Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Musings

Thomas: Can I have some soda?

Mom: No.

Thomas: Please just a little eensy weensy bo beensy?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Me Monday

Along with McMama, I rememebered a few things that I have NOT done lately.

I did not take my four year old to Target barefoot because his brother threw out his tennis shoes when the strap broke and we could not find his other clog.

It was also not pouring down rain.

And I didn't also take his two year old brother because I like to make things easy on myself.

I did not mail the vehicle tax check to the student loan company. I am far, far too on-top-of-things to make such a mistake. And, they totally didn't cash it anyway, because I think that would be somewhat illegal.

I did not make brownies in my beloved faux George Foreman grill, because we all know that brownies would be entirely too dense to retrieve.

Update: I have also totally not lost my mind, since this is the waffle maker, NOT the George Foreman. Duh!

And my children

most certainly did not

proceed to eat them anyway.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Once Upon a Time....

....there was a little girl who loved books. She would fuss and fuss, but get happy if you hand her a book.

And she lived happily



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Can't Believe It's Butter!

The older boys and the younger kids are studying 1800's American History this year. I've been reading Little House on the Prairie to the younger kids and we decided to make butter.

First, take a little cream......

Then, take a jar with a lid. We didn't have a glass jar, but we did have Daddy's hunting thermos.....

After you shake, shake, shake.........

Yummy, creamy, butter!

They like it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Musings

Two year old sayings are so cute.

Two year old Thomas says as we are driving down the road, "Mom! There's the moon! And, that (a star) is a firework."

Thomas looks out for his baby sister. He was playing dinosaurs while she was lying next to him on the floor. I told him to give her one of the dinosaurs to play with and he said, "Bailey is too young to play with dinosaurs."

Timothy had some balloons for his birthday. (Granny, we were being VERY careful.) Thomas got one and said, "Will you blow this down for me?" He wanted to let the air out!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Queen of the Wild Frontier

Some interesting and unusual characters have shown up at our house recently.

Bailey Crockett, Queen of the Wild Frontier

Master Shifu

The Alligator Wrestler

These are strange, strange times.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Recess verses Bambi

A few weeks ago David's grandparents sent us a huge box of kids' videos that they didn't need cluttering up there house anymore. Of course, our kids were beside themselves with joy, and couldn't decide what to watch first.

When kids are involved I love vidoes. They are far, far more durable than DVD's. When my two year old even mentions the name of a DVD it gets scratched, much less when he climbs the TV stand when no one is looking, pushes the exact button to open the player, takes it out and carries it with his teeth as he is climbing back down.


So has been the demise of many DVDs.

But the vidoes.

Ah, the vidoes.

Those things can get stepped on, thrown across the room, and carried by teeth and they still will work. You can even retrieve a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR and the VCR isn't even mildly offended. A DVD player however, will turn it's delicate nose up at the sight of a toddler and even one touch of a two year old hand will cause it to cry out in anguish, it's little disk tray never to return to normal.

So has been the demise of many DVD players.

The kids finally decided what videos to watch and in what order. One of the younger girls wanted to watch Bambi. (I remember going to see Bambi in the movie theater when it was NEW.) Timothy, on the other hand, didn't want to watch Bambi. He wanted to watch Recess Christmas Special. (That one perhaps will mysteriously disappear into the trash. Mysteriously.) Timothy came to me expressing his lack of desire to watch Bambi.

Timothy: I really, really don't want to watch Bambi!

Me: Bambi? How could you not like Bambi? I mean how could you not like Bambi?

Timothy: I don't like it. I'd rather watch Recess Christmas.

Me: Okay. What does Recess Christmas have that Bambi doesn't have?

Timothy: Mankind!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Math U See Decimal Street

All the kids are using Math U See this year, and so far it is working out wonderfully. All the kids are eager to watch their DVD lessons and even Tristan (4) wants to watch the Primer DVDs. I had kept the Decimal Street lapbook in the back of my mind, but just decided to go ahead and make one out of posterboard. Both examples are on the Math U See blog. But, I didn't want to use one whole posterboard for just one decimal street, so I modified it a bit. These are used in the lower programs to teach place value.

