Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - February 28

I got busy figuring out next year's plans and didn't get a wrap-up written yesterday. Oh well . . . there's not much to tell. I could probably sum it up by saying "we were all sick" and leave it at that, but you know me, I have to say the same thing in a million trillion words. . .

So yes, last Sabbath morning Little Bit woke me up by throwing up . . . by Sunday night the big girls and I had joined her (Rodney joined in Sat. night but he was on a business trip so wasn't home for us to commiserate with). All 4 of us literally laid around all day Sunday. At one point I wished I had the energy to get a camera (and a way to do so without disturbing Little Bit), we were in the family room, L was laying in the glider with her head on the left arm rest, I was in the recliner with Little Bit laying on my lap (with her head on the left arm rest), and A was laying on the sofa, with her head on the left arm rest. It was pretty funny that they all chose to lay the same direction :o) At least it amused me, but I'm easily amused.

So, school was sporatic at best. HUGE amounts of tv were watched, naps were taken by children who don't normally nap . . .and slowly as the week progressed, we all recovered. By Friday we were all well enough to go grocery shopping, then come home and make "not red"velvet healthy cupcakes to take to Friendship Dinner on Sabbath, and we made yummy cream of potato soup for supper. So Friday was a busy day.

Sabbath was a good day. We enjoyed Friendship Dinner (kind of a smallish (though not so small this week) potluck that we plan in groups to make sure there's a dinner for any visitors who want to stay).

And that was pretty much our week. So far this week is stacking up to be better :o)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Starting to Think About Next Year . . .

Isn't it funny how sometimes things come at you from 15 different directions? I just recently got information from our state Christian Homeschool association about this year's homeschool convention, and confirmed with dh that he could watch the girls while I go. And then I read a great blog post about how one homeschooler plans for and organizes things for her homeschool convention, and she mentioned using forms from her TOS Schoolhouse Planner, great idea! So, I've been thinking about the convention, and how I'm going to organize things this year and what I need to figure out ahead of time . . . and was realizing that I want to have at least a general idea of what we're doing for school next year before I go . . . so just as I was thinking this, someone posted on a homeschool forum I'm on, asking about . . . homeschool plans for next year . . . so I decided to figure it out . . . and since I *did* figure it out, at least on a very basic level, I thought I'd post it here too . . .

I'm just starting to think about this . . . starting to get excited about Homeschool Convention (not till May, but time flies . . .) and want to have some idea what I'm doing before then, though I rarely buy curriculum, just get ideas but still . . . 

Bible: I think we're going to roughly follow the approach outlined in the Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach. BUT I feel that reading the Bible through in a year is too fast for kids as young as mine, so we'll take it at our own pace, probably start next month and see how long it takes (this will incorporate some of our reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, art requirements as well)

History: I think we'll revisit American History, need to figure out the specifics though . . . might re-visit the curriculum we used a couple years ago . . . need to think about it some more (this will also incorporate reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, geography, PA state history, and probably art, possibly some music too)

Science: While not a typical science curriculum, I think we'll use Character Sketches. This is a great set of, well, character sketches, that take a character trait and then use a nature story to illustrate the trait. So, I think we can use this, and add in some additional research about the animal, and call it science. I'd also like to start up our nature journals again and take regular nature walks, I think Little Bit's old enough to enjoy that now.

Health: I'd like to continue with nutrition in some form. If Little Bit seems interested, we might use Vintage Remedies for Kids. We're currently using  Vintage Remedies for Girls. But the "for Kids" edition just came out (last week, actually) and says it's for ages 2-6, so with Little Bit's love of being like her big sisters, it might work well for her and would be a good review of topics for the big girls while they helped Little Bit. I also want to continue to encourage them in learning to cook and take over some of the on-going "from scratch" cooking. They've fully embraced the role of bread-makers, I want to build on that.  Additionally for health, I think we'll start some formal Purity lessons. I'll probably use the Against the Tide curriculum, the author was at last year's homeschool convention and I enjoyed listening to her seminars. 

Math: We learn math through life. Science, cooking, etc. are great ways of learning math without really trying.
Spanish: We are using a calendar that has a word/phrase each day to equal a sentence per week. The girls are enjoying that, so we'll continue that through the end of 2011 (and because it's not a dated calendar there are extra weeks that will probably carry us through a month or 2 into 2012. Once we finish that we'll re-evaluate, but probably re-visit the curriculum we started this year with.

Music: Right now they're very excited about Kinderbach (a current review item), once we finish the lessons we've received for this, dh and I need to evaluate if we want to continue piano lessons, either through Kinderbach or something else.  And/or we have a couple of the Hymns for a Kid's Heart books, we might use one of them next year. 

And I guess that covers the required subjects (except PE, but nature walks, playing outside, swimming when we're at hotels, etc cover that quite nicely)! Somehow it's less than I was anticipating, that's good, hopefully time for any fun unit studies that strike our fancy and/or review stuff if I am asked to be on the crew again.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 6

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...

