Archive for February, 2016

Week In The Life (“Remember what the dormouse said”)

February 27, 2016

Got to love Indiana weather. One day it snows with temperatures in the 20s, then the snow melts with temperatures reaching the 60s, then it snows again with temps back down to the 30s. Oh, and not to mention that this was all in a matter of just a few days.

At least we were able to take advantage of the beautiful weather outdoors, before cooler temps moved in.

Homeschool

Language Arts

Reading: We read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Magic Tree House, Abe Lincoln at Last, Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett, and Punctuation.

I can honestly say both girls loved The Adventures of Alice In Wonderland. (Sometimes it does happen.) We read while listening to the dramatic version. ALICE IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll – complete audio-book – dramatic version – (YouTube)

Reading along with audio-books, not only helps enhanced our reads, but are wonderful examples of how to read well, and sometimes not so well.

I am counting the dramatic reads as part of Sky’s Theater Appreciation. (Though on a high school transcript, you only want to list an item once. So, I will have a list of books Sky read each year for Language Arts credits. Then explain in the Theater App. course description how we used dramatic audio-books.)

Fritz and the beautiful horses was one of Sky’s favorite stories when she was little. We read it as an example of how The Ugly Duckling story has influenced lots of other stories.

Writing: The girls wrote their book review for Ella Enchanted.

Handwriting: The girls copied the poem, The Crocodile by Lewis Carroll in cursive.

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(Sky)

Mathematics

The girls warmed up at XtraMath, and worked in their workbooks. Little Sis is multiplying with 3 digits now.

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History

World/Geography: We watched Downton Abbey. The girls thought it was neat, that the kids Molesley was teaching was learning about the English Civil War, and that they knew what it was about (trails everywhere). We also watched PBS Nature Documentary Legendary White Stallions – YouTube, and Disney’s Miracle of the White Stallions.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057312/

I printed a page off, and the girls came up with notes to add to their timeline.

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This tradition has been going on since the Baroque period.

American: We watched the finale of Mercy Street. I think this is the first PBS series both girls have both been very interested in.

We went to a Civil War reenactment at Spring Mill state park. We took advantage of Little Sis’ 4th grade, every kid in a park pass, and got in for free.

http://www.nationalparks.org/ook/every-kid-in-a-park

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Fine Arts

Drawing: We learned how to draw Disney’s Alice – Dramatic Parrot, YouTube.

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Sky sketched this picture freehand while waiting for me to write their notes, from the Lipizzaner stallions, on the board.

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Theater Appreciation (Small screen): We watched Great Performances: Alice in Wonderland (1983) – YouTube. We all agreed that last week’s junior performance we attended was much better than this version. The readers did a better job in our dramatic reading, than some of the acting in this “Great Performance” episode. I liked that they were trying to keep the set, and costumes like the original illustrations, but some of the acting was just horrible. I think Storybook Theater has spoiled us.

P.E.

The girls did Yoga Walk.

Extra Curricular Activities

The girls attended the teen reading club. This week’s theme was about dragons. The only dragons the girls know about, besides Smaug, is from the Game of Thrones series. Of course, since this is an adult series they couldn’t talk about it. Which brings me to one of our homeschooling problems, finding activities where the girls fit in.

Homeschool gym is great, though they have friends there, and discuss interests, they don’t need to discuss certain topics in depth. They are able to play and have fun.

When in a reading club, you must discuss books. The girls are not limited to certain “types” of books. They have no “subject” restrictions. They read what they feel they are mature enough for. The girls are able to talk to Papa or me about anything. There is no need for them to sneak, or hide anything from us.

They hide their eyes from certain parts in Game of Thrones, because they, themselves do not want to watch it, not because I tell them to. The girls are not toddlers any longer, they know about the facts of life. They know about the world that they have been born into.

We have discovered there are two types of kids the girls will find themselves around. Kids that are being raised under certain beliefs, and their parents do not want them to know about certain subjects (Which is fine, I mean true socialization is learning how to interact with all types of people. However our beliefs are not so openly accepted in these types of crowds.),  or kids that lack parental guidance and have no manners. This makes it very difficult to find activities for them to join in with.

