Monday, December 5, 2011

Native American Homes

The Teepee
On our final week of studying the Native Americans of North America we divided the kids into three teams and assigned each team with the task of building a miniature Indian home.  Each team had to make a different type of structure so we put some options in a hat and let them pick.

We gave the kids scraps of fabric, modeling clay, toilet paper rolls and a bucket with scissors and glue sticks and left them alone to build.  They were allowed to go outside to find any other supplies they might need to complete their homes but nothing else from inside could be used.

The Longhouse
This turned out to be a lesson on our current unit of attentiveness and so much more.  I was really pleased to see how resourceful the kids were which reinforced a unit we worked on last year.  Cooperation was the very first unit we ever studied as a co-op more than two years ago and I could still see how much they remembered from that unit.  They worked so well together with absolutely no arguments and their joy was evident in all they did.  Not one child tried to "get away" from the activity and all focused diligently on their projects.

The Adobe
This could have been due to the fact that the moms left the work area and went into the kitchen to do our own lesson planning as soon as the initial instructions were given.  There is just something so beneficial about kids being able to work on an interesting project without having a teacher looking over their shoulder every few minutes to see if they are doing it "right."

There was a mess to be sure.  But the clean up time is SO worth the investment!  And to top it off the kids were very good about cleaning up after themselves.  WOW! This day was a picture for me that showed how much our kids have matured and learned in the last couple years.  It will go down in history as one of my favorite co-op days.

Monday, November 14, 2011

November 2011 Edition of The Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival

Welcome everybody!  We're going to start this carnival off with a couple of posts that go quite nicely together and will give you great inspiration if you are studying the Middle Ages.  And since this is a study we just completed in our homeschool and I haven't blogged about very much, I'm going to intersperse today's carnival with photos from our unit.  I know you will gain a plethora of fabulous ideas this month so grab a cup of coffee and a pen and notepad because you are going to want to jot these ideas down!

Tiger's Mum presents Medieval Stained Glass posted at The Tiger Chronicle.

Susannah presents Paper Mache Motte and Bailey posted at The Five of Us.

Field trip to Higgin's Armory
Transitioning from history to science we have a delightful post about Egyptology which I think is sort of history but then it's kind of a science too isn't it?

Sarah presents Egyptology Leads To a Dig posted at All That's Goood.

Emily presents Introducing Solar Science Week, Day One posted at Homeschooling While Living the Life of Easier.

Cindy shares Candy Math and Science posted at Our Journey Westward.

I love these next two posts which are also science related but they include videos too.

Amanda (Victoria is article author) presents DenSchool: Squishy Ice Cream: A Science Experiment posted at DenSchool.  Mmmmm.... making ice cream and learning the science behind it, that's my kind of homeschool.

Shannon presents Hands On Science-Squishy Electrical Circuits posted at Mountaineer Country.  I think squishy was the science theme for vlogging this month.  But really, this is totally neat and even I could handle this science lesson.

Higgin's Armory in Worcester, MA

Jennifer shares Nutrition for Healthy Kids: You Are What You Eat!: Lesson 1: Organic Taste Test posted at Nutrition for Healthy Kids: You Are What You Eat!.

Amy presents 10 Children's Books About Food posted at Delightful Children's Books.  Amy says, "Here are 10 food-themed picture books to entertain as well as teach kids about fruits and veggies, food groups, and where food comes from. These picture books inspired us to cook vegetable soup, homemade pizza, and try some new fruits and vegetables."  

Last but certainly not least, Heather shares some very fitting Thanksgiving Learning Fun for the month of November posted at Cultivated Lives.

I hope you had lots of fun here today.  For those of you here in the U.S. have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

That concludes this edition. 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.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Early Roman Road Building

I've heard the Roman roads are amazingly straight.  They achieved this through an early surveying system where they used a tool called a groma.  It's pretty simple to make really.  In fact we had the supplies to make a rough one in our garage. To better understand the method the Romans used to build their roads and survey their land, my daughter and her friend built a groma and used it to lay out a right angle in our yard.  

There are a couple of excellent youtube videos of how to make a groma as well as how to use one.  The one we had the girls watch before attempting to build or use their own groma is here.  This just explains the use of one.  My hubby led them in the assembling of the groma. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fall Photos

DH is repairing a problem with our back deck.  Over the years it has been lifting up on one corner so that this summer is was quite out of whack and my hubby felt the need to fix it this fall.  He pulled the stairs off and dug this huge hole around one of the legs.  I was so happy to see my son out there helping him dig.
Then just as soon as he had the hole dug, the next day it rained and the hole filled with water.  We didn't worry about it at first figuring we'd have dry days and he'd get it finished when it emptied back out.  It seemed to only dry up on days when he was working and couldn't get out to work on it.  Then we had a snow storm (in OCTOBER!) and one thing led to another and now here it is November.  

A friend was kind enough to lend his sump pump and a chain so hubby didn't have to wait for weather to cooperate anymore.  he was able to pump the water out and he now has the cement pillar out of the ground!  Now he just has to put it back together again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Castle Building

Continuing the obedience unit we moved on to kings and queens specifically of the Middle Ages.  During our first week we focused on how castles were built, why they were used and what the many different aspects of the castle were created for.  Although the children read quite a few books on the subject, my favorite was Castle by David Macaulay along with the DVD by the same name.

At co-op we built a play castle out of cardboard boxes.  We used a refrigerator box, a stove box and a dresser box for the main rooms, two cylindrical rollers from a nearby factory that produces huge rolls of sticky paper and a smaller box for the turret details.

Once the boxes were assembled with cone roofs on the towers and doorways cut out we moved the entire castle into my garage just in time for the rain to start.  This is where we had the kids paint the castle gray.  Since the gray paint would not be dry before the kids had to leave I promised to paint the black block lines onto it during the week so they could play inside at the next co-op.  And thank goodness hubby was around later in the week to help with that because I never would have had it done otherwise.

