Free Friday and A Smart Way to Play


{image credit:}


Quick note on a fantastic opportunity coming up for kids ages 7-12: there's a FREE Electricity and Robotics workshop at the SLO County Library on Saturday, February 28th, presented by Supercharged Science. Click here for the pdf with all the info you need to register your kids. We hear it fills up quickly, so call soon if you're interested!



Does your family like to play board games together? Did you make a New Year's Resolution to play more games? We know that board and card games are a great way to learn while having fun, but check out this link to a list of games that (claim to) actually make you smarter:


15 Fun Board Games that Exercise Your Brain And Make You Smarter


There are definitely some intriguing selections on this list. From classics like Chess and Scrabble, to lesser known games such as Pandemic (trying to contain viruses and control plagues... appropriate for this year, right?) and Chronology (a history-based game that involves making a timeline!). Check it out, and enjoy a family game night this weekend while knowing that you’re all boosting your brain power! 


Do you own any of the games in the above article? What are your favorites? Leave a comment below:



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned website.



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Categorized: Archive, Home Life

2 Weeks in the Life: The Kennedy Family, Part 2


{photos by Kelsey and April Kennedy}


Today we bring you the second installment of the Kennedy family’s vacation DITL. Click here if you missed Part 1.



Fri. Jan. 9: Last full day in Hanalei. The boys and I do early surf lessons by the pier today with Mario. We can all surf a little but are most certainly novices. Okay, the boys are better than I am and April is better than I am but the lessons are good for all of us. About an hour and a half in the small shore break near the pier and we're all looking reasonably good. Tacos from Pat's food truck at the pier.



After lunch, boogie boarding in the slightly bigger waves a couple hundred yards down the beach. Supper includes poi and the best fish ever (Opakapaka) from the local fish market.



Sat. Jan. 10: Last Hanalei beach run. Lynn from the surf shop calls to ask if the boys would still like a ride in the Pinzgauer, an old, German 4WD military surplus vehicle used by the shop (it was being worked on yesterday and they missed a chance to ride in it). The answer is a resounding yes and we get a ride around Hanalei Bay with Uncle Mitch, the surf shop owner.



The ride is loud, bumpy and fun. Mitch is friendly and gregarious. He shares stories and info such as the differences between several surf spots around the bay, the quickest route to safety in a tsunami, stories of growing up on Kauai's north shore, and other local lore.


Back in the car and driving around to the south side, we stop in Lihue for lunch. Saimin with homemade noodles and broth at Hamura's. Drooling over ukulele at Scotty's Music Shop. We arrive in Poipu in the late afternoon in time for some beach play and a glorious sunset.


Sun. Jan 11: After a bit of a late start, we made our way west around the coast to Waimea and inland to the Waimea Canyon. Whew! What a looker! Every bit as beautiful and majestic (if not as big) as the Grand Canyon. Across the expanse, ruggedly carved red cliffs give way in spots to large patches of intense green. Tall, thin waterfalls can be spotted around almost every corner.



Pulling over several times on the way up the canyon road for sightseeing and pictures, we stop at a spot for an “easy” 3 mile out and back hike into and halfway down the canyon wall. The easy hike becomes a bit too lunar, rugged and narrow at one point for our party so we make it about a two miler with no regrets.



More sightseeing up the canyon road to the Kokee'e lodge and visitor center. Here we learn a bit more about island geography. Some of the rainfall on the summit of Kauai, Mt. Wai'ale'ale, becomes the Waimea River which carved Waimea Canyon. Wai'ale'ale, purportedly the wettest spot on earth (>450"/yr rainfall), is apparently rather more like a desert than a jungle. The heavy rainfall contains little free oxygen and washes all the nutrients out of the soil leaving it quite barren.



Mon. Jan. 12: Up early this morning to drive to Port Allen at Ele'ele for a snorkeling and sightseeing cruise. We're on the boat, a beautiful 65' catamaran, before 8:00. The waters are six shades of blue and glassy. Out of the harbor and west along the coast then north toward Na Pali. 30 minutes or so out we stop to snorkel for an hour or so.


