Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Edible Art

Yesterday we went to a birthday party. One of the fun events was the piƱata. I wasn't sure how Miss K would do with the blindfold but she was fine. She knew what to do and she was whacking it. J was totally going after it with all his might. Both kids came home with Tootsie Rolls and other candy. Considering the fact that we still have Easter candy I decided it was time to do some edible art. A few years ago we celebrated Tootsie Roll day -- this really is an old candy. We did some art then.

We put the Tootsie Rolls in our pockets while we did some school and then we unwrapped them for art. Last time I had put them in the microwave. This time we just put them in our pockets and that was just as easy as they didn't get hot or melt.

It was hard to work them together. We started just playing with the pieces and then as they got a bit softer we had bigger pieces to work with. I decided this might also count as therapy.

We tried to see what we could make. They seemed the perfect shape and size.

Stonehenge -- a review of our history.

A submarine - she was very proud of what she had made. She also made a fish which I didn't get a picture of.

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Chess and Math Fest

On Saturday J had a chess tournament -- it was a Bug House Tournament. Bug House chess is very fast and played with a teammate so when you teammate captures a piece you are able to place it on your board.

He won a medal for his event. It was a fun thing to do on a rainy afternoon.

The event was held at a local mall. We have decided that this mall is unique in that it is like a community center. There was a chess tournament in one end, a group of ladies crocheting, and at the other end, Math Fest. We did register early so we didn't get the t-shirt but the kids were able to participate in Math Fest.

There were about 20 stations of math activities set up. The children got a page and as they went to each station they got it stamped. There is Rush Hour games to play, a patterning station where the kids made a pattern bracelet with pony beads on a pipe cleaner and some puzzles. J really enjoyed the Busy Beetles. I searched online for that and it looks like it is discontinued.

There was a place to see what dice get rolled the most often. There was Sudoku and a number of other math related things.

There was a Pirate Chase to see which pirate ship could get to the island first. I never totally understand how it was played but Jack won.

If the kids finished eight of the events they were able to get a prize. It was fun and interesting to see how many of the activities we have and use for fun, educational variety to our day.

It was something that was free that we stumbled on while at the mall. it was a rainy afternoon so perfect to fill the time. It would be fun to plan an event like that.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up April 26, 2013

I can't believe it is almost the end of April. We are finally having some nice weather here.

My husband was traveling this week so that meant easy meals -- convenience food. I did make breakfast burritos and froze them. We had them for dinner, lunch, and breakfast during various days this week.

Together we are continuing to work through Vol. 1 of Mystery of History. We have about 12 more lessons. I have enjoyed that and will admit that I have learned quite a bit along with the children. We do the easy approach -- read the lesson, and both of us write a review sentence or two. I had plans to read lots of other books but that just didn't happen but I feel like we have learned history and filled in some of the detail of the timeline cards.

We did play a review game this week using Jenga blocks. I think both kids enjoyed it. I need to add some fun things into our week on a regular basis.

We watched Miss Potter this week as follow-up to our British Children's Authors Series. We normally don't watch movies during the week but as I considered that educational they were able to watch it. Miss K wanted to draw a rabbit and a duck after watching the movie. They also want to go to the Lake District. We will have to wait and see.

J had his second art lesson this week. They are beginning to work on water colors. I am excited to see what he is learning. Tomorrow he has a Bug House Chess Tournament. Writing has been slow the past two weeks which is partly due to that happening after lunch which is about the time that mom is crashing and tired. We need to catch up a bit.

Miss K continues to just want to do a "tiny bit" of school. She is almost finished Explode the Code Book 1. I am impressed with her work in that book.

We don't have much planned for our weekend. It will be nice to have some time together.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring has come

It feels like spring today. Wait a second it got to 70 degrees today so that is probably more like summer here in the Northwest.

Another sign that spring is here are the bouquets of flowers that are delivered to my door.

Happy spring!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Memory Review Game

We have not been as diligent in our memory work this year. We have reviewed our timeline some but without the community and review each week it is hard to keep focused and continue with memory work. I have tried to add some into our work and we have succeeded in some areas. I needed some fun way to review and drill facts.

I have seen questions and other things written on Jenga blocks. So Jenga bocks were added to my thrift store list. I found them just some blocks in a bag. It was not all the blocks which was fine for what I wanted to do. Actually it was best not to have all the blocks as it limited the time we played.

