Sunday Journal: Low Ebb and Dreams

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

Nearly all of my free time this week was spent in pre-planning. I have a freewrite list of ideas for this summer and our upcoming year. A hopeful list of wishes full of mommy-school pipe dreams. Every year I have written this list of radical desires and every year I have tossed it into the garbage bin. I pour my heart into a list of dreams and then shred my desires blood-red into oblivion and accept the conventional path of education.

I’ve got an opinion on conventional and it begins with “F” and ends with “it!” Sorry…well not really. Conventional gets you Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton as presidential candidates…what happened to my country?!

Middle Boy

Middle Boy

I’ve spent some time pondering and remembering what I wanted these years to be. What sort of memories do I want my children to have when I am nothing but dust in the ground? This time I tossed the conventional and kept the dreams. I am not tackling every idea this year…just two…maybe three.

First we will learn nearly every subject together. I’ve dropped every curriculum we have used except Beautiful Feet Books and Brave Writer. I really cannot express how huge and scary that feels. Our read aloud time will move up to three hours per day. I’ve had to take some criticism for that choice from other homechoolers but after listening to Rea Berg, Andrew Pudewa and hours of personal research I stand by my decision.

Sonatina saturday

Sonatina saturday

This year we are going to study the poetry of mathematics. I haven’t found much to help me with this desire. I admire mathematicians. They see beauty and the Creator’s artistic expression like I try to grasp a fading dream upon wakefulness. I see the beauty of mathematical language but cannot articulate with any clarity. About three months ago I found this article by Paul Lockhart. I spent a month really trying to digest its meaning. Lockhart is like the stentorian Old Testament prophets of ancient

Sparkles

Sparkles

times. Seriously raging! Beautiful and confusing. I think Lockhart makes some very interesting points but he is both overly idealistic and pessimistic. Math isn’t the only subject screwed up by the educational system in America. Even I found a way to learn and love math (just algebra mostly), despite the way its taught. Applied math in the everyday mundane in not only relevant but also useful, beautiful, and kinda fun. Most importantly people have different learning preferences and some of them do prefer structured traditional curriculum with lots of repetition. Lockhart’s article is fascinating (and really long) and I’d love to hear any thoughts or opinions on the matter.

Littlest during his first official read aloud time

Littlest during his first official read aloud time

Anyway, we started out literature based study of mathematics with a lovely book called “Chasing Vermeer” by Blue Balliett. Amazing book!!!

I’ve poured so much of myself onto preparing and planning that I’ve suffered with low energy. I slept in every day this week and barely prepared any meals (my poor family!) I plan to be a much better mother and wife this week and get my head out of the planning cloud…

This week Littlest officially joined us for read aloud time and started his learning to read studies. We only did school twice with him this week and I am happy with that. By mid July he will be working and learning in a full-time schedule. I’m not in as big a hurry as he seems to be.

Older three out with Daddy for the weekend

Older three out with Daddy for the weekend

The older three traveled to western Kentucky this weekend to play piano before judges. I did not get to go because Littlest had a fever and needed to stay home. The older three did okay but not great. I constantly struggled with them to put in the proper amount of time to truly learn their Sonatinas by heart…and was met with constant opposition. I have to confess that I let them fail. Tomorrow I will discuss their results and judges comments. They will feel sad and the sting of disappointment. Sometimes failure is the only way to grow. Now, they will listen when I explain to them why they must practice for an extended time each day. I have several quotes from Mr. Suzuki prepared for them to copy in their notebooks this week. I felt terribly guilty that I had to stay home with Littlest and leave my husband to prepare them for their concert. They all had a tough weekend…

sick Littlest trying to play

sick Littlest trying to play

My mother arrives on Friday…my long time readers know how hard this will be for me. She never has a kind word for me and seems to enjoy telling me just what an awful and wretched human being I have turned out to be. I am a disappointment to her. I took a path in life for which she has no respect…and I refuse to offer apologies. If you pray (and I honestly do not care to which God you offer supplications) please ask that I humbly keep my tongue and temper…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

