Saturday, October 29, 2011

Straight A Student (with crazy hair!)

This past week was Red Ribbon Week at Eli's school. He dressed up various ways: clothes wrongside out, all in black, and crazy hair. Eli has very long, fine hair, so doing something crazy is a tad difficult. This is what we came up with ....

Crazy hair or not, this child got STRAIGHT A'S on his report card for first quarter! Absolutely amazing for a little boy who started his little life with so many delays. He is progressing in leaps and bounds this year. SO PROUD OF HIM!

Weekly Wrap-up ~ The Last Two Weeks

We have had school. It has just taken on some different forms. For instance, Dawson celebrated his 15th birthday and spent the day showing me all the educational aspects of his games on Xbox 360.

I surprised Dawson by picking up his two best friends (one who has moved to a nearby town), and some pizza and cookies, for a weekend of hanging out.

Dawson has spent the past couple of weeks concentrating his studies on Lewis and Clark, The Alamo, The California Gold Rush. He has moved along in Algebra, Grammar, Critical Thinking, Typing, and the patterns of cells. He continued working on his IEW writing lesson practicing summarizing references. We finished The Captain's Dog, but didn't enjoy it as much as we had hoped. But we have been pleasantly surprised with the first several chapters of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that we started this week. I think the most enjoyable part has been me trying to pull off the various dialects. He spent this past week covered in poison ivy, so did the best he could to concentrate and get his required studies done.

Brynne continues to blow me away with her ability to pick up on new material. She has begun multiplication, has continued reading lots of books everyday. She can now do her Easy Grammar lessons, Handwriting Without Tears, and Copywork for Little Girls independently. This week we studied our own home state of Oklahoma in preparation for a trip next week to the Cherokee Heritage Center to learn about the Trail of Tears hands-on. Science has been put on the back burner because of time, but we are getting ready to do some Fall unit studies next week. She even announced that she wanted to start having spelling tests. So, I pulled out my Sequential Spelling book that I bought at a used curriculum sale and we started this week.

Her favorite thing this week was her Girls' Club where they had an all-girl's birthday party. They decorated individual cakes and had a gift exchange.

Then they participated in jump rope activities.

Not a normal couple of weeks for us, that's for sure. But we will definitely be getting back on track this next week. Linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fly Guy

Eli's librarian e-mailed a note last week asking for families to paint pumpkins in the theme of their favorite storybook characters. I immediately knew what we would do! Eli LOVES the Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold. Those are the books he brings home from the library every week. They are perfect for him.

So, meet Fly Guy [the Pumpkin] vs. the Flyswatter.

Eli's librarian was elated and thought it was the perfect character for Eli to choose!! It is now being displayed in the library at his school.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Fossils

When I think about the past week, I only think two things: Dang, another week has whizzed by and I'm exhausted; and, Fossils.

We had kind of a different week this week. It's so great when an opportunity comes up (especially when it's FREE), that is about something we haven't really studied much. Then I can take that thing and work it into a unit. This was an unexpected unit on Fossils because we had the opportunity to tour the Tulsa Geoscience Center on Wednesday. So, Dawson and I took a breather from Cells to study about the relationship between fossils and solar energy (we were going to do more with solar energy, but ran into a glitch when his solar kit we purchased was missing a couple of important parts). And Brynne and I chose not to start our Fall science unit and, instead, to focus on learning about Fossils.

We were out of the house all day Wednesday, and then again all day Friday (to go on a field trip to the zoo with Eli). With our short day on Monday, because of Dawson's guitar lessons, that only left Tuesday and Thursday to do book work at home. It was a steady week for both kids doing grammar, reading, writing, math, typing/computer, critical thinking, copywork, and history lessons. We chose not to do any art again this week, and won't next week either because of Fall Break. We will resume art in two weeks.

We made many kinds of fossils. Some with bread and gummy fish, some with clay and white glue, some at the geoscience center with plaster, and some with magic clay. We also did some rubbings and Brynne played a fun dino digging game on the computer.

Brynne also spent some time doing some Columbus Day activities, including watching a really good animation on Youtube.

Yeah, I think that's all I got for you this week. It was a great week, just not our normal five-day-a-week-do-school-at-home kind of week. It was an explore-great-opportunities-and-love-life kind of week.

Next week we have another strange week. We have a Co-op make-up day on Monday, and I will teach my Continent Crossers class while Brynne has P.E. and Choir, then Dawson will have guitar in the afternoon. Tuesday is Dawson's 15th birthday, so we will try to make it a special day for him. Then Wednesday is our only day home doing book work. I think we will just make that day a day of catching up on things we need to do before our couple of days off for Fall Break. At the end of the week we will have completed our first quarter of this school year. Unreal!!

I am linking up late (as usual, these days) to Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homeschool Resource Game of Tag

My sweet friend Cheryl tagged me in the newest Meme about Homeschooling Resources. Here are my answers.