I made four of these for the three youngest kids doing the program, and 2 year old Thomas who sometimes doesn't want to be left out.

I took a large posterboard sheet and cut it in two longwise. The large red castle is two red file folders taped together and the red, green, and sun are all cardstock just pasted on. The road is construction paper.
I glued on the file folder and card stock and then used my old laminating trick-clear packing tape. I love using that for laminating. I also use clear contact paper, but I just thought tape would be easier for this project.

I did actually use the clear contact paper to laminate the little cars. I googled something like "car clip art" and found this little car. I pasted it onto Word and sized it up just a little, colored them, cut them out and pasted on some numbers that I alread had printed for something else a while back. Then, laminated them with contact paper. I took a close up picture, but then realized that I had the flash on and it was too bright. And, I didn't remember how to turn it off. I really need to learn to use that camera after seven years now.

Pretty easy, yet I feel like I accomplished something!

On the back are these neat stickers I found at the Dollar Tree. There were many different kinds, but here are the shapes, number chart, addition and subtraction charts. I just stuck them on the back of the decimal street. They were the "Educational Sticker Charts". I just heart Dollar Tree!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Musings

Mom, I have three teeth. I know you've been feeding me carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and pears, but....

what do you mean I can't have burgers and fries???

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Bloggy Award!

I've been given a bloggy award from Amy Lynne over at Mom's Balance. "Living, laughing and enjoying each precious moment". Well said! Isn't that what "mommying" is all about? Thanks Amy Lynne!

Here are the rules of this award:
- This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming.
- These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.
- They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.
- Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
- Please give more attention to these writers.
- Deliver this award to other bloggers who must choose others to pass it on to and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
- I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming...

Mmm. So many friends to choose! I pick these gals, some are real life friends and others are real blogging friends, but all are friends.
Marsha at "Morgan Happenings"
Kathleen at "Treasured Chapters"
Rachel at "Thoughts from rh"
Michelle at "Lights on the Lake"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The School Year in Further Detail

I, by far, have mastered this thing called homeschooling, but I have figured out what works for us. Actually, the dynamic changes every year somewhat, because we throw in a new baby (and a tired, pregnant mama) and that difficult, albeit loveable, two year old stage. All but two of our children are spaced two years or less apart. That being said, we vascillate each year between some more high strung youngsters with shorter attention spans, and more quiet, eager-to-do-schoolwork youngsters with longer attention spans.

Overall what has worked best for me, is to plan my own curriculum. My rebellious nature (lol) has caused me to look at a curriculum and say, "But, we have this book instead of the one that it calls for. But, we have the supplies to do this activity instead of the ones it calls for. But, we are more interested in this topic instead of.... You get the idea. So, instead of using the "middleman" curriculum, I just go straight to the books and choose activities that we are interested in. For instance, this year we are covering 1800's American history, (with some world history added). I took a timeline of the US 1800's and picked the topics I want to cover. One of those topics is "The Alamo". Now, all I've done is planned to check out the book "The Alamo: Surrounded and Outnumbered..." by Shelley Tanaka, and "Voices of the Alamo" by Sherry Garland. Then printed off some activities for lapbook/notebooks or color sheets. The older capable kids would do the more complex activities and the younger kids (ages 2-6) would color (or cut and paste since I keep plenty of construction paper and glue stick on hand). I obtain all this material by searching the internet, getting homeschooling newsletters and checking out sites like Homeschool Freeebie of the day. Here is a post about my history planning and here is one about science.

Sometimes the preschool aged kids get too antsy and some of them have not liked coloring. So, I keep some different blocks, legos, puzzles, etc. to bring out a few at a time. I'm really particular about what comes out though, because if I have to spend 20 minutes cleaning up beans all over the house, then the ten minutes of a "bean sorting" activity is not worth it. I do like the idea of having learning centers set up around like with art supplies or whatever, but we just don't have the space to do that. So, I do set up a few things like this is the lego wall or the puzzle table, but whatever I take out I have to be able to put away relatively easily.

