Thursday, February 28, 2013

Week 25 ~ Colds, Chicago Fire, and Picture Book Biographies

On My Mind ~ We almost escaped winter without illness. But it was not to be. We are all in different stages of a head cold. I think I got it the worst! It is just never good for Mom to be slower than the kiddos. I am amazed how much we got done with all of us mopey and yucky. I scratched our original school plans first thing Monday morning and decided to just read books, play games and watch educational movies.

What We Read ~
  • The Great Fire (An excellent book about the Chicago Fire)
  • Bud Not Buddy
  • Lost Boy The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan
  • Shooting for the Moon -- The Amazing Life and Times of Annie Oakley
  • Obama Only In America (I was disappointed in this picture book biography of our current president and will keep my eye out for a better one.)
  • Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves Deputy U.S. Marshal
  • Grammar A Basher Book
The kids also read several books on their research topics for the upcoming statewide Festival of Knowledge.

Games We Played ~
  • Apples to Apples
  • Yahtzee
  • Payday (at least four times)
Shows We Watched ~
  • CNN Student News
  • How'd They Build That ~ Firetrucks
  • IMAX film on horses
  • Documentary, The Great Chicago Fire
What the Kids Liked Best ~ The kids especially enjoyed two things this week. They really are getting into their research projects for the Festival of Knowledge. It is exciting to see them bloom and take the iniative in their own projects. They have all grown so much since last year. They also really enjoyed looking at melted artifacts from the Chicago Fire and trying to figure out what they were. I found this great activity at The Chicago Historic Society online (see top pictures of the collage).

All the Rest ~ We did some math and grammar this week. Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer will be taking the required state test next week so I wanted to get in a little bit of review. They will be taking the CAT test at home. I have not decided how to test Goldilocks yet. In the past I have taken her in to be tested by a professional with the Woodcock Johnson Test of Achievement. The woman I took her to in the past has left the practice. Goldilocks is more complicated than her siblings, because she is so far behind her grade level that I can't order the grade level for her age and hope to see any success for her. It would just be a hopeless and upsetting experience. I am probably going to order the Hewitt Pass Test for Homeschoolers. It has different levels within each grade and I can order a grade lower than Goldilocks is currently.  They also give lots of advice with the test results.  My oldest was successful with this form of testing.

Well, that is all for us this week.

Homegrown Learners

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Week 24 ~ Pushing Through the Never Ending List

In My life ~ The stress this week was more manageable than last week. I am thankful for that. We still had a host of doctor appointments to get through, and I am patiently waiting for a call back from the Duke doctor on what to do next for Goldilocks. I know that my endless To Do list will become more manageable with time. It is just hard right now because we had to put so many things on the back burner, while we sold the old house, bought the new house, moved and renovated. Now, everything seems to be the priority, and I need to just take it one day at a time.

Presidents Day ~ We had so much fun with our annual Presidents Day scavenger hunt. We hid the first 25 presidents, which brought us to the turn of the 20th century (right where we are in studying American history). This year we did activities or listened to a story at many of the stops in our scavenger hunt. This helped tame the wild running and screaming we have experienced in past years. For example, they built a log cabin for Abraham Lincoln and listened to the Declaration of Independence for Thomas Jefferson.

Key to Photos, clockwise ~ John Adams standing next to a book filled with his and Abigail's love letters; Rutherford Hayes is in a pile of Easter eggs, since he started the first White House Easter Egg Hunt; Abraham Lincoln, who was born in a log cabin; James Garfield, who could write in Greek and Latin at the same time with his right and left hands; James Madison standing next to his famous wife Dolly; Franklin Pierce, who struggled with deep mourning for his son who died in a train accident during his presidency.

Books We Read or Listened to This Week ~
  • U.S. Presidents The Oval Office All Stars
  • Life of Fred Cats
  • The New Social Story Book
  • A Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson
  • Abe Lincoln The Boy Who Loved Books
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Dolly Madison Saves George Washington
  • Mr. Lincoln's Boys
  • Garfield books
  • Two Minute Mysteries
  • Casey at Bat Maestro Classics
Games We Played ~
  • The Way Things Work (great physics game)
  • Guess Who
  • Apples to Apples
What We Watched ~
  • London Hospital (found this one on Prime Amazon and I love it ~ the kids are a bit grossed out by it, though)
  • Hotel Transylvania (just the kids)
  • The Walton's a few shows from Season 5
  • Downton Abbey (Can you believe they killed off Mathew? I'm way more devastated about that then I should be, since it is a TV show.)
What is Working for Us ~ The kids are really enjoying the white board during writing time. I write down on the white board the words they ask how to spell during writing class. I have a few perfectionists who will not write if they think the spelling is wrong. Using the white board is helping them so much with flow of thought.

