Sunday, June 17, 2018

Books for 2018-2019 School Year

This week was a nice quiet summer week. One of my chores this week was sorting through all of our books. I am pretty sure I touched every single book we own. I removed about 100 from our collection that were no longer needed. They have been passed on to others. I also pulled all of the books we will be using next year. I must admit, I became a bit overwhelmed by the piles of books I wanted to share with my kids next year. We just can't do it all, and truthfully, we are all slow readers in this house-hold. I am also a firm believer that a great deal of learning goes on away from books, so we will not become chained to this list of resources. However, I love having a wonderful pile of living books at my fingertips. By the term living books, I mean books that teach about life, character and the human spirit. They are the opposite of boring books. For example, living books bring history to life by telling the stories behind the history, whether through biographies, historical fiction, and classics, be they in picture book style, unabridged format, or anything in between.

I am not saying that we will read all of the books in the below list cover to cover. Some of them may only have certain units or short stories that we use, while others will be read in their entirety. I don't want to be tethered to any curriculum, schedule or book next year. I want our learning to be rich, relevant and meaningful, not turn into a checklist to be finished

  1. The Useful Book by Sharon and David Bowers
  2. Eat Your Way Through the USA by Loree Pettit
  3. How to Build a Fire by Erin Bried
  4. A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
  5. Who is Malala Yousqfzai?
  6. Who is Sitting Bull?
  7. The Barrier Reef and Northeast Australia (DVD)
  8. Asheville A Postcard History Vol. 1 by Sue Greenberg
  9. Turning Points in History ~ People Who Changed the World
  10. Heroes of History Clara Barton Courage Under Fire by Janet and Geoff Beige
  11. Alexander Hamilton the Outsider by Jean Fritz
  12. Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz
  13. The Story of the World  Vol. 4 by Susan Wise Bauer
  14. The Story of the World  Vol. 4 workbook by Susan Wise Bauer
  15. Great Colonial American Projects
  16. Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold
  17. The Geography Drawing Series ~ Drawing Around the World ~ USA
  18. Where Is Machu Picchu?
  19. A Slice of Pie by Liz Strachan
  20. Money Matters for Teens Workbook by Larry Burkatt
  21. Conceptual Physics (Prentice Hall) by Paul G. Hewitt
  22. Basic Physics a Self-Teaching Guide by Karl F. Kuhn
  23. The Story of Science: Newton at the Center by Joy Hakin
  24. Student Quest Guide for The Story of Science by Joy Hakin
  25. The Cartoon Guide to Physics by Larry Burkett
  26. Who Was Einstein
  27. 101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up
  28. Narration of the Life of Frederick Douglas
  29. Frederick Douglas for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities
  30. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  31. Little Men by Mary Alcott
  32. Christy by Catherine Marshal
  33. Beyond the Western Sea by Avi
  34. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
  35. Geography Through Art
  36. Learning Language Arts Through Literature American
  37. Everything You Need to Ace English in One Big Fat Notebook
  38. Use It! Don't Lose It! Daily Language Practice
  39. American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne
  40. Word Roots: Learning the Building Blocks of Better Spelling and Vocabulary
  41. The Old Man and The See by Ernest Hemingway
  42. Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?
  43. To Kill a Mockingbird and 24 More Videos
  44. Living Mathematically: Home Improvement
  45. Survival Math Skills
  46. Math in Everyday Life
  47. Math in Everyday Life (teacher guide)
  48. Scope Magazine ~ Scholastic
  49. Choices Magazine ~ Scholastic

We will also be using several resources for our monthly poetry tea. This year we hope to cover Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams and Langston Hughes.

That is a long lineup and I am sure that other books will slip in and out of our lives through the year, but this is what I have on hand to add richness to our days.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 8, 2018

Summer Learning ~ Week One

This week really started last Friday for us. It really was a great and successful first week of summer. We had a lovely balance of growth, work around the house, learning time and play. Hopefully, the rest of our summer will be as lovely as this week.