Even though the surface is calm, the water in the snorkeling area is oddly a bit murky. In some spots the bottom, 10-15' away, is almost obscured. Still, the snorkeling is not bad we see quite a few tang, angelfish, a couple varieties of parrotfish and a dozen larger and smaller species I can't identify.


Back on the boat and underway again, we almost immediately run into a pod of bottlenose dolphins who follow the boat for a bit but are obviously more concerned with lunch than interested in us. Later, there is an enormous pod, hundreds of individuals, of Hawaiian spinner dolphins jumping out of the water and spinning round just like their name would lead you to expect. More amazing sea life, Malolo, the flying fish. These guys would leap out of the water, and glide along near the surface for hundreds of yards. We saw one of them snatched right out of the air by a black and white tern!


Whales, did I mention whales? Humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters in the winter months. We saw plenty of them, starting before we even left the dock. Mostly at some distance, spouting, tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping, and full breach! One breach was so close to the boat that the captain suggested he could use a clean pair of board shorts.


As if that wasn't enough, the real purpose of the cruise is the up close views of the Na Pali coastline. Dazzling, verdant, knife edge cliffs, dripping with waterfalls, towering thousands of feat above the sea. I could wax (poorly) for pages about them but pictures better, come see even better.



After the five and a half hour cruise, we returned to Poipu for more time in the water. Ahi poke and ocean salad in front of one of the most spectacular sunsets you'd care to see wrapped up the day.



Tue. Jan. 13: Beach, forest and cliff run around Poipu Beach/Koloa Heritage Trail this AM. Sea cliffs, waves, we even saw a couple of honu in a rough and rocky cove. Late breakfast and some schoolwork. Math, history and literature reading. I've been having the boys journal this week about their experiences on Kauai. Wish I had done it last week. We used to journal together nearly every day, starting in kindergarten, but fell out of the habit somewhere along the way. We can hear the ocean (and of course, roosters) from here.


Today we visited the Allerton Garden, one of five National Tropical Botanical Gardens. During the 2 hr. walking tour, our friendly, knowledgeable guide, Mario shared fascinating information about the indigenous and introduced plants, the mission and work of the NTBG, Hawaiian lore, and had us taste unusual fruits.



The Allerton Garden was built by it's namesake, Robert Allerton over decades starting in the late 1930s. After the style of French formal gardens, each section of the garden is a massive outdoor room showcasing tropical flora both indigenous and introduced from all over the world. The boys were way more into the garden and botanical info than I had expected.


To be continued...


Kelsey Kennedy is a Track B SLOCA dad to two boys who suffers occasional bouts of logorrhea and writes his own “about the author” blurbs in the third person. He realizes that for a blog post ostensibly about home schooling, he probably mentions food more frequently than schoolwork. He likes food. Sue him.


PS: April says we actually did more schoolwork than I recorded. I guess I was just more focused on the other stuff. :)



Stay tuned for the conclusion to this fun and fascinating account, coming next Tuesday!




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What's for Dinner: Roasted Salmon and Potatoes


{photo by Jenny Bischoff}


Roasted Salmon and Potatoes with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Woman’s Day

serves 4


Tonight or tomorrow you're probably getting dinner at CPK to enjoy a night off from cooking that helps our school (here again is the link to that flyer!), but here’s a deliciously easy way to get more fish into your dinner repertoire on another night. This recipe was recommend to me by SLOCA mom Joy Newman, and my family loved it! It has loads of flavor and it all bakes in one pan, which is a bonus. Plus it's fairly quick to throw together, making it a great go-to meal on a busy weeknight. You could even prep the potatoes in advance, and store them in water - just dry them well before tossing with the oil and seasonings. I personally don’t love arugula so I substituted spinach. A mix of greens would work well too.



