Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"A" is for "Attitude"

I am joining in on a new Link-up at Ben and Me called Blogging Through the Alphabet. Each week I will have a post with the assigned letter of the week. I think I will post mine on Wednesdays, because that's hump day and I could use something to get my mind moving at mid-week. Maybe I'll even inspire myself!

This week's letter is "A". And the first word I thought of was "Attitude". Of course my immediate thought was about how a school day goes more smoothly when your kids have good attitudes and thought maybe I would list the Top 10 ways to instill good attitudes in your students. And then it hit me ... maybe I am the one who needs the good attitude. Who, me???

So, here are my Top 10 Ways to Instill a Good Attitude in ME YOU!

1. Start your day with you and the Lord. Grab your cup of coffee (or morning beverage of choice), your Bible, your devotional, your journal and head to your favorite chair. Spend the first moments of your day reading the Word, meditating on it, journaling and praying. When I do this for just 15 minutes in the morning, my day starts out with my priorities in check.

2. Get ahead of your day. For me, this means getting up much earlier in the morning than I would really prefer. For me to make it all work, I have to get up by 6 a.m. It would be even better if I got up at 5:30 a.m., but let's not push things. Every .. single .. time .. I .. convince .. myself .. that .. the .. extra .. half-hour .. to .. hour .. of .. sleep .. is .. needed ...... I REGRET IT! Because then I am behind all day and feel so sluggish and agitated. And I only have myself to blame.

3. Create a workable schedule. And then try not to become a slave to it, Nicole! Oh, sorry, I was screaming at myself in the mirror. Anyway. I cannot operate without my schedule. Yours may be completely different than mine. It may be more lax, it may be more strict (though I doubt it). Without my schedule, my day is a free-for-all, and that's not good. A schedule just assures that you get everything done that NEEDS to be done, and in a timely and workable manner.

4. Get some exercise. Again, this means I have to get up early in the morning. Because, for me, if I do not exercise first thing (after my time with the Lord), it doesn't get done. So at 6:30 a.m., I head out the door for a walk and/or run with my dog. I have gotten so bad about making this a priority and I have suffered for it. I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS feel so much better all day when I exercise. I get more done, I feel productive, and my body and mind just feel good.

5. Eat healthy. I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough. It has taken me years of tweaking my daily diet, but I have a system that works good for me. It consists of, primarily (surprise, surprise), whole grains, fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy and lean meats. I use MyFitnessPal as my accountability partner. It helps me stay within my healthy calorie goals, and keeps track of all my carbs, sugars, protein levels, fiber levels, etc., so I can make healthier food choices all day.

6. Stay hydrated, especially in the afternoons. I drink coffee all morning. Then around 1:00 p.m. or so I feel those afternoon sluggies. Man, I want to lay down and take a nap. If I will just stop and fill my 32 oz. cup with cold ice water, with a 1/4 lemon squeezed in, and drink it all day (having another 32 oz. in the early evening), I get a HUGE boost of energy and am ready for the second half of my day. I also try to fix myself a cup of hot green tea to sip while I am fixing dinner. It helps me cut down on my urge to snack and hydrates me even further.

7. Include your husband in your day. If you are the primary educator in your home, you know that you can start to feel distant from your husband. I know that, for me, it becomes easy for the kids to start to take his place of priority. The squeaky wheel(s) get the most oil, right? Although I am not as good at this as I would like to be, I try to include Rick in our day. This can be by way of texts, e-mails, phone calls, maybe meeting every once in a while for lunch. I try to fill him in on what we are doing, when he gets home, so he can share in our journey with us and, hopefully, share in my excitement. I want this to be OUR adventure, not just my job.

8. Be flexible. Get over the idea that you have to get everything you have planned to get done in a day, week, month, or school-year. It rarely happens! And, the easiest way to have a stinky attitude is to expect too much of yourself and then be disappointed when life happens and not everything gets accomplished. Coming to this realization has saved my attitude in the past couple of years. I am a list-checker. And I make grandiose plans. So, giving myself permission to just let life be our education sometimes has made a huge difference. That way, if someone gets sick, or a pet needs care, or a car breaks down, or an activity gets cancelled, or if another one gets scheduled on short notice, I get my wisdom teeth extracted and I am down and out for several days, or we are all just in a crabby mood and need a day off, then we can just mark some things off our to-do list and it's okay!

