Sunday, October 30, 2011

Raising Awareness of SPD

My energetic, fun-lovin' Sprinter has Sensory Processing Disorder. A condition that effects all aspects of his life. And our lives. Read his "sensational story" here.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?  

Sensory Processing Disorder is a neurological disorder that is like a virtual traffic jam in the brain. The information from all eight senses is misinterpreted which causes a child (person) to often act inappropriately - SPD Blogger's Network 

For more information see my What is Sensory Processing? page here.

Each child with SPD is affected differently, but for Sprinter, his proprioceptive and vestibular senses are "off". SPD Connect on Facebook shared these fantastic videos from You Tube that explain these two areas of dysfunction and I wanted to share them with you!

And look at these COOL Sensory Processing Disorder awareness bracelets we just received in the mail from SPD Connect!

Want to help spread awareness? Get your bands here!

What SPD looks like for Sprinter while doing 30 seconds of Math. Notice he stands, chews and wiggles to concentrate.

But no matter how SPD affects Sprinter, he keeps us laughing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Awesome Autumn: October 22-28

In My Life This Week
Lots and lots of pumpkins!  This afternoon we joined a group of homeschoolers for a C-H-I-L-L-Y day at the pumpkin farm. After learning about the life cycle of corn and pumpkins, we took a hay ride out to the patch and each of us picked out that perfect pumpkin. We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the petting barn, zipping down the Frankenslides and playing with the wooden sand scoops. After corn chowder for dinner, we carved our pumpkins and roasted the seeds, and watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Love fall!

Whatcha Making Wednesdays
(Click on the Whatcha Making Wednesdays sidebar button to share YOUR recipes!)

Well, we didn't actually COOK on Wednesday, but we did make some fabulous crockpot chunky cinnamon applesauce with our softening Macs and Delicious apples. Super easy! (We used 1/2 the suggested sugar! Why sweeten up something already naturally wonderful?)

And Jag and his buddy T___ made these little BAKED cinnamon-sugar donut "gems" from Raising Leafs. Again, super easy! And we FINALLY used our donut-making "cookie sheet"!

Homeschool Happenings
Jag decided to shake things up a little and do "America: The Story of Us" Monday and Tuesday instead of Earth Science. He's a TOTAL history buff! (I'm not even really concerned with DOING History because he does so much of it on his own!) "Episode 4: Division" is complete! And now it's onto the Civil War. He did get the Earth Science later in the week, almost finishing up Chapter 3 Rocks.

Jag's Civil War WonderMap! This computer program
from Bright Ideas Press is AWESOME!

We "pelted" Mercury (i.e a mound of all-purpose flour) with asteroids (i.e. rocks from the driveway) to make craters in Astronomy. Sweet Tart and Sprinter learned about terrestrial and gaseous planet classifying. (Sprinter found the word "gaseous" QUITE funny. Boys! LOL) And then we moved onto Venus.

And we started our unit studies of Colonial America. Again. I think this is my 4th or 5th time over the years studying Colonial America, but to keep it "new" I change things up a bit each time. For me. The kids love this period of American History and Sprinter is just getting into it. This fall we're going to try creating a PAPER DOLL play called "A Native American Welcome" by Sandra Widener from Pilgrims: Complete Them Unit Developed in Cooperation With Pilgrim Hall Museum. This is a COMPLETELY new experience for us so it should be, um, interesting. ((wink))

Sweet Tart did some real life writing this week, composing thank you letters to family and friends for her wonderful trip to Florida. And she started a Letter to the Editor for her Girl Scout citizenship badge, encouraging readers to not litter. I love when I can make "lessons" out of every day life experiences! 

I borrowed The Cat in the Hat from the library on Wednesday for Sprinter. He's ready for longer, more challenging books (but with "controlled" vocabulary). So, I printed out a special bookmark for him and away we went. I can't say he was super excited to read this book - the length and number of words per page were intimidating for him - but it went OK!

On Our Bookshelf

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Local libraries are FABULOUS places to enrich your learning. Many libraries even have free book clubs, arts and crafts, music times, and offer puzzles, board games, eReader books, and even the occasional class. Don't hesitate to ask your librarians about purchasing a book or video. Many of them would LOVE suggestions! Check out interlibrary loan for those hard-to-find resources. And if you have middle school or high schoolers, volunteering at the library is a wonderful way for them to give back to the community.

