Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Our Third Grade Curriculum ~ FIAR

Today's topic on Schoolhouse Review Crew's Back-to-Homeschool Blog Hop is Curriculum. Being a literature-based unit study freak, Five in a Row is the perfect curriculum for us ... when we use it.

I also do a lot of building of my own unit studies, and I like to "backwards" plan unit studies. What this means is that I search for local events, plays, movies, etc., that interest us. Then I build a literature-based unit off that event. So, the first thing I did in planning for the school year was to calendar all of the events I already know about that could have a fun unit study attached to it ... THEN I supplemented our school year with Five in a Row units. It works great!

Although FIAR has many different levels to it's units (Social Studies, Geography, Science, Art, Math), we will have separate, daily studies in some other areas:

All About Spelling
Easy Grammar
Copywork (based on the unit we are doing, usually a poem or a quote)
Handwriting Without Tears ~ Cursive Writing
WriteShop Primary
Math Enhancement Programme (MEP)
Usborne Treasury of Art
Nature with Barb at Handbook of Nature Study and natural exploration

As you can see, writing is a big deal to me. We do many of these things daily, and concentrate on Art and Nature studies on Friday.

We are looking forward to a fun year of learning.

If you need some other curriculum ideas, see what other Crew members are using by clicking on the links below.

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Homeschooling Method ~ Interactive

I am joining in on the the Schoolhouse Review Crew ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop this week. There are over 70 reviewers chiming in about many different topics. Today's topic is Homeschool Methods.

I like to describe my Method as INTERACTIVE:

Involved. I like to learn right along with my kids, which is why I usually sit right next to them while they are learning.

Nature. Although we did not incorporate as much Nature into our homeschooling last year as I would have liked, this year's plans include weekly, or sometimes daily, time in nature, with more nature-based science studies.

The 3 R's. Non-negotiables each day are Reading, wRiting, and aRithematic. The other topics fit in based on our interests and time.

Experience. Learning in a text is good. Reading about it in a piece of literature is better. But, actually experiencing the topic in a hands-on way is the best! In fact, a lot of times I "backwards" plan units based on what there is out there for us to do. We plan to do it, then choose books, videos, and activities to go along with it.

Reading. If we are going to learn about it, we are going to read about it. That's ALWAYS where we start.

Art. Last year we were in a good groove of studying one artist a week and then doing a similar piece of art. We fell off about mid-year, but will be making it a priority on Friday mornings this year.

Co-op. In Oklahoma we were part of a very fun, social co-op. It was as much fun for me as it was for the kids. In our move to Missouri, we will most definitely be joining a co-op. The friendships and experiences are invaluable.

Time. We spend a lot of time together, and we spend a lot of time apart. I like to set our day up in "sets". We do a set of work, for a short period of time, then break for some play time. Then we get back together for another "set", then break for some play time. We do this throughout the day, four or five times, to get all of our work done. It provides them with short lessons so they don't get antsy, and gives me time to get some housework and computer work done while they are playing.

Interest-led learning (or delight-directed learning). If we see something that interests us, we jump into a unit study about it. We have a couple of fun ones planned already: Caves, Penguins, and Presidents.

Vacation. We started school early this year (July 23rd), and also logged some official school days this summer when learning opportunities arose. We plan to take a vacation from school work from Thanksgiving to the New Year. That way we can enjoy some winter fun and maybe squeeze in a trip to Grandma and Papa's in Florida.

Earned Rewards. This year I have started giving my kids a reward for non-grumbling. If they make it through the day without getting into the "red zone" on the Grumble-meter, they win a letter in a secret message. Once all of the letters are earned, we get to have the stated reward. One week it was to Swim. They are working on Cici's Pizza now (shhh ... don't tell them the secret message.) This system is working like a charm!

Head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see what other methods the reviewers use. I bet every one is different.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Go for the Gold!

