Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fairy Houses Everywhere

Cyan and I made this as a gift for a little friend who is having a birthday and goes along with the book Fairy Houses Everywhere for her sixth birthday.

It will not be the last one we make. I understand now how addictive these little houses can be.

With a back window to look out even... I really enjoyed working with Cyan too... I can't wait until she has had enough experience to use the glue gun on her own. I can see a whole town growing in my backyard in my vivid imagination.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

with a dash of chocolate chips...

Last night when Don and I retired, we found a note on our door that said "Notes on your end tables." We followed the notes to our end tables and on there were two little notes that said

"I will make breakfast. Sleap in. Love Alex" (Yes, the typo is authentic.)

This morning, blissfully, after a day of cramps and total uncomfortableness yesterday, I wasn't woken up until 9am. And then, it was because Alex said he couldn't find the eggs. I told him there weren't any... and he went back out. About 10 minutes later he came back, baring a eggless pancake recipe fresh from the printer. See, Alex could not find a pancake recipe that did not include eggs in any of my cookbooks and was dedicated to making pancakes. So he used the all knowing Google to find one. Thought that was pretty ingenious myself. :) BUT... the recipe he found was all wrong. Eventually, by the time I dragged my lazy butt out of bed, Alex and Don had made bagels and hot tea because the pancake batter looked like milk with flour in it. Which sadly, is about what it was.

To honor Alex's effort I had him save his pancake batter and decided to see what I could do to help fix it this afternoon, (after I had gone to get eggs.) We added two eggs to that recipe, and a cup of WW flour. Then Alex cooked them on a hot griddle with some butter to keep them from sticking and added little bits of semisweet mini chocolate chips here and there... making them into all the fun shapes that made him so dedicated to pancakes in the first place. Little kitties for Cyan, tiny griddle cakes for me, and even a x wing fighter from Star Wars for Don.

They were SO good.

It was so sweet and cute... and he did it, start to finish, himself. Follow through isn't his strong suit. Usually he has me hold his hand the whole way through something. It really showed me that homeschool has been really great for his confidence... which is why I pulled him out of public school. Anyway you slice it though, today my son was learning to be a kick ass husband.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Books I love

I have had a hard time getting Cyan to read this year. It hasn't been that she can't do it... more that she won't. I concentrate a lot on successes here so you are probably thinking "What?"... but for the most part, her reading hasn't gotten any faster... no matter what I have done. She is reading really well, but not quickly. Still sounding out every single letter of words she doesn't know... Until this last week.

I was browsing the library Easy Readers trying to get some books that were just under her level to give her some success and came across this series:

This is the same guy (Mo Willems) who wrote "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!"

They are SO great! Cyan read the one above this morning. It is hysterical. And has TONS of punctuation practice and also lots of repeat words, so she can flow really nicely, but say things in different ways like:

"Ask them?" "Yes, ask them." "Okay, I will ask them."

This form makes it very easy to read with expression, and even easier to read with expression quickly.

We are having a lot of laughs in school right now between Moving Beyond the Page and these new readers.

(I read one to Don allowed yesterday. No kids were even in the room. That is how funny they are. lol!)

Idioms, Personification, Similes, and Metaphors

Alex is working on phrases and short poems in Language arts this month. So far we have done Idioms and Personification... today is Metaphors. For most of this I have been able to use easy online resources.

For Idioms I found a site that had a few examples of Idioms and then idioms that had lines under them for Alex to fill in the things he thought they meant. It was really interesting when he brought it back to me. If he got confused, he would say the idiom to me, and I would say it back in a sentence for him so he could pull the meaning from the words around it. After going back and forth for a while like this, we started thinking of them as fast as we could and using them in sentences.

For Personification I got some classic personification poems and then asked Alex to write his own personification poem on page 7 from this lesson in Moving Beyond the Page.

This is what Alex wrote:

"The fire licked and lapped the air
It devoured the trees with anger
With a beep and a honk the fire fighters come
to put out the angry flare."

(The entire thing was written by him... so I didn't have him correct the spelling this time.)

Similes will come first, as they are quick and easy, and flow well into metaphors... However the lesson for metaphors was a bit more in depth than these first two. I found several different definitions of metaphor and put them on one page together along with examples showing comparison without 'like or as' such as: "most dictionaries and textbooks" , or examples of giving things a name that are not their own such as: "Your a peach!".

