Sunday, January 29, 2012

Science Sunday ~ Yummy Fermentation

Dawson has been working on a fermentation experiment for the past 10 days. I have often received the ziplock bag from a neighbor with an alcohol-smelling concoction and a 10 day plan for turning it into Amish Friendship Bread. We usually save a cup of the start, giving the remainder away to friends (thus the FRIENDSHIP part of the bread), and keep it going for a couple of rounds. But then we either get tired of it or accidentally miss a day or two of the instructions, so end up throwing it away. And then later I will get a hankerin' for some Amish Friendship Bread, but no start to start it with.

Enter the Fermentation Experiment. We found a recipe for the Amish Friendship Bread Starter. The purpose of this recipe is to get the proper fermentation going to successfully bake the bread.

The "fermentation of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeast ... is the fundamental step to making bread dough. Before most bread doughs get baked, they require time to rise. This is also the time when fermentation takes place."

"The fermentation process serves three primary purposes:
1. To produce carbon dioxide gas to create a light and airy texture in the bread;
2. To enhance the flavor of the bread;
3. To change the protein structure of the bread to prevent a chewy texture."

"Yeast requires a form of sugar or starch as food and a moist environment to grow in."

"The fermentation process is the time during which the yeast converts the sugar present in the flour and the dough into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Carbon dioxide is the compound that humans breathe out and plants consume. In bread, carbon dioxide provides the light, airy texture of bread by leaving gas pockets inside the bread dough. The alcohol, in addition to more complex compounds, produces the main taste in the finished bread."

Today was the end of the 10 day preparation time. After we saw my daughter off back to her home in Kansas City, Dawson headed to the kitchen to bake the Amish Friendship Bread. We sent one of the starts, with recipe, home with Kyndal's boyfriend to give to his mom. And we froze the other three starts for future use.

Before the bread was baked, we tasted the starter (well, I did and described it's taste to Dawson because he refused to do it). It had a strong alcohol taste. So, the fermentation definitely worked! The fragrance of the cinnamon and sugar bread then filled the air as it baked. And when it was done, baked to a fluffy golden brown, we slathered it with butter and had a treat.

** All quoted information was taken from the article "Fermentation of Sugar in Bread by Yeast" by The University of Arizona.

Linking up with Ticia at Adventures in Mommydom.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ All About ...

... Dogs

Brynne's week has been all about studying the Download-n-Go Dog unit we purchased from Amanda Bennett. We have had fun learning about Labrador Retrievers (or "Lavender" Retrievers, as she calls them), German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Newfoundlands. She has read non-fiction books about each of the breeds, and a fictional book, as well, and watched a couple of movies.

She did four spelling words each day, about dogs, and then orally gave me each word in a sentence. She has done lots and lots of drawing. We learned about working dogs, dogs owned by American presidents, and the Newf, Seaman, owned by Meriweather Lewis.

My favorite part has been learning dog Idioms: "Top Dog", "That Dog Won't Hunt", "Doggie Bag". I had her write the Idiom, then draw a picture underneath it of what she thought it meant by reading it. Finally, we looked up the real meaning and she wrote it at the bottom of her page. These were fun to do.

We move on to four new breeds next week.

... The Civil War

I think Dawson and I could study the events leading up to the Civil War and the war itself forever. There are so many facets of it that it could be a whole class itself.

Last week we finished The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick. This week we are reading Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. In my personal time, I am reading I am Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira. And we have been watching an episode of North and South each day.

I love, love, love how all of these books and the mini-series have topics that overlap. We have learned about how initially 75,000 men volunteered for the Civil War, until they realized that people really died, and then the rich paid poor boys to take their place. We have learned about laudanum and the different ways it was used in the medical field. We have seen President Lincoln in many different ways, but always the same. We have read about the attempted murder of Secretary of State Seward on the night Lincoln was assassinated, and seen his advisement of Lincoln in the mini-series. We have seen the many, many things going on that had the North and South so heated up that an explosion was bound to happen. And we have seen how blacks were being treated during this time. Whew! It was a contentious time nationally, politically, socially, and personally.

We are going to do our best to finish up The Civil War this next week, but I can't make any promises.

... Others

Today Brynne and I ended our week by meeting up with our Homeschool Co-op friends and visiting a local nursing home to deliver handmade Valentines. Brynne made hers yesterday.

