Friday, November 30, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: getting ready for Christmas

In my life this week (and last)...I celebrated my birthday last Saturday.  I had a nice lunch out with the Hubby at a really delicious Mexican restaurant.  I love Mexican food.  He knows what I like, that's so awesome.  I am enjoying my birthday present too.  I waited in line at Target for 1.5 hours to get an iPad, but it was well worth the wait.  I love my new iPad, and I'm happy to know that I saved a little even though it was a long 1.5 hours, and I'm not always a fan of going out in those black Friday (or Black Thursday night in this case) sales.  I'm glad I stuck it out.  April waited with me in line, and we had some fun conversation, and looked at some books while we were stuck in the book section.

In our homeschool this week...  Some pictures of the fun things we did...

We got out some of our Christmas stories
For littles I made a sticky wall Christmas tree mural.  They had fun sticking all kinds of things to it.
April copied an apple butter recipe from her Felicity's cookbook for copywork, and to try out for her American girl history.
She also made a craft from Felicity's craft book.  It's called the Game of Graces.  We discovered this game on our recent trip to Yaquina head lighthouse, and she really wanted to buy it at the gift shop for an exorbitant amount.  We had to leave it behind, but I figured I'd make it for her for Christmas. Well, it goes right along with her American girl studies and she wanted to make it.  She loved this craft!  It's super simple to make and play.
The finished ring.
The girls and boys used to play this game to learn how to become more graceful.  It takes a certain amount of grace and skill to toss the ring just right!  Pretty fun!
We also made some flubber.  It's been a while since we've made that too!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice...keep the balance.  I know, easier said than done.  I realized this week that we had not done any field trips.  We were doing only our usual lessons, and not much more than that.  We haven't even made it to the art museum yet that I promised April we'd do back in August. 

I am inspired by...all the advent calendars around the blog-o-sphere.  I am really excited to get into our advent activities, and start counting down to Christmas.

Places we're going, and people we're seeing...we had a good visit with Grandma and Grandpa over Thanksgiving, and came back Sunday.  On Wednesday we went to the library in Wilsonville, and happened to get there at story time.  I just love their story time.  They always act out the stories, and the kids just love it.  This time it was a "Gingerbread boy" puppet show.  They also read The doorbell, and a Frog and Toad story I think.  On Thursday we went to the local pool because I realized we hadn't done any field trips or fun stuff for a while.  That was our "field trip" this week.  Then April had horse lessons that same afternoon.  While she was at horse lessons I took the boys to the Silverton park.  We go there every week, and it's so fun to still be going even though it's cold.  The rain stopped, and it was just beautiful.  Friday morning we went to our homeschool group at the library where we made cards for army servicemen.  It was such a fun service project. 

My favorite thing this week was...getting our front room moved around so that we could take the TV off the mantle, and clearing the mantle for Christmas decorations.  I'm so excited to have the mantle to decorate on!  Oh, and watching The Polar Express with my family for movie night on Sunday night while drinking hot chocolate was another favorite. 

What's working/not working for us...taking a more relaxed approach to school during the month of December.  I have plans to do a lot of fun Christmas things, and relax about everything else.  This has eased the pressure for me with all the things coming up that I need to do.  That really works for me!

Questions/thoughts I have...

Things I'm working on...scheduling.  I'm trying to add things in to my day in a more scheduled kind of way.  There are some things that are not happening most days that need to be, and I've realized I need to put them first if I'm going to get to them.  I'm not good at keeping schedules.  So, I've started by adding in a few things for now.  One of the first things is laundry folding time at 6:30 every morning because I know that is when I can do it.  It has worked amazingly!  I'm sitting on the couch anyway while the boys watch their morning show, so why not pick that as my "folding time."  I have loved not having a mountain of laundry to fold.  I'm trying to find a time that works for personal scripture and prayer time.  This is one of those things that I miss all too often if I don't make a plan for it.  I would love to do mornings, but I have a really hard time getting up and keeping my eyes open any earlier than 6.  My kids get up at 6.  So, I'm still figuring this one out.  I've also added in mandatory bedtime reading for the kids from 7-7:30pm (this is mostly for the little boys, April does fine reading before bed).  Some nights I have found it's easier to just skip it, and send them on their way to bed.  But, I love bedtime story time, and they need it too.  So, those are a few of the things I'm making sure happen at those times each day.  I want to build on this.  It's not like we don't do these things, we do, but I want a more structured time for each thing to happen so I don't forget to do it.

