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, December 5, 2014

HELPFUL WEBSITE: Kelly Christian Academy


For all of you who use My Father's World as your main curriculum, I want to tell you about a very helpful blog:  KELLY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY.

The author, Vicki, has posted educational links to various websites (mostly You Tube) that can be watched to supplement the subjects you are covering. She includes links for Science, History, States and Capitals, Hymns, and more.  AND, they are separated out into the weeks listed in the MFW manuals. Awesome!

We are currently using some of the links she has posted for 1850 To Modern Times (We just finished Week 12). But, she also has separate pages listed for Creation to the Greeks, Rome to the Reformation, and Exploration to 1850.

You can also find links for Jewish Holidays Apologia Science, and Abeka Science.

It is a very helpful site, especially if you like to supplement your book learning with videos. It's a great way to teach your visual learners.

Have a great weekend!




Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Picnic Snack - An Introduction to My New Book Project

Here's a sneak peak at the new book project I've been working on.  I'm excited to say its almost ready for publication, but still needs a couple finishing touches. I am hoping to have it available to the public by the 1st of November (maybe sooner!) In the meantime, you are probably wondering what this book is about.

The new book is geared towards the younger crowd - children in the 3-8 developmental age range, but older children may enjoy it also. It is called, "A Picnic Snack," and is based on a fun experience I had when I was a little girl living in the small town of Manito, IL. My neighborhood friends and I often played outside together, and I can remember more than one occasion when we all brought snacks from home to share with everyone else.

The two main ideas of the book are "sharing with friends" and "thanking God for our food." My niece, Carolyn, drew the illustrations, and she did a great job for her debut in the publishing world. I enjoyed working with her on this.

I am using the same company I used for my first book, and will be sure to let you know when it is available to the public.

Stay tuned!  


Friday, October 17, 2014

FIELD TRIPS: Orchard, Nature Center, and Llama Farm

On September 24th, we went to an ORCHARD and learned about apples and pumpkins. We also went through a corn maze...

JJ picking apples

Walking in the pumpkin patch
 
EL coming out of the corn maze


On October 15th, we went to a NATURE CENTER to learn about deciduous trees (leaf trees, or trees that lose their leaves in the Fall)...

Identifying leaves

Taking a nature hike.

A tree frog

JJ made a new friend.
(But, we did let him go!)

On October 16th, we went to a LLAMA FARM...

JJ is getting ready to walk a llama through an obstacle course.

EL did not want to take a llama for a walk,
but she enjoyed visiting with this one.

Mama and baby.
The gestation period for a baby llama is 11 1/2 months!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What We've Been Reading

When you are choosing books to read out loud with your children, try not to choose a book based on popularity alone, but consider the content. Is the book full of nonsense? Is it dry with just a bunch of facts? Or, is it considered to be a LIVING BOOK, which basically means it is well-written, interesting, pulls you into the subject and helps you to "see" what the author is writing about.

During a part of our afternoons, I try to read a-loud to my two kids. Sometimes, we will sit and read several picture books. Yes, my kids still like those (and so do I), and they can be great conversation starters (or just plain fun). Other times, we read part of a chapter book that goes along with a time in History we have been, or are currently, studying. Some are based on true stories, others are fiction but contain events in History that actually did happen. They are entertaining books, and help the kids to put the facts of the times into a better understanding of what people actually went through. They help bring History alive.

So far this school year, we have read through two chapter books and are now working on a third...
 
1
Bound for Oregon
By:  Jean Van Leeuwen
A story about a family's journey Westward.

2
The Secret Valley
By:  Clyde Robert Bulla
A story about a family who took part in the California Gold Rush.
 3
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By:  Laura Ingalls Wilder
Based on the true stories of a young Pioneer girl and her family.

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

SCIENCE: Making Solutions & Separating Mixtures


MAKING A SOLUTION:
SOLUTE (the item being dissolved) = Table salt.
SOLVENT (the item doing the dissolving) = Water.
 
Mix the two together to get a SOLUTION (salt water).
 
An egg is denser (heavier) than water, so it will sink. But, if you add 5 tsp. of salt to the water, the solution becomes denser and the egg will float.


