Monday, October 31, 2011

A Happy Halloween

Trick or Treating tonight was the icing on the cake as far as Halloweens go. My kids have gotten to wear their costumes multiple times for different parties and events.  Henry was a little melancholy  when he handed me his costume tonight when we got home. He questioned "When am I going to get to be Darth Vader again?".  I explained that he could be Darth again next year, the costume would most likely still fit.  He gave me a little nod and a happy smile.

So here they are in all their Halloween finery ready to go out trick or treating.

Molly really enjoyed trekking from house to house and filling her little bag.
This little Kangaroo outfit has been worn by each of my kids when they were 2.  I certainly feel like it was well worth the 3 dollars I paid for it years and years ago.
Here is our little crew outside of one of the well decorated houses in the neighborhood.
Upon arriving home, the sorting began. Everyone dumped out their bags and they arranged all the loot into kinds.

We all ate a little too much candy tonight and play to give at least half of this stash to the Bishop to hand out to the kids each week at church.
But for tonight the kids are relishing the fun and sweats. 
Happy Halloween!


The last few weeks I have been experiencing some rash and itching on my face. It is the same exactly location that I experienced poison oak a few months ago and it felt a lot like poison oak except there weren't any blisters. I just itched and got a bit swollen. It would go away and then come back in the same spot. Yesterday my eye swelled up and I couldn't help but rub it and rub it because it itches so badly.  I haven't come in contact with any poison oak so I knew that wasn't the culprit. But something was irritating me and making me feel like I was having an allergic reaction.

This morning while laying in bed knowing my eye was puffy still and still trying to figure out what was the cause I suddenly had an epiphany.... MANGOS. I bought a large box of mangos at costco a few weeks ago while we did our India unit. Mangos are native to India. All other mangos in the world are transplants from their native land.  But this morning I suddenly remembered something I had read when we looked up information about mangos. Mango skin contains urushiol. I have been peeling mangos off and on for the last two weeks and since my body is especially sensitive to this lovely oil I developed a rash. I must brush the hair out of my face while I peal mangos or perhaps it developed in that spot because I just recently had an irritation there but mangos seem to explain my problem.

I guess I won't be handling mangos anymore. I can still eat mangos, I just can't peal them anymore. I looked up other foods that also contain urushiol and I guess I shouldn't handle cashews or pistachios either. They are from the same plant family.

So I can still eat mangos. Good thing the flesh is still alright. My family loves mangos and we put frozen mangos in our smoothies all the time. I just can't peel them anymore.

I hope my epiphany is right and that this is all I need to avoid. I really need my eye to  return to normal soon. I am tired of taking antihistamines. Hey I guess I don't need a mask for Halloween my face is pretty scary with my eye all red and swollen like it is. It is sure the scare the trick-or-treaters that come to our door.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two Weeks Worth

I didn't do a report last week so I have two week so cover.

Lets start with History/Geography

My kids really enjoyed our study of India. We read tons and tons of books about India, watched a Bollywood film, played lots of parchessi, tried some curry dishes and then prepared our presentation for Co-op. We used three poster boards and each kids was supposed to present part of it. Sophie ended up doing the entire presentation because the boys got a little shy at the last moment.

We covered some of the Geography of the country, landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and K2, foods, dress, animals, music and religions of India.

I purposely planned our geography presentation to correspond with our chapter from Story of the World for the Week. So last week we read about the ancient Indian people that lived along the Indus River.

This week's History was a little mixed up. Somehow I thought it was supposed to be Africa next so I had the kids draw maps of the continent of Africa and we listened to and read a bunch of Anansi stories. Then when I got around to listening to the next chapter of Story of the World It was China next and then Africa. My kids didn't want to skip ahead to the next chapter before listening to the China Chapter so we ended up listening to both.  Next week we won't be moving but staying and reading all the books about China I have on the shelf. We also started a new Audio Book since we finished Theodosia. We are now listening to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
which is a Chinese story.

Sophie is very anxious to get to the next chapters of SoTW because we will be going back to Egypt and we will finally finish up our Chicken Mummy. We will see if I can hold her back one more week so we can give China a chance in our studies.

