Thursday, July 24, 2014

Spontaneous Ferry Ride and Fossil Dig

Last weekend Brian had an idea... a simple drive to the oldest town in NC and a ferry ride!! A fun, quickly planned outing for us;)

So we packed snacks, reading material for the drive (we love reading in the car) and the camera:) LOL!

On the ferry was great! Hanging out together and watching the water... and we saw some dolphins;) Too cool!

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Once across the river, we headed into fossil territory... aka Aurora and the phosphate mines. Through extensive excavating of the land, many unique sea creature remains have been found and donated to a museum in Aurora.

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The museum was mostly bones with some descriptions and a movie describing the local mines where a lot of the fossils were found. The kids though they were all about the "big dig" outside!!! A lot sized dirt pile from the Aurora mines:)

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Yes! Mom and Dad got into the hunt as well!! We couldn't let them have all the fun:)

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And we all found some cool finds:)

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This find ended up being a type of lemon shark tooth!

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Nate found shark teeth too but was sure proud of the feather he found;) LOL!

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More shark teeth! We all found plenty!

After the kids had spent an hour or so in the dirt pile (and we promised them we'd come back!!), we loaded back up in the van to head home. We got to the port early and it was cool to watch the ferry come in loaded with vehicles.

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We're not really good at spur-of-the-moment trips, so this was a little different for us! But we pulled it off and had a GREAT time!

Gotta love summer road trips...even when you don't go too far!

Monday, July 21, 2014

One-Sided Freckles

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For over a year or so, I've noticed a cute (and a little alarming) aspect of Nate's little face. If you look closely, he only has freckles on the left side of his face!!

I love freckles! I love to tell the story that was told to me about my dad winning the freckle contests many summers growing up. And most of the time loosing only to his brother:) LOL!! Freckles tie me (and my kids) to my dad.

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Nate's little face though with only one side spotted with freckles is adorable!

But a little odd....

how would a kid get freckles only on one side?

It would mean that his left side is more exposed to the sun than his right. And often enough to actually bring the freckles out! We are big sunscreen users when the kids play/swim outside... so it's not like we have purposely not used sunscreen on the left! Nope!

The only thing I can think it would be is where he sits in the van?

Nate is still in a 5-point harness car seat that doesn't move to other spots often. It has worked the best for him to sit right behind the driver:) So his left side is facing the window as we drive in the van.

That's the alarming part. He is actually getting sun that is affecting his skin pigment:/ Crazy!

Maybe we need to include sunscreen during extended van excursions?

Anyway, it's kind of cute;) But of course, I'm totally biased because he's my kiddo:)


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Our 2013-2014 Curriculum Wrap-Up

At the beginning of the year everyone is soo excited to share what they plan to use. We are excited about new possibilities, new pencils, exciting topics... I love a new start as well.

As I begin to get all the "new school year" curriculum together this year I am finding that I keep going back to what we used last year to get an idea of what we can do to make this year "fit us" even better! What worked last year? What didn't!? What did we have to tweak and can it be tweaked again or should it just be set aside?

Instead of doing this in my own wee little brain and I being the only one to benefit from this exercise; I thought I'd just share it and maybe, just maybe, our experience can help someone else deciding on some of the things we used and challenges we faced.

Bible
We have loved, loved, loved Old Story New as a devotional. It's not an in-depth Bible study but we've looked up the verses, read the short stories that really connect the kids to the biblical teaching and have had some really cool application-based discussions!! It's definitely my favorite part of the day:)

We also started to memorize the verses that follow the "Roman Road". The kids were given a hand-out of how to share their faith using their hands. So we began memorizing the verses that corresponded to each verse. At the end of the year Chris volunteered to say all the books of the Bible at the RA Ceremony (in front of the church members gathered), so we spent some time being sure he was ready:)




Math
If you have read about our home schooling you know we are BIG Saxon fans! It works for us and has continued to work well for the kids (they all tested above their grade level in math this year on two different tests)! Anna and Chris were both doing lessons on CD from Saxon 6/5 and 5/4 respectively. For the most part they are independent workers. Anna does a complete lesson a day except on assessment days where she only does the assessment and her math facts.

 I divided Chris' lessons (Saxon 5/4) into 2 day pieces... on day #1 he does the warm-up (including part of the math facts), the lesson on CD and the lesson practice. The following day he works on the mixed practice, checks his work and corrects any mistakes.

 I am available for both of them to ask questions. And I definitely go over any problems and re-teach when they just don't "get it":)

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Lydia finished up Saxon 3 in Lydia-style! She finished weeks before the end of the semester and spent her "extra" time working on xtramath.org and other online math games. She'll be starting Saxon 5/4 in August!

Science
We LOVED using Apologia's Chemistry and Physics!! We had done Chemistry and Physics in previous years using little science experiments, reading books and writing little reports but we still learned soo much from Apologia's book. They each had the notebook which they liked but I added some outlines that I either made myself or found on a group FB page. The fill-in outlines helped keep their focus while we read through the chapter and really narrow in on the key terms and concepts because there was soo much good and unique information in each section!

