Backyard Science!

I just received a reminder in my newsfeed about an awesome annual event. The Great Backyard Bird Count from the National Audubon Society! This is a great way to do real science at home with your kids and another great thing about technology in our age. We are all contributing to large-scale data collection that is helping real scientists. In fact, we ARE scientists! And best of all, it’s completely free!

My sons and I participated in this event several years in a row, both in the city and at our new desert home. Oh, who am I kidding? I did this several years in a row and told the boys all about it! They weren’t interested in sitting in the yard with a cup of tea for an hour, noting which birds and how many came by. I was very interested though! I printed off the data collection sheet from the website, grabbed a cup of hot tea and parked myself on the back porch for an hour, several days in a row. The boys would come out and ask me what I was doing, and I proudly told them, showing them the list of birds I had already seen. Sometimes they would sit for a minute and watch with me. They’d point out a bird or two, grow weary and head into the house for video games. Sometimes, I’d have to cut my session short over a battle between them or a request for lunch. If they were interested, I’m sure they would have been right there with me, asking me what bird it was or helping me look them up online. This kind of stuff just wasn’t their thing at the time. Fast forward years into the future, they now take pictures of birds they find where they are and message them to me, so they did get something out of it!

What did they get? Lot’s of things! They saw a small way an individual can participate in a large science endeavor. They learned that bird watching was a sport AND science and that there are people all over the world who are passionate about it. Best of all, they were witness to my real, honest love of learning in action every day.

That’s the best part about home education! It isn’t about following a set curriculum, having a long reading list, perfect penmanship, or great SAT scores. It’s not about keeping “at grade level” in school subjects. It’s about kids living and learning right alongside adults in ways that encourage them to explore the world around them and stay excited about learning new things their whole lives.

Before my sons were around twelve years old, most of the homeschooling at our house was me finding awesome stuff to do around our area and signing up for tours, field trips, and excursions of all kinds. I read up about each event before we went, sharing what I learned and how. I was the one asking questions. My boys were along for the ride. We kept it down to one organized event per week when they were little because it was generally something they weren’t interested in, but I thought they might be. If we got there and they just couldn’t sit still or hang through the whole thing, we’d leave early. That was hard for me sometimes, especially when it was something I really wanted to see or with friends I really liked. I had to remember that we were there for their sake, not mine. As they got older, they were more apt to sit through an art museum tour because I really wanted to see it with the offer of a kind reward for their efforts. As teens, they don’t need that reward anymore.

We also visited a lot of museums, parks, and zoos on our own schedule. We didn’t get the group discount or docent-led tour, but it was usually better for them because they could take their time exploring what they wanted and skip past things that didn’t excite them. It wasn’t the last time we’d be at any of these places, so I didn’t mind if they spent all their time at the playground at the local zoo instead of seeing all the animals. We bought annual passes and memberships to places they expressed real interest in.

Education in the elementary years was always fun, short and sweet. Sometimes it was directed by me and my interests and hopes of expanding their horizons. And sometimes it was directed by them and what they were interested in pursuing. It always focused on them and how they were responding. Getting antsy and a bit loud? They weren’t interested, we needed to leave. Quietly watching, having a great time? We’d stay. One interested, the other distracting people? I’d ask a friend to keep an eye on one, while I let the other find something else to do. It was all about watching them and knowing their limits.

Now that they are in their late teens, I can see the reflection of those early days in the way they pursue their passions and share them with me through texts and social media posts.

Enrichment Club Schedule – Yucca Valley

Enrichment Club Update – Thanks to those who came and helped plan our next couple months of meetings! It’s so much fun to work with you guys and come up with exciting stuff to do with our kids. Here is the outline we came up with! Mark your calendars! Reminders will come out weekly on Tuesday on the Morongo Basin Homeschoolers Facebook Page and in the Friday Newsletters.

September 28 – No class – McCallum’s “Chinese Acrobats” is playing.

October 5 – 11am to 3pm “Little Free Library” project build!
This gathering is essentially free but donations will be accepted to cover building expenses. Annie and Tony will be leading the kids in building a small box for our little library. The box will be planted at the Yucca Mesa Community Center and listed on the “Little Free Library” website and app. We’ll be accepting donations of any books as well! If you’re interested in the details of the project please visit Little Free Library.

October 12 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30pm Felting with Katie
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

October 19 – No class – There is a free Homeschool Day at the La Brea Tar Pits! Get together and carpool! Details are on their website here.

October 26 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30pm “Gratefulness” project with Christa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

October 27 – Halloween Potluck/Party 5:30pm to 8pm
Costume parade? Bobbing for apples? Bounce house? Everyone pitch in where they can on decorations, food, and games! Let’s have an old-fashioned (small child-friendly, read “not too scary and gory”, sorry) Halloween Party! An “Event” will be created to RSVP!