Was lots of clean-up. After a relatively illness-free year so far, our whole family came down with a stomach flu this week, not fun!

In our homeschool this week...

We didn't do a whole lot, that whole stomach bug thing . . . but we did start studying the Kit American Girl movie, using a unit study for the movie that we're currently reviewing. 

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

This week, nowhere! We finally left home to get things like milk and fresh fruit today, we were home all week.

My favorite thing this week was...

Weather nice enough for the big girls to spend ALL AFTERNOON outside yesterday!

What's working/not working for us...

Being sick doesn't really work for us, though if we MUST be sick, I was very thankful that the big girls were pretty self-sufficient with it all. And Little Bit proved that she is well & truly potty trained by never having a potty miss despite all the stomach bug stuff!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

Even Homeschoolers have sick days . . . or weeks . . . :o)

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

I don't think I took any pictures this week (be thankful, trust me!), so I'll share this link to a blog post that EVERY parent should read! It's written to dads, but applies to us moms just as much!

See other Homeschool Mother Journals here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - February 20

We had a busy week! I've touched on alot of it already in other posts, but it's nice to see it all in one place . . .

My parents were here last weekend. In addition to getting some projects done around here, they got a hotel room for Sun. night and took the big girls with them. They got a hotel with an indoor pool, so I took Little Bit over for awhile that evening so she could swim too. All the girls had a blast.

Monday evening was my date with A for this month. She chose to go to Chipotles again. Last month she'd had a bunch of questions, and then was upset because she couldn't remember them all. So I suggested that this time she write them down as she thought of them, so she did. Most of them were Bible verses she'd read and had questions about, so we basically had a Bible study together for our date. How fun is that? :o)

Tuesday night Rodney & I finally got our date for this month.  It was too icy to go anywhere when we'd originally scheduled it, so we rescheduled it for this week. It was so nice to spend time talking without a million and one interruptions.

Thursday night we had some friends over for supper. Penny & I are in a bookclub together ,and this month it was only going to be the 2 of us, so I suggested that their whole family come over for supper first. Originally we'd planned that after we ate the men would take the big kids out to ice cream and Penny & I would still have our book club with the babies. But Little Bit heard them talking about ice cream and wanted to go too. So we ended up all going out to ice cream. Had a fun evening :o)

Friday we went to Rodney's mom's house. His sister & her husband came over too.

Early Sabbath morning Little Bit woke me up by throwing up, sigh . . . She continued to throw up every little while that morning. Needless to say, she & I stayed home from church.

There was a church social and "Brownie Bake-off" at the church on Sat. night.  Rodney had to work, and I didn't figure Little Bit should go and share her germs. But the big girls were scheduled to be "judges", and had been looking forward to it for weeks. So at church Rodney talked to some friends who agreed to come pick the girls up & take them. They apparently had a wonderful time and came home chattering a mile a minute.

So that was our week. We squeezed in some school here & there too.  We started an online piano program, as well as continuing with the other things we've been doing.

A Little Bit of Learning for Little Bit . . .

Little Bit is 22 months
I realized that I missed posting a Tot School this past week, so I'm going to post on Sunday instead of Wed.

Here are some tidbits from Little Bit's week . . .

Last week in preparation for the big girls telling children's story at church, we went shopping for small plastic turtles, and discovered they only came (at least at the store we went to) in sets with equal number of turtles and frogs. SO . . . Little Bit was the recipient of all the leftover frogs. We bought 2 "toobs" and each one had the exact same 6 frogs in it, so she immediately set to work matching up the frogs that were the same. This has been a fun game several times this week.

Mama and Papa came to visit last weekend and for one night, they got a hotel room nearby, choosing a hotel with an indoor pool. The big girls got to go spend the night with them there, but since Little Bit still doesn't believe in sleeping at night (she's getting better, but not better enough for the grandparents to take her, and *I* like my own bed thankyouverymuch!) So she & I just went over in the evening for awhile. She loved her "PE class". It took a little while for her to "remember" how to swim with the water wings (she mastered it last Nov. when we were in FL, but that was a long time ago for a 1 yr old!), but she picked it back up, and had a BLAST! She also "mastered" walking when out of the pool, she practiced for awhile carefully walking from the steps to where I was sitting and then back to the steps (and Mama).

 Little Bit LOVES blocks. Our block basket is a combination of some regular natural & painted wood blocks, some tree blocks Papa made for the girls, and some alphabet blocks. I've been really surprised at how well she's able to balance blocks to stack them, even balancing larger blocks on top of the tall skinny ones. When we first started playing with them she'd get upset if they fell over, but after modeling it being ok with her for awhile, now as she goes to set another block on the stack she'll say "tie" (try) and then just shrug it off if it all falls down.

