Friday, July 29, 2011

Science for our 2011-2012 school year!

We will be specifically studying four different scientist, but others will be mentioned. For the four main biography studies, we will be notebooking and narrating our information.

In our main program (for History/Geography/and more), Paths of Exploration, most of the science included is related to North American wildlife. The assignments are mostly reading, sketching, information gathering of some sort, and making identification cards. I would describe POE, for us, at least, as a sort of "unit study" so it can be supplemented. Also, for us, it is lacking in science as it's more of a "nature study" than "science" so we are adding in chemistry and physics this year so the kids can enjoy experiments!

The extra science curriculum I chose for us to do was Elemental Chemistry and Elemental Physics, and is downloadable, in PDF form. It is all planned out in either five or two day assignments. We will do five days of science, 30 minutes to 45 minutes each day. We also will be completing two experiments each week, maybe three if they are short.

Science is my son's, Philip, favorite subject, and both kids enjoy the experiments that come with it. I will be using Mr. Wizard books, one is shown above, to implement other hands on activities. I found short and simple activities to supplement and give the kids fun things to do. I will not use the Elemental Chemistry and Physics EXACTLY the way it's written. I have chosen 15 weeks of each of Chemistry and Physics to teach. The remaining 6 will be review/catch-up/as well as studying a little bit of anatomy. The other 15 lessons or so of the chemistry and physics programs can extend to the following school year of 2012-2013.

I also have a book containing science reading comprehension stories and questions for each child, from the Read & Understand Science series by Evan Moore. The subjects in these books are for the most part different than the other things we are studying, and provide a nice way to gain testing practice, etc, for whenever they need it. Ella and Philip will each complete one reading each week.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

two eight year old cousins...

playing with my porcelain and cloth dolls from childhood days-gone-by....the one that Abigail is holding (on the left) plays Edelweiss. Ella is holding a cloth doll that my Grandma Snyder made. Both of those were favorites. In the little carriage behind them are more dolls! Isn't this photograph a bit of the old and and new...crocs...with old fashioned dolls....a vintage quilt, with a sticker on Ella's face. How it blessed my soul to see these girls play like they did that day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Language Arts Supplements for Ella

Why? To learn sentence imitating, prepositional phrases, "chunking" words
into meaningful groups within a sentence, and adverb clauses, to name a few. We won't get through this whole book, which is fine. I'd love to spread out this book into two years, to make the most of the program. We are not going to rush through our curriculum. We have so many treasures and beautiful pieces of work to experience, I am so excited.

One of the beginning things to work on in the book is chunking words into meaningful pieces. Here are two sentences, and the one that is the desired answer is the second...

The / idea of sewing and cutting a / dress by / herself was novel and exciting.
The idea / of sewing and cutting a dress/ by herself / was novel and exciting.
(from The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare)

Here is another book from Killgallon, along the same lines. It uses sentences in books to explain grammar and for the student to practice grammar.
Some of the books to be sample are: Nancy Drew, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and more.
We will match the subject to the predicate, and identify the subject, and more.
Another book of A LOT of material to go through.

The next set of books is by Michael Clay Thompson. I was attracted to this series of books because of the unique way grammar (Sentence Island/Grammar Island/Practice Island), vocabulary (Building Language), and poetry (Music of the Hemispheres) is presented. I will even use some of the chapters for Philip. The visual content is fantastic- it uses bolded or red or blue words and simple graphic designs to guide your eye. There's a simplicity about the instruction. A lot of white space in some cases. So, if you are looking for a normal grammar book, this isn't it!

So, these books are for me to use where it seems fitting. Or, when we may need a change of pace, or if we need more review and practice.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

my sweet!

that she did all on her own. she was so cute that day. she is every day, but something
about the new hair do!

and then this sweet, sweet expression...

and buddy pretending he is a Jedi, guarding her with his light saber,
i mean stick.

innocent much to treasure these days.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reading and Writing for Ella

This year, I plan on increasing the intensity of Ella's reading and writing, especially writing. Last year, we did a handful of writing exercises beyond Writing With Ease Level One. I DO like the Writing With Ease concept however, we will be doing much dictation and narration with our history and geography curriculum that I decided it may be a little "too much" of the same thing. In addition to that, I wanted her to be more involved with Literature studies, and had a feeling that we'd have to focus our writing alongside whatever literature selections we came up with.

