Shabby Blog Wheels on the Bus

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Eye of God craft

One of the kids' favorite parts of our Spanish curriculum is the bonus activities, crafts and recipes that La Clase Divertida includes in their kits.

We recently learned about the Ojo, or the Eye of God. This craft/object is commonly found among the Huichol Indians of northwestern Mexico. It's based on their belief that the Ojo, God's eye, will watch over them as they live and sleep.

We took the dowels and rainbow yarn that came in the craft kit and set to work. 

It didn't take long for me to realize that Mr. Tinker was very, very good at it! He spun the dowel X around and around and wove the rainbow thread as he went. Tying a knot at the end, he proudly presented to me the finished product! They hung on our Christmas tree during the holiday season, but now they're hanging on doorknobs in the kids' rooms. Fun and, for Mr. Tinker, very easy!

Want to make your own? Here are some directions -- enjoy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

How Pinterest Helps Homeschooling

Do you Pinterest yet?

I am hooked!

I love looking at it for inspiration, as well as sharing neat things I find with others. For visual folks like me, it's a gem.

Tonight I assembled a Pinterest board of books for boys, recommendations from other moms as well as some of our favorites right now.

(My Pinterest page also has several other homeschool-related well as some just for fun!)

(My husband I insists I should backup my Pinterest images on Evernote in the unlikely event that Pinterest crashes and loses everything -- or simply dries up. He's probably right.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Q & A with the Kids

Every once in a while, I love to participate in one of those Q & A activities with the kids. You know the ones -- you ask your child questions about something, and you record their honest answers, word for word. Sometimes their answers can be quite entertaining!

Here are the answers the kids gave to a list of questions I stumbled across on someone else's blog....questions about me, their mom. I asked them these questions months ago -- but stowed them away in an email file and just uncovered them today. It was fun to read back through them!

Miss Artsy:

1. What is something mom always says to you? ("Go to bed.")
2. What makes mom happy? ("I don't know.")
3. What makes mom sad? ("When I say I don't want to play.")
4. How does your mom make you laugh? ("Tickles me!)
5. What was your mom like as a child? ("I don't know.")
6. How old is your mom? ("33.")
7. How tall is your mom? ("I don't know.")
8. What is her favorite thing to do?  ("Get food ready; work on the computer.")
9. What does your mom do when you’re not around?  ("I think she goes to sleep when it's night-night. Also makes my bed.")
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? ("When she wins lots of medals.")
11. What is your mom really good at? ("Standing on her head.")
12. What is your mom not very good at? ("Playing LEGO games on the Wii.")
13. What does your mom do for her job? ("Brushing my teeth and telling me to go potty.")
14. What is your mom’s favorite food? ("Guacamole ("gwats-ta-moley")!")
15. What makes you proud of your mom? ("When there's present and surprises coming!")
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? ("Tom & Jerry.")
17. What do you and your mom do together? ("Girly stuff like looking for girly clothes.")
18. How are you and your mom the same? ("We both have long hair.")
19. How are you and your mom different? ("We have different kind of looking faces.")
20. How do you know your mom loves you? ("From saying special songs about loving.")

Mr. Tinker:

1. What is something mom always says to you? ("I love you so many; sweet dreams; don't forget to wash your hands after you finish doo-dooing.") ;)
2. What makes mom happy? ("When I gave her the clear umbrella; saying "I love you.")
3. What makes mom sad? ("When I feel bad; when I don't want to do stuff; when I say I'm scared.")
4. How does your mom make you laugh? ("When she tickles me; when she says silly things.")
5. What was your mom like as a child? ("She had red hair; she had a kids' voice; she wore hairbows all the time; she liked dress-upping; she had a pink room.")
6. How old is your mom? ("33.")
7. How tall is your mom? ("25 feet and 2 inches.")
8. What is her favorite thing to do? ("To rest, close her eyes, not get headaches; She likes to eat with me; she likes to lay in the sun.")
9. What does your mom do when you’re not around? ("She goes shopping; she takes vacations sometimes; she washes clothes.")
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? "I don't know.")
11. What is your mom really good at? ("Making my bed; cooking.")
12. What is your mom not very good at? ("Driving a tractor; not good at doing difficult controls on a remote-controlled car.")
13. What does your mom do for her job? ("She puts toothpaste on my toothbrush; she cooks food; she turns on the TV; takes care of us while Daddy's at work.")
14. What is your mom’s favorite food? ("Soup.")
15. What makes you proud of your mom? ("She gives me ice cream and makes me jell-o.")
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? ("Phineas & Ferb's mom.")
17. What do you and your mom do together? ("She watches me do Legos.")
18. How are you and your mom the same? ("We both have freckles.")
19. How are you and your mom different? ("She's a girl and I'm a boy; she wears pretty clothes and I wear cool clothes.")
20. How do you know your mom loves you? ("She takes care of me; she gives me water at night.")

