Sunday, August 28, 2016

Year 4, Week 4: Stonehenge

     Our history studies brought us to Stonehenge this week and the kids tried to come up with different ways of how the megalith could have been built.  I can't remember everything they said but I know they said something about slides and ropes.  I probably should have written it down!  This is their model of Stonehenge, complete with a tourist snapping pictures:

     We began our Latin studies this week.  As I said in my first post for this year, we're easing into things and I didn't want to start everything from the get-go.  We're using Latina Christiana which they enjoy but find a bit tedious right now.  I reminded them that it's just the beginning and it will progressively get challenging as the weeks pass.  I happened to look ahead a few pages and it's even a bit challenging for me to teach!

     My Little Toughie seems to be enjoying her science and created this masterpiece depicting the different ocean layers.  My favorite is the deceased whale lying at the bottom of the ocean.  She read that in the book and felt badly about it.

     That's all for now.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Year 4, Week 3: Ziggurat

     We're studying the Sumerians this week!  The kiddos got to build their own ziggurat out of Legos:

     They wanted to make it our of sugar cubes but that would just be wasteful, especially in our Paleo house.

     We've also begun our looping schedule.  If you're not familiar with looping please check out Sarah Mackenzie on Amongst Lovely Things or read one of her posts about looping here.  Anyway, our loop so far looks like this:
     We began drawing Africa this week:

     They did great!  I didn't get to draw with them as this was our first time using the book so I was in charge of reading the directions to them.  We had so much geography last year and we all loved it.  This year since the focus is history, there isn't a whole lot of geography so between this, our Classical Conversations map and the Geography Game (from My Father's World) I think we'll have geography covered.

     With that, I'll catch you next week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Year 4, Week 2: The Ice Age

     This week our history study brought us to the Ice Age and Noah and The Flood.  They marveled at a sea fossil being found atop a mountain and that there were once land bridges between continents.  Oh, the love of learning and discovery!

     Also, in keeping with adding things in slowly we began science this week:

     I let each child pick their own science subject this year.  Little Toughie opted for sea animals while my son chose Earth Science.  This is our first time using Apologia.  I'm hoping they enjoy it.

     At the end of our Ice Age study the kids were challenged to put an ice cube on their belly to see who could let it sit there the longest.  Neither one lasted long enough for me to take a picture but I can tell you there was a lot on squirming and squealing in the short 30 seconds my daughter lasted.  My son didn't last more than 5 seconds and shrieked for about that long!

     That's about it for now.  Nothing too exciting...yet.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Year 4, Week 1: Creation

     I wasn't sure what to title this year since we're not using an all-in-one curriculum.  Last year I was able to use the country we were studying.  This year it's different.  We have a buffet of books to choose from, though our main subject is history.  Or language arts.  All of our reading is around those subjects but I don't think it would make for a good title.  For now, I'll just pick something that peaked their interest that week and we'll go from there.

     This year will be the year of outings too.  Last year we didn't get to do much because I kept dropping the ball on putting trips on the calendar or missing sign up dates.  I'm keeping a better eye out for things this year.  We already have 3 outings planned!

     This was our first week, obviously.  I read somewhere (I'm sure from another homeschooling blog) that it's best to ease into the school year.  While I may be excited to crack open each and every book and dive in, my kids may not share the same enthusiasm and I don't want to scare them off on day one.  Perhaps day 5.  Ha!  Thus, we are only starting with a few things this week, adding a bit more as the weeks pass.  This week I'm introducing them to their new history, grammar and math books.  Later we'll be adding spelling, science and Latin.

     I will say how apropos it is that as we make our way through Ancient History that on our first day we took it way back...way back to Creation!  The kids made cards representing each day:

     We also began reading Dr. Doolittle.  I actually read this aloud to my daughter when I first began homeschooling her.  She was only 5 then.  She doesn't quite remember the whole story.  Nonetheless, everyone is enjoying it so far.

     That's pretty much it for our first week.  Like I said we're taking it nice and slow.  Oh, wait!  Did I mention that I created a very official looking document that laid out what the Principal and I expect from the our kids this school year?  At the very top it has Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Then it starts out listing their major accomplishments last year and then moves on to their goals for this year, both on an academic and personal level.  Here they are reading it before they sign it.  Bwahahaha!

     Now I bid you adieu!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ch-ch-changes! Year 4, coming soon.