I'm reading...
Rise of the Evening Star (Fablehaven, Book 2)
I picked up book 2 of Fablehaven again this week.  It sits on my nook waiting to be read, I just need the time to read.  I really enjoy this series.

Little House on the Prairie
I am also reading Little house on the Prairie.  Although, I think I'm just reading it again, but for some reason I didn't think I finished it.  I'm probably going to move on to the next book soon.  I want to get through this series.

I'm cooking...I made several dishes with leftover ham this week...farmer's casserole, easy ham and noodles (super kid friendly), and Hubby made a fried rice with ham dish too.  All were very good.    That's how we used most of our leftover Thanksgiving ham.  We also made Oreo balls for a family night treat.  April enjoyed helping me with those.

I'm grateful new iPad.  That thing is amazing.  A warm home, and plenty of food.  My family, my beautiful children and to have them home with me each day. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

I found this while searching for fun Christmas things to do this month.  It's a fun version of 12 days of Christmas.  I would love to see these guys in person.  A capella is one of my favorite things to listen to.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Addition lapbook

Aaron finished another lapbook!  He loved this one.  He really likes adding, and lapbooks.  So, I knew that this addition lapbook from homeschool share would be a great thing for him right now.
I helped him with a lot of the cutting.  He's not big on cutting for sure.  But, he did most of the rest, and of course all the adding! 


Friday, November 16, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Lighthouses wrap-up


In my life this week...I've gotten the organization bug again.  I've started a list of major areas in our home and life that need to be organized.  I didn't get on top of that too much yet, but I am starting to think about where things will be organized and places I need to clear out that are bugging me.  I think I know how I will be spending most of my Thanksgiving vacation!

In our homeschool this week...We finished up lighthouses for now.  We didn't cover nearly as much as I hoped, but I think the children are ready to move on.  I loved looking at lighthouses and learning about them over the last few weeks.  Here is a wrap-up of what we did...

We made a "table cloth" (Amanda Bennett lighthouses unit study idea) out of a cheap sheet to draw all about lighthouses, write facts, and just have fun on.  We ate on this table cloth at our lighthouse themed family fun night.

The kids always love an excuse to draw on a sheet with sharpies
I wrote lighthouses in the middle for them to color
A lot of great lighthouses were drawn
Aaron and Aric's lighthouse
Lighthouses for kids, this had to be one of my favorite resources for our lighthouse study.  It has some great stories about children who grew up in lighthouses, and their family life.  Great projects too.
This is one of the little side stories in the book.  It's about how some think there may be ghosts that haunt some lighthouses.  I read it to the kids for fun, and we all found it interesting that one of the lighthouses mentioned as a possibly haunted lighthouse was the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse...we visited that one.  Oooohhh.  April said she wished she would have known she might have looked more around for some stories while we were there.  I hope I didn't scare my boys too much, actually I know I didn't.  We had a good discussion about ghosts and what those kinds of sightings really might be.  We really don't believe in Ghosts, but for some reason they love this kind of stuff :-)
We also looked at a lighthouse in Burnham England, and learned about the different parts of a lighthouse.
Helpful Homeschooling tips or advice to share...Do what you know works best for your family's homeschool.  Sometimes I get caught up in what others are doing and I start to worry which leads to me trying to do things a different way which leads to frustration for all.  Why can't I remember this?