I think back to my childhood best friends, and how we were the “outcasts” of the “cliques”. The reason we fit in so well with each other, was because we didn’t fit in anywhere else. We were all nerds, intellects, that didn’t fit the “get drunk and party” crowd, and were accepting of each others quirks. I may rebel against “society’s rules”, but I didn’t feel the need to rebel against my parents (unless the two crossed, think of Darlene from Rosanne).

I guess we will just need to keep looking. It wouldn’t be so darn hard if I didn’t need to check off the extra curricular activities box for college.

Anyways, peace for the journey.

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Step By Step

February 26, 2016

Well, after having another week of new homeschooling questions, I’ve decided to write another “beginner” post. I know I have mentioned, quite a few times actually, how I don’t use curricula. So, I thought I would finally explain exactly how I do put together our homeschooling lessons, step by step.

I want to first start off by saying, that I learn best by reading instructions. I do not do well as a auditory learner.

It seemed like my childhood best friend never needed to study for tests. She could listen to the teacher’s lecture, and like magic pass the exam. I wasn’t so blessed. I would need to come home from school and try to find where in the bloody textbook our teacher got his information. See, there was no internet for me to look up the information, let alone DVD players to find movies to watch. We had no home library, let alone an encyclopedia set. I had to rely solely on the teacher, my notes, and the textbook.  Actually, I wasn’t a bad student, but school was far from easy for me.

I explain all this to make it clear why my instructions may seem a bit anal. I write, how I learn. 🙂

Our homeschool days would never run as smoothly as they do, if not for us setting up a routine. In other words, we are creatures of habit. It took us a while to find our rhythm, to find what worked and what didn’t.

One of my favorite parts in the movie Creation, is when Charles Darwin has his notebook in his hand, writing everything he sees about his child’s development down. That is exactly what I did when first starting out our journey in homeschooling. That is how I began blogging. Now that we’ve got our routine down, I mainly use my blog to keep a record of our lessons.

What I discovered was, mathematics was better, if completed first. Mondays worked best for copywork, and Thursdays worked best for fine arts. We have P.E. on the same days, and so forth. Now, I can have an appointment, and the girls can start school without me. Besides the change in the topic, the routine stays the same.

Our year flowed more smoothly homeschooling all year, taking time off when we needed. Now, we take two weeks off at the beginning of each season, and two weeks off after Christmas (for winter). We switch to a lighter schedule during “summer school” and “Christmas school”, because those are busy times for us.

We homeschool 4 days a week, using Friday as our “free” day. Sometimes, we need to finish a story, or we don’t have time to watch something during the week, Friday is free to play catch up. Sometimes, the girls just get the day off. Today, they made chocolate chip cookies, and practiced yoga.

Which brings me to my next point. We never stop learning. I do count some weekends as schooldays. As you will see in my next post, last Saturday we went to a Civil War reenactment. That counts as “school”. Sunday we watched, and discussed, Downton Abbey and Mercy Street. That counts as school too. Just because we are not sitting around a table, or are in a schoolroom, does not mean we did not learn. Homeschooling is a lifestyle completely different than school.

Some parents find curricula works best for them. If something is working, then don’t fix it. Maybe, one year curricula worked great, the next year not so much. Maybe, you don’t have loads of money to drop on curricula. It is possible to homeschool without it.

When Pinterest was created, I thought I died and was in heaven. I believe in everything having its place. Now, I could keep all my future plans, or ideas in one place.

I have a board for every subject. Biology, art history, world history, British literature, American literature, you can get my point. I also have a board called Post It (Notes). This is where I pin my videos, articles, or ideas for lessons I plan on using during the week. Everyday, after any morning chores, before our school-day “officially” starts, I set a timer for 1 hour. This is my working time. Yes, homeschooling parents do work.

I should mention I found that our days work best with no electronic distractions. This means no television, or screens before school. This is our rule, because there are some of us who are easily distracted, myself included.

I would open the laptop, and before I knew it 2 hours had passed. I needed to train myself that if I was going to work on the computer, I would need to keep track of my time. So, when I say I work for one hour, that means checking Facebook will need to wait until after school.  Why, I need to set a timer.

So, I pretended I was getting paid to work for someone else during that hour, anything to break my time wasting habit. Now, working on the computer for an hour, without distractions, is part of my daily routine.

