Thursday, April 18, 2013

Graduation Day!

No, we're not done with school for the year. But we hit an important milestone today:  My 5yo Kinderboy finished his K Phonics curriculum today! WAHOOOOOOO!  He's been doing first grade math for most of the year already, so by finishing his K phonics, we now officially consider him a FIRST GRADER!  And he's pretty dang proud of that fact!

So we celebrated with a very, very simple graduation.  I dug out my high school graduation cap and made up a super simple graduation certificate for him.  I found it on pinterest .  We traced his hand instead of printing it.

So, my 7yo, who is learning Suzuki violin and is in book 1, played the songs that she is working on right now while my 5yo walked across the living room to me.  I shook his hand, handed him the certificate (already filled out), and then I moved his tassle to the front.  His favorite part was throwing his cap in the air!  Hugs and applause from the family quickly followed!

We also had his favorite dinner, pizza.  And I tried a new recipe for crock-pot brownies from that new cookbook I just got.  They were de-lish.
Six Sisters' Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More

My 10yo is pretty proud of the fact that she just finished 5th grade math and is now doing 6th grade math.  So we had a little ceremony for her too.

Hurray for milestones!  What a sweet moment to witness the self satisfaction on my little guy's face for his job well done.
Answers to his certificate questions:
Teacher: My mom
Favorite color: violot
Favorite food: Jamba juice
Favorite Subject: science
Favorite book: Toys Go Out

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bee Keeping Field Trip

What a perfect day for a trip outside to learn about bee keeping.  It was an absolutely beautiful spring morning and afternoon, thankfully!

We've done several units on bees over the past years, but there is so much to know about bees.  It's good to always review. And I learned a TON today!

The hives we saw were on the property of a fellow homeschooler who live approximately 45 minutes away on a beautiful piece of property in the country.  She keeps her two hives right in the yard near the children's playground equipment, because aparently they've never posed a threat or been aggressive! 

my happy honey

The taller hive on the left is well established.  The smaller white hive on the right is the one that received a new colony today.

 Above you and below you see the new colony of several thousand bees.  It came in the mail from California for $116.  The queen is in the middle of all those bees in her own little compartment.

Do you love that my daughter and my son actually prepared for this trip by planning to wear yellow shirt/yellow nail polish?
Transferring the bees to the new hive actually only takes a few minutes.  You literally shake them to the bottom of the box, remove the queen, DUMP in the bees, add the queen and voila.  It got pretty loud there for a while with all the excited bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing.   I confess to having mild panic attacks when bees landed in my hair (twice) and on my son and on my daughter.  Another mom got a bee buried in her hair for several minutes before we could get it out.  But amazingly, no body got stung today!  Hurray.

 Old honey from previous hives is added to the new hive so that the colony has a jump start. This also strenghtens it agains attacks from the neighboring, stronger hive.
Dumping in the bees. 
Today I learned that the youngest bees are in charge of taking care of babies.  Middle aged bees do the housekeeping. And the oldest bees get to guard the entrance and actually leave the hive for nectar.  Pretty cool division of labor!  So when you see bees flying around, you'll know that they are older and wiser than most bees.

I always thought that I would want to raise bees.  I've done a lot of reading about it.  But after seeing my reaction to the near misses today, I think I'm probably better off letting someone else raise my honey for me.  yes.

After the transfer took place, we had plenty of time left to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and weather. 
swinging together

rope swing

catching moths

first picnic of the year

exploring the grounds
What a great way to spend the day.  And from all we learned today, we are well on our way to earning the bee keeping badge for Frontier Girls and Quest Club.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kaya American Girl Lesson Plan: Book 1 Part B

Disclaimer:  My formatting is all messed up in this first paragraph and I can't seem to fix it!  Sorry.   To date, I've written about How I Organized the Kaya History Club, and The First Meeting we had.  Our second meeting also focused on the first book in the series.  Here's an overview of how our club meeting went.  I didn't have nearly enough time to do all the activities and implement all the ideas I had for this club. But I thought I'd just go ahead and list them here so that you can choose which might work best for you and your situation.   After hearing the narration from the assigned girl, we moved on to the following book discussions.  You may also choose to save these for snack time.  It keeps things from getting out of hand.      Discussion Questions:   A) “It takes a lot of work to learn what we need to know.” Pg. 34 How is this true? It takes a life time to learn what we need to know. Learning is a life long process. We needn’t be frustrated if we don’t know everything right now. Be patient. Keep trying. Keep learning.
B) How did Kaya earn Steps High’s trust? How do you earn someone’s trust? Pg 56
Relate the story of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Through hard work, loyalty and integrity, Joseph earned Potipher’s trust, then the Pharo’s trust. He ultimately regained his freedom by being loyal, hardworking and trustworthy. After being a slave, he became the second most powerful man in Egypt. Earning trust from others set him free.
  Nez Perce Life:
C) How do you like to wake up in the morning? What is your routine? How do the NP wake up? Pg. 30-31 Morning rituals: Camp crier, morning prayer of thanks to Hunyawat, cold water bath in river to stay strong and healthy (all ages all seasons).
D) What was the proceedure for eating meals? Pg. 28-29

