Mar 28, 2012

The Hmmm...schooling Mom: apart from me

This is one of those blog posts that I read and immediately think "YIPPEE, another one has caught on!!!"

The Hmmm...schooling Mom: apart from me: As homeschoolers, it's natural for us to occasionally question how we are doing what we are doing...and why we're even doing it in the fi...

Mar 24, 2012

Weekly Update - Taste of Summer

We are on "book break" this week and BOY OH BOY did we pick a good one. The weather has been incredible and we have fully been taking advantage of it. DN survived his first road trip with CJ and it seemed to be a good turning point and bonding experience for them. KM and I spent the week cleaning, yard-working, finishing projects, KM finished up Wuthering Heights and completed the work for her last Skype class which will be held next week, spent an afternoon at the beach, watched LOTS of shows on the ROKU and KM went to her first semi-formal!!! OH and our FROG EMBRYOS ARRIVED!!!!

Mar 21, 2012

Homeschoolers making headlines this week!

An excerpt from the Clickschooling newsletter this week - 

First, homeschooled Doctor Grant Colfax was appointed as Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy by President Obama. Grant is the son of homeschool/unschool pioneers, David & Micki Colfax, authors of Homeschooling for Excellence and Hard Times In Paradise, that chronicle the Colfax family's homeschool experience. David and Micki raised four sons on a goat farm in Booneville, California, and achieved notoriety when three of their sons were accepted to Harvard. CLICK HERE to read the full story of Grant's appointment by President Obama.

Next, I'm sure you've heard of the "Forbes Rich List," released each March, that showcases the world's wealthiest billionaires. But have you heard of the Post Growth Institute's (En)Rich List? "The (En)Rich List celebrates a wealth of inspirational individuals. Collectively, the people highlighted present a rich tapestry that points to globally prosperous and sustainable futures... The people [living and dead] on this list represent wealth that cannot be defined by a dollar value.”

Homeschooled attorney and author, Janelle Orsi, was listed at #33 (out of 100) on the (En) Rich List and has been recognized for her ideas, achievements, and positive impact on the world. The list includes the Dalai Lama, Buckminster Fuller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and other names you'll recognize. You can read the full story here: 

Mar 19, 2012

Yout Tube Monday - An Interesting Interpreation for World History

DISCLOSURE --- THIS VIDEO IS RATED MATURE!!! There are some swears an inappropriate content for younger children.

Hetalia was recommend to KM by a friend since she is so into anime. As it was rated MA, I decided to watch it with her. I have to say it was rather interesting, it got more than a little BIZARRE about 10 episodes in, but it does give an intriguing perspective of the world's historical events in the last century. The inappropriate language could easily have been left out and this would be the only real downfall I have seen so far. Take a peek -

Mar 17, 2012

End the wasteful habits!

I just finished watching Dive! on Netflix and I have to say that this is now my #1 must see documentary!!!! I was astounded by the statistics, but don't want to be a spoiler, so will just say spare 52 minutes out of your day to get a whole new perspective on hunger in America!!! Then take a minute to sign the online petition here.

Dive! Trailer from Compeller Pictures on Vimeo.

Mar 16, 2012

Weekly Update - Looking Ahead to SPRING!!!

This past week is the last one of our winter session and things went really smoothly. This was DN's first full session and though there was some trips and a few stumbles all and all it seems as though we are all getting our feet firmly planted beneath us! He was here over the weekend and finished up things smoothly and with no issue. He also completed a few "pre-tests" in writing and in U.S. Geography so that I know exactly what I am working with. He really surprised himself on the writing evaluation as he thought he was going to do poorly on the entire thing, but only a few areas - 4 out of the 21 - that he needs to work on. As for U.S. geography, we have a ways to go, but I think it will all come together without too much of a problem if he puts his mind to it. He was at home for the rest of this week and will be going on the road with CJ next week. This should be a very interesting experience for the both of them, as they have never spent that much time together - 24 hours a day in close quarters for an undetermined number of days. I am confident that this will help them to understand each other a bit better.

KM finished up some areas, but will not be taking a full break over the next two weeks as she has to complete her Literature Skype class which doesn't end until 3/28. She has also decided to keep watching the Liberty Kids episodes and may need to do one or two other things as she is HOPING to have her turn to on the road with CJ the first week of April. This will also be an interesting endeavor as has never been away from me for more than two nights and although I know she will be fine and CJ will take good care of her, I will also be staying at home all alone for the FIRST TIME EVER - dun, dun, DUN! I will be fine, but will probably not know what to do with myself after the first day. I bet they will come back and the whole house will be rearranged, organized and unrecognizable.

