Friday, July 31, 2015

Week 2 ~ The Week I Wanted to Return to Summer Break!

What a week! By Wednesday, I was ready to close up our little homeschool for a few more weeks. It wasn't because of the students or the curriculum. It was just life. My life had so many demands on me this week, it seemed impossible to stay on top of our studies. In fact, we did more school at night this week than I have done since my current students were babies when I schooled our then teenager while everyone else was asleep! We made it through and I am content to hang up my teacher hat for the weekend. We will be back at it Monday with, hopefully, less craziness and interruptions.

Hermit Crabs ~ I forgot to mention we got two hermit crabs at the beach. These guys are active. We are learning how to care for them. We haven't had hermit crabs in years. They are loads of fun to watch.

Crafts and Camping ~ Dean and DH went camping last weekend. They had a great time while Anne and I stayed home and crafted. Anne has wanted to try Perler beads for a long time. She embraced this craft with a passion, and we stayed up until almost midnight creating.

Homeschooling ~ My goal this week was to do tons of science. We didn't get to half of what I had planned, but we did get some science done. I had to alter the whole week to make it all work. I am very thankful for the ability to be flexible.
  • Completed The Diamond of Darkhold, book 4 in the City of Ember series ~ Literature
  • Life of Fred Jelly Beans, 3 chapters ~ Math
  • Teaching Textbooks, 3 lessons ~ Math
  • 2.5 hours of assigned reading ~ Language Arts
  • Writing Prompts, 3 days ~ Language Arts
  • Grammar workbook pages, daily ~ Language Arts
  • A Reason for Spelling  (Level E, Dean and Level C, Anne), Lesson 3,  all 4 days plus spelling test ~ Language Arts
  • Last day of PT for Dean (YIPPIE) and a quick PT evaluation for Anne to make sure she is ready for Pointe. Her teacher wanted her arches and foot that turns in to be checked out. She passed and is ready for Pointe. ~ Physical Education
  • Swimming and trampoline play,  3 hours ~ Physical Education
  • Bill Nye The Science Guy shows, "Caves" and "Earth's Crust" ~ Science
  • Finished the Trebuchet Tinker Crate finally! We made marshmallow shooters, dancing puppets and tested controlling a ping pong with a hair dryer. We also completed the challenges with our trebuchet ~ 2 hours ~ Science
  • Augustus Caesar's World ... Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, the Roman Calendar, etc., 3 pages ~ History
  • Explored our new Intelliglobe with wireless intelli-pen ~ Geography
  • Polishing Silver ~ Is this a dying art? The kids loved doing it, although it was not completed to Downton Abbey standards ~ Home Economics
  • Painting walls and baseboards at Grandma's house ~ Home Economics 

The making of these puppets drove the kids crazy, but the puppets were fun once they were done.
Anne thought that this was the coolest job we have done all summer!
We have inherited a lot of silver through the years. There are still two more pieces to polish.
Whew! It is time for a rest. Happy Homeschooling!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 24, 2015

Beach School and the Renaming of My Kids

I have been writing this blog for about eight years now. My kids asked me to change their pretend names that I assigned them when they were preschoolers. So, after much discussion, we have decided to let them go by new names. For now on Little Red Riding Hood will be known as Anne and Tom Sawyer will be known as Dean.

We started our new school year this week. It turned out that we were at the beach for the first two days of school. There is nothing like starting off the school year with some really awesome field trips!

Anne on the first day of school!
Dean on the first day of school!
We had a lovely time visiting family at their beach house. There were hours upon hours spent in the pool and wading in the ocean.

Each morning Anne and her cousin joined me on a sunrise walk along the beach to collect shells. We also enjoyed flying kites.

When we weren't at the beach, we explored the Outer Banks. This was our first time at the Outer Banks, and we wanted to get some learning into our days. We went to Bodie Lighthouse one day. The stairs going up were a bit daunting and the heat was intense. It hit 103 degrees inside the lighthouse while we were climbing! The view from the top was well worth the climb. Anne thought sitting at the top was the only safe position. She didn't stand up hardly at all on the top.

We also visited a small aquarium. It was nice and had a few different things we hadn't seen in other aquariums. The kids really liked the sea turtle hospital. They were rehabilitating several turtles while we were there. Then the kids were able to use an interactive exhibit to learn how to heal sea turtles from several different conditions.

Aren't brothers great?
We also visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The ranger gave a wonderful presentation and showed us how Orville and Wilbur made their plane work. The heat was intense, but we walked the grounds and climbed to the top of the dune where the brothers experimented with wind, lift and gliding. The brothers spent several seasons at the Outer Banks working on different planes before learning how to to give their plane a power motor and finally lift off and fly from flat ground. Their first few flights in 1903 lasted less than a minute but proved that man could have controlled flight with a power motor (instead of gliding and going wherever the wind goes).