Those types of situations cause Brynne a lot of stress. After a while, though she started to warm up. The kids sang songs to the residents and walked around and handed out their Valentines.

The man sitting in this wheelchair was someone who received one of Brynne's Valentines. I talked with him for a long time.

A special moment occurred when a nurse asked us if we could go sing to a resident who was bedridden. When we entered the room, the lady was sleeping. The nurse woke her up, although she was pretty incoherent. The kids started singing "Jesus Loves Me", and she started wiggling and dancing in her bed. The kids just lit up her spirit.

Brynne and I discussed having the Co-op choir teacher record the children singing so that we can purchase a cd player for this lady so she can listen to their singing as much as possible.

... Fred

Life of Fred, that is. Dawson is about half-way through Beginning Algebra and this week he had a breakthrough while learning how to multiply polynomials. If you are at your whit's end with your current math curriculum and you don't know where to turn ... turn to 6 year old Fred and see if he can get your child back on track. He has been a God-send to us.

These topics above kept us very busy this week. Dawson will be finishing up his Fermentation project this weekend. My daughter is here for a visit, so we will be soaking up as much time with her as we can.
You can read All About my Favorite Resource of the Week by clicking here.

To see All About other homeschooling weeks, head over the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Eli's reading resource teacher shared a website with me yesterday that I would like to pass along. It's called ABCya. There are separate educational sections with fantastic games for ages kindergarten through 5th grade.

I browsed the 2nd grade level, and it includes age-appropriate games about Letters, Numbers, Shapes, Geometry, Patterns, Mouse Manipulation, Art and Holiday games. There are lots and lots of fun and creative games for children to play. They are fun, but oh, so educational.

Eli's favorite, in his short time playing it, was Create a Car.

A lot of the games also have Apps available for purchase (99 cents for most of them) for the iPad and iPhone.

I have been looking for another free website for games similar to Starfall, for some time. I think I have found it. I can feel confident having Eli and Brynne play these games.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Tribute to a Teacher

In high school, I had a favorite teacher. I don't think she was probably everybody's favorite teacher. But, she was mine.

She was my Junior and Senior English teacher, my Speech and Debate coach my Senior year, and my pom pon sponsor. I like to think that my pet peeves about grammatical errors have everything to do with this teacher. She was a stickler for grammar, and taught me well.

Her name was Louise Rhondes, and she passed away this past week.

What made Mrs. Rhodes such a good teacher? PASSION.

Mrs. Rhodes had passion for what she taught. She loved grammar and literature and public speaking. She ate and breathed Speech and Debate. She loved it! Her love for her subjects was always contagious to me. She was bold and had high expectations.

A couple of times over the past couple of years, I have been asked to give the devotional at my childhood church's Mother Daughter Banquet. Mrs. Rhodes and my mom were in the same Methodist women's circle. Mrs. Rhodes loved speaking in front of people, so she had the job of introducing me. I could tell that she was so proud of me. She even told me so. I could tell she took a small amount of credit for the woman I had become. Rightfully so.

I grew up in a small town, so the teachers were typically not the most high-quality. A lot of the teachers were new teachers, or coaches who had to have a class in order to coach. I did have a science teacher who was pretty good. But, for the most part, my high school teachers were a blur. Mrs. Rhodes loved her subject matter and loved teaching it. And I have always held a warm spot in my heart for her and what she instilled in me.

What does this have to do with our homeschool journey? Well, first, I feel like the things that Mrs. Rhodes taught me have helped me to be a better teacher. And, based on her impression on my life as my teacher, I have to ask myself if I have the passion necessary to cause my students to want to learn, to be excited to learn.

Some days I do. Some days I clearly don't. Some days I just try to get through our planner and make sure everything is checked off so that I feel like we have completed all we should. On those days, I would say, my students feel like I did in the majority of the classes I had in high school ... bored, uninspired. But on the days that I throw myself into our subject matters, I can feel my students engaging and enjoying what they are learning. And that means that sometimes we don't get everything on our planner completed.

I want to have the passion that my former teacher had. She was an inspiration to me and I want to be an inspiration to my students, to my children. If I am not going to have the passion for teaching them, then why am I doing it?

How about you? Have you lost your passion?

Rest in Peace, Mrs. Rhodes.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Did You Know?

