10 November 2010

Tuesdays with Tiffany....on Wednesday

...and a spotlight on Isaac's obsession, Geography!

Isaac's first "State Journal Page"...Objective is for him to draw the state, put a star on the capitol, and write a simple sentence about the state.  He has to make up his own sentence.

Pennsylvania: The Keystone State. And, yes, he even knows what a keystone's job is.  At my last inquiry of him about what a keystone is, he answered  very matter of factly, "It keeps things from falling apart, like Jesus keeps my heart from falling apart!"

New Jersey. He didn't write a sentence here, but he did make sure to draw Thomas Edison and the light bulb!

Georgia: The picture to the far left is a peanut plant, next  to it a peach tree, then a peach and peanut.  The train you see is the "state train of Georgia" called the "Peach Glider".  He didn't draw a star for Atlanta, but who knows why?!

This is his first time to come up with such a "real" sentence!  "Peaches and Peanuts grow in Georgia!"

Connecticut: It is the Nutmeg State.  I know the river is mislabeled, but I just wrote what Isaac told me. He's so rarely wrong about these things, that I took his word for it!  There really is a river though that divides the state in half!

Massachusetts: It is the Bay State.  This is his first time doing the copying without some amount of guidance. A few misspellings, but altogether, not bad for a 4 year old!

We haven't gotten to this state, yet, but Isaac made the landscape of Arizona. The cross looking things are cacti, the "wood floor" is the dessert sand, and the circle train track is going around the Grand Canyon!

We can't do Geography without trains!

This is a fabulous site called Sheppard Software.  It has great games and activities from pre-school to high school!  We'll skip a few things on their site, but overall, we love it!

 This is a video of Isaac playing one of the geography games. He gets the general outline of the United States, and then has to click on the space the state that they tell him is in!  He does a really good job with this!

13 October 2010

When Mom's Away


11 October 2010

Muffin Tin Monday

This week marks our first Muffin Tin Monday! The basic idea - food in a muffin tin. It's intended to change up the mealtime routine (what routine?) and can be breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, dessert, whatever!

The theme this go-around is Pumpkins, so here's our entry.

Clockwise from the left, we have a Happy Pumpkin bologna sandwich, three mellocreme pumpkin candies, a stack of mandarin oranges with an onion sprout stem, homemade pumpkin bread sticks, and yogurt with pumpkin purée. Of course, Isaac started with the candies.

Apples, carrots, and now pumpkins. Don't you just love fall?

They help you see in the dark, don't they?

The weather this past week in Southeast Michigan has been absolutely gorgeous. Cass Lake weather, we would call it - sunny and mid-60s/70s in the day, 40s and high 30s at night (good sleeping weather). It's this type of weather that makes me miss being in an office all day *so much* </sarcasm>

Anyway, so I took advantage of the day and did some fall clean-up around the garden beds. As I was pulling dead leaves and weeds out of the raised bed, I found some of the carrots that we planted (at Isaac's behest, though he won't eat carrots to save his life) back in the late spring. Not expecting much, I tugged at the tuft of green and found a tiny little carrot, about half as long as my pinky and not much bigger around.

Yay, a carrot! That I grew! Nobody famous once said, "Food never tastes so good as when you have raised/grown/cooked it yourself." Or they should have, at least.

Continuing with the garden cleaning, I pulled up the netting that we had placed over the sown carrot seeds to deter little munchy creatures from going all Peter Rabbit on our garden. If you ever want to harvest carrots easily, install plastic netting over them when you sow. The tops grow up through the netting, and when you pull it up, zzzzipp!, up come all the carrots at once!

But Zeb, I didn't know you could grow pre-sized baby carrots? Yours are so cute!

I will confess that I have always been apprehensive about growing things from seed - too high of a failure rate after the seedlings get to be about 2 inches tall. With that in mind, when we saw a plethora of tiny carrot sprouts, I was so overjoyed that they were growing(!) that I couldn't bear to thin them out. What if I plucked the good one and the rest of them failed?

As you can see by the photos, none of our carrots grew very large, because they were overcrowded. But we did get carrots, by George! Who knows if we'll try again next year?

Esther continues her agricultural exploration
Just to tie this to home education, Isaac worked on a file folder game later in the afternoon. And what should appear out of the bag, but a carrot counting game! Isaac breezed through it like a champ. Counting 1-5, check!