All The Rest ~  The kids start extra rehearsals this weekend!! They will be performing in Swan Lake before we know it. In addition, the aerial arts class that my daughters are in will be holding its own show. Each of the girls will be doing their own solo. They are very excited and busy picking their songs. Unfortunately, there is some trouble brewing with another classmate. A boy in the studio is bullying my son. So far, I haven't caught him red handed, but my eyes are on him and he knows it. The studio is aware of it, too, and seems to be on our side. If you have a child on the autism spectrum or with social awkwardness, I highly suggest the book New Social Story Book. This book is helping my son so much. We are working our way through the chapter on Bullying this week.

A Picture To Share ~ My kids love the balloon artist at our local health food supermarket. He is always there for the Kids Eat Free night. He accepts only donations for his art, and the kids are even adding some of their own coins in each week.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 15, 2013

Week 23 ~ Way Too Busy

On My Mind ~ This week was one of those crazy ones where way too much happened and I am left stressed and tired. I hope this weekend we can find some time to recharge. I made it through this whole week only taking one picture. I guess that shows my stress level is way up!

Places We Are Going ~ This one should be in two parts ~ medical and fun social events! On the medical front, we went to Duke Hospital where we had Goldilocks tested for inner ear issues and the possibility of Meniere's disease. She has been suffering with dizzy spells bad enough to make her faint since last Easter. For the longest time, her doctors thought it was panic attacks. We will have to wait for all of the test results to come back, but she didn't appear to have Meniere's. We will most likely be sent to neurology next. We appreciate prayers to guide the doctors in figuring out what is going on with our daughter.

 Here is the list of all the other outings ~
  • Visited Duke Homestead and learned about tobacco, which was a major crop here in North Carolina until very recently.
  • Visited Bennett Place, where the largest surrender of Confederate troops took place.
  • We made it to some of the kids' dance classes for the week.
  • We attended a birthday party.
  • We hosted a game afternoon for our oldest son and his friends. They had so much fun and are hoping to make it a more regular thing.
  • Two kids have dentist appointments today.
  • Three kids have neurofeedback treatments today.
  • We stayed at Ronald McDonald House in Durham for two days.
It sure is a pity how homeschooled kids get no socialization. Ha!

Books We Read or Listened To ~
  • Al Capone Does My Shirts
  • Little Town on the Prairie (started)
  • You Wouldn't Want to be a Ninja Warrior
  • Daily Life in a Plains Indian Village 1868
  • The Graves Family Goes Camping
  • U.S. Presidents (Basher Book)
  • The Jukebox Man
  • Faces magazine "China"
Our Homeschool Lessons ~ I discovered the new school room at Ronald McDonald House this trip. The classroom was always empty early in the morning, and we found it so much easier to accomplish an hour of school there instead of in their dining room.
  • Math work sheets every day
  • Journal writing every day
  • CNN Student News
  • Books listed above
  • Field trips
  • Reading alone time every day
  • Several cooking shows on TV
Lent ~ Instead of giving up things for Lent, we like to have a concentrated prayer time for an individual or group each day. Here is our prayer list for the 40 days of Lent (subject to change if we hear of someone in need). My kids came up with the following list all by themselves.
  1. The Earth
  2. Dogs in shelters
  3. Grandma
  4. Miss Susan
  5. Grandpa
  6. The President
  7. Grandma Sue
  8. Peace amongst the students of the dance studio
  9. Miss Dawn
  10. Mom
  11. Christel and Ruby
  12. Daddy
  13. Grandma Jennifer
  14. Grandpa Phil
  15. Christine Marie
  16. Miss Cloe
  17. Haley
  18. Miss Nicole
  19. Wuzzy, the dance studio dog
  20. Miss BJ
  21. Katie at choir (who is having many medical issues)
  22. Aspen
  23. Miss Kristi and her family
  24. Giles
  25. Thankful list to God
  26. Miss Angie
  27. Our family pets
  28. Children who experience crime in school
  29. Goldilocks
  30. Tom Sawyer
  31. Little Red Riding hood (last three are my kids' code names)
  32. Tim
  33. People with cancer
  34. People who are lonely
  35. Hungry people
  36. Our doctors
  37. Our neighbors
  38. People who are in the hospital
  39. People who are homeless
  40. Innocent people who are in jail
The Great Backyard Bird Count ~ I will be recording our findings for this later in the day.