This week marks our first week of school for the 2012-2013 school year. We are easing into it, especially since we are starting in the middle of summer and because Eli is joining us this year. I didn't want to overwhelm him with all of our usual daily activities, so we are starting out with a definite Delight-Directed unit on the Olympics with some math review and reading. It has been a pleasant week with lots of good work and lots of fun. I have been very impressed with the positive attitudes of my two little students. Even though we only do about 2-3 hours of school work a day, I have found them spending the majority of their free time playing Stack the States or Minecraft on the iPad. They have built some pretty impressive structures on Minecraft. Then they begged me for Stack the Countries, and have been begging me for months, so I thought this would be a great time to do it with the Olympics.

Here is our week in Collage form.

1. For the first day of school, Eli and Brynne drew themselves to decorate the fronts of their unit study binders.

2. They made gold medals with oven-baked clay painted a shimmery gold.

3. We did lots of Olympics literacy and math activities from 15 Summer Olympics Math and Literacy Activities. It was my Favorite Resource this Week.

4. For our Olympics torch, the kids painted three sheets of aluminum foil red, orange, and yellow. Then we crumbled it up together and stuck it inside a rolled up piece of brown construction paper. It will stay "lit" on our entertainment center until the conclusion of the Closing Ceremony.

5. For our read-a-loud, we are reading Geronimo and the Gold Medal Mystery from the Geronimo Stilton series.

6. Brynne and Eli also made Olympics t-shirts by stamping rings with toilet paper tubes and paint. Then they personalized their shirts.

Other than school work, I am working on packing up all of our homeschool supplies to move to our new house. Even though we will be spending the next several weeks (or months) renovating the house, we will still be doing our school work every day in the midst of the mess.

I will be participating in a couple of different blog hops soon:

The 5 Days of Blogging ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop by the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

and the 4th Annual "Not" Back-to-School Blog Hop by iHomeschool Network.

During those weeks I will share our curriculum, methods, schedules, school room, and more. Hopefully we will be settled enough by then for me to share it all with you.

Join Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for her Weekly Wrap-up Linky, and Mary at Homegrown Learners for her Collage Friday Linky. I am also linking up with Susan's Favorite Resource this Week Linky at Learning All the Time.

Last Child in the Woods ~ Chapters 18, 19 and 20

I am taking a different approach to my thoughts on Part VI of Last Child in the Woods titled "Wonder Land: Opening the Fourth Frontier", which includes Chapters 18, 19 and 20.

Chapter 18. The Education of Judge Thatcher: Decriminalizing Natural Play

Chapter 19. Cities Gone Wild

Chapter 20. Where the Wild Things Will Be: A New Back-to-the-Land Movement

"When going back makes sense, you are going ahead." ~ Wendell Berry

These chapters could NOT have come at a more perfect time in my life. Rick and I have made the decision to move our family from the "American Dream" home and suburbian posh life, back to my itty bitty small hometown in Missouri of less than 3,000 people. It was not something that we expected or planned to do. It just sort of happened. But the funny part was that it made COMPLETE sense to us. In fact, we knew that we would be stupid not to jump on the opportunity. When I read the above quote by Wendell Berry, it brought tears to my eyes.

I know my hometown pretty well. Not much has changed since I left it 25 years ago. But, Rick doesn't know anything about the town. So, he went to the town's website and came across something called Vision 2040. Apparently the town had hired a visionary company to make plans for the town over the next 30 years.

When reading Chapters 18, 19, and 20, I realized that the company and committee were envisioning the type of back-to-nature living environment for which the chapters dream. It was very exciting to realize that, although the progress will be slow and we might not even get to realize the benefits of it in our lifetime, the ideas and progress are there!

On Page 277 of Chapter 20, "Professor David Orr described what he believes is a paradigm shift in 'design intelligence' comparable to the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century. He calls for a 'high order of heroism,' one that encompasses charity, wildness, and the rights of children. As he defines it, a sane civilization ... would have more parks and fewer shopping malls; more small farms and fewer agribusinesses; more prosperous small towns and smaller cities; more solar collectors and fewer strip mines; more bicycle trails and fewer freeways; more trains and fewer cars; more celebration and less hurry ..."

