# An Accidental, Mathematical, Poetical Teatime

“That’s my parawewogram!”

“No, it’s mine!  See?!”

“Oh, yeah. {giggle} Mine is hidin’ under the poetwy book.”  {giggle, giggle}

They’re arguing over a parallelogram?  They’re arguing over a parallelogram!  Woohoo!  This is big news!  Not the arguing.  That happens everyday. But the fact that these little ones even care about parallelograms at all. That’s the best news of the week.

But I must confess, I didn’t teach them this.  It wasn’t some heroic effort on my part that blessed them with the knowledge of the parallelogram.  If anything, it was because I was lazy!

You see, I’ve got six kids ranging in age from three to thirteen, and sometimes homeschooling all of them just overwhelms me.  Keeping up with six unique learners takes everything that this introverted mama has.  Sometimes I just run out of juice.  Do you know what I mean?  Have you ever felt that way?  That’s what happened on the parallelogram morning.

Every lesson doesn’t need to be laid out in the plan book.  The best learning happens, often by accident, when good things come together to create a spark of connection.  That’s what I learned on the parallelogram morning.

I woke up late, scrambling into the morning.  The list of learning activities I had planned for the day would require much more time than my late start would allow.  As I poured a strong cup of tea and dolloped it with honey, my phone dinged.  Another reminder from the library.  “That whole stack of books you took out.  They’re due. Yesterday.”

In the first five minutes of my morning, I was greeted with all the balls I’d dropped.  Late library books, late nights and late mornings.  Late.  Late.  Late.

I cheered myself with a few bites of chocolate while I piled the books onto the kitchen table - mostly math themed poetry books I’d been using to plan a co-op class.  I’ve homeschooled long enough to know that this day was headed one of two ways: into the nothing-goes-right kind of day or into the let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  The choice was mine.

Seeing those math books stacked up, knowing we needed to make the most of our morning, I grasped forinspiration.  Thankfully, I found a thread of it and held on tight.  We’ll do math and poetry together, all together.

That’s when a little bit of magic happened.  At least that’s how I prefer to see the chaos that followed.

Tangrams were dug out of the back of the closet.  Muffins baked in the oven, dangerously close to burning, while pages spewed from my printer onto the floor.  The geometric coloring sheets I’d bookmarked the week before were saving my day.

In the midst of all this distraction I heard, “That’s my parawewogram!”

It stopped me in my tracks.  I braced for the argument that I expected to come.  And then melted as the exchanged played out.  My kids were learning from each other simply because I was lazy and hit the snooze button.  Simply because I had chosen a let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  Simply because there was a spark of connection between my children and the engaging materials which were sitting way-too-close to a puddle of almond milk on the kitchen table.  Learning was happening despite my scatteredness.

One by one children found their places around the table, lured by the smell of cinnamon.  One by one, they picked up colored pencils and tangrams, rulers and poetry books.  Mathematical riddles, disguised as poems, were passed around along with warm muffins.  Belly laughs and quiet moments of concentration took turns dancing through our kitchen.  Our morning, though late to start, was long in the best sort of way.

Math and poetry had accidentally collided.  And for that, I have to thank the snooze button.

### The Stack of Overdue Library Books ( plus a few favorites)

The Best of Times, Gregory Tang
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie, J. Patrick Lewis
Marvelous Math, Lee Bennett Hopkins
Math Curse, Jon Scieszka
Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices, Theoni Pappas
The Grapes of Math, Greg Tang
Math for All Seasons, Greg Tang

### Our Favorite Math "Toys"

I love to "accidentally" leave math manipulatives and games out on the kitchen table.  My early risers find them there and dig into some before dawn learning.  As the rest of the crew wakes and meanders into the living room, games are underway.    They made a great addition to our poetry teatime too!

### The Geometric Coloring Designs

These coloring pages are open-ended and created a lot of math-focused discussion at the level of each child.  We talked about patterns, angles, similarities and differences in shapes and lots more.