We visited Grandmom on Friday and she has a big basket she keeps toys in. Little Bit took all the toys out and sat IN the basket, then spent I don't know how long playing w/ some smallish (beanie baby size roughly) stuffed animals that make animal sounds if you squeeze them. She repeatedly stacked them all in the basket in front of her (squeezing each one as she did it) then moved them all off the pile & did it all over again (and over and over and over).

Also while we were at Grandmom's Aunt Lynette read stories to Little Bit & A, isn't that a sweet picture? I had to include it. Little Bit is slowly starting to listen to stories instead of just wanting to point out things in the pictures, I think she actually sat there for Aunt Lynette to read the whole book that time.

And that's a Little Bit of what Little Bit did this week . . .

See more Tot School ideas here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 5

oThe Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...

I got to go out with my bestest friend, dh, on our date night! So nice to have time to just talk and be together, knowing that our kids are at home having a blast with one of our wonderful babysitters!  We are so blessed!

In our homeschool this week...

It was a busy week without much "school", but we DID get a keyboard and begin reviewing an online piano lesson program, the girls are so excited!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

We began the week by seeing Mama & Papa, and going to a hotel with them for a night (the big girls, anyway), to enjoy the indoor pool! (Little Bit & I went over for a little while in the evening so she'd get to swim too).

Yesterday we went to visit Grandmom, and Aunt Lynette & Uncle Dave came over too.

And tonight, hopefully, at least the big girls will be going to our church's "Brownie Bake-off" social. They get to be judges and have been looking forward to it for WEEKS . . . but Little Bit woke up this morning, throwing up, and dh won't be home to take the big girls, so . . . I'm really hoping that, while they're at church right now, they can find someone willing to pick them up and take them. Although, knock-on-wood, Little Bit hasn't thrown up in the last couple of hours so, I might be able to at least drop them off & pick them up if need-be. . . we shall see . . .

My favorite thing this week was...

TWO great "dates"!! One with my sweet, wonderful, long-suffering hubby, the other with my girl, A!

What's working/not working for us...

Getting to see all the grandparents in one week definitely works for us. Warmer weather works for us! Especially when it's warm enough to OPEN WINDOWS (not today, but we managed to get one day of open windows, woo-hoo!). Along with the warmer weather came a chance for the big girls to ride bikes 2 or 3 times this week, that definitely WORKS for us! But poor Little Bit, when I pulled out the big girls' bikes, she watched me hand them each a bike & said "Mine! Own!" Good thing she'll be getting a balance bike for her birthday next month :) In the meantime, I need to figure out if her little riding toy with the broken handlebar is fixable, at least to get her through the next month :)
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

I'm starting to think through what I need to do to make our homeschool "official" starting in July. I still can't believe it, when we moved here (right after the girls turned 5), 8 seemed SO FAR OFF, and now we're only a month away from their 8th birthday, where DOES the time go? So, I'm working on getting my ducks in a row, so to speak. . . 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Don't forget to stop by and see what other Homeschool Moms are doing, here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homeschool Review: Reluctant Reader Solution

While I wouldn't classify my girls as "Reluctant Readers" I still was excited to hear that, as part of the TOS Crew, we were going to get to review the Reluctant Reader Solution. It's a 2 part product, including 12 full-color issues of Kid Scoop Online, as well as a downloadable set of 365 printable worksheets, organized into various topics, all for $97.

The concept, as I understand it, is that the kids will enjoy reading these newspapers and doing the fun activities scattered throughout, and this will spark their love of reading.  While we've used this some during the review period, I think we'll use it more as time goes on when we're back to traveling more. Our homeschool style, and my kids' personalities, is such that, when we're home, they rarely do "worksheets", they'd rather be running around or doing something crafty or other active things (why yes, I do have a family full of kinesthetic learners, why do you ask? hee hee). When we travel, having something to keep them busy & entertained while they are in the car or somewhere else that they need to be not quite so active, is awesome! And I plan to use the printable worksheets quite abit when we travel, finding topics that we're currently learning about or simply something I think they'll find interesting, and print those off and bring them along to pull out as needed. So that's my main plan on how WE will use them.

This product is one of the few times that I've wished that we didn't all have netbooks for computers. I didn't even try to show the girls the online newspaper because I found it too difficult to view online on such a small screen (note this is not in any way a criticism of the product, it would view fine on a normal size laptop or desktop, we just don't happen to have those).  I did print out the first issue of the online newspaper for them to use. But since it's color, it uses alot of ink, and didn't strike me as being that different from the black & white printables, so we've stuck with those. 

