Sunday, January 29, 2012

~Great Thoughts~

There are so many different variations and ways to homeschool. Some families homeschool using only religious curriculum while others prefer keeping religion out of their education and choose a more secular education approach. How does my family homeschool? We use a more ecclectic approach which is a mix of a little this and a little that. I love to run across something in a blog or in a book and use it for our school.

 Recently I read the sweetest story that I picked to do a review for. The book is " Schoolroom in the Parlor" by Rebecca Caudill. The book was written in 1959 and tells of a much simpler time period of the early 1900's. You can go to Homeschool Literature if you would like to read the review. My favorite part of the book is something I'm going to try and implement in our home. The big sister that was teaching the younger children each morning would start the day with a "Great Thought". These were words of wisdom that great men had thought. Althy the older sister said "Whenever you learn a great thought, you can think it, too. A great thought is something nobody can take from you." Here are some examples from the book- "Don't give up the ship. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. A merry heart doeth good like medicine." She would tell the great thought to the children and they would memorize it then talk about it. After that the next oldest sister would write the quote in her tablet so the younger sisters could copy it into their tablets.

I LOVE that! So I'm going to find a few a week and do the same thing. I have all kinds of favorite quotes stirring through my mind. I'll try and and share some that I choose this week.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

laughing on the inside

Tonight we went to our local Chick Fil A. I have pretty much sworn off most other fast food places but I love Chick Fil A on occasion. Well we were getting up to leave and my husband had already gotten up to empty our tray. Z was following hubby and A~man was with me. There on the side of the table sat a ketchup container. I'm not talking about the little foil pouches of ketchup. I'm talking about the new pouches that hold three times MORE ketchup. Do you see where this is going? Do you? If not I will show you a picture-

There it sat. A~man looked down and after that everything was in slow motion and I could not do a thing to stop it. He karate chopped it. No exaggeration ketchup went all over our booth and six feet beyond.  Honestly I do not think he meant to do it. He was pretending to karate chop it and his hand slipped. IT WAS ALL OVER THE PLACE. A few seconds before I noticed a homeschool mom with her two kids walk by. (I do not know them but recognize them from some event)  I did not yell. I may have exclaimed but I did not yell. I'm sure if someone was studying my face they would have noticed I almost...almost busted out laughing. I knew the harm that would follow if I did that. It would happen over and over. I very firmly told him to go get napkins and clean it all up. After the initial shock wore off his face (he didn't really plan on doing it) he ran off to get napkins and promptly cleaned it up. I was mad, I was embarrassed and by gosh I was about to bust out in hysterics. I did not look around for reactions from others...I just remember hearing the other homeschool mom tell her sons "watch out for the ketchup!" and one boy said "what happened?"

Walking out to the car I guess Z told hubby that I was REALLY mad. In the car I had to turn away quickly after telling hubby what happened. Later he said that he thought I was laughing...or maybe crying.

I had a flashback. A similar thing happened to me at that age. I remember after a basketball game or some event we stopped at McDonald's and were eating outside in the front. My best friend at the time was wearing white jeans. Do you see where this is going. There was a packet of ketchup on the ground. I jumped on it. My friend was covered in ketchup. I will admit it was NOT funny yet I was joking around just like my son and my foot slipped....

Life is ALWAYS interesting in my little world.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Learning about Contractions

The grammar type of contractions that is. I did a search for "learning about contractions" on youtube and most of it wasn't about grammar. Here is a cute video I did find!

When I was growing up contractions really confused me at first. There are so many more creative ways to learn facts about grammar than when I was a child. Sometimes a song, a video (think Schoolhouse Rock), or a contraction game can help children with learning differences or it can solidify the information for a typical learner. Here is a cute poem I found when I did a search for "learning contractions".

The Contraction Song

(to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down")

I'm the first word; don't change me!
Don't change me, don't change me.
I'm the first word; don't change me!
Oh, no, just let me be.

When you change the second word,
Second word, second word,
When you change the second word,
A shorter word you'll see.