# A Magical Poetry Tea Time

This post contains affiliate links.  by making purchases through these links, nurtured roots receives compensation at no cost to you.  thanks!

We sipped our “Twist-the-Time Tea.”  Eyes wide, we waited.  And then………….our laughter burst the silence.  Nothing had happened.  We didn’t travel back in time.  But it was fun to think about where we’d go if we could.

This conversation began our Just Add Magic poetry teatime.  This amazon prime original show has captured my kids’ imaginations.  It’s rare that all six kids enjoy the same television show, but this one has won them all over. Mystery lingers from episode to episode and magic recipes are made to try to solve it.

After binge-watching season two, the kids’ conversations were peppered with new recipe names and accompanying riddles.  They were composing poetry and didn’t even know it.  In their fun, I saw our next Poetry Tea Time.

Though I had a general plan, this poetry teatime was more on the spontaneous side.  A nasty cold had kept me from heading out for any special foods or decorations, but that didn’t stop our fun.  I rummaged through the pantry.  Popcorn, apples, peppermint tea and just enough ingredients to whip up some breakfast cookies.  (Poetry tea time in our house happens Thursday mornings as Poetry-in-Pajamas.)

Armed with index cards and markers, I brainstormed some magical names for these foods and served them up with poetry books I had snagged at the library the week before.  Finding poems about magic proved difficult so I kept my definition of magic loose.  If it had magic in the title, it was added to the pile.

Featured Poem: from Poetry Teatime Companion
Spellbound by Emily Jane Bronte

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant sell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

### Magical Teatime Foods:

Twist-the-Time Tea - Guaranteed to send you back in time.
Kernel of Truth Popped Corn - Sure to make you see or tell the truth!
All-Is-Well Apple Slices - Something wrong? Not feeling well?  These apple slices will make everything all right.

### Poetry Teatime Activity:

Creating new recipe names and riddles or make a riddle for one the foods on the table.

Kernel of Truth Popped Corn

If the truth is what you seek,
Be sure not to peek
As you pop this corn in your mouth.
And prepare for the sight
Of what you will see in your mind.

Here are some of the new recipes the kids are working on.  I’m not sure some of them are safe!
Life-Giving Lollipops
Get the Giggles Grapes
Re-do Raspberry Pie

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our Magical Poetry Teatime.  I'd love to hear from you!  Do you enjoy poetry teatime in your home?  If you do, what's your favorite poetry book or treat?  If not, what questions do you have about Poetry Teatime?  I look forward to chatting with you!

# A Brave Writer Inspired Homeschool Planning Guide

If you don't already know, I'm a huge fan of the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  That's because it's much, much more than writing guides or a homeschool curriculum.  It is a lifestyle.  Of connection.  Of flexibility.  Of engaged learning.  All of which I want in my home and I'm guessing you do too.

To allow for the flexibility the Brave Writer Lifestyle offers, I created a Brave Writer Inspired homeschool planning guide.  It's nothing more than a graphic that I've printed off and tucked into the front of my planner.  But despite it's simplicity, it has become an integral part of my monthly, weekly, and sometimes daily planning.

I learned long ago that for things to flow smoothly in our homeschool and for us to make the most of our precious days together, I need to be intentional with our time.  I need to think ahead to include things like Poetry Tea Time or a trip to the theater.

The graphic lists core learning areas that we intend to work on each week, sometimes multiple times a week.  Our work with The Wand ,  The Arrow , and The Writer's Jungle are part this time.  The bi-weekly section are activities, we typically enjoy every other week,  while the Block schedule section lists the subjects that we aim to explore in an extended block of time throughout the month.  Sometimes we get to all three in a week, but some months we find ourselves immersed in a science or history topic that we just don't want to pull away from.

The icing on the cake are the things we sprinkle throughout the year.  Our Documentary Day   and family movie night happen quite regularly, especially during the winter months.  Party school, a time when we celebrate a topic we're learning about through a themed party, happens only 2-3 times a year.