SEPARATING MIXTURES:
Fill a jar half full of heavy whipping cream.
Then, shake it for about 15 minutes.

The globs of fat in the cream will bind together, causing the cream to become very thick. Keep shaking it until the cream separates into a glob of butter floating in buttermilk.

Drain the buttermilk and add salt to the butter if desired.
Then, spread on some crackers to taste.

Mmmmmm!


Sunday, October 12, 2014

SCIENCE: Owl Pellets, Atoms, Chain Reactions & Surface Tension

Here are some pictures of some of the Science experiments we have been doing this year...
 
DISSECTING OWL PELLETS:
We dissected an owl pellet at the library with other homeschoolers. Owls cannot digest the fur and bones of a rodent, so they cough it up into a pellet. JJ thought it was really cool to dig through a pellet and find the little rodent bones. I helped EL get through it, but she was not thrilled.
 
Owl pellet

EL and I finding rodent bones

JJ and a friend finding bones and matching them up

DIAGRAM OF AN ATOM:

 CHAIN REACTIONS:
Getting ready to whisk egg whites to make meringue cookies

Whisking the egg whites whips air bubbles into the albumin,
producing a chain reaction.


The albumin traps the bubbles, making a foam.
When you bake it, the foam hardens into meringues.
  
 
SURFACE TENSION:
Pepper flakes sprinkled onto water float on the top
because of surface tension.


A drop of detergent breaks the surface tension
and pushes the pepper flakes away.


More Science photos to come....

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs

This past Summer, JJ was listening to a Maynard the Moose CD we borrowed from the library and he thought the crazy, mixed up fairy tale of Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs was hilarious. He decided to draw illustrations for the story and we made a video of it.  Check it out here...
 
 
  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Learning the States and Capitals

We have been tremendously busy this school year with school work (obviously), therapies (originally 3 days per week, but now it has gone down to 2), drum lessons, Boy Scouts, AWANA, field trips, play dates, doctor/dentist appointments, soccer, basketball, chores, and just living life. So, I haven't had much time to sit down and share our schooling adventures with you. But, since things seem to be slowing down a bit (at least for now), and we are in a much better place with our routine, I want to take a little time to share what we are using to learn the States and Capitals this year...


We started our year by learning about our Illinois State history. We used this book, Writing A State Report, to help us with that. This was actually scheduled at the end of last school year, but we didn't get around to doing it and started this year off with it instead. This, along with some "About Me" pages, were a good way to start out the year in a light, fun way. 



For memorizing the states and their capitals, this CD from Audio Memory Publishing has been very helpful. The songs can be a little annoying, but they really do help the kids to memorize.

 
JJ thought the singers on the CD sounded weird and didn't want to listen to them at first. They do sound a little high-pitched, sort of like chipmunks. But, then, EL colored and cut out some pictures of dolphins from a coloring book and wanted to make popsicle stick puppets out of them. To her, the songs sounded like dolphins singing. So, ever since our 2nd day of playing the songs, she and JJ have been making the dolphins dance and sing along as they "swim" through the states. It was a blessing that EL came up with this idea. She really saved the day. (They have also used fish and birds to sing the songs.)  

We are also using this workbook to help us learn more about the states, U.S. Geography, develop map skills, and for some critical thinking and reading comprehension.


This is one of the pages inside the Twin Sisters States and Capitals Wipe Clean Workbook. Here, the kids are using dry-erase markers to match up the states and capitals we have already learned. In the background, you will also see a matching game that was included with our curriculum from My Father's World.
 

We also have game called The Scrambled States of America that we haven't started using yet, but will be doing that soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School 2014

 
On August 19th, we started back to school with a light schedule. We spent a few days doing some "All About Me" pages, a basic family tree, learning about IL State history, and did some reading and  other simple projects to get us back into a routine. 
 
JJ was acting goofy here. He often says he doesn't like school; but, our first week went fine. I think, deep down, he really does like having (or maybe even needs) a more strict routine to help keep him busy and knowing what to expect. During the Summer, he often told me he was bored.