Some of the visions for our town are: to revamp the downtown area to make it less vehicle friendly and more pedestrian friendly by taking out much of the street parking and replace it with bike paths and larger sidewalks flanked by trees, greenery, flowers, and benches; to repair the run-down buildings and spruce up their facades; to bring in some local-flavor businesses, like shops and restaurants, and to include stores that sell needed items to rival the nearby towns that include Walmart; to refurbish some of the older homes into bed and breakfasts; to create a "Village", near a newly constructed community center in a closed-down factory, with small, neat homes that face into each other with lots of green space and no cars; to take advantage of the old railroad bike trails that intersect in our town to attract tourism; to take abandoned lots in town and create green play space for children.

So far the town has been successful at getting grants to bring in a substantial recycling program and have been working toward giving the downtown stores a facelift.

Progress is being made, but there is still so much to be done. And there are obstacles. Money is one of them. And the older generation of the town is another. But, with grants and a younger, excited, educated generation, maybe this style of living is really possible!

When Richard Orr was asked if his vision was "Utopia", he replied ... "No, We have tried utopia and can no longer afford it."

So true.

These chapters inspired me to do my part in our new little town, to contribute and help with the vision. In fact, I am even going to attend a Town Hall Meeting this week to hear what's in store. I can't wait.

What about your local community. Do you see any upcoming changes toward the natural good?

Well, we are down to the last three chapters. Gets those read this next week and let's wrap up on Friday or Saturday. If you have comments on Chapters 18, 19, and 20, leave them below or leave a link to your own blog post.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

V is for "Victory"

Are you and your family excited about the Olympics and hoping for Victory for the American athletes? We have been looking forward to it all summer and, in fact, planned our first day back to school around it! I knew that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to start school with a unit study on the Olympics. We are easing back into school with studies on the Olympics and math review this week and next.

Here are some of the resources we are using:

Olympics unit study by SchoolExpress. I received it as a free download a couple of weeks ago as part of their weekly free unit study email. (We have done SEVERAL free unit studies and they are my favorite unit studies to do for my kids.) You can sign up for their weekly e-mail and free unit studies by going HERE. Although the Olympics unit study is no longer free, it can still be purchased for $2.00. There are, however, some free worksheets that can be downloaded.

London: Once, Twice, Three Times ~ an Olympics host city infographic (we used this to make a comparison graph of the 1908, 1948, and 2012 London Olympic games).

Values Education Toolkit from OVEP (Olympic Values and Education Program). This is an excellent and lengthy download. It is definitely for older children, maybe even up through high school, but a valuable resource none-the-less. I have used some of the materials for copywork for my kids. I have used the Olympics handwriting sheets found HERE. We will also use some of the physical education worksheets, activities on Peace, and certificates.

15 Summer Olympics Math and Literacy Activities from Down Under Teacher purchased for $7.20 from TeachersPayTeachers. This activity pack has been worth every dollar and cent. We have done spelling, math, calendaring, punctuation, and many other things. They are fun and informative. (I just saw that it is now on sale for $6.40.)

We have also done some fun craft activities, with ideas I gleaned from 20 Crafts and Ideas to Celebrate the Olympics. We have made Olympics t-shirts, gold medals, and the Olympic torch.

We will be watching the Opening ceremony, many of the events, and the Closing ceremony, as well as charting medals using THIS WORKSHEET from Education.com.

And, as usual, we are using the library extensively. Our read-a-loud is Geronimo and the Gold Medal Mystery from the Geronimo Stilton series. (I love these books, and so do my kids!) We also checked out every picture book on the Olympics and London, as well as many non-fiction books on many of the events.

We have had fun, and learned a lot! There's still time to get involved! Teach your kids about the Olympics and cheer our country on to Victory!

Join in on Blogging through the Alphabet with Marcy at Ben and Me. I hear she is starting over with "A" very soon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

U is for Unexpected

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that this homeschooling journey started for us when Dawson was getting ready to enter the 8th grade. At his request, we brought him home for school. It was something that had never crossed my mind as something I would want to do. We really started out of necessity. But, it quickly became a lifestyle that enriched not only his education, but our relationship, as well.

Off and on Dawson has expressed a desire to return to public school. However, sending him back to our huge school, with the same issues as when he left, was just not something I could bring myself to do. I knew in my heart that having him home was what was best for him.

