Friday, December 28, 2012

I don't know about you, but with the holidays about over I'm looking forward to more ordered days and getting back into a schedule and more order.  I want to have my children help set their own goals - seems like they're more motivated when they set their own goals.  Of course my goals  and schedule will apply to them as well.  What goals and plans do you have for the New Year?  This is my list for my children to fill out. 

New Year Plans and Goal Sheets

  • What is one character quality you would like to begin to work on? ________________________ List three things you will do to implement this:  1._______________________________ 2._______________________________ 3.________________________________
  • What is one new habit you would like to establish?_____________________________  What will you use as a trigger to remind you to practice your habit?  What do you plan to give yourself as a reward for your new habit?_______________________________________
  • Let's plan to each have a quiet time with the LORD daily - what time will you meet with Him?__________________________                                                                                    Where will you plan to read from in your Bible or what topic will you study? __________ _________________________________________________________________ and what other books and tools do you hope to use?______________________________ choose a book or notebook for a prayer journal and decide how you will lay it out.
  • Let's start book recording journals - it can be a commonplace book or just a simple list of titles and authors, but choose your notebook or journal and decide how you will use it.
  • I plan to reward each of you if you finish your chores for the week without being reminded - what would you like as a reward?________________________________________

Monday, December 3, 2012

 Now that it is December I wanted to anticipate our celebration of the birth of Christ with the children.  My Mom gave us a cardstock Advent Calendar with windows to open each day from Dayspring.  .We open and read a window each day at lunch.

She also gave us a devotional made up of advent readings written by the women of her church so we read one of those each day in the morning as we light another candle on our advent candle wreathe.
A closeup of the Mary and Joseph
that our 9 and 11 year old modeled
from clay for the journey to Bethlehem
following the wreath as we light
 the candles each day.

After supper each day we read the Jesse Tree Devotional readings by AnnVoskamp. It is a free download here. I modeled ornaments from clay rather than print her paper ones.  I stretched a ribbon with 25 paper clips tied on at intervals of about 3-4 inches.  Each ornament I made has a paper clip embedded in it that we clip onto the hanging clips. The ornaments could also be hung on a Jesse Tree Branch. Ann's devotionals each start with an Old Testament Scripture reading and then in her beautiful words she points us to the coming Christ as seen in the Biblical passage.  

We're memorizing the Christmas story from Luke 2.  It is familiar but fun to brush up on.  

Of course crafts abound this time of year as the weather isn't as nice outside and the children are pleasantly engaged in making gifts.  

We've also been listening to Pandora Radio online.  You can make your own stations with music you enjoy.  Choose a song and they will play more like it.  We chose Classical Christmas and have been enjoying beautiful pieces of Christmas music throughout the day.  

And for read alouds - I'm planning to read one of our favorites, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  I also ordered The Best Christmas Pagaent Ever, (A fresh look at Christmas from the view of the children of an unchurched family).  A friend said they read Jotham's Journey every year which has readings for each day from December 1st to Christmas.  If I can get a copy, I'd like to read it even though we will have to double up to catch up or maybe just read it right through.  We also have The Gift, a picture storybook by Jan Haley on our coffee table and have read it once and will probably read it again.  It is the fictional story of one of the wise men and his son.   

What are you doing to anticipate the celebration of Christ's birth?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cherokee Strip - the Race For LandTwo books we've recently enjoyed reading aloud together are Cherokee Strip:  The Race for Land by Aileen Fisher and Nino.  You will perhaps recognize Aileen Fisher's name from All On a Mountain Day.
  She is a wonderful writer and this book has some good character lessons where the main character has to make a decision to do the right thing when it may cost her family something dear to them.  Nino is the story of a young Italian catholic boy and his daily life.  It includes harvesting olives, gathering firewood and other daily life as well as holidays and religious gatherings.  Good descriptions of life in another place and time.  At the end of the book Nino along with his mother and Grandfather prepare to move to America to live with his father.  I believe this book is based on the author, Valenti Angelo's own experiences as a child.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nature Notebooking Owl Pellets

This morning was drizzly and cold so rather than go out on our nature walk we decided to pull out an owl pellet that Ruthie had found some time ago.  I had saved it in a plastic bag for a day like this.  We used tweezers  and a thin sharp tool from our dissecting kit to pull it apart.  It was made up of lots of grey fur and teeny tiny bones. 

  The bones were different shapes so we looked at them through our magnifying microscope (20X).

The children drew some of the bones in their nature notebooks. 

 I was surprised by how tiny the bones were.  The bone I thought was perhaps the pelvis was probably less than a centimeter across and the straight bones were quite a bit thinner than a piece of pencil lead.  We never did find the skull  At one point we wondered if it was a tiny bird as a couple of the bones looked like a tiny claw or beak, but under the microscope you could tell that it was definitely fur fibers rather than feathers.  If the deceased animal was a mouse it must have been a very tiny one.  I'm always amazed by the wonder and diversity of God's creation.  I guess that's the conclusion of nature study - worship.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Nebby recently wrote A Few Thoughts on Writing and it got me thinking.  You can read it here and my comment in response below. 

  Dear Nebby: I agree that Charlotte Mason’s approach to writing is successful and much easier and more sensible than most writing programs. Years ago I used Understanding Writing and it gave me good insight into where I was going with writing. She covers her subject from a Christ-centered and God honoring perspective which I appreciated. Eventually I had the confidence to work on my own. If someone wants a formal program I can recommend it at least as a good starting place but I don’t think it is necessary. There are two parts to writing – the mechanics of getting words neatly on the page. This includes handwriting, punctuation and capitalization. The second part is the content. Oral narration is the foundation of this skill and this is where Charlotte’s method works so beautifully to develop good writers. As their ability to get it down on paper increases or they develop typing skills to keep up with their thoughts they can put this together with the mechanical part. I do like to have my children write something every day whether it is copy work, a letter, a nature journal entry, or a written narration. I think that any type of journaling works well for reluctant writers and used it more when more of my students were boys (only the youngest of my five current students is a boy). I have found that my girls write naturally and voraciously and that my boys tended to be more reluctant but were usually willing to keep a journal of current happenings. They tended to be more concrete and less creative in their writing. Overall I try to keep in mind the two parts of writing – mechanics and composition as I assign writing. Both parts need development. One friend whose children have beautiful handwriting simply has her children carefully color a coloring book picture each day in their first couple of grades developing their fine motor skills. As stated earlier children who compose their thoughts for an oral narration are practicing writing skills. Sometimes I type out my children’s narrations and read it back to them or have them illustrate it and let them keep it in their notebooks. Thanks for the great post and from my experience you can be confident that Charlotte’s method works well to develop writing skills.

Potato Print Wrapping Paper

Our craft project for the week was potato print wrapping paper.  We had fun cutting shapes in the potatoes adding paint to the potato shape and then printing it on brown paper.

We happened to have block print ink by Speedball on hand but we have used tempra paint in the past and I imagine acrylic craft paints would work too. 

Mary wanted an angel so we printed a simple image of an angel with a trumpet from Google Images then she cut her potato out around it and it turned out very nicely.  We also cut up brown paper grocery sacks and made little gift cards to match. 

  This simple project was fun for all ages and the wrapping paper will come in handy. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hazel Soan's African Watercolours

Hazel Soan's African Watercolours

Young Ones - Hazel Soan

I've been enjoying again a book I found at the library and thought others might enjoy it, too. This book is a surprising mix of watercolor how-to, travel in Africa and a nature notebook.  Hazel Soan takes us on a safari through southern Africa.  As she travels around the south-western corner of the continent she describes the setting and animals she is seeing as well as sharing her wonderful watercolor paintings.  To top it off, her book is full of instruction in watercolor painting.  Each chapter covers a different stop on their safari and is commenced with a brief poem by the author.  Here is a sample from her chapter titled, The Lake of Drowned Trees: Kariba- 
Tall and trim, sharp and fine
lines, rigid with the passing time;
monographs to Noah's flood
shedding arboreal 
High above the eagle soars,
sears the skies above the shores;
charting branches for his perch,
remembering the olive search.

She then describes the area, followed by a couple pages of painting instruction and finally each chapter ends with a two-page spread called Safari Sketchbook, which is pictures and text from her sketchbook with a brief campfire tale of some experience they had.  The book is worth browsing through just for the wonderful paintings.

Life Giving Water by Hazel Soan

Parade by Hazel Soan

Monday, September 24, 2012

The World of Space

Astronomy Exploring Creation withIf you are using Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy you might enjoy using Dinah Zike and Susan Simpson's Great Science Adventures - The World of Space alongside of it.  The World of Space is filled with mini books and graphics, directions for a 10 Top Tab Book of the Solar System as well as instructions and pictures for an astronomy timeline.    We will paste the pictures provided for the timeline in our Book of Centuries.   The World of Space is intended to stand on its own, but I used it by taking the graphics and mini-books and using them as they fit into the Exploring Creation With Astronomy units.  Here  is a link to the publisher's information for The World of Space.

Student Tutors for Math and Reading

Because math takes a good bit of concentrated effort and quite a bit of help at least during the early elementary years I have found it helpful to enlist the help of older students for half an hour each day to help the youngest two with their math.  This frees me for a half hour of concentrated time to work through my high schooler's Algebra II with her.  The 8th grader helps the 3rd grader, when she needs help and the Sixth grader helps the second grader.  This seems to work well for us.  When the 40 minutes allotted for math is up we're all ready to move on to other subjects.   I have also enlisted the high schooler to listen to the second and third grader read aloud as they both know how to read but still need practice.  Since the younger two are done with math and reading we can focus on literature, history, and science projects. With the added help I can fit in time for each of the students individually and still feel that the younger ones who require more attention are getting what they need.  A side benefit is that as the older students tutor they learn patience, persistence, and communication  skillsI have chosen the skill subjects - math and reading - rather than the information subjects because the older students should have mastery to that level and be capable of helping the younger students but if there is enough age difference and a competent older student the information subjects could be made to work, too. The older students should be able to teach whatever they know well themselves.

Preserving Fall Leaves

Fall is here and the leaves are beautiful!!  We took the opportunity to pick colorful leaves and try to preserve a few.  We ironed some between sheets or waxed paper and dipped some in melted paraffin wax.  When they were dry we put them in a bowl on the table to enjoy for days to come.  Here are some pictures of the process and the product.

 We melted the paraffin wax in a disposable foil pan in a pan of water.  Then dipped each leaf in the melted wax before laying it on a thick paper to dry.


I let Ruth and John each arrange some of their un-waxed leaves on a piece of waxed paper then covered them with another piece of waxed paper and covered it with a towel and ironed it until the waxed paper melted and stuck together.  We taped them to a window. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Free Grammar Program

 I'm doing my last minute work on choosing books and making schedules getting ready to start school next week.  I got a post from another blog this week with an interesting free grammar program.  Nebby gives it a good review here and as I looked it over it looks good - I think I'll try it.  If you are interested you can check it out here.  I like how the author uses classical pieces of art on his site and classic literature with his program.  I also think he makes some good points in his philosophy statements - in fact it made me think of Charlotte Mason.