As you can see, there is a lot of flexibility with this approach.  If you're a family that loves science, maybe that would be listed in Core Learning.  Perhaps you have a co-op day so you need to do a long math block on Thursdays.  With the Brave Writer Lifestyle, you can do that!  The beauty is that every family can tailor it to their own needs and interests.  You can take some.  Leave some.  Change it up.  Whatever works for you.  In doing so, I think you'll find the engaged learning and connection with your kids that is at that heart of a happy homeschool.  Feel free to pin a copy from my Pinterest page.  Happy Homeschooling!

{This post contains affiliate links.  When you click on those links to make purchases,
Nurtured Roots receives compensation at no cost to you.  Thank you!}

# Documentary Day: February Edition

The days of winter are short, but they can feel so long, especially when you’re home all day.  Sibling squabbles, sniffles & sleepless nights, long weeks of gray skies can start to wear on even the most enthusiastic of homeschool moms (and kids).   If this sounds like you and your family, I’ve got a solution for you: Documentary Day!

Documentary day started last winter, as a way for me to take a breath during the closed-in, kids-have-so-much-energy days. It was my way of pausing, while continuing to remain engaged in meaningful learning.  What started as a tool for surviving the winter months, became an anticipated space for connection with new ideas and each other.  Together, my kids and I were exploring the world without leaving our living room.   We had big, juicy conversations about history, science, art, and music.  By listening to my own needs and the needs of my family, we found treasure in learning together.

So now, each month, through every season, I look for documentaries to complement our studies and special events.  I keep a list of YouTube links handy so that all I have to do is open and click.  Or I reserve DVDs from our local library.  This small amount of planning allows us the freedom to use Documentary Day in a variety of ways.

## 3 Ways to Use Documentary Day:

1. Choose one day each week to watch a film.  For the month of February we’re choosing Friday evenings.

2. Choose a day or two a month.  We once binge-watched a whole series of wildlife documentaries.  At the time I wondered if it was a good idea to spend all afternoon two days in a row watching documentaries.  Our next trip to the library proved it was a fruitful choice.  As I watched my kids sit among stacks of animal books, I knew that they were truly learning.  Sparked by the images and information the documentaries provided, they were insatiable for weeks with all things wildlife.

3. Keep your list handy for an S-O-S.  This can be a Save-Our-Sanity day or an honest-to-goodness sick day.  Either way, you’ll be glad you have a list of educational films to nourish the mind while the body rests.

## February's Documentary List:

*Please use your own judgment about whether or not a film is appropriate for your family.  I have included documentaries of various maturity levels.  There are countless other documentaries that could be included.  If you have a suggestion, I’d love to hear about it!  Please share it in the comments.

Black History Month:
Animated Hero Classics: Harriet Tubman
Up from Slavery
This links to the trailer for the 7-part series.  I highly recommend previewing this before sharing it with your children.  It is definitely more appropriate for high school age.

Chocolate, in honor of Valentine’s Day (February 14):
The Dark Side of Chocolate: Stop the Modern Child Slavery - History Channel
How Stuff Works: Secrets of Chocolate - Discovery Channel

Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20):
Snowy Owl - National Geographic
Hummingbird - National Geographic

Presidents’ Day (February 20):
The Presidents 1789-1825 - History Channel, series
Animated Hero Classics: George Washington

Engineering Week (February 19-25):
Engineering an Empire: Ancient Greece - History Channel
Hoover Dam - National Geographic

# Big Bundle of STEAM Giveaway!

Psst…come in close.  I have something to tell you.  I don’t want to say it too loudly, lest it sneak up on us even faster…but February is just around the corner.

You know what I'm talking about.  That dreaded homeschool month where everyone wants to quit and order all new curriculum at the same time

Yep, February often stinks.  But it doesn’t have to!  Instead of trudging through February this year, I have a plan to shake things up!  I’ve stocked up on some amazing Usborne activity books for my littles and some STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math) books for my oldest four.

If you’re not familiar with Usborne books, You’re. Going. To. Love. Them. Really!  I mean it!  They are engaging and colorful and full of learning goodness.

