Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Building Pyramids

Our lesson today called for building a pyramid out of blocks, legos or cans. Over the years our block and lego supply has diminished so dramatically that we didn't have enough of any of these products for Dawson to build one.

So, he attempted to make one out of mini marshmallows and toothpicks. And he attempted to make one out of K'NEX. The idea was to have one that looked ancient and one that looked modern.

Neither one worked.

The marshmallow one collapsed. The K'NEX one never would take proper shape.

What did we learn? First, if you do not have a solid foundation, your building will fall. And second, building pyramids is H.A.R.D.

Can you even imagine building one in the blistering heat with no real tools or equipment to help you?

Hieroglyphics Scavenger Hunt

On Thursday I wrote about the $30 gift card I won to the Philbrook Art Museum gift shop.

I read on another blog (and I can't remember which one so that I can give proper credit) about making a hieroglyphics scroll. That gave me a great idea!

I made a hieroglyphics scroll for Dawson and put it on his chair with a hieroglyphics key. He had to decipher the code to find the gift card. The scroll said "Look n the Nile for reward."

I hid the gift card under his Nile Diorama that is out on our patio table.

He was really excited about us winning the gift card! He has his eye on a really cool owl puppet. He wants to name it Dexter and use it to tell stories to the kids in Eli and Brynne's classes at school.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Notes of Encouragement

I left Dawson a sticky note on his planner last week telling him how proud I was of how hard he had been working since we started school.

The next day I had a sticky note on my chair that said, "U R A DOOFUS!" with a smiley face.

I feel so encouraged.

At least it wasn't a tack in my chair.

Another Win!

Look what I won from Nikki at The Painters 5 in the Curriculum Clean Out.

This will be a great addition to our library! And, Dawson is planning on holding some kids camps this summer at our house, and a science camp is one he wants to do. This book will hopefully give him some great, age-appropriate ideas!

Thanks, Nikki! And thanks, Homeschool Creations, for hosting the giveaway!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Dawson Says {Week of August 23rd}

Hey, it's Dawson again, doing my weekly blog post. :( Well some of the things I enjoyed about this week are: I made a diorama of Egypt; I made tomb paintings; and, I just got to free draw one day. You can see pictures/purchase my drawings on my mom's blog. :) I also got to bake fig and date bread. Turns out I'm a really good baker. I'll ask my mother/teacher if she'll post my recipe on her blog. One of the things I'm not enjoying is ALGEBRA!!! I have to do 30 problems of questions I don't always understand! And today I have to go over the 13 problems I missed yesterday plus the 30 I have to do today!!! That's 43 problems!! (at least I know how to add).


PS. My drawings are each $49.95, plus shipping.

** To see mom's perspective on the week and get specifics about projects we completed, go here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"This Week in Review" Thursday

What have we done this week? So much!!!

We are continuing our studies of Ancient Egypt and the desert based on our reading in Genesis about the story of Joseph.

Doing lots of art and projects is very important to Dawson.

This week he made a tomb painting, using this idea from Samantha at To Be Busy at Home (thanks a million, Samantha, for the great idea!) His tomb painting depicts the things in his life that are important: his dog Crusoe, his girlfriend Tess (her picture is turned on it's side on the bottom), him riding his skateboard, and the symbol of "life".

First he laid a piece of paper on the tile on our kitchen table and rubbed it with crayon to get a textured look.

Next he free-handed pictures onto construction paper depicting things in his life that are important to him.

Then he laid the cutouts under his textured paper and did crayon rubbings of them.

He also finished his diorama of the desert and Nile river. It flooded and ran onto the banks. That's why the grass has grown along side it. (Okay, so we cheated. I didn't want to buy a whole bag of grass seed, so we just "planted" grass instead of growing our own.)

We participated in our first Sketch Tuesday and created sketches of something living in the zoo.

Obviously, I took the instructions literally.

Dawson asked if he could make his using Personification ~ giving human characteristics to everyday ideas, objects and animals. I told him it was his sketch and he could do what he wanted. And this was the result.

We watched a documentary called Modern Marvels about the theories on how the pyramids were built.

Dawson did his first cooking ever! He made Date and Fig Bread. And it was delicious! I have never had a bread of mine come out so perfect! He might be a natural baker. We took some up to our elementary school secretaries to enjoy while we volunteered there today.

