Archive for January, 2014

Little Comments

January 26, 2014

While at the grocery store Little Sis pointed over at one of the shelves, Little Sis: “Mom look.”

There was a mini statue of the Eiffel Tower.

I asked her what it was. Little Sis replied: “The Paris Tower.”

Miss Sky then supplied it’s correct name. πŸ™‚

Week In The Life (Act Naturally)

January 26, 2014

So if you did not already know, it’s winter and if you have not already heard, it’s cold out. Real cold, honestly I don’t think I ever remember it being this cold for this long before. We are talking high temps of 5 degrees and looking at -2 for the high next week. We have really gone through the wood. It reminds me of the Little House story, The Long Winter. At least we can rely on our heat if need be unlike the Ingalls.

I am not complaining mind you, we needed these bitter cold temps and the snow is great for farmers. Anyway why *would* I complain about being snuggled under blankets listening to the Phantom Of The Opera with the girls.

We are more than halfway through and will probably finish the story this coming week. We have really enjoyed it so far, lots of talk about how when writing a musical or movie some characters may need to be left out because of running time. It is fun learning some of the character’s backstories and we enjoyed learning what really took place while Christine was first taken by Eric.

Little Sis finished book number 3 of The Violet Mackerel series and we had many conversations about the lifecycle of ladybugs. I honestly did not know ladybugs had a pupa stage. We also had fun learning about aphids.

This week’s recipe was chocolate chip cookies

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and Miss Sky learned how to divide with double digit divisors. We are moving right along.

Little Sis learned the 9 multiplication table. The nines are the next easiest table to learn as there are so many tricks and patterns. For instance the product will always equal 9,( 9×9=81, 8 and 1 =9) The product will always start 1 number down from the number being multiplied, (9×2=18, one down from 2 is 1 so what plus 1 equals 9, 8. 9×3=27, one down from 3 is 2, 2 plus 7=9….) lastly the numbers begin to flip flop after 9×5(9×5=45, 9×6=54, 54 is 45 flip flopped. 9×7=63, 63 is 36 flipped flopped and so on). She practiced her 1,2,5,9,10,and 11 tables on the multiplication clock.

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(The 2s)

Not only does this help with hand coordination but also ties in some geometry and is a prime example of how everything connects.

Speaking of connections we have started the BBC Connections TV series hosted by James Burke. The music is so 70s but this series is right up my, cause and effect brain, alley.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connections_(TV_series)

Speaking of television series on Sunday, besides Downton Abbey, we have been enjoying the shows Animal Atlas (which Little Sis enjoys as she does not like nature shows seeing animals hunting other animals)and On The Spot.

http://www.animalatlas.tv/

http://www.onthespotshow.com/#

Tuesday has become PBS history day and Wednesday is science with PBS Nature and NOVA. This week’s Nature episode was about the Coywolf (half coyote, half wolf), we had many conversations about evolution and NOVA was about typhoon Haiyan that slammed into the Philippians last year with talks of climate change .

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/meet-the-coywolf/meet-the-coywolf/8605/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/killer-typhoon.html

Minecraft ?

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(Little Sis)

Games?

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Drawings?

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(Miss Sky and “Wooden Toaster”. Miss Sky warns he may not be suitable for young fillies πŸ™‚ )

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(Little Sis)

Family movie this week was Disney’s Atlantis with more talks of Ancient Greece.

Wishing everyone a warm week and peace for the journey.

Little Comments

January 23, 2014

While waiting for this week’s PBS Nature to come on they always have “previews”, as I don’t really want to call them commercials. Miss Sky putting her stuff up getting ready stops in front of the television, “I love PBS it doesn’t matter what is on I’m like a deer in the headlights.” (of course a saying she had picked up from last week’s show πŸ™‚ ) “I just can’t look away.”

I love that the girls don’t see a difference between PBS and other channels. They enjoy NOVA and My Little Pony. The enjoyment is all that matters.

Week In The Life (Peanut, Peanut Butter….)

January 18, 2014

Cookies, cookies.