I think this product lends itself more to a child who enjoys worksheets (visual learner? I'm not sure, just know it's NOT my kids, hee hee), and/or someone more used to a typical school environment. Sitting down and doing worksheets, even fun worksheets, is pretty foreign to my kids' learning style, and our homeschool style in general. For families who choose to use worksheets, these are nicely laid out and have lots of fun things to do.  They kind of remind me of the "mini pages" of the Washington Post back when I was a kid (don't know if they still have them, but we lived in the DC area when I was 5-7 and enjoyed that each Sunday). A combination of short facts and then various word games and such.

 The girls enjoyed these, as long as they were a "do however much you want, when you want" presentation and not a required thing. There were also definitely parts of this that were beyond their current reading level. I'm not sure what their "official" level is. They read "real" books without any trouble, but we haven't worked on spelling and grammar when writing , and many of the "games" required a knowledge of spelling, sometimes rather advanced, I thought, words. So they found some of these frustrating. They also felt there was "too much writing" overall. While L keeps a journal that she writes in faithfully every day, and A will often sit down and write a "story" they both balk at being told to write something, so that was something that definitely did not "encourage" my kids to do more with this.

Overall, I think these are fun worksheets, to me, reading is better encouraged by finding real books on topics that interest children. A has been the more reluctant reader of my two, but the child who claimed she "couldn't" read, flew through a nature book that captured her interest. I do see how this might be a good way to encourage grammar, spelling and writing skills in some children.

Disclaimer: I received the Reluctant Reader Solution package in return for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Meet Our Faculty . . .

The Blog Cruise this week, asks about how other people participate in our homeschool.  So I thought I'd do a quick post on how things work around here.

Rodney (more often known as "Daddy" around here) works long, and unpredictable hours. But the travel his job includes gives us a chance to take some great field trips. Depending on his schedule while traveling, sometimes he comes with us to museums and such, sometimes not.

He also sometimes works from home, and that has led to some impromptu classes in accounting, taxes, computer stuff . . . and I don't remember what all else. The girls love to know how things work, so they're happy to ask questions of anyone they can.

Mama & Papa (my parents) they're our unofficial "field trip tour guides".  We've tagged along with them to tons of National Parks and such over the years. I'm convinced that A inherited her need to know "how it works" from my Dad, so by the time she was 3 or 4 she'd figured out that if I couldn't tell her how something worked she could "just wait and ask Papa, he'll know". So Papa has taught them the inner workings of various things.  He also has included them in his coin collecting and the history surrounding that, helping them learn about the early Presidents, using the President coins as they come out, and such.  Mama has much more patience than I do letting them make messes in the kitchen :)

Grandmom (Rodney's mom) has craft stuff for them to mess around with whenever they go visit her, they LOVE crafts!!

We are so blessed to have family who love our kids and support us and them!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - February 13

Our week started with, of course, the SUPER BOWL!! Daddy is a die-hard Steelers fan, so of course, this year's superbowl was a big deal. The girls & I managed to find inexpensive Steelers shirts for all three girls, so they surprised Daddy by wearing them on Sunday.  Little Bit was very excited once she realized that she matched DADDY!!

Tuesday night I had bookclub, so while Little Bit & I went to bookclub, the big girls went bowling with Daddy. A won 2 out of 3 games (L says when she has her next date with one of us, she wants to go bowling with Daddy WITHOUT A, hee hee).

In school this week we wrapped up our study about blue-footed boobies.

We continued to work on Spanish vocab.  The girls are really taking off with that. Something has "clicked" and they are doing really well with the vocab.  the calendar we are using seems to be a good fit for them. It allows us to add one word/phrase for day. Something we adapted slightly, is, instead of adding 5 flash cards every so often, I've started adding the new day's word each day. So, we learn our new word/phrase, and then we go over our flash cards of previous words, and I include the new word into the mix. Once they have mastered a word I pull it out of the stack, so that we only have a few to go over each day. And once a week we review through the mastered words to make sure they don't forget them.  The advantage I'm seeing in this plan is, it's sort, and they see constant improvement. As long as they feel like they are "getting better" they stay interested. When we tried to add several words at a time, they felt like they would "never get it" so they didn't like it & it became a chore. A program like Speekee didn't work for them because they didn't see themselves as learning anything, so they also didn't like that. We've finally hit the "balance" that works well for them.

We're also continuing with our study of The Princess and the Kiss for Bible. The girls are enjoying looking up the verses in their own Bibles and taking turns reading them, and often underlining them. Shhh . . . don't tell them they're learning "reading" and some referencing skills mixed in with their Bible lesson :o)  Needless to say this study is sparking lots of good discussions on purity, dating, and other "future" topics that I feel it's important we begin addressing NOW, before they come up . . .

To try to get some wiggles out, we've been doing "silly dances", the girls have also done lots of "running" where all 3 of them run in circles in our (very small) living room. It makes me dizzy, but they all seem to like it. Little Bit yells "run run run" the whole time, hee hee.

