Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ March Adventures

Pretty ~
We spent a lovely day at a tree planting event.   The weather was perfect and there were lots of kid friendly activities. The kids went on a scavenger hunt, pony rides, jeep ride, planted a tree and got balloon hats.

Happy ~
I am so happy that our local art museum opened a new wing, complete with a children's hands-on area.  The city we live in is geared toward outdoor activities and tourists with lots of money.  The locals have a hard time finding things to do on the cheap when weather is uncooperative.

Funny ~
We attended a demo put on by a local robotics club.  Not the best photos since my kiddos were giving me funny faces, as well as the interior of the building was dark.  But isn't Little Red's sundress cute?  I just love to pull out the spring dresses.   They also had lots of Legos to advertise a possible Lego robotics club starting in the fall.

Real ~
Spring is in full swing and Easter is right around the corner.  By popular demand, I made a new sensory box for the kids.  They were tired of their Christmas-themed one.  LOL!  I will try to keep a monthly sensory box, since they enjoy it so much.

The sensory box has some of their spelling words, jumping jacks, egg-shaped sidewalk chalk, bouncing bunny, and two kinds of silly putty.

Please join Like Mother, Like Daughter for more entries.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, March 26, 2012

Van Gogh Unit Study

We just finished up our study of Vincent Van Gogh.  The kids really enjoyed this study and had fun with the art projects we did.  I love to gather the materials when we are doing a new study and make a display with them.  It always inspires the children.

We used the following books ~
  • The First Starry Night
  • Vincent Van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars
  • Discovering Great Artists
  • Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids
  • Van Gogh and the Sunflowers
  • Vincent Van Gogh and the Colors of the Wind
We did picture studies of the following paintings ~
  • The Starry Night
  • The Potato Eaters
  • The Cafe Terrace at Night
  • Harvest at La Crau
  • Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries
  • Portrait of Doctor Gachet (my favorite)
  • Sunflowers
  • Portrait of Pere Tanguy
The kids made sunflowers.  They used tempera paint and glue mixed together.  The center of the flowers is made with glue and coffee.

As well, they made a collage of their favorite things and then placed a photo of themselves in the center.  This was a fun project related to Van Gogh's "Portrait of Pere Tanguy," who was surrounded by his favorite things.

The kids also enjoyed doing a project called swirly words.  They wrote words describing themselves in swirling lines around a photo of themselves.

For narration, they each told me what they had learned and told me about their favorite Van Gogh painting.

Goldilocks ~
Van Gogh was a sad man.  He got so upset once that he cut off his own ear.  He had a brother.  Farmers used to use his paintings to cover cracks and holes in their walls.  Those paintings were ruined.  Vincent Van Gogh may have been murdered.  My favorite painting is the "Sunflowers".  It has my favorite flower and I like the bright, happy colors.

Tom Sawyer ~
I learned that he made many, many drawings.  One time he put candles on his hat to make pictures at night.  He only sold one picture in his whole life.  He painted all of the time, even during the Mistral Wind, which is a famous wind in France.  The wind blows and blows and drives some people crazy. He traveled all over France.  My two favorite paintings were "The Cafe Terrace at Night" and "Harvest at La Crau".  I love the colors in the harvest one.  It has lots of detail.  I like the cafe picture because I like the idea of eating outside at night, and Van Gogh made me feel like I could be there.

Little Red Ridinghood ~
Vincent was a painter.  He sold only one painting in his life.  Actually, his brother sold the painting for him.  His brother also took care of him.  He loved his brother with all his heart.  Van Gogh loved the colors yellow and orange.  He lived and painted all over France.  Most people did not like him because he was grumpy.  He made hundreds of pictures.  My favorite painting is the "Sunflowers," because I like flowers and it looks like a happy picture. 
Please check out other posts at learning all the time.
Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Prairie Primer ~ Little House In the Big Woods

We just completed Little House in the Big Woods today.  We used The Prairie Primer as our guide.  The Prairie Primer is meant to be a complete unit study covering almost every subject.  However, I am only using it to make our literature come to life in a hands-on way.  Since I hardly know how to sew, I am skipping all of the sewing projects for now.  I decided to use the history, science, music, life skills (cooking), Bible, and field trip portions of the curriculum.  Someone asked me if it was worth the cost.  I bought it at a used curriculum sale for $20, and yes, it is worth that cost or a bit more to me.  Even though we are not using the entire unit study, it gives me a quick reference point of what is coming and ideas to use.  Then I can easily build on the ideas in the book.