So  my friend and fellow blogging homeschool mama of 6, Bethany Ishee, and I decided to team up and bring you an amazing giveaway!  Together, we’re giving away the 4 STEAM-Inspired Usborne books below and a \$50 Usborne gift certificate.  That’s a whole lot of fun in one giveaway.

Check out the books and enter below!

# Homeschool Encouragement: 21 Posts from Inspiring Moms

2017 has arrived!  Over the past few weeks, I've enjoyed looking back over the blogs of fellow homeschoolers, re-reading the posts that encouraged me throughout 2016.  Here, I've gathered together some of my favorites about Connecting with Our Kids, Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom, Self Care & Awesome Adulting, Creative Homeschooling and Sharing Poetry with Our Kids.  I hope you'll find a nugget of wisdom, a seed of inspiration as you prepare for the year ahead!  Happy New Year!

# Connecting with Our Kids

Why Focus on Building Relationships in our Homeschool by Jessica @ Intentional in Life

Curious Over Furious by Heather @ wellermomma blog

Educating the Tortoise and the Hare by Amanda @ Raising daVinci

# Encouragement for the Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling Translated featured here at Nurtured Roots

Quitting is the Greatest Victory featured here at Nurtured Roots

Comparison - Thief of Joy and Happiness by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Tackling Mommy Guilt by Mary @ Not Before 7

Homeschooling Mama, Do You Need Some Encouragement? by Dachelle @ Hide the Chocolate

Awesome Adulting: Be the Inspiration You Want for Your Children by Dachelle @ Hide the Chocolate

6 Self-Care Strategies that Give Your Winter Blues the Boots by Heather @ wellermomma blog

Everyone Grows and Learning (Hopefully) Never Ends by Bethany @ Bethany Ishee

Creating New Life, Losing Yourself and Being Inspired by Bethany @ Bethany Ishee

# Creative Homeschooling

Better Learning through Board Gaming by Lynna @ Homeschooling Without Training Wheels

The Unique Power of the Homeschool Parent: Innovation by Mary @ Not Before 7

Day in the Life of a Working Homeschool Mom by Amanda @ Raising daVinci

Creating a Home-Centered Homeschool Room by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows

Why I've Flipped Our Homeschool Routine by Nadine @ Up Above the Rowan Tree

Brown Paper Packages by Jenny @ Where Life is Real

# Sharing Poetrywith our Kids

100 Poetry Books for Kids by Lynna @ Homeschooling without Training Wheels

Tips for Reading Poetry by Jenny @ Where Life is Real

The Endearing Art of Poetry Tea Time by Melissa @ Soaring Arrows

# Giveaway & Christmas Copywork for the Whole Family!

What are your homeschooling plans for December?  Do you incorporate the holidays into your "schoolwork"?  Or do you add holiday activities on top of your regular work?  After years of homeschooling, I've learned that to truly enjoy the season, our family needs to keep things simple in our homeschool.  Instead of adding on our Christmas books and crafts and Christmas card writing to our already busy days, we weave our days around these.

A couple weeks ago, I shared my free-write prompts for the holidays.   To round out our language arts study for the month, I've created Christmas Copywork.  It is based on the books Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  We'll also be using the Brave Writer Boomerang Guide for A Christmas Carol.  With these three books, everyone in our family will have festive copywork to complete throughout the month of December.

If you want to know more about copywork and dictation, pop over to bravewriter.com and check out the webinar devoted to the topic.

## Here's a list of what is covered for each book:

Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia:
pronouns, spelling pattern /ed/, using question marks

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever:
apostrophes & contractions, dialogue, spelling compound words, semicolons, compound sentences, using dashes

A Christmas Carol:

# S.T.E.A.M. Inspired Stocking Stuffers for Teens

## Need an engaging gift for your teen?  Inspired by the fun of S.T.E.A.M.  (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math), this is a list that you and your teen will love. There's something for everyone, and something for every budget.  Happy Holidays!

