Weekly Wrap-up: Lego Camp, VBS and Sleep Deprived

my sweet crew

my sweet crew

Last Friday we finished up all of the books in our American History studies from Beautiful Feet Books. The crew still needs to write up one last paper and we will be finished. I’ll write up a final post on our extra activities and books as well as a final review for the study. When I conducted end of year evaluations with my scholars they all listed this course as their very favorite for the year. No one had a least favorite or despised subject this past year. They were all in agreement on the only thing they did not like was not having school during our current two week break from school…at least they like home academics.

 

the hymn book

the hymn book

We went skating on Saturday. Everyone had new skates (or new to them skates) to try out. We skipped our usual church service on Sunday and visited a small country church. Only Oldest and I went to the little church to support a good neighbor who is preaching there until they can find a new pastor. I just loved the church and would go there if I did not have the kids to consider. My favorite part of the entire experience was getting to hold a hymnal in my hand and actually sing sweet old-fashioned songs instead of praise music. I was particularly thrilled to see shape-notes in the hymnal…something I have not seen in over twenty years. I nearly wept.

Lego camp buddies

Lego camp buddies

Vacation Bible School began Sunday evening at the big church my crew enjoys attending. They love all the crafts, special music (kid style praise music with some 80’s hip-hop thrown in …not my cup of tea) and that some poor soul endures spaghetti and buttermilk dumped all over them. For the next four days VBS was from six in the evening until about half past eight. Middle Boy began a week long Extreme Lego Camp on Monday from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon. So I only saw him about an hour in the morning and an hour before VBS in the evenings. For the first time in ten

Mama Quilts and Sparkles

Mama Quilts and Sparkles

years all of our children were old enough to go to VBS. Sunday afternoon was the first time my husband and I had ever been alone in the house together! We went out every single night of VBS! After getting up early all week and going to bed really late we are all looking forward to sleeping in this weekend!

My friend Mama Quilts hung out with me this week and made a beautiful princess dress for Sparkles. She brought her youngest over to play with Littlest. They both enjoyed dressing up in the Batman capes and fighting crime or each

dueling Batmans

dueling Batmans

other. A few times Oldest was surprised to discover he was the Joker. He was a good sport about it and let the two Batman’s beat him up!

Next week Oldest will attend Extreme Lego Camp. The following week we will work on cleaning up our school room and preparing for our Promotion Day party and get everything ready for the next school year! Fifth grade, third grade and first year pre-school…I’m not wanting to let go of this year just yet. I’m not ready to let go.

reality

reality

I talked with a new homeschool mom today. She is getting ready to start out on this great adventure! I wish I could give her some great and wise advise…sage words of encouragement and comfort. But I feel inadequate and clumsy with words. I can share all the knowledge I have but wisdom only comes with the walk. Every homeschool is unique as is every child God created. We each have to set out on our own path, make mistakes and embrace this amazing journey for the pure grace it truly is.

I am blessed. Most of my life(the past ten years are like a fairy tale come true) has been hard to endure and I am permanently marked by the pain. Some wounds you just learn to bear. Right now, my life is beautiful and I would not change one ugly moment for fear of losing where I am now.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Pocahontas and Jamestown with Beautiful Feet Books and Lego Jamestown

Pocahontas and Jamestown notebook pages and bead project.

Pocahontas and Jamestown notebook pages and bead project.

This past week we completed our studies and activities on Pocahontas and Jamestown. The Beautiful Feet Books (BFB) guide had us read Pocahontas by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire and Jamestown by James E. Knight. We enjoyed both books very much. We also watched Nightmare in Jamestown by National Geographic on Netflix and the Jamestown episode from Drive Thru History. We also played this fun game at History Globe. The game allows you to make decisions about the settlement and then the simulation lets you know the results of your decisions. The kids enjoyed the game…especially learning which decisions would cause the colony to fail.

