Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 25 & 26

I'm trying my best to catch up.  On something.  I can't remember the last time I vacuumed and things are starting to crunch under my feet.  That can't be good.  I'm pretty sure the dog licks up most of the edible stuff, so whatever is left on the floor is not edible.  Hopefully that means we aren't attracting mice. 



This is the crazy week in my life where things compounded on each other.  Wait, every week is crazy.  One appointment meant another appointment had to made and on and on.  Soccer starts, so that's one more practice to add in to the schedule.  I will keep my soccer ranting to a minimum, because the kid just loves to play.  At least I'm not coaching this year!  But in other news....we found our first geocaches this week!  Five of them, actually.  While the girl was at her church performing arts practice, Biker Boy and I took Scooter geocaching and found all that I had on my list to find in an hour.  I think Biker Boy is our lucky charm, because we've gone without him and haven't had any luck. 


Ohhh...we went to another performance at the local university's theater.  We've gone to quite a few this year and the one we went to this week was our favorite!  We saw "The Smoke and Mystery Tour" presented by Nelson Illusions.  It was awesome!  We've been brainstorming how they do some of the illusions.  We have one more show left to go to this year.  We're seeing "Dino-Light" next.  We're looking forward to that one too.  We've seen "The Nutcracker," "Cirque Zuma Zuma," "The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley," and "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse."  Scooter would like it known that he did not attend that last show (Lilly).  Chewy entered the art contest for the Lilly show and was runner-up.  She was delighted to have won a Broadway edition Lion King CD.  (The winner got a pizza party...which would not have gone over well in this household with a certain child). 

Alright, let me back up and get on with Weeks 25 and 26 of school.

Week 25

We entered China this week.  I do remember that it snowed.  We had a Friday with some snow and we got out in it.  Then that night it snowed nearly a foot and we hit up the local ski area for the first time this year.  We'll call that PE.  In other school stuff, we skipped art. Kind of.  The kids made cards with rubber stamps, which was close enough to the art for the week.  I'm again lacking on the photos.  What's up with that?  You'd think I don't like taking photos.



Oh, the kids watched "Pippi Longstocking" at their grandparents house and we had the book, so I decided we would read that next.  Pippi makes pepparkakor - a kind of Swedish cookie - in Chapter 2.  I had a cookbook with a recipe for pepparkakors, so we made some!  Ours were in the shape of a rabbit, rather than a pig. 


I think I forgot to mention that we also read "Return of the Indian."  We've listened to some Carl Hiaasen books and the kids have loved them.  "Chomp" was their favorite!  I ordered the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan for next year in school.  I think we'll be done with them by then!  I've already read all 5, Scooter is on Book 2, and Chewy has started the first book and loves it!  I'm happy that Scooter has found some other chapter books he can get into and I'm surprised that Chewy is enjoying them so much.  They're a little more "scary" than other books she reads.  My poor family...I don't read books all that often because I am horrible when I read books.  I totally ignore everything going on around me.  I couldn't put the Percy Jackson books down!  Maybe that's why I haven't vacuumed in awhile.  Thankfully I just finished the last book yesterday.  I will not read any more books for a bit.  Except...Chewy just checked out a "Whatever After" series book by Sarah Mylnowski out of the library and it's one I haven't read or listened to yet.....and we all love those books!  We've listened to the first three in the series and they are a hoot!  Yes, yes...books get me all excited!  I have so many planned for next year that I don't think we'll have time for all of them.  Next week we're starting "Island of the Blue Dolphins."  I can hardly wait!  But I really should get back to Week 25....I'm diverging off on a tangent.  But oh, I love books! 

In other activities, we watched two episodes of The Magic School Bus.  We saw "In a Pickle" and "Inside Ralphie."  I'm still busy writing a science curriculum for next year!  I should probably be doing that instead of writing this.

Week 26

We were still in China this week.  We did some Tangram Designs.  We also finished the unit up by ordering Chinese from the local Chinese place.  I love getting take out from them, they give you so much food!  We hadn't ordered Chinese in awhile and I forgot how much you get.  I think we ate Chinese food for lunch for the next 3 days.  We expanded beyond our usual things we order from there and tried some new things.  The kids had fun helping to pick out things to order.