And then we received an opportunity to move back to my little childhood hometown in Missouri. It is a small town of less than 3,000 people. The class sizes in the schools are about 40-50. The high school is the one from which I graduated.

When Dawson learned we would be moving, I gave him the option of continuing with homeschooling or going back to public school. He immediately stated he wanted to go back to school. Strangely, I had been having trouble "getting into" the planning for his classes this year, and I hadn't ordered any of his curriculum. I guess God knew what was in store for us.

I will go with Dawson on Monday and enroll him in school. This is a very bittersweet situation for me. I think you can tell what a special relationship I have with Dawson. We have enjoyed our time together over the past two years. We have learned a lot together and about each other. We have grown very close. I will desperately miss him during the day. I also know that getting involved in more daily interaction with kids his age will pull him out of the home more and more. It's always nice to know that he's upstairs, even if he's not hanging out with us. But, I have peace that it's time. He has matured and learned a lot over the past two years and I think he's ready for the new challenges.

He is an extremely bright young man. And, without all of the pressures of a big school, I think he will do great. And, he has the option of coming back home to finish high school should he decide that public school is just not for him. I will let him make those decisions.

What about Eli and Brynne? Rick and I have bought into this homeschooling gig so much that we will continue to homeschool them until they graduate from high school. We will have many opportunities for them to make friends, so socialization will not be an issue, even in a small town. We will be joining a co-op in a local city. We will go to church. The opportunities will be endless. And, we will be just a couple minute walk away from family.

All of this happened very quickly. I went home to Missouri one weekend to see my newly born niece and came home with a house. It really happened that simply. Moving to my hometown was not anything Rick and I had even discussed up until that weekend. It all just "happened" for us. And, he hasn't even seen the house that will be legally ours on Friday.

It's just crazy. It's Unexpected. It's awesome!

Join Marcy and Ben and Me for Blogging through the Alphabet.

The Pilgrim Adventure ~ Review

Back when I was offered to review Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers by Susan Kilbride, she also asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her newest historical fiction book for children called The Pilgrim Adventure.

This is Ms. Kilbride's first book in her Our America series. It is a story about Finn and Ginny, two children whose parents disappeared when they accidentally mistook a time machine for a television remote control. Once the childrens' uncle reveals to them what really happened, they decide to try to go back in time to locate their parents. They find themselves on the Mayflower coming to America. And then the adventures begin.

This book is an easy, informative, and fun read with fairly short chapters (I find that important when reading to younger children.) The story is told from the perspective of two children who are traveling to America on the Mayflower and then settling there. There are hardships, most definitely, and many obstacles to overcome.

I liked the book in that names of historical figures and events were included in the story as though they were just regular characters and plots in a book. There might be a downfall in this, however, if the parent or child reading the book did not previously know of those characters or events. They might get overlooked and not bear any significance. I like to read other non-fiction and fictional picture books while reading a chapter book to reinforce the topics, but not all teachers do that. For me, if I read the name of a historical figure, I then have my children read other books about that person so they understand why he or she was significant to the story and time.

I felt that the story moved along quickly and the point of the story was clear. It was enjoyable for my children, who are 7 and 8, although the book says it is recommended for ages 10 and up. For me, I think the book is more suited for ages 7-12. I know that my son, who is 15, would not have enjoyed the book. He would have felt that it was lacking in adventure for his age.

Ms. Kilbride has a companion site available with activities to do along with the book, such as making a family tree, a pocket, sea biscuits, and a quadrant. I think this is an invaluable tool, especially if you teach the way that I do. My favorite way to teach is to take a piece of literature, add other related books and videos, and do activities that relate to the book. The listed activities make that easy. I did feel that the activities were a bit difficult for my 7 and 8 year old. They were certainly more suited for ages 10 and up.

The only thing that would have been helpful to me is if there was an appendix at the end of the books with a chapter-by-chapter list of all historical figures and events. That would have made planning in advance a whole lot easier. For example, in Chapter 14 it mentions wattle and daub houses. To have known that in advance, I could have prepared an activity ahead of time instead of having to quickly gather the supplies and methods when I read it in the chapter. I just like to be more prepared. (That being said, there is a reference to a website about "Building a Home" in the Bibliography. I am talking more about a chapter-by-chapter list for advance preparation as each chapter is read.)