I have to pause and say, before I introduce our chosen reading and writing curriculum that I labored over the decision for the writing A LOT. The variety of writing how to's is mind boggling- there were several options that looked great, and some not so great, or some that would not do well with Ella's learning style. As a fine reader, she excels in this area. Contrary to popular belief, though, being a good reader or excellent reader, as I believe Ella is, as well as an excellent speller do not go hand in hand. I have read studies and read on forums about other students who are excelling at reading but the idea of being a natural speller isn't so. Ella will do excellent with her spelling work and tests, but when it comes to writing on her own, the spelling she knows flies out the window for the most part. So, I have decided to do away with a specific choice of any spelling program and work within the books we read. That means- a lot of extra work for me. That means- Ella is going to really really USE these spelling words and I can CREATE what she needs to do and practice so she can REALLY LEARN how to spell when she writes on her own! To accomplish this, I have taken out spelling words from several different books that we'll start out with and I have made literature units.

One of the first books we will read is Tippy Lemmey. I actually will use it as a "read aloud" so Philip can enjoy it as well. This will not be a complete literature unit, but basic comprehension and spelling. After this book, which will take two weeks, we will begin Because of Winn Dixie. I will have spelling lessons for her, and using the Arrow put out by Brave Writer, we will explore grammar, writing, and literature studies each week for three to four weeks. Every month, we are going to use the Arrow to combine her literature with grammar and learning about the elements of literature. Other books we will use are: Turn Homeward Hannalee (one I loved as a child, and just found in my old book stash, coincidentally), Carry On Mr. Bodwitch (a book we are going to read for history as well in our first unit), Caddie Woodlawn, Thimble Summer, A Door in the Wall, Treasures in the Snow (I loved this book as a child), The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis), Ginger Pye, and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (which we have already in our homeschool library). Like Philip, we will be using a few Progeny Press PDF interactive guides if time allows. On average, we will be reading one extra book a month beyond what we are reading for History.

Our curriculum for history and geography actually includes writing exercises each week, narration, and dictation. As well as word study, some spelling, reading, science, and a few art projects. But I read the Brave Writer's handbook called the Writer's Jungle and after reading this, felt so encouraged and equipped to handle the teaching of writing to my children. I loved her suggestions for guiding children along the writing path. She stresses not forcing the writing and challenged the mom- the teacher- to really become a supporter, not critic, of the child's work. More on The Writer's Jungle later- there's so much good in there I don't know where to start! I need to outline a blog post for it!

A little bit about our reading and writing curriculum

I will have to break this information up into a few posts. We are using a wide variety of materials. First up, Philip.

Last year he read first and second grade readers (shown above are the two first grade readers, Days Go By and More Days Go By) from Rod and Staff's collection of Pathway Readers. He really enjoyed the stories- they are sweet and wholesome, mostly about the children and interactions with animals, at least the younger books are. We did not use the workbooks because I wanted him to just focus on his reading so this year I decided we'd go ahead and reread the books as well as working in the accompanying workbooks, for phonics and spelling instruction as well as comprehension. Now, I expect him to work through these fairly quickly, and we'll move on to third grade readers, which we also have already!

