Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hands On School

 I should be honest right?  This is after all, a blog not written for me to impress the world, but a journal for our family to visit over the coming years.  So..I'll be honest.

I "get it" that hands on school makes things more fun and more memorable.  It makes total sense.  BUT, do I do it?  Do I take the time to make our learning hands on?  Ummmmm...not like I would like to.  Ummmmmm...for the first couple weeks of school I try.  But after the first month or two, my definition of fun, hands on is cutting lapbook pieces.  Now, while lapbooking is interesting and more fun than a boring workbook page, truthfully, I know it does not fit under the category of "hands on learning".  
I have a friend who holds me accountable to the kind of learning I want my kids to do.  She pointed me toward My Father's World and has told me how great it will be.  For the most part I do like it.  I love being able to teach my girls of different ages, the same stuff.  BUT...I think I'd like it more if I would do more of the hands on stuff.

My Father's World does not do to much hands on.  Really, they don't.  My problem is that I schedule so much "other" stuff that I don't feel like we have the time.  That is bad.  Really bad.  I should trust the curriculum that I really do feel God led us to (with the help of a dear friend), but I'm unable.  
SO friends...here is my promise for the 2012 year...I can't stop adding stuff in.  I've accepted that about myself but I will try to do more hands on stuff.

This week we did our 2nd hands on activity.  Last week we made the ships in Christopher Columbus' fleet from tin foil.  This week we did an archaeological dig.  We will start talking about Jamestown next week so I thought it was a fine time to discuss how archaeologists do digs and discover clues to our past.  We have the Homeschool In The Woods Colonial pack (see, me adding stuff in) and it suggested this project.

Take a 2 liter, cut off the top, find various small items around your house (ie. buttons, safety pins, marbles, shells, beads) and begin layering them in the 2 liter.  Your children will then begin carefully digging through the layers of dirt to see what treasures they find.

I bet you  noticed the girls are in their pj's?  Yep..our school uniform.  :)

Each layer of dirt was marked along the side of the 2 liter and the girls had an Archaeological Journal in which they could sketch what they found, tell what hints to the past the item might give, etc.  They really had fun with it.

So, seeing these smiles I am reminded to keep the hands on stuff a part of our day.  It makes for happier kids and hopefully more fun learning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Couple Days

Just a few pictures of our first couple days.  We started school on Monday.  It has been smooth in some respects, rough in others - but that is life, isn't it?  Our first day got us started with a Bible study.  This year we are doing "Boy, Have I Got Problems?", it is a study on the book of James.  It uses the inductive bible study method.  I myself have never done it, so I am interested to see how it works.  We have been talking about James 1:2-4 so far.  We should consider it pure joy when we are faced with trials.  Oh how difficult this can be to accept, but how true it really is.  We grow so much out of struggles and as parents, we teach our children so much as THEY watch US plod through our trials.

Even Sweet Baby is doing the bible study with us. Sweet Baby doesn't enjoy writing.  Her writing isn't very good either, she also hates to sit for long periods of time, but she seems to be doing fine with our bible study.  I read it aloud the first day with the girls.  Sissy has enjoyed it so much she has decided to work ahead, so she is doing it on her own at this point.

A first day of school smile from Peanut.  Gosh, she looks old here.  She is growing up so fast.  SIGH...

Here is a first day smile from Sweet Baby...her favorite time...lunch.  I let the girls pack a lunch, including special treats we do not normally buy, and eat downstairs in the school room.  They thought that was fun.

No first day shots of Sissy, she said, "You can't take my picture!  My hair is a mess!"  UGGGHH..so it begins.  A 13 year old who is not into "doing" her hair, does not worry about fashion or make up yet. But, after that comment, I'm sure it is just beginning.

Our 2nd day of school we discussed Christopher Columbus and his voyage.  The younger girls made tin foil models of some of his ships.  They really enjoyed this activity.  When the ships were done, they took them to the bath tub and floated them across the sea.

