Saturday, October 31, 2009


Sweet Baby has been cruising through her reading program. We are using Sing, Spell, Read and Write and she has enjoyed it immensely. She practices writing a lot...she needs to practice because she gets very angry at herself if she does not form her letters correctly. She crosses her arms, pouts and says "It is too hard!" The son of some close friends was turning 11 this week so all of the girls decided to draw him a picture. Sweet Baby wanted to write him a letter so here is what she wrote, "I like to sit by you at church." Believe it or not, she sounded everything out herself (with a tad of help) except for "you". She could not have been prouder!

Lots to Do

This week was a busy week. The older girls had art class on Monday, Tuesday was our field trip and Wednesday and Thursday were full days of school. I thought I'd share some of what we were doing yesterday...

For Science last week we were discussing exactly how a tree moves water from the roots to leaves. We learned that there are "tubes" inside the trunk and branches called phylem. We did an experiment with some celery stalks to see how important the phylem really is. I pulled the phylem out of one of our stalks of celery (not an easy task) and leaving the other stalk alone. We placed each stalk into a glass of water (I added some food coloring just for fun to see if it would show the food coloring traveling up the stalk) and we left them on the window sill for a few days. We pulled them down yesterday to take a look at them and discovered that yes, phylem is very important. The stalk that we left alone not only sucked all the water up and the leaves were still soft, but they changed color due to the food coloring, this showed the girls that the water was moved all the way through to the very tip of the leaves. The stalk that had been altered had dry leaves and did not drink all the water because the phylem had been removed and it was unable to carry the water through the stalk. Very cool.

We started studying Brazil this week (the rain forest for science) and here Sissy is reading a story to the younger girls. She loved "being the teacher" and being able to read aloud to them.
Peanut began doing problems in her math about dividing items into equal groups, but how do we handle it if the item being divided isn't even? The story was about candy bars being divided among 2 people. I told her to go to the board and give it her best shot. When I looked up I saw that she had not only drawn candy bars, but had a very specific idea of what the "people" would look like. I also have to let you know that she is doing much better with her math facts. She is currently memorizing her 5's but is doing much better!
I continue to be shocked at how well Sweet Baby is grasping reading. She is beginning to sound out simple words and put all the sounds together into words she knows. While I was working with Sissy she wanted to look at some of "her books". She was not content with just looking she wanted to read it. I loved seeing Peanut help her through. This is a joyful thing to see the girls working with one another to achieve a goal, being encouragers to each other and delighting with each other when one of them achieves their goal.
Finally, the girls got to play the Geography Game that comes with their My Father's World Curriculum. They are really enjoying it and it is AMAZING to see how many countries they already can locate when just 2 months ago they knew less than 3 of them!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

We went on a field trip with our Home School Co-Op this week. A simple trip to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch. Other than being a bit damp and overcast, the temperature was fine. We visited Porter's Orchard in Goodrich. Porter's is an apple orchard that makes the yummiest donuts and cider. In addition, they have a pumpkin patch and small petting farm. The kids always enjoy visiting and mom enjoys the tradition of hanging out on a fall day. Here they are just after the tour of the cider making area, they are checking out the Apple Mash that is the leftover after the squish the apples all up.

We all enjoyed a CRAZY hayride (there was ALOT of mud and deep ruts the tractor was pulling us through) to the pumpkin patch and each child got to choose a pumpkin.

We also got to pick an apple from the apple trees. It was the best apple I've ever had! In addition, I learned something I didn't know....when an apple is oddly shaped, it is because the entire blossom wasn't pollinated by the bee. If one side of the apple is dented in, it means that side was never pollinated....Interesting....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beautiful Fall Day

Since our family LOVES living history museums and we are blessed to have a family pass to one of the best ones around, Greenfield Village, we decided that dad should take an impromptu day off of work and we should spend a beautiful fall day at the Village. Weather wise, it was one of the best days so far this fall. Michigan has been so cold and rainy this summer/fall so we wanted to take advantage of projected beautiful day - and it was! Here is a picture of a field right outside the Dagget Farm House (one of my favorite places to visit on the working farm).

