Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Math

I'm trying to be better about "fun" things for the kids, like crafts and holiday activities.   Since today was leap day, I decided that we were going to try to do a little "leaping of our own to go along with our CC memory work for math.  This week our memory math is 1 inch equals 2.54 centimeters.  First, I made up a batch of cook play dough.  I've used this recipe before and it's never given me any trouble, but due to a lack of flour I halved it and it was SUPER sticky this time.  After cooking it, I added a ton of green glitter.  The goal was to make "Frogs" for our place value lily pad game, but the dough turned out really sticky, even though it looked fantastically glittery and fun :) 

We had a few friends come by in the afternoon, so they were subjected to our math games, too! Everyone lined up at the corner of a wall and then did their best "leap".  We marked it with a construction paper lily pad and then measured in centimeters and inches.  Logan wrote his own numbers and name.  He's doing really well with his printing and starting to feel more confident writing, especially in front of others!!

Our hypothesis was incorrect- we guessed that the person with the longest legs would leap the furthest, but Logan and Riley jumped equal distances!!

Next we did a game with place value.  I made lily pads labeled "ones", "tens" and "hundreds".  Since our play dough didn't work out, we used our Singapore math cubes in green.  The kids rolled a die to see how many "frogs" went on each lily pad.  For Logan, we just did ones and tens and then he wrote the number on the white board and told me the name.  For Katie Marie and Riley, they used all three pads (and I added a "thousands" one) and took turns rolling to add more to the pads from the roll before.  This meant they had to swap sets of 10 out for 1 of the next place value up.  Even Savannah played, rolling a number and then counting out the appropriate number of "froggies" for her ones lily pad.

Pretty fun!!

Sk8r Girl

Savannah just finished her first set of ice skating lessons thanks to Grammy and Papa!! The first time we put her on the ice to practice, she absolutely amazed us because she took right to it!!

Classes, however....well....that was a different story.  Savannah has such a compassionate heart that she would have rather spent her time holding hands with another girl who was always at the back of the class than concentrating on the teacher.  I have to admit, I am a bit of a "stage mom", so this drove me absolutely BONKERS.

Savannah had a great time, though!! I think I'm going to keep her out of the next session and skate with her myself through SAM 4 or 5 and then we'll test her out and do lessons again.  She's so cute on the ice, though, and most weeks (this week she was sick, again, so I made her wear pants) she insisted on a leotard and skirt.  Love.

Logan was obviously very proud :)

Ahh, that's more representative of our skating outfits of choice :) 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

In Which Uncle Derrick and Miss Megan Visit!

Family Drama.  We haz it.

Well, we used to "haz it", but we gave it up for Lent 4 years ago and just decided not to pick it back up.  Anyway, our family drama is such that Austin hasn't been able to see his brothers, which is really sad for him, me, and the kids who absolutely adore super-cool 20 year olds.


Luckily, as Austin's brothers get older, we've been able to see them!! We got to see Uncle Brendan a few months ago while he was passing through on his way to India the first time:
(Side note: Austin now has more hair, thanks to a beard, and Brendan now has less hair as he's apparently shaved his head as part of the Devotee process.)

And this past weekend, Derrick and his girlfriend (who may actually be the sweetest thing on earth) Megan came to see us!  They were such incredibly good sports about having to schlep around to all of our kid-centered activities!!

On Friday night they made such great time they were here for the game night we hosted with a few other CC families
 It obviously didn't take Riley very long to realize that Uncle Derrick is AWESOME :) It also didn't take his friends James and Connor very long, either.  They were both all about being on Derrick's team.  For everything.
This is the most visible picture I took.  I REALLY need to be better about using an actual camera and not my iPhone.  We had 4 families (totaling 20 people!) and enjoyed the pizza and fellowship.  I was a little worried when Megan asked how we all knew each other and probably got a longer lesson on homeschooling than she really ever cared for, but, being the epitome of sweetness and light, she smiled and listened.
After everyone left, Logan wanted to read to Uncle Derrick, which surprised me! He's usually pretty shy about showing off his skillz, but he really wanted to show Uncle Derrick what he could do!

On Saturday, Megan and Derrick slept in while we went to swimming and hockey, and then we met up mid-day.  I had a few things to get done before Blue and Gold and also left for a little bit to go to my mom's tea.  Everyone had a great time hanging out, playing games, sticking on star stickers, and playing Rock Band, even if they did confirm that 99.9 percent of people with our last name by birth should refrain from singing :)

I don't think I got any pictures at the Blue and Gold- maybe Austin did- but again, Megan and Derrick were great sports.  Boy Scout functions are not the most fun in the world! Derrick did learn that he likes collards, though, so that's exciting!