We were studying oceans, so we did some salt experiments.  We watched Planet Earth: Shallow Seas.  We also watched "Ups and Downs" and "Goes on Air" for our Magic School Bus episodes.

Alrighty, I really should be getting to bed.  It's hot chocolate Friday in the morning and I'm really looking forward to that!  Plus, we've already put some seeds in the garden (oops...I may have mixed a few up...that could be fun) and I'm excited to start seeing some seedlings pop up!  There will hopefully be some tomorrow or in the next couple of days!  What are you excited about?

Monday, March 23, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 23 & 24

Oh Boy!  Am I a little behind or what?  We're currently starting week 29!  I'm just a wee bit behind.  There just never seems to be enough time.  So here's a fast and furious recap, because I'm pretty sure I can't even remember what we did.

Week 23

We were studying India.  Um, that's about all I remember.  I do remember the weather hit 70 and the kids had a water fight.  Then it promptly got cold and snowed again.  That meant I was able to take the kids sledding with Grandpa, while Daddy was freezing on a boy's ski trip in MN.  Good times.  We celebrated Valentine's Day early with our yearly tradition of an olive pizza.  It's an "Olive You Pizza."  As in "I love you pizza."  Get it?  This was the first year that the girl actually got what the olive pizza meant.  We've only been having this pizza for 16 years.  The girl helped me make the pizza into a heart shape.  And yes, there's a section that is cheese free.  Some boy in this family (he shall remain nameless) doesn't like cheese.  Strange child!



In other school stuff....ahhh...oh, Magic School Bus. We watched the episodes of "Holiday Special" and "Meet Molly Cule."  Loved them.  I knew it was Dolly Parton in one of them!  We skipped art this week.  Except the girl did her usual crafting of random things.

Week 24

Still in India.  We studied the Taj Mahal and read a book about it.  It has quite the story about the ruler who built it!  We even built the Taj Mahal out of Nanoblocks. 

We attempted art this week.  Attempted.  That's always the operative word.  It was another failure of a project.  We were suppose to make stone inlays.  The kids made shapes out of self drying clay and stuck stained glass squares and pretty rocks in the clay.  As the clay dried it cracked and the stones popped out.  We're still thinking of laying their attempted pieces of our kitty's grave.  It might make a nice marker.  She'll have her own little Taj Mahal.  We can call it Taj Belle.

 We watched one Magic School Bus episode, it was "Blows its Top."  We also watched Planet Earth: Mountains.

Of course we're still getting in our PE.  We can go from sledding one day to the bike park the next!

There. Done.  Now I still need to catch up.  Ugh, this evil juniper pollen is getting to me.  Anyone else dealing with spring allergies? 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Free Kindle Kid's Book: A Dragon Tale

File this under a homeschool item that took forever!  But hooray...it's accomplished and the kids are so proud of themselves.

Last year we had a fairy tale unit in school.  The kids wrote a fairy tale.  This year they finished illustrating it.  I helped them scan in their drawings and add the text in Photoshop.  We were going to upload the photo files to a photo printing place and have a book made.  But I got to adding up how many books we wanted and what that would cost.  A little too much.

Sooo....we went with Amazon Kindle.  Free to publish.  We can't offer the book free indefinitely, but that's okay.  We can offer it for free for a bit and that's when we would like family to download it (and others). 

My little fairy tale characters (aka...my kids) wrote a short fairy tale about some characters.  The story is about a prince and a princess that get turned into dragons after eating an apple from a wicked witch.  They have to save their kingdom from being turned into dragons.  Along the way there are references to other fairy tales. 

So, if you'd like to download a book written for kids by kids, it will be free from today through Saturday, February 28, 2015.  We'll have 2 days left to offer it for free another time.  We're not really expecting to make any money on it, but it's been a great learning experience for the kids.  There were some creative differences at times, especially over the cover design, but they worked through it.  Maybe someday they'll polish up something a little more and publish it and we'll have lessons on marketing!  This time, we're skipping the marketing.  This is it! 

