Monday, October 14, 2013

A Reminder to Get You Through Monday

Sit down in His presence, making time for more than a passing prayer. Take time to just BE with the Lord today. Let Him work it out within you, even when you don't see it working out around you. He has plans for you this week, this month, and this year. But you have to be still and listen to His still, small voice if you want to understand what those plans will look like for you.

Laundry can wait. Your children can amuse themselves for a few minutes. Find a quiet corner and spend time with Him. Your week will suddenly look a whole lot different.
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Homeschool Science: First Month of School

Science is another favorite subject for my kids. Each week at our CC meeting, they get to do an experiment with their friends and we follow up at home with science memory work and more hands on activities. Here is a quick look at what we covered in science during the first four weeks of school.

Week 1 - Biomes

During the first week, we looked at all the different kinds of Biomes. We found some great videos on YouTube and we've also made good use of Netflix for watching old episodes of "Magic School Bus" that corresponded with the biomes. I also used Classical Conversation's file sharing membership to find some great resources.

Week 2 - Carnivores, Herbivores, and Omnivores

Next up, we learned about different types of consumers. The kids each made a chart for their notebooks with different shaped teeth and they put animals in the appropriate category. Here is a picture of Walker's chart.

Next, they cut out pictures of food from the supermarket flyers. 

Then they glued them down onto three separate plates: one for carnivores, one for omnivores, and one for herbivores.

Then we rounded up all the animals we could find and invited them to come have lunch. Of course, they had to figure out which plate would be right for each animal. We let them eat and then put them in a pile and had a speed challenge to see how fast we could put them on the right plate again.

And just FYI, that My Little Pony is definitely an herbivore.

Week 3 - Food Chain

Our third week was all about the food chain. I didn't take a lot of photos of our science lessons in week 3, but here are a couple shots of the kids working on their notebooks. They colored pictures of producers, consumers, and decomposers. Then we glued them in the notebooks.

They also spent some time outside trying to find decomposers. So basically, I had earthworms EVERYWHERE for a week or so. Fun times, but it was all for the sake of science. ;)

Week 4 - Natural Cycles

During the fourth week, we looked at the natural cycles. Our favorite one was definitely the water cycle. We did a couple of experiments to watch the water cycle in action. 

For our first experiment, we put boiling water in a glass jar, then placed a baggie of ice on top. Then we waited and watched to see condensation form. We also saw evaporation when we lifted the bag of ice because the steam would quickly rise to the top.

Our next experiment was to find out how God creates rain. We learned how water evaporates and then the clouds become heavy with condensation until BAM - precipitation! So we started out by creating a little atmosphere with a glass of water. We added shaving cream on top to be our clouds.

Then I mixed some blue food coloring in a glass of water and we slowly dropped the water onto our clouds, one little drop at a time. At first, nothing happened. But as the drops continued to collect in our clouds, they eventually got too heavy and it started to "rain" in our glass.

So that's what we covered in our first month of science. What kind of projects have you been doing?
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Homeschool History: The Middle Ages

During the first mont of school, we studied the Middle Ages during our history time. This is definitely one of our favorite subjects! Each week as part of our Classical Conversations memory work, we have a history fact to memorize and then throughout the year, they are working on learning a timeline that goes from Creation to Modern History. 

To form our actual lessons, we take the history sentence for the week and we just expound on it and they learn the story behind it, the people involved, and why it matters. Here is a look at our first 6 weeks of history studies.

Week 1 - Charlemagne

For the first week, we learned all about how Charlemagne was crowned holy Roman emperor of Europe. We read about Charlemagne in our Story of the World book, we colored pictures of him wearing his crown, and we acted out the story about 8 gazillion times. Then I sent the kids outside to collect some big sticks, which we wrapped in foil and duct taped together to make swords. We also made crowns out of construction paper.

Here they are acting out the story with their meanest "ready for battle" faces. And I think Walker is holding his sword upside down. Ha!

Week 2 - William the Conqueror 

During the second week, we studied William the Conquerer and the English invasion of 1066. We also talked a lot about feudalism during this week. We watched some YouTube videos that showed real castles in England so the kids could actually see what they were like. Then we made a card game where we could play "war" and "memory" using different members of the feudal society. 

My favorite activity we did during the second week of school involved cardboard... a lot of cardboard. I saw this idea on Pinterest a few weeks before school started so I asked grandparents to help me collect toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes. I also saved some random boxes and empty pringles cans. We took all this trash and made huge castles!

Basically, we just duct taped it all together, cut out windows and doors, and then spray painted the whole thing with "oil rubbed bronze" paint (that's what I happened to have in the garage). We even added some yarn to make draw bridges on the doors and a pringles can made the perfect lookout window. As you can see, our kitten Penelope claimed one of the castles as her new home.

After the castles were complete, they gathered up all the barbies and action figures and created their own little feudal societies and played and played and played. At one point, I walked out on the porch and they had recruited some of the neighbor kids to come play "peasants" and "barons" with their castles.

You can really see how each of their castles is different in this photo. I had a lot of fun just watching them get creative and make up different designs.

Week 3 - The Crusades

During the third week, we studied the Crusades and we read the stories of Elanor of Aquitaine and her son, Richard the Lionhearted. This particular week's story peeked our interest in the Benge family heritage. We knew that the family line went back to England, but we decided to trace it. Ally and I spent hours working on building a family tree and digging and digging and digging on But we did manage to trace it back to England around the time of William the Conqueror, which is when they first began using surnames. Pretty cool!

