Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Finding Oklahoma

A new hobby of Brynne's is finding things that are shaped like the state of Oklahoma. She cracks me up with what she comes up with! And she always amazes me that she really did find something.

A piece of farm equipment we saw while on our way to our airport field trip. Blurry pic, but I was driving.

A small piece of bark washed up on the beach in Pensacola.

This girl is a scream. Really, just spend a day with her and you'll be amazed.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Real Life Learning ~ The Grocery Store

Every other Friday Brynne and I go grocery shopping. I am one that makes a very specific list based on a very specific menu with a very specific amount of money. We go to Aldi and then the Walmart Supercenter. Brynne loves to go to the grocery store and she is a huge help.

I came across these cool downloads at Reading Rockets ~ Grocery Store Activity Sheets.


I am definitely going to take a couple of these with us on our next trip to the store (this Friday.) She will love them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

In the Works

Wow. This school year is all but over! I can't believe it!

Between now and the end of the school year, we will be doing the following:


Dawson ~ 8th Grade
  • Exploration Period, focusing on Swiss Family Robinson (for 17 days of school)
  • Renaissance and Restoration periods, until the last day of school, with an end-of-school trip to The Renaissance Festival.
  • Lots of pre-algebra, language arts reviews, typing, spanish and science units going along with the above-units.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade
  • Our last week of For the Birds, with focus book The Perfect Nest.
  • Three week of Easter studies.
  • Since Earth Day falls the Friday before Easter, we will study Earth Day the last week of April with some really fun books and activities. We will spend April 30th making May Baskets to deliver to Brynne's friends, in cognito, on May 1st.
  • The Month of May ~ a study on the Milly-Molly-Mandy series.
  • We will be doing a couple of weeks of study on both Time and Money and will also be focusing on addition math facts.
And then we will be on Summer break. Our last day of school is Thursday, May 26th. And of course I'm already thinking about next year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Death and New Life

We had a great week this week! I think we have finally hit our stride. Pretty good considering we are three quarters of the way through our school year, huh?

We have tweaked and changed and come up with a schedule that works pretty good. I think we are all happy with it!

Our schedule is working great for us. And it's not at all how I set out to do school when we started this journey. It's amazing how much I have changed in this process so far.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Things were seeming a little stale in Dawson's studies of The Middle Ages, so I made sure he had some other activities to do this week.

He drew a Cartoon castle.


He made garlic chive cream cheese spread and dill veggie dip, using fresh herbs.


We studied the Black Plague, and I wanted to demonstrate it to him. I found a simulated game, but tweaked it a bit. I drew a map including five cities our character traveled in Adam of the Road. I then took 50 lima beans and put them in a lunch sack. On 15 of them there were red dots signifying the Black Plague. (Most reports stated that 1/3 of all persons contracted and died from the Black Plague during the pandemic.) Dawson rolled one dice to tell him how many days he was staying in the first city. He drew out that many lima beans. If none of them had a red dot, he didn't contract the disease and rolled the dice to see how many days he was to stay in the next city. And then he rolled the dice again, drew that number of beans, and so on. The goal was to see if he could make it to the end of his travel without contracting the disease. He and I took turns playing and usually died around the second or third city. He kept playing until he successfully travelled the whole distance while staying healthy. He loved the game!



Since we were also learning about the Battle of Hastings, The Crusades, The Hundred Years War and The War of the Roses we watched Medieval Fight Book from the National Geographic Channel.

He also started his Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra with Biology, is working steadily on his Spanish and typing lessons (where I am seeing great improvement) and started a new spelling list this week.

Dawson and I also had a discussion about how he would like to learn, now that we have spent so much time following our A World of Adventure curriculum. There will be a post about that soon.


Brynne ~ 1st Grade

This was such a fun week! Maybe it was because we were coming off a great Spring Break in Pensacola, Florida. Maybe it was because it was a Spring week and we were just energized because of it. Or maybe it was because we just really enjoyed what we were studying. Whatever it was, it was the kind of week I always dream of having.

This week was all about Spring!

Although I am not a fan of lapbooks (too much busy work, and cutting and trying to arrange things just right, etc.), I love notebooking! Brynne learned about butterflies this week and we took everything she did and made it in a notebook. We just use a manila folder as the cover and use yarn to bind it. She loves her notebooks because then she has something to show her daddy and her siblings about what she has done. She shows them with pride. And she likes to look back at them.


