Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In Which We Renovate the Bathroom

This project.

Oh, this project.

We started this renovation in 2010, after not having a truly usable bathroom for some time.  The shower was moldy (even when I cleaned it repeatedly with straight Clorox), the toilet leaked to the living room ceiling, and, it was ugly.  So....
I hit it with a hammer.  We learned a few valuable things, including that the previous owners had thrown up tile over unsealed drywall.  Yup, that'll make it mold.  The wall in the shower came down in giant pieces because the back was so gross!
 Before.  I never really liked this setup.  If you were looking at the shower, there would be a closet to your left, which was nice for storage, but the shelves weren't wide enough for towels and if the closet door was open, you couldn't open the bathroom door.  #FacePalm.
 You may be asking yourself, "Self, what color ARE those tiles". The answer, my friends, is a combination of off-beige and off-pink.  It NEVER looks clean or fresh.  Anyhow.  Since we were going to be breaking things anyway, I decided that I wanted to reclaim some space by taking out the closet, moving the shower so that you didn't have to navigate the toilet to get in, and moving the toilet into an alcove.  Bless my father and our family friend "Uncle Tom" for re-plumbing that all for me!!
 Ta da!  This color green photographed a little funny, but this is my new, spa-inspired bathroom.  This vanity has shelves so I'll put baskets of rolled towels on the top shelf and a basket of necessities under.
 Bam! That shower just happened!  These are the same tiles as the ones on the floor and I bought them at Home Depot when they were on Black Friday Sale for $.33 a square foot.  I have learned that the wet saw and I are mortal enemies, and I'm obsessed with the river rocks we used for borders.  They were not as expensive as they could have been since I used them as an accent, although they seriously sucked up some grout!! There'll be a 1/4 round border at the top of the shower, but we literally finished grouting last night.
It's a potty alcove! With a medicine cabinet above for storage.  Ahhhhh, so nice!

Now....after a brief recovery period for both sanity and money (our long pause had a lot to do with a flooded basement that we had to completely re-do from carpet to drywall! I'll have to do before/after pictures of that, too), I think that our bedroom is next :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 1 Science and Art

I didn't include my printables for Science and Art for Cycle 1 Week 1, so I'm doing them in a separate post, and I hope that's not too confusing!

Science: Baby Bean Experiment from Van Cleave Science .
I tutor an Abecedarian class (it's a fun class, but with ages 3, 4, 5, and 6), so I want to leave myself some grace to skip an overly-long explanation, but still provide children with all the information and ideas.  I also don't want anything too "writing intensive", so in addition to demonstrating the experiment, I provided the children with a dry and wet bean to break apart and explore, as well as a few beans to plant and draw into their science journals at home.  I sent home an explanation of what we were doing, along with pictures so the kids could follow along with the steps and concepts.  Yay for iPhone pictures as a learning tool ;) I included a diagram of the bean parts in the back with numbered parts that I encouraged the kids to color when they got home (one color for each part) since we ran out of time.
So then there was art.  I have to admit that I'm super nervous about teaching art.  I'm not really an artist and I'm not terribly comfortable pushing kids outside of their comfort zone where art is concerned, since I'm not in mine either!!  This week's Cycle 1 Week 1 Art was OiLS, or "Basic Shapes".  O for circles, i for dots and line, L for angle lines, and S for curved lines.  I decided to fold a sheet of paper in half and then in thirds and let the kids fill in examples of each of the basic shapes.  We didn't do a great job on creating an image using the basic shapes, and that was my fault.  I offered several suggestions and with such a mixed age group, I think we'd have done better if I mandated that we were drawing a bird and then demonstrated each shape as we added it.  We were at the beach the week before CC started, so I just hand-drew my charts, but you could just as easily print them. 

Idea Swap: Cycle 1 Week 2

This week's Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Week 2 Lesson Plan Ideas from our community's lesson swap book comes from Musings of a Domestic Goddess, who isn't actually with us because she was sent away by the USMC.  Boo.