9. Build a homeschool day that both you and your students ENJOY! My theory has certainly become: If we can't have fun doing it, then why the heck are we? Dang, my kids can be miserable at school, and then I'd have the days to do whatever I wanted. So if we are going to do this thing, let's do it in ways that we all enjoy it. This means I have had to allow my kids to teach me how they learn best, how they enjoy learning, and have adapted my ways to their ways. And, you know what, just seeing them enjoy learning makes it all worth it to me. There is no question in my mind that they are learning plenty. So, if they are happy doing it, so am I!

10. Remember that even though some days are hard and the sacrifices are great, you have the most honorable profession in the world with the most precious rewards. Some days are poopy. Many days do NOT go according to the 9 steps above. On some days I do all of the steps above and we STILL have a poopy day. But those are rare. I would do anything and sacrifice anything to keep my children safe, maintain close relationships with them, have a few extra hours to hug them each day, and be a part of them experiencing a love of learning. It is an honor and privilege and I must not forget that!

These 10 Easy(ish) steps make my attitude bearable for my poor sweet students. And, did I mention lots of morning coffee?? Maybe you already have a great Attitude when it comes to educating your children. Maybe you needed some reminders. And, maybe, I have inspired you in a new way. I hope so. But, then again, this post was really written as a reminder to MYSELF.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thinking about Schedules for 2012/2013 School Year

I have been tossing around an idea for next year's schedule, and I think I have come to a decision.

Eli and Brynne's school schedule will not coincide with Dawson's. He is insistent that he stick to the public school schedule so that he is out of school at the same time as his public school friends. Makes sense.

But I have visions of longer breaks in the school year for Eli and Brynne, and primarily me. And, I would like to start having school on Saturdays for them, as well, with Science Saturdays with their daddy. Then I was looking at the calendar and noticed that the 2012 Summer Olympics are at the end of July, which would be a perfect unit study for them. All of these things combined helped me to come up with the following schedule for next year.

We will have school Monday through Friday, as "normal", and Science Saturdays, having lessons and doing projects with their daddy. (I love the idea of including him in their schooling and in him sharing his passion of science with them. They will enjoy it so much more, because science is my weak area.)

We will begin school on July 23rd, starting our unit on the Olympics. They won't even get that school has started! This is the benefit of interest-led learning!

We will take off the week of September 3rd.
We will take off the week of October 15th.
We will take a HUGE break from November 19th to January 7th.
We will take off from March 18-April 1st.
We will end school on May 4th.

That gets us our 180 days.

On the days we are off and Dawson is in school, he will have days of independent work and large projects that do not require my daily help and supervision. He does this pretty often, anyway, but it will just be more planned and concentrated. Most of those days we will be around, I just won't be teaching.

His school year will start on August 13th and will end on May 31st.

I offered him our schedule, but he would just rather have the "whole summer" and breaks off with his friends. I tried to explain that our summer will be starting a month before his, but he wasn't deterred. That's fine. I want his schedule to work for him and ours to work for us.

What do you think about this? Have you ever had different schedules for your students?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Yet Another Reason Why We Homeschool

Another tragedy today.

One of our deciding factors in bringing Dawson home from public school was his experience with bullying, and the fear associated with it. At the time he broke down and begged us to take him out of school, he was dealing with a bully who was already in ISS (In-School Suspension) for fighting who had sent out word that when he got out he was going to "hurt" Dawson. And for absolutely no reason.

It was during this grade (7th grade) that Dawson was trying to figure out who he was. He was finding that he was not a jock; he was not a band geek (a highly revered position in our high school); and he was not an honors student. He liked to ride his skateboard. He was a really good kid caught between the bad kids and the popular kids. He's always been friends with the unaccepted, and in middle school you don't to be one of those kids. He was so lost. He lost friends he had always had. His sister was told by one of the popular girls that Dawson was "weird".

I noticed in an interview with one of the students in the cafeteria during the shooting today, that he used to be friends with the shooter until after junior high. The shooter had "become" an outsider. Of course there are reports that he was an outcast, was searching for his identity, and was bullied. Classmates and teachers are shocked and said they never saw it coming, that he was a quiet and smart kid.

That could have been my son. We hear about kids who commit suicide because of bullying and unacceptance. We hear about kids who bring a gun to school because they get pushed to the end of their ropes.