The chef hat gave the bread a little something extra!

(He gave up hand-chopping and used the electric one instead.)

All good chefs take a little taste!

This shot shows the flour on his jeans. Again, signs of a good chef!

While the bread was cooking we watched a Bill Nye, The Science Guy dvd on Deserts.

Dawson did his regular Pre-Algebra assignments, took his first spelling test, took more notes in Social Studies and Science, continued to work on writing assignments based on The Elements of Literature, read more of The Capture, memorized Psalm 24:1-2 and started working on verses 3-4. He also volunteered at our elementary school this afternoon.

It was a busy week! I saw Dawson having a desire to do more independent work, which was nice.

Week two was a great week!

A Winning Attitude!

While at Philbrook Museum last week, we entered into a random drawing for a gift card to the museum's gift shop. As you remember, Dawson really enjoyed the museum that evening, making amulets and doing the scavenger hunt. As we were getting ready to leave the museum, we stopped by the gift shop and he found several things he really wanted.

Well ... we won the $30 gift card to the gift shop!!

I was so excited because I thought this would be an awesome reward to give Dawson for working so hard this first week of school and, above all, for having a great attitude!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't you love it when you hear these words?

"What's next? Never mind, I'll just look at the list and see what's next. If I can do it on my own, I'll just do it."

A Day in the Journey {so far}

Not Back to School Blog Hop

This month I have been participating in a blog hop called the Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop. It's been so great to get inspiration from others' school rooms, to read about all of the many curriculums being used and to see pictures of the great kids who have the pleasure of being schooled by their biggest supporters.

This final week of the blog hop we are asked to present "A Day in the Life" of our homeschooling day. This has been the first full "normal" week we have had. So, I will do my best with what we have done so far.

5:15 a.m. ~ *gulp* ~ Between then and 7:00 a.m., I go for a run, get in some coffee and computer time, shower and get ready for the day.

7:00 a.m. ~ Dawson starts his morning (semi-begrudgingly). During this time I am taking our sophomore to school and getting our other little two up and ready for their school. He showers, eats breakfast, tidies his room, makes his bed, gets dressed, fixes his hair, brushes his teeth, does his daily devotion and does whatever chore I have for him to do.

9:00 a.m. ~ When I've got all the other kids to school, we get started. We grab a cup of coffee and head upstairs.

* Literature/Bible: We sit in our upstairs living room, or in the living room downstairs, and read our Bible lesson for the day and then answer the provided discussion questions. Then Dawson works on scripture memorization. Right now he is studying the story of Joseph in Genesis and memorizing Psalm 24.

* Vocabulary/Spelling/Writing: We go to the school room and our desks for this. We talk about our spelling rule and do our spelling assignment. We add our vocabulary words-of-the-day to index cards. And then Dawson does a writing assignment based on the Bible lesson we are reading. This week he is writing on the Elements of Literature, starting with character, then plot, etc., and doing spelling words based on the "i/e" rules.

* Social Studies/Science: These lessons are also based on the Bible lesson we are studying. Currently we are studying Ancient Egypt and the desert. We have done mapping and globe work and he is making a diorama this week. There are also cooking assignments. He reads books we check out from the library each day and writes 5 Facts from what he reads. {I will do a separate post on our 5 Facts assignments soon.} Every day is different, but has to do with our basic lessons.

10:00-10:30 a.m. or so ~ We take a snack and drink break because what's coming up a little later is the hardest part of our day.

10:30 a.m. ~ Fine Arts. Dawson loves art so I try to incorporate some kind of art project every day. Sometimes it is included in another subject, like mapping or making a diorama for science. Yesterday we made a cave painting depicting the important things in Dawson's life. But some days he will just draw. We will be participating in Sketch Tuesday and he is currently going to be drawing out of an Ancient Egypt book of drawing.

By 11:00 ~ We dive into Pre-Algebra. We are using Saxon Algebra 1/2 this year. We can both understand it, so that's a bonus. We discuss the day's lesson and then he does the 30 problems in that lesson. I grade it and then he re-does the problems he missed. (I'm hoping that by having to re-do problems, he'll just take his time and get them right the first time.) He gets two grades in the grade book every day for these assignments. This pretty much takes us a full hour.