Cycle 1 Week 2
History Sentence: Tell Me About Commandments 6-10 Geography: Assyrian Empire
Math: Skip Counting 3’s and 4’s
English: First 5 Prepositions

Latin: Noun Cases Science: 5 Kingdoms

Week 2 History: Commandments 6-10 Practice writing the commandments as copywork
Have your children invent hand or body motions for the 10 commandments
Roll out salt dough and write the first word (or a key word) of each commandment (goes along with Assyrians)
Make a 10 Commandments Lapbook using the directions found on this blog: http://homeschoolblogger.com/jaminacema/238568/

Week 2 Geography: Assyrian Empire
A song made up to help remember the Assyrian Empire key geography
This link explains the Assyrians and includes their connection to Old Testament Bible happenings. http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/westasia/history/assyri ans.htm

Week 2 Math: Skip Counting the 3s and 4s
Included behind this section is a fun file folder game found here: http://filefolderfun.com/Pages/ThirdGradeMath/CherryCho p.html

Week 2 English: About, Above, Across, After, Against
Give your children a box (shoe box is fine) and allow them to make a scene using plastic figures, construction paper, play doh, etc. Then, take turns placing an action figure or doll in the scenery you created using one of this week’s prepositions. You could also just use the box and the doll to keep it simple. “The doll is above the box”, etc.

Week 2 Latin: Noun Cases
This may not be appropriate for your child depending on their age, but it is helpful for parents so they understand what’s going on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fhP_fk2wNQ

Week 2 Science: 5 Kingdoms of Living Things Several powerpoint presentations:
Make a poster separated into 5 portions. Pull out your old magazines and allow children to cut out and paste pictures into each kingdom. Cooking magazines can be helpful for fungi, and even your old Good Housekeepings may have pictures with close-ups of Monera or Protista (look for Clorox or Neosporin advertisements!) 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School

Since starting to home-educate, we've changed a lot of things about the rhythm of our lives.  One thing that remains, though, is my obsessive need to have first day of school pictures.  My mom always took them, and I even had my roommates take them in college so that I could mail them to her.  We use the first day of Classical Conversations for our "First Day of School" pictures.  The kids get to pick out a new outfit, which they love, and then once they're all schnazzed up, I make us spend seven extra minutes we don't have because we're running later than I'd hoped to get pictures. 
Riley has grown so much in a year.  He really looks like a "guy" now, and he really wants to be, too.  He's struggling with the balance of "big tough guy" and "decent human being" occasionally as he navigates his way to "big person", but his true nature is very compassionate and loving, and he's eager to please.  We're so proud of him and how hard he's working each day at whatever he does.  Smart as all get out, this kid is fantastic at remembering anything he wants to, including the entire Story of the World.  He turns 9 this year (Third Grade) and I can't believe he's half-way to technical adulthood.
Logan is so gentle and interesting.  He's got a vivid imagination, but we work really hard on helping him mitigate his feelings since he's easily wounded by anyone/anything.  He is snuggly and fun, and he's a fantastic reader.  It's so weird for me that he's a First Grader this year and he's never been to school.  Sometimes I worry I'm robbing him of that experience, but he's thrived under our home program and performs well above grade level in most of his subjects.  He's such a sweet boy and we adore him.

Oh my little Savannah Lynn.  I jokingly say that she's got a Napoleon Complex.  Tiny and petite, she will hurt you if you get in her way and fail to yield to her sweet cute side!  She's very much a tough cookie and wants to be the boss, and enjoys the control she has over the men in our family :) She's sassy and smart and wants to do everything her brothers do.  I'm tutoring her class this year and am enjoying already how eager and excited she is to learn.  I'm so excited to see the person she ends up becoming!

I can never get a good picture of all three of these kids!! However, one of the things I love most about homeschooling is that they really do love each other in a way that we were losing when Riley went away to school.  They love their friends and definitely whine if they don't get enough social exposure (and believe me, they get A TON), but they also play so well together and have fantastic imaginary worlds, stories, and games that are constantly happening around me.  It's above my pay grade to be in on all the stories, but they always sound fantastic!!

