Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Peak at Our Week: The One Bursting with Bushels of Apples

In My Life This Week
The kids and I spent time with Grandpa and Nannie Lobster, Cousin Noodle, and the island crew for our annual FAMILY APPLE PICKING WEEKEND

Wight's Orchard, near Bucksport, sells McIntosh, Delicious and Cortland apples by the bushel rather than the pound. Getting LOADS of apples is very inexpensive! (Shhh! Don't tell anyone about our favorite orchard! It's crowded enough! LOL) The apples were perfect this year - BIG and SWEET!

Every year after apple picking and getting winter squash and pumpkins, we all descend upon the local CHINESE RESTAURANT for lunch. The horde of us can overwhelm a restaurant, but they've always been welcoming. 

But then the CRUD descended on us: coughing, sneezing, congestion, aches, and pains. :sigh: With Jake going to public school this year and being exposed to copious amounts of germs, I have a feeling we're going to be sniffling a lot this season. 

What We're Cooking
Apples, apples, apples! No surprises there, huh? :wink: We made crockpot applesauce. I don't really have a recipe for it. I fill the crock with peeled, sliced apples, add in about 1/2 cup of water with lemon juice, a half "palm"of dark brown sugar, and a big ol' dash of ground cinnamon. Cook on high until the apples practically mush themselves, but a potato masher will do the job quickly, then spoon into glass canning jars, wipe the tops and pop on the lids. The 'sauce is so warm that the jars seal without a water bath!

High School Happenings
A project to test acceleration of an object. Discovered the ratio of chocolate chips to cookie in Keebler and Hannaford brand chocolate chip cookies. (Keebler had more chip for cookie FYI.) Learned more Chinese phrases. Watched game shows on You Tube to discuss strategies. Peer reviews of portfolio blogs.

Homeschool Happenings
One of our favorite family traditions is to read Johnny Appleseed: the Story of a Legend by Will Moses  each Autumn. We love the folk-artsy illustrations and fun, informative story about John Chapman. The kids know the story, by heart, but they never want to miss a reading this time of year.

Guess what? I'm THE coolest homeschooling mom ever. Why? Sam mentioned that there are BIOMES in Minecraft! Since he's studying biomes in Life Science, and Cati listens in on his science too, I challenged them to build a shelter using resources found in the biome as well as create food sources. This week they worked on forests, building a log cabin with a fire place (because it can get damp and chilly) and apple trees. (I'm hoping to figure out the video feature on Cati's camera for them to describe their biome home to you. Wish me luck! :wink:)

I made the decision to drop Easy Grammar for Sam at this time. He's never had formal grammar lessons before so starting up at Grade 3 has been a frustrating challenge for both of us. I AM continuing Daily Grammar with him, turning each day into repetitive mini lessons. He's learned quite a bit of grammar already this way...without the struggle.

This week's Life Sci experiments where on Diffusion and Leaf Pigmentation with mixed results.

☼ Easy/Daily Grammar: Prepositions/Days 10-13
The Throne of Fire (C) & The Knight at Dawn (S)
☼ Poetry Unit - Haikus (C)
☼ Spelling Power Lists 7-19 (C) & 6-8 (S)
☼ Saxon Test 4, Lesson 25-26 (C) & Math-U-See 9D-X (S)
☼ Cell Processes and Genetics (C), Biomes (S) & Diffusion and Pigmentation Labs
☼ NROC U.S. History Lessons 13-15

People and Places
☼ Apple Picking (All) ☼ Scouts (All) ☼ Fire Station (S)  Jazz and Concert Band (C) ☼ Library (C/S) ☼ Scout Camping and Kayaking (J) 

Something to Share

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Peak at Our Week: The One with Treats, Dots and Boxes, and Mold

In My Life This Week
What DID I do this week? Sometimes the days just all blend together! I've been feeling a bit run down lately. Early mornings and busier days are taking time for me to adjust to. Being a single Mom, I'm doing it all...and getting it done. But I'm SUPER EXCITED to be heading to see family this weekend as it's APPLE PICKING TIME (and the kids will have plenty to keep them busy while I have some lazy quiet time).

