Monday, September 27, 2010

Advice of the Day

I went to Maine for a bit, my sister flew into town for the week and I neglected my poor blog.  But I do have one bit of advice for the day that I think you will all find very useful.

Plan ahead for projects and experiments.  Not just a couple days ahead.  At least two weeks ahead and longer if you are on a tight budget.  LOL  If you do not, you will surely end up going completely insane hunting down bar magnets and the like.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Studying Constellations

During the navigation portion of our unit, my little ones are spending time learning about constellations.  My favorite book so far has been H. A. Rey's book entitled "Find the Constellations."  This is the perfect book for kids and parents to learn about the constellations and the names of the 1st magnitude stars as well as lots of other tidbits about the sky but without getting too technical or boring.  (Not that it would be boring for me of course but you know, for the sake of the kids.) 

For our projects this week we needed this book, some tracing paper, a Pringles can for each child, pencils, ERACERS (patience), a hammer, an awl and a flashlight.  We also pulled out the star charts my older two made at a nature preserve field trip we went on a few years ago.  This is where I got the idea for our constellation can project that I'm going to share with you in a minute.

We started the week just reading about navigation and using the night sky to find your way.  Once I started showing ds and dd specific constellations I pulled out the tracing paper and using the book I mentioned earlier, I traced the dots for the stars in a few different constellations.  The kids were then able to "connect the dots" to see how the group of stars could look like it's namesake.  I then had them label the constellation and the 1st mag. stars.

On a seperate day we made the constellations in a can project.  It's good to space these things out.  I'm learning, don't pack too much into one day or I might just go crazy.  So they traced the stars onto a circle of tracing paper the size of the Pringles can lid.    Then they used scotch tape to stick this circle of tracing paper onto the bottom of the Pringles can. Note: The clear lid was very handy!  Because I did not use premeasured drawings, the kids used the lids to go through the book and find a constellation that would fit within it's boundaries.  

Can I just say how awesome it is to see my cherubs working together and helping each other with a project?!  I am just giddy with the thrill of it all!

Once the holes were finished we took off the tracing paper, grabbed a flashlight and headed for our very dark garage to try them out.  We found that if you place the flashlight just at the very edge of the Pringles can you get a clearer image.  If you put the flashlight down in the can, too much light will shine through and reflect onto your wall so you can't make out the stars.
Can you name the constellations they chose?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rebuilding Stonehenge

My oldest dd has never been very fond of hands-on projects no matter how many different ways I presented them to her.  (It only took me 2 years of homeschooling to figure that out.)  So when she began high school level KONOS and started to do her own lesson planning, I questioned whether she would choose a "well balanced diet" so to speak. Would she choose all reading activities?  Would she choose all history and not do enough art to earn an art credit for high school?  Would I have to force her to write reports?  Her preferred method of learning is to read, read, read.  But she does not always retain, retain, retain.  So I like learning through various methods.

Well we're only four weeks in so I can't say how the rest of the year will pan out but so far it has been going superbly.  She has been scheduling a good solid amount of work to keep herself busy and learning and she even seems to be enjoying it.  I think she likes having the control. DD is the kind of kid who likes everything organized and planned out where she can see it and understand it.  She likes knowing what is expected of her and what she should be doing when and all that sort of thing.  KWIM?  So this is really working out.

Last week she was studying Stonehenge and in addition to writing a short biography on John Aubrey she also chose to build a small model of Stonehenge as it is believed to have been in it's glory days.  I had never heard of Aubrey but as DD has explained to me, John Aubrey was a 17th century scholar who discovered 56 pits encircling Stonehenge just within the surrounding ditch.  They are now called Aubrey Holes in his honor.  He was a cautious observer, looking for clues rather than treasure and his work influenced the research of others after him.

DD created her replica using simple wooden blocks.  It was a valuable hands-on experience that further cemented her study of Stonehenge.  Here is an "aerial view" of her model.  She included the station stones and the slaughter stones but this photo just shows her ring of sarcen stones and everything built inside of the ring.  Due to limited space in our living room she was not able to put in the Aubrey Holes or the outer ditch and bank but she was careful to explain where they would have been during her demonstration of the model.  I suppose she would have had to have dug holes in my carpet and I wouldn't have been too keen on that anyway.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lessons in Navigation

This week was our first week studying Inquisitiveness.  We are jumping right into navigation and the explorers unit. 

At home we have discussed different types of navigation and are mainly focusing on the means they would have used before electronic navigation came into practice such as stars and compass, piloting and sounding.

