Friday, August 30, 2013

Week 5 ~ Blueberries, Thomas Edison and Appointments

In My Life ~ This week was a little more stressful than recent weeks. I can't even put my thumb on why, exactly. For one thing, we had lots of appointments. Some of the appointments dealt with doing tests to eliminate some scary possibilities because Tom Sawyer's lymph nodes are still enlarged. Thankfully, the tests revealed nothing seriously wrong, and we just need to wait for his very reactive immune system to allow the swelling to go down. Secondly, the dentist announced that the time had come for Tom Sawyer to have a referral to the orthodontist. Two kids in braces at the same time stuns me. Especially so because I suspect that braces are going to be tough on my sensory boy. He, however, is very excited about having them (go figure). Lastly, we have been running around gathering Little Red Riding Hood's ballet gear for Tween Company. She finally made it into shoe size 1. She is almost 10 yet has such little feet. I can't believe my little girl has been dancing for six years. She still truly loves to do it.

Blueberry Picking ~ We went blueberry picking on a mountain top this week. The weather was almost perfect. The wild blueberries were tiny but very sweet. We put them into delicious muffins and a buckwheat-blueberry crisp during the week. The kids loved going into a very cold mountain stream after picking.

Learning Time ~ Despite all the appointments, we did get lots of learning in. Goldilocks is working her way through Prince Caspian  this week. Her book reports are showing slight improvement as the weeks go by. She is still using the word and way too much. She is also struggling with putting the sentences together so they make sense. We are hoping she will be starting reading/writing tutoring in a few weeks. She sure needs more help. Goldilocks began being tutored at her math tutor's school building rather than her home this week. She found the tutor's classroom in the middle school overwhelming even with no students present (tutoring is after school hours). I am glad we did not send her to school this year.

Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood ~ We had another great week for these two. They did lots of math including Life of Fred,, and Teaching Textbooks. We are almost done with our Thomas Edison unit study. The kids conducted experiments with snap circuits, learned about rubber bands and their stretching properties, and used a chemical reaction to make moth balls bounce. The kids were very busy in art this week. They worked with Grandma making pastel drawings, visited our latest building in our architecture study and made flower chains at the hospital art table. History was filled with CNN Student News and part one of The Century by Peter Jennings. We also watched a DVD on the Endurance Expedition to the South Pole.
Bouncing moth balls
Field Trip ~ We visited All Souls Episcopal Cathedral this week for our architecture study. George Vanderbilt commissioned this church and the building was completed in 1896. It was and still is the crown jewel of Biltmore Village which housed many of the workers of Biltmore Estate. The church style is from the Norman period and is Romanesque with Gothic influences. The floor plan is a basic Greek Cross. We were happy to find it open and empty. The kids enjoyed exploring the layout. They were interested in the large baptistery and enjoyed looking at all of the needlepoint kneeling cushions which have been made by many former parishioners. Tom Sawyer pointed out that the building material, pebble and dash, was used on the outside of the church. He thought it looked dirty and needed a power wash!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 23, 2013

Week 4 ~ Loving Learning

On My Mind ~ This week has been filled with a huge blessing. The pediatrician who cared for my three youngest in infancy and toddlerhood has returned to our area and started a new practice. In 23 years of being a mother, he is by FAR the best pediatrician we have ever had. So now, I am now in the process of transferring all of the children over to his care. One of the things we love about him is that he is a fountain of knowledge and has superior diagnostic skills. He also plans to keep his practice small so he can maintain the personal touch. For instance, he is the person who calls the parent back after hours instead of a triage nurse (who, in my experience, more often than not tells you to go to the ER for everything). He has been an in house hospital (hospitalist) doctor for the last 7+ years, so he really understands some of the more complicated issues that come up with kids. PLUS, he's advertising that he is happy to work with special needs kids! He saved our Tom Sawyer's life years ago, and I am so happy to be back with a trusted doctor. In our first visit (a relaxed hour exam) he explained to me the findings from other doctors about Goldilocks's dizzy spells and told us how to reduce the spells. He also is concerned that she has many characteristics of Marfan Syndrome and wants her checked out by a cardiologist and geneticist. Now, we have worried about Marfan Syndrome among ourselves after researching some of her physical anomalies, but never expected that he would suggest it himself and in the first few minutes of seeing her. I really don't want her to have any syndrome (of course), but it is a relief to have someone knowledgeable look at her and be willing to check it out. It can be a life-threatening condition if it is not followed. Other doctors have commented on one or two of her anomalies, but scoffed at my suggestions of Marfan -- and made no referrals to have her further checked. We are so blessed!

