Saturday, April 30, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Lots of Science and Sign Language

Another week down! We have logged 35 weeks of school as of Friday. Technically that means that next week could be our last week of school. However, I go by hours, not days. Our goal is to finish strong by the end of 38 weeks with 150 hours in the majority of our classes. While both kids have 150 hours in language arts, they still have two lessons each in their spelling books. Also, we are reviewing a few items that fall under language arts, so we will continue with some lessons in language arts.

Monday - Wednesday: This week they focused on the subjects in which each had the least amount of hours logged. Anne is running behind in sign language. This week she logged five hours. She is preparing to perform The Star Spangled Banner for the end-of-year show at our co-op. It is a big endeavor and my perfectionist child is stressing big time about it. She also did about six hours of science with her brother.

Dean focused on science and accomplished eight hours. He made a shaking table with Tinker Crate and learned (reviewed) earthquake science.

They started off being serious with the first earthquake proof building. Then they got sillier and sillier as the videos reveal.

Dean also did a few science experiments that were lying around. My science cupboard is almost bare.

We also finally got around to making an edible layered Earth. We used organic marshmallows and organic rice cereal. It came out pretty good but was too sweet for us. Nonetheless, it was a fun review of the Earth's four layers.

Thursday: We had back-to-back appointments on Thursday. We only got a bit of poetry memorization done in the car and about one hour of school done at home. The big excitement on Thursday was getting Dean's braces off. The bummer was that they said he had to wear his retainer for the rest of his life! It wasn't that way when we were kids, but it seems to be the new way they do things. The kids also got their homeschool yearbook pictures taken and we made it to therapy.

Friday: Happy Birthday, Dean. We don't do school on birthdays. Dean had a lovely day, complete with Cheerios for breakfast. He hadn't had a real test of oats in about five years. He did well with the addition of extra supplements. We took him to the Moog Factory in Asheville for a tour. We learned about the Moog synthesizer and got to play on lots of electronic instruments. Dean really liked the Moog guitar. He won't be getting one since they cost thousands of dollars ~ HA! Everyone enjoyed the Theremin, although we won't be performing with it on stage anytime soon...LOL!! It is considered to be the most difficult instrument to learn to play. We couldn't make it sound like anything but squeaks and scratches.

We wrapped up the night with dinner at a pizza place in town. We will be having cake and going to a trampoline park Saturday with Dean's best friend. Pictures to come next week....

Lastly, Goldilocks had surgery on Friday. She had her deviated septum in her nose corrected. She did well and is back in her mental health placement recovering nicely. Dear husband and I took turns being at the hospital so that we could keep Dean's birthday moving along at a steady pace on the homefront. I am blessed to have a family that can circle the wagons and get so much done. 

We would have gotten more schoolwork done if we had accomplished more days of school, but the week was overall a great success. School is only one part of our lives. Next week has a fair amount of interruptions as well. Dean needs a cavity filled and is having more testing. Oy vey!!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 22, 2016

Our Week in Pictures

Wow ~ it was a whirlwind week!

Where We Went ~ We attended Lego Club, church, Chimes Choir, Dance, multiple appointments, co-op classes and round one of educational testing for Dean (he still has a few more assessments in round two ~ gifted/talented, ADHD and learning disabilities).
The students made a Lego quilt in Lego Club.
Chimes ~ their first concert is this Sunday.
Anne is stretching during break time at co-op.
School ~ The kids managed to log 25 hours of school this week, including dance and co-op classes. They made great progress on language arts and history. We never made it to our literature studies this week, but that is okay. We are very busy with several review items. There is some cool stuff coming up soon. I think we will be done with school in about three weeks!

Goldilocks Update ~ Goldilocks had extensive psychological testing this week. I think that the psychologist seemed good and really caring. I hope the results will help us uncover if there is anything else we can do to help Goldilocks. Dear Husband and I took her on an outing this week. I think she enjoyed herself. 
I have a picture of her with this statue as a toddler. It is hard to believe she is 15. 