Instead of meeting at my house for co-op this week we chose to meet at a local park that also has a small lake.  One of the families brought along their canoe so the kids could actually try sounding and piloting on water.  This was definitely the highlight of the day as each child eagerly awaited their turn in the boat.  Two adults took the kids out two at a time for safety reasons and it also made it a much better lesson for them because there were fewer distractions with the one on one interaction.  They each had a turn using a marked rope to sound many points on the lake and found out that our chosen lake is actually quite shallow, never getting more than 2 1/2 fathoms deep and less than 2 fathoms in most places.  Fortunately it did get to 2 fathoms in some places so the kids could have a chance hollering the warning, "Mark Twain!" 

While this was happening on water, the rest of us did some compass work on land.  We started with a bit of magnet review from last year and then proceeded to make our own compass using a pin and a magnet.  Sadly, either our pin was not magnetizing or there was too much motion...Our compass did not work.  The ball end of the pin kept sinking and the other end of the pin wouldn't consistently point north.  (And this is why I strongly dislike science, because the experiments rarely go as planned!) On a side note, my son who was home sick that day made a compass of his own using the exact same supplies inside the house and it did in fact work.  I was so happy for him.  (Maybe HE will like science.)

Fortunately one of the kids brought a compass from home and we were able to use that.  Each child had an opportunity to carry the compass and lead the group to a given location.  All this while sort of reviewing the navigational method of piloting.  Piloting comes under the unit of inquisitiveness because the explorers were inquisitive, although it could easily have been an exercise in attentiveness.  The children needed to pay attention to their surroundings including any noticable rocks, trees and other things in nature as well as the position of the sun and the direction of their compass.

For extra fun we sang a couple good theme songs including "A Sailor Went to Sea" complete with partner hand clapping and then "Fire Down Below."  We discussed how sailors needed to use their listening skills to navigate as well, especially in fog.   When foghorns were used, a sailor could listen for the horn and steer away from land.  This led to a rousing game of foghorn where the person who is "it" gets to be the foghorn and all the other kids have to close their eyes and use only their ears to find the hornblower. 

With the help of the kids, a grapefruit, a flashlight and a golf ball we finished up our lessons with a quick demonstration of the earth's rotation around the sun and subsequently the moon's rotation around the earth. 

All in all it was a perfect KONOS day that exhausted us all.  Or maybe that was just me who was exhausted. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cool Apple Trick

Oh! I found this neat site today while cruising blogland and a really neat way to make a sliced apple travelable (I'm pretty sure that's a word) without it turning brown.
Check out this Aussie Apple!

Cave Art

My daughter and her co-op partner just finished their third week of History Of the World I from KONOS.  For their art project this week they decided to create some cave art of their own.  Here are their final results.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Horton Gets Dramatized

To kick off our new school year we decided to start with a week of general responsibility from KONOS Volume II.  At our co-op there was much discussion on responsibility with a variety of examples of responsible people.  One of our students wrote three short stories and the younger students had to tell if the main character was careless or if what happened in the story was an accident.  We also sang "No Man is an Island" but this particular meeting was heavy on discussion.

In order to break it up a bit and have some fun, we asked the kids to dramatize "Horton Hatches the Egg" by Dr. Seuss.  It was hilarious.  DH didn't know this was going to be part of our co-op day but he knew exactly which story we were doing when he saw the pictures.

I don't see how they can be called "friends" when they pick on poor Horton this way.

I love a good dramatization to lighten things up.  Way to go Horton!

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Raining It's Pouring

But we aren't snoring!  This summer when dh's parents first arrived we had a particularly hot day with a downpour in the afternoon.  My kids immediately ran into the house and donned their swimsuits so they could run in the rain.  (I don't mind if they get their clothes wet but for some reason my kids prefer not to.)

After a bit of wild running around I suggested they get their toy boats out of the sandbox and float them down the stream in our side yard.  It is not a real stream.  It's only there during heavy rain but it does run quite rapidly down the hill.

This is where it really got fun.  They ran up and down the hill trying to get to the bottom of the stream before the boat did.  Sometimes they were so excited they didn't even go all the way to the top of the stream, they just started it somewhere along the way.  And most times because they were so caught up in the excitement they didn't even chance a glance to see their boat heading down river they just ran on.

Poppaw decided the stream wasn't deep enough and he helped it along a bit with a shovel.  Next thing you know HE was going back and forth to the stream.  Up and down the hill, fixing it here or there and saving boats that went too far and ran under the bramble at the bottom of the hill where the kids could no longer reach it.