IQ Twist: Starting with simple puzzles and advancing to complex challenges, this game will sharpen your mind and visual skills.

Qwixx:  A game of probability and luck, and as the name suggests, it's quick!  And Fun!

Sumoko:  This crossword style number game has 5 ways to play and is perfect for the math-loving teen on your list.  And it may just convince your not-so-math-loving list members that numbers can be fun!

Patterns of the Universe:  Coloring is for everyone!  Especially when it involves intricate patterns.  This book shows that math and beauty do go together.

Fibonacci in Nature: Explore the Fibonacci spiral as it's found in nature.  And allow the inner artist to create!

Prismacolor Colored Pencils:  Nothing beats the vibrance and smoothness of these colored pencils.  Trust me.  Your teen will love them.  Actually, ANYONE on your list will love them!

Moleskine Sketchbook:  A blank book is so full of possibilities!  Art sketches, engineering ideas, writing, there's wrong way to fill a moleskine!  Add in some Prismacolors and your teen has the tools to share the amazing things they create in their minds!

Need I say more ? :-)

Metal Earth: These aren't your average models.  Made of metal and small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, there are models for fans of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Dr. Who, musical instruments, space exploration and many, many more!

Set: Can you make a set?  Do it quick before another player snatches it up!

Origami Kit: This mini kit is a great intro to origami.  With an instruction book, paper and DVD, your teen will be creating mathematical art immediately.

Math Poet: Who says you can't play with math and words at the same time?  This little box of magnets just may change how you see math.

Binary t-shirt:  Is your teen a computer programmer with a sense of humor?  Then this shirt is for them!

Make: Electronics.  The Make series of books offers in-depth user-friendly project instructions for a variety of topics. This one about electronics pairs well with a beginning soldering kit.

Elenco Learn to Solder Kit: Many electronics' projects involve soldering and this kit is the perfect place to start.  Pair it with the Make: Electronics book and your teen will gain valuable knowledge and skills with electronics.

# Fun & Festive Free-Write Prompts

Need a simple and fun way to sneak some writing into the busy days of December?  I've got you covered!  Below you will find 25 free-write prompts for the holiday season and winter.  Here's how to get started:

2. Print & cut the prompts apart.
3. Pop them into a jar or basket.
4. Grab a notebook & pencil.
5. Reach in and select a prompt.  No peeking!
6. Set the timer.  (You choose the length of time.)
7. Start writing.

It's that simple!  There's no need to worry about perfect spelling and mechanics right now.  The goal is to get the creative juices flowing and to have fun!

Have a writer who isn't quite ready to write alone.  No worries!  Have her share her thoughts aloud while you write them down.  You'll be spending valuable time together and she'll see that what she has to say matters.  Together, you'll be paving the way to a connected writing relationship.  Win! Win! Win!

The prompts are also listed below in case you'd prefer not to print!

1. Colors are often used to describe Christmas.  Choose one color, any color, describe what a Christmas of that color would look like.

2. Imagine you just built a snowman.  Write a story about what you would do with your snowman.

3. Choose a holiday treat to eat.  Using your senses, write about what you ate.  What did it taste like?  Smell like?  Feel like in your mouth?

4. Make a list of 10 holiday nouns.  Then make a list of 8 descriptive words.  Put your lists side by side and make phrases with them.  Then choose one phrase and write about it.

5. Choose a letter and think of a word for each of the following categories.  Using the words create some tongue twisters.
Noun
Animal
Girl’s name
Describing word
Food
Verb
Boy’s name
Place
Clothing
Emotion

6.  Imagine you just opened the best gift ever.  Describe how you feel.  What was in the package?  Give as many details as you can.

7.  Go back to one of your free-writes from this month.  Choose one sentence that you think is really well-written.  Put that at the top of a clean sheet of paper and start writing.

8. A blind person wants to know what your house looks like when it is decorated for the holidays.  Describe it to them with lots of detail.

9.  If I could give my ________________, just one gift, it would be __________.  Describe that gift, how you feel when you give it and how the person reacts when it is opened.