Their completed castle has three rooms, two towers, a working drawbridge affixed with chains and a moat which is thankfully free of alligators. The best part is that the kids can play inside of this creation of their own each week before and after co-op.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boot Camp Co-op

We culminate each week's study with a day of co-op on Friday.  To complete our week on the military we let the kids dress up in some sort of uniform.  DD chose navy blue and white to honor her uncle who is retired Air Force and DS chose to honor his Dad who was in the army years ago.  We even made some little "medals" during the week out of ribbon, a bedazzler and and some hot glue.  So they each had three of these pinned to their uniforms along with their rank pinned to their sleeve.  All the co-op kids came dressed for boot camp with assorted canteens and weapons.

My wonderful husband led co-op this week so we had an especially fun time.  He started in the house with a power point and some instruction on what happens during basic training.  He went over all the insignia worn and the various ranks.  He showed them how to salute, who to salute and when to salute, when they should wear their head cover and when not to, how to stand at attention and more.  This lasted about an hour and the kids stayed engaged from start to finish.  I was amazed!

We then moved outside for some practice marching.  This was really fun because all the moms got to play too.  We were taught how to turn and pivot and march together.  Fortunately we live on a little dirt road so we could march up and down the length of it without interruption.  We also got to shout a marching ditty of my husband's making because the ones he used to sing in the army had profanity.  You know the kind..."I don't know but I've been told!"  and then dh's words, "New England weather is mighty cold!"  He ended it with something about our toes falling off in the night, quite silly so we loved it all the more.

One of the moms brought MRE's for lunch and all the kids had to try each item.  That was an adventure of it's own.  Some of the courses were better than they expected and the one part DH and I remember liking best turned out to be disgusting!

Finally to complete the day we all went back outside to run through an obstacle course.  This time DH was supposed to yell in their faces like a drill sergeant but he just couldn't do it.  He yelled but it all sounded more like shouts of encouragement to me. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Military Week

Learning about the U.S. Armed Forces
Today my youngest colored a picture of the Union soldiers raising a balloon into the air in order to see where to best direct their cannon fire during the Civil War.  My son colored a picture of an American fighter plane during the time of WWII held almost 100 years later.  While coloring I asked them to discuss the advancement of military equipment our country, and the world had seen during the 80 years between the Civil War and World War II.  Even I was amazed at how much had changed in so little time.  I knew the information but never really thought about it before.

We followed this up by learning the various ranks and insignia of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.  We "took" the Oath of Enlistment then I assigned all of us rank and we made patches for our sleeves.  We colored them onto cardstock, laminated each one, cut it out and pinned to our shirts.  For the remainder of the afternoon we addressed each other according to rank and title.  

Once our badges were made I drew a clock labeled with military time and we talked about that for a while while I quizzed them on it.  

The afternoon was made complete when I "let" them play a mock battle with their little green army men.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Obedience - Authority and Bible

This was our first week back to KONOS co-op.  All the kids were thrilled to be back together and I was too!  We are studying the unit on obedience in Volume I this fall beginning with identification of our authority figures.  Here's what we did at co-op today:

  • Begin with prayer and pledge of allegiance.
  • Discuss the obedience of Abraham compared to the disobedience of Adam and Eve.  Who was wiser?  Why? (Page 82 Activity E)  Color pictures of Adam and Eve and Abraham and Isaac while discussing.  Also use this time to discuss proper obedience, who we should obey and how they did practicing obedience this week at home.
  • Students present reports on obedience (page 83 Activity H) including why they should obey, how and what they need to improve on.  Reports should express a personal testimony.
  • Discuss community leaders such as policemen, firemen, librarians and pastors that must be obeyed and make badges of authority.  (Page 83 Activity G)
  • Discuss authorities through history.  Explain the differences and similarities between various types of government: monarchy, totalitarian state, socialist state, communist state, republic and democracy.  (Page 83 Activity F)
  • Write the names of government leaders on slips of paper and have group prayer each child praying in turn for the name on their slip of paper.  Children should take home their slip so they can continue to pray for their government leader on a daily basis.  (Page 83 Activity N)
  • Bible sword drills.  Say a verse and have kids compete to see how fast they can find it in the Bible.  (Page 86 Activity D) We gave each child a pen with the books of the Bible written inside when they had found a verse just for fun and to give them encouragement to learn the books of the Bible in order.
We have co-op earlier in the day now so we broke for lunch in the middle which worked perfectly today since there was so much discussion.  Next week we are moving on to the military portion of the unit before we do kings and queens the following weeks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Announcing a New Home For The Hands On Carnival

Hi Everyone!
As you can see, I haven't been blogging much lately. I felt that my lack of attention to the blog world was doing the carnival a disservice.  Because the carnival has had regular entries each month, even without my attention, it seemed to be a waste to just shut it down.  Fortunately there's another blogger out there who loves hands on school as much as I do and wants to keep the carnival going!!!

Soooo, without further ado, I'd like to invite you to visit the new home of The Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival!

Mountaineer Country

Please join me in giving Shannon a hearty welcome.  She is going to do an awesome job getting the best hands on activities out to you lovely bloggers.  In fact she has hosted the carnival in the past so she is already familiar with it.  The Hands On carnival was hosted at Mountaineer Country most recently in March.  It would be great if this next issue of the carnival were packed with your great ideas!  So please hop on over to the blog carnival to submit your entry!  I know Shannon will be encouraged and of course it is that time of year to get going on school again!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Carnival is Up

Hey everyone, there is a wonderful new edition of the Hands On Blog Carnival up at Harmony Art Mom!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival ~ June 2011

Yes, I know, I'm super late with this edition.  I'm so sorry.  But given the size of this edition, I'm thinking I'm not the only one who is tired of school and happy to be enjoying summer vacation.  For those of you who are still plugging away and perhaps need a bit of inspiration, here are a few welcome blog articles to keep you going.

