Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Wanderings - December

Winter time in Maine is beautiful! Big, fluffy flakes swirling around in the blue-gray sky make the evergreen-covered mountain look like it's inside a snowglobe. But winter time in Maine is also cold. Very cold. And it's hard to get outside to enjoy the dim sunlight and explore our surroundings. So that's where Winter Wanderings came in!

Where did we go and what did we see during the first couple of weeks of winter?

Well, we went to the arboretum on a blustery, sunny day.

A "Secret Garden" walk under the pine

We call these sticky seeds "puckers" and they come from
"pucker bushes", but I don't know what they're REALLY
called. LOL

Another winter flowering seed shrub.

Pitch pine cone and tassel

Pitch Pine cone

Sugar Maple, Balsam Fir and White Pine
climbing a hay bale in the field.

Perhaps next time White Pine will listen
to his Mom and where a WINTER
jacket on our walk! ((wink))

And then we explored the glacial erratic trail at the Settlement Quarry on the island. (Oh, "glacial erratic" is an area where rocks and other natural things are left behind by melting glaciers MANY THOUSANDS OF YEARS ago that are not native to that area.) It was a sunny, warmish day before the snow covered us.

The Glacial Erratic Trail

Exposed roots and granite along the trail

A close-up of different mosses

The final stretch before the quarry - up a hill and between the

Another wanderer created this out of small granite stones.

The Atlantic Ocean view from the
Settlement Quarry.

A granite slab showing the drilled dynamite
holes that split it from a larger piece.

White Pine and Balsam Fir climbing the granite rocks.

Balsam Fir building his Inuksuit. To learn
more about Inuksuit's visit this link.

White Pine's granite rock Inuksuit

I caught some droplets on a fir tree, melting in the sun.

Wonder where our winter wanderings will be next week? (How's that for lots of W's? LOL)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mid-Year Summary: Are We Where We Should Be?

Of course! I used to be anxious about making EVERY SINGLE AMBITIOUS GOAL I've set for the Trees, but I've become more relaxed over the years. Sure - I still make ALL those challenging goals, but I don't worry if we don't make some of them. There have been some bumps along the way, but so far it's been an accomplished year!

White Pine (8th Grade) Summary

Saxon Grammar and Writing Grade 8
Grammar: completed lesson 36 out of 103 (including "more practice" sets)
Writing: completed lesson 8 out of 21
Vocabulary: 2000 points  -  Reading: 36 books

Saxon Algebra 1/2
completed lesson 41 out of 123 (including "more practice" sets and tests)

Prentice Hall Earth Science
completed Chapter 7 out of 21

America: The Story of Us
completed Episode 8 out of 12  -  vocabulary words: 66

Goals for Rest of Year
Complete Saxon Grammar and Writing, Saxon Algebra 1/2, Prentice Hall Earth Science and America: The Story of Us
Continue reading a variety of genres
Reach 20 000 points on Vocabulary
20 total volunteer hours at the library

Sugar Maple (4th Grade) Summary

Saxon Grammar and Writing Grade 5
Grammar: Completed 23 out of 112 (including "more practice" sets)
Writing: Completed 5 out of 21
Draw Write Now Book : 6 - Reading: 66 books

MCP Math Level D
completed lessons 5-10 out of 16-9 

Apologia Astronomy
completed lesson 6 out of 14

History Pockets: North American Explorers

Goals for Rest of Year
Complete 56 lessons in Grammar and 11 lessons in Writing
Add Draw Write Now to EACH school day
Complete MCP Math, Apologia Astronomy and History Pockets
Continue reading, but more advanced level books
Complete a Health unit study
Add in US Geography

Balsam Fir (1st Grade) Summary

Language Arts
Hooked on Phonics: Learn to Read Level 2: 33 out of 72
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons: 57 out of 100
First Language Lessons Level 1: lesson 18 out of 100
Scott Foreman Grammar and Writing Handbook Grade 1: Unit 2 out of 6
Handwriting Without Tears (Kindergarten): COMPLETED
Draw Write Now Book 1: 7 - Reading: 42 books

Saxon Math 1
completed lesson 50 out of 130 (including drill worksheets and assessments)

Apologia Astronomy
See Sugar Maple
Ocean Unit Study

Map Skills for Today

Path Quest: Perceptual Motor Adventures (visual) Stage 1

Goals for Rest of Year
Complete Hooked on Phonics, Teach Your Child to Read, Grammar and Writing Handbook, Draw Write Now, Saxon Math 1, Oceans, Path Quest, and Apologia Astronomy
Complete Health unit study

How to Teach Art to Children
Completed Line, Shape and Color

Goals for Rest of Year
Finish Value, Texture, Form, and Space as well as 5 Artists

Sunday, December 18, 2011

To You...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years!