For the school aged kids, I keep everyone on the same topic in a subject. Now, Brittany is high school and will be doing more independent work and research on her own, so we went with a different topic for her history and science. The rest of the kids will be all be doing 1800's US History and Astronomy/Geology for science this year. We ONLY do history two days per week and science two days per week. We do history on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and science on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for about 2 hours each. Two hours sounds like a lot, but realistically by the time you've read the book and discussed and done whatever activity, two hours goes by really quickly. If the younger kids get bored, then they can finish their activity and go play. They generally stay interested for the most part and I try to plan fun stuff like experiments, sometimes a craft, and educational related videos, too. But really, for the younger elementary ages, the basics are really what's important to focus on. The history, science, art, music, etc. are just extras at this stage. I have noticed that the younger kids pick up so much just listening to the read alouds, watching the videos, and taking part in the experiments and crafts. So, I do plan the basics for the younger kids in the mornings when they are more "fresh".

Now the one extra thing that I did plan is to read aloud the Little House Books to the little kids and I didn't think the older boys would be as interested in that, so I have that time scheduled for one hour (right before lunchtime) when the older boys are doing their writing assignments.

With the other subjects-that they don't all do together- I have them staggered to be doing each subject at a different time than the other kids doing that subject. For instance, in the past I had everyone scheduled from say, 9-10am doing math. But, everyone needed my help doing math all at once, since that is a heftier subject. But now, I have only maybe one or two children doing math while other children are doing subjects that require less of my attention like their spelling books. (It also helps that we are using Math U See this year which has DVDs.) Brittany will need the least of my help, and I'll be available to her whenever she needs me, but I have scheduled a specific time just to discuss and evaluate her assignments and address any questions/concerns she has for the week. (Or day as the case may be.)

Basically, the only subjects the kids are doing everyday (Mon.-Thurs.) are Bible, Spelling, and Math. They will do science two days, history two days, and writing and literature two days. So, I guess the key here is that you don't have to do every subject every day. Some state laws require 180 days and certain subjects, but if you are covering a week's worth of work in two days, what's the difference?

For the rest of the kids it will be very "hands on" teaching for me, but I prefer that. Also, if you don't prefer to do your own curriculum, there are some that include all grades on the same subject. I know Tapestry of Grace does that-it's more of a classical approach. It really is a lot of work on my part, but I want to do it. It works out best for us.

Also, I plan out everything-I mean EVERYTHING- over the summer, down to what libray books I will use and the call numbers. I have all printables printed out and ready to go. This saves me SO much time during the school year. I don't have to go back and do anything, it's all ready for me when we start in the morning. I just pull out the notebooks with my plans and we're ready to go. I had to start planning like this basically from the beginning. Most of our marriage we have only had one vehicle, so if I needed something from the library or supplies from the store, I was stuck. I needed to know ahead of time what I needed and when I needed it. Over time, I have tweaked and reworked, and now have everything the way it works best for us. I also just have to limit outside activities for us because the amount of time it takes to get 8 kids ready for something is exhausting.

So, that is a little more detail about our school year.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The New School Year Has Begun!

Here is a run down of what all the kids will be doing this year.

Brittany: 9th grade

History and Literature: Middle Ages British History (focus on the royalty of the time period) with studies of Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar", "Hamlet" and also "A Tale of Two Cities". She'll also read various biographies and research on the kings and queens of that time.

Science: Abeka biology (I tweaked this around a bit to fit what we needed.)