Places We Went and People We Saw
  • Soccer is winding down for the season! Tomorrow Sweet Tart and Sprinter play their final games of the season. Are we ready for some hoops?! 
  • Jag hung out with his buddies on Saturday before heading off to the last night of Rec Center Saturday night hoops. Oh, we'll miss this!
  • Our neighbor's boys came over to ride bikes, dig in the mud (during a rainstorm), and run around with Light Sabers. Nothing more fun for young boys than Star Wars, on bikes and trikes, with mud to ride through! LOL
  • Scout meetings for all 3! Sweet Tart and the Juniors worked on their citzenship badge and helped clean up the elementary school gardens. Sprinter and the Tigers are "Trunk or Treating". And Jag 
  • Sweet Tart had a clarinet lesson at the Elementary School on Tuesday. She's missed 2 weeks of lessons and practices while in Florida and has some catching up to do.
  • Library! Oh, how we've missed you since you closed down for 2 weeks! There are bags of books and videos on the couch to be enjoyed.
My Favorite Thing This Week
Sweet Tart is home! After 13 days away on her sunny Florida vacation with her grandparents, she arrived home Saturday afternoon! Her thoughts, "I forgot how cold Maine is!" Yep, but it's sunny. Most days!  LOL

Photo(s), Video, Link, or Quote to Share
"Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present" - George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Another Fab Fall Week: October 15 - 21

In My Life This Week
Another WONDERFUL Autumn week! Although there was some rain, most days were warmish and sunny and perfect for outside "stuff". We sadly pulled more dying plants out of the garden, and turned some "chicken fertilizer" into the soil to compost for the winter months. We read and "hung out" outside, exploring our swampy backyard. And we raked up some of the MOUNDS of crunchy, fallen leaves. How long will these nice Fall days last until the snow arrives?
Homeschool Happenings
Timberrrrr! Over the weekend, a 20' long tree branch fall onto the lawn. It's been dangling from a broadleaf tree for YEARS now, having split during a heavy snow storm. Sprinter spent his Saturday AND Sunday dragging it and others (from the woods) over to the driveway, grunting, and sawing them into little sections (UNDER SUPERVISION) For hours and hours. And then added an "addition" to his "fort" by the coop. (I just wish I knew what that addition was! LOL)

We had to improvise on the eyeware - SWIM GOGGLES! LOL
The finished pile!

And he got tired of waiting for me to BUY a metal fire pit, so my 6-year-old MADE one! He carefully chose a spot without over-hanging tree limbs and close to the water hose. Then he dug out a small hole in the middle of the lawn and created a ring inside it from rocks taken from the stone wall in the trees. (He probably should have ASKED first though...) The "fort" lost some of it's wood, but we enjoyed our new, little pit. Nothing like roasting hot dogs outside!

Sprinter has been SCOWLING and GROANING about Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read lately, so I decided to switch to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons while continuing on with Learning Language Arts Through Literature Blue bridge readers and Bob Books. He flew through the Easy Lessons this week, starting at lesson 9 and ending at lesson 25, but we WILL get to more challenging lessons next week (or the week after)! ((wink))

I just LOVE the progress he's making! We struggled 2 TIMES with Easy Lessons and had to PUSH THROUGH to get to lesson 10, but here he is 8 months later "off and running" with it! Quite an accomplishment for a little boy with visual tracking difficulties!

Jag's green-dyed mint-flavored Rock Candy turned out QUITE well and we were able to look at the crystals under a hand lens and then sample the science experiment. (SAMPLING was the best part of the experiment! LOL) The boys so nicely left one skewer in solution to continue growing candy for Sweet Tart when she returns from her sunny vacation.

And we spent an interesting afternoon with a mycologist - that's a mushroom specialist - with a small group of homeschoolers today. We walked through the woods collecting an assortment of mushrooms that the mycologist - isn't that a cool -ologist word?! LOL - identified and taught us about.

A Working Mill at the Mushroom Foray

Oh, yeah, we did do everyday school work too!

Jag got a 100% on his Algebra test. (Don't you think he should try to do better? LOL)  He whizzed through the section on different types of rocks in Earth Science, starting a rock collection that he will classify and label next week. He read chapter 4 in America: The Story of Us about the beginning of the Civil War and worked on his episode guide from The History Channel website. And he continued on with his verb study in Saxon Grammar and Writing.

