Monday, May 24, 2010

Princess's Poem

I recently posted Princess's book report, and now I have more of her writing to share. She has actually been pestering me to put this on here, so I guess I better hop to. Poetry has been remarkably easier than the book report. She has actually enjoyed it! She is especially a fan of alliteration, as you can see here from her poem, Snake.

The slithering snake,
silvery snake,
silent snake.
I dream about
this nightmare snake
at nighttime.
It gives me the shivers.
It squeezes me with worry.
It tries to steal me away.
But I wake up,
before it can carry me

Monday, May 17, 2010

Renaissance Fair!

This past Friday we had a wonderful time at the Renaissance and Fantasy Fair. Fridays were a homeschool discount day (and it was a pretty big discount), so it was completely awesome that Brady has every other Friday off so that he could go with us. Having Dad along on a field trip always makes it better.

Princess and Spike were put into the stockades. Hmm...can we get one of these for when they are driving me crazy?The jousters were a lot of fun. We cheered for England, but Scotland won...

Sprout had a good seat for the show.
There was a petting zoo, and the kids always like that. Sprout really liked the goats and it was hard to get her to leave.
Then we walked around a bit and visited some of the merchants. We got some smoked turkey legs and yummy root beer, cream soda, birch beer, and sasparilla in blue glass bottles.
We stopped by the fiber arts tent where a woman was spinning on a spinning wheel. Princess was interested in the drop spindles so she got a crash course in how to spin yarn on one. The lady made it look really easy, but we found out that it is harder than it looks. I think we may get a drop spindle or two later so we can practice.
It was a fun day, even though we had to hurry out a bit since the clouds were looking ominous and it got a little chilly. Luckily we were on our way home before the rain started.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Princess's Book Report

Writing has been a tough subject in school this year for Princess. She really has a hard time with getting what she has in her noggin down on the page in an organized fashion. I can not really blame her though, as up to this point her reports in public school only consisted on asking a set of questions on a page. I really did not realize just how little experience she had with writing and actually forming paragraphs and such. There have been evenings when I have sat and cried to my husband because of the frustration I felt since she is so smart but was still having such a difficult time with writing, but we are making progress and that is what counts.

For the book report I had her do this year, she had to look up information about the author, write out a plot map, and give me character profiles before writing the report up. While we still really need to work on her writing skills, I am really proud of her and the progress she has made. So, without further ado...I present Princess's Book Report on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

You’re joking!

It was dinnertime. Harry had just finished telling Ron what had happened when he left the grounds with Professor McGonagall. The author of this book tries to make the book real to the reader. The book is filled with excitement in every turn of a page. I think you will enjoy it as much as me!

When you start reading this book you read about a boy who lives in his aunt‘s and uncle’s house where he is miserable. Later he finds himself at Hogwarts where he learns to cast magic spells.

The place that Harry goes to is a place called Hogwarts. A scary looking castle the muggles or non- magic folk can’t see.

It takes place in modern England. The setting is wild and crazy. It’s got that “I think this is real” feeling in it. I think that it has lots of things that you can see in your mind.

Who are the crazy main characters of this story you may ask. Well read on to find out.

The first character I want to talk about is Hermione a witch that goes to Hogwarts. Hermione is a bushy haired girl who listens to her teachers. Her parents are both muggles but she is a very skilled witch. She is like a living book that walks and talks because she reads lots of books and memorizes lots of spells.

Harry Potter is a boy whose parents died and he lived at his aunt’s and uncle’s house where he is miserable. Harry is known for his lightning shaped scar on his forehead. But Harry has a deadly enemy. His name is Voldemort.

Who is the author and what is she like? Well find out in reading my next paragraph!

J.K. Rowling is the author of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but she also has written other books like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Both are good books if you ask me.

When you have finished this book you will want to read the others. I guarantee you that they are worth reading. I think that is a good book for kids. It’s creative and serious, but not too serious.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

State testing is finished!

For our homeschooling, we use a program through the Washington School District in Utah. So even though they are schooled at home, they are technically public school students. In exchange for receiving their curriculum and most of their supplies free of charge (along with some field trips and social events throughout the school year) we agree to keep in touch with a teacher assigned to us, and also to take them in for state standardized testing towards the end of the year. While there are other homeschooling parents for whom this does not work, I find it to be a nice fit for us.

This past week was the kiddos testing dates. On Thursday I took them both in for language arts and math testing, and Friday Princess had to go in for Science. Both days are held at a large Baptist church in the area. I was a little apprehensive about whether or not I have prepared them well enough, which I believe is normal especially with this being my first year teaching them, but things went very well.

After dropping each kid off at their classroom, me and Sprout went to an area where the parents who were staying there could wait. She played with some other kids that she knows from playgroup and enjoyed some snacks until the kids got out for lunch. Since I was trying to make the day as fun as possible, we all went to McDonald's where they got kid's meals (a rare treat). Then, back to the church for more testing and waiting.

I asked the kids if the tests were too hard for them and they both agreed there was nothing they had a hard time with except for waiting for everyone to finish after they were already done. Spike especially hated the waiting.

