Friday, 31 July 2015

Weekly Wrap Up

It has been a crazy week with lots of ups and downs!  I will spread the good and the bad news out so it won't be a depressing read for you:)!

 I attempted to get an MRI done on my neck but I found out I am extremely claustrophobic when put into a small tube for 45 minutes.  I couldn't complete the test so now I have to wait and get an appt for a different machine which I am told is larger and less claustrophobic to people, why we didn't start out with that machine is still a mystery....oh wait I may have told them I wasn't claustrophobic :(

Last week my daughter and I took a painting class.  We enjoy these class and whenever I find a coupon offering a 2 for 1 deal we sign up and enjoy a Mother/Daughter class together.
Firedrake's version of Poppy Field 

Mine version of Poppies at sunset

At Christmas last year my husband bought my daughter a Sketch pro pad, which is for computer drawing/graphics.  It has basically sat unused for nearly 8 months but suddenly my daughter has picked up an interest and for the last couple weeks, is really starting to understand the program all on her own.  She has been watching you tube videos on how to manipulate the program and is doing well.  I am so thrilled that she was self motivated to learn this even if it took a while:) as things sometimes do for kids!

She has completed her first anime drawing which she is very interested in right now
Here is her picture mid way thru

and the completed picture--yes I know it is a bit gruesome but that is where we are these days:)  I am told this stage shall pass one day:) 

Another major downer this week happened when we discovered that one of the children did not close the freezer door properly and all of the food inside it had defrosted and needed to be thrown out.  This couldn't have happened at a worse time as we had just done a Costco run and had fully stocked up on frozen meats:(  I was able to salvage the ground beef by quickly cooking it up and then refreezing!  I did the same with the shrimp quickly boiling it and this week we will be eating a lot of shrimp!  Unfortunately the rest was too far gone and had to be tossed! If you have any good shrimp recipes please let me know!

MarioFan has been keeping busy attending camp this week where he is participating in sports, drama, music. crafts and cooking.  He is coming home every day exhausted but is having fun. Today is the last day of camp and we will be going to see the campers drama performance this afternoon!

Usually bad things happen in threes around here but so far we have only had two mishaps at the time of this writing.  We still have to get though the weekend so keep your fingers crossed for us:)  

Friday, 24 July 2015

2015-2016 Curriculum choices

July 15th was the start of our official beginning of a new school year!  I can't believe I have been homeschooling for over 6 years!  It has been an interesting ride and every year I ask the kids if they wish to return to school and every year they say NO!  

My daughter, Firedrake is entering 8th grade!
My son, MarioFan is entering 6th grade!

In the past I have pretty much done school with both kids sitting around a table for most of the school subjects.  I set assignments and always expected a little more from my oldest and for the most part that worked out great!  Starting a little last year I have been separating some subjects out and while we had a few growing pains it worked out and I saw some tremendous leaps in my daughters abilities.  This year we are going to push the independent work a little more and up the expectations of school work as my daughter wishes to go to college and she has already chosen William and Mary as her college destination!  My husband is thrilled as that is his alma mater!

8th grade curriculum

Pre-Algebra/Algebra:  Math U See we are a little behind due to it taking a while to find a math program that works for us but hope to catch up this year

Language Arts:  My daughter will be participating in a coop class using Hewitt and Packard lightning literature curriculum.  I have heard amazing things about this teacher and think having a new person teaching this subject will really benefit Firedrake.  I am told this class requires a lot of homework which will be an entirely new experience for her.  This class will include grammar, reading, and writing assignments

Spanish:  This class will count as a credit for high school, class will be held at coop

Drawing 2:  this class is held at coop and will be the same teacher she had last year and she has been taking summer tutoring sessions with him as well.  We have seen tremendous progress with her drawing and this is a skill she wants to learn

Piano:  Continuing to take Piano lessons privately along with music theory

History:  This is really the only class she will continue to do with me and her brother we are working on history from the Civil War until the 1st World War.   I feel I go quite in depth in our history lessons and she will be expected to do extra assignments and produce higher quality of work than her brother!