Besides Easy Lessons, Sprinter completed 5 Math lessons this week, including another assessment and his first addition fact drill sheet, along with Draw Write Now copywork and drawing of a cow, 4 pages in his Oceans workbook and 6 lessons in First Language Lessons.

Whizzing through Math

On Our Bookshelf

Places We Went and People We Saw
  • Jag packed up his Bean backpack and sleeping mat and headed out for a camping weekend with the Boy Scouts. He came back dirty and tired, but smiling on Sunday.
  • Sprinter had a soccer game on Saturday and a practice on Wednesday. It's SO MUCH FUN to watch the 1st graders play! Although there aren't specific positions at this level, Sprinter has decided that DEFENDER is where it's at.
  • Our neighbor friends ambled over on Sunday for some bike riding and traipsing through the woods.
  • Jag had a soccer game on Tuesday to finish out the season. Good-bye middle school soccer and hello basketball!
  • Sprinter had Cub Scouts on Monday with Dad. (Dad is his Den Leader, just like he was for Jag.) Sprinter LOVES Scouting!
Helpful Homeschool Hint
Do you have to muddle through your child's writing because of quick, sloppy writing? Or faced with disorganized Math work that you need to somehow correct? Try giving them a bunch of cool colored PENS and a bottle of Liquid Paper correction fluid! I've found that my kids slow down, work more neatly and carefully when they know it's in INK. Mistakes happen though so I provide them with white-out. It's much easier to read and correct their work now!

My Favorite Thing This Week
Sprinter swinging (gently) with Ewok ,
one of the roosters. Interestingly, Ewok
seemed to ENJOY swinging! LOL
Whatcha Makin' Wednesdays!
Got a hankering for some CHOCOLATE and CANDY? Check out this recipe, Halloween Peanut Butter and Toffee Candy Bar, that the boys made this week! Be prepared - be VERY prepared - for yumminess (and sugar rushes)! (Share YOUR great recipes on Wednesdays at The Ramblings and Adventures of a SAHM!)

PB Cups, Candy Corn, Heath, Skor, Honey Peanuts, Reese's
Pieces, and Chocolate

What's Working/Not Working For Us
My laptop is back! My laptop is back! ((sigh)) Oh, how I missed you! Geek Squad even backed up my files on disks! I probably shouldn't complain that they're in a jumble though, huh? At least they're THERE!

Photos(s), Video, Link, or Quote to Share
Ever seen a chicken take a DIRT BATH? How about 8 of them in the same spot? Our flock has made the decomposing mulch and pine needles under the wooden swingset "fort" their bathtub! It's hilarious to watch to dirt go flying!

Can you make out the flying dirt in the center of the photo?
Nothing like feathers full of dirt to get CLEAN!
Linking up to:
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

Special thanks to Nikki from Joy in the Journey and  Kay from Welcome to Kay's Korner for passing along The Versatile Blogger Award to me! What a WONDERFUL award!

So, here's the rules for this award:
  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you and link back up them.
  • Tell Readers 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass this award onto 15 newly discovered bloggers and let them know.
7 Things About Me

I live with my family on a rutted dirt road in the middle of the woods. Although there are several other houses in the neighborhood, we might only see 3-4 vehicles drive by ALL day.

I grew up on an island off the coast of Maine. My Dad was a lobsterman and, while I was young, my Mom picked crabmeat. I have 3 younger sisters.

I enjoy reading historical fiction...from the young adult (i.e. TEENAGE) section in the library.

My favorite colors are a toss-up between blue and orange.

My pet peeve is people who are constantly LATE showing up for PLANNED activities AND don't bother to call even though they're on their cell phones texting and talking A LOT while with me.

Although I'm a homeschooling Mom, I am also a certified K-8 PUBLIC SCHOOL teacher.

I enjoy hanging out with friends while watching the kids play sports.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week of the Trojan Horse: October 8-14

In My Life This Week
Relaxing school days and fair fall weather! Homemade wheat bread, sweetened with molasses. Scents of farm fresh apples and cranberries with cinnamon coming from the oven. Raking dry pine needles off the lawn. Reading "Backyard Poultry" in the sun with the chickens dust bathing in the woods nearby. Folding laundry off the backyard line. Watching the red-tailed hawks fly overhead and the red squirrels chase each other up and down the pines. Lazy lunches outside under the sun. And missing my middle one who is off on a wonderful vacation with family.