Our first-day-back-to-school breakfast tradition is usually pancakes. But, this year, the kids decided they wanted Baked Oatmeal. See the recipe below...

BAKED OATMEAL
 
3 cups dry oatmeal (2 cups quick cooking oats, 1 cup Old-fashioned)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or raisins)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs

1 cup milk
 
Mix all together. Pour into a 9x9 square pan. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 until firm and slightly browned. Serve warm. 
 
Double the recipe for a 9x13 pan. 
 
 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Summer Fun - July 2014

At the beginning of July, the kids attended a Puppet Boot Camp at a nearby church. They really enjoyed learning more about the craft of puppetry.
 
JJ received 3rd place in the Junior division for his lip syncing skills.

EL was excited that her name was drawn to WIN a puppet! This picture is blurry, but you get the idea. We will definitely be using this puppet in a future performance at church.
 
The kids each made a puppet out of a hat.
Here's EL with her puppet.

JJ with his puppet
 
Here is a video of the Hat Performance, done under blacklight:
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Other random pix from July....
 
JJ playing in the mud after a good bout of rain
 
We stopped at an Outdoors Unlimited event where JJ
took the chance to fish, shoot arrows, and throw tomahawks.

The kids in front of a field of sunflowers at a nearby state park

A collage from our vacation to Kentucky.
You can see more about our trip over at "He Holds My Right Hand."

Here are the links for easy access:
VACATION PART 1:  Louisville, Kentucky
VACATION PART 2:  Eastern Kentucky
VACATION PART 3:  Kentucky Down Under
VACATION PART 4:  Beech Bend Amusement Park
A Not-So-Perfect Vacation
 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Kid Snippets Math is Like Life at Our House

Kid Snippets have been going around on the Internet for awhile, and they are so good. They get kids to talk about a given topic, then the adults act out the scene with the kids voices dubbed in. This one about Math is probably my favorite. Not only is it funny, it also reminds me of what math is like in our home! I would consider JJ as the "teacher" and EL as the "student." Check it out!



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

FREE Homeschool Planners (Limited Time)

We are nearing the end of our Summer, so I have started the process of getting things organized for the new year. I have looked into some different planners and haven't really found one that completely works for our needs, but I wanted to share a couple of FREE options for those of you who are interested:

For the next month, The Old Schoolhouse magazine has 5 different planner options for free listed on EDUCENTS.COM. Here is the direct link: 

 
Also, for a short time (through August 4, 2014), you can get 7 different themed planners for free over at:
 
 
These are only free for a limited time, so hurry up and download your copies now!
 


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Summer Science Camp

This week, the kids had 3 days of a Social Skills Science Camp. It was interesting! It is geared for kids with special needs and their siblings. They learned about 3 different body systems while practicing the social skills of taking turns, cooperating, and learning about hygiene and good manners. It was a good class and I'm glad we were able to take part in it.

Day 1, we learned about the DIGESTIVE SYSTEM:

The instructor is teaching about the
different parts of the Digestive System.


Using stethoscopes to listen to
intestinal gurgling sounds called peristalsis.


They made "vomit" by mixing together 2 crackers, 1/2 banana, shredded carrots, baking soda, and vinegar to simulate what happens to food inside the stomach.

It literally looks like vomit. Ewww.


They blew up balloons and let them go to simulate the sounds of flatulence. Ha ha! They had such fun with this.

Pushing thick oatmeal through a panty hose leg to simulate food being pushed through the small intestines.

Day 2, I didn't get too many pictures, but we learned about the CIRCULATORY SYSTEM. They made the different parts of blood, listened to heart beats, and learned about veins and arteries.

Here, they put celery into a glass of food coloring
and left it there for a couple of days to see how veins work.

On the last day, they learned about the RESPIRATORY SYSTEM:

They made "snot." Their faces tell the story on this one.


They went outside to drop Mentos into a bottle of diet Coke
to simulate how pressure builds up before we sneeze.
A sneeze can travel up to 100 miles per hour!

They used balloons and a water bottle
to show how our diaphragm helps our lungs work.
 
and, they blew through straws into water bottles to show lung capacity.
Some of them got their faces very wet. Hee hee.