Math: Math U See

Fallacy Detectives: One chapter per week

Writing: One Year Adventure Novel

Bible: Kay Arthur's "How to Study Your Bible" intro. to Inductive study; A series of lessons on the book of Mark that I created for a college class I was taking a few years ago

Tyler: 7th grade

History: study of the 1800's American History

Science: Astronomy and Geology

Math: Math U See

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Liturature: Reading/completeing study guides for "Across Five Aprils", The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "The Red Badge of Courage" and "With Lee in Virginia"

Spelling: Spelling Workout G

Bible: Kay Arthur Inductive Studies for Kids

Timothy: 4th Grade

History: study of 1800's American History

Science: Astronomy and Geology

Math: Math U See

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Literature: Reading/study activities for Chronicle of Narnia books

Spelling: Spelling Workout D

Bible: Kay Arthur Inductive Studies for Kids

Bethany: 2nd grade and Brooke: 1st Grade

History: Little House on the Praire Books and activities

Science: activities for Astronomy and Geology (with the older boys)

Spelling: Spelling Workout B, Brooke will be in book A

Literature: various book based activities-we'll do one per week

Math: Math U See (with some Abeka on the side. We started with Abeka last year, and I need to get into Math U See and really figure out where they are because Math U See is different from most programs.

Bible: scripture memory, songs, worksheets, etc. from the New Testament-put together by me.

Tristan and Thomas: Preschool

Bible: will do the same with Bethany and Brooke

Preschool time: 45 minutes of fun activities based on books

Various worksheets and color sheets with the correlating subjects the older kids are studying during history and science times.

Fridays: All Together Time

On Fridays, all the kids will be doing school together.

In the mornings: Bible, Manners, Spanish, and on a rotating basis poetry, art and music.

In the afternoons, Geography: an Africa unit the first half of the year; an Alaska/Iditarod study the second half.

I know this sounds like a lot, it is.

Special Week Units

We wrapped up our first week of homeschooling this week. I didn't get everything done that I had wanted to beforehand, so we had a light week. I like to plan several weeklong units that are something different that what we normally do to give the kids a change of pace. I decided to just go ahead and do one of those units this week. We studied economics. I know. Very lightweight, indeed.

We used "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy" (which I even learned a lot from) and some free comic books from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. I found various worksheets and vocabulary games and activites for the older kids on the internet, and some lapbook suitable items for the younger kids here and here.

I'm planning another weeklong unit for Thanksgiving. Last year we focused on Jamestown and the Pilgrim settlement, but this year I think we'll take it easier and just make some treats and read some books from that time period.

We'll do a two week long unit before Christmas with a Jesse tree. Here are the devotionals and here are the ornaments to cut out. (I have not explored everything on that website, and have even changed a little of the wording in the devotionals, so use these at your own discretion.) I also have some fun treats and crafts planned.

In the spring, we are also going to do a weeklong unit on Resurrection Day (Easter). I'm really excited about this one. I found a copy of a Haggadah online, (here is a copy of one, it is not the exact one I am using-I can't seem to find the link to it.) so we are going to have a Passover feast. We had a Messianic Jew come to the church we attended about ten years ago and give a presentation of the Passover feast with explanations to all the prophecies that it represented- that Christ fulfilled. It was so interesting. We have the vidoe tape that was made from the presentation. We'll also do some other fun treats and crafts. I found some neat monologues from The Joyful Heart, we'll make Resurrection buns and Resurrection cookies. I'll supplement with various other coloring sheets and minibooklets to make a lapbook.

And last, but certainly not McLeast, we'll do a St. Patrick's Day one-day unit. I have a free lapbook unit that I got as a freebie from Hands of Child and a free unit study from Homeschool in the Woods. I don't believe either of these are available as freebies anymore, but there are many free goodies to be found just by using your search engine. Here is a fun Lucky Charms graph.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Musings

Remember those fun little crafts from long, long ago called Shrinky Dinks? You color a design on a piece of plastic, cut out the design and place it in a warm oven. Then a magical transformation takes place and the plastic design becomes a small hard plastic design that you can wear as jewelry, or even fancier, a keychain.

