Friday, August 29, 2014

Week 6 Wrap-Up ~ Baseball, Ice and Currency

Take Me Out to the Ball Game ~ 

We started our sixth week of school with a bang! We wanted to go to another baseball game before the season ended. Our local Goodwill joined up with the Tourists baseball team to give out free tickets. We were able to trade nine pieces of clothes for three free tickets to the night time game. The kids and I had a blast. We won three gift cards to a chicken joint. We don't know how much they are worth yet. They could be worth anywhere from $1 to $100 each! Little Red Riding Hood always wants to sign up for one of the games on the field. This time she got to do the pony hop game. She came in second and won two tickets to the state fair which starts next week! Lastly, we had funnel cake and cotton candy. Thanks to a few extra supplements, Tom Sawyer didn't have any reaction to the ingredients. The whole evening cost only nine bucks!

Paddle To The Sea

We are enjoying our unit study on Paddle to the Sea. I love the map that came with the unit study and the kids are slowly filling it in as we cover new geographical areas in the story. I plan on making a salt dough map of the Great Lakes with them at the end of the unit. We enjoyed reenacting the canoe sitting on the hill of snow waiting for it to melt. Our boat slid down the hill in the same way described in the story.

Cricket In Time Square

I have always loved this story and the kids can't get enough of it. We are following the Beyond FIAR unit study. This week we studied U.S. currency, the terrors of poaching elephants for ivory, New York City, and how to write a story from an animal's perspective. The kids really like this style of writing. We will be writing a story next week from an animal's perspective.

I inherited these ivory necklaces a few years ago. I imagine they were purchased long before the ban on trading or selling ivory.

Other School ~ 
We finished the book,  Then There Were Five. What a lovely story. We just have one more to go in the series. Little Red Riding Hood finished the first book in The Sister's 8 series. I am so glad to see her reading taking off. Tom Sawyer is doing well in his writing class out of the home. The class uses the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is very good for children with reading, writing, and spelling difficulties that are similar to dyslexia.

The Rest ~
This was a really hard week for our son, Timothy. He had a lot of anxiety and unfounded anger. Apparently, he is having a bad reaction to yet another asthma medication. It seems there is none that he can take without having bad reactions. So he stopped all his medication yesterday and is feeling much better today. It is such a hard journey to find medications that his body can handle.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Day in the Life ~ August Edition

We are a homeschooling family with four children. However, we are only homeschooling two kids this year. Our adult son (24) is disabled and still lives at home. He attends a day program for brain injured adults that is a huge blessing to him. He was homeschooled from 3rd grade through graduation. Our 13 year old daughter has many, many special needs and emotional problems. We decided that it was necessary to place her in a very intensive special education program this year with our local public school system. She is also living outside of our home this year while she gets some much needed psychiatric care.

6:45 am - 7:45 am ~ I woke up a few minutes late this morning. I quickly made my way to the kitchen and made my husband and adult son (Tim) breakfast. I then packed their lunch. It is unusual for Tim to be awake so early in the morning. I talked to him about how he wasn't feeling well and got him some medicine. His seems to have a summer cold and it is bothering his asthma. After my husband left, I got into the shower. I then made all of my minions (washing machine, dryer and dishwasher) do my bidding.

7:45 am - 8:45 am ~ The kids woke up and started looking over the new goodies. This is the first day of our second five week unit. We have no budget for homeschooling this year, so I decided to add in new things each five weeks as I was able to earn the money on Ebay and Amazon. Fortunately, I had a great deal of curriculum already. It is fun to have "box day" every five weeks. Tom Sawyer (12) sat down with his Brick Shakespeare book while trying to avoid the camera. Little Red Riding Hood (10) was disappointed to see that her new French workbooks had not arrived in time for box day and went off to take her shower. Meanwhile, the WiFi started acting up and Tim, who hates anything that is not part of the routine, started stressing out. Luckily, it was easily fixed. The kids watched CNN Student News while eating apples.

Level 3 All About Spelling, Paddle to the Sea, Brick Shakespeare, Vocabulary Rummy,
and The Cricket in Times Square (from the library). 