 They even pulled out some Playmobile people to watch the voyage begin.  Silly girls!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Getting Started

We have just a few days left of summer.  If I could insert a great big sad face, crying buckets of tears, I would.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the girls learn and I certainly enjoy knowing what they are learning about, but I really enjoy the freedom of summer.  We start back to school on Monday.

For me, the most difficult thing about homeschooling is how so many things around my house have to be put off till around 2 pm.  I feel like I am constantly watching the clock to see how long things are taking us.  It drives me crazy to not start household things till 2:00 and by that time I have an hour or so to do laundry, pick up, etc. till I need to start dinner.  I'm wondering if this year will be a bit different, after all, the girls are getting older.

This year Sissy will be doing much of her school work on her own.  She said that she did not like waiting around for Sweet Baby on many things (specifically waiting for her to be disciplined when we try to do group work).   So, I thought we would give her most of her work to do on her own.

Sissy is going into 8th grade...is that possible?  This will be our 5th year of homeschooling.  We have used My Father's World for history and bible for the last 3 years - it makes it very easy to teach different levels of children at one time.  However, I've always been intrigued with Sonlight, which is very similar to MFW, but I especially like the fact that Sonlight is built around great novels AND they give you discussion questions to go over with the children in case mom does not have time to read the book herself.  So, Sissy is going to be working with Sonlight Core 100 American History in Depth this year.  I hope it goes well for her.  She is not typically a big reader, but I truly believe it is because she is intimidated by chapter books and so she steers clear of them.  She has recently discovered the Mandie series and has been devouring it.  I'm hoping that she has turned a corner this summer. 

So..what are all the kids working on this year?  Here is the rundown.

Sissy       8th grade

History - Sonlight Core 100 American History in Depth
Math -  Teaching Textbooks Algebra (mind you she still has several lessons from Pre-Algebra to finish up)
Science -  Apologia Physical Science (with lab work done in co-op)
Spelling -  All About Spelling level 5  (her spelling skills are a huge struggle, so we'll keep plugging along)
Writing -  Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive B (our first year using this program)
Bible - Boy You Think You've Got Problems (Study of the book of James)
Computer Essentials - co-op
Art - Watercolor - co-op
Cake Decorating - co-op

Peanut       5th grade

History - My Father's World Exploration - 1850
               American Girl Book Club - co-op
Math -  Teaching Textbooks 6
Science - Apologia Swimming Creatures (lab work/fun stuff with co-op)
Spelling  - A Reason for Spelling (first time using this curriculum)
Writing -  Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive B (our first year using this program)
Bible - Boy You Think You've Got Problems (Study of the book of James)
Gym - co-op
Art - Discovering Great Artists - co-op

Sweet Baby    3rd grade

History - My Father's World Exploration - 1850
               American Girl Book Club - co-op
Math -  Saxon 3
Science - Apologia Swimming Creatures (lab work/fun stuff with co-op)
Spelling  - A Reason for Spelling (first time using this curriculum)
Writing -  Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive B (our first year using this program)
Bible - Boy You Think You've Got Problems (Study of the book of James)
English - Daily Paragraph Editing workbook
Cooking- co-op
Art - Discovering Great Artists - co-op

So, that is what we are doing this year.  Switching some things like spelling up for various reasons, adding Daily Paragraph Editing in for Sweet Baby (and possibly the other two as well, I'm still working on this), I'm really excited to try IEW for writing.  I've heard so many great things about it.  I'll keep you filled in on what is working and what isn't working for us as we progress.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ridin' The Huckleberry Railroad

We have a local historic village that we like to visit.  When the girls were younger we were season pass holders for awhile and we would go on Sundays, after church, and spend a few hours looking around.  Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad is pretty small, but it makes for a relaxing day.  We all enjoy riding the train and the carousel.

The Huckleberry Railroad is a 40 minute train ride through woods and meadows around Mott Lake.  The railroad consists of 11 original and replica wooden coaches.  The train is run by a restored coal burning locomotive.

