Friday, April 26, 2019

The Week of Wild Weather and Thoughts on Education

It has been a week of crazy weather around here. Last Friday we got 5.5 inches of rain in less than a day. Our rivers overflowed their banks and our basement flooded. We found where the rain was coming in and stood there with a wet vac for hours!

We did not drive through this water like some cars did. We turned around. You can see that the water over the road is connected with the river. If one of those cars had stalled, it could easily have been sucked out into the river. As it turned out, someone did have to be rescued along this road later in the day. It was a good opportunity to reinforce with the kids the importance of turning around instead of drowning, not following the crowd and what happens to car engines in water.

By Easter the sun came back out and the weather got nicer and nicer as the week went on. The guys chopped down a bush at the end of our driveway that was making it hard to see oncoming cars. They did a great job. We just have to get the stump out now. It is so good for young people to get out and do a bit of hard work!

Now it is Friday again, and temps have been getting colder as each hour passes. We are supposed to get sustained 45 miles an hour wind this evening.

This is the time of year to reflect on what educationally worked the best this year. I have really found that the way information is delivered to the student is very important. However, I have noticed in recent years that the best delivery system for my kids tends to be younger than their grade levels. For example, they both learn loads from the Who Was Series and more advanced picture books. Also, they don't resist learning that way so they tend to learn more and at a faster rate if the information is easily obtained. Even when I pick out books that are more "grade level appropriate", such as The Hobbit or Beowulf, I take great care to find books with large or easy to read print, with larger book size to easily curl up with and with lovely illustrations whenever possible. These editions tend to cost more, but that is what works best for my kids. 

I also went through a phase of feeling worried or doubtful that I should push the "harder material" because they were high school students. Never mind that one was incredibly busy launching her life and the other had special needs, so giving them a complete and well-rounded education was going to require some adaptations and short cuts. I felt like I really needed to force them to learn all the hard stuff whether they would ever need it or not. This year, I have embraced more and more what I knew in my heart to be true. My kids are smart, but they aren't natural born academics and don't enjoy working hard in the academic world. Furthermore, at this time neither is interested in a career that requires more than a two year degree from a community college. Now, they do work hard in many aspects of their lives, but they struggle with subjects that are uninteresting to them. Unfortunately, most subjects that are loaded with details do not interest them. They really just want to know the basics of most subjects and delve further on their own into the subjects that really catch their interest. If the subjects are delivered with the most important information and interesting facts rather than excessive and random details, they learn much better. While I know in my heart that this is true, I was so relieved to read about James Holzhauer from the television show, Jeopardy, this week. His theory is sure working for him and it works for my crew, too. 

He said, “My big secret for studying subjects I find uninteresting is to check out the children’s section of the library. The books there are filled with pictures and fun facts, and they’re a great way to learn the nuts and bolts of any subject.”  ~ Naperville Sun

So I am busy purchasing books for next year and searching my shelves for those perfect books. I am not worried at all if the workbook says it is for 6th to 8th grade or if the company says that this book is for a lower grade (which happens a lot since Dean is using classical materials a great deal next year). I am simply concerned with giving them living books, high quality materials and igniting the spark of learning and joy in them. "Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject 'come alive.'" ~ Simply Charlotte

Here is a sneak peek of what has come in so far. 

Homeschool Coffee Break Blessings, Dawn

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Dollywood Take Two and Pigeon Forge

We took a short trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for spring break. This was just a day and a half visit. There is so much to do in Pigeon Forge. We could go for a day trip every year and do something different. We picked up Anne from work and continued on to Pigeon Forge. It is supposed to be a two hour trip, but it usually takes longer. There was a recent rock slide onto the highway and only one lane was open through the gorge. We arrived just as our hotel allowed check-in. We stayed the night at the Clarion Inn which was awesome. I love, because we can get incredible deals on that website if we wait until the last minute. We dropped off our stuff and headed out for a very early dinner (pizza for the kids and salads for the adults). Then we went to the Titanic Museum. They don't allow any photo taking in the museum. It is absolutely amazing. The museum is hands-on. There is a real iceberg to touch and freezing water that is maintained at 28 degrees (the same temperature of the water on the night the Titanic sank). The kids tried to keep their hands in the water for 30 seconds. Their hands were in lots of pain after just 20 seconds. The audio tour was wonderful, too. We also had the museum almost to ourselves. Anne said she wouldn't mind going back the next day, but we couldn't.

