Saturday, May 30, 2009

Full Plate

(photo is from Sonshine Christian Academy's end of school year banquet held a couple weeks ago)

Yes, I'm still alive. My days have been full and busy.

FPEA convention was well worth the trip. Attending with my sister and a friend made the convention much more fun! Plus, mom and dad came along just for fun!

The school year has come to an end and changes are ahead.

Zack will be transferring to a new school.

Elijah is wrapping up 5th grade and we are considering putting him in 7th next year. (he'll be 12 in July)

Becca is mostly done with 8th grade, but is getting a head start on high school classes. We want to have an official celebration party for her as soon as she finishes her 8th grade studies. (soon!)

Nate and James are busy, growing....boys. 'Nuff said.

Rob is to begin college in the fall.

See why I'm taking life one day at a time? That's about all I can handle! And that is all God requires of me!

Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself.
Matthew 6:34

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm in Love!

I have been looking forward to the Florida Parent's Education Association Convention next week, and in preparation have been doing lots of research. I want to know before hand what I plan on purchasing for curriculum and check around for the best deal. I have been considering more of a living books style learning for Eli next year and found a couple possibilities. One was Beautiful Feet books for history and geography. They aren't cheap, so when a fellow homeschooler put her sets up for sale at half price, I snatched them right up! I'm SO glad I did and consider it my best purchase of the year!

As soon as I got home, I pulled out the geography set. I figured if Elijah wanted, he could begin it right away. I knew he wouldn't want to begin the history just yet, so I set that aside. I read the first chapter of the first book, Paddle to the Sea. I nearly cried as I read it! Stupid, I know, but I knew I was on to something! The setting for this story written in 1941, is the Great Lakes. I knew that this would be a book that Eli wouldn't want me to stop reading to him once I began. Then I opened the tube of maps that came with the set. They are the most beautiful maps I have ever seen! Heavy, parchment-like paper, beautifully illustrated, bordered and BIG! As we go through the book, he will fill in details with colored pencils. They are "frame and hang on the wall" quality maps! And, there is a map for each book! All four books (John Newbery Medal books) with this set are by the same author and are beautifully illustrated. After reading the first chapter about an Indian boy who carves out an Indian in a canoe to float from his home on Lake Nipigon, north of Lake Superior with the goal of letting the Indian "Paddle to the Sea" I read it aloud to Rob to get his opinion. His jaw dropped! He grabbed the book out of my hands and looked through it quickly. He said when he was a boy in Alaska, they watched a movie (film, at that time) on this story and he has never forgotten it!

I decided to google the title of the book to see if there might be a copy of the film floating around somewhere. Would you believe I found a link where you can watch the movie and read the book as well? Click HERE to see for yourself. (after you click on the book, keep clicking on it to turn the pages) You can also find the movie broken into 3 parts on You Tube. It's a forgotten classic! Apparently, children watched this movie when they studied The Great Lakes in school as part of their curriculum. So, YES! I'm in love with this set and can't WAIT to watch Elijah's notebook and maps take shape over the next year with both of these series!

Friday, May 1, 2009

U.S. History Co-op

One of the joys of homeschooling is getting together with other families to share the "burden" of teaching a subject and also making it a lot more fun for the kids. I have previously avoided co-ops because of either time conflicts or because there weren't any being held close by. This year a U.S. History co-op was held in Palm City and the time worked out for us to be able to join in. The reading material was taken from The Little House on the Prairie books. So each week there was a reading assignment and we had a Q&A session at the beginning of each class. From that base, we studied many things surrounding that time period. (1860) The kids studied Lincoln, slavery, grasshopper invasions, history of trains, industrial revolution, Civil War, battles, Indians and much, much more! The big projects that the kids had to do were an art depiction of either a battle or person from that time, a newspaper from the 1860's, and a report in which they had to interview an elderly person about their past. The kid's notebooks are jam-packed with things they have learned this year about the 1800's in the U.S.

The children were divided up into three groups, by age. This is the youngest group (with Nate and James) learning about the 5 senses. (This stems from the part of the story where Mary Ingalls goes blind) They are getting ready to guess what is in the cups by smelling.

This was one of the most creative classes for this age, and by far Nate and James' favorite day at co-op. Check out this piece of art. The hands are cut from sandpaper (traced around my boy's hands), the cotton puff nose had perfume on it, the ears are bells and the mouth is licorice. These papers are hanging at home now, but the mouths have been eaten by James.

This is the middle aged group, doing an art project to go along with the lesson on the meeting of the railroads. (Pacific and Atlantic)

The oldest class filling in their answer sheets as they watch a documentary on the railroad.

Back to the little ones. They were all given a canister to shake and guess what is inside by listening only.

The favorite of the 5 senses....smell! They had to sniff these cookies! This must have been pure torture for these guys! Actually, it was amazing to me how different and strong these cookies smelled. There was ginger, cinnamon, lemon and chocolate mint. Such a difficult class!

The very attentive class!

Some of the art projects. Rebecca's is in the middle on the chair. She chose to depict Harriet Tubman. Her poster had photos of Harriet and quotes she is famous for. She had some very interesting things to say! My favorite: "I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger." If you know anything about this part of our history, you know she is talking about the underground railroad and the passengers are the slaves escaping to freedom. Rebecca also made a small quilt to go with her poster. Tradition says that quilts were used as signals to the slaves on the run. The pattern in the quilt gave directions to them as they escaped north.

Elijah with his art project. He chose to depict a battle scene in a diorama.

This same day, we had two men come from the Mussel Loaders to talk to the kids and to show them Civil War era artifacts. The kids were totally fascinated!

Elijah and Michael with Michael's diorama.

Attentiveness at it's best!

The gun in the Mussel Loader gentleman's hand is exactly the type of gun used to assassinate President Lincoln. Tiny, isn't it?

On the last day of our co-op, this past Tuesday, all the children dressed up in their period (or not so period) outfits. This is the youngest group. They were singing a song about life on the farm. Nate decided to do his own version of the song.

Their teacher, Stacy Jones, gave them each a certificate of completion and a little trophy with a peanut in it. (because she was "nuts" about them!)

The oldest group was given a flag to take home and also a certificate of completion.

This is all three groups together! I have to tell you a little story about the flags. When Stacy Efinger went to Walmart to purchase the flags, a lady approached her and asked her why she was looking at the flags. Stacy explained that she was buying them for each of the older students who had participated in the co-op and completed their notebook assignments. The lady walked away after their conversation only to come back a couple minutes later. She handed Stacy a $10 bill and told her that she appreciated Stacy teaching the class about U.S. History and helping them to be proud of their country. She has a son who is currently serving overseas and she wanted to donate the money towards the flags in honor of her son. We were all moved to tears over this story and we all intend to PRAY for this young man's safe return! He has one awesome mother waiting for him!

God Bless America!!!