Happy 2014! Boy did it ever begin as we had a huge snow storm and bitter cold temperatures that pretty much shut our state down for a couple days. Gathered round the woodstove we did. Thank goodness for new movie interests and LibriVox.

The girls and I have been enjoying the dramatic reading of the Phantom of the Opera. I have to say Andrew Lloyd Webber did an amazing job staying pretty close to the original story. The girls and I also watched the 25th anniversary stage version available on Netflix and compared it to the movie. We all have favorite parts from both versions where we think some parts work better on stage and for some parts we like the film version better.

https://librivox.org/the-phantom-of-the-opera-dramatic-reading-by-gaston-leroux/

Thanks to one of The Nostalgia Critic’s movie reviews of his top favorite villain songs, Miss Sky added the animated movie Anastasia to our movie list and after a bit of a wait we were finally able to watch it. Miss Sky has taken a big interest in Don Bluth’s animation style and I shared one of my favorite Bluth movies, The Secret Of NIMH, with the girls.

We had many conversations about the Romanov family and the true story of what really happened to them. This opened a whole new door into Russian history and we watched Rudy Maxa’s video on St. Petersburg and have several other movies lined up.

http://rudymaxa.com/

We also got back into our routine study of mathematics with Miss Sky learning triple digit multiplication. Thanks to a tip from Pinterest, using graph paper, and another *very* helpful tip from Big Sis, crossing out the number once she is done multiplying it, she caught on quick. “Mom math is starting to get a lot easier.” Yes this is coming from my math phobic daughter.

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We also started the year with copying a recipe off the board instead of a poem so the girls can make their own cookbooks.

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We are using binders and the girls copy the recipe down on regular notebook paper so they are able to continue adding which ever recipes they would like.

Thursdays has become our “baking” day and the girls made the first recipe from their cookbooks, flourless peanut butter cookies.

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This weeks Downton Abbey episode created TONS of conversation, oh my. I will not spoil it for you but the ending contained a scene that was VERY hard to watch. The warning did nothing to prepare us for what was about to take place. Having no clue I was thinking maybe blood or violence like in some of Miss Sky’s anime. It is something that stuck with us for *several* days.

Since on the subject of PBS Miss Sky and I caught the last two weeks of Nova’s shows about the Zeppelin

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/zeppelin-terror-attack.html

and Detecting Life On Other Planets. She absolutely loves Nova and has asked me write on the calendar when certain episodes come on to be reminded.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/education/evolution/detecting-life.html

We also caught PBS Nature’s episode The Private Life Of Deer

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/the-private-life-of-deer/video-full-episode/8278/

which inspired even more projects from Miss Sky.

Part of me wants to add a snarky comment to answer one of the questions from the Donahue show I posted on homeschooling how they didn’t think children would want to learn anything on their own if given the choice but I wouldn’t do that now would I? πŸ˜‰

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Before the clouds moved in we were able to spot Jupiter in the sky with our eyes

http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/visible-planets-tonight-mars-jupiter-venus-saturn-mercury#jupiter

and I got all geeky excited upon hearing about the release of the new Cosmos, A Space Time Odyssey show airing in March.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmos:_A_Space-Time_Odyssey

Yep you know it has been added to our calendar.

Little Sis and I started Violet Mackerel’s Natural Habitat (we are SO loving this series) which inspired her word of the week as well as lots of conversations. We have an abundance of lady bugs come spring with some of them even getting inside our home so a request has been made to make them a home out by our garden.

Let’s see there was our family movie, A Monster In Paris which we loved the phantom references and more drawing.

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(Little Sis)

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(Miss Sky)

Besides cookies coming from the kitchen this week, since discovering the genius idea of grinding gluten free oats into flour for banana bread recipe I loved, I used the left over “flour” to make gluten free meatloaf and meatballs. I love the idea of adding in fiber this way.

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Wishing everyone a happy start to 2014 and peace for the journey.

Homeschooling In The 80s

January 16, 2014

This was wonderful to watch being able to see John Holt and some of the pioneers of homeschooling. It is fun to see what we have learned on our homeschooling journey and know now compared to what those opposed of it thought.