I'll be taking a couple of weeks break from blogging and homeschooling to focus on family over the holidays. All the best to you and yours!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let It Snow, Let it S...Noooo?: December 10 - 16

In My Life This Week
Shopping. ((siiiiigh)) Do you hear the frustration? the fatigue? Crowds! I ALWAYS plan to do our Christmas shopping in SEPTEMBER or even OCTOBER, but I "get around to it" finally (out of necessity and time) the WEEK OR SO BEFORE CHRISTMAS. (Did I mention that I don't like to shop ever? I know - strange! LOL) Perhaps NEXT year I'll shop early?

What'cha Makin' Wednesday!
(Link up your kitchen cookin' with the kids by clicking on the sidebar button)

Does decorating a gingerbread house from a kit count? LOL

Yeah, it's a little SPARSELY decorated.
We used ALL the candies in the kit! We
might just have to raid the red and green

Or how about peppermint chocolate fudge? We shared these delights with some of our neighbors!

Yep! It IS good!

Oh, and White Pine made sweet and sour pork with brown rice for dinner one night from Cooking School Chinese. I REALLY think HE should take over the kitchen! ((wink))


And we made and decorated gingerbread cookies using an old fashioned recipe from Rockabye Butterfly.

Balsam Fir couldn't wait and ate the leg off
his gingerbread BEAR.

Sugar Maple's decorated gingerbread man...with peppermint
Homeschool Happenings
Balsam Fir has discovered the joy of four wheels...on each foot. Rummaging through my parent's garage over Thanksgiving, he found some brand new "sneaker" roller skates (that were my youngest sister's) and they have spent more time ON his feet than off. He's getting QUITE good at getting around on them - inside AND out!

Aren't these cute roller skates?

Balsam Fir finished his SWEET gingerbread lapbook! (Find other free printables at Making Learning Fun.) Look how wonderful his lapbook came out!

Only one more explorer left! John Wesley Powell will have to wait until after Christmas break though. Sugar Maple explored with James Cook and Lewis and Clark this week. Have you seen History Pockets? They're GREAT for kids who enjoy crafty unit studies! She's anxious to start United States Geography though!

This is the outside cover of her Explorers study. We're still
deciding how we'll organize her work INSIDE. (We don't do
the "traditional pockets" with History Pockets.)

Some of the work she's completed including a timeline of
explorers, paper compass, an antiqued letter to Columbus,
a map of sailing routes, and a recipe box for hardtack
(which wasn't so bad...for a snack).

Her next choice to study: United State Geography. Balsam
Fir will join her with a State Notebook from PrimaryGraffiti,
although I bet Sugar Maple will want to make one too!

(Doing something fun in History and Geography? Link up your posts to All Things Beautiful's linky party. Click on the sidebar button.)

And White Pine...What did HE do this week? Well, it was his turn to be sick. ((sigh)) White Pine had a sore throat and sniffles for a few days so while he rested he watched the Ken Burns documentary "The Civil War". A definite watch for older kids and adults interested in American History! But he did get to a little regular ol' school work too.

We really enjoyed reading Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends, so we borrowed more of her wonderful books from the library. (Psst! Visit her website too! Lots of activities that tie into her books!)

Sugar Maple and I also made some gingerbread DOG treats to bring to the animal shelter with us. Our Golden Retriever was our taste-taster and she approved! LOL

❄ S__, C__ and X__ popped over for a visit with the Trees ❄ Blue Spruce and Balsam Fir went Christmas caroling with the Cub Scouts and then swimmingSugar Maple celebrated a friend's birthday at an indoor ice skating rink ❄ Sugar Maple went to the animal shelter with the Girl Scouts ❄ Balsam Fir and White Pine had scout meetingsSugar Maple had a clarinet lesson and her first ever band concert as well as basketball practice and game ❄ We all went to the library for books and made chocolate Santa lollipops ❄ White Pine and Balsam Fir joined a new Lego Club ❆

My Favorite Thing This Week
Balsam Fir lost his 2nd tooth!

