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

THIS SCHOOL YEAR (2018-2019): Our oldest child, EL, finished her formal education in May 2017. She remains at home due to her special needs, and continues to learn with us when she is able. JJ is in 10th grade this year. We intend to homeschool him through High School, and are using a variety of different curriculum choices to complete this goal.

Please feel free to follow along....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

We're Going to Try K5 Learning

Over the past few years, we have tried a variety of different options for Math (with both of our kids), and we are still struggling to find the right fit. What a daunting task this has been! Each math curriculum we have used has worked well for a little while, or for a specific area of need, but we eventually come to a roadblock.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I found out about K5 Learning. They have an online reading and math program for students in kindergarten to grade 5, as well as those with special needs.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program, so maybe this will be the answer for us. I'll be sure to let you know! 

If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dairy Farm Field Trip

On Thursday afternoon, we took a field trip to a local Dairy Farm. It was a nice Fall day, and we all enjoyed the trip. It was fun and educational. Here are a few pictures...

Playing and "sledding" in the cotton seed. JJ is at the top.

EL standing by bales of hay.

Waiting for the cows to enter the milking barn.

One of the cows getting hooked up to be milked.

Outside looking at the cows.

One of the calves in the calf barn.

The kids all had the chance to milk a cow by hand. EL did not want to do it. JJ wasn't too sure about it, but finally took a turn. Here's a short video...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fish, Fins, and Dried Corn

I don't have much to share this week. We still did our usual amount of school work (with the exception of Wednesday when we took a "sick day" due to JJ's cold, and also had a check-up with my doctor), but I only managed to take a few pictures.
Our SCIENCE focus was on FISH this week. Here are the Art projects the kids did, with the use of cardstock, colored pencils, goldfish crackers, glue and a black marker...
JJ's picture

EL's picture

A worksheet we did about the different types of fins on a fish. They each had to cut fin shapes out of construction paper and glue them to the fish, then label them. The kids each did their own worksheet, but this one is EL's.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How do the front fins help the fish?

ANSWER:  They help it go up and down in the water, and help it to slow down.

For HISTORY, we continued talking about Colonial Days, and the founding of each of the first 13 colonies. We focused on Maryland this week. And, we talked about the way the colonists had to preserve their food for the winter months. One way they did this was by drying and smoking their foods. The Native Americans taught them how to dry corn and store it in the ground. So, we made some of our own dried corn in the oven and tried it for a snack.
Place some thawed corn on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 175 degrees for about 4 hours, or until crunchy.

Eat as a snack!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Early American Settlers, Birds and Chipped Beef Gravy

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What crop was America founded on?
ANSWER:  Tobacco
For HISTORY this week, we focused more on the early American settlers, the sale of tobacco, and the use of African slaves. Here is an interesting video that talks more about this...

ANOTHER QUESTION: What is the game of "Nine Pins?"

ANSWER:  It's a game that was played in colonial times, similar to bowling, only it was played outdoors on the lawn. They used a wooden ball and 9 wooden pins, and they were set up in a sort of diamond shape.

We tried our own game of "Nine Pins" here, improvising with 9 empty plastic water bottles, and a little rubber ball.

FOR SCIENCE:  We focused on birds this week - their beaks, their feet, their feathers, their food, and the way they digest.

One day, we made a BIRD FEEDER out of an empty soda pop bottle and a special attachment we purchased from MY FATHER'S WORLD. We hung it up on our clothesline and hope to see some birds using it soon. Unfortunately, the weather is getting chilly now, so we haven't seen too many birds around.

We also made BIRDS NEST TREATS. Birds use grass, twigs and mud to make their nests, so we used Shredded wheat cereal (crushed up to make about 1/2 cup) for the grass, 2 cups chow mein noodles for the twigs, and 1 cup chocolate chips mixed with 1 cup Sunbutter for the mud. Melt chocolate chips and Sunbutter in a small saucepan. Add to chow mein noodles and shredded wheat. Mix well. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Put in refrigerator until hardened.

Completed Birds Nest Treats.
ALSO IN THE KITCHEN:  JJ used kitchen shears to cut up chipped beef lunchmeat to use in Chipped Beef Gravy on Toast. This is a quick, easy, and inexpensive meal that our family eats quite often. See recipe below.