I am just speculating. But do you think the shooter's parents ever called the school and asked them to PLEASE intervene in the bullying? Do you think that boy's mama shed tears over how kids felt about and treated her son and tried to get the school to stop those same kids who got shot today from being mean to her son? I don't know.

What's going on in the public school system right now is a tragedy. People ALL THE TIME ask me (rudely, usually) about whether I am concerned about Dawson's lack of socialization at school. My answer is usually, "Have you been in your public high school lately? It's a scary place!" There are very disturbed kids there. There are mean kids that think they are better than everyone else. And there are kids who feel like they are worthless. I am not interested in my son having the socialization at school that is available to him. No thank you.

I wonder how happy the shooter's parents and the victims' parents are that their kids were getting socialization at school today. I may not make every good decision for my kids, but this is one regret I will not have.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

America: The Story of Us ~ Episode 3: "Westward 1" Lesson Plans

This past summer, when I planned our lessons for this year, I was enthralled with how much information was in Episode 3 ~ Westward. It couldn't be done in just three weeks, as I had intended for each unit. So, I broke Westward up into two separate units: Westward 1 and Westward 2. This week I will provide the lesson plans for Westward 1. We spent three weeks on this part of the unit.

We read The Captain's Dog by Roland Smith. We read an equal number of pages each day to cover the three-week unit (Suprisingly, Dawson did not enjoy this book as much as I thought he would. With him being such a dog-lover, I thought he would appreciate it more. But it just didn't have enough action for him. You'll find that he's hard to please when it comes to literature. I actually really enjoyed The Captain's Dog and thought it was a great piece of historical fiction.)

We watched the entire Episode 3, did the discussion questions/video quiz for the episode and the vocabulary words. These can be printed by going here. The Episode Guides are down the left hand column on the site.

All "notebooking pages" are printed from Advanced World History Vol. 2 from Hold that Thought!

All "America's Heritage" references are materials printed from America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty by The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.

Dawson also does Internet research to help him obtain information for his note booking pages. He is required to write 8-9 sentences since he is in the 9th grade.

We did the following activities:

* Jedediah Smith journal questions (from Episode 3 Guide)
* Read "Circa 1803" from Lewis and Clark PBS site and Section 1 questions (in pdf format, click "Section 1" under Introductory Class Discussion)
* Do Number 7 of Lesson 1 (Map Section and Section 3 Activity question, pdf format) and Number 8 and 9 of Lesson 1 (Section 4, Map comparison, pdf format)
* Daniel Boone notebooking page
* Lewis and Clark notebooking page
* Sacagawea notebooking page
* US Flag vocabulary, read Flag Code, put dates on US Flags, from America's Heritage
* Star Spangled Banner vocabulary and discussion questions from America's Heritage
* Francis Scott Key notebooking page
* Rewatch "The Donner Party" clips from Episode 3
* "What was wagon train life like" notebooking page
* Read "The Diary of Patrick Breen" from American Experience on PBS site
* The Donner Party notebooking page

When searching for the Lewis and Clark activities from the OETA site so that I could link them, I noticed that things had been changed since I printed them this summer. There is now a Classroom Resources link that has GREAT resources for Social Studies, Math, Science and Language Arts. It would certainly be worth checking these out before finalizing your lesson plans on Lewis and Clark.

Books Read (maybe not the whole book, but reading through it for notebooking pages and general information):

Daniel Boone by Janet Riehecky
The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Christin Ditchfield

Videos Watched:

"Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corp of Discovery" (Ken Burns), Netflix

** These lesson plans were based on planning for an American History course for a 9th grade boy. I allow some activities to be under his grade level and some to be above in order to give him a fun, exciting, and well-rounded understanding of the materials.

Previous Lesson Plans Posted:
Lesson 1 ~ Rebels
Lesson 2 ~ Revolution

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Lacking Wisdom

I got my wisdom teeth extracted yesterday, so my wrap-up this week is going to be a little short. Daddy stayed home from work yesterday to take care of me and to act as substitute teacher. We are calling today a Sick Day because, well, I'm sick. There will just be lots of reading and educational computer games today, and even more playing. For me, I'll be in bed. I have some paresthesia because of an exposed nerve during the surgery, so I am praying that I will regain the feeling to that part of my lip and chin soon. For now, I look like a chipmunk. And, I'm pretty miserable.

