Monday, February 27, 2012

Week in Review

Sorry about the delay, guys. We had quite an eventful weekend and I just never found the time to write. Have you been wondering how we spent last week? How was your week? Did you celebrate Pancake Day / Shrove Tuesday? What about Ash Wednesday? Does your faith recognize Lent? Did you give something up?

Here in our home, we did recognize Pancake Day, just for fun. But, that provided an opportunity to discuss the history behind it. I explained what Lent was and we all talked about the kinds of things that we would give up if we recognized that in our family. The girls tried to convince Daddy to give up chocolate, which he (of course) said he would NEVER do. I said that I would give up Facebook (again, IF we did this in our home, which we don't). Daddy suggested that the girls would/could give up t.v. Their reaction was similar to that of his to the chocolate. And, they don't even watch much. But, they do like to watch their library movies (Benji, Lassie, Pet's Dragon, that sort of thing) when it's raining or their little shows (the Hippie loves Mythbusters, the Princess still loves Little Einsteins) in the mornings if Momma's moving slow. We talked about the reason for Pancake Day (it started as a way to use up ingredients that would not be used during Lent) and a little bit about other faiths. We talked about Lent symbolizing the sacrifice of Jesus.

This week has been sort of more relaxed. No wait, we've been relaxing steadily. That's right. I already knew that. And, I already decided that it was okay. Slow and steady. Thanks for the reminder.


Seriously though, I have been suffering from some severe allergy symptoms (yes, already). It's a catch 22 situation for me. Either I cannot function because I cannot breathe ... or I take a benadryl and then I cannot function because I am drugged and dopey. Needless to say, that makes for an interesting teacher. We did manage to squeeze in four good school days this week, even with my "condition". I didn't have real plans laid out this week. I just went with it. And, for whatever reason, I woke up Monday morning in the mood for a "math block". So, that's what we did.

So, what exactly did we accomplish this week, you ask?


The Princess learned that when two consonants come together at the end of a word, the vowel before them generally says its short sound. She got several opportunities to practice this rule through copying words and sentences that use it as well as reading words and sentences that use it. We also talked about short words with one vowel at the end and how the vowel will generally say its name (like go, be, my). I think she already knew this one inherently. She and I did a little picture study with the painting "Playing With Baby" by Francis David Millet.

The Princess read three more stories to me from her Reading-Literature The Primer book by Harriette Treadwell. This week she read "Chicken Little", "Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "Little Tuppens". She has only one more story to read and she will have finished the entire book. She's pretty stoked about that! In all honesty, she is reading pretty fluently, but I want to continue to have her read to me. I didn't really do this with her sister and I think she may have skipped along too quickly because of it. Plus, I enjoy the time the Princess and I spend together on the couch or in my bed.

The girls finished their thank you cards this week as well. If you're someone who might be expecting to receive one, please know that it is MY fault they haven't been mailed yet. The girls did their part (though I only ask them to do one per day ... I wouldn't want them to get sloppy and careless), but I have not yet addressed and mailed them.

The Hippie learned to write Hs, Js and Ks this week in cursive. She needed a little one-on-one time with the lower case k, so we took some extra time working on those together. By the end of our one-on-one session, her lower case k's looked good. On a side note, I have a vivid memory of my own elementary school experience with the lower case k in cursive. I remember clear as day doing an entire practice page incorrectly and feeling SO DEJECTED because of it. I had worked so hard, only to get that paper full of RED INK the next day. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to sit with my daughter, one-on-one and make sure she gets it right the first time.

She finished copying the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost this week. She was beyond excited about that! And, of course, she has inadvertently memorized the poem as well. She recited it for me and again for Daddy at dinner. In addition to the copywork, she worked with capitalization this week ~ capitalizing at the beginning of sentences and names.

She read a couple more chapters of The Family Under the Bridge this week and narrated each one to me. She also read "Lost! A Dog Called Bear" by Wendy Orr (in one sitting). We checked this out from the library on Thursday. It's the first one in a new series about shelter rescues. She finished Nim's Island for the bzillionth time.