4 pkgs. (2 oz. each) chipped beef, cut into small pieces
5 cups skim milk
6 1/2 TB cornstarch
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
Black pepper to taste
Combine milk, cornstarch and seasonings in large saucepan or deep skillet. Mix well to dissolve cornstarch. Heat and stir until thickened. Add chopped beef and stir until heated through. Serve on toast.
This makes enough for our family of 4 with a little bit left over.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Marsupials, a Llama Farm, and a Cookie Swap

As we continued our study of mammals this week, we learned about marsupials.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What is a marsupial?

ANSWER: Its an animal (a mammal) that gives birth to very tiny underdeveloped young which spend several months developing while inside the mother's pouch. Several examples include: koala bears, opossums, Tasmanian devils, and kangaroos.

You can watch this amazing video of a baby kangaroo (a joey) being born and making its way instinctively to the mother's pouch.

Another mammal we learned about this week (although its not a marsupial) is the llama. On Thursday afternoon, we went on a field trip to a nearby llama farm. The kids had a great time interacting with the llamas and walking them around on an obstacle course.

And, before the field trip, we attended a "hangout" with other homeschool families, and some of us exchanged cookies. JJ helped me make gingersnap cookies for the swap. Mmmm!

Although gingersnaps are usually made to be crispy, the recipe I have is for a soft/chewy kind of cookie, which we all love. See the recipe below.

1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used half whole wheat and half unbleached white)
1 ½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice

In a large bowl, beat brown sugar and butter until blended. Beat in egg and molasses. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to mixture. Mix well. (Dough will be stiff.) Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least for 2 hours).

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets (I used parchment paper).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until set. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pan.

Makes about 4 dozen.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Pilgrims, Puppets, and Potato Soup

Here are this week's highlights...

For History, we started learning about the Pilgrims (the Puritans who were persecuted in England, transferred to Holland, then traveled to North America on the Mayflower).

A couple of books we have been reading aloud include:

"Almost Home" by Wendy Lawton - which is about Mary Chilton, one of the Mayflower passengers. 

And, "The First Thanksgiving" by Jean George. 

In Science, we are learning about different kinds of Mammals. This week, we focused on apes, monkeys, and aquatic animals.

  • QUESTION OF THE WEEK:  What differentiates a monkey from an ape?  
  • ANSWER:  Monkeys have tails, apes do not. 

For Math, both kids are using Developmental Mathematics now. JJ has finished book 4 and is now in book 5. EL has started with book 3. Our goal this year is for each student to finish at least 2 books, maybe even 3.

For Spelling, after trying a couple of different things, we are back to using AVKO's Sequential Spelling. Last year, we used it for awhile without much success. Now, it seems to be the right fit.

For English, the A.C.E. paces are working well, which I am happy about.

On Sunday, the kids helped out with the children's sermon during church by using their puppets. Most of our friends and family have already seen this video, but here it is again for those of you who haven't seen it. The kids really enjoyed doing this and are working on a new song to do in the near future.

And, in the kitchen, JJ helped me make Cream Cheese Potato Soup for the slow cooker. (See recipe below). This is tasty and filling...

(for a 5 -6 quart slow cooker) 
6 cups water
2 cups ham, diced
2 32-oz. bags frozen cubed hashbrowns
2 8-oz. packages Fat Free Cream Cheese, cubed
1 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried dill weed

Combine all in slow cooker. Cover. Cook low for 8 hours. After about 4 hours, you can stir to mix in the melted cream cheese.

 photo FFrosebutton_zpsebf6731b.jpg

Friday, October 4, 2013

Jamestown, The Arch, and Meatball Stew

Our main focus for History this week was the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. We learned more about Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Powhattan Indians. We read books about it, watched videos, and made a small model of a wigwam.

Cut 5 strips from a cereal box and staple them together into a dome.
Tear pieces of construction paper and glue onto the dome.

After the glue dries, cut out a door.
For Science this week, we learned about Mammals.

On Wednesday, we visited the "Gateway to the West" after another doctor appointment for EL. Then, also stopped by to visit with my parents for awhile:

Photo by JJ
And, one night for supper, the kids helped chop vegetables and mix everything into a crockpot for meatball stew:


Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Orchard, Letter Writing, and Other Projects

Here are a few things we did this week:
We took a field trip to an apple orchard
with our homeschool group

Made Parmesan Tilapia
(This is quick and easy. See recipe below.)

Math on the new hardwood floor

Puppet practice
The kids are planning on performing a couple of songs at our church on Sunday night.

