Thursday, February 28, 2008

FIAR ~ Make Way for Ducklings

The kids had a great time with our most recent book. 

Before I get into what we did this week, I have to tell you about this site I found.  It is called Homeschoolshare.  I spent hours wandering around this site and used up all of the ink left in the printer copying off loads of great activities to go with more than a dozen books sitting on my shelves.  They have a huge amount of unit studies and a whole section on FIAR books.  One of the great ideas I got off of this site was to use Draw Write Now books with FIAR books.  We happened to have book one, and the kids loved drawing ducks and swans out of it.  THIS is a great series to teach kids and their Mommies how to draw.  I sat down and did art with them and enjoyed drawing for the first time since I was a child. 

For science we learned about conservation and the effects of an oil spill on ducks.  We cut ducks out of waxpaper and put them in a large bowl of water.  They floated around just fine.  Then we added dish soap and they sunk to the bottom.  They sunk  even faster when we used veggie oil.  The kids understood the importance of taking care of birds during an oil spill, and I had almost no clean up.  (I didn't get a picture, however.)  One science project is never enough for Tom Sawyer, so we did one that he wanted to do (it had nothing to do with our book study).  We used a bowl of boiling water and added a sealed bottle of cold water and watched the pressure make a fountain.  It was more impressive in the picture in the book, but here is what we got.

The tip where you see the yellow is where the water is "erupting" from the straw.

The kids are also enjoying their vocabulary cards.  I found these on and printed off all the ones from the books we have done this year.

To finish off our book this week, we are going to make Boston Brown Bread and Boston Baked Beans tomorrow.  Yummy!  I haven't been baking with the kids much lately, and they are really looking forward to it.  I am looking forward to staying home for a few days.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Fun With Some Good Books

We are really enjoying three books this week.  I started reading The Wind and the Willows, a younger readers edition by Kenneth Grahame.  I wanted to start reading a chapter book; but without pictures, my Goldilocks (7) has a very hard time sticking with the story.  I decided to go with this book, because it has a lovely color illustration on every page, plus a fair amount of words so that she still has to focus on the story and use her imagination.  I am hoping that this can be a transitional book of sorts.  The other two little ones don't really need the pictures, although Little Red Ridinghood's (4) mind wanders about every four or five paragraphs.  I figure she is a bit young, so I cut her some slack. 

I also found this series in science books and so far I'm very pleased with them.  Today we used the Simple Earth Science Experiments With Everyday Materials book to make a steam volcano.  This volcano was different from usual ones because the chemical reaction of hydrogen peroxide and yeast made heat!  It was really exciting for the kiddos, and I was amazed at how warm the spoon and jar got.  FYI ~ the directions said mix 1/2 tablespoon of yeast with 1/2 cup of peroxide, but we had to triple it because of the size of our jar.

Lastly, I have had Games for Reading for years but haven't used it for a long time.  It has a lot of simple games to help with your little ones' reading skills.  Tom Sawyer (5) has found reading to be easy and was thriving with Teach your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons but got burned out at lesson 60.  I dragged him through five more lessons but was really starting to see some resistance.  I decided to change gears and spend a few weeks doing word games and come back to finish off the book in March.  He is enjoying the break, and I am hoping that Goldilocks will benefit from the reading games, as well.  In the second photo, they are playing a reading game that helps them learn how to read color words.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Boy and a Chainsaw

Today dh and our big teen rented a chainsaw and chopped down all the nearly dead trees on the back of our property.  Well, both of my guys are city guys trying to be country guys and it is a work in progress.  First, they managed to get the chainsaw stuck in in the tree!  It took them a long time to get it unstuck.  LOL!  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo of that.  But here are the photos I did get.

Awww!  A boy and a chainsaw!  Feel the power, son.

I'm not sure who was louder, the chainsaw or the screaming audience!  The little ones screamed every time the chainsaw was turned on.

Notice how my husband is the director and the teen is doing all the work?  (This is typical, as my hubby loves to be the boss.)  Still, great life experience!

The little ones are still screaming, but at least they got off my lap!  Our neighbors must love us!  Actually one of our elderly neighbors likes to sit outside and watch us.  She says we are more fun to watch than TV!  I think that is a compliment, isn't it?

Blessings, Dawn

Big Teen's English I Course

This course was for 9th grade.  It was a basic grammar, spelling and writing course for the big teen.  He wrote reports, made lots of lists, wrote letters to friends and family, and played word games such as Boggle and Scrabble.  He also completed four Explode the Code books, Daily Grams book, Apple spelling book for middle school, and cursive writing.  In addition, he watched eight shows on GED grammar and GED writing.  This was by far the most textbook course that he has had in high school, but my goal was to catch him up, so that he would be more successful in his 11th grade Creative Writing course.  I was really pleased to see the improvements he made with this course, and it is aiding him in Creative Writing.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tying Heartstrings

Happy Valentines day!  I thought in the spirit of the day I would tell about a wonderful tying heartstrings moment earlier this week.  I decided to attack a very messy drawer in my dresser that was filled with jewelry passed to me after my Mother-in-Law passed away nearly three years ago.  It really had turned into a catch-all drawer and had everything under the sun in it.  My daughters saw what I was up to and wanted to help.  I resisted the urge to say no and instead set up some basic rules.  The girls had a blast trying on grown-up jewelry and hearing the stories of the family members who had worn it before them.  It turned out there was jewelry from my Grandmother in the jumble as well.  They had such glowing little faces and careful hands while looking at everything ~ it really was delightful.  While searching the drawer, we also found my youngest son's baby hospital bracelet from 5 years ago!!!  Told you it was a catch-all drawer.

We decided to put the bracelet away in its proper place.  Each child has a box of the clothes they came home in, first tooth, first haircut curl, favorite toy, etc.  The kids always get excited about going through their boxes, but in the past our daughter with attachment disorder has had a hard time looking at her things.  She has always been upset about something or other in the box.  Often it's that her diaper was so much larger than her siblings'.  (All of our other children came as newborns ~ two as preemies ~ except her).  This time was different.  She was delighted with her box and also looking at her siblings' boxes.  She thanked me several times for keeping her things.  She didn't seem to notice any differences and just had fun looking at everything.  It was wonderful and I felt like she was coming closer to being a part of the fold of our family.  Sometimes I get frustrated with how slowly this process moves, but in that moment of time, I could see the little girl she is meant to be.  Hopefully, someday she will be a happy, secure girl all/most of the time.

Then Tom Sawyer got into his box and tried to squeeze himself into his baby sweater.  Look at that tiny diaper. 

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fine Motor Skills

I find that coming up with fine motor activities is easier than I thought.  Here are some more fun occupational therapy (OT) activities.  My kiddos didn't even know that they were doing OT.  Tom Sawyer loved making a monster truck with Dad, and it took lots of fine motor skills, from holding and painting with the paint brush to attaching the wheels.  We pulled out the 4-sided Lite-Brite, and the kids had a blast working with it for a few days.  Now, if I can just stop stepping on all the pegs that seem to have wandered all over the house!  The design and drill game is very popular.  The power drill has several adapters and sheets that get more difficult as the child works his/her way through the levels.  I was pleased at how well they stuck with this activity.  They also had fun with good old Lincoln Logs and floor puzzles.  Lastly, Little Red Ridinghood loved finding the hidden money in the Theraputty.  She would find them and say "hide them again" over and over.  I think she did this for 45 minutes.  No attention problems there!

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Big Teen U.S. History I Course

The big teen used books 5 through 7 from the series, A History of U.S., for his U.S. History course in 9th grade.  Since he had studied up through 1800 during his middle school years, he spent this entire year on 1800-1900.  He also read His Promised Land about escaping from slavery and Fever 1793 about a horrible outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia.

We were also blessed to be able to take a special trip during his 9th grade year and saw a lot of history.  We went to Atlanta, Georgia, and saw the Civil War Cyclorama.  It was incredible and I highly recommend it, if you get the chance.  We also saw Underground Atlanta, where you can see the real city walls before Atlanta burned to the ground during the Civil War.  In addition, we saw the The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center.  We then had the opportunity to go to Savannah, Georgia.  We took a wonderful horse-drawn carriage ride and learned a lot about the city and its history.  Next, we to St. Augustine, Florida, and saw the nation's oldest city.  What a lovely city, jam-packed with history.  Lastly, the big teen got to do homeschool day at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.

Well, that is an overview of his year in U.S. History, and he did a great job.  He received an A for this course.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Big Teen's Earth Science Course

This is a record of the big teen's completed course in Earth Science.  He really enjoyed this course, as he really enjoys all science.  We took advantage of our mineral and rock musuem and a great trip to the Natural Bridge in Virginia.  He also used a standard Earth Science textbook, educational shows and many science experiments.  He logged 108 hours and did the following units:

  • Solar system ~ 19 hours
  • Earth structure ~ 15 hours
  • Minerals and rocks ~ 17 hours
  • Oceans ~ 5 hours
  • Natural disasters ~ 18 hours
  • Natural wonders ~ 9 hours
  • Climate change and protecting the environment ~ 25 hours
Here is a rundown of most of the experiments:

  • Distilled salt water to drinking water
  • Made model of the solar system
  • Made clouds in a jar
  • Created layers of the earth out of ice cream
  • Found out how ice affects sediment
  • Made an artesian well
  • Did several snow experiments
  • Created trash table/chart
  • Did some flooding experiments
  • Did some hard water and soft water tests
Below shows his artesian well, hard/soft water tests, how vinegar eats away calcium egg shell, and his ice cream layer earth.  He received an A for this course.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

They Are Writing On the Walls and I Don't Care

We are working hard on fine motor skills around here.  One of the kids' favorite activities this last week was a tracing activity that involved writing on the walls ~ sorta.

Tom Sawyer has a tremor in his hands, so tracing within the lines is really hard.  Since he loves art and wants to be an artist, his tremor is very frustrating to him.  He is very willing to practice but likes a variety of ways.  He loved tracing on the wall.  He said it was like being naughty without being naughty.  The two youngest also enjoyed working with their handwriting without tears capital letter set.  They both know their ABCs and Tom Sawyer can read on a first grade level, but they had a great time working with the set anyway.  They built the letters and then matched them to ABC letters and word cards that started with their letter.

Well, I am off to tend the sickies.  Two of the four kids are down with colds.  Hopefully, we will get to do reading, math and make a few valentines today.  The big teen is the sickest so back to educational videos for his schooling today.  Perhaps I can read to him if the others cooperate.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 1, 2008

High School Applied Math

This course was a catch up/review course for my son.  Math is not one of his strong points and his learning difficulties really get in the way.  Since most of this course was a review, I left textbooks behind and tried more alternative hands-on applications.  We used a variety of sources to pull up his math skills.  I found Math-U-See drills online to be very helpful for multiplication and division.  We also used the books I Hate Mathmatics, Skillbooster Workbooks for Middle School, Math Wizzardly for Kids, and A Survey of Mathematics with Applications (my college textbook mostly used for reference).  In addition, we found as many opportunities in real world math as possible, such as measuring to build something and cooking.  Here is a breakdown of the 111 hours that was recorded:

  • Statistics ~ 11 hours
  • Graphing ~ 6 hours
  • Basic Math Skills (multiplication, division, decimals, and fractions) ~ 62 hours
  • Measurements ~ 12 hours
  • Basic Geometry ~ 20 hours
Here is the hard part, and I would love to hear your ideas on this.  What grade do you give for this work?  The truth is that most of it would not be considered 9th grade work.  However, he did B quality work for what he was asked to do; and if he were in public school, he would be in a Special Ed class, struggling away with the same level math.  I really don't care too much for grades, but I want to cover all my bases, since he does not appear college bound at this time.  In our state, he will get a state diploma from our homeschool state organization, and he will have transcripts that he can show job employers.  However, I will be the one that makes those transcripts, so how do you make them a fair assessment of what he knows?  Your thoughts are welcome.

Blessings, Dawn

High School Physical Education for the Big Teen

I am continuing to record my big teen's high school courses here so that they are documented in more than just a lesson book.   Here is a record of his P.E. course.   Of course, the big teen is active doing things every day that could be seen as P.E., but I recorded 112 hours of activities.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • Archery lessons ~ 7 Hours
  • Swimming ~ 19 hours
  • Long walks, hiking, challenge course ~ 14 hours
  • Basketball with others ~ 7 hours
  • Rock climbing, skateboarding lessons, sledding ~ 9 hours
  • Health (read the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and read materials on nutrition and spread of disease) ~ 21 hours
  • Weight lifting and balance work ~ 35 hours
  • Soccer with others ~ 8 hours
He has really gotten into weight lifting.  He has a set in his room and also loves to go work out at the YMCA.  Overall, he did great and showed great progress.  He stuck with reading the I Kissed Dating Goodbye book, even though he said he already understood about courtship (he was raised that way, after all) before starting it and thought it was a waste of time that he could have been doing gym.  He got an A in this course.

Blessings, Dawn