Along with those readers we are going to use a book from Memoria Press, a classical educational company that provides literature studies, latin, and more. I've always been curious about their products, as I do enjoy some of the classical way of learning. The first book to read as instructed in More Storytime Treasures is Billy and Blaze...a story about the adventures of a boy and his horse. The other books to be read and used in this curriculum are Blaze and the Forest Fire, The Story About Ping, Sotne Soup, Miss Rumphius, The Little House, and Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. The latter book we already have as well as The Story About Ping. There are activities involving vocabulary, grammar, and comprehension. It looks simple but thorough enough, and paired with the Pathway Readers, I feel we have a good journey into the language arts for first grade. I will go over other literature guides we may read further into the year, such as PDF interactive ones put out by Progeny Press, for Wagon Wheels, and Sam the Minuteman, for example. I wanted to add some historical Step 3 readers that pertain to what we are studying for history.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Vision for Lucy, a review

Oh, can I just say what a pleasure it was to read A Vision for Lucy?! As a lover of photography, I was yet hooked again by a main character's passion. It was a unique plot- a woman photographer in the late 1800s who, of course, meets negativity about her journey to be a professional. She was a determined woman who set out with a main goal- obtain a photographer's position at a local newspaper. With that as her goal, she had to set out to get a photograph of a man the townspeople thought as "wild."

Right up front, Lucy tells David she needs a photograph of him, after she meets him face to face and learns his name. He doesn't want to give it to her, but soon after they depart begins a series of events that draws them close to each other.

I enjoyed the pace of the book. I also truly loved the little excerpts at the beginning of each chapter from a vintage photography book written by a woman. Some of the information made me laugh right out loud and some I quietly nodded to as well. Thank you for a five star book!

I received this book from BookSneeze and was not required to give a positive review.

thanks to Last of the Mohicans...

i was able to go canoeing with my family. i used to canoe and be very comfortable. I even went white water rafting a couple times for Pete's sakes. But comfortable now, not so much. something about water, large amounts of it, bothers me. but, towards the end of our Guilford Lake family get together, i hastily decided to go canoeing with my boys- my husband, Will David, and Philip. i quickly decided to pretend i was someone else to enjoy the journey.

that's where Last of the Mohicans comes in. my favorite movie. EVER.

because i'm a romantic, a lover of dramatic love stories, a girl who often thinks she was born in the wrong century...this movie is my favorite. and Cora, one of the most remarkable heroines i've ever encountered. so i pretended to be her.

no one really knew that i was her when we set off at first. or went past the first little island. and around the next. and further out into the middle of deep, dark, murky, cold, waters....but i was. something about the ability we have to be creative and imagine is truly amazing...what a gift God gave us. the ability to think and create, even while we know reality for what it is.

but in the picture above, i was definitely NOT Cora, but the mom who, at the end of our canoe trip, felt confident after all in a boat called a canoe, with my strong men behind me.

The Lady of Bolton Hill, review

When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts--and lives--hang in the balance?

I was sold on reviewing the book, The Lady of Bolton Hill, because of the cover. It was
elegant, simple, and classy. I was NOT disappointed. It was filled with the same
elegance, but in writing. Even within the first few pages, as the author sets up her story
of the two childhood friends, I was hooked. As a pianist, I prefer Chopin, and it was
delightful to be able to have a connection like that between the characters and myself.
I thought Clara proved to be a strong heroine, even though she had gotten herself in
several seemingly inescapable situations. For the most part, I liked Daniel's character,
but some of his decisions did not set will with me, and I don't know how gracious I would
have been if I had been Clara. Secondary characters were well developed, and I agree
with another reviewer who had written she hoped the villain, Bane, would turn up in
another book. That would be interesting as well, for it was a clever aspect in character
development as far as how Bane changed. This book has great substance- love, faith,
adventure...and I recommend it to those who favor works of historical fiction.
This book was provided by Bethany House and I am not required to write a positive

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

so I made playdough for the kids a few days ago

for the first time ever and look what happened. silly me. forgot to mix the food coloring beforehand so i was stuck with brightly colored hands for a day or so. that stuff just doesn't come off well. but it was funny. i actually enjoyed having my hands look like this . even when i went to pick up pizza.

and i did this especially for WD because he's a playdough maniac. he loves it and could play with hours. Buddy loves his travel tangoes and could play for hours. Ella loves the newly covered wall with chalkpaint so she could do THAT for hours, play with chalk. my other kid, Rich- hehe- could play with remote controlled cars for hours. i love how our family loves simplicity. it warms my heart. not denying we all love our computer time- i'm almost obsessed with my iPad but it is so convenient and helpful during the day. for reading, email, homeschool planning, educational apps for the kids, music, internet searching for projects, writing, and's wonderful. but i do think our household thrives on what we can do just SIMPLY. and i don't think we are as simple as we COULD be. but we are happy with what simplicity we DO have, and it's refreshing.

but back to the playdough....

it was a delightfully new and fun that day...and still is...

