Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tea Parties

I haven't yet counted how many times Molly asks me to play dolls with her each day. It is so often and I unfortunately often tell her I can't play and send her on her way. It really is her favorite game. Today while the others were busy I decided to say yes. I sent her to go and get her dolls and we played.

Since she brought me the Alice doll and her doll was dressed as a fairy I suggested the dolls go trick or treating. Molly quickly ran back to her room and grabbed a bunch of stuffed animals to be the people in the houses. Our dolls then walked from one to next saying "trick or treat". Once they were tired and had bags bursting with candy they went and took a nap while the tea party got set up.

 Molly was in heaven while she went and got her play food out and set up all the animals and dolls. She gave each guest something to eat and kept running to her room for more guests and more food.
This poor girl often gets shuffled around most of the day. I am busy helping kids figure out their math, going through a writing lesson or doing some science or history reading.  She just flits around causing chaos and lots of distractions.  I am often brushing her off onto the other kids too. When one finishes an assignment I tell them to go and play dolls with Molly. This doesn't always work because they don't let Molly play the game her way.

It was certainly a fun morning for her so I had to capture a few pictures of her tea party.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tasty Homework

Sophie is really enjoying her Beautiful Girlhood class.  She loves the discussions each week and with some prodding does the reading and writing assignments that are given for homework. A week ago she was given a new assignment or project. This one involves cooking. She is to make some cookies, muffins, quick breads, yeast breads and perhaps even a cake.  Sophie already makes chocolate chip cookies for us almost every Sunday afternoon so we jumped into one of the yeast breads. I thought cinnamon rolls would be a fun yeast bread to do and Sophie didn't seem to fight my choice.

We found a good recipe for rolls and got started. She learned how to not kill yeast (this is something I didn't master until just a few years ago. I finally bought a thermometer) by checking the temperature of the warm water.  She did all the measuring and mixing with only a little supervision from me (and her little sister who can't ever be left out of anything).

I think her favorite part was getting to roll it out after it had risen the first time. She rolled and rolled and ended up with quite a rectangle of dough. She slathered on the butter, sugar and cinnamon and then rolled it up. This is the fun part coming up next. Getting to use a piece of thread to cut the dough into little rolls.

 Even when her brothers asked if they could have a try she wouldn't let them. She was having too much fun and since this was her homework she didn't want to pass this job onto anyone.

 After baking and whipping up the frosting we got to sample her baking.
 There is nothing tastier than a nice warm cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven.
 Then turned out great!
I think next she is going to have do a cake for homework. I think hot fudge sundae cake is in order! I love it when my kids get this kind of homework. I guess since I am usually the teacher I could assign these things but it certainly is nice to have someone else make the assignments at times.  We certainly wouldn't have made cinnamon rolls otherwise. I only make them for special occasions usually.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Doing what they Love

I wish I could list all these great things we accomplished this week for a weekly report. But I have to admit it was mostly just more of the same. My kids are working through their different programs and reading a lot of books but honestly I don't see the joy of learning in their eyes until they get to do the fun stuff or the things that they love.

 Henry has always been more physical. Not that he can't do the usually reading, writing, and arithmatic. He just really loves doing things.  He is always asking for some more time outside riding bikes, or skating, and when he is inside he is tumbling all the time. He is trying to walk on his hands or doing flips onto pillows. So his passion is really Gymnastics. He really wishes he could go to his gymnastics class everyday.

Practicing strength moves on the parallel bars

Henry is determined to do a front flip so his instructor is helping he figure out how to do it safely.

Round offs off the mat.

Walking backward on the beam.

Sophie loves being creative. She made up a Harry Potter Monopoly game this week and the kids had fun playing that a few times. She also really loves her pottery class. Not every pot she attempts is successful but she still enjoys the class and wants to take the next section of the class now that this one if finishing.
Sophie is very proud of these bowls. She painted them with a pheonix on the bottom. 

Ian's passion is for Legos. The mindstorms is always drawing his attention. He can build and rebuilt that robot every moment of the day and not get bored. Henry is often trying to get him to go out and ride bikes or scooters or even jump rope and Ian would rather stay inside and build his robots. He is still working on programming them well. But with time he will get better and better at it.