Then I am having Alex write metaphors for each of the definitions that I found, and then to finish, writing his own with the help of page 5 in that same lesson from Moving Beyond the Page.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Direction and the Compass Rose

Yesterday the kids and I had a great lesson. Very simple. But I realised I am terrible with directions. I can follow streets like nobodies business... but when it comes to "go north" or "turn west" I am completely lost! So I decided that we would start working on directions in Geography. I had bought some organic chocolate balls that were shaped like the world a while back and thought they were the perfect prize for this lesson.

First, I had Cyan make a compass rose. She started with north and then moved around in the the rose clockwise and added E, S, W. Alex said that the phrase "Never Eat Slimy Worms" helps him remember how the directions go... so she drew a worm and a bird eating it with a big slash through it in the center. lol...

Then I had them make signs for each of the walls and use a compass to find out which walls were which direction. I thought we had Southeastern windows in the great room, but I found out they actually face nearly strait East. When they had those up, I had them pick a spot in the center of the room. There was some debate on where the center was. Alex counted the tiles in from the kitchen, and then from the wall, found and marked a spot that was the 'exact' center of the tiles. Cyan decided to take steps from the wall and find the center by feel. So they started the game at two different points in the room. Then I called out directions and how many steps they needed to take. At certain points in the room I had them meet and shake hands, which they thought was hilarious. :) And then at the end of the game I had them come to me, and they got a chocolate ball... which was the best.

All in all, it was a good lesson.

This game above was modified from the Moving Beyond the Page directions sample page. I am LOVING this curriculum! I wish it had things that were more Alex's level, but it hasn't been too hard for me to adjust.

Basically, the entire curriculum is made up of unit studies. Each study has a one or two page spread of instructions and information for the parent that talks about what they should know by the end of this lesson, directions and materials that are needed, and a couple of activities that are optional, but lots of fun, so we usually do them. The lessons also break down the instructions for the kids over 8 so they have their own page of what they are supposed to accomplish in that unit and they are able to follow the instructions... or not. ;) The kids are having a blast with the curriculum and I have to admit school is easier for me as well.

The writers in MBTP also really care about literature. Which is nice, because I insist on my children reading 'real' books.

So far I am completely in love.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Logan's owl party

A link to the slide show of 'ok' pictures of the party.

The party was great! You really can't get a perfect capture of a nighttime party in Jan... unless you have a pretty darn amazing camera and a lot of patience (and time!). I tried to get as good a pictures as I could with my camera and very little time so most of them are fuzzy... but the party was so much better than the pictures. A little scattered because of some technical kitchen difficulties, but all in all I think it turned out so wonderful!

The kids LOVED the twilight treasure hunt! I had put candles at each station (Alex helped a LOT with this set up) so they could tell where they were going and the stations were spread all over my yard. Each little spot had a treat to pick up... all night time bird themed stuff too. Cricket Clickers, gummy worms and frogs, chocolate coated sunflower seeds, bubbles (ok, I stretched, but the kids loved them!), LED flashlights (for pure toddler pleasure), a set of three 'eggs' (speckled candy rocks), and a braclet I made with bells on it that I thought they would like. It was great and they had so much fun! I really enjoyed watching them run around the yard yelling at their parents, who were following with the candles, "Hey mama! Look at what I found over here!" and "There's another one!!" So cute!


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let Freedom Ring!

Today is the Presidential Inauguration. I know we were doing so well at Ancient History, but we, as Americans, are making history today... so I stopped with the Ancients and decided to read three of the most moving Inauguration speeches of American history.

I was able to explain a bit of history to Alex (who was really the only one who completely understood it all) in between the speeches and therefore give him a bit of background on what these great men where talking about. Lincoln's speech was all about slavery, civil war, and equality. Roosevelt's speech was about the dedication to the eradication of poverty and of course, war. Different wars, different times of hardship, but the same type of words. (Paraphrased) 'We have to stick together. We have to have pride in out country. We have to bring back the spirit of the American peoples and set the tone for a new world.'

JFK's was quite different. He addressed other nations. He addressed the whole world. And of course, his stunning and unforgettable conclusion "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Which reading it in the context of the rest of the speech (and not disconnected from his other sentiment as it so often is,) well, Alex and I both had tears in our eyes. What an amazing speaker!

We do not have television, so we did not get to listen to President Obama's speech today (wow, that felt good to write :) ), but our project for today was to predict what he is going to say and the topics he is going to cover for the Internet stream we will find later, and then compare what we thought he needed to address and what he did actually say, and how we believe it measures up.
After that we built a vocabulary list with the words we learned from the three speeches we read and he looked those up in a dictionary and wrote down what they meant. Words like communism, abolish, and tyranny.

It was a great lesson.