Did you know ... that when you have the public school 2nd grade teacher who was named "Teacher of the Year", who is super fun and energetic and encouraging, that Homeschool seems "kinda boring"? On Monday night Eli had a meltdown about going back to school on Tuesday. In fact, it was so serious that he was having trouble breathing and we had to break out a paper bag for him. It was so strange! Because he was up so late, I kept him home from school on Tuesday. I copied all of Brynne's work and he did a real day of Homeschool with us. It just so happened that this day was the one where I leave for a couple of hours over lunch to go to a Bible study with a friend, so the day was pretty light. At the end of the day I asked Eli what he thought of Homeschooling. He said, "Well, it's kinda boring." He wanted to go back to school on Wednesday, so he did. Honestly, his teacher is that great! I have told her that if she would follow him through completion of high school, that I would keep in him in public school. Obviously, it doesn't work that way. Rick and I are seriously considering bringing him home starting next year. Looks like I'm going to have to vamp up the excitement level, if I want him to be happy, though!

Did you know ... You can go to a Vocational-Technical school in our area FOR FREE as a homeschool student, starting your junior year, with transportation provided, AND participate in a 3D Animation program, which would be totally fun? Did you also know that you can dual enroll with a couple of local colleges and use your VoTech hours to build a transcript at those schools for only $8 per credit hour? Yes, Dawson learned some very interesting things at the meeting we attended on Wednesday. He is planning on applying for VoTech to start attending part-time his junior year.

Did you know ... that Louis Pasteur invented the Rabies vaccine? That was something Dawson announced to me this week while researching information for his Pizza Box Biography project on Louis Pasteur. (Remember last week I said he was really interested in Pasteur, so we decided to camp here for a while.) He has really enjoyed his research so far, and this project I found will allow him to use some of his creativity instead of just writing an informative paper. I will be doing a full post on the project upon it's completion.

Did you know ... that the yummy Amish Friendship Bread you have eaten is really an experiment in Fermentation? We usually receive the bread starts from a neighbor, take care of it for the required 10 days, and then make our bread. This time, however, Dawson made his own start. It certainly fermented! I can't wait for the next 10 days to get over so we can eat some of that delicious bread!!

Did you know ... that our public library is my most important homeschooling resource? Our local library is linked up with about 15 libraries in the area, so the books are unlimited. I do all of my searching online and request books throughout the whole system and they are delivered to the local branch. The sweet librarians at my local library collect those books and have them waiting on a shelf for me every week. They don't get paid near enough! There is also a Book Sale shelf where books are anywhere from 50 cents to 1 dollar. Recently I purchased Slaughterhouse Five, A Wrinkle in Time, and Johnny Tremain for 50 cents each for Dawson to read in a Literary study. I find books there to purchase every week! Awesome!

Did you know ... that I cannot think of one thing Blog-worthy that Brynne did this week? We planned to really get started on our Dogs unit this week. But, with Eli home on Tuesday and us going to the VoTech informational meeting on Wednesday and then having Co-op today, it just didn't make sense to jump in with only one good full day of school. So, we are officially starting on Monday! She has pretty much just done her daily basic work of grammar, copywork, spelling, math, and reading books. Otherwise she's tagged around with Dawson and I, watching him do experiments, listening to our read-a-louds, and even watching North and South. Oh, and she's been playing Starfall and Stack the States whenever she can, and also some coloring.

Did you know ... I was awarded one of the 100 Top Homeschooling Blogs by with the likes of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (who hosts this wrap-up), Adventures in Mommydom, Our Side of the Mountain, Handbook of Nature Study, and Homegrown Learners, just to name a few? What? My little blog? I seriously feel like a losing Academy Award nominee who says, "It was just an honor being nominated," because the company I am in is that amazing!

elementary education degree

Here is what was said about Journey to Excellence:

"Attorney turned homeschool mom Nicole discovers that the “Journey to Excellence” involves different learning paths and paces for her family, while ‘reading & doing’ through hands-on activities and a rich itinerary of field trips brings lessons to life in ways worksheets can’t and schedules are always a work in progress."

Did you know ... that this is all I have for you this week? But, if you want to see some other exciting homeschooling weeks, then visit Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Lessons Learned

We had another excellent and very productive week with great attitudes ... well, almost. We were away from home on Monday, had book school at home from Tuesday through Thursday, and then were off school today (and again Monday) because the public schools are off again. (Didn't we just come off a two-week Christmas break?) I should have never told Dawson and Brynne we were going to be off school again, because by Thursday they were checking out already. We made it through, though, and here's what we did.