Here is a list of the activities we did to go along with Little House in the Big Woods
  • We watched a great video on defending ourselves from germs. I think this was the kids favorite YouTube video.
  • We ate maple sugar candy given to Tim as a gift for taking care of a neighbor's cat.
  • We watched maple syrup being made on YouTube.
  • We went on a field trip to the Mast General Store, a store modeled after the 19th century general stores. 
  • We made delicious butter.
  • The kids made grain-free bread.
  • We made sugar snow.
  • We learned the songs, "Pop goes the Weasel" and "Buffalo Gals".
  • We talked to the cheese seller at our local health food supermarket and bought small amounts of four kinds of cheese (goat and cow).  We then sampled the cheese and studied the different rinds (wax and cloth).
  • The kids watched cheese being made on YouTube.
  • We learned all about Louis Pasteur.  We watched several videos and read three books about him.
  • The kids learned about the phases of the moon and learned about craters on the moon.
  • We practiced hand washing and how to be a PDI agent ("protect don't infect" agent).
  • We studied the germ theory and learned how germs are spread.
  • We read about honey and sampled various honey.
  • The kids used the Bible verses in the book as copy work.
I still plan to read some books about the California gold rush to the children and take them on a field trip to a gem mine (the closest thing we have to a gold mine around here).

We look forward to moving on with Little House on the Prairie.  I will continue using The Prairie Primer as our guide.  It is nice to have a plethora of ideas right at my fingertips.

Please join Learning all the Time  and Read Explore Learn for more great entries.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Friday Wrap Up ~ Staycation

We had a lovely Staycation with Daddy.  We did a few local field trips, got through my colonoscopy, and the kids played for hours while I planned our last nine weeks of school for this year.  I can't believe this school year is almost over.

The first photo is what our dining room table looks like right now.  I have pulled out all the books that we own for the last nine weeks and made lists of library books we still need.  We will be covering pioneers, western Indians, and the railroad in history.  Science will consist of simple machines, blood, the circulatory system, the ear, moon cycles, and Thomas Edison.  We will be using Beyond FIAR for Thomas Edison.  In art class, we will be doing Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh.  Literature will be working our way through more of the Little House series with the Prairie Primer.  I love this part of the planning!
The kids did an awesome job on their Ants project for the Festival of Knowledge.  They were very engaging and knowledgeable during their interview.  I was impressed with all they remembered.  The judges were impressed, too.  They won first place in the "Build a Bug" category.  The prize for this category was a FREE sizzilin' science party valued at about $200!  I think I was way more excited than the kids.  They were happy, but I was bouncing off the walls with joy.  We are going to use this prize for an end-of-the-school-year party, and each child will get to invite four friends.  A scientist will come to our home and perform tons of experiments with the kids for 1.5 hours, and all I have to do is worry about the food.  SO COOL!

We went on a field trip to the Thomas Wolfe house.  I was very pleased with how the visitor center was hands-on and child-friendly.  Tom Sawyer (9) loved the old fashioned sewing machine.  He spent a lot of time exploring it.  When it was time for our guided tour of the house Thomas Wolfe lived in for 10 years, the kids were given "I Spy" books.  They enjoyed finding artifacts in the home. The house was very interesting.  Thomas Wolfe's mother ran a boarding house during his childhood.  There were so many bedrooms and fun little stories.  This is a "must see" if you are in town.  The cost of the house is 50 cents for kids and 1 dollar for adults.  We also went to the Greenville Zoo which I talked about in the last post.

Our bathroom home improvement is going well.  The bathtub was refinished this week.  Hopefully, early next week the plumbing will be replaced and hooked up.  I can't wait to take a bath in this lovely tub.