Did you know?

Did you know that FDR was the only president to serve more than two terms, and in fact, he died a year into his FOURTH term? I had no idea.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Back at history again

We have decided to do a unit on history and geography for this week. So far we have just studied in books, but later this week we are going to make clay signature stamps and some other fun absorbing things.

I love our history curriculum, but with the election and the history being made there, we really steered away from it for a while. Not to mention that SOTW has a lot of prep work that goes into it for the teacher, so unless I got the required library books last week, made sure I had a material list when I went to the store, and dug through the art supplies (that are still in boxes in the garage) the projects can seem quite daunting. It really just didn't all come together before now. I am excited about the unit though. There are a lot of really fun stories that can be told about Ancient times.

There is of course, always time to get your hair done by your baby brother. :)

Sadie (a constant inspiration of mine) has put together a Geography lapbook that I may just have Cyan make while Alex is studying the ancient world more in depth. This would be only my second lap book ever and Cyan hasn't ever done one... so experiments all round... but fun. Lots of fun with school.

There is also another great thing about today. The sun is out!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Progress review Nov - Jan


Language Arts: Alex wrote is first real research paper! It took him over a week to complete it, but I think it turned out really well and was impressed that he could stick with it with minimal prodding to get back to work.

Math: We have been steadily moving through Math U See Pre-Algebra and are now though exponents and multiplying fractions.

Science: We have been working a lot with trees and tree identification. We have also done many experiments with snow as we have gotten over a foot of it at times!

Social Studies: We are moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to Social Studies. We keep taking side tracks from our curriculum to answer questions about elections, presidents, and other countries. It is frustrating not to get anywhere in our curriculum, but they are learning Social Studies just the same.

PE/Health: He has started a new homeschool PE course at our local (new) YMCA. He has an hour of swimming and an hour of PE twice a week and he also started Tae Kwon Do twice a week as well. He is really enjoying it.

Technology: He has been really jumping up in the technology dept this last two months! He has decided that he wants to make his own movies with my camera, so he has been taking about 100 pictures, stringing them together and making short films. Most of them are VERY funny. He has had to work out kinks in story lines; storyboard make ups for his movies, as well as the technical stuff like making sure his characters are in focus and putting the whole thing into a slideshow on the computer. Also, his research paper was typed, so he got many hours of typing skills for that as well.


Language Arts: We are almost through the third Explode the Code now. She has been reading up a storm, asking me what things mean at the store etc, which means her pace is becoming faster and more confident. She also read 20 books between Oct and now and got a banana split and her very own library card as a reward. She was so excited she was beside herself.

Math: Math U See is picking up again. She is really moving through the work. She is enjoying doing things like tossing dice and adding or subtracting the numbers that come up. It has been great practice for speed.

Science: We have been working a lot with trees and tree identification. She gets excited when she can identify a tree without me. We also did some experiments on snow and how it melts two weeks ago (when we had a foot of snow) and this was interesting because like most pre-concrete operations kiddos she thought that the level of the water would be the same as the level of the snow. It was a fun lesson!

Social Studies: We are moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to Social Studies. We keep taking side tracks from our curriculum to answer questions about elections, presidents, and other countries. It is frustrating not to get anywhere in our curriculum, but they are learning Social Studies just the same.

Fine Arts: She started her dance class last weekend and is really enjoying it! She spends lots of time dancing around the greatroom with her ballet outfit on and showing me her pointy toes. She still loves to draw and craft with me, but dancing is her newest passion.

PE/Health: She started a new PE class with her friends at the YMCA. She has been LOVING it! She has waited a really long time to be in a class with her homeschool group and she continually asks me if we get to go to the Y today because she is enjoying it so much. She didn't get into the swimming class, but I think that this session was a good break from learning to swim.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Alex’s Research Paper

Alligator Snapping Turtles are mostly found in muddy waters. They like to eat fish and small animals. They have unique skills for hunting and can hide in the mud from predators. They have a very powerful jaw, almost the most powerful in the world.

Muddy water is the perfect habitat for the Alligator Snapping Turtle. The muddy water keeps them cool. Also, it hides them from prey and predators. Their shell looks like the bottom of the river, because it is lumpy and brown. That makes the mud great camouflage.

Small fish are the prey of the Alligator Snappers. They hide in the mud on the bottom of the freshwater rivers and wiggle their tongue, which looks like an earthworm. Then they snap down their magnificent jaws, which are the second strongest in the world, second only to the Tasmanian devil. The turtles use their claws to slash the prey they catch into small pieces for eating. It uses its beak like a spear to stab the prey.