Because the public schools were going to be out, we were unable to use our Co-op facility today because the church has a daycare that meets there on school breaks. Follow that? Anyway, we made up our regular Co-op day on Monday. Brynne had Choir and P.E., and Dawson volunteered with the P.E. teacher. 

Afterwards we grabbed lunch and went to the zoo. The temps were in the low 50's that day, and they have $1 admission on Mondays in January and February. We have season passes, but many don't, so we took advantage of the cheap day and nice weather.

Because the temps were colder than when we usually go, we got to see some animals we don't normally get to see. Our favorite were the white foxes. Beautiful! And, as Brynne pointed out, they are Canines. She had been learning about Canines last week. We also spent about an hour in the Chimp house. Love those chimps!! So funny and so entertaining and remind me so much of my own kids. Fun time!

I forgot my camera that day (unheard of), but it was nice to just enjoy ourselves instead of worrying about taking pictures of us enjoying ourselves. Do you ever do that??

When getting Brynne's assignments together for Tuesday, I noticed the difference between her handwriting from the first week of school to now. Thank you, copywork and Handwriting Without Tears!


On Tuesday we were at home and back in the books, er, electronics. Brynne has discovered the wonders of the iPad and spent much of her day playing Stack the States and then playing her daddy and me in Words. She did get the rest of her regular schoolwork done, too. Our unit study we were planning to start on Dogs was giving me fits on the computer, so we decided to just give up on it until next week. I realized I could download it on my iPad as an iBook and it worked much better.

Dawson worked on memorizing The Gettysburg Address, and did some vocabulary about it, answered questions, and did a text puzzle, in addition to his other regular daily studies. He also was learning about Fermentation in Biology and after watching a video about Louis Pasteur, we decided to camp here for a while because he announced that Louis Pasteur is "cool".


A doctor's appointment of mine, that I had to end up canceling, put us behind on Wednesday. But, Dawson did rush downstairs to tell me that he learned what "!" means in Algebra. I didn't know it. He was happy to show me that he knew something I didn't. He continued to work on The Gettysburg Address.

I learned a very valuable lesson: Just because a video that you check out from the library about dogs is a cartoon DOES NOT mean that it is appropriate for children. Yikes! My Dog Tulip is not a children's movie. Really, I just had to laugh. Again, we are putting off our study of dogs until next week when I can be more properly prepared.

We did gather together at the end of the day and learn about Henri Matisse and the kids did their notebooking page about him.


This was the day that attitudes weren't as good. We had a small amount of snow fall in the night and I had to repeatedly remind Brynne that for every moment she was uncooperative, another snowflake melted. And then she melted. So, we got her basic stuff done and I sent her outside with the dogs for a bit.

Dawson and I read a great book called When Were the First Slaves Set Free about the Emancipation Proclamation. He then did a notebooking page about it, researched some facts on Robert E. Lee and did a notebooking page about him. He also worked more on his Gettysburg Address.

In Biology we did an experiment about Fermentation. Somehow, our results turned out completely opposite of how they were supposed to. Our corn starch fermentated first, then the regular table sugar, and then the corn syrup. It was supposed to happen the other way around. We just aren't too good at experiments. But, we did understand what was supposed to happen, and the experiment was easy enough that Dawson was able to easily write a lab report. And that is something that I am wanting him to work on.

This week Dawson also read Chapter 2 of Slaughterhouse Five and answered the literacy questions about it.

We ended our week making our own colorful musical collages by "drawing with scissors", as Matisse put it.


And today we are off school for teacher's meetings. Brynne went to a bowling party for one of her friends and the boys just hung out at home. Tonight Dawson is going bowling with some of his friends. And I actually got my house clean.

Eli had a great week in public school. Kyndal also had a much better week this week at her new school, although she has an Upper Respiratory Infection. When she gets stressed, she gets sick.

Hoping for another great 4-day week next week!

We're linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. I'm going to spend some time this weekend reading about others' weeks. You should too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Giveaway at Taulman Times

I currently have a Giveaway happening over at my regular blog, Taulman Times, for a chance to win a prize pack from Lemi Shine (one of my favorite products from 2011).