Here is what our week looked like in the form of a collage:

1. Brynne continued learning about dogs this week: Portuguese Water Dogs, Boxers and Border Collies.

2. We were back into our books pretty heavy at the beginning of the week with grammar, copywork, handwriting, and math.

3. She also started a fairly significant chapter book (for her) called Poodle and Hound, and spent each afternoon reading to OUR dogs.

4.  Since she loves learning about the United States so much, she watched a video of "How the States got their Shapes".

5 and 7. This week, for Dawson, was primarily about DNA and The Double Helix. In history he also did a lot of work on the building of the railroad.

6. I introduced a new concept to Brynne in math that she picked up in about half a minute: Double digit addition with carrying. She also worked on another worksheet yesterday with daddy.

8. And a lovely picture of me. (If you can believe it, at the time of this posting, I am even more swelled than that!) This explains why this wrap-up is so short.

In the midst of all of this, I did stumble upon a Favorite Resource (or two) this week. Brynne has always used an abacus to do math. Anytime she wants to know an answer to a math problem, I just send her to her abacus to figure it out on her own. Cindy at love2learn2day made me aware of a FREE iPad app called Number Rack. It is a type of abacus called a Rekenrek. She also referred to a great set of lessons (about 10 days worth) using the Rekenrek. It is also a free download that uses the Rekenrek as a "visual model for strategic reasoning in mathematics". This goes along nicely with the philosophies of MEP that I posted about a week or so ago. I think this will be a fun thing to do for those couple of weeks after Spring Break, to get us back into the swing of math. Brynne loves "Fun Math", and I think this will fit the bill.

I am hoping that next week feels more productive (and that I have more feeling in my lip and chin), but I have to get some cavities taken care of on Monday afternoon, so I am not feeling too optimistic. What a couple of weeks.

I am linking up at Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers; Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners; and Favorite Resource this Week at Learning all the Time.

FREE Scripture Adventures Easter Lapbook

Well, let's just call this Freebie Friday! Sherri at Luv a Bargain has come through again! In a listing of 20 Fun Freebies, I came across this Easter Lapbook download by Scripture Adventures.

I always love to pause the week or so before Easter and focus on Jesus' death and resurrection in our homeschool studies.

If you would like to take advantage of this free lapbook, just click here. All you have to do is provide your name and e-mail address.

Thank you, Sherri, for helping me teach for FREE!

FREE Subscription to Newsweek Magazine

Here is a Study America Saturday prequal! (Remember, tomorrow I will have my third installment in the "America: Story of Us" lesson plans we have used this year.)

My friend Sherri at Luv a Bargain posted about this freebie opportunity through RewardsGold. If you register, refer two friends, and take a short survey about breakfast, you can receive a FREE one-year subscription to Newsweek magazine!

This is especially enticing to me, because next year for American History, Dawson will be studying Current Events and Government. With the election coming up, Newsweek will be a valuable resource! In fact, one of my plans was for him to read the magazine weekly and write short summaries of what he has read. I was planning to purchase Time Magazine, but now that I was able to get Newsweek for free, guess what we will be using instead!!

So, hop over to RewardsGold if you would like to sign up for this magazine. You will not have to give any credit card information, just a few minutes of your time.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

America: The Story of Us ~ Episode 2: "Revolution" Lesson Plans

Geez .. It's only the second post in this series and I almost forgot about it! On Thursday night, as I was packing to go out of town for the weekend, I remembered that I would need to get it ready to auto post. So, I stayed up that night to get it done.

The second episode of America: The Story of Us is "Revolution". We spent three weeks on this unit.

We read The Winter of Red Snow by  Kristiana Gregory and Yankee Doodle Boy by Joseph Plumb Martin. We read an equal number of pages each day to cover the three-week unit (The Winter of Red Snow was good, I thought, although Dawson did not enjoy it as much. It was more of a story than Yankee Doodle Boy.)

We watched Episode 2, did the discussion questions/video quiz for the episode and the vocabulary words. These can be printed by going here. The Episode Guides are down the left hand column on the site.

All "notebooking pages" are printed from Advanced World History Vol. 2 from Hold that Thought!

All "America's Heritage" references are materials printed from America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty by The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.

Dawson also does Internet research to help him obtain information for his note booking pages. He is required to write 8-9 sentences since he is in the 9th grade.