After the Blue and Gold, we headed back to the house and my mom babysat the kiddos so that we could go out to a comedy club in DC.  It was Megan's first time, and she seemed to enjoy it! The club was called Riot Act and it was MUCH nicer than the DC Improv, but we've enjoyed our Improv comics!!

We saw the 10:30 pm show, and after the week we had with getting ready for guests, schooling, sickness, etc., I was TIRED.  Knowing that I was the DD, I took full advantage of my free DD sodas (note to anyone that doesn't know that trick, announce LOUD AND PROUD that you're the Designated Driver, because they'll typically hook you up with your $4 soda for free!) and coffee trying to stay awake.  After we left the club, we tried to look for a falafel place that was supposed to be over in the Ethiopian side of DC near District, but with the road torn up for repaving and us passing District about 10 minutes after last-call, it was too stressful for my non-city-driving self, so we gave up and went to drive past some monuments for Megan.  It was too cold for a walk, unfortunately, but maybe next time.

When I first met Derrick and Brendan, they were 13 and 10.  They immediately attacked Austin and me and wanted to wrestle, a tradition that has continued, apparently.  Oh, wait, did I mention that after the show there were $2 drafts? Yeah.  There were.

Unfortunately for Derrick, Austin can still take him.  Unfortunately for Austin, he got a bloody nose.  Unfortunately for everyone involved, I didn't have a video camera because it was HYSTERICAL.

Another fun thing that just worked out was that Megan's uncle had moved to Fairfax!  We were able to work out brunch at one of our favorite places, Pane E Vino since it was about equal distance for each of us.

Apparently, these two guys think they're cool.  The whole group seemed to have a great time, and Megan's uncle seemed very nice, too!! The kids had so much fun, we all did, and we're very thankful that Megan and Derrick were able to make the trip out.

Austin's still smiling ear to ear about getting to spend a little sibling time :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Classical Conversations Week 20!!

I can't believe that we're 4 weeks away from the end of our first year of Classical Conversations!! Crazy!! I feel like this has been a real journey, but we're finally in a great groove, and more so every week.  I have been tremendously blessed to grow in confidence and community and I'm very happy about our decision to homeschool.

This week:

Classical Conversations, Cycle 3 Week 20

History- Brown v. Board of Education
I found a website that has tons and tons of ideas about how to teach civil rights. It includes Brown V. Board as well as several other high-profile events and even has a library list! I really liked the discussion questions here, so we're going to use those for sure. Then I found from the National Archives.  This one is FANTASTIC and I'm really excited to have it for the future!!  I love using primary sources as much as possible, and this site has free registration and tons and tons of pre-made activities!! We're going to do one together called Dwight D. Eisenhower and School Integration.  Many are flash-based, which is fun for the kids.

Note to self: The Brown V. Board historic site has 3 different videos for ages starting with Kindergarten.  Too bad I didn't look sooner!! Bad procrastinating momma!! I think I'll go ahead and order the one we'll likely need in 3 years ;)  I did find a fairly simple and straight-forward video on YouTube that includes the Brown Family.

We're also going to do a journal entry about whether why we agree (I guess or disagree, but I'd be sad if they chose that!) with Brown v. Board's decision.

John 1:6- fuit homo missus a Deo
I don't have a fun plan for this- although I'm working on a little latin review game for when we've completed the verse.  The lap books continue to go well!

English- Phrases and Clauses
So, listen.  I can't possible teach Phrases and Clauses without playing my kids Conjunction Junction. It totally gives some examples....right?

For later in the week, I want to introduce Riley to dependent and independent clauses.  In addition to our grammar workbook pages, I found this website with an online quiz.  Getting to do it online makes it 1,000x more fun. We'll also play a game with our die from Scattegories, using the letter we roll to pick words to make clauses or phrases.

Science- Theory of Evolution
Right, so.  This is one where I applaud CC for finding a memory sentence that won't offend anyone, regardless of their level of Biblical Literalism.  We have no problem with evolution in our house, in so much as we're talking about the concept that things change over time, even though we believe in a divine creator.  I don't know how God did stuff, so if he's provided us with a fossil record showing that things change over time, I'm down.  This doesn't make me a Darwinist, it just means that I appreciate that things change. We'll be reading the Biblical account of creation, watching Bill Nye episode 6 from season 3 on Evolution, and talking about whether the two ideas are mutually exclusive.  We know that God created the world and everything in it, but we also know that when he was done creating, the world was set up to run itself over time.  That's just us.  We identify with Intelligent Design, but not as Biblical Literalists.