Dean's Artist Retreat ~ Dean had a wonderful experience on the artist retreat. It was better than I had even dared to dream it would be. All of the kids got along great and they had a wonderful time creating together. Dean came back with lots of positive stories and feelings. I am so glad that he had a great experience. This post is already picture heavy, so I am going to save the art work for his transcript post.
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The five student artists

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Sketching in nature

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What a view!

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They took a class with some local Roanoke students.
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The Roanoke Star

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Nightly music jams
The Scent Seekers Exhibit ~ We went to the scent seekers exhibit at the Arboretum this week. I sometimes think the exhibits at the arboretum are hit or miss, but this one was fantastic. The kids were able to smell a large variety of scents that have been used to make perfumes for thousands of years. They even got to make their own scratch and sniff scent cards. The only glitch was the kids started in the middle of the exhibit and missed the beginning part that told them to cleanse their senses with the coffee beans provided. Since they didn't do that between scents, they ended up giving  themselves headaches. Because I was trying to keep up with them, I missed the beginning, too! I really need to go back and reinforce the importance of following a sequence. I have noticed this issue a few times recently.

Work and Play ~ We cleaned the garage out this week. We emptied it to the walls, swept it out and put about half of it back, but in a more organized fashion. I think I found a year or two supply of weed wacker string. The rest of the stuff was donated, put away in different parts of the house or thrown away. That feels like a really good accomplishment. Now there are just 12 spaces to go, including the back building. This house is too big but will be way more manageable once it is sparsely filled.

We were invited to a music jam party at a friend's house. This is going to be a semi-monthly occasion over the summer. The teens jumped on the trampoline, giggled with their friends, played a few songs, and ate tons of food. The adults talked about summer plans, played some music or listened, and ate way too much food. Fun was had by all and we will go back again. 
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What a cute bunch of teens.
Movie of the Week ~ We watched Holes this week. We had never seen this movie before, and we enjoyed it very much. It was much better than I expected, and we liked all of the layers and twists in the movie. 

This kids did their end-of-year state testing which was the last "must do" to complete the 2017-2018 school year. I feel so blessed to homeschool. It has been a wonderful journey. I can't believe another year is done.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, June 4, 2018

Summer Plans

It is that time of year when summer calls to me. Even Anne, usually so focused, is feeling the pull and is almost ready to set the books aside. She has worked so hard this year. It is time to shift gears and focus on other areas of growth. We will still do a bit of school, but it won't be the main focus of our days. Most summers end up having a learning theme for us and this year is shaping up to be the same. We plan to do lots of learning around slavery, the Underground Railroad and famous abolitionists. We currently plan to start back to school on August 20 which is a really long break for us. However, I find that with teens we get busier and busier, and while the seasons of learning change, they never pause.

Our Goals ~ Summer 2018

Read ~ We will be reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe this summer. I am really looking forward to sharing this book with my children. The children will also read books and magazines of their choice.

Watch ~ We will be watching a literature-based or history-based movie each week, complete with movie snacks.

Do ~ We will be working our way through all of the experiments centered on biology and earth science from The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists.

Exercise ~ We will go swimming once a week when we are together, and each child will continue with their passions of dance and boffing. I will walk every day -- one way or another!

Adventure ~  We are thinking about a family trip to Ohio, Indiana and Mammoth Caves, Kentucky. This would be an Underground Railroad Tour with a little bit of science thrown in for good measure. I still have to make sure I can make it affordable, but the plan is to do all or some of this adventure.

Stretch Skills ~ Dean just returned from an art retreat which was a great success. He will also be a camp counselor at his beloved childhood acting camp. He is so excited to be able to go to this camp once again, even if he doesn't get to play much this time around. Anne will be doing a two week dance intensive and working on street smarts downtown. I noticed on our trip to New Orleans that she got pushed around by the crowd more than the rest of us and didn't have a good sense of boundaries and maintaining a safe distance from strangers. We intend to work on this a lot during the summer.