She did copywork on 2 Corinthians 5:17, and made a visual of a butterfly coming out of a chrysalis with the scripture printed on the butterfly. She made a coffee filter butterfly and used glitter paint to decorate a foam butterfly.



She did an addition problem color-by-number of a butterfly, using sidewalk chalk to work out the addition problems on the driveway.

She read a book about monarchs and a book that showed the parts of a butterfly and it's life cycle, and then she completed her own diagrams and a life cycle wheel.


All of these things went into her notebook.

Another fun thing we did was Jelly Bean Math. I used this site, but used speckled jelly beans instead of designated Jelly Belly's. With the jelly beans she did grouping, estimation, sorting, greater than and less than, counting by 10's, 5' and 2's, and patterns. She looked so forward to doing this every day!!



This was also "R" week, so she did her tracer page and mini book, her word search and read three letter "R" books independently.

Today we went to gymnastics day for Coop. She loves doing this!!

Next week we start a three-week unit on Easter. I am really looking forward to this unit!

Great, great week!!!

Head over to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what other families are doing. 


Thursday, March 24, 2011

For the Birds ~ LAST book and activity {for the week of March 28th}


Our For the Birds study has been more than fun and educational ... it has set the pace for how we will do studies from here on out. We have found that the best way to learn for us is to take a Focus Book and build our lessons from it.

We only have one more book to complete our series. Then we will be moving on to a three-week series on Easter. To see the entire series of For the Birds lessons, you can go here.

Next week we will read and do activities based on the book The Perfect Nest written by Catherine Friend and illustrated by John Manders.


And here are the activities we will be doing ...

* Making an edible nest. Thanks, Stacey, for the great idea!

* Making a beautiful nest by making a small yarn bowl and adding blown eggs.

* Providing nest balls for our feathered friends. We will use old onion and apple bags, fill them with yarn, cotton, string, scraps of fabric, etc., and hang them outside for the birds to use in building their nests.

* Watching a live eagle's nest on the Eagle cam found here.

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Math ~ Taking it Outside!

We took a week off for Spring Break last week and headed to Pensacola, Florida, to stay at my parents' vacation home. What a fabulous week!

We got home Friday night and I didn't even unpack the car until Saturday. Instead I collapsed in bed early since I had driven for 13 1/2 hours straight.

On Saturday I made a grocery list, went to the grocery store and started on housework. On Sunday I did more housework. It was around Sunday morning that I realized I had not requested any books Brynne would need for school this week. So instead of starting our unit on Time and our last For the Birds study on The Perfect Nest, I switched gears and decided to do a Spring unit this week instead.

So we are doing a unit on Butterflies and Spring Math. I have requested some books from the library that are already local (don't need to be sent through intralibrary loan), that I can pick up today, and we can use them the rest of the week. We are going to do a lapbook and learn about the life cycle, parts of a butterfly, etc., and do some crafts.

For today I printed off a Spring Butterfly Color-by-Number that had addition problems. I took sidewalk chalk and wrote all of the problems on our driveway.



Then I gave Brynne some sidewalk chalk and a sand bucket of pebbles. I would call out a problem, she'd find it, use the pebbles to help her count if she didn't know the answer, and write the answer with chalk.




Then she came in and colored the picture according to the color chart. It was a fun way to take Math outdoors on this nice Spring day!

I have requested everything we will need to get back on track next week.

Isn't the freedom of homeschooling great?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Homelessness and the Bayeux Tapestry

This was one of those weeks where it was busy and ordinary all at the same time.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

Dawson's week was one of mostly mechanics .. getting through the lessons so that Spring Break could begin. He did well all week, worked hard and did thorough work. But, he didn't really do too much exciting work.

Probably the highlight of his week was an accident. We were studying the Battle of Hastings and read about the Bayeux Tapestry. We decided to look it up, and when we did we stumbled upon a "Bayeux" Tapestry generator. Dawson sat down and started playing with it and generated a few scenes out of the book we are reading, Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray.


Additionally in history we learned about the establishment of the middle class in Middle Ages and the Magna Carta. In science we studied biomes and how herbs were used for medicines.

We also received our greenhouse from the CSN giveaway I won so we moved our herb seeds into it and put it in a sunny place upstairs. We have now added some broccoli seeds, as well.