After eggs are laid, Snapping Turtle babies are on their own. The mother turtle trudges 160 yards from the river to the nest to lay her eggs. In 80-90 days the babies come out of their eggs to face the dangers of the 160 yards to the river. Birds, big fish, alligators and other predators are likely to eat the hatchlings on their way. In fact, only 1 in 20 hatchlings live to their second year.

There is only one predator of an adult Snapper, humans. We eat them and use their shells in exotic animal trade. The hatchlings are defenseless and have many predators. This is why only 1/20 of the hatchlings live.

Alligator Snapping Turtles have excellent camouflage. They also have great jaw strength. They are protected in specific ways. Their jaw, claws, and shell make them difficult prey. Their habitat, the muddy water, makes them hard to see and capture. Those are some of the many reasons Alligator Snapping Turtles are so awesome.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Some updates

We have taken this last week to truly write a research paper. He chose Alligator Snapping Turtles as his subject. We have gone through the whole process... choosing a topic, research, breaking down your subjects into topics, limited topics, and topic sentences, how to build a research paper, correct grammer, and even a bit on sentence structure. We have not done anything else for a week. But honestly, it has been a great experience. At first it kind of felt like pulling teeth, but now that he is nearly done, he is very proud of his work, and his paper isn't half bad. :) I am pretty darn proud of him about it actually. Alligator Snapping Turtles are interesting critters... look them up. They are super cool.

She started dance last weekend. She is thrilled to be doing dance finally after 8 months of asking me for it. She has been practicing her dance moves for the last two days bouncing around the greatroom with her ballet outfit on. It is adorable and I am so glad to be able to do that with/for her.

She also finished her 20 books this last week. We had been filling out a chart that started back in mid Oct. Every time she read a book (no matter how simple) she would get a sticker on her chart. Well she made it to 20 books and her prize was her very own library card and a banana split. I am oh so proud of her! 20 books since Oct 19th. It was quite the celebration. She was bouncing around the library, making no noise, just positively vibrating with excitement. It was adorable. :)

"Oh honey, your eyes are so pretty" says the librarian as she is filling out paperwork.

"Thank you." says Cyan, "I've had them since I was a baby."

He is talking up a storm. People don't believe me now when I say that he is 'almost' two. Cyan's dance teacher talked with him for a few minutes and then asked when he would turn three for the "itty bitty creative movements" class and I said "next Jan 22nd." She laughed. Thought I was joking. lol! He is a big guy. I am guessing he is over 30lbs now and tall as I knew he would be. (I am 6ft... I don't spawn small children. ;) ) His new language is a mix of signs, words, and sound effects.

Logan also has some interesting ideas about the world in his new found language skills. Anything that is his favorite is 'blue'. Not sure where he got that except that his favorite binkies are blue and we have called them 'blue binky' since he started talking. So now everything he loves is 'blue'. If you have three match box airplanes on the counter and try to hand him one, he will say 'No! Da blue one.'... even though they are red, grey, and black. But one of them is the 'blue' one... which is the right one to hand him. lol... It has been interesting... Luckily, he has such good comunication skills that it isn't terribly hard to talk him down if you really don't understand what he is asking. Usually I just pick him up and let him pick the 'blue' ones himself.

All the kids are starting to get a bit stir crazy. Me too. The winter is dark and depressing. At least we have some space in this house. That has been great! Honestly... the space in this house is so nice. Cyan can do her dance moves in the greatroom without hurting anything... Alex can have space for his lego creations without Logan getting into them all the time, and there has been no time yet that Logan and I have not been able to find a quiet corner to read his 'blue' books. When I think of how it could have been in the tiny house, I am grateful for this house more than you know.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Logan's birthday invities!!

Can you believe it? Logan is going to be two years old in two weeks.

You pull the ribbon to open it and here is where the information for the party will be. Cute huh?


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Anne of Green Gables tea party

Cyan invited her friend Hannah over for a tea party the other day. Cyan wanted to be just like Anne in Anne of Green Gables so she decided that we needed to get 'raspberry cordial'. I found this beautiful little crystal carafe at Goodwill for $1.99 that worked perfectly to hold her 'cordial'.

The girls ate the chocolate/cherry cupcakes that Cyan made the night before, with raspberry cordial (organic Razlberry juice) and had veggies and dip while watching the movie "Enchanted" (a gift from Grandpa and Margret for Christmas).

Even the dolls had a wonderful time. :)

I think someone needs to tell Logan that the paper comes off the cupcakes. lol...