In the Kitchen
We had a craving for Rice Krispy Treats...with M&Ms. (Recipe here.) Such an easy treat that the kids went and made them.

High School Happenings
Jake and 3 other students (and several other groups) walked to a small city park (in the rain) slated to be rezoned into commercial buildings. They interviewed nearby workers and visitors about the rezoning. Jake was in charge of recording responses on his CELL PHONE. (Ah, technology!) This coming week they will create a presentation to share with the student body.  I think it's pretty cool that they're learning in the community, dealing with local issues, and developing "people" and speaking skills.

He's learning strategy skills in Game Theory....with Tic Tac Toe, Rock, Paper, Scissors, and Dots and Boxes. Dots and Boxes is a cool game that you might want to check out here. (Just print out a grid of dots from here and grab some pencils.) Anyway, such a hard, hard class, wouldn't you say? :wink: 

Photo Credit  has FREE on-line versions of Dots and Boxes if you prefer. I'm kind of "old school" though, and the paper-and-pencil version is so NOSTALGIC (and a game can be played anywhere).

Oh, and he built a time pendulum with string and "whatever he could find" in Engineering, tested friction in Physics (along with some long, complicated formulas), created a slide show on his school Chromebook for Social Studies, and designed his own on-line portfolio website in Graphic Design.

I'm Grateful For
I really wasn't excited to drive Jake to and from his friend's house or the bus stop for a ride into school every weekday. It's turned out to be a very special time of day where Jake and I can talk, uninterrupted about his goings-on. These 30 minutes are some of my favorite!

Homeschool Happenings
Sam did it! Sam read his VERY FIRST Magic Tree House book from cover-to-cover. *I* have been waiting 2 years for him to read one of these books, watching him struggle (and grumble) through easier, shorter chapter books. Reading is finally clinking for him. Exciting times are ahead!

I spotted a cool "Soar with Reading" Magic Tree House booklet at JetBlue while we were traveling to Alaska last month. Oh, did I share this collage of Alaska?

The booklet...It's like a passport! There's stickers at the end that can be added to an area in the front after the books are read. (The MTH website here has a neat version too.) Sam was proud to add the first sticker!

We have MOLD! We had different types of mold growing in our Life Sci experiment, testing moist bread in either sunlight or darkness with controls. The bread in the dark grew fuzzy green-yellow surface mold over the entire top whereas the bread in the sunlight had a black mold spots that grew through to the other side. The kiddos concluded that molds like moist best, and light conditions encourage growth of specific types of molds. 

Unfortunately the new co-op is a no-go. :sigh: The Moms organizing the co-op did not have enough families interested in participating to keep costs affordable. But, on the other hand, I was feeling anxious about yet another crazy day, and feel relieved to knock something off our BURSTING CALENDAR. (Oh, have you seen Google Calendar on-line? You can COLOR-CODE! You know I'm happy-happy about that!) Cati is also happy that she doesn't have to miss 1 of the 2 concert band practices each week.

And she started our first review over here on our new blog: Girl of American History using the American Girl book series. More on that later though!

We also started learning some Greek word roots using English From the Roots Up flashcards. This week it was these roots:

Language Arts - Bridge to Terabithia, The Red Pyramid and Meet Addy (C), Dinosaurs Before Dark and Knight at Dawn (S), Grammar - Prepositions, Daily Grams Days 6- ,Spelling Power: Lists 5 - 7 (C); Lists 4-6 (S), Thank You Notes, All About Me (scouts) (S), Greek Word Roots: Para/Photos
Math - Test 3 and Lessons 14- (C), Test 7/8 and Lessons 9A-B (S) 
Life Sci - Test 1 (Cells) and Chapter 2 (Cell Processes) - (C); Chapter 4 (Habitats) and Chapter 5 (Grasslands and Deciduous Forests) - (S), Lab: Diffusion
American History - Chapter 3-5: Age of Enlightenment, French and Indian War, John Locke, Ben Franklin, George Washington, Stamp Act, Revolutionary War, Declaration of Independence

I couldn't resist showing the kids the "No More Kings" video when we covered the Stamp Act. Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock growing up? or maybe I'm REALLY dating myself? Anyhoo...

