Monday, May 21, 2012

Memorization: April Rain Song by Langston Hughes

The poem we are just about finished memorizing is titled above.  Although we are not in April, we are still getting a fair share of rain this month.  Today even our 20 month old was trying her hardest to do the hand motions with us.

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalks.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep song on the roof at night.

And I love the rain.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

This is a holiday that means a lot to me.  And unfortunately,  it also seems to be a holiday that is largely remembered only for BBQs and beach trips.

It just so happens that a friend recently recommended a fabulous book to me called  Unbroken.

Watch THIS VIDEO about the book.

I'm in the middle of the book right now. It's so compelling I can't stop talking about it, even to my kids.  It's been a fabulous way to help them understand some of the Herculean  sacrifice that our Veteran Heroes have made for us.  It has created an incredible amount of empathy in my eldest, who is 9.

She wants to do something special to remember current war heroes on Memorial Day. We have decided to make a Donation to the USO, which you can do here.

And we also plan to visit a military cemetery to leave flowers on graves.  There will also be a ceremony at our local library that we hope to attend.

How ever you plan to remember our national heroes on Monday the 28th, I recommend that at some point you pick up this book.  It will change you.

Organizing a History Club using Story of the World

I'm late blogging about this.  SURPRISE.

But towards the beginning of the year  I started a new "history club" at our home based on Story of the WOrld Vol 2.  Do you know it took us 18 months  to do Vol 1?  But I don't feel bad.   I was pregnant with no. 4 and the had a newborn during that time.

The club is small this time.  Just my 4 kids and 5 other girls that are the ages of my oldest two.  Is nine kids still small?  (Sometime I'll tell you about the fun club we ran a couple years back based on Kaya from the American Girls Series).

Anyway, I made it extra low key this time, because the last time I ran a club for the girls it was too big, too much work, and I got burned out really fast.

Here's how it's set up:

Each family is supposed to study 1 chapter per week at home.  We do this for 3 weeks in a row.   Every 4th Tuesday, we get together at my house to do related activities and projects from the book.  I don't do any of the coloring or map work or narratives during group.That all happens at home with the family.  During club we get right to the hands on portion of the units.  I try to pick one project from each chapter but it doesn't always work out that way. I try to schedule 30 mins. for each activity with a total of 3-4 activities per meeting.  We meet for 90 minutes.  Two hours would probably be better because I often run out of time, but then it starts to cramp lunch and naps.

So far it works really well for us.  It's not over taxing for me.  But it's enough variety and social interaction to keep the course interesting for the kids.  And the once-a-month meetings are spaced far enough apart that I don't mind putting my best effort and a little time into making it super fun for the kids.

Here's a picture from our first meeting when we dressed up like Monks.  Each girl chose one of the different Monk professions to act out (teacher, writer, carpenter, doctor).  I don't think this particular activity was in the book. Turned out fun!

Here's the teacher being portrayed in our living room.  We had one of the girls being director and another being camera person.

Here's another day when we dressed like Celtic warriors and then acted out our attack on the Romans.  This was before the face paint. Too bad I don't have a pic WITH face paint.  It was pretty intense.

During the weeks when it's just us studying at home, I pick one activity to do with the kids.  Of course, I make sure it's not one that I've got planned for the club.

Here's an activity we did on our own at home.  We mad an oasis from a variety of mediums including pipe cleaners, legos, playmobiles, gram crackers, counting cubes and clay.

We all  very much enjoy this curriculum. It's our favorite class of the week.  I'lll try harder to blog about our fun club meetings as well as our family history activities.

And when I get my other pics downloaded, I'll have to show you the Viking Funeral that we had in our turtle pool, complete with wild and crazy flames!!  Too fun.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

American History-The Great Seal

This year my third grader has used the Paths of Exploration from The Trail Guide to Learning Series.

 We've enjoyed it for the most part. I love the emphasis on literature and American History. We especially enjoyed the task to learn more about the Great Seal. It's on every dollar bill. But how much do we really know about it? We spent some time doing a little extra research in addition to what was in the text and here are a few resources that you may find interesting on this topic:

Here's a fun coloring page:

And then we used the last page of this packet to make Great Seal bookmarks.

