Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sabbatical Summer

Constellation Academy Home School Resources Network is taking a SABBATICAL SUMMER to review and fine tune vision and purpose.  Stay tuned for retooled look and redefined resources.

Thank you for all your support this 2013-2013 school year!
Have a save and joyful summer break!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Fix MOM-SPA & Creative Roundtable on April 13th

Mark your calendars for this Saturday - April 13th - 
. . . when we start up the Starlight Workshop Tea events for 2013!  We'll be meeting at the Magnolia Hill Studios in Vineland at 12:30pm for a relaxing and rejuvenating afternoon of tips and techniques for reviving your school year as it comes to a swift close in another couple of months!  We've all learned many valuable lessons this year and we'll open the table for testimonies and sharing of our triumphs and tragedies - and how we've all grown as homeschool moms, and grandmoms, and families!

Announcements of upcoming events including the re-scheduled NARNIA NIGHT, the Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania Convention coming up May 10 and 11 - Founder's Day activities, our June 7th Starshine Gala Night Exhibit and June 15th trip to Gettysburg PLUS - the Constellation Academy Summer Reading Recommendation - Classes for 2013-2014 and much more!

Guest speaker, Nikkole Hollenweger has a wealth of information to inspire us with this month as she shares the details of her difficult journey this school year as an adult with ADD homeschooling three children with ADD proclivities.  Soon to receive her certification as a licensed massage therapist, Nikkole will bring the "massage chair" with demonstrations in the way she's learned to minister to her children to bring focus and clarity of thought using massage techniques and powerful essential oils rather than prescription drugs. 

Then, it's everyone's turn to share so be sure to bring a story, tip, or resource most worthy that has been useful to you this school year. 

Pampering prizes and teatime treats for all!

Save and print this flyer and share with others!  
Call in your RSVP if you haven't already! 
Contact Us above to reserve your seat!
See you there!!

Friday, December 28, 2012


What a whirlwind of a month December was for everyone at Constellation Academy!  Our first STARSHINE GALA NIGHT EXHIBIT was a great success - just look at all the wonderful works our families' homeschool students displayed!

There were plenty of imaginative log homes made by our Primary K4, K5, and Grade 1 students at the culmination of their My First Little House picture book studies based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books!

Our Elementary students also studied Laura Ingalls Wilder in the full version of Little House in the Big Woods.  During our history study of the lifespan of Laura, we spent time on the inventions of Thomas Edison.  Students researched a different invention by him, wrote a report, and created their own 3-D model of the invention!

The Intermediate level students were immersed in the Middle Ages, creating a lapbook of the various topics studied of about the time as a compliment to the setting of our literature study of Marguerite de Angeli's The Door in the Wall.

They also created a number of art projects including mosaics, stained glass, and tapestry work.

A lovely project detailing the many herbs and spices used in medieval medicine . . .

PLUS - Cindy Mann, our sewing class teacher, displayed the work of budding seamstresses this semester!

Onstage, each group of homeschool scholars received a Certificate of Completion for their records, and took a bow for all their hard work - further documented in the comprehensive notebooks they compiled during the study.

But wait - there was more!

As a grand finale, the Parable Players performed a historical play about the pilgrims of Plimoth Plantation and the events leading up to the celebration of the first Thanksgiving.

The play was enhanced with their excellent performance of two Bell Choir selections.  Bravo Awards were given to all!

Fellowship, celebration, and refreshments followed with farewells til January when our new classes begin!


Beginning the week of the 21st of January, Constellation Academy classes with Miss Kathy start up again for the second semester.  There will be only three classes this semester.

CIVIL WAR DIARIES - Monday 1pm-3:30pm Intermediate Level; Tuesday or Wednesday, 1pm-3:30pm Elementary Level - Explore American History with Civil War Diaries - first person studies using primary sources, drama, and art to create a "you are there" experience.  Language arts and writing skills will be employed as a lapbook is created each week to document the studies.  Students will participate in a Civil War Ball with their family, and represent Constellation Academy at Vineland's Founder's Day in May - in costume - portraying some of the men and women of the Civil War.  They will culminate their studies onstage in Performance Portfolios and displays of their "diorama" project at the June Starshine Gala Exhibit Night.  Then - we'll close out the semester with a family trip to Gettysburg!