     This is usually the time of the year that one big box is delivered to our home and the kids get to preview what we'll be studying for the year, much like last year.  Not so this year.  We bought some things from our local homeschool convention, bringing it home with us.  Some of our curriculum was digital, downloaded onto the computer which I'm currently sitting at.  Others came in at different times because one was delivered to the wrong house while the other was apparently damaged and never made it off the truck.

     Thus, I have no lovely pictures to show you.  I can, however, tell you what we're using and the changes we're making to our school year.

     The biggest change is using Mystery Of History instead of My Father's World.  We loved MFW.  I can't give anything but a positive thumbs up for that curriculum.  The deciding factor for us switching to MOH this year is because I officially have a HIGH SCHOOLER *gasp*.  I needed something that I could teach both kids at their respective levels and while MFW's Creation to Greeks goes up to 8th grade (and my son would probably find it challenging even at that level) I figured this would be a good time to give Mystery of History a try.  My daughter is still young enough that I can switch plus MOH gives me options at both the middle school and high school level; giving me the opportunity to gauge how much work my son can handle and what kind of work he'll produce.

     The other changes we're making is adding an official Language Arts program (English Lessons Through Literature).  We had used Level 2 a couple of years ago, taking a break from it last year.  We're also using Writing Rhetoric for our writing program.  Basically, last year the kids had so much copywork that I knew we didn't need an official program to cover grammar and punctuation.  We were using IEW's Bible Heroes, which my daughter loved but my son struggled just a bit with it toward the end.  Hence, the change in our writing choice.

     Also, since Mystery of History obviously does not include Science I let my kids pick from Apologia's science books at the convention.  I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.  I've heard great things about Apologia, but looking at the books at the convention didn't quite convince me.  Still, it's well-known amongst homeschoolers and gets rave reviews.  My kids will let me know whether or not they enjoy it.

     As for organization, I still have everything in their lovely pink folders labeled by the week.  I will not be putting their history work into sheet protectors in order to create their spiral bound books at the end of the year.  I will simply file their completed work in order in the correct folder and pull everything out once our school year concludes.

     We're also trying our hand at homeschooling year round.  I had discussed this with the kids last September and they were fine with it.  We break for a week roughly every 6 weeks, our way of honoring the Sabbath; taking a longer break during the holidays (a month!) and still taking a good chunk of the summer off, though not 3 months.  I think it turns out to be 6 weeks off in the summer, which gives me just enough time to put the previous school work and books away and prepare the new stuff.  This will still allow them to participate in a few summer activities as well.

     One of the great things about homeschooling is that I can change what we use and how we use it, anytime.  That doesn't mean that the second my child says they don't like something or if they struggle with it that I'll immediately find something else.  That's not how I roll.  I will teach them to persevere, to try a different way to find the solution/solve the problem/complete the task.  Whenever my kids say, "I can't" I tell them, "There is no 'I can't' but there is 'How can I do this differently?'".  They may sigh, but they continue on and as I observe them, I'll see their faces light up after a few minutes when the answer comes to them.

     We're just a few days away.  I'm almost ready.  Almost.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Farewell Year 3!

     I'm writing this just a week away from the beginning of Year 4!  How can that be, you ask?  Well,  my kids and I discussed the different schedules we could take on for the new school year and settled on one that we think will add more flexibility.  I think; but I'll write about that in another post.  This post is about how our third year went.

     First off, we LOVED, absolutely loved My Father's World.  It was well organized, well put together, easy to follow and all of us enjoyed the activities and readings planned (so many great books!)  It is a wonderful, truly God-centered curriculum.  Now, with that said.  We will be changing things up and I'll explain that in another post as well.

     What did my kids learn with My Father's World this year?  Well, they can name the majority of the countries on each continent (better than I can).  They've learned about the different ecosystems, terrain and animals on each continent.  They got to try A LOT of food from different countries and learn about the different cultures throughout God's creation.  They heard stories of missionaries serving our Lord and others with nothing but faith.  They learned to see things, to see God's creation, through His eyes.

     In addition to what they learned in My Father's World, they memorized prayers in Latin, they learned how to create an outline and write a paper based on that outline; they learned a number of spelling rules along with Latin word rules.  My daughter mastered her addition and subtraction facts while my son received an A- in his math curriculum.

     We read plenty of great books, too many to name and such wonderful ones that it's hard to pick a favorite.  Reading aloud to my kids is still one of my favorite things to do any day, homeschooling or not.