Someone must've been deep cleaning in their craft closet, because I found two packs of them for fifty cents at Goodwill. I think the kids enjoyed them. It kept them busy for a full forty five minutes. They will remember them fondly, Brooke as "shrinkie dinkies", Tristan as "Shrinkie Winkies" and Thomas as "weensie dinkie pinkies".

In other news, Bailey has her first tooth! It is on the bottom right. She has been forewarned not to use any new tooth skills during nursing. She appears to have taken that warning very seriously.

She had her first solid food a week and a half ago. She did not have bananas because I definately started her off with rice cereal so not to develop any food allergies, and proceeded carefully onto vegetables and then fruits at two week intervals, because I always do things the way you are supposed to. Perhaps this should have been a Not Me Monday post. (Just for the record, I definately did not give her a small bite of ice cream either.)

She also learned how to roll over, both ways. So now she rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls.........

Thomas apparently thinks corn tastes much better when you are sitting on the table.

Thomas also asked me if I was "going to drive that lawnmower" the other day when I went out to do yardwork. This is funny because we don't have a riding lawnmower. It's a push mower. He also talks about "driving" the vacuum cleaner.
It was Timothy's birthday on August 11th. He turned nine. I was going to try to have a friend party for him, but we just couldn't work it out. Sorry, R and C. :(

Happy Birthday, Timothy!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Show us Your Life Baby Showers!

If you're coming over from Kelly's blog today to see the baby showers, I had already done two posts on them, so here they are..........

Baby Shower: Kim's and Mine for Bailey Caroline

Brittany and I made the diaper cake for Kim, and Brittany, Bethany and Brooke made the pink diaper cake for Bailey and me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yes, we are still here.

No, we have not fallen off the face of the earth, or spontaneously combusted, nor has the rapture occurred. I am just trying to get my school planning done because the kids are dying to start school by the first week in September. Which is in less than two weeks.

So, I am trying to get everything finished and planned because you all know, because I've said it a million times, that I like to get my planning done over the summer. No more planning gets done by me during the school year. So, if we are doing it, I have to plan it now.

Yes, I did say the kids are "dying to" start school, not "dying at the thought of" starting school. I try to make it interesting to me fun for them and they also enjoy the structure our day has when we are doing school. I do have to occasionally remind them of this when they are complaining about their math lesson. Or the occasional spelling lesson.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Not Me Monday....

I realized I had not posted a Not Me Monday in a long while, and there have certainly been lots of things that we certainly have not been doing lately.

Thomas definately did not get into the girls' craft paint and and make a trail of non-washable green paint through the living room carpet, because green is not his favorite color. Now, his favorite color is obviously red.

Thomas also has not taken over protecting the family, instead of running around calling everyone names with various forms of "potty" language.

Brittany has not been practicing cake decorating lately, and of course, nobody is willing to eat the experiments.

Lastly, the children have totally not roasted marshmellows with a skewer over a Party Lite candle because what kind of mother would promote such dangerous and irresponsible behavior?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Guess who's five months old?









I bring my family joy at every waking (and not so waking) moment.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Death by Chocolate

I bribed the children when we went grocery shopping that if they cleaned the house, we would bring them home a treat. I meant some cookies or something simple. So, as I was choosing through the frozen vegetables I sent David to go get something for them, and what does he come out with? A double chocolate satin frosted cake with chocolate piped fluted icing, adorned with chopped pecans.

I said, "Sweet mercy! Now what are you getting for the children?" And, he said, "This is for the children, it's cheaper than the cupcakes."


We left Kroger, only after answering three different people, "No, we aren't having a party, we just have eight children", hence the two carts overflowing with various food items. Note, I have been tempted on various occassions to reply, "No, I just eat alot." Which, is actually somewhat true.

We did come home to a mostly clean house, deserving, I guess, of the double chocolate, satin cake. So, after cutting them all a piece, there was one piece left. It had two, yes two, chocolate piped fluted mounds on top. I know.

So, I did what any doting mother would do to her deserving children, and shoved that baby behind the bread so no one would see it. Don't judge me.

