09 February 2016

Day 52 / 105 - Fact vs. Fiction

My son has had a recent change to his schedule which granted him some spare time to take an online creative writing course.  This is a new, but wonderful, activity for us, and I look forward to posting about some of his assignments.

One of his first assignments was a twist on the old icebreaker, Two Truths and a Lie.  His assignment was to introduce himself to the class with a short story about his life.  He had to include three facts, but the rest of the story could be fiction.

He wrote the following paragraphs, and if you know him (or anything about our lives) it might be fun to guess what is true.  There are actually four facts and two additional rather accurate descriptions of him.

Had he not waited until the last minute to complete the assignment, he definitely could have unpackaged the story a little more.  But, he did finish the assignment, and had a little fun while doing so, and for that I am pleased.  ;)

     Long, long ago, in the barren Nevada desert, a brave boy was abandoned at birth.  His parents had foolishly locked him in their car and left him alone in the desert.  Fortunately, he was rescued by an enchanting coyote mother who raised him with her pups.  Because of the coyote influence, this boy was prone to wander.
     One day, while wandering in the desert, he stumbled upon a Military Base known as Area 51.  While observing the base from afar, he shockingly witnessed an infamous alien autopsy.  What he saw was so frightening as to be indescribable, so he let out a howl.  Instantly, the Men in Black stopped their procedure, and began chasing the coyote-boy through the desert.  As he sprinted, they pursued him in Black Hawk helicopters.  Because of what he saw at the military base, the boy was constantly on the run for his own protection journeying through 45 different US states.  His current whereabouts are unknown.  

03 February 2016

Day 51 / 105 - January Happens At The Table

Even though I have few pictures to reflect it, we've been spending quite a bit of time at the table this January.  I've altered our schedule some so that each day we can  begin with a morning one-room schoolhouse symposium.  It's brilliant.  And simple.  And enjoyable.  I look forward to posting more about it in the future.


Until then, we've been eating.  If you missed this post, I explained how my son is trying to gain weight this year.  Here's his daily breakfast after already consuming a few pieces of toast.  We also made a cake that resembles a giant Girl Scout cookie to help him along his weight gain journey.  (The rest of us did enjoy this cake too, even though we are not trying to gain weight this year!!)


Our Logic class has been an incredible asset to us this winter, and I've enjoyed seeing my children problem solve and (somewhat) enjoy math.  Our instructor gave us a sheet of  SAT warm-up problems, and we've tried to solve one per day.  My husband has assisted at times.  


My Essentials posts repeatedly suggest using color and drawing pictures to help grasp English grammar concepts.  Here we learned about dependent and independent clauses with help from Yoda. 


As an Essentials tutor, another responsibility of mine is to host viewings of IEW's Teaching Writing: Structure and Style.  I've enjoyed hosting these at my home this year as I've fellowshipped with new friends from our Classical Conversations community.  (Plus, as an added bonus, it forces me to clean my home every 6 - 8 weeks!)


Join in on the fun. I'd love to see what's happening around your table.  #LifeHappensAtTheTable

29 January 2016

Day 50 / 105 - Daily Learning With My Kids


One of my favorite, and most rewarding, questions to ask my children at the end of any event (or day) is "What did you learn?"  I prefer this so much more than "What did you do today?"  About 15 months ago I repeatedly asked my children everyday for a month, "What did you learn today?" and I posted all their clever responses here.

As a home educator, I am constantly seeking to create an environment of learning and discovery, regardless of the time and regardless of the day.  Then, I want to celebrate with my children when we've learned something new and noteworthy.  Little celebrations keep the joy in the journey.  Memories of learning refresh my vision.  Truthfully, my main priority as a homeschooler is that my children will love to learn.

So, I thought I would begin documenting those 'new learning' moments with photographs.  Times when we've had an a-ha moment.  Times when we've made a new discovery.  Times when my children have taught me something (this often has to do with technology).  Maybe it's a new game, a new song on the piano, or a new history fact.  Maybe we learned of a new author or artist.  Perhaps a math shortcut or a new recipe. Maybe my children learned a quicker way to complete their household chores.  No lesson is too small.

If you visit this blog (even just once in awhile) you know that I firmly believe in documenting all the notable moments of your life.  Even more so on your homeschool journey.  Reflecting periodically on the learning in your children's lives will only motivate you to continue on this journey.  Einstein said, Learning is experience.  Everything else is just information.  Let's document, share, and celebrate those experiences.

Last year, my friend Gina taught me how hashtags work when we began documenting all the happenings around our table.  This year, I'm excited to add a new memory-keeping blog post series, #DailyLearningWithMyKids.  Monthly, I'm planning on sharing new discoveries we've learned on our educational journey.  I want to remember the daily-learning, so that one day I will look back and exclaim, "This was all worth it!"  Here are a few new things we've learned over the past few weeks.


Denali National Park is the only national park with a working dogsled team.  Their website boasts bios of each dog as well as provides a GPS tracker so that you can see the location of the team in the park.  They also are training a summer litter of pups, and will post occasional Pupdates.  We love dogs, and we long to visit Alaska one day so the amount of time we've invested into following the team has been totally worth it!


Somehow my daughter figured out that AAA batteries will work as AA batteries as long as you complete the circuit with a piece of aluminum foil.  This is valuable information.