I for one can say I have 2 girls who don’t mind going to “school” everyday. πŸ™‚

I am SO thankful to those that went before me and fought to make homeschooling legal.

A Year In Review 2013 (“Play 60”)

January 11, 2014

Oh and physical education?

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Yeah I got that covered too. πŸ™‚

Year In The Life 2013(“We Are Not Makers Of History…..)

January 11, 2014

We are made by history.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Yes, finally I am able to say good-by to 2013 with the last review post saving Social Studies for last. I love history! I am an origins person digging deeper and deeper into the past. I just can’t help myself. I get all geeky excited when making connections, when fitting another piece of the puzzle together (and there are SO many connections).

Social Studies consists of three topics, World History, American History, and Geography. So what did our year of Social Studies look like?

Being that my title contained a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. I think I will start with American History.

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I mentioned in my Language Arts post how Little Sis and I enjoyed the Scholastic Storybook Treasures on Netflix, one of those was titled Amazing America and contained 5 stories about the history of our country. Our favorite was Martin’s Big Words and the storybook itself is collection worthy.

Since on the subject of Netflix I also want to mention the series Dear America. This series sparked lots of interesting conversations and was great to watch with both girls.

The Civil War played a big part in our year with visits to our local history museum with their new exhibit

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and since I can no longer have gluten it was fun learning the history of how one of my new favorite “breads”, Johnny Cakes played a part in the Civil War too.

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This coupled with Miss Sky and I watching PBS’s American Experience The Abolitionists brought the time period even more alive. I myself found it very interesting learning more about Harriet Beecher Stowe who’s book Uncle Tom’s Cabin played such a huge role in changing peoples minds about slavery.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/abolitionists/

Another movie that sparked many conversations in our home was one of my top 5 most favorites, Fried Green Tomatoes. We had discussions about the KKK, racism, and segregation. Which then brought up discussions of Rosa Parks.

We read one my favorite Louisa May Alcott stories An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving and again thanks to our visits to the history museum the girls were able to visualize the time period.

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Add to this another wonderful PBS American Masters special on the authors life (she is one of my most favorite writers).

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/louisa-may-alcott/the-woman-behind-little-women/1295/

I mentioned my Pinterest Herstory board already right? Yes SO many wonderful woman history makers.

Since on the subject of favorites I will end our American History studies with the movie It’s A Wonderful Life. If there ever was a movie to help explain socialism and capitalism this would be the one.

Since mentioning PBS so much I think I shall kick off our studies of World History with Downton Abbey.

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Miss Sky has really taken a huge interest in this series so much while waiting for season 4 we watched the BBC series Lark Rise To Candleford (which I love), the Titanic miniseries (again that we love)and seasons 1,2, and 3 of Downton right thru. I love that these series took us through Victorian times leading right into the roaring 20s.

How could I mention the Victorian Times without bringing the anime Black Butler up. I mean this is what stirred Miss Sky’s interest in the first place. Thanks to this series we had many discussions about Jack the ripper and the movie A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott brought the period alive even more. Another great PBS documentary to go alone with this was Empires: Queen Victoria. This helped explain the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, which influenced Dickens to write the story.

http://video.pbs.org/video/2245707094/

Other influences was Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame which brought about conversations of religious differences, persecution, and burning at the stake. We also had conversations about the real ending, Victor Hugo and thanks to The Nostalgia Critic and Paw’s Movie Reviews we watched one of my most favorite reviews yet of the musical Les Miserables (and yes the movie has been added to our queue).

The year wasn’t all bleak though the girls had fun learning about the Terra Cotta Army from the first Emperor of China thanks to our visit to the Children’s Museum

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and Little Sis and I enjoyed China’s Heroines in History series, with our favorite being The Legend of Mu Lan by Wei and Chen An Jiang, that is written in both English and Chinese. Thanks to the BBC Human planet series we were able to learn about how nomads from Mongolia live in yurts.

Speaking of Human Planet, which I was going to mention in geography, we learned what Tibetan sky burials are which lead to conversations about Buddhism and watching the PBS documentary, The Buddha.

http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/

We also had talks of Hinduism, cremation, reincarnation, and watched the movie Life Of Pi(which is on my top 10 list of all favorite movies).

