WELCOME!

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....

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

YEAR- END REVIEW: Survey of Geology & Archaeology

For Science this year, we focused on Earth Science by using a mix of curricula from different sources.

  • First, we used a curriculum pack from MASTER BOOKS titled  A Survey of Geology and Archaeology. This is geared for grades 7-12 and covers a general overview of basic Archaeology, Geology, Caves, and Fossils. The package includes 4 thin books on each topic, as well as a teacher's guide that includes the weekly lesson schedule, glossary of terms, student worksheets, quizzes & tests, and all the answer keys. It is a thorough program, and interesting. However, my son got bogged down with all the reading; and the worksheets were difficult for him. He made it through all of the Archaeology book, all of Geology, and a portion of  the Cave book. Then, we switched to a more visual approach to finish up the rest of the school year.

  • I already owned 3 of the episodes from Master Books' Awesome Science:  Historical Geology series with Noah Justice (along with the included study guides), so we took our time going through each of these DVD's and discussing them. I did not have the teacher's manual, so I did not have the answers to the questions in each of the study guides, but we did the best we could with answering them. They were at least helpful with guiding our discussion on each topic. These are the episodes we used:
Ep. 4:  Explore Yosemite & Zion National Parks
-  Ep. 5:  Explore Mount St. Helens
-  Ep. 6:  Explore John Day Fossil Beds

http://www.geologykitchen.com/home.html
  •  The final option we used was 12 video sessions we found on You Tube from GEOLOGY KITCHEN. When JJ finished these, I had him choose one of his favorite episodes and write a short report about it.

All in all, it was a good year. JJ not only learned about Earth Science, he learned how to search for the answers he didn't know, and also to persevere when things are hard. He also came to recognize more fully that he is a visual learner. So, next year, we will be choosing a video-based curriculum for his Science course.

One more thing we did recently isn't really related to Earth Science, but is more of a General Science experiment. We did the microwaved Ivory soap experiment. Ivory soap is very light and floats on top of water, unlike other bars of soap because, when it is made, air is whipped into the soap before it sets. Those air bubbles contain water molecules, which expand when the soap is microwaved. It turns the soap into a cloud or cotton-like texture. Here is a short video of what we did...


Saturday, May 19, 2018

YEAR-END REVIEW: State History from a Christian Perspective

This school year, we used STATE HISTORY FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE to cover United States Geography and Illinois State History.

We started out with Geography of the Fifty States, which is a workbook-based study on the 50 united states of America. It can be used for grades 3-12, and is flexible to use based on skill levels. Each of the states are studied in the order of statehood.

The manual gives suggested schedules for using this curriculum as either a one-semester course, or for a full year. It can be used alone, or it can be combined with 50 States Under God (a study of U.S. History), or with a specific state history course. We chose to use Geography of the Fifty States as part of a full year course, finishing out the year with Illinois State History. This is their suggested schedule for that:
Allow a 30-minute class period per day, 5 days per week. For Geography of the Fifty States, spend 2 days per state (2x50=100 days) and 1 day for each of the 15 Geography Overview Lessons, allowing an extra class day for study before each of the 5 tests. This will give you 120 class days. You may choose to do the state history course at the beginning, the end, or at any point during the course. Whenever you do the state history course, cover one lesson per day. Total for both courses will be 150 days. With the remaining 20-30 days, you may do the state constitution study included in the state history book, do a state history course for another state, do field trips related to your
state, or assign research projects related to your state or any topic covered in the Geography book. A list of expansion suggestions is included in both the state history text and the Geography book.
Each state has a reading assignment and related map-work which includes geographical features such as rivers, mountains, lakes, and major cities. The 50 states and their capitals and locations are also learned (or reviewed, if already learned), along with geographical terms. There are 5 tests and answer keys included in the curriculum.

OUR OPINION:  The content is very good, and it has a lot of great information in it. I feel that JJ learned from it, and it was not a waste of time or money. However, JJ felt it was a bit dry and boring, and he didn't care for all the memorizing of facts, especially the geographical terms. So, I changed things up a bit and decided to use the worksheets from MAPS OF THE UNITED STATES by Emerald Books. These helped him learn more about how to do research and to record information about each state.

