Friday, March 27, 2015

The Week of Stuff

Do you ever have one of those weeks where you are in a constant state of busyness but really have nothing much to report? That is the kind of week we had. This was our week off, and we were busy cleaning, sorting, loading things on Ebay and generally reorganizing. The highlight of the week was winning 14 boxes of homeschooling books off of Freecycle. It was well worth the 50 mile round trip to pick them up. I ended up with 164 books to sell on Ebay, a large box of books for a good friend, and 50+ books for my own little homeschool. The rest of the books will be donated to the library or traded in for credit at the used book store. Here is a shot of just some of the books in the middle of the chaos. It took hours to process the books.

Tom Sawyer got braces last week. He was a real trooper and did a great job. I am so impressed with his maturity. He braved the hour in the orthodontic chair like a real champ and learned in just one day how to put the rubber bands in without a mirror. He hasn't complained hardly at all about pain. However, he wouldn't at all give me a nice smile for the camera!

Little Red Riding Hood has been very busy helping me by doing extra chores for money. She is saving it all for our trip to Washington, D.C. this summer. She wants to go to the American Girl doll store there for the first time. She cleaned the laundry room and the garage.

We went to all of our normal out of the home classes this week. These classes are on spring break next week. We are starting a short, two-week unit study and then taking another week off because Daddy will be home for a week. Then we will finish out the school year with a seven-week unit.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neil Armstrong Young Flyer ~ Beyond Five in a Row

We are at the end of another five week unit. For the past five weeks, we have studied Neil Armstrong Young Flyer and learned more about the 1950's and 1960's (specifically, the Korean War, Cold War and the Space Race). We used Beyond Five in a Row and a lot of my own ideas. 

During Neil Armstrong's childhood, he was a Boy Scout and a very good student. We learned how to cook in an aluminium bag over an open fire, how to set three different kinds of campfires, and how to make two different kinds of knots.

For science, the kids learned about aluminium and how it became important to flight. We always love the periodic table videos put out by the University of Nottingham, which you can view by clicking here. We watched the aluminium video and a few others because they are addictive. The kids also made an aluminium boat and tested its buoyancy.

We then moved on to flight and built a wooden airplane. It came complete with a space shuttle on top. The kids had a great time learning how to catch the wind and get their airplane to fly successfully.

Of course, we had to build a rocket, too. We decided on a vinegar and baking soda rocket and purchased the kit from Rainbow Resource. It was a bit harder to put together than we expected, but that is probably just because we are not that handy at building rockets! It was supposed to fly about 100 feet. We only got it to go about 30 feet high. I am afraid most of our launches looked like 1960 on the NASA launch pad ~ crash and burn.

Here is a shaky video for your viewing entertainment. Little Red Riding Hood did the recording.

We also learned about the importance of rubber and did several experiments with rubber bands. We learned about the flexibility of rubber bands when they are cold vs. hot. We learned about the different uses of synthetic rubber versus natural rubber. We also made a "magic" roll back can with rubber bands which you can view below.

We will be having an end of unit celebration with friends on Monday. We plan on talking about Neil Armstrong's life and the challenges of getting to the moon. We will be listening to a live recording of the landing on the moon from our book, We Interrupt this Broadcast. We then will try out some Astronaut Ice Cream. Lastly, we will be presenting some of our findings about the moon itself. It should be a great review.

Resources ~ I found YouTube to be especially useful for this unit. We watched all of the relevant episodes on Bill Nye the Science Guy on YouTube.
  • Planets
  • The Moon
  • Space Exploration
  • Gravity
  • Flight
  • Outer Space
  • Comets and Meteors 
We also found these great videos on how Rubber was made and an interesting documentary on Apollo 11.

Lastly, we did a crash course on the Cold War and the Korean War. We turned to the book, The Century for Young People and these two videos on YouTube for our quick overview of the Korean War, which can be found here and here. I really preferred the first video over the popular Crash Course History in the second video. The kids like the Crash Course series, but it goes too fast for them and they can never tell me much about what they have learned. They do better with the slow and methodical videos.

We also found the Focus on Middle School Astronomy curriculum to be very useful. We read about the moon and its affects on the earth. We then did waves and the moon and the lunar calendar experiments from the 21 Super Simple Astronomy Experiments. Both books are from the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum. Lastly, we had to see what Basher had to say about the moon in Astronomy Out of this World. My son LOVES all of the Basher books.