We did the following activities:

* "Great Encouragement for Seamen" recruitment poster (from Episode 2 Guide)
* Declaration of Independence Signer's puzzle from America's Heritage
* Declaration of Independence Unscramble from America's Heritage
* Declaration of Independence worksheet from America's Heritage
* Memorized Preamble
* John Hancock notebooking page
* Declaration of Independence notebooking page
* George Washington notebooking page
* Valley Forge notebooking page
* Cornelius Surrender notebooking page

Books Read (maybe not the whole book, but reading through it for notebooking pages and general information):

A Revolutionary Field Trip: poems of Colonial America by Susan Katz
Valley Forge by Richard Ammon
George Washington: Our First President by Garnet Jackson
Young Patriots: Inspiring Stories of the American Revolution by Marcella Fisher
Yankee Doodle: A Song from the American Revolution by Ann Owen

Videos Watched:

"School House Rock, American Rock"

** These lesson plans were based on planning for an American History course for a 9th grade boy. I allow some activities to be under his grade level and some to be above in order to give him a fun, exciting, and well-rounded understanding of the materials.

Previous Lesson Plans Posted:
Lesson 1 ~ Rebels

Friday, February 17, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Snow, Shows and Smiles that Glow

As "normal" as last week was, this week was the total opposite!

We started out Monday by declaring a Snow Day! We got a little over an inch of good snow Sunday night into Monday. And, since it will likely be all we get this year, we decided to call off school for the day and play in it!

Tuesday was Valentine's Day. Eli had his class party that afternoon.

Dawson, Brynne and I spent the morning watching some subject-based videos. Dawson watched "Frontier House" and Brynne watched the "2012 Westminster Kennel Dog Show". They also each did a Valentine activity. On Wednesday, they finished their videos.

I branched out this week and created a collage of our activities for Collage Friday with Mary at Homegrown Learners. I used a free App for my iPad called PicCollage. For some reason I have been reluctant to try collages. But, with this, it was just too easy.

1. Our family gathered together on Tuesday night and each painted a canvas, anyway we wanted, using the same four acrylic paint colors. I am going to hang them down the hall to our kitchen.

2. Dawson's Valentine activities were to make up Rejected Candy Hearts and to write a LOVE acrostic poem and an Anti-LOVE acrostic poem. I got these activities from a FREE download from Teachers Pay Teachers, my Favorite Resource this Week. You can sign up to receive a weekly e-mail highlighting their Top 10 Free Downloads. I download things frequently!

3. "Frontier House", a reality mini-series from 2001 about three families who leave their 21st century lives to travel back to 1883 and try to set up a Homestead in Montana, was a highlight of our week. Rick and I watched it back in 2001, and I enjoyed it just as much this time around. It is a great historical video for this era. The characters are engaging, and it gets pretty real. The producers do a great job of giving historical facts throughout the production.

4. Brynne's school focus this week was the dog show, so in her free time she spent lots of time playing with her Barbies.

5. The "2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show" was very fun to watch. Brynne watched the entire 6 hours of it, taking notes as to the winners of each class. She enjoyed seeing dogs that she has learned about in the past couple of weeks. And she learned a lot more about the classes.

6. And then Brynne just had to get out her stuffed dogs for some playtime of their own.

We ended our week on Thursday, going on a field trip to the Blue Bell Creameries with our Homeschool Co-op. Field trips are always fun with this group. We even took Eli out of school to go with us. He loves factories and seeing how things work. He wore his little ice cream hat the whole time. And, we got to enjoy a free scoop of ice cream when the tour was over.

Watching a video on the history of the Creamery

Our public schools are off today, and Monday, for President's Day. So that means we are too! We are heading out this afternoon to go spend the weekend with Grandma.

We'll be back at it on Tuesday!

As always, we are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More Than a Valentine

So, I went to Eli`s Valentine party at school today. This was the condition of the classroom when I got there ...

That class knows how to party!

They had a pj day, and played games and watched "Mr. Popper`s Penguins". There were snacks for about 10 classes!

What was so great, though, was watching Eli with his Valentines. The other kids in the class were tearing through them, ripping off the candy and quickly discarding the ones without. Eli, though, went through his box SLOWLY! He read each one carefully and then got up out of his seat and went to that person and THANKED each one for giving him a Valentine. He was so incredibly sweet and I was so proud of his gratitude and manners.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Experience vs. Live

We had a snow day today.