10.  Find one of your favorite holiday stories (or any story you have handy).  Copy the last sentence onto a clean sheet of paper.  Use that as the beginning of a new story.

11.  Imagine that the trees are talking to each other at this time of year.  Write a conversation between them.  What are they saying?

12.  What is something you love to do at the holidays?  Write about it.

13.  Imagine that you live in a gingerbread house.  What would it be made of?  What kinds of treats would decorate it?  What would you do if you lived inside?

14.  Try this word game with a sibling, parent or friend.  Start with a holiday word like “Joyful.”  The next person thinks of a word that starts with the last letter of the word.  So, in this case “l” would start the word so you may choose “lights” as your word.  Keep going back and forth until you have at least 20 words.  Make sure you write them down as you go.  Now choose one of the words from the list and use it to inspire a story or poem.

16. Write directions for how to build a snowman.  Number the steps.

17. Spend some time watching the birds outside your window.  Write about what they are doing this time of year.

18.  Imagine racing down a hill on a sled.  Write about the experience.

19. “Oh the weather outside is frightful…”  Write about the frightful weather.

20. Write a secret note to someone in your house.  Leave it somewhere for them to find.

21. You just made friends with a gingerbread person.  What will you do together?

22. Look through magazines and catalogs to find a photo that reminds you of the holidays.  Cut it out and use it for your free-write.

23.  Make a holiday card for someone.  Decorate the front, write a note on the inside and pop it in the mail.  Better yet, deliver it in person, if you can.

24.  Choose a holiday word and use it to write an acrostic poem.  Write the word vertically on the left side of your paper.  Write a word or phrase beginning with each letter of your word.  They should describe your chosen word.

25. Fold your paper so that when you open it up you have 4 sections.  In each section, write one of these words at the top.  Lights, Cozy, Sweet, Family.  Then, set your timer for 3 minutes.  Jot down words and phrases that come to mind for one of these categories.  Repeat for each section.  Then file this away until the next time you free-write.  When you come back to it, re-read what you wrote and see what stands out.  Choose a word, a phrase, an entire category, or any combination and use it for the topic of your free-write.

# Poetry Tea Time: Thanksgiving Recipe

“Giving thanks    giving thanks
for rain and rainbows
sun and sunsets
cats and catbirds
larks and larkspur…”

by Eve Merriam

Thanksgiving is a natural time to pause and reflect on the blessings in our lives, and poetry tea time lends itself beautifully to celebrating our thankfulness.  Just a quick search on amazon for “Thanksgiving poems” yields 2,822 results!  Why is that?  Because thankfulness is something we can all get behind.  I’ve never met anyone who wouldn’t agree that we should be grateful for what we have, and that fostering a sense of gratitude in our children is an important part of raising them.  The poetic nature of gratitude, the sometimes elusive emotion that can not always be translated into words finds a home in poetry where phrases and metaphor abound.  So here’s a recipe for Thanksgiving poetry tea time!

Set the Table:
Any table setting will work for poetry tea time but if you want something different, create a vase of balloons taped to sticks.  One for each child.  Inside each balloon, add a piece of paper that tells why you are thankful for that child.

The Books:
Thanksgiving Poems Selected by Myra Cohn Livingston
The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac
Merrily Comes in Our Harvest: Poems for Thanksgiving by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Thanksgiving Day at our House: Poems for the Very Young by Nancy White Carlstrom
It’s Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky
Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving by Katherine Paterson
This is the Feast by Diane ZuHone Shore
Over the River and Through the Wood by Lydia Maria Francis Child

The Art Activity:

I'll be offering my kids two art options.  The first is the corn cob mixed media project.  It will be a perfect fit for my younger set.  The second is the "thankful tree,"  a beautiful combination of writing and art.  Click on either image to get to the directions.

The Poem Writing:

Keep it simple.  Have each child write an acrostic for THANKSGIVING, listing for each letter things for which they are grateful.  These could be added to the artwork above.  Get creative.