Yeah, he was drenched too.  But he didn't mind, in fact he loved every minute of playing with his grandkids.

Here's a perfect picture to prove my point.  Their feet barely touched the ground during this terribly exciting event.  My neighbor's boy is out there with us and as you can see he's in midair.  Forgive the blurriness, they wouldn't hold their positions long enough to get clear pics. 

September Edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival

This month I am excited about the start of the new school year and it has me thinking about field trips.  I hope you don't mind that I've included photos of my recent visit to Boston, a perfect field trip location and so inspiring to those of us who love history.  Welcome to the latest edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival!

Melissa presents a Math Giveaway - Bragging about our math curriculum! posted at Bugs, Knights, and Turkeys In the Yard.

The USS Constitution at rest in the harbor at Charlestown.  Behind her is the Bunker Hill Monument. 

Lynn has some lapbooking resources to share with you in her post Lapbooks for Autumn posted at Eclectic Education.

Paul Revere's home
Angie presents Making Changes!! for our Charlotte Mason enthusiasts posted at Live, Love, Learn.

The Old North Church, still being used today and now surrounded by townhouses
Pamela presents Bricks and Brains posted at Blah, Blah, Blog.  My son enjoyed this post as much as I!

Above the entrance inside the Old North Church
Dawn presents The Art of Drawing Things Apart? posted at my4sweetums.   I think you'll enjoy the fun twists and turns this lesson took when the kids got hold of it.

The Robert Shaw Memorial sitting across the street from our state house.  This is beautiful to look at up close with the attention to detail the artist paid.  If you received the posters of artwork from Picturing America almost two years ago, this is included.
Our next contributor was kind enough to give us two submissions that are perfect for our Hands On Carnival.  Melissa presents Fresco Painting and Carolina Sphinx Moth posted at In The Sparrows Nest.

I wish I had gotten a better picture but a bus got in my way.  The first time the Declaration of Independence was read in Massachusetts it was on the balcony of this building you see behind the trees.  It is also the site of the Boston Massacre which apparently wasn't much of a massacre at all.

Finally I am going to share my camping trip which makes a great hands on field trip! 

Thanks for visiting me here at Talking to Myself.  I hope you enjoyed the carnival.  Next month we'll be over at Jimmie's Collage so be sure to stop on by or better yet, submit your blog post describing your latest hands-on adventure.

Submit your blog article to the next edition of Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Camping, Homeschool Style

Our family recently went on a camping trip to Lake Dennison in Massachusetts with dh's parents.  I planned for this trip to be loaded with nature hikes and plant and bug identifcation.  I brought lots of nature identification books and our "bug bag."  No, it is not a bag of bugs like the name would suggest but it is what we have termed the bag that keeps all our nature hike stuff like our bug vacuum, little clear boxes with magnifier lids, a handheld microscope and other magnifying glasses and binoculars.  We did get these out and use some of the items from our bag but I was disappointed that we didn't use our nature supplies as much as I hoped, at least three times a day with children showing awe and amazement at every natural thing they could find.  No, it never quite works out the way I plan.  And while I usually worry that I'm not teaching my children anything on these camping trips, it only takes one neighboring camper with a passel of boys who ran and chased each other from the moment their vehicle pulled in to remind me of what our kids did learn and experience.  Setting up camp in itself was a learning experience for my kids who helped from beginning to end.  (Uh, not without a little grumbling of course but we're working on that.)  This is not the first time we've camped, nor the first time they've had to help set up but every opportunity provides review and new lessons in the great outdoors.
 They also got to ride on Poppaw's new boat which ds helped to assemble a few days earlier as a practice assembly. DMIL purchased this boat and trolling motor for DFIL as a retirement gift.  They can easily pack it away in their camper and bring it on long excursions when he wouldn't want to haul the large boat behind the camper on a trailer.  I think he was just delighted with the gift and Mommaw is happy for him to be able to fish whenever he wants.  It's really a one person boat but it has a large weight capacity and just enough room in front for an extra small person.  DD enjoyed being shuttled back from the beach in it too on our last swimming day. Here she is shoving off. 
Every spare moment when an adult was available to go along or at least keep watch, the kids were swimming like fish. And this was the chance dh needed to get our youngest dd riding her two wheeler on her own. Hurray! She came home an expert.