ONE HOMESCHOOL BOOK I HAVE ENJOYED ... My absolute favorite was Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola. It is the greatest inspiration. I plan to purchase the sequel soon, because our library doesn't have it.


ONE RESOURCE I WISH I'D NEVER BOUGHT ... Apologia Biology. Textbooks are not for us.

ONE RESOURCE I ENJOYED LAST YEAR ... Learning Adventures' "A World of Adventure". It was an excellent all-inclusive unit study for a first-time homeschooler, especially for a teenage boy.

ONE RESOURCE I WILL BE USING THIS YEAR ... The internet, always.


ONE RESOURCE I WISH EXISTED ... A voice-activated assignment record keeper and gradebook.

ONE HOMESCHOOL CATALOG I ENJOY READING ... I don't really look at catalogs. But, I have books and resources in my Amazon Cart at all times!! If you ever want to buy me  a gift, Amazon giftcards will be used within seconds.

ONE HOMESCHOOLING WEBSITE I USE REGULARLY ... Handbook of Nature Study and I always check Scholastic, PBS, C-Span, and many others.

TAG OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS! I decided to tag some of those homeschool moms I admire so much! Hope they will share their knowledge with you.

Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom
Stacey at BrainInTrainin
Mary at Homegrown Learners
Kellye at One Mom's Walk
Sarah at Small World at Home
Mary at Winecup Christian Academy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tulsa Geoscience Center

Today is National Fossil Day.

A couple of weeks ago we received a notification about a FREE event being held at the Tulsa Geoscience Center. I didn't know this place existed and am now so glad to know that it does!

We signed up for an 11:00 a.m. time slot that would allow us to do as many fossil activities as we could in one hour. We met our good friends there, and were pleased to find out that there were only two other children signed up during our time slot with us. They are a new family in our Co-op, so it was nice that they were in our group. The group before us was quite large with lots of little ones.

The geologist who led our group was very informative and great with the kids. He allowed them to touch so many fossils.

They got to make a cast in plaster.

They got to do fossil rubbings. I even had to get in on the action. Fun!

They got to make fossil casts in magic clay.

They saw how small they were compared to a dinosaur footprint.

They got to dig in sand and take home a small artifact.

The geologist even pulled Dawson aside, since he was the only one his age, and took him into the mineral room and gave him a great hands-on demonstration of mineral identification. He really enjoyed himself. In fact, he said he would love to work there. They have internship opportunities for teens. Maybe when he is able to drive, he could have that opportunity.

After we concluded our time at the Tulsa Geoscience Center we shared lunch with our friends at Mazzio's.

It was just a beautiful day and we really enjoyed doing school away from home. Brynne and I have spent the other days of this week studying fossils and will finish our week doing the same. This is my favorite kind of homeschooling: an opportunity arises to teach us something new; we turn it into a unit; and complete our unit with a hands-on field trip.

The Tulsa World was there and took lots of pictures of our kids and interviewed me and the other mom. We might be in the newspaper! I love being able to promote homeschooling.

** Click here to read the web article in the Tulsa World.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Study America Saturday ~ Kansas

We took two weeks to study Kansas. The farming aspect of Kansas went so well with our Science unit of Nutrition and The Human Body that we dug in a little deeper than our normal book, coloring page, notebooking page and license plate map.

We read the books Kansas from the Rookie Read About Geography series and Farming by Gail Gibbons.

We also read Climbing Kansas Mountains by George Shannon. This book was about a little boy and his father who, because there aren't really "mountains" in Kansas, drove to the wheat silos and climbed to the top to view the farming landscapes.

We learned, however, that Kansas really does have some cliffs, hills and even a summit at Mount Sunflower which is in excess of 4,000 feet. It's not completely flat farmland like we tend to believe.

We studied the topography of the state of Kansas and made a salt dough map to demonstrate it. Brynne painted it primarily yellow to represent the color of wheat, Kansas' greatest crop, and sunflowers, Kansas' state flower.

In studying wheat, we watched a couple of movies: Vrrrooommm 1: Farming for Kids and Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat.

We did a cereal comparison worksheet, comparing bran cereal and a sugary kids cereal. And then we made wheat bread together.

If you studied about America this week, in any way, feel free to link up!!

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ No Art???

Is it just me or are these weeks just flying by?! It seems that I just get one Wrap-up done when it's time for another. I feel like we have accomplished so little in these 7 weeks, yet so much!

I'll start this week with a shocker ... We didn't do any art this week. Yep, no art!  We had it scheduled in, but didn't get to it this week. We had a field trip and an unexpected dentist appointment that put us a bit behind. And, our art project was going to be a more complicated one this week, so we decided to put it off to a time when we could devote to it fully. That will be in two weeks, because we will be out of the house three days next week.

What the heck did we do this week? Let me think ... oh, yeah ...

