Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Busy Holiday

We have had a busy last couple of weeks. I think that is pretty standard. I say busy, but yet not crazy. It has been a great month. Here are some highlights....

Our Church Christmas Play - The Pirate's Christmas Treasure
All of the girls and mom were in it this year

Michigan State University Graduation
The girls uncle graduated from my alma matter. A fun day spent with family.

Enjoying the Michigan Snow With Friends

American Heritage Girls Christmas Party
We did our first service project, which was collecting new shoes to donate to Shoes for Orphan Souls.

Cookie Day 2010
We baked and decorated cookies all day with friends. A great day of playing games and even dinner afterward.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

2nd Annual Gift Wrapping

Last year I shared pictures about taking the girls to a mission, Carriage Town, not far from our town to wrap Christmas gifts for the children who are staying there. We went with our co-op and had such a wonderful time. Thankfully we were able to go again this year and it was equally as lovely.

Sissy has been talking about our return trip since the day after our trip last year! Once we started school this fall she started asking, "Did they schedule the Carriage Town trip yet?"

For fun I appliqued matching t-shirts and jeans for the girls and off we went!

It was run the same way as last year. The mission was able to purchase gifts for the children and they put them on long tables according to gender - boys on one side, girls on the other. The gifts
were then arranged according to age. We were given sheets that listed the children in a particular family, their ages and their "wishes" for Christmas. Sissy wanted to work with a friend so the two older girls worked together and wrapped gifts for 4 families.

Peanut, Sweet Baby and I wrapped gifts for 3 different families. The girls were most excited when they were able to give a child the exact gift that was on their wish list.

Another day in the books...We still have 14 days till Christmas, but our family has had the most fun already this season as we are working to share with others. I hope that as my children grow older and look back on their Christmas memories, they aren't filled with thoughts of the gifts they got, but rather they remember the fun ways that we tried to help others, the family and friends that returned to Michigan (you know who you are!) and the way that we tried to bury Jesus deep into their souls.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Science - Apologia Anatomy

This year we are not following the science recommendations of My Father's World, rather we are doing our own thing and decided to take a look at Apologia. Apologia Science is widely used and loved by homeschoolers, but this is our first year using it. We decided to use their brand new Anatomy study and we have really been enjoying it. Sweet Baby has decided that looking at the pictures and talking about "all the blood and stuff inside me freaks me out", so her and I are doing a ladybug unit right now.
The textbook itself is beautiful and the content is more than complete. One concern I had about using Apologia is the narration. Sissy is not a strong writer and it takes her some time to get a decent couple paragraphs down. Aplogia works on the narration aspect of learning - the child reads (or is read to) and then they are expected to write about what they just learned. I knew that if we did narration our days would be LONG and wold be fraught with tears. Rather than do narration in the traditional sense, a friend suggested mini books from Live and Learn Press. This has been a perfect option for our family!

The mini books that were designed by the ladies at Live and Learn correspond to each lesson in the book. These books are just like mini books that you place in lapbooks but we place them in a 3-ring binder. The kids enjoy cutting them out and gluing them together when the lesson is completed. What I like is that each book has a topic with specific questions for the children to answer. This really helps them zero in on a particular topic and pull it together.

It does take the girls some time to do all of the books for each lesson, but if we were doing narration, I still think it would take longer. Just giving them an open ended question about a topic would prove difficult for Sissy. In terms of writing the narration, I would expect the girls to write a rough draft and then finalize it which would take even longer. With the mini books they are guided with exact questions to answer. I do not expect perfection in the books (we do correct spelling though) and the kids like the graphics on most of the books.
Right now we are studying the blood - the difference between veins and arteries, functions of blood, etc . Here we were looking at veins...under the tongue.....
and in your eyes. YUCK!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Operation Christmas Child - Part II

After church yesterday we went to drop off the girls shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I had not intended to take my camera but it was in my purse from the day before. What fun they had! The time we dropped off, they were the only children there and they had fun watching their boxes packed inside larger cases like these.