I have tried following a yearly plan. It just doesn’t work well for me. I like to take a broad topic, like fairy-tales, and follow the trails. I never would have thought we would have ended up in Austria a month ago, let alone a year ago, but that is exactly where reading The Magic Tree House, Moonlight on the Magic Flute, lead us.

Sometimes when placing a hold on a book through the library, you never know when you will be reading it. That is a downside to not having a set curricula, or purchasing books ahead of time. However, for me, I learned the hard way that purchasing items ahead of time does not work . I would spend the money, and we would move on to something else, never getting to them. So, I learned to plan for the unexpected. Why, I like to keep my lesson topics broad.

I do have a basic outline of what I want to get accomplished (my Pinterest subject boards), then fill in the blanks as we go. Why, I need to work 1 hour a day, to find resources to fill in those blanks.

I have narrowed down my favorite places to find resources over the years, Wikipedia, our library, YouTube, LibriVox, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pinterest, and Facebook  (in that order).  When I find something that I might not use right away, like an article, website, movie, or book, I file it to a board.

When researching a certain subject, like exploring fairy-tales (Language Arts), I always start with Wikipedia. This gives me the basic history and tons of places to begin. They usually list authors, media resources, or sites to help get me started. I have found so many books, poems, and movie titles this way.

Once I narrow down a starting place, like Hans Christian Andersen, I look for stories, videos, or movies I can get from those other places mentioned above. When watching a video, I keep a notebook handy to write down notes that could lead us down other learning trails.

For example, while watching Rick Steves’ Austria video, on YouTube, he mentioned the Habsburgs, which lead to Maria Theresa (mentioned in The Magic Tree House book), and so on. So, I looked up the Habsburgs on Wikipedia, documentaries on YouTube, movies at Netflix or Amazon Prime. I post all my findings on my Post It board on Pinterest, to use later. Lastly, if all else fails, I type Habsburgs, fairy-tales, or whatever topic we are learning about, into Pinterest’s search box.

Which brings me to another point, I rarely ever use Pinterest, or Facebook as a “social” network. It’s too time consuming. I only follow a few Facebook groups, ones that are extremely helpful, or local that post local outings.( I am not a drama seeker, I don’t have time for bullshit. ) I follow local museums, state parks, or business that list when they have certain activities, or special deals. Almost every activity, or museum we attend is for free.

Okay, so how do I put it all together? In the same notebook where I take notes, I make out a weekly schedule. I also have a cheap planner, where I keep upcoming activities.

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I use Fridays to plan out our next week. (Scheduling all those ideas on my Post It board, to days of the week.) I also use this list to write my blog posts.

I use the year at a glance calendar, in the beginning of the planner, to keep track of our days of attendance.

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That is pretty much it.

So, a set routine, a basic outline of subjects, narrowing your topic down, your favorite resources, then planning out the week.

Homeschooling is going to be different for every family, because every family is different. What works for us, might not work for you. That’s okay. I hope there is something in this post that can be useful.

Peace for the journey.

 

 

 

A Book Review By Sky

February 24, 2016

This week I will be reviewing Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

The story starts with our protagonist, Ella, being given the fairy gift of obedience at her birthing ceremony. She finds that her gift feels more like a curse when she is commanded to eat all of her birthday cake. When a family tragedy falls upon the household, Ella is sent to finishing school with two bratty sisters named Hattie and Olive. While there, they make Ella’s life miserable. Ella soon finds herself on a mission to break the curse and live freely.

I found this story annoying. I felt enraged at the cruelty Ella was forced to face. The two sisters were way too bratty for me. I understand the message the author was trying to get across by remaking the original Cinderella fairy-tale, however I felt there was too much negativity to make the story’s ending satisfying.  Also, Ella’s “fairy godmother” was one of the most useless characters in the story. I didn’t have a problem with the writing, other than the plot. I am curious to read other stories from this author.

I probably won’t pick this book up ever again, and give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

A Book Review By Little Sis

February 23, 2016

For this week’s book review, I’m going to be reviewing Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.

The story starts with our main character, Ella, being given a gift of obedience at birth, that turned out to be more of a curse. Ella lives in a castle with her parents and their cook, Mandy.