Science is going ever so slowly. We made it through the digestive system at last. There are a lot of different organs and such involved in that one system it took us a long time to get through it. This week we covered Nutrition. So we got to talk about carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water and how our body uses those items.

Writing is going alright. I can't say I am thrilled with how much my kids write. Ian just does his quick little Writing with Ease assignment and really doesn't like to do anything more. Sophie is doing much better with writing since we switched to IEW's All Things Fun and Fascinating. I feel like she is better learning how to put her thoughts down on paper. I love that it teaches outlining to begin with and builds from there. It has made a big difference.

I also have been teaching them a little more about compare and contrast essays/paragraphs since they have to do one for the Charter school this next month. I gave them the practice prompt and was pleasantly surprised that they did pretty well. I don't feel nearly as stressed about this assignment any more. 

Math plugs along as usual. The boys each are working through their workbooks. Sophie finished her Singapore 5A book this week. I am going to give her a break from Singapore of a bit and she is going to do Pet Store Buisiness math from Simply Charlotte Mason. Sophie was so excited to get started that she already did the start up section and will jump into the first month's business on Monday. Already I can tell she is going to LOVE this. Math used in a real life sort of way is so much more fun than a workbook. Ian want so badly to do a math unit like this but he isn't quite ready for it yet. He does sit with Sophie and plan things out with her and help her gather the information she needs.

Piano continues to go well. The kids practice every day. I have to push them but they don't fight it too much and I know they enjoy having little songs that they can play whenever they see a piano.

Artist/Musician study has happened but very informally. I have put on The Story of Beethoven when I start making dinner or when the kids are just playing legos. They have also listened to the Classics for Kids production of Beethoven Lives Upstairs. The kids are learning to play Ode to Joy and will be learning Fur Elise next week at the piano class so I thought it fitting that we should study Beethoven.  Our artist is Matisse. We have watched a video that I picked up at the library and that is all so far. I have a number of books to read and I know the kids will enjoy the art projects I have planned. I just need to fit them into our packed schedule.

So that is what we have been up to lately.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Draw like an Egyptian

 Sophie has been spending a lot of time drawing pictures of all the different Egyptian Gods and other characters.  She is getting really good at creating scenes of Ancient Egypt.  What better way is there to pass the time while you listen to audio books.

This is the book I picked up at the library which has been a great help for her drawings.
I think I need to to find her a little better way for her to add color to these drawings because the markers are not my favorite medium. Our colored pencil stash is sadly lacking at the moment. I need to grab a new box soon. One of those school supplies I should have stocked up on while they were on clearance a month or so ago, but forgot about them.

Here is how the book explains to draw the figure of Isis. 

Isis is especially important because that is who Sophie says she is for Halloween. She has an Egyptian costume. She wanted wings but I just don't have the energy to throw that part together for her.

Here is Sophie's version of Isis.
She has been very busy! And now knows so much about all the Egyptian gods. She can tell you what animal head each has and what kid of hat each wears as well.

I think she is doing a great job! She now draws these on every scrap of paper she can find. She doesn't even need the book to look at for directions. They are now engraved into her memory.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reading about Education

I recently finished yet another book about education. Over the years I have read loads of people's thoughts on what an education is, the trouble with the public school system, different approaches to teaching, the importance of certain subjects and how they should be taught.

The most recent book I finished is called The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education. I can't say this book told me anything I hadn't already read before. Especially since I already agree with much of what the author says and actually practice much of what she describes.  I don't think this book even comes close to teaching what a Classical Education looks like when you compare it to The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. I read Bauer's book before Sophie was even old enough for Kindergarden so I can't help but think of it first when I consider Classical Education. I check it out of the library at least once a year to revisit the lists and ideas presented.