Z-Dad presentsWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon posted at Bookie Woogie.

I'm going to go away from the norm for a bit here and include this lovely article from Kerry at Creek and Mesa Web Journal.  This is not an article about a hands on "project" that Kerry has done with her kids, rather it is an article about living and I thought it seemed very "hands-on" so I'm including it here for your enjoyment and encouragement: Growing Wild.

Ann presents Outdoor Hour Challenge Spring Series #4: Wildflowers-Dandelions and Playing the Harp and Piano as Part of Homeschooling posted at Harvest Moon by Hand.

Zoie looks like she's having fun in her post Kid-Dyed Silk Scarves posted at TouchstoneZ.

Susannah presentsa much easier way to make paper in her post Making Paper the Quick and Easy Way posted at The Five of Us.

Barb at Harmony Art Mom will be hosting our next carnival on July 11th.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Last Days

We have been enjoying these last days of school.  Our school year officially ends Friday although I do sneak a few weeks in during the summer when my kids aren't looking.

In fact we are already looking forward to one more week of school when we go camping in Maine.  It doesn't seem like school but it is our opportunity to finish up our weather unit with a big finale and focus on survival skills a little, nature journaling, hiking, some life skills and cooperation as we work together to set up, keep and then break down camp.  We are praying the WEATHER will cooperate with us this year.  LOL Last year when we used this trip to finalize our ocean unit we had rain all morning while we broke down camp.  It was a sad state of affairs to say the least.

So very soon we'll be preparing for our trip.  We'll be looking at the weather maps and forecasts.  We'll be deciding what kind of weather gear we should bring.  We'll be making lists, grocery shopping, checking the camping gear, baking and packing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Greenhouse Effect

My daughter describes the greenhouse effect to me as follows:  "Water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane surround the earth and trap the sun's heat which keeps the earth warm and keeps us alive.  Without these, the earth would be a very cold place."  She just finished up module 10 in Apologia Biology and conducted a cool no, hot experiment to help us visualize the greenhouse effect which incidentally, lined up perfectly with the weather subunit I am doing with the younger two this week.

First she took the temperature outside in the sun then she placed that thermometer inside of a gallon sized zip lock bag and left it in the sun for about fifteen minutes.  When you try this at home you will see a difference in temperature.  The plastic bag is our acting greenhouse.  Now to amplify this and show the way carbon dioxide retains heat she took it one step further by filling the bag with carbon dioxide, sealing it withthe thermometer insde and then leaving it in the sun for another fifteen minutes.  Wow!  Big rise in temperature!

Here are the steps to getting the carbon dioxide in the bag as per Apologia.  (And it is much easier than some of the web recommended methods.)  You'll need:
  • empty 2 liter bottle
  • vinegar - enough to fill it about a third of the way up
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
Pour vinegar into your bottle about a third of the way.  Next pour 1 tsp of the baking soda into the vinegar in the bottle.  Wait until the bubbles stop fizzing and then pour the second tsp of baking soda in.  Before you pour the third tsp of baking soda into the bottle get your bag ready.  Get all of the air out of your bag by flattening it out and leave it unsealed just enough to fit over the top of the 2 liter bottle.  You'll have to do the final step very quickly so be ready!  OK, ready?  Pour the third tsp of baking soda into the bottle and very quickly get the bag over the opening of the bottle "sealing" it with your fingers to keep any air from getting in or carbon dioxide from getting out.  Hold the bag there until the fizzing stops and tadah, you have a bag full of carbon dioxide.  Now quickly get your thermometer back into the bag and seal it completely.

This week at co-op we will be discussing temperature and the effect it has on weather, the Earth and everything on it.  We'll also be putting together terrariums so we can have mini greenhouses in our homes.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival May 2011

Welcome to this Spring edition of the Hands On Blog Carnival.  I hope you all had a wonderful and heartfelt Mother's day yesterday!  I'm so excited that spring is finally here.  Not just here on the calendar but the weather is actually beginning to act springlike.  We've been taking advantage of the beautiful weather to go outside with our homeschooling.  Our favorite thing to do every spring is to take a good book outside and read on a blanket spread out on the lawn.  My little kiddos all sprawl out alongside Mom and we get totally absorbed in the likes of Little House on the Prairie, Homer Price or Swiss Family Robinson.

Hopefully you too are getting outside for some relaxed schooling.  I picked up nature journals for my two younger kids last weekend at our local homechool convention.  This is a great tool for getting hands on with nature and practicing observation.  Today's carnival is full of examples of other ways to do some hands on homeschooling.  Enjoy!

Wendy presents The work of our hands posted at loving learning.

Shelly presents KONOS Unit #2: Stewardship - Africa posted at Count It All Joy.

"Dramatizing a play makes History come alive! (And it's a sneaky way for me to get the girls to memorize some facts!)"  I totally agree Nadene!!!  Here is how she does it: Playing the Mayflower Girls posted at Practical Pages.

Heather, a fellow KONOS mom, presents Becoming Butterflies... and Knights-in-the-Making posted at Cultivated Lives.

Denise says, "I need your help to finish my books of homeschool math games."  Here she presents Working on My "Let's Play Math!" Books posted at Let's Play Math!.

Margot shares two posts with us today including Terrariums   and Explore the Universe and Contribute to Astronomy posted at Learning Beyond The Book.

I love field trips because they are the ultimate in hands on learning.  They really put you in the midst of your subject of study.  Pamela has spent some time in Arizona and shares her trip with us in her article Saguaro and a Shoot Em Up posted at Blah, Blah, Blog.

Jane plays a sweet game of Magnetic Fishing for All Ages, a game I used to play with my kids except it was a letter version, posted at Mama Pea Pod.

Ritsumei has a fun way to Play With Your Food and she's also sharing a giveaway in her post about Owl Puke Pellets  posted at Baby Steps.