Lake View from the Mountain - Fall 2010

Whatcha Making Wednesdays!
Jag and Sprinter made apple-cranberry pie this week, using local apples and cranberries. It was delish! (How I wish I could share a photo!) Want a New England fall twist to the apple pie? Try this recipe!

2 pre-made pie crusts
4 c sliced apples
12 oz cranberries
1/2 c white sugar
3 T flour
1 t cinnamon
2 T butter
White Sugar
Optional: whipping topping or ice cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place one pie crust in the bottom of a pie pan and cover with 8 oz (1/2 c) of crushed cranberries.
3. Put apple slices on top of cranberries.
4. Sprinkle apples and cranberries with white sugar, cinnamon and flour then add dabs of butter on top.
5. Cover with other pie crust, pinch edges closed and poke with fork.
6. Brush top with milk and sprinkle with white sugar (or brown sugar in our case)
7. Bake for 1 hour. Serve cold with whipped cream or warm with ice cream.

Oh, and don't forget to share recipes you and your kids whip up at The Ramblings and Adventures of a SAHM on Wednesdays!

Homeschool Happenings
Jag made green-dyed, mint-flavored rock candy to start his Earth Science study of crystals. He studied the Mohs Scale, crystal formation, and looked at halite and Epsom salt crystals under a hand lens.

Sprinter started an Ocean study while Sweet Tart is away since they study Astronomy together. He's been learning about mountains, valleys, caves, and cliffs UNDER water.

And I FINALLY pulled out the microscope and taught the boys how to make slides!

The boys started construction on a "fort" near the chicken coop out of salvaged boards, MY WINDOW SCREEN, fallen tree branches, a can of old, various-sized nails, a saw, and hammers, but the chickens have decided it's a GREAT spot to roost during free ranging. (Oh, and they build under supervision with tools.)

Sprinter made a Cat Activity and Nap Box. Using a cardboard box, he lined it with MY PILLOW CASE, taped plastic cups for food and water to the side and stuck chicken feathers to the top for "play time".

And the usual: Grammar, Writing, Copywork, Handwriting, American History, and Math.

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Play Math games! I've seen this simple, fun take on War floating around the blogosphere lately: using Math facts flashcards, homemade or bought, play War by finding the answer to the problem. Split the "deck" into 2 equal piles, calculate, and the card with the highest (or lowest) answer wins those cards. Play until someone has all the cards. For younger kids, start with addition facts to 5, adding in higher sums as they learn the facts, then move onto subtraction or even lesser than, greater than or equal to. And for older kids, try multiplication, division, fractions, or even DECIMAL conversions. You can make flashcards for many Math concepts!

Places We Went and People We Saw
  • My family arrived Friday night, visiting for the weekend.
  • Sprinter and Dad spent Saturday at Trailblazer Day for the Cub Scouts.
  • Soccer, soccer, soccer!
  • Saturday night ball for Jag!
  • Sweet Tart off on a TERRIFIC Florida holiday with my in-laws!
  • Jag and the Boy Scouts off for a weekend of fall camping.
  • We conquered the corn maze at the apple 5 minutes flat. (I guess we need a bigger challenge!)

On Our Bookshelf 
Check out this library sale find for a buck! George Washington's World not only describes our first president's life, but we learned about John Hancock, Daniel Boone, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Marie Antoinette, James Cook, Paul Revere, Catherine the Great, and many more historical figures AND events from 1732-1793! A VERY detailed, but readable book of a piece of World History! If you can find it, snag it!

Sprinter also brought down Tornado for a read aloud. Tornado is a story about a family riding out a storm in a cellar, listening to stories about a dog found after a -  Yup! - tornado. It's a favorite around here!

Our Favorite Thing(s) This Week
Relaxing! It's been one of those weeks where we needed to soak up some of the last WARM rays of the sun outside. We spent HOURS reading and playing under the trees.

What's Working/Not Working For Me
My laptop! ((sigh)) Leave it to me to click on a bogus link that uploaded an annoying, but not "deadly" trojan onto my computer. It only blocks all my programs, except for internet. ((grumble)) So, no photos this week. Perhaps next week it'll be cleaned up. I hope.