We almost always saw my oldest with a book in her hand. It was a good opportunity to get some of her school reading done. The book she is holding is called Dear and Glorious Physician, a semi biography of Luke by Taylor Caldwell and an excellent read so says DD. 
The stars were beautiful each night lending conversations about constellations and the upcoming meteor shower we were excited about.  In the sky on the last night of our trip we should have been able to see 3 planets near the moon and that was to be followed by a meteor shower.  Unfortunately, it was cloudy all day and night so we didn't get to see what God had aligned for us.  But we did stay dry in the rain with my dh's awesome tarping. 
Oh yes, and nature, we did observe lots of that too although we did not identify everything.  This moth, a hemlock looper was spotted on my van door one morning.  It was pretty in its own way but I was most excited for this flower identification: 
The pickerelweed grows along the side of lakes and ponds and is quite beautiful in August.  We had just seen a great mass of these a few days earlier in a shallow river bed (that really seemed more like a pond) when we were at the Civil War reenactment in Brimfield, MA.  By the time we saw them at the campground they were almost completely out of bloom with only a few flowers remaining.  Ducks love to eat the seeds from the pickerelweed which explains why we saw a duck family visit this spot quite often during our stay.

There was plenty to do while camping and although it wasn't the science field trip I had hoped it to be, it was a fine educational event for our family, full of God's surprising lessons.  Now, September is the best time to camp.  The weather is cool, the kids are in school so homeschoolers often get the pick of the campsites with our flexible schedules and often times the rates are cheaper because it is considered off-season.  I wish we could get another trip in!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Carnival is Coming!

The blog carnival is coming, the blog carnival is coming!  Can you imagine Paul Revere running through the streets shouting that?  Ok well we all kow he didn't really run through the streets shouting anything.  We all know that but our trolley tour guide we had in Boston a couple weeks ago, he still tells people that.  And that wasn't the only thing he got wrong either and I never would have known it if I wasn't a homeschool mom, digging for the truth hidden inside every dusty book.

But so, the blog carnival reminder popped up at me today to remind me that I am supposed to be getting this thing together and I got a little excited.  I know, I've been MIA all summer.  Even Jimmie had to send me an email to wake me up when she was getting entries a month early.  (She'll be hosting next month and I hadn't updated the upcoming carnival hosts to show who would be hosting September so everything automatically went to her.)  So yes.  I let things go over the summer.  I can't be the ONLY person who has ever done that!  BUT it's September now, I'm all into school again and I can't wait to see what everybody is up to.

See you all real soon!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Time for a Haircut

My dd has been growing her hair forever.  Nothing more than a trim from mom once a year or maybe twice was all she's had since she was about 4 or 5.  So it's long but it grows SO slowly that she never wants to do anything major to it.  She loves the length of it and I do too so I understand.

You probably want to tell me that trimming the ends will help the hair grow faster.  I know.  In fact that is exactly what I would tell my daughter whenever I wanted to trim her hair.  I told her so much in fact that the day she decided to let her bangs grow out (second grade) she came home with the shortest bangs I ever saw.  So yeah, I guess I told her too much how well your hair grows when you cut it.

Anyway, she finally decided to get it cut by a professional.  And it came out beautifully.  We were both afraid and didn't want her to cut too much off.  But yet she was hoping for some dramatic change.  I'm not sure how you can have a dramatic change without cutting a whole lot off, or dying it or perming it or something crazy.  Dramatic or not though, it did come out very nice.

She had a little bit more a bang cut into it, the back rounded off, some LONG layers put in and about six inches cut off the longest parts.  The hairdresser said she couldn't bring the layers up too much or the bottom would look too thin.  It is much healthier now and rounds out so nicely whereas before the bottom had gotton uneven and she had a lot of dry ends.

Thinking Over the First Day Back to School

Monday was our first day back to school.  It went pretty well.  A few adjustments could be made but all in all I was very happy.  These year I scheduled in a half hour recess for my young ones.  It's so public schooly!  But I thought, what the heck.  That's one of the things kids love about public school so why not let them have it?  And I admit it did make for a nice break at 11:30 when they were already getting ancy.

My eldest dd was the only one who thought today did not go so well.  The funny thing is, she has been doing school work for a couple weeks now in a loose sort of way and has been managing fine.  But because I scheduled the day or perhaps didn't schedule enough of her day, I'm not sure which, I fouled her all up.  Really what I did was I left her morning open for her own design and I inserted myself in at 11am to help her with math and anything else she might need direction with.  She didn't have enough time and she used all her morning hours for reading when she should have kept much of that for after school homework type stuff. 