November 2 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30 Fabric Art with Loisa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

November 9 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan
12:30 Fabric Art with Loisa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

November 16 – 11am to 4pm
11am Cooking with Jordan & Fun Napkin Folding to show off at Thanksgiving!
12:30 “Thanksgiving History” with Christa
1:30 Science with Ronda and Eli
2:30 Creative Movement with Tiffany

December 7 – 12 to 4pm – Winter Holiday (politically correct to include everyone) Potluck and Crafting Party!
We’ll be building “gingerbread” houses so bring some candy decorations, graham crackers, gingerbread walls, and frosting to share.
Also, we’ll have crafting stations headed up by our awesome parents so that kids (and parents) can come around and learn how to make something cute for the holidays. If you’d like to have one of these tables to share at, chime in on the event page when it comes up!And then we’ll be taking a LONG break from each other until after New Year’s Day!

And then we’ll be taking a LONG break from each other until after New Year’s Day!

As per the Homeschooler Creed, all times are approximate AND the day will be generally free flowing and organic. The best thing to do is bring a lunch, some toys or games to share, and expect to be there all day. Kids flow in and out of activities as they have interest and are welcome to play in and around the property as they wish. You are responsible for your own children’s behavior and we all need to be aware of what our kids are up to so that we don’t damage anyone else’s person or property. This is not a “drop off” activity.

The  cost for these events is as follows.

$35 per family if you pay all at once, this includes all 7 days!

$6 per family if you just want to drop into a few of them.

This covers the cost of renting the room for the day but not the materials. There may be additional costs for each class or requests to bring supplies with you. Personally, I think it’s a pretty sweet deal!

Email info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com with any questions, including the exact location. We hope to see you there!

Printers Fair in Los Angeles

The International Printers Museum in Los Angeles is hosting it’s 8th annual Printers Fair on October 1st! Check out their website HERE for details on the fair.

The museum is only open on Saturday’s but they are open by reservation Tuesday through Friday. It also looks like they have some wonderful interactive tours! If you’d like to book one and invite people to join you to make the minimum number of students, we’d be happy to promote your tour for you here and on Facebook. Just send us an email about it to info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com

 

Civil War Reenactment – Huntington Beach

Want to escape the heat of the desert and need a legitimate excuse to drive to Huntington Beach? How about Southern California’s Largest Civil War Reenactment?! This a great event for the whole family.

September 3rd & 4th at Huntingbeach Central Library

Afterwards, you can drive north through Buena Park and stop at Farrell’s for ice cream before you head home!

4-H Open House in Morongo Valley

Come be a 4-Her for a day and see what green is all about!

The Hi-Desert Dust Devils are sharing 4-H with the public. There will be booths representing all the projects we offer and an activity to go with each booth. Our cooking project members will be making lunch, supplying drinks and snacks for a nominal fee. *all proceeds go to our club* Several vendors are setting up to help us promote the awesome stuff 4-H brings to our local community.

Thank you, Big Morongo Feed & Tack, Mojave A.R.C., Virginia Neal (Face Painting) and Lon at Tractor Supply for choosing to participate thus far.

We will do some fun stuff, you should come check it out, you won’t regret it.

The Hi-Desert Dust Devils 4-H Club is a local San Bernardino County 4-H Club based out of Yucca Valley and surrounding cities such as; 29 Palms, Landers, Johnson Valley, Joshua Tree, and Morongo Valley.

If you would like more information on the 4-H Youth Development Program you can visit; http://4h.ucanr.edu/ or you can visit our clubs Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1492101744368736/

Saturday, September 3rd, 9AM -2PM
111654 Vale Drive
Morongo Valley, CA 92256-9603

For questions, email Cadi at cadithayer@gmail.com

Homeschool Activity Workshops Starting Soon in Yucca Valley

Our planning meeting this week went extremely well for a first meeting and we’ve got some pretty exciting things lined up!

There is a “Not Back to School” party being planned for the end of August! Details will come up soon as we confirm dates!

Activity Workshops will start on September 7th and run Wednesdays from 10am to 4pm, at the Yucca MESA Community Center on Balsa and Aberdeen. The cost will $30 per family (with one to two children) and $35 per family (with more than two children), per month if you pay in advance. If you’d like to pay each week as you come, the cost will be $6 per child, per day. The fee covers the cost of renting the building. If a parent is offering an activity that requires extra materials, they may ask for a couple dollars extra to help them cover the costs. We’ll be sure to let everyone know if there will be extra costs before you sign up.Parents that are leading an activity for the month will not be charged for their children that month.

Each month we’ll change what we’re offering as more parent offer their time and kids express interest in learning something new. This year we’re going to add a special time for families with preschool age children. I’ll post details each week but to get you excited about coming, I’ll give you September and October’s line-up!

In September, we’ll be offering the following schedule.