IMG_5156Sparkles loved the Pocahontas book and the boys enjoyed learning all about Captain John Smith. They were all very sad to learn that Pocahontas died while her little boy was so young. They also had a hard time understanding the differences between commoners and gentlemen and just couldn’t get over the gentlemen’s unwillingness to work. The boys ended up building Jamestown with their Legos after watching the documentary. They even added the burial site of Bartholomew Gosnold outside the Fort.

Lego Jamestown...burial of Gosnold

Lego Jamestown…burial of Gosnold

The kids also found it interesting that the Indians would trade food and other goods for beads. We found some Italian lampwork glass beads like the ones the settlers traded with the Indians. Sparkles made herself a necklace and the boys ended up making me some bracelets. I had a math activity to do with the beads but the kids started trading them with each other on their own and came up with their own values for the beads depending on size and color. I sat my planned activity aside and just watched. They placed the highest value on the large red beads and were surprised to learn the Indians (Eastern US) prized the cobalt beads. We ended the lesson by looking at beautiful Native American bead work in books and on the internet.

the Angry Bird invasion of Jamestown

the Angry Bird invasion of Jamestown

The BFB guide had several coloring and copywork pages for the Pocahontas book and mostly discussion for the Jamestown book. The guide suggested they write up a paper on the importance of Jamestown. Oldest wrote up his report on the computer. I thought it might be too difficult a topic for the younger two so they dictated a narration on their favorite person. Sparkles chose Pocahontas and Middle Boy chose Captain John Smith. We’ve worked hard on narrations for the past year and I was so happy to the younger two complete their write-ups quickly. Oldest struggled a bit understanding the moral of Jamestown but eventually understood.

Jamestown

Jamestown

 

 

Venusian Volcanos and Lego Swords

Our science studies (Apologia’s Astronomy) took us to Venus and Earth this past month. We also managed to combine some history and art into our science labs this time…always nice when projects and disciplines can be combined!

radar project

radar project

Our first science project was to make a Venusian landscape in a box and then map it out with radar. Biggest and Sparkles really took to creating a landscape with hills, cliffs and a volcano. We then covered the box with grid paper and used a bamboo kabob stick to poke holes in the grid squares. To learn how radar works we then measured the distance from the bottom of the stick to the point where the stick touches the grid paper when it cannot be pushed further down. The crew measured every single grid square covering the box and were really excited when they found their cliff.

building the volcano

building the volcano

Our next project was to build a volcano. We were supposed to build a volcano when we studied the Minoan civilization in volume one of The Story of the World. But we never got around to putting the volcano together (some believe the Minoans were destroyed by a volcano). The instructions for building the volcano are in the Activity Guide for The Story of the World. (Turns out the Mars chapter in the Apologia Astronomy book has volcano instructions as well…I should read more than a chapter ahead…) We used air dry clay to build the volcano around a POM juice bottle. After drying a day the kids painted it…including Littlest who found all of the paints unattended! They were supposed to put the art supplies away while I made dinner. He had a blast painting the volcano and made the least mess. After the paint dried we blew the volcano with vinegar and baking soda! That particular combination is always a good time!

volcano art project

volcano art project

While waiting for the volcano paint to dry we worked on a volcano chalk pastel art project from Hodgepodge. The tutorial for the art project is available to those on her mailing list. The lesson is still (not sure how long) on her site in the sidebar if you subscribe to the blog. As a first time homeschooler I have turned to her blog many times and found much-needed advice and encouragement. In fact, her blog is often the first place I go for any questions or problems I am having. So far, I’ve always found a working solution there. Anyway, the instruction for the art was easy to follow and I was really happy with everyone’s finished project. Yeah!! Something nice to put in the portfolio!

treat showing layers of the Earth

treat showing layers of the Earth

We then moved on to our study of the planet earth. The best project for this chapter was making the rice-crispy-earth-layers treat. I had never made rice-crispies before…does that make me a bad mom? We used a red peanut butter M&M to be the outer and inner core of the planet. We then wrapped the candy with the cereal layer to represent the mantle. After these cooled a bit we dipped them in chocolate almond bark to represent the earth’s crust. Here is a tip for you just incase you have never made these cereal treats: wait for them to cool a bit before forming them into spheres. I had almost given up on making these until I decided to try one more time to get the cereal to stick together. Yummy!

