Friday, November 30, 2012

Rediscovering Christmas ~ Week One: The Angel

It's time to Rediscover Christmas, the true meaning of Christmas, that is! If you missed my previous post about all of my plans for this series, you can review it by going HERE.

Next week will be our first week of study. And, moms, you aren't to be left out.

I checked out the book, The Christmas Story by G. A. Myers. It's a sweet little devotional that will go hand-in-hand with the children's study we will be doing. Read and meditate on Chapter 1 and all about "The Announcement to Mary". If you don't have the book, then just spend some time reading in your Bible (Luke 1: 26-38), or in another book of your choosing, about Mary and the angel when she received the news that she would be the mother of the Messiah. I will be posting my reflections, and you can comment and share your heart, as well.

Now on to the kids ...

In The First Christmas by Francine M. O'Connor, we will be reading the first two stories, "Listen to Isaiah" and "The Lady and the Angel".

Of course we will be reading the Bible. I have chosen for us to read the stories from The One Year Children's Bible by Rhona Davies. We will read "Another Visit from Gabriel" on Page 214.


For our activity, we will be making an easy stained glass angel. My intention is for the kids to make things that we can deliver to my grandmother in the nursing home and send to my other grandmother who lives in a town about 30 minutes away. It thrills them to get handmade things from the kids.

You will need the following supplies:

* contact paper
* black construction paper
* tissue paper

Last, we will read The Story of Christmas by Vivian French.

Shannon and I will be posting the results of the activities on Wednesday next week, and we will include a Linky. Please join us, if you'd like!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Our Personal Life

Well, this week's wrap-up has nothing to do with school, because we didn't do any this week. I had intentions for us to do some odds and ends, but daddy has been here this whole week and we have had lots of activities going on. Our personal life has been jammed packed, so I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into it.

Last Saturday we took the kids to the movies to see Wreck it Ralph and then to a Japanese steakhouse so they could try sushi. Since we are studying Japan, this is something they really wanted to do. We had a great time eating our sushi, using chopsticks, and watching the cooking show.

On Sunday, I played bells at church and Brynne was an acolyte for the first time.

After we got home, since we were all showered, dressed, and together ... at the same time ... we went down to the park for some family pictures.

Monday we hung out at home during the day, but then I spent some time Monday night working on the Boy Scout Christmas parade float with another mom. We have been the only two to work on it and we were pretty proud of what we accomplished. The parade theme was "Twas the Night Before Christmas". The boys will be on the float wearing nightcaps and their Boy Scout shirts.

Tuesday involved much more float work, some haircuts and babysitting my niece for a bit. I also got down and dirty vacuuming my house. Rick brought me my Dyson and I was so happy! I love my Dyson and there is no vacuum that compares. Pretty crazy that I could be happy doing housework. I also finished Eli's birthday party invitations.

I spent ALL DAY Wednesday preparing for Eli's 9th birthday party. I made nunchucks, katanas, Japanese lanterns, put together party favor boxes, and started on the kickboxing pinata. We also walked the two blocks to the little Chinese restaurant for lunch as a family. Yum!

Then Thursday was Thanksgiving. We had a great day! Daddy and the kids got up at 8:00 a.m. when Eli came bounding into the bedroom announcing that the parade was starting! They let me sleep until 10:00 a.m.! When I got up, I got started on our dinner preparations. It was, by far, the most delicious Thanksgiving meal I have ever cooked. With the exception of the noodles, I made everything from scratch. The stuffing recipe I used was TO DIE FOR! No more boxed stuffing for us!

The funnest part of the day was our family acting out the first Thanksgiving. Eli wanted us to do a play. So, I made pilgrim hats for Brynne and I and Rick made indian hats for him and Eli. Then we acted out the scenes. After we invited the indians to our table, we had our amazing meal.

And, then {shamefully} I left my family and went to Walmart for Black Friday, errrr Thursday, to capitalize on some deals. What a crazy experience! Admittedly, it was kind of fun! I came home at 11:30 p.m., ate some more stuffing, noodles, and chocolate lava cake, and then went to bed actually thankful that my shopping was over and I could just sleep in on Friday.