WRITERS ON THE WAY - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday mornings 10am-11:30pm - Choose which day is best for you!  Elementary and Intermediate students in a focused writing class for skill building in research, writing, and vocabulary usage.  Students will keep writing journals, learn editing secrets, and publish their work on our Writers on the Way blog HERE.  By June, we'll be publishing a Literary Magazine with the best of their best work!  NOTE:  There will be a short 6 week break mid-semester.

THE WORLD OF BEATRIX POTTER - Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday mornings 10am-11:30pm March-April - a SIX WEEKS ONLY class for K4, K5, and grade 1 students in the middle of the semester while the WRITERS ON THE WAY take a break.  Storytelling, dramatic play, and art are the primary vehicles used to explore Miss Potter's tales and the life and nature lessons they teach.   
For more details about these classes, or to copy and download a registration form, click on the Classes with Miss Kathy tab HERE.

There is a materials fee for each class which covers basic raw materials.  Miss Kathy's personal fee is via "love offering" as affordable per child/family each week - similar to music or tutoring lessons.  Contact Miss Kathy at Constellation Academy for more information HERE.

May you and yours welcome in this New Year 
with joy and gladness 
and fresh vision 
for all your homeschooling goals!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back-to-School Tardy Post!

Well, mark me down on the attendance sheet!  Miss Stella has been absent these six weeks - since the start of the school year - and that is no coincidence!  So MUCH has happened in these past weeks with our Constellation Academy debut Fall Semester that it is due time for a Report!


September 8 found a dozen homeschool moms sitting round the table at our host facility, Magnolia Hill Studios, with what has turned out to be our final workshop of 2012.  To say a good time was had by all is an understatement!

Everyone came bearing creative ideas and inspiration - just the ticket for kicking off a great new school year!  After our regular speaking segments, Adrienne with MAPPING YOUR WAY - Nikkole with her SPOONFULS OF SUGAR . . .

And Cindy with some HANDY CRAFTS advice . . .

Miss Kathy moderated discussion on various aspects of the homeschool curriculum and concerns.  Reading and language techniques, creative approaches to the homeschool day, plus math and science to-do's generated a host of great ideas and pens were clicking on three holed notebook paper jotting down clever ideas - like using food to teach math principles . . .

Resource information and more!

The value of teaching from a TIMELINE was highlighted and various books that have been favorites to use were passed around the room for SHOW & TELL.  In addition, Nikkole shared welcome information about how using essential oils can aide the ADHD child, and diffuse the homeschool environment with natural remedies for mental clarity and focus.  As an adult with, and mother of children with ADHD, she has had great success controlling the symptoms without synthetic drugs through the use of essential oils and dietary adjustments.

Of course, yummies on the tea table are always a pampering treat.

The Starlight Workshop Teas will resume in the new year each month with theme focuses including HomeSchool Spa Day, Charlotte Mason Appreciation Day, Spring Fling Outside-the-Box Day, and more!  Each workshop is designed to be a MINI-RETREAT for the homeschool mom where ideas are shared, inspiration and training is available, and a strong support system grows stronger each time you are greeted at the door upon arrival.

Many thanks to our host facility, Magnolia Hill Studios, and artistic director, Sandy Smith - a veteran homeschool mom of thirty years - who shares Constellation Academy's vision for the nurturing of children in all good things and beauty!  Visit Sandy HERE to learn more about her ongoing classes in art and dance!


Miss Kathy welcomed thirty-plus homeschool students to her selection of literature-driven unit studies this semester PLUS a Junior and Senior troupe of Parable Players currently in production of a Thanksgiving play and Medieval Morality Play respectively.

Primary and Elementary students have enjoyed an inspirational atmosphere in Miss Kathy's homeschool classroom and resource center studying the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder.   Primary Students get their first taste of "going to school" with the My First Little House Series of vibrant pictures books adapted from the Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, and Little House on the Prairie books in the novel series.

Adapting the Principle Approach Notebook Method for our littlest scholars, youngsters enjoy performance storytelling by Miss Kathy with a different picture book each week followed up by a weekly GOAL SHEET of assignments to be completed at home and organized in their indexed notebook.

Students take turns showing and telling all their work before the class, growing in their enthusiasm for the work week to week, their proficiency in connecting to the materials studied, and their speaking before the class to show the fruits of their labor.  It has been a joy to watch them grow so!