Observations and Confessions ~ This is the time of year when I really start formulating my thoughts for the next school year. I am in the observation stage of planning. The kids have grown so much this year. One major thing I have recently realized is that my two remaining homeschool students are not academics and are not going to become so. Neither one of them particularly loves book learning as I did as a child. I loved, LOVED learning. I went to school all day and came home and played school some more and I am still totally in love with education. However, my kids are not. Sure, they like learning and are smart kids, but they don't live and breathe books like I do. They both test high on end of year tests, but even our very fun, tailored to their way of learning school is something they look forward to completing so that they can have time for their own passions. Anne is an athlete first and a theater rat second. She loves to stretch a little further and push her body a little bit harder. Her spare time is spent creating new films and exercising (always exercising). Dean's loves are theater, comedy, music and art. He loves to play his guitar, perform on stage and watch sunsets. He loves color and beauty. Of course, he also loves video games (sigh).

So next year, I hope to embrace who they are and stop trying to turn them into bookworms. I don't think this means a radical change to the way we homeschool but more a change in my attitude. I do think we may streamline a few subjects such as history so we move faster. We tend to move at a snail pace with history because the teacher goes down a million rabbit trails (ahem). I want to, need to, accept who they are. Their high school years are right around the corner and this is their education, their future, their adult lives we are working toward. They are awesome kids with awesome passions and for that I am grateful.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 15, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Michelangelo and Fresco Art

Ahhh ~ The end of the week! You know it has been a productive week when you look around the house and wonder if a bomb went off in the main living areas. Then you look at your camera and see that you only managed to take pictures on one day! Yep, it was a crazy and productive week around here.

We had another art lesson with Grandma. We had a lovely time learning about Michelangelo and fresco painting. Our homeschool friends, the twin girls, also joined us for the art lesson. The kids mixed their own Plaster of Paris for their "fresco" material and then painted one of their favorite things about living on the Earth. They enjoyed painting on damp Plaster of Paris.

Anne making Plaster of Paris

Plaster of Paris poured in a paper plate

Dean carefully painting on the damp Plaster of Paris

Anne painting

Dean's finished fresco

Anne's finished fresco

We are getting closer to wrapping up school. I have begun counting up our hours each week to see if we have enough hours to close out any subjects. This week Dean completed physical education. They both need only three more hours to complete their literature course. We will finish that up next week.

Next week is going to be very adapted. Goldilocks (our daughter placed out of the home and living in psychiatric setting) is having extensive psychological testing two mornings and then Dean is having his end-of-year testing and a learning disability evaluation on Thursday. We also have Lego Club and tons of dance hours. I am not sure how many hours of school we are going to accomplish, but we will give it our best shot!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 8, 2016

Nellie Bly and Investigative Journalism for Kids

We just completed a unit study on journalism using the book, Nellie Bly and Investigative Journalism for Kids: Mighty Muckrakers from the Golden Age to Today with 21 Activities. I am so glad we finally got to this unit study. I put this on my list to do more than a year ago. I love this series of books with 21 activities. They are chock-full of great information and hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

Nellie Bly is such an exciting woman who my kids first "met" when we studied Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. We learned that she attempted to go around the world in less than 80 days after reading Jules Verne's book. I should say she not only attempted it but also succeeded. We followed her real life journey on our globe and listened to some of the details about the countries she passed through. We love our talking globe.

My kids loved the "You name it" project where they took their names and wrote as many words as they could think of to describe themselves. I am only showing mine because the kids used their real names for their projects.

They learned about creating a life motto and thought up ones for themselves. Anne came up with the phrase, Leap over problems so they can't get you! Dean, who we must remember is a teenage boy, thought up the motto, Cookies make the world go round; eat more cookies. That boy's mind is always on food. We learned about the life of Newsies (young boys who sold papers during the 1800's and watched the musical movie, Newsies.

We learned about how Nellie Bly got her start in investigative journalism by acting the part of a crazy woman and getting herself committed into the "Mad House". Her editor rescued her after nine days, but her articles about the mental hospital opened up this secret world to the public and helped to improve conditions for the women inside mental institutions. What a fascinating and brave woman!

The kids learned about yellow journalism and political comic strips. They also made comic strips of their own, although theirs were not political. 