Noon ~ Lunch time!! I give Dawson a full hour to eat lunch and watch t.v. and veg out. He desperately needs this! And, I can get some housework and things done during this time.

1:00 p.m. ~ Back at it! Now we do our "unnecessaries", or the subjects that are unnecessary in my opinion (like typing, Spanish and personal reading). I have this attitude because on Thursday afternoons we volunteer at our elementary school and a lot of times on Friday afternoons we are doing errands. So I don't want us doing necessary subjects in the afternoon. He does still tend to work in his personal reading earlier in the day, or before he goes to bed, if we are going to be gone in the afternoon.

* Typing: I plan to have Dawson spend 15 or so minutes a day practicing typing. This little chicken-pecker totally needs this. But we haven't seemed to get to it yet.

* Spanish: We'll be doing an assignment every day ... hopefully starting soon. Again, our other subjects tend to take us to almost 3:00 p.m. and we haven't gotten to start Spanish yet.

* Extra Projects: Some days we will watch videos about things we are studying. Currently I have two about Ancient Egypt for us to watch and one on deserts.

* Personal Reading: Dawson has to read every day for 30 minutes. He logs his time in a Reading Log. Currently he is reading The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. He is on the first book, The Capture.

3:00 p.m. ~ My goal is for us to be DONE for the day, both for his sanity and mine! In my quest to be done by 3:00 each day, we've had to skip doing Typing and Spanish. Hopefully we'll start getting to those things soon.

There are some evenings that we do school, like our field trip to Philbrook Museum. But for the most part I just want Dawson to be spending time with his friends, getting outside, whatever gets his energy out so he is ready for the next day.

And so far that has been our schedule. It totally works for us so far. He has said that what we are doing is much better than public school. That was the goal!!! {And I can't believe how much he is learning already! Kyndal had a school project last week and it included biomes. When I said the word he said, "Hey, we studied about that this week!" Insert mom's smile here. And, on Monday when I told him he had 15 minutes left to read he said, "How about 20? Then I can finish 3 chapters." Warm my heart!}

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Si Senorita!

In the 6th grade Dawson took Spanish from a teacher he absolutely loved! He loved her personality and her style and he retained a lot from her class.

Since Dawson has a continued interest in the Spanish language, I immediately turned to Senorita Johnston for help. Not knowing anything about Spanish, I didn't want to spend a ton on a curriculum that might or might not be a good fit. And, I knew that Dawson loved her teaching style.

Senorita Johnston was so sweet and helpful! She recommended some curriculums I could purchase and then told me that she would be more than willing to loan us some materials.

Last Friday we picked up those materials.

They included a textbook (that she would like to have back at the end of the year), two workbooks that we can use and keep, and a VHS tape (the first of many in a series) and its' companion booklet. She said when we are done with this tape to return it for the next one. She even threw in a piece of candy for Dawson. How sweet is she?

She also told us that she is trying to set up a Facebook Group to notify her students (including Dawson) of upcoming cultural events, field trips, etc.

The one thing she said, though, that really impressed me was this: She told me that she would give us passwords to school district websites if she could. She said, "You still pay taxes to fund these schools. You're just doing the homeschooling thing. You should get to utilize the materials."

Don't we wish the whole district would be that helpful?

I looked at the material {briefly} and am certain I am over my head. The textbook is in Spanish for goodness sake! But, we are going to give it a go and see where we end up. She said that a lot of the material would be a review for him anyway. So hopefully he knows enough to get himself through the textbook and not require much from me.

Thank you Senorita Johnston.

I even told Dawson that I would like for him to start calling me Senorita Mom. It just has a good ring to it.

This is us today. We tried a healthy snack and some hydration. We've decided to do our tough work now so we can relax with a documentary and art projects this afternoon. I guess these days will happen too.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Out of Egypt ~ More Philbrook Museum

On Thursday night we went back to Philbrook Museum to hear Dr. Kara Cooney, a famous Egyptologist, speak. She had a series on The Discovery Channel in 2009 called "Out of Egypt". She spoke primarily about the 21st Dynastic mummies, and it was very interesting.

Before she spoke we had the opportunity to make amulets. Amulets were buried under the clothing of the dead before they were mummified.

Dawson chose to make a Scarab which symbolizes rebirth.

I made an Eye of Horus which symbolizes protection.