Dawson completed Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and will move onto Pre-Algebra with Biology after Spring Break.

We also read many Bible verses on stewardship and Dawson wrote an essay on the topic.

He has already left for a weekend at the lake with his best friends and his dog, Crusoe. I am sure he is currently doing "boy" things that I'm better off not knowing about. He opted for staying home this next week while me and the other three kids go to Pensacola to my parents' vacation home. So I hope he has a great week off!

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

Our focus book this week was Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting. It is about a father and his young son who are homeless and live in an airport. As part of that study we had a lot of discussions about the homeless and how we are called by God to take care of them. We discussed ways we could help. We also talked about how we take care of the "homeless" birds in our back yard and how important it is that we provide them with birdhouses and water and food and not disturb the nests they build.


On that topic we also read the book Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (love him!). Brynne did two mazes, one helping a bird find the center of his birdhouse and one helping his dog find his way home.

The coolest thing we did on this topic was to brainstorm about what Brynne thinks of when she thinks of "home". She listed several words. Then we used those words to rewrite a poem by Catlin L. Crawford called "When I Think of Home", by filling in the blanks at the end.

And this was Brynne's poem ...

"When I Think of Home" by Catlin L. Crawford and Brynne
(You can go here to see the original poem. Click "handout" under "Materials".)

When I think of "home" I think of burned out lightbulbs.
When I think of "home" I think our house is big.
When I think of "home" I think of toys under the bed.
When I think of "home" I think of times when we dig.

When I think of "home" I think of fun.
When I think of "home" I think of family.
When I think of "home" I think of quiet.
When I think of "home" I think of my neighbor Ellie.

When I think of "home" I think of warm weather.
When I think of "home" I think of homeschool.
When I think of "home" I think of comfy pillows.
When I think of "home" I think of furniture that's cool.

Her letter-of-the-week was "Q" so she read several "Q" books, did her tracer page and her mini-book.

In math we added the concept of money to our study of 10's and 1's (using dimes and pennies). We played store with Brynne paying me for school supplies she purchased. She also played a fun math game focusing on the concepts of grouping 10's and 1's.


On Thursday we went to the Tulsa International Airport for a field trip.


And on Friday she had her Coop P.E. and Music classes.

And school is complete because we are now on Spring Break! We leave at 4 a.m. tomorrow for Florida! So ..... talk to you in a week!

We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tulsa International Airport ~ Field Trip

Our Coop took a field trip to the Tulsa International Airport today. It was really fun! When we were getting ready this morning, Eli overheard us talking about it and started crying because he wanted to go. So, I gave in and let him skip school this morning to go with us. (I think he had the most fun of all of all the kids! It's these kinds of days that I wish I could bring Eli home to homeschool him, too. But, I do know that he needs the constant social interaction of school.)


We took a behind-the-scenes tour of the path the luggage takes to the airplane and back to the terminal after a flight arrives. We got to go through security, and had a lesson in security, and walked down to the terminal.

Then they took us by shuttle to the airport fire station for a tour. It was a really neat tour, and the chief was so great with the kids! Eli was stuck to him like glue!


While we were there we got to watch some planes land.


The coolest part of the tour was definitely the plane simulation. They took volunteers to pretend they were working at the ticket counter passing out tickets, directing people through the x-ray scanner, wanding the passengers and demonstrating the safety features. Eli volunteered and he got to use the wand. Great fun!


Then we sat in a simulation that looked like a real plane, and watched a movie about career opportunities in the airline industry.

At the end they gave each of the kids an airplane ink pen and a "newspaper article" announcing the tour.


Great field trip!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Learning Resources Place Value and Counting Pocket Chart {Review}

You can read about the other products I recently reviewed for CSN Stores here, here and here. I chose to review all products from toysandgamesonline.com to take advantage of some free homeschooling resources.

Last week Brynne had the opportunity to try out the Place Value and Counting Pocket Chart from Learning Resources.


We had just started learning place values of tens and ones and she was having a little bit of trouble grasping the concept. So, we used Legos to make groups of ten and as individual ones, as the workbook she was using demonstrated with like blocks. She started to understand it a little better.

But then I got out the Place Value and Counting Pocket Chart. I didn't hang it up, but just put it on the coffee table where she was working. Within minutes she had completely grasped the concept and was happily solving the problems. She said, "This is fun!" We used the pocket chart all week, and I have plans to use it again this week to expand on what she has learned.