One day when they seemed to be needing to get wiggles out (even though we haven't had any new snow, it's been cold enough that the snow hasn't melted, and because we had some major(ish) ice AFTER all the snow, it's not snow they can play in, it has a hard crust on top. It doesn't even work to just walk on it . . . I tried sending them to "run to the  barn and back" (my default "get rid of excess energy" method) and they came back in and said "you can't, the snow's too rough". So I'm hoping and praying that the predicted warmer temps this coming week will get rid of this ice & snow!) anyway . . . one day as they were doing their "run run run" game until I was about to go insane, I pulled out some pieces of construction paper & scattered them around the room. Then we played various types of "find the color" that got the kids moving and helped reinforced colors for Little Bit. I think even though it was a "toddler game" as far as the actual color-stuff, all 3 kids enjoyed it.

Some other on-going schoolish stuff that I don't think to mention often . . . L has, for awhile now, been keeping a journal she writes in every night. Despite the fact that she swears up and down that she "hates to write", she does this without any encouragement. Each night at bedtime she writes a couple sentences saying what she did that day.

A few weeks ago A found a book I'd gotten awhile back that is a kids "novel" about the Bible character, Ruth. I'd originally gotten it because A has said for quite awhile now that Ruth is her favorite Bible character (I've never really gotten an answer when I've asked why . . . ). So at the time I got it, she thought it looked "too hard" and set it aside. Recently she re-found it in the bookcase and has been reading it every chance she gets.

A has also really taken off with her own Bible reading. Ever since they were able to read, I've encouraged them to read the Bible each morning. At the very first, I suggested they start with the Gospels, but they wanted to "start at the beginning". Needless to say, the large books and sometimes tedious detail and repetition of the OT was slow going, though they kept at it, a few verses at a time. More recently A started picking a small NT book and reading it a chaper or 2 per day. I think reading these smaller books of the Bible appeals to her need to "finish" things.

L has been working on knitting the "lovey" for Little Bit's friend, J. She had it probably at least half-done. She's pretty proud of herself. I'll have to be sure to take a picture when she's done, before she gives it to J.

Little Bit & I stopped at Goodwill on Friday while the big girls were at work with Daddy. I picked up a pair of purple boots to see if they were the right size for A, and Little Bit immediately said "A". I thought it MIGHT be because A's everyday shoes right now are boots, and not because of the color, but then on the next aisle I picked up a pair of pink boots & Little Bit said "Sassy" (her name for L). So she has obviously figured out the big girls' "color coding", hee hee.

The big girls were scheduled to tell Children's Story at church yesterday. We chose a story about Forgiveness from the Child's Book of Character Building. In the story, the little boy made a clay turtle, and then a classmate broke it. So, for a "visual aid" the girls each used air-dry clay to make clay turtles (they didn't break theirs though). We also got some little plastic turtles to pass out to the kids. But then there were a bunch of visitors, and as I did a mental count before the story of all the kids of "story age" I was afraid we wouldn't have enough turtles to go around (I thought we'd gotten way more than we would possibly need, usually there are only a few kids), so I told the girls not to give out the turtles (didn't want to risk upset kids if there wasn't enough to go around). As it turned out, not all the kids went up, so they COULD have passed them out, but because I didn't want the kids to see the turtles if the girls weren't going to pass them out, we had left them at our seats.  We did compromise and the girls gave turtles to the little kids who were up in the balcony with us, after we got back to our seats.

So that was our week :o)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 4

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week...
I'm thoroughly enjoying the Biblestudy on The Power of Motherhood that I'm working through.

In our homeschool this week...

We took a day "off" from what we've been doing and did a quick character lesson on Initiative.  The girls were less than thrilled, but we instituted a few new rules and such to work on taking initiative and having a servant's heart. I'm hopeful that this will decrease the nagging AND cut down on how often I hear "but it's not my turn, I did it LAST time . . ." we shall see . . . 

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
The big girls had great fun bowling with Daddy. A won 2 of the 3 games!

My favorite thing this week was...
We started playing "memory" with Little Bit. It's so fun to see her figure out the whole matching concept . . .

What's working/not working for us...
Listening to the 2nd volume of The Story of the World would work better if we weren't staying home more right now. It's much easier to sit and quietly listen to a CD when you're in a car and can't be doing other things LOL. But I still think it's a great option for us to get an overview of world history this year.

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

Trying to decide about homeschool conventions for this year. I've attended CHAP the last 2 years and LOVE it. . . but now this year there's also the Northeast Homeschool Convention. They're similar distances away from us, and both have speakers I like, but neither has a "deal breaker, can't be missed" speaker. What to do, what to do . . . wonder if I could convince dh that I need to go to BOTH of them, hmmmm . . . (this means convincing him not only to spend the money on the fees for both BUT to keep all three kids for a total of 4 1/2 days if I were to go to both of them. I suspect it's the kid-watching that will be the deal-breaker for him, hee hee).