Next to watching the glass blowing, one of the things that was most entertaining to me was watching the farmers clip the sheeps toe nails (historically this is NOT something that would have been done in the 1800's - the sheep would have had enough land to grind down their toe nails by their natural roaming). The farmer merely had to grab the sheep and lay him on his back between the farmer's legs. This apparently compresses their lungs just enough to put them into deep breathing and it puts them to sleep! Almost immediately. It was crazy seeing their body get all limp and their head fall off to the side as they drifted off to slumber for a bit!

Here is a shot of some gardens, which were all beautiful and in bloom earlier this summer when we visited, but now they are beautiful this fall as they are sporting their fall colors.

We went with some friends of ours and planned on taking some family photos and shots of the kids. We had a beautiful backdrop to do it too!

Photo of Sissy....

Photo of Peanut...

Photo of Sweet Baby...I love this shot, it shows her sassy spirit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kids LOVE Stickers

My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures includes a Flag Sticker Book that has the various flags of the world and maps where the kids place the sticker on the country. While it is neat, I knew the kids would want something with more stickers. As an Usborne Books consultant I chose to order books that I know are high quality and my kids love (they love it when a box of books is delivered to our home, whether they are for them or a customer!) Most home school families are already familiar with Usborne Books. I began working with them just over a year ago. Unfortunately I haven't built it into the business that I would like to have. It has been slow going, so, if you are interested in earning free books (the holidays are coming!) just send me an e-mail at and I'll set something up for you! OK..back to the books themselves...

The ones you see Peanut and Sissy working on are the Usborne Sticker Atlas of the World books. These have the various countries and other interesting things like natural places to visit like Niagara Falls. It also has various other things the country may be famous for, like sporting events (hockey for Canada), man made famous landmarks (St Louis Arch, USA), and even a couple pages in the back that show various world records like longest rivers, highest mountains, etc. Finding some of the things that we have already talked about is a great rienforcer and of course, we can't talk about EVERYTHING in a particular country, so they are learning even more about this incredible world God has made!

I purchased a completely different Sticker Atlas for Sweet Baby knowing that the one the older girls are using would not be as interesting for her. For Sweet Baby I opted for the Usborne Animal Sticker Atlas. She just loves looking for the various animals that go along with the countries we are studying. The stickers are numbered and so we are also able to use the numbers on the stickers as a number recognition activity.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

God Created...Mountain Ranges

While we have are studying North America the girls have been getting used to what kinds of information you can find on what kinds of maps. This week the girls used play dough, moms really rough drawing of North America, and a physical map to make the mountain ranges in North America.

The girls had such fun and actually chose to take the play dough off when they were done and draw some pictures that were representative of the countries on their map such as, a tree to represent all the forests in Canada, a sombrero in Mexico, a whale in the ocean, etc.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well, all vacations must come to an end and we have been dutifully working on our regular school things for the last 2 weeks.

Last week Peanut began learning about "greater than" and "less than". We are using Abeka Math this year for her (after trying both Saxon and Singapore last year). Abeka seems like a great fit for her. Alas, she has not had the easiest time memorizing her math facts and I will admit it is a stress for me. She suffers with "math-itis" just like her mom does. When we get ready to work on math facts her poor eyes glaze over and she is absolutely terrified. While the facts give her problems, the actual process seems to come pretty easily to her.

Abeka describes the "greater than" and "less than" symbols as little bird beaks eating their food. Since Peanut is such an animal lover, she immediately took to the idea of using a bird to describe this math concept. As a matter a fact, I had to take a picture of the drawing that she made. If you look carefully you will see that the largest bird is "momma bird and momma bird is taking the number 52 (which is the food momma) and dropping it down to baby bird." The next picture which her arm is covering actually showed the 52 in the baby bird's beak. "Then the 52 goes into its throat, see it here momma? Then the food moves to its belly!" Thank heaven she didn't show me what happens after it moves to its belly!

We ended our week (and our study of Mexico) with a fiesta! We had been studying Mexico for 2 weeks and to end it the girls made tissue paper flowers and decorated the dining room. Mom tried her hand at making homemade tortillas (which turned out really good!) The leftover tortillas got re-heated in the pan and sprinkled with some cinnamon and sugar. Top it off with freshly harvested honey and mmmmmmm! We also broke out the crystal punch bowl that has never been used and filled it with Hawaiian Punch and fresh strawberries and grapes. Thanks Rene who insisted we use Maraschino Cherries as well! The girls had much fun preparing the fiesta for daddy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ahhh, the Water....