I wrote some memory review items or things that I want to drill or make sure they know on pieces of paper and taped them to the block. I taped them instead of writing directly on the block so that I can change the items. Yes, the tape might have made it a bit more difficult in the stacking but it allows me to change the memory work.

I wrote one side for Miss K so it was simple things that she should know -- recite the days of the week, or say hello and bye in Chinese, or say hello and bye in Latin. I wrote some more difficult things for J on the other side -- recite the 12 times table, tell me about Minoan Civilization, or what are the 8 parts of speech.

Then we built our tower and played Jenga. Depending on what block they pull determined what memory fact they needed to recall.

Overall I think it was a fun way to review our memory work. I did learn a few areas that my children need some more memory work review. Miss K could not count to 10 in Chinese. She is Chinese or at least that is what she thought for a long time. I think now she thinks she is Russian but that is not related to today's review game.

We will keep it handy and play when we need some practice or just want to have some fun with our memory work.

It was fun when they all feel down. What fun things do you do for memory review?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

British Children's Author - A. A. Milne

Another British Children's Author that is on the top of our list to study was A. A. Milne. The books that he wrote are such classics. A.A. Milne was born in London in 1882. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge. He wrote plays and was an editor for a magazine.

Winnie the Pooh was published in 1926 and the House at Pooh Corner in 1928. Did you know Winnie came from a Canadian black bear named Winnie after Winnipeg. Christopher Robin is named after his son and the stories were about Christopher Robin's animals. Do you know what Winnie the Pooh's original name was?

The Hundred Acre Words is derived from  Hundred Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex.

We read a simple children's book about A.A. Milne and then read Winnie the Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner. Still on my list is to read bits of When We Were Very Young and Now we are Six.

We didn't do a lot of fun activities with this author. I think we need to find a bridge and play Poohsticks. Maybe we will save that for a trip to Ashdown Forest.

So who is your favorite character in Winnie the Pooh?


Beginning Readers

I have posted in the past a bit about teaching Miss K to read. Here is one. I have used Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons. This year we are using Scaredy Cat. Miss K has excellent sight word reading which is good and bad. Good that she knows so many words but bad because she will pick a sight word that is similar and not sound out the word. We play sight word bingo.

I thought I would share some of our favorite beginning readers. We still enjoy Dick and Jane books. Two years ago she was reading Dick and Jane, see here. The simple words along with repetition make it easy for beginning readers. We have two Dick and Jane treasury books and have added a few others paperback Dick and Jane.

Biscuit is another favorite. Biscuit is such a lovable dog with simple adventures that are easy to read but give a great sense of accomplishment. I found a series of Biscuit phonics readers at Goodwill. I found all 12 and decided that was a good deal.

Henry and Mudge books are one of Miss K's current love. Again thrift stores are great places to find these books. I found one today along with a book by Syd Hoff.

Some others that we enjoy -- Mr. Putter and Tabby, Annie and Snowball by the same author as Henry and Mudge, books my Syd Hoff, Francis books, Little Bear, and others. We used to have a shelf of books -- beginning with Level 1 and going all the way up to Level 4. I feel that having a variety of books available for her to read, sitting and reading to her, or having her read to me are all part of developing her reading skills.

These are not beginning reads but I enjoy having lots of good books available for J to read as well. I was thrilled today at Goodwill to find five books by Dave and Neta Jackson. I will add those to the other two that I found earlier.

What beginning readers do your children enjoy? What do you enjoy reading?


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Scenes

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help
 comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2

22 Years ago

Once upon a time in April about 22 years ago (was it really that long ago) a very young (I had to be very young because I am still young) girl boarded a plane in the first class (I think that was the last time that I ever flew first class) for a long flight to Asia (I can't count how many times I have been back and forth since that first flight). Let me back up and tell a bit more about that story and that memory.

After graduating from university and working for 3 1/2 years, I was asked if I would go to Asia and help do some training of the office staff. That was in December then international travel was halted for the company I was working for so I continued working in the US until April 1. It wasn't an April Fool's joke when I was asked if I could leave in two weeks. So in two weeks, I packed my apartment, stored my things in my parents' basement, shopped for some luggage, packed two suitcases and set off on a journey that would change my life. That was my first trip to Asia.

That is in front of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. 