Field trips and hands-on activities are all part of the fun.  Recently, one of the classes made a day of it at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center to visit the old fashioned General Store, much like the General Store read about in their story that week.  They saw many of the things that were in the store in the book - and each came away with a piece of candy, just like Laura and Mary!

Elementary Students in grades 2 to 4 are doing an in-depth study of Little House in the Big Woods - working through a chapter each week - and learning how to mine the text for content, historical facts, character values, Biblical truths, grammatical applications, figures of speech, parts of speech, and more!  Employing Charlotte Mason's "narration" techniques, there are literature pages to be completed each day, vocabulary words, spelling words, and various studies in nature science and the American history settings during the lifetime of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

As added inspiration under the Art Appreciation index, students have been learning about the works and life of Grandma Moses - a contemporary of Laura Ingalls Wilder who captured her childhood on canvas during the years that Ms. Wilder penned her classic book series with words.

Lapbook and notebook projects about Alexander Graham Bell - and making telephones with string and cups - plus a grand time churning butter like Ma and Mary did in one of the chapters keeps the class time lively.

Time for dancing . . .

And, log cabin building . . .

And, playing detective while hunting down adverbs in the text send students home each week with a GOAL SHEET of assignments for home completion.  Each notebook, with specific guidelines in neatness and accuracy, becomes a work of art.  Lapbook projects are collecting in a special pocket for safekeeping until the last week of the semester when they will be arranged in the finished Lapbook - producing TWO works of art records of semester studies.

Intermediate Students in grades 5 through Junior High School are studying Marguerite DeAngeli's The Door in the Wall - a masterpiece of character studies and literary diamonds!  An overview of Medieval history accompanies this study with an emphasis on the setting of the story in the late 1340's England, during the reign of Edward III and the Black Death.  All language, grammar, and composition studies are mined from the story text with connections to Biblical truths and historical details.

To kick off the study, Professor Jean-Marc Grussenmeyer was guest speaker for an afternoon of time travel to the Middle Ages.  Professor Grussenmeyer is an old friend to Constellation Academy and recently returned to a position at Rowan University from a year's study in Canterbury, England.  A busy Civil War and Medieval history re-enactor, he shared an afternoon of fascinating facts on the subject, and even demonstrated the details of Medieval warfare . . .

After being "coifed" in chain mail by a Constellation Academy squire!

Photos afterward with students from the class and the cast of the Parable Players Senior play, The Empty Throne:  A Medieval Morality Play.  

The beginning of October saw a caravan of cars heading to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire for another Constellation Academy field trip where the Queen and her court dubbed some Constellation Academy students Lords and Ladies of the realm!

Mid-October finds Miss Stella catching her breath from all this busy - and looking forward to our Starshine Gala Exhibit Night where the Parable Players will perform and student projects will be displayed and semester awards will be given out to one and all.  A highlight for this semester will be the NEW Constellation Academy BELL CHOIR - the Junior troupe performing three selections within the context of both the plays.


And, if all this busy excitement in teaching and learning isn't enough - Narnia Night is fast approaching on Saturday, October 27, beginning at 4:00pm - co-hosted by Constellation Academy and Indian Trail Farms!
What NARNIAN COSTUME will you wear???

It's not too late to get your RSVP in for this amazing SCAVENGER HUNT of all things Narnian!  As a culmination to our Constellation Academy Summer Reading Recommendation - The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis (all seven books) - Indian Trail Farm is the perfect location for this grand event, boasting the Narnian woods on their grounds including the LAMPPOST and CAR PARAVEL!

Trail maps with riddle clues from the books will be given to each child with prizes and new riddles pointing the way from the lamppost to the castle!  Meet Mr. Tumnus and other characters from the books in the FAINTING GOAT PEN - plus PONY RIDES in the arena and a festive HAYRIDE through the fields.  Families are asked to bring a covered dish for a POTLUCK SUPPER - served in the huge and authentic western TIPI.  The Trading Post will be open, too!  All this - only $10 per child payable at the door - but RSVP ASAP using the Contact tab above, so we are prepared for everyone!!!


Miss Kathy is currently working on the winter/spring semester - beginning in January for Elementary and Intermediate students featuring literary and historical studies from the era of the American CIVIL WAR.