Other than that, the book was fun, educational, and very enjoyable, and I recommend it as an addition to your library.

Ms. Kilbride's second book in the series The King Phillip's War Adventure is available for purchase now.

AND today and tomorrow, Amazon is offering The Pilgrim Adventure as a FREE Kindle download! Go there to download it to your electronic device (it can be downloaded to devices other than Kindle).

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion. All thoughts and comments are my own.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Attention: Quiet Week!

I am in Portland, Oregon, with my mom this week helping my brother and sister-in-law paint their house in preparation of the birth of their first baby due in October. We are starting school next Monday morning, the day after I get home from my exhausting trip. So, this week the kids are doing nothing but enjoying the last week of their play time.

Journey to Excellence will be silent this week.

I won't have time to read Last Child in the Woods this week (what was I thinking when I assigned the next three chapters). So, the next three chapters are due for discussion at the end of NEXT week.

Since there will be no schooling, there will be no Weekly Wrap-up or Homeschool Mother's Journal.

The next time you hear from us, we will be reporting on our first day of school. There are lots of changes happening in our family, especially pertaining to school, so we'll be discussing all of that soon.

I'll leave you with some pictures from our final Family Summer Camp at Bass Pro Shops that we attended on Sunday. All total, the kids sat through about 9 hours of workshops, did two crafts, answered 54 questions about what they learned, did activity pages, practiced casting a fishing rod and shooting a bow and arrow. Their favorite thing to do was to climb through the boats and tents and dream of their outdoor futures. They earned 9 pins and were very proud of their accomplishments for completing the whole program.

If you get the chance to attend a local Bass Pro Shops Familiy Summer Camp next year .... DO IT! It has been very informative, enriching, and fun!

Monday, July 16, 2012

T is for "Taking Grades"

I am behind on my Blogging Through the Alphabet posts. Last week was "T" and recently a commenter asked how I take grades for my students.

For Brynne, I don't take grades. I do keep a daily planner where I record everything she is doing. But, I do not assign grades and likely won't until she is in high school. The same goes for Eli this upcoming year. My kids do like to see a 100% written on a paper sometimes, so if it's a math page or something "gradeable", I will do that occasionally.

Since Dawson was a freshman last year, I did take grades for him. I used the same style planner page as I used for Brynne and recorded each and every assignment or activity he did (including read-a-louds). Next to each assignment I would use a red pen and assign points earned (including read-a-louds). For instance, if he had a notebooking page, they were typically worth 15 points if he did the required 7-9 sentences. I didn't "grade" them. He just got participation points. (On read-a-louds, he earned 30 to 45 points a day, typically a point per minute he listened.)

On "gradeable" assignments, such as grammar, math, and worksheets, he received the number of points of correct answers.

At the end of each week, I pulled out my planner pages and transferred the assignments and grades to a free online gradebook called Engrade. This gradebook allowed me to keep track of his actual grades and his assignments. I could also print a calendar for each subject that would show which assignments he did which days. This was a good record-keeping tool for me.

Taking grades and Engrade have ended up being a good idea for me. It looks as though Dawson will be returning to public school in the fall because of our move back to my childhood hometown. Enrolling him in school will be a snap because I will have all of my information ready to show the school counselor. For instance, we completed an enriching year of American History last year, and I will be able to show that to the counselor so that he can move onto World History with the other sophomores at the school. And, he has his actual grades from this year that can be transferred to his transcript at school.

Join Marcy at Ben and Me for Blogging Through the Alphabet. If you don't want to jump into the middle this go 'round, I hear she will be starting back with "A" soon. It's been really fun. You should join.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Last Child in the Woods ~ Chapters 15, 16, and 17

This has been a crazy, whirlwind of a week. I wasn't sure if I was going to get the chapters read in order to post my thoughts. But I sat down yesterday in the midst of some crazy moments and read. And, just READING about Nature soothed me. I can't imagine how at ease I would have been if I could have actually been sitting by a pond with a fishing pole in my hand. I haven't done that since I was a kid. Maybe I should take it up again.