Then yesterday was Eli's birthday party. I got up and finished the pinata, made candy sushi, and his cake. Then I cleaned house to get ready for our party goers. Eli only invited three little boys, but it was LOTS of fun! They decorated nunchucks, had a balloon ninja battle with their homemade katanas, used chopsticks to get prizes out of a bowl of popcorn, had some snacks, and then kickboxed the pinata. Everybody went home with a takeout box with ninja action figures and their very own chopsticks.

Rick and the kids got our Christmas tree yesterday and today we decorated it. The rest of the decorations will go have to go up tomorrow or early in the week. We just ran out of time. The Christmas parade was tonight, and then we drove through the park to see Christmas in the Park. The lights were amazing! After grabbing Sonic for dinner, we came home and watched Elf together as a family. (I know I am getting ready to destroy the Christmas spirit of so many right now, but I do not like the movie Elf. I watched it for a while and then finished some laundry and now am in bed finishing this post. I can still hear it playing in the living room.)

Tomorrow we'll go to church and then come home to do some more Christmas decorating. My parents come back from their week at their house in Florida, so we will be waiting for them at their house when they get home. I'm making turkey tetrazini for dinner for us and my sister and my parents for when they get home.

On Monday, it's back to hitting the books. We have a lot to accomplish before our Christmas break. And I am actually really ready for some normalcy and schedule! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ YIPPEEE! Nothing Exciting!

Ahhh ... a (semi) normal week! Well, after Monday. Brynne woke up with a fever, sore throat, headache and vomited first thing. We took care of her all day. She was all better on Tuesday morning. (God bless green tea, ibuprofen, and the privilege to be homeschoolers so we could all just rest!)

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, however, we were able to get into our regular schedule. (Well, Kyndal did come back home from school on Wednesday because she was sick AGAIN and we finally were able to determine from more blood testing that she is severely anemic and has the virus that causes mono. She's out of school until after Thanksgiving. We were able to continue on with school, though.) We started each day with Bible learning about Jacob and Esau. I love our stick-figuring through the bible lessons with Grapevine Studies. Excellent!

Our writing program had the kids writing five-sentence paragraphs about the color of their choice. Brynne chose blue and Eli chose red. We had some struggles with Introduction and Conclusion, but worked it out as a group.

In math we did some double-digit mental math review and learned about quadrilaterals, opposite, and adjacent.

We are reading Stuart Little. They don't seem to be into it as much as they were with James and the Giant Peach. All they keep doing is comparing it to the movie. We will finish it, though. I think we might move onto Shiloh next.

For grammar we spent the week doing some Rainbow Sentences (building the sentences and then writing down the subject, verb, and prepositional phrase) and then did some reading comprehension on Samson's Classroom. We are eagerly awaiting our Cozy Grammar materials that a sweet friend has agreed to loan us!

With the happening of life, art and nature have taken a backseat. We did spend quite a bit of time observing our red squirrels that live in our oak tree in front of our house. They are precious! Brynne has named them Fiesty and Derek. We observed how they run around the tree in a spiral, how they climb down the tree head first, and how they hold their acorns with their shorter front legs to eat. These were all things we learned about last week when studying squirrels at the park. They are so playful and really fun to watch! And it helps that they are in the tree right outside the window so the kids can sit on the back of the couch and observe whenever they want. The dogs help us know when they are there.

Our geographical study had us focusing on Japan this week. We have had a lot of fun.

We colored the Japanese Flag, which symbolizes the "Land of the Rising Sun". We read lots of facts about Japan from Facts for Kids - Japan that led us to watch some Sumo wrestling on Youtube and watch an episode of "Sagwa: the Japanese Siamese Cat" to see an example of Japanese calligraphy.