That about wraps up our study. We will be continuing with astronomy in our next unit, since the kids have caught an interest. It should be fun and it is getting warm enough to see the stars at night with the telescope. Happy Learning!!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Week 29

I knew walking into this week that we were going to need some extra grace and organization. We had some really difficult and emotional meetings to get through in regards to our daughter, Goldilocks. Her psychiatric placement is falling apart and she is going to need to be moved soon. Hopefully, she will be able to stay in her current placement until the school year is complete since she is safe and three school changes in one year would be a pity. I just keep praying that what is best for Goldilocks will come to pass.

In addition to all of that drama, the "crud" descended on our family this week. Half of us have a bit of a stomach bug and half of us have a severe soar throat. Lastly, a teacher at our homeschool co-op passed away this week from a very sudden illness. She was very young, so it is an extra shock to the kids. We did not know her well but some of Little Red Riding Hood's friends knew her very well. We have been working on how to support a friend through loss. That is a lot of LIFE to deal with this week. However, the week ended up being much smoother than it could have, and for that I am grateful.

Poetry Tea ~ We reviewed Psalm 23 for our poetry tea this week. It was the focus of the sermon in church on Sunday and, considering the week we were facing, seemed appropriate. I just love YouTube! There are so many useful videos on that site. This week we used these two videos about Psalm 23. You can find them here and here.

Our tea consisted of fruit, toast with jam and homemade hot chocolate.
A Field Trip ~ Last Saturday we went on a wonderful field trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. I wrote about it in this post. Go check it out.

Chopped! ~ Have you seen the show Chopped on the Food Network? It is my kids' favorite show. They love it. I decided to set up a mini Chopped experience for them in our home this week. They were presented with four items that they had to use in the making of dinner. They had full use of the kitchen and used many of the appliances. I loved watching them work. They were both diligent and creative. They shared the kitchen appliances well and the food came out great. They both insisted I pick a winner which was really hard. Little Red Riding Hood won for presentation,and Tom Sawyer won for taste but by just a hair. His noodles were perfect and he even marinated his bacon in salsa. We told him we would have preferred more on the plate. The kids can't wait to do it again.
They had to use bacon, strawberries, spinach and large shell noodles.
Cutting up the bacon

Making smoothies


Little Red Riding Hood made a spinach and bacon salad with salsa noodles and whip cream stuffed strawberries. 
She also served ice cream and a spinach shake. It all tasted good, although the spinach shake was a bit strong. 
Don't you think she did a nice job on presentation?

Tom Sawyer made strawberry orange juice swirl smoothies, spinach-stuffed noodles, spinach salad, 
and marinated bacon. It was delicious!

Acts of Kindness ~ Our acts are still going a bit more slowly than I wish. We managed to give flowers to a special teacher this week, put out birdseed for the birds, pay a few compliments to people who were serving us in stores, and left money on a vending machine.

All the Rest ~ We did lots of other school this week. We accomplished all of the basics and made loads of progress on our unit study about Neil Armstrong. I will be sharing a complete post about his life next week. The kids are loving that we are getting more science done this unit. 

The kids also both received really nice compliments this week. Little Red Riding Hood was chosen for an extra dance in the Spring Showcase, and Tom Sawyer's writing teacher said she is very impressed with the improvement in his writing this semester. I am really impressed, too. They are great kids.

Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Science Museum Field Trip

We purchased a membership to our local science museum. The membership gets us into many science museums around our country and beyond for free. I hope to take the kids to some of the museums this year before the membership expires. This weekend we went to Discovery Place in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is a few hours away. We started off with lunch in an unusual place, the Settlers' Cemetery.

Charlotte's first graveyard

Headstones from 1776 - 1884

Fascinating lunchtime spot

Watch out, husband

Delightful aquarium windows

Peaceful and lovely

Investigation and discovery

Daughter's wounded hand (in microscope)

Rainforest rope walkway

Bed of nails

What goes up...

Hands-on learning

Hall of Illusions

Dinner at Dish
(as seen on the TV show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives)

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Wrap-Up ~ Week 28

We had a good week. We seem to be consistently off schedule this five week unit. We are getting lots done, just not all the things I had planned. You all know about best laid plans, right!

A Huge Accomplishment ~ Dear husband worked two weekends in a row to get our crawl space insulated. He laid plastic over the dirt on the "floor" and then insulated the "ceiling" of the crawl space. Our floors are so much warmer now and there is no longer a breeze coming from the cracks in the floor. I am so proud of him. The space was tight and dark. I couldn't even see him sometimes even with his head lamp on.

A Quick Visit from Grandpa ~ My father stopped by on his way to Florida. It is always fun to see him. We had a lovely one day visit with him. We went to an indoor recreation place and played laser tag and miniature golf. Little Red Riding Hood especially liked cooking with Grandpa.