1 pound(s) small new potatoes (about 14), halved

2 tablespoon(s) fresh rosemary (optional)

2 tablespoon(s) olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

1 pound(s) piece skinless salmon fillet

2 tablespoon(s) whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon(s) red wine vinegar

2 teaspoon(s) honey

2 cup(s) baby arugula



Heat oven to 425°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, rosemary (if using), 1 Tbsp oil, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.


Season the salmon with 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Push the potatoes to the edges of the pan and place the salmon in the center. Roast until the salmon is opaque throughout and the potatoes are golden brown and tender, 10 to 12 minutes more.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, honey, remaining Tbsp oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl. Toss with the arugula and 1 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. Serve with the salmon and the remaining vinaigrette.


The potato salad and vinaigrette also work well with seared pork chops or chicken breasts.



Click here for a printable pdf of this recipe.



SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with the above mentioned website.




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Categorized: Archive, Food

2 Weeks in the Life: The Kennedy Family, Part 1


{photos by Kelsey and April Kennedy}


REMINDER: Kickback with a kickback! Need an excuse not to cook one night this month?  Have lunch or dinner at California Pizza Kitchen on Wednesday (that’s tomorrow) and/or Thursday, January 28 and 29 and they will donate 20% of all sales right back to SLOCA!  You can buy gift cards there too if you can't stay one of those nights for dinner.


Click here for the flier to bring in with you, and print extra for family and friends! 



We are back with another post in our Day in the Life series, but this time it’s more like a couple of weeks in the life! And these were no ordinary weeks, either. SLOCA dad Kelsey Kennedy, his wife April, and their two sons Max (Intermediate) and Miles (Primary) are in their 5th year at SLO Classical Academy. They enjoyed a family vacation in Hawaii recently, and took school with them! Kelsey generously documented their adventures with homeschooling on holiday, and we will share them with you in three parts. Here’s the first installment!



Sat. Jan 3: Woke the family very early (5 AM) to get out of the San Jose hotel and onto the plane for Kauai. Clothes, brush teeth, bags, shuttle, a bit harried but smooth sailing all the way into our seats on the plane.


Mama sits with Miles and Daddy with Max. We get some math, history and literature reading out of the way before lego play and videos on the 5+ hr. flight. Mama and Miles get more work done than Max and I do.


The flight got underway a little late due to some ice on the wings. Still, it's a direct flight and we're on the ground in Lihue before noon local time. Yay! A quick stop at Costco to lay in supplies (and eat a cheap lunch) and we are on our way around the island to Hanalei.


Hanalei is gorgeous. Jagged peaks in every shade of green with thin silver ribbons of waterfall surround a lush valley. The vegetation is so dense that I imagine if people stopped cutting and mowing, it could erase all evidence of human habitation in a matter of months. This is the tropical jungle paradise of movies and dreams.


Click to enlarge:


After settling in at the rainbow house in Hanalei town, we take a walk down to the bay and around to the pier, soaking in the waves, sunshine and the view, ah, the views! Burgers back in town and, as tired as we are, late to bed and later to rise the next day.


Sun. Jan. 4: Late(ish) rise and down to the beach for a run around the bay. We do a couple of miles and the boys are pooped (me too). Back to the house to rinse off and a little bit of home school, mostly history and literature reading and some spelling. We are all loving The Arabian Nights.


A little pushback on the schoolwork, “But daaaaddy, we're on vacation! In Hawaii!” Don't I know it. About an hour or so of schoolwork, a bit of music practice and the boys are back to the beach with Mama while I stay at the house, play ukulele and prepare supper. Have I mentioned how beautiful Hanalei is?


Click to enlarge:


Mon. Jan. 5: Beach running again this morning. Three miles this time and we did part of it barefoot. Lunch was kahlua pork tacos at Pat's Taqueria, a trailer at the foot of Hanalei pier. Three of us ate five of them. Broke da mout'.


Boogie boards, sandcastles and playing in the surf. Did we do any school today?


Tue. Jan 6: Four miles up and down the beach surrounding Hanalei bay. All of it barefoot, in and out of the surf and glorious. I really don't like running. I do it out of habit. But here, I am learning to love it.