Last year we had over two feet of snow AT ONCE and were snowed in for two weeks. We. loved. it. This year, nary a flake. (Okay, a few flakes one day, but it was melted by mid-morning).

Snow boots and gloves were on clearance last week, so I stocked up on some for both the little kids for the future. But with this mild winter, the chances of us using them were slim.

Until yesterday. There was a possibility of some snow that was to come in overnight! It looked like Tulsa could get around 5 inches. At 5 a.m. this morning, there was snow on the ground, but not near what was predicted. I checked the school closings (because Eli still goes to public school) and EVERY SCHOOL IN OUR AREA WAS CLOSED ..... except for ours.

So I laid in bed and tossed and turned and remembered how excited he was before he went to bed because there might be snow to play in, and recalled how the extended forecast showed that the mild temps would be back by tomorrow afternoon so the snow would likely be melted before he got home from school.

And that's when I made the decision to declare it a snow day, even if the schools weren't. Why? Because I want us to experience life, not just live it.

The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives these two definitions:

Experience ~ direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge 

Live ~ to conduct or pass one's life

Do you want to just conduct your life or just pass through it? Isn't there a little too much of that going on around you, around me? I want us to have a direct observation of events, and participate in events, as a basis of knowledge (and, dare I say it, a little fun)!

Eli and Brynne will only be 8 and 6 years old once. This might be the only day, at these ages, that they will get to experience the feel of snow down their boots, in their gloves, and on their lips as they participate in the age-old ritual of eating it! (And, yes, I have warned against eating "yellow snow". We have four dogs.) I want them to experience the thrill of flying down the hill on their sleds, of trudging through the snow in their too-big-boots, of coming inside for some hot chocolate to warm up.

I want us to experience this life we have been given. And, if that means putting the books away for a day, then so be it. The books will be there tomorrow. But, today, they enjoyed the knowledge of directly participating in the important event of a snow day in Oklahoma.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

America: The Story of Us ~ Episode 1: "Rebels" Lesson Plans

Here it is ... the first installment of our American History lesson plans using "America: The Story of Us" as our spine. We are currently on Episode 6 and I anticipate us at least getting through Episode 10 by the end of the school year. I hope that you find these posts helpful as you plan your lessons.

The first episode of America: The Story of Us is "Rebels". We spent three weeks on this unit.

We started reading Blood on the River by Elisa Lynn Carbone. We read an equal number of pages each day to cover the three-week unit (** highly recommend).

We watched Episode 1, did the discussion questions/video quiz for the episode and the vocabulary words. These can be printed by going here. The Episode Guides are down the left hand column on the site.

All "notebooking pages" are printed from Advanced World History Vol. 2 from Hold that Thought!

All "America's Heritage" references are materials printed from America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty by The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.

We did the following activities:

* Powhatan letter to John Smith (from Episode 1 Guide)
* On the Trail with Captain Smith Interactive Activity (from National Geographic Kids)
* Photo analysis of Revere's Bloody Massacre Engraving
* 13 Colonies notebooking page
* "The History of Thanksgiving" activities from America's Heritage
* Research The Mayflower Compact online and do notebooking page of The Mayflower Compact noting significance, reason, number of signers and more
* Virtual Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
* Read "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and do Venn Diagram with the real history story of Paul Revere's Ride, to see facts of the two to see likes and differences
* Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre notebooking pages

Books Read (maybe not the whole book, but reading through it for notebooking pages and general information):

The Thirteen Colonies by Marc Tyler Nobleman
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving by Joyce K. Kessel
John Smith Escapes Again! by Rosalyn Schanzer
Three Young Pilgrims by Cheryl Harness
The Story of Pocahontas by Caryn Jenner
Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley
Joining the Boston Tea Party by Diane Stanley
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere by Jean Fritz
A Picture Book of Paul Revere by David A. Adler

Videos Watched:

"Early Settlers" by Rhonda Fabian and Jerry Baber
"Squanto and the First Thanksgiving"
"Jamestown" by Schlessinger Media

** These lesson plans were based on planning for an American History course for a 9th grade boy. I allow some activities to be under his grade level and some to be above in order to give him a fun, exciting, and well-rounded understanding of the materials.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Dogs, Dogs, DNA, more Dogs, and the Heartland

This was the first "normal" week of school that we have had in a while. That means that we were home doing school Monday through Thursday, and had our regular Co-op activities on Friday. It was a productive week, and I am ready for the weekend. We have nothing planned this weekend, other than church on Sunday, and I couldn't be happier. I'm tired! In fact, I've been on the couch since about 1 p.m.