After learning more about the symbolism emblazoned in the Great Seal, both front and back, it really hit home to me how desperately our Founding Fathers were trying to convey the essential concepts of American Exceptional-ism, Peace through Strength, National Unity, and the influence of divine guidance on this never ending American Experiment. I believe that if our current policy makers would take time to remember these things and apply them to their decisions we'd see some very positive changes in government.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Love My Country The United States!

One of my top priorities in our HS is to teach a love of Family, God and Country. Not only do we say the pledge and pray each morning, but we also sing a song from the Wee Sing America CD.

It has taken us WEEKS...but we have finally mastered song 17 on the CD which sings the 50 states in alphabetical order (mostly alphabetical).

This is not my daughter singing (although I also have a 4yo who successfully learned this song). But it's the same song we learned. Our version is slightly snappier.

Thanks Youtube.

To help us learn this song, and a little geography, I printed out a blank political map of the USA for each child. We worked on memorizing 4-6 statesin the song each day. Sometimes it worked out to do the states that all start with the same letter. (Ex: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas). We colored in the states on our maps that we were trying to memorize in the song that day.

The kids like doing that and I do think it helped with a bit of geography at the same time.

The only downside is that our whole family can NOT get this song out of our heads. We sing it in our sleep, at meals, while driving, at the store, during school, on the trampoline, at the get the idea. So, if you plan to learn this song...don't say I didn't warn you.

Weather Poems: Snow and Wind

We have had a really great time memorizing Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost (1923). We made up hand motions to go with each line, learning 2 lines per day. We have kept this poem up for several weeks however, as it has been appropriate for our weather of late.

But our snow is gone and WIND is here. So we are now learning this poem

Windy Nights by Robert Louis Steven

Whenever the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.

By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again

I'm sure we'll have fun making up actions to this poem as well. Initially I had planned to have a Friday poetry time slot this year. But our morning poetry memorization is filling our need for good poetry, I think. And it's fun.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Have you Thought of Going Off Grid?

Surviving Off Off-Grid: Decolonizing the Industrial MindSurviving Off Off-Grid: Decolonizing the Industrial Mind by Michael Bunker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Read this book with a grain of salt. I enjoyed it a lot and learned a ton, but this guy is way over the top when it comes to his view of man's use of electricity. He believes it is pretty much evil, that city life is sinful, and that all civilizations who depend on electricity are doomed to the same fate as Rome.

I don't agree. Obviously, man has been able to learn, grow,share and advance in so many ways because of electricity. It is a blessing or a curse depending on how it is employed. However, I do agree with the author in that our absolute dependence on electricity and a consumption life style (on ALL levels) has resulted in the loss of certain individual liberties and some personal privacy.

I do think that getting rid of our "non essential" electronics is good. (Sorry my fridge and washer are keepers for now) And I think that a simpler life that is centered on your own piece of land where you make an effort to produce as many of your necessities as possible is a really positive thing and would do much to restore the American Family and the American Dream.

Do read it. But don't feel too bad if you're still using your vacuum and clothes dryer afterward.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 16, 2012

Under the Sea Dioramas

For science this year we have been using the Neoe Biology II. It's working well and is fairly easy to adapt for the varying abilities of my 4, 6, and 8 year old. But I find it a bit simplistic and a bit monotonous at times.

Our underwater creatures lessons seem to have gone on forEVer. So,using some of the internet links in one of our Usborn books, I discovered thsi cool project:

I had a super hard time finding the curlers to make the sponges. So we skipped that. And pom-poms (the cheerleader kind) were hard to find too. So we adapted the sea anemonea by using toilet paper rolls and strips of construction paper. My idea was to curl the strips of paper down using a pencil, but the kids found this very tedious. So our sea anemoneas turned out to look more like palm trees. Oh well.

Brain coral closeup.

We made these by sticking the radiatorre pasta in home made play dough and then painting it green. I recommend hollowing out the under side a bit to facilitate the drying process.

We did not use boxes for the background because I didn't have any on hand. We used large manila file folders. I opened up the folder and turned it so the center line was horizontal. Then I made a center cut in the bottom flap from the edge closest to me up to the horizontal line. Then I folded the two flaps over each other and stappled them together. This formed HALF of each diorama. Repeat this process and then fit the two halves together and secure with tape or staples.

This mad e agreat back drop forour diorama, which we then painted and dried before adding the sea life.

Here's a picture of another one