Spelling, shopping and a found bird’s nest

So here’s the “great” thing about living and homeschooling in Pennsylvania and following a somewhat untraditional learning approach: We’re what I’ve found is a high-documentation-required state for homeschoolers. The short version of that means that we have to justify our learning a lot more than folks in other states.

That’s not entirely bad – and a LOT is dependent on the evaluator you choose for your independent year-end evaluation; that evaluator’s report, and a portfolio that can actually be very simple, are what go to your district. I’ve been “interviewing” two potential evaluators who both seem incredibly nice, one a current special education teacher and the other a retired teacher from a local private school. The first woman was kind enough to provide a list of what she prefers to see at the end of the year, and I wasn’t too worried about most of it – until I saw that she’d like to see five samples of spelling practice.

Cue Patented Mom Panic. Spelling practice? I’m soooo not giving my kid spelling lists and tests. She has had them for basically six years and remembers exactly zero of the words from them if they’re not things she uses in her daily life. Honestly, why bother? I would MUCH rather she be a “good speller” of words she is using to spell. So I figured, let’s let her be as accurate as possible when she writes or blogs or whatever, and that’s good. Well, then I saw the five samples thing and, while it’s not absolutely required, I started thinking… what do I have to “show” for this?

Enter inspiration of Sarah’s own choosing. She decided to help us write out our grocery list for this week’s trip. Completely without prompting, and completely with an interest in getting things spelled correctly.

Grocery list handwriting practice

And she did a GREAT job. She also improvised on her first take at the word “deodorizer” – take note of “cat litter thing to make it smell good.” But, on her second take, she was willing to give deodorizer a try!

That’s my kind of spelling. Useful, voluntary, and good work – not the “you can’t read my writing, I don’t even know what I’m trying to spell” list-based stuff.

As a side note, Sarah was also incredibly helpful on this grocery trip, and with the menu planning and coupon sorting that preceded it. Our family only shops every two weeks, for a LOT of stuff for the four of us plus the menagerie of animals, and she often comes along, helping with coupons, with putting things in the cart, with making sure we don’t miss anything from the list, and just for fun company. Maybe we’re different, but we like all going to the grocery store together – it’s always at least Chris and me, and Sarah and Mom join us when they can. It’s fun!

Finally, I’ll leave you with this photo, celebrating our first day of spring. We found this bird’s nest on the ground in our backyard, and Sarah liked taking a look at it, seeing how the birds worked different twigs and the dryer lint into it. It now has a place of honor in her room (with an wooden owl figurine in it, not necessarily scientifically accurate but super-cute), and after seeing this, she’s decided we should make a “nesting materials feeder” for the birds out of an old suet feeder (which, of course, we found directions for on Pinterest), so I’ve been saving string and my dryer lint for the cause.

Found birds' nest

Happy spring, everyone! How’s your weather? Ours is slightly damp, but warm and with many sunny days. I love it.

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