Monday, July 18, 2011

my sweetie took these lovely photographs....

last night at Ella's horseriding lesson
the above photo....takes my breath away, and I am So
Impressed with him!
it's a gorgeous shot, and worthy of a canvas I say!

cantering a bit...

bonding with the horse...

look at that swishing tail!

I was told she did great, and she told me she talked to Vern, the horse, more
which is a good thing- he needs to know her and know that SHE is BOSS!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

a Sunday to remember

Ella and her cousin, Sydney, a few weeks back, doing cartwheels. This photo is so FUN, it makes me smile.

Ella was a sweet big sister for Will David...she was blowing all sorts of bubbles for him to chase after and pop.

On to more recent times...

We had an event-filled day. This morning we decided to drive to a different town and enjoy their park with the intention of going out to lunch afterwards. At the park, we let the kids play for awhile then went for a family walk on the trails. Philip and Ella were ahead of the rest of us and we saw them move closer to a trash can along the trail then yell and come back to where we were. They said they heard something. We approached the trashcan. Rich decided he'd look in it. No sooner than he got closer and peered in cautiously he jumped back with great force, and told us there's a raccoon in it. Oh boy, well, we didn't stick around. A raccoon, during the day, with our children around, we weren't taking any chances. So off we went on a side trail, walking a bit faster to get away. We actually made a loop and came back, and the kids wanted to see if it was still there. I am thinking, meanwhile, hmmmmm...really? Well, Rich lifted Buddy up and the went a bit closer to the container and Buddy said, no raccoon. That thing must've hightailed it after we left. Made for interesting conversation about the behavior of animals.

Lunch was a success, as well, and we came home because it was so hot. In no particular order, WD took a nap, I worked on school stuff, read part of a book, Rich took the kids to a ball field where they all drove their RC cars, Rich mopped the basement floor we are working on, the kids chilled out in front of the T.V., played with my dollhouses and miniatures that I stilllll have, and we ALL rode bikes at a big parking lot down the street. YES, I mean ALL. I mean ME. I haven't ridden my bike in years. Probably at least 12! I was a little wobbly at first, and that seat was a bit uncomfortable, but it was fun. I had to take my time turning. Ella was so cute, as she said after we'd ridden for 10 minutes or so, "Mommy, you're getting better!" Oh, that made me chuckle. She was so encouraging. Rich pulled WD on his little bike with a rope. But, WD wasn't into riding. He sat and basically just watched us make fools of ourselves riding around in circles.

However, it made for some fun family times.

Ending it now, with kids now bathed, final snacks being eaten, and blogging, I feel so blessed today. Yes, we did miss church, but God provided us with so much of His goodness today, and we as a family embraced it. We were healthy, safe, and joyful. We worked hard too. Played hard. Ate good food. Enjoyed each other's company. I saw so much love from Philip towards myself, as we talked Star Wars. Ella helped me with my old books and organizing them downstairs. She ended up wanting to read my Nancy Drew books and Mandy series. She is already reading one of the Mandie series, which is STILL popular today, believe it or not! She said she loves the book.

One of the final "play" things the kids did today was playing with my dollhouses, as I previously mentioned. They set up a couple houses, and Philip, my goodness, he loved all the little treasures I was looking through and deciding what to keep or what to toss. They said it is their new favorite thing to do..and it makes me so happy. I cannot even express the simple joy I have from that...I've been waiting for the time when they'd enjoy those little treasures I've kept from my childhood. It has come, and it filled my heart with this calm, steady gladness. As we are fixing up our basement (we have flooring to look at for part of it, some chalkboard paint to get, some bean bags to purchase, some stuff for the walls to find) we are slowly seeing progress and the kids are anticipating the new space they can use. My vision for the new area is not high-priced, but simple and non cluttered and using a lot of what we have. We've gotten rid of the carpet, mopped the floor, set up a basic furniture plan...getting ready to make the particular space usable and pleasant so we WANT to be down there.

