Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Week 27

We finally got snow -- not ice -- but SNOW! In fact we got TWO snow falls this week. I am satisfied now. Spring can come. LOL! I had to laugh when the weather woman said, "This is not a joke...Prepare Now"! People rushed the grocery store and bought food like they were going to be trapped in their houses for weeks. The South cracks me up sometimes. I was at the grocery store only because my husband volunteered to sleep at the hospital so they would have enough staff during the storm, and he needed some microwave meals. We ended up with 5 inches of fluffy snow. It was here for one day and is mostly gone 24 hours later. We very much enjoyed it while it lasted.

Boomer was running so fast! It was hard to get a shot of him.

Homeschooling ~ We did lots of school, but not all that we intended to do. We changed course mid-week because of the snow and did more workbooks than usual so we could spend more time outside. We did math, language arts, writing, CNN Student News and reading each day. Below are the highlights from the week.
  • Little Red Riding Hood finished a reading comprehension workbook.
  • Tom Sawyer completed 11 Teaching Textbook math lessons.
  • Little Red Riding Hood finished the sixth book in the series Sister's Eight.
  • Tom Sawyer read two new chapter books and a few graphic novels from the Tin Tin Series (again).
  • We started our unit study on Minn of The Mississippi.
  • We completed Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave.
  • We continued our unit study of Neil Armstrong Young Flyer.
  • We went on a field trip to the Colburn Earth Science Museum and went on a scavenger hunt.
  • We learned about the La Brea tar pits and dissected our own jar of tar.
  • The kids went swimming with Grandma at an indoor pool.
  • Six lessons were completed in Draw Write Now.
We purchased a  year's pass to the Colburn Earth Science Museum. They are moving to a bigger space in a few months and will double their exhibits. We are going to visit at least once a month and try to visit as many other science museums that reciprocate with free admission in our travels this year. There are close to a dozen just in North Carolina. It really is a great deal.

Our Favorite Meal this Week ~ The kids and I made Yorkshire pudding and pot roast. It came out great and was delicious.

Most Popular Board Game this Week ~ Art Shark

This game is a bit complicated, but it is growing on us. We played it two days in a row this week.

On the Blog ~ I am going to start trying to share one of our favorite curriculum choices each week. After 16+ years of homeschooling, I have a lot of favorites. I posted about Draw Write Now on the blog this week. You can read about the first installment by clicking here or scrolling down to the next post.

One Last Picture Just for Fun ~ This is how Tom Sawyer picks up dog poop.

Blessings, Dawn

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Curriculum that Works for Us ~ Draw Write Now

We love the series Draw Write Now. There are eight books in the program. I used this curriculum for my (now grown) homeschooled son and he loved it. Our oldest daughter, Goldilocks, used it for independent study last year. She really liked seeing her notebook grow with more drawings each day . Now, I am using it again for Little Red Riding Hood and Tom Sawyer. I am starting this program a bit late with them. We just couldn't consistently prioritize it before now. This program will help repair some printing mistakes the kids developed over the years that will make cursive more difficult to learn. I plan on running them through all eight books without stopping and then moving them to Draw and Write Through History (which is cursive).

What we love about it ~ 
  • The step-by-step instructions help the most challenged drawer to succeed. The instructions are given in little tiny bites.
  • The copy work gives just a few sentences of facts that are easy to copy.
  • Each lesson comes with a question about the drawing to help pique the curiosity of the child and to enhance learning opportunities.
  • Each book has a theme, such as Farms and Story Book Characters, The Polar Regions, The United States, etc.
  • The back of the book has some great teaching tips for helping kids form letters correctly.

How we use it ~

Tom Sawyer and Little Red Riding Hood have been exposed to this curriculum for years. I often pulled it out to have them draw and write about a particular thing that went with whatever we were studying. Now we are doing one new lesson each day in order, starting with the first book. The kids draw the step-by-step picture and then do the copy work. Next, they color their drawing and draw in a landscape. To finish, they personalize their drawing by adding quotes, jokes or any other extra details. This takes them about 15 minutes each morning and is an enjoyable, gentle way to get our school day underway.

I want to share some of the things that have worked for us over the last 16+ years, so I'm hoping to write weekly about what curricula we are using. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Baby, It's Cold Outside!

We, like much of the country, have been experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures. We also have had our fair share of ice. We didn't get any measurable snow ~ just lots of ice. Thankfully, our power has stayed on. I wish I could say our kitchen water pipes were working, but alas, they are frozen solid. Even with two space heaters running all the time, one in the basement and one under the kitchen sink, the pipes froze. Thankfully, the bathroom water on the other side of the house still is running. We can walk down the hall and get water when we really need it. I think we will be using paper plates and cups until things thaw out. What do you think the next big project in our house will be? I think we will be trying to remove a metal chimney that runs near the water lines and is no longer in use, as well as changing out the leaky windows in the basement. We think they are causing the problem. Our lower level family room is 49 degrees this morning. Baby, it's cold outside!