Thanks for visiting the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival.  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.

If you haven't already, put the Blog Carnival Sidebar Widget for this carnival onto your blog. It provides current links for this carnival, and other recent carnivals on the web. Or you can just grab the button off of my sidebar.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Loyalty - Citizenship Wrap Up

Our loyalty unit lasted about 3 weeks beginning with loyalty to God then moving on to family and friends and then wrapping up with citizenship.  It was a short unit!  To cap off the end of our unit we used the KONOS skit entitled Birth of America from the loyalty unit in Volume II.

They started by singing America the Beautiful all together and then each student made a short monologue in character.  A couple of the kids had to play more than one part but they handled it well.  The line up included Leif Erikson, Columbus, Capt. John Smith, Billington child from the Mayflower, a drummer boy, Paul Revere, Jefferson, Washington and Madison.  Then they joined together again to sing God Bless America.

This made for a great review of the founding of our nation after just finishing the unit on wisdom prior to this.  If you remember correctly, the wisdom unit contained a subunit on government.  We plan to practice it some more and then use it for our upcoming talent show.  Making this play not only a great way to review but also a practical way of ensuring that each of the kids perform something for our groupwide talent show coming up very soon!

Just after the play we piled the kids onto a blanket on the lawn and Lucy talked about what it means to be a citizen and how you go about becoming a citizen if you were born somewhere outside of the U.S.  She then asked the kids questions from the list that immigrants use to study about our country.  We started with the idea that we would only ask a few but the kids were doing so well and enjoyed it so much that she managed to get all the way through the list.

We ended our celebration with desserts and a red and white pinata. (I know, not American but we had this pinata and my son wanted to use it so I told him if he decorated it in some patriotic fashion than we could use it.)  Along with the usual candy, we filled the pinata with some fabulous American tatoos from Kim.  At the end of the day, the kids were covered in red, white and blue tattoos, all sugared up from cupcakes, strawberries and cookies and playing in the sandbox.  Doesn't that sound like a good old American kids party?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our Postcrossing Journey

Ten months ago my family and I embarked on a postcard journey when we signed up at Postcrossing.  I thought this would be a fun summer geography project for the family.  And honestly, I expected it would be the most fun for my two younger children, but it has turned out to be quite the opposite.  Yes, they enjoy getting a new postcard in the mail and reading it but my 14yo daughter has proven to be the most interested.  And since it has been ten months, it has obviously become more than just a summer project. 

Postcrossing is a random exchange generator that is easy to use.  Once you sign up you must start the exchange by sending cards out.  You can send up to five at a time.  After your first postcard is received at its destination, your address goes into the loop to be given out to another postcrosser so you can start getting them too.  This basically becomes a pattern with you sending cards and then receiving them so that as long as you are regularly sending cards, you are also regularly getting new ones in your mailbox.  You are not required to send cards any more often than you wish so you can easily take a break from it if you get busy or want to go on vacation without having to update your postcrossing account.

The website also keeps track of all the people you have sent to and received from so that you can easily go back and look over the places your cards have come from, how far they've traveled or the number of days it took them to reach their destinations.  I've noticed that most cards travel at about the same speed but there are a few countries whose mail systems run a bit slower on average. 
The simplest way to turn postcrossing into a geography tool is by marking the world map with a dry erase marker whenever you get a new card in the mail and also marking where your cards are heading to with a different color marker. The postcrossing site places a little flag beside the name of the countries listed which I personally love because the repeated use of the website causes our brains to register the flag images over and over, making them familiar to us.  To expand on the educational value of the program you can, with a little more planning, tie in a study of the area by picking up books about the country you are receiving the card from, trying recipes from the area, practicing handicrafts, creating lapbooks and/or going on a field trip to the zoo to check out animals from that part of the world or to the local art museum to see art from the region.  We just keep it simple around here for now. :)

My daughter especially enjoys writng out the cards that we are sending. She tries to write a little something about whatever the picture is on the front of the card, something about our family and a note of encouragement from the Bible as well. Each card is chosen carefully to match the recipient as closely as possible. Often people have special interests that we can accommodate. A baseball fan might receive a card with a picture of Fenway Park, for someone who loves animals we can usually find a card featuring our region's wildlife or farm animals or for the person who enjoys cooking we have even found some neat recipe postcards from our locale. My daughter and I have made it a habit to pick up postcards whenever we can because they are not that easy to find in our town so we watch for them, especially while on field trips.

We love the ease of use postcrossing offers, the fabulous cards we receive from all over the world and the flexibility we have in sending out cards at our own pace.  Now we have found other homeschooling families in the blogosphere that want to exchange postcards.  We are excited to add this exchange to our postcard journeys!  If you'd like to link your blog post about postcarding to this meme or you just want to read how others are using postcards in their homeschooling click on the link below.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Student of the Week

Okay so this is partially to show off that my dear son made student of the week at our co-op and partly to share a little about something that seems to be working.  About a month ago, one of our Moms suggested we start giving a "Student of the Week" certificate.  Since this has been in place, our kids have been participating more, quieter when someone is speaking and helping out with clean up a lot more too.  I have been so impressed with the results.  It wasn't even our intention when we started it, that the award would encourage better behavior.  At least I hadn't thought of that, maybe the mom who suggested it did, but I didn't.  So I'm excited. 
I'm excited to see my son paying more attention in class and offering more to our discussions.  I was excited a few weeks ago when one of our youngest little girls stepped out and recited her memory verse without being anywhere near her mom, a great feat for this child.  I get excited every time I see one of the kids wash the table without being told.

It doesn't take much to incorporate either.  We have certificates and a bag of candy.  Each week the winner gets one package of candy of the mom's choosing and the certificate.  There are a few signs around the house that remind the kids of what we are watching for (cooperation, homework completed, obeying house rules, obedience, listening, humility etc.) and that's it.  Simple and so rewarding!