It was all so new, living in a city and living in Asia. I remember for lunch the first day going to a Chinese restaurant down the alley from the office and that night I wrote in my journal that I ate at a "real Chinese restaurant." I loved living in the city. My apartment was within walking distance to the office, I learned to ride the bus, take a taxi, order my meals all without speaking much Chinese.

That began my love affair with the Chinese people. Since then, I have lived in three different countries in Asia and traveled to numerous others. God used that experience 22 years ago to move me where he wanted me to be and to have me ready and willing to serve him. It was also in April about 7 years later when I was back in Asia that a certain young man moved there. We meet soon after he arrived but it took five years till we decided to get married.

So this week I am remembering just a bit of that first experience in Asia. My pictures from those early years are in storage. It would be fun to go back and remember the good times.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up April 19, 2013

The weather here this week has been a bit rainy and cold but then again that is the northwest. Perfect for coffee and naps. We are continuing to work through our books and assignments with the goal of finishing by the end of May.

I had a class this week -- I want to learn a bit more about my computer and so I was at the Apple store for two classes. It is also a good example that you don't ever stop learning. I learned some helpful things in iPhoto and now I have the task of organizing over 12,000 photos. I guess that is my homework.

In Mystery of History we made it to Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. Of course, that meant that I had to pull up our photos from our trip to Xian. It is hard to believe that it was almost 6 years ago that we were there. 

It was an amazing to be there and to see all the warriors lined up. To see the faces and the different warriors. We stood in line and bought a book about this and then had a farmer who discovered the warriors autograph it. I am sure he is making a lot of money signing books for tourists. 

Qin Shi Hwang also built or begun to build the Great Wall so then we also had to look at our pictures from the Great Wall.

I won't bore you with any more pictures. I will say that looking at all the China pictures is making me miss China. I miss the people, the food, the shopping.

J finished Sequential Spelling Book 2 this week - don't worry we started Book 3 yesterday. Sequential Spelling has worked for us as it keeps him moving through spelling words. I feel like just have 15-20 words a week would not improve his spelling. He is not a natural speller and in fact I had to remind him often to look at his writing and correct his spelling.

He is continuing to work towards the goal of finishing by the end of May. We will see how he does as he was working slow on his writing assignments.

J began an art class this week. I was excited to find something local for him. I want to develop that talent as much as possible. I admit that fine arts is something that doesn't get done here as much as it should combined with the fact that I don't think I have the ability to teach him drawing. This week he drew an orca. I can't wait to see what else he does in the class.

Miss K is continuing to work at her pace with mama pushing her because her pace would be "tiny bit" of school so she needs the push to keep going.

One of the things that both kids have enjoyed this week is Fast Facts App. Each child can have an account and I can adjust the time and decide what math facts they need to practice. Miss K is working on her +0 and +1 facts while J is working on his multiplication facts.

One of my goals for this weekend is to create a visual chart of what things she needs to do for school. I know we are almost at the end of the year but I think she needs a visual chart so hopefully we can reduce the "tiny bit" of school comments.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Games - Touring England

One of the areas that I go in a thrift store is the toy and game section. I will say that going through that section when I am in the store by myself is much easier than when I have children with me who will find at least 10 or more things that they want or need. I found the Ravensburger puzzle on one of my walk-throughs. I also found the game Touring England. It is a remake of a 1930's game.

I just had to buy it. I decided it was educational for all of us to learn a bit of England geography. Everyone gets about 8 destination cards and then you plan your route and begin your journey. Everyone begins at the same place but goes to different destinations.

It did help us to begin to learn the geography. We did decide that it moved a bit slow so we are going to modify the rules a bit to make it a bit faster.

Miss K traveled to the most destinations. Maybe it helped that she had our starting point as one of her destinations. Together as a family we are learning our geography.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Therapy - Writing Pressure

I noticed the other day when Miss K was doing her handwriting that her pressure was very light. I think some of that is due to weak muscles and hand strength. I have a number of fine motor activities that I like to do before handwriting. Things like finding the erasers in putty, stacking 1-inch blocks, using tweezers to pick up things and a number of other things. Since we are schooling out of suitcases right now, I don't have all those fun things with me. I had packed a roll of paper that is for a cash register to give you a duplicate receipt. I gave her some of that paper to write on. Miss K had to push hard enough so that she was able to see on the 2nd sheet. It is give her some practice putting a bit more pressure on her pencil.