Did I enjoy my little chocolate, satin slice of pure heaven coated with with chopped pecans?

I give you Exhibit A.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Geography links

Here is a link for lessons and activities for each state, to accompany the "Discover America State by State Series".

Crayola has coloring sheets for the fifty states. Also on their site are coloring sheets for the Canadian Provinces, animals, vehicles, landmarks, countries with their flags and maps, and presidents.

I like these International Recipes and cooking lessons for kids. Check around the rest of this site. There's all kinds of goodies on there!
Here are some recipes from around the world.
A nice collection of maps from Education place.
We are using these maps for our study of Africa.

Some geography games online....

National Geographic Geospy

Play Kids Games
I Like to Learn
A "tetris" style geography game

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hike! Gee! Haw!

My friend Wendy piqued my interest in the Iditarod a couple of years ago. I am not one to put something together at the last minute, so we didn't do it last year. We didn't do it this year because I was due with a baby at about the time the race was starting. So, finally, Iditarod 2010 here we come! I know it is a bit early to be posting this, but you know I plan all my stuff over the summer so I don't have to go back and plan stuff over the school year.

We are going to do a notebook/lapbook type thing (I maybe need to come up with a word for this- lapping notebook?) and since we have recently made some wonderful friends in Alaska, we going to study the whole state. We'll do this study for 15 weeks for the second half of our school year. (The first half we are going to do a study of Africa. Africa to Alaska? I know, what a contrast!) We will do Geography one afternoon a week. I am planning on taking the week that the Iditarod is actually going on, off from regular schoolwork and we'll just focus on some read alouds and daily musher tracking and updates, and that sort of thing.

I've tried to include websites with most of the material we'll be using, but a few of the things that I have I didn't get from the internet.

The Official Iditarod site.

Homeschool in the Woods has a great Alaska/Iditarod unit study.

Scholastic has some Iditarod information, and some ideas in their Teacher guide that you may want to include.

Here is is a wealth of Iditarod information, things to print and links to other The Iditarod Airforce site has some information and pictures.

How about an Iditarod Tic Tac Toe? We will also use the coloring page from this site.

We will use the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky pages from Enchanted Learning.

Here are some different activities to print, but we will only use the "Alaska map quiz" from this page.

We are going to include this thermometer idea.

Here are some good dog and sled color pages.

Here is a pattern to make dog booties. I know there are other patterns out there, but I can't seem to find them and this one is pretty simple. There are also neat directions for an Eskimo wooden sled. (That we will not make.)

Here are instructions for making a popsicle stick dog sled.

Homeschool Share has several studies to go with Alaska/Iditarod related books, we won't be doing all of these, but I thought I would include them. Generally with any prepared study, I always just pick and choose the things that stand out to me.

Baby in a Basket by Gloria Rand

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett Also, I am planning on making a felt story for this book from the color pages on Jan Brett's website.

And, a study on Polar animals.

A Moose cam

Alsaka Cam

The start of the race should be able to be seen on this cam.

Here are some neat pictures of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Some of them are taken of the South Pole, but they are neat.

Take a self guided lesson on Aurora's. This will be a great tie in with the astronomy unit we are doing.

Here is another Aurora site with pictures, but I specifically bookmarded this site for the photo showing the sun's movement across the horizon in Fairbanks. The picture is on the right hand column of the page.

Here are some good pictures of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. I have not read the information on this site, we are just going to discuss what happened, and the impact it had on the ecosystem. Here are some experiments if you would like, but we aren't going to do any of these because quite frankly, oil and seven children equals MESS. And, we are doing other experiments for our science lessons anyway, and we will do the insulation experiment from the unit from Homeschool in the Woods.

Here are some some of Alaska's volcanocams.

Some info on polar bears.

How about these printouts of the flag, map, bird and flower.

We'll hightlight the Iditarod rules.

