Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World Unit Study--Days 3, 4, 5

Day 3—Italy
Read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
Get passport “stamps”
Color map of Italy and find Italy on world map
Learn Italian phrases [body parts and food words] with Youtube video by Silvia
Look at pictures online of Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, and Italian countryside
Read “Buried Treasure” [a story from Italy] from Usborne Stories from Around the World
If there is time look at pictures of Sistine Chapel—can we paint upside down like Michaelangelo?
**We did not get to paint, but the girls loved the pictures of the Sistine Chapel!

Day 4
Reread story
Read The Little Red Hen
Read When Batistine Made Bread
Color in wheat growth chart
Look at wheat grains—make “seed” art
Sprout wheat
**We did not color in our wheat growth chart, nor did we make seed art.

Day 5
Check on our wheat—is it sprouting?
Color wheat page that we didn’t have time for during our last lesson
Reread story
Train puzzle
**Our wheat is not sprouting yet, but we found that we had time to print and glue in our France passport stamps and look at pictures of Paris.  We also recited our favorite parts of Madeline by Ludwid Bemelmans.

Antarctica Day 5

In spite of the fact that I haven't reported on Days 3 and 4 I'm so delighted with what is happening right now on Day 5 that I want to write before I forget.

Today is Iceberg/Glacier day.  We copied Isaiah 1:18, read about glaciers, took notes, watched videos of icebergs calving, and now the girls are making ice sculptures.  E12 wanted to divvy up the pieces of ice and make her own, but I insisted that this be a cooperative venture.

I was nervous.

Cooperation has not been E12's forte of late.

But upstairs 4 girls are creative and cooperatively building an ice sculpture!  Happy voices, good ideas, even shared leadership are all taking place.

I love the sound of, "Hey guys!  What about this!" answered with, "Oh yeah!  I like that!"

And that's what I'm hearing today.

And we also built our hydroponic growing tubes out of old water/soda bottles, shredded paper (recycled bank statements and medical reports), and cut up cloth dish towels.  Tomorrow we're planting our sprouts . . . I just have to buy some liquid fertilizer first.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

International Day--Day 2

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

On Day 2 we talked about boats; we colored a picture of a steamship; boiled water and watched the steam collect under the lid of the pan (we have glass lids--perfect for this learning experience); opened the lid to see the steam escape; and talked about how steam powered the engines of the ship.  We also did copywork using this site to make a page with Psalm 17:8 on it (Keep me as the apple of the eye . . .).  We reread the story.

The highlight of the day was making and playing with paddle boats in the bathtub.  Though they were not steam powered, they were ever-so-fun!  I did not find a pattern online that I particularly liked, but the concept was easy enough to help me realize that I could use the two styrofoam vegetable trays I had saved from my last shopping trip and a couple of rubber bands to make the boats.  I simply cut a rectangle out of the back, cut the cut-out piece in half to make a paddle, slipped a rubber band across the opening in the tray and wound the paddle up.

They worked perfectly.  The girls caught on immediately to the concept of winding one way to make the boat go the other, and then had fun making the boat go backwards and forwards.

Later I asked, "How do steam engines work?"  A5 answered, "The water boils and makes steam, and the steam makes the engine work and the boat goes!"


 Copywork  Moses 2:1

Compare celcius to fahrenheit, and then km to miles
Read blizzard description at Mawson in 1960
Research wind speeds for various parts of earth
Compare to car, train, aircraft 
Build anemometer
Wind chill demonstration/ make a blizzard
Read: Troubling a Star
Read: Emperors of the Ice 
Book Basket 

Find and record current temperatures at home and at McMurdo station

We're continuing to use Classroom Antarctica--virtually all of our activities came from the site.  We had a really good day--the best part being the ice fight we had in the front yard with our faux-snow after our demonstration of wind chill was over.

I'm loving the book basket time because for 20 straight minutes all I hear is, "Mom, Guess what?"  and then a child relates some new information she's learned.  M10 has been hearing off and on again about James Cook; none of us can remember exactly where or what we read about him, so she began pulling out books and specifically searching for him--that's self-driven research!

That's exactly what I want my children to do!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day One is Done

The big girls and I enjoyed our first day of studying Antarctica.  We're using Classroom Antarctica as our main resource.  It is fantastic!  I was so impressed that I even sent the site administrators a thank you note.  We're also using library books in abundance, and I was inspired by this blog post to remember to incorporate the scriptures, too (rather than having separate scripture study sessions).