This is a fork lift he built awhile ago. He has also made a printer and a number of other robots in the last few weeks.

Molly just has a passion for all things girly. She wants to dress up, play dolls, have tea parties and read books about princesses.

So while we do do enough academics to get through our requirements I have to say the kids only do those things because they "have to".  Infact I use that reasoning with Henry often. If I don't have work to put in his portfolio to show we have done math or writing or science then he doesn't get to have his Gymnastic class which the charter school pays for. He understands this and gets his work done but he still doesn't get a thrill for adding up a stack of numbers or from writing yet another sentence with an adjective and an adverb in it.  Ian knows the legos don't get to come out until the daily school subjects are covered and finished. Sophie tries really hard to add artwork and creativity into everything she does but she is always happiest when she is finally given freedom to do as she wishes.

I am glad my kids are learning to get their work done first before they get to play but I really wish they loved school work more. It would make my job a little easier and I wouldn't feel quite so much like a drill sergeant.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Joy Ride

This morning I woke up from a strange dream and remembered a funny event that I just felt like I needed to write down here for my kids. I often dream about my childhood home and last night my dream took place there in the pasture around my parents house and I think that is what made me thing of this incident which really did happen even it does sound like a dream.
Here is an old picture of my parents house at about 1990  notice the long drive way up the hill and the white fence all along the driveway. There is an island that the driveway wraps around and then there is space at the top for three cars to park.

When I started driving I was given a car to drive that looked a bit like this one but this is not it I just found this one on the internet. I can't remember what year the car was made. I was just happy to have a car to drive.  I would drive up this driveway and park backward into my spot at the top. 
One Saturday a few months after I started driving we got a knock at the door. The lady standing there wasn't familiar at all but she told us one of our cars was down in the street. I ran out onto the lawn and looked down to the street and sure enough my little black car was down at the bottom of the hill tangled in the barbed wire fence that ran along the road. It was partly sticking into the road and partly stuck in the swampy area that always seemed to be at the bottom of the hill.

How did the car get there?

I ran down the driveway to the car and then looked back at the house and followed the path it had taken from the parking spot up near the house, down a 3 ft drop onto the little island the driveway wraps around, then another 3 foot drop to the driveway, through the white wooden fence which now had a few planks busted down, through the pasture and down into the swamp.

I looked at the car and it still looked fine except for the barbed wire scratches across the hood. I ran back up to the house and got my keys and returned to the car. While on my way to the drivers side I noticed some little muddy socks in the mud. That is strange! Then it hit me. My car didn't go down the hill on its own.  I realized my little 9 year old sister (with downs syndrome) had gotten into my car and released the parking break. The car, by shear force of gravity took her on a ride.

I ran back up to the house and called for Julie and sure enough she was there in the house playing as if nothing strange had even happened.  She did have some muddy pants which confirmed my theory about how my car ended up at the bottom of the hill.

The car needed a little help to get out of the mud and wire but once it was out it ran just fine. In fact I drove it for a year or so after this incident. I wish I could say that was the only joy ride Julie went on in this car. There was another time she did a similar thing but must have turned the wheel because rather than going down over the island she turned and crashed through the fence higher up and into the field on the right of the above picture. That was a close one however since she had headed the car toward my parent's propane tank. That could have been a major issue but luckily she missed it.

Growing up with Julie was always eventful! She certainly kept things interesting.

This was just one of many events in the life of my family!

I tried to find a picture of my sister from about this time and couldn't find one in my limited collection. Maybe my Mom can find one. I would love to have one of Julie from about this time.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Molly's game

Molly always wants to do what the older kids are doing. They play games on the Wii and on the computer and Molly wants to play too.  When the others were little they played Starfall a lot. I noticed that Starfall is still free but most of the fun stuff is on the subscribed to site. I don't really want to have to pay a monthly fee to have access to learning games but whenever I would put Molly at the computer to play Starfall she would click over to their paid site and then complain that she couldn't access the games she wanted to play.