I started a new book with them this week that we are LOVING! If you haven't read Twig with your children, you must. We started it on Monday and the Hippie immediately decided that she must build a Fairy House. So, she spent her "quiet time" that day building a Fairy House, complete with Fairy Furniture and a Fairy Garden. She made a sort of "For Rent" sign and placed the house and sign in my open window. She says that a family (the Carsons) moved in almost immediately.

We also continued to read Black Beauty at night. Daddy is reading this one at bedtime and I am reading Twig during the day.


The robins continue to raid our yard these days. I've enjoyed watching them ... my husband asked if I was going to become a "bird watcher". What can I say? The past few years of homeschooling have awakened a newly discovered appreciation for nature in me. I love to watch the birds and the squirrels and just admire the handywork of our Creator. As for school, we didn't "do" much in the way of Nature this week. I did read "Two True Stories about Robins" from our Outdoor Secrets book on Tuesday. I found it amusing that when I asked if they knew what state Philadelphia was in, neither child knew (don't judge ... we haven't done US Geography yet). But, when I asked if they new what football team was in Philadelphia, the Hippie didn't skip a beat before answering "the Eagles" ... like "duh". Guess that says something about my family. I'm cool with that.  :-)

While we're on the subject of geography, I guess I'll go ahead and mention that we read the chapter about Agoonack the little Esquimo girl this week in that lovely book I discovered, The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air by Jane Andrews. We read about the time when there is no sunlight at all (way up in the super cold north). We read about life in an igloo and what they eat and wear and do. We read about the Northern Lights and I was happy when the Hippie told me that was what was being described. I can't say enough great things about this book. It is just a lovely introduction to the geography of our world!


We decided to take a break from Dreambox this week and just do some actual math lessons together. I did these lessons separately with each child for the most part and made them fun, physical and artistic. It was really nice to see the light in the Hippie's eyes. She just eats up that one on one attention! Let me break down for you exactly what we did. I'll start with the Princess.

The Princess and I worked with the numbers one through three this week. She already has a good understanding of numbers and addition and math in general, but I still wanted to spend the time on the quality of numbers .. for the fun of it.


We talked about the things in the world that come in only one ~ there's only one me, one God, one sun, one world, one Human Family, one nose, one mouth, one moon (for Earth anyway). We talked about Unity  and listened to the songs One Love by Bob Marley and One Day by Matisyahu and One by Badda Skat. I told her a story about a shepherd who was trying to keep track of his sheep. He didn't have any paper or writing utensils, so he used what he had on hand ~ twigs. We used this story to illustrate how to use Roman Numerals. I wanted to go outside and draw a big ONE with chalk to have her hop, but my allergies were really bothering me, so she made a ONE with a blanket instead and jumped it ... in one hop. After all of this, she drew her ONE picture and wrote the number, the Roman Numeral and the word.


We talked about the things in the world that come in pairs ~ two eyes, two parents, two dogs, two cats, two sisters (all in our family). We talked about pairs and opposites. We revisited our shepherd story and made the Roman Numeral II with two twigs. We also used two jewels to demonstrate the only ways that TWO can be divided ~ 2 is 2+0, 2 is 1+1 and 2 is 0+2. After all of this, she drew her TWO picture and wrote the number, the Roman Numeral and the word. She also wrote out the equations for ONE and TWO.


Today we took our work outside into the beautiful day. First of all, the Princess and I tossed an orange back and forth while reviewing the math facts for ONE and TWO and we went ahead and added in the ones for THREE (as I said, she already knows this stuff). We looked around the yard for things that came in threes ~ three palm trees, three robins in the yard, etc. She collected three leaves and three rocks and we talked about the things in the world that come in threes ~ three sides to a triangle, three leaves on a clover, three primary colors. We drew these things on the driveway and the Princess drew a giant ONE, TWO and THREE. She hopped them forwards and backwards and we spent some time marching and clapping our way down the driveway, counting by fives and tens to a hundred. We also counted forward and backwards up to ten. We revisited our shepherd story and made the Roman Numeral III with three twigs. Finally, we used three rocks to demonstrate the ways that THREE can be divided ~ 3 is 3+0, 3 is 2+1, 3 is 1+2 and 3 is 0+3. After all of this, she drew her THREE picture and wrote the number, the Roman Numeral and the word.