And then he made an eyeball which symbolizes nothing, but reminded him of the regeneration of the mummy in the movie, The Mummy. So he made it.

Then we went on a scavenger hunt of the To Live Forever exhibit. We found every item on the list, and some were hard! We had a good time doing it! We had gone to the exhibit previously, but the scavenger hunt made us dig deeper into the exhibit and made it more exciting.

That day Dawson had drawn a map of Egypt, labeling the geographical features, waterways and major cities and other important locations. We were really glad he did it because it gave some geographical perspective to what we were looking at.

Dawson is really enjoying our study of Ancient Egypt and said he wishes we could study it all year.

Not bad for Day 2.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Day of Egyptian Documentaries ~ September 3rd

For those of you studying Ancient Egypt, National Geographic Channel has five back-to-back documentaries playing on Friday, September 3rd.

* The Scorpion King, 8:00 a.m. ~ "The Scorpion King likely united kingdoms of ancient Egypt."

* The Real Ramses, 9:00 a.m. ~ "Fresh interpretations of existing evidence reveal secrets behind the success of Ramses II."

* The Pyramid Code, 10:00 a.m. ~ "Experts trace the development of pyramids from flat mud-brick structures to the giant masterpieces still standing today."

* Secrets of the Valley of the Kings, 11:00 a.m. ~ "Archaeologists unravel the secrets of the Valley of the Kings, the sacred tombs of the Pharaohs in Egypt."

* Mystery of the Screaming Man, 12:00 p.m. ~ "Over 100 years ago an unidentified mummy was found lying alongside some of the most famous pharaohs in Egyptian history, with his face contorted in a scream."

I think we will arrange our schedule to conclude regular studies on Thursday of that week, get up on Friday the 3rd and watch these shows with some popcorn while lounging in our pjs. That will be a nice reward for three weeks of hard work.

Join us?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Record Keeping

There is always the possibility that Dawson will re-enter public school at some point in his future. Even if he doesn't, and we decide to homeschool him through high school, record keeping is a necessity! This is especially true if he decides to go to college.

Although Oklahoma does not have any specific homeschooling laws that we must follow, record keeping is still a good idea for many reasons.

I want to be able to show what we have done and to track Dawson's actual progress with his school work.

We are, in fact, running our homeschool like a "school". It's just a school that caters to its student's strengths and areas of interest. But at the same time it is a school that is preparing him for further education outside of our home, either in high school or college.

I desired to keep an actual grade book of his assignments and assign values to his work. But I really didn't want to manually do it in an old-time grade book.

I found the coolest FREE website called Engrade that allows you to record your assignments and grades. It produces reports, calendars of assignments, grade cards and many other things at the touch of a button.

And, it's very user friendly. And, did I mention that it's FREE!

I just entered all of Dawson's assignments from the first three days of homeschool. It took me about 15 minutes and I have everything organized and in one place. Now I can see tangible progress whenever I need it. And, should Dawson decide to seek education outside of our home in the future, all I will have to do is print the reports to show that he has learned {probably more} than the kids in his "grade".

Check it out here if you would like!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Mom's perspective {Week 1}

As you can see, he's a teenager of many words.

We are using this weekly blogging tool, of Dawson writing a weekly wrap-up post (go here to read it), as a writing assignment for him. He typed it. Then he and I sat together while he looked for his grammatical and spelling errors.

He is right ... he doesn't type much. So, we'll be starting his typing curriculum next Monday.

This week we started our A World of Adventure curriculum and Saxon Pre-Algebra and just tried to get into somewhat of a groove. I think we were very successful at that.

I posted about our first day of school here and will be posting on Monday about one of our field trips.

Some highlights of the week for me were:

* He didn't give me attitude about school even once! One time, when I asked him to do something I knew he wouldn't like, he sighed. But then he stopped mid-sigh and completed the assignment without any protest. And he did it well.
* I have been very impressed with the neatness and quality of his work.
* I know that he has enjoyed our study of Ancient Egypt so far. In fact last night he even said he wanted to just study it all year.
* He definitely gets the most enjoyment out of hands-on activities. But, I knew that would be the case.
* He is a smarty!! He knows (and retains) a lot.
* I love having him here all day with me.
* If we stay at this pace, this is going to be an awesome year!

Next week will be more of a "normal" school week, and I am looking forward to it!