Many attractions and museums stay open late in Pigeon Forge, and we realized that WonderWorks was open for a few more hours. WonderWorks is like a science museum and an amusement park rolled into one crazy building with 120 attractions. We had a blast while learning about earthquakes, optical illusions, pulley systems, how a bed of nails works, obstacle courses, playing laser tag and much more. I had a small mishap on the aerial obstacle course and fell through the ladder walkway and banged my leg up pretty bad. Thankfully, they harness you in very well, so I didn't fall the 20 feet to the ground. Yikes! Nothing a good ice pack couldn't fix.

We got back to the hotel (The Clarion Inn) around 9:30 and enjoyed about two hours at the indoor and outdoor pools. They also had two hot tubs and an outdoor fireplace to warm up at between slide runs into the pool. It was delightful!

 We spent the next  day at Dollywood Amusement park. We hadn't been there in nine years. I had to laugh when I read our post about the last time we braved this amusement park, because I said we wouldn't return for five to ten years. I thought I was joking, but as it turned out, it was nine years before we got back to it. You can read about our last adventure here. The last picture really sums it up from our 2010 trip. The kids are enjoying candy and I look dead. I didn't get an end of adventure picture this time, but I assure you that I was more alive.

We had a different experience this time. The kids held up just fine. Dean made it through all of his sensory issues without too much noticeable effort. However, we still aren't amusement park people. We found most of the rides to be either too scary or too junior to make the line worth the wait. In fact, the lines were bad for everything -- from buying a bottle of water to going on a ride. In six hours, we only managed to go on five rides a piece, eat lunch, visit with the bald eagles and play one county fair game. The lines were that long.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed everything that we did get to do. Anne and Dad enjoyed the lumber jack lift.

Dean and Tim went on a scary roller coaster that went upside down. The photos are before and after. Dean is pretending that he is going to faint in the after shot. Although they had to wait 1.5 hours to get on the ride, they had a great time.

We all enjoyed the scrambler ride. I wish we had gotten back in line for it. Fortunately, the wait was only about five minutes for it, but I was nervous about making sure everyone got to the particular ride they wanted. So we only went on the scrambler one time. We also did the antique cars and a fun water raging river ride. The longest ride was the coal train ride. It was fun going on a train that has been in continuous operation since 1938.
The kids and Dear husband played one county fair game. They all one stuffed alpacas which was their souvenir.

Overall, we had a good time, although, in my opinion, it wasn't worth the money. The kids kept comparing it to Disney World and saying it wasn't as good. Of course, it is unfair to compare it to Disney World, but I am glad they have happy memories of visiting it years ago. To read how we did Disney as a special needs family ~ go here. I am glad they had that experience, but next time we will just stick to Pigeon Forge. There are tons of things that we would still like to do there.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Week 30 ~ A Hands-on High School Education

The week was an emotional one for my youngest son. There were no major reasons, just lots of little things that weren't perfect and way too many hormones. The week flowed nicely, nonetheless, due to routine and hands-on learning. We had a great hands-on learning week. Dean decided to make a banner for his live action role-playing games. He made blueprints of his design complete with tons of measurements. Then he enlarged the measurements to work with his materials, measured twice, cut once, glued, sewed and made a stick into a post using the band saw. It took him most of a day and he stayed focused even when there had to be breaks for appointments. I love self-motivated learning. 

Our second Eureka Crate also arrived this week from the KiwiCo. I just love this company and their products. Dean got right to work on the project. He set up all of the parts as directed by the directions, which is such a useful step, and in two hours he had a really cool lock box. Along the way, he learned all about pin tumbler locks, Harry Houdini who in his youth was a locksmith apprentice, unpickable locks and how keys are made.

Our oldest son's birthday was this week. They had a wonderful time at their live action role play games. We then had a "southern dinner" of fried chicken tenders from our favorite chicken restaurant plus homemade waffles. The evening was wrapped up with games.