Math- 1 inch= 2.54cm
We're going to do this on leap day and do some jumping and measuring both in inches and centimeters to make it fun.  Singapore continues to go well, and we're happy with the boys' progress.  (Especially since Logan's kicked math investigations grade 1's booty!)

Geography- Canals
Lucky us, the C&O Canal is nearby!! This calls for a hike.
This week one of the tutors made an enormous rice crispy treat map of the us with candy for features.  We might have to steal that idea!! We have a jello mold USA, too...hmmmm, ideas for review :)

Composer- Tchaikovsky Symphony Number 6

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CC Cycle 3 Week 19

I just noticed I wrote but never posted this!! Better late than never!!

History Sentence: Tell Me About NATO
Well, we couldn't talk about communism without talking about the cow explanations of politics.  Of course, to make it more kid-friendly, we did a review of our memory work with cookies as the reward.  Then, at the end, I re-assigned the M&Ms so that everyone had the same number despite their performance, keeping several for myself.  Everyone cried and then we talked about the free market economy and I wished my kids were old enough to watch Freakonomics.  We also used the CIA World Factbook to compare some standard of living items in a communist versus a democratic country.
This, of course, greatly confused Riley, who was extremely upset about the fact that aborted babies aren't counted in infant mortality rates, that art lessons each month cost more than 2.5% of the Chinese population makes in a year, and that the United States owes China money when China is a communist country.

Sorry, buddy, I can't explain that one to your satisfaction, either. On a side note, Wikipedia has a neat map that shows the number of countries that were communist during the Cold War with the number now.  We also visited the NATO website. We also might have played a game of civilization on our phone.  It's not educational at all, but each civilization starts with different knowledge and you can change to a new form of government and gain or lose abilities, plus I'm a huge dork and love it :)

Latin: John 1:5
More sign language!! Whoohoo!  This week they memorized fairly easily because it was short :)

English: The Predicate
Right.  Mad Libs.  (Kind of Mad Libs, anyway).  We took turns giving a subject, verb (from our review list!) and a predicate.  The next day, we changed it up and I provided silly sentences on the white board and the kids identified the parts.  Riley also had some worksheets to complete from his English Grammar book.

Science: What do the Heavens Declare
Psalm 19:1 worked out rather conveniently for us as Grandma is currently taking an astronomy class! Hooray for fun books and information from her!! Nothing wrong with a guest teacher :) We did this as our copy work and on Friday I'm planning to do some watercolor sky paintings in my quest to be better about craftiness.

Math: Feet in a Mile
We did the numbers with our fingers and then printed a foot picture and wrote 5,280 inside it.  The boys make lovely toenail designs and may have a future as manicurists.

Hello Oregon Trail online!! Okay, fine, so it's not the same, but it's similar and free!! We did word association for this one, so a cucumber (Cumberland), santa hat (Santa Fe), a bunch of men (Mormon), a Gila Monster (Gila), a cane (Old Spanish), a surf board (California), and a stagecoach (Oregon).

Tomorrow is CC so I hope we're ready!! Friday is a spelling and math test day :)

CC Week 16 and 17: Math Dinner

One of the things I've been trying to work on is doing more "fun" stuff.  Since we're not what I call "called" homeschoolers- poeple who homeschool for purely religious reasons- I focus a lot on shoving academics into my kids' heads and tend to not make things as fun as I have time to since we homeschool. (PS- Don't get me wrong, we love Jesus, it's just that he wasn't optional no matter what type of school they went to!)  I'm also absolutely horrific at making sure we do crafts, but that's a note for another day.  For CC Cycle 3 Week 16 and Week 17, our math was about circle formulas. 
 When I went to pick Savannah up at preschool one day during Week 16, I stopped at the Bloom because Austin was working from home so I had a few moments to run in and grab things.  It ended up being a massive (and odd) shopping trip because the store was closing and everything was 75% off!! I've recently gotten to meet the very fabulous woman who writes and I feel like she would have been proud of this key lime pie that I got for $1.27! I don't usually buy pre-made baked goods, but it was so cheap!! And thus, an idea was born for a circle dinner.
 We used the ruler to measure diameter and then plugged in the appropriate numbers to solve for circumference.  We then divided by 5 (the number of people in our family) and made very even pie pieces by using a string to mark the appropriate number of centimeters for each family member's slice.
We marked each cut with a magic marker.  Our dinner included an odd mix of circular foods, and for all of them we calculated something and shared.  It was fun because it made the math "worthwhile" for them- equal sharing of foods mommy doesn't typically put out is a crucial life skill :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Savannah Lynn's Birthday

I am a huge sap for birthdays.  I figure that our kids will only really want 10 or 12 birthday parties, if I'm lucky, and I want to do them up right.