Goldilocks ~ Goldilocks had a busy week. I am really seeing an improvement in her quality of work now that she has a quiet place to work. Here is what she did:
  • Listened to The Horse and His Boy.
  • Completed 35 pages in math, spelling and reading from Flash Kids Complete Curriculum 3rd Grade
  • Read the chapter book, Orv and Will
  • Did two book reports
  • Kept up with her math from tutoring
  • Worked at
  • Did art projects at the Arts for Life table at the hospital
  • Went to gymnastics class
  • Attended our field trip on architecture
  • Watched 1900 House every day with her siblings
  • Visited the library
  • Watched The Red Balloon and wrote a short report about the balloon's feelings
  • Worked in her copy work book

Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood ~ These two are doing so well with learning this year. Here is a list of their activities:
  • Played a 3 hour Monopoly game
  • Started the unit study on Thomas Edison Young Inventor from Beyond Five in a Row 5 chapters
  • Watched CNN Student News
  • Started watching the videos of the periodic table from Nottingham University
  • Did Lesson 2 of Squilt
  • Baked a cake from scratch
  • Attended gymnastics class
  • Worked at Teaching Textbooks 3 times
  • Worked at 3 times
  • Read Life of Fred Farming 2 chapters
  • Played a homemade memory game of the branches of science
  • Went to the library
  • Did writing prompts 3 times
  • Studied two buildings in our architecture lessons
  • Filled in our coloring book for the two buildings
  • Ate hot dogs (circa 1916) at a real Woolworth soda fountain
  • Did two lessons of All About Spelling level 2
  • Packed eggs and dropped them from 15+ feet to see if they would break
  • Did lots and lots of Mad Libs
  • Made crab apple butter and crab apple sauce

The eggs did not break! They were packed extremely well!

These crab apples are tiny!

Making applesauce the old fashioned way.

Our Favorite Thing this Week
We really had a fun field trip this week. We took our city coloring books and went downtown to look at an Art Deco building and a Spanish Baroque building. We studied the buildings and then colored in the corresponding pictures. The kids also enjoyed the cool, calm Catholic Basilica. They lit candles and spent a few minutes praying. Our town is filled with street performers during the summer and weekends year round, so we watched them for awhile. We also had lunch at our local Woolworth Soda Fountain that is preserved to the way it would have looked in the 1940's.  Everyone (except Tom Sawyer) had hot dogs (circa 1916).  Tom Sawyer had the cheddar broccoli soup which was the only safe thing for him on the menu. I love hands-on learning and so do two of my kiddos.

One of the best examples of Art Deco in North Carolina

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our Back to School Pictures ~ 2013-2014

This year, I decided to show my kids with their current favorite games for their not back to school pictures. I saw this idea on Sharla's blog. Our oldest son (not shown) is at a day program for brain injured young adults four days a week. He really enjoys it and we are so glad he is getting out more. That leaves me with three students at home this year.

Little Red Riding Hood ~ 9 Years Old
  • Loves Teddy Bears
  • Loves to save her money
  • Loves foreign coins
  • Has a quick mind with arithmetic 
  • Wants to be a dance teacher and mother when she grows up
  • Is the most flexible child I have ever seen
  • Is my most easygoing child
Tom Sawyer ~ 11 years old
  • Loves to build with Lego kits
  • Loves dancing and theater
  • Thinks science is the best subject to learn
  • Is an excellent reader
  • Has a tender heart
  • Learned to ride a bike this summer (he has cerebral palsy)
  • Makes friends everywhere he goes
Goldilocks ~ 12 years old
  • Loves The Waltons and The Cosby Show
  • Is very interested in fashion and make up
  • Loves to spend time with animals
  • Is my best cleaner and can make a bathroom sparkle
  • Can jump on the trampoline literally for hours
  • Loves to listen to music
  • Enjoys workbooks and writing
Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Week 3 ~ In Our Groove!

We had a great week. I even heard each child say that they loved learning and that learning was fun! We really are hitting our stride. I love it when everything falls into place before out of the home classes start. Our learning definitely feels better than it has in more than a year. Everyone is more eager, everything is getting done and then some, and there is general calmness when there should be. What a blessing!