10am to 11am – Preschool Storytime & Craft (hopefully presented by some of our older kids)
11:30am to 1:30pm – Cooking with Jordan –  Back by popular demand2pm to 3pm – Fiber Arts with Katie
3pm to 4pm – Beginning Sketching with Michelle

In all of our workshops, parent participation is required. Parents are expected to be nearby and helping if they see a need. There are no drop-offs permitted.

In October, the tentative schedule will be,

10am to 11am – Preschool Storytime & Craft (hopefully presented by some of our older kids)
11:30am to 1:30pm – Cooking with Jordan –  Back by popular demand
2pm to 3pm – Creative Movement with Tiffany
3pm to 4pm – Outdoor Skills with Rhonda and Eli

Shoot me an email at info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com if you have any questions. More information, as well as event postings that you can RSVP to, will be coming out in the coming week!

Riley’s Farm Homeschool Days!

Here is a great “Not Back to School” activity for the whole family! Young kids, older kids? First year? Preschool aged kids and just considering homeschooling? This might be just the kind of event that can show you (and your kids) how much more fun homeschooling can be!

Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen has it’s annual homeschool days ready for sign up on their website! Scroll down a bit on their main page for dates and an online reservation form. Click HERE for information about what the “tour” entails.

Six Flags Magic Mountain Homeschool Day

The date and prices have been set for the Annual Homeschool Family Day at Magic Mountain! This is a great event for the whole family. It’s a private party. The park is open to annual passes or regular tickets. The lines are short. The air is cool. And the people are fantastic! Grab your friends and meet us there!

November 4th, 2016 – $34.99 for early bird tickets purchased before 10/23/2016.

Here’s a link to the online order form!

The Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club – June 25-26

Chris Nichols of The Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club sent out this invitation today!

“This is a great opportunity for anyone to come see what Amateur Radio (HAM Radio) is all about. Anyone can operate a radio and talk around the world. There will be great food and HAM radio activities for kids. Please come out to support your local Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club.”

The Morongo Basin Amateur Radio Club invite you to join them for the ARRL Field Day on June 25-26, 2016.

WHERE: Yucca Mesa Community Center 3133 Balsa, Yucca Valley, CA

WHEN: Saturday, June 25th, 11AM thru Sunday, June 26th, 11AM

For more information, Please Contact Sheri Hardy, Public Information Officer at (760) 368-5485 or KJ6JVI@gmail.Com

Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) is a popular hobby and service in which licensed Amateur Radio operators (hams) operate communication equipment. ARRL’s volunteer Amateur Radio Operators help their community in good times and bad, through community events, disaster response, and other various programs.

There is a Facebook event created for the Field Day but an RSVP isn’t required to go. Please use the contact above for more information about the event.

This is the kind of thing that makes homeschooling great. You don’t need to be interested in radio to attend this event. You don’t need to be reading a book about it or taking a class. It one of the multitude of things we find and then tell the kids, “Hey, I found this interesting event this weekend. Want to check it out?” If your kids are younger you might change that to “Let’s go check this out and see if there’s anything interesting to do there. It won’t take your whole day, so we can do something else afterward if you like.” Older kids and teens might have something they already want to do that weekend, so it’s nice to offer and ask if they’d be interested instead of just saying you are going.

I did a bit of snooping and found an interesting video on YouTube called “Discovering Amateur Radio” and this cool downloadable comic book for kids called “The Adventures of Zak and Max”. Something else to consider is asking a local HAM Radio group in your area to do a workshop to introduce a group of kids to the hobby. AARL has a whole page one outreach to youth. It looks like a lot of fun and science!

Living History at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen – July

The Colonial Faire at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen, four weekends in July!

Here’s a chance to see what it was like to live in Colonial times! Oak Glen is a beautiful place and not that far of a drive from the desert for a weekend of living history. This event is on weekends in July, so you have plenty of time to read a story or watch a movie to give you a clue as to the era of our country’s history. I’ve always found that knowing  a little bit about the time really gives our kids some hooks in their mind to hang the information they find at an event like this. So run to the library for some books, add a movie to your Netflix cue, or find an interactive website about colonial times!

Events lik these are great additions to your child’s education. Yes, the event cost some money, but all the education leading up to that moment can be practically free. The links above can lead you to an entire semester of American history. Homeschooling could look like this. First, you and the kids run to the library and spend a day talking to the librarian and picking out books, picture books and “discovery” books the kids will love and a more difficult book for a read aloud time with the family. There may also be movies available at the library. If you have Netflix or some other form of movie rental, watch seom tv shows and movies together based or set in the time. And introduce the kids to some interactive websites about the time. They’ll be playing games and reading all afternoon!

Get your tickets to the fair before June 1st for a good sized discount. Invite Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, or some friends to come with you and make it a family adventure. The fair is packed with intersting demonstrations and shows.

Most likely, the learning won’t end there. The era is fascinating when presented this way and not in a textbook. And it’s not just history you’ll be learning; literature, science, health, math, and home economics are all strewn throughout life when you study this way. There’s really no end to where you can go from here!