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

Dressed for the big game

See what other Homeschool Mothers have been up to here

Friday, February 11, 2011

Homeschool Review: The Curiosity Files

Just as we were listening to Jonathan Park Goes to the Galapagos, I was asked to review one of The Curiosity Files Unit Studies. And better yet, they let us CHOOSE which of the studies to review.  When I saw that there was one on the Blue-Footed Booby, I knew that would be a perfect follow-up to the CD.

The Blue-Footed Booby is a bird that lives, among other places, in the Galapagos Islands. Jonathan Park and his father discuss the bird in some detail on the CD, so the girls knew something about it going into this study. Needless to say, a 100 page unit study went into much more detail than the CD had though! One thing we loved was being able to see beautiful color pictures of real blue-footed boobies in the e-book, its always helpful to "put a face with the name" so to speak!

One of the beauties of The Curiosity Files is that they are designed to use with the entire family.  Many of the subjects covered include options specifically marked "for younger students" or "for older students", and the rest can be adapted easily for a wide range of ages/abilities/learning styles.

In addition to the "normal stuff" like writing and learning about the birds, and doing cross-word puzzles, and vocabulary and math and geography and history and probably other stuff that I'm forgetting, which was all great, just doesn't make for fun pictures, there was also "fun stuff in this unit study. Stuff that's totally up my craft-loving, kinesthetic kids' alley . . . and with all the cold and snow and ice and "can't go outside, it's all ice out there", we REALLY needed something fun to distract us.

So we did a "Booby dance" (why yes, Daddy DID look at me weird when the girls told him about their day that day . . . why do you ask?)

I found some bright blue slipper socks on clearance, so the girls put them on and did their best to imitate the rather odd courtship dance. If nothing else, they had a blast and it burned off some energy.
Little Bit joined in, but my camera doesn't do "action" well, at least the action shot shows 2 of the 3 relatively un-blurred . . .

Another fun part of this study was the crafts, we all made little Blue-Footed Booby babies out of beads and pipe cleaners.
The big girls wanted to show off their baby birds . . . 

. . . and so did Little Bit . . . but I couldn't convince her not to "cuddle" it, so you can't actually SEE the bird, trust me, it's there :)

The Curiosity Files are e-books available from The Old Schoolhouse Store. You can purchase all 9 as a bundle, either in CD form for $49, or as an instant download for $46. The individual unit studies are also available, you can see their prices here. This unit study provides a wide range of activities to appeal to all learning styles! There are even some suggestions for special needs students! I also liked that there wasn't very much teacher preparation required. I just took a few minutes to reserve some books from the library, and add a few simple craft supplies to our shopping list, and beyond that, we could go through the study as it was written.

I'd highly recommend these unit studies for anyone whose children are interested in the various topics (and there is SUCH a wide variety of topics, and I hear there are more in the works!). The girls loved it, and I think they'll be excited to do more studies in this series (I have a couple others tucked away to pull out when we need a change of pace).

I reviewed this study as a part of the TOS Crew.  You can check out the TOS Crew blog here, to see what other people thought of this, and other studies in The Curiosity Files series.

Disclaimer: We received a free download of The Curiosity Files, Blue-Footed Boobies in exchange for this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Little Bit of Learning for Little Bit . . .

Little Bit, 22 months
This week I thought I'd share a couple more things that Little Bit is enjoying right now . . .

I mentioned puzzles last week, but they're a FAVORITE right now. The alphabet one, I never would have thought to get out for her this young, but she found it in a stack of puzzles under my dresser (from when we first moved here & the big girls were still learning their alphabet, my how time flies!) and she LOVES it.  It's an older, upper-case only, version of this one. I got it at a yardsale when the big girls were preschoolers. I don't remember them ever using it much, they've never been big puzzle fans, but she likes it. We usually work on it together. Under each letter is a picture of something starting with that letter, so she dumps all the pieces out, then picks one up and I tell her "that goes on the hats" (or whatever). She's starting to remember which ones go where now, so I figure it should give her a head start on sound/letter recognition when she's older. And she's having fun with it.

Blocks are another big hit around here. This is a set of cloth blocks I got at IKEA awhile back. They've been great! In addition to stacking them (sorry the picture's blurry, she moves too much for my poor camera), she's used them to learn colors. She'll bring one block and get on my lap & turn it around and around asking me what each color is. AND there are pictures on some sides that make bigger pictures, so it's a puzzle too, though she's just now starting to realize that. I love that they're soft! If we make it to IKEA again before she's 5, I'll probably get another set or two, so she can do more things with them now that she likes to build.

And that's just a couple of the things that Little Bit has been doing in Tot School this week. You can check out what other Tots are doing here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - Feb 7-12

Trying to get back into the habit of menu planning . . .