The Hippie and I moved a bit more quickly, just reviewing.

On the first day, we worked with 1-4. We talked about some of the same things I mentioned above (with the Princess). We used four jewels to show the ways we could make up ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR. She drew her pictures for the numbers one through four and wrote out the addition facts for those four numbers. Easy Peasy.

On the second day, we tossed an orange back and forth while we reviewed all of the math facts for 1 through 4. Of course, we spent most of the time chasing the orange around the kitchen. After we'd reviewed the previous days' numbers, we talked about and made all of the possibilities for FIVE and SIX. We used jewels to show all the possible addition facts and then she drew her picture for FIVE and SIX.

On the third day, we headed outside to review what we'd covered for ONE through SIX and to work with the number SEVEN. We tossed that orange back and forth some more, chanting addition facts to each other. She gathered up some rocks and we used them to also work through the multiplication facts for 2, 4 and 6.  After all of the review, we talked about the number SEVEN and what significant things come in sevens ~ Seven days of creation, Seven days of the week, Seven colors in the rainbow. We used the rocks to determine all of the addition facts for SEVEN and wrote them out on the driveway in chalk. The Hippie drew seven objects on the driveway and then hopped them while counting forward and backwards from 1 to 7 and 7 to 1. After all of the fun, she came inside and drew her picture for SEVEN.


We enjoyed the book and audio this week for The Orchestra by Mark Rubin. The girls sat on the couch together with the book while I played the audio CD of the same book, a dramatic telling done by Peter Ustinov. It really does a good job of introducing all of the instruments and the terminology. We also played classical music on Pandora all week when we were doing "schoolish" things.


As I said at the beginning of this post, we did celebrate Pancake Day on Tuesday. After our normal school day, we read aloud If You Give a Pig a Pancake together and then made .... drumroll ... you guessed it ... PANCAKES for lunch. Here are a few pictures of the fun.

We finished off our week with our homeschool group at the library. The moms got the next six months planned out while the kids worked on their scrapbooks and played together. After we were finished, we headed into the children's section and checked out some more books.

That about sums up our week. Have a wonderful week. I'll leave you with some random pictures that didn't make it into the rest of the post.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Time ... and a recipe

To commemorate finishing our recent bedtime read-aloud, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, we enjoyed a nice family night of build-your-own-pizza and a movie last night. I know it's not exactly like Lewis Carroll's version, but we decided to watch the newer Disney one with Johnny Depp in it. The girls fixed their own pizzas and we watched the movie on the couch with popcorn. It was actually a really great version! Here are a few shots of our evening.

If you're wondering how to make these yourself, they are super easy and your kids will love to make their own!


Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Crushed Tomatoes with Basil
Dash of Garlic Powder, Oregano and Red Pepper Flakes
Your Favorite Toppings ~ We used spinach, natural black olives, mushrooms (that I sauteed in butter with a pinch of Sea Salt first), purple onion, bell pepper and tomato
Shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to about 425 or 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with Olive Oil spray (just so the pitas don't stick). Place pita on sheet, spread with crushed tomatoes and desired seasonings (I left the red pepper flakes off of the girls' pizzas). Sprinkle a single layer of cheese on top of the sauce and then let your kids go to town with the fixins. Sprinkle some more cheese on top and bake until the cheese melts or the pizzas are to your liking. Top with grated Parmesan and more red pepper if you like. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week in Review

Well folks, we've come to the end of another week. What have you been up to? Did you celebrate Valentine's Day with your sweetie? What about with your kids? How was your weather? Were you well?

We had one of those weeks where the weather is gray and dreary. You know, it makes you feel very BLAH. Your motivation has gone wherever it is that the sun goes on those days.