We were told that Samaritan's Purse sent 450 cases to this distribution center. Each case can hold approximately 14 shoe boxes...for those of you who are curious - that is 6, 300 shoe boxes! As we were talking with one of the volunteers, another volunteer asked the girls if they wanted to help pack a couple cases. The kids were very eager to do that!
What an experience! It was wonderful to work on this project with the kids, amazing to see all the boxes that were being collected, and a great way to end the entire process - the kids helping pack a couple cases. The only thing that could make this better would be to go along as a distributor....maybe some day.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Operation Christmas Child - Preparing Their Hearts

The last couple of years have seen HUGE faith growths in our family. My dear husband has grown in ways I would never have expected and it has been amazing to watch. The last year or so God has grown him immensely in the area of financial giving. We have been looking for ways to involve our children in the act of giving and understanding what it means to give without reluctance. After church last night we enjoyed the watching the process of giving unfold for our children. As parents we really enjoyed preparing their hearts for what we hope will be a lifetime of compassion and generosity.

Years ago, while I the girls and I were involved in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) we were introduced to Operation Christmas Child. Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritans Purse and at Christmas families are able to fill shoebox sized boxes with goodies that will be shipped to needy children. We have not been in MOPS for a few years and have not taken part in the process since the kids were little, but there is a local church that is a drop off point for the boxes, so we decided to participate.

Each of the girls were able to do their own box and choose the gender and age of the child they wanted to buy for. Each of them chose girls. Sissy and Sweet Baby chose the 2-4 year old group and Peanut chose the 5-9 year old group. Before we left for shopping we encouraged the girls to realize that some of these children may have never had soap, tooth paste, and things that we take for granted here. While we wanted them to share "toys" and the fun things of being a child, we suggested some of these "necessities". It was BEAUTIFUL to see the two oldest girls being so thoughtful about what the children may need.

Each of the girls chose soap, and a toothbrush and toothpaste, a coloring book, stickers, crayons, mittens, socks and candy. As Peanut was walking through the store she found some small cups and wanted to add that to her box. We found a set of 3 so each of the girls was able to add a drinking cup to their box.

Sissy was certainly the most visibly impacted by our experience. She wanted to carry her own shopping basket and literally clung to it. She was so thoughtful as she was thinking about what a 2 year old would like and what they would need. She was so quiet on the way home (which is not like her). When we arrived home it was getting late so we told the kids to get ready for bed and we would pack the boxes in the morning. Sissy took care of getting ready, came to me and said, "Mom, I don't want anything for Christmas." With tears in her eyes we had a talk about her realization that we have so much and some people don't have simple things. She said it wasn't fair that she was asking for a camera when some kids did not even have socks. This was one of those moments I'll remember forever. The tears in her eyes led me straight to her heart.

The other two girls were so excited to pack their boxes that the could not fall asleep and had goofy grins on their faces as soon as they woke up this morning. You'll notice that they didn't even brush their hair!

Peanut had fun customizing her box with things that she herself likes: a horse statute, My Little Pony coloring book, Tinkerbell stickers and she even parted with a stuffed horse that she bought with her own money not long ago (it still looked new). This was pretty big for her since she LOVES stuffed animals more than any kid I know!
Finally, Peanut suggested that the girls put pictures of themselves in their boxes, she was so excited to share a photo of herself for her new "friend". How I wish that we could be present the day that these boxes are delivered and see the joy in the eyes of the children who receive them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

American Heritage Girls

I have mentioned a couple of times a new program that I am helping get off the ground at our church. I am the coordinator for a new troop here in Michigan and last night we just finished our 3rd meeting. I thought I would share some photos of the girls in their uniforms. American Heritage Girls is a Christian based program that works very similar to Girl Scouts. The difference? It has Christ at the center - after having Sissy involved in Girl Scouts for the last 4 years, it became evident to me that Girl Scouts is very far removed from the program I believe it was intended to be at its inception.

One very convenient thing for parents is that the program covers girls ages 5-18 and all ages meet the same evening in the same building. I love that I can take all the girls to the meeting the same night. Here is a photo of all the girls before our meeting last night.

Sissy is in the Explorer Unit and Peanut and Sweet Baby are both Tenderhearts. Last month the Explorers got to run the flag ceremony, this month it was the Tenderhearts turn. Both of our Tenderhearts got to play a role. Here is Sweet Baby as part of the Color Guard saluting the flag before her group walked it to the front.