Next week is one year since we started a grain-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, chocolate-free diet.  It has been an amazing year.  Tom Sawyer has improved so much. Corn seems to be the very worst thing for Tom Sawyer to eat.  However, he has a great deal of trouble with all grains.  We have gotten chocolate and dairy back in moderation.  We are used to this way of living now.  I will be doing a post on "a week
of how we eat" soon for you, Kristi!

I am joining Collage Friday this week.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Greenville Zoo

Last weekend we visited the Greenville Zoo.  We are enjoying our AZA pass that gets us into many zoos for free. We took my Mother along and had a wonderful day. This is a small zoo with only 14 acres. It met my qualifications for being a "true" zoo by having two giraffes. I just don't think it is a zoo without a giraffe. LOL

I thought this zoo was laid out in a nice, walkable loop. The cages were nice but really small. My nature loving oldest son (Timothy) was pleased to see that many of the animals had enrichment toys in their cages. (He works at our nature center and spends a lot of time handing out enrichment toys to the resident animals). Most of the animals seemed content. They were either sleeping or playing.

The kids really loved the statues along the path, and there were lots of shaded areas to get out of the heat (if you were visiting in warmer months).

There was also a free park and playground right outside of the zoo. It was a really cool playground with unique climbing structures and riding toys. Our kids loved the skateboard play structure (seen in the final photo) that zipped the kids back and forth while they balanced on a skateboard. They were happy to stand in line to go on it.

The cons of this zoo was that the elephant seemed very agitated. I have never seen such an upset elephant! We passed her twice over the two hours, and she was distressed both times. I am not sure what that was about, but Timothy said she was showing signs of extreme boredom or anxiety. She did have one of the smallest cages I have ever seen for an elephant. Also, the gift shop had almost nothing under $6 worth looking at.
Update ~ Thank you for all of your prayers during my colonoscopy! It was much easier than expected, and the doctor found everything to be healthy and normal! I asked for only a child's dose of sedation since that is the part I most feared. Having given birth without medications, this was a piece of cake!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Lots of Fun With Literature

This week was a light homeschool week.  We did lots of fun and messy projects, as well as exploring two different books.

1) I am re-reading Laying Down the Rails.  We are working as a family to replace some bad habits with better ones.  This book is filled with real life examples and Charlotte Mason stories to help get kids on the right path.  I look forward to seeing some progress over the next few weeks.  This has been my favorite resource this week.

2) We dyed Easter eggs and decorated our mantle for Spring.  I am ready for Spring to arrive.  This almost-Winter with little snow (but endless wind) is getting old.

3) We are having a wonderful time with our Little House in the Big Woods unit study.  This week we made sugar snow and went on a field trip to a general store.  We wrote down a long list of things that could be found in a general store in 1871 and then set out to explore our more modern Mast General Store.  We took our list and went on a scavenger hunt.  We managed to find almost everything on our list, but we didn't find a corset!  LOL!  I let the kids count toy guns as guns, and many of the items were found in their antique display area (these items were not for sale).  At the end, I allowed each child to pick one piece of gum or candy.  The girls got a gum ball, Tom Sawyer got a miniature Hershey bar (the only remotely safe thing for his diet), and I bought a pack of Teaberry gum.  They even had a little corner in the store with an old-fashioned post office.  The girls played post office for a minute or two.

4) Over the last two weeks, we also rowed Truman's Aunt Farm.  This was such a cute story and a wonderful introduction to homophones (aunt, ant).  To go along with this book, the kids are working on a research project about ants.  They are entering the Festival of Knowledge at our local nature center this weekend with their ant project.  It should be lots of fun.

We are gearing up for a "staycation" next week.  We hope to go to a nearby zoo and maybe the Thomas Wolfe home.  Also, due to family history, I have to have a colonoscopy on Wednesday.  I would appreciate your prayers.  I am afraid of the entire process.  I really have had no medical issues in my adulthood and have limited experience with poking and prodding. 