E)  Can you name some of the things the Nez Perce ate?  Camas bulbs, finger cakes, kouse cakes, salmon, berries, elk, deer, pemican
F) What breed of horse to the Nez Perce Specialize in? Appaloosa.
G) How was life different for the Nez Perce before horses were introduced? Pg. 38-39

H) The Nez Perce honored and worshipped Hunyawat. How is thier belief in Hunywat similar to or different from your beliefs in God?

We spent some time learning about horses in general at this meeting, and specifically discussing the Apaloosa horse, which the Nez Perz used most.

Here are some helpful books you can read together or display and let the girls explore

The Appaloosa Horse (Learning about Horses)

Here are some helpful links about horses and Apaloosas:

I have a membership to   and I used an activity that I found there to make an Apaloosa Horse Ornament.  Here's what it looks like when it's done. It was put on the front of the hourse between the eyes.  That's yarn on top and rafia on the bottom.

We also had a fun simulation to make the relationsihp between Kaya and Speaking Rain more real.  I called it the "I’ll look and you listen" activity.  This was done in pairs in a separate room while the girls were painting their teepees (see activity below).  One girl (Kaya) leads the other (Speaking Rain) over a small obstacle course to experience one of the dynamics in their relationship and gain empathy for the blind.  The obstacles can be simple things (and safethings) like stepping over a pillow, going around a table, sitting down and standing up, putting cotton balls in a bowl, or what ever else you can think of!   So while this was happening in pairs, the rest of the girls were making teepees.  I used an activity from Enchanted Learning for this idea.  But instead of trying to find smooth uniform twigs for 12 teepees, I used skinny dowels like this   Here's a finished one:
Kaya did a lot of weaving!  We practiced some very simple weaving using craft foam.  I used one large foam mat as the "loom" by folding it in half and then making equidistant cuts on th efolded edge, being careful to leave a safe margin at the open edge.  I had strips of cut foam ready to go so the girls could practice the concept of  over-under-over-under.  They ended up with simple placemants.

We moved on to a more difficult weaving project. Honestly I can't remember at which meeting we did this weaving activity, but here's the instructions, and here's what the loom looked like before weaving on it.

finished product with pony beads added
If you have a group of more advanced kids you could try this weaving project.

The Nez Perze handed down stories that were important to their people.  Wes ometimes call these stories legends. 
A legend is a narrative that people tell as a true story. Sometimes the details are difficult to confirm, but usually the story names people and identifies locations. The person telling the story usually does not claim to be an eyewitness to the events, but heard it from someone who knows someone who heard it from someone who was really there... Legends often contain a moral or a lesson and are told to uphold the values of the community. They often involve supernatural or religious elements.  What legends have you read about in the book? 
If the girls are interested in learning more about Native American legends this may be a helpful resource
The girls drew their own version of Stick People to put into their portfolios. (see page 16 for a description of Stick People)
Here are some additional ideas and activities for bringing Kaya Book One to life.

  • Study this Mocassin map.  Add it to your portfolio.
  • The Nez Perce believed in wyakins, or guardian spirits.  If you could pick a wyakin, what animal would you want it to be?  Draw it and add it to your notebook.
  • Make your own rolled up bedding.
  • Sew buttons onto scrap material using floss to simulate sinew.
  • Play string games.
  • Try some maple sugar candy. These can be cut in smaller pieces them go farther. They are very sweet! A little goes along way.

    • Learn about cougars

    I'm sure you can think of even more ideas to make these great books a real lesson in living history for your students.   Have fun!

