taylor, Mark

Warm as Wool ~Sanders, Scott Russell   ~(Now available at Wooster Book Company )

FIAR Vol 4

Arabella ~Orr, Wendy

Cowboy Charlie ~Winter, Jeanette

Hanna’s Cold Winter ~Marx, Trish

Higgins Bend Song and Dance   ~Martin, Jacqueline Briggs

The Hatmaker’s Sign   ~Fleming, Candace