Linking Up With
Hip Homeschool Moms ButtonWeird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Science SundayThe Homeschool Mother's Journal

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is it REALLY October?! : October 1 - 7

In My Life This Week
Preparations for winter! I know, I know! Isn't winter FAR off? Not really. It could very well SNOW in the next 3-4 weeks. We are in MAINE after all! LOL We've started to winterize the chicken coop and run, partially covering them with a tarp and adding LOTS of fallen pine needles to the run. (We want to stay as NATURAL as possible.) And we spent some time pulling dying plants out of the garden and harvesting what's left - carrots, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes - and cutting back Sweet Tart's Glads and Irises.

Boo hoo hoo! OK, so it's not that bad and it is cute! Look what Sweet Tart did this week!

Whatcha Making Wednesdays!
Join Sarah at The Ramblings and Adventures of a SAHM for Whatcha Making Wednesdays, and share all those goodies you're making with the kids!

This week Sweet Tart and Sprinter made Amish Cinnamon Flop Bread from A Farmish Kind Of Life, adding an apple twist! (We have LOADS of apples to bake with! LOL) It was a GREAT and super easy fall treat that we nibbled on outside under the falling PINE NEEDLES!

Homeschool Happenings 
 Jag continued on with Saxon Grammar and Writing while Sweet Tart focused on writing a letter to her friend. During her letter writing we focused on sentence structure, punctuation, specific nouns and adjectives, and HANDWRITING. And Sprinter started First Language Lessons! (Can you believe I forgot to start it in SEPTEMBER?!) He also started Draw Write Now. Isn't his chickens cute? And check out his penmanship! Just 2 years ago his fine motor skills were YEARS BEHIND and now look!

Sprinters Draw Write Now Chickens and Copywork
 Join Nicole at Journey to Excellence on Saturdays to share your US History and Geography Studies! This week Sweet Tart learned about explorer Jacques Cartier, creating a game with facts she learned. And Jag continued on with "America: The Story of US" Episode 2: Rebels by reading America: The Story of US Illustrated History and completing his episode guide. He also read Blood on the River: James Town 1607.

Sweet Tart's Cartier's Journey Game
 Jag created a topographical map with a key from a cardboard 3D model in Earth Science. And Sweet Tart and Sprinter finished up chapter 2: The Sun in Apologia Astronomy. We watched a solar flare and eclipses on You Tube, created a sun fact notebook visual, and listened to "Why Does the Sun Shine".

Jag's Topographical 2D Map
On Our Bookshelf 

Helpful Homeschool Hint
What would I do without my homeschool friend Awesome A! She's my go-to person for those days of struggle. Yesterday she gave me a GREAT "hint" for helping kids learn a specific concept with lots of parts: PERSONAL POSTERS! You know those wall posters most of us have on topics like the solar system or word walls or parts of Grammar? Why buy them?! Have the kids create a smaller one for a binder or to slip into a text book for future reference! 

Sweet Tart's Helping Verbs Poster

Places We Went and People We Saw
  • Running in the rain, playing Wii, climbing the swing-set, and biking with the neighbor's boys for Sprinter and Sweet Tart
  • Saturday Night Hoops for Jag
  • Soccer, Soccer, Soccer for EVERYONE
  • Boy and Cub Scout meetings for Jag and Sprinter
What's Working/Not Working For Us
Rain, Rain, Go Away! Come Back Another Day!  But the weather guy says we're in for a stretch of seasonal, sunny weather finally! And it's not SNOW. Yet.

Question(s)/Thought(s) I Have
What do YOU use with your high school level kids for Biology? Or have you heard or seen a GREAT high school Biology WITH LAB curriculum that doesn't "break the bank"? (Besides Apologia! LOL)

Photo(s), Video, Quote, or Link to Share
 You know your kids REALLY enjoy a school project when they go off on their own and continue creating and exploring! Jag spent the afternoon outside making an even bigger, more detailed 3D topographical map with a key of his fantasy town called "Middle" in the country "Of No Where". (Isn't he cute?! LOL)

"Middle, Of No Where"
Close-up of a Mountain with TRAIN TRACKS and River

Since Jag was having so much fun creating his topographical town, Sweet Tart and Sprinter decided to make one too!

Sweet Tart's Map
Sprinter's Map

Linking Up With:
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