Surprisingly, though, our school week was rich and productive. I am a slow learner, but I am finally realizing that if I just stop beating myself up about PLANS I may make but don't keep and just go. with. the. flow of my family, then things go quite beautifully. I have to teach myself that it may be helpful to outline the year and plan the week in detail, but when we stray from the plans, it is absolutely OKAY.

So, what exactly did we accomplish this week, you ask?


The Princess and I read a poem entitled "Harvest Time" by William Byron. We talked about the different seasons and she told me some of her favorite things about autumn. I asked her why she thinks autumn is also called "fall" and she didn't skip a beat before telling me it was because leaves were falling from the trees. I then had her draw a fall picture and this is one of her and her sister playing with a pile of leaves. That is her jumping in the air, hair flying and all.

We also talked about vowels. I reminded her of the story to remember the vowels ("Lady I owe You") and we talked about how when two vowels come together in a word, the first one says it's name and the second one stays quiet. She got quite a bit of practice reading and copying words that follow this rule.

The Princess read the story "The Pancake" aloud to me from her Reading-Literature The Primer book.

She also read a lot to herself. She finished the third horse book she got for Christmas in two days ("Penny") and read some more about dolphins. She also spent a little time blogging this week.

Both girls got a bit of letter writing practice this week. They've been working on writing their thank yous for the various gifts they got from family and friends for Valentine's Day. The Princess is really moving along. She was so proud of herself that she could write them fairly quickly and felt confident not to ask me how to spell everything. Of course, she misspelled words once or twice, but she spelled them exactly the way they sound. It's not her fault the English language can be so frustrating. :-) She is really learning the punctuation rules (naturally), too. It's so cute ~ when she reads the cards to me, she actually says "Dear So and So COMMA ... blah blah blah PERIOD."

The Hippie learned to write Ds, Fs and Gs this week in cursive. She had a little trouble with the Gs, so we took some extra time working on those together. By the end of our one-on-one session, her lower case g's looked as good as mine (or better).

She also continued to copy the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. Funny thing is, even though this was not intended to be one she memorized, she is finding that she is memorizing it just the same. I guess that's what happens when you revisit the same poem day after day. I told her that I memorized that poem as a child, so we would have one that we could "share". She thought that was pretty cool.

She read three chapters of The Family Under the Bridge this week and narrated each one to me. She's finding that even though this book was "assigned" by me, she likes it a lot. She also read "Dolphin Adventure: A True Story" in one sitting and has been working her way through Nim's Island and Nim at Sea for the bzillionth time.

As a family, we finished up both of our literature read alouds this week. We read the remaining chapters of "Little House in the big Woods" and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". We started our next read aloud this week as well, "Black Beauty".

We've had a TON of birds in our yard and nearby lately. Noisy birds. Like, Alfred Hitchcock birds. Luckily, I recognized that the birds in our yard were robins, so I took it upon myself to skip ahead and read about the robins in the Burgess Bird Book and Outdoor Secrets. We spent a good deal of time on robins on Thursday. We read chapter five in the Burgess Bird Book while the girls colored pictures of robins with the correct markings. We watched several videos of robins and listened to their calls and songs on the computer. Of course, we watched and listened in our own yard as well. I decided to read them "The Rainy Day Sermon" from Outdoor Secrets on Friday. It is a cute little story about a robin.

The Hippie's Robin Page

The Princess's Robin Page
For whatever reason, the girls wanted to keep on listening to the Burgess Bird Book, so we ended up reading four chapters instead of one. At this point we have read chapters one through six and made three entries into our Bird Books (house wrens, English sparrows and now robins).

In other Nature News this week, the girls received these really awesome gifts from Postcarden for Valentine's Day (thank you, Aunt K). The girls put together these little postcard cities on Tuesday, sprinkled in the seeds that came with it and then watered them and placed them in the window. They've EXCITEDLY checked their gardens each morning, watered them and marveled at how quickly they sprouted and then grew leaves and then began to grow taller. It has been the highlight of each day to watch it grow.