As we were ending our winter studies, this included the ant and earthworm habitat studies, so it was time to release the critters. Although I know it is not recommended that you release harvester ants in our area as they are sure to not survive, there were only two left and we really didn't think that it would be long before they would be gone as well. They seemed so sad and lonely in there. As for the earthworms, they were going strong and KM had a great time making me jump and squirm nearly as much as the worms were - I know it is an irrational fear, but I think it is more that I just don't LIKE them than that I am afraid of them. So we released all of the critters close to home and right into our compost container. KM was delighted to see all the worms that were already crawling in there and felt Herbert and his friends would be in good company there. We will be freecycling the Anthill and remaining supplies so that another family can enjoy learning about these incredibly complex creatures. For next session we will be hatching frogs and are awaiting the arrival of the embryos.

I had a personal break through this week that I want to mention - I FINALLY learned how to skate backwards. Yes at 33, my 14 year old daughter found the key to unlocking my ability to skate in reverse. I have been trying all season to figure out how it is done. I watched others, I tried it myself, I listened to suggestions, but for some reason I just could not get more than two or three little movements before I would be in a dead stop or a spin. Well today we got to free skate a few minutes early and had the entire place to ourselves. We got right out into the middle of the ice and started playing around, spinning, turning, attempting to go backwards and suddenly I was doing it a little bit more than I had before. KM was making different suggestions to me and I was trying all the different things when suddenly I had made it from one side of the rink to other, it was jerky and no where near smooth, but I made it. At this point some other skaters arrived and I was nervous about them being behind me. When I would glance over my shoulder my whole body would move causing me to feel unsteady and catch my skate. I just kept trying though. KM was very supportive and started skating in front of me to keep an eye out when she suddenly said, "Move like the samba"  - WELL DUH!!! That was it, I moved like I was doing the Samba and I skated backwards flawlessly. That was my key, she kept trying and finally found a way for me to understand what she was doing.  I was so proud of myself, but I was even more proud of her. She didn't get frustrated or give up on me, she just kept trying. I feel like this is what I do every day with her and DN - I try to find just the right words, programs, approach, resources, games etc. to help them reach their potential and her she was doing the same for me!

And on that note here are some pics from the week -

Mar 15, 2012

Our Ant Study - COMPLETED

As part of our biology unit we will be studying ants and will chronicle their adventure here!

I decided on purchasing an Ant Hill from Insect Lore through Amazon. I choose this particular model because it had great ratings and I really liked the idea of the three dimensional design allowing you to see what the ants are doing in and out of the hill in a much more realistic fashion. We ordered the ants from Ants Alive and since it said we had 7-10 days until they would arrive we waited until the following Monday to prep our ant hill following the directions exactly. I also went to the library and picked up a few book for the kids to peruse: Ants (Nature's Children)An Ant Colony (Nature Watch), and Ant Cities (First Sight).

The day the ants arrived KM and I were very excited and took all necessary precautions to get them into their ant hill safely - for us and them, as these are harvester ants and they can STING!!! We did manage to get them in and ready to go. Here I will be posting various links, photos and videos from our study as well as KM's Daily Observations. If you have any interesting links you would like to share PLEASE leave a comment and let us know!!!


2/8/12 - The ants arrived today and are currently clumping together and getting used to their new home. 

 -  The ants have started tunneling on the right side of the hill.

2/10/12 - 
Up close
9:46 am
10:31 pm

2/11/12 - 
9:11 am
9:58 pm

2/12/12 - The ants have a little graveyard outside the hill. They have also constructed about 9 tunnels.
8:59 pm
graveyard on backside of hill

2/13/12 -

2/14/12 - The ants are moving very slow and seem to only tunnel on the right side of the hill. It also looks like they have no motivation to work on tunnels. It appears as though only 2/3 are still alive.


2/17/12 - They seem to have slowed down working quite a bit the past few days. Not sure what is going on.

2/19/12 - They are busying themselves again, but working more on the outre graveyard than tunneling.

3/2/12 - Haven't posted much of anything as they really are just doing the same old thing. There are only about 17 left now though and it is starting to feel a bit creepy and deserted.

3/15/12 - We released the last two ants today because they just seemed so sad. We learned a lot and it was a really interesting study.

