Monday, September 22, 2008

Cranial Helix Aspera

My son Troubles and daughter Missy love snails. They are entertained for hours by finding a snail or two and playing with them. They are very gentle and rarely ever crack a shell, let alone crush one. I don't mind this slimy pastime, as long as they wash their hands when they come in. This however, I did mind...a little bit.

But who can resist that face?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Preschool Activities

I have lots of little Lambies, along with my bigger ones. What to do with little ones while schooling the olders? This year, I am prepared!

I made up bags and bags of activities that are only for school time. I bought a three dollar clear tub to put them all in and *poof!* preschool is ready!
There are many more bags, but this gives you an idea of the activities. Most are "on-your-own" things the little ones can do by themselves while I am teaching the bigger ones in the same room.

I got ideas for the baggies contents here and here. Since I had almost all of the manipulatives already, the cost was very minimal. I purchased a bulletin board
alphabet set at our local teacher's store and punched out two of each letter. I bagged them in groups of about five for a letter identification and matching activity. Everything else came from around the house.

Troubles loves his school box. He shares the activities with the three year old I babysit most of the time, but not always. I don't make him, since it is "his school". Along with being involved in Bible time, 100 EZ Lessons, being read to by brothers and sisters and watching the older children's activities, he is busy and engaged almost all day! Throw in chores, lunch, free time and nap time comes fast!

I am finding it a joy to school seven children along with two preschoolers... and we are still getting done by 2 or 3 PM daily!

Please share how you include your preschoolers in your day!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Unofficial Year 1.5

(Originally posted on my other blog 8-3-2008)

After enjoying Year One of Ambleside Online together, I realized that my daughter
was not ready to move onto Y2. I decided I would create a Year 1.5 for her this year. My Year 1.5 is also serving as Y1 for my six year old son, for they will move together into Year 2 in the fall of 2009. I used books from the free reading list that we did not get to during Y1, and chose living books already in my library to fill the remaining subjects. Here's the booklist we'll be enjoying together:

My Year 1.5

General History
*Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla
**William Tell illustrated by Margaret Early
**The Silver Mace: A Story of Williamsburg by Maud and Miska Petersham
***Thirty More Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin (Audio CD)

American History
*Pocahontas by The D’Aulaire’s
**Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
***Our Country’s Story by Francis Cavanah

Home Geography For Primary Grades by C. C. Long (done with older siblings)

* The Little Island by Golden MacDonald (Margaret Wise Brown)
** Hill of Fire (Volcanoes) by Thomas P. Lewis
**The Buried City of Pompeii by Shelley Yanaka
***The Year of Fire by Teddy Jam and Ian Wallace
***WildFire by Evans G. Valens, Jr. illustrated by Clement Hurd

Natural History/Science
Handbook of Nature Studies for additional information
Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader 1

*Mammal/Fish Focus:
Animals Born Alive and Well by Ruth Heller
Strange Fishes of the Sea by Olive L. Earle
Fish Out of School by Evelyn Shaw
Dissect a fish from the grocery store

**Reptile/Amphibian Focus:
I Caught a Lizard by Gladys Conklin
Frogs and Toads by Herbert S. Zim
Snakes by Herbert S. Zim
Pet store visit/ friend’s house for snake visit and handling

***Bird/Insect/Invertebrate Focus:
Birds At Home by Marguerite Henry
Birds and their Nests by Olive L. Earle
The Honey Makers by Gail Gibbons
All Upon a Sidewalk by Jean Craighead George
Worms by Lois and Louis Darling

100 EZ Lessons until finished OR
Phonics Pathways
McGuffey’s Pictorial Primer

Finish Math-U-See Primer, begin Alpha

Foreign Language
Sign Language

* **The Girls’ Book of Verse compiled by Mary Gould Davis AND/OR The Boy’s Book of Verse compiled by Helen Dean Fish
*** First Poems of Childhood complied and illustrated by Tasha Tudor

*Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill
**Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
***Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

*D’Aulaire’s Norse Gods and Giants
**D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
***American Tall-Tale Animals by Adrien Stoutenburg

Virtues/Hero Stories
* **Child’s Book of Heroes by William Bennett
** ***The Children’s Book of Virtues by William Bennett

Artist Study, Folk Song, Hymn, Composer all according to the AO schedule

Free Reading
IR=Independent Reader
RA=Read Aloud

The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle RA

King of the Golden River by John Ruskin (repeat) RA

Pinocchio by C. Collodi RA

The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang RA

A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla RA

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams RA

St. George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman RA

The George and Martha Series by James Marshall IR

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren RA

Little Bear Series by Else Holmelund Minarek illustrated by Maurice Sendak IR

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes illustrated by Louis Slobodkin IR

Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand illustrated by Edward Ardizzone RA

The Plain Princess by Phyllis McGinley RA

Mother West Wind’s Children by Thornton Burgess RA

Paddington Stories IR

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Bee Farm

(Originally posted on my other blog 6-27-2008)

We took a field trip to our Bee-Guy's Warehouse. We get our local, raw honey from him, and were delighted to be invited to watch the collection process.

The hive boxes had been picked up that morning to be taken to various fields, but many, many bees were still around. They were especially thick near the line where the honey is extracted. All the children behaved just as I told them to and did not swat at the bees that came near. No one was stung during our visit; they didn't even seem to notice them after the first few minutes.

There were thousands of frames waiting to be emptied. There was lots of orange honey, some sage, even some avocado!

Here's a look at the line where the honey is extracted. The frames were put into one end of the line. They met "The Capper" which quickly saws off the wax cap that keeps the honey in the individual cells.

Then the frames go down the line and are put into a centrifuge. Many frames fit in at once. The spinning forces the honey out of the cells, onto the walls of the centrifuge. It then drains to the bottom and is collected.

The children were given spoons and allowed to taste the honey oozing out of the cells after then were opened. Yummy! We were able to taste more after it was strained, too.

We were given a bucket full of honeycomb. Most of the children liked the honey, but not chewing the wax. I guess that is a pleasure of a by-gone age.

The fragments of wax cut off the frames, and all that is removed when the frames need cleaned are collected in 50 gallon drums. Not very pretty, is it? The dark spots are dead bees.

It is heated and strained, and collected in buckets. When cooled, the wax is gathered on pallets, ready to be shipped off for candle making. Some also goes to cosmetics companies.

Here is our group in front of the warehouse.Have you any idea how hard it is to get a picture of that many little ones looking at you? Sorry to those who have silly expressions; this was the best one :) .

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Hobby Farm

(Originally posted on my other blog 5-19-2008)

We took a trip recently with some friends to another friends farm. This friend is supplying our family with fresh, fertile eggs and -wow- are they delicious! She is enjoying our homemade freshly ground wheat bread in exchange. I love barter!

Here are "our" chickens.

We discovered a duck, secreted away, laying on her eggs.

She has an aviary, complete with nesting doves, like this one, parakeets and other lovelies.
Here is a guinea hen, who gives us small, very hard shelled eggs.

Here are some adorable chicks.

And one of the many goats. He is in need of a good shearing, but he's so handsome!

Here are a few of the children near the dear donkey.

We had a great day! Thanks for the invitation, Tammy!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Dry Ice

(originally posted on my other blog 3-31-08)

My neighbor called at about 8:45 this evening with an offer I couldn't refuse. She had some leftover dry ice and was willing to give it to us. I have never shown the Lambies any, so I happily accepted. That led to an unexpected experiment at bedtime.
My eldest thought to grab and pour some of the fog (the pouring shot was blurry, though).

We will learn more about dry ice tomorrow during school time. I needed to get them to bed, since I am planning on painting tomorrow and need to get taping! I got much less done today than I had hoped!

