Monday, November 26, 2012

The Home Stretch

Back to school today to start the home stretch for the year 2012.  We have eighteen more school days until Christmas break and we are both excited!  Today got off to a slow start, as Mondays after a holiday week tend to do, but after dodging a mysterious rash that appeared on Dakota and handling a few dozen phone calls, I was able to get him started on his morning work.  His Today's Special was on Charles Schulz, who's birthday would have been today.  We read a short kid-friendly biography, looked at some Peanuts comic strips and colored a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  Next in his daily prep work was Monday's new movie on BrainPop Jr., which just happened to be about fossils, right on time with our dinosaur unit we are doing this week!  Next came his language arts warm up book, his journal and his handwriting practice.

While Dakota worked I stripped his bed to make sure nothing was hiding in there to bite him and cause this rash and started a pot of beef and vegetable soup for when my husband comes home for lunch.  It's cold outside and we are both on a diet so this will be filling, nutritious and not terribly fattening. Dakota and I did his Christmas Around the States for the day....Massachusetts. We listened to the Boston Pops play a Christmas song, looked at some Boston sights decorated for the holiday and read the story of Make Way For Ducklings.  Then, while Dakota colored the special items to add to our display and did the mapping activity, we put in the disc of pictures from our own trip to Boston when Dakota was about 2 1/2 and he got to see the real island that the little ducks lived on and see himself posing with the duck statues in Boston Common.  Too Cool!

After lunch we did spelling and math and did a KWL chart to go along with our Four More Years Scholastic News magazine before calling it an early day because I had to take field trip checks to the bank.  With the PE and music from the weekend and the Social Studies learning about Charles Schultz this morning we ended up covering all the major subjects except for Science and History, so we'll focus on them tomorrow. We got our errands run and even had a little time to spend outside letting off some energy.  It's supposed to be snowy/rainy/slushy tomorrow so we at least got to enjoy a little sunshine and relatively mild temperatures.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Starry Night

Yesterday we did a little school work in the morning, finished up the chores and packed up the truck.  At noon Daddy, Dakota and I headed off to swimming and by 1:30 we were on our way to pick up Brian David in Towson and head to Jellystone in Hagerstown for our cabin camping weekend.  We got here about 4:30 and the guys unloaded while I put things away, then they made a fire while I made dinner.  After spaghetti in the cabin, we sat around the campfire and took in the stars.  They were truly gorgeous.  The sky was incredibly clear and it was brisk outside.  There was no wind and the inky blackness was a beautiful background to the stars, which were so bright they seemed unreal.  The brightest ones looked painted in the sky and then if you kept looking you could see the really distant clusters, pinpoints of light unimaginably far away.  We watched for falling stars because there are supposed to be meteor showers this weekend, but weren't fortunate enough to see any.  Brian David set his alarm for 4am and when it went off, I was the only one who got up.  I put in my contacts and put on my coat and went outside and the view was breathtaking.  I just don't think I will every forget it, but already, sitting here as the sun comes up, I know I also will never be able to remember just how gorgeous they were.  When I looked northeast the Big Dipper was there, seeming to take up the entire sky.  Dakota is always trying to find that so I went in and woke him, put on his fuzzy jacket and took him outside.  I am so glad I did.  He was amazed!  It didn't take him long to want to go back in where the electric fireplace was keeping things warm and cozy, but I stayed awhile, taking it all in.  When my husband got up at 5:15 to go in to work for a few hours he and I stood together and watched for a bit.  God sure was working overtime!  Today I am thankful for a starry night's sky and a memory I hope I can hang onto forever.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Last full day before Thanksgiving!

Today was to be our last full day of lessons before we move on to half days and holidays this November.  I was running behind in my morning chores and preparation so I told Dakota to "be creative", something he is very proud to be!  He got his camera and some of his wrestling men, put on some wrestling themed music and made a slide show and video of a wrestling match.  This may not seem particularly educational, but it is surely creative and the video making and music add ins certainly qualify for creative credit for the day.

