Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Wrap-Up ~ A Lovely Week

I hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving. We has a calm one with plenty of food. Although the week was shorter than usual, it was jammed packed with goodness.  We are all struggling with a family cold so this post will be a bit short. We completed week 14 and are taking it easy for a few days. 

Art ~ Dean is doing great in his art class. They had a mini art show for the parents this week. They created a happy memory in a tuna can. He based his our trip to Ocean City this summer. He did a great job capturing the light. They are starting self portraits next.

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Charity of the Week ~ We collected food for the food bank tree at the mall. The kids have been donating to this tree every year since they could hold a can in their hands. We were so busy this week that only Anne was with me when we were able to drop off our donation. 
A Fun Photo Shoot ~ As soon as Anne saw the lovely holiday lights downtown, she wanted to do a photo shoot. So, we did one on Thanksgiving evening. We had lots of fun. Here are just a few shots. She likes the silhouette one the best.
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We are limping through Friday doing chores, sterilizing the house before company comes next week and watching some science shows on Netflix. It is the best we can do today. We often get sick right around Thanksgiving. I think that it is a blessing really. It is a break of about five days between dance classes and Nutcracker week. It is a blessing that we generally get sick during this time of rest when we really can stop and recover.  We have several fun things on the schedule for the weekend. I am not sure how many of them are going to happen.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, November 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ A Hands-on Week

We are just one more week out from a well-deserved break. We have been going strong for 13 weeks now, and I can see that all of our brains are getting tired and need a short break. We will take the week off after Thanksgiving. It will be Nutcracker week and we will have relatives in town, so it is a perfect time to rest and kick off Advent. This week was heavy on hands-on learning and lighter on book learning, but we got lots done. They did do the three R's each day.

Our Weekly Charity ~ We started our holiday weekly charity challenge. This week we made shoe boxes for Meals on Wheels. My kids love making shoe boxes for the elderly and housebound. We are even thinking about taking on a small route once a week next school year. It would only take 1.5 hours a week and could be a wonderful opportunity for the kids.

Home Economics ~ It is that time of year where I feel like sorting and organizing. We did lots of that this week. Anne also polished all of the silver in the house. It took her three hours over a few days. We inherited all this silver and do not use it. However, in case the children want it some day, we try to maintain it. We only polish our silver once a year, and it is a job Anne really enjoys. 

Math Games ~ We received two new math games in the mail this week. The kids immediately took to Equate. They ask to play it every day. We haven't completed a game yet because we keep running out of time. It apparently takes our family more than an hour to play a full game, but we very much enjoy playing it.

A Wonderful Production ~ We met up with some friends and went to the production of All Great Books performed by the Reduced Shakespeare Company. It was an awesome show that presented an important fact or two about 89 classic books. It was fast, hilarious and surprisingly educational. The production did my Homeschool Mom heart proud, because my kids kept saying over and over to each other, "I remember this one" and "We just read that one."
Dean was in attendance but didn't want his photo taken. 
A New Adventure ~ Dean started an internship with a family friend this week. He will be training as a volunteer at a local art gallery. He will learn how to hang paintings, create a wall of art, pack and ship artwork, maintain the artwork, keep the space clean and help shoppers find what they are looking for. Dean came home feeling positive about his first day. I am so thankful for that.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, November 10, 2017

Week 12 ~ Calmer than Expected

I feel like this week was the calm before the storm. I also took very few photos this week. That is just the way of it sometimes. Life takes off and I forget to record it in pictures. The highlight of the week was having Anne's best friend Josephine over for the day. They kicked the day off with a Pringles challenge. They found it harder than expected to figure out the different flavors while blindfolded. The rules of the game state that if one guesses incorrectly, she or he is supposed to be slapped; but they were very gentle with each other. The afternoon was spent playing in autumn leaves. I am so glad they aren't too cool to have good, old-fashioned fun.

The remainder of this past week was about progressing in subjects that were behind, holding steady with subjects that were on schedule, and wrapping up projects that were in the way and creating messes. Here is what we accomplished:
  • We played lots of board games this week ~ 10 days in Asia, 10 days in the USA, Scattergories, StrategoQuizmo Geometry, and chess
  • Anne learned and performed for credit three more songs in American Sign Language.
  • Both kids covered five more hours of biology. They read about bacteria, grew bacteria in 10 more petri dishes and watched several episodes of Life on Netflix.
  • They each accomplished four math lessons.
  • Anne finished painting her night stand and put it into her room. She has just one more piece of furniture to paint. 
  • Dean participated in two hours of boffing.
  • We started reading The Brothers Grimm Vol.2 as a family.
  • Anne attended 16 hours of dance classes, including a two hour private lesson in Cecchetti because no one but her showed up on that day. She also has six hours of rehearsal this weekend.
  • We wrapped up our study of Sherlock Holmes and moved on to Jane Austin's Emma. We are watching the movie tonight. 
  • Dean practiced guitar and ukulele every day and attended his guitar lesson.
  • Dean finished up his art project for his art class.
  • They watched CNN-10 news each day. 
  • Anne finished a 1,000 piece puzzle of Mt. Rushmore that has been laying around for weeks. We lost one piece. 

It seems like more happened than that. Since I record lessons in the lesson planners as they are finished and not by the week we are in, I may be missing something. 

Anne also started decorating her room for Christmas. She is determined to enjoy the season for as long as possible this year. We love Christmas around here, but historically it has been a stressful time of the year. When our mentally ill daughter Goldilocks lived with us, she started really acting up around Thanksgiving and would be unbearable to deal with until mid-January every year. Her behaviors were extreme and dangerous. This is common for kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder and even worse because her birthday is just a few days after Christmas. Birthdays tend to be very hard on some foster/adopted children and this is true for her. Some years I wanted to skip the Christmas season completely. Then we added in The Nutcracker performances eight years ago and that made our lives incredibly busy and stressful. It feels different this year. Everyone in our household is in a good emotional place, and we are veterans of The Nutcracker. It really doesn't feel overwhelming so far. I hope the joy of the season sticks!

Last but not least ~ A photo of my handsome son, otherwise known as stick boy. HaHa.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Innovators Tribe ~ Review

My son (15) really needs a hands-on approach to learning, which can be challenging during the high school years. Thinking Like an Engineer from Innovators Tribe is the perfect fit for my son's learning style. We have been reviewing this exciting online course for a few weeks. We received a two year subscription that includes 3D CAD (computer aided design) software that can be used even after we complete the course. Furthermore, Innovators Tribe allows the entire family to use the course so it can be a great learning experience for everyone.

Thinking Like an Engineer

This course teaches through stimulating videos and hands-on activities. This course encourages innovative thinking, problem solving and using your head and hands to create. I love that all of the materials needed for the challenge were common household materials, such as masking tape, printer paper and card stock. When they say common household materials, they mean it. 

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I love that the program is self-paced and encourages independence. It is geared toward 6th through 12th graders. It takes about 30 hours and can count for a quarter year (or 10 weeks) of engineering, science, applied math or a career and technology course. The videos are very informative and engaging. They aren't at all set up in the lecture style. The teacher, Mr. K., is very exciting and approachable. It is obvious that he loves what he does and is delighted to pass on his enjoyment of his field to others. On the challenges, the student is given specific guidelines and is invited to make multiple attempts. Dean found these challenges interesting and not too challenging. I do think some of the math is a bit over his head right now, but then he is a struggling math student.
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The first part of the course has lots of hands-on challenges. The second part of the course has 3D CAD (computer aided design) software that can be easily downloaded. We haven't used it yet, but it looks very easy to use. We are excited to start creating with it soon. 

These are the topics included in this course ~ 
  • What Is an Engineer?
  • Types of Engineers
  • Types of Problems Solved or Studied by Engineers
  • Real World Examples of Engineering and Problem Solving
    Intro to 3D Design
  • Engineering Roller Coasters
  • Engineering Bridges
  • Nano Engineering
  • Thinking Like an Engineer
Although neither of my students are interested in becoming engineers, I think this program is a wonderful supplement and will help my artistic-minded son to think more about graphic arts and how computers can support his creativity and talents. This program gets a huge thumbs up from our family. We will enjoy it much more over the next few months as our crazy Nutcracker season winds down. Innovators Tribe also provides the course, Thinking Like an Architect, which sounds pretty amazing, too. 

To see what others had to say, click on the banner below. Some of the crew had the opportunity to review the architect program. 

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Here We Come, November!

Can it truly be November already? Could it really be that we have already received the Nutcracker schedule and that rehearsals are already in full swing? Dear Daughter will be doing Saturday and Sunday rehearsals from here on in. Unfortunately due to some things out of my control, November is already turning into a super busy month, even without The Nutcracker. 

This week's major interruption was my colonoscopy. I have a disturbing family history when it comes to precancerous polyps, so it is something I have to keep a watch on. I did the colonoscopy without sedation. I hate being sedated and this way I didn't lose a whole day being groggy and not being able to drive, etc. It really wasn't that bad without sedation. Happily, I had a clean scan and I don't need to go back for 10 years!!! You can imagine my happy dance!

Halloween School ~ We did some fun science and math for Halloween School this year. We reviewed mass, circumference, conversions using the metric system and estimation for math. The kids estimated the seeds and then counted them. They counted over 400 seeds in the pumpkin. We also made slides with our pumpkin guts and looked at them with our compound microscope. Lastly, we studied the seeds with our dissection microscope.