Breakfast: leftover blueberry muffins
Lunch: Potato Noodle Soup (leftover)
Supper: Baked Burritos

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch: Quesadillas
Supper: (Mommy & Little Bit go to bookclub, Daddy usually takes the big girls out)

Breakfast: Cornmeal Mush
Lunch: Sandwiches
Supper: falafels in pita bread

Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: (new recipe) Quinoa Pilaf 
Supper: Broccoli stir-fry

Breakfast: Fried cornmeal mush or Pancakes
Lunch: Fried rice
Supper: Vegetable soup and mushroom soup

Breakfast: leftover muffins
Dinner:  not sure yet, need to decide if we're going to potluck . . .
Supper: fruit, popcorn, sandwiches

Head on over to Laura's blog to see what everyone else is planning this week.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up - February 6

This week we had really nasty, messy, no fun to play in ice, ick! And, *pout, pout* it kept Rodney & me from going on our date night (grumble, grumble . . .) Good news is, we rescheduled the babysitter for Valentine's Day, so that's kinda cool.

We made abit of a breakthrough on Spanish this week, part of it was just consistency, when we actually go over the flashcards every day, they remember better. Another possible help . . . one day when we had gone over the last 3 or 4 cards OVER AND OVER and they, especially L, were to point of mumbling "I don't know" and not paying any attention whatsoever, I told them "if you can get through the rest of these cards in the next 5 minutes, we won't watch Speekee today" it worked! They were through them the next time through, woo-hoo! I'll take mastering vocab over watching a program that I think is awesome, but isn't a good fit for my big girls (if Little Bit were 6 mo to a year older, I think she'd eat Speekee up and be fluent in the words they teach in no time, we may revisit it at that point, though if we continue working on Spanish with the big girls, I think she'll get her own version of immersion just by listening to us without really listening).

We also made the decision to change what we're doing for Bible. I don't want to put down the PAC curriculum AT ALL! After I wrote my review, someone from the company e-mailed me (gotta love that personal touch, seriously, I think it's SOO COOL when companies really take to heart our reviews!), and apologized for the curriculum being below the girls' level. Which (a) wasn't their fault AT ALL, *I* stated the grade level when I signed up for the reviews (I had to state a level in general, so I couldn't specifically say "we're at 3rd grade level for Bible, but 1st grade level for spelling and . . .etc), AND the bottom line is, in creating a curriculum, especially a curriculum to be used in schools, they have to assume that some of the children aren't going to have had much, if any, Biblical instruction at home, and therefore, start with the basics. I understand that, I agree with that, it just so happens that it makes it not a good fit for US and that's ok too. . . So anyway . . . now we're going to spend the next month or so digging into The Princess and the Kiss in depth, (using the Life Lessons) I think it will be fun, and a change of pace, and they'll learn more than they would if we just continued through the PAC curriculum. I'd also gotten the Princess and the Kiss coloring book. When I asked the girls if they wanted to color the pictures as we went through the life lessons, A said yes, and L said no. So, I just handed her the coloring book, instead of photocopying it (it does allow reproduction, so I COULD have copied it). THEN L decided she wanted it too. Because the coloring book ends up being a slightly abridged version of the book, I figured it was worth buying a second coloring book so that they could each have a "book" when they're done. So now I need to order a second coloring book for L. A spent most of Sabbath (we were "iced" in) coloring hers, so it will probably be done before we finish the life lessons.

The second volume of The Story of the World on CD finally came in at the library. So as soon as the weather allowed, we picked it up and have started listening to those, and adding some of the things we hear about to our timeline.

A took advantage of icky weather and Little Bit's naptime to work on her potholder some more. She finished the top is now done, her next step is to cut out the back and then sew the 3 layers (top, backing, and batting) together, then she gets to actually quilt it.

L's busily knitting.  Last Sabbath at church, Miss P (mother of Little Bit's friend J) asked L if she would knit a "travel size" blanket for J, since he seems to have adopted their full-size knit/crocheted baby blankets as his "lovey" she wanted a small one to carry around.  Her husband dropped the yarn off this week, so L is now busy knitting her "biggest project EVAR!" Up until now she's only knit washcloths, which she knits on larg(ish) needles with cotton yarn, and only does 20 stitches and not a huge number of rows. This is knit on size 6 needles and the yarn is thinner than the cotton yarn she's used to, so instead of 20 stitches per row, she has 77 stitches, and approximately 100 rows. It should keep her busy for at least a week or two, hee hee.

And that's been our week . . .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

The Sacred Meal, by Nora Gallagher is another book in the Ancient Practices series. In this book, Nora Gallagher looks at the ancient practice of taking Communion. She discusses what Jesus' purpose(s) may have been in asking us to "do this in remembrance of Me", as well as discussing what Communion means to her personally. 