So, yesterday we managed to accomplish the following in about 3 hours: 

Read:  An 11 Year Old's Observations of Antarctica
Prepare journals
KWL chart
Copy a scripture-- Gen 1:1
Draw a map
study climate charts online
make bar graph comparing our ave. temperatures to Antarctica's
Read: Troubling a Star
Read: Emperors of the Ice
Introduce book basket

The bar graphs were hard, even though the kids have done them before in Life of Fred.  I had to let J8 off the hook after completing her chart comparing high temperatures; it was simply too much to expect her to make another one comparing the lows.  The older three girls did complete both graphs, and they made a startling discovery:  Our average temperatures in January are almost the same as Antarctica's!   Without the graphs, we'd never have noticed.   We're all tickled pink by our discovery.

Later in the day E12 came to me wondering if it was 51 degrees here at home, what is the temperature in Antarctica.  She asked if we could make a chart comparing each day of our study.  I was so impressed with this good idea!  I told her so, and she ran off shouting, "I came up with a great idea for our Antarctica study!  I came up with a great idea that we're actually going to do!!!!"

If we learn nothing else in the next three weeks, I am satisfied with that one moment with my E12.

The girls are loving our two read-alouds, and asked dramatically for me to keep reading when I had to stop to take care of I.11 yesterday.  And our book-basket is simply half an hour set aside for the girls to pick up whatever library book on Antarctica they want (we checked out about 30 of them) and read for 20 minutes, then write for 10 minutes in their journals.  It is a fun way for eclectic information to be gathered.

And our journals turned out great!  We cut up and wrinkled paper grocery bags, then glued them onto inexpensive composition books.  They look like old-fashioned leather-bound journals.  All of our work is going in them.

I like journals better than lap-books.

We simply feel fresh and happy because of the change in our normal routine.  We were ready for something new and we're sure doing it!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

First Day of the New Unit Studies

Whew!  I'm already exhausted.

But it is a happy sort of exhausted.

Our homeschool association sponsors "International Day" each November.  The kids sign up to do displays of an international flavor.  In past we did a display about Cinderella stories from around the world, studied Mongolia, and had an aborted attempt to study India.  This year we're taking a break from our regularly scheduled school for 3 week unit studies.

For the little girls we are exploring How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

For the big girls we are studying Antarctica.

In 5 minutes I have to head upstairs to start the big girls.  I just spent the past couple of hours working with the little girls.  We made mini apple pies, read the book, and talked about passports.  I made really cute little passports for each girl by copying this idea and then using google images for the term "passport."  I printed out a homemade cover, pasted in the passport form, pasted in a picture of each girl, and then pasted in pictures of real {empty} passport pages.  I'm going to search for images of visa stamps as we "visit" each country in the book.

My time is up.  Off to Antarctica I go! 

Post edit:  I had the little girls show Daddy their passports.  H3 danced with delight as she said, "Daddy, I have a passport.  A passport is for going to other countries!"  Daddy gave her a high five, "You're right!"  Then we had a bonus educational moment as Daddy retrieved his real passport full of stamps and interesting notes and told the girls stories of his mission and travels when he was younger.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bible Stories--Years of Reading Aloud Bear "Fruit"

This morning early I handed the kids each a cup of leftover snack mix--cereal, pretzels, peanuts, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc.

Why not?

They liked it, and we were in need of a lazy Sunday morning.

Mostly they dumped it out on the table, organized it by item, and began wheeling and dealing for trades.

When that got boring, the fun began; S10 began reenacting Bible stories.

A stick pretzel propped up in a Cheerio became Goliath calling the Israelites cowards, and a raisin David answered the challenge.

A peanut King Solomon picked up a raisin baby and told two larger raisins that he could solve the problem by cutting the baby in half.  One mother selfishly turned her wrinkled back on the baby, but the other fell on her face offering her heart to allow the baby to live.

A white chocolate chip wearing a Cheerio hovered over a peanut named Joseph Smith saying as it pointed to another halo-wearing morsel, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased . . ."

Later the peanut Joseph related his vision to a tiny raisin Lucy Mack Smith.

Joshua, made of 2 small pieces of dried papaya and a raisin, carried a pretzel staff as he led the peanut Israelites in their march around Jericho.

Another peanut became Daniel praying faithfully in spite of the edict uttered by a pretzel named Darius.  Dried pineapple lions prowled threateningly.

A pretzel with a slightly melted chocolate chip head spoke with Moses' voice to another pretzel called Pharaoh, "Let my people go!"