The library didn't get all my books in, so we only read a couple this week. The first one was
Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers by Gloria Whelan. This was an excellent book with lots of geographical and cultural facts, as well as loaded with Haikus. We will be tackling the Haiku after Thanksgiving when we resume our studies. The other book was a sweet one called Rise and Shine, Mariko-chan by Chiyoko Tomioka. We learned some of the Japanese names for family and that "chan" and "san" added to the end of a name is a way of expressing endearment, like saying "my dear". "Chan" is for children and "San" is for adults and people of influence. Based on this, Daniel on the "Karate Kid" should have been Daniel-chan instead of Daniel-san, just saying.

Another favorite activity was the crayon resist map we did of the Japanese islands that illustrated their topography. This was a lesson from Ellen McHenry and was our Favorite Resource this Week.

Eli started not feeling well by yesterday afternoon. He had a sore throat and was coughing last night. With daddy coming today FOR 10 DAYS we are going to spend the morning preparing for his arrival and the afternoon going "to town" for groceries.

We are hoping that he wil be feeling better so that we can go on our field trip tomorrow night to eat sushi! The kids want to try it, and daddy loves it. So, it's a win-win, except that I don't like sushi so I'll be eating something else. We have chosen a versatile restaurant.

As we are planning to pretty much take the week off next week, except for some odds and ends, you may not be hearing from us until after Thanksgiving. Enjoy your time with your family. I know that we will! (And we will be celebrating my daughter's 18th birthday and my son's 9th birthday. Lots going on!)

Linking up with week with:
Weekly Wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
That's a Wrap at Hammock Tracks
Favorite Resource this Week at Learning ALL the time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Rediscovering Christmas

While shopping for Halloween costumes, we had to walk through Christmas decorations. Isn't that the way things are now? It's all commercialism. Where is Jesus? Oh, yeah, he's on that plastic nativity set on Aisle 8. Lest you think I am judging others, know that we are guilty of it, too. Although we do not decorate our house until after Thanksgiving, the magic of Santa always seems to take the place of the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

Every year at about this time, I like to do a Christmas Book and Activity unit. This year, I am making it all about Jesus and the Nativity story. And it will be called Rediscovering Christmas.

How does Rediscovering Christmas work?

We will start our series on Friday, November 30th. Why a Friday? Each Friday we will list the book we are going to use for the following week and supplies you might need, in case you are doing the same books/activities as us.

Then the following Wednesday of the week, join us as we post our book and activity for the week. You can follow along with the books we are using or choose your own. This is your Rediscovering Christmas so make it a great one for your family! Each Wednesday we will also provide a Linky, so feel free to link up! 

The books and activities I am offering will be targeting ages 4-9. We will primarily be using the book The First Christmas by Francine M. O'Connor, as well as The One Year Children's Bible (but feel free to use any Bible you choose.)

We will also be reading the following books:

The Story of Christmas by Vivian French

First Christmas by Alastair MacDonald

The Shepherd Boy by Kim Lewis

The Christmas Star by Allia Zobel-Nolan

I am also encouraging moms to get involved in their own readings and devotionals that will correspond with what the kids will be reading and doing. We will use The Christmas Story by G.A. Myers.

Co-hosting with me on this Rediscovering Christmas journey is Shannon. She has a fantastic blog called Butterfly Wishes Wonderland Dreams. Although she is super busy with her two school-aged daughters and goes to college herself, she still finds time to teach her girls at home using literature, art, nature, and cooking. She always inspires me to provide more fun and deeper learning experiences for my kids, and I often copy off of her! You will be blessed with her approach to the Christmas season and her activities.

Shannon's girls are in catholic school and they spend all of the Advent season studying what Christmas is really about. But it is important to her to bring their learning home, too.  They will do their Rediscovering Christmas activities on each Sunday of Advent. She picked out some great books that will bless your time with your children this Christmas season.

They plan to use The Nativity Story by Geraldine McCauhrean and Sophy Williams, along with their Catholic Youth Study Bible as their main books with the following four as supplemental books to make this a literature-rich Christmas.

The Twelve Prayers of Christmas by Candy Chand
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Little Shepherd Girl: A Christmas Story by Juliann Henry (if you have boys, feel free to grab a book about a shepherd boy)
Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell

Shannon is also doing her own study, and invites moms to join her. She will be using Carols: A Christmas Devotional. This plan is 25 days and she plans to start it on November 25th. She will also be exploring Christmas Carols in her study, and will have more information about that on her blog. (I actually wasn't planning on doing this, but after looking at it I have decided I have to fit it in!! It looks excellent!)