My teens went to the spring formal at our co-op. This was the second dance for Dean and the first for Anne. Anne didn't have a date, so she invited a friend. Dean and Miss F went together and Dean brought a long-time friend, who wanted to go to the dance but didn't know anyone. They all had an absolute blast. Anne and her friend were on the dance floor the whole time (when they weren't eating brownies, that is). I was told that Dean and Miss F did dance some of the time, but they were resting by the time I got there. Dean's friend found out that he did know a few people and had a great time, too. Our homeschool community is pretty big, but you still run into the same people over and over again.
Image may contain: 1 person, dancing, standing, night, shoes and indoor

Image may contain: 5 people, including Dawn Beasom Purdom, people smiling, people standing and shoes
All the Rest ~ Now that English is complete for the year, Anne can concentrate on U.S. History and Math II. Hopefully, they will both be done by late June. There are just two more classes in Sign Language at co-op and a little bit more of her independent study to wrap up her Sign Language II credit. Dean did a mini-unit study on Harry Houdini that I had planned. It was exciting to see that his Eureka box had a little info on Harry Houdini. I love happy little coincidences like that. Dean is on track to complete several credits in late May.

It is a blessing to homeschool.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, April 5, 2019

Week 29 ~ Homeschooling the Whole Child

This is the time of year when I really feel pulled to check boxes and wrap things up. It can be a time of year when I forget about what is best for the whole child and concentrate only on the student part of my kids. I have intentionally put the brakes on my box checking self and concentrated on the whole child the last few weeks. So our spring is feeling pretty peaceful.

We had a lovely nature walk this week at the botanical gardens. Dean tried telling me that we had been there before and it was going to be boring and the flowers weren't out yet -- so he intended to just sit in the car and wait for us to return from our walk. However, I had other thoughts about that and insisted he get out of the car. He immediately started having a wonderful time. Before I knew it, they were hopping from rock to rock across the river, declaring themselves to be mountain goats. Transitions are still hard for Dean and he has to be pushed along, but the results are usually positive. At the end of a lovely hour, he proclaimed that it had been worth it. I wish he would remember this for the next event.

My beautiful girl

Image may contain: Dawn Beasom Purdom, sitting, indoor and outdoor
A photo shoot

My mountain goats

That stick he is holding came home with us!

We pulled off a quick poetry tea. Sometimes I pull out the china and tea pots, and we do a really fancy tea, and sometimes I just want to get it done. This was one of those, "get it done" times. We read the entire book of Maya Angelou and listened to her reading several of her poems on YouTube.

We had a lovely art day with Grandma. Dean and his girlfriend learned about Mary Engel, whose assemblage art work they had seen in a local gallery a few weeks ago. They were really drawn to her art and decided to make some of their own. 
Dean made a blue whale...

and named it Blue Frostie!

Miss F made a bejeweled cat.

We visited an art studio and a special exhibit in the last week. First, we saw the "Who Is Afraid of Red" exhibit at the local art council. It was interesting to see how the 16 different artists created artwork using the color red.

Next we went to one of the galleries of our most famous local artist, Jonas Gerard. He was not in his studio this time, but we got to talk to his assistants and see where he works. We plan to go back for one of his painting demonstrations soon. This gallery is very different, because visitors are encouraged to touch the art. Dean and Miss F were shocked and amazed to be allowed to touch the art.

He has drums in his studio for when he needs a break from his painting.

Anne had a very busy weekend with three performances, each consisting of six different dances per night. As usual, she performed wonderfully. Her toenail that has been threatening to come off for the past few months is now hanging by one side and has to be carefully taped every day. Her feet and legs are covered with bruises from her very physical dances. She really looks like a dancer these days ~ LOL. I was not able to take any video or photos this time since the audience was asked not to use cameras. Boo Hoo! About two years ago I started giving Anne a rock for each of her shows on opening night. Rocks last longer than flowers and she really loves the tradition.

Our home has been filled with friends this week. We had Anne's two best friends for the entire weekend so that they could make it to all the shows. We had fun wandering around downtown and stopping at a candy shop and a game cafe with them. I feel so blessed to have such lovely ladies in my daughter's life. They are true friends to Dean, as well.

I also feel blessed for sweet Miss F (Dean's girlfriend). She is kind, funny, patient and joyful. I picked them up from the wandering swordsman games last weekend, and this is the way she was dressed...just because.

Anne completed English II this week! I will be posting this credit on the blog soon. We are so blessed to homeschool!

Blessings, Dawn