8:45 am - 9:15 am ~ We got into the car and took Tim to his day program. One of the things on the table for box day was two free coupons to Chick-Fil-A. The kids were very excited about getting breakfast out and took their coupons up to the takeout window. Tom Sawyer stressed about going up because he couldn't believe it was really free. We made one last quick stop at the bank. While in the car, we listened to Then There Were Five. We listened to this audiobook whenever we were in the car today.

9:15 am - 12:45 pm ~ As soon as we got home, we buckled down to school time. I let the kids go back and forth, picking the next subject. Little Red Riding Hood wanted to start with language arts. She did three pages of Explode the Code Book 7 and Tom Sawyer did three pages of Wordly Wise Book 2. We moved on to The Cricket in Times Square (literature). We only had two chapters scheduled for today but the kids loved it, so we ended up listening to four chapters. We moved on to silent reading time. Tom Sawyer read How to Train a Dragon Book 11 and Little Red Riding Hood read The Sister's 8 Book 1. I also sat down and read a book during this time. Next up was Journal Time. I set the timer for 10 minutes and they wrote whatever they wanted. Their journals are not graded. I am just working on getting them to enjoy the flow of writing. We moved on to geography. We read about New York City, where The Cricket in Times Square takes place, and found it on the map. The kids then filled in a writing form about New York. They used the computer for extra research. By this point, there were many complaints about hunger and I had to force them to continue. We had only two more subjects after all. Math was next. The kids both picked out one of the six math workbooks we have at the moment and worked on some review problems. We will be returning to Teaching Textbooks for our next five week unit. We finished the day with Bible. We listened to the book of Luke from The Bible as told by Max McLean while doing a lesson in Draw to Learn the Life of Jesus.

12:45 pm - 1:00 pm ~ We all had lunch. We ate homemade potato soup, pickles and fresh baked bread.

1:00 pm - 2:15 pm ~ The kids had their media time. Little Red Riding Hood played on the Wii and Tom Sawyer played Minecraft on the computer. I talked to my Mom and continued doing laundry. I also called a few doctors to set up appointments.

2:15 pm - 2 :50 pm ~ The kids played outside and I did some weeding. I also started researching what is wrong with our 16 year old dog. She appears to have a hematoma of the ear. There is very little to do for it besides surgery so we won't be taking her to the vet. She is very old, blind and deaf. We are just trying to keep her comfortable during this final stage in her life. I did discover that she may have an ear infection, so I looked up homemade ear washes for dogs.

Our three year old dog Boomer
2:50 pm - 3:15 pm ~ We picked up Tim who was feeling worse even than this morning and was ready to go home for some more medicine.

3:15 pm - 5:00 pm ~ The kids went back to playing outside while I attempted to make fudge. The fudge did not come out this time. It is way too liquidity and has to be eaten with a spoon. The kids were delighted all the same. I also made up a solution of tea tree oil and olive oil to wash out our 16 year old dog's ear. Dear Husband came home and I started dinner.

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm ~ We had tuna patties with rice, spinach, and cabbage apple salad for dinner. Then the kids headed back outside with daddy for some more swinging and trampoline time. At last they had to come in for a 25 minute chore time. The laundry pile was very high and needed folding. We had a family folding session and swept the main rooms of the house. Our Amazon order arrived so the kids got to have box night. Their French and Spanish books arrived!

7:00 pm - 9:00 pm ~ They are now watching a little bit of Family Feud with Daddy. Then they will have showers and story time. They can read in bed for a little while after 9:00 pm.

Well, this is a pretty typical day for when we don't have any appointments. We do have out of the home afternoon dance classes or doctor appointments about three days a week.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Planning and Progress

This was our first break with our new five week on with one week off schedule. I am so glad we returned to this schedule and wondered several times through the week why we ever gave it up a few years ago. The kids and I are sold on it. My week was spent jumping through the last hoops to get Goldilocks into school and planning my homeschool lesson plans for  the next five weeks.