One day, tragedy strikes her family and Ella, who’s almost 15, finds herself being shipped off to finishing school, along with two annoying sisters, Hattie and Olive. While at school, Hattie begins to make Ella’s life miserable, which causes Ella to run away and find the fairy who gave her the gift.

I thought the story was a good retelling of the fairy-tale Cinderella. I thought the author did a really good job coming up with the plot. I think it’s a good example of how literature should be written. I also think it’s a really good example of a children’s book. I really like romantic stories, and this story has a nice romantic theme.

I give the book  4 1/2 out of 5 stars. If you are a fan of fairy-tales, or stories that retell fairy-tales, I would recommend reading it. I also recommend it as a family read aloud.

 

Week In The Life (“How Do I Love Thee”)

February 20, 2016

So, I thought we might be ready to move out of Austria by the end of the week. Yeah, well guess what? Austria is just too darn full of history.

I often wonder how much is too much, and how little is too little? I can’t help myself really, I am addicted to history. There I said it. It is a huge pet peeve of mine, how little history one actually learns about in school. I mean, I could easily spend Sky’s 4 years of high school covering European history alone, not to mention India.

So who decides what’s the most important parts to learn? I get it, a teacher only has so much time to cover topics. I guess this was how homework came to be. Maybe hoping children will be SO excited about a certain subject that they, themselves might take the time to learn more. It sounds like a good idea, with good intentions. However, in actuality, it stinks. What school child have you met recently, to fly home much too eager to check Facebook because they must know more about Empress Elizabeth of Austria? How many children even know who she was? It’s sad really.

Then, the children that could possibly know, are so busy trying to jump through freakin’ hoops, checking off the right box so that they might be excepted into university. “Will I need to know this for the test? No, then it’s not important.” Oh, my dislike for the school system. It is sure to do me in.

Homeschooling has helped me be a little rebellious. The girls did have time to be children, time to play, time to discover themselves without the pressure from peers. Yet, here I am finding myself making sure I’m checking off the right boxes to kiss a university’s ass. Who cares about Austria? “Will it help me get into college? Then it’s not important, time to move on.”

I try, I really do, to let it go. To follow along with the rest like a good little girl. I wish, obedience just wasn’t so hard for me. I wish I could simply just buy a textbook of what needs to be covered, and be okay with that.

There is something inside of me, that just won’t make it happen. My brain invents a society of mindless obedient bodies doing everything that is expected of them.( I am actually holding back what I really want to add here, but it is honestly irrelevant to my point). I know, I overthink.

One of my goals for homeschooling was to raise individual, independent thinkers. Children who loved learning, children who are happy. Not children who worry about getting into college, so they can get a decent paying job in order to keep themselves fed.

Papa tells me not to worry so much. (Oh, how I would love that!) To take each day, one at a time. Reality is, that’s all I can do. I mean, no matter how much dislike I have for the school system until something changes, it will be there, giving me no other choice but to comply.

That doesn’t mean I must be happy about it though, and we will be staying in Austria a bit longer, whether it’s on the test or not.

Homeschooling

Language Arts

Reading:

This week we read the story Ella Enchanted. Yet again, one child liked it, and the other did not. Man, they are tough to please (I wonder where that could come from?).

I also read the book Cinders by Jan Brett.

We continued with Punctuation, The Write Stuff by Basher, and listened to the story of The Ugly Duckling at Storynory per request of Little Sis.

Writing:

The girls wrote their book review of The Land of Stories.

Handwriting:

The girls copied the poem How Do I Love Thee by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I told them about how Elizabeth’s poetry came to be, which is fairy-tale in itself. This has been Little Sis’s favorite poem thus far, so she will be memorizing this one. Sky will memorize her favorite Emily Dickinson poem.

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There were no vocabulary words this week.

While reading a story, we will stop at a word the girls are unfamiliar with. They use their Kindle dictionary to find out what it means. It can be comical at times, while reading, to hear one child click on a word, then hear the other child click on a different word.

I find it rather repetitive to have then look up the words after they already learned what they mean. At first, I gave vocabulary words so they would learn how to use a dictionary. Now, we discuss them while reading, or when analyzing a poem.