And so the fun continued until hunger ended the play.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Reading Lessons--Using the Scriptures

Part of A5's learn-to-read program includes reading 1 verse each school day from the Book of Mormon. (We got the idea from Milestones Academy.) We're in our 8th week of school, and we're nearly finished with 1 Nephi 2.

We also read the Book of Mormon as a family each night. Until recently the little girls have just repeated what we read when it is their turn. But one night A5 grabbed her large print scriptures and read her verse herself--with lots of prompting and help. "Zarahemla", "heretofore", "ascension," and the like are rather hard words for a 5-year-old to handle alone.

I took this picture to capture this sweet stage of A5's development, but look at little sister H3, too! She's got an awfully good example in her big sister, and I'm sure that it won't be too long before we have yet another scripture reader in the family.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cooking Day Undone

The sky was so blue I could feel it.
The sun was so bright I could smell it.
The air was so crisp I could taste it.

So when we got home from our Explorer's Club meeting, I gave the kids each a thick slab of Three Cheese and Onion Bread and banished them from the house, "You must stay outside for at least one hour.  I will call you in when the baby is asleep and it is time for our cooking lesson."

I hated to call them in.  But I knew they would hate me if I skipped our cooking day.  So I went out to them.

They were building a log cabin out of the pieces of felled trees Daddy collects for our cousins' wood-burning stove.

"No!  It can't be time to come in!" they groaned.

"We don't have to cook everything on our list.  And we can certainly cook another day.  If you want to keep building, you're welcome to stay out here.  I'll call you in when we really get down to the wire, and  you can help make the treat."

"Okay!" they agreed.

I feel as if our best days are consistently the days that I let go of what I have planned and allow the kids to pursue the joys of their hearts.

But I also feel as if we have some excellent days because of the plans I make.

I guess living the good life is about balance.

Knowing my kids spent 4 hours out in that blue, bright, crisp, perfect day using their hands to work and their minds to create fills me with joy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo--The First Week

We set up our accounts and decided that 10,000 words was both ambitious and potentially reachable.

They're not going to reach 10,000 words this month.

But that's okay, because they're all just over 1,000 words right now at the end of the first week, and they are so proud of themselves!  I'm proud of them, too.  They've never attempted anything of this magnitude before, and they're being stretched ever so far.

Last night E12 read an excerpt of her story to me.  She can write.  She can really write.

(I find this encouraging because it means that the years I've spent reading aloud have not been wasted!)

J8 would rather write than do anything else these days.  S10 and M10 could have twice as many words if they weren't counting so often, but right now the counting is what's keeping them going, so who am I to argue?

I find the kids engaged in conversation all day long--sharing their stories with one another, conferring about plot twists and character names--I think it is tremendously exciting.  There's an energy and joy in our days that I will miss when the month is over.

Perhaps Christmas joys will take the place of writing. :)

In the meantime, we have 3/4 of the month still ahead . . . what will the next week bring?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Littles and Bigs--Benefits Abound

Today E12 was headed down to the TV room to watch her Latin lesson.  H3 was having a minor tantrum because her computer turn was over.  E12 said, "Hey, [H3], do you want to watch Latin with me?"

Immediately H3's tears stopped, and she enthusiastically plopped her little body on the couch next to her big sister.  A5 was a little bit disappointed that she had a reading lesson scheduled, but she read beautifully and happily with me then ran down to join her sisters in Latin.

No one in our family has ever studied Latin before, but because of the example of this big sister, leading the way [albeit reluctantly] into a learning adventure, our littlest sisters are growing up right in the middle of it.

How rich their little lives are!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween at the Zoo

Our cousin had a fever and chills, so our Halloween party was cancelled.

What to do with seven disappointed children on Halloween?

Go to the zoo!

So we did.

We packed some cheese and crackers, grabbed our jackets, and hopped in the van.

 It was that easy.

The sun was shining and the temperature reached 62 degrees--perfect.

Our zoo has a sky ride across "African" plains.  We took advantage of it.  I secured I.11 in the sling, held H3 tightly in my arms, assigned A5 to sit quietly with M10, told the other 3 to be good, and up into the air we soared.

It was that easy.

I was worried about having 2 little ones so high in the air in such an unsecured environment, but H3 has grown up a great deal in the 6 months that have recently passed.  She sat quietly, and I.11 was content to be out of the stroller, close to me, so I had opportunity to breathe and relax.

It was so quiet up so high.

The wonders of God's creations spread below us.

After some moments of quiet contemplation H3 turned to me, eyes wide, and said, "We are up with the birds!"

She felt the wonder, too.

We smiled in shared joy.