A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Our Week - With Smoky Air

Please pray for all the firefighters battling the California wildfires.  We're safe from the flames, but the air quality here has been Unhealthy or Very Unhealthy.  Just when I was finally feeling brave enough for us to venture out of the house for nature walks, we're stuck inside some more.  

A rare cameo appearance from Jack.  I miss having him participate with us.  I'm not really sold on Distance Learning as a good idea in general.  I don't think that much screen time is good for anyone.  Jack goes from Distance Learning to video games to watching a show.  Knowing what homeschool really is, this makes my heart ache a little.  

First, take a moment to giggle at my lovely bat illustration on the white board.  Then, you can appreciate what Hannah is doing.

She learned to use the laminator this week!  One tiny step in helping her learn to be more self sufficient.  She wanted to learn to play a specific song on the piano, so I bought her the sheet music online.  Since you can only print it once, I wanted to make sure it was durable and wouldn't get torn or destroyed.  

We talked about how tree rings are made, and the girls did crayon rubbings of the stump in our yard.  

This made me SO sad!  We've been getting bags and bags of library books lately, but they shut down curbside pickup (the libraries themselves are still closed) because of the smoke from all the wildfires.  

I remember not being impressed with this project when I did it with the older kids.  I think Eli's guys had too many arms?  Not impressed with it this time around, either.  If God plopped another round of kids in my lap someday, *and* I was homeschooling them, *and* we were using this curriculum again, I would skip this next time.  

We sorted out all the birds from our buckets of animals, and I pulled out the matching cards, to help the girls start identifying different birds.  They each picked 3 birds to research some basic facts on, and they drew those birds from looking at the toy birds.  

Someone has a wee little touch of OCD.  

The girls' binoculars came!  Our first lesson was how to put the strap on, and our second lesson was how to say "binoculars" instead of bernoculars.  

Bookmarks made from tracing "Matthew" in Greek.  The book Matthew in the Bible was written in Greek.  

The girls helped me assemble and fill the new birdbath!  The float is a solar fountain.  I'll try to remember to get a picture of it when the sun is shining on it.  

While we were out there, we noticed a feather from a blue jay.  We listened to bird sounds on YouTube this week, and blue jays were one of the birds we listened to.  I discovered I really like the YouTube videos of bird cams.  Full screen on the desktop computer, it's like having a window, with birds fluttering and chirping outside.  Very tranquil.  A little piece of the outdoors, when it's unsafe for us to actually go outside.  

Navajo sand paintings.  We also did a couple of Navajo coloring pages, Katie is reading a book about Code Talkers, and they watched a DVD about the Code Talkers, with interviews with some of the actual surviving Code Talkers themselves.  

We've finished up the two "introduction" weeks, and we're almost done with the second week of learning about the United States.  We'll start learning about Mexico soon!  We did a bit of learning about Mexico back in April, early in Shelter In Place, but we'll get to go much deeper now.  

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Our Week - With World Cakes

Salutations!  I hope your part of the world is not on fire, or raining ash.  The air quality here is awful, so we're staying inside as much as possible.  California had a massive, crazy lightning storm, and now everything is on fire.  Again.  And will continue to be, sporadically, from now until Thanksgiving.  #because2020 

Random VBS craft, and a reminder that despite the world falling apart in so many ways right now, God is still on the throne, and none of this series of disasters comes as a surprise to him.  

One of the intangible things we're working on this year is having Hannah and Katie figure things out independently.  

The book Maps & Mapping has a couple projects in the back.  I asked Katie to pick one, and she chose the treasure map.  You can't really tell, but after crumpling the paper, she painted it with a wash of brown watercolor to "age" it.  She did a great job with her grid lines, once the paper dried.  This project was a good way for her to read and follow directions and figure things out with a minimum of help from me.  

Jack started school this week, so we staged a First Day of School picture, even though the girls & I started "half days" about 10 days earlier.  

I'm a sucker for books, and a sucker for adoption fundraisers, so when a mutual friend online invited me to an online book auction, benefiting an adoptive family, I was all over that.  So we got a cheap infusion of new books for our home library.  

Which is not to say we're using the public library any less.  

In fact, last time we went to pick books up, we took the girls' clipboards and did a quick nature walk and drawing session.  I think they drew palm trees, but I don't seem to have pictures of that.  We also looked up a flower that we saw, the Canna Lily.  We observed buds and blooms, we took note of the big, striped leaves, we felt the smooth petals, and we noticed the colors we would need to draw or paint it.  

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  8 years ago, we made world cakes.  Here we are, making them again.  Different kids, same shirt.  Totally unplanned.  I gotta say, Hanna Andersson clothes wear like iron.  

Katie had just gotten out of the tub, hence the bath hair and jammies.  Our blue frosting was a lot darker this year, because I tried to use expired food coloring, and it tinted our frosting GRAY!  Fortunately, I had some of the concentrated icing coloring gel, so I squirted that in and got blue.   

Hannah's cake.  (South America)

And Katie's cake.  (Australia, Tasmania, Papua New Guinea)

I took this picture a while back, while Grumman was meowing at me to let him out the back door.  

And I had it made into a mask for Eli (Grumman is his cat) for his birthday.  I know he can't wear it in uniform, but he can wear it on weekends, in his normal people clothes.  

Speaking of Eli...  this guy?  Is all done with tech school.  He's waiting to head overseas to his first duty assignment later this year.  

Grumman continues to be a lovable distraction in the school room.  I've noticed it's easier for Katie to watch Hannah, and copy what she does, than it is for her to listen to ME and follow directions.  So we're trying a different setup, which will hopefully help her rely more on her listening skills.  