 

TOSReview Crew: Apologia Educational Ministries’ Writers in Residence

apologia-logo_jpg_zpswpuj9gxgWhen I first decided to educate my children at home, Debra Bell was the first “homeschooling expert” I heard speak during an online conference. She is very humorous and encouraging in her 20160419_185558 (480x640)talks. Naturally, I was excited to have the opportunity to use her new writing curriculum Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries in my home. Since she successfully home educated her own children, taught high school and university level English, I knew her grammar and writing integrated curriculum would be worth trying out.

Writers in Residence Volume 1 is the first of four in the series and is for grades four through eight. The colorful text is written to the student and is also a workbook. My son was able to use it for all of his rough drafts and for his final writing piece within the first two modules. During our review period we were able to complete the first half of Unit 1. The text is composed of six units  and each unit contains four modules. The workbook, as well as the Answer Key, contained easy to use grading rubrics for his first written assignment (and throughout the curriculum) that was clear and easy for me to use to evaluate his written work.

20160419_185542 (480x640)The first writing assignment was based on the little book “When I Was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant. He had several mini assignments to help him free-write his topic and then narrow down to the specific memories he wanted to write about. My favorite revision method of writing the individual sentences on separate strips of paper and then rearranging them into different orders was one of the assignments. The text also guided him in revising his work using specific and descriptive words. My son’s final draft of his memory sentences:

When I Was Young by the Creek

IMG_0968 (521x640)When I was young by the creek, I explored with my family.

When I was young by the creek, I heard and felt the cold, rushing water.

When I was young by the creek, hundreds of kayakers paddled past us in the turbulent water.

When I was young by the creek, we saw water gushing down rock cliffs into little flowing pools.

When I was young by the creek, I climbed upon huge stick piles.

When I was young by the creek, I wrote these verses.

Apologia%20Writers%20in%20Residence_zpsk9klb2vbThis was the only final writing assignment we were able to complete before this review was due. I flipped through the book and saw the next assignment was to learn to write a memorable letter about his future based on the letters exchanged between the characters in “Sarah, Plain and Tall” by Patricia MacLauchlan. I love that these writing assignments use excellent literature to teach writing techniques.

Writers in Residence is a Christian curriculum and includes interviews with Christian authors who use the writing technique or process described for each assignment. The six writing tasks for volume one include: sentences, creative writing, research writing, opinion essay, autobiography and a short story. Each of these writing tasks is a separate unit and also includes instruction and review of grammar related to the assignment type. The answers for the grammar pages are in the Answer Key.

20160419_185651 (640x480)As a homeschool mom of four kids this integrated writing and grammar curriculum really appeals to me. Everyone could use this text at the same time while writing and learning at their individual levels. I would not have separate grade level grammar workbooks to mark for each child nor separate writing curriculums to evaluate. This curriculum saves my time and allows us to work and share together. At the end of the school year I would also have six lovely pieces of written work from each child for their portfolios. I think this curriculum is ideal for introducing writing in a positive manner to children and for families who love to learn together.

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Sunday Journal: Spring’s Return, Retreats and Boots

watching the rain experiment

watching the rain experiment

The past week was rather lazy for us. Productive but lazy. I slept in every single day. We started school about an hour later than usual each day and even indulged in our read aloud time a bit longer too. The crew still managed to get plenty of work done despite our relaxed approach to education this week. We learned about rainfall in our science experiments. Littlest has started joining us for science time lately and is becoming quite the experiment

Oldest making paper

Oldest making paper

enthusiast. Oldest had a couple of projects from history to work on this weekend. We made a felt sheet from wool roving. We plan to make flowers with our sheet for a poetry tea time centerpiece. We also made paper from one of his used math workbooks. The paper is still drying but we plan to stitch these into a little book of some sort. We also have some wildflower seeds that we could make into paper sheets for planting…might make a nice gift for Grandma.