The past couple of weeks in history we have been studying the life of Julius Caesar. The kids were having a hard time coming up with a Lego project to build for these chapters from SOTW. After studying about the many war campaigns he fought in the crew opted to make Roman swords. I didn’t think much of the idea at first but the swords turned out really nice.

Linking up with Apologia Blog: Homeschool Science Share and Tell

Building History with Legos

I really did not want the Legos in the school room but we had no place to put them. The little plastic bricks were in this room before we transformed it into our school room and to my dismay there was no other room to lodge them. I knew they would be a nuisance and I’d constantly be stepping on them. Sometimes I think they were designed to drive parents crazy…those bricks make me a little nuts sometimes.

However, Legos have become an almost daily staple in our school. Sometimes the kids use them for math manipulatives. We have one set of Math U See blocks but with three scholars using the blocks sometimes (maybe more than sometimes) there are not enough to go around. Reluctantly, I agreed to let my oldest use the Legos during math time and it worked out well, so I let up on the “no Legos during school time rule.”

We use Story of the World for our history lessons. Usually I read the chapter to the kids and they work on the corresponding coloring page. Early on, one of the chapters suggested building the pyramids of Egypt out of Legos. The kids loved the idea and they built tons of little pyramids all over the place. Then they wanted to use them for every chapter of history. I wasn’t sold on the idea at first. A few weeks later the kids started building history projects on their own. They built a ziggurat, the Great Library of Nineveh, Carthage, the Labyrinth and King Minos’ Palace over the Labyrinth!! After seeing them build the history we were studying each week I let up on the no Lego rule…mostly. The last set they built was the Great Wall of China complete with attacking Mongols and books burning in the Market Place. They worked so hard to include nearly every detail from the chapter (chapter 32 of volume 1) that I didn’t bother to test. They obviously knew the material.

I never expected Legos to be an almost daily part of homeschooling. The plastic bricks were not a part of my vision for educating my children. Sometimes I get caught up on what I think home education should look like and at first those visions looked a lot like my public schooled experience. I’m learning to let go of those early ideas and let the kids lead me in the way they want to learn. Our rookie year is almost up and I feel like I’ve learned more than my children. I’ve learned more about them individually, that I can teach math, that my husband is an amazing man (sorry…I just could not find the right expression to describe the joy and support I find in him), and that when Jesus calls me to completely change my life…He’ll not only see me through it but will make it the best year of my life.

I still get really irritated when I step on Legos….

Lego Stonehenge

The past two weeks was our first time using Apologia for our science course. We were using another curriculum but it just wasn’t in-depth enough for my little scholars. So I scrapped it and we switched to Apologia. My kids love it and beg me everyday to start with science…and sometimes we do.

We are using the Astronomy text and the accompanying Notebooking Journal and Jr Notebooking Journal. We just wrapped up our first chapter and I can tell we are really going to enjoy this curriculum. Yeah for small victories!! My first graders color in their notebooks while I read the text and then I have them narrate the main ideas. My oldest works on an outline of the main ideas in his notebook. If they have more questions we look in our encyclopedias or check Google. We spent an entire hour looking at pictures from Hubble and learning about nebulas. My kids love, love, love the notebooks.

We chose to build Stonehenge for our chapter project out of legos. The book suggested clay but I try to use legos as much as possible. We have used legos for several of our history projects. I found a simple diagram of Stonehenge to build our own model. We also learned how it was used as a calandar to mark the seasons. The one lesson the kids took away from this first chapter was how God put the earth in orbit and how the other planets help keep our little planet in place. They were amazed how “God really thought of everything”…my favorite quote from Miss Sparkles for the week!!  My favorite part is that my childrens’ natural wonder and amazement at creation is gently turned toward our Creator with this curriculum. We are going to love our journey with Apologia Science…I can just tell! Linking up with Homeschool Science Share and Tell.