Goldilocks Goes To School ~ Goldilocks was accepted to the day treatment program in our county for challenging children who have serious emotional and behavior problems. There are only 18 slots in the whole county, and our Goldilocks was the first kid ever to go straight from homeschooling into this program which is considered the most intensive program our school system has. I am not sure that is a distinction that anyone would ever want but it says a few things.... Goldilocks really is seen as a very troubled child to have gotten into such a program with almost no fuss. We had to prove that we had provided Goldilocks with an adequate education before she was accepted to the program. I faithfully pay for professional end of year homeschool testing. I'm always a person who wants to cross every "t" and dot every "i". Fortunately, we used a special education teacher from our county last year to tutor her in math. This teacher has twice won the county's teacher of the year award. After a year of her tutoring my daughter, Goldilocks' math scores on the end of year tests had gone DOWN noticeably, while her reading and language arts scores (taught by me) had gone up! The school system representatives were speechless! I was kicking myself a few weeks ago about paying all that money for tutoring and getting such negative results. However, those scores helped us tremendously in the long run. This is just another example in my life of God providing.

Goldilocks was delighted while waiting for the school bus. For years while living with me, she has wanted to go to public school and has done many things to sabotage my teaching her. We don't know if her current placement with her caregiver will hold more than a few more weeks. We are out of funds and the license is still being reviewed at the state level. Since our caregiver lacks this particular license, our insurance has not picked up the cost of her care. Goldilocks may need to move to another placement that has licensure. If she has to leave the county, which will likely be necessary, she will not be able to attend the day treatment program. I don't even know what is best anymore. I just keep praying and reminding myself that God is control.

Mother Culture ~ I got a bit of mother culture in this week. I completed two books, The Smartest Kids in the World and Freedom Writers Diary.  Both books are thought provoking and will enhance my thought process as I help the kids through this school year. I really want to raise the bar for the kids this year. I know they can do so much more than they have been doing in recent years. The stress in our family has been so intense in the last few years that many expectations have been lowered. It is time for a change. I also was able to watch the movie Freedom Writers. It was excellent. I also watched the movie, Dive. This was a good documentary that really left me shocked. It is about how much food is wasted in America. I had no idea so much food was being thrown away from grocery stores instead of being passed onto organizations that help the poor. We are hoping to start composting in the near future so that we will stop wasting food in our own home.

Planning ~ We will be starting our first geography unit study in our next five week unit. We will be studying Paddle to the Sea, using a Beautiful Feet unit study. I love the map they sent with the guide. It is on high quality card stock and is a nice size. We will also be looking at Europe after World War II for history. I will be using a host of picture books and some excerpts from The Story of the World  Vol. 4 to illustrate the devastation in Europe and the new divisions of countries around the world. Our literature plans include a small unit study with The Trumpet and The Swan and a FIAR  unit study with The Cricket in Times Square. In addition we will be listening to the last two books from the Melendy Quartet, Then There Were Five and Spider Web For Two. Little Red Riding Hood will be starting French and Tom Sawyer will be starting Spanish. I will introduce our workbooks and free online videos next week. We will be working more diligently through our Physics lessons during the next five weeks. There is also lots of plans in the works for Music, Language Arts, Math, and Art. I think it is going to be a grand five weeks.

In addition to all of our at home lessons, we will be starting back to our out of the home classes. Little Red Riding Hood will be in tween company for dance five hours a week. Tom Sawyer will be doing only one Modern dance class since his knees really can't do anymore than that at this time. They will both be attending Lego club and The Tar Heels historic club once a month. Tom Sawyer will continue with physical therapy and a writing class weekly. I am considering having them join a once a month Culture club but don't know all of the details yet. We will have to see how our schedule feels. It is always a bit different than it looks on paper.

All The Rest ~  The kids have enjoyed their break. Tom Sawyer had two play dates and Little Red Riding Hood had hours of crafting. We did lots of errands and meetings this week to try and get ourselves squared away for learning next week. The kids liked going to the labyrinth in the river district this week. I try to go walk around it whenever we are in the neighborhood because of the possible health benefits. I do find that Tom Sawyer is always calmer and more focused after walking through the labyrinth and they enjoy it.
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Week 5 ~ Wrap Up of Unit One

We are done with our first five weeks of school! I am so pleased with our school year thus far. I have already seen some great improvements in areas. We are even still on schedule, although that does not completely matter. As with every year, there are subjects that haven't been covered as well as I expected, but they haven't been dropped completely...yet! We have only covered one lesson in our Bible study with Draw to Learn the Life of Jesus. That is okay. We will plug along slowly. We also did not start our foreign language studies yet. I do plan on starting Little Red Riding Hood in French during our next five week period.