If you would like to enter for a chance to win, you can post a comment by clicking here. The giveaway ends Sunday at midnight.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Louis Pasteur Anyone? ~ I Need Your Help!

In learning about Fermentation today, Dawson really got into Louis Pasteur and said that he thought he was really cool. Of course, as a homeschool mom, my thought was, "Well, then let's not move forward and, instead, study him some more." I mean, if your child shows an interest in something, especially a microbiologist, don't you just want to park there for a while?

But, I don't have any direction on a lesson plan.


I do not want to waste this awesome opportunity.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Read a Little of This and That

There are some good articles out there in the world-wide web this week. If you have a moment, check them out ...

Simple Homeschool by Jamie Martin has several linked articles about how preparing high school students for college is ruining high school for them.

And, Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has her Homeschool Showcase up for this month.

Good reads!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Study America Saturday ~ C-SPAN Classroom

Next year, for Dawson's 10th grade year, he will be studying Current Events and American Government. With the presidential election in November, these topics will be soooo relevant!

Sadly, I do not know near as much about the election process as I should. I have never understood why we don't just count each person's vote and the candidate with the most votes wins. What the heck is the Iowa Caucus, and electoral votes .... huh???

Several months ago I came across C-SPAN Classroom. It all started with a forwarded e-mail about requesting a free electoral college map poster. YOU CAN STILL GET YOUR COPY BY CLICKING HERE! The website has constitutional clips, lesson plans, and so much more.

It sparked my interest about teaching Current Events even more when I went to the site and realized that there is a companion website called  C-SPAN Classroom Deliberations that "engages students in classroom deliberations about current issues being debated in Congress." For instance, a current issue is "Should students support or oppose the 'Occupy' movement?" For this topic there is a Lesson Plan, Vocabulary Preview, notetaking handouts, and activities. I just think this will be an informative and fun way to go through American current events.

I highly encourage you to visit these highly informative, and did I mention FREE websites, for all of your Current Events lesson plans.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

It was a great back to school week for three out of my four kids. One, not so much.

We only had two days of book school in homeschooling this week, because we started back on Wednesday and then had Co-op today. But the two days we were home doing school were probably the best two days we have had all year! 

Dawson ~ 9th Grade

Dawson started learning about The Civil War by watching Episode 5 of America: The Story of Us. He did the episode questions and vocabulary, and then we started our current Civil War read-a-loud of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.

We were planning on reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, but it was another heavy reading and after Uncle Tom's Cabin, I was feeling doubtful as to Dawson's excitement level, especially when coming off a long break. I had checked it out a couple of weeks ago (it came in quicker than I thought) and it was already due to be returned the day we started back to school. There was a hold list for it so I had to return it. I was standing in the library and just happened to see the 2012 Sequoyah list. Homer Figg was one of them. It is an easyish chapter book, albiet in the children's section, but it reminded me of Huck Finn, and Dawson loved it, so I decided to allow us a little fun in our historical fiction this first time out. So far, so good!

After first semester we decided that in Algebra, Grammar and Critical thinking, I need to review his work each day and discuss it with him that day instead of letting a week (or sometimes two) go by before I review them. This way I can immediately see any concepts he still needs to master. This has worked well, and it will keep me caught up on grading.

In Biology we went back and did some additional work on photosynthesis and cellular respiration. He did sooooo great on those assignments. It was awesome to see him really getting the material, and getting into doing his work. He did an experiment on the effects of the breakdown of high energy glucose molecules on carbon dioxide and heat energy release.

One other thing that we realized is that although we have been doing lots of read-a-louds, and Dawson has been doing some leisure reading, that we were not feeling confident in the level of his study of Literature.

So, again, while standing at the library, I found a copy of Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut on sale for 50 cents. I purchased it and found a literary guide for him to use. It's going to be challenging book for him, but we are determined for him to dig into this book piece-by-piece and use the literary guide to help him. I am excited to see what he thinks about it when he is done.

Dawson's attitude and work ethic was superb this week! I couldn't have been happier!

At the end of the week, he and Brynne got back into their artist studies and studied Alexander Calder. Then they each made a paper and pipe cleaner mobile. These were pretty rude examples of Calder's detailed mobiles, but they got the concept of his work.