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

Oldest with gift from Josh of Beautiful Feet Books

My remaining purchases from the convention arrived so I suppose I should start planning soon. Our current school year will wrap up in three or four weeks! We usually take a little break before rolling into our summer session but not this year. I will be going to a homeschool mom’s retreat in July and plan to let my crew take a break then…while I am away.

We might even take a good chunk of July off this year from formal work and begin in August. I haven’t decided yet. I am currently in

making felt

making felt

a homeschool coaching community and the month of July is spent developing a customized plan with veteran homeschoolers. So I may take complete advantage of this learning opportunity with women who have walked this path successfully and extend our light summer schedule throughout July.

I mentioned the retreat earlier…something that I am excited and nervous about attending (they mentioned line dancing!). All of us attending received a gift box with essential oils, teas, a lovely glass charm, a coaster and

lunch out today

lunch out today

two empty fabric squares. I am supposed to decorate on the cloth square what it means “to be good to myself”. I seriously thought about just dunking my cloth into red wine! Just for a lark I googled “painting with red wine” and did you know there really is such a thing?!?!?! Ha! Crazy…but now I am thinking about painting an image on my cloth with red wine. Of course…I still need to figure out what it means to “be good to me”. Hmm…now I have a Tina Turner song in my head…The organizers of the retreat are going to make everyone’s squares into a quilt. I’ve no idea what I am going to create…

pause in the hike

pause in the hike

Today we went for a lovely hike. The weather has been cool and rainy for a while but the past few days were delightful. The park was covered in beautiful wildflowers along the hiking path. I enjoyed our outing this morning. Beautiful spring this year…finally. Is it just me or has this past winter lasted an eternity? I spent the rest of the day working on the monstrous laundry pile and sweeping. I had planned to get my next review written this weekend but I did not… really lacking the motivation for this one.

Boots resting for the day

Boots resting for the day

Our kitty Boots endured an injury on one of her front legs. It looks like a puncture wound and I can only assume she encountered a snake. She laid around most of today but still gets up to eat and drink. We’ve all stopped to visit with her today and let her know how much we love her. Even Littlest who will usually stay far away from her has stopped to encourage her to feel better. While I was putting laundry away I heard him tell her “get better real soon…okay Bootsie or people will cry.” As pathetic as she has been all day she did decide to go outside this evening. She still will not put any weight on her swollen leg but feels well enough for some night-time exploring. Despite her injury she still gets up the stairs faster than I possibly ever can manage. Old knees are such a bother.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

Medieval Study: Joan of Arc to the Philosopher’s Stone

the catapult

the catapult

After our delightful study of the Canterbury Tales with Beautiful Feet Books we started studying Joan of Arc and The One Hundred Years’ War between France and England. The story of St. Joan is so very sad. My children were not familiar with her at all and so had no idea of the amazing and heartbreaking story they were about to embark. As we read her story the kids bombarded me with questions…hard questions too! I had to explain the veneration of relics, asking saints for prayers and the nature of visions. As we continued to read her story the kids struggled to understand why she was abandoned by her king, condemned by the church and burned alive.

cats and catapults...

cats and catapults…

Of course, the kids really wanted to know if I believed the Maid of Orleans. Did she really have visions? Did God send her to save France from the English? I cannot have an answer for every question and someday they will make up their own minds on such mysteries. I choose to simply accept Joan of Arc at her word.

“Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.”  –Winston Churchill

“She is the Wonder of the Ages. And when we consider her origin, her early circumstances, her sex, and that she did all the things upon which her renown rests while she was still a young girl, we recognize that while our race continues she will be also the Riddle of the Ages.” –Mark Twain 

required books from the study

required books from the study

While we studied about Joan we built a catapult and looked through a picture book (from the library and I forgot to note the title or take a picture of it!) of medieval warfare tactics and siege engines. The boys built some Lego models (I didn’t take pictures again) and we watched several documentaries on YouTube and Netflix about castles and medieval warfare. Currently Netflix has a series called “Secrets of Great British Castles” that the family enjoys watching together.