I must admit, I was disappointed, to find that the practice of Communion, as discussed in this book, is quite specifically the type of Communion practiced by Catholics and Episcopalians (and perhaps other denominations). I found it difficult to "translate" much of what she said, so that it would also apply to Communion as practiced in our church. Lots of emphasis on standing in line waiting her turn, and her experiences serving people Communion. Which is all fine, but, had I realized that this was the focus of the book, and not a broader look at Communion that can be applied to the various ways various churches choose to keep this command, I probably would have chosen a different book to review.

I did appreciate how she compared the symbolism of Communism and the practical service opportunities she's experienced in helping at a soup kitchen.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Stylish Blogs . . .

We're stuck at home today thanks to MORE ice! Rodney went out this morning & said the sidewalk is literally a sheet of ice, we assume the drive is too, but he didn't attempt to navigate the sidewalk to confirm that. Soon after we'd made the decision that WE aren't going anywhere, we got the "official" e-mail saying that church is cancelled today, so we're getting to hang out at home on this cold, icy, icky day.

On the positive side, 2 kids are happily drawing/coloring, and the 3rd one is knitting, so I get some computer time.

And coinciding nicely with this extra few minutes of computer time, was a message from Blossom at North Laurel Home & School, nominating me for the Stylish blogger award, awww . .. thanks, how sweet!  Now, there's nothing stylish about me (although, I like the way Blossom thinks, she says "comfort" IS a style, so in that case . . . I'm VERY stylish, hee hee . . .) but I thought this sounded fun, so I'll play!

The rules are:

  • Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award

  • Share 7 things about yourself

  • Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers

  • Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

  • So, 7 things about me . . . hmmm . . . 

    1. I hate having to think of things to say like this . . .my mind goes COMPLETELY blank . . . 
    2. I LOVE books! I can't imagine NOT reading . . .when I was in high school I figured out that I could slide a paperback book into my coat sleeve, and keep it with me at all times to read whenever I had time, lovely trick! Now one of my favorite things about having a smart phone is the kindle app!
    3. I always assumed I'd have boys, don't know why, but I did, instead, we have 3 beautiful daughters!! 
    4. I don't mind cooking, but I REALLY struggle to come up with things to cook. I'd love to have someone tell me WHAT to cook, that my whole family would eat, every day, then maybe I wouldn't be scrambling every mealtime.
    5. I love fireplaces, and really wish we had one, a REAL one, not a gas one, (especially on days like today), I love the smell and the sound, which is why the gas fires just don't do it for me. . . when I heard we were going to be able to rent "the old farmhouse", I had high hopes of a fireplace, but alas, the only fireplace was long ago converted to a "desk nook" (it's a huge walk-in fireplace area in the kitchen, so wouldn't have been ideal for snuggling around anyway).
    6. I taught myself to knit so that I could knit diaper covers for Little Bit.
    7. When I was in college I'd go to bed early, then get up at 4 or 5 am to study, it was nice & quiet then, no distractions! (I started doing it when my roommate worked nights, was easier to sleep when she did and study when she was at work, but I kept doing it when I had other roommates, and just went out to a nearby sitting area to study while my roommate slept).
    Ok, now on to the 15 GREAT blogs I've discovered recently . . . 

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 3

    The Homeschool Mother's Journal

    In our homeschool this week...
    Was a lot of ice! Well, not IN our homeschool, but outside our window. Snow is fun, ice . . . not so much!

    Places we're going and people we're seeing...
    We've got more ice & snow coming, but hopefully, we're going to church tomorrow . . . other than that, we're staying pretty close to home.

    My favorite thing this week was...
    Something "clicked" for both girls in Spanish this week. They are FLYING through the flash cards, and so proud of themselves for their progress. Ironically, considering our recent weather, the word they continue to struggle with is, "the snow".

    What's working/not working for us...
    While I think it's a great program, the Bible curriculum we've been using since Christmas wasn't working for us. There's nothing WRONG with it, but it's not challenging my kids. I don't think, given what the curriculum is (a 1st grade Bible curriculum for Christian schools), it should be made more challenging, because, it's all stuff a child NEEDS to know, it's just stuff that OUR kids have already learned. So the girls & I talked about that some this week. They like the curriculum well enough, but they agreed it wasn't teaching them anything new. A couple years ago, when I purchased The Princess and the Kiss, I'd also purchased the Life Lessons. But, while we've read the book numerous times, and they love it, we'd never worked through the Life Lessons. I happened to see that on the bookshelf when I was looking for something else I was thinking about using, so I suggested that idea to the girls & they loved it. So, we started it on Friday. I think it will be a great February Biblestudy for us!!

    Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...
    My personal Bible studies this week challenged me to remember to "number my days"  (Ps. 90:12) and really look at how I'm spending my time. I think this is something most (all?) Homeschool Moms need to remember (I've written this at the top of next week's planner page, as a reminder, as I look at the schedule each day). What's REALLY important that we teach our children? And how much time do we focus on those things, vs. the minutia that is life on this earth?
    A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

    See what other Homeschool Mothers have been up to here