The Kids Resorted To Sledding On Ice!

This was a week of holidays and we had lots of fun despite the chill.

Valentine's Day ~ My husband brought home lovely white roses. They smelled so good. The kids received miniature candy bars in plastic hearts at breakfast time and then we went out for organic donuts at a local shop. They were delicious! The huge news for Valentine's Day was that we had saved up enough cash to buy a new dishwasher. We have been washing dishes by hand for six months. I can't wait until it arrives next week. Hopefully, our water lines will be thawed out by then.

Presidents Day ~ We had lots of fun with our annual Presidents Day scavenger hunt. You can read about it here. Our theme this year was "Presidents who experienced attempts on their lives."

Mardi Gras ~ We celebrated Mardi Gras last week with our homeschool Culture Club when we studied Brazil. The kids had lots of fun making masks, eating King's Cake, Skyping with a man who had grown up in Brazil and learning a Brazilian line dance.

Ash Wednesday ~ We are doing about 40 acts of kindness this Lent. I am giving myself permission to let go and not guarantee that 40 acts actually will get completed, but that is our goal. I wrote out 40 ideas and placed them in Easter eggs. The kids can open up an egg each day and complete the act if possible or postpone it until another day. I will post some of our acts in coming weeks. They include ideas, such as leaving money in expired meters, writing thank you notes to favorite teachers, leaving candy for the mail carrier, cleaning up litter, giving a flower to our librarians, telling good jokes to friends, and holding the door for strangers. These are just a few ideas.

Chinese New Year ~ We celebrated the incoming year of the sheep with a Chinese takeout dinner from Panda Express. The kids loved their noodles and orange chicken. It was delicious. Our Little Red Riding Hood was born in the year of the sheep, so she was excited to learn more about the traditions of the Chinese New Year.

Timothy (our oldest son) scraped his plate clean. Orange chicken is one of his favorite foods.
We Accomplished School ~ With all this fun and ice, it might come as a surprise that we accomplished a fair amount of school. We got most of what I wanted done this week. It was a bit of a bumpy week, but we made it. There was lots of new loot on our first day of our latest five week unit. The kids received new spelling books, new Life of Fred books, level 6 Teaching Textbooks for Tom Sawyer (not shown), a unit study on Neil Armstrong, and a unit study on Minn of the Mississippi. I think it is going to be a great five weeks.

The highlight this week in our schooling was learning about aluminium. We learned about its strength, weight, and buoyancy. The kids watched a video, read about it and then made their own aluminium boats. They tested their buoyancy and strength by adding pennies. Tom Sawyer's boat won. It was still floating with 184 pennies in it.

Blessings, Dawn

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Presidents Day

The kids love our tradition of doing a scavenger hunt on Presidents Day. Each year I pick a different theme to learn about a few presidents. I then hide our pewter presidents (or photos for the more recent ones). This year we received the book, Assassination! The Brick Chronicle of the Attempts on the Lives of Twelve US Presidents. (Disclaimer ~ Although this book is filled with Lego pictures, it is very graphic in some of the written information. It is not necessarily child friendly for the younger crowd.) I decided to use this book as our theme and learn a bit more about the 12 presidents who have experienced attempts on their lives.
  • Andrew Jackson's parrot cursed and had to be removed from his funeral. (Hidden in a basket of stuffed animal birds)
  • Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be photographed at his Inauguration. Also pictured in that photograph is John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin. (Hidden in my camera bag)
  • James Garfield was ambidextrous and could write in Greek with one hand while writing in Latin with the other. (Hidden on my desk with Latin and Greek pages)
  • William McKinley was the first president to campaign using the telephone. (Hidden next to our phone)
  • Theodore Roosevelt had really bad asthma. (Hidden with my oldest son's inhaler)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt has a movie credit to his name for a story he created. (Hidden in the movie drawer)
  • John F. Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic and first Boy Scout to become president. (Hidden with the Bibles)
  • Richard Nixon was a card shark and paid for his first campaign with his winnings from playing cards. (Hidden on the game shelf)
  • Gerald Ford was a fashion model before becoming president. (Hidden in Daddy's ties)
  • Ronald Reagan was a stand up comedian during his early career. (Hidden in our very own comedian, Tom Sawyer's, room)
  • Bill Clinton has won two Grammy Awards for his reading of audio books. (Hidden where we keep our audio books) 
  • Barack Obama loves the Harry Potter series and Spider man comics. (Hidden with our Harry Potter books)

Click below to see how we celebrated in the past:

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, February 13, 2015

Our Week Off with Lots of Learning

I think this was our best week off yet. I knew I had made the right choice from the start to go to a five week on with one week off schedule. However, this was the best break yet. There was a perfect balance of rest,work, and learning.

