Friday, April 27, 2018

Week 32 ~ Hands-On High School

This is really a two week review of the highlights. We are enjoying the first signs of spring. We are wrapping up more courses every week and see the end of this year in sight. It has been a great year with many accomplishments. We are spending the next few weeks wrapping up courses and practicing how we would like next year to go. Our homeschool is trying to move away from textbooks and workbooks (which crept into our lives more in more in the past few years) and return to an experiential learning environment with real-world exploration. I do not believe that homeschool high school needs to look like the public school, and I intend to follow a different path for our last three years. It perhaps does make a difference that my kids have career aspirations that do not require more than community college. I still intend to follow public school course of study transcripts, but without the boring textbooks. It is harder to create a hands-on high school curriculum than to follow a textbook, but I think for my kids it is completely necessary.

Full circle ~ Anne finished off home economics by mending all of the clothes in my mending basket. One of the items was her big brother's pants. The pants needed a new button sewed on them. The sweet story behind this picture is that her big brother Tim had to sew a button on her dress for his final exam in home economics back in 2007. I was able to find the picture in the album and show it to her. Sweet all goes by so fast.

Exploring the World through Food ~ This month's Universal Yums box was from Spain. We loved the ham flavored potato chips. All the food was great. The trivia games this month were challenging, too. We can't wait for next month's Universal Yums.

Exploring Towns Around Us ~ We explored Old Fort this week. This is a tiny town with a population of only about 1,000. We went to a Civil War battlefield, went to a fort that was the farthest western fort at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and visited a manmade geyser. Fun and learning was had by all.
pioneer game

The block with the star is how tea used to come from England.

Being able to read this entire page is all the formal education you would hope to get in western North Carolina in 1776!

Andrew's Geyser

We Dissected a Sheep's Heart and Learned About the Circulatory System ~

Anne Made Candles ~ We had tons of yogurt jars laying around, and Anne has wanted to make candles for months. We finally got around to them. They are coconut scented and will make lovely dance and co-op teacher gifts next Christmas.

We Finished The Westing Game ~ What an exciting story! If you haven't read it, you really should.

We Had a Delightful Day at Exploring More of the Biltmore Gardens ~ There are so many different types of gardens at the Biltmore. We explored the azalea, spring and pond gardens this week. Spring is really blooming. It was lovely. We also visited the greenhouses, which is always a favorite.

Cypress knees...we saw thesewhen we to the Louisiana swamp, too.

Looking over the wall into the walled garden reminded me of the Secret Garden.
Sign Language Interview ~ Anne really has fallen in love with sign language this year. She has studied many YouTube videos and learned a great deal. I have searched for a sign language class and was starting to lose hope when a homeschool co-op decided to offer years 1 and 2 next year. She went in for an interview to see which level she should be placed. The entire 10 minute interview was conducted in silence. Only ASL was used. She passed with flying colors and only had to ask the teacher to repeat a question once. She was placed in year 2 for the coming school year. We are so proud of her -- not bad for being self-taught from music videos on YouTube.

Art with Grandma ~ The kids learned about Dale Chihuly this month. He is an amazing glass sculptor, who will have many works of art throughout the Biltmore gardens starting mid-May. We can't wait for the show. The kids had so much fun with this lesson. We were joined by four homeschool friends to hear Grandma's lecture and watch short YouTube videos about Chihuly. They used permanent markers to decorate plastic plates and cups and then used a hot craft heat gun to melt them into sculptures. (The plastic has to have a recycling number 6 on the bottom in order to melt well.) They did amazing art! This lesson was a real hit.
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Using the hot gun

Dean Finished Two 9th Grade Courses ~ If you are interested, you can read his transcript for English I and Math I.

Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Dean's Transcript ~ English I -- 9th Grade

English I is a combination of great literature and reinforcement of grammar, proof reading and writing skills. Dean completed all of his assignments, participated in all field trips to see plays, listened to all family read-aloud books and joined our monthly literature movie club. He put effort into his assignments and produced several short writing assignments. He received an 85% for this course. He completed the course with 144 hours.