(Well, that's a bummer ... I came back to add my thoughts on Chapter 16, and Chapter 15's thoughts were no longer here. So, here goes again.)

Chapter 15. Telling Turtle Tales: Using Nature as Moral Teacher. "Let Nature be your teacher." ~ William Wordsworth

When I was a girl, my dad took me fishing all the time. We lived in a town with a large Amish Community. My dad has a plumbing construction business, so he would barter out work in exchange for us having use of their well-stocked ponds. My dad did not hover. In fact, his rule was that if I was going to fish, I had to bait my own hook and take my own fish off the hook. If I got my line stuck, I was pretty much on my own because he was likely on the other side of the pond enjoying his fishing time. These were the best days in my relationship with my dad.

Kids today don't fish or hunt, or do so infrequently. Or, as parents, we want them to do it "right". And that takes the fun out of it. A quote stuck out to me on Page 194 ... "Remove hunting and fishing from human activity, and we lose many of the voters and organizations that now work against the destruction of woods, fields, and watersheds."

I had never heard of Wildcrafting! But what a great way to learn about the local flora and fauna! With our potential move, this will be very important. It is a small town, so there is no nature center on which to rely. We are going to have to figure it out for ourselves. On our Friday nature hikes, I plan to have the kids explore at our local parks, on the Katy Trail, maybe even at the creek across the street from my childhood home. They can collect a sample, or record something in their nature journal, and we will come home and learn about it.

My kids each need a brand new nature journal. We have some adventures to record. Have you read Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola? It has the same vibe as this chapter, and the next.

Chapter 16. Natural School Reform. "Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives." ~ Thomas Berry

I got some great teaching tips from this chapter! I always wanted to be a teacher when I was growing up. I took another path. I was an attorney. Yuck. But, as I look at the state of education today, I realize that I would not be happy in today's classroom. I would not thrive in an environment where I was not allowed to teach in a way that displayed my passion for a subject.

This chapter talks about Finnish schools and how they value free play in their students. They have their kids do a 45-minute lesson and then outside time for 15 minutes. I have found myself teaching this way this summer. I will divide our day up into "sets". We will do a set, then have playtime. Then do the next set, then have playtime. My kids have responded so well to this!

Again, Pocketful of Pinecones by Karen Andreola is an inspirational story about a mom who uses the "basic idea .. to use the surrounding community, including nature, as the preferred classroom." (Page 206). I am as inspired by that story now as I was when I first read it two years ago. Having both my little ones home this next year will make it so easy to teach in such a way. Although I am sad that Dawson is going back to public school (believe me, I am sad, but I gave him the right to make his own decision), it will be easier to submerse us in these philosophies of learning, because we won't be pulled between high school work and elementary work all day.

I was also inspired by the "Real World Learning" topics starting on Page 206. I did a search and found a great site called Googol Power that has nature math activities for kids. There are many other sites like it, for all age ranges. I also learned that the founder of Square Foot Gardening has a book called Square Foot Garden Lesson Plan for Children that has actual lessons in math and science, in addition to teaching about how to make a square foot garden. At our new house, we will have space behind our garage, in a side yard, just big enough for about three gardening boxes. I think I'll get that curriculum and get the kids involved right from the start.

Chapter 17. Reviving Camps.

For me, Chapter 17 set out the obvious: that some changes need to be made to make nature more accessible to kids, primarily through camp experiences. I can remember my church camp experiences in Junior High. I went to "wilderness camp". We camped in tents, pottied in latrines, and cooked our own foods over a fire. The "sissies" were down the hill at "cabin camp". I have some amazing memories from those camp experiences.

My daughter, Kyndal, typically attends a summer church camp. She stays in a "cabin" that is as large as a university dorm and so cold from air conditioning that she has to take sweatpants and hoodies to sleep in. She never participates in any outside activities, except to possibly hit around a volleyball. And, the main event at camp is "date night".

Yes, a true revival of camp is needed.

Chapter 17, and the end of Part V "The Jungle Blackboard" ends with a description of the Third Frontier in which we are fully ensconced: "detachment from the source of food, the virtual disappearance of the farm family, the end of biological absolutes, an ambivalent new relationship between humans and other animals, new suburbs shrinking open space, and so on." The question is asked if we are in a place where we can usher in a Fourth Frontier. That is the next Part of the Book.