08 October 2010

Psalm 46:10

In this past Sunday's church bulletin, we received our monthly Focus on the Family insert. One of the articles therein addressed the practice of observing a Sabbath, a day of rest.

Sabbath has been rattling around in my brain for years. I don't like to work for pay on Sundays, and I try to focus Sunday activities more on family time than other things.

I don't really want to get in to a deep study right now, but both the Old and New Testaments talk about observing the Sabbath and proscriptions for activity during the period of rest. I've also got a book at home called Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab; I'm about two-thirds of the way through that. I'll probably do some more in-depth study and writing about Sabbath once I finish the book, but that'll probably be posted somewhere other than KU.

That said, there's no time like the present to begin new practices and forming new habits. As of sundown Saturday, I plan to observe a 24-hour sabbath. My basic guidelines at this point are:
  • Mark the beginning of Sabbath with some type of ritual. For now, I think lighting a candle will be in order.
  • Take a leisurely shower either Saturday night or Sunday morning to refresh the body.
  • No work for pay, no housework (dishes, laundry, yardwork, etc.), minimal cooking (flameless, if possible)
  • No electronics, which is mainly the computer since we don't have a TV. Cell phone will be on for incoming emergencies, but no outgoing calls.
  • Enjoy my rest with my family.
We'll see how this goes and how the practice evolves in our household. How do you explain Sabbath to a four year old and 1.5 year old? ;-)

Do you practice sabbath in your home? What does it look like? Share in the comments below.

Shalom, my friends.

06 October 2010

Tiffany Tuesday - The Apple Experiment

A guest post from Tiffany, who is starting a new semi-regular feature, Tiffany Tuesdays. Enjoy!

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but my shoulder left me immobilized most of the night last night.  But here you go, anyway!

Monday, when we went to the library, I told Isaac that he needed to choose 1 apple and 1 pumpkin book BEFORE he chose 2 train books.  Well, he did one better and chose 2 apple books, 1 pumpkin book, and 2 train books (including one about how they brought Abraham Lincoln's body back from Washington D.C. to Illinois for burial).  On our way home, Isaac dove into his first apple book ("My Apple").  It's a great little book with various mini-experiments for kids to do with apples. Well, he found the "does it float or sink" page and wanted to know the answer.  One thing I like about this book, is that it doesn't give the answer, forcing you to do the science experiment with him.

We dialoged a bit about apples and whether they might float or sink.  I asked Isaac what he thought would happen. He answered with, "I think the apple will sink."  I decided now was a great teachable moment and taught him a $5 word, explaining that when we make a guess about what will happen and then do an experiment to find out, our guess is called a hypothesis.  And oh, how I wish you could hear him say it.  It is unbelievably cute!  

So, we got home and raised the platform on our learning towerZeb got out a bowl of water, and I raided our bag of apples left from our picking adventure last week!  

Here is our first go round at introducing Isaac to the Scientific Method...

The Question: Will apples sink or float? 
Hypothesis: The apple(s) will sink.

  1. Place one small apple in the bowl. 
  2. Place one large apple in the bowl.
  3. Place multiple apples in the bowl.
  4. Let them be kids and just make a royal mess...
  1. The small apple floats.
  2. The large apple floats.
  3. You can put 4 apples in the bowl and they still float!
  4. We had to leave the tower upside down overnight to let the feet dry.

And the documentation of said Scientific Method!

And if that weren't enough, Isaac's class "Storybook Forest" had the theme of apples this week!  They did some fun crafts and read the book "Ten Apples Up On Top", which is a fabulous book if you've not ever read it!  One of their activities was to put 10 apples on the page (picture below).  Isaac did put exactly 10 pictures on his page, which is not a surprise.  What was startling to his teacher, and what I thought was pretty cool, was that he put 3 of the apples in their mouths.  A few minutes later, he went to his teacher and asked, "May I please have another apple paper. The kids' apples are in their bellies now."  She let him have another paper.

Isaac is doing very well at homeschool co-op and even helps to clean the rooms afterward to earn money for things he wants to save up for. He has the opportunity to sit and watch a movie, but chooses cleaning instead!  I love this kid and it makes the cleaning job (we have for 6 weeks) go so much faster and a lot more fun!  Hopefully, Zeb will post soon about Isaac and his money scheme plan!