We hope you enjoy the story as much as the kids enjoyed writing it.  They still laugh when they read it and that makes this mama happy.  You can click on the image of the book to find its place at Amazon.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 21 & 22

Sooooo....about 20 days have gone by since I last posted.  I thought it had only been a week, maybe two.  I've pretty much determined I can't keep up with anything, except feeding my family.  And some days it comes down to the last minute with that!  There's always toast.  Well, maybe.  We are no longer buying bread...so that means if I don't make it...we don't have it.  Yes, I'm making all our bread now.  I use to keep a loaf of store bought in the freezer for back-up, but then I got lazy about making bread when I had a backup.  I have no idea why I'm writing this.  This is suppose to be about school and it really doesn't matter whether I make bread or not.  Except that is where some of my time goes....feeding my family whole foods.  We've been slowly ditching boxed and processed stuff at home and we're pretty much there (except for cereal, some healthy snacks, and the occasional Dr. Pepper).  But that doesn't mean we won't eat it, you can still feed it to us if we come over. Oh, we just bought our first packages of Ramen in forever, so there's some packaged stuff in the pantry.  The kids have never had it and are looking forward to trying it when we study Japan.  Oh...we lived on that stuff in our early married days when money was tight.  Ramen, Hamburger Helper, and cheap frozen pizzas.  The kids had no idea what Hamburger Helper was.  They also don't know what Twinkies are.  They live such a sheltered life (except they know what mangoes, avocados, brussel sprouts, pomegranates, quinoa, and chia seeds are...but not chia pets!).

Goodness...back to school.  I really need to make some bread tomorrow.  Sourdough is easy (once you have a starter), except the kids eat a loaf up in one day, they like it that much.  It is really good.

Aargh...back to school.  I have no idea where we're at and I'm pretty sure I'm lacking on the photos.  Let me go look in my harddrive.  I found a couple.

Week 21

We entered Saudi Arabia.  I don't really remember a whole lot about it.  I hope the kids remember more than I do.  We've been slacking on the art.  Well, I've been letting the boy slack as long as he practices his guitar.  The girl has been crafting like crazy.  She made melted crayon wax paper hearts for Valentine's decorations.  Then she made a tissue paper lantern out of the Global Art book.  She's a crafting fiend.  Her brother even got her a Martha Stewart Holiday Crafting Book for Christmas.  That's where the heart idea came from.


In our other viewing, we watched two episodes of the Magic School Bus.  We saw "Sees Stars" and "Gains Weight."

The kids have not been real impressed with science this year.  I think most kids would like it, but compared to all the experiments we did last year...mine are not thrilled with this year.  They don't think there are enough fun experiments.  They have a science teacher mama to blame for that. To be fair, the curriculum has one about every other week, but my kids were use to 1 or 2 a week.  So this crazy science teacher homeschooling mama is writing a life science curriculum for next year with loads of hands on stuff.  I hope I can finish it, I didn't do so well finishing my last one!  Yes, I'm a wee bit busy and staying up past my bedtime a lot.

Week 22

Still in Saudi Arabia.  Oh, we built some Nanoblocks this week.  No photographic evidence.  The kids built a Banyan Tree.  That puppy was little frustrating at first.  I had to even get in there and help get the base put together.  But we did it!  Cooking at the end of this week was hummus, but the kids are pretty familiar with hummus.  They've been having it since they were wee little things.  They're just waiting for the ramen, though we'll probably try some other (more authentic) Japanese food also. 

I am fairly confident that we skipped art this week.  The girl crafted on her own.  We viewed the Magic School Bus episode of "Makes a Stink."  I think we had a ski weekend in there too, somewhere.


Whew.  I'm stubborn enough to keep up these weekly reports, but I just don't have my heart in it anymore.  Less than 60 days of school left and I'm already planning next year.  We figure things out more and more each year.  I am enjoying the time with my kids and wouldn't trade it for anything.  So less blog posts, but more kiddo time is a win.  And I'll still document our school stuff as time allows, so someday they can look back on it and tease me about it (or I can tease them).  They are pretty incredible kids and I'm lucky they let me teach them!

Where is your time going lately?  Fast?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 19 & 20

Time is a flyin'!  Way too fast.  Plus, I haven't been taking photos of our school activities.  I just get too caught up in them. 