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Family Book Club - The Hobbit

    I haven't posted about family book club in a really looong time. I skipped posting about the last club we had at our house for the exciting Nick of Time (Nick McIver Time Adventures)
     book.  That was a good book.  We still want to read The Time Pirate: A Nick McIver Time Adventure (Nick McIver Time Adventures)
     as a family.
    (Warning: If you decide to read those books, I think it's best done as a read aloud simply because there are a few harsh words in the text.  As the parent is reading along you can easily edit them out or swap them for a softer version, but I'm not sure I'd put that book in my kids' hands.)

    But moving on to tonight's club for The Hobbit.  Our friends,  the M. family hosted and they did a fantastic job (as usual) coming up with fun activities to go along with the book.

    First we talked about how greed can really have some terrible consequences, as Thorin taught us.  It can even bring about war and death.  We discussed the ten commandments and the importance of not coveting.

    We also had some fun riddles to solve, just the way Bilbo and Gollum did. Some of those riddles were super hard!  I was impressed with the kids.  They were able to get so many of them right.  One that I remember was "what goes up and down hills but always stands still?"  Answer: a road.

    Next, we had a fun map making activity.  When the dwarves and Bilbo were staying with Elron they looked at a map with a secret message that could only be seen when held up to the moon. The kids drewmaps on grocery bags and then used q-tips dipped in vaseline to write a secret message.  We turned off the light and used a black light to read the secret message.  Very cool.  We learned that you have to use a fair amount of Vaseline for it to look good under the black light.

    This is actually my 2yos shirt which reads I Heart Cats.  But it looked cool under the black light

    Next we used modeling clay to make our own versions of Smaug.  The kids even got to encrust the dragon with jewels (glitter, and sequins).
    This one was more like a caterpillar.  To each her own.


    So many cool versions of Smaug

    Smooth Smaugh (sans jewels)

    We ended with some homemade bread and jam. The kids lined up for seconds and thirds!   I'm sure Bilbo would have appreciated such delicious snacks too. A HUGE thank you to the M. family for such a fun night together.  Their creativity and generosity is inspiring.

    I noticed my little Kinderboy struggled just a bit tonight.  First, his strong point is not art.  Even at home it can be tough to engage him in an art project.  (Although, THIS PROJECT was a real hit with him.)
    And second, he's a bit of a perfectionist.  He needs plenty of time to get his juices flowing and create his product, regardless of what it is.  That's one reason why I'm so glad I homeschool him. He doesn't have to hurry and finish before the bell rings, or stop working on something because the teacher is moving to a new subject.  At home he always has the freedom to work on something as long as he needs to.  Granted, sometimes those projects are interrupted with trips to the store, or lunch, or some other necessary activity.  But the project is always there.  There are no bells, no "hurry-up-and-finish-you-slow-poke".  Feeling rushed  or pressured to perform like the rest of the group seems to paralyze him and be the source of a lot of self doubt for him. But isn't it great that I know this small part of his personality and can tailor to his needs?  Thank goodness for the freedom to homeschool!

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Simple Sunday Joys

    Exodus 20:11 
    For in asix days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and challowed it.

    Ah...Sundays.  What would I do without Sunday?  It's the day that I look forward to sleeping in just a tad, spending time at home with my husband and children, going to church, taking walks, reading the scriptures and just resting from daily cares.  It's a day when we turn off the electronics and be with each other. The laundry and vacuuming has to wait until Monday.  We don't shop or eat out.  We don't play with friends or do yard work. And for goodness sake, we don't do any school work.  We just recharge our batteries and come closer to each other and our faith.   This morning the kids put the 2yo in a laundry basket and buried her under heaps of stuffed animals and baby blankets.  They were laughing until they cried.  Simply joys.

    One of my favorite things about Sunday is baking with the kids. Our church services don't start until 1 pm this year.  (We share a building with two other congregations and we rotate start times each year.)  This year I like having the long slow mornings to start something in the crock pot and then bake up something sweet with my sweeties.  Today we tried a new recipe called Crazy Cake.  It's dairy and egg free.  I'm not vegan and I don't have allergies of any kind, and neither do the kids. But we heard it was good so I gave it a shot. It smells delicious while it's baking.  And since the batter is egg free, we sure helped ourselves!