We celebrated our first five weeks with a unit review. We invited Grandma over for dinner and showed her all that we are learning. It was a roaring success and we will do this at the end of each five weeks this year. We started the evening with everyone ordering their dinner choices at the Pig in the Blanket diner. The diner was created by the kids and modeled after the diner in the book we read called Frank and Ernest. The kids learned diner language and as each person placed their order the kids called it out to the short order cook (me) using diner terminology.

Here are a few of the choices in our diner ~
  • Hot Dogs ~ Bow Wows
  • Ketchup ~ Make it Bleed
  • Veggie Platter ~ Walk Through the Garden
  • Soda ~ Drink the Bubbles
  • Apple ~ Eve
  • Coffee ~ A Dark One
  • English Muffins ~ Burn the British 

After placing their orders, everyone sat down to listen to each child give a presentation on what they had learned through the previous five weeks. Tom Sawyer went first. He read his 460 word essay on Sadako and the One Thousand Cranes.  He told us a little bit about Hiroshima. He then showed us all of the origami he had made. He has really gotten into folding paper and made many little figures. Lastly, he told us about the Lego Club that both children will be continuing to attend this year. Little Red Riding Hood went second. She read her 462 word essay about the Melendy children from the story, The Four-Story Mistake. This book is second in the series of the Melendy Quartet (first in the series was The Saturdays). She then showed us many of the crafts she had made through the previous five weeks. Lastly, she talked about the Tar Heels Junior Historic Club that the kids are joining this year. 

We sat down to our diner meal and continued talking about all that we had learned. After dinner and a short outdoor break, the kids showed their geography skills which is a troubled spot for both of them. Little Red Riding Hood, in particular, has a lot of learning to do in this area. We will be working hard on writing and geography this year. I am happy to see the vast improvements that Little Red Riding Hood has made in writing in such a short time so far this year. We also did a very short multiplication drill and the kids went through their notebooks with Grandma.

We had one other grand accomplishment this week ~ we were able to bring down a dead tree at the end of our driveway. We had wanted this tree to come down. However, it was entangled with phone wires, and we could not afford the prices we had been quoted to chop it down. To our good fortune, our neighbors were having a tree chopped down this week. While they were out at the neighbor's home, the lumberjacks asked if we would like to have this dead tree come down. They offered to do it at a fraction of the cost that we had been told it might cost. So we had it done because, every time there's been a storm, we've worried about whose car might be crushed by the tree. What a relief!

We have a week break now to prepare for our next period of study. We are completely done with World War II, much to the kids' relief, and will be moving on to another time in history. I will be busy this coming week getting Goldilocks enrolled in public school. She will be attending an intensive mental health program in our public school system. I hope it gives her the support she needs. There are 18 kids to 8 adults so there should be plenty of line of sight. We shall see.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 4 ~ The Year of Miss Agnes and The Homefront during Word War II ...

We had a busy and productive week. We finished our unit study on The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill and our unit study on the United States during World War II. We also attended a birthday party, three physical/pool therapy appointments, an appointment to look at a school program for Goldilocks, and an art class. Whew! I am beat.

The Year of Miss Agnes ~ We really enjoyed this book that is set in Alaska just after World War II. It is a sweet story about a teacher from England who comes to a rural Alaskan village and brings the joy of learning to a one room school. A book right up my alley. We loosely followed a unit study from Here is a list of what we did:
  • We had a delicious fish dinner.
  • We wrote a story from a different point of view ~ both kids decided to write from our dog's point of view during bath time.
  • We read The House in the Mail by Rosemary Wells and drove through a neighborhood that has several Sears catalog houses.
  • Little Red Riding Hood learned to crochet at a crafts class.
  • We watched an Imax DVD about flight and airplanes.
  • We learned about biomes and studied Alaska's biome, which is an Alpine tundra.
  • We watched an Imax DVD on the world's greatest places and figured out the biome for each place.
  • Each child wrote a very short autobiography.
  • We made pictures within a margin.