Here's to a great 2012-2013 year!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Idea Swap: Cycle 1 Week 1

Because I'm a better community organizer than Barack Obama (these are the jokes, people) I had our community put together an idea swap, which I'm going to post here, too.  

Here's Cycle 1 Week 1, which was submitted by One Happy Mom

History Sentence: Tell Me About Commandments 1-5 Geography: Fertile Crescent
Math: Skip Counting 1’s and 2’s
English: Definition of a Preposition

Latin: Noun Cases
Science: Classification of Living Things

Week 1 History: Tell me about commandments 1-5.
This has all 10 commandments. If I was going to do this myself, after reading the background I'd brainstorm house rules we have with my kids and print off the examples they have in this lesson of house rules and/or community rules and discuss why it's important to have these rules and what could happen without them. I'd print off three copies of the commandment mini-booklet from this link - one to color for each child in your family and two to have them use as a memory game during the week.

Week 1 Geography: Fertile Crescent
V ocabulary:
**Consider doing this the week BEFORE you want to teach this
concept. That way something will be growing when you start teaching it** Get two pots or cups - in one, put lots of rocks, a tiny bit of soil (maybe even the Virginia clay from your yard) and don't water it. In the other, get good a smal amount of good potting soil and plant the same seeds or beans you planted in the rocky cup. Water as needed. When it's time to teach this lesson, point out that one is growing and the other isn't and ask for ideas of why that might be. Point out that the seeds that are growing are in FERTILE soil, which means "Producing or capable of producing abundant vegetation or crops." The other soil wasn't able to do that. (This would be a great object lesson to also teach about he Parable of the Sower from Matthew 20

Crescent: For the younger student - bake a can of Pillsbury crescent rolls and discuss what a "crescent shape" is - point out that other things can be crescent shaped (the moon, a sandwhich that has been eaten or cut into that shape, etc), show on a map where the Fertile Crescent is located. For a hands-on activity, have them make a map out of play-doh of this
region. Here is a recipe for homemade play-doh:
http://mesopotamia.mrdonn.org/geography.html (lots of links to make more elaborate lessons from)
(Be a Farmer in Mesopotamia - on-line game)
http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/free-lesson-plans/the-ancient- world.cfm -
Week 1 Math: Skip Counting the 1’s and 2’s
This looks totally awesome -make sure to do this sometime BEFORE the new CC year starts so you're ready to go for Week 1. You could also do this using pen & paper, but this looks so much more fun!

http://www.free-training-tutorial.com/math-games/skip-counting-balloon- pop.html?1&
(Skip counting free on-line games)


Week 1 English: Prepositions
Schoolhouse Rock Prepositions
A 23 page cute printable packet on prepositions. You will need to sign-up for a free membership to this site to access it.

Week 1 Latin: Noun Cases
These first two links are not necessarily for the kids, this helped ME understand what we are learning this week!
"A DECLENSION is essentially a fixed pattern of endings or a set of endings. There are only six regular declensions in Latin, five for nouns and one special one for some pronouns and adjectives that has an -ius in the genitive case form. You can see detailed explanation and practice pages on the five regular declensions in Latin through this link." (the links in this passage don't work, use the ones below)
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/grammar/g- caseid.html
http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/grammar/w hprax/w2-d1.html
flashcard game: http://quizlet.com/824589/latin-first-declension-nouns- flash-cards/
http://www.headventureland.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist &layout=category&task=category&id=20&Itemid=115
These are children's short stories online that are written in Latin. You should sit with your child and read the latin and see if they can guess the meaning based on the picture or the sound of the word. Another activity is to go through these stories and see if you can both locate any of the words from Week 1 and then go back to the stories in subsequent weeks and look for those words.

Week 1 Science: Classifications of Living Things
Mnemonic Devices:
"King Phyl Came Over For Good Spaghetti"
"King Phillip's Children Ordered Fries, Gravy, and Shakes"

how to eaxplain taxonomy & a nice visual
http://www.invertebratesclassification.com/wp- content/uploads/2012/05/Invertebrates-Classification-4-Phylum.jpg
visual of this concept- this link does not work, but the picture cited is located on the next page.
worksheets, activities and visuals of the 5 kingdoms
classification activity for older students, but can be modified for younger students 

Cycle 1 Week 1

In perhaps not the brightest moment of my life, I decided that we could, of course, hang out at the beach a little longer! We're homeschoolers! We'll just start school here at the beach!