Brynne ~ 2nd Grade

Brynne had an excellent week, as well. Next week we are starting a 4-week unit on Dogs from Amanda Bennett. Because we only had two days this week, I didn't want her to start it. So, I had downloaded a Canines unit by School Express a couple of months ago, so we completed those work pages this week. It was a good introduction to the history of Canines so she is ready to head into the Dogs unit. She loves dogs, so it's going to be really fun! We will be learning about different breeds and reading lots of books and hopefully doing some fun projects!

She got right back into Grammar, Copywork, Handwriting, Personal Reading (she has read 49 books so far this year!) and Math. Those subjects just breezed right along. She finished her first copied poem called "The Robin's Advice" by Sara Orne Jewett and then read it back to me. It then opened up a discussion about being content with who God made you to be, and not wishing you were someone else.

This week she also got her first taste of the iPad, and she liked it! She needed to look up a definition of Carnivorous and write in on her work page. We looked it up and then she was able to sit and copy it. She also did some math problems on a fun (although way-too-juvenile) math app. It is going to be a great tool for her. And, she was able to use it while Dawson was using the laptop for something else.

Eli ~ 2nd Grade

Eli cried on Wednesday when he had to go back to school. But when I picked him up in the afternoon he said he had a 'great day'. He told me that he chose his next AR (Accelerated Reader) goal and it is 12 points. That means he has to read 24 half point books. Today, however, he took an AR test on a book his teacher has been reading in class, that was worth 1.5 points, and he got a 100%! He was so excited! And this is a book that they were reading before Christmas break, so he obviously comprehended it. That's another big accomplishment for him.

We got his report card today for second quarter and he received all A's.

And he was so happy to have temps in the mid-60's this whole week (January ... in Oklahoma ... can you believe it?) He and Brynne spent some time outdoors riding their scooters. And no coats, in January!!

Kyndal ~ 11th Grade

Kyndal started her new school in Kansas City today. (If you didn't know, she made the decision before Christmas to move with her dad.) At the end of the day today, she was not very happy. She said that the school is just not the same. She didn't want to talk to me about it. I told her to just keep her chin up, and that I am sure it will get better in a couple of days. I hate it that she is having a difficult time, but there isn't anything I can do about it. New situations are always hard, so I am praying that she finds her niche and makes some good friends soon. She was certainly having more fun in Florida last week.

Our two days this week were just very packed and full of good attitudes. Our curriculum is still working great for us. I have started thinking about curriculum and possible changes for next year, and gathering some things, but will probably stay about on the same page. I think we have definitely figured out what we like and how we like to do it. Good times!

We are linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If Every Day Could Be Like This

I have to admit, I was dreading starting back to school today. I thoroughly enjoyed our two week break, and I know the kids did, too. We enjoyed sleeping in late, sitting in bed drinking coffee (me, not the kids), playing video games in our pjs (the kids, not me), and leisurely going about our days.

This morning when the alarm went off at 6 a.m., it actually scared me! I woke up wondering what the heck it was!

But, I drug myself up, had my quiet time, went for a walk, came home and showered and got ready for the day, and just got right to it. Eli DID NOT want to go back to school. In fact, he cried and I had to walk him in to his class. I thought, "Uh oh. This day is going to be tough."

But, when I got home, Dawson immediately came downstairs and was ready to get started. And he kicked it all day!

We started reading our current read-a-loud, then he watched the next episode of his history dvd. He answered the questions and did vocabulary. Then he went upstairs and did his algebra, grammar, and critical thinking. He came downstairs for lunch and when he was finished, started on his new Literature reading. I didn't even have to yell upstairs to him to come finish up his work. He came downstairs and did a photosynthesis animation on the computer and answered the questions. THEN he said, "Let me tell you the answers," and he read me what he had just done, almost with a proud smirk on his face. Lastly, we all sat down together and did our notebooking page on our latest artist.

While he was doing his work, Brynne completed her grammar, handwriting, and spelling. Then we did half of the packet from her new unit on canines. She read the rest of her book she had been working on and then did math. Then she joined us for art.

All the while, I was doing laundry, dusting, cleaning the kitchen, giving the dogs a bath, and cleaning their room. I got so much accomplished!

At exactly 3:15 p.m. they were done with their school work and ran upstairs to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening playing video games.

I'd like to say I am done for the day, but I am getting ready to go pick up Eli and I am sure we will have spelling words to practice, and he'll have to read.

