Monday, October 20, 2014

Last Week: October 13 - 17

When I am fearful, I know it is time for a change.  When I fear that we must adhere to a “high school”-like way of learning, we are headed straight for a fall.  Despite this being our 5th year of homeschooling, there are times when fear raises its ugly head and makes me doubt if we are on track, if we should stick with something the girls hate just because we are already several chapters in, and it is “high school level”........  Often it is my dear friend Karen who talks sense into me and reminds me that we are not on this journey to make our girl’s educations look like their counterparts at the local high school.  If that were the case, it would be so much simpler to send them to school!

So we are tweaking history.  More details will follow in next week’s wrap up, but I am very excited about what we are doing.  

So history was a little light this week, at least in our text.  However they are getting lots of history from the little detours we are taking with Around the World in 80 Days.  So much history in this book.  And this history sticks.  They are familiar with the Red Sea from our work with Mapping the World Through Art.  The same with India.  And something really cool happened in ASL class this week, they learned the sign for Ireland.  It is three fingers which you move like you are digging up potato.  They knew from their history last year (Irish potato famine and immigration) why this was the sign.  Boom.  Learning.  They will never forget the sign for Ireland. Something else cool happened at the weather conference when a map of the glacier impact for climate/weather was shown. It just so happens that glaciers were one thing mentioned this week in science as a factor affecting the geology of the area we happen to live in.  Then at church the reading was about Cyrus.  Hmm....he was mentioned once or twice in Story of the World.  

For us learning is not going to be simply reading a chapter and taking a test.  Our style of learning is about constantly searching for connections in our daily life to what we are learning about in our studies.  By searching for connections we deepen our understanding, and learning becomes not only more fun, but more meaningful.

Lilah ch. 2 quiz 100%
Lesson 13: multiplication
Lesson 14: multiplication; using mental math to multiply large numbers

Grace met with our neighbor, a middle school math teacher, to review some algebraic concepts.  We discussed committing ourselves to the completion of this course as soon as possible if for nothing else, to get it over with! 
Lesson 18: order of operations and use of the fraction bar
Began chapter 8.  This text is not holding their interest.  They have no excitement for history.  I have to ponder what I want to do.  It feels very dry with reading a chapter and answering comprehension or critical thinking questions.  Several chapters on they are no longer remembering the details because it is not connecting with them.  Last year our study of history was vibrant and alive.  Immigration, the Irish Famine, the Holocaust, and Westward Expansion may not have been studied chronologically but the learning was authentic.  We constantly make connections to what we learned last year.  That is not happening this year and I know it is because I have put the “high school” label on it and took away the exploration in favor of a text.  

After much research, I purchased a used copy of: History of the World in 100 Objects.  The sample pages on Amazon hooked me at 5:30am, so chances are this will be something we can dig into and have FUN with while covering history chronologically.
Lilah read Planet Earth: What Planet Are You On

as a supplement to the geology section of our science course.  Lilah noted that some of the writing directly contradicts Creation based scientific theories. I told her that there is a great divide between the scientific and the religious community over how this planet and life was formed, but there can be common ground when we know that God had a plan and he carried out his plan.  Whether The Big Bang or Creation, God designed it. 

Week #8: Geology.  The forces that change the Earth’s landscape.  Grace researched Connecticut parks with evidence of glacier melt that we could visit. 

This week provided Grace with much to keep up on from storms in the south and southeast, a major hurricane in the Atlantic, and the first hurricane to possibly hit Hawaii ever!  This week will culminate with Grace and I attending the Tri-State Weather Conference at Western Connecticut State University this weekend.  
Language Arts
Watched the Disney animated movie: Alice in Wonderland and compared it to the Tim Burton version.  While visually I love the modern version, the classic version is a better retelling of the story.

Our quotes this week: 
“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today.  I can choose which it shall.  Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet.  I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”  Groucho Marx

“No two persons ever read the same book.” Edmund Wilson

As Philias Fog was journeying across India, we used this opportunity to learn about the colonization of India. We watched Episode #5: Freedom of PBS’ The Story of India (1hour)