The product is of high quality, and would be an excellent addition to any classroom (homeschool or public). It has bright colors, is highly visible, the pockets are sturdy, the sticks bind together easily with rubber bands and it has a nice storage pocket.

We have only used it for tens and ones, and will be able to expand and use it for values of 100 when we are ready for it.

Great product! Great value! Highly recommended!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Outside in Oklahoma

This week we adjusted our schedule to give this mom teacher some down time. I found that with adding a new part-time professional life of my own to my already busy schedule of teaching at home, following up with two public school children, caring for dogs, a home and, too infrequently, my husband, that I was just overdoing it.

Our schedule adjustment was slight but necessary. We arranged for all of Dawson and Brynne's work on Thursday to be independent work so that I could sit in my chair and chill. I am available, just not up running here and there. That means we have to hit it extra hard on Wednesday, but it's totally worth it come Thursday.

Brynne ~ 1st Grade

We are continuing our 3 R's by reading three or four letter-of-the-week books each week, this week being "P". Brynne does letter-of-the-week activities (tracer, mini-book, word search). She does two phonic pages from a workbook we have, and is currently being introduced to verbs (nothing too heavy). Not much actual writing practice happened this week.

It was a pretty week in Oklahoma this week. So we took some of our lessons outside.


We really did this with Math. On one afternoon Brynne would ride her scooter down the driveway and I would yell math facts out to her. She would see how many she could answer on her path down, through the garage and back to me.


On another day we were learning about grouping numbers using tally marks. I made her a scavenger hunt of items found outside and she walked around and tallied how many she could find.


I told her that this next week I will write math facts on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and she can answer them.

We combined science and social studies this week by reading United Tweets of America. This book identifies the state birds of all of the United States. We got out Brynne's U.S. Wipeable Map. She would choose a state and we looked up the state bird. She chose Oklahoma, Missouri (where her grandparents live), Indiana (where her penpal lives), Florida (where we are going on vacation) and Wyoming, North Dakota and Colorado (where we went on our Yellowstone vacation). We also determined which birds were used in the most states.

We read more about the Scissor-tail Flycatcher, which is Oklahoma's state bird, and listened to calls and watched flight videos. She also colored a coloring sheet. We watched videos of the song "Oklahoma", our state song, on Youtube. And we made a 'tornado in a jar' because we live in 'tornado alley'. And we read a couple of books about Oklahoma.

We concluded our week by going to Coop for some play time.

Dawson ~ 8th Grade

The Middle Ages are so interesting and fun to learn about! We focused this week on families and classes of people. Dawson made his own Family Seal, designing it himself with two crossing swords.

He finished his stained-glass project.


For science we observed how well our herbs are growing! We purchased a small greenhouse to keep our herbs in, as well as to start some seeds for peppers, broccoli, spinach and other veggies.


We learned about the topics of vegetative propogation, water movement and respiration, and the roles of leaves, roots and stems. We attempted an experiment to see how water moves up the veins in different leaves. Our leaves around here are all dead, but it did work a little bit.



We are reading Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray. This week it mentioned the London Bridge, so Dawson did some research on the origins of the song and facts about the bridge. He also did some exercises in paraphrasing.

He is one week away from completing Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents and after Spring Break will be moving onto Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra with Biology.

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Apologia is One-third Off!!


Apologia materials at The Home Ed SmartStore (Christianbook.com) is currently a third off!

We will be using Apologia Biology next year, so instead of paying $90.70 with shipping, I paid $62.85. I was happy with that!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For the Birds ~ Book and Activities for the Week of March 7th


I can't believe we are almost done with our bird unit! It has been so fun! Not only have we learned about different birds, but we have learned about many other things like adoption, the state of Oklahoma and this next week we will touch on the topic of homelessness.

Our focus book will be Fly Away Home written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler.


I have checked out several books from the library on homelessness and we will have many discussions about it.

We will do a maze to help the puppy find his way "home", found here. And we'll do the birdhouse maze found here.

We will also start discussing the importance of our birdhouses and will do some shopping for a new birdhouse to hang from the Shepard's Hook I scored on a recent dumpster dive.

And as "chance" has it, our Homeschool Coop has a cool field trip to the airport on Thursday.

We will take off the next week for Spring Break and then when we get back we will start discussing bird nests and providing nesting materials for our Spring birds.