This weekend we visited Crossroads for the first time in a couple years.  We started with a train ride....we really should not have started with the train ride, I had forgotten how relaxed it makes me!  It was a time for reflection..... (pssstt...I LOVE this pic of Peanut)

It was also a time for snuggles....

After the ride, we strolled through the general store, barber shop and a couple other buildings.  We made our way to the toy barn, which the kids always enjoy.

This weekend was supposed to be Laura Ingalls Wilder Days.  Sadly we did not see any recreations about Laura or anything specific to her.  Sweet Baby donned her prairie bonnet all day though, does that count?

The girls did get to pump some water up from a well.  It never ceases to amaze me what things kids will find fun.  I'm quite sure that the children living at time that well pumps were necessary did not find drawing water fun.

In the schoolhouse we giggled as we discovered the dunce cap.  We giggled because when Sweet Baby was around 2 years old we had visited there and took her picture in the cap.  It has hung on our refrigerator ever since, so we needed to get another picture of her wearing it.

And Peanut wanted a turn....Don't you love this face!?!?!

Sissy as well, see that glaring look?  Her dad and I see that on rare occasions, her sisters see it a bit more often!

After visiting the school the kids wanted to ride the carousel.  The carousel is celebrating a birthday this year, it is 100 years old.  It was built in Kentucky in 1912 and was part of a traveling show that set up at fairs and carnivals throughout the US and Canada.  It settled in Riverside, California for more than 30 years and then was moved to Crossroads in 1983.  

The carousel has 36 different horses and is a fun treat.

The night before we went Sweet Baby randomly declared that someday she wanted to ride a ferris wheel.  Well, Crossroads has a ferris wheel, a ferris wheel built in 1910!  It takes you up just 45 feet, but for a girl who has a dream, it worked well.

Sweet Baby and daddy shared a cart.  It was funny to watch, each time they came around she was giggling from ear to ear, but at the same time, she was gripping his hand for dear life!

It was a beautiful day.  The weather was perfect and there were smiles all around.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Makin' Some Cake

 For some reason my girls are not that interested in earning extra badges for AHG this summer.  It may very well be because they earned more than $60 worth of extra ones at the last ceremony!  Sweet Baby did however want to get together with a friend and complete a badge together.  Last week we had her friend and her mother over for a couple hours so the girls could work on the cake decorating badge.  The badge requires that a Tenderheart aged girl make a batch of cupcakes, which she did the week before and took them to a family get together.  One  of the other requirements had the girls bake a cake and decorate it in a theme of their choosing using candies to decorate it.

Here Sweet Baby is flouring up the cake pan.

She chose to decorate her cake like the ocean.  She wanted to use graham crackers crushed up as the sand on the bottom of the ocean.  

The girls were required to learn about various types of food coloring and how you could achieve different colors by mixing the food coloring.  They enjoyed putting the drops of coloring into the frosting and watching how the colors changed as they mixed it up.

After the cakes had cooled they were able to begin frosting.  Sweet Baby had some trouble figuring out that longer strokes were necessary, the more frosting the better and how to hold the spreader to do the edges.  Since Sweet Baby does not like being directed or her mom "teaching" her things, it did  not go so well.  She got frustrated, mom got frustrated...sigh....

After awhile things calmed down and she began using the decorator kit to create some seaweed for her ocean.

She chose to use some Jelly Belly jelly beans for rocks and Swedish Fish as well.  She even remembered that she had a mermaid Polly Pocket that she wanted to put in the ocean.  

Sadly, because of her attitude issues, she did not get to eat the cake.  Her dad and I have been wondering if her sassy-ness may be a result of sugar so we decided to stop the intake for awhile.  Don't feel to bad for her.  The whole time she was making the cake she was sampling jelly beans, frosting, and Swedish Fish - honestly, all that sugar could very well have been the problem.  SO...we gave the cake to some friends of ours, who I am sure enjoyed it!

The girls have one more optional to do in order to earn the badge.  They had fun making cakes, but I really think they enjoyed doing it with a friend.