It's really the little things that allow God to humble you the most, right?

This year, Riley's moved up to Singapore 3A, Logan to 1A, and Savannah to Kindergarten A.  We're using our IEW Primary Art of Language for English, but using MacMillan spelling.  The IEW spelling, while fantastic, has too many parts for me!  We're still journaling daily, although Riley is using his journaling time to complete his first novel.  You need to check these things off your life's to-do list, you know! For Science and History we'll be following our previous year's format of supplementing the memory work theme for the week. I purchased Story of the World on Audio CD last year, and this year bought the accompanying workbook, which is the new hotness (as opposed to the old busted hotness).  We're also going to be using our trusty rusty copy of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, of which Logan has about 10 to go, and Savannah is about 10 in.  Savannah is also doing various copy work in some Disney workbooks which were gifted to us as I try, and fail repeatedly, to teach my child to write in 2000 easy lessons.  Good times. Riley will be starting Rosetta Stone Spanish, and I'm looking into purchasing a Latin program.

So, week one! Exciting!!

Devotions- We're running the God and Me program right now so that my two little scouts can earn their religious emblem awards.  Good times!

History- The Ten Commandments
We'll be working on a small project for the next two weeks.  Cut a file folder to look like two stone tablets, and either have your child copy work the commandments in, or provide them with picture representations of each commandment to color and glue.  Don't cut the connected side! I'll post a completed picture next week.  We're using hand motions, too.  Hold up your index finger for one, and wave it side to side (a la "no no no"), hold up two fingers and shake your head no for two, hold up three fingers to your lips for three, place four fingers on your opposite arm and lay down like you're taking a nap for four, and put five fingers up for a respective salute to your parents for five.

Geography- The Fertile Crescent
More hand motions! I'm hand-motioning this week like crazy! A C-shape with one hand for the fertile CRESCENT (which goes well with croissants, btw- go pop some in the oven!), swimming for the Mediterranean Sea, crazy motions to make a "mess" for Mesopotamia, pointing at someone else ("you") for Euphrates River, a Kung-Fu Panda pose for Tigris River, and wiping the pretend sweat off your brow because it's so hot in "Sumer".

Math- 1/2
Skip counting this week was a joy.  We're moving on to the 3s and 4s.  Even Savannah skillfully sings the 2s song!

English- We're just memorizing the definition this week, and, of course, I count on my good friends from School House Rock to help out a little ;)
Science- Classification of Living Things
We're just straight memorizing this using the "erase as you go" method.  We'll also be going through a few animals, as well as human beings, and listing each of their classifications.

Ugh, I hate Latin.  Don't tell my children.  We're memorizing the noun cases for the next two weeks, which gives me adequate time to do it Sarah Palin style and "Drill Baby, Drill".

In other notes, this is my first week of tutoring, which is....well, what it is.  I'm a little nervous about it, and I'm not sure it's really my heart's desire to put myself out there for parents to judge, but I said I would, so I am. :) I have some very sweet children in my class, though, and I'm excited to work with them.  We're growing beans this week for science and starting off art with the OiLS lesson, so that'll be fun, and I plan on using our review time to do the full timeline song a few times and get ahead.

Have a great week :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beach Week 1

We are so fortunate to be able to use a beach house owned by the sister of a family friend.  It keeps our costs down substantially, and that means that this year we'll be able to do two weeks at the beach!  We're super excited!! Our first trip went really well and we enjoyed every minute.  My parents join us, too, which is fun, but I know I stress my mom out because I vacation so differently than her! I want to read (and did! I finished 13 of the books in the Jack Reacher series!) and relax and lay on the beach.  She really likes to go and do and see things.  I will get everything prepared and packed....the night before.  She likes to have a list, menu plan, and schedule already completed by January 1 of the year prior to the trip :) However, we have a great time, and it's really fun for the kids to have a plethora of adults around.  It generally means they can find a grown-up willing to do their bidding any time of day or night.  If Austin and I are exhausted, Grammy or Papa are generally ready to play, and vice versa.  