I got Dakota started with his daily prep work about 10:45, which gives me an additional 30 to 45 minutes to get things done while he works on charts, language arts activities, a BrainPop Jr. video of the week, his journal and cursive handwriting practice.  I love this time when he is independent of me, but working hard and getting himself in the right frame of mind for the day.  Next we did math, which I find is a tension filled time lately because my lazy boy is doing harder math and, while he CAN do it, he hates that all of a sudden he really has to concentrate and focus on this.  He then moved on to reading two chapters of his Ninjago book and then came back after lunch we did our third Christmas Across the USA state, which was Maine.  These are simple, but he loves them and I add the geography/mapping page on to each to make it a little bit meatier for his curriculum.  We wrapped up the day by combining what he's been learning in religion at Sunday School and our ancient Egypt topic in history by watching Prince of Egypt, or at least part of it until I froze it by accident and couldn't get it going again.  Tonight I need to finish packing for our trip tomorrow and run to Walmart or ShopRite to grab a few things we are going to need.  I am really looking forward to camping with my three guys.  Can't decide if we should take the dogs or not.....It would be fun there, but the truck ride up might be a little chaotic!  Nope, already changed my mind :-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Monday

Like everyone else, Mondays in my life come way too soon.  This one was no exception and getting little sleep last night didn't help.  I decided to start the day off by going to the thrift store for their 50% off sale.  I love to look for good finds at the thrift store!  The crowd was large, the shelves almost bare and the line long, however.  After we left there, Natalie and Dakota and I went to the Arbutus library to replenish our supply of books and educational videos.  Then we met with Daddy/Poppy, for lunch at Sorrentos before hitting the Landowne library on the way home to pick up my holds.  Once here, we only had half a day left, but we watched a great Reading Rainbow on mummies based on a book by Aliki and it really held Koda's attention, with a few "wow!" remarks thrown in!  Then we moved on to our first Christmas Across the USA unit, starting with Connecticut, with a little embelishment.  We used the clue under our countdown to Christmas snow globe for the day to find the state and then read the paper and went online to watch the video of their festival of lights.  He colored a reindeer and decked him out for the holidays with collar, bell and scarf, colored his penguin.  We did the state stamp and put it in our "suitcase", made our small state card, colored our penguin to start our tree of penguins, colored our first light bulb for our string of state Christmas lights and then did a geography map/quiz paper from  Dakota loved it!  I love how it's going to grow and we are going to have a whole display by the end of the holidays!

We wrapped up our day with some reading from Dakota and another Berenstain Bear book, Prize Pumpkin and he wrote a book report on that and illustrated.  We had our oldest daughter and granddaughter stay for dinner so there was plenty of activity until around 7pm and then we settled down quickly, each of us still struggling with daylight savings time and the lingering jet lag effect it seems to have on everyone.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ancient Egypt

Today we really started delving into our ancient Egypt study.  We are supposed to be following Story of the World, Volume 1 and I love the program, but we got off to a bad start with all the personal and family issues we had this school year early on and rather than stress about it, I shoved it aside and just got back into it recently.  SOTW kind of zooms past this part, but I found there is so much to learn and tons of great crafts and fun activities to do that we are going to slow down, have fun and really enjoy it.

Today we reviewed our SOTW story about the Nile River then did a short mapping activity that they presented.  Then I used to pull up a "follow the directions" map on Egypt that was more comprehensive and Dakota did that.  We read a story about the two kings and Upper and Lower Egypt and how King Menes won the battle and combined the colors of the two crowns to make one united country.  We followed up by starting our new Magic Tree House book, Mummies in the Morning, and doing the comprehension and vocabulary activities, this time from my second favorite lesson website,  Both of the above linked sites cost $20 a year, but I will tell you again that they are worth every penny and I have been a subscriber for twelve years!  I use them several times a week!