I have been receiving emails from ABC mouse for a while asking me to try a free month of access to their site. I figured I would give it a try. I am not out anything and Molly would get to have a "game" of her own.
She asks to play it all the time now. I started her on the Toddler level since she really hadn't ever used a computer mouse. The computer at the library lets her touch the screen to click on things and mostly she has used our tablet for other games. She quickly caught onto using a mouse and quickly made her way through the first few "learning paths" on the ABC mouse site.

She particularly likes the coloring activities. She enjoys adding in lots of different colors.
But I have to say her favorite thing to do is go to the shopping center and use her tickets to buy costumes for her avatar.  She forgets that she has to earn tickets to buy them but also just enjoys going to the shop to try on the costumes.
I think I need to move her up to the preschool level because she is rather bored with the puzzles and such that are offered to her in the Toddler level.  She also loves to have the joke book read to her at the library area of the website. She has been telling us the jokes she has learned from that book. I think she listens to it every time she visits this site.

I don't know if I would actually pay for this site when my free month is up. I just don't want to pay almost $8.00 a month for access to this site. That seems a bit pricey for a toddler learning game.

For now she will enjoy visiting this site and she feels like such a big girl with a game of her own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Patriotic Comic Strip

I love it when I can get two thing done with only one project. So when I was going through Ian's Wolf cub scout handbook I noticed two of the electives are to learn the words to the songs My Country Tis of Thee and The Star Spangled Banner. Since we have been reading so many books about the political process and about America in general I figured this was the perfect time to complete these two electives. My kids know the words to the Star Spangled banner pretty well. We will need to sing it a few more times to really have it. But they didn't know My Country Tis of Thee at all. I decided another comic strip activity was needed in order for them to learn the two verses Ian's handbooks required. So the first and fourth verses were divided into phrases and then written and illustrated on a big paper.

Here is Sophie's. She can whip these out rather quickly. She came up with all the illustrations herself and then wanted to add the color.
 Here is Henry's. If you look closely he left off a line from the fourth verse. I didn't want him to get bent out of shape about it (He has been having a lot of tantrums lately whenever I correct him about anything) so it is what it is. He started a little late on his strip so he didn't color it.

 Ian's looks a lot like Sophie's but with a style all his own.
I hope this little exercise helped them learn the words to this song. We will be adding it (and the Star Spangled Banner) to our hymn singing each morning before scripture so by the end of the month we should have it down pretty well. And I can sign off those two electives in Ian's scout book.

I love it when school things can count for scouts too.


Friday, October 5, 2012

Instead of Medieval History

We don't watch a lot of sports around our house. My husband isn't excited about football or baseball or basketball. His sport of choice is politics. I think I have mentioned this before so it shouldn't be news to anyone. But his "season" is heating up with conventions, debates and all sorts of news. So I thought it would be fitting for us to take a break from our medieval history studies and take some time to read and study a little more about our government and the election process. Here are a sampling of the books we are reading.

I also downloaded a few word searches and crossword puzzles to help us review the vocabulary. I also printed some of the items from Homeschool share's Election lapbook which we will hopefully get around to actually putting in a lapbook.

To go along with this study I figured we could learn a few patriotic songs. Ian needs to learn the words to two verses of America (My country tis of thee) as well as the National Anthem and he can sign off two more electives for Cub scouts. I love it when things we are already doing for school can be used to go toward his scout requirements.

My kids are well aware of our feelings on most issues and it is good to have a chance to explain why we stand a certain way. In fact while I read some of these books I have to edit and correct some of the author's opinions which appear like they are facts. I am so glad I get to read these books with my kids and I get to be the one who teaches this subject with my kids.

 I think they will enjoy coloring in their electoral college maps on election night. It is one of the few things I remember doing when I was in grade school. Regan's map against Mondale wasn't that interesting since it was almost all red but I have that memory in my head of coloring in each state as it was decided.

So we will make our way through this stack of book and hopefully my kids will feel a bit more like they are a part of the process as well as understand how important it is to vote wisely.