Acts of Kindness ~ We only managed three acts of kindness this week. One day they attempted to smile and greet everyone they met. That was really hard for my shy Tom Sawyer. Another day they gave a surprise gift of a candy bar to their older brother. Lastly, they left a stuffed animal for an unsuspecting child at a playground that is located in a poor neighborhood.

Out and About ~ The kids went swimming with Grandma one more time before the free pass expired. They also made it to all of their dance classes, drama class, math and writing classes.

Homeschooling ~ We did lots of workbook pages again this week. The kids read books and did math, but we never made it to any of our science experiments. We seem to be having trouble getting back on schedule with our two unit studies. I think we will only get our Beyond FIAR unit study on Neil Armstrong completed during this five week period. The kids enjoyed cooking and art the most this week. For cooking they made Dilly Bread and Boston pork shoulder in the crockpot. They are really improving in their cooking skills.

Grandma taught art to us this week. She did a lovely presentation on Andy Warhol, complete with this video of  him eating a hamburger. He was the first to use media in the way we now use social media. We then designed labels for our own cans of food. It was lots of fun.

On the Blog ~ This week I posted my list of 100 books to read in middle school. I would love to hear your additions. You can click here to see it.

I am joining collage Friday.

Blessings, Dawn

100 Books for Middle School

We are a literature-based family. I build much of our lessons around good literature. I want the children to be well versed in literature. I decided on this list because I had read them before or they came very highly recommended by friends. There are so many books and I had a hard time keeping the list down to 100.

Here is my list of books for middle school. I have not read every single one and I may not get through them all with this set of kids. However, it is a nice place to start when I am thinking about what to read to them next. Of course, I encourage them to read many of them on their own. The books in bold we have already read, and I plan to come back over the next few years and highlight the ones we complete. They are in no particular order.

  1. The House on Mango Street
  2. Old Yeller
  3. Snow Treasure
  4. Julie of the Wolves
  5. The Endless Steppe
  6. Stone Fox
  7. Inkheart
  8. Redwall
  9. The Thief Lord
  10. The City of Ember
  11. Out of the Dust
  12. Johnny Tremain
  13. The Indian in the Cupboard
  14. Pollyanna
  15. Chains
  16. Homer Price
  17. Emil and The Detectives
  18. Harriet the Spy
  19. The Wheel on the School
  20. A Long Way from Chicago
  21. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  22. Tales From Shakespeare
  23. Carry on Mr. Bowditch
  24. Jacob I Have Loved
  25. An Elephant in the Garden
  26. The Pushcart Wars
  27. The Voyage of Dr. Doolittle
  28. Tuck Everlasting
  29. To Kill a Mockingbird
  30. Call It Courage
  31. A Christmas Carol
  32. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
  33. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
  34. Anne of Green Gables
  35. Around the World in 80 Days
  36.  Black Beauty
  37. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  38. Heidi
  39. The Hobbit
  40. Robinson Crusoe
  41. The Secret Garden
  42. Mama's Bank Account
  43. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
  44. Cheaper by the Dozen
  45. The Mysterious Benedict Society
  46. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
  47. Bridge to Terabithia
  48. The Wednesday Wars
  49. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  50. Bud, Not Budy
  51. The Phantom Tollbooth
  52. The Watsons Go to Birmingham
  53. The Diary of a Young Girl
  54. A Wrinkle in Time
  55. The Harry Potter Series
  56. The Giver
  57. The Narnia Series
  58. Mary Poppins
  59. Holes
  60. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  61. Lassie Come-Home
  62. The Westing Game
  63. Because of Winn Dixie
  64. Hatchet
  65. Matilda
  66. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  67. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  68. The Invention of Hugo Cabret
  69. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
  70. The Door in the Wall
  71. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  72. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
  73. Little Women
  74. Little Men
  75. Hitty's First 100 Years
  76. The Tales of Despereaux
  77. All of a Kind Family
  78. A Little Princess
  79. Charlie in the Chocolate Factory
  80. The Twenty-One Balloons
  81. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
  82. The Saturdays
  83. Are You There God, It's Me Margaret
  84. Ballet Shoes
  85. My Side of the Mountain
  86. The Egypt Game
  87. The Four Story Mistake
  88. The Witches
  89. The Cricket in Times Square
  90. Peter Pan
  91. Pippi Longstocking
  92. The Little Prince
  93. Fever 1793
  94. Elijah of Buxton
  95. Sounder
  96. Dead End in Norvelt
  97. The Swiss Family Robinson
  98. Doll Bones
  99. The First Four Years
  100. Alice in Wonderland
Do you have a "must read" that I have missed for 5th through 8th grade? If so, please list it in the comments.

Blessings, Dawn