Mathematics

The girls warmed up with XtraMath, then continued working in their workbooks. They are moving right along.

Some helpful advice I’ve taken with me because we homeschool is to not move on unless your child scores 100%. Part of my transcript will explain how the girls learn for mastery, not just a grade.

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History

World/Geography:

We watched Downton Abbey, where Sky made the comment, “Oh, surprise, something happened.”. It’s kind of becoming a running joke.

We also watched and discussed the movies, For the Love of Sissi (with English subtitles, YouTube), and Mayerling (with Omar Sharif, YouTube).

Music:

We listened to some Austrian folk music.

Art:

We learned about one of Sky’s favorite artists, Gustav Klimt.

I printed a picture of Sky’s favorite painting, The Kiss, for the girls to add into their history notebooks.

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We watched another video of his paintings (YouTube), and Sky shared the opening of an anime that was influenced by his paintings.

(Warning, this clip does contain nudity, as do Klimt’s paintings.)

Fine Arts

We watched two animated versions of The Ugly Duckling. One from Disney’s Silly Symphony, and the other from Hanna-Barbera’s Timeless Tales. (YouTube) We decided we didn’t like either of them. The animation was great, the retelling was not. I think we’ve become spoiled by Beatrice Potter and Friends animation.

We also watched the musical/ballet, Hans Christian Andersen.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044685/

I don’t think the writers really knew what to do with this movie, it was all over the place. It would be interesting to have Sky write a review.

Speaking of Sky, she has been putting her pencil drawing lessons to use.

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I am interested in the reading the story behind these drawings.

P.E.

The girls had homeschool gym this week, and we Yoga Walked.

Peace for the journey.

 

 

 

A Book Review By Sky

February 15, 2016

This week I will be reviewing The Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer.

After experiencing a family tragedy, twins named Alex and Conner are given a beloved book of fairy-tales from their grandmother. Soon, Alex discovers that the book is magic, and by accident, she and her brother falls inside the book to the land of fairy-tales. They meet up with characters from different fairy-tales while trying to find their way home.

I thought the author did a great job building the world of fairy-tales. I thought the characters were funny and very relate-able, they reminded me of my younger sister and myself. Even though I could tell who the target audience for this story was, I liked how the author tackled some tough subjects, like death. I liked the author’s interpretation of the fairy-tale characters. Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks may not exactly be how you remember them.

I liked the story, and am interested in continuing with the series. I would recommend it to anyone who likes good fantasy stories.It would make a great family read aloud.

I give this book four and a half out of five stars.

A Book Review By Little Sis

February 15, 2016

For this post, I will be reviewing A Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer.

The story starts with twins, Alex and her brother Conner,  having a hard time fitting in with school. Then, a tragic accident happens to their family, leaving them facing many hardships. This makes the life for the twins even more difficult than before. One day, their grandmother pays them a visit leaving them a book of fairy-tales, that has been in the family for years, behind. Alex soon discovers a glow coming from the book of fairy-tales, when she would place things on top of a page, the objects would disappear. After a really bad day at school, Alex runs home and decides to see if she can get inside the storybook. Her brother, Conner, becomes curious about what Alex is up to and they both end up tumbling inside the land of stories.

I thought the story was too childish and modern. For instance, the author was writing the characters from the point of view of preteens and uses slang for dialog thinking that’s how children, that age, today might speak. At first, it was okay, but then it just started to get annoying. I felt like I was being “talked down” to.

I guess I’m more mature for my age, and even though this story is geared toward children, with me being mature, I found it hard to get into the story-line. I read more stories geared toward young adults.

I did like his interpretation of the fairy-tale world and its characters.

I think I would have enjoyed the story more if the author didn’t use so much slang for dialog. It was a good book, and I would recommend it to children that get into stories like the Percy Jackson series, or fairy-tales. However, if children like reading more young adult literature, then I would pass this one up.

I give this story 2 out of 5 stars.

Week In The Life (Edelweiss)

February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines Day!

I noticed last week that our lessons couldn’t keep up with our reading. That happens sometimes when you are borrowing books from the library. Sometimes, I need to place a book on hold because it’s not available, so when it does become available, we need to read it. Sometimes, it happens when trying to do more than one subject at a time too. So, to make a long story short, this week we played catch up. It looks like we will be doing the same thing next week too.