Places we're going and people we're seeing...We had homeschool co-op today at the library.  It was book club and we discussed Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  We also went to the library on Tuesday to get some books, but it was also storytime and my little ones wanted to join that so they did.  The older 2 just looked around while we were at storytime.

My favorite thing this week was...Knitting with knitting Nancy's with 8-11 year old girls for an activity.  It was a great project for them that I think they all really enjoyed.

What's working/not working for us...Story of the world is not working for us.  I love Story of the World, but I can't seem to get into it with my kids.  Even April.  She'll do it, but I can see that she's not getting a lot of it.  I decided that she needs something closer to home for her history right now.  Something that she's really interested in.  I was so glad when I stumbled across this American Girl curriculum.  I don't know why I didn't think of using the American Girls for her history lessons sooner since she loves them so much.  This will be good to do this year before she grows out of American girls too much.  We started this week, and I think it's a much better match for her for now.  We'll come back to ancient history later.  It also feels so right for us to jump to American history right now anyway, so it's a win for us.  I do look forward to using Story of the World again later though.

Questions/thoughts I have...Are we doing okay?  I mean really, are we where we need to be?  Am I teaching them all that they need to know?  Are we thriving?  Sometimes I feel like we aren't.  This thought has been haunting me a lot over the past month or so.  I have been up and down about it.  I know we are, but sometimes I can't see it.  Or, I can't hear God telling me that we are doing just fine because all I can see is the bickering and quarreling, or the 2 year old interruptions to see that we are really doing okay.  I have already started to feel at peace with this.  I need to stop letting this take me back, but it's hard not to when those questions start running through your mind.  This reminds me of the homeschool fear and doubt post I read from my good friend Becca a while back.  It's kind of where I'm at.  I know it will pass.  I know everything will work out.

Things I'm working on...A better schedule for our day.  Trying to figure out how we can get more done.

I'm cooking...I made homemade pancakes twice this week, and the kids loved them.  We now have 15 lbs of bacon, so we had bacon and hashbrowns with the pancakes one time.  Mmmm...breakfast, my favorite!

I'm grateful for...knowing that this homeschool path is the right one for my kids.  It keeps me going in times of uncertainty.

I'm praying for...A happy week for my family this coming week for Thanksgiving.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

April made the chocolate frog box from Harry Potter, and I made her some chocolate frogs to go in it!  I think it was something she found on pinterest (the chocolate frog paper craft box).
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

back to old name

Yes, I have gone back to Our Homeschool Notebook!  As much as I love the bee theme, I like the simplicity of Our homeschool notebook.  I just want to keep things simple around here :-)  Hope I don't confuse people too much. 


FI♥AR: The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

Another great story and activities from Five in a row!  We had so much fun "rowing" this book.  I am just loving FIAR these days.  My boys do too.  They seem to learn best this way.  We have been learning a lot about lighthouses, but with this book we learned a little bit more about: New York and the real little red lighthouse, personification, how important a little lighthouse can be, and a little about bridge building.

Visit to a lighthouse:

Our visit to the lighthouse actually came before we even thought about rowing this book, and was our inspiration for starting a lighthouse study!  Here is a picture from our visit to the Yaquina head lighthouse in Newport, Oregon.  So thankful that we had the opportunity to visit a real lighthouse.  You can see more pictures from that trip here (on my family blog). 