Plays, Performances and Field Trips Attended ~ 
  • 12th Night ~ Shakespeare
  • Much Ado About Nothing ~ Shakespeare
  • All Great Books ~ A hysterical comedy describing about 80 classics in one minute skits
  • The Nutcracker and The Mouse King ~ E.T.A. Hoffman
  • Visited Carl Sandburg's Home

Books Read During Family Read-Aloud ~
  • Good Morning, Mr. President - Carl Sandburg
  • The Call of the Wild ~ Jack London
  • The Brother's Grimm Vol. 1
  • Facing the Lion ~ Growing Up Massai
  • Stig of the Dump
  • A Christmas Carol
Movies ~
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Driving Miss Daisy
  • Titanic
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Little Women
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Dead Poet's Society
Books Dean Read ~ Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

Grammar and Writing Books Completed
  • Cover Story ~ 25 writing lessons and assignments
  • Proof Reading ~ 15 assignments
  • Grammar & Usage  byIncentive Publications ~ entire book (kinds of sentences, parts of speech, direct and indirect objects, capitalization and punctuation, phrases and clauses -- to name a few)
  • Spectrum Writing 8th ~ 15 lessons
  • Scholastic Scope Language Arts Magazine ~ Completed three magazines this year filled with a host of lessons from grammar to writing styles to reading comprehension.
Poetry Study ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Carl Sandburg ~ We concentrated on Longfellow and Sandburg this year. Dean studied their lives and read their poetry. He also went on a tour of Carl Sandburg's home in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

Longfellow ~
  • The Wreck of the Hesparus
  • The Village Blacksmith
  • The Rainy Day
  • The Children's Hour
  • Paul Revere's Ride
Sandburg ~
  • Young Sea
  • Last Answers
  • Little Girl, Be Careful What You Say
  • We Must Be Polite
  • Fog
Blessings, Dawn

Dean's Transcript ~ Math I -- 9th grade

Dean spent his 9th grade year making many math concepts concrete and expanding his knowledge Algebraic expression. He used a large variety of resources. He achieved an 89% as his final grade. He completed 144 hours of study.

Books and websites he completed ~
  • Life of Fred Fractions
  • Life of Fred Zillions of Practice Problems Fractions
  • A Gebra Named Al
  • Math Lessons from the website, Thinking Like an Engineer
  • Scholastic Math Magazines
  • About 15 lessons from Khan Academy
  • Spectrum Word Problems
  • Hands-On Math Projects with Real Life Applications (3 lessons)
Games used to support lessons and increase logic skills ~
  • Stratego
  • Quizmo Geometry
  • Equate
  • Chess
  • Cash Flow for Kids
  • Mastermind
  • Sequence
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Q-Bitz Exteme
  • Take Out
Projects ~
  • Built a 1:50 scale of a park
  • Measuring and building a desk with Grandpa
  • Working out all tips in restaurants during several trips
  • Making a wooden axe, which required lots of math conversions
  • Project on saving the math behind saving endangered species
Topics covered ~
  • Ratios
  • Fractions
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Percents
  • Decimals
  • Metric system
  • Converting metric system
  • Measuring 
  • Area
  • Simple interest
  • Units of length
  • Graphing
  • Intro to stocks
Blessings, Dawn

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hands-On American History in High School

It is that time of year when everyone in the homeschool community is thinking about conventions, books for next year and what has worked this year. I am deep in the planning stages for next year. I will have two 10th graders next year, with one of those students working a few subjects in 11th grade as well. Both of my students are hands-on learners. One of my students spends lots of time out in the world pursuing her desired career and is a bit pinched for study time during parts of the year.  However, she is a good student and works tirelessly to meet my expectations. One student is special needs and can read and write on grade level but really prefers to use his hands and brain for other endeavors. This past year went well and I want next year to be even better. I want to finish our homeschool journey in three years on a high note! So while others I know are moving more and more towards textbooks and early college, we are moving toward a truly hands-on, real-world living education. It is somewhat hard to go against the grain, but that is precisely what I intend to do. It is what my particular kids need. That said, here are my plans for Hands-On American History.

Both of my children walked into high school with a strong working knowledge of American history. No, they do not know the dates of every battle in the Civil War or the names of every single Civil Rights leader, but they do know a great deal about American history, including the timeline of events, many famous leaders of different movements, the presidents and many of their accomplishments, and tons of social events that have shaped our nation. They also know the most important dates and have a working knowledge of how our government works. So I realized I was just going to bore them to death by repeating it all again. What should we do?

Travel... That is the answer I came up with! Now, we are not made out of money and have a very rigorous schedule that keeps us close to home for most of the school year, but I hope to explore America much more in the coming years. If it takes us three years to fill this credit, that is fine with me.My kiddos have seen 32% of America and I hope to add as much as I can to that in the coming years. We just returned from our Deep South tour in which we explored a swamp, the Gulf of Mexico, New Orleans, the Civil Rights movement in Montgomery Alabama and rode a steamboat on the Mississippi River. It was fantastic and they learned so much. 

We also live in an area of the country which is steeped in history and are blessed to have relatives who live in the Washington, D.C. area who we have visited often through the children's childhoods. Just this past weekend we visited a small town about 30 minutes from us that we had not explored in years. We visited a small, living history pioneer fort from 1776 and a man-made geyser which was created to greet tourists to the mountains. We also explored a Civil War battlefield. We had some great discussions and reviewed some key points in history in our area.