We also watched the 1931 version of Frankenstein.

Halloween ~ I deemed the kids to be too old for trick or treating this year, much to their dismay. After all, many of their teen friends were still trick or treating. However, there has to be an end to everything. We enjoyed dressing up and walking around downtown with some friends. The kids got soda and ice cream.

Dear Husband was the headless horseman
A Fall Walk ~ We took a nice morning walk in the woods this week. The leaves are changing very quickly, so it was lovely. Life will be very hectic for the next two months. I want to make sure that we have moments like this pleasant walk to sustain us.

We are plugging along in all subjects and staying on target. We saw two movies this week. We really enjoyed October Sky with our Literature Movie Club. Our family also watched Dead Poets Society. It was a bit too intense and emotional for Dean, but the rest of us enjoyed it.

Thoughts for November ~ I want to enjoy November because it is one of my favorite months. However, there is a very crazy schedule to get through. So here are my plans to thrive in November instead of just surviving. Thankfully we are starting off ahead in about half of our subjects.
  • Concentrate on staying healthy. 
  • Let the kids sleep in when possible and keep our diet healthy.
  • Enjoy the season.
  • Keep the house clean for my own sake, even if it means setting aside a lesson here and there. 
  • REMEMBER that life is filled with learning, even when there isn't as much time for books. The learning is often better without the books, anyway.
We will be doing school seven days a week for the next few weeks. That is partially because all of Anne's rehearsals count for her performing arts credit and partially because fun school like literature-based movies and hands-on building projects are worthy school projects that will help us navigate this very busy season.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Week 10 ~ Who Said High School Was All About Seat Work?

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We had a busy week. It seems that all of the weeks are busy these days. Rehearsals for The Nutcracker and The Mouse King are in full swing. Besides Anne's normal dance classes, she is now at the dance studio on the weekends as well. She has a main character role as the cursed princess, which includes a solo performance. She is also dancing with the Junior Company as a cat, an elastic doll, candy, a sugar mask, a guard, and a sailor. She will be changing costumes a great deal of the time. She is super fast at changes so she isn't at all concerned about quick changes. My girl is in her element and excitement is in the air. This is what she lives and breathes! I was concerned as we got closer to Nutcracker season that Dean would have some regrets about not performing this year, but he seems to be completely content watching from the sidelines. I am so glad he is discovering his own needs and blazing his own trail.

Biology ~ We had a grand few weeks studying bacteria in our biology class. I purchased a bacteria kit from Homeschool Science Tools. The kids made their own agar Petri dishes. Then they collected bacteria from around our home, including from our poor dog's mouth. We had a little competition between the girl's bathroom floor and the boy's bathroom floor. We also took samples from each of the kids' cell phones. Wow, the results were fascinating, but gross! Let's just say, we will be cleaning our cell phones better. They have ten more agar Petri dishes ready and are plotting what they will collect and grow next week.

British Literature ~ Our friend Rose has decided to drop out of our British literature class. She is probably returning to public school next year and needs to concentrate on 8th grade skills instead of our advanced studies. We are sad to see her go, but in every cloud there is a silver lining. This gives us more freedom to study British literature the way we want and when we want. One day this past week, we had tea time while watching Sherlock Holmes: A Scandal in Bohemia. 

Art with Grandma ~ This month we studied Georges Seurat with Grandma. The kids made a color wheel and then learned about Seurat. They enjoyed exploring pointillism and trying their own hand at creating a piece in the Seurat style. After three hours of learning and working, they only were partially done and will continue their creations next week.

Dean's Window ~ partially done

Anne's Window ~ she only has one curtain painted so far.

What a blessing it is to homeschool!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 20, 2017

Week 9 ~ A Look at Where We are at the End of Quarter One

It is the end of the first quarter and time to see how we are doing. One would think that we have enough on our plate with each child working on 8 to 12 subjects (credits) for high school this year, but, no, we are adding three more. I have decided to add Health which is a half year subject (or half credit) for both children. I am adding Math II (applied geometry) and Home and Life Management for Dean which will be a whole credit each. This is in addition to adding Spanish two weeks ago for Dean. We are counting credits as complete with 144 hours and completion of goals. Some courses will go over 144 hours. So this is where it stands now.