Tiny Tot Jam Session


05 October 2010

How is a Librarian like a Bartender?

...they both cut you off when you've reached your limit.

It's the return of Library Monday. We skipped our weekly library trip last week for some reason that I can't recall now, but we made up for it this week by taking the whole family, through the woods, with the wagon. Fun times. It's cooled down enough here that the killer mosquitoes in the woodlot aren't a concern anymore. Thankfully, no need for these in October in Michigan.

Our pattern over the last month or so has been that we end up checking out more books than we return (or at least it feels that way when we're carrying the books back home). I've joked that, taken to its extreme, this pattern would eventually result in us schlepping the library's entire circulating collection to our bookshelf at home.

I no longer have to fear this conclusion, however. As we were checking out tonight, the librarian got to our last book on the counter and received an error message on the screen - we had reached our limit! Apparently, 30 books is it for any single patron to have at one time.

So, here's the Saline District Library's current off-site storage inventory, with a beginning reader thrown in for scale:
And of course, he selects the train book.

Esther even gets in on the action from time to time. Here's a shot of Isaac teaching Esther about different types of trains:

And Esther having enough...
I tell ya, kid, this home education is hard work!

03 October 2010

Gospel Challenge

This morning, Pastor Bert issued a challenge to the congregation.

There are 89 chapters among the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). There are 89 days left from now—4 October—to the end of the year (or so he said; I haven't counted myself).

The challenge? For the rest of the year, read one chapter of the Gospels each day. We start tomorrow with Matthew 1 (actually, I read it tonight to the kids at bedtime, but Tiffany and I plan to read it again on our own).

Old Bible
'Old Bible' photo by eye2eye on Flickr.com

If we claim to be Christians, we must be people of the Book. We have to know what the Bible says if we claim to believe in it. John MacArthur said:
"The Bible is always attacked.  The worst attack of all is by people that say they believe the Bible, yet don't know what it teaches.  That is the subtlest kind of attack there is.  There are people all across America who say, "I believe the Bible from cover to cover," but they don't know one paragraph of it.  They believe what they don't know."

If we want to show fruit in our lives, and not just be leafy, we have to have the same mind as Jesus. So many of the activities and ministries that we claim as evidence of our faith and salvation are really only leafy and never produce a single fruit for the Kingdom.

So come along with us and read the Gospels. When was the last time you really did?

28 September 2010

Hi-Tech Sight Words

...if PowerPoint can be considered "hi-tech".

Isaac likes to play on the computer. I want to drill him on his sight words. Tiffany had the brilliant idea to combine the two. Result:

Just the three of us: Isaac, me, and my bald spot.

More to come. Our count stands at 30 down out of 315 (but we've only presented him with 50 so far over two days).

27 September 2010

Weekend Update

This past weekend was a bit busier than usual for us - on top of Tiffany working *all day* Saturday. From 5 AM to after midnight (with an hour or so break around dinner), it was just me and the kids for the day. Being the weekend, we didn't do school per se, but we did have lots of experiential learning and socializing.

Bowling - Isaac is in a bowling league this year. It's a drop-in thing, and he's actually missed the last couple weeks, but it's all fairly laid back. This Saturday, he joined in the second game with three others about his age. They bowl with 6-pound balls and with the bumpers up, but he's getting the hang of the general mechanics of the game. I even got him to start putting his fingers into the holes. Now to get him to actually roll the ball down the lane instead of dropping it - we had to go retrieve his stalled ball from the middle of the lane 3 or 4 times.
Note that the ball is airborne - not standard technique.
You try bowling with a ball that is more than one-quarter your body weight!

The Caboose - After our bowling excursion, we went out for a walk. I'm glad I actually had shoes on and locked the door, because our "around the complex" walk turned into a walk to the Depot Museum and the static display caboose. Sorry no photos - I didn't think to take the camera on a "quick" walk - but I'm sure we'll be back.
The museum is just around the corner from us, but it's only open for a few hours Saturday afternoons. That doesn't stop the kids from climbing around the caboose when it's closed, of course, but today we got to go inside and see the beds, stove, desk and typewriter, etc.