The kids learned so much that it inspired me to come home and compile a list of all of the small towns around us and what they have to see and do. We should be busy for months exploring the towns on weekends. 

We will still hit the books a bit. I am compiling a list of biographies and a few unit studies to sprinkle into our learning, but mostly we will go out and explore.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 20, 2018

Week 31 ~ Anne Finishes 8th Grade

Anne decided that she wanted to take on a huge challenge this year. She wanted to complete 8th and 9th grade on top of a very rigorous dance schedule. We had multiple reasons, but the main one was she wanted to graduate at 17 and at the same time as her brother. So we decided to let her try as long as her emotional well being or our educational standards didn't suffer. Today, she completed all of her 8th grade subjects with 144 hours or more. I am not going to go into huge details about her courses, because it doesn't matter from a transcript point of view. We decided in the first few weeks of the school year that history was boring her, because it was a repeat of what she had already learned and that she would just have to do it again in high school. So, we moved the course to high school and made sure that some of the material was new to her. I will talk about that course when she completes it and it is posted in her high school transcript.

8th Grade Courses ~
  • English 8 ~ This course was a balanced mix of grammar, spelling review, writing styles, tons of poetry, the first four Harry Potter books, six literature-based movies and a host of family read aloud books. Her favorite activities were memorizing And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou; reading Harry Potter books; seeing the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird; and saying goodbye to the last formal spelling program she ever will have to do in school...I promise. 
  • Math 8 ~ Math this year consisted of filling in gaps and correcting trouble areas. She used parts of the Life of Fred series: No Nonsense Algebra; lots of workbooks (Spectrum 8th grade being her favorite); and about half of the book, Everything You Need to Ace Math. She is moving on, ready for a solid year of Algebra with Teaching Textbooks next year.
  • Home Economics ~ Anne had a fantastic year of home economics. As the year evolved, she pursued cooking, baking, sewing. painting, lessons in organizing a special needs family, gardening and how to make travel plans. Her favorite things were learning how to refinish furniture, painting her entire bedroom suite, becoming very efficient at sewing pointe shoes, and sewing tiny alterations to costumes (pictures to follow of her room at the end).
  • Performing Arts ~ She completed 180 hours of performing arts (dance classes) this year. Her hours for this course only reflect the preparation for The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, Fringe Festival and The Winter Showcase. I decided to put the actual performances in 9th grade and create a half-credit of performing arts so they show up on her high school transcript.
  • Physical Education ~ Anne completed 180 hours of physical education credit, which was mostly dance classes that were not working towards a show; Cecchetti ballet; pointe, swimming and last summer's dance intensive. Her dance classes included ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, salsa, West Coast Swing and hip hop.
Anne's home economics accomplishments this week.

Rose Water Bread

She will be working on completing as many 9th grade courses as possible over the next six weeks.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 13, 2018

Week 30 ~ A Mixed Week

April...Why do you so often mean illness to our family? Sure enough, we came home from vacation and promptly got sick, and not just a little sick, but some of us have spent the week bedridden sick. My mother and husband were struck down the worst. Dear husband only made it to two half days of work this week. Thank goodness he has loads of sick leave and a very understanding boss. The rest of us are at varying degrees of illness. Anne still managed to get to all of her dance classes. She had no fever so was allowed to go. Still we managed to get lots done. I suppose it isn't a big surprise that I didn't take tons of pictures this week.

Home Economics ~ It came to my attention a few weeks ago that Anne thought that, if everything wasn't made from scratch, then it was substandard. She seemed to have some guilt and judgment associated with boxed food. Now, it is true that we make the majority of our meals from scratch, but that is because of the dietary issues in our family. I certainly do not think that way of cooking is the only way to provide good quality meals. So this week our lessons revolved around stretching a ham into as many meals as possible and taking lots of short cuts. After all, being able to provide healthy "box meals" when your family is in crisis is very important, too.

Our first lesson was how to create a holiday meal when time is very limited. Anne made our Easter meal this week using pre-made food whereever possible. She planned the meal with the only rule being that the food had to come in a bag or a box. I helped her find safe ingredients with her meal choices. She made bagged Caesar salad, canned pineapple (she baked it), store bought prepared organic mashed potatoes, chocolate silk pie (she just had to thaw it) and nitrate-free, cooked ham that she only had to glaze and warm up. The meal was delicious, and she could have been proud to put it out for guests.

Her lessons on how to stretch a ham into many meals continued with a "boxed" meal concept. She made homemade mashed potatoes with ham; boxed organic mac and cheese with ham; canned biscuits with ham and cheese sandwiches; rice, broccoli and ham dish; and Crockpot bean and ham soup made with canned beans and boxed chicken stock. In total, she stretched a 6 pound ham into six different family meals for our family of five.