One of their favorite projects was learning about Jacob Riis, a journalist and photographer who shed light on the horrible conditions in the tenements of New York City. He used photography to show how the other half lived and get the city leaders to start the slow process of reforming and improving the tenements. My kids hit the streets of our local city and took their own pictures and then turned them into collages on PicMonkey.

Anne ~ She took photos of her dance studio, favorite buildings, spring trees in bloom, and dog dishes (our city is well known for being dog friendly and many stores leave out water and treats).
Dean ~ He took photos of one of his favorite coffee shops, flowering trees, the car he would like to someday own (haha), one of the many cranes in town right now (our city is bursting with growth), and one of the many murals around town that he likes. 
The kids also learned about Ida B. Wells and all of her work to bring about improvements for African Americans in the south. We learned about the horrible practice of lynchings and all that Ida B. Wells did to try to stop them. The kids learned about pen names and chose their own. 

We also dissected a newspaper and looked at all the different parts. We found the 5 W's (who, what, where, when, why) in a famous article about the shirtwaist triangle factory in 1911.

Lastly, we learned about Upton Sinclair. We will be reading his famous book, The Jungle, when they are in high school. They got a taste of it this week while reading excerpts. It is one of the books that had a deep impact on me during my freshman year of college. The children then wrote a letter to their future selves. 

What a wonderful study -- I am glad we finally got this one off my list!

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 1, 2016

Our Crazy Spring Break

What an incredible week! It started off scary and came full circle to a steady place of hope. My Father had emergency brain surgery last week which revealed that a fungus was growing on his brain. At first, the doctors were very concerned about how they were going to treat the fungus and whether my father would make it through this crisis. We rushed up to Washington, DC, to see how we could help. By the end of this week, they had a plan on how to treat the fungus and how to stop treatment of his cancer. It is really too much for his body to take both treatments at the same time. Luckily, the results of his cancer blood work showed that they could suspend treatment for a few months, so they will be treating only the fungus problem for now. Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Several people questioned my desire to have my children present on this trip and even spending hours in the hospital room with Grandpa. In my opinion, there was nowhere more important for them to be this week. This is REAL life. There are real hardships in life. We must all learn to deal with them. How much better to learn to deal with them when you have the loving support of family around you to help guide you through such challenges. This is one of the primary reasons I homeschool. My children are learning REAL life lessons which they will carry into adulthood. I hope that these lessons will ease some of the difficulties that they will go through someday.
Grandma Sue, Grandpa and Anne
When we weren't at the hospital, I tried to find places for the kids that were educational and unrestricted -- in other words, where they didn't have to be super quiet and still. We managed to do something each day. One afternoon, we explored the botanical gardens in Washington. They were very lush and green. Anne took dozens of pictures. She has an eye for taking pictures of plants.

One morning, Dean and Dad went on an adventure to the science museum with their cousins. They had a fun two hours out exploring fossilized poop, seeing gems, and looking at mummies. I took Anne to see her only girl "cousin" (she isn't a real cousin but extended family) and they had a fun time painting nails and playing with dolls.

We also made it to the Lego store and the American Girl Doll store one night. I wanted to get Anne's doll Kirsten that she got off of Ebay fixed up. Her hair was a mess. The doll hairstylist did a great job. They used all kinds of tools to deal with the doll's dry frizzy hair. Anne had a marvelous time wandering around the store and setting her dolls up for a photo shoot in all of the displays.

We saw the cherry blossom display around the Tidal Basin and drove around the nation's capital while we were going to and from the hospital. My stepmother was also with us. Because we have relatives in the area, this is my kids' seventh or eighth trip to Washington, D.C. Nonetheless, I think this was their first time seeing the cherry blossoms in bloom. We didn't get out of the car because the traffic and parking was too intense. However, we saw many blooming trees through the car windows.

Lastly, we were blessed to have Easter dinner with dear husband's sister and her family. We also had dinner on our last night in town with my aunt, uncle and cousin whom I hadn't seen in 22 years. My cousin recently moved to D.C. and my aunt and uncle were visiting her. It was lovely to see them again.

Blessings, Dawn