I don't know that I will have a separate Weekly Wrap-up post every week. I am hoping that Dawson will get into a groove of reviewing his week (and maybe actually review it). I thought, instead, that I might just add some links to the end of his post of other things I have posted about previously in the week. We'll see how that all works out.

Although the week went along swimmingly, I am exhausted! Getting up and starting my day at 5:15 a.m., running, getting three other kids up and ready for and to school, schooling Dawson all day, running errands and taking care of my normal daily responsibilities has me wiped out! I'm looking forward to the weekend.

Now we are off to the grocery store.

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Dawson Says {about Week 1}

Hey, this is Dawson. I'm not sure what to say. My mom's just making me do this every Friday. I don't even know what to put on here! :(. Okay, she wants me to talk about my week. So, this week I got to go to Stone Canyon Elementary to be a teacher's helper for my old kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Morris. There wasn't any work for me to do so I played with LEGOS. :D. Another thing we did was go to Philbrook Art Museum yesterday for a scavenger hunt and to listen to some lady talk. The bad thing about home schooling is that I don't get to see my girlfriend Tess. I only get to see her on the weekends SOMETIMES, so that really STINKS. A good thing about home schooling is I'm the most popular kid in my school / house. Well, I feel like a Hot Pocket so I'm logging off.

Sincerely, (whatever that means)
Dawson :)

PS: I've never typed this much in my life.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of School

Well, I don't want to jinx it, but if every day goes as well as today .. we are going to have a great year!

Here are some before-school photos .. and he thought he was going to get out of the paparazzi-fest just because he wasn't going to public school today like the other kids. Yeah, right! He should know me better than that!

Dawson and his teacher

Dawson and the principal

Do you know what I like about homeschooling? Where can you go to school and get away with kissing your teacher? And even better, where can the teacher get away with kissing her student? I did that lots today!

He thinks I'm the cutest teacher he has and I think he is the most popular student.

If I am good at nothing else, I am good at planning! Our schedule went along perfectly today! We got a little bit of a late start because we had to take our little two to their elementary school this morning. Dawson got to go with us. That's one of the perks of being homeschooled! He will also be volunteering in their classes once a week starting tomorrow afternoon. He got to see his former kindergarten teacher who is now Eli's first grade teacher. That was fun!

We started school at 9:30 a.m. and got right into it. (He had gotten up earlier in the morning and showered, eaten breakfast, cleaned up his room, gotten dressed and read his morning devotion.)

We started with our A World of Adventure curriculum. As with most first-day-of-school curriculums, we had a fairly light day. We did Bible reading, a writing assignment, vocabulary, social studies and science by about 11:00 a.m. The cool part about this curriculum is that it is all related to the Bible reading of the day. Very cool.

Here he is doing his work with his best buddy at his feet.

We had an Egyptian snack of plums, dates, figs and grape juice. I even brought him up a "finger bowl" to wash the stickiness off his fingers.

Before lunch we also did our Fine Arts assignment which consisted of making a Shabty out of clay. "Ancient Egyptians often included hundreds of shabties in their tombs. These small statues were magical servant figures that came to life and completed work for the dead person in the Netherworld. These shabties were made out of a material called faience, a type of ceramic made of crushed quartz or sand."
~ taken from the "To Live Forever" Gallery Guide from Philbrook Museum.

We made our shabties out of Sculpey clay and then baked and shalacked them for preservation.

Here they are baking with Dawson's lunch of mozzarella sticks. Might as well kill two birds with one stone!

And here was the finished product. (Yes, I had to get in on the fun!)

He also made a small pot out of the clay that he now has on his desk holding paper clips. And our shabties are sitting on our desks. We are hoping they will do our work for us tomorrow.

I gave him a break from noon to 1:00 p.m. for lunch and television. He chose to watch Phinneus and Ferb and would you believe that the epidode was about Egypt and mummies? I'm good, but not that good!

After lunch Dawson did the dreaded pre-algebra assignment. It took him almost an hour. Then he started reading the book The Capture from The Guardians of Ga'hoole series. You can see at this point he was done with the chronicaling of his day!

After correcting some pre-algebra problems he concluded school at about 3:00 p.m.

What a great first day of school! We have some fun things planned for tomorrow, too, although our schedule will be completely different with volunteer work in the afternoon and a field trip tomorrow evening.