Thursday, March 30, 2017

Homeschool Spelling Bee

Back on Feb 16, I hosted a spelling be at our house.  My 6yo is an avid speller! She loves to spell!!  She spells about every 15th word out loud and is always saying, "Hey mom,  I can spell ___________."  Wanna hear?"

So it was mostly for her, but my 9 yo and 11 yo had fun with it too.  We opened it up to 6-12 year olds and I only allowed 15 registrations.  I had a great response! I could have easily filled a lot more spots but, being my first bee (EVER!) I wanted to just keep it low key.

I think it went really well and we had a lot of fun.  If I were going to open it up to more kids I would move it to a larger space, however.

The basics of how it worked:

I used words from  since they have lists by grades. I had asked each child to give me their self-reported SPELLING grade (not school grade) so that they could each be individually competitive at their own level.

As kids dropped out and our numbers became fewer, I challenged the reaming kids by bumping up their grade levels and giving them harder words.  For the last 3 remaining contestants, I started using the challenge words. I had to do that or it would have gone on forever. We had some good spellers!  As it was, the actual bee lasted about an hour and that was plenty.  I had scheduled 2 hours for the whole experience so we coudl wait for stragglers, have an orientation, then do prizes and food at the end.

I allowed the kids to have one PASS and one NEXT card.  These cards allowed the kids to either pass their turn and still remain in the game, or ask for the next word on the list if they didn't like the one they got.  I think it gave more kids more confidence to try the bee.

For the kids who were eliminated, I had cleared out my living room and set up a variety of games, puzzles and activities for them to enjoy while they waited.  They were also free to play outside with some adult supervision from other moms.

I asked for $2/registration to cover the cost of the prizes, which were awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places.  My kids didn't place, but I thought we all had a great time and enjoyed the friendly competition.

Our house has 2 sets of stairs, so as the kids advanced to the next round, I had them exit our school room on one side, go down the front stairs, and come up the back stairs where they waited (quietly) in line for their next round.  This kept their bodies moving a little bit while eliminating background noise for the speller.  Looking back, it would have been more efficient to have the kids line up in order of spelling grade level so that I wouldn't have to do so much flipping and clicking back and forth from list to list.

I got good feedback from parents and kids, so maybe we'll do it again sometime.  Actually, I'm thinking next year we will do a Geography bee! I'm already helping my kids study for it :)

On Deck.  The kids on the couch are waiting for their turn to spell.  The others waited on the stairs and advanced to the couch one by one.  Keep them moving, I say.

Using the lap top and white board.  I spelled out the missed words for kids who were not advancing.

orientation.  I explained the rules and handed out the passes.

Battle ship!  Downstairs the kids played games after they had been eliminated

We also had painting set up for kids who were waiting

and other stuff to do....

NC State Farm Days

Who's up for baby pigs, cow patties, and free ice cream?

We are, duh.

Just ten minutes up the road from where we leave is a HUGE farm owned by NC State Ag department.  I guess they open it up to the public once a year and it's a big to-do.  Of course, the kids loved the animals and the free ice cream.  Ivy got her first close look at chicks, piggies, cows, a horse, goats, and sheep.

My favorite part?  Well, it was free. That's always a favorite.  But my next favorite part was learnign about what it takes to be a farmer these days.  My kids were sufficiently annoyed and bored by the many questions I had for the volunteers manning the display tables and booths about crop rotation and pricing, weather instruments, and uses for soy.  Really...there's so much to farming that we never really think about.

When I see those bumper stickers that say, "Did you eat today? Thank a farmer."  I'm going to take it down right serious.

Fiber Fest NC

The other day I took our three middle kids to the NC state fair grounds for fiber fest! I wasn't sure what to expect.  But we're always looking for fun, free ways to go exploring in our new home, so why not, right?

I think the highlight was learning to use the loom.  I was surprised to see how much the kids enjoyed it! They got a lot of satisfaction seeing the pattern grow and change with the different peddles combinations they used.  The instructors were great! They helped us see how math was part of the process, as well as the thought, concentration, and attention to detail that were needed.

Wouldn't you love to have a loom set up in the corner of the house where your kids could sit down and have SCREENLESS fun for hours while also being productive and quiet??  Oh yeah....I would.  I was super close to buying a loom myself after seeing how much my gamer boy loved weaving!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Native American Study: Making Clay Bricks

We have been using a lot of Moving Beyond the Page recently.  And for the most part I really like it.  It's great for my active, 9-yo son when the lessons get him outside, or moving his body, or using his hands to do something besides push a pencil.

Today was like that.  We got to enhance our study of the southwest Native Americans by making our own clay bricks.  Fortunately, clay is abundant here in our new NC home!  I felt so lucky that we could walk out into the forest that is our back yard, dig up some clay, mix it with water from the stream that runs through said forest, and have so much fun doing this project without leaving the house!

We found all the clay we needed under this old fallen tree.

My 11yo never misses a chance to get her hands dirty and joined us in the fun.

Is there a more perfect way to spend the afternoon than shaping clay bricks in the forest by a clear stream?  Um, nope!

We used a butter box cut in half as a mold for our bricks.  It worked ok.  I think it would be better to use something a little sturdier.

Here are the first two bricks set out to dry.  We were pretty excited by our product!  I wonder if we could make enough bricks to build that outdoor pizza oven we've been dreaming about....