Homeschool

Language Arts

Reading:

We finished the Land of Stories. There are mixed feelings about this story. One child liked it, and one thought it was boring. So, I think I am going to have both girls write a book review. I thought it was entertaining enough. It wasn’t the best story I’ve ever read; it wasn’t the worst either. It wasn’t a waste of our time, so that makes it worth the read in my opinion. When we are finished with this lesson block, the girls will write their own fairy-tale. This story fits in perfectly as an example of taking a story, that already existed and making it your own. I do like it enough to finish the series.

I read the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker, Ghosts,  Scotland’s folktale about Tam Lin,

http://talesandlegends.net/storied-women/tam-lin.html

and continued with the Basher book, Punctuation.

Handwriting:

The girls copied the poem Ghosts, by Emily Dickinson in cursive.

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This is Sky’s favorite poem so far. She loved the symbolism. I think this will be the poem Sky memorizes.

Vocabulary:

chamber, corridor, surpassing, external, interior, achased, encounter, concealed, assassin, prudent, superior, specter,

Mathematics

Warming up at XtraMath, and continuing their Kumon Math Workbooks. Sky is continuing with the order of operations, including word problems. Little Sis, continued 2 digit multiplication with 8s and 9s.

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Science

We read February’s issue of Science in the News.

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P.E.

My sciatic nerve has been inflamed, and I’ve been having muscle spasms again. I feel like my spine is out of line, so Papa and I have been doing yoga in the evenings. The girls and I have been doing Leslie Sansone’s  Yoga Walk. Stretching really has been helping. My fingers are crossed that I don’t have anymore herniated disks. This, for sure has not been helping my anxiety.

I noticed when watching a documentary about Miyazaki, that they take short stretching breaks after sitting for awhile. So, I thought I would start doing this too. I figure it can’t hurt.

History/ Geography

World:

We watched Downton Abbey. It is kind of ironic, I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the shows Indian Summers, and Mercy Street, comparing them to Downton. Sky and I’ve been discussing this week, how Downton is not her favorite series, especially after watching the shows mentioned above. She really likes Mercy Street and says the reason she doesn’t like Downton, is because “It is too darn depressing. It is like the writer just wants to see how much he can shock us. I can never feel happy for any of the characters because I know with happiness, comes sadness. I know real life is this way, but I like to escape real life when watching television. I don’t need the reminder.” This is coming from a child that loves Game of Thrones, that combines fantasy with reality. I, myself love having these conversations with her. The girls are really good at expressing their opinions.

We watched Rick Steves Europe Vienna, and Salzburg and Surroundings episodes (YouTube). We added Austria to our map of Europe.

American:

We watched Mercy Street.

Music:

We listened to the song Tam Lin.

http://music.trickypixie.com/track/tam-lin

Fine Arts

Music Appreciation:

Continuing with our study of Mozart, we watched an animated version of The Magic Flute (YouTube). I copied a picture of the characters for the girls to color to add into their notebooks.

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Then, we watched Die Zauberflöte (Opéra National de Paris – 2001) with English subtitles (YouTube).

Theater Appreciation:

We went to see a performance of Alice in Wonderland (Stage).

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We will be reading the story very soon.

Have you ever wondered what our homeschooling kryptonite is? Yes, everyone does have a weakness, ours happens to be making crafts.

This week, instead of a drawing lesson, I thought it would be fun to make Julehjerter for the upcoming holiday. I have always tried to incorporate crafts into our lessons, but it is that one thing that always seems to get shelved. I mean mathematics or crafts? Yeah, mathematics is going to win every time. I do feel both are equally important though.

Anyhow, the girls just are not “crafty” types. Sky dreads them terribly, and I think Little Sis inherited her crafting ability from me. I have a terrible time trying to figure out patterns. I’ve tried, and tried to watch YouTube videos, or read blog instructions, it doesn’t matter, I just suck at it.

Reading how to solve an equation, no problem. Trying how to figure out which way to cut out felt to make a freakin’ heart basket, forget it.

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I had the perfect amount of red and white felt to make three baskets. By the time I figured how to cut the darn thing outright, there was enough for one. We watched, and read the directions at least 20 times before I figured it out.

