Sunday, October 19, 2014

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 7 & 8

I thought I just wrote about weeks 5 & 6 a couple of days ago.  How am I into week 9, nearly 10 and I haven't recapped 7 & 8?  I need a pause button.  Forget that easy button.  Someone get me a pause button. 

And smack this fanatical photographer like crazy....I barely photographed my children during these weeks.  What is up with that?'s photographer syndrome.  You know how April is crazy for tax accountants, October is like that for photographers.  And I'm not even a professional with an actual job.  But I shot 4 families in 4 days.  (Shot as in photographed....just in case you were wondering).  I still have half of those photos to finish...but those are gifts, so I guess the families don't mind waiting. 

Alright, for the sake of trying to write down what we are covering this year.  Let's get on with the recap.

Week 7 & 8 found us finishing up North America.

Week 7

We ventured into Canada.  Eh.  People sometimes think Biker Boy is from Canada because of his accent.  I don't hear it.  But, eh, maybe.  The kids love using our talking globe (smart globe?) to find out about the countries we are studying.  Glad Biker Boy was able to fix it.  The poor thing was on the fritz before school started. 

We tried Inuit Soap Carving this week.  If you've been reading our school recaps, have you noticed a trend with the art stuff?  We've been having big time fails.  Again, we had a big time fail.  I mean, I was even excited about trying to carve a piece of soap into a polar bear or something and it wasn't workingout.  Chewy was done first the day we had art, so she eagerly went to work on the soap while Scooter was working on math.  I had to show her how to carefully push the soap away from her.  We used Ivory (cheapest stuff that Biker Boy could find on one of his shopping trips with the kids).  Well, it didn't take too long before Chewy was nearly in tears because her bar of soap broke.  So I gave her mine.  Guess what happened to that one?  Yep, it broke too.  Scooter didn't even attempt his soap carving.  He's not as into crafty stuff as Chewy is.  We put his soap into an Operation Christmas Child box, it'll be much more useful in there. 

For our viewing pleasure this week we watched Magic School Bus episodes of "Meets the Rot Squad" and "Gets Eaten." 

We started reading Indian in the Cupboard together. This is my own addition for our reading time.  The kids take turns reading pages to me out of chapter everyday.  (We try to read it 3-4 times a week, with self-choice on the other days).  We write vocabulary words out of each chapter and look them up in the dictionary.  They also either have a question to answer or a picture to draw each day about the previous chapter they read.  A question such as "What toy would you put into the magic cupboard and have it come alive?  Why?"  (It didn't have to be plastic in our cupboard).  Anyone care to guess what Chewy would have come alive? 

Week 8

Still in Canada.  We finished the week off with a Canadian meal.  And I have no photographic evidence of it.  I totally forgot.  We ate some meat dish with corn and mashed potatoes on top.  We had french bread with butter.  Then we made the desserts from the book we had.  Chewy helped make some Canadian Blue Berry Dessert and we had it with vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. 

Our art project for the week was Maple Leaf Prints.  Except we live in an area where maple trees are rare.  Really rare.  So we went on a nature walk through our yard and collected leaves off trees in our yard to make the prints. And we didn't do the prints in the way that the art book wanted us to.  We used crayons to make tracings of the leaves.  It was a short and sweet project and the kids loved it.  Yay for one successful art project. 

We did one science experiment with celery and it was easy.  I was I had more time to incorporate more science experiments. The kids love the hands on stuff.  I think I did a lot of science with them last year, so much that they have a hard time remembering what we did. 

We only watched one Magic School Bus this week, it was "Gets Ants in its Pants." 

In other events, we've been getting out hiking and biking.  We got up into the mountains at least a few times to enjoy the fall weather and colors.  It sure has been a beautiful fall.  We attempted the balloon glow for the fourth time and for the fourth time were not able to see it.  Just isn't meant to be, I guess. We had a canceled field trip to the Pumpkin Patch, but it got rescheduled for Week 9, so more on that later.  I even managed to take both kids ice skating on my own!  Chewy, of course, was the expert and showed us how to do everything.  Scooter was skating circles by the end and I was able to remember most of the things I had learned in lessons years ago.  It was much easier than roller skating!


We've now been studying South America.  Scooter had some friends meet him at the bike park to celebrate his birthday and that was a fun time.  We've got 2 busy weeks ahead of us!  Not sure when I'll be back to write here again.  You'll have to check out my photograph page at for some previews of the kids dressing up in a few days.  Here's hoping I can whip something up in Photoshop for this year. 

Hope you all are enjoying your weeks!  Until next time...

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 5 & 6

Apparently 2 weeks has gone by since I last posted.  I'm not quite sure where the time is flying, but it's flying fast. 

