WELCOME!

Welcome! I am using this blog to share our family's homeschooling thoughts and experiences.

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2016-2017): We will be using a variety of different curriculum this year, with Notgrass' Uncle Sam and You as our main History, Bible and Literature focus. Our oldest, EL, is in 12th grade this year, but has special learning needs due to autism. JJ is our youngest, an active boy with Tourette Syndrome. He is in the 8th grade.

Please feel free to follow along....

Friday, May 27, 2016

Story Mountain


We have finished our school year, and are heading into Summer fun, but I wanted to share what we have been working on for the past couple of weeks. We used an idea a friend gave us called "story mountain" to work on a creative writing project. If you do an Internet search for it, you will see various images. The basic one we used showed how to start at the base of the mountain by introducing your characters and the setting of the story. Then, you move halfway up the mountain where something happens to get the story started (the build-up). At the top of the mountain, there is a problem that comes up. Then, going halfway down the other side, the problem is resolved. Back down at the bottom of the mountain, the story is finally finished.

JJ writing out his story

The kids worked on developing their stories on paper. Then, I had them type the stories on the computer. They learned how to type this school year by using Typing Instructor for Kids. It worked really well for both of them. JJ flew through it and loved playing the games. EL wasn't thrilled with it, but has learned to type well, she just can't seem to pick up her speed past 5 words per minute. So, we will continue to work on that.

EL typing her story

JJ has still not finished his story. He has a lot of ideas that he wants to get down on paper, so that might be a good Summer project. But, EL finished a short story about some animals who live on a farm. Most of the words are her own words. I just helped her develop the story by giving her some ideas, then I helped her edit it to get the proper punctuation and spelling. Here is her story and artwork to match:



Molly On the Farm
By:  EL Stankus


On the farm there was a pretty blue bird named Molly. There was a worm named Hans.  One day, there was a mean and hungry orange and white cat named Nellie who came into the yard to eat Molly. And there was a chocolate lab named Nick. He was very nice.

Molly flew down from a tree to get Hans the worm. “Hi Hans,” says Molly.

“Hi Molly,” says  Hans.

Molly pulled Hans out of the hole, and put Hans inside her mouth. Then, Molly saw Nellie. “Please don’t eat me.” said molly the bird. “Nellie you are a mean cat.” Nellie opened her mouth. Then Molly heard a sound. It was Nick the dog barking. Nick growled and barked at Nellie. Molly flapped her wings and started to fly. The worm dropped out of Molly’s mouth, and Nellie ran away. Molly flew back down and said, “Thanks, Nick, the cat is gone.”

“You’re welcome,” said Nick. “But are you going to eat Hans the worm like Nellie wanted to eat you?”

“Yes, I’m going to eat Hans the worm, said Molly, “because birds eat worms, and I need to eat.

Nick said,  “Nellie the cat needs to eat, too,  like she wants to eat you.”

“She could eat cat food,” said Molly, “I don’t have an owner who could feed me bird food. Nellie is so mean to me.”

“You should pray for Nellie,” said Nick.

“Yes,” said Molly, “because God wants us to pray for our enemies.”

Luke 6:27-28  “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Molly closed  her eyes and prayed.

No body got eaten that day. Hans didn’t get eaten and Molly didn’t get eaten. Nick saved the day.

The End.





Thursday, April 7, 2016

Using Pinterest as an Educational Tool


My daughter, EL, has autism and developmental delays. One of her favorite toys of all time is a Fijit Friend named Willa. 

In some ways, even though she is a teenager, EL is developmentally at the level of a 2nd grade child. She still loves young children's toys that talk, light up, and play music. The music is her favorite.

In other ways, EL is like a normal teenager. She has mood swings, she likes to stay up late, she likes to get new clothes, and she likes to watch movies like "Teen Beach Movie."

Over this past year, EL's therapists have been working with her to combine her love of musical toys with a more age-appropriate activity of pinning things on Pinterest. It has been a great learning tool, as it has opened EL up to the computer world. She has learned she can ask for help when she wants to pin something to her page, then she has also learned to click on the pictures and videos she wants to see, and to close them out when she is done. I am grateful to EL's therapists, and the work they have been doing with her to improve her quality of life.