We journeyed back into ancient Egypt with our Children’s museum visit

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and had many more discussions about ancient Greece thanks to the movies Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titians where Miss Sky made the connection between the Hunchback’s song Hellfire and what a Siren is.

Wrapping up with geography we jumped ahead to present day Egypt while at the Children’s Museum,

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thanks to Disney’s Lilo and Stitch and my What About Earth Pinterest board we learned about Hawaii. Thanks to Princess Tutu we learned about Germany and how the town of Nordlingen that the anime is set in was really built in a meteorite crater, called the NΓΆrdlinger Ries. Thanks to the story Family Under the Bridge we learned about Paris, France, and thanks to the Disney’s The Three Caballeros we learned about South America.

I mentioned BBC’s Human Planet series above already we also like the Globe Trekker series and playing the Wii Party Globe Trot game.

What a year!

I am going to be honest and say I am glad to finally be done with this because already 2014 has begun with gusto as we have watched the movie Anastasia. Russian history here we come.

A Year In The Life 2013(“This World Is But A Canvas To Our Imagination.”)

January 10, 2014

~Henry David Thoreau

I want to start this post off by saying how much Pinterest has helped with our homeschooling. I need organization. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place”, yep that is me. So to have a board to be able to organize everything in one place was the best invention ever.

I have boards that contain my favorite music, recipes, and sayings. I have one for science projects or videos, our favorite books, and art projects. By far my favorite boards are my Earth, Art, Eh, Herstory, and What About Earth boards. These are boards I put together to hold our favorite pieces of art, tidbits of woman’s history, and the many things we have learned through out the years about the world we live in. SO many conversations from these boards. The girls have also added their favorite pieces of art and what they find interesting too. It is “strewing” by way of the internet. πŸ™‚

For instance this past year Miss Sky really was interested in Japanese artists and created an account at deviantART, through Pinterest she was able to share some of her favorite pieces of art work with me.

When Miss Sky took interest, thanks to Black Butler, in Jack the Ripper I pinned Walter Sickert’s “Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom” painting. Just recently we have been learning about Paris, again thanks to the story Family Under the Bride and the Phantom of the Opera, so naturally I began pinning paintings from impressionists like Cassatt and Monet. Princess Tutu influenced us learning about Degas and so on.

So in what other ways has “The Arts” influenced our learning this year.

I mentioned Japanese artists so I will start with Mr. Hayao Miyazaki. Miss Sky’s interest in anime quickly filled our Netflix queue full of Miyazaki’s animation. I instantly fell in love with his work and each of us have our favorite. My favorite is Howl’s Moving Castle, Miss Sky’s is Princess Mononoke and Little Sis loves Ponyo.

Since on the subject of anime, Princess Tutu played a huge role in learning the history of ballet, watching the commentary of the show the girls was introduced to the famous classical music pieces used as well as the stories which brought on viewings of Swan Lake. Not to mention the influence it played on their own creations.

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(Little Sis)

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(Miss Sky)

Speaking of classic music, Disney’s Fantasia ,along with watching Paw’s Music Movie review (they did a wonderful job with this review and it one of my favorites),Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, Saint Saens The Carnival Of The Animals, and Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra the girls was introduced the many different parts of the orchestra.

I mentioned Paw’s Music Movie Reviews as well as the Nostalgia Critic web series was HUGE this year and now musicals have filled up our queue. πŸ™‚ (If you don’t mind bad language they really are a bunch of very talented young men and women)

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/

Which brings me to our visit to the Children’s Museum and the showing of Rapunzel.

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The Disney movie The Reluctant Dragon took us on a behind the scenes tour of the Disney movie studio and how their animated movies are made.

I mentioned Minecraft already but I can’t help it honestly it counts for everything but the girls also learned the art of architecture.

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Miss Sky’s interest in Cosplay has influenced her own designs.

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Oil pastels and Final Fantasy were other big influences in the girls art work

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(Miss Sky)

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(Little Sis)

as well as DC comics

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and My Little Pony.