     This year, as suggested by another mom using My Father's World, I carefully saved their work and then spiral bound them to keep as mementos and references:

     Their Geography work is located in the Geography A-Z book while the sheets provided by My Father's World is in the one labeled Exploring Countries and Cultures.  The other one with Philippians 4:8  on it contains their scripture copywork, Hero Tales copywork and their writing work from IEW's Bible Heroes.  I created covers for each book and brought everything to our local office supply store for binding.  I think it only cost about $25.00 for all of it.  Well worth the price and since I had everything organized, it was easy to put it all together.

     All in all, it was an awesome year and I can't wait to start the new school year.  Only a few more days away!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, Kumusta Philippines!

     This is the penultimate post for our 2015-2016 school year.  Penultimate...I think I've said it before, it's one of my favorite words and this time of the year is when I get to use it.  I think in many ways it's almost like seeing the finish line just ahead (I've ran a half marathon so I know how that feels).  After this post, I take a quick break then make plans for the homeschool convention and then our new school year.  Seeing that finish line, while exciting because we can take a short sabbatical, it's even more exciting for me as I get to plan, set new goals and dive into teaching/learning once again.  Before we get there, let's wrap this up.  Shall we?

     The obvious choice to us when we were deciding which country to add to our curriculum was the Philippines since my kids are half Filipino (I being the source of their Filipino DNA).  Plus, I think we all wanted Filipino food!  I probably should have squeezed this in during our tour of Asia, but the kids pleaded that we end with the Philippines.  Wish granted!

     Thanks to, we had sheets for the Philippines just like the ones provided by My Father's World.  If you're on Facebook she's a wonderful source of information and inspiration for anyone using My Father's World as their curriculum.  She created the sheets and shared them in the My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures group.  We're so grateful for her time and effort, not just in these sheets, but also in answering questions for newbies and experienced MFW users alike.

     I found a few books from the library that contained Filipino folklore (the sheets Christephi created had a selection of books, but most were not available at our local library).  My kids really enjoyed Asian Children's Favorite Stories, but not just for the stories from the Philippines.  They enjoyed all the stories we read.  It's one that I should have purchased, given how much we studied in Asia, but I just borrowed it from the library whenever we needed it.  Actually, I may go ahead and purchase it anyway so that it's on our bookshelf whenever they'd like to read it again.

     With only two official weeks in our school year left my Little Toughie decided she wanted to begin learning cursive.  I had hoped she would wait until the new school year started but she insisted and I wasn't about to stop her:

     We're using Teaching Cursive! which I picked up for my son at last year's homeschool convention.  While my A380 could already write in cursive there was room for improvement and this book helped A LOT.  I kept it knowing that my daughter would someday use it.  The picture above was taken shortly after she began her lessons, perhaps lesson 5.  As you can see, she's making quick progress.
     It's no surprise that we made sure to wrap this journey up with food.  First, we started with making Pastillas de Leche, a Filipino candy that my siblings and I would make with my mom frequently when I as a wee one.  When I first mentioned it to the kids and called my mom for the ingredients they quickly pointed out that it was similar to the Brigadieros we made while in Brazil.

     I didn't add butter to mine as some recipes called for and perhaps I should have because our's would not hold their shape.  We tried cylinders at first and then tried balls.  We ended up having to place them in mini muffin tins and store them in the fridge.  Then they finally held their shape.  They tasted yummy, just like I remember them!

     There was plenty to pass around so we shared with our neighbors.  Our kids love walking around our block and sharing food.  They must get that from their dad; he likes to share his food.  Me?  Just call me Joey!  (You're awesome if you get that reference.  If you don't, you're probably just on the verge of being awesome and you need to learn what I'm referring to to get there *wink wink*).

     Now, I could have cooked a Filipino meal but let's be real.  We were approaching the end of our school year and I was starting to wear out.  Plus, we like to try everything possible and I was not about to cook 5 different dishes.  Additionally, the kids wanted to stock up on some of the sweets we don't often get (the closest Filipino restaurant is still a drive for us).  So, we loaded up the car and made our way to the restaurant.  We had the usual suspects, Pancit and Lumpia Shanghai, but then for dessert my husband ordered this:

  It's Ube ice cream sandwiched between a warm brioche; an ice cream panini of sorts.  I thought it was a strange combination until my hubby gave me a bite.  It sort of made me wish I had passed on my Halo-halo that my daughter and I shared:

      See that huge scoop of Ube ice cream?  That ended up being my daughter's favorite part hence she spooned what she could into a different bowl and enjoyed every bite.