They also found a snail yesterday and proceeded to create a habitat for it. They had me google "What do Snails Eat?" and set up a small bucket with their snail, some rocks, some leaves, some moss and grass and, of course, some water. This morning, they went out to check on it and feed it some fresh leaves and make sure it had water. They were tickled to discover that it was upside down, attached to the bucket that they had placed as a top. I guess it's the newest family pet. Of course, I drew the line at allowing the snail to watch Pete's Dragon with them this morning. I deal with enough with two dogs and two cats inside my house. I have to draw the line somewhere ... and a snail seemed the proper place to draw the line.


The girls each spent about an hour or so on Dreambox this week, doing lessons for about 20 minutes each time, three times this week.

The Princess is spending a lot of time building numbers on the abacus. The game will show her a number (not the number, but the configuration on the abacus) and then hide it and ask her to build the number herself and tell what the number is. The idea is for her to be able to quickly SEE that there are 6 tens and 7 ones instead of having to count them. She is doing well, but often adds an extra ten. Like she will count 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and then SAY 70 before adding the 7 ... so she'll think it is 77 instead of 67. She has to learn to slow down and NOT say that next number if there aren't ten of them. She's getting there.

The Hippie is solving problems by looking at equal expressions within bigger ones. She is also skip counting forwards and backwards by jumping on a number line. She is also working with addition at the moment. I think I may take a break from Dreambox next week and practice her addition facts with her via games and movement. Knowing them cold will help her immensely with the more complicated addition she is dealing with on Dreambox. She seemed to get a little frustrated yesterday and I don't want her to develop any math phobia.

In addition to Dreambox, the girls got some math in when we made cookies on Valentine's Day. I decided I didn't want to make four dozen cookies, so we were halving the recipe I was following. We had to determine what half of 48 was. The girls had to count by 2s up to 24. We had to determine what half of 1/2 Cup was. We added fractions to determine what half of 1 1/2 Cup was (1 is the same as 4/4 and 1/2 is the same as 2/4 so 1 1/2 is the same as 6/4 ... 1/2 of 6 is 3, so 1/2 of 1 1/2 is 3/4 ... complicated stuff).


The girls and I spent some time together on Monday making our Valentines for Daddy. I traced their hands and they made "Hands down, you're the best" cards for Daddy. This year, I wrote out little reasons that I love him and placed them in a jar. It was supposed to be "100 Things I Love About You", but I couldn't stop at 100. I also traced MY feet and made him a little card that said he was my "Sole Mate".

We enjoyed a lovely morning on Valentine's Day. Luckily, it was a late day for Daddy (he didn't have to be in until 9am), so we exchanged all of our Valentines (the girls had also made things for me and for each other) and had breakfast together as a family.

Notice the HEARTS on the mirror in the background ... drawn by the Hippie

The girls spent one morning making eco-friendly vehicles out of legos. The Hippie's was called the "Eco Boost" and, I have to tell you, the explanations she was giving about how things worked were astounding. Maybe she will grow up and help save the planet by developing some cool eco-technology. In addition to legos, they spent some time cleaning out and rearranging their dollhouse and then built their tree house yesterday.

We finished off our week with a trip to the library and some good old-fashioned kids movies. They checked out Rikki Tikki Tavi, Lassie Come Home and Pete's Dragon. The Hippie thought it was cool to learn that Rikki Tikki Tavi was actually a book written by Rudyard Kipling (we also checked out the book and she read that yesterday).

That about sums up our week. Now, for some family time. It's the weekend and Daddy is off. Yippee.

Have a great week! I'll leave you with some random pictures that didn't make it into the rest of the post.

By the way, in case you were wondering, we do brush our hair once in a while (well, except for Daddy). It seems we did most of our school in pajamas this week ... with MESSY hair. Like I said, it was a gray and rainy kind of a week. Don't judge. :-)

Notice the Ruby Red Slippers ... with the pajamas

Artwork with grapefruit ... a cross
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