I seriously would  love it if there were random rich people out there that would pay me to decorate and prep crafts for their children's birthdays.  It makes me so happy to think of all the fun memories!!

For Savannah Lynn this year, we did a Princess Party at home.  There are about 2,000 pictures in this post, I apologize.

Tea party-style foods are cuter :) I use my stackable serving platters.  There are storebought lemon cookies, butter cookies with frosting and pink and red sprinkles, sliced cheese I cut using a flower cutter, and butterfly crackers.   I went super simple for the cake, just a pearl S.  One of
the best investments I ever made was in pink fabric when there was a yardage sale with a coupon at JoAnn Fabrics.  I got tulle, beautiful organza, and even prints, and I reuse them each year to decorate.  I used my mom's cricut with baby pinks and greens to make the birthday banner, and then I fill in with balloons and streamers.  I like that I'm saving money by reusing and also being a little bit greener :) I got these crowns at Tar-jay for a very decent price, and put out one for each little girl.  For crafts, I found plain boxes at Michael's for $1 each and painted them (the blue ones are for brothers) and then put in edging, stickers, and self-adhesive jewels for each girl to make a treasure box.  When they were done, we filled them up with necklaces and pink candy (gum, truffles, and kisses) and then wrapped a pink balloon around them.  Each girl took that and her crown home instead of doing a goody bag.

Savannah borrowed a pageant dress from her friend Katie-Marie (who is now a size 8 and didn't need it for the party!) and looked adorable. 

Grandma came, which always makes a party more fun :) Even mommy got some time to cheese for what are, unfortunately, really bad cellphone pictures, but we had a great time :)

Riley and Logan dressed up in their suits for the party, although Riley quickly retreated downstairs to play Legos.  I love this picture of him and Savannah.  He loves his little sister something fierce.  She loves her bubbas both tremendously.  

Riley was retreating from our special surprise- a REAL PRINCESS!!  Princess Genevieve from the Kingdom of Azuria came and spent some time with the girls.

She started off telling stories about her kingdom and showing off her treasures.  The girls were so excited they couldn't move or speak!  Logan, however, had a blast and even went to get his treasure box and tell her all about Vava Land (where Vavas and Vivos live)

After, the girls and Princess Genevieve enjoyed some singing, dancing, and twirling, and the girls got much more comfortable.  When it was time for snacks and lemonade, Genevieve made herself right at home on the floor with the little princesses, who enjoyed her company greatly.

We had a fantastic time, and I very much enjoyed our very girly party :)

Baking Adventure

Using Pinterest has piqued my interest in muffin tins and their uses beyond cupcakes and blueberry muffins :)

The other day, Harris Teeter had a "meal deal" that included orange juice, sausage, eggs, and refrigerator biscuit dough for $5 or $6 total.  I decided to try my hand at some breakfast muffin tin magic. 

You need to separate the layers of your biscuit dough about 3/4 of the way down, and then line the muffin tins.  Then, stab with a fork several times.  They'll still rise a lot.  Then I mixed 2 eggs (yes, just 2), 2 T of milk, 2T chopped red bell pepper, 1T chopped parsley and salt and pepper.  In each "cup" I sprinkled in a few pieces of chopped turkey lunchmeat and 1 piece round of cheesestick (they were the right size!) and then topped it off with 1/12th of the egg mixture.  It's not a lot of egg, but both the baked egg and the biscuit fluff up when you bake! These are yummy warm and also reheat nicely in the microwave.  Definitely put a baking sheet underneath, though, because if you fill the cups too much the egg will bake out. 

CC Science Club: Chinese New Year

Yes, yes, this happened in January.  So sue me.  We use a book I picked up at the library, but you can also get it on Amazon.  For the January lesson, we talked about phase changes.  

First, we read a few books about the Chinese New Year.  Then we made a Venn Diagram about the differences and similarities between the Chinese and the American New Years.  The kids did really well! 