And anytime we could stop reading and do anything hands-on was always fun! And that Apologia textbook was LOADED with hands-on experiments, like this one:



**BTW... the whimpering is from a concerned sister. She was concerned her brother, who has an egg-allergy, might touch the egg in the experiment. A little drama in the Science class:)

In planning for next year, I am VERY bummed that there isn't a simple one-year textbook that fits us from Apologia. We think we have something that will fit us until we can do  Apologia Astronomy the following year:)

Grammar
Chris and Lydia finished First Language Lesson #3! Oh, how we all  LOVE this series! They will definitely continue FLL#4 :)

Anna and I used Shurley English 5 and Daily Grams (2x a week) this year. And for most of the year we floundered... Shurley just wasn't a good fit for us. Each day, Shurley was loaded with an hour or more of Grammar lessons and practice with a lot of the time spent with an instructor. I did like breaking down the sentences and the vocabulary words for her to look up weekly. I just felt like the actual teaching of Grammar in Shurley got lost during our Grammar time together because of all the other daily activities in the guide. We ended up dividing each chapter into two weeks and spreading out the work/lessons a bit. It helped us feel like we were actually getting a little more out of it. But I'm already looking into something else for us in the Fall :/

Reading
We did a lot of reading aloud last year. And daily the kids would grab a book or two to read during their independent work times. I then realized one of my children was not reading but still at the "looking at pictures" then flipping the pages. So I buckled down and read individually with that one child... and  I can already see a huge improvement since January! I am also working with that child through Alphaphonics which is a "learning to read" program but it's painless and they're zipping through it as I really get a picture of where they are struggling so I can help (or get help).

While I knew what they were reading and often it was related to our history, I want to be more intentional with their reading this year by planning, using many graded reading lists to come up with level-appropriate books that tie into our historical topics.

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Writing
We began the year using IEW's All Things Fun and Fascinating. It started so simply with key word outlines, then forming those into paragraphs. And then we went into summarizing and collecting information to build reports.

But then a friend offered to let us borrow the IEW Style and Structure B DVD lessons. It's such an amazing resource that we dropped the ATFF (for a bit) and then did a lesson a week using the DVDs. It was really cool seeing the overlap and it really cemented the teachings of ATFF for the kids (no, it wasn't Mom just making something up).

At the end of the year, we did go back to ATFF for a bit to cover some of the things that I didn't want to miss... some poems, writing from a picture and writing from a prompt (easier topics in the ATFF).

IE Ancients for next year???

History
For the last 5 years we worked through Story of the World, all 4 volumes... yes, it took us a little longer, but we enjoyed the story part of history. We all just loved reading, completing maps, doing activities, discussing topics we ran into together and often seeing where our history topics connected with current world events ( we were studying Russia post WWII when Russia invaded Ukraine.... my kids knew some of the history and their eyes were huge!) . Often we got our hands on some living books from the same time periods that I read aloud while the kids played "quietly" with Legos (yes, they do actually listen and get a LOT from those readings).

Just a note... get the activity guide! Between the ideas of additional books to explore deeper, the review questions and maps... that guide is worth it's weight in gold! Then add that many chapters contain "do-able" activities! It really does add a lot to just reading the book.

We are going into a new stage though:/  I have a new challenge! Anna can't do through SOTW again the same way we did when she was in 1st grade.... so how do I "beef up" a curriculum we have enjoyed and that has worked well for us?

Preschool with Nate
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Last year I began working with Nate...

 only 20+ minutes a day (based on what he wanted to do). We worked through books from Before Five in a Row! Using the book's ideas and free printables from other home schooling moms, we row-ed each book in about 2 weeks a piece. Lots of fun, lots of hands-on stuff and he still loves those books!! So that was a good fit for us:) YAY!

We also began adding in letters!!! One of the biggest ways is LeapFrog's Letter Factory (love.this.DVD!) and studied one letter that matched one of the major themes of the book. Like while we read Corduroy we spent time learning "C". 

Onto a new year....

even though this summer has felt like my 1st year home schooling and trying to figure out what to use! I am just thankful that I have had 5 years of experience now! It does help to ease some of the "craziness" of having to pick out "new stuff"!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Partying at the Barnyard

One Saturday evening in June we headed to a farm for my nephew Wesley's 3rd birthday party. My brother and sister-in-law are always soo creative and sweet to make Wesley's parties an opportunity for the cousins (and adults) to get together! We all had a fun time at the petting farm and getting to see one another!

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All lined up... ready to feast!  Goat-eyes really creep me out:/

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A newborn kid... so small!

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The goat riding the turtle really cracked Nate up!! It was pretty funny:)

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And this little guy came up! Nate was pushing him b/c he thought the little one was biting the big one :/

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Then he stepped back to try to figure it out!

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I asked him what the little goat was doing; but,  Nate just giggled.

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No clue:)  But a sweet smile!!
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Who knew this beauty was a chicken catcher?? Way to go, Hannah Grace!!

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I loved tagging along with these two cousins!! They came up with some silly ideas and had a blast together!

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And a cousin pic!!!! The secret to everyone looking at the camera is a dancing & singing adult! Too bad I don't have a picture of that, too!!