Dean (High School)
  • English I ~ We are counting grammar, writing, literature-based films and reading independently middle school chapter books. (currently on week 13)
  • Math I ~ He is taking classes in pre-algebra and personal finance using Life of Fred books, as well as studying CTCMath online, hands-on math and any other sources that gets the job done. (currently on week 10)
  • Earth Science ~We are using a variety of hands-on experiments, TED-Ed videos, Netflix, articles and field trips. (currently on week 14)
  • U.S. History ~ We are using a host of resources from biographies to high school U.S. History textbooks with lots of field trips sprinkled in between. (currently on week 14)
  • Physical Education ~ He is doing or has done dance, Wandering Swordsman (boffing), swimming, bowling, miniature golf, physical therapy at-home program and hiking. (currently on week 19)
  • Visual Art I ~ (complete)
  • String Instruments ~ He is taking guitar lessons and teaching himself the ukulele. (currently on week 28)
  • English II ~ We are doing British Literature with an extensive reading list and movies. (currently on week 7)
  • Math II ~ This will be an applied geometry course beginning with basic geometry and real world geometry. We will see how far he is able to achieve. (currently in week 1)
  • Biology ~ We are using many experiments, a high school textbook and some Netflix documentaries. (currently in week 7)
  • CTE Career and Technology Education ~ Dean is receiving credit for his volunteer work at the Nature Center, doing chapters in a career textbook, documentaries on career related subjects, an engineering course online and future volunteer work. (currently at week 10)
  • World History ~ This will include CNN Student News, research papers on historical topics of interest, documentaries and biographies. We are counting five CNN Student News shows (one week's worth) as one hour of history. (currently at week 2)
  • Visual Arts II ~ Dean is taking classes with a homeschool co-op plus Roots and Wings teen art nights, Grandma and lessons he finds on lines. This course is mostly drawing. (currently on week 7)
  • Spanish I ~ He is doing Berlitz Basic Spanish with his Dad. (currently in week 2)
  • Health ~ He will be CPR trained, go through either the Red Cross Babysitting course or First Aid course and numerous TED-Ed and documentaries on health-related topics. (Will start next week)
  • Home and Life Management ~ This course will be a multi-disciplinary course that will prepare Dean for life as an adult. I feel that he needs more review and guidance than some students might need because of his special needs. Also, our public schools and sometimes our schools at home really miss the importance of teaching life skills. (Will start next week)
Dean is currently working on 14.5 credits toward his high school education. We lost some time with his depression and illness last year and some of these classes are carried over from last year. So far this school year, he is doing fine. 

Anne (8th Grade)

Anne is doing five credits for 8th grade. Our state doesn't require any particular subjects for 8th grade, so I decided to move history to 9th grade a few weeks ago. 

8th Grade
  • Home Economics ~ Anne is concentrating on cooking and baking. However, she is also advancing her skills in refinishing furniture, sewing, car maintenance, child care and management of a home. (currently at week 10)
  • Math 8 ~ She is working on pre-algebra, using a host of sources that I have mentioned before. Currently at week 10
  • English 8 ~ This is primarily a writing course, which also includes literature-based movies and independent reading from our middle school reading list. (currently on week 11)
  • Performing Arts ~ Anne is getting credit for all dance classes that have to do with performances, performances that she dances in, piano pieces that she learns and three or four professional performances that she will see this year. (currently on week 12)
  • Physical Education ~ Anne is getting credit for all technical dance classes, such as Cecchetti, pointe and different forms of modern dance. (currently on week 20)
High School Credit
  • English I (British Literature) ~ We are studying British literature with an extensive reading list and movies. (currently on week 7)
  • Biology ~ We are using many experiments, a high school text book and some Netflix documentaries. (currently in week 7)
  • World History ~ She is watching CNN Student News and lots of documentaries, as well as reading a text book and biographies and writing research papers. (currently on week 9)
  • American Sign Language ~ Anne is learning songs in American Sign Language from watching the Internet and performing them for the family. Her signing is getting fast and very clear. She is learning both American Sign Language and Pidgen Signed English. The vocabulary is the same, but the syntax is different between the two languages. She will add other online courses or out-of-the-home classes as we find them. (currently on week 8)
  • CTE Career and Technology Education ~ She has started this course by documenting her Teacher Assistant job helping with a ballet III class. Other job/volunteer opportunities will be added as they arise. (currently on week 2)
  • Health ~ She will be CPR trained, go through the Red Cross Babysitting course or First aid course and watch numerous TED-Ed and documentaries on health-related topics. (Will start next week)
She will start high school credit physical education and Math I (Algebra) as she completes Math 8 and physical education 8.

We are on schedule or ahead of schedule for most of their subjects. I imagine some will fall behind as others intensify. We will certainly concentrate on the core subjects and their passions. I would assume that they will be completed first. I am hoping that Dean will have completed string instruments and Anne will have completed 8th grade physical education by the end of the next quarter.

Most importantly, both children are emotionally healthy, thriving, and growing strong characters.

Blessings, Dawn