     After our meal we walked next door to purchase Lumpia wrappers and of course a container of Ube ice cream.  Thus, ending our first year with My Father's World and my third year homeschooling.

     It's been a wonderful adventure.  I'll share a summary our year and our plans for the new school year in another post.  Until then, have a wonderful fun-filled summer!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, Hello there, Antarctica!

     We were in Antarctica, where there is no government, no official language, no flag and no real human population.  Yep, that's how cold it is there.  The kids asked me what we could eat that would be representative of Antarctica and I told them, "Ice!"  Ha ha ha!

     Since Antarctica has no flag the kids designed their own.  This is my daughter's flag:

     This is my son's:
     You can sort of see the sheet behind each flag which is a Venn diagram we did comparing the Arctic and the Antarctic.  That was pretty fun for them.  They got to see the differences and similarities come together before their eyes as they wrote everything out.

     My favorite part of Antarctica was being able to watch March of The Penguins with my kids.  I had watched it years before and remembered it when we did the aforementioned Venn diagram.  I had to warn my daughter about some of the life lost, but it still made her sad to see it.  I gave her the option to turn it off but she wanted to continue on.  In the end, both kids enjoyed it.
     As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm trying to get my son more interested in books.  Let me clarify, he likes reading books but he focuses on weather books (he's obsessed with tornadoes and hurricanes) with the occasional dinosaur book on the side.  I'm trying to expand his selections and am hoping that borrowing books from the Magic Tree House series will peak his interest.  He seemed to enjoy Dingoes at Dinnertime so this time I borrowed Eve of the Emperor Penguin to go along with our studies.  They thought it was, "just okay".  This happens to have come after I read Henry Huggins aloud to them, which they were enthralled with.

     We have two more weeks left.  The last two weeks of My Father's World is left blank so that one could choose their own country to study.  I probably should have squeezed it in before we left Asia, but the kids wanted to end in the Philippines so back to Asia we go!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, G'day Australia!

     Hello mate!  We've left Asia and are now in Australia.

     I can tell you right now that my kids enjoyed learning the vernacular used in Australia.  During dinner time the kids shared some of their newly learned vocabulary words with The Principal, asking him to guess their meaning.  Some of them are a bit tricky:

     Of course, no trip to Australia would be complete without a study of the coral reefs and The Great Barrier  Reef.  We read plenty of books about coral reefs and I was able to find something on Netflix for us to watch.

     Since we're always reading and I'm trying to get my son more interested in books I borrowed Dingoes at Dinnertime for the kids to read aloud to me.  It's not the best literature out there, but for the purpose of getting my son to read more, it will do.  It wasn't so long that it would lose my son's interest but short enough that we would be done with it by the time we left Australia.  (We don't get to read aloud every night because of church obligations.)

     Last but not least, it's Mother's Day!  I hope all you moms got to take a break from the daily chores and just enjoyed time with your kids.  I don't know if I've mentioned this before but for our lunch break the kids settle down with their meals and we watch The Chew together.  (I don't always eat at the same time as them but will watch with them and just FYI this is the only time I allow the TV on while we're eating; this and the Super Bowl!)  My kids enjoy the cooking segments and often find meals they want to make or want to help me make.  Last year on their Mother's Day episode, there was a recipe for a Ravioli Lasagna that my daughter wanted to make, which she did.

     This year she wanted to make the lasagna dish again and thus proclaimed that it is now tradition to cook this every Mother's Day for dinner.  It turned out lovely last year and again this year.  Here she is sprinkling the cheese:
  The finished and delicious dish (I don't think we had any leftovers):

     That wraps up our week and our tour of Australia.  Next up is Antarctica!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, Zdrah-stu-it-eh Russia!

     We made our way to Russia!  My post title is the phonetic pronunciation of the formal way to say "Hello" in Russia.  It actually looks like this:  Здравствуйте. Nifty, yes? The pronunciation can be found here.
  No trip through Russia would be complete without reading about the Romanovs:

     I found this book through an author event over at Amongst Lovely Things.  Originally, I began reading it aloud to them but found it on CD so opted to give my voice some rest and let someone else do the reading.  Now, this is a pretty intense book, written for grades 7 and up and ages 12 and up, and some of the details are very graphic.  I knew my daughter would be able to handle it, but please pre-read it if you are going to use this as a read-aloud and there are young ones in your brood.  Otherwise, let the older ones read it for themselves.  It's such a sad and tragic story and the kids would go from being exasperated with the Romanvs to having pity for them.  It was a very well written book.