Currently she is using a Ticonderoga Laddie tri-write pencil. It is nice and fat but also triangular to help with gripping. I purchased these from The Therapy Shoppe. We also have a Faber-Castell Junior triangular but they are not as heavy and doesn't have an eraser.

I found the roll of paper at a dollar store. I thought it would be fun for the kids and then I discovered it would be a good therapy tool. I remember the days of carbon paper and using it for typing or making receipts.

British Children's Literature - Beatrix Potter

In anticipation of our move I wanted to spend some time studying England and that includes studying the books written by British authors. When I looked at British Literature programs being sold most of them were for older grades and didn't include the authors of children's books. I began by making a list of British children's authors and then checked the local library for books they might have.

I started with Beatrix Potter. I found the book Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix Potter and also the book Beatrix Potter by Charlotte Guillan. Both of these books gave us an overview of her life and how her life impacted her art and her writing.

Beatrix Potter began writing the stories for a friend's children and from there they became the well-loved stories that we all enjoy. I would like to take the children to Hill Top one of Beatrix Potter's farms.

We read a number of the books The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tailor of Gloucester, and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. We still have a few more to read. These are classics that I want to make sure the children have read.

As we were reading, I had J copy some of the artwork.

I also had J write a page about her life just so we could have it for our notebook and we will keep all of this together. I would like to get the movie Miss Potter for them to watch.

Who is your favorite British children's author? Maybe I will get some new authors to add to our list. I will try to post more of who we have studied as we continue this study.

Just an update -- Someone suggested the movie Miss Potter. Since we had finished our study I decided to get the movie. Netflix didn't have it so I was going to watch it on Instant Video from Amazon but then I was in the thrift store (are you starting to see a theme) and found the movie for $3.99 so we have the movie. The other night after watching it Miss K told us at bedtime that the next day she wanted to draw a rabbit and a duck. She has asked to watch Miss Potter numerous times since then. It was worth the $3.99.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Games for fun - Qwirkle

We enjoy playing games as a family. We have some favorite games that we enjoy playing. It is always an added bonus when there is an educational aspect to the game.

One of our favorite family games is Qwirkle. Qwirkle has six colors and six shapes. The ideas is to make sets of either the same shape or the same color but you only have one of each color or shape in the same row. You score according to how many pieces you place and bonus points if you finish a set.

My husband, J, and I can play at our level with all the strategy and earning points while Miss K can join and put her pieces where she finds them and score a few points. Sometimes we have to reminder her that she can't put that piece down because we already have the piece in the row.

The last time we played with her she wanted to keep score. She knows her +0 and +1 math facts but you need more than that for keeping score so we helped her telling her what to write down.

Before traveling we discovered that there is a travel size Qwirkle and so we bought that. It is nice for use while traveling but if we were home I would play the regular size. The pieces are a bit heavier and so they don't move around as much. The travel size does come in a nice cute pouch.

What games do you like to play just for fun or for some educational fun?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Therapy - Spacing between words

The space monster seems to attack a number of Miss K's writing assignments. We have a 2 finger spacer tool that we use but this was a fun idea that she did in therapy. She put a sticker down on the line and then used the finger spacer and then was given the next sticker. This helps both spacing and also working to keep things on the line. She loves stickers so this is a good activity.

We have quite a bit more work on her writing but it is slow.  We need to work on word spacing, letter placement on the line, and then size of the letters. 

Helping Verbs

Sometimes we need a helping hand. In grammar we have helping verbs. To help remember the helping verbs J made a chart of the Handy Helping verbs as he titled it.

The hands were a bit small but that was the size of punch that we had and it also allowed up to put them on one page. He has this in the front of his grammar notebook.

This helped him to memorize the helping verbs. Memory work is an important part of our homeschooling. I will quiz them on things that they have memorized. I found this idea on Pinterest. I enjoy ideas that are easy and also give some hands on practice especially for grammar.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Kids in Transition

Transition: Passage from one place or state to another; change. We began the journey but for us the transition is a rather long one--four months in the Northwest, then a month in Asia, and finally our destination.

The kids know that we left our house. We said good-bye to our house and various things in the town where we lived for the past four years -- the library, the soft pretzel shop, the bagel shop, church, our friends.

It hits each of us in different ways and at different times.