Helpful Homeschool Hint
One of my favorite resources are individual white boards and dry erase markers (in different colors). Not only does it save trees, but the kids find them more fun to work with than regular ol' lined paper (for some subjects). I prefer dry erase markers because, being a leftie, I tend to smudge everything I write with the dry erase ones.

People and Places
✶ Hangin' with D_ (J) ✶ Scouts (J/S) ✶ Jazz and Concert Band (C) ✶

Something to Share

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Closer Look: How We're Trudging Through Spelling

The truth is my Cati and Sam LOATHE Spelling.

I've tried and tried and tried different programs with Cati, and started to retry with Sam, but I've come to the realization that it doesn't matter what curriculum I use: They will continue to dread Spelling. 

It's a good thing there's Spell Check! 

I didn't even bother to find something new this year. I was tempted. Soaring with Spelling, anyone? (And yes, I've tried All About Spelling and Sequential Spelling.) But ultimately I decided to stick with Spelling Power (because I already had it), and do something EXTRA to make it more, um, "palatable" for my anti-Spellers. 

If you aren't familiar with Spelling Power, here's a link. Oh, and you don't need those fancy student books and task cards, but I would recommend the version with the CDs.

But this isn't a review about Spelling Power, so moving on...

I start off every year with the placement test. Cati scored Grade 4 Month 7, so almost 5th grade, but she's starting 6th grade, and Sam scored Grade 1 Month 7, so almost 2nd grade, but he's starting 3rd grade. 

Yeah, they're behind according to Spelling Power.

I printed off the Daily Test Sheet from the CD ont0 one side of typing paper, then the 10-Step Study Sheet on the other, slipped it into a clear plastic page protector, and the kids spell, correct and study with a wet erase marker. It's wiped clean afterwards, ready to use the next day (much to the kids' chagrin).

And those words they miss? Well...I have them write them on PAINT CHIPS. You know - those cards from hardware or department stores with paint sample colors on them. (Shhh! Don't tell, but they're perfect flashcards!) Cati is using GREEN paint chips; Sam BLUE. (These colors match their binders and notebooks this year.)

Why, yes, I do coordinate WET ERASE marker colors to their flashcards, binders and notebooks. Believe it or not, though, we have every day YELLOW #2 pencils. :wink:

Anyway, they're not going to (willingly) use them for flashcards. :wink:

I found a FREE  Spell It! game from The Measured Mom here. Instead of using just a single set of Spelling flashcards, we use two. Cati reads Sam's cards to him, correcting any errors, and Sam reads Cati's GREEN to her. It's a win-win! Cati gets continuous repetition of lower level words, Sam gets to practice reading harder level words, and they both learn to spell words they've missed.

Photo Credit

A little FRIENDLY competition between siblings can be just the thing to get them learning those pesky Spelling words.

Um, the dice ALSO correspond with their color of the year...their binders, notebooks, dry/wet erase markers, Spelling flashcards, and DICE are color-coordinated. Yes, I probably do need "help". :wink: But it REALLY does make our days go smoother!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Peak at Our Week: The One with Ups, Downs and All-Arounds

In My Life This Week
I had a morning out with my friend A__, eating breakfast at IHOP, shopping at the mall and checking out a new grocery store that opened. Nothing exciting, but it's ALWAYS nice to get out for MYSELF TIME with a friend. 

I have come to the conclusion that I can predict rain with more accuracy than ANY meteorologist. How? It's QUITE simple! No matter how blue the skies, if I hang out a load of laundry it WILL rain. :sigh: Perhaps I should reconsider the dryer...