Valentine's Day ~ We had a nice Valentine's Day breakfast of sausage, bacon, and a variety of fruit. Everyone received a clothing item that they needed. DH and I exchanged our annual love letter to each other. I look forward to this ritual each year.
I am joining ~

    Homegrown Learners
    Blessings, Dawn

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Week 22 ~ The Long Winter

    On My Mind ~ I am continuing to think about healthy eating. This week we tested duck eggs and asparagus. Everyone liked both (for the most part). The duck eggs were more popular, but the asparagus was received better than Brussels sprouts or cabbage. I also attempted to make my own yogurt, but it flopped. I will have to try again another time. I did have success with making homemade chicken and beef stocks. I have several quarts stored away in the freezer. I am also transferring everything in the kitchen cabinets into jars. We have had mice issues, and I want to take away their desire to visit my kitchen as much as possible. It is nice to see the jars all full of food in the cabinets.

    Literature ~ We finished The Long Winter this week. I think this may have been our favorite Little House book so far. There was so much to learn and talk about in this book! We discussed in great detail perseverance, sacrifice, reasons for risking one's life, and getting through a terrible trial with a cheerful heart. We had lots of conversations about how blessed we are to have a bounty of food. We also did several activities.
    • Made a snow covered town during a blizzard on our window
    • Discussed emergency preparedness and reviewed our important information
    • Learned about the Earth's water cycle
    • Watched the movie, Stanley and Livingston
    • Learned the medicinal uses of Ginger
    • Learned about the battle at Wounded Knee
    • Watched You Tube videos about the rotation of the Earth
    • Made a button lamp
    • Completed a lap book for The Long Winter from Homeschoolshare
    • Ate a loaf of sourdough bread and thought about what it would be like to eat only water and sourdough bread for two to three months like the Ingall's family did
    • Discussed what happens to one's body when they are starving or becoming malnourished
    We plan on having a pioneer day soon with no electricity. It should be lots of fun. The kids really love the Little House books. I was going to stop here and maybe come back to the books next year. However, the kids really want to continue with the next book, so we will.

    In Other School Topics ~ We received the next level of All about Spelling  and should get the next level of Teaching Textbooks next week. The kids really enjoyed having a spelling bee and they did a great job. I am very pleased with the spelling program we are using. I do think I am going to change course for Goldilocks in math. I have tried more than six math programs with her, and she is making very little progress.  I think I need to admit that she is not college bound and that she is very learning challenged. She is still struggling on a second grade level in math. It seems, at this point, that I need to start moving her into consumer math and using a calculator. Fortunately, the careers she thinks about doing some day do not require a college education.

    This week we did ~
    • Math every day (mostly word problems and multiplication)
    • Read three chapters in the Life of Fred (dogs)
    • Worked on two chapters from Social Stories
    • Listened to Al Capone Does My Shirts
    • Finished The Long Winter
    • 15 minutes of writing every day
    • 20 minutes of reading every day (more for some kids)
    • Lots of science videos on You Tube
    • CNN student News (the kids favorite time of day)
    • Explode the Code
    • Multiplication games
    • Prairie Primer projects
    Where  We Are Going ~
    • Dance classes
    • Aerial Arts classes
    • Cartooning class at the library
    • Doctor appointments

    The Rest ~  We sure aren't having a long winter around here. Our weather seems to rotate between warm spring days and ice/sleet/rain mix. We woke up to ice all over the yard one day this week. All of the garden tools were frozen together and made a perfect popsicle for Boomer. Also, several of the wine bottles we got from Freecycle to decorate our secret garden were full of water and broke. The ice was still in the same shape as the wine bottle.

    I am joining  Homegrown Learners.

    Blesings, Dawn