Peanut got to be the one who announced the ceremony and instructed the girls in the Color Guard as to what they should be doing. Here she is at the podium.

Finally, I had to share this picture of Sweet Baby...a friend makes hairbows and although none of my girls have really been into hairbows Sweet Baby has asked for a pair. The hairbows are HUGE to say the least but she really wanted a pair. We recently held a raffle fundraiser and Sweet Baby was able to choose a prize as being part of a top selling family, it didn't surprise me that she chose the donated hairbows!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Small Intestine...Really?

I cannot believe it has been an entire month since I have posted about our school days. We HAVE been doing school I guess I just haven't been taking photos of what we have been up to.

In Science we have made our way through the history of medicine, the skeletal system, the muscular system and have just finished the digestive system. While working on the digestive system we learned an amazing fact that I did not know..our small intestines are 20 feet long?!?! REALLY? Here is a picture of of Peanut and Sissy measuring out exactly how long 20 feet is - amazing!
In the weeks to come Sweet Baby and I will be doing a Ladybug unit. I was noticing that every time we would all sit down to do science, she would lay her head on her table and "check out". After a couple weeks of this I finally took her aside and asked her why it was that she was not trying to enjoy science. She ended up crying and said, "Mom, it scares me to think of all that stuff in my body. My bones, my blood, it is scary to me. I just don't like human body science. I want to do bugs not this scary stuff." Sweet Baby has a tendency to really pour it on and I can tell when she is faking fear or sadness. This time she was being very honest and I was feeling bad for her. She is just 6, so I can understand why it might be frightening to her. So, we'll be doing a ladybug lapbook together.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ancient History Really Can Be Fun

I've not posted for a couple weeks and wanted to share a few of the things we have been doing. I need to also share that when I discovered that we would be studying ancient history this year, I had a bad attitude. I really didn't have an interest in ancient history. I LOVE history - American History. Who wants to know about the Egyptians and Greeks anyway? I sure didn't. I spent a bit of the summer in prayer. Prayer that my attitude would change and I would have some sort of excitement for what I was going to be sharing with the girls. Can I say that I am really enjoying history this year!

We just entered the world of Ancient Egypt. We talked about ancient writing - cuneiform. One day we made cuneiform sugar cookies. Here Sissy is writing on her "tablet".

We have been learning about how important the Nile River is to the people of Egypt. Here the kids are making a page to go into their history notebook. We are using some History Pocket pages from a History Pocket book we have. They created the river and then added information the banks of the river.
Yesterday we discussed Upper and Lower Egypt (I didn't know they were ever separate!), King Menes, the different crowns that the kings wore and how he was the one to unite the two Egypts to one. Here Sissy is as King Menes and his white crown.
The other two girls made red crowns to symbolize the King of Lower Egypt (the things on the front are cobras that Sweet Baby made).
Here is Sissy after they dramatized King Menes overthrowing Lower Egypt...see how the "King" combined the crowns to demonstrate unity?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, a Busy Day Full of Fun

We had a busy day yesterday with school, but the kids enjoyed it. The girls did their first timeline piece (Adam and Eve) and we did a couple of science activities.
We spent last week learning about cells and what makes up a cell. We had a fun activity to do that the kids really enjoyed. We created our own cells using jello for the cytoplasm and various candies for the organelles. Today was the day that we built our cells!

The funny thing is, after the cells were done, the girls could have eaten them. They were all excited about doing that - but after a couple bites, they decided that it was gross tasting and didn't want to eat them. I'm certain it was because they enjoyed "just a bit" of the candy before the cells were finished and had already had to much sugar!

This week we are learning about the skeletal system and we discussed the fact that bones have many different functions, including protecting organs. The kids really enjoyed the activity today which had us put an egg into a container, close the lid and jump around with it. What happened? Well, it broke all over! Then we put a new egg in the container, filled it with water and did the same thing. The egg was protected from the liquid - just as God provides us with liquid between our brain and skull to protect it.
Finally, I just wanted to share a sweet picture of Sweet Baby. She continues to amaze me how well she is doing with reading. We are not using My Father's World 1st grade this year, we are just having her sit in on all of the history and science with the big girls. But a friend has the MFW 1st grader reader so we are borrowing that for her own Bible Reading Time. Here she is all cuddled up on the floor reading to me about Adam and Eve. I love these moments.

Our Sabbath Dinner

For history this year we are studying the Old Testament and many of the traditional Jewish feasts. I am really excited to learn about the history of our people along with my girls. Our first feast was the Sabbath feast. Our family takes part in our own sabbath of sorts each Sunday but it isn't really as meaningful as the sabbath that we SHOULD be doing each week. We title Sundays "Family Day" and we devote that time to family. We don't have neighbor kids over to play, we don't do work (mom doesn't even cook - we eat cereal!) I decided to bake the Challah bread, Sissy learned how to cross stitch and made a Challah cover, we had candles on the table (we used candle sticks that I have never taken out of the box and they have been in my house for about 3 years!).

Now, in all honesty, I cheated on the bread. I used the bread maker to whip up some bread dough and then after it went through its cycle we kneaded it a bit and then I braided it up. I know I should have done it all by hand, but I just didn't have the time. Here Sissy is kneading the bread and she told me she was praying the entire time she was kneading.

And Peanut was really enjoying herself!

Isn't this the yummiest looking loaf of bread? It was so good and can you believe we ate the entire thing! That was alot of bread!

Here is a shot of our Sabbath table. Notice the Challah cover - Sissy cross stitched the word "Sabbath" on it. Also, I'm sure you'll notice the orange juice on the table. After doing all my running around on Friday and gathering things I needed, I forgot the grape juice - so we substituted!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our Timeline

I wanted to share how our family is doing our timeline for this year. I wanted each of the girls to be able to do their own timeline so they could color their own pieces and place them themselves and then I wanted one to be permanent on our school room wall. So, the kids will be doing their own timeline which I made by using simple white cardstock and scotch taping the sheets together horizontally. It folds up accordion style so it stores nicely in the pocket on their history notebook.

For our permanent timeline I opted for a section on our wall that measures about 5 feet by 4 feet. I used push pins and then strung fishing line between the push pins to create the "line". My Father's World has timeline pieces in the curriculum that are able to be colored by the student. For our permanent timeline I colored the pieces, cut them out and then laminated each one. Using mini clothespins (you can get them at any craft store) we will be hanging the timeline piece on the line so they can easily be moved around if we need to. The girls all seem to like the idea of doing our timeline in this way. No fighting about who is going to color the next piece and hang it up - this way, everyone does their own AND we have a big one that is always hanging up.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Week 1

Week one of our year has been completed. We had alot of fun with our new science program. We are using Apologia Anatomy and Physiology. This week we spent time discussing the history of anatomy and philosophers like Aristotle, Galen, and early European professors who discovered things like using lenses to explore the world of anatomy up close. This is our first year using Apologia. The Apologia science curriculum is one that is loved by many homeschool families each year, but this is the first year we have chosen to use it. The textbooks look very much like college level texts. Lots of writing and beautiful color pictures. However, these things are things that kept me from using it the previous 2 years. I felt there was no way an elementary age child could understand it. However, I decided to give it a try. I knew I wanted to spend this year doing anatomy and I was able to get a look at the new book at a conference this spring. So, far, I'm glad I've made the switch.

I read a section to the girls and usually there is a "Try This" section that gives them a little hands on experience with the information we just discussed. Here the girls are looking at a Try This. We discussed how lenses help magnify things. The word "Jesus" was printed very small, using a piece of plastic we put a couple drops of water on the plastic and the girls were able to see how the word was magnified when the light rays are bent.

Apologia works on a Charlotte Mason principle that says you should read, discuss and observe and then have your children "narrate" or write back what they have learned to help the learning process. Sissy struggles so much with writing. We will be doing narration with our history as well and I was a bit afraid of how daunting this year would be for her if she had to do writing for English, history AND science. A friend who is also using the same science this year happened to find wonderful mini books by Live and Learn Press, that go along with each lesson in our science program. She will still be writing, but much smaller chunks. The books are similar to what you would put in a lapbook.

For history we completed talking about the different days of creation. I promised to show you what the girls were making for each day when they were finished. Here is a sample of different days from each of the girls. Sissy chose to draw the things God created on each day, while the other girls decorated their numbers.

Here is what they placed on their numbers:

Day 1 - Half of the number is black (dark) and half is yellow (light)

Day 2 - Cotton balls for clouds and blue glitter to make waves for the sea

Day 3 - Flower eyelets from my scrapbooking stash, cardstock to make trees, grass

Day 4 - Colored Foil stars, cardstock to cut out a moon and sun

Day 5 - Stickers I found at the dollar store of birds and fish (you could use stamps as well)

Day 6 - Animal stickers and drawing of people

Day 7 - Simply said "Rest"

This coming week we will only be doing science, English and math. We have family coming in from out of state for labor day and we aren't sure how much time we will be spending with them, so I didn't schedule all of our work.

If you start school this coming week, good luck!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer...It's Over

Well, it was a wonderful summer...For us though, it is over. We started school yesterday. As much as I love being with the girls, I'm not that typical homeschool mom who looks forward to the structure of school. For me, selfishly, I enjoy our freedom and the ability to do nothing all day or to run to the store or library on a whim. You don't get to do that when you start school back up.

We ended our summer with our only summer vacation. We drove to the other side of the state and enjoyed 5 days in Ludington, Michigan. If you have never been to Ludington, it is beautiful. It is right on Lake Michigan, which is the prettiest of the great lakes. It was a wonderful relaxing time. Here is a photo of the girls just before we were leaving.

This year we will be using My Father's World Creation to the Greeks for our history and bible curriculum. We are swapping our science and using the new Apologia Anatomy and Physiology. We are also using MFW's suggested art appreciation study God and the History of Art.

We are beginning our history study with the literal beginning of time. This week we are focusing on the days of creation. The girls all have learned a fun song from church that they sing the days of creation to but I still thought it would be fun to do a craft to help them remember the days even more. The 3 year old bible teacher at our church did a similar craft with her bible class when the girls were 3, but they didn't remember doing it, so the younger two are doing it at home. Here Sweet Baby is decorating her day number 2. I went to our local school district and used their die cut machines and cut large numbers 1-7 (to represent the different days). The girls are decorating the numbers to represent what God created on those days. Here for day 2, Sweet Baby used cotton balls to represent the sky and blue glitter made to look like waves for the seas. I'll share a photo of all of them when we have finished at the end of the week.

For our history study we are focusing on the history of the Israelite people, Egyptians and Greeks. The exciting part for me is to learn the biblical history that I am unaware of. We are going to be doing a sabbath meal this weekend as we discuss the traditions of the Jewish faith. Here Sissy is trying her hand at cross stitch. We are going to make a very simple challah covering for our bread (yes, I am going to attempt to bake my own bread, no bread maker either. We do fresh bread in our bread maker weekly, but I've never kneaded my own bread.) I took a piece of cross stitch fabric and just simply wrote "Sabbath" across it - the plan is for Sissy to do most of the stitching, but I'll show Peanut a bit as well. When it is done I'll sew it onto a scrap of fabric I have and we'll have our covering for the bread.

Here peanut is doing their first art lesson. The art lessons are meant for those children 10 and older, but Peanut loves drawing and art so I figured she could join in. The girls had to copy a picture using nothing but their mouths! There was a story about a woman who had become paralyzed but later found a love of drawing. Because Peanut can be a perfectionist with somethings (specifically her art) she was not thrilled to do this exercise. But, she needed to get the point of the lesson - first that art can be frustrating and second that we need to be mindful and thankful for all that we have (usually she can use her hands to draw and not have to use her mouth).

Last school year Sissy began using Teaching Textbooks for math. She LOVED it. She loved it so much she would ask to do math. ASK to do math?!? It is a wonderful program. Thankfully they have a 4th grade program so we decided to switch Peanut to it for math this year. Here she is working...She loves it too. She had done the first 3 lessons before we even officially started school!
Here is a photo of the screen. The program teaches your child the lesson and it is done so well. If you go to their website, you can see a sample lesson. The one thing that I had heard about TT before purchasing it was that it tended to run a bit slow in comparison to other math programs. And I have found this to be true. Peanut is actually in 3rd grade but is doing the 4th grade program and Sissy is in 6th grade doing the 7th grade program. So, if you are thinking about TT, be sure to have your child do their placement test.