Another site that I have become a huge fan of is  Jill, who blogs and runs this website, is fantastic and has many fun and educational packets and activities that we have incorporated into our homeschooling experience.  Today we printed out, in black and white, her countdown to Christmas snow globes and spent time together coloring them in.  We are going to use them with her Countdown to Christmas USA unit, which is on her members only board ($15 for a lifetime membership!).  There are fun activities and educational activities galore in this unit and I surprised Dakota when I showed him the Maryland unit...featuring the Baublitz Bunch!  Jill had taken requests for someone in each state to write in about the traditions in their family and we were picked so there is a favorite picture of Dakota (at around 4, but sooo darned cute!) and another of Natalie last year, her first Christmas.  I can't wait to start the fun state activities and Dakota always loves learning about the states in any form.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Co-op Wednesday

Wednesdays are co-op days at our house.  This is the second year for my own personal AAHE Cooperative and I am so proud of the way it has turned out.  Last year we did Fifty Nifty United States.  This year we are doing Artists and Composers.  Each week a two moms have teaching duties.  We have two age groups of 12 kids each for these topics....the older class is age 8 to 10 and the younger class is age 5 to 7.  From 9:25 until 10:25 the older kids learn about an artist and the younger class learns about a composer.  At 10:25 we have a 5 minute switch and break and the teacher moves to the other class and repeats her lesson, tweaked to be age appropriate.  Today the kids learned about Mary Cassatt with Wendy T. and they did Tempera Monoprints.   Wendy read the kids a book then they started the project, allowing the kids who weren't having a turn with the art materials to draw on their own.  They turned out great!  For music, Leslie L. taught the kids about Beethoven.  They learned all about his life, listened to his 5th symphony, making tally marks for the times they heard the part of the music that they all recognized and made ear trumpets to help them hear things like Beethoven had to do.  It was another fun day for the kids and the parents all pitched in, as usual, for set up and clean up.  Parents of the younger kids have formed together to make a preschool class and another mom who specializes in Handwriting Without Tears also teaches a short class to the young ones.  It's a perfect group of a people coming together to make a perfect co-op and for this, I am very grateful!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Life has been anything but normal for us here at our house throughout October, but we have weathered the storm and are coming through on the other side.  I am getting back to my normal routine and that includes our daily, or close to daily, homeschool/family life blog.  I have missed it!  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it.  Leave a comment or two now and then.  They really make my day!  Cindy

Yesterday and today I had hoped to get a full, focused day of homeschooling in since I didn't have my granddaughter, but I forgot that if my daughter is off work, that means the neighbor kids are off too!  Dakota was willing to give me a half day of focus both days, but by lunchtime he really wanted to be free to go outside and play, and I couldn't blame him.  Both days, however, we got a great deal done in three hours.  It makes me think that we may start to do all our "important" things in the morning and start saving the afternoons for videos, arts and crafts or science experiments.

Today we did a quick "daily prep", minus the journal.  That includes a folder with a few charts and an activity, cursive practice, a small language arts activity and usually a "Today's Special", but our special today was the election.  We worked the regular spelling and math, finished our Volcanoes packet, finished reading our Magic Tree House book Vacation Under the Volcano and did the story map activities that went along with that.  We didn't get to our Story of the World history, but we read a Scholastic News magazine for Social Studies that gave lots of interesting information about Obama and Romney, including what they were doing as a child about Dakota's age.  We made a cute election craft that included a paragraph on what a good president should do (in the eyes of an eight year old) and then were ready at noon to go to the firehouse a few streets over to cast our vote.  There wasn't a line and Dakota was able to go right up with me and see what it is like to be an American, living in a democracy.  We had a good conversation about why I voted for who I did and why I didn't vote for the other candidate.

He's out playing now on this sunny, crisp fall day, but later tonight we will go over the information on the Washington Post site ( that has a wonderful electoral college map and tally prnitouts and we will follow the results until bedtime, picking up in the morning to see who will be our next president.  I know that he is young, but I hope that he walks away with a better understanding of how our country chooses our elected officials and has more of an interest about the choices being made by the man who will be responsible for running our country until Dakota is almost a teenager.  Wow, that's a scary thought!