Biltmore ~ A dear friend gave us tickets to the Biltmore. We were very excited to go spend the day there. We haven't been in several years and it certainly isn't in our current budget. It was a perfect Sunday with the highs in the low 60's! We sure are having crazy weather around here this winter. We toured the house which was very crowded. We saw the Downton Abbey costumes that were on display. We enjoyed ice cream and rolled down the hill in "America's front yard". We then went to the petting zoo and played in the ice cold river and lake. The estate is huge and we only touched the tip of things to do there. Not surprisingly, the gardens were all dead. I really would like to get season passes someday and do a horticultural year-round study with the children.

The top of the hill. This is a serious hill to roll down.

The water was so cold ~ it turned their toes blue.

Two Performances ~ We attended two performances this week. The kids were invited to a free ballet by their dance teacher. We attended a performance by the Yucatan Ballet that was making a very short stop in our city. It was great and had several male dancers, which was nice for Tom Sawyer. He is one of only three boys in our dance studio and the only one in Tween Company. We also attended the last matinee series show for this school year. It was Laura Ingalls Wilder's Life. We enjoyed it, but were somewhat disappointed by how much they deviated from her life story and with some of the mix up of characters.

Epic Nightly Board Games ~ We spent three evenings playing the same Monopoly game. I thought for sure I had the right strategy this time, but alas I was the first one out of the game again! Tom Sawyer won for the eighth time in a row.

Mom Time ~ We met up with the Quirky Mothers group this week. One of my friends runs it and has been encouraging me to join for a long time. We are all moms of special needs children and talk about what is going on in our lives. It is nice to spend time with people who "get it". I plan to do a better job of getting together with them about once a month. They meet more often than that, but I want to put the kids' education first and they always meet during school hours. It is really nice that I can bring the kids and put them at a separate table. The kids liked the bakery at this week's meeting place.

I also managed to read two books this week and start a third!! I hope I can keep this ball rolling. I also managed to scrapbook six pages for our 2014 book.

Projects Around the House ~ One thing I have really noticed about the more intensive educational schedule we are doing this year is how the house gets put on the back burner. I get done the laundry, meal prep, dishes, floors, etc., but not much more. The week off is a great time to get some of those more occasional chores done. This week I got the refrigerator cleaned, the curtains in most of the house washed and rehung, my desk organized, two bedrooms cleaned and organized, and all the hairbrushes washed.

All the Rest ~ We did all of our normal out of the home classes this week ~ dance, drama, math and writing. We also made it to all of our therapies. The last big thing on our schedule this week is to attend Culture Club today. The kids made their first PowerPoint presentation and sent it to the tech lady. I am looking forward to seeing it put in action.

Next Week ~ Next week is full of great stuff. There is a holiday almost every day. We have Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday and the Chinese New Year. What an exciting week filled with fun possibilities. With all that fun on the horizon, I am going to have to really concentrate to get our school week off on the right foot. I will leave you with one more picture.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Week 25 ~ Shakespeare and Snow

What a nice week we had. This was the last week in our most recent five week unit, so we were busy wrapping up loose ends before our break. We are ready for our one week break.

Shakespeare and Snow ~ We kicked the week off with snow and by attending the Shakespeare play, "The Tempest". You can't get much better than that! I know lots of people around the United States are really sick of snow, but we haven't gotten much yet. We were doing the happy dance over the inch we got.

We studied "The Tempest" using three different sources. We watched a Lego stop motion version of it on YouTube, read the version from Tales of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb, and read the play from Brick Shakespeare The Comedies. We then attended the performance at our local theater, which was very well done.

Our End of Unit Presentation ~ I decided to change it up this time and invite friends to join us. The kids had their favorite twins over to share in our end of five week celebration. We started the evening out with a meal influenced by Brazil and African food. My family had studied Brazil and Madagascar this unit, and our friends had studied the whole continent of Africa this unit.

Butternut squash soup, Brazilian burritos, fruit kabobs, and fruited soda
Fixings for the burritos included black beans, salsa, guacamole, hamburger, rice, cheese, and tortillas

Our dessert was a Roy Lichtenstein cake. We used button candy as our Ben-Day dots. The kids had fun decorating the cake.

The kids performed their presentations. The whole event went much better this unit. The kids new their information and read their papers clearly to the audience. They showed off their poems (acrostic and haiku) and their new knowledge of Sigma Notation. The twins then presented a lovely talk about Albert Schweitzer. We finished off the evening with a dramatic reading (just an excerpt) from "The Tempest" using our Shakespeare Globe theater book.

Quotes from my children I want to remember ~ Tom Sawyer said to his sister when he found out that he was in a special needs group at our family special needs support group meeting, "Yes, I have FASD and cerebral palsy, but they really don't affect me much. I have lots of potential". Thank goodness he has that attitude.

It was a wonderful week.

Blessings, Dawn