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's A Girl!!!!

Our pastor and his wife had their first baby last night!  The baby weighs 6 lbs. 8 oz. and measures 18 inches long.  We are so thrilled and excited over here that we can hardly concentrate on our school work.  So what's a mom to do if she can't go immediately to the hospital to see the new babe? 

Do baby math!

I got out the food scale and a tape measure and let the kids use the baby stats for a short math project.  A sack of flour or a bag of potatoes would have been real handy but I have neither.  The kitchen is quite bare right now so we had to be creative.  We piled up things from the fridge and the food cabinets into a bag.  The best part of the project was when we couldn't find something to make the last 2 ounces, the kids had to fine tune their weight estimation and try different things, much smaller things.  My daughter tried a stick of butter (in its dish) and found it to be too heavy.  My son went to looking high and low all over the house for odd things, usually coming out too high as well.  Finally my daughter found the tea bags and she added one at a time until she reached exactly 6 lbs 8 oz.  Then they carried the grocery bag in their arms like a baby and measured out 18 inches so they'd have an idea how long she is. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our Latest U.S. History Reports

Celebrating James Madison's birthday - March 16, 2011
 I've really enjoyed our Wisdom unit, particularly the portion on the founding of our country.  My goodness, our founding fathers must have been pretty wise to have accomplished all that they did with so many differing opinions of how the country should be governed!

Over the past few weeks we have studied George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson as well as many of the signers of the constitution.  Since it would be nearly impossible to study them all individually, the children at our KONOS co-op were assigned to study and report on one signer each. 

My 8yo son and my 6yo daughter wrote reports on James Madison and William Paterson.  They also prepared posters so that they would have visual aids when giving their oral presentations at co-op which I am very happy to have finished so that they can use them at our homeschool group's upcoming academic fair. 

There are loads of biographies available for James Madison.  DS used one of the generic ones from the library as a reference and he read completely Jean Fritz' The Great Little Madison as his main source. This was probably the longest book he has read as yet and at times I admit, he really felt overwhelmed by it.  I had to push him quite a bit to get his reading done.  At one point I told him that if he finished his chapter for the day by a certain time, then I would read the next chapter to him before bed.  This worked as a pretty good incentive and when we snuggled up to read he was listening intently and even asked for another chapter.  Now this could have been because it would have allowed him to stay up a bit later but I can't deny the interest he was truly and honestly showing as well as the retention he later showed.

As for William Paterson, we didn't have great luck finding any biographies in our library system so we opted for online bios.  I chose 3 different bios of varying lengths, avoiding Wikipedia.  I had my daughter read the mid-length one and the shortest one and I used the longest in-depth bio for myself as a teaching tool.  It was quite a struggle for the 6yo to understand but I went ahead with it anyway for 2 reasons.  1. This is good stuff!  She'll remember bits and pieces, terminology will become more familiar to her and over time she will have a better understanding of her country's history.  2.  She insists on doing these reports!  Even when I tell her that only her brother needs to do a report because after all she is just six, she just can't accept it.  She likes giving reports.  It cracks me up!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spelling Counts

There has never been a question in my mind as to whether spelling is important nowadays...

Hands On Carnival is Up

Happy Pi Day!
The latest edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival is up over at Mountaineer Country.  Lots of submissions this month so you are sure to find some inspiration.  Enjoy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Wisdom and Government - Weeks 1 and 2 of 4

Last week we started the government portion of our wisdom unit, actually early government.  There are four weeks in this subunit and we have divided it up as follows: 
Wk 1 - The state of the country after the war and just before the Constitution, George Washington
Wk 2 - The making of the Constitution, Parliamentary Procedure, Ben Franklin
Wk 3 - 3 Branches of the government, men who were present for the writing of the constitution
Wk 4 - Thomas Jefferson and Monticello

Here's the rundown of what we did at KONOS co-op last week:
  • prayer and pledge of allegiance
  • Each family reports on a portion of George Washington's life in a short drama. (Pg 29 Act # 2)
  • Discuss Shay's Rebellion and Whiskey Rebellion using Bible to answer questions. (Pg 30 Act # 4)
  • Make book from George Washington's Rules of Civility and discuss. (Pg 29 Act # 3a)
  • Discuss Federalist Papers and read the first couple entries. (Pg 30-31 Act # 8)
And here's the rundown of what we did this week:
  • prayer and pledge
  • Each child shares either an epitaph or an acrostic that they have written previously this week. (Pgs 32 & 34 Act #'s 16 and 21)
  • Have the kids tell what they know about Benjamin Franklin and discuss his printing business.  Make block stamps using wax.  This one was pretty difficult.  It was especially hard getting the wax smooth and even.  I would maybe try sanding the wax down to an even surface and then somehow heating it to make it smooth but I haven't experimented enough to tell you for sure if that would work.  This was a great activity and I would do it again but I would do some experimenting myself before having the kids attempt it.  For us it was definitely a discovery project and it took a great deal of our 3 hour co-op time.  (Pg 34 Act # 19)
  • Learn about Parliamentary Procedure and hold a mock meeting.  (Pg 36 Act #'s 28-30)
All of our activities came from KONOS Volume II.  Let me know if you need help finding anything!

Friday, March 11, 2011

DD and Friends

Along with the rest of the girl's group, last week our oldest daughter played guitar and sang Light the Fire as a special at our church.  Here they are altogether afterward and I'm sure much relieved that it was all over with for that day.  They'll be doing it again for a talent show tonight!  Please say a prayer for our girls.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living for the Moment

A conversation came up at our most recent Sanity Session - that's a night out for the ladies to break from the insanity that is sometimes our daily lives and take a moment to destress and gain some more sanity although sometimes I admit the conversations we have are INsane.  We always have a great time.  Usually the evening starts with food and stimulating conversation in the kitchen whether we're passionately debating something political or just reviewing this hilarious thing we call life. You know, the every day stuff like menstruation, having babies, potty training or the boy factor in our homes.  I don't think I will ever understand boys (or men) but I will continue to love them anyway. 