Science:  Biology by E.O. Wilson which is a high school book which is free on apple apps.  My husband is going to take over this subject but most of the work will be done independently by FireDrake--this will be hard for me to let go because I love teaching science to the kids!  We are going to take two years to complete this book and it will count as a high school science credit

Geography:  we will continue with country studies as time permits 

Drama:  taken at coop

Fencing:  taking a fencing class though the Parks and Rec which will count toward her PE for the 1st semester, she may choose something different for the 2 semester or stay with this if she likes it

6th grade curriculum:

Math:  Math U See Fractions

IEW: we will continue to use this program to improve writing skills

Grammar:  Growing with Grammar book 6

Spelling:  Complete AAS book 5 and possible begin book 6

Spanish:  beginner's intermediate class taken at coop

Art:  taken at coop 

Computer class:  taken at coop

Drama:  taken at coop

Piano:  private lesson along with music theory

Geography:  we will continue to do country studies throughout the year

PE:  MarioFan will be taking weekly gym class at the local TASK center

Reading:  assigned reading chosen by me will be given out throughout the year along with required book reports, comprehension questions and other projects

History:  we are continuing with American history starting from the Civil War until WWI

Science:  We will be working thru Prentice Hall Science Explorer book Cells and Heredity and Chemical building blocks and looking at the Periodic table.  I am still working on putting this together since I usually create my own science curriculum.  It is possible we will veer away from this depending on MarioFan's interests

We will be attending coop twice a week in order to attend those classes selected by the children.  Wealso continue to participate in a Field trip coop and I hope we can attend at least 1 field trip a month just to get us outside the house!

While it looks like MarioFan has more on his plate, most of his work can be done quickly and only takes 15 or 20 minutes to complete.  I am expecting Firedrake to have to study harder for the higher level classes she is taking this year, so while she has fewer classes she will have to spend more time on each of her subjects!

We have already started a reduced school schedule 4 days a week for the rest of July and August until coop begins Sept 8 and that is when we really have to buckle down with our work!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Weekly Wrap UP

Since returning home from Vacation the kids and I have been getting back into our routines which includes a little school every day.  There has been a little hiccup to our routine as I have been in severe neck and shoulder pain for the past two weeks:(!  After several trips to the Doctor it looks like I may have spinal spondylitis and I may need to see an orthro specialist in the very near future.  Somehow I am plugging along and with the kids helping I am managing but just barely.  I need to lay down several times a day with a ice or heat pack to cope with the discomfort.

For school the kids are doing just the basics with a few fun things thrown in, currently we are only doing a four day schedule.  Until I hurt myself we had planned to take one day off to do something fun  so far I have managed to survived a trip to the movies to see "Inside Out" and a trip to the community pool.  Both times I have needed to take my trusty ice pack along to help keep the pain to within manageable levels.  It is not quite what we had planned but it will do for now.

I have finally allowed MarioFan to use the calculator for his long division problems since he appears to have trouble lining up so many numbers.  He understands the the basic concept but with his poor handwriting skills it was becoming a very frustrating experience, and he was beginning to think he was bad with math, which is not the case.

For History we have been working on understanding the Gold Rush Fever that hit the nation in the mid 1800's.  Next week we are starting to explore the antebellum years leading up to the Civil War

Firedrake is working on this Microsoft power point program independently 

MarioFan completed the Microsoft Power point last year and is now working on understanding Excel program

Firedrake has been taking private drawing lessons once a week

and these are just two of the drawings she has done.  
The kids are working on a Minecraft Presidents class.  I know there are many different Minecraft options out there but my kids have done many classes with 'Homeschool with MineCraft' so check it out here.  The prices are reasonable and my kids enjoy them.

For Science we are working on understanding the Reproductive system and continuing to add to our human body lap book.  We have spent the entire year covering the systems of the Human body should be done today if all goes well!

The kids are also doing some writing with MarioFan continuing using the IEW program.  Firedrake on the other hand has been writing short stories and working on a novel.  She just finished a short story recently that has blown us away with how good it was.  I am looking into finding ways to have her stories publish.  Two years ago she won a writing contest with one of her stories but we haven't entered anything recently and I want to change that as Firedrake's goal is to be a writer!  if you have any suggestion for publishing children's stories let me know.

Friday, 10 July 2015

highlights from our 6 week break!

We just got back from our 6 week summer break where we visited family and friends and did lots of fun activities.  The first couple of weeks the kids spent time with their grandparents

The kids went kayaking a couple of times at a local lake with my mother and sister

they helped their Nana at the Protect the Monarchs booth for Fun Day in the Park
While the kids were away I had some free time and decided to get creative with several projects!

I worked on making a stain glass project for a wedding present  that we were going to at the end of our holiday

I also made a piece for my sister--oops I forgot to get a picture by the window and after the project was cleaned up

I took a painting class and made this painting for my Dad's birthday as he is a huge Cardinal fan!
After 2 and a half weeks I met up with my kids at my parents house and we did a few activities relating to school:)
Visited a Civil War museum in Harrisburg  -- it was very good 

We took a tour of Gettysburg National Park--Can you tell where we are in our history lesson:)!

Kids gorged themselves several times at their favorite pizza joint near my parents house!
My Mom and I took a felting class and made cute little hummingbirds:)

Once my husband finished up with his work he met the kids and I at my parents house and we drove to North Carolina to have a weeks holiday and met up with some friends 
I met an friend from blogosphere -- this is the second time we have had a chance to met up for a quick chat!