     Moving along with our trip, I gave the kids an art project that I found on Pinterest (Good ol' Pinterest!)  They had to recreate St. Basil's Cathedral:

     My daughter happened to be cold and chose to wear her jacket while working on her project.  How apropos for Russia!

     These were going into a notebook for the kids so in order to make it fit I had them create a picture of the cathedral at night  (against black paper) and during the day (against blue paper).  This took a lot of work and had to be completed over the course of the week.  There was a lot of coloring, then a lot of cutting and finally a lot of positioning and gluing.  The end result turned out great.

     This is my son's finished work:

     Here is my daughter's:

     Aren't they so colorful?  I showed them pictures of the actual cathedral online to help them determine how to color them.

     We're almost done.  Just a few more weeks and our third year of homeschooling is done!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Year 3: Exploring Countries and Cultures, Kon'nichiwa Japan!

     After some time off to celebrate Little Toughie's birthday we returned to Asia with a trip from China to Japan!

     We finished our reading on Gladys Aylward, which happened to be our last YWAM book for our school year.  The kids let out a consensus sigh of dismay but I assured them that on our bookshelves are more YWAM books that we'll get to read later in the year and that, of course, we would be purchasing more at the GHC in June.

     Our Japan study took a couple of unexpected but fun turns.  The first began with a hankering for a Matcha Green Tea Latte.  I don't drink coffee (too much caffeine for me.) but I will enjoy a cup of unsweetened Green Matcha Tea Latte every now and then (with almond milk).  We had an errand to run one morning and I decided to go to one of my favorite places to get my hot beverage.  While there we noticed a Sanrio sign on the building next to where the cafe was so we decided to make our way there.  Now, I don't think we were even supposed to be in the building since there was a pass key sensor at the front, but since we happened to be entering as others were leaving, the door was held open for us and we walked right in.  A kind gentleman directed us toward the Sanrio lobby where we were greeted with this:

     We were told to press the button near the speaker at the front door in order to speak with someone in the office.  I asked if we were allowed to schedule a tour or a meeting with some of the employees that worked there to perhaps learn more about the origins of Sanrio or the creative artists behind each character.  We were denied.  No one is allowed in but the employees, but we were free to peer into the glass bowl which featured some of their productions.  So, we did.

     That was a fun detour, plus I got my latte (which with green tea is Japanese-like).

     The other detour we took was writing Haiku.  We had read about it but I hadn't planned on having the kids do it since they had just made fans (pictured here hanging with our lanterns):

     However, we went for a walk and it seemed like the perfect Spring day as many flowers were in bloom and the kids kept pointing them out.  I suggested we take a few pictures of their favorite ones and when we got home they could write Haiku about it and then even illustrate it.  Here they are with their creative juices flowing:

     Here is my son's:

     Here is my daughter's:

     My Little Toughie also took this opportunity to make a card a thank you card for one of our neighbors.  I suggested she make a Cherry Blossom tree and she loved the idea.  Here is what she made using water color paints and markers:

     I used to make handmade greeting cards so I and my kids have personalized rubber stamps with our names on it.  That little rubber stamp on the bottom corner belongs to my daughter.  It's typically stamped on the bottom back of the card, much like logos you would see on a store bought greeting card.  Hers says "from my heart and hands" and then has her name.

     Last, but definitely not least and because we appreciate and love the food of  many cultures; we couldn't end our study of Japan without some sushi!  Now, it took my husband and I awhile to find a great sushi place with decent prices.  Everything we found was pretty pricey or had mediocre reviews.  We finally found a place fairly close by and with okay prices (Cheap sushi is not the way to go anyway; you get what you pay for which might be a stomach ache!)

     My daughter ordered the kid's boat:

     I love the sashimi lollipop that comes with it:

     Below was on of my favorites, a spicy tuna with salmon:

     I think this one was a California roll topped with sauteed asparagus and shrimp:

     It was all very good.  We don't eat it often (again, pretty expensive) but it was delicious meal well worth the price.

     That's it for now.  See you in Russia!