I am joining homegrown learners , Favorite Resources, and Read, Explore, Learn.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Day in the Life ~ March Edition

Oops!  I missed February's Day in the Life.  I thought I better get in this month's Day in the Life post even though we are supposed to be on school break.  I build in a two week break at the end of each nine weeks of school.  However, I did not feel like we needed the whole two weeks this go around.  In fact, I think that the kids need more structure at the moment, instead of less.  So, I haven't told the kids we are on break.  I just gave myself permission to make our days light and fun.  I'm not going to worry about getting to all of our lessons.  I am not worried if we get to math or writing or spelling every day of this week (if at all).  I will not be recording this week in our formal school records.  Learning is happening all of the time, even when the records don't reflect it.  Here is the flow of our day without exact times.
  • The morning began with the watching of our library movie, "How To Train Your Dragon".
  • Then we put on music and mopped most of the house and cleaned both bathrooms.
  • We packed 42 pounds of textbooks for Africa.  These were books that I had gotten off of Freecycle and decided that I did not want.  They will be well used by this charity.  The kids addressed the box and figured out how much it would cost to ship media mail.

  • The kids played with Lego's and made cartoons. 
  • We made "snow" with our ice crusher.
  • We made sugar snow with maple syrup like they did in The Little House in The Big Woods.  It was really sweet.  I think I found the perfect snow cone for this summer!

  • What with melting sugar "snow", we mopped again!
  • We ate lunch and listened to another chapter in The Little House in The Big Woods.
  • We took Timothy to school.  He is going to a special college program three afternoons a week for students with traumatic brain injuries.  So far, this appears to be a real blessing and Timothy is enjoying it.
  • We went to the bank and post office.
  • The kids and I worked on our charity project for next week.  We will be on a "staycation" with Dad next week, so I wanted to get this done in advance.  We tied bows and shamrocks on bars of Irish soap and green gum for clients at Meals on Wheels.
  • We worked on our Lent Board and prayed for Apollo XIV.  He is having major heart surgery tomorrow.
  • The kids worked hard on their Lego vehicles.  They are entering a contest in the Lego magazine.
  • After dinner the kids had a great time running around in the yard.
  • We finished the evening with Monopoly.  We never finish a game in one go.  We set the timer for about 1 hour and then we pack up our money and properties in Ziploc bags so we can play again another day.  This way it takes us about 2 months to finish a game!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wrap-Up Friday ~ Loving Homeschooling!

What a week!  In just one week we had Leap day 2012, Dr. Seuss and Read Across America Day, and lots of wonderful hands-on learning.

1)  We are loosely using the Prairie Primer for our study of Little House in The Big Woods.  This week we made homemade butter and grain-free Irish soda bread.

2)  We had a few hours to kill in a neighborhood we rarely visit.  The kids love a toy store in this area which always has something fantastic to do in their courtyard.  The kids spent at least an hour playing chess on this huge chess board.  I really should learn how to play, since all four of my kids now know at least the basics.  The boys played a good match with some complicated moves.

3)  We had a Dr. Seuss party with a few friends.  It was lots of fun. All of the children dressed up a bit wacky.  We ate green eggs and ham, grain-free cupcakes, and strawberry/banana "cat hat sticks".  Then we did a few Dr. Seuss worksheets.  Everyone took turns reading Dr. Seuss books and then we played the game, "Horton Hears a Who". 

4)  We were greeted with a shower coming through the ceiling recently.  It turns out some kind of rodent ate a rubber something or other in our plumbing.  In addition, our contractor discovered that our ceiling was about to come down because someone did a bad renovation sometime in the last 30 years.  The end result is that we are getting a new kitchen ceiling and new bathtub plumbing. We are also going to go ahead and refinish the bathtub while we are at it.  Good-bye, tax refund!  For now, I have a big old hole in my kitchen.

You would think that was enough for one week.  However, there is more!  We attended our homeschool science fair last week.  Now we are preparing for the Festival of Knowledge sponsored by the state but held at our local nature center.  The kids are working together to do a project on ants.  We are also trying to get back into nature studies and had a lovely one at the lake this week.  Well, that is the highlights.  We are still loving Teaching Textbooks for Math.  I can't believe I waited so long to spend the money.

I am joining homegrown learners and weird, unsocialized homeschoolers for Friday wrap up.

Blessings, Dawn