So, this is a picture of my flower bed (foreground, in front of the downed tree). On May 1st. Grrrr. But, it’s all good, because:
Who could be cranky when there are 16 adorable ducklings to watch?
April 24, 2013
Yesterday I almost got my hopes up that winter was finally over. I’d been working on a blog post, whining about the amount of snow that was still piled up all over my yard and gardens. The kids were impressed by the size of the puddles in the road (big enough to engulf a car in some places), and one of them yelled, “Oh, yeah! It’s almost summer!!” I felt a glimmer of hope. After all, it can’t stay winter forever. The sun is back (it even feels warm on my skin!) and there is liquid water outside. This year the snow has held on a bit longer than usual, but now that it’s melting, it is going pretty fast. Spring will come!
This morning, there were 3 new inches of snow on my porch, and more was coming down. Somebody, please send me some patience!
Well, one of them, anyway. The little man is first grade age, and has the requisite fascinations with dinosaurs and superheroes. He also likes sharks and dolphins. Yesterday we went to a very cool local toy store, Enchanted Forest Toys, which has all sorts of wonderful wooden toys and Folkmanis puppets and eco-friendly craft kits. Both kids had $25 gift certificates they’d gotten at Christmas. He chose a Great White shark puppet. (Sister got a craft kit – more on that later.)
We already had the book I Can Draw Sharks, Whales and Dolphins out of the library, and he made a little book about sea creatures a week or so ago, which he’s been illustrating off and on, but this is now specifically about sharks. This morning he told me, “I think I’m going on a shark buzz.” That’s a new phrase to me, and I’m not sure where it came from, but I understand it! Let’s focus on sharks for awhile!
He has decided to write a series of chapter books about a group of shark pups who think they are orphaned and who solve mysteries. He has very decided ideas about how the credits of the movie based on his novels (!) will look. Instead of scrolling up, like they normally do, he wants the credits to scroll down, from the sunlight zone, through the twilight zone to the midnight zone. An eye and a bright yellow light (an angler fish) will swim in and out of the credits as if they are a coral reef. There will be a darker black shape following the fish (this will be Hammie, the Hammerhead). When the credits are all gone and the screen is pitch black, Hammie’s voice will say, “There’s something fishy about this.”
He started his story today, on the computer, with the following. Spelling, punctuation and everything else are all his. He did ask me to spell a couple of words.
The shape of a Great Hammerhead pup moved across murky water. He was lost. He didn’t know his name. But, most terrible of all, he was an orphan! he didn’t know that there was a string of other orphaned pups inclueding a Great white, a Tiger Shark, a Bull Shark, a Whale Shark and a Blue Shark. But he didn’t care about that. He just wanted to know his name. He looked evreywhare for his name. He looked in small places like nooks, and big places like caves. He even puffed up his courage and dove into a under-the-sea volcano! that was how he got his yellowish-gray color. no name. The next day there was a party.
So, I have once again let the blog slide. Homeschooling, working, and life have happened! My next post will be about homeschooling, and how that’s going, but for now, here are a few recent snapshots (and explanations).
My Boy has lately been very interested in cats. Kittens, to be precise. For Halloween, he decided he wanted to be a kitten. Not just any kitten, though – a leopard kitten. And, not just any leopard kitten, a leopard kitten wearing an aye-aye costume. “Why?” you ask? Um . . . not really sure. But he did make a diagram for me, so I could get busy making it.
Here’s what he eventually came up with:
It’s hard to see here, but the paper-plate aye-aye mask is looks a lot like his drawing. His tail and ears (the leopard ears) came from Joann Fabrics clearance rack. The leopard suit, socks and black gloves are from Value Village re-sale store. The long aye-aye fingers are pipe cleaners wrapped around his middle fingers.
The Girl was “Count No-Fangsula.” The Red Riding Hood cape she got from Grandmom was “too girly” – so she was using it as a vampire cape. Unfortunately (or fortunately for her blood-filled victims), at eight years old, she has gaps where her fangs should be. The suit and tie are her brother’s.
Finding a groove for our homeschooling has been tough this year. I unexpectedly got a job (as church administrative assistant) at the start of summer. It is part time, and and kids come with me. We do school there, usually. We call it “schworch.” It is not ideal, but it’s what we have to work with.