When we finished Geography of the Fifty States, we moved on to Illinois State History. Once again, there are several suggestions/ideas for how to use this book, based on age level and interests. Some choose to use a 3-ring binder to make their own state history notebook. However, we chose to use My State Notebook, a pre-formatted scrapbook from Abeka Books. No real reason other than we already had the book, and we liked what we saw. It was easy to use, and there are instructions in the IL State History Master Lesson Plan Book to use along with it that are very helpful.

OUR OPINION:  JJ and I both enjoyed this IL State History course. It is simple to use, and very flexible. JJ learned a lot more about Illinois and, because it was hands-on, I believe it helped him to remember more of the facts. I made him do several quizzes as open-book. Then, he was able to use the quizzes to study for the tests. He had fun learning, and had no problem passing his tests. As for the needed photos, a few are provided in the student text, but most of them we cut out of various tourist/travel guides. We also used some of our own pictures we had taken from around the State.

Now that the book is finished, we have a nice little keepsake to look back on. Here is a quick look at the finished book:





Thursday, May 17, 2018

MAY 2018 FIELD TRIP: Cahokia Mounds

ILLINOIS HISTORY has been one of JJ's subjects this year. A few weeks ago, he began studying about the early inhabitants of Illinois - the Mississippians from CAHOKIA MOUNDS.  So, we decided to schedule a field trip, and ended up visiting over Mother's Day weekend. 


EL and JJ at Cahokia Mounds.

We arrived just in time that afternoon to join a free, guided, walking tour. My mom is in this photo with the kids, waiting for the tour to begin. 

Here we are on the walking tour, learning about the different types of mounds on the grounds. There are 3 different types:  Platform, Ridge-top, and Conical.

This was one of the mounds we passed on the walking tour. I believe it is a ridge-top mound, which was probably used as either an area landmark or a burial ground. By this point in the tour, we had  been outside for about 10 minutes and realized how hot it was getting (near 90 degrees!). My mom and I could not handle the heat, so we exited the tour and all went back to the air conditioned Interpretive Center.
 
One of the murals inside the museum shows what the village might have looked like.

After watching a short theatrical presentation about the village, we explored the museum and saw life-sized models of the natives and their surroundings.

A view of some of the foods they ate. Their diet consisted of squash, corn, seeds and beans, berries, wild game and fish.

Here is one of the recipes displayed which the natives probably ate.

Some of the arrow heads that were found on the grounds.

JJ looking at another mural.

David is watching a short video about Wood henge, which was a large en-circled area used to keep track of the seasons.
 
Family photo in the museum.

I did not take this photo, but found it on Wikipedia. This is Monk's Mound, a massive platform mound, most likely where the high chief lived. It is the largest man-made earthen mound north of Mexico. This is the only mound at Cahokia Mounds that is allowed to be climbed. As you can see, there are stairs leading all the way to the top. JJ really wanted to make this climb, however, it was near 94 degrees by then! So, we decided we would return in the Fall, when the temperatures are cooler, and make the climb then.

Cahokia Mounds is a free (donation-based) historical landmark in Collinsville, IL. If you get a chance to go, it is an interesting trip. Just don't go on the walking tour when it is in the 90's, unless you bring lots of water and are accustomed to high temperatures. 






Saturday, April 7, 2018

APRIL 2018 FIELD TRIP: Lincoln Log Cabin Live-in Program

Yesterday was the 3rd year JJ participated in a "live-in" program with our homeschool group at LINCOLN LOG CABIN STATE HISTORIC SITE. This was his last year to participate due to aging out, but he has really enjoyed this program. The students are dressed in period clothing and are "transported back in time" to the year 1845. The girls wear dresses and aprons while the boys put on work shirts. They spend a couple of hours performing duties and chores that were typical on an 1840s farm.

Here is where the students start out. They are told the rules, and then dressed in their costumes. Several families had to cancel this time, so there were only 4 boys and (I think) 9 girls. In previous years, we have had up to 15 or more in each group.