The Homefront During World War II ~ We did several activities over the last few weeks. Some our favorites are listed below.
  • The kids made a meal from Molly's Cookbook: A Peek at Dining in the Past with Meals You can Cook Today (American Girls Pastimes).
  • We are taking good care of our victory garden and it is giving us a wonderful yield.
  • We watched the America Girl Doll movie about Molly.
  • We read Attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • We read So Far from the Sea by Eve Bunting.
  • We made Scottie dog bookmarks.
Bacon, Toad in a Hole, and Waldorf Salad.

Other Learning ~

Polymer clay monster key chains
Physical therapy in the pool -- working hard

We started our geography state pages this week. We are going to start with the nine states the kids have visited or lived in. I decided to cut the state shape out of a photograph of the kids at a North Carolina landmark. Then I decided I wasn't good at cutting out such complicated shapes ~ so assigned my mother to cut out the state. She did a super job. The kids then wrote a paper about a place they had visited in the state and cut up a map to make a collage. They came out great. We then read the book, T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet by Carol Crane. This is from a series of books for each state and Washington D.C. We wrapped it up with a meal from foods grown in North Carolina. We had blueberries, sweet potato fries and local grass fed cheese burgers. 

The picture is fuzzy, but you get the idea.

Well, that wraps up our week. I love homeschooling!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Week 3 ~ Milestones

This week was filled with milestones. 

Tim ~ Our son Timothy recently passed his first anniversary at the brain injury day program he attends four days a week. It has been such a blessing to him. This week the day program had a party to celebrate their fifth year serving our area. We are very glad they opened a program in our area. Timothy has the opportunity to have so many experiences in a safe and supportive environment.

Timothy and Tom Sawyer playing pool at the party.
The great staff that cares for all of the clients.
Tom Sawyer ~ Tom Sawyer finally started pool therapy in addition to continuing regular physical therapy. He is doing well, although they seem to find some new concern or weakness each time he is examined. He had a few small scares this week, but he seems to be really learning how to stop and take care of himself when he feels a strange pop of his muscles.

Little Red Riding Hood ~ Little Red Riding Hood went on her very first sleepover this week. She had a wonderful time. She loved every minute of it and can't wait to do it again someday. In addition to the sleepover, she attended a free crocheting class at the local craft store. In just one short lesson, she learned how to crochet. Before the day was out, she had made a hat for her stuffed bear.

Eating breakfast with the twins at the sleepover.

Goldilocks ~ I wish I could say that Goldilocks had passed a milestone. Well, she has been out of our home for a full four months now. I can't believe it has been this long. She is still in respite and we are still private paying. The system moves so slowly in getting her services and getting insurance to take on some of the cost. We have received a few scholarships and for those we are very grateful. Hopefully, we will finally get her established in the system this month. We only have about two more hoops to jump through. As for Goldilocks, she is enjoying a special needs camp very much. She becomes very distraught when she has to see us (which is only seeing me at psychological appointments) and wishes "to fade out of our family like the girl in Harry Potter" as she recently said. The therapist says this is because she is mentally unstable and cannot deal with all of the emotions of living and being loved by a family.

Highlights of Our School Week ~ We did all of the normal subjects and a bit of extra fun, too. The kids enjoyed a poetry tea with Longfellow. We listened to Paul Revere's Ride, The Village Blacksmith (my favorite), and The Children's Hour. We will be exploring Longfellow for the first ten weeks of school. We celebrated J. K. Rowling (and Harry Potter's) birthday (July 31) by reading a biography of J. K. Rowling and watching the movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We also started the book, The Four Story Mistake, which we are enjoying just as much as The Saturdays. We barely started our next literature unit study, which is The Year of Miss Agnes. I will speak more on our unit study next week.

Blessings, Dawn