Anyway, after about six weeks of school, I finally feel like we are getting in to the swing of things, so I thought I post “the plan.”
2012-2013 School Year
Boy and Girl are both learning at home this year. We are using Moving Beyond the Page 8-10 for Girl’s language arts and science/social studies, and MBtP 6-8 for Boy’s language arts. Girl is also continuing with Latin and harp. Boy has started piano, and they will both start swimming lessons in October. For math, we are using the Life of Fred elementary series by Stanley F. Schmidt. They both have Zaner-Bloser handwriting practice books (Boy is learning cursive; Girl is practicing). We are occasionally using Spelling Workout B for Boy, and slightly more consistently using Vocabulary from Classical Roots 6 for Girl, as supplements to the spelling/vocabulary in MBtP. Oh, and we use the Draw-Write-Now books because Boy loves to draw, and those help me get him to do some copywork, too.
I wanted to try Lift of Fred because both my kids are story fiends – telling stories, listening to stories, writing or making up stories, reading, reading, reading. A story-based math book seemed like a great idea. They love Fred…but they still hate the part at the end of each chapter called “Your Turn to Play” – the problem sets. Now, these problem sets are pretty minimal – maybe 4 or 5 questions – but the rule is that they have to write the answers before moving on to the next chapter. This is the author’s rule, by the way. I didn’t make it up. :-) Even though the kids would love it if I dropped the rule and let them plough through the books without writing the answers, I won’t. That little bit of writing requires them to slow down enough to let some concepts really sink in. Not to mention that Girl, at least, would have already read all the books in the series by now.
I’m not sure how I like MBtP. I really am a straight-line-through-history kind of a girl, and MBtP hops about a good deal, while focusing on a “Concept” (such as “Interdependence”) for several weeks. Science/Social Studies and language arts units are correlated, so that, for instance, during the Interdependence concept, the first lit unit is Little House in the Big Woods, while the first science/social studies unit is Dirt and Plants. That was a tough unit to get through, weirdly. Girl has read all the Little House books more than once, so doing the reading was not a problem for her, but stopping after each chapter to answer questions and do activities that she obviously did not see the value in, really bugged her. The Dirt and Plants unit started out pretty simplistically, and neither of them was particularly interested.
The next unit in this concept is The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare for L.A., and Native Americans for social studies. This is more promising. Both kids are willing to work on the activities for the social studies unit and seem to be learning. We will be starting The Sign of the Beaver tomorrow (we are a little out of phase). Girl has not read this book before (Amazing! There are books she hasn’t read!), so she won’t know what’s coming. With luck, that will make the question answering more useful.
Using the 6-8 MBtP curriculum with Boy is, uh, challenging. We are only using two concepts from this level, (“Community” and “Culture”) to give him something more at his level for language arts while he participates in the 8-10 level science/social studies activities with his. He hasn’t quite learned the art of eye-rolling, but much of the community stuff he already got in public school kindergarten and the private preschool he went to. I’m trying to choose bits that he hasn’t covered before, and supplementing heavily with anything having to do with dinosaurs. (Sauropods lived in herds and velociraptors hunted in packs…those are communities, right?)
Last year the property across the street from ours went on sale. It was an empty 1 1/3 acre lot that hadbeen used to store a few old cars, and for little else. The property neighboring us on the other side had been beautifully wooded when we bought our house but has since become the neighborhood eyesore/overgrown junkyard. We weren’t willing to look at that across the street as well, so to protect our view (among other reasons), we bought the property. We are slowly turning it in to a mini-farm.
This year we just planted a small portion of the property (which has become known to us as “The Property”) to buckwheat, field peas, and oats, as test crops, and to provide organic matter for improving the less than spectacular soil. We got a late start, so we are not expecting much from our plots this growing season. (You can see in the foreground that we also planted some carrots and beans, and there are some snow peas there, too.)
Some of the test crops will be used as bedding and/or feed for our new friends:
A mixed flock of 11 old layers (not many actually laying) and 5 young Rhode Island Red bantams (not in the picture).
And I”m homeschooling 2 active smarty-pants while working part-time at our church. It’s a crazy life!