As you can see, there are lots of opportunities for you and your children to Rediscover Christmas with us. You can follow one or both of our plans, or you can develop your own. There are a couple of mom devotionals to choose from, as well. The point is: Bring Christ up front and center in your schooling and family. Join us!

See you on November 30th. In the meantime, enjoy a special Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day Unit

Well, darn. I planned a really great day of studying and celebrating Veteran's Day, and then Brynne woke up with a sore throat, fever, headache, and then vomited. We won't be using our lesson plans, but maybe you can. I'll be saving these plans for next year.


Veteran's Day (American Holidays) by Arlene Worsley

Bald Eagle (Animals in U.S. History) by Lynn Stone (for nature)


brave, strong, humble, protection, caring, hero, respect, honor, America, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, courage freedom


Veteran's Day 3rd grade common core worksheets (free download from TeachersPayTeachers)


Writing and Art - "How Do Veteran's Show Bravery?" and handprint eagle
Word search (made using our spelling words)

Physical Education:

Boot Camp!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Growing up Wild ~ Schoolhouse Review


I get the opportunity to write my final review for the 2012 Schoolhouse review period about my favorite product we reviewed this year! "Growing up Wild" is a 5-volume dvd series written and narrated by the Wild family, missionaries in the Wano village in the jungles of Papua, Indonesia. The Wilds have four sons, and the videos are told from their perspective as children.


We had the privilege to review the 1st and 4th volumes. And let me tell you, we had a blast watching these videos!


 Each dvd contains three episodes that are about 15 minutes long. They are very personal, narrated by either mom or dad, and show amateur video footage of many different aspects of village living, accompanied by music. Even the family's pets are involved! They are very fun to watch and so, so interesting! Each volume also contains a separate cd that has a printable Activity Guide. Each video has suggested activities at the end of the episode (which are the same as what's on the printable guide) that go along with that episode.

I say it so often that we love unit studies! And just recently my kids have decided that they wanted to do geographical studies. We were completing our unit on Nigeria when we received the "Growing up Wild" videos. So, we decided that Indonesia would be next.

How we used the video series

Each day we would watch a video. Then we would read some picture books about Indonesia or set in Indonesia. We would end our time each day doing one of the activities suggested in the Activity Guide.

Volume 1

"Home Sweet Hut" ~ We learned about the living arrangements for the Wild family and all about the Wano hut. We compared our home to the Wano homes and then made our own Wano huts by using materials from our yard.

"Supply Trip" ~ We learned about what it takes for the Wild family to plan for and obtain six months worth of supplies to live. Then we did some math to see what our family would need to survive for six months.

"Sun and Water" ~ We learned how the Wild family obtains their power by use of water and sunlight. Then we made a solar oven and cooked hot dogs and s'mores by the power of the sun.

Volume 4

"Amazing World Around Us" ~ We learned all about the animals in the Papua jungle and about their environment and ecosystem. Then we took a trip to the zoo and recorded the different animals and their environments and ecosystems, particularly the chimpanzees.

"Adventures in Culture" ~ Obviously the Wano culture is much different than our culture and we learned some interesting things. We were all shocked to see two of the Wild brothers get their noses pierced. Then I pierced Eli and Brynne's noses. JUST KIDDING! I told them that was what we were going to do, and they freaked! We did do comparisons of our culture to the Wano culture, and then we compared our culture with our immediate neighbors, the Amish.

"Tribal Calling" ~ The last episode we watched showed the hard work of the Wild family as missionaries. But, more than anything they showed how many others are involved in mission work, not just the missionaries living in the villages. They compared the different aspects of missionary work to an iceberg, so we made our own iceberg as a demonstration.


Each and every day the kids wanted to know when we were going to watch our Indonesia video. And, when they were completed, Eli said, "I wish we had these videos for every country we study." So do I, buddy, so do I. Seriously, this was the best way to learn!