We moved on to the study of the printing press, movable type and Johannes Gutenberg. We enjoyed both the book for this section and the recommended Stephen Fry documentary from the guide. We spent time discussing the importance of this moment in history. This invention laid the corner-stone of the Reformation, Renaissance, the scientific revolution and the spread of learning to nearly all people. For this part of the study I bought a paper making kit. We plan to make paper later this week and try our hands at making a homemade book.

20160410_131541 (640x480)Our last read aloud for these past six weeks was The Trumpeter of Krakow. Oh wow did we love this book!!! It follows the story of a family in the Ukraine that has to travel to Krakow as refugees (a topic still relevant on the news today) and they just happen to be in possession of the philosopher’s stone. Of course the kids were shocked to discover that JK Rowling didn’t come up with the idea all her own!!! We discussed alchemy and the theory that the whomever possessed the stone could turn other metals into gold. While we were reading about the alchemists in the story I pulled out The Mystery of the Periodic Table (by Benjamin D Wiker) and read the couple of chapters on alchemy to my crew.

We are currently working through a felting project to go along with our studies of the Mongols. Making your very own felt sheets from wool roving is a bit messy! We finally have a nice sunny weekend coming up so that we can work on our paper making and felting projects outside.

We only have four weeks left and our medieval study will be all finished! We’re in the process of making our Robin Hood hats, choosing recipes and other projects for our final feast. We are looking forward to sharing the end of our study celebration with you soon!

 

Sunday Journal: Planning, Illness and more Traveling

Sparkles making cookies before her illness this week

Sparkles making cookies before her illness this week

Sparkles spent several days in bed last week with an illness. The boys worked on their individual subjects and Sparkles just slept the days away. Since we didn’t have group subjects to do most of the week I managed to get in some planning for our summer semester.

Oldest will be starting his last couple of books for our medieval history studies tomorrow. I’ll have a post up this week on our last five weeks of work and projects. Oldest didn’t get to many of his projects since he has been busy the past few weekends. Last weekend we were at the convention. The previous weekend we were in western Kentucky for piano recitals and he returned again

a box of curriculum just for Littlest

a box of curriculum just for Littlest

this past weekend with his father to work on our home that is on the market. They went in and painted and worked on the yard a bit. They arrived home only a few hours ago. It is gonna be a brutal work week for my husband…when did he get big enough to help at conventions and…painting? When? I remember when he couldn’t say “butterfly”…I just want to cry. He is my number one helper and I depend on him…maybe too much…

I hurt.

we love poetry tea time

we love poetry tea time

Most of the curriculum I ordered arrived this week. Littlest was super excited to receive his very own box from Logic of English. He has been begging me to teach him to read for several weeks now. Tomorrow we will get started together…my baby is all ready for school. He is super excited. I feel kinda sad. He’s my baby and I want him to just stay my baby…for just a little while longer. But he wants to grow up…

I love my life right now…I don’t want any changes…but every day the babies change and every day they grow…away. I just tucked the babies into bed…Oldest is taller than me…he wasn’t last weekend!!!!!

Middle Boy setting the table

Middle Boy setting the table

I just wanna cry…. and I cry…and cry.

How does twelve years go by in the blink of an eye? He is a little man now…I am crying…not sure why…sad and proud…tears, tears, tears…

It is April. This is the last month of our current school year. The next three months are our summer semester. The kiddos worked hard and despite our move they are not behind…they are ready to move on. Mom really isn’t ready…not emotionally…not even physically.

My babies grow…and I love to watch them mature…but it slays me too…

 

Kentucky History

We prefer a literature and project based approach to history. I could not find a curriculum that meets our needs so I’ll be putting together my own. Over the next few months or so I will be updating this page with the books and projects we used to discover the history of our state.