We've been enjoying school and failing at many art projects.  Yikes.  It's kind of discouraging and makes me want to quit doing art projects all together.  Scooter would be fine with that, but Chewy would miss it.  Plus, it's a learning opportunity.  Not everything is always going to work out and sometimes you need to try something else. 

Time to recap:

Week 5 found us in Mexico!  The kids got their fake passports stamped and we "entered" Mexico.  The talking globe has been a hit with each new country that we enter.

The art project that we selected for this week was Clay Sun Faces.  We were getting all excited about painting them and displaying them outside somewhere.  Yep, that was a failed art project.  It started out great and we all made sun faces.

We live in a dry environment, so things dry fairly fast.  Maybe these sun faces dried too fast.  They cracked.  And I didn't have anymore Crayola Air Dry Clay to try again.  Bummer.

We made up for the failed art project with a leftover project from the USA.  Our nanoblock set representing the USA arrived and we put it together.  We did it in about 15 layer increments.  We'd do 15 layers (I'd name out pieces and the kids would put them together ) and then we would do something else before coming back and doing 15 more layers of the nanoblocks.  The nanoblocks were the highlight of our week.

We enjoyed some science experiments.  We also added in watching 2 episodes of Magic School Bus with mommy written worksheets (All Dried Up and Cold Feet).  We also watched Planet Earth Deserts to go along with what the kids are learning about in science.  We also happened to get an Eyewitness Video at the library on Deserts.  It sounds like we watch a lot, but that's pretty much it since we don't have cable or local channels. 

The kids have always wanted to try coconut water from a coconut, so I indulged them and let them try.  That was a fun treat!

Week 6 had us doing a pinata for an art project, but I decided to have the kids start it at the end of Week 5, just in case.  Good thing.  It was another failed project.  We tried making a paper maiche pinata with some premade paper maiche stuff that you just had to add water too. It was like playing with spit balls (and then I had to explain to the kids what spit balls were).  It took forever to try, I ended up popping the balloon after 3 days and the rest of the pinata kinda sank and broke. Fail.  Epic fail.  I was so bummed.

Week 6.  Another attempt at a pinata.  This time each kid made one. We stuck with the tried and true method of glue mixed with water.  We dipped pieces of computer paper in it.  I didn't have any newspaper.  They only dried about a day and the kids used the glue/water solution to paint on some pieces of tissue paper.  We ended up making hot air balloon "pinatas."  There was no candy in the pinatas, but the kids put some hard candies into the hot air balloon baskets!

Wondering which episodes of the Magic School Bus we watched this week?  Kicks up a Storm and The Busasaurus. 

Another art project had us making some tissue paper flowers.  The kids wanted to make lots, but I thought 6 was enough.  We used them to decorate for our Mexican feast.

At the end of Week 6 we enjoyed a Mexican feast.  I found an old Mexican cookbook that was handed down to us and the kids picked some recipes out of it.  We had tamales (store bought), tortillas, beans, guacomole, watermelon, and bischochitos (again, store bought) with tea for dessert.  It was a yummy meal! 

For audio enjoyment we listened to Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke.  I had actually read that one this summer and knew both kids would like listening to it.  Chewy enjoyed the girl as the main character and Scooter enjoyed all the parts about the castle.  They both enjoyed the talking cat!

Alrighty, I think I quickly made my way through those 2 weeks.  In other events, we made a trip to the science museum.  Scooter's been playing away at his guitar and Chewy has been enjoying skating (especially since she now has some skate dresses and a skating skirt).  The library is always fun every week and we've been meeting lots of friends there.  We had playgroup at our house, while doing portraits at the same time!  We've been getting the kids to the pool once a week when we can (I refuse to take them in the summer).  It's not busy at the pool in the fall and winter and the kids are finally progressing!  Scooter will even swim some laps with me! 

It's past my bedtime now. I've got 4 sessions of portraits to work on, so I may lack in posting here again.  That is, unless I need a break from editing.  4 families in 4 days, that's a record for me!  Not one I'm likely to repeat, but it works for now.  The fall colors have been beautiful!  We've been able to enjoy them on the mountain for the past 2 weeks with some hiking. 

Enough random writing for now, this girl has got to get to bed.  What have you been up to?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 3 & 4

On to a recap of Weeks 3 and 4!

Week 3 found us learning about North Amercia and more specifically, the United States.  It was hopefully review for the kids since we studied the United States last year.

We started the week with some more "school portraits."  I practiced one more time on the kids and got some photos of them.

We enjoyed doing some Sand Art.  This was the Navajo Sand Painting from the Global Art book that we are using.  The kids enjoyed it.  I was having them do it on some wood pieces that had word art on them (from my bathroom before we painted it).  I didn't anticipate the words showing through, I thought the sand would cover it.  Oh well.  The kids had fun and the sand art is sitting on their shelves in the school room.  Right next to a fancy plaque that Daddy got for one of his patents.