My hat is off to you fellow crafters. You make it look so easy. One of these days, I may upload a video of us doing a project, to give you an honest behind the scenes look. There is plenty of cursing and tears, that’s usually the girls’ clue to leave the room.

Papa, on the other hand, just needs to look at something and can make it. He doesn’t even need a pattern. I think the next time I do plan a craft, I will wait for when he is home. 🙂

CraftSanity On TV: Valentine’s Day Woven Felt Heart Video Tutorial

Peace for the journey.

 

 

Week In The Life (“Rock Me Amadeus”)

February 6, 2016

Or runner up title, “seeing red” thanks to the Red Dinner from Downton Abbey, because that was a huge part of our discussions this week. 🙂

Well, my last post was getting a bit long so I decided to split this week’s post into two parts.

Language Arts

Reading:

This week we read the book, Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (Sky loves this, and actually purchased it for herself), and started The Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, and The Magic Tree House, A Good Night For Ghosts.

We listened to the fairy-tales The Princess and the Pea, The Nightingale, and Thumbelina at Storynory.com.

We also started our grammar lessons with the Basher books Grammar, and Punctuation.

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Writing:

Sky typed her book review of The Darkest Part of the Forest.

Handwriting:

The girls finished copying, and we discussed the poem, The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe.

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(Little Sis)

Vocabulary:

assailed, estate, marrow, desolate, entombed, vast, discordant, ghastly, rapid, throng

Mathematics

Both girls warmed up at XtraMath.org.

Sky, continued learning order of operations. Little Sis, continued learning 2 digit multiplication with 4, 5, and 6s.

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(Pictured with Sky’s independent reads.)

We are still on a Yahtzee kick. We play the regular way, we play where you have to go in the order of the sheet, and we play all 6 games at once, so you can place your roll anywhere you want on the sheet. You need to fill in all the Yahtzee boxes before adding the extra 100 points. If you get at least 1 Yahtzee and all the others have been marked out, you can still claim the extra 100 points. It adds a bit more of a challenge, you need to think where you want to fill in your rolls. Little Sis still kicks our butts no matter how we play.

History

World:

If you watched Downton Abbey’s episode this week, I really don’t need to say much more about it.

The funny thing is, we just got through watching The Red Wedding episode from the Game of Thrones series the night before. Since I’m reading the series, and Sky knows everything that happens, Papa was the only one not expecting it. Downton on the other hand, took us all by surprise.

Music:

We learned about Mozart this week. We watched the documentary, The Man Behind The Great Symphony (YouTube), then I printed off a sheet and the girls came up with facts they learned about him.

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http://coloringcafe.com/coloring-pages/mozart/

Papa and I are huge fans of music, so the girls were raised with Mozart. They can actually tell who is who within the first few seconds of a song. When Little Sis was learning her alphabet, when coming up with things that start with the letter B, she said Band on the Run. She was 3 or 4 years old.

We also watched a short video summery of The Magic Flute.

American:

We watched PBS’s Mercy Street. Another “red” episode.

Fine Arts

Theater Appreciation:

(small screen)

We watched  Faerie Tale Theatre episodes Thumbelina, The Nightingale, and The Princess and the Pea.

We watched Grease Live. Believe it or not, the girls really didn’t care for it. Not because they thought the actors did a bad job, they were great. They just didn’t care for the whole story-line. A different generation I guess.

We also watched the movie Maleficent.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587310/

Drawing:

This week we tried drawing Maleficent (Dramatic Parrot YouTube),

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and more drawings from Sky.

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P.E.

The girls had homeschool gym this week.

Peace for the journey.

We Are Homeschoolers

February 5, 2016

Usually, about halfway through the school year, our local homeschooling group gets new members with questions about pulling their child(ren) out from school. This week, in one day our group received 12 questions from new homeschooling parents. There was several more throughout the week, but to receive 12 in 1 day was a new record.

I’ve been seeing more and more new homeschooling parents lately in my other on-line homeschooling groups as well. I can’t say I am shocked really. Our state I-Step scores this year were the lowest in 20 years.

In most cases, the parents pulled their child out from school do to learning issues, bullying, but more and more I am seeing children with anxiety disorders, and I am not talking about high school children either.