In the background is one of the early gliders that the Wright Brothers made.
Walking from the museum to the memorial
We made it!
Have I mentioned it was very hot?!

On our last day, we celebrated one cousin's birthday by driving go karts. This was the first time for my kids (at least being the drivers) and they had a blast.

We returned home and hit the books. This was our first week of school, after all. This is what we accomplished this week.
  • Listened to the audio book, The Prophet of Yonwood ~ book three in the Book of Ember series ~ Literature
  • Five hours of swimming ~ Physical Education
  • The Outer Banks Aquarium ~ General Science
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy shows ~ "Ocean Life", "Marine Life", "Ocean Currents" and "Ocean Exploration" ~ Science
  • Five hours of puttying holes in walls,  painting baseboards and  painting walls ~ Home Economics
  • Visited the Bodie Lighthouse ~ History
  • Visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial and listened to a ranger talk ~ History
  • Three hours of independent reading ~ Language Arts
  • Anne ~ 6 workbook pages of cursive, 3 word study pages, and 4 reading skill pages  (all 6th grade workbooks) ~ Language Arts
  • Dean ~ 16 pages Test Tutor Reading Comprehension ~ Language Arts
  • Life of Fred Jelly Beans ~ 7 Chapters ~ Math
  • Teaching Text books ~ Anne 3 lessons and Dean 4 lessons ~ Math
  • N is for our Nation's Capital ~ Filled out worksheet and added to our Geography workbook ~ Geography
  • Augustus Caeser's World  ~ Read first chapter and made a Roman calendar with original names of months ~ History
  • Studied and identified our shells from the beach ~ Science
We are off to a good start. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Surprise Trip!

A Relative blessed us with an offer of a room in their beach house. We could not go for the whole time but are more than happy to go for a few days.

Our bags are packed!

Our thank gift basket is made and ready to go!

Our school books are ready to go. Can you believe our first two days of school will be at the beach?!
We will be doing a little bit of book learning and a few field trips,

and lots of physical education...

We are out of here!!
Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Curriculum Choices 2015 - 2016

I am very excited about this school year. I will have a 6th grader and a 7th grader (special needs) this year. We start on July 20. We are a literature-based Charlotte Mason family that is dabbling more and more in STEM activities, which is what my kids crave. My goals for the kids this year are posted here. I plan for a 40 week year so that I can get in everything I want to teach and still have flexibility. We will do six core subjects every school day of every week and select 2 additional elective subjects each week. Some of our elective subjects will last a whole semester and some will only be a quarter long.

Core Subjects ~ These are the subjects we will do every day of every week.

Literature ~  Most of the literature we will be using this year has a unit study or a literature guide to accompany the book.
  • Black Ships Before Troy ~ Veritas Press literature guide
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (all seven books) ~ Veritas Press literature guide
  • Hitty Her First 100 Years ~ Above and Beyond Five in a Row
  • Aesop's Fables ~ coloring books
  • Julie of the Wolves ~ unit study Scholastic
  • A Wrinkle in Time ~ unit study Scholastic
  • My Side of the Mountain ~ Scholastic literature guide
  • Shiloh ~ Scholastic literature guide
  • Our Places  ~ anthology by A Beka
The remainder of our literature will come from our 100 books to read during middle school. We will also be studying one Shakespeare play (Hamlet) and attending a performance. We will have a poetry tea each month. The poetry will be determined as we come to it.

Language Arts ~ Above all else this year, I want to encourage writing. They will be doing lots and lots of writing. Tom Sawyer will be attending a writing class with other homeschoolers, in addition to doing language arts at home. I also want them to make vast improvements in spelling. Here are a list of books they will be using.
  • 350 Fabulous Writing Prompts
  • Poetry Writing Handbook
  • Kids Write! Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • How to Write a Research Report
  • The Great Editing Adventure
  • A Reason for Spelling ~ different grade levels for each child
  • Cursive Handwriting ~ Handwriting Without Tears
Each child also has a folder containing grammar and reading comprehension workbook pages. I still need to pick out a daily grammar workbook. If these books are not working or I need more, I plan to purchase Cover Story.

Math ~ We are not making any changes to math this year. We have had great success in recent years with this combination. They both got 99% on last school year's end of year standardized testing.
  • Teaching Textbooks ~ 6th grade for daughter and 7th grade for son
  • Life of Fred books ~ Jellybeans, KidneysLiver, and Mineshaft
We found a Saxon Math 7/6 book in a free box of books that I will be using to reinforce concepts that are not clear or need extra review.