Next I did a demo by making poppers that were completely unsuccessful at the library (using off-brand alka-seltzer and water in an old-school film canister, which was really hard to find!) but worked at home.  It was supposed to tie in with the "Fireworks/explosions" portion of the Venn Diagram.  Next we separated into groups and showed how a liquid (vinegar) and a solid (baking soda) can produce a reaction in the form of a gas (carbon dioxide), which we could see by inflating a balloon over a soda bottle. 

Helpful hint: Use a paper cone to pour the baking soda into the balloon.  Measure the vinegar into the soda bottle, and then attach the balloon to the top of the bottle.  When you stand the balloon up, the baking soda goes in, but you've got all the time in the world to attach your balloon, unlike if you try to mix the elements and THEN put the balloon on top. 

Then it was time for snack and crafts!! The book (and my original plan) suggests doing mini egg rolls, but since there were supposed to be too many kids to have it at my house (fully 1/2 of the people who RSVP'd didn't come), we were at the library and I wasn't sure what our kitchen options were going to be, so we did popcorn (get it, it's popping/exploding?)

Then the kids worked on a really simple craft that I based on a Pinterest find. This was also a second choice, the first choice craft involved paint, which I decided was a bad idea at the library, but the kids seemed to enjoy making puppets, and they're younger, so this was good.

 We had a great time! The science club idea seems to work well for us and for our CC friends! I didn't take any pictures from our February club, which we had this week on Monday, but we did polymers using Teflon Tape and plastic bags.  We had fun learning we could stretch vertically and distort the images and then pull horizontally and realign the molecules! Our crafts were just fun heart-shaped foam activities from Michaels.  I had a bunch of events that all happened on the same day, so a CC friend greatly blessed me by saying she'd bring a craft.  I really didn't feel like I fit in our community at the beginning of the year (I still don't) but I've been very supported by

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Classical Conversations, Cycle 3 Week 18

I have actually been blessed these past weeks to notice that Leigh Bortins' (CC author) "Train to Retain" mantra actually works.  The kids are doing a fantastic job shoving memory work in their brains and regurgitating it, but they're also remembering EVERYTHING supplemental we give them.  Win!

This week:

History: The Bombing of Pearl Harbor
I think that a field trip to Hawaii is the only possible way to fully appreciate the incredibly deep historical significance of this event.  Austin seems to disagree.  Sigh. I tried.
In lieu of that, we'll just check out the following:
* Video of the USS Arizona Memorial
* Interactive Map and Multimedia of Pearl Harbor
* Just for fun, this wordsearch is for Riley along with the alphabetical order vocabulary.  I'm printing the matching activity for both boys, and the coloring pages for all 3.  The Iwo Jima Memorial is right down the road from us adjacent the main gate to Quantico Marine Corps Base, so I think we'll just have to drive down after we read about it!
*We've got a few books on the library, but I want to highlight one because it's by a local author named Jamey Long, who Riley has been able to meet a few times.  

Latin: et lux in tenebris lucet
We'll continue working on our review lapbook.  The kids really enjoy it and it's been a great help! We're also going to try two games
*Game 1- we're going to write the words on index cards (one word per index card, one set of words per child in different colors) and then we're going to hide them in the basement and go on a flashlight search to find the words and put them in the correct order
*Game 2- less a game than an activity, but I have some glow sticks lying around that never got used, and we're going to spell out the memory portion with the glow sticks (good capital letter practice!)  We also have some color wonder glow paint, and we might have to do a little something with that, too!

English: The Subject
We've moved onto another part of a sentence? No more verbs?? But we just got good at those thanks to shake weights! Sigh.
*Riley's fantastic English Grammar workbook has several activities on identifying the subject although I did print out some backups from this site. has several worksheets to pick from, too, and I wish I'd seen them when we were doing verb tenses!
*We're going to play another game where I put several "subjects" into a bag and the kids pull one out without looking and then have to make a sentence.  It'll tie into handwriting! Multiaskting win!
*Continuing on our IEW work, I feel like All About Spelling is fantastic, but not progressing as fast as I need it to, so I'm introducing some spelling words from this website, which also has activities.

Science: F, Ne, Na, Mg
We're finishing up our coloring cards! Yay! Then I think we're going to do some various science experiments, but I haven't picked quite yet :)

Math: 1 foot equals 12 inches.
Whoopah :)

Geography: Rivers (west)
I've got a book on hold about the Great Salt Lake, and we'll of course trace away on our maps.

Instead of Davis, our community is doing Schultz, so we're going to read some Peanuts and do a little cartooning, too.  Maybe about rivers, who knows?