Certain letters are taken out,
Taken out, taken out.
Certain letters are taken out.
One word will remain.

Apostrophe will fill that space,
Fill that space, fill that space.
Apostrophe will fill that space,
The rest will stay the same.

Can't and couldn't, isn't, too.
Isn't, too, isn't, too,
Won't and I've and let's, it's true,
Contractions every one.

I'm and she's and you're and he'd,
You're and he'd, you're and he'd,
Wouldn't, didn't, we'll and she'd,
Good! And now we're done.

There is so much information a student needs to learn that finding a way to keep it fun is very important!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter photos

Every morning I wake up hoping....hoping for some cold weather. (call me crazy you know I am;) After the last two harsh winters filled with freezing snow this one has been more like spring. These photos were taken a couple weeks ago. Right now it is rainy and my bulbs are forcing their way through the ground in confusion. Some of the trees even have little buds!

Gotta love a 12 year old boy that still sometimes likes to hold his dad or mama's hand!

Yes! It was warm enough for short sleeves!

I only WISH this was my barn. I have a million pictures taken at this location over the last 20 years,mainly the last 12 years.

It's warmer than I would prefer for winter...but you cannot hear me complaining too loud!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Teaching kids to write

Writing has always been one of my favorite things to do. Teaching it on the other hand sometimes leaves me frustrated. I sometimes feel that if I critique too much my daughter will lose the desire to pursue her creativity yet a page long story shouldn't be one giant sentence. :) Then on occasion I will worry about what the writing standards are for other children her age. ( I really try not to compare though) I have always bought her journals that she fills up however she wants, and with those unless she asks I do not offer advice. I have seen her go back to a journal a couple years later and read them and she has seen how far she has come in her writing. Next month I am hoping to get her into an online writing course to help her learn a little more about the technical side of writing. I think she will take it less personally if someone else is critiquing and advising her writing.

This last year Z~girl has started her own newspaper. (with her brother's help at times) I think she is going on her fourth publication and it includes weather, local news, and of course a comic page. With this she does ask me to do some proofreading and also how to spell the occasional word. We give this paper to a couple of our neighbors and mail it to the grandmas. Everyone enjoys her newspaper which is called the A to Z Gazette. The picture below is of a couple of the pages.

I think a field trip to the local newspaper will be planned for this spring!

Oh and if you are interested check out as I interviewed my very first author. (Susan Marlow from Circle C Adventures) In the interview she gives some very helpful insight on teaching children to write.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

the R word- Retarded

Do you know one of the few ways to get this woman riled up, heart beating outside her chest, steam comin' out of her ears? (well besides using the Lords name in vain) Say the R word. I am a very calm, patient, tolerant person. I am a big fan of letting stuff roll off my back. (well outwardly...sometimes it builds up) It takes a LOT to tick me off. You get the point.

Tonight a sweet young lady dear to my heart said this word in a FB status. This isn't the first time. I've heard it before from people on my friends list. Normally I just ignore...while seething inside. I couldn't this time. As nicely as I could I reminded her that her cousin close in age to her is mentally retarded. She promptly removed her comment and apologized. Will this cause this person or others to stop using the word? Probably not. BUT maybe it will make them think before they speak. I know words that you hear often get stuck in your head and you repeat them. This R word I'm finding is a word that is popular. Most people (like the one on my list) do not mean it to be derrogitory against people that actually do have special needs. It's just the word to say to someone that may not be acting the way you would expect them to. (at least that is how I see it)

What do I say about this? My son IS mentally retarded. Of course due to this becoming such a crass word it is no longer a medical diagnosis but instead the meanest thing you could say to an individual. My sons diagnosis causes him to have to work many times harder physically and mentally to achieve a goal. I still in my mind can picture his sweet face looking up when he was working on lifting his head as an infant. Or his first steps when he was older than 3 years old. He has defied every obstacle that a doctors diagnosis has put on him. He has surpassed it by leaps and bounds. Still his progress is slow. It is often 3 steps forward 2 steps back but he keeps trying...he keeps achieving and most of the time with a brilliant smile on his face. I've got to be honest with you. My son A~man has MANY more friends than I do and more people like him than they do me. He truly does have a more endearing personality than I do by far. I should be jealous huh? No I'm just proud to have him as my son.