    Unfortunately, I was expecting the center of the cake to look light and fluffy when it was done baking, and it never did. So I left it in the oven way too long.  It wasn't burnt. But it wasn't what I'd call soft and moist either. So if you try this recipe, go ahead and just do the toothpick test even if the center looks like it's still too wet.
    I got this recipe from a local homeschool online board that I belong too.  Here are the original author's notes and directions:

    When I was a little girl my Grandpa would make homemade chili and serve it with crazy cake and butter instead of cornbread. It’s a family favorite at our house. 
    Here it is: 


    3 cups flour 
    2 cups sugar 

    ½ cup cocoa powder 

    2 tsp. baking soda 

    1 tsp. salt 

    2 cups water 

    2/3 cup + 1 1/3 TBSP. vegetable oil (or coconut oil) 

    2 TBSP vinegar (apple cider not white) 

    2tsp. vanilla 

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Put ingredients in a medium mixing bowl in order listed. Mix with a wire whisk thoroughly. (About 2 minutes). Pour into greased baking pan. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( I usually take it out of the oven at about 50-55 minutes) 

    Sometimes I add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the batter. It’s delicious with or without it. Coconut oil changes the flavor just a little, but is still delicious. 

    Serve warm topped with butter. 

    Cookies is another one of our favorite Sunday treats.  I love a warm cozy house that smells like fresh cookies and happy children eager to eat them.

    Who doesn't love to dunk their cookies in milk. But drowning them?  Hm.....

    One of our Sunday traditions is to read the scriptures before bedtime.  We try to do this during the week too.  But we're not always successful at that.  We never miss a Sunday night scripture study however, because it also involves yummy snacks.  
    **Note: I don't cook "dinner" on Sunday.  (It's supposed to be a day of rest, right?) I make one large meal after church and then we snack our way to bed. So while we are reading scriptures we usually have popcorn and some kind of special drink. Either a smoothie, orange frosty drink, special lemonade, etc. 
    Tonight it was orange frosty drink, which I haven't made for quite some time.  The kids love it.  Here's the recipe that I got from a church friend a few years back.

    Orange Frosty

    16 oz. frozen orange juice
    1/2 cup milk  (I omit this)
    1 tray ice cubes (I use 2 trays)
    1/3 cup powdered milk  ( I add a little more to make up for the milk that I left out)
    1/2 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup)
    1 cup water (I use 1 1/2 cups to accommodate for the milk I left out)

    Does your family have any simple Sunday joys?  What do you love about setting aside this special day for faith and family?

    Thursday, April 11, 2013

    Summer Camp Plans

    Is anyone else starting to get really excited for summer?  I see signs all over town warning parents that NOW is the time to sign their kids up for preschool next fall, NOW is the time to register for camps, NOW is the time to plan your vacations.

    And they're right.  It's time! And I'm ready.  So, I was laying in bed the other night, thinking about what our time and budget would allow for this summer as far as activities for the kids.  Here's what our summer plans usually include:

    • One fun activity day-camp for each child
    • Church camp, for those old enough to attend
    • Swimming lessons for everyone (usually a 2-week commitment)
    • One trip to Grammie and Grampa's house
    • One camping trip
    • One more fun family trip

    Other than that, we just lay low and enjoy the absolutely gorgeous summers of the Great Pacific Northwest.

    Anyway, I was trying to think about a more budget friendly way of doing camps this summer and my mind stumbled upon an idea that has been tucked away in my brain for a long time. If you've read more than a handful of my posts, you're pretty aware that teaching American history and patriotism to children is pretty important tome.  So I thought, "What about a Constitution Co-op Camp?"  It's still a half-baked idea.  But I was thinking about recruiting four other moms who would want to host one day of camp each.  Our camp would focus on the founding, the Constitution and principles of freedom. 

    I think running the camp by myself would burn me out pretty quick, but if I only had to do one day of it, I'd be OK with that. And then I'd still get to send my kids off to another home on the other days while I enjoyed a little down time to get errands and projects done. WHAT?  Get errands and projects done?  I like the sound of that!

    Side note:  Isn't it funny how other parents begin to complain when school is let out that now their house is over run by the kids and they can't wait for school to be back in session to regain peace of mind?  For me it's just the opposite! I LOVE when summer hits and we can take a break from school.  That's when I get to sign my kids up for stuff that I don't have to teach and I actually get a break!  Summer?  Bring it ON, baby!  Ok, moving on.

    The next day I got up and did a little digging online to see if anyone else had ever had the same idea.  Yes! Someone had the exact same idea! And they've done a great job of packaging it and making it available to others. Check out Patriot Camp by

    I think the package is a bit pricey.  Although, split between five moms, I suppose it wouldn't be too bad.  I'm sure there would be other costs involved when gathering and preparing materials for the camp. Anyway, I'm going to put it out to my local community and see what kind of interest I can generate.  
    I'll keep you posted!