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(Miss Sky)

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(Little Sis)

Games

Wii Music (this game is a great way to introduce instruments without having any)

Electroplankton DS game

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Movie Maker

and the keyboard game at Girl games.com

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Last up Social Studies.

A Year In The Life 2013 ( “Language Is Wine Upon The Lips”)

January 9, 2014

~Virginia Woolf

I love words, I always have. My parents took a picture of me when I was about 2 taking a nap on top of a couch covered in books. Things of course have changed since then, they now reside on my nightstand. πŸ™‚ You can not turn a corner of our home without running into some sort of shelf filled with books. I just can’t help myself. I am my dad’s daughter for sure.

I have very fond memories of the two of us never being able to pass by a bookstore without at least stepping in for a quick peak. The smell, the serenity, the feeling of holding a book in my hand is pure delight to my senses. Of course we could never leave empty handed. I still can’t walk past a pile of books without looking and they are always the first thing I spot when walking into someone’s home.

I know I have said it before but this was probably my biggest hurdle to get over in homeschooling. I had to realize that just because I love books doesn’t necessarily mean my children will. I had to realize that my love for words didn’t stop with books. I love music, I love movies, I love blogs, I love articles (did you know the short stories of Jean Shepherd ran in Playboy magazine before becoming one of the most classic Christmas movies ever?). Words are everywhere!

So what did our year of language arts look like?

We ended 2012 with the girls just starting to get in with the story of Alice In Wonderland and that interest carried over into 2013. So I think that is where I shall start.

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Miss Sky found a Dover story coloring book I had and got so caught up in the story before we knew it we were checking out different movies (Miss Sky was interested in how Alice’s shrinking was filmed) and listening to the dramatic LibriVox audiobook.

https://librivox.org/alice-in-wonderland-by-alice-gerstenberg/

Sometimes it was a movie that inspired the reading of a story. The movie Tangled inspired Little Sis into reading Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Little Sis and I also enjoyed the Scholastic Storybook Treasuries from Netflix.

Other read alouds we enjoyed (and still are) this year are The Violet Mackerel series by Anna Branford, The Ramona series by Beverly Cleary,

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Junie B Jones First Grader by Barbara Park, and thanks to our local history museum’s annual Headless Horseman festival the girls are very aware of the story by Washington Irving. A little history tidbit, the city of Irvington in our state was named after the author.

As with everything many discussions are born from what we read and before I start reading I usually ask a for a brief summary of what was read the previous day.

Little Sis also decided to participate in the summer reading program at the library.

As I have already mentioned books are not the only reading materials we use. Miss Sky loves her subscriptions to Otaku USA and Cosplay USA

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which brings me to manga and The Black Butler series( why she needed another bookshelf behind her door).

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I have really come to appreciate this form of art, getting hooked on a series myself, and can see why she enjoys it so much.

This year I learned the terminology of fan fiction, OC, and discovered that I myself am a “fan girl”. Where Little Sis has really been getting in with reading this year too

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Miss Sky has been reading when she wakes up, reading instead of being asleep (Uhem, I still have nights like these), reading whenever she can (she is reading now as I type this) fan fiction short stories.

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This is the child I was worried about not liking books. This year I added a word of the week on the chalkboard to help Little Sis learn how to use a dictionary and learn alphabetical order but it is Miss Sky who informed me of all the words she has looked up on her 3DS.

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She also just recently started writing poetry. Speaking of which as part of Miss Sky practicing her cursive I started writing a new poem on the chalkboard every week for the girls to copy.

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I have noticed *huge* improvement in both of their handwriting since doing this.

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Little Sis has been practicing her cursive too and has been learning capitalization and punctuation.

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Miss Sky isn’t the only one writing, Little Sis loves to create books

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and journal writing.

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The girls are always researching something or other whether it is how to draw a certain something, a YouTube video on how to build something on Minecraft, or reading reviews of what movies they want to add to Netflix.

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Games.