So, let me do a quick recap of Weeks 19 & 20, all while we're finishing up Week 22. I still can't keep up.

Week 19

We're still in Africa and specifically, Kenya.  Though, I've been trying to add on some additional countries and studying them a bit more.  I feel like we're glazing over things or spending too much time on some things.  I'm subtracting and adding to the curriculum so much, that I've decided to just make up my own curriculum again next year (by piecing my own stuff together).  It's the teacher in me.

We had a field trip to the zoo this week to see African Animals.  I had the kids take photos of African animals (and they added some non-African ones).  We had lessons on focusing and composition with photography. The kids each took nearly 200 photos.  You gotta love digital cameras!

Here are some of the girl's photos:


And some of the boy's photos:


We skipped art.  Actually, the girl did some stuff out of the Global Art book, while the boy practiced his guitar.  Good enough.

Our weekly viewing included Planet Earth: Grassy Plains and Magic School Bus: Spins a Web.

Week 20

Kenya, again.  We had 2 pages to read on Egypt, but we added a bit more in.  We even built the Great Pyramid of Giza out of Nanoblocks.  The Nanoblocks are always a highlight.  The kids are getting much better at building with Nanoblocks!  They can be kind of frustrating the first few times, until you get use to how the directions are written and how small the pieces are. 


We did a sweet potato activity.  Ummm....it's beginning to look like a fail, as of right now.  Let's just say...this former science teacher is not real happy with the science this year.  I should be adding on more things, because the kids really like science.  And one little activity a week is not cutting it.  There is plenty of reading, but it's not engaging enough for my kids.  Yes, I'm a tough cookie when it comes to science curriculum.  If only I had more time to write my own!

Art this week was suppose to be tye dying.  Scooter wasn't real excited about it, but Chewy was.  Instead, I bought fabric crayons and the girl decorated a canvas bag.  She now uses the bag to hold her script for the musical that she is in at church.


Our extra viewing included two Magic School Bus episodes: Gets Lost in Space and Out of this World. 

This was the end of Africa.  Both kids tested super well on placing the countries that were included with this curriculum.  (Though, I did add on Morocco, because that wasn't included!)

Oh, we also had some snow.  The public school kids have had at least 4 snow days.  Mine...Zero.  They get a couple hours to play in the snow, but then we do school work.  I just tell them we're banking days so we can take our trips.  We still have to get our 180 days in, regardless of snow.


How's your year shaping up?  Hard to believe it's already February!  In other news, I'm way ahead on my Valentine card collage this year.  I just need to actually get them in the mail, which means a trip to the post office.  So they might not make it in time, because I won't be getting to the post office until Tuesday.  Maybe, maybe, they'll make it in time.  Watch for your card, grandparents!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 17 & 18

This is going to be quick.  I seem to have a fast forward button for my life, rather than a pause button.  Since when have my children gotten past my waist in height?  I think they're going to surpass me soon.

And apparently, I've been lacking with the photographs on school stuff.  I'm way behind in labeling and organizing my photos, but what have I been taking photos of?  Seriously, I've got nothing for these weeks.  I managed to put 2 collages together quickly, but that's it. 


On with our school recap:


Week 17

We finished up Germany and Europe.  I added in an English tea party for lunch one day.  We ate that while watching a PBS show on Germany and the Neuschwanstein Castle.  We also built the Neuschwanstein Castle out of Nanoblocks.  Fun for the kids and me.  We finished off the week with having bratwurst for dinner.  We skipped art.  Or rather I let the kids chose what they wanted to do for art.  Chewy drew and Scooter built stuff with Legos.  That was fine with me.  We didn't need to do Framed Pressed Flowers that would eventually end up in the garbage or shoved somewhere. 


Our viewing for the week included the Magic School Bus episode of "Rocks and Rolls." 

Christmas fell in here somewhere.  The kids got some DVDs, "Life" and "The Blue Planet."  Hubby got "Dukes of Hazzard."  The kids also got a variety of books from "Wimpy Kid" to "Fox Trot" to "Mercy Watson." We enjoyed a family Christmas Eve hike up the mountain and snowboard down.