Goldilocks ~ She still did school work in her room most days. Her favorite subject this week was literature. She loved listening to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and is working on a decent book report. I had a book filled with workbook pages to fill out for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but she found them too difficult. They were geared for 3rd through 5th grade. I shelved it for her siblings. She also enjoyed identifying emotions in different characters in a few Cosby Shows. This is good practice for her since she often has trouble reading facial expressions and social cues. Otherwise, she did lots of math and writing this week. She went on our family field trip this week and joined us for our poetry tea.

The other children had a busy week. One of their favorite activities this week was checking on the ducks and geese at the local lake. They did drawings, counted the ducks and geese, fed them a loaf of bread, and even managed to pet a few of them. One of them even crawled into my lap to get a piece of bread. We also saw a Great Blue Heron this time.

American Girl Doll Club ~ We had the first meeting of our American Girl Doll Club this week. It was fantastic. We are doing Rebecca 1914 this quarter. The girls made pot holders and decoupaged boxes to fill for the Meals On Wheels Christmas drive in a few months. The boxes are so nice. The other mother read aloud most of the first book while the girls worked on their projects. We will be meeting another time to make a Jewish/Russian feast with the girls. It should be fun!

History and Literature ~ We finished The Wright Brothers. Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood loved this book. We then moved on to the Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. We watched this youtube documentary. It was excellent. We then made molasses sugar cookies. Of course, we then had to recreate the great molasses flood (see photo below). The kids also watched a Netflix DVD, Unsolved History Mysteries ~ 1906 San Fransico Earthquake. This was a neat DVD because it looked at the earthquake from an engineering and structural building point of view. We finished off by adding the new info to our scrapbook timeline. Lastly, we read Sky Boys How They Built the Empire State Building.

Poetry Tea ~ Our poet this month is Carl Sandburg. The kids were really excited about this poet because he lived just a few towns from us. So this week, we visited his goat farm and fell in love with the goats. I think we may need a goat or two to maintain our yard. It is so overgrown that using goats to eat the grass and weeds indeed would be perfect. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but that's nothing new. We started the morning off with a poetry tea. I read them a few poems and then we watched this YouTube poem ~ Skyscrapers. This was excellent and a perfect connection to our architecture study. The kids then took turns filling in pages of a Carl Sandburg activity book. Then we were off to Connemara. We did not go into his house this time, since the kids were enjoying the goats too much to force them into a house tour. They worked on their Junior Ranger badges and looked through a scrapbook of the house. That was almost as good as if we had taken the tour.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our Learning Spaces ~ 2013-2014

Our home has been taken over by homeschooling. This is on purpose. We want our children to know that learning occurs everywhere and all the time. It is also practical for all of us to be able to spread out at times and learn in different spaces. We moved in November of last year. It was a great move for our family. We got into a home that we had had an eye on for years in a much better neighborhood. However, it was a foreclosure and had fallen into disrepair. As so often happens when a home is foreclosed upon, the previous owner had stripped the home of kitchen cabinet doors, drawers and hardware; ceiling fans; smoke detectors, light switches, etc. There was tons of work to do! So we spent much of the remainder of the school year trying to find a quiet space to learn away from the noise and chaos of workers who were trying to make our home safe and functional. We are so relieved to have our home to ourselves and be able to spread out this year. Also, our oldest dd is working on her own in her room most of the time. She prefers the quiet and a more workbook/textbook approach than the others.

Our main hub is the dining room/kitchen. This area is where we do our table work, spelling, computer math and indoor science experiments. We also use the table for cooking as well as to play board games. Sometimes Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood work at the counter that divides the dining area and kitchen and sometimes they work at the table.

We do our spelling on the floor in this cozy little corner.

This armoire in our dining room holds the most popular of our games, plus the current quarter's school books and resources.  

In our library, I do lots of reading with Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer. They enjoy curling up while I read literature, history picture books and living math books to them. Sometimes while I read, they sit on the floor to work on a puzzle or draw.

The telescope was a thrift store purchase last year. We plan to study some astronomy this year and are looking forward to enjoying the night sky. Also, we are planning on creating a bird feeding station outside this window this fall. It should provide some great nature studies right at our finger tips.