Photo, Video, Link, or Quote to Share
Our beautiful eggs decorating Sugar Maple's
Balsam Fir wreath

Linking up to These GREAT blog hops:
The Homeschool Mother's JournalWeird Unsocialized HomeschoolersHip Homeschool Moms ButtonTots and Me
Chestnut Grove AcademyClassified: MomMagical Mouse Schoolhouse

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas: December 3 - 9

In My Life This Week
♪ ♬ It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Ev'rywhere you go;
Take a look at the five and ten glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow. ♪ ♬

The Trees decorated our little Christmas tree. We decided to stick with our 3 1/2 foot tree and place it in our big bay livingroom window instead of assembling the 7 footer. Perfect for seeing the festive colored lights outside! The kids also started cutting out paper snowflakes to decorate the window for a beautiful wintery effect. And we watched "The Polar Express" and "The Dog That Saved Christmas".

Cat thinks it's HER Christmas tree

What'cha Makin' Wednesday!
(Click on the sidebar button to share YOUR kitchen creations with the kids)

Lip-Smacking Lemon Cookies from Best-Loved Cookies! I guess these are NOT your typical "holiday cookie" - probably more summertime-ish, right? - but they were super easy and we enjoyed them.

Click to Enlarge

Homeschool Happenings
Balsam Fir finished up his Mapping Skills workbook last week so I printed out a gingerbread unit study from Homeschool Share. (Do you and your kids like lapbooking? Check out Homeschool Share! TOTALLY free!) I also snagged some gingerbread men sight words from Making Learning Fun to put into a cookie jar (i.e. recycled plastic 64oz peanut butter jar) for reading practice. Sweet stuff! Pun intended! LOL

Oh, but this wasn't Balsam Fir's BIGGEST accomplishment this week! Balsam Fir has become a writer! After writing me a note expressing his unhappiness with going to bed on time - he felt he should be able to stay up later - he decided to keep a nightly journal. Sure, it keeps him up later than his bedtime, but how could I say no? 2 years ago I struggled to get him to write his nickname (and his nickname is VERY short)! We're celebrating here!

Click to Enlarge

Poor Sugar Maple! Another few days of feeling "under the weather". Her asthma symptoms are under control and her ear infection is gone, but she picked up a 48 hour "tummy bug".  She's a trooper though and got some school completed. She's reread D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths as well as several books in the Heartland horse series, drew some animal pictures from Draw Really Cool Stuff, and wrote a letter to each of her pen pals.

Sugar Maple's Sharks Drawing

It's the same ol' same ol' for White Pine: Grammar and Writing, Algebra, Earth Science, and American History. He started a persuasive essay on constitutional rights, solved rate word problems and rectangular coordinates, created a diagram of the different types of volcanic eruptions, and read about the late 1800s. (Doesn't solving "rectangular coordinates" sound like super fun? LOL)

White Pine's Types of Eruptions Diagram

Helpful Homeschool Hint
Work binders! See my post about our work binders here!

♥ The boys from next door popped over to play ♥ Sugar Maple had a follow-up Asthma appointment on Monday ♥ White Pine and Balsam Fir had Scout meetings this week ♥ Sugar Maple had clarinet, a basketball practice and her first basketball game ♥ We made Balsam fir wreaths at a farm education center ♥  B__, C__ and C__ came over to hang out with the kids ♥

Our Favorite Thing This Week
Making and decorating Balsam Fir wreaths at the farm education center! And then enjoying a picnic-style lunch from home in their Welcome Center...followed by sampling cheese made right at the farm and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache. Yum!

What's Working/Not Working for Us
The temperatures we've been having! OK, I suppose for SOME 40s aren't exactly warm, but this is MAINE in DECEMBER and 40s ARE warm. I know they won't last and the snow WILL come...PILING UP TO THE RAFTERS...but for now we're enjoying the warmer weather.

Linking up to These GREAT blog hops:
The Homeschool Mother's JournalWeird Unsocialized HomeschoolersHip Homeschool Moms ButtonClassified: MomChestnut Grove Academy