While reading about the Apollo 11 mission, my son informed us that NASA didn't provide Aldrin, Armstrong, or Collins with life insurance.  Instead, the astronauts signed hundreds of autographs for their families to sell if the mission was unsuccessful.  


We learned to play the 24game.  This probably warrants its own post.  This game has been ideal for quick thinking and drilling of math facts.  Try to manipulate the numbers on the cards above to equal 24 using any operation.  You must use all four numbers.  I downloaded the app so we can play on the go.  Yesterday, I rolled it out in my Essentials class.

I'd love for you to accompany me in taking note of the new learning happening in your lives.  I'm excited to learn new things from you.  I'm documenting on Instagram using the tag, #DailyLearningWithMyKids.  Monthly, I'll recap on my blog.  Follow along and share your learning.  Enjoy the experiences and enjoy the journey.  Let's celebrate and encourage one another.

Plus, as I've repeatedly stated before on this blog, if you have to provide a year-end homeschool assessment, this is a simple way to document and remember educational moments!

27 January 2016

Day 49 / 105 - Mastering Geography With Color -- Cycle 1


This is identical to a post I've done in the past.  Repetition provides much constancy and simplicity in our lives, so we do the same activities over and over and over.  We use a color coded system to drill Geography for Memory Master.  Since I implemented this system five years ago, I've seen it work successfully for both my children.

 I make a few copies of the maps and the Geography memory work from the Foundations Guide (pages 62, 216, and 217 for Cycle 1).  Then we assign a color for each week.  We mark that color on the landmarks on the map and mark the same color on the Geography memory work page.  We also mark whether it was on map #1 (Africa map) or map # 2 (world map).  To label all 24 weeks takes a little bit of time, but it's time well-invested.  Plus parents, if you take the time to make a map for yourself also, I guarantee you will master the Geography in no time.

This year, since my daughter is 12, she actually did all the marking and labeling independently!


But, the simplicity and the usefulness of this color-coded map comes when you begin to drill with it.  I use this map to now prompt with the Geography title and the color.  For instance I would say, "Hittite Empire in blue", or "Japan in red".  My daughter can easily locate the features on the map that she's colored.  After drilling this way for a few weeks, my children can comfortably transition to a map without color.

We have successfully drilled for Memory Master all three cycles using this technique.

26 January 2016

Day 48 / 105 - For the Love of Dance


My daughter has settled into a phenomenal dance school here in Charlotte.  We feel very fortunate to be a part of this school.  Last weekend, along with Southeast Psych, Sullivan Dance Centre hosted For The Love of Dance, featuring Andrew Nemr.

Andrew is an internationally renowned tap dance artist, TED fellow, and former mentee of Gregory Hines.  He has a love for the arts, and he shares that love while tap-dancing.  Following his performance, he was joined by a panel of dance experts, and they facilitated a discussion to equip parents, dancers, and dance educators with a framework to foster a healthy dance experience.  I loved the evening.  I walked away with a new appreciation for the art of dance and how to help connect my daughter to the beauty of that art.

However, the highlight for my daughter was spending the afternoon tap-dancing with Mr. Nemr.  Graciously, he spent the afternoon before his performance directing a workshop for the girls.

Day 47 / 105 - Knight's Tour


Our local YMCA offers homeschooling classes.  This winter I signed my children (and me!) up for a 10-week Logic class.  Its description: A focus on developing logic, mathematical problem solving, and reasoning skills. Students will learn how to think mathematically as well as develop a love for logic and reason. We will practice quick recall of facts through fast-paced games.  Geometry, algebra, and pre-calculus will be integrated with logic and problem solving. 

Neither of my children were thrilled with this opportunity.  To be honest, the main reason I signed us up was to hopefully gather a few new ideas for my Essentials class.  Truly, I had envisioned I would post once about the entire class.

Well, imagine my surprise when during the first week of class I felt that I had stumbled into a gold-mine.  The class is taught by a former high school and college math and science teacher who is now a homeschooler.  Each week, she has offered something fun yet challenging that has renewed my vision to teach my children math.  I've now realized I will be posting many times about all the wonderful new tools she has equipped us with.

Last week, we "warmed up our brains" with a few rounds of a Knight's Tour.  If you are a chess player, you are probably familiar with this game.  The student is given an 8x8 checkerboard.  The object is to fill the board with as many numbers as you can (up to 64) only moving in the sequence that a knight can move on a chess board (an L-shaped pattern).  Start anywhere on the board with the number 1.  Then move in an L-shape and place the number 2.  Continue the sequence until you are blocked.  Once your number is blocked, the game ends.

I made a few copies of her worksheet and placed them in page protectors, so that we can play this game regularly throughout the week.

Highest praise came from my 12-year-old daughter who exclaimed, "This can't be math.  It's just too much fun!"

If you are interested, I found an online printable checkerboard here, and if you want to try your hand at online play, follow this link.  

23 January 2016

Day 46 / 105 - Winterplace Ski Resort


Last weekend, my son 'lived the dream' of any outdoor enthusiast.

He began Saturday morning with a muddy 4-mile trail race at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.  We then sped (literally) across Charlotte in order for him to catch a bus and return to a place that is near and dear to his heart, Winterplace Ski Resort in southern West Virginia.

He spent Saturday and Sunday snow tubing and skiing with his Boy Scout troop.  He spent the better part of Monday sleeping.