Things I Worked On
A wall repair. I noticed something amiss with part of a wall near the bay window right before our vacation. It's slowly gotten worse over the weeks, so an insurance agent was called in and a contractor found to fix what needed fixing. But I guess *I* really didn't work on that! :wink: 

I also, sadly, rolled up the chicken wire around our garden, pulled up the metal posts, and stored everything. The kids and I have decided that our lives are just too busy to continue our "yard garden" and will stick with the Square Foot one next season. But I'm excited to share that we have at least 9 Sugar Pie pumpkins; that's 9 more than we got last year. :wink:

In the Kitchen
Cati made our favorite cookies this past weekend: Tollhouse Chocolate Chip. We just flip the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips over, and follow the recipe, but you can find it here. Unfortunately she cooked them at 450 degrees: burnt edges and gooey middles. I picked up another bag of chips, Halloween ones this time, and she plans on trying again.

Photo Credit

High School Happenings
I suppose I can't call Jake a HOMESCHOOLER anymore now that he's attending high school elsewhere, so here's a section JUST FOR HIM.

I kind of thought Jake would have a HUGE adjustment to his EARLY starts - he's the kid who likes to stay up late and sleep in until noon - but he's surprised me. HE'S not the one with "wake-up whines". (See the next section. :wink:) His days are LONG though, starting at 6:20, heading off at 7:00, returning home around 5:00. He's a trooper though...because he's LOVING this new STEM school.

But what's not to love? There are NO textbooks. The kids work in teams and solve problems or build models of concepts. They discuss and share ideas and give presentations. They jump on their new school-issued lapbooks to share on-line resources and play games. No homework. They have 1 1/2 hours for lunch, "social time" and adviser meetings.  DEFINITELY not your typical public school!

(I'd have some photos, but he's a TEENAGE BOY. Need I say more? LOL)

Homeschool Happenings
Our first full week back...and it went, um, mostly well. There are ALWAYS some "hiccups" along the way to be worked out, but I'm happy with how things are going. Despite a few STILL TIRED, EARLY MORNING tears and some quiet grumbling, we had a productive week. Do you suppose the kids will adjust to our earlier mornings NEXT week?

So, we had a disappointing start to our Life Science studies. Our first experiment didn't work and needs to be repeated. We were testing to see if sugar kept wild flowers alive longer. What we didn't anticipate was the CAT eating the petals off the flowers. :wink:

❀ Easy Grammar (10 Lessons): Prepositions, Prepositional Phrases
❀ Daily Grams (5 Days): Capitalization, Punctuation, Contractions, Verb Phrases, Sentence Combining, Plurals
❀ Spelling Power: Lists 1-6 (C), Lists 1-4 (S)
❀ Bridge to Terabithia (C) and Dinosaurs Before Dark (S)
❀ Saxon 76 lessons 10-14; Math-U-See lessons 8D-F, Test 7
❀ Animal and Plant Cells, Renewable/Nonrenewable Resources, Habitats, Labs: Bread Mold, Food for Flowers, How to Use a Microscope, Self-quiz Chapter 1 (C)
❀ NROC U.S. History Lessons 1-6 and Label U.S. Wall Map

We also signed up for our homeschool co-op classes starting in October (because we need something else to do :wink:). Sam will be taking Flat Stanley, Environment and Wildlife Studies and Lego Club, and Cati will be helping with the preschoolers (to get babysitting experience), and taking Environment and Wildlife Studies too, and then Arts and Crafts (where they're supposed to make soap, learn to use a sewing machine, and maybe even weave baskets).

People and Places
❀ Meandering and Gabbing with A__ (Me) ❀ Movie and Pizza Night with Buds (J) ❀ Scouts (All) ❀ Jazz and Concert Band (C) ❀ Library (Me) ❀ Co-op Class Sign-ups (C/S/Me) 

Something to Share

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Friday, September 6, 2013

A Peak at Our Week: The One that Begun

Welcome Year 10!

In Our Homeschool This Week
On Wednesday, Jake woke up early (for him), nibbled a quick breakfast, grabbed his backpack and bagged lunch, and for the FIRST TIME EVER set off for public school with a friend. Not your TRADITIONAL public school, but a hands-on STEM charter high school without grades. And then Cati, Sam and I started our new year, right at the diningroom table.

So, How Did the Day Go?