Next week we will read Chapters 18, 19, and 20. It's a lot of material, so get started reading now! Leave me a comment below, or a link to your post about Chapters 15-17.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Summer Week 8 (the week before the last week)

In my life this week ... Okay, I can't stand it anymore. I have to share what's going on in our life. I went to my hometown in Missouri this past weekend to see my newly born niece, and ended up making a decision (with my husband) to buy a home there in the town where I grew up, and where my parents still live. We are in the process of making an offer and getting inspections done. (So far, so good on the inspections.) If all goes as planned, the kids and I will move as soon as possible while Rick stays here to sell our house. Dawson has decided that he would like to go back to public school because it is a super-small school where he could really connect. There will be MANY changes in our lives and we are SO EXCITED about it (well, most of us.) More about this decision will come soon.

In our homeschool this week ... It's all about Ice Age this week! Although we didn't get in our field trip to the Tulsa Geoscience Center because of the craziness of our possible life changes, we did do all of our planned lessons, and even added a couple of things. We will finish our time by going to see the movie at the drive-in movie theatre tomorrow night! I had really planned on logging two or three days of school on this unit, but we will be satisfied with one. We did learn a lot about the continental drift, plate tectonics, Pangaea and Gondwana, the earth's model, and earthquakes. We watched a cool animation on the continental drift. It was my Favorite Resource this week.

1. Eli is holding our hard-boiled egg earth model to demonstrate the crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core.

2. We read the book The Island that Moved by Meredith Hooper and watched the video Earth Science from the Rock 'N Learn series about Plate Tectonics. (And then they ended up watching the whole thing because they liked it so much.)

3. A puzzle to put back together the earth after it was divided along the plate lines. (Just cut it apart along the lines and have them put it back together.)

4. Snack Tectonics with graham crackers and frosting. A fun way to learn about fault lines, earthquakes, volcanoes, and mountain formation.  

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share ... Look at each child individually and address their schooling needs individually, and be prepared for changes.

I am inspired by ... simplicity.

Places we're going and people we're seeing ... Well, this past weekend we saw this amazingly beautiful munchkin who is now a member of our family.

Ashtyn Rae, my beautiful niece.

And the kids had a really fun time at Grandma and Papa's lakehouse.

We did some swimming with church friends who moved into our neighborhood and had some doctor, orthodontist, and hair appointments.

My favorite thing this week was ... Making decisions for FAMILY!  

What's working/not working for us ... A willingness to take risks to make change.

Questions/thoughts I have ... What will happen to Dawson and my relationship if he goes back to public school? We have been SO CLOSE the past two years, and I hope that doesn't change when he goes back to school.

Things I'm working on ... Not panicking with all I have on my plate right now. Rick has advised that I not start school with Eli and Brynne on the 23rd as planned, but I am really looking forward to our unit on The Olympics. So, I might just do a stress-free version that allows lots of play time in between sets of work.

I'm reading ... Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. That's all I have time for. I am getting ready to start a book that I am writing a review on soon. I'll be doing some flying next week, so should be able to read it all.

I'm cooking ... Tonight we are having tilapia with fresh veggie salsa. I have also been enjoying my turkey sandwiches this week with FRESH HOMEGROWN tomatoes from my garden. Yummy!

I'm grateful for ... my family's help in all that this move will involve.

I'm praying for ... our transition to a small town, that our house sells, that Rick's job situation works out like he wants, that Dawson adjusts well to going back to public school and makes the "right" friends, that our renovations go smoothly.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share ...
Our 1918 house. You will just have to try to visualize what it will look like when we are done.

I am also linking up at Weekly Wrap-up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers,

Collage Friday with Mary at Homegrown Learners,

and Favorite Resource this Week with Learning All the Time.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Learn Our History ~ Election Day: Choosing our President

After an extensive American History study with Dawson this past year, my children's extreme interest in the United States, and the upcoming election (Dawson and I will also be studying Current Events and Government this year), I was excited to learn about the DVD offer from Learn Our History by Mike Huckabee.