Here is a book and video list. I haven't looked at all of these, but most of these titles kept turning up again and again in my research. I'm planning on choosing the ones that are available at our library. You can just use what books you have collected or what you have available at your own library. We will use some of the chapter books as read alouds when we take the week of the Iditarod to just focus on the race itself. I won't really have time to preview all of these books now, but I WILL look them over/read through them before I actually sit down to use them with the kids. Please just be forewarned to do the same and use your own discretion.


Woodsong by Gary Paulson

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner

The Bite of the Gold Bug: A Story of the Alaskan Gold Rush" by Barthe Declements

The Alaska Purchase by Daniel Cohen

Aurora: The Mysterious Northern Lights by Candace Savage

Baby in a Basket by Gloria Rand

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

Akiak: A Tale from the Iditarod" by Robert Blake

Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race" by Libby Riddles

The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie Miller

Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Togo by Robert Blake

The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill

"Iditarod Classics" and "More Iditarod Classics" by Lew Freedman

Adventures of the Iditarod Air Force by Ted Mattson

The Mystery on Alaska's Iditarod Trail by Carole Marsh

The Iditarod Dream: Dusty and His Sled Dogs Compete in the Junior Iditarod" by Ted Wood


Iron Will, Call of the Wild, Balto, Eight Below, Snow Dogs, and we have various documentaries on Alaska at our library.

I went through and collected all the printouts and ideas that I had and made a basic frame for my 15 week study. Your outline doesn't have to look like this, or be 15 weeks. It could be longer or shorter and you can cover whatever topics you want. Here is the basic framework and what we will cover, but I'm not including the exact lesson plans because yours will look different depending on how many weeks you choose, topics you choose and resources that you own or have at your library.

We also are going to use some tracing paper to make map overlays.
Week 1: Introduction to Alaska (facts, population, temperatures, etc)

Week 2: Maps (Overlays to include cities, bodies of water, mountains/volcanoes, Iditarod trail, artic circle)

Week 3: Maps/Volcanoes and Mountains (compare elevations with other US mountain ranges)

Week 4: Wildlife

Week 5: History (Alaska Purchase/Gold Rush and timeline)

Week 6: Poems and Stories (Alaska poetry/legends/felt story with "Three Snow Bears"

Weeks 7-11: Iditarod (We will actually spend the entire tenth week off from regular school to do just Iditarod stuff.) map overlay of the trail, anatomy of a dog team/sled, supplies, food, command terms, race rules, read alouds, recipes, videos, crafts, etc.

Week 12: Native People (Inuit)

Week 13: Native People (Naives other than Inuit; totem poles)

Week 14: Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights

Week 15: Natural Resources-Oil

All of the children will be doing Geography together. The oldest two (9th & 7th grades) will be doing the map overlays, minibooklets on the different subjects, timeline, and smaller informational booklets and things to include for the notebooks (three ringed binders) like facts, rainfall, population, etc. The middle two (4th and 2nd grades)- and possibley the 1st grader- will do more simple maps and booklets and color sheets to include in their notebooks. Although I think I will have the 4th grader do a three ringed binder and the 2nd and 1st grader (and probably the 4yo) do just pronged folders. The 2yo will have a limited attention span so he will mostly do the color sheets, maybe play with the felt stories and look at the books or play with legos while we read. Or whatever else will keep him busy and not fussy. :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Move over C.S. Lewis, there's a new writer in town.

I contributed an article to the Old Schoolhouse Magazine last year for their e-book on homeschooling preschoolers. It's finally been finished and is available in The Old Schoolhouse Store! This is the first time I've been 'published'-do I get to call myself an 'official' writer now?

Click on over to Fortunately For You books and read the review.

Here is the link to the Old Schoolhouse store.

The section I wrote is "Teaching Preschoolers".

Pretty exciting!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


David told Brittany that she could get her ears pierced when she was 14. That day finally came yesterday. Although when I reminded him, he said that no, he had definately said age 16. Such a kidder.

David took her to Claire's. She chose her birthstone. She wasn't even nervous. She said it didn't even hurt.