As I was saying, a conversation came up.  This was in the latter part of our evening when some of the early to bedders have gone for the evening and the late nighters have moved to the living room to be more comfortable (and sometimes one or two will invariably doze for a few minutes).  The conversation tends more toward the serious, sentimental or philisophical during this phase of Sanity Session.  So it was during this time that my dear friend Paula announced that too many people are living for the future so much that they are missing the life.  She's right.  This is life.  We are in it, now.  It's time to enjoy the life we're living in and stop waiting for it to begin.  You know, you have a list of things you want or goals you'd like to reach and when that time comes, you'll be happy.  Not that having goals is a bad thing but when do we start focusing so much on our goals that we forget to notice the NOW?  We've heard it before but because of our discussion at sanity session I've been a little more observant of my own daily moments. 

Am I enjoying this moment?  Do my kids think I'm enjoying this moment?  Do they know that I enjoy every moment with them?  What kind of message are they receiving from me right now? 

They weren't cleaning up the lunch dishes like I had asked.  When I came up from switching the wash my 14yo was running around the house with a bird puppet on her hand, making crazy noises while her 8yo brother chased her with an alligator puppet.  So what do you do?  Do you chastise or cherish?  I decided to cherish and redirect.  There is just something wonderful about seeing your kids having a great time TOGETHER, no matter the age difference.  (Hey, now that I think of it, we talked about that too at sanity session...)  It's a fine line we mothers walk. 

I'm going to try a little experiment with this.  Whenever I can, I will post with a cherish moment.  Maybe I can do some kind of linky thing so we can all get together on this.  We'll see.  For now, I'm just living for the moment.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisdom Week 3 of 4

Very few men are wise by their own counsel, or learned by their own teaching; for he that was only taught by himself had a fool for his master.
~ Ben Johnson

Here's a rundown of what we did at co-op this week:
  • Prayer and pledge of allegiance, share praise reports
  • Children recite the Bible verses they memorized this week
  • Homework - I talked to the kids about the verses their moms have chosen for them to memorize each week and how as individuals we are each responsible for our own behavior and choices but that their parents are responsible to God for what is taught to them.  After discussing this a little I asked the kids to each bring a verse back next week that they thought the parents should work to remember.  The other moms and I plan to hang them on our doorposts.
  • Essays on famous quotes read for group (Pg. 10-11 Act. # 34) 
  • Have kids bake a cake without using any instructions and then make another with instructions. (Pg. 10 Act. # 32)  While I expected the lesson learned to be that we all need to pay attention to instruction - the Bible is our instruction book for life, (that lesson was conveyed) I was surprised to find the children working together and listening to each other to gain wisdom in how to go about making this first cake.  A perfect reflection of one of the quotes chosen for an earlier essay shown above.
  • Discuss what is meant by "gray area."  Kids sort paint chips from darkest to lightest.  (Pg, 11 Act. # 38)  This was interesting.  Again, I was surprised.  What I expected to be a very short, rather boring project turned out to take a bit of time.  There are so many shades within the spectrum that it was often hard to decide if something was darker or lighter.  Sometimes a color didn't seem like it belonged at all.  And the kids did make some keen comparisons from this activity to true wisdom.
  • Plan an art contest.  Develop criteria for judging artwork.  Work out potential problems ahead of time.  Although the assignment in the book suggests having contestants, we chose to use several pieces of established artwork from the Picturing America packet of paintings.  (Pg. 12 Act. # 39)  We then went further with this idea and had the students come up with a list of criteria for a Student of the Week contest that we'll be using in future weeks.
All KONOS activities listed for our co-op are from Volume II - Wisdom. Please feel free to contact me if you have trouble finding one of the activities.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hands On Carnival is Up

Happy Valentine's Day Everybody!

The February edition of the Hands On Homeschool Blog Carnival is up and running.  Head on over to check it out at Cultivated Lives and be sure to leave Heather a comment while you're there.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wisdom Week 2 of 4

We are halfway through our general unit on Wisdom now and we have moved from focusing on what wisdom is to what wisdom looks like and how it translates into everyday life for all of us at any age.  A portion of the discussion that I was particularly fond of was the time we spent on developing wisdom - it doesn't come all at once but little by little with age - and the reason we show respect to our elders, something not done nearly enough in our country.  We also read some old fables and let the kids make a mosaic of a "wise" animal out of construction paper.

Here's the rundown of our day:
  • Open with prayer and pledge of allegiance.
  • Have kids recite their scripture verses for the week.
  • Discussion - Knowing what behavior to use when and in what situation.  List certain behaviors such as running, yelling, jumping and climbing.  Then discuss whether they are inappropriate or appropriate and when.  Sometimes discussing things that are never appropriate like getting drunk.  (pg 9 act # 25)
  • Discussion - Explain "Wisdom comes with age."  Do some countries demonstrate more respect for their elders than others?  Have kids show ways to demonstrate respect for an elder. (pg 9-10 act # 26)
  • Prayer challenge - Put kids' names in a hat and have each child pull out one name of a person they will pray for every day.  Encourage the children to seek out their prayer partner if they need prayer in a certain area.  All children praying for wisdom for themselves and their special person. (pg 10 act #30)
  • Using card stock and a simply drawn "wise" animal, create a mosaic using bits of construction paper and glue.  (pg 9 act # 22)
  • During the week each child was supposed to be writing down wise instruction received from a parent along with the reason or consequence of that instruction.  At the end of the week we asked them to make two discs with one bit of parental instruction on each and the reason on the bottom.  At co-op photocopy all the discs so that every child has his own discs as well as the discs of the other children.  After the kids share what they wrote and why, have them cut the discs out, hole punch one hole in the top and string them on yarn around their necks.  This is reflective of Proverbs 6:20-23 which was also studied at home during the week.  (pg 10 act # 27 and 31 combined) 

All KONOS activities listed for our co-op are from Volume II - Wisdom. Please feel free to contact me if you have trouble finding one of the activities.