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On Reading

Both of the kids are reading fluently now.

It may seem like this for everyone -- but to me, it seems like this just happened overnight.

One day I'm teaching phonic sounds and the next they're reading entire books aloud to me and their daddy. It will never get old, and I'll never get over the fact that I helped teach them to read!

Of course, they need motivation to learn, as well -- nearly every child does. I've learned what type of subjects they like to read about and supply them.

In Mr. Tinker's case, he LOVES Snap Circuits -- it's his favorite toy of choice right now. (Has been for a year.) He sharpened his reading skills reading Snap Circuit technical manuals. He eats it up! In no time he was reading words with ease such as "indicator," "display," and "diode."

Miss Artsy loves to read 1) girly things and 2) books about animals. I keep her pretty stocked on Dr. Seuss books, as well as Fancy Nancy and Mo Willems titles, as well.

Here are some of her favorites:

Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman

Cat the Cat Who Is That? by Mo Willems

Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever

Dude: Fun with Dude and Betty by Lisa Pliscou

Dick and Jane stories

Eloise Wilkin Stories

What I have found is that it's a lot easier to find books that our daughter loves to read than it is to find books for our son. He wants nothing girly, nothing animal-themed, nothing too "babyish." Most everything in the subject matter he likes (adventure stories, science, fantasy) is a bit past his reading level. Just more incentive to keep on learning!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Art lessons with Daddy

My husband had surgery for a ruptured disc two weeks ago, and so he's been working (and resting) from home.

Kind of nice, I must say, since he's much better at art instruction than I am. (I dig the crafty stuff, just not so much the instructional and technical parts of art.)

We're using the book Drawing with Children, a wonderful resource recommended by My Father's World's curriculum.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Did you know...

...that a rolled-up piece of copy paper can support a heavy textbook?

I do now.

To show how smart the Greeks and Romans were in their architecture plans, we demonstrated to the kids how columns can support large amounts of weight.

I admit, even I was a bit skeptical until I saw the results.

(We even added a 2nd textbook and it held, too.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another reason...

...that I adore homeschooling:

It's uber-flexible.

This week and last we've been thrown a curve ball: My husband ruptured a disc in his spine and will be undergoing surgery this Thursday. I've been carrying the load of two parents for the past few days, as well as being nursemaid -- and this will continue on into next week. BUT! Homeschool allows for weeks like this. We don't have to have formal sit-down lessons in the school room. This week it's been more comfortable to do our work in the living room -- in our pajamas, even.

We can start early and finish early, or start late and work into the afternoon -- depending on our family's schedule and needs during crazy weeks like this one.

I am happy to report that, despite the chaos, the kids have been super focused and have managed their time very well. What they're learning is sticking. Some of the evidence? Overhearing our daughter teaching what she's been learning to her stuffed animals in her own play "classroom." 

My heart is happy. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Greek Column Hunt

As we were wrapping up our unit on the ancient Greeks, we discussed the three types of Greek columns (in regards to architecture): Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.

We went all over town and "hunted" buildings with columns, then the kids shouted out what type of columns they saw on each.

I snapped photos of each one, then printed them on plain paper at home and let them label them again for their history notebooks.

We will never look at columns the same way again!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Football Field Trip

One of the best things, one of the things I love the most, about homeschooling is how you can extend learning far out of the classroom.

Extra things that, before, were just "activities" can be counted as field trips and educational excursions.

A couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to their first ever live football game. It was our old high school's team, and the kids have been asking to go forever (every time we passed the school, which in our small town, is often).

Before long the kids had been versed in real-time football play terms and vocabulary. Mr. Tinker obsessed over the numerous clocks and timers; Miss Artsy sharpened her social skills and made some friends. And it was FUN.

Who says learning can't be?! ~~

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banana Pops Made Easier

One of our favorite snacks? Banana pops. Though we really love Diana's Banana Babies, they're not always on sale. So, many times we make our own when we have a notion for this healthy-ish, frozen snack!

Here are my tips for making them easier to make:

1) Be sure to use the wide, curved, short wooden sticks, found at most craft stores. They hold the banana better than traditional popsicle sticks.

2) After inserting the sticks, freeze the banana halves FIRST before ever starting to tip into chocolate.

3) Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave -- semisweet chocolate works best. Then pour into a tall, skinny glass; easier to coat the bananas this way.

4) If you are going to roll the pops in sprinkles, nuts, etc., be sure you do this immediately after dipping each one. The frozen bananas set the chocolate extremely fast, and if you wait, the toppings won't adhere.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Los Plantanos!

To celebrate the culture of many Spanish-speaking countries, we made Los Plantanos Fritos last week: Fried Plantains!

Wasn't too sure whether the kids would like them or not....but they DID! I thought G was going to make himself sick off of them!

Though los plantanos can be topped with a variety of things, we found out that powdered sugar is the topping of choice in our household.

Want to make Los Plantanos Fritos at your house? Here's how.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Best Freebies We've Found

Everybody loves freebies, right?

I've put together a small list of some of our family's favorite freebies.

Publix Preschool Pals.

If you have a child under 5 and have a Publix grocery store near you (and chances are you do if you live on the Eastern side of the US), I highly recommend signing up for Publix Preschool Pals. Not only do you receive coupons (that are really good ones) and newsletters full of tips as your child grows, every month your child receives a small prize in the mail. By far our favorite was the Preschool Pals CD-ROM, which included some very well-made interactive, educational games.

Lego Club and Lego Club Jr. Magazines

If your child loves Lego, then he/she would adore the free Lego Club Magazine (and Lego Club Jr. for smaller builders). With comic strip stories, jokes, fan photo submissions, and monthly building contests, this is a magazine that our kids anxiously await the arrival of each month!

Your Story Hour's "Adventures in the Holy Bible" Program

I grew up listening to Your Story Hour's dramatized Bible story cassette tapes! These didn't survive my childhood so that I could pass them down to my two, so I was thrilled to see that Your Story Hour has a new program for kids that lets them work to collect the Life of Jesus CDs: The "Adventures in the Holy Bible" program! Every time your child completes a set of Bible quizzes based on booklets sent their way, they receive a CD (or mp3 download) from the Life of Jesus collection. Mr. Tinker just completed the 13-part program, and he received this nifty CD binder in the mail this week!

Inter-Library Loans

Did you realize that your library has a wealth of available books, CDs, audiobooks, DVDs, and videos? Okay -- maybe not your local branch....but thanks to a little something called "inter-library loans" (ILLs), you can gain access to most every item in your entire state's library collection -- most likely for no cost at all. We are enjoying so many audiobooks and hard-to-find books this way, shipped to our local branch from other branches state-wide. I request a hold online, and within a few days our local library calls to let me know I have items available for pick-up. Can't beat this!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Las Vocales

One of the first things the kids learned via La Clase Divertida, our Spanish curriculum this year, are the vowels -- las vocales -- and their sounds.

Here is the little song they learned to help them remember:

Las Vocales en Espanol from Megret on Vimeo.

Muy bien, muchachos!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pretty excited....

....about the two books that I just bought to read:

I'm a mega huge fan of Sally Clarkson and have heard amazing things about this particular book of hers. And Andreola's CM Companion has been on my "to read" list for years, the ultimate handbook for classical style schooling. It's about time I did!

Egg = The Brain

One of the "Try This" projects in our Apologia Anatomy & Physiology text was comparing an egg to a brain.

The kids dropped two raw eggs into a plastic container and then went crazy, running and shaking, then finally dropping them onto the pavement!

It didn't take long for the "brain" to succumb to such abuse:

We repeated the experiment after adding a new egg and water to the top of the container, acting as the skull and surrounding fluid to cushion any blows. (No pictures of the result -- my camera battery died! -- but the eggs came out just fine this time.)

Learning about Ancient Egypt!

I must say, the chapters on Ancient Egypt in our Winter Promise Hideaways in History curriculum were big hits with the kids!

We learned all about the Egyptians' early paper making, which they did by weaving together flattened riverbed reeds. G didn't want to stop this project!

We also "mummified" some of our favorite stuffed animal friends....

...and read all about what was involved in the mummification process. (One word: Yuck.)

Last but not least, Ken helped the kids construct a giant pyramid out of boxes. Not only do stuffed animals enjoy this hideaway, but Mittens the cat does, too...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Anatomy & Physiology

This week the kids focused on learning (in science):

1) The difference between anatomy and physiology

2. The scientific advances of various peoples in history (Greeks, Hebrews, Europeans, etc.)

3. The parts of the cell

They also created a rotating "cell wheel" and cell parts vocabulary flip cards, which aren't pictured.

Next week we'll be starting on the skeletal system!