Birthday girl and her beloved cheesecake.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Musings

A very tired boy.

Tristan always has a funny way of saying things. Last week he says, "I don't know, Mom, but I stepped on something and now my 'foot pinkie' hurts."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Away down south in Dixie

I feel a small need to redeem the south, namely South Carolina, with its rising unemployment, its cheating governor, and its serial killer and all. I wasn't raised in South Carolina, but I've been here for eleven years. My family is from a little town in Alabama way out in the woods. When I first met David he was afraid I'd drop him off and he would have to use his Marine Corps land navigation skills to get back to civilization. This is also where "Courtney Lane" is.

I have always lived in the south, well except for the three years we lived in Hawaii. The weather in the south is great. Here in South Carolina we have two seasons "Great golly it's Hot" and "It's cold during the month of February, but we can still wear shorts through December". Further south you have "Really Hot" and "Not too Hot" and a little further north you have "Hot" and "Here comes that once-every-two-years-ice storm".

A little, or perhaps most, of my souther drawl has faded. No longer, "III'd liiiike a Spriiiite, thank youuuuu." I believe I left it in Hawaii when everyone kept asking, "Honey, when are you going to lose that southern accent?" However, I have held on to most of my southern vocabulary. It's just inbred. You can't lose that. Here are some examples:

Hey!: Used as a greeting, or as an interjection as in, "Hey! Why did you just smack your brother in the head?"

Y'all: Used as a plural pronoun, as in, "Are y'all just going to sit there while your brother runs around with a serrated bread knife and a pudding cup?" A less desirable "you guys" is used in the north.

Fixin' to: Used as a verb, as in, "I am fixin' to come up there if y'all don't stop that!"

git: Also known to some as "get", used as in, "Git your brother out of the toilet!"

Bless your heart: Used sympathetically as in, "Oh, you just fell down three flights of stairs, broke both legs, and need a body cast? Well, bless your heart!"

Say!: Used as a command, as in, "Did you just cut your sister's hair with those scissors? Say!"

I'll be dog!: I don't actually use this term, but my granny did. It is used as an exclamation when you are surprised about something, as in, "The kids are all playing nicely without arguing? Well, I'll be dog!

fo' shizzle: Oh, wait-that is not southern.

Certainly the south has had its share of difficulty. I mean we did try and secede from the union. Well, not me personally. But, I do have a rebellious side. I rip off my "do not remove" pillow tags right away. Do not try to control me.

The south also has the best food- fried chicken, fried catfish, fried okra and fried squash. Notice a theme? The south is not cholesterol friendly. We do eat our vegetables. As long as you simmer them for at least an hour to make sure every last nutrient has been leached out. Then add a stick of butter. And cornbread on the side. Mmmmmm. You can't get any better than that.

The deep south is the setting for many of my fondest memories. I recall sitting in my Granny and Papa's trailer on Friday nights watching "Dallas" after the local high school football game. Except that I don't like Dallas, or high school football, but that's really beside the point. I remember when you told someone how to get to that trailer by saying, 'It's up the road a piece- cross the bridge and take a left at the crossroads." I remember picking up the phone and hearing the neighbor talking because we had a "party line". I remember when "going to town" just meant you were going into town. I remember my papa filling up his truck with gas on "credit" when credit meant saying, "I'll come back on Tuesday and pay you."

I have visited the north-my husband is from Chicago. But, there is just something about the south. I will always call it home.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I would like to thank the academy.....

I won.

I won!


Isn't it fun to win?

I entered a contest over at Saving the Family Money. This is a neat blog- I mean who doesn't like saving the family money? And, I won this really fun Applebee's prize pack. It's the very first thing I have won from a blog contest. A very momentous occasion.

It arrived in the mail today all wrapped up in a bow.

A calculator was also part of the prize, but I didn't realize I neglected to put it on the desk til after I'd taken the pictures and downloaded them.

I would like to thank the academy and especially all of the little people for making this possible.
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