Explore ~ We plan to explore some of the towns, lakes and waterfalls in our area that we have not been to in many years or have never seen at all.

Socialize ~ For the weeks that they will be home and have no commitments, we will try to set up some teen gatherings for them. Several of their friends are away for the better part of the summer, but there are still a few around that we will invite on outings.

Work ~ We plan to deep clean the entire house and finish painting the kitchen. Grandma is also offering some paying painting jobs at her house, which is very exciting to the kids. Lastly, we plan to prepare the wood frame shed for renovations. We will clean it out and assess what needs to be done in order to make it into a livable space for Tim (our adult son).
I always try to have a fun box of stuff for summer that I can dip into for the slow times.
This is what I found on my first Dollar Tree run. The Twizzlers are different flavors and intended for a taste challenge.
It is going to be a great summer and a well-needed change of pace!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Week of Stretching and Growing!

Children grow and stretch their abilities every single day, but some weeks the stretching and growing come in really big chunks. This was one of those weeks for both of my youngest.

Cecchetti Exam Anne spent the entire school year preparing to take the level 4 exam in Cecchetti (Italian form of ballet). South Carolina was the closest exam location and the big day was on Monday. Anne feels that she did a good job and is pretty sure she passed. We will know for sure in about six weeks when the results and reports come back. The whole experience was wonderful and she gained tons of experience.
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A sweet pose with her friend who was also taking the level 4 exam.

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Warming up in the lobby
The only difficulty in the entire experience was getting home. Our area has been under extreme rain for the past two weeks. In fact, we usually get 3 inches of rain in the month of May and we have gotten 20 inches of rain in the last two and a half weeks. To say the least, our area is under a state of emergency. There is a lot of flooding in our city and surrounding communities, so I had to take a few detours to get us home.
Dean Left for a Watercolor Artist Retreat ~ I decided a few months ago that Dean needed to do something big every three months or so that would stretch his comfort level. Some things will be bigger than others, but he needs to be pushed to try new things and build his confidence and skills. This quarter we agreed (he less than enthusiastically) that he would go on a three day weekend with his homeschool class to an artist retreat on a farm about four hours away. Thankfully, he warmed up to the idea by the time he had to leave today. So far, his art teacher is posting happy reports on Facebook, and his one text to me said all was going well. They will be visiting a museum, painting in watercolor on the farm, and taking a watercolor class with another teacher and her class in the area. It should be a wonderful learning and stretching experience.

The Rest of the Week ~ This was a short week and with Anne's big event on Monday and Dean's huge adventure beginning on Friday, the rest of the week was mostly unpacking from one event and preparing for the next. However, we did manage to wrap up Anne's sign language, performing arts and physical education courses. I will be posting them here soon for her high school transcript. We also enjoyed our latest Universal Yum box which was from the Philippines this time. The snacks were the oddest yet, but fun to try.

Lastly, a picture of Rosie. She is a real sweetie, but I forgot how much kitten proofing is needed for a kitten. She is into EVERYTHING when she isn't asleep.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Performing Arts Half Credit ~ 9th Grade ~ Anne

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Cast of Alice in Wonderland

Anne earned a half credit (90 hours) for performing arts this year. She performed in a variety of shows and worked very hard on all of her characters and dances. She danced many styles this year, including jazz, ballet, pointe, modern, hip hop, salsa and modern limone.

Alice in Wonderland ~ Anne performed in eight shows of Alice in Wonderland. She had the main character role of the caterpillar which required her to take weeks of aerial arts classes to learn how to perform on silks. She also performed as a garden gate on pointe as well as a jazzy cat. She did an excellent job and put forth all of her passion and effort into the performances.
Garden Gate
The Nutcracker and The Mouse King ~ She performed in four shows of The Nutcracker and The Mouse King. She had the main character role of the princess, which was a partnering ballet piece. She also danced with the Junior Company in various roles, including elastic doll, guard, cat, pop rocks, sailor and a sugar mask. She did a wonderful job of getting through many quick costume changes (some of them only a minute long).
Posing in Three Tableaus with the Adult Company ~ Anne was delighted to be invited to perform in three tableaus during the Fringe Festival. They performed on the streets at locations around the downtown to support the LaZoom bus tour. They would set up at different stops and then hold a pose for seven or eight minutes while the tour bus unloaded and looked at them. It was a great experience. They did a prom scene, bachelorette party scene and a winter at the beach scene.
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Posing in a Tableaus was a new experience.
Hola Children's Festival ~ Anne really enjoyed doing a salsa dance piece with Junior Company at this festival. It was another outdoor dance experience.
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Hola Children's Festival
The Winter Showcase ~ The winter showcase is one of Anne's favorite events each year. It is an opportunity for the students to show some of their own work in addition to a sneak peek at what they are working on. Anne performed in four shows of the showcase. She participated in 10 dances each show.
  1. "Fallen Angels" choreographed by Melissa Wilhoit (Modern piece)
  2. "Remembering What is Being Lost" choreographed by Sara Keller (Ballet piece)
  3. "Serenade" choreographed by Balanchine (Classical Ballet piece)
  4. "Baaxaloob Tu Yotochoob" choreographed by Fanny Ortiz (Modern piece)
  5. "Cat Call" choreographed by students (Modern piece)
  6. "Swingin' Sass" choreographed by Sara Keller (Jazz piece)
  7. "Hot Havana Nights" choreographed by Megan Waldrop and Guillermo Valseca (Salsa piece)
  8. "Road Runner" choreographed by Susan Collard (Modern piece)
  9. "Retail Therapy" choreographed by Megan Waldrop (Hip Hop piece)
  10. "I Know Girls" choreographed by Anne and two of her friends (Lyrical piece)
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Anne mid leap

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Anne dancing her solo 

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Anne far right
It was a wonderful year filled with great achievements and experiences. She earned a grade of A (100%) for her hard work and accomplishments.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 25, 2018

Week 36 ~ Movies, Performances and Chihuly

We are so close to the end of the year. We are transitioning into summer a little bit more day by day. Our half-day lessons are going well. This week we logged about 12 hours of school (not including Anne's dance hours which are divided into Physical Education credit and Performing Arts credit).

The last dance classes of the school year were wrapped up this week at our full-time studio. There will be two weeks of dance intensives in July. The Cecchetti ballet classes will continue as usual all summer long. The first four performances of Alice in Wonderland were a roaring success. All eight shows are sold out and Anne is looking forward to performing in the last four shows this weekend. Then it is off for her Cecchetti exam in South Carolina. She did great in her mock Cecchetti exam this week, so hopefully all will go well.

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The last dance class of the year was held outside.

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These girls did a marvelous job this year (Junior Company 2018).

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My sweet Caterpillar!
Anne is the caterpillar (the one in a white costume and a green hood).
We used our Biltmore annual pass to go see the gorgeous Dale Chihuly exhibit this week. We took a friend a piece for the kids and enjoyed it immensely. The glass sculptures are wonderful, and since we went during the week, it wasn't terribly crowded. There are 16 glass sculptures on the property. I loved the boat with the floating balls the most. It was gloriously sunny the day we went. I can't wait to see them again in different types of weather.
From left to right (H, Anne, Dean and F)

We had our last Literature/Movie Club with friends this week. We enjoyed seeing Rear Window, which is my favorite Hitchcock movie by far.

School this week ~
  • Watched Gone with the Wind (Dean and Anne)
  • Watched Rear Window (Dean and Anne)
  • Read Who Is Harriet Beecher Stowe? (Dean)
  • Read 5 chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Anne)
  • Visited the Chihuly exhibit (Dean and Anne)
  • Took mock Cecchetti exam (Anne)
  • Researched cat care and bonding techniques (Dean)
  • Performed in Alice in Wonderland 4 times (Anne)
Dear Husband is off to a memorial for his Godmother and will be gone for the entire weekend. We will miss him, but we are glad he won't be gone a long time like during his military days. We will have an extra teen with us some of the weekend, since she needs some place to stay while her family is away on a trip. Hopefully, we will have calm fun so that we don't over tax Anne's introverted system before we drive to South Carolina for the Cecchetti exam.