My sweet baby boys are so big! 
Evening Beach Walk
Ice Cream time! I don't know how Savannah eats that blue crud! 
This trip was especially fun because all the kids are so grown up now that they have likes and dislikes and things they love to do.  We had fun as a family, but we were also able to enjoy some time separately, whether it was the boys going surfing while the girls went shopping, or daddy taking Savannah for ice cream while Logan went shopping for treasures with Logan and Riley and mommy read a book.  It was such a nice balance.

Grammy and Savannah Lynn at lunch  
Lindsay, Savannah, Me, Riley, and Crazy photobomb Logan
 On our way home we were able to stop in North Carolina and meet up with my friend Lindsay.  Unfortunately, she didn't have her kids with her, with the exception of her super-cool step son, but we were sad not to get to meet her newest addition, Philip, who's the same age as Logan.  Her son Noah is 7 days younger than Savannah. It was so great to catch up with her!! Lindsay is one of those fantastic friends who I can just meet up with and pick up the conversation like we left it off yesterday, instead of a few months ago!! I hope the military moves them back to us!! (USMC, are you listening????)
I love this picture :) 

Swim Team 2012

This year was our first year of Swim Team and we had so much fun.  I was really unsure that I wanted to spend 2 hours a day at the pool, but the kids enjoyed the structure that swim team added to our day, and they had a great time with all the social events.  I was able to enjoy my mornings having coffee and chatting with other moms, as well as reading (can you believe that!) while the kids swam.  Savannah didn't get a space on the developmental program until 3 weeks from the end of our season, but she was such a trooper about going everyday, which was made easier by the fact that "her friend" Anna was there.  I remember being little and thinking that older kids were just the coolest people ever, so I'm actually so thankful for Anna and her entire family who were such great sports about my children attaching themselves to them and are really great role models for my kids, too!

Savannah and her BFF from this summer's activities, hanging out at a meet and after the end of the season awards ceremony with their medals. 

For Logan, swim team was more of a stretch.  Early Saturday morning meets and daily practice just didn't have the draw that hockey has for him, but he didn't' want to sit on the side and watch, either.  Logan's also never been a "racer" and so it was hard for him to come in (nearly) dead last every meet.  His strokes improved, though, and if he wants to, I bed next year he can kick some butt.  or, keep dogging it, but enjoy the water every day, whatever.  We're not raising 10 year old olympians over here.  

Logan's lane coach was awesome.  She kept him happy during meets and encourages him every step of the way.  We were way thankful for her happy demeanor and constant patience.
So then we had Captain Competitive.  Riley really likes competing with people and he likes to win.  He wasn't the fastest out there, he finished 10th in our division in freestyle and 11th in backstroke, but he's not a year round competitive swimmer, which most of the faster kids allegedly were, and they give out heat winner ribbons, so I think he really came out feeling like he was way cooler than he actually is ;) We're still very proud of him (as well as his siblings) because they all did great in different ways.  Savannah was patient waiting while her brothers swam and she couldn't touch the water, Logan really learned a lot about positive attitude, and Riley really did try hard to win every heat.

When Savannah finally got on the developmental team, the season was almost over, but they did a really cute competition for them with just the kids on our team, and they even did an Olympic Torch walk as they entered the pool.  Swim team was a really positive experience for us, and we're looking forward to next year, more head-sized donuts on Wednesdays, and even more time sitting at the pool as we'll have kids in either 2 or 3 time slots.  (I'm taking book recommendations now!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back Out of Blog Hiding!

In June (I think?) I ran for a school board position and I didn't want the first thing on google that came up when people stalked me to be my observations on diaper rash, so I temporarily privatized my blog.  A lot to catch up on, and a lot to look forward to as we get ready for our 2nd year of homeschooling with Classical Conversations Cycle 1!!  I'm excited for the coming year, and I have some fun things to share, too!!