Our history curriculum does not have an extensive study of the Native American civilizations of North, Central and South America. I want my children to have an appreciation for these cultures and to realize that this continent was not empty and ripe for the taking as I was taught in school. Therefore the introductory lessons are a rather broad overview.

Introduction to the Americas

20160409_100754 (480x640)Primary Text:  Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann. This book is beautiful and is a young readers (3rd- 6th grade) version of his more scholarly work 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus.

The book explores three questions. “How Old was the New World?”, “Why Did Europe Succeed?” and “Were the Americas really a Wilderness?” Discuss each question after the reading.

So much of America’s founding mythology is based on the idea of the land as pristine and wild. Many scholars now disagree with this myth the settlers told themselves. What kinds of actions would these beliefs support? Do these beliefs support the goals of the settlers?

What is the milpa system of agriculture and how does it differ from the single crop system? Record in composition book.

Discuss the genetic manipulation of corn. Look up various types of corn and draw in notebook. Imagine what the original corn plant looked like and draw in notebook. Explore the significance of corn to various cultures throughout the Americas. How far did corn and the milpa system spread?

How might the world be different today if much of Native American history, religions, stories, philosophies and cultural beliefs were not lost?

Other books: Myths and Civilization of the Native Americans by Marion Wood. The Nature Company Discoveries Library: Native Americans editors Dr. David Thomas and Lorann Pendleton. DK Eyewitness Books North American Indians by David Murdoch. These are encyclopedia type books with lots of pictures. The kids spent some time reading through these on their own. I did read the myths aloud. Draw Right Now Book 3 by Marie Hablitzel and Kim Stitzer. I let the kids use this book for art inspiration for their composition books.

Literature Connection: Walk the World’s Rim by Betty Baker and The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell.

Discussion and assignments for Walk the World’s Rim. This book is based on a true story.

Design a book jacket with cover (artwork, title, author etc), front inside flap (short summary), back inside flap (biography of author) and back cover (review the book, include a quote from the book).

Draw a map of the route in composition book.

Draw and color the legendary City of Gold in composition book.

Research one of these topics and record in composition book: Spanish exploration of the Southwest, Spanish slavery in the Southwest, Cabeza de Vaca, Maros de Niza, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, Cibola the City of Gold, Francisco Pizarro, Hernan Cortez, Francisco de Orellana, medicine men, Cheyenne,

vocabulary: appease, malicious, fiestas, caravel, three round moons away, Avavares, Cheyenne, conquistador, Cortez, Coronado, Men from the Sun, priest, medicine man, rosary, parch, eluded, pantomime, Sanguaro cactus, Cibola, yucca, turquoise, hair-faces, vespers, catclaw, mimicry, pueblo, mesa, viceroy

What are Chakoh’s thoughts about slaves? How do these beliefs change the relationship between Chakoh and Esteban? How does Chakoh’s beliefs change?

Over the course of the story Chakoh makes a journey into maturity. He is very idealistic at the beginning. How does his point of view change from a child’s to one of maturity? At the end of the story why is Chakoh sad. What was his vision? How did he choose to honor the spirit of Esteban?

Discussion questions and assignments for The King’s Fifth.

Written narration practice. Summarize ch. 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 25 to end. For the final summary describe what you believe to be the top five events of the story.

Use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the beliefs and values of Esteban and Mendoza.

How do Esteban’s beliefs and values change?

Describe the people of Cloud City and how their religious beliefs affect their life.

What happens to the relationship between Fr. Francisco and Esteban? Why did Zia leave and travel alone? Why do you believe she is the only character that survives with both her life and freedom? What was her personal reason for the journey?

Vocabulary: cartography, doffed, mirage, esplanade, clemency, aguatil, cacique, sierra, cross-staff, breviary,

Documentaries: I found both of these on YouTube: Lost Kingdoms of South America from the BBC (4 episodes) and America Before Columbus from National Geographic (3 parts).

