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Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening {FI♥AR}

~Bo is 5 years old!~

This is a great book to gently ease into any Five in a Row learning adventure because the lessons are short and meant to be used during a Review Week. Plus, winter is upon us and we just got a bunch of snow! The last time I rowed this, I was waiting for Bo to be born and here I am rowing it with him. 

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.

We focused on art, poetry, the animals beautifully illustrated in the book, and winter time.

Art History: The One Horse Open Sleigh 

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring’
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

The classic "Jingle Bells" song about the joys of riding a sleigh ties in wonderfully with this book and the joyful illustrations of the narrator as he delights in keeping his "promise."

He gives his harness bells a shake 
To ask if there is some mistake...

In the winter in New England in pre-automobile days, it was common to adorn horses’ harnesses with straps of bells as a way to avoid collisions at blind intersections, since a horse-drawn sleigh in snow makes almost no noise. The rhythm of the tune mimics that of a trotting horse’s bells.

The word "jingle" in the title is an imperative verb. An imperative verb gives a command, so the subject is an implied "you." You jingle the bells. You jingle the bells to signal that you are coming through the woods to avoid collision.

The song was originally entitled "The One Horse Open Sleigh" and while it is synonymous with the Christmas holiday, it was originally written as a Thanksgiving song.

We learned that sleigh bells are in the percussion family of instruments and I gave Bo a bag of small jingle bells to play with. The first thing he did was divide them with Eliana and then he counted his bells by 2s and played a marble game with them. (I have plans to make a rag banner with them later). Then he strung them on a string to play with.

Stopping By Woods Rag Banner

I saw this fabric and thought it would be perfect with the horse drawn sleigh, winter trees and animals, and the farmhouse in the distance for our quilt square for Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

We looped the fabric and burlap around jute cord and then added white twinkle lights, bells, and pinecones. Elli helped me with the bells and Bo put on all the pinecones.

Thanks to Chasing Slow for the inspiration! 

Seasons: Winter

My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

"The darkest evening of the year" is the first day of Winter, which was December 21st.  We talked about seasons and length of days and explained that the days will start to be longer after the 21st by pointing out that sunset will be a little later each day.

Winter began today and ends March 18, 2016. Sunset was at 4:29 today. Sunset tomorrow will be at 4:30 pm.

We covered Seasons with Sonlight P 4/5 Berenstain Bears Book of Nature and I reviewed the order of the seasons with Bo.


Acrostic Poem - SNOW by Bo


List Poem - Winter by Bo

Big chunks of snow
Playing with snow
Having a snowball fight
Slide on the sled
Slide down the hill
Dig holes in the snow
Make a snowman
Feels good
Cold, but I love it

Art: Watercolor Resist

Eliana and Bo watercolored their Winter list poem. 

Caring for Wild Animals
The woods are lovely, dark and deep 
But I have promises to keep...

After reading the story, I asked Bo what promise was he fulfilling? (He is feeding the animals in the woods).  I explained that food in the winter is scarce for animals. This did not stand out to me the first time we rowed this book, but it did this time.

Animal Poem

I had Bo choose an animal from the book to write a poem about. He chose the farm dog at the end of the book.

My Animal Poem
by Boaz

I am a dog. 
I can chase.
I can dig, 
I feel frisky. 
I smell bad. 
I love to sit. 
I eat. 
I am a dog. 

Animal Tracks

Animal Tracks Filer Folder Game

Track Packs

For our Blessed Assurance study, we are working on putting together a Track Pack for studying animal tracks:

  • 6" plastic or wood ruler for measuring tracks
  • tape measure to measure strides
  • tweezers, to work closely and place small signs in container
  • notebook and pencil, to record findings
  • flashlight, for dark or night tracking
  • popsicle stick painted red on one end, to easily find a track and return to it
  • scotch tape, to tape a hair sample in notebook
  • magnifying glass, to closely observe
  • plastic sandwich bag, to collect signs
We have not had a chance to get out in the woods to look for tracks, but I hope to soon. 

The Red Fox

Winter Watercolor Cardinal

(I drew the cardinal for Bo to watercolor.) 

FI♥AR Recipe: Recipe for a cold winter night.

Bo loves lasagna, so we had Lasagna Soup in french bread bowls for his birthday dinner and for our row.

Our FI♥AR Treat: Peppermint Snowflake Sugar Cookies

These are so yummy! I used Chasing Slow's Sugar cookies all year long and her easy icing too and added one drop of Young Living peppermint essential oil. Eliana held me accountable and wouldn't let me eat one, but as soon as she went outside to play I snuck one! and then another one.

Winter Preparedness

This was a fun winter/preparedness activity that we did for school this week. We made pinecone fire starters with wax and Evergreen Essence.

To make, we used 2 boxes of parafin household wax and about a half a bottle of Evergreen Essence essential oil. I wrapped cotton household string around each pincone for a wick and then dipped - dip - cool - dip - cool - dip - cool until they are coated well. I didn't like Evergreen Essence out of the bottle, but the basket of fire starters has been on the shelf behind me for a couple days and they smell very nice! They smell really good when they burn too. 

They also make great hand warmers for emergency use - place in a #10 metal can and store in car during winter travel. 

One little pinecone burned for quite a while, but they have to be extinguished outside the car in the snow when they finish burning.

I still have a few Before Five in a Row books to row with Bo, but I'm hoping to start planning a few FIAR books soon. This row gave me a good idea of what Bo is ready for (and what he's not), so that will help with my planning. Also to consider - Bo does not want to do school alone, so I will incorporate activities for Eliana, which will be fun.

And with all the snow we got this week, the kids had fun playing the snow, making snow angels, making a snowman, and sledding.

Update on Bo:

Bo just turned 5. I wrote a post documenting what I love about Bo, his life at 5, and a few interview questions. His birthday was full of Playmobil knights, a really simple castle cake that was sieged and destroyed, and lots and lots of playtime.

We are on Week 15 in Sonlight Core P 4/5. Bo loves the DEL books (Developing the Early Learner). We do all our reading at bedtime.

Bo loves his math lessons, but I stopped having him do the copywork and we have been working on correct formation of his numbers using homemade handwriting pages that I am making using Getty & Dubay Fontware. When he is confident in his number writing, we'll switch back to the copywork. He's made much improvement in a short time, so it won't take long. Having him trace the numbers is helping with number reversals, too. He has to think hard about which way they go when he writes them though.

He also finished part 2 of All About Reading Pre-reading - lowercase letters. I wanted him to take a little break before starting sounds, but he has been asking me almost daily to start (we were into a pretty good routine with it). I said when he turns 5, so we will start next week. I will make handwriting pages for each letter to work on correct formation of letters.

Teaching Bo to read a few words has helped with his speech therapy. For example, to help him with /d and /g sounds, I wrote the word "dog" on the board and we practiced reading the sounds. Then he can look at the word (and later see the word in his mind) to help him remember the sounds. He couldn't say /g for so long that he automatically says /d instead. He CAN say the /g sound now though! So, it is just a matter of reprogramming. The /g and /k sounds have been the only two sounds he's been behind on the last 6 months. He's on target for all other sounds and he is ready to graduate speech therapy, but we are going to take a month break first. If I notice any relapse, I will get him in. On the other hand, if he does well after a month, he will graduate. Yay!

Bo is already asking us to spell words for him and writes words all the time, so it will be an exciting year in our homeschool teaching him to read. 

Blessed Assurance ~ Sign of the Beaver {Chapters 1-5}

Malachi's American History is spread out over two years and we were getting quite ahead of him with Sonlight's D&E American History, so we decided to put the breaks on Sonlight and wait for Malachi to catch up. In the meantime, we have been using Blessed Assurance (Prepare & Pray Volume II). I did Prepare & Pray I with my older boys when Malachi was Bo's age. It is a family preparedness curriculum designed to include the whole family, so he still remembers some of the activities we did. These are all documented on my blog and linked here.

Blessed Assurance part 1 uses The Sign of the Beaver. (Links to Amazon are affiliate links). We read the assigned reading, answer discussion prompts, read a Toddler Tale, and do a hands-on activity for each unit.

For Units 1 and 2, we:
  • discussed Matt's level of responsibility and skill compared to a typical American boy of today.
  • talked about wisdom and discretion (especially when dealing with strangers during perilous times) 
  • learned why we want to develop our sense of discernment and intuition
  • found the Penobscot River on a map of Maine
  • talked about the political atmosphere of the Massachusetts colony during this time (where Matt's family was from) and why Matt's family moved to Maine
  • learned about combustion and what a fire needs to burn efficiently
  • learned about fire safety and how to put out a fire properly 
  • learned how high fat foods tend to "stick to your ribs" more than lean foods and what a figure of speech is
  • learned the importance of not being careless
  • learned the uses of salt
  • learned how molasses is made (and the history of the mills in our town)
  • learned how to treat a sprained ankle
Projects and activities:
  • made Johnny cakes with molasses

We did a cattail nature study.

Elli and Mali added a page to their nature journal...

  • Matt let his fire go out, so we started a fire without matches, using a magnesium fire starter and cat tail tender

Making a cattail torch is another way to use a cattail. They can also be eaten! We went over all the uses of the cattail. (This was actually a lesson from Unit 3, but I skipped ahead knowing that it would be snowing soon).

We are still reading Pocketful of Pinecones and the Burgess books for nature study, too.

  • learned first aid for burns and the use of aloe, lavender and honey as natural first aid

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  • Matt is attacked by bees after trying to collect honey so we reviewed how to remove a bee sting (I have a video in our row of The Bee Tree)
  • started a mending basket (needle, thread, safety pins)
  • the only sweetener Matt has is molasses, so we made whole grain biscuits, ate one plain, and then ate one with molasses to compare and appreciate the difference and while molasses was a treat for Matt, the kids were torn - Malachi liked the molasses, Eliana liked the plain, and Bo liked honey on his biscuit best

  • learned that comfrey contains the constituent allantoin, which by promoting cell proliferation, encourages the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage. It also breaks down red blood cells, which supports the healing of bruises. It's also a key constituent in eye creams. 

I read from the Rodale's Encyclopedia of Herbs for this lesson and the kids colored a coloring page in the curriculum. Then I read the section on bathing with herbs and I made a tonic bath (for me!). Tonic baths freshen and brighten the skin during long, cold winters. Herbs that have a tonic effect on the skin include comfrey, orange peel, lavender, and rose petals, so I used rose geranium, orange and lavender essential oil in an herbal bath. To do this, I made a decoction of the comfrey. A decoction is stronger than an infusion even using the same amount of herb. To make an infusion, you pour boiling water over the dried herb. To make a decoction, you add herbs to cold water, then bring it to a boil. I made a cloth "tea bag" and 1/2 cup of comfrey then added 2-3 drops of each oil. The oils moisturize and scent the skin, but I learned it is best to soak in the water for about 10 minutes to allow your skin to absorb moisture before the oil coats it and then it traps the moisture in the skin. 

In case you are wondering, this is what the decoction of the comfrey looked like. 

and the oils I added.

I usually add the oils to epsom salts before adding to a bath, but wanted to see how the comfrey would be like without the salts. There was a suggestion in the book to use salt to cleanse the skin prior to the bath, though. And I recently made fizzy bath bombs using Lavender, Geranium, and Tangerine. Very nice and soothing! 

Not really a survival or preparedness tip of colonial days, but certainly helpful now-a-days. :) 
  • started cutting and stacking wood for winter use 
We got a good pile of rounds ready to split for firewood while at our property this month. We had intended to spit the firewood but our log splitter wasn't working. We still had plenty of work to keep us busy though. 

While up there, we:
  • learned what an ax, splitting maul, and wedge are (and that we need to better maintain ours)
  • learned what woods are best for starting and maintaining a fire
  • learned how to identify wood that is dry and ready for use
  • learned gun safety and how to load and shoot a .22

I found that old hobo stove near the campfire. It is a homemade cook stove made from a #10 can. Jordan made this during part 1 of our preparedness curriculum, Prepare & Pray. It had a small wire rack on top for heating foods.

Another project was to add a ruffle to a dress that was too short. Eliana had a sweater dress that still fit but was now too short, so I added fabric to make it longer. I bought just enough to lengthen it, but wish that I had bought more to make it an actual ruffle. I didn't bother hemming it because I didn't have pink thread and followed the motto: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. 

Another preparedness effort on the home front includes cooking from scratch and baking again. This is our Sabbath bread...

Nathan made the beautiful cutting board in Wood Shop this year. 

Eliana and I made it half sprouted wheat and half white wheat. I taught her how to roll the dough into ropes and braid it and then brush with egg wash. I also made a batch of sticky buns and cinnamon rolls with the other half of the dough for Sabbath morning. I have not baked like this regularly for almost 2 years - since I started Trim Healthy Mama. I am still tempted and I have a little, but I don't indulge like I would have before. Eventually, I'll make this whole sprouted grain and enjoy it as a crossover with butter.

It saves us money when I bake. In fact, I am baking my own bread for me - the Soft Sprouted Bread from the new Trim Healthy Mama cookbook instead of buying Ezekiel bread. (I buy the sprouted flour from Azure Standard). 

Here it is sliced and each slice wrapped individually to freeze, which makes it easier to pull out after it freezes.

Our Dream Community Food Ministry

One of our assignments in Unit 2 was to design some basic ground rules for a food ministry based on Scripture. Who qualifies for help? How long? What conditions? We looked at the book of Ruth and the law of harvesting:
"'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the LORD your God.'" (Leviticus 23:22) 

"Gather the gleanings" means to pick up what you drop when you are gleaning. Boaz instructed his harvesters to drop extra for Ruth as she was gleaning behind them.

This led us to discuss the correlation between eating and willingness to work hard. We looked up verses on the consequences of being lazy, and we all agreed that if we had a community food ministry that people would qualify if they were willing and physically able to work or unable to physically work but willing. We liked the idea of a community garden plot, chickens for eggs, goats for milking for young children, and a storehouse. Members would be provided with seeds and taught how to heirloom garden, care for chickens, collect eggs, and milk the goats. The storehouse would contain bulk grains and we would teach people how to preserve, store, and cook whole foods. It is a lot of work to prepare your own food! Growing your own food, harvesting and preserving it, and grinding grain, baking bread, and cooking from scratch is certainly hard work in our culture today. Grabbing pre-made convenience foods is very tempting and a time saver for sure, but we must be willing to work hard to afford those types of foods if we want them.

So this was about 3 weeks of curriculum and took us through the end of November. We've done the reading and discussion for the next unit, but the hands-on projects for this lesson are more involved. I have what I need now to do at least one of them, but we haven't started it yet. To be honest, all the hands-on stuff has been great, but overwhelming at times. It is much easier to read aloud with Sonlight and do our daily lessons, so we've mostly been doing that these past few weeks while I work on a few personal projects. :)