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Visit with Diane Stanley

(Originally posted on my other blog 3-17-2008)
Recently we were blessed to be able to visit with renowned children's biography writer Diane Stanley. Her work is used extensively throughout the homeschool world. Have you used her books? She's written on Joan of Arc, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, Cleopatra and many more. We have most of her biographies.

She had a very interesting presentation; shared about her childhood, her early career as a medical illustrator and how she researches and creates her books. She travels extensively, visiting sites where the person lived and uses the actual architecture photographed to construct her paintings. Everything included in the illustrations is historically accurate down to the smallest detail. She even gave us a tour through her newest biography: Mozart. It is a lovely book with an interesting detail, his story is told through a play performed using marionettes. I learned quite a bit about him from the preview she gave.

She autographed all our many books with a kind smile and thoughtful words to the children. We enjoyed our visit with her
very much.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What My Day With AO Looks Like

(Originally posted on my other blog 2-24-2008)

I use Ambleside with six of my eight children. I have my very nearly 12 yod in Year 4, my 10 yod in Y3, my just turned 9 yod and nearly 10 yos in Y2, my 6.6 yod in Y1 and just turned 6 twins in Y0, with his twin sister listening in, but not doing any academics. I also have a 2 yos and I babysit a 2 yog.

My day can be long, as I read everything to the Y2's and under, and some to Y3 and 4, but much is done together. In fact, my older children often sit in on the stories of the youngers, since they enjoy them so much!

Here's my usual routine:
We start the day with breakfast, then clean-up, then we gather together. I read the Scripture, and the commentary (I use J. Vernon McGee) and then we practice out memory verses (currently Ps. 1) After prayer, we do math, all together. Then the older children begin their independent reading, and I call one group of kids to me for aloud reading. When they are done, I send them to do copywork or drawing and read with another group of children.

We do this until lunchtime. The older children who are not reading with me play things with and supervise the babies quietly. I have certain toys and activities set aside for schooltime. They are usually within eyesight of me.

After lunch and clean-up, we gather together for more together studies, like Shakespeare, Pilgrim's Progress, art or something, then we get back to the individual readings/work. The Babe's nap time is 2:00-2:30 until 4:00 or so, and during that time we finish up, then have free time outside if possible. I get dinner ready for 4 PM (but it's often closer to 5..). The Lambies have free time all evening, after kitchen cleanup.

I broke the AO schedules up into four days of work, and made check off sheets, so they always know what to do each day. Anything not finished by Thursday can be finished on Friday. Fridays are service day and Park Day with other homeschoolers. I haven't ever had anyone miss service projects or parkday for not finishing school.

It took awhile for us to get into the swing of this routine, but it works really well for us now! I do take one week "off" every six weeks, and use it to catch up with housework that may not get done otherwise. Things like shampooing the carpets, The Great Toy Sort, The Great Clothes Swap, gardening, painting, dusting (one of my hated chores!)etc.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Of Friends and Fellows

(Originally posted on my other blog 1-31-2008)

We have been busily finishing our last week of our second term of school. I am stunned at how fast this year is going; we have just a trimester left of our school year!

Wrapping up books is an interesting thing using Ambleside. It's like the end of a visit from a dear friend. We are saying goodbye to Otto, to Richard, and dear Emily, the poet. A. A. Milne's funny poems will be replaced with a strangers, and we won't be hearing from William, Humphrey, Arrietty, Bess, and the rest.

But, as I told my Y1 daughter, Polly, today, we can meet them again. We can go during free time and visit Christopher Robin. We'll be seeing Paddle next term, too. We will always be friends with the books we read. And we can visit any time we want!

I had to remind her that she felt the same last term about "losing" A Child's Garden of Verses. She protested getting "The World of Christopher Robin" out instead. I told her, "P
erhaps in the evenings, we can read again the lines of Robert Lewis Stevenson and swing high over the garden , but now we need to meet someone else". Now it's repeating. A. A. Milne will make way for other friends.

The turning of a page...