Week 3 was a BIG project week. Since we were learning about the crusades, we started out by making shields for battle. These were made out of cardboard and covered in tin foil. Then they decorated their shields with glitter and glue.

They turned out pretty cute and they played with them a lot along with their swords. :)

Next up, it was time to get dressed for the Crusades! So we headed out to the garage to make Crusader vests. I took some old white t-shirts and cut off the sides. Then they painted the red cross symbol of Crusaders on their vests.

 But we didn't stop there. No, I had an idea that turned way bigger than I initially planned, but it ended up being something we will all remember for a long time. We had a Medieval Feast! :)

On that Friday, we spent the whole day transforming our dining room into a middle ages setting and we made an authentic medieval meal. We invited "Mammaw and Pappy" to come over for our feast that night. The kids worked hard all day to get everything ready.  Here you can see Ally kneading the dough for our bread. And thankfully, it wasn't the actual Medieval period and I had my kitchenaid mixer to help me out. :)

Here is a picture of the dining room when they finished decorating. They made pendant banners with different crests on them. Then we found a white sheet to be our tablecloth and added all the candles I could find. The placemats and table runner are from the dollar section of our supermarket. They looked like paper doilies, but the gold was a perfect touch! We also used plastic goblets for our drinks. The kids made a crown for each guest to wear and they put a menu at each seat.

Here is a picture of our menu. We had four courses and the kids were the "peasants" and they served their grandparents and their daddy dinner. I just supervised, but they did the work. As you can see, we named our dishes with a lot of creativity. ;)

Here is a closer look at the banner they made. They each decorated half of the flags and then we strung them up with yarn.

Here is a picture of our "peasants" with the dinner guests. They wore their Crusader vests because they planned to leave for the war after they finished serving the food. ;)

Speaking of the food, they were BIG fans. They even enjoyed the "Trotter Stew" which involved boiling pig's feet for 6 hours. Yes, I actually bought pig's feet and we cooked them all day. We didn't tell Mammaw and Pappy what the meat was in our stew until after they ate it. Evil, right? The funny thing is that they LOVED it and Pappy had two bowls. You should have seen their faces when the kids told them what our "secret recipe" actually included.

We started out with no silverware, but ended up breaking out the spoons for dessert. Walker had dessert going with one hand and another chicken leg going in the other.

At the end of our feast, Walker put on his homemade "joker" hat and came in and did some magic tricks. He told a few jokes and did a very good job of keeping us entertained.

A few minutes later, we had a surprise visit from the Pope! Our Pope gave a rather impassioned speech about why we needed to take back Jerusalem and invited us all to join the Crusades.

We made her hat out of construction paper. Cute, huh?

The evening ended as the kids marched away to battle with their swords and shields.

Of course, Mom was the true peasant... I got to do the dishes. ;)

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Start of A Brand New Homeschool Year

Our 2013-2014 homeschool year started in August, but I'm just now getting around to uploading photos. This is our third year of homeschooling and we are doing things a little different this year. For one thing, we've joined Classical Conversations! I did a lot of reading about this program and then we prayerfully decided to pursue it. God provided financially to make it happen for our children and we are all loving it. Classical Conversations has transformed our homeschool, but I will share more about that in a later post.

For now, I wanted to post an overview of our 2013-2014 curriculum along with a picture and their first day of school "interview". These are mostly for my own record keeping, but I figured some of our far away friends might enjoy seeing the updated photos too.

Allyson - 3rd Grade

This year, the majority of Ally's curriculum is coming from Classical Conversations. We added in Houghton Miffin math and we're reading our way through lots of literary classics this year (adapted for young readers).  Here was her first day of school interview answers:

Age - 8
Favorite Color - yellow, pink, purple, and green
Favorite Animal - cat and dog
Favorite Food - Daddy's hamburgers and Nutella
When I Grow Up - I want to be an artist, singer, and sell lemonade at festivals.
Best Friend - Lily and Sarah. We have a club called BFFCB.
Favorite Toy - HopHop my bunny, Snuggles, and my pogo stick
Favorite Book - The Babysitter's Club series
What do you want to learn this year? Lots of art!

Walker - 1st Grade

Walker's first grade is my first ever "repeat" in homeschooling. We started homeschooling when Ally was in first grade. Where has the time gone?! I started the year in hopes of basically reusing the same curriculum I had from Ally's first grade year. However, after just a month, I'm quickly seeing that their learning styles are just too different and that might not work. He is also doing Classical Conversations (and loving it!), but we are supplementing that with math and language arts curriculums.

For Math, we are using Math Made Easy as our workbook, but the majority of his math work is on the floor with blocks and manipulatives. Walker is my "sizzler" and he likes to move, move, move! For reading, we started with the Scholastic Early Reader's program and it was a major FAIL. It worked beautifully for Ally, but not for Walker. Too many bright colors, too many distracting pictures, and too many words crammed on a little page. So we've changed direction and now we are using some very old reading primers and it is working beautifully! Here are the answers from Walker's first day of school interview:

Age - 6
Favorite Color - I have several. Blue, orange, green, and sometimes I like brown.
Favorite Animal - Cows, but I don't know about milking one.
Favorite Food - Watermelon
When I Grow Up - I want to be a carpenter and a baseball player and a Daddy.
Best Friend - Lily and Sarah and Riley 
Favorite Toy - Remote Control Motorcycle
Favorite Book - The Foot Book (Dr. Seuss)
What do you want to learn this year? Where do clouds come from? Where do boogers come from?

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