Think before you speak. Some of my favorite people I have ever met are "mentally retarded".

Learning to walk!

Learning to talk! (and paint:)

Let's face it...just being COOL!

Sharing with his life long best friend. YES that is the Z~girl! (he wasn't supposed to be giving her popcorn!)

Oh and last but certainly not least a NOW picture of this awesome child I call son.

                                                                                          My 12 year old hero!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

We started back to school this last Monday. I wish I could say it was a smooth energetic start but I'm not sure anything is energetic about January. It's also that time of year when I start to worry a bit if I have been teaching the kids enough...or if I have been teaching them what they need to know to become their own personal best. We do our testing in June and that is just 6 months off. *breathe* That's when I remember why I began homeschooling. It was almost 6 years ago in the middle of winter that we started this journey. Just recently my daughter has become more concerned about what grade she is in. I never know what to tell her as she and her brother's skills are scattered. For reading and literature the child is way ahead of what the average peer could have possibly been able to read because she has more free hours without being stuck behind a desk all day. She can get her work done at her pace and then oftentimes she will read and her interests are wonderfully diverse. But in math she is more comparable to 4th grade level. So being in a "grade" just doesn't fit us. I'm guessing she wants to know so she can tell someone if they ask. She would either be a very young 5th grader or an older 4th grader.

In the middle of the week I realized they need more fun...not just sitting down working. So after their regular work is done we have been playing more board games, taking a couple nice hikes as the weather last week was very spring like, and my husband started building some Lego robots with the kids which Z in particular is LOVING! (I'm hoping he will do a guest blog entry for me on the robots they are building) Online educational games are also a nice way to shake things up a bit. I love when I catch Z playing one on her own because she wants to instead of because she feels she has to.

Now if only we could get some snow to play in for "recess"! Here's a picture from a previous winter of our yard blanketed in snow.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Traveling from North Carolina to South Dakota part I

I've already written about our Lego adventure in November in an earlier post. What I haven't written about was our complete trip that started in western North Carolina with our final destination being the Black Hills of South Dakota which is my home state.

Here are three of the travelers ready to head out on a long trip! Of course I was behind the camera and I doubt any of you would care to see what I look like at 5 AM anyway.

We started out early that morning and it was rainy.

That Day we traveled through part of Tennessee, Kentucky, and the tip of Illinois before arriving in the state of Missouri.

Our plan was to make it to St. Louis MO by early afternoon and for the most part it was a smooth trip to MO. Before we left our neighbor gave us a small place mat map for the kids to play a licence plate game with (marking off the plates we found with a dry erase marker). We also brought along a really neat state magnetic puzzle that we had fun with.This was roadschooling at it's finest! On this trip Z~girl was able to learn all of the states locations on the maps along with their capitals.  OK mom and dad were also able to refresh their state capital knowledge too. A~man also has learned many on our long road trip.

I have to say even though I am not a city lovin' girl St. Louis is a beautiful city. Besides the Lego Summit we were able to go up in the arch which involves getting in this wee little pod type contraption. I was this <---> close to chickening out but I was so glad I didn't.

The view from the top at night was phenomenal!!

While on our journey we were able to keep up with our online schooling as we brought our laptop. Now I can hear some of you through the blogsphere saying "mean mom!" but I assure you it was minimal and mixed in with a whole lot of educational field trips there was not a complaint uttered. 

After going in the arch we went to the Museum of Westward Expansion which is under the arch. Next time we will plan for more time in the museum as we got there a half hour before it closed.

We left early the next morning to continue on our way and an hour out of St. Louis my husband discovered he had left his wedding ring and another ring in our hotel room. One worried phone call later we were reassured that they had found the rings and they then put them in the mail to return them safely to us. Thank goodness for honest people.

NEXT STOP.....KANSAS?? stay tuned.