U.S. History Lesson Plans - Screenshots

As I have gotten a number of emails after posting the resources that we have used for our U.S. History study from people asking about how we implemented it I figured the easy thing to do would be to take screenshots from the Homeschool Tracker program to show exactly what we are doing and here they are --

Just a few notes --- We have all reading and worksheets assignment due on Wed, but we tend to spread them out over the course of the week which allows for extra flexibility in our schedule. Some experiments, activities and movies are listed on Mondays so that KM and DN could work on or watch them together, as they are both following the same time line, but DN is not using the Story of US textbooks at all. We take a two week book break in March - starting this next week - but KM decided that she wanted to keep watching Liberty Kids during this time and so that is why there is two weeks of just the show listed. The "Book 2 Part 3" references are based on the break down used in the Assessment Book and has worked really well for us. I will be adding additional historical movies and documentaries on things like Lewis and Clark, Westward expansion etc. as they come along in the Story of US series. I had been trying to read ahead, but just have not had time to do that so I get a general idea and plug in something ahead, but for the most part we read a section together and then once I know what it is fully covering I will look up on netflix or in our library for corresponding and relevant materials. Hope that makes sense. I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone has, but it is really helpful to others if you leave them in the comments section!

Mar 14, 2012

U.S. History Resources - PART 1

So I have been asked by several people to put together the list of resources that we have been using for our U.S. History course. I am splitting this topic up over 2 years because I really felt like it would be far too rushed if we did it in one. I have all our Part 1 resources complete and this period goes from pre-history to 1850 and the main spine that we revolve all other materials around is A History of US: 11-Volume Set. Many of the following resources will be used during both years of our study. I would also like to mention that though I have teenagers, they are at very different levels and have had varied exposure to the topics so there is a wide selection of content and approaches covered here. I will also be periodically adding to this listing and will repost accordingly but the entire list will also be located - HERE.

Television and Video Resources -
NOVA: America's Stone Age Explorers
National Geographic: The Great Inca Rebellion
Christopher Columbus Interactive DVD
Disney History Connections: Colonial America
National Geographic - The New World: Nightmare in Jamestown
NOVA: Pocahontas Revealed
Saints and Strangers
Yours and Mine: The Lesson of 1623
Salem Witch Trials (History Channel)
The History of Warfare: French & Indian War
America: The Story of Us
The Liberty Kids
The History Channel Presents The Revolution
Johnny Tremain
The Crucible
George Washington Interactive DVD
The Louisiana Purchase (History Channel)

Non-Fiction Reading Resources -
The Discovery of the Americas: From Prehistory Through the Age of Columbus (The American Story)
Who Are You Calling A Woolly Mammoth (America's Funny But True History)
Awesome Ancient Ancestors!: Mound Builders, Maya, and More (America's Horrible Histories)
Cranky Colonials: Pilgrims, Puritans, Even Pirates! (America's Horrible Histories)
Revolting Revolutionaries, 1750s-1790s (America's Funny But True History No. 5)
Westward, Ha-Ha!, 1800-1850 (America's Funny But True History)
You Wouldn't Want to Sail With Christopher Columbus!: Uncharted Waters You'd Rather Not Cross
You Wouldn't Want to Travel with Captain Cook!: A Voyage You'd Rather Not Make
You Wouldn't Want to Explore With Sir Francis Drake!: A Pirate You'd Rather Not Know
You Wouldn't Want to Be Sick in the 16th Century!: Diseases You'd Rather Not Catch
You Wouldn't Want to Sail on the Mayflower!: A Trip That Took Entirely Too Long
You Wouldn't Want to Be an American Colonist!: A Settlement You'd Rather Not Start
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Salem Witch!: Bizarre Accusations You'd Rather Not Face
You Wouldn't Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party!: Wharf Water Tea, You'd Rather Not Drink

Historical Fiction Reading Resources -
Mary, Bloody Mary
Beware, Princess Elizabeth
Doomed Queen Anne
A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 (Dear America Series)
Witch Child
My Name Is America: The Journal Of Jasper Jonathan Pierce, A Pilgrim Boy
The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds: The Donner Party Expedition (My Name is America)
The Secret of Sarah Revere

Supplemental Text, Workbook, Worksheets, Etc.
A History of US: Assessment Book: Books 1-10
Explorers Thematic Unit
Cartoon History of the United States (Cartoon History of the Modern World)
Colonial Days: Discover the Past with Fun Projects, Games, Activities, and Recipes (American Kids in History Series)
U.S. History: Inventive Exercises to Sharpen Skills and Raise Achievement (Basic, Not Boring)
Hip-Hop U.S. History: The New and Innovative Approach to Learning American History (Flocabulary Study Guides)
25 Map Crosswords: Ready-to-Go Reproducible Maps With Crossword Puzzles to Teach Key Geography Skills and Build Content-Area Vocabulary (Teaching Resources)
The American Revolution (History Comes Alive)
U.S. Government & Presidents: Know-the-Facts Review Game: 100 Must-Know Facts in a Q&A Game Format to Help Kids Really Remember Standards-Based Social Studies Information
Pioneers (History Comes Alive)