Our daughter who prefers to work in her bedroom has a shelf right outside her door holding the materials she is currently using. I use an assignment book to keep all of her studies in order and help her work on organizing skills. Sometimes a small TV/video player is on the shelf and she gets to set it up and watch educational videos. (It's getting harder to buy videos, though.) Other times there is a craft or puzzle on the shelf. She is excited to see what is waiting for her each morning.

We also are blessed with a family room in the lower level of this house. As much floor space as possible is left open, because the kids do lots of spontaneous dancing and theater performances. They also use this space for building with Wedgits, Lincoln Logs, and blocks. In addition, we watch some educational movies in this area and do many puzzles. The white cabinet is filled with our science materials and the other bookcase holds our Christmas books, library books and geography boxes.

Our stairwell is filled with posters. It goes between the family room and dining room, so it is handy when we need to look at a poster for reference.

We also have a small closet off of the kitchen which we use as our art cabinet. It is a bit of a mess because the kids use it a lot.

Lastly, we have our large yard (3/4 of an acre) to explore. We haven't really gained control of it yet since no yard care had been done to it in YEARS, so the education out there is about how to use tools, how to identify poison ivy, how to mow the grass and learning what is edible in the yard (apple tree, grapes, herbs). Then there is all of the running, jumping and cartwheels to do (physical education). Yep, homeschooling has taken over our home and we are so glad!

Thanks for popping in and visiting our homeschool.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, August 9, 2013

Week 2 ~ And So It Begins

Time flies when the learning is fun! This second week of school flew by. We are all just loving our new learning environment. Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer really enjoy each other's company during lessons, and Goldilocks is loving the peace and quiet  in her room. She also loves the small TV/Video player being dragged into her room for educational videos a few times a week. Ha!

What Goldilocks Did Alone This Week ~
  • Read the Magic Tree House book, Thanksgiving on Thursday
  • Filled out a book report template
  • Wrote a book report draft and then final book report
  • Completed many language arts work book pages
  • Attended math tutoring
  • Completed math assignments each day
  • Watched videos on Rosa Parks and Magic School Bus dinosaurs
  • Worked on a 200 piece puzzle
  • Did the first Baroque Squilt Lesson
  • Did eight lessons in Draw Write Now book 2
What Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer Did This Week ~ 
  • Did three lessons in Teaching Textbooks 
  • Did everyday
  • Did two Lessons (18 pages) in Explode the Code (Little Red)
  • Studied how to write a really good topic sentence
  • Finished Life of Fred book, Edgewood
  • Started Life of Fred book, Farming
  • Did a unit study on skyscrapers using A Kaleidoscope Kids Book Skyscrapers ~ this included building with Wedgits; building a cardboard city; learning about city planning; and learning about building materials, structural strength, what an architect does, and much more.
  • Continued learning about the Wright brothers and read a Landmark book about them. Warning~ if you read this book with your children, they will become mad inventors and drag every piece of metal and wood scraps you have into the yard for their laboratory! LOL
  • Squilt lesson 1 ~ They loved it!
  • Started exploring wood carving
  • Burned our freshly built city down and talked about fire safety, how fires spread, and why cities are safer now than they were during the time of the Chicago Fire and Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire
  • Watched the movie, From Time to Time ~ about a boy during WWII who is able to talk to his ancestors from the 1800's and saves the family home when he finds lost treasure.

Out and About ~  We had two play dates this week. We also spent a lovely afternoon at the pool and another at the roller skating rink. It was the first time at a roller skating rink for Tom Sawyer and Goldilocks, and they spent lots of time trying not to break their necks. Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood got the hang of it, but poor Goldilocks came home with an unfair amount of bruises. I couldn't get a single picture of Goldilocks to come out. She was embarrassed by my photo taking anyway. They can't wait to go back. Tom Sawyer also had physical therapy.

Lastly ~ The kids really wanted to earn some extra money and we had a yucky job that required little bodies. It was a perfect match. The kids cleaned out our crawl space (which is under about one-third of our house). It was filled with metal, wood and other building materials from the 1950's. They were really brave and got it done in two hours. They each earned $10 plus a trip to the pool (using the money the metal brought us at the scrapyard). I was proud of them for sticking with it and doing a good job. Goldilocks is grimacing in this photo because she didn't want to wear her dust mask, and her Daddy said she had to.

I am joining ~
Homegrown Learners

Blessings, Dawn