Each volume in the dvd series can be purchased separately for $18.95, or all five dvds can be purchased in a bundle for $80.99, a savings of 15%, by going to the Wild Brothers Website. And, in my opinion, this is a great cause to support. It's a win/win for all involved.

To read other reviews on this product, go to the Schoolhouse Crew blog.


{Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.}

And that's a wrap for this season. See you next year!!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Normal, Normal, Where for art thou, Normal?

Normal doesn't seem to be in our vocabulary anymore. How I long for a full week where we are on our regular schedule, touching all subjects each day, with no drama or disruptions. Maybe next week? Maybe not. Only time will tell.

This week had us starting our school week in Oklahoma. We had to make a trip back there for various reasons. On Monday we went to the Tulsa Zoo for some fun. While there, we used an activity assignment from our Indonesia study and observed specified types of animals. Then we discussed their environments and ecosystems. We got a REAL education in tactics chimpanzees use to urinate. Oh. my. goodness.

This guy got up close and personal with Brynne. His name is Bernsen and we have been visiting him since he was a baby. He kissed Brynne through the glass and touched his hand to hers. Adorable.

For the first time in YEARS we located the sloth in the Rainforest. He is my favorite animal, and I have missed him!

We spent Tuesday learning about the election and voting. We sat in our empty house in Oklahoma and watched "Election Day" from Learn About History. I was amazed at how much the kids learned from this video. I was skeptical, at first, because I thought it might be too complicated for them. But they really enjoyed it! I would pause it to discuss things with them in more depth, as needed.

Our favorite thing to learn about was the Electoral College. I had received this map free from C-SPAN Classroom and I laid it out on the floor for easy observation. Then we answered questions on a worksheet I printed. I think I might now even have an understanding of what it takes to be elected as President.

We read several books (LOVE Grace for President), did a graphic organizer to decide who in the book we would vote for, and ended our studies at the polls. The kids worked on an Election word search while Daddy and I voted. We didn't do all we had planned that day, but what we did accomplish was significant and meaningful.

We had planned to travel home on Wednesday, but decided to come home late Tuesday night instead. I found myself cleaning, doing laundry, organizing, and many other things on Wednesday so we never did get to any schoolwork. Honestly, I never heard from my kids all day except to eat. At the end of the afternoon, Brynne told me that they were sure to be quiet in their room all day so I wouldn't remember that we needed to do school. Smart girl!

Thursday was still a little disjointed, but we did move through more of our study on Indonesia learning about cultures. We talked a lot about their culture versus ours and even how our culture differs from some in our local community .. the Amish. We have a large Amish community in our town and see them every single day. It was a great discussion.

It was also a beautiful day! The sun was shining and it was warm with a nice breeze. We took advantage of the day by walking/scootering to the library so that the kids could play on the computers there and I could prepare for our next geographical unit on Japan. Eli has really been wanting to study Japan, and we are having a Ninja birthday party for him right after Thanksgiving. It will all work out perfectly.

Last night Kyndal came home after another doctor's appointment for a severe sore throat, exhaustion, and fever. They tested her for mono and we'll have the results on Monday. She has been ordered to not return to school for two weeks, at a minimum. So, she'll be doing schoolwork at home for at least the next couple of weeks while I doctor her back to health.

And today? Why launch out on a bunch of serious studies today? We got back outside and just concentrated on Nature instead. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and we just couldn't pass it up. We went to the park to study squirrels. Wouldn't you know that we didn't see even one squirrel ... at the park? Luckily we have lots of squirrels constantly scurrying up our trees at home. So, we learned all about them today from the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, so this next week we'll be on the lookout for them to observe what we learned.

We also finished our studies on Indonesia and learned a bit about icebergs? In Indonesia? It actually had to do with some symbolism. I will be posting a review about the incredible product we have been using for our study of Indonesia, so I'll reveal more about it then. Here is our iceberg floating in the sink.

I am bound and determined that we are moving on to a more normal week. We are moving from Indonesia to Japan. I am looking for us to have lots of fun!

We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.