Biology ~ We only managed one biology lesson this week. The kids looked at the 35 slides we own and picked their favorite four to draw. They both were impressed with the slide of frog blood, of all things.

The Chore Guy ~  Dean got the least sick and so he got to do extra chores, poor guy. He mowed the yard and started painting his closet. He also kept up with the dishwasher and carrying anything heavy (like overflowing laundry hampers) around for me, plus folded lots of laundry. The house is still standing, albeit a bit cluttered.

The School List ~

Anne is very motivated to be done with all of her 8th grade classes (hopefully, next week), so she can just concentrate on her 9th grade classes.
  • 8 math pages math
  • Finished the fourth Harry Potter book
  • 6 lessons in home economics
  • 4 English grammar lessons
  • 1 biology lesson
  • 18 hours of dance classes
  • Listened to the family read aloud, The Westing Game
  • 6 math lessons
  • Illustrated and studied two poems by Longfellow
  • 2 Earth Science lessons about coral reefs and rocky shores
  • 9 grammar pages
  • 3 history lessons ~ immigration and the Statue of Liberty
  • Two hour art class with Miss Laura ~ painting self-portrait with watercolors
  • 1 Biology lesson
  • Listened to the family read aloud, The Westing Game
Birthday ~ Tim (our adult disabled son who lives with us) celebrated his birthday this week. Those who felt well enough went out to dinner with him and we had cake at home. He has some big goals this year. He is finishing the training to be a dog companion at the Humane Society and is taking up boffing at the Wandering Swordsman with his brother. He is also continuing four days a week at the brain injury program he has gone to for years. That is a busy schedule for him. We are so happy he is finding contentment and meaning in his days.

Hopefully, we will all be completely recovered by the end of the weekend.

Blessings, Dawn

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Spring Break Vacation ~ Road Trip of the Deep South Day 4-6

We did lots of walking around the French Quarter on days 2, 3 and 4. We even braved walking down Bourbon Street at night. I must say the noise and extreme amount of alcohol flowing out of every doorway was not at all to our taste. We quickly retreated to the calmer, more family-friendly streets of the French Quarter. However, I can honestly say that we never felt endangered in any way.

Day 4 ~ We decided to drive about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans to go on a swamp tour. Boy, am I glad we went at the beginning of the season when the alligators were still waking up! They were sluggish and mostly sleeping. However, one did come over to the boat for a marshmallow. Although they are wild, they are fed marshmallows at the beginning of the season because it is the only thing they can digest when they are coming out of hibernation; and then later in the summer, pizza or chicken once their digestive systems are warm enough to digest food. They sometimes die if they eat turtles or birds straight out of hibernation. We also saw a Cajun village that was only accessible by boat, as well as lots of turtles, birds and snakes. It was an incredible and totally new experience, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Day 5 ~ We packed up and made one last stop before leaving New Orleans. You can't go to New Orleans without visiting a cemetery. My family knows I love cemeteries! We visited the Lafayette Cemetery #1. It was pretty beat up. We found that a large percentage of the graves were people who had died in April or May of different years. I made a quick search of coroner reports for the area in the 1800's and found that yellow fever, tetanus, malaria as well as accidents were major causes of death in the spring and summer months.

We left New Orleans and headed for Folsom, Louisiana. There is a wonderful Global Wildlife Center there that allows their animals to roam completely free over 900 acres. We were able to feed and get very close to dozens of deer, antelope, cattle, beefalo, buffalo, zebras, ostriches, and llamas. There were giraffes, but they refused to come over and see us. (Note to self...the next time we go on a safari where you can feed animals, buy more feed. I ended up crawling around on the floor of the wagon gathering up fallen food so the kids could keep feeding animals.)

We drove on into the night and made it to Montgomery, Alabama, which was a good half way point to home for us. 

Day 6 ~ We decided to spend the morning exploring Montgomery before driving the seven or so hours home. We enjoyed the Rosa Parks Museum and the Fine Arts Museum. The Rosa Parks Museum was wonderful. It had a "time machine" ride that took you through history leading up to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Then you were led through the bus boycott, which lasted 381 days in 1955 and 1956.

We finished off our grand tour of the Deep South with a visit to the Montgomery Fine Arts Museum. We saw paintings and sculpture by Auguste Rodin, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Edward Hicks and many more. I was impressed with the quality and amount of artwork they had in a rather small art museum. The Fine Arts Museum also has a wonderful kids section for kids younger than mine who want to explore art through hands-on interaction.

It was a wonderful, well-rounded trip.

Blessings, Dawn