Our second new favorite family game of 2013, Disney Headbands,

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Scribblnauts Unlimited (The second 3 DS game I needed to buy 2 of. I can not recommend this game enough. It is by far the most played DS game ever and SO much learning like spelling and grammar.),

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Disney Apples to Apples, Disney Create.com,

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Manga Creator 2,

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Charades (even though we have a game we enjoy playing the original way too, “first word, 2 syllables…..”), Silly Sentences (Someone starts the sentence off then we go around in a circle adding a word until the sentence is finished), Story Starter (Someone starts off telling a story then you ask “Sky what do you think they saw?” and have them participate in adding on to the story), and good old fashioned Hangman.

How about the Arts next.

A Year In Review 2013 (Never Trust An Atom….)

January 8, 2014

because they make up everything (ba-dum-DUM).

Science, next to history is my most favorite “subject” and why not? It’s having a question and trying to find the answer about the world we live in. Why is the sky blue? What’s the surface of the moon like? Does life exist on Mars?

“To make discoveries, you have to be curious about why the universe is the way it is.” Isaac Asimov

So what did our year of science look like?

Being that science is simply being curious I think I will start with the curiosity fair at our local history museum. I mentioned previously in that post how I was pretty proud the girls already new much of what was being offered but by far the most exciting moment of the day was the egg catapult.

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We tried many different ways of securing our eggs but they kept ending up scrambled. Being that egg shells themselves are naturally hard to keep mama from crushing while brooding I know it has to do with the impact. Yes still pondering on that one. πŸ™‚

Next, how about a little astronomy? We enjoyed lots of sky gazing last year as we charted the moon’s phases and coincidently ended with a “super moon”.

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Of course there really isn’t anything special about the moon being closer to earth. It doesn’t orbit around in a perfect circle. So sometimes it is closer, sometimes farther but we sure had fun observing.

Speaking of sky gazing we also enjoyed being able to see Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury with the naked eye.

http://www.space.com/21310-jupiter-venus-mercury-memorial-day.html

Since I am talking about space I might as well mention one of my most favorite astrophysicists (because we all have one right?) Neil deGrasse Tyson and his radio show Star Talk Radio in which we are subscribers.

http://www.startalkradio.net/

Let’s see there was our annual Earth hour celebration

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and discussions about energy conservation, recycling and doing our part.

http://www.earthhour.org/index.php

Thanks to the video game Final Fantasy the girls interest in flowers piqued and we dried peonies for potpourri (which still contain their fragrance).

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Which brings me to nature’s seasonal rhythms. We keep a nature corner adding items accumulated from our hikes and I keep a poem on the chalkboard to help mark the change in seasons.

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We also celebrate summer and winter solstice.

We try our best to eat seasonally and take advantage of our garden and local farmers preserving fruits and vegetables to eat during the winter months.

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Thanks to our farmer friends we have made over the years the girls personally know the people responsible for growing and raising the food we use to nourish our bodies. Through this they have learned the life cycle of plants and animals naturally.

I mentioned hiking, this past year we had a nature scavenger hunt,

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(Lynn Gordon’s 52 nature activities)

collected rocks that we used to spread a little kindness,

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(Where we dropped around the campground when we went camping)

and went cicada shell hunting.

big sis

Our visit to the Children’s museum had us learning about the special effects they used to make the movie Avatar

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and thanks to my emergency room visits and many tests the girls couldn’t help but learn about the human body and digestive system.

Miss Sky and I enjoy the PBS Nova and Nature series and had many conversations about the What will the future be like and the Harpy eagle episodes. Lots of wonderful conversations from those shows.

Thanks to the Violet Mackerel series Little Sis learned what a theory is, we had many conversations about archeology (which she also remembered from our trip to the Children’s museum),

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and tonsils.

Lastly games.

Wolfquest,

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gamevial’s Lif,

http://www.gamevial.com/screenshots.php?game=lif

and The Endless Forest where you can be the animals and learn about their natural habitats.

http://endlessforest.org/community/

Oh and I can’t forget the DS game SimAnimal.

We also enjoy the game Animal Linkology and the co-operative game Harvest Time.

Whew, language arts is up next.