Baking Day Beauty

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lego and Photo Challenges

Homeschool On Display, a new website created by a fellow homeschooling mom is the latest exciting webstop I want to share with you and your kids.  Here you will find a weekly photo challenge and a seperate weekly Lego challenge.  The photo challenge is arranged by Allison who is in 5th grade.  Her topic for this week is "colored pencils."  Her 7 year old brother Carson created the Lego challenge.  This week's challenge is "building, house or apartment."

So basically kids can get creative and have a place on the web to display their work.  And best of all, other kids (and parents) who are interested in the same thing will be looking at their creations as well and they will all have this really neat place to share and learn from each other about something they are all interested in.  I can't wait to tell my little guy about the Lego challenge and although I originally hoped my 14yo would be interested in the photo challenge, I think my 6yo dd will better appreciate.  In fact, I know she'll dive right into the photo thing because she is always stealing my camera and taking pictures of all kinds of things for me to find later when I download the pics.  

I know it wouldn't be right for me to wake them up and tell them about it now though.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

HOW I Co-op Hebrews Week 7 of 11 and Wisdom Week 1 of 4

Because I have been sick for the last several days, I have decided to combine my post about the HOW co-op and the regular KONOS co-op.  I'll be brief on the high school co-op and just share a picture. 

The girls are still working on Hebrews in their History of the World I curriculum.  For this week's co-op their focus was on the Phoenicians.  Among their activities they made beads and other creations out of modeling clay (Sculpey) to mimic the glass beads made by the Phoenicians.  Next week they'll paint them to make them look more realistic.  For now they are just little white balls so I included a photo of some of their more interesting pieces.  I think only the little pumpkin belongs to my own DD.  Her friend loves artsy stuff and so spent a bit more time crafting flowers bugs and food.

In the younger co-op group we started Wisdom last week.  The general portion of this unit is laid out for a two week span but we have stretched it to four weeks.  I like the general portion of most units because you can really dig into the character trait being studied.  Here is the rundown of our co-op time last week:
  • Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance
  • Recite memorized Bible verses for the week
  • Discuss Solomon and make a poster of his decisions and the consequences of those decisions (Pg 7 Act. # 10) 
  • Label two boxes "Wise Man" and "Foolish Man."  Have kids write adjectives on slips of paper and decide which box to place the words in.  (Pg. 8 Act. # 14)
  • Brainstorm stories with wise and foolish characters in them.  Choose one to dramatize.  Kids plan this out on their own and perform for moms.  (Pg. 8 Act. # 16 & 17)
  • Give the kids a pitcher only half filled with water and ask them how they would drink from it without pouring or picking up the container.  Follow up with reading of Aesop's The Pitcher and the Crow (Pg. 8 Act. # 20)
  • Build a house on a "rock" using quick drying cement and another house on sand.  Sprinkle water over the structures from a watering can and sing "A Wise man Built His House Upon a Rock" (Pg. 6 Act. # 2 & 3)  We were running a bit late starting so we are hoping to squeeze this in next week.  But I left it in these plans for you because it should fit into the 3 hour time slot we normally allow for co-op.
All KONOS activities listed for our co-op are from Volume II - Wisdom.  Please feel free to contact me if you have trouble finding one of the activities.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sick with a Silver Lining

This has not been one of my better weekends.  The weather reports were rather erratic on Friday so a baby shower I was planning to attend was postponed until March.  And then two of my kids and I got sick with some kind of flu bug which also prevented our attending a friend's birthday party.  By Saturday night I thought I was going to die or cry.  How could my son with 100 degree fever be bouncing around the house like nothing was wrong while I groaned miserably with no energy on the couch at only 99.6? 
Sunday was even worse with my fever up to 102 and my kids needing constant fever and medicine checks throughout the night.  By 3am I was totally confused as to who I gave what and when.  DS mostly stayed on Children's Tylenol to keep the fever down although occassionally I gave him something for cough and fever.  Fortunately DD's fever never rose above 99 in the night so I just gave her something for her cough which seemed to never give her any rest until she finally managed to fall asleep.  Alka Selzer Plus with a constant bag of cough drops by my side was my preferred combo and still is today, although thank the good Lord, my fever is gone and now I can at least make sense of things.    It all would have been easier if we had just taken our meds at the same time then we'd all have been on the same 4 hour rotation.  But somehow I got us on a schedule that required me to set my alarm to go off every two hours through the night.  OY! 
But there is always a silver lining.  Snowed in and sick with the flu, my family finally agreed to a game of Australian Rails Saturday. 

Dreaming of Summer - Living in Winter

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Music Lessons

Our newest musician takes a lesson from her sister...

Starting a New Unit

This week we begin a new unit - Wisdom.  We've been doing inquisitiveness for so long it is a thrill to start something new.  I kind of felt we weren't getting enough Bible study in with inquisitiveness so this is a perfect next unit as most of our study material will come directly from the Bible.  This week we have been reading about David and Saul and Solomon.  Normally we start each morning with Bible and prayer but this week our afternoon KONOS time has also been filled with reading from the Word and I have enjoyed seeing my younger kids really think about the lives of these men in a deeper way than I have ever seen them before. 

Somehow our studies have also fallen into line with my eldest dd's studies of the Hebrews in HOW I and she is reading about this same time period in history.  She's been interested in our readings because they are so familiar to her right now and she can't help adding in little bits of information and background stories now and then.  Actually it has been rather illuminating having her input!