6:15-7:30am Getting a Move On, Sort of
Jake and I got up and got moving at a snail's pace. I'd never consider us MORNING PEOPLE. Staying up late doesn't make the early hours appealing, but we'll adjust...eventually. I woke Cati and Sam before driving Jake 7 miles to meet up with a friend driving him to the school (which isn't nearby). 

7:30-9:00am Language Arts Block
I'm trying out a BLOCK SCHEDULE this year. Something new. Yeah, always tweaking. The kids started their new reading books, Bridge to Terabithia (Paterson) and Dinosaurs Before Dark (Pope Osborne), filled out a Who Am I worksheet (for their portfolios), started Grammar, and took their :groan: Spelling Power placement tests.

9:10-10:00am Math Block
I snagged a couple of Mind Bender books for FREE earlier this summer. Have you seen them? They're wonderful critical thinking puzzles. Anyway, we started Math with a "Bender Warm-up" and then plunged right into our text books, Saxon and Math-U-See.

10:00-10:25am Science Block...and a Shower
We're focusing on Life Science with notebooking and experiments this year. Cati is working out of a middle school Prentice Hall textbook and on-line website, and Sam will be doing Mr. Q's Life Science on-line free here. Cati took a shower and got dressed then did a few minutes of independent Science reading while Sam and I worked together on-line.

10:25-12:00n Band and Nibbles
We hopped into the van and headed off to the public middle school for Cati's first band practice. But while there, Sam and I got hungry so we drove to Subway, then back to the school for a picnic lunch on the grass. Cati ate her sandwich on the ride home, while reading her Language Arts book.

12:00-12:30pm Science Block Continued
We finished up our Science, notebooking information on the scientific method, and biotic and abiotic things.

12:30-1:15pm History Block, but Running out of Learning "Steam"
Looking for something video-based for U.S. History this year, I decided on the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC). Definitely for older students, we'll focus on just the videos and record people and events on our wall map from here, adding in Netflix documentaries and "America: Story of Us" videos (History Channel). It's a perfect, less focused way to end our school mornings.

1:15-4:30pm Free Time, Mostly
After chores, tidying up the livingroom - Ugh! Legos! - and catching up dishes, the kids biked and played with a friend that was in the neighborhood. And MAMA had some Facebook and Words with Friends time before vacuuming and sweeping and folding laundry and pondering what to make for dinner.

4:30-7:00pm Everyone's Day Wraps Up
I picked Jake up at his friend's house at 4:30pm. He was tired, but happy with his first day at B____. Today, the entire school went to a state park (with a BEAUTIFUL light house) and did team-building exercises. Not your typical public school!

I Rewarded By Kids This Week By
Having Chinese take-away to celebrate our first day back to school and going to Zeb's General Store for "penny" (i.e. QUARTER) candy!

7:00-10:00pm TV/Video Game Time and Off to Bed
After a productive, busy day, the kids and I settled down for SCREEN TIME before showers and climbing into bed. 6:15am will come much too soon again!

What about Fine Arts?
Did you notice that our schedule is "stream-lined" this year? and it didn't include fine arts? Oftentimes I over-schedule and over-complicate our day-to-day schooling. I have come to realize the VALUE in SIMPLICITY and allowing the kids more unscheduled learning and exploring time. I'm not ready to go UNSCHOOL though. :wink: Fine Arts will be accomplished on Fridays through a homeschool co-op starting in October. This Mama is concentrating on Core.

Our Favorite Thing This Week
Our FIRST Wellsummer hen egg! The "baby girls" are FINALLY laying! (Just in time too as 3 of our "old girls" are molting and have shut down egg production.) Just for comparison: L. to R. Pekin duck white egg, Ameraucana-Barred Rock hen pink egg and a Welsummer hen tan egg (which will get bigger as she lays more).

People and Places
On Tuesday we hopped into my friend's van with her and her kids and we headed to New Hampshire for some WATERFALL FUN. Diana's Baths is SUCH a cool spot to "hang out" and get wet! But the water is downright CHILLY!

And you know I would take my own photos too, right? LOL

As ALWAYS, linking up to these WONDERFUL blogs:
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