I try to answer questions when I can, but honestly I am so busy jumping through college hoops with Sky, there is no way I can answer them all. Most of the parents have no idea where to even start, and are coming from a “school” mindset. Their first question is usually always about curricula. A lot of the parents have little or no money to spend on a big package, they didn’t think they ever would be homeschooling.

I have been homeschooling for quite a while now, what you read here did not happen overnight. I too was once a newbie, terrified of the journey we set out on. I too, had a “school” mindset. I remember asking a parent, that I was lucky enough to meet face to face, about curricula, and lucky for me that mom used Charlotte Mason’s philosophy. She explained how reading, was learning, and how playing was learning. She explained how their children learned how to write, and how you did not need curricula to learn. I am so thankful for her advice. It has saved us big bucks!

I have never used curricula, it can be done, and homeschooling does not need to cost tons of money. So, paying her advice forward, hopefully this post will be helpful to someone.

For starters, we are a low income family (if you couldn’t already tell). Our home is under 1000 square feet. When the girls were little and shared a room, I took one of our bedrooms and made it into a schoolroom.

(Wow, this seems like ages ago.) Papa made everything (including the blocks), besides the dollhouse, that was mine as a child.

Well, guess what I discovered? We were never in our “schoolroom”.

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We were in the kitchen,

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we were outdoors, pictures 813

and we were on the couch. Learning can not be contained to one room. So, we made the schoolroom back into a bedroom.

Does our home look like a “normal” home when walking inside? No, but then again we are not a “normal” family. Yes, I have chalkboards hanging on a kitchen wall, and games stacked up on top of our kitchen cabinets. There is a basket next to our kitchen table that contains workbooks, and notebooks, and folders, and you can not walk into a room without running into a bookshelf, or a stack of books, or movies, or video games. We are homeschoolers.

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on curricula, I built a home library. I spent money on a laptop to get rid of our desktop computer. We purchased tablets for the girls (best investment of the year) to read e-books from the library (Yep, must have a library card) to save space for only our very favorite books (ones that get read over and over again). I purchased games, puzzles, art supplies, or any kind of kit that looks fun.

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In order to get e-books, audio books, movies from your library (OverDrive.com), you need internet access. If you have the internet , you have access to a goldmine of free resources, like YouTube.

I love painless learning place mats. They fit perfectly in the corner of our kitchen table, and are laminated to take the abuse they get from constantly being pulled out, or placed over a wet spot where someone had their glass.

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(You can see them hanging out in the corner, along with the workbook basket, on the left,  and under that is home to our binders. Our kitchen table has bench seating that opens for storage of my cook binder, chalk, glue, pencils, scissors, individual chalkboards, sharpener, painting tablecloth, erasers, or anything that gets used a lot. Under the benches are decorated office copy paper boxes, where the box is spray painted and the lid is covered with material, that contain all our art supplies.)

If you have read here at all, you’ve seen pictures of our history timeline binders in action. I like binders because they hide all our paperwork, they take up less space than a real timeline running across our home, and are much easier to add information you might have forgotten. I was lucky Papa was able to snatch up boxes of binders for free, but Target seems to be the best place to buy binders.

If we have paperwork, that must mean we have a printer. Yes, along with a three hole puncher.

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I use my chalkboards everyday. I have white boards, now residing on our refrigerator, but they just don’t look as cool, or pretty hanging on the wall as a chalkboard.

Now, the girls are old enough to know what interests them. They are able to research movies, books, even game consoles that they want, on their own. “Mom, I like these pens best. Mom, can we go to the bookstore? I want to buy the book Twilight. Dad, could you build me a bookshelf in my room?”

This is when the fun really begins. That’s when you can begin to relax, and realize everything will be alright. Honestly, the girls don’t need Papa and me as much anymore. They can cook, ask for directions, walk into a store and buy what they need, and get proper change back. They know how to find information when they need it. They know how to be independent, and that has always been my goal to begin with.

They will learn, we never stop learning. Life is a journey, just like homeschooling.

Give yourself a pat on the back, and take a deep breath. You can do this. It will not be easy, but I promise it will be worth it. Before you know it, you will find yourself where we are. You will find your rhythm, and confidence.

Peace for the journey.