I knew that I would want to have a unit study on the Election, and even purchased one from Amanda Bennett, but I was still worried about my ability to adequately teach the ins and outs of the election to two third graders. Honestly, the electoral college, conventions, elephants, GOP, and right or left wing jargon leaves me confused! I was never taught what any of this means. Obviously being a part in electing our nation's leaders is the most important job any one of us will do as Americans, so being knowledgeable about the process is important!

Although the DVD entitled "Election Day: Choosing our President" came at a cost of $9.95 plus shipping and handling, I thought it was a price worth paying. The purchase also includes another FREE DVD about Columbus, 6 special gifts, FREE online streaming, and FREE learning guides, downloadable games, maps, timelines and more.

If you would like one of these DVD's you can go HERE to order. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Summer Week 7

In my life this week ...This week as been a mixture of busyness and home time. I was glad to have a day at home yesterday to do some reading, blogging, school organizing, and laundry. The kids enjoyed a day at home relaxing and playing in their pj's. Some days we just need that!

In our homeschool this week ...This was a great week of learning. We spent Monday doing some reading.

On Tuesday we went to another Bass Pro Shops Family Summer Camp workshop, this time on Camping.

On Wednesday we celebrated Independence Day while having a school day learning about it, and then some family fun with swimming and fireworks.

Yesterday Brynne and Eli spent a lot of time playing Minecraft on the iPad. They only build things, not really play anything on it. But they have got some mad building skills! I am wondering if we have some future engineers or architects on our hands.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share ... If you have a grumbler (my Eli is a grumbler), try this simple motivator. I put blanks on a piece of paper representing letters to a word that informs them of a reward they will receive if there is no grumbling when they are asked to do their different assignments. They earn a letter for each non-grumbling time. If they earn all of the letters of the word, it reveals their reward (Like Wednesday, I set their work up into four sets so that they got a letter for each set of assignments that did not include a grumble. They were very excited to learn that we got to go SWIM at the end of the school day.)

I am inspired by ... our county's history. I don't know if I would ever have enough time to teach my kids everything there is to know.

Places we're going and people we're seeing ... Today we are going to see our good friends, while us moms do some planning for our joint ventures for schooling our girls this year. The girls are going to play with the supervision of a babysitter. Next year, we are planning a mom's planning weekend away. Yay! This weekend, we are DEFINITELY going to Missouri to see my family and to spend a night at my parents lake house. Do you know I have never revealed to my little ones that my parents have a lake house? I'm not a lake person and the thought of wrestling them at the lake did not interest me at all. But, now they are older and ready for the adventure! They will have a great time with papa.

My favorite thing this week was ... definitely the 4th of July. It was a great day of learning about the birth of our country, fun crafts, good books, exciting fireworks, a cookout, and swimming. And it was a day of being a family. I am blessed.

What's working/not working for us ... My anti-grumble motivator worked on a short-term basis. Using the Grumble-Meter with that reward-earning system is definitely going to be great for us! Eli loves to earn rewards, and this will give Brynne the opportunity to encourage Eli not to grumble. They can work together.

Questions/thoughts I have ... I am so excited about the few changes I am making to our schedule this year. It's amazing how my priorities have changed in just two short years. I have begun to realize the importance of those extra-curricular acivities, like physical education and nature, and they will be a huge part of what we do this next year.

Things I'm working on ... Our weekly school schedule, our first unit study on The Olympics, and Living Math to correspond with our weekly MEP (Math Enhancement Programme) lessons.

I'm reading ... Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach. (YES, I am still reading all of these. I am REALLY hoping I can get Marigold Hotel finished at my parents' this weekend. With no internet service there, it should be easier.)

I'm cooking ... Nothing for a few days. But starting Monday I am back to my Acronym cooking schedule.

I'm grateful for ... my home and my family.

I'm praying for ... my sister and new niece, one of my mentors who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, close family relationships.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share ...
Brynne, Dawson, Wesley (Dawson's bud), and Eli swimming on the 4th.

I am also linking up at Weekly Wrap-up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

and Collage Friday with Mary at Homegrown Learners.