But when that's done, I'm going to fix an easy dinner of calzones, grab a glass of wine, and hit the couch for some R & R with my husband. I know he's tired, too, and ready to veg out.

I wish every single day could be just like this.

I'll start praying for tomorrow RIGHT NOW!

How have you done getting back into the post-Christmas schedule?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Semester Wrap-up

Happy New Year!!

Our Side of the Mountain posted a mid-year summary that I thought was inspiring. It was nice to be able to see the exact progress of the first semester of school, as well as state some second semester goals. I told her I was going to copy this great idea. So, here goes ...

Dawson ~ 9th Grade

Algebra: Life of Fred Beginning Algebra
finished Lesson 49 of 108

Grammar: Easy Grammar
finished Lesson 44 of 180

Critical Thinking: Reading Detective, Beginning
finished Page 61 of 146

Typing: Good Typing
did about 15 minutes, twice a week

Writing: Institute of Excellence in Writing, U.S. History Supplement
finished Lesson 10 and extra Thanksgiving poem

History: America: The Story of Us
finished Lessons 4 of 12
 the First Settlers
Boston Massacre
Boston Tea Party
Paul Revere
Valley Forge
The Declaration of Independence
Westward Expansion
Lewis and Clark
Gold Rush
Trail of Tears
The Erie Canal
Underground Railroad
(spent extra time on the Westward Expansion and Slavery)

Literature: Group oral history reading 
Blood on the River by Elisa Lynn Carbone
The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory
Yankee Doodle Boy by Joseph Plumb Martin
The Captain's Dog by Roland Smith
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. 
also did about 30 minutes of personal reading daily

Science: Biology. After a slow start with Apologia, we switched to The Way Life Works 
finished cells, solar energy, life patterns, watched "The Andromeda Strain", studied atoms, bonds, enzymes, photosynthesis and cell respiration with various readings, virtual labs, and experiments

Fine Arts
beginning guitar class every Monday for 1 1/2 hours
studied the following artists and did an art project using their specific mediums: Vincent VanGogh, Hendrick Avercamp, Katsushika Hakusai, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Henri Rousseau

attended our Homeschool Co-op and volunteered in child care for upper elementary aged boys during the parent meetings and was helper in physical education, as well as helped me teach a World Geography class to middle school aged kids

Second Semester Goals
Finish Beginning Algebra by Spring Break to move on to Advanced
Give more of a steady emphasis on Biology with a focus on labs and writing lab reports
Start Driver's Education
Read two pieces of Formal Literature and follow Literature Guide
Stay on our steady pace with all other subjects
Work really hard and stay focused until Spring Break

Brynne ~ 2nd Grade

Grammar: Easy Grammar
finished Lesson 51 of 180

Copywork: Copywork for Little Girls 
finished Lesson 20 of 180

Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears Printing Power
finished Page 34 of 85

Spelling: Sequential Spelling
finished Lesson 9 of 180
(started well into second quarter at Brynne's request, and only do it when we have time)

Math:  (MEP) Mathematics Enhancement Programme
finished Lesson 30
completed lots of other theme-related math assignments and living math

Personal Reading
independently read 48 books toward goal of 100 for the year

History: U.S. States Study

Unit studies
Columbus Day

Human Body
Food Pyramid
Flower parts: Poinsettia

Fine Arts
studied the following artists and did an art project using their specific mediums: Vincent VanGogh, Hendrick Avercamp, Katsushika Hakusai, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and Henri Rousseau

Homeschool Co-op
physical education two times per month
choir two times per month
various field trips and learning opportunities

Second Semester Goals
Complete at least another 30 days of MEP
Do steady unit studies
Literature study on "The Secret Garden"
More nature studies
Back into U.S. States studies

What are my general observations? WOW! We accomplished a lot this semester! Sometimes I know that I sit and wonder if we are getting anything done. But, obviously we are. I feel like we are pretty close to being where I want us to be. Somehow I need to figure out a way to help the other child feel engaged in what they are doing when I am going full force on a subject with one child. I am not sure we will ever get that figured out. Thankfully both of my kids have independent work that they can do every day, so we just juggle that around when I'm tied up. 

I know that a lot of teacher moms make some curriculum changes at the half-way mark. But, we made all of our changes early on and I am elated with what we are doing!

So far, so good! Here's to another awesome and productive semester!! We will start back at it on Wednesday.