The kids worked on 2 pages of their fairy tale that we were working on last school year.  Someday we'll get that thing done!

As usual, for science, I added in a few visual things.  We watched the Magic School Bus "Gets Planted" to go with learning about forests.  We also watched Planet Earth "Seasonal Forests."  We continued listening to "The Best School Year Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

The kids are both reading chapter books for a book report.  They also filled out a page that looked like a newspaper and they had to put in information about themselves.  I add a few things in to the curriculum here and there.  This is a photo of Scooter reading, though not of his book report book.

I guess I didn't take too many photos.  Moving on.

Week 4 had us still learning about the United States.  At the end of the week we celebrated with some food made from the "A Trip Around the World" book that is used with the curriculum.  The kids made a Southwest Dip and a Grits Casserole.  We enjoyed it with some pulled pork and bbq sauce.  We had pumpkin pie to finish off our American meal.  Plus, we wore Hawaiian leis, because it's fun.

The kids started a typing program online.  They both enjoy it, which is pretty fantastic.  They only do it once or twice a week so far, when we have time.  It's a BBC program called Dance Mat Typing

For art, we did a self-selected activity.  Chewy chose it from some options I gave her.  We made some monster bookmarks, similar to the ones I found at this blog.

For science we added in watching the Magic School Bus "For Lunch" and "Goes Cellular."  The kids are very good at recalling what they watched and answering the worksheets I have for them later.  I need to make some more worksheets for upcoming episodes!

The kids put their new typing skills to use when they typed out their final draft of their Personal Narrative. This was part of their English Curriculum (Bob Jones 4).

They read their narratives out loud to us after our American Dinner Celebration.  We even took videos of them reading their narratives.  These are just the photos, with really bad light from the flash.  Hello, red eyes!  They both did very well with reading their narratives to us.  I couldn't stop smiling!

In other news, we made Homemade Marshmallows for the first time!  I think we'll be making more in the future!  I wrote about the experience on my photography blog, in case you have nothing else to do and want to read more and get the link to the recipe.

We also did our yearly photo by the aspen tree.  Everyone sure has grown, except for Biker Boy and I!  Have I not put up photos of this from the past couple of years?  Because I know I took photos, but I can't find any blog posts with them.  Here's one from 2011 that has all the photos we've taken since 2007.  That tree keeps growing.  At least I chose the one that is still alive and not the one that died!

That's been the last two weeks of school. We're into week 5 and having a blast, most of the time!  What about you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Scooter & Chewy Read: Audio Books

I haven't done a "Scooter & Chewy Read" post in a long time.  They love to read.  I love that they love to read.  Sometimes it's frustrating that they love to read so much.  It causes them to be slow in doing other things...."just a minute, I need to finish this page."  Or it causes them to be hard of listening.  Scooter misses a lot of things when he's reading.

But this post is more of a record of some of our favorite audio books.  I think I'll keep adding on to it.  We've been listening to Audio Books (and audio programs) with the kids since they were teeny tiny.  They've gotten more into listening to the books and helping us pick them out as they've gotten older.

We listen to audio books on car drives.  We've taken lots of car trips and audio books help pass the time and keep the driver awake.  Since we no longer subscribe to cable, which in turn means that we can't even get local channels, ( TV!) we listen to audio books.  The kids like to listen to them while we eat breakfast.  (They're listening to the tablet in the photo below.)

For car drives we'll usually go to the library and scan the juvenile section of audio books.  We'll bring home a book on CD.  At home I download audio books on to our Android tablet from our local library.  We use OverDrive Media, which connects to our local library, and then I can download and use an audio book for 2 weeks.  It's pretty slick.  If we haven't finished the book in 2 weeks (rarely happens), I can usually renew it.

So here's a running tally of some of our favorite audio books (in no particular order).  I'll put some photo links at the bottom of a few favorites, in case you want to see what they're about.

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voight (We all loved this one!)
Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I've read a few to the kids and we've listened to the rest on trips.  Only 2 left in the nine book series!)
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol (a couple of these)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
How to Train Your Dragon Book 1 by Cressida Cowell
The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Robinson (another family favorite, we actually listened to it twice!)
When Santa Fell to Earth by Cornelia Funke
The Capture - Guardians of Ga'Hoole Book 1 by Kathryn Lasky
Magic Tree House (numerous ones of this series) by Mary Pope Osborne
The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis (all of these, we own the digital audio versions)
Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand by Gail Carson Levine
Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg by Gail Carson Levine
The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
The Littles and the Lost Children by John Peterson
Jigsaw Jones (a couple of these) by James Preller
Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan
Rainbow Fairy Books by Daisy Meadows
Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
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