It hit me when I went to a women's retreat here in the Northwest a week after we arrived and as a follow-up we were to write ourselves a letter that would me mailed in a few months -- I didn't even know my current address much less what my address will be I would be in a few months.

Miss K will ask where her Curious George book is or where is her chihuahua (I didn't know she was that attached to that stuffed animal). We tell her that those things will meet her in England. She often needs that reassurance.

J has mentioned some of the things that he misses. He misses his friends. We have spent more time talking about leaving, where we are currently and where we are going.

Some things that have helped --

1. Reassurance of why we are moving. We are following God's leading for our family. We are moving to a new place of ministry.

2. Reassurance that we are together as a family. We have worked these past months both in what we say but also how we act that we are together as a family. We try to do some of the same things that we used to do at home. Even simple things like going to the library is a fun thing to do here.

3. Listen to what the kids are saying. As we have listened, we have learned things that they miss and some of the feelings they have.

4. Talk and be intentional. Four years ago when we moved to the US, Miss K spent the first few months saying "go home." We told her we were home. We finally asked where home was and she told us "China." That was four years ago with less vocabulary and understanding. We have worked to be intentional and to look for ways to talk about how we are feeling, what we miss, and what we are looking forward to when we move. We will bring up the topic of moving and missing in conversation.

Those are just a few thoughts right now about transition. I might add more as we journey through this time.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up - April 11, 2013

Here is our weekly wrap-up -- things we did, things we learned, things we liked, and just the normal things of the week.

My goal is to be finished with our school year by May 31 so as I planned this week, I looked at where we were and what we needed to do to meet that goal. I might have to adjust those goals again but at least I know what we need to do.

We enjoyed our backyard visitors and also our trip to the Tulip Festival this week.

Together we continued reading Mystery of History Vol 1. I love it when J realizes we are almost finished that book and asks if there is another volume, "yes, we have it and it is in our shipment." We read about Malachi, Plato and Aristotle, Philip of Macedonia. Together we did review the history timeline that we learned last year in CC. We don't have the cards so the cards don't have that reminder. I think we need to continue reviewing. It has been fun to see how we are filling in the details of so many of these events and understanding more.

We are also reading Exploring the World of Biology together.

We finally started our Greek and Roman Myths Literature Pockets. Maybe it was realizing we only had a few weeks remaining and so it was time to get busy. We did one last fall and we all enjoyed it. We have done lapbooks in the past but found that for now History Pockets or Literature Pockets are easy to do.

J is doing more and more independently which was a goal for this year. He has hit a point in math which is a bit harder and requires that he review his work so he is having to slow down.

Together we are enjoying doing Memoria Press Classical Composition Fable Stage and enjoying it. We are on Lesson 3, The Fox and the Grapes.  He outlined it all by himself. I jokingly asked if he had looked at the teacher guide because it was so close to the suggested outline.

Miss K tells me that she just wants to do a "tiny bit" of school. We do more than a tiny bit. She is able to do her Explode the Code by herself and today she did her math fact sheet by herself. When her brother is doing his work by himself she wants to as well.

It was a good week and now we are ready for the weekend -- soccer (if the weather holds out), a trip to the library, grocery shopping, church, chess, and who knows what else.

Tulip Festival

I have two things on my things I want to do while in the Northwest in the spring. One of those we did today and one we have to wait until May or June. Today we went to the Tulip Festival.

When we left our house, it was raining. The forecast had said no rain so we decided to go. We got about 30 minutes north and the rain had stopped. There was no rain up at the tulip fields. We stopped at the Tulip Festival Office and got our map and information.

We drove out to the fields and were amazed at the color and variety.

The daffodils were still in bloom though I think not for how much longer. We just saw one field as we were driving by.

We enjoying stopping at one of the places and walking through the fields looking at the tulips. It cost $5 to get in but was worth it.

As we walked, we kept looking at the tulips and taking more pictures. I think we took over 130 photos so when we got home I had to sort through them.

I don't know if I had a favorite tulip. I did enjoy just the different colors.

These had such a nice deep color.

I  did enjoy the two colors on these.

It was a bit muddy but we enjoyed just walking and looking.

J said this was his favorite tulip.

Miss K likes anything and everything pink and so it was easy to guess which was her favorite.

I am glad that we were able to do this. When we told the kids that we were going to look at tulips, I don't think they knew just how many and how interesting it would be.


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