Regular studies (and when I say "regular studies" I mean grammar, copywork, handwriting, math/algebra, critical thinking, and literature) are all progressing at a good speed. I am happy where both of the kids are at, both in how well they are doing with the material and in how far they are along in the number of completed lessons. All of these regular studies are moving along easily. Both kids know what is expected of them in these courses and do them each day with ease and independently, for the most part.

I do have to add that for Brynne, I am loving Mathematics Enhancement Programme that we decided to do this year. It is a completely free and downloadable program with daily practice pages, oral lessons, full teachers guides, and copy master (if needed).

"Much of the material developed for this initiative is based on a Hungarian Series, edited by Professor Sándor Hajdu at the Petö Institute in Budapest, and published by Müszaki Könyvkiadó. This has been adapted and modified for UK schools with the help of Professor Tibor Szalontai and Rita Szalontai." ~ from the website (FYI, Hungary is ranked 6th in the world in mathematics.)

What I really like is that most of the math is done in a problem solving fashion and, most often, in the form of "puzzles". Brynne is doing double digit math, but doing it in her head instead of in the form of math facts. She loves it and I love it. I feel like she is very advanced in math. She is doing full-out second grade work as a 6 year old. If you are looking for something a little different, I highly recommend it.

Math is one of those subjects that you HAVE to find the way that your child learns best! Brynne is learning math the MEP way. Dawson is learning Algebra the Life of Fred way. They are extremely different ways of learning, but both highly effective for my particular students.

Brynne has continued her in-depth study of dogs. We moved on to learning about Dog anatomy this week. And, she even get in on some DNA studies of Dogs with Dawson and I. (More on that in a bit.) She has learned about the following breeds: Golden Retrievers, Siberian Huskies, Weimaraners, Alaskan Malamutes, Scottish Terriers, Beagles, Yorkshire Terriers, and Poodles, in the past two weeks. She has also learned about sled dogs and therapy dogs.

Here are two carousels showing the materials she has used in the past two weeks.

Dawson started two new units this week.

In American History, we started learning about the moves westward and the settlements in the Heartland. He started his week watching Episode 6 of "America: The Story of Us" and working on the vocabulary and discussion questions. Then we spent a couple of days doing a Map Study of the states and government territories, and Document Analyses of "The Homestead Act" and the "Pacific Railway Act".

My Favorite Resource this week was DoodleBuddy on my iPad. Dawson was able to save a photo of a States and Territory map of 1860 and download it onto DoodleBuddy. Then he was able to draw on it as we did our map study, much like you are able to use a SmartBoard. It is an incredibly useful App.

In Biology, we started our unit on DNA and Heredity. I had a Favorite Resource in this area, as well. The University of Utah has an entire Teach.Genetics site, and I was able to pull out a couple of great activities.

First, Dawson extracted DNA from spinach in this cool experiment.

See the DNA rising?

The DNA of the Spinach is the white vertical blob.

Then on another day, Dawson and Brynne both were able to participate in "A Recipe for Traits ~ Dog DNA". They drew DNA strips out of an envelope for eight traits for their dog and taped them together to form their DNA strand.

Then they found the corresponding trait on a Legend and highlighted which DNA strip they drew.

Then they sketched and colored their Dog according to the particular DNA strips they each drew out of the envelope.

As you can see, random drawing of DNA produced two very different dogs. (I think this would be a super fun activity to do in a classroom with several students to see if ANY two dogs ended up alike.)

Finally, yesterday, Dawson did a "Generation of Traits ~ Gingerbread People" by using colored pompons. It was another demonstration of how random drawing of traits from family members produces very different people in a family.

These were all great activities. They weren't overly complicated, but they took the complicated text that Dawson was reading in The Way Life Works and gave him visuals to use with it.

Today we had PE and Choir at Co-op, and I had the chance to sit and talk with one my very good friends and review a curriculum that she uses with her girls. I am leaning toward using it next year for Eli and Brynne.

It was a great week!!

As always, I am linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Susan at Learning All the Time.