Photo by Jan Narducci - Mullica Hill Re-enactment - October 2012
The Parable Players will be in production on a melodramatic play with stories from this era, too!
Also, as part of the study students will be trained in HOW TO CONDUCT A LIVING HISTORY INTERVIEW and be assigned a local elder citizen to interview and create a presentation on something they learned from the experience.  Costumes will be gathered and students will host a Local Living History tent exhibit at the annual Founder's Day in Vineland on May 18.

A day trip to Gettysburg is being planned with some Civil War re-enactor friends of Constellation Academy so stay tuned on that score, too!  PLUS the new WRITER ON THE WAY class for Intermediate level students with an intense focus on writing skills - and writing to publish.

Primary students will begin meeting in March for a delightful romp through the English countryside with BEATRIX POTTER AND FRIENDS!  Not to be missed fun for K4 and K5-Grade 1 level students!

More details on what's to come in 2013 will be released soon - pass the word!  
If you are at all interested in getting your name reserved for a spot in one of the classes - contact Constellation Academy as soon as possible.  
Classes have limited space!

But, we're barely halfway through the semester - much more to come!  Shine brightly, my stars!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Visit with Bees at Acts Arbor Farm

Our much anticipated field trip to visit Acts Arbor Farm with Beekeeper Tom Berge was not disappointed by stormy skies or small attendance.  Sunny blue skies and a soft cooling breeze blessed our August 13th afternoon on the farm with over thirty homeschool children and their moms - and grandmoms - for the purpose of learning all about life in a beehive!

Tom and Sherry Berge are active homeschoolers with a lovely tree farm in South Jersey, a couple of cats, some chickens - and five beehives set under a shade tree in the midst of their wildflower meadow.  A perfect environment for successful honey production.  After adequate research and schooling on the subject, the purchase of appropriate hive supplies, and a certain amount of prayer, Beekeeper Berge and two of his older children were ready to welcome a swarm of bees and the queen bee herself, settling them into their new digs just three years ago.  Now, with a total of five hives housing hundreds of thousands of bees, Acts Arbor Farm makes fresh hive honey seasonably available to local families.

And, were generous enough to open their farm and expertise to Constellation Academy for our recent field trip!!

Youngsters and parents gathered around an outdoor display table where Mr. Berge acquainted everyone with bee basics:  how a hive is built . . .

The three different types of bees that live in the hive and their jobs - including the one queen bee who lays 1500 eggs a day; the hundreds of male drones who exist solely to mate with the queen and are kicked out of the hive in the fall; and the thousands of female worker bees who do all the chores of keeping the hive functioning, feeding and raising the young, foraging for pollen in the fields, and making the honey and wax. 

Students learned the value of honey when realizing that it takes 60,000 to 90,000 flowers visited by honeybees collecting nectar to made a thimble full of honey!

Five million flowers must be visited by honeybees to make one pint of honey - and honeybees will have to travel up to a three mile radius - or 6000 acres - from the hive to do so!!

These creatures may be small, but an average honeybee colony boasts as many as 60,000 bees all working together with a single minded purpose.

A useful diagram of the parts of a bee's anatomy had bee prepared by Noah, Beekeeper Berge's daughter and talented artist, who assists in caring for the hives on the farm.

After question and answer time, instructions for advancing nearer the bees was given and our beekeepers suited up in protective gear . . .

After preparing the "smoker" which is essential to subduing the bees when venturing to open a hive.

After a short walk into the field and standing a safe distance away from the hives, students were introduced to the bees, brought closer for inspection by Mr. Berge.

Gasps of fascination echoed through the visitors and more questions and answers were exchanged.

Tables were lined up and supplies dispensed for the creation of a mini-lapbook reviewing all the things learned about bees on our trip. 

Parents assisted students in following Miss Kathy's directions for, folding, cutting, and gluing everything in place.  Handouts to complete the lapbook for in-home review were given to each before closing the event with a group photo in the shaded play area.

A good time was decidedly had by all!  It was a delight to meet so many new faces joining our Constellation Academy family for this field trip event - and there's more to come in the fall!  Updates are underway on our Filed Trips and Events tab above so check often to see the latest of what's coming up - and mark your calendars accordingly.  All Constellation Academy field trips and events require an RSVP so we can be fully prepared with all materials for everyone.

Many thanks to Tom and Sherry Berge and their family for helping to make this beautiful afternoon a joyful experience of teaching and learning in the midst of God's glorious creation!