Another book that also presents Classical Education but calls it Leadership Education because the approach is a little different  is A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century.  I say the approach is different because this book doesn't give you lists of things to do for each grade level but instead gives you principles to use as you explore all the many different subjects out there.  I really LOVE the principles of Leadership Education and try to incorporate them into our schooling. I have read many of the other books written by DeMille and others that follow this approach and can see the benefits but I felt like I needed to also look to other sources in order to gather ideas for the day to day subjects and methods that I should guide my children toward and study with my children.
I found this guidance from Charlotte Mason.  I have borrowed her Original Homeschooling Series, book by book, from the library and work my way through them.  They are rather long and hard to get through but I have had more luck with books written about her methods than with her original works. I really need to get them again and reread them but I do revisit For the Children's Sake and A Charlotte Mason Companion.  I have both of these on the shelf and I reread them often, especially when I feel like we have run off track and need to come back to the path.

To me Charlotte Mason ideas and the principles of Leadership Education seem to coexist well together.  Charlotte Mason is a little more "school" like than Oliver DeMille describes in Leadership Education but since I am the teacher, principle and school board for my home I can make my house look and act the way I see fit.

So I am sure I will keep reading and rereading books about education. I glean ideas from each, either in an approach to a certain subject, or simply help me look at where we are headed and point us toward the path I want to follow and that I feel is right for my family.

So after reading through this latest book. There are a few things I liked that I really want to do with my kids. In The Core, the author describes what she does for Geography.  She has the children draw the maps themselves.  Right now we look at maps and we even color in maps that are in our Story of the World Activity guide but I really like the idea of laying out the grid and having the kids look at the map and draw that continent or country and label the cities and land formation and such.

One of the things that bothered me about what The Core emphasized was Memorization. Now I do have my kids memorize things. They have poems and scriptures that we memorize but I haven't placed a lot of emphasis on ingraining the dates of a time line into their brains.  I feel like the kids remember names, dates and events because we have covered them enough so that they remember it without me having to tell them to memorize it.  For me it is better to have a general idea of the time period then to know the specific date something happened. Especially at this young age.  In her book she kept using words  that made it sound like kids enjoyed memorizing or were thrilled with the drills she conducted with them.  She must have different children than I do because my kids don't like to be forced into much of anything. But when something is introduced and revisited enough through the course of our unit, the kids learn it without being forced.

I know every home is different and no one approach is right for everyone. I certainly don't subscribe to any one philosophy or method and reject all others. I read as much as I can and take what I like and leave the rest. There are a number of books I revisit often for inspiration or reminders but most I am glad I just checked out of the library.

Here are a few more good ones to see if your library has.

I know this isn't an exhaustive list.  I know I have read many many more.  Are there any that you suggest?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Broken Tusk

In an effort to make this round through Story of the World a little more challenging to Sophie I have been using some of the recommendations from Classical House of Learning's Logic Stage guide. Without me telling her to read these books Sophie has simply gravitated to them when I brought them home from the library. (Except for Gilgamesh the Hero. She enjoyed the picture books I brought home when I read them aloud to the boys but she didn't take any interest in this longer retelling of the story. I didn't push it on her. Maybe if it sits here on the shelf long enough she will get to it eventually.)

Theodosia was one I did read aloud to all the kids and we continue to enjoy the rest of the series. Sophie picked up a copy of Tales of Ancient Egypt and read the whole book for some light night reading.  She now tells me all the stories of the Egyptian gods and acts surprised when I don't know the story that she is referring to. She loves to find the holes in my education!  I can't keep up with her reading so she is quickly schooling me on many subjects.

The Broken Tusk was a book I picked up at the library last week and she found it in my bag during the drive home.  She now knows so much about this Hindu god. At her age I don't even think I knew what Hinduism was or where it was practiced.  She finds these stories or myths, as she usually refers to them, very funny.

So today I asked her if she would like to put together a little book report lapbook.  She got so excited.  I got her a folder and some cardstock and let her do whatever she wanted. I even gave her a picture of Ganesha that I had printed out for our India report.  She wants a few more before the project will be done.  I was really surprised she took to such an assignment.  It isn't a lapbook and it isn't a book report but it will be a perfect way for her to narrate to me the text and have ownership of the presentation.

It works for me. And thankfully it works for her as well.

I have Tales from Africa coming from the library for next week. We will see if she naturally snaps that one up next.