The boys pushed a wagon over to the stable to load dirty straw onto. This is a working farm with real animals, so the chores are real, also.

Here are two of the boys using pitchforks to load the straw. JJ is on the right.

After the straw was loaded, they pushed the load down the sidewalk and took it to a place to dump it.

Another chore for the boys was carrying wood from the wood shed to the wood box inside the cabin. The boys were also allowed to saw wood using a two-man saw, but I didn't get a picture of that chore.

Here is JJ carrying wood into the cabin where the girls have a fire going and are working in the kitchen. 

The girls were nice and warm inside the cabin, making Johnny Cake for us all to try. EL was asked if she wanted to participate, and she said no, but we stood in cabin for awhile to watch what they were doing. She's the one in the hat.

The boys are taking turns dipping candles. The girls did this also. When they were finished, each student was allowed to take home one candle as a souvenir.

JJ and a friend are carrying a heavy bucket of spikes, which were needed for the next chore of splitting a log.

The boys are lined up and taking turns hitting the spike with a sledge hammer.

JJ is taking his turn with the sledge hammer. This was his favorite chore.

It was a chilly day, but at least the sun was shining. JJ's arm muscles were sore the next day, but he was happy to have taken part.


Friday, March 30, 2018

MARCH 2018 FIELD TRIP: Greentree Saw Mill & Amish School


March 29, 2018 - A trip to Greentree Hardwood Saw Mill, run by the Amish in Flat Rock, IL

We went upstairs into a little room with a viewing window. This was taken from the window, looking down at the action of the saw mill. The logs were cut with machines/robotics, but man power was also needed to help move things along. 


We left the saw mill and hopped into a small bus owned by the family who planned this field trip. They took us over to an Amish school down the road from the mill.  JJ is on the right.


The Amish schoolhouse

We were allowed to sit quietly in the school rooms to observe while the students had their Math class. There were 9 students in this classroom, and I think 7 or 8 in another classroom with the younger children. The Math curriculum they use is from Rod & Staff.

The teacher of the older students showed us a class nature project they are working on. This is a jar filled with eggs from Yellow Perch fish. The eggs were clear, and we were able to see very tiny fish moving around inside of them, getting ready to hatch out soon. 

After the school, we finished our trip by visiting the Amish grocery store a little further down the road. The smell of fresh bread was very evident as we walked in the door. Several families had fresh sandwiches made in the deli section. We brought our own lunch but still did some shopping at the store.


On one of the walls inside the store, there is a display of musical chime clocks for sale. EL loved these and asked me to take to a picture of them so she could draw them later. She said she wants one of these for her bedroom. 

Several of the boys hanging out after lunch on the porch.

We all enjoyed the trip and learned some interesting things we hadn't seen before. I had JJ fill out a field trip report and he said this about the saw mill:
They bring in a big log and they use a machine to cut the wood. When the wood has been cut on one side, the machine flips it over and starts cutting again on the other side of the log.

Even though EL has graduated from school, we still take her on trips like this and she likes to fill out a field trip report also. She said this about the Amish school and store:
We went to the Amish school. The girl is learning some Math. We went to the store to get some stuff. I saw fidgit spinners, puzzles, big wind chimes, and musical chime clocks. I liked the musical chime clocks. The clocks played beautiful chiming music. I liked the wind chimes outside.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

FIELD TRIPS February 2018: IGA Store & Feed Mill

In February, we took two field trips with our homeschool group. The first one was to Martin's IGA on February 6th. The second one, on the 27th, was hosted by Farm to Family Ag Tours through the Illinois Farm Bureau and the University of IL Extension. We went to a feed mill that was still under construction, and also to a cattle farm.

MARTIN'S IGA

Storefront

Produce Department

Cake Decorating Department

Fork lift putting a pallet on a high shelf in the stock room

Checkout lane

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FEED MILL & CATTLE FARM

Inside the new feed mill - under construction

An expensive pellet maker

At the cattle farm

Visiting a cow at the cattle farm