On Tuesday, the kids and I took a trip to a local missions pumpkin patch. Then on Wednesday we went to the Tulsa State Fair to Oklahoma's Largest Classroom.

On Friday, we had our monthly mom's support meeting at Co-op. Dawson provides child care for the 3rd grade and up boys. He says he is teaching P.E. He did something great this week. He gets paid a nominal amount of money, usually around $10 for the two hours we are there. The child care coordinator's son, who is getting ready to turn 13, helped Dawson on Friday. She doesn't pay him. As they were walking out, Dawson gave her son $5 of his $10 for helping him.

After the support meeting we headed to Eli's walk-a-thon at his school. This is the school's major fundraiser for the year. Eli takes it very seriously, and we wanted to be there to support him.

Individual studies went as follows ...

Brynne ~ 2nd Grade

We combined history and science this week. Brynne has been studying nutrition to conclude her unit on The Human Body. She was studying the state of Kansas in history. Because Kansas is the leading wheat producer in the United States, we focused on wheat this week. She watched a farming video called Vrrrooommm 1: Farming for Kids and read the book Farming by Gail Gibbons.

Then she watched the video called Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat.

We sat down together and did a cereal comparison, comparing her favorite Cocoa Roos and my favorite generic bran cereal. She was very disappointed that my cereal choice is healthier than hers.

Then on Thursday, we baked some wheat bread. For some reason it didn't rise this time. I don't know what happened. But, she got to see the process anyway. And, it was just fun to get our hands in all that dough.

Using my grandma's sifter, that I used when I was a little girl at her house.

Our other big accomplishment this week was starting multiplication in her MEP math studies. I thought it would be impossible for her to understand. But, she picked right up on what was being taught. It was a good introduction.

All of her other subjects are moving along nicely. She still does a Grammar lesson every day, alternates days between doing a Handwriting Without Tears lesson and Copywork. And she is still reading independently every day for about 30 minutes.

We are also still getting in our Nature walks on Monday afternoons. Although we haven't been following any kind of actual study for nature like I had planned, we are getting out and walking an exploring and just spending time together.

One final cool thing that happened this week: Brynne came in from playing outside and wanted me to see something. I had been watering my flowers and there was a puddle on the driveway. It had taken shape and she said, "Look, it looks like the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior."  She recited all five of them, pointing to where they would be on a map.

Dawson ~ 9th Grade

Dawson tagged along with us on all of our outings this week. When we were home, he was doing his daily independent work (reading, comma practice, critical thinking, typing, reading, and guitar practice.)

In history, he spent the week looking into the history of the U.S. Flag. He did some date studies, vocabulary and notebooking pages. We had plans to dive into the Star-Spangled Banner, but because of an unexpected dentist trip for him, we didn't have time to give it the attention it deserves. Rick and I visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore a couple of years ago and it is a moving and cool place. I want to be able to share that experience with him, so we will do it next week.

About the dentist appointment. We went because of a sore he had on one of his gums. I was afraid it might be an abcess, but it ended up being a canker sore. However, in the process of x-raying his teeth, they found that he still has a baby tooth. The reason he has that tooth is because under it is a dime-size cyst that has trapped the permanent tooth and caused it to grow completely sideways way down in his gums. He is going to have to see an oral surgeon to have the baby tooth and cyst removed, possibly a root canal, and try to figure out what to do with the permanent tooth. They will also biopsy the cyst, but we were assured that it was probably nothing to worry about.

In science, we are still on cells. I found a couple of great experiments in a book by Janice VanCleave.

He has been using eggs, vinegar and distilled water to evaluate cellular osmosis and the effect of turgor pressure on small and large cellular membranes in hypertonic and hypotonic solutions (seriously, I can't believe I just put all of those weird words together in one sentence AND that I know what they all mean!!)

Dawson knows, too. He is learning with our new process. I handed him a diagram of a cell this week, without preparing him or without any warning. I told him I wanted him to see if he could list the parts on it. He said, "You said I wouldn't have any tests!" I told him, "It's not a test. It's an assessment." You see, he is used to being handed a study guide, probably the identical diagram with the answers to study. I wanted to see if he had learned about the parts of the cell with all of the reading and experiments we have been doing.

He has. Out of 13, he only missed 2, and that was because he just got two things in the nucleus mixed up. I was able to demonstrate to him the difference between learning something and memorizing something.

And that was our week. We are switching gears next week because of a free opportunity that has arisen. We are going to the Tulsa Geoscience Center on Wednesday. So, Brynne will be learning about fossils this week in anticipation of that visit, and Dawson will be learning about solar energy. More on that later. Then on Friday we are going to Eli's class field trip to the zoo. We just can't ever pass up a trip to the zoo.

Have a great weekend!

Check back later this evening for my Study America Saturday post.

In the meantime, see what's going on with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. We are linking up with her Weekly Wrap-up.