Home school on the couch and the big table. Arabian Nights, spelling, IEW outline... glossing over much of the intermediate math, we need a protractor. Can probably grab one at Walmart on our way back around the island on Saturday.


We found lots of lizards today. Tiny geckos in the house and slightly bigger ones everywhere outside. We assume they eat the tiny ants that are everywhere. We keep the bread in the microwave.



Sack lunch on the beach and boys frolicking in the surf. Clear skies and warm, light wind.


Went to the afternoon farmer's market at Waipa just past Hanalei and met Kavika who had invited us out to make poi when we were here last year.


Mama and boys back to the beach for boogie boarding and body surfing all the rest of the afternoon while I rest and write a bit at the house.


Arabian Nights bedtime stories.



Wed. Jan 7: We're starting to get into a groove. Up reasonably early, beach run in the AM followed by breakfast and homeschool with mountains and rainforest for a backdrop. Then beach, lunch and more beach.


On the run this morning, Miles and Mama find a big (8"?) black seahorse stranded on the beach. He is clearly still alive and they rescue him, getting him back into the water a bit past the shore break.


More boogie boarding on magnificent Hanalei bay.



Thu. Jan 8: While Mama takes a surf lesson, the boys and I head down the road to the 1600 acre Waipa ranch. Waipa is a non-profit education and cultural foundation. It is a land preservation and resource management project. They work to help create connections to the land for modern Hawaiians, to feed the community, to teach sustainability and stewardship.


Thursday at Waipa is Poi day. Poi remains a staple food on many Hawaiian tables especially among older folks and the people at Waipa prepare poi the way it was done around 70 or 80 years ago. Workers and (mostly) volunteers are up before 5:00 to build fires and set up to cook the taro collected from their own fields and those of other co-op farmers. We show up about 7:30 as the cooked taro is being cleaned and are greeted with a fist bump by Kavika. We quickly wash our hands and get to work helping scrape the rough skins from the taro in the outdoor kitchen.



Miles and Max can handle a little more than an hour of this work and begin to tire. Auntie Honey-Girl, who has been teaching and working with us, notices their minds wander and the attendant, ahem, lack of attention to detail. She tells them to go help with the washing of the taro. A bit later and breakfast, fried rice, is served. Some eat, others continue working. After breakfast, the boys help on and off a bit more, mostly playing around the work area with other kids until they are finally chased off by some elders to play elsewhere and explore the ranch.



After the taro is cooked, washed and goes through two stages of cleaning, it is chopped up and fed twice through a large grinder to make the sweet, mild, sticky, purple goo that is poi. The grinder runs almost continuously for hours while people work, laugh and talk. When all the taro is cooked, washed, cleaned and ground into poi, the work slows down a bit. There is still cleanup, weighing, and packaging for distribution.


Around 1:00 everyone, including a group of Michigan college students who have been clearing and planting in another part of the ranch, stops work and gathers for lunch. We join hands in a large circle and each of us introduces ourselves to the group. Stacy, a Waipa coordinator, leads us in a call and response blessing, sung in Hawaiian. The meal is amazing and a great opportunity to sit and talk.


Uncle Les, a retired appliance technician, has what must be a graduate level understanding of horticulture gained completely from his own research and his own hands in the dirt. He talks to us about different varieties of taro, the way it grows and is propagated; modern vs. ancient farming practices, agricultural legislation, weather, farming, and a dozen other things.


Uncle Charlie is 85 years old and as vital as anyone I've ever met. He has a thousand great stories and if you sit and watch him sew a fishing net like we did, you'll get to hear a handful of them. Charlie's father, a Portuguese fisherman, showed him how to sew a net when he was 12 years old. He's been doing it ever since. He sews Japanese/Hawaiian style throw nets out of monofilament (he used to use twine) using a homemade bamboo needle. A finished net is about 11' in diameter, has thousands of knots and takes about four weeks to make.