We located NY on our big map.  We finally have a map!  Last time we used our globe, but I decided to just find a place to put our big world map since we need it so much.  It is now covering the fireplace that we never use :-)

Then we had fun looking at a fun state map of New York made by Highlights Which way USA?  I spent forever looking for a map to print like this online only to remember that I had this sitting right on our shelf from a long time ago.  It's a subscription that I got to try out once, but cancelled after 4 states.  I was so happy to find that I had gotten NY!   
I like this kind of map because it has fun pictures, and lots of facts!  Just right for my little boys.  They liked finding all the fun things about NY, and now they want to go visit!
My map boy!  He loved this
                                                                                                                                                                                           On the back is pictures and information about some major highlights of the state.  Niagara Falls:
The Bronx Zoo:
We looked to see how far we were from NY.  Love these cute fingers pointing all over the map!
We also found the Hudson river, and talked about what rivers look like on the map.  We talked about other features of a map as well, like the compass rose.
Big and small:

One of the art things we did was contrast in size.  We looked at a picture in the book (there were a few to choose from) that showed the huge contrast between the little red lighthouse and the big bridge.  We talked about it a little bit, and then the two older kids drew their own big and small pictures.

April drew a picture of a horse and a mouse (surprise!).  I love how she joins in on some of this FIAR stuff.
This was all I could get out of Aaron.  Silly kid.

In the book there are several things personified.  Right away, the first time we opened the book Aric noticed that the lighthouse had a face!  I loved that the kids learned about the word personification, and we emphasized it a lot.  The boats and fog are also personified in the book as well.

So, we had some fun with personification.  First we used our Pick and Draw game on some red lighthouse printables to make faces on the lighthouses.  Thanks to Our Homeschool Fun for that idea!  It had been a while since we brought out that game, so the kids were excited.
Basicically you pick features of the face to copy and make a silly face.  It makes for some laughs.
April loved this activity the most.  For some reason the boys didn't really get into it like I thought they would.  Here's April's faces.  And, her face...
This activity however was a definite hit for the boys.  I told them to go personify something in the living room.  I can't remember which blog I got this idea from.  If it's you please let me know!  They just loved this.

The chair personified...
The coffee table personified...
The robot dog personified...


We constructed lighthouses from the boys' own design.  I let them decide which materials to use (with suggestions from me), and they went from there.  Aaron chose to use cups, a red one for the body, and a clear one for the light.  I gave him the idea to just stack the cup on top of the red cup, but said I didn't know how he would finish the top.  He came up with the idea all on his own to just cut the bottom of a red cup and put that on top!  I was impressed.  He constructed it all by himself, no help from me except to gather the materials.

Aric had some awesome ideas as well.  First of all, see the top of his lighthouse?  That's a coffee filter thing.  We were walking through Target one day, and somehow he spotted this coffee filter.  He brought it to me and said Mom, this looks just like a lighthouse!  At first I didn't see it, and told him to go put it back on the shelf.  Then it hit me!  If we just flip it upside down it looks like the top of a lighthouse.  He was exactly right.  He then went on to say that he wanted to make his lighthouse out of that.  Note:  we weren't even looking for materials at the time to make lighthouses, it was all his idea!
This little lighthouse was made out of posterboard for the bottom, and a reusable coffee filter for the top with some red duct tape around it.  The only problem was we never did figure out a good way to attach the filter to the top.  It still needs to be secured.  I just haven't had time to figure it out.  Then we put flashlights in both of them.
They asked why their lighthouses didn't match.  I said because they both had their own ideas about how to make a lighthouse.  This led to a great discussion about how there are so many different kinds of lighthouse designs and structures all over the world.
Then the boys decided that they wanted to recreate the story.  This led to bridge building, and all kinds of imaginative play.  Aric used canned food and books to make his bridge.
Aaron came up with this design with the cups on his own.  This guy is my little engineer!
They got to thinking...
...we could add boats just like in the story.
Aaron added his boats too.  Later he also added a train (which wasn't in the story, but he thought it would be fun).
They even added a few cars to the bridges.
 I just love this video of Aaron telling about the bridge and lighthouse.  I love how much he remembered from the story, and I love how he feels like he speaking publicly.  I am kind of wishing I didn't correct him, I think that made him stop sooner than he wanted to.  Oh well, it's still a cute clip.  I also love that you can see how his lighthouse blinks.

I am linking this up with Delightful Learning's  Delightful Learning  

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