I am also praying that the giant storm coming in from the Gulf Coast doesn't hit us too hard and close the highways again. We had a huge storm last weekend that caused mudslides a few counties away. That storm closed the highway for several hours that I will need to travel on this weekend to get to South Carolina. The flooding in our area was not too extreme, but our basement flooded a bit and all of our waterfront river parks were under water.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 18, 2018

Week 35 ~ A Caterpillar, a Kitten and a Pig

It has been a great week. There was plenty of learning, time in nature and time with friends. Considering that it is tech week for Alice in Wonderland, everything is running pretty smoothly on the home front and everyone has been fed, has clean clothes and is nurtured. Usually, on crazy, busy weeks, I use an emergency home maintenance plan which mostly means keep up with the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. This means the rest of the house starts to fall apart by the end of the week. This week, I tried something a bit different and I am very happy with the results. The kids took over all aspects of laundry, and I spent three minutes a day in each room of our house, including the hallway which is large enough to hold the piano. The result is that all of the rooms in my house are afloat. They are not special company clean, but they are reasonably clean and comfortable. In those three minutes per room, I was able to wipe down counters, toilets, make a bed, sweep floors, pick up clutter and generally give a room a once over. I did spend more like 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen each day. This weekend we will put more time into the house, but I am pleased with my new plan for crazy, busy weeks. Next week is bound to be even crazier.

Last Friday I Lost My Mind ~ and we adopted a four month old kitten from the shelter. Dean has wanted a kitten for a long time and the time seemed reasonably right. We saw that there were  four or five kittens and cats to visit with at the shelter who fit our list of desires. Indeed, Dean fell in love with one in particular and we brought her home. She is named Rosie and is living in his room for now while she slowly meets Boomer (dog) and bonds to Dean being her main caregiver.  She is more cuddly than many cats so far, which was important to Dean, and is also great at getting into mischief as kittens so often do. This is bringing much laughter into our home. We are smitten with her!

Exploring Our World ~ For Mother's Day weekend, we drove 1.5 hours away to see two waterfalls and a gem museum we had never seen before. One of the waterfalls wasn't very spectacular, but the other was great. We visited Dry Falls and got to walk behind the waterfall. It was a lovely, short hike to the waterfall. Dean enjoyed taking pictures of all the moss and ferns that were along the trail.

Behind the Waterfall
We also visited a gem museum that was supposed to be one of the biggest in our gem saturated area. It was in Franklin which is the gem capital of Western North Carolina. Dean said, "I love gem and mineral museums because each one has something unique." This museum was unique, because it was in an old jail and had the original cells and jail graffiti. It also had a petrified pine cone, which we had never seen before.

A Watercolor Intensive ~ Dean is really enjoying the watercolor intensive he is taking with his class. They are learning so many exciting techniques.

Fetal Pig Dissection ~ We had a friend over for the day because the public school system was closed. It was still a school day for us, so we decided to do something exciting instead of just reading and math. The overall vote was to dissect our fetal pig. The dissection went well, although my crew is very squeamish about dissection in general, so Grandma and I did all of the cutting. Our fetal pig was female and seemed to be missing her pancreas. We never could find it. Maybe that is why the litter of piglets were lost.

The kids also worked on drawing the human skeletal system into a life-size model.

Alice in Wonderland ~ There will be eight shows over the next two weekends, so we are going to be a busy family. Anne's main character role is the caterpillar. She is also a swinging gate to the garden, which is a dance in pointe, plus a jazzy cat. I haven't seen hardly any of the show during rehearsals so it is mostly going to be a surprise. The little bits I have seen look marvelous. I can't wait!

Jazzy Cat

Garden Gate
Blessings, Dawn