Downtown - Of course, since we were already out and about, I figured we'd walk downtown to check out the Harvest of the Arts/Oktoberfest shindig. The kids weren't too much interested in all of the artist booths - they were busy with their own art:
They did perk up when we got to the Kinderplatz area - an inflatable obstacle course, sidewalk chalk, sensory tables with spaghetti noodles and play dough, a petting zoo (my kids have never met a llama/deer/chicken/bunny/goat/donkey they didn't like), and pony rides. FREE pony rides.
As I expected, Tiffany was a bit jealous that she didn't get to participate in their first horseback ride!

On the way out, what else better to eat during Oktoberfest than... pizza. They don't like it at all, do they?

Apple Picking - We were planning on going to the orchard on Saturday, but after our impromptu walk downtown, I figured we had had enough for one day. Sunday after church all four of us went out to our local orchard to pick apples - one bushel, plus however many we managed to gorge upon. I don't eat many apples out of season anymore, so my first trip to the orchard each autumn turns into my own personal applefest. I even thought twice about buying cider because I'd eaten so many apples out in the trees, but fortunately cooler heads prevailed and we now have the remnants of a gallon sitting the fridge.
I'm sure Tiffany will post more photos over at her blog, but here are a couple to set the mood.
There she goes, enjoying that American agriculture again. Nothing says fall in Michigan quite like eating an apple whilst riding a giant pumpkin.
Now, we need to get cracking on converting that bushel of fresh apples into sauce, butter, pie, and crisp!

24 September 2010

But Don't We Walk By Faith?

My current project is setting up a pre-test for Isaac with the Dolch sight words. One of our curriculum goals for this year (I'll get them all up here eventually!) is for Isaac to master all 315 of the sight words.

I'm planning to quiz him on batches of flash cards - no more than 25 per day - to get a baseline. From there we'll figure out how to work with him to learn the rest.

Check out our Dolch Sight Words page to track our progress!

How have you worked with your kids to learn sight words?

20 September 2010

I Didn't Think You Were in the Library That Long

Monday, and time for our weekly walk to the library. Thankfully it was chilly today, so no mosquitoes in the woods between here and there.

After picking up our requisite train books, and grabbing Rookie Readers about New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut, we headed to check out with the librarian. I forget exactly what she said, but we started talking about all the state books. I trotted out my trained monkey asked Isaac to tell her what the capitals of Delaware and Pennsylvania are, and threw in my latest favorite my-four-year-old-knows-this fact about the source of maple syrup.

She was duly impressed, and when I mentioned we were homeschooling, she offered her observation that the homeschoolers that come in to the library are much more willing to engage in conversation with adults, a trait that she wished her children had picked up. Take that, "what about socialization" nay-sayers!

Needless to say, Isaac tends to make quite an impression wherever he goes.

Tomorrow: first day of co-op!

16 September 2010

Daily Record - 16 September

Today, in addition to his typical free play, Isaac showed off his great imagination. I was awoken by him asking me to play with his wooden trains (he only has plastic ones, unfortunately) and he was pretending to carry them around in a box about four times larger than he is. So funny to see him pantomiming hauling around a huge box!

We later had a discussion about keystones - what they are, how they function in an arch. His question was why Pennsylvania is called the Keystone State. We found pictures from our trip to the Delaware Children's Museum back in July - he played with big foam arch blocks then. We showed him a map of the 13 colonies, with Pennsylvania in the middle, and told him how people called it the Keystone State because of how it held the young nation together. He doesn't at all understand the concept of "past" yet, but the question was answered.

Isaac also drew and lettered a card to a friend of ours from church. It includes a rainbow on the outside, and a picture of a checkers game. He enjoys writing cards to people and it certainly reveals his empathic nature.

In the afternoon, we watched a geography DVD from the library on the Northeast US. Isaac now can tell you that maple syrup comes from trees. "Which kind of trees, Isaac?" "Maple syrup trees!" He also drew both Delaware and Pennsylvania (with Harrisburg indicated) on his drawing board.

Just before dinner, he spontaneously sat down with a Blue's Clues placemat and began to work on shapes and patterns. He verbally completed the two pattern matching exercises - both shape and color - but then made up his own version of the exercise when he had the marker. Sometimes he surprises us with what he's picked up here and there.

Tomorrow, I think we'll work on his memory verse for the week (Genesis 1:1), read through our state books again, and I want to sort through the workbooks we have to see what he's ready for. I think we're both - slowly - getting a clue about home education.