Took the kids and the dog, Luna to the beach!  Luna was less than impressed with the hot weather and the ocean:)

Visited Fort Fisher a confederate civil war site

Visited the North Carolina aquarium

We attended the beautiful wedding of some good friends !

On the way home we drove thru the town my husband parents lived and visited their graves
We came home exhausted but made so many wonderful memories as we continue on our Life's Adventures:)!

Monday, 6 July 2015

Our America...The Civil War Adventure Book review

The sixth book in the Our America series has been released!!  Once again I was asked to do a book review for the author Susan Kilbride.  I love using these books as an introduction to a history topic and it just so happens we are beginning to enter into our Civil War unit right now!  The kids love the additional fun activities that Mrs. Kilbride has on her website and we have done many of them with her other books in this series.

 One neat fact of these books are some of the characters are actual ancestors of the author that lived during this time period.  I always have the kids read the historical notes at the end of the book as additional details and facts of the story are given or explained.  For example, the story of Jim the slave, who escaped North and then returned to his master in the south and pretended he was grateful to be a slave again so that he could help his family escape, was a real documented story in history and it brought lots of discussion with my children.  Another fact that the historical notes brought to our attention was the idea that not all slave owners were farmers or plantation owners, instead they were slave owners who hired out their slaves to work for others in return for money.  Sort of like buying an investment property and living off the returns.  That was another great discussion I had with my children.

This books continues with Finn and Ginny looking for their parents who were lost in time and they end up witnessing many of the important battles of Gettysburg during the Civil War! This book is full of fun, exciting nail biting action that will hold your child's attention to the very end.  These books are geared for ages 8-13, but younger kids would be able to manage these books if strong readers.  I won't give away the ending but we were left wondering if there will be any more in this series...we certainly hope so!!

Some activities on Mrs Kilbride's website that you can do with your children to help bring the era to life include:

Taffy making ( my kids are dying to do this one!)
making snow candy
Learning how to making emergency splints and using cloth bandages
making spy balloons as well as many more hands on activities

Right now Mrs Kilbride is having a give away on her site with 5 lucky people winning a digital copy of her first book Our America series...The Pilgrim adventure.  The contest ends July 12, please go here to enter for your chance to win!

The Civil War adventure is on Amazon and can be found at this link!  You can purchase the paperback version for just $7.95 or read it free on Kindle unlimited if you have a subscription.

My kids and I have really enjoyed this historical novel series and love the many activities that go with them!

Disclosure:  I was given this book for the sole purpose of an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions were given freely and are my own opinion.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Escape from Sudan--Book Review

I was Contacted by Amanda Dicianni via email and asked if I would review a new book that she had written.  Once she told me it was about Africa I was very interested.  My family and I had the great privilege a few years ago to visit a country in Africa and we hope to be able to go back one day.    My husband has visited many areas in Africa for his job so he was very familiar with this particular country and crisis.

Escape from Sudan is about a teenage boy named Elijah Bwoko and his family who are torn apart during the war in Sudan.  It is about his struggle to survive, reconnect with his sister, and immigrate to America.  There are many adversaries he and others must overcome to achieve their goal!  While the story must touch on some violence,which is so prevalent in this part of the world, it is done so that is easy for a younger reader to manage.  There are several nail biting moments when you wonder if Elijah is ever going to overcome all his obstacles!

While on vacation I read the book and I admit to not fully understanding the conflict in Sudan.  While reading this book, I saw so many opportunities that I can have with my children to discuss the violence, as well as some philosophical  questions that the book brings up. For example, is it really the best thing for Westerners to buy slaves in order to free them or does this only encourage the slave traders?  I don't want to give too much away but after I read that, my husband and I had quite a discussion about it!  This book was a great introduction for children to understand the Sudanese War!

My children have not read this book yet, but it is on my list for our school year.  I foresee us doing a complete country study and including this book as one of the resources.  While it is a fictitious story it is is very relative to the crisis of many people of that area.  I personally think this book is geared for the elementary and middle school age group!  I would love to see a follow up story about Elijah and his family and how they adapted to their move to the United States.

About the Author Amanda Dicianni found from the back of the book:

"Amanda first encounter the Sudanese in 1999 when she taught English to the Sudanese refugees at a school in Egypt.  She earned  her degree in Literary Writing from Oral Roberts University and enjoys traveling the world helping those in need and telling them about Jesus."

I was given this book free for the sole purpose of providing an honest review.  All thoughts are given freely and are my own opinion.

Escape from Sudan can be found on Amazon for $6.99 paperback or $2.99 Kindle