Early Kentucky 12,000 BC to 1650 AD

 

 

Sunday Journal: Adventures in Travel

Cincinnati in the morning

Cincinnati in the morning

The last couple of weeks were busy. We traveled to western Kentucky last weekend for the kid’s Hymn Fest piano recital. We visited with friends and some family members during our stay. Visiting our former church was a highlight for me. The Easter service was beautiful but left me feeling lonely for a church family where we felt safe.

On the way to western Kentucky we met The Joseph Sisters in Leitchfield at Subway. We were all there for dinner and extended our stay a bit to let a nasty storm pass through before hitting the road again. They were returning home to West Virginia after a

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

“long radio tour”. The young ladies were really sweet and chatted with the kids about music, math and Angry Birds. I really should have taken a picture because it turns out they are a sweet all sisters country music band. You never know who is at the next table…

This past week is a bit of a blur. I attempted to prep and clean the house for our next trip and squeeze in a bit of schooling. Our co-op voted on classes they would like to have the next semester and so I had to admit we would not be returning…blah.

Russ and Josh setting up the booth

Russ and Josh setting up the booth

Thursday afternoon Oldest and I left for Cincinnati to work with Russ and Josh Berg of Beautiful Feet Books at the homeschooling convention. Oldest road shotgun (for the first time ever with me!) and read the directions off to me. We stopped at the monastery where we were staying and visited with the nuns a bit before heading to Cincinnati. The sky stormed most of the day! Fortunately, the rain let up during the times I was on the road…someone was praying for me.

Oldest and customer

Oldest and customer

I enjoyed working at the booth this year and chatting with a few of you who stopped to say “hello!” I also met a few fellow Brave Writer fans, sweet friends from our Lexington days, my neighbor (I was so shocked to see her that I couldn’t place her for a moment!), and my roommate for the retreat in July. Oldest did his best to help at the booth and talked with parents. Some people were not sure what to think of a twelve-year old boy working the convention and other’s took advantage and asked him for book recommendations for their

with Mr. Demme from MathUSee

with Mr. Demme from MathUSee

own children. I was both surprised and pleased by his performance. I wasn’t sure how things would turn out and I know he was very nervous too.

Oldest looked up to Josh like a hero and missed him terribly during his lunch breaks. He felt very accepted even with his twelve-year old antics which the Berg’s graciously found amusing and I found sooo exasperating…boys. I did nick-name Russ “Houdini” since he possessed the amazing skill to completely vanish from view in the time it would take to just greet someone. I would turn to finish a comment and he was simply gone! He’s like

Josh, Oldest and Russ with Middle Boy and Littlest in background

Josh, Oldest and Russ with Middle Boy and Littlest in background

a genie, cross his arms, nod his head and poof–vanished. There are moments I could benefit from such a talent.

On Saturday my husband and the rest of the crew came up to see the convention. They wondered the vendor hall a bit and then invaded the booth. Littlest and Middle Boy took turns playing the iPad, making a nuisance of themselves and using Russ as a prop for their Lego dinosaurs. I should have taken a picture of the moment. My children do not have a grandfather. In those rare instances when an older gentleman interacts so naturally with my children I find the moment wistful.

Littlest is glad I am home

Littlest is glad I am home

Anyway, a few people have asked what I brought home from the convention. Not much, since most of it had to be ordered. I purchased The Dangerous Journey and study guides from Memoria Press, Fix It from IEW, some movies study guides from Zeezok, Foundations from Logic of English and Early American history for both intermediate and junior high grades from Beautiful Feet Books. Now, I just have to wait for all of my goodies to arrive…

Today, I took Littlest out for ice cream. He missed me so much while I was away. I asked him what he did and he said, “Wore Daddy out. But now I can go back to wearing you out.” Sounds about right…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers