Monday, June 30, 2008

Unplug Your Kids ~ Garden

This week's project with unplug your kids is gardening.  I thought we would skip this one, because my garden is very filled with weeds.  Then my ds pointed out how ripe the peaches looked on our peach tree and wanted to try one.  They were not completely ripe but still very good.  I looked at the calendar and realized that they would be ready for picking right about the time I would be in the midst of a new round of Tomatis for my Sensory Integration Disorder children (this is an activity that requires travel and takes about 4 hours daily for 10 days).  In other words, I would have no time to deal with hundreds of peaches.  According to picking instructions for peaches that are being shipped, they were ripe enough, so I set the kids to picking. 

My best picker is the big teen (first two photos).  Shown in the third photo is about half of what came off our single tree!  Since not all of the peaches were ripe enough for freezing, I put the girls to work bagging them to speed the process along.  Then I made a fresh 100% organic peach crisp.  Delicious!

I hope to start freezing the ones that are ready today.  It feels so good to be able to put up some peaches for winter!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where, Oh Where, Is Flat Stanley?

What a fun little unit we are up to!  We bought the picture book, Flat Stanley, and have been enjoying learning about his adventures.  We look forward to buying some of the chapter books about Flat Stanley, too.  This little fellow wakes up one morning crushed flat under a bulletin board.  From that day forward, he is flat, which affords him many adventures.  They include catching bad guys while hiding in a painting, as well as being mailed all over the world.  We decided to make our own Flat Stanley and send him to Italy with my Father and Step-mother.  They will be posing him and taking his photo in famous places along the way.  Talk about a cool way to learn geography!  I offered to go along with Flat Stanley as his nanny, but I don't fit in a suitcase.  We do, however, get to deliver Flat Stanley in person to my parents in the Washington, D.C., area.  We will tour around Washington, D.C., with Flat Stanley before sending him on his journey across the ocean.  We leave tomorrow morning for 6 days.  I'll post his and our adventures next week.

We plan on doing Italy for our Homeschool International Night next fall.  It will be extra special with the loot that the grandparents bring back and all of the fun pictures of Flat Stanley.  My kids are especially excited that my parents get to spend a day in Venice.  Venice is the location of one of the kids' favorite books, Papa Piccolo.  In the drawer where I save research materials and magazines, I was lucky to find a Kids Discover magazine on Venice just waiting for this unit!  Also, Tom Sawyer (6) and Goldilocks (7) are of Northern Italian descent, according to their foster/adoption paperwork so it is nice to be studying Italy.

Here is the picture of our Flat Stanley dressed as a gondolier.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, June 16, 2008

Unplugged Project Plastic

The project for today at unplugyourkids is plastic.  I must say, I really did have some trouble thinking up what to do this week.  Early on, I thought the kids could weave a rug out of plastic bags, but the project seemed a bit daunting as the week went on.  Then, out of the blue, my ds started complaining that we had no rope.  He had no rope to jump with, play tug of war with, or to tie up his older brother!  Well, we couldn't have that!  So we learned how to braid plastic bags into rope, as you can see in the first three photos.  All you need is a grocery store plastic bag and scissors.  We cut the strips into about 2 inch thick strands and braided away.  So far, the rope is holding up very well (although he has not yet captured his older brother to tie him up yet).  That may very well be the end of the rope.  LOL!  However, I have plenty more plastic bags.  I love that we were able to use something at home that so often seems to be a waste of our resources.  I will have to think more about what to do with these plastic bags that are trying to take over my home. 

I had to come back on to post two more plastic activities depicted in the final two photos.  A few weeks ago, we made these bottles.  They are simply glitter, beads, colored water, and oil.  They make fun shakers or are fun to just watch the oil floating around in the water.  We also just had to try making our own homemade Shrinky-Dinks.  (For instructions, go to  I never did this as a child and happened to have a few number 6 plastic containers to cut up.  How much fun!!  I can't wait to try that again.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Summer Writing

This week I wanted to work on writing, and I thought a good way to do that would be to have the kids do a pen pal program.  We decided to do because you only exchange letters once, plus it involved creating your own paper dolls.  The kids had lots of fun making the dolls, and just as I had thought, were already a bit rusty in writing.  Goldilocks had forgotten about spacing and Little Red Ridinghood had some letter reversals going on.  I will have to find some more ways to keep them writing during our summer break.  Anyway, they will be getting mail back in a few weeks, so that should be fun.

I have decided for the little ones that I am going to keep summer break going until mid-July, instead of starting July 1st.  I will still be starting the big teen at the beginning of July with half-time school work.  He didn't get creative writing and art finished last year, so we will be trying to finish those courses up and then moving on with 12th grade.  We are 4 weeks into his break, and he is starting to get restless, anyway.  Just the other day, I caught him reading some of his government textbook for next school year.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, June 9, 2008


The theme of unplug your kids this week is "sticky"!  My kids are very good at being sticky, so I thought we would join in this week.  To see more sticky activities, go to the unplug your friends blog listed above.