Writing Group: Blackout Poetry


Girls confirmed their pieces for the winter recital. Lilah added another page of sheet music to Walking on Sunshine and Grace is working to master Secrets.
Social Justice
wooden crosses (see below)
Watched Seeking Social Justice #6: Individual.   
Purchased: Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt
The girls had the opportunity to practice their ASL conversational skills at a Deaf Community meet up at Starbucks.  They are blessed to have a very good friend who is fluent in ASL and who attended this meet up to help the girls feel comfortable in the use of their new language.
This was the last week to create clay items.  Next week will be the first of three weeks of glazing.
Grace will be competing in another horse show (the last of the season) at the end of October.  
Grace worked on jumping and Lilah worked on cantering. We brought Crosby and their friend with us to the farm.  
Crosby completed his course of medication for Giardia and he is back to training class which is good because he is a smart dog and needs to be intellectually stimulated.  The girls repeated our first session of having him come while holding his attention. 
Lilah won a town wide pet photography contest at the 9th Annual Animal Rescue’s Festival. Her picture of Crosby in his bow tie will be the picture featured on the 2015 Festival tee shirt!  
Lilah began decorating 4" wooden crosses to be given as gifts at our November dinner at the shelter.  It took her 90 minutes to decorate 5 crosses.  Sadly Crosby destroyed one.  She has 20 more to do, but plenty of time to complete them.  

Grace’s boss adjusted the work schedule and because our weeks are full with lessons and activities, there may be fewer hours available for her to work since she is not willing, at 14, to give up every Saturday morning and give up time with her father.  

While Grace and I were at the weather conference, Lilah was in her favorite place, the kitchen.  We came home to a homemade gluten free pumpkin roll, popcorn balls and a no-bake Butterfinger pie with Newman’s Own “Oreo” cookie crust.  I have no doubt this girl will own her own food truck or store front bakery some day.  She began asking what culinary arts schools are in the North East.

Grace is really enjoying Matilda.  I think it qualifies as a classic, no?

This always amazes me.  Music studies should be considered as a foreign language!

Black Out Poetry
I am thinking of framing these.

A talk given by NJ State Climatologist mentioning glaciers.  A beautiful connection to science studies this week.

Her favorite talk of the conference.  Storm chasing!

I did not realize this was gluten free until Greg told me!  

Butterfinger Pie

Popcorn Balls

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Tuesdays are really busy days for us and I have a tendency to get anxious on days when we run from activity to activity to activity.  Thankfully every time I step out of the car at the barn, and breathe the musky scent of hay and manure and crisp fall air, I feel the stress oozing out of me, and fill myself up with the contentment that only nature can provide.

I love to watch my girls ride.  I love to see them work through problems when they are on the wrong diagonal, or when they are dealing with an obstinate horse who just won’t trot.  There are so many directions and steps to follow through on.  So many body positions and workings of their inner core muscles.  There are distractions to be dealt with without losing focus and control.  Horseback riding is a work out for the body and the mind.  

Watching the girls grow in confidence and capability fills me with joy.  This sport makes me slow down and appreciate each lesson for what it is.  Some are awesome.  Some are just okay.  Some days the horse is not up to performing.  Some days the girls attention wavers and they are off.  It is not about the next game, or the score, or the record.  It is just about learning, and growing and striving to jump higher and canter faster with better form and through it all, gain a better understanding of the magnificent creature on which they have the privilege to sit.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Notebook Girlz write Book Spine Poems

Last Friday I was able to organize an activity I have wanted to do for a very long time. Now and then I will see pictures on Pinterest of Book Spine Poetry, poems made from the clever combinations of book titles.  We have 6 girls every Friday for our writing group which meant that many books were required for this activity so I began pulling books the night before from my bookshelves throughout the house and even in the attic.  I chose books of all genres, especially those with interesting and unusual titles and piled then on my table.

The girls spread them out and began collecting books that when stacked together became works of poetry.

Some girls wrote these poems in their notebooks adding or subtracting words.

Before our workshop, I asked permission from the mothers for a quick “field trip” to poetry bomb Main Street.  Have you seen pictures of knit bombing? I thought we could do the same with poetry- splash some words onto the sidewalk with chalk, tuck poems into nooks and crannies to be discovered by pedestrians walking by, post poems to bulletin boards and share some art with strangers.  

We chose lyrics to Nightingale by Laura Viers

I would not bear to rest,
I would not dare to dream, 
till the nightingale came 
and sang a song for me.

The girls asked for permission from a store owner we know and then began to get to work.  They wrote on the sidewalk.

Placed poems in books to be found as bookmarks in our Little Free Library.

They tucked poems into street signs and into mailboxes (since this is just a holding box, not a drop box, I felt it would be okay).

We took a walk with Crosby on a beautiful fall day and enjoyed our mission and our friendships.  I accompanied them in the event that anyone confronted them about chalking up the sidewalk on Main Street and asked the inevitable question of why they were not in school.  No one asked and several people stopped to watch what was going on.  

This was a beautiful way to spend a Friday morning.  Sharing art.  Sharing beautiful words.  Sharing books.  Sharing time. Sharing stories and friendship and laughter.  

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