Maybe I'm devious but that's why I want to get nice, appropriately colored bean bags for Ella and Philip. They will be basement only ones, as space in the upstairs is limited, and I want also to have my vintage alphabet cards displayed as well as a magnetic strip to hang artwork of the kids. The small round table Rich and I used when we were first married sits in the middle of the space, and it really looks nice like that. Other pieces will follow...but for now I digress. It's time to end the post of my ramblings!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

end of the week tidbits

today i came up with another nickname for ella. sometimes we call her el, or e, or sweetie, of course. but this evening when we were just outside for a little bit, i noticed she had a few freckles on her nose. the summer sun, that's what did it, and i think it's as cute as can be.

so, her new nickname? freckles! and she likes it!

will david sometimes calls me by my real name. i roll my eyes every time. he knows he's being silly and then does it more. but the way he says it is sweet and ornery at the same time!

people at church for some reason have always called him just will. no will david. no wd. i asked him what he liked better, and didn't get a real clear answer, as he just said a name of one of his little friends. well, THAT didn't help. ;)

i took a walk with the kids around the block to the little store on the corner, and they bought themselves ice cream. even for wd.

and the exciting news of the day....Philip lost his very first tooth! the tooth fairy is no longer a secret at our house, neither is Santa Claus. sad, you may say, but to be honest, we're relieved. they figured it out on their own, and i don't want to lie when they ask. there's no sadness for them and they understand they can't ruin it for other kids if they still "believe." in fact, they try to play it up more for WD and have fun with it.

and on that note, i picked up Ella's little "doodle diary" and was sweetly surprised when i saw a certain page. the title was "what makes me happy?" and she had written, "God is good." Another page, "I'm glad to have __ in my life..." and she inserted "God." This makes ME happy.

we've been working extra hard, or i should say, praying extra hard and having God lead us to where and how to show them how much God wants to be in their daily lives. with some behavior lately that is a little worse than usual, it got to a point where we need to be extra careful how we respond and what words we say to them about what they said or did. not that these children of ours our terrible...i suppose parents see the worst in their children anyways. it's our responsibility to show them God's love in everyday things, even how we need to respond to not getting our own way. trying not to worry about our parenting, because God is in the driver's seat. i appreciate any little "treasure" about their spiritual walk with the Lord such as in ella's doodle diary. and then she made 3 rules for herself that turned into, like, 5. we have several charts going up in the next few days after i get them laminated. free charts i found- 7 rules for behavior with scripture to go along with them. a contract we all sign. consequences for improper behavior. and also a rewards chart for extra appropriate behavior. i think seeing these rules "in real life" rather than us always saying them will help them understand more and more how to live their lives for the Lord.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride, review

With a head more suited to bookkeeping than a bridal veil, Ida’s dreams include big business- not beaus.

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman, Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.

Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions. She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections—Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.

Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed “suggestions” that young ladies don’t belong in business. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?

I appreciate the author's work in Too Rich For A Bride, however it was not what I had
hoped it to be. It's this: the plot really didn't interest me as thoroughly as I expected. It
could prove to be a better book if I read it again, sometime, but for now, I would rate it
with four-stars. I liked Tucker Raines' character, and thought he was the best man for
Ida. Thankfully, after Ida had made a blunder, he forgave her and wanted to be with
her in life. It was a sweet thing to see how their "courtship" progressed, and even
though trouble hindered them a bit along the way, they both were faithful to him. I think
that was what I like most about this book, the faith element. The author, Mona
Hodgson, did well with adding that element in the novel. It did not seem forced or
generic, but genuine, and exemplary. We ALL fall short but what we do when that
happens is what matters most- laying our sins at HIS feet with humbleness. I was
given a copy of this book from Blogging For Books. I am not required to write a positive

to love horses