Letter Writing
The kids are learning how write letters - not e-mail, but actual written letters. This will help them with writing practice, spelling, sentence structure, communication with others, etc. We plan on practicing our letter writing through-out the school year so, if you are a family member or friend, you might be getting a letter in the mail at some point. Please write back if you get a chance. I know the kids would love to get some mail and read a response to the letters they write to you. 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
4 frozen Tilapia fish filets
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice concentrate
pinch of salt and pepper
Place fish in baking pan. Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over the tops of frozen fish. Bake at 375 degrees F, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until golden brown and fish flakes with a fork.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Look at the Past Two Weeks

The past couple of weeks have gone well.

For History/Geography, we learned about the First Explorers:  Leif Erikson and the Vikings, Christopher Columbus, and John Cabot. We also went on a field trip to LINCOLN'S HOME in Springfield, IL. (Lincoln is totally unrelated to the first explorers, but that's okay.)

For Science, we are learning about the animal kingdom, using the MFW curriculum, as well the Animal Science paces from A.C.E.

For Math, EL is working on counting money with a Kumon workbook. JJ is currently in Developmental Mathematics book 4.    

For English, we are also using the A.C.E paces this year, and they are working out well so far.

What is really nice about the paces is that they are easy to pack up and take with us if we need to go somewhere. This past week, we had to take EL to several doctors appointments, but we took our paces along with us and both kids were still able to get at least a little bit of schoolwork in while we were gone.

For Home Economics, I am teaching the kids new skills in the kitchen, and in the laundry. Friday night, JJ had his first experience with making meatballs. He enjoyed it, and did a nice job.

He also helped make brownies for a back-to-school carnival we went to on Saturday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, and we enjoyed being with other homeschool families.

Dart throwing

Face painting / Hand painting

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our First Week Back To School

Our first week back to a regular school routine had its ups and downs. The first day (Tuesday) went really well, as I kept it fairly light and fun. We started our day with pancakes (this has been a tradition for us for the past 3 years).

Then, I made a list on the whiteboard of the things we were going to accomplish.

1.  Introduction to our new school year (our schedule, our new curriculum, what to expect, etc.)
2.  Fill out an "About Me" page for their notebooks
3.  Handwriting
4.  Reading with Mom (this was a quick word recognition test for each of them)
5.  Get pictures ready (the kids took some pictures for a local photo contest, so we needed to get them framed and ready to take to the library.)

And, that was it. Day one down... feeling good... ready for day two!

Day two (Wednesday), was an entirely different story. I added some more work and a certain 5th grade boy had the attitude of:
1.  Why do we need to do school anyway!?
2.  This is boring!
3.  I don't like to write!
4.  This is too hard!
I kept my cool this year (unlike years past when I let my emotions get the better of me). However, I did end up firmly explaining to my son that it is a REQUIREMENT for him to do school. He could choose to cooperate with me and do school at home, or we could send him to the public school where things would be MUCH different and much less desirable for him. As we finished school that day, I was feeling like a failure as a mom and as a homeschooler; but, my son did eventually apologize for his behavior and agreed to do better.
That led us to day three (Thursday). No problems whatsoever! We finished our work with smiles and hugs. Then, took a field trip to a nearby nature center for their Homeschool Naturalist Program.

Today (Friday), we finished our first week by reviewing the 7 days of Creation, and eating a large sugar cookie decorated to look like the Earth. I remember doing something similar to this when we were doing the "Exploring Countries and Cultures" curriculum and learning about MAPS & GLOBES. It was fun to do it again.

Now, to enjoy the weekend and start fresh again on Monday morning.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer is Over

Summer is over, and we start back to school tomorrow morning. I have mixed feelings about starting back. Part of me is excited about getting back into a routine and learning new things with the kids. Another part is nervous about how well things will go as far as attitudes and cooperation. Plus, we have some new curriculum choices this year. But, we will start out slow with just the basics, then gradually increase our subjects. We will see how things go, and adjust accordingly.

For our vacation this year, we did not get the chance to attend a Renaissance Fair, like I previously mentioned we had wanted to do. (Maybe we can head to a Medieval Times dinner theater later this year.) We did, however, head to my husband's home town where we went to the county fair. It had been YEARS since we had been back to the fair there. My husband had a great time reliving old memories, and making new ones with our kids.

JJ and David on the bumper cars

EL on the carrousel