Is there any better way to spend a day than relaxing at the beach with your kids? We completely enjoyed the day we spent in the Chesapeake Bay. We saw Jellyfish, lots of shells and sea glass.

Here, the kids caught a jelly fish in a bucket and were checking it out.

Playing with the sand....

And of course, building sandcastles....

Sea life up close (although it is dead)...Sweet Baby and I were amazed at all the jellyfish that were washed up on shore.
Did you know the top of a jellyfish is rather firm?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Visit to Yorktown

Our final historical place to visit was Yorktown. I will admit that by the time that day rolled around we were all tired and the kids were cranky (ok, mom was cranky too) so we chose not to tour the battlefields. We went to the small village they had, visited the museum and the outdoor camp of the soldiers.

We learned about the types of crops the colonists had at this time like tobacco and flax. Sissy was asked to separate the flax "threads". I had no idea that linen was made from these plants!

Peanut enjoyed the soldiers camp the most. She especially liked the Officer's tent. She discovered a large map of the area and different tools used to read the map and was caught examining it several times.
Here the girls are trying on the punishment for a soldier who was being insubordinate! They thought the idea of having to wear a sign around your neck as punishment was funny!
Since everyone was getting tired and cranky, the last couple days of our trip came at a perfect time! We drove about and hour south and stayed at a camping cabin at First Landings State Park. Our friends had been camping there their entire stay so we were able to enjoy 2 days of just lounging around and playing in the Chesapeake Bay. I'll share those photos soon!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Actual Jamestown Site Visit

After visiting the re-created Jamestown settlement, we decided to head down the road a bit and visit the actual archaeological site where they have discovered the actual settlement. We were lucky enough to share our vacation with family friends who also home school (the same family we were at Disney with last year). The actual Jamestown site is a National Park so one of the sons of our friends let the girls know that they would be able to do activities to become "Junior Rangers". WHAT AN AWESOME PROGRAM! It wasn't easy either! The kids had to complete a certain number of activities/worksheets regarding information that could be obtained in the museum, through a guided tour or even in the art that lined the walls of the visitor center. Both Peanut and Sissy completed their goals (Peanut did receive a bit of help though!).

Our visit to the actual site of the Jamestown settlement was amazing and very emotional (for the adults at least. Here is shot of one of the first church buildings on "American" soil. To think that some of the earliest settlers sat in the rough benches to honor and praise the same Father that our family reflects on each Sunday was amazing.

The site of these crosses (laid in the area of the actual cemetery of the earliest colonists) was a sobering one. To stop and think that these were real people who traveled over 4 months to our country. Real men, sons and husbands - many of whom lost lives while here was quite emotional. Often times we think of the early people as just "characters" and forget that they were real living, breathing people who had dreams and hopes just like us.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Powhatan Indian Village

I think the girls favorite part of our trip to Virginia was visiting the Powhatan Indian Village at Jamestown. The wig wams (there was a different name for them, but honestly I cannot recall the actual name of the dwelling) were amazing! They looked so real and we were able to go inside and look around. We saw various furs, baskets, beds, etc inside and it was amazing to think of these people whose children slept on the dirt ground and they were happy this way because it was all they knew.

While the older girls and dad were sitting and listening to our tour guide give some information, Sweet Baby noticed an "Indian" off on the side of the village all by herself working. She very quietly wandered over her way and asked her what she was doing. She was actually cleaning the back of a very fresh deer hide. It still had blood on it! It was a really sweet thing to see her explaining to Sweet Baby what she was doing and it made me think of Indian ma-ma's teaching their Indian babies how to do tasks that were "normal", like skinning various animals and stretching their hides to dry. Again, another great experience at Jamestown!

Here Peanut and Sweet Baby are busy "trying" to grind corn. It literally took both of them to lift the smasher (such a technical word!).

After exploring Jamestown the girls all gathered for a picture....a great day, but it wasn't over! I'll share some photos of the actual site where they have discovered the fort through the archaeological site just down the road from the recreated site.