She is looking forward to a bright new start Tuesday and we have added some definition to her schedule to give her a bit of direction.  She will do her Bible, French and science in the morning followed by math (as much as she can) before I join her at 11am to help with trouble areas in whatever subject she wishes.  She'll do her KONOS subjects in the afternoon.  I hope it works better for her so she has a better schoolday. 

My little baby is all grown up doing her own thing in high school now.  She even moved out of her school bucket and had to set up a full shelf of her own this year.

Everything does look all neat and tidy in our little room though.  New beginnings are so refreshing.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Summer VBS

I know, we're all getting started with the new school year and here I am posting about Vacation Bible School.  I'm sure we're all VBS'ed out but if you are a VBS coordinator you are probably looking into your curriculum for next year.  Or at least you should be!!  Yikes I had no idea we should have started so early!  We didn't start planning this until MAY!

This was our church's first full-out Vacation Bible School and I was excited to put it together with a couple of other ladies.  At the time I was going to post an in-depth blog post on the ins and outs of planning a VBS but time got away and here I am in September.  So I think I'm just going to give an abbreviated version of what I had in mind and share lots of pics. 

This lovely lady seated to your left was our indispensable, extremely talented artist who painted her heart out to get the decorations just right and create a rockin' atmosphere.  And a rockin' atmosphere is just what you need when you are going Backstage with the Bible, we chose curriculum put out by The Go Fish Guys.

With the concert theme in mind we set up our check in station to make the kids feel like they were waiting in line at a concert.  They needed their tickets and backstage passes ready before being escorted to their seats.  While waiting they could have their pictures taken.  Kentucky Fried Chicken was kind enough to donate the buckets that we used to make colored "lights." And our artist did up the portraits for the kids to stand behind.  (I know, it's weird me mentioning the Kentucky Fried chicken buckets when so many people donated to help us out but it's just that I think they came out so cool!)
We opened with a concert each night complete with strobe lights and music and dancing.  Three kids from our youth group volunteered ahead of time to lead the kids and be our dancers and they really helped to get the kids involved and having fun.  Each night after the concert they also put on a humorous skit that introduced the night's lesson focus. Something that has been lacking in VBS's lately has been the use of the Bible.  I think it may be that churches are trying to make VBS more easily accessible to the unchurched and I credit them for that however we need to find a way to keep the Bible in Vacation Bible School while making it a welcoming environment to those who don't have one.  This VBS program was big on that aspect of it and I think that's what drew me to it in the frst place.  Each child needed to have a Bible to get backstage and into the classes.  The way we made this possible for guests and those kids who didn't have a Bible was by giving Bibles away.  I believe each night we gave away at least one Bible and a couple nights three.  It was a small group so that's pretty good.  But even though it was small we had one to four guests each night.  It was such an awesome feeling to put a Bible into those kids' hands. 
And we didn't waste any time befoer the everyone was leafing through the pages, hunting for a requested verse.  In the classes every night they worked on a new memory verse and were often asked to look things up.  I had the pleasure of showing several new visitors how to find things in their new Bible.  And yes, I admit, they had the pleasure of receiving candy and prizes all along the way. 

Their evenings were filled with crafts, snacks, Bible lessons and games. 
As I look at this picture of our pastor's wife (the blond on your right, facing us) I am reminded that we had VBS in July.  Early July.  And she was PREGNANT!  But she didn't know it yet.  And neither did we.  But we know it now.  Yippie yay!!!!  Yippie yay!!!!! She's actually three months pregnant now and they only just made the announcement in church this Sunday.  I cannot believe how well they kept this secret because you KNOW every Momma in the congregation wouldn't leave them alone about when they were going to have a baby.  We've been gently nagging them for at least the two years they have been with us.  And now here they are pregnant and we are all so very happy!  But I digress...
For adults and kids, Backstage with the Bible was a very fun VBS.  Go Fish is putting out a new package with new songs er should I say old songs for next summer... It's called Kickin' It Old School.  Watch the trailer here.
  Oh and here's the other lady who put this thing together with me.  She's on  the left, also very talented and very fun.  And the gal on the right is my good friend and supporter and fellow KONOS homeschooler. 
So, even if you're not in the mood to think about VBS right now, you should at least consider which curriculum you are going to be using next summer and have it purchased this fall.  Then you can start planning it out in January and not be rushed to get it all together like we did.