They got very sticky while helping me bake bread.  When we were done with the bread, we made granola with lots of honey!  Yummy and sticky!  We then moved on to a sticky building material (laundry detergent, food coloring, and water).  This was made out of four parts powdered laundry detergent and one part water.  The kids had lots of fun playing with this new medium, as seen in the third and fourth photos.  When they were done, my youngest decided to wash herself off in the soap suds (see last photo).  Her dress was so soapy I didn't have to put any laundry detergent in the whole load of laundry.  LOL!

This was fun and I look forward to doing another unplugged kids theme someday soon.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, June 8, 2008

First Recital

Well, we all survived my little girl's first dance recital.  She was very nervous, so I had to become a stage mom to make her comfortable enough to perform.  However, she did perform and did a great job.  I found out that stage moms do have the best seats (in the wings).  I learned a lot from this recital.  First off, in my opinion a 4 year old is too young to be in a recital of this level and intensity.  The recital lasted 3 hours, and my dd did not go on stage for the last time until 10 pm!  Yikes, she goes to bed at 7:30 pm.  Also, there were not enough people (scheduled) to properly take care of the littlest ones throughout the evening.  We backstage moms did some recruiting of other moms to make it all run more smoothly.  I also learned that 80 girls in one room are quieter than 10 boys in the same room.  LOL!  Luckily, we had only three boys in the recital.  I still maintain that boys are easier to raise but girls are quieter!  I also learned that I will never volunteer for the dressing room ~ what a mad house!  Bless those dear mothers ~ they did a great job.  Thanks to my dear Mom for wrangling, I mean taking care of, my ornery youngest son during the rehearsal and recital.  Anyhow, it was all worth it because she had fun.  Well, enough rambling ~ on with the pictures....

They performed from the book of The Acts in the Bible.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


So this week we studied the book, Our Hungry Planet.  It depicts one family chosen from each of a variety of different countries and then shows what each family eats in a week, as well as where the food comes from and how it is prepared.  The little ones had a great time trying to figure out which country looked most like our week of food.  We took a picture of our week's worth of food and then had the kids compare the photo to the families in the book.  The kids could not agree on which was closest to our diet.  Tom Sawyer thought we looked most like Italy, which was close, but I think he was just in love with the pasta.  He simply adores pasta!  Little Red Ridinghood and Goldilocks went back and forth between Poland (problem ~ they had a lot of candy bars) and Bosnia (problem ~ they had a lot more potatoes and not as much fresh fruit).  They finally decided on Poland because of the concentration of yogurt and lots of carrots with very little meat.  The big teen leaned toward the family in Australia that concentrated on eating healthily.  They all agreed that we didn't eat like any of the American families in the book.  They also thought trying the week's worth of food from Mexico looked yummy (heavy on coke and chips) and were completely grossed out by the diets of Mali and Chad (they are used to meat in a package, not freshly slaughtered).  Here is our week's worth of food ~

The contents are as follows:  yeast, 2 lbs peanuts, popcorn, two cans tomato sauce, 1 lb hamburger, two packages lunch meat, 1 lb bacon, 1 lb hot dogs, 14 apples, 20 eggs, two frozen pie crusts, ketchup, 3 lbs of cheese, two packs of croissants, 1 lb noodles, 1 lb of spaghetti, 3 cups sugar, 12 tea bags, about 5 cups of canola oil, 1 gallon milk, 15 cups of oatmeal,  two cans of chili beans, 3 cans tuna, honey, peanut butter, 64 oz organic yogurt, 5 lbs of flour, 2 lb of spaghetti sauce, 1/2 gallon of cookies and cream organic ice cream, 3 lbs of vegetable melody, a large bag of salad, two large containers of strawberries and blueberries, 4 cups of raisins, two 96 oz containers of apple juice, 32 oz of salsa, bag of corn chips, two sticks of butter, and 18 bananas (mayo and ranch dressing not shown).  We are so blessed to have this much food! 

I don't think we have cheated from this list of food yet, except for eating chocolate ice cream with sprinkles as is our tradition when my dd's tooth fell out.  We will probably not use the fixings for chili and do something else, since it is already in the high 80's here.  As you can see, there is a lack of any bread.  I made my own bread, rolls, cupcakes and muffins this week.  We also do not like oatmeal until it is turned into granola, so we made that as well.  My kids would eat fruit all day if I let them, so I spend a good portion of our grocery budget on that.  We also try to eat only organic free-range meat, so we only have meat a few times a week and in small portions (1 lb of meat for all six of us).  Meat is used more like a flavoring in our home.  Also, the bag of peanuts were donated by a friend, and we ended up making peanut butter out of them (which got mixed reviews). 

This turned out to be a really fun study, and I think the kids did learn some of the goals I hoped they would.  For one, they got to see how little food some people get to eat and how lucky they are to have so much food to eat.  Remember when you were a kid sitting over that dish crying about not wanting to eat it, and your mom said, "Somewhere in Africa some child would love to eat that"?  Well, I have the book to prove it, and I hope my kiddos remember that for awhile.  They also got to learn about lots of different cultures, which is always a good thing.  Next week ~ pen pals!

Blessings, Dawn