Here is EL watching a video of Willa on her Pinterest page.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Math Antics Saved the Day

Adding something new and more complex to my son's Math curriculum usually causes him a boat load of anxiety and he tends to shut down and not want to continue. This morning was one of those mornings. After awhile of trying the new concept, we both grew frustrated and wanted to quit, but I decided we were not going to give up. We did take a little break (sometimes that is necessary), but we kept working through it. 

While we were on our break, I decided to look online for a video that could explain the math concepts in a more visual way. In my search, I found a website, Math Antics, with a math video that really helped. After watching the video, my son understood the concept a little better and was able to complete his work.  I'm sure we will be using this website again in the future. Here is the link, and a little more information about them:

http://mathantics.com/


ABOUT Math Antics (as found on the website):  It is the work of two individuals, Rob and Jeremy, who want to make learning math a little easier for everyone. We know that many students struggle with math and that many teachers and parents need better tools to help students succeed. Our goal is to provide simple and engaging math resources that make learning math more fun for students of all ages.

All of the video lessons on Math Antics are FREE. It is not a complete curriculum, but they include fun videos that cover concepts in arithmetic, fractions, geometry, percents, and algebra basics. You have the option to subscribe for $20. 00 per year, but that is only if you want to use the exercises and worksheets that go along with their videos.   

In the FAQ's on the Math Antics website, it says this about their main goals:  Our math lessons are organized by subject rather than grade level. Our goal is to create math videos that clearly explain math concepts to students of any age. At this time we do not have plans to align with common core or any other specific math standards. One of our main goals for Math Antics is to be as universal as possible. That is why we don't organize our content by grade. While the majority of students may learn a particular skill or concept in a particular grade, we don't want to discourage older students from going back to learn or review the fundamentals.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Haiku Poem

We have been learning about Asia for the past few weeks, and are currently "visiting" Japan. Something fun we learned about today was Haiku poetry, which originated in Japan.

A Haiku poem is short - only 3 lines - and talks about something in nature.

Line 1 should have 5 syllables.
Line 2 should have 7 syllables.
Line 3 should have 5 syllables.

The kids and I worked together on making two poems today in this style of poetry. Here is one that we came up with: 

FLOWERS  IN SPRING
Flowers are pretty.
Roses, daisies, violets.
Flowers bloom in Spring.





Friday, November 13, 2015

OCTOBER FIELD TRIPS: Shooting Range, Llama Farm, and Ballard Nature Center

Our field trips in October were to places we have been before, except for the first one. On October 10th, we were visiting family in Northern IL, and David took JJ to a shooting range. He had a blast learning how to load and shoot a pistol, and David said he did a really good job!

JJ at the shooting range

On October 15th, we went to a llama farm. I think this was our third year doing this. The kids always love walking a llama through an obstacle course. Llamas are very sweet.


JJ getting ready to walk with a llama

EL is walking a very sweet and gentle llama.

The kids took turns walking the llamas down the country road and back.

October 21st took us back to Ballard Nature Center, where this month's topic was on insects.

One of the kids is getting dressed up like an insect.

The kids are on a nature hike to look for insects.
With cooler weather coming, we won't be going on too many more outdoor field trips. Plus, with the holidays coming, our schedule may be getting a little crazy. But, I'm hoping to write a few new posts about other things we have been doing so far this school year.

Have a great weekend!




Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Perfect Fall Dish: Chicken Stuffing Pie


Yesterday, EL helped me make our own version of a chicken pot pie (the biggest difference is the use of stuffing instead of a crust). It is easy and tasty, and is the perfect dish to welcome the cooler Fall weather.

The 4 main ingredients:  Cubed stuffing, chicken gravy, mixed vegetables, and cooked de-boned chicken. Cooking the chicken should be done ahead of time. I boiled a whole chicken with the skin removed.  I let it simmer on low for an hour, then kept it sitting in the hot broth for another hour. I added some spices to the broth while the chicken was cooking, but you can leave those out if you want. I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and basil. I don't measure, I just sprinkle it in. When the chicken was done, I poured the broth into an ice cream bucket to let it cool and save for later. Then, when the chicken was cool enough, I removed it from the bone. It was so tender, it basically fell off the bone. That's how you know it is done.

When its time to assemble the casserole, put 4 cups of cooked chicken into a 9x13 dish, and mix it up with a bag of frozen, mixed vegetables. I used a 12 oz. bag this time, but have used a 16 oz. bag in the past.