I look forward to sharing with you on this excitng new unit.  Although I'm not sure how many resources I will have to share, I'll be updating the sidebar with anything I come across as a useful resource for Wisdom.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Africa Week 3 of 3

This week the kids were supposed to read something about Africa and put together a diorama. Whether it was factual, historical or a folk tale was up to the individual families. One family read about David Livingstone and presented dioramas based on his travels in Africa.

My two kids used African folk tales.  DD read and illustrated "Traveling to Tondo" and DS chose "Unanana and the Elephant."
The Rundown of our co-op this week:
  •  Map David Livingstone's travels through Africa (Pg 110 Act. # 388)
  • Discussion and Mapping - The Great Rift Valley, Oldavai Gorge, Soda Lakes (Pg 100 Act.# 311, 312 & 314)
  • Perform acid/base experiments using vinegar, baking soda, orange juice, grapes, milk, hydrogen peroxide and tea.  First we discussed what the difference is between an acid and a base and then we polled the kids to see what they thought each would be.  Once all the tests were complete they were able to compare the results to their original guesses.  We found they had very few items that were bases and asked them to make suggestions for new items to test that they thought show neutral to base results on the ph scale.  (Mom's note:  Can I say how cool it is to see your kids get excited over school stuff?  They were really excited at this point and wanted to check everything in the kitchen almost!)  They settled on testing flour, and raw egg (divided - one child tested the white, another the yolk and yet another tested a mixture of both). (Pg 100 Act. # 313)
  • Sing "Marching to Prestoria" while marching around the house and then find Prestoria on the map of Africa (Pg 108 Act. # 371)
  • Discovery learning - figure out how to store water in an egg and test it.  (Pg 110 Act. # 382)
All references are from KONOS Volume II Inquisitiveness. This is planned from an older edition so my page and activity #'s may not match up with yours but you should be able to find them based on the descriptions. Please leave me a comment if you have trouble finding them and I will be happy to help out.

Monday, January 31, 2011

At This Moment in Time

My 8yo son and my 6yo daughter are currently reading I Samuel 18 - 31.  A hefty reading given their age but I've asked them to take turns reading the chapters.  They started during school today and got to chapter 22 before they had had enough reading.  So I let them do other things, have dinner, go to karate etc. and now are back to reading for about an hour before bed.  They have just finished chapter 24 and are debating what this reading is all about. 

Totally unprompted Biblical debate between an 8yo and a 6yo.  You can't get much better than that.  Happy Mommy heart moment. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Africa Week 2 of 3

Chin Chin
We thought this week's lessons would be a little shorter due to the snow on Friday but we still managed to have a 3 hour co-op and squeeze in 4 weeks of planning afterward.  Which the kids loved because it meant they were allowed to go sledding outside while the moms poured over our KONOS volumes.

Now that I think of it, we did not get to everything we had planned for the day but probably we planned too much.  LOL  Here's a rundown of our day:

  • Open with Pledge of Allegience and prayer
  • Watch a 3 minute Youtube video about salt mining in Africa and have discussion about why this trade is vital to the region.
  • Mapping - Mauritania, Mali and Niger  Discuss Timbuktu and its location in relation to the salt mines in this art of Africa (pg 84 Activity # 205)  Also discuss exports from Mauritania (pg 94 # 263)
  • Mapping - Nigeria, Liberia, Dem. Rep. of the Congo and discuss rubber tree plantations, share pictures of latex harvesting and discuss Firestone lease in Liberia.  Hand out city maps of all of our represented cities/towns and figure up the acreage in each of our towns.  Combine and then decide how many more of these towns we would need to have to cover one million acres.  More than eleven of each of our represented towns would make up 1,000,000 acres!!! (pg 94 # 264, 265)
  • Mapping - Sierra Leone and discuss how this country and Liberia had its beginnings (pg 4 # 262)
  • Map Senegal and show peanut butter with the oil seperated.
  • Make ground nut soup (pg 92 #244)
  • Make chin chin (pg 91 # 243)
  • There was also a reading done about Africa but unfortunately, I do not know which book it was so that I can share it with you.  Generally if one of the moms finds a particularly good book about our unit of study, she will bring it to co-op and if we have a bit of time when the moms need to do some quick behind the scenes work, one of the moms will read the book to the kids in the other room.  We have found this to be a wonderful way of using downtime for unexpected glitches and it keeps the kids from disappearing in different directions between activities.
Since we were supposed to be doing the coastal bulge and the Congo this week we obviously missed quite a few countries but we ran out of time so we agreed to finish our mapping at home this week.  Really we bit off more than we could chew for one co-op session.

All references are from KONOS Volume II Inquisitiveness. This is planned from an older edition so my page and activity #'s may not match up with yours but you should be able to find them based on the descriptions. Please leave me a comment if you have trouble finding them and I will be happy to help out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

HOW I Co-op Hebrews Week 4 of 11

Week 4 is all about the time beginning with the judges and ending with Saul.  I am not going to write about everything they studied but DD took some pictures so I figured I would share about those things that she had the most fun with.

She and her friend built floor plan of a Hebrew home out of blocks.  The cooking fire is represented by the red block in the center.  The door to the home is across the courtyard represented by a blue arch block.  On either side of the courtyard are areas set aside for the animals on one side and the storage on the other side.

A large part of this week's lessons involved the Seder meal and what is symbolized by the various foods and materials used for this dinner. 

At co-op the girls made a chopped apple and nut dish that I think was a definite favorite along with matzos, non-alcoholic wine and roasted eggs.  They followed this up by drawing out the entire seder meal on a paper plate.

The KONOS book suggests having this dinner with the family including all of the prayers and father explaining the symbolism as we go along.  It even gives the words to say!  But we were kind of short on time.  Since I really wanted her to go through this process in some fashion I suggested she make up a slide show with pictures of the different items and then just sit together in the living going through the motions and reading the script.  This worked well for us and it didn't require us to take the time to make the food.  Not quite the same but it served the purpose.  My kids now have an idea of why the Jewish people eat this very special dinner.