History ~ We will be using books written by Genevieve Foster this year for a nice review of world and American history. There are six books. We plan to start with Augustus Caesar's World and see how many we get through. I am sure we will get through at least four books. I will be supplementing with books from the For Kids 21 Activity series by Chicago Press and Kaleidoscope Kids activity books.
  • Augustus Caesar's World
  • The World of Columbus and Sons
  • The World of Captain John Smith
  • The World of William Penn
  • George Washington's World
  • Abraham Lincoln's World
We will also be watching CNN Student News daily.

General Science ~ This is a review year for science. I basically want to touch on anything we missed up to this point, such as geology, and go deeper with some of the kids' interests so we know where they want to go with high school science. The kids will be learning how to use our two microscopes and telescope in preparation for high school.
  • Tinker Crates (a monthly subscription)
  • The Ben Franklin Book of Easy and Incredible Experiments: A Franklin Institute Science Museum Book
  • Teaching the Fun of Science ~ Janice Van Cleaves
  • Zoology for Kids: Understanding and Working With Animals, With 21 Activities
  • Outdoor Challenges with Harmony Mom
We will also be doing lots of miscellaneous science kits and attend several different science museums.

Physical Education and Health ~ Both of our children are in dance. Our son will be taking three hours of dance this year and our daughter will be in Tween Company again this year. She will log seven hours a week of classes before practice. They both will be in numerous full productions throughout the year. In addition, our son, who has mild cerebral palsy, will be working on an at-home physical therapy program after graduating from 18 months of physical therapy following a knee dislocation. They will also be working through Developing Good Health with A Beka.

Our Elective Subjects ~ These are subjects that we will do throughout the year, but not every week.

Coding and Robotics ~ We plan to purchase a Raspberry Pi Kit to learn and explore this year. We also will be playing coding games on the Internet, working with snap circuits and robot kids. I am hoping that a friend will be starting a First Lego League this fall, but if she doesn't, we will be searching for a non-competitive robotics club or perhaps purchasing our own Lego Mindstorms EV3. Our son has a strong interest in this area.

Geography ~ We purchased an awesome interactive globe for back to school. The kids are going to love it. In addition, we will be completing Geography - A Literature Approach by Beautiful Feet. We have one book to go.
  • Tree in the Trail ~ Holling C. Holling
  • Charting the World With 21 Activities
  • Discover America State by State ~ We will be working our way through this series and completing state pages for each book. This series is an alphabet picture book series, but it has lots of content which makes it still age appropriate for the middle school years.

Home Economics ~ The kids will be learning to hand sew and machine sew this year. They will also be learning new skills in home repair, using a drill, painting, etc. They independently will be cooking a meal for the family at least once a month. They will be learning how to make bread from start to finish and how to do the laundry from start to finish.

Fine Arts ~ Grandma will continue to teach art once a month. Also, the kids will complete the Draw Write Now series. They are currently on book 3. They will be doing picture studies of artwork in the Louve and playing the Master Pieces game. Tom Sawyer will be learning to play the guitar and they both will be learning how to read music. We will be doing a unit study on Edward MacDowell, the American composer, and Squilt lessons as they become available.

Foreign Language ~ Our daughter will be studying French this year. We are going to take it slow and easy. We have a few workbooks and will be listening to the language as much as possible. I am trying to get her comfortable with the language before she gets to high school.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, July 9, 2015


We had a lovely summer week. There was a nice mix of work, charity and fun. We are so blessed!

We had a fun 4th of July at home. We shot off a pack of fireworks (fountains) and watched the neighbors illegal high flying fireworks. We had a picnic and enjoyed a movie (Maleficent).

We took a thank you gift of breakfast to the friend who provided transportation to our disabled adult son while we were away in June.

The kids continued to help Grandma weed her garden, learned new skills (how to use a drill, how to install a peephole and how to putty a wall), and we began painting the trim inside our house. There is so much trim!

We attended a $1 movie and later went to a game to watch our local Minor League baseball team win in the 11th inning. We also shared two flavors of cotton candy.

We spent the afternoon playing in a mountain stream.

We read books and picked our blueberries. Tom Sawyer visited the orthodontist. We attended a party thrown by our special needs family support group.

Last, but certainly not least, we joined our church group to serve free lunches to low-income children (in partnership with our local schools). We are doing this once a week for the entire summer. It is a wonderful experience for the kids to serve others. So far, they have manned the book giving table, cleaned up tables after the children are done eating and handed out utensils. Little Red Riding Hood has also assisted preschoolers with their lunches.

Blessings, Dawn