EL is helping me prepare the gravy. You can use already prepared gravy, or a homemade version, but I like to use 3 packages of McCormick low sodium chicken gravy mix. (It makes about 3 cups of gravy.)

Follow the directions on the package and stir until thickened.

Pour the chicken gravy over the chicken/vegetable mix.
 
Prepare the stuffing. I use a 12 oz. bag of Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing. Add 2 cups of chicken broth or water to it and stir until moistened.

Spoon the stuffing on top of the chicken.

This is what it looked like before putting it in the oven.

When it comes out of the oven, it is a nice golden brown.

Just look at those perfect fall colors all mixed together in a warm, yummy dish! Add a bowl of applesauce as a side dish, or some other Fall fruit, to complete your meal.


CHICKEN STUFFING PIE

1 12-oz. bag Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing
3 pkgs. McCormick Chicken Gravy Mix
1 12-oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups cooked, de-boned chicken

Put chicken and vegetables in a 9x13 casserole dish. Prepare gravy and pour over top. Prepare stuffing with 2 cups broth or water and spoon over top. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees F (or until golden and bubbly). 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

SEPTEMBER FIELD TRIPS: Nature Center, Apple Orchard, Fort LaMotte & Vincennes

Our first visit to a NATURE CENTER this school year was on September 16th. We signed up to attend classes at the center once per month, and September's topic was about WILDFLOWERS...

The kids are learning about the different parts of a flower.
 
Taking a nature hike to find wildflowers.

This unusual flower is called an Obedient Plant

The kids were allowed to gather a cup full of wildflowers to take home

On September 23rd, we joined others on a tour of a nearby APPLE ORCHARD.




I love this picture! EL was not comfortable walking down the hill by herself, so JJ turned to me and said, "I'll help her." He took hold of his sister's hand and walked with her all the way down the hill. It was a sweet brother-sister moment.


On September 26th, we took a family day trip to attend "LaMotte Days" at Fort LaMotte (a recreation of a fort used during the War of 1812). We arrived close to lunch time and, since there was a small turn-out, we were invited to join the reenactors in tasting the various foods that were cooked over an open fire. It was a fun little outing.








From the fort, we drove another half hour to Vincennes, Indiana where we saw inside the Elihu Stout Print Shop, then took a tour of the George Rogers Clark Memorial. There are a lot of things to see in Vincennes, but we didn't have the time to see more than these two. I'm sure we will return at another time to see more.


Elihu Stout Print Shop


Inside the print shop

George Rogers Clark Memorial

Statue inside the memorial

Thursday, September 17, 2015

HOME EC: Easy Tortellini Soup

This is one of our family's favorite soups to eat on a cool day. It is quick and easy to make, and very tasty. Now that JJ has helped me make it, I want to see if he can make it on his own next time. 

This recipe feeds our family of 4 for two nights. On the 2nd night, you will need to add some extra water/broth because the tortellini soaks up a lot of the liquid when it sits overnight. 

Easy Tortellini Soup
 8 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 19-20 oz. bags frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups baby broccoli florets


Here are most of the ingredients. I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base to make the chicken broth. Just mix 6-8 tsp. into the water.
JJ is adding the tortellini. Bring the liquids to a boil before adding them. 

After the tortellini has boiled for about 5 minutes, add the frozen broccoli and cook another 5 minutes.

Ready to be served!
Sharing the soup with friends!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

HOME EC: Brown Gravy & Meatballs Over Noodles



This quick and easy meal serves our family of 4 and leaves us with some leftovers for lunch the next day.

BROWN GRAVY & MEATBALLS
4 cups water
6 tsp. beef bouillon
1/2 cup flour
1 cup water
2 lb. bag frozen meatballs
16 oz. bag egg noodles

Boil 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. At the same time, boil a pot of water for cooking the egg noodles.


Add 6 tsp. of beef bouillon to the 4 cups of water. I use Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.

Put 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup water into a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until mixed. (This was my daughter's job.)

Slowly pour the flour mixture into the bouillon mixture, stirring as you pour.

After the gravy has thickened, add half a bag of frozen meatballs - about 32. I use the Fit & Active brand of Turkey meatballs from Aldi. (My son loves these. He says they taste like chicken nuggets.)

Simmer the meatballs on low until heated through - about 10-15 minutes. At the same time, boil the egg noodles.

Serve the gravy and meatballs over the noodles, along with a vegetable of choice.