Friday morning Princess finished up her science testing and we went home and had fun for the rest of the day.

As far as their test scores goes, the school really only looks at the average for all the kids. Their own scores will be sent to me so that I can see what areas they need to work on. I was pretty surprised to learn that their scores had nothing to do with me teaching them next year. I guess I had assumed that if their scores were low, I would have some serious explaining to do. I still do look forward to seeing the scores though, because I would like to know for myself what I can do better on with them.

Field Trips with Candy!

We took these two fields a few months ago, but I never got around to posting them. Needless to say, telling the kids that we were going on a field trip to a candy factory made their day, and when we had another one about a month later, I was the best mom ever (or so that is what they told me).

For the first field trip, we went to Mrs. Cavanaugh's chocolate factory. They first had a video presentation on the history of chocolate, starting with the Mayans drinking it as a hot drink (although not sweetened like the hot chocolate we enjoy today). The video also included the famous scenes from "I Love Lucy" where Lucy and Ethel go to work in a chocolate factory and end up eating and stuffing chocolates in their hat to try and keep up with the candy on the conveyor belt. Just in case you do not know what I am talking about, it is this one...

Next we got to watch the work floor as the workers wrapped candy and got it all packaged up nicely. It was not too exciting, but fun nonetheless. The kids all agreed that the workers looked much more relaxed than Lucy.

Last, but not least, the kids (and accompanying moms) got free yummy chocolate samples. Hmm..I think that might have been my favorite part.

The second candy field trip was to Sweet's candy company. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share since they were not allowed, so you will have to take my word for it.

First things first, we had to all don hair nets and take off all jewelry. A nice lady explained the safety precautions of staying within the colored lines on the floor, and once we had all agreed to be on our best behavior, we were taken on our tour. We saw some pretty neat things like a gigantic bags of sugar, the taffy making machines, and candies being covered in chocolate. In one area, we saw a bunch of trays of small clear things. After looking at them for a second, me and the kids figured out they were the jelly beans that were awaiting their flavored covering. Another favorite thing of ours was seeing the room in which the jelly type candies were made. A tray of cornstarch is pressed with a master mold so that there are indents in the cornstarch which are then the candy molds. The molten candy is poured into these cornstarch molds and left to set up for a while. When we were watching they were making jelly bunnies. The kids really liked this field trip, and it sure did not hurt that they passed out samples of the different types of candy along the tour.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cells, Brains, and Stomachs...oh my!

Both of the big kids were studying a bit of human anatomy recently. Princess started with a unit on the nervous system, and Spike learned about the digestive system and a bit about cells. It was not until I was looking back through my pictures that I realized how much stuff we had done with zip top baggies.

Princess did this nice full-size drawing of her nervous system. It was hard to get it all into the camera frame. We traced her whole body onto some paper, cut it out, and then I let her go to work putting in a brain, spinal cord, and some nerves.

In order to understand the size, weight, and approximate consistency of her brain, Princess also made a brain in a bag. It consisted of sand, instant potato flakes, and hot water. To be honest, the smell of those things combined made me gag. Princess was really impressed with just how heavy her brain is. I am not sure it really was a good indicator of consistency, perhaps because she had a fun time tossing it around and calling out, "Brains!"

Here is Spike with his cell replica. The baggie is the cell membrane, the not-really-set-up jello-o is the cytoplasm, and although it is hard to see, there is a grape in there for the nucleus.
To learn about the stomach churning up food, Spike made a stomach in a bag. Inside was a tasty snack of half a banana, some saltine crackers, and water. Yum!

Well, it started out as a nice day...

Yesterday was both nice and tragic all wrapped up into one. We started the day out with our normal schoolwork and then headed over to J&J Nursery for a field trip. I was rather proud of this field trip since I had set it up myself to my kids and some of the others in the area who were interested. This was the first time I have done something like that, but it all went great.

The kids got to feed the resident koi of the nursery. We go to the nursery fairly often and the kids really like the fish, so this was an awesome surprise.
We watched the machine that puts seeds into a little planting tray....and saw the warming tables that help get the seeds germinated.The kids were shown lots of cool plants.When it was time to go, all the kids even got to pick out a free plant. Princess and Spike got some type of neat aloe and Sprout got a polka-dot plant.
So the day sounds quite nice so far, eh? It stayed that way for a while. We had to go run some errands and got home after Brady. We had not been home that long when me and Sprout were in the kitchen and tragedy struck. Sprout was standing on a five gallon bucket that she often is on in the kitchen and she fell off. I picked her up but did not notice anything wrong right away. Brady came upstairs and after a few seconds of trying to calm her down, we noticed that she was holding her hand weird and Brady saw that her arm was broken. It was horrifying. We left for the hospital really quick. The doctors and nurses in the emergency room were wonderful. They gave her some morphine as quickly as possible, which helped her out a lot. She was pretty funny when she was loopy, talking about pink and purple horses and how they liked to eat sandwiches and pizza. Everything was put back into place and she is now sporting a pretty purple cast. It was a horrible night, but I am just thankful that everything turned out alright. She does not even mind the cast (she calls it the fix), although trying to get her to wear the sling is an entirely different matter.