Week 18


We entered Kenya in Africa.  On to a new continent.  Again, we skipped art.  Rather, I let the kids be crafty on their own instead of doing what was assigned.  They prefer that.  It's fun to do the assigned art projects, but it also get tedious.  And we've had so many fails, that I don't want the kids to dislike art.  Scooter already dislikes arty stuff and Chewy is my crafty kid by nature, she just likes to craft things. 


Magic School Bus episodes included "Flexes Its Muscles" and "Works Out." 

We've gotten a wee bit of snow, that the kids play in right away before it melts.


Whew!  Now that we're actually in week 20 of school, I've almost caught up!

That's all I've got. I really need to get to bed.  Are you on fast forward, pause, or rewind?  Or maybe just the standard "play"?  What's happening in your corner of the world?

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures Weeks 15 & 16

Playing catch up, once again.  The story of my life.

We're currently into week 19.  So I have a bit of catch up to play.  I'll have to catch up with the rest of the catch up stuff later. 

So, excuse my quickly typed...half thinked...half written...replay of our weeks.

Week 15

We will still in Europe and studying France.  We did get to build the Eiffel Tower out of Nanoblocks.  No photographic evidence.  I should take a photo of all the models the kids have done.  We're amassing quite the collection.  They are proudly displayed on a shelf in our school room. 

For art, we made profile silhouettes.  I put my own creative spin on the project.  We already had some silhouettes I made of the kids displayed in our photo hallway.  For this project, I put the kids in charge of making the silhouettes, but we put them on a tile.  We made the tile into a coaster that the kids use in their rooms to put their water bottles on.  So, the steps were:
  1. The kids took photos of each other.  Side profiles.
  2. We printed the photo out in a size that would work on the natural stone tile.
  3. The kids cut out the photo.
  4. They traced the photo on to black cardstock.
  5. The cut out the blackcard stock tracing.
  6. They glued the photo (with Modge Podge) to the tile.
  7. They slapped a coat of Modge Podge all over the tile.
  8. We let the tile dry and then put more Modge Podge on.  I think we did 4 or 5 coats.  
  9. Spray with a clear cover.  I think I still need to do that, but the tiles have held up so far.
  10. Cover the back with felt.

Another successful art project.  I find the successful ones are ones that we tweak.

On our last day of studying France we had crepes for breakfast.  Yum!  I made cooked apple pieces with cinnamon and butter to put in the crepes.


Our Magic School Bus viewing for the week included "Gets Energized" and "Gets Charged."

Week 16

Germany.  Yum.  Brats.

We entered Germany.  Our art project for the week was suppose to be beeswax modeling.  I again changed that.  I purchased a beeswax candle kit and the kids went to town making candles with some visiting Grandma help.  Okay, the boy didn't really want to to it.  He never wants to do the art projects that are assigned.  But I did get him to make one when I said he could make it look like a light saber.  There was a dual purpose in this art project.  It fell at a wonderful time to do an art project and make some handmade for Sunday school teacher and Children's church workers (plus lesson instructors, neighbors, grandparents, friends, etc).  We had plenty of candles to give away and quite a few left for our little family.  We've even been burning them.  So, I'd call that a successful art project.


Our alternate viewing for the week included watching "Planet Earth: Freshwater" because we were studying freshwater and the Magic School Bus episode of "In a Beehive."  That was to go with the beeswax.  I'm so good at planning those things out (sometimes). 

We even had a field trip to the science museum.  We'll have to do that again soon.


I'm seriously rethinking what we're doing next year for homeschooling.  I do that every year about this time.  I'm still scouring the web, reading reviews, marking down prices, and doing my research...and once again I think I figured out what we're doing next year.  And it's not what I thought we were going to be doing.  How's that for a cliffhanger?

How's your New Year going?  We're enjoying nearly every weekend on the ski slopes, though the snow is starting to get thin.  We're putting the boys being able to get free lift tickets to use this year.  And I can no longer keep up with the kids.  My daughter only started snowboarding a little bit last year and she's now faster than me.  The kids are kind enough to wait up for me at certain places.  But I'm sure I'll be on my own before I know it.  And that's okay, I knew that day would come. 
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