Hannah's figure it out project this week came from Great Civil War Projects.  

She chose to make a fan, with large craft sticks.  Paul helped her drill the holes in the sticks, and I provided the supplies she asked for and repeated, "Did you read the directions?" over and over again.  I look forward to seeing both girls gain thinking skills and confidence as they tackle more things on their own.  

This was my "Wait!  Wait!  You can't go eat lunch yet.  I need to find my phone and get a picture first," shot.  Neither girl is exhibiting delight with the culmination of the base of our bird feeders.  

I think they were a 3 day project, because we made them in phases.  Our supplementary science program is birds, so we're making our yard more bird friendly.  We actually saw 3 California Scrub Jays in the yard last night as we were eating dinner.  

Hopefully, we'll attract some other feathered friends to observe.  

I put the hook up, and hopped down to let Katie hang her feeder.  I guess spatial awareness isn't one of my strong suits.  

You totally can't see Katie's feeder, but it's on the other side of the post behind the hummingbird feeders.  We'll be adding a birdbath soon.  I'm looking forward to the weather cooling and the smoke dissipating (eventually) so we can enjoy the yard and hopefully observe some birds out there.  

Inspired by last night's visitors, we read about the California Scrub Jay online, and then the girls drew Jays from a how to draw birds library book.  

I know I shared Hannah's Cardinal earlier.  This is Katie's Hummingbird from that same day.  

It seems a little weird to be doing a Weekly Wrap Up style post on a Thursday, but we're done with our second week of curriculum, and will start week 3 tomorrow.  I'm sure there will come a day when something derails our planned schoolwork, so it will be nice to be a bit ahead when we have to skip a day for an appointment or illness or crankiness.  One of the things I love about homeschooling is the flexibility.  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Our (Home) School Has Started

Remember how we got a new minivan back in February, before the world fell apart?  We might not have made the same choice, if we had seen what was coming, but what's done is done, and I am pretty happy with it.  

In July, we said goodbye to our big van.  The last of the big vans for our family.  (We've had 3.)  The end of an era.  I have to admit, I had some feelings.  It was a good workhorse for us.  It never stranded me.  We were able to sell it to another large family with more kids still living at home than us.  I hope it will serve them well, too.  

After being cooped up in the house so very much lately, I took a minute to enjoy the memorial rose garden next to the post office, when I was mailing some masks.  

It felt good to take a moment by myself to just enjoy nature.  

Speaking of nature, Tuzi the bunny and Grumman enjoy getting out in nature a bit, too.  Grumman is curious about Tuzi, but hasn't been aggressive toward him.  

Grumman is an indoor cat that really wants to be an outdoor cat.  Every evening at dinner, he begs and whines for us to take him out in the yard for a little while.  

One of our first school projects were these "whosoever" posters.  The girls were supposed to cut magazine pictures of people around the world to illustrate the international love of God.  When the only magazine subscription that comes to your address is Firehouse, the pictures have a decidedly Western flair.  

We received some blank white masks, and I used my Cricut (affiliate link) to personalize this one.  I like this image file, and could see myself making t-shirts for the girls with Hello Kitty on them, too.  Maybe even decorating some cheap canvas shoes with it.  

I really wanted this Pinterest project to work.  :sigh:  I bought black glue after seeing a cute Pin, specifically to do these owls.  Since we're doing "flying creatures" for science, I thought it would be perfect.  Unfortunately, the glue is thick and the tip is thick, and we didn't have the control I was hoping for.  It came out kind of gloppy.  

I forgot to have the girls go over the eyelashes with black sharpie after the watercolor paint dried.  

If I were going to use this glue again, I would stick to super simple shapes, like a heart, or a very simplistic 6-petal flower.  It might work for window clings.  Maybe we'll try doing bat clings in October, since those are flying creatures, too.  

We've had a school mascot before.  Wheelie (the orange cat) used to love to lay in the school room sunbeam (on the floor!) while we worked.  

But Wheelie was a mature, mellow, polite gentleman of a cat (who crossed the rainbow bridge a year ago).  And Grumman is a teenager psycho kitty.  When he's not chewing on a spiral bound book, he's swatting at a moving colored pencil, or sprawling across what we're working on.  

We tried "parking lot VBS."  Socially distant church fun for kids.  

The theme was Concrete & Cranes, and the music was catchy.  Each family got a 5 gallon bucket.  Helpers put the kids' snack, papers, and craft supplies in the bucket, which I thought was a nice way of maintaining distance.  The helper moves to the next vehicle's bucket, and you can retrieve what they left for you.   

For geography, we've been discussing maps & globes, latitude & longitude, how to read a map, etc.  I let my inner Ms. Frizzle shine through with my footwear choice.  

We drew compass roses.  

And we talked about NE, SE, NW, SW, as well as the tropics, Equator, Prime Meridian, and International Date Line.  This year lays a really good foundation in geography.  

We talked about political maps and topographic maps.  This project illustrated the difficulty in making something round, like the Earth or these oranges, into a flat map.  

Which helped explain why flat maps are distorted, making Greenland appear huge, when it's really not.  

I found the girls a coloring page for the story of the Tower of Babel, and we read about God confusing the languages to cause people to spread out.  

So far, so good.  It took us slightly more than a week to complete 1 week's worth of work, minus the material from one book which I thought we had, but cannot find.  I ordered the book, and we'll make the work up when it arrives.  We're finding our groove.  It helps that it's been so hot here that the girls don't mind giving up most of their outside play time.