Here are some pictures I took today of her showing off her purple cast. She is such a cute little trooper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Yeah, yeah...I know

It's been forever...well, not literally, but is has been a long time since my last post. I do have a lot to catch up on, but first I would like to give you my excuse for being away so long. We went on a Disney cruise! While we were not on the cruise the whole time I have not written anything, we did have a wonderful vacation that lasted almost a week and a half. With a family the size of ours, it takes me about a week to get the packing all done, and a week (minimum) after returning to get things back in order here at the homestead. But it was so worth it! Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.

I will leave it at that...although I assure you we took many more pictures. Me and Brady have talked about doing a Disney cruise blog since it is such an experience, and maybe one day we will get around to it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Science Update

Spike finished up his unit on magnets today. His school supplies include a ring magnet, a horseshoe magnet, two bar magnets, and a latch magnet. Oh yeah, and a sample of the rock magnetite. So he has been able to get lots of hands on experience with playing with magnets.

His last experiment involved finding the magnetic field for his different types of magnets. We put some iron fillings on a paper plate and he took turns putting the different types of magnets under the plate and watched what the fillings did. He then drew it on his worksheet. We all thought the ring magnet looked the neatest.

Princess is studying a unit called Forces in Fluid. It is actually an optional unit, but since she has not received too much science in school up to this point I figured we can use it all. Her latest experiment was trying to crush a can using internal pressure. You heat a can that has about an inch of water in it on a stove. When it has reached a heavy boil, you flip it over as quickly as possible and put it into a shallow pan with cool water. When the gases from the steam cool off and again become liquid, the loss in pressure inside the can causes it to crush. I tried several times, but was only able to achieve a little bit of crunch....and a burnt thumb.

And what has Sprout been up to? Oh, a little of this...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Magnets and Solutions

Along with math and language arts (yep, those are every day), it was science today. Science is much more fun to take pictures of, so that is what I did. Spike is studying magnets, and what kid does not get a kick out of playing with magnets? He did a couple of experiments today. For the first he took a needle and pulled it across one end of his bar magnet 20 times. We then put a section of cork on either end, he colored one end so that we could tell them apart, and then floated the contraption in a bowl of water. And what did we have? A compass! Spike thought it was awesome.
His second experiment was more of a game. I gathered random stuff from around the house, like a bobbin, paper clip, pop can top, CD, et cetera, and put it into a box. He had his horseshoe magnet tied onto a stick and "fished" for things to figure out what was magnetic. I had made him guess beforehand. The big surprise for him was that the top of the pop can was not magnetic. Sprout liked watching him to the experiment, and later tried her own hand at it.

Princess had her very last solutions experiment. For this one, she made 2 liters of Kool-Aid. She put 100 mL of the drink into 6 different cups, and added an increasing amount of water to each cup. If I remember correctly the amounts of water started at none, and by the last one it was 150 mL. She then studied how they look different as the solution became more diluted along with the difference in taste. Spike and Sprout glady helped with the tasting. This lesson, of course, went along with reading about concentration and dilution of solutions. Wow, that is a fun sentence to say aloud. Each of the different solutions went into an ice cube tray section where they became popsicles and she further observed the differences. It was a fun experiment as she understands the concept pretty well now, and even got to drink Kool-Aid, which is a rare treat in our house.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lipstick and a toddler

This is what happens when I leave Sprout in the master bathroom while making the bed....

I actually carried her and her lipstick downstairs to the school room because that was where the camera was and I was not leaving her upstairs to make more messes, even though I wanted pictures. She unfortunately broke the lipstick while prettying herself up, and was telling me, "It's broken, Mommy....fix it." It is kind of sweet that she thinks I can fix anything.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We have a schoolroom!

We are now officially working from our brand new schoolroom. It is absolutely wonderful. The kids have been able to focus better on their work, I can keep their school stuff better organized, and when we are done with school it is out of the way and no longer taking up valuable family room space. Instead of individual desks, I got the kids a large 6 foot table. This has worked out really well because it gives them room to spread their things out a bit or work on science experiments. The kids still stick to their own side and have their own things stashed there. The big table also works out for me because I will be able to set up my sewing machine on it when I get a hankering to sew. Woo hoo!

We have put up a few posters for things that the kids are trying to remember. Some of these posters are just pieces or paper that I have drawn stuff on, like where the divisor, divided, and quotient go on a division problem for Princess. Others are actual store-bought posters. Currently we have a poster up that highlights some U.S. history. The kids like looking at all the portraits of the Presidents while taking a mid-worksheet break.

And while it does not pertain to school, this room has a nice big closet in which I have begun to store some of my craft stuff.

It was a a lot of work getting the basement finished, but I am so glad we did. I am feeling quite spoiled!

My busy students doing their work.
Sprout watching Dora the Explorer on my computer so Spike and Princess could have some quiet while working on assessments. A view of the other side of the room which holds the school bookcase and my computer desk.