Every week Waipa produces ~1200 lbs. of poi for distribution around the island at far below market price with a mostly volunteer workforce. I thank Keoka, the cook of the marvelous meal we just had. He shares with me that a substantial portion of the poi also goes to the few hundred native Hawaiian residents of Niihau who live in the old ways, no electricity or modern conveniences. Their island has little fresh water or vegetation and they cannot grow their own taro.


We made good food. We ate good food. We learned about the land, farming, fishing, Hawaiian culture and history and more.


To be continued...


Kelsey Kennedy is a Track B SLOCA dad to two boys who suffers occasional bouts of logorrhea and writes his own “about the author” blurbs in the third person. He realizes that for a blog post ostensibly about home schooling, he probably mentions food more frequently than schoolwork. He likes food. Sue him.


PS: April says we actually did more schoolwork than I recorded. I guess I was just more focused on the other stuff. :)



Thank you, Kelsey, for taking the time to write about your vacation and all the learning (SLOCA and otherwise) that took place for your family! We look forward to hearing more. Readers, be sure to come back on Thursday for the next installment!





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Magical Moments: Seeing Wonders


A very proud SLOCA student posing alongside the chalkboard and timeline artwork piece

{photo by Kary Antoniadis}


Down Home has another wonder-full Magical Moment to share with you today. This was sent in by Track B mom Kary Antoniadis back in December. Kary, her husband Jimi, and daughter Antonia (Primary) are in their 3rd year at SLOCA.



Susie promised last August we would see wonders, and I wanted to share with you a jaw dropping experience I had last week.


We began to prep for Antonia’s presentation of her assigned timeline piece, the 'Battle of Badr.' We had done preliminary research on existing images from this historic battle, and Antonia chose to draw intersecting scimitars to represent the two sides of the battle – the Muslims and the Meccans.  


Next it was time to revisit Story of the World’s description the battle. Most of the time I allow her to gather drawing materials or another quiet activity while I read. Today she wanted to draw on the chalkboard. I was a little hesitant because she needed to come up with some facts to present to the class, and I assumed that she was going sketch out her usual fun array of fashion designs and/or animals and flowers. I assumed she would use the narration technique to come up with her three facts.


For this reason I didn’t look at the chalkboard while I concentrated on reading Story of the World. Several times she asked me to slow down or repeat a sentence. Finally I looked up at the chalkboard and discovered she was taking notes on what I was reading, and picking out key words/concepts and grouping them together, much in the vein of our early exposure to the IEW.


By the time I had finished the excerpt on the Battle of Badr, I could no longer contain my excitement and commended Antonia on her astounding feat. I told her that what she had just done is very similar to an early stage IEW, and then she of course had to add the title on the board "My IEW (by myself)."


I told her I wanted to send a picture of the chalkboard to Mrs. Perneel. But first... Antonia wanted to know if she made any spelling errors. She insisted she correct them before Mrs. Perneel sees them. :-)  The M is her abbreviation for Mohammed.


In addition to this being a very proud moment of “seeing wonders” in not only my daughter’s ability but her clear enjoyment of learning, it was, for me, a validation of the curriculum taught at SLOCA and the excellence of instruction by Mrs. Perneel. 



This is so inspiring, Kary and Antonia! It’s so cool to see these moments where our children amaze us as they grow and learn. This is a wonderful idea for kids while we read, too – taking notes on the chalkboard! Thanks for sharing.


If you have a Magical Moment you’d like to see on the blog, we would love to share it. Email Down Home with your story or if you have any questions. 


NOTE: We look forward to seeing everyone tonight for the annual Parent Potluck and Mandatory Family Business Meeting at Grace Church in SLO. The potluck starts at 6:00 pm; the meeting starts at 6:30 pm. If you haven’t signed up and still want to bring a Soup, Salad, Bread, or Dessert, check the sign-up sheet here to see what what’s coming and what’s needed.



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Categorized: Archive, Magical Moments

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About Down Home

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy's blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades K-8, which means two days at school with three days of home education, all days following the classical model and curricula carefully laid out by the school. We also have a four day program available for grades 5-8. Our high school students attend school three days each week. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home. Semper discentes - always learning together.

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