24 February 2015

Day 72 / 104 - National Geographic Geography

Since my son and I have been studying Geography in depth this year, National Geographic has been one of my favorite accounts to follow on Instagram.  For awhile now, I've wanted to locate the pictures on a map with my children.  Since we are snowed in (still!), we had some time to review this morning by identifying the pictures' locations from the National Geographic account on a map.

This took very little time.  In fact, so little time, that I told my son we should complete this exercise a few times a week.  We had to consult our Atlas for a few locations, but overall he was able to pinpoint most countries from memory.  Geography strand for the win!

23 February 2015

Day 71 / 104 - Life Happens At The Table, Week Three

On Valentine's Day, it snowed eight inches.  Then the following Monday, it snowed another ten.  Our road, and our driveway, is hilly and semi-rural.  My husband was out of town.  We didn't leave the house until Friday.  Needless to say, there was some activity around our table.

My mother-in-law made a quick visit into town (and fortunately was able to escape before the worst of the snow) to help my daughter with some sewing projects.

My son is keeping track of his chores and his fitness for two different merit badges. Last week most of this, for both categories, was accumulated through 'shoveling the driveway'.

Everyday, I taped new butcher block paper to the table, and that is how we completed most of our learning.  Since we were stuck at home all week, we reviewed quite a bit.  Latin and History earned posts of their own.

We played games.

Friday, we saw the light and exited the house for a mere three hours.  Then, Saturday brought us approximately 14 more inches.  Now, our road is even more impassable and reminds me of a remote, undesirable, Siberian gravel path.  My prayer is that it is plowed sometime in the next 24 hours.  If not, this week we'll be living around our table again.

20 February 2015

Day 70 / 104 - The American Girl Scout Cookbook

While sorting through some of her mother's belongings, my mother-in-law recently rediscovered this cookbook and passed it down to my daughter.  For years, my husband's grandmother worked professionally for the Girl Scouts. The book was published in the early '60s and has been a delight for my daughter.

Back in January, I posted on my Facebook page about how we have arranged dinner this year. One of the ways we have simplified our life during the 30 weeks we actively school (15 in the fall, 15 in the spring) is by having the same dinner, the same day, each week (Mondays - tacos, Tuesdays - chicken stir fry, etc.) I pick five quick, easy meals that I know my children will eat, and we stick to that plan Mondays through Fridays. I know what I need to prep, everyone knows exactly what needs to be cleaned up, and most importantly, I am able to breeze in and out of the grocery store in 20 minutes.  On the weekends, and during breaks, we mix it up some and try out some new recipes.

I have tried to include my children in this plan as much as possible, even if it's as simple as "Boil the spaghetti and heat up the meatballs." Naturally, my daughter has embraced it and now 'owns' dinner a couple nights a week.  (I have told her I will pay her $2 per meal, but ONLY after everything has been cleaned up and put away.)  This book has given her some new ideas that are simple and doable. Independently, she follows recipes quite well.

This was a new dish with pork chops and stuffing made with peanut butter (!).  It was different, but quite delicious, and most importantly quite simple.  Additions were salad that came out of a bag and rolls that came out of a package.  Voila!


19 February 2015

Day 69 / 104 - Illustrated Latin Review

We've been snowed in for four days now.  Each day, I've covered our table with butcher block paper, and we've had some fun.  Today, my son and I reviewed most of the nouns he's learned in Latin by illustrating them.

18 February 2015

Day 68 / 104 - Snow Cream

I couldn't give you our exact total right now.  Maybe 14 inches ... ?  We are expecting another 3 - 5 inches this afternoon.  We haven't left the house in 2 1/2 days.  This is uncommon for us.

However, my daughter has made two batches of Snow Cream, which has been a hit.  If you've never tried it, you should. She is being sure to collect the snow from an area of the yard that our dog doesn't visit.  I've seen several different recipes floating around the web, but here is the one we used:

1 cup milk (any kind)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
8 cups clean snow

In a large bowl, whisk milk, sugar, vanilla and salt together until combined. Go scoop up some fresh (clean!) snow, and immediately stir it into the milk mixture until you reach your desired consistency. Top with sprinkles or other ice cream toppings if desired.

The ice cream should be fluffy and not runny, but it melts quickly, so dive in right away!

17 February 2015

Day 67 / 104 - ANI in Real Life

I have mentioned before that this year my son is learning how to write a persuasive essay using materials from The Lost Tools of Writing.  One of the key tools in this process is the ANI Chart.  The ANI Chart is an advanced pro/con list that strengthens and guides a student's thinking in order to help the student discover information for his/her essay.  A student begins with a question like Whether Mary should have entered the secret garden. Then the ANI chart, along with a few other tools, helps to guide the student's thinking and moves him/her forward with defined brainstorming activities in order to form a thesis.  On the ANI chart there are three columns: Affirmative, Negative, and Information.  The student lists the reasons Mary should have entered the garden in the A column and lists the reasons she shouldn't have entered the garden in the N column. When an idea might not fit in either column, but does give the student more information, that is placed into the I column.

Two weeks ago, my son and I were faced with a real-life scenario that required a difficult answer, whether it be yes or no.  It was necessary for us to figure out if we should continue, or limit, our involvement with a certain activity due to a recent life change on the horizon.  This was not a simple decision because we have invested quite a bit of time, effort, and resources into this activity.  Either yes or no could have been the right answer, but we needed to discover what would be the best decision for us at this time.

He and I spent several days discussing the activity, its effects, and its outcomes using the ANI Chart.  I wish I had been taught to brainstorm and make decisions this way.  It was a healthy activity for us to visualize the strongest arguments for and against our involvement.  We were able to make a decision based on all the information and move forward.  Plus it strengthened our relationship incredibly.  Looking back, using this process and having these few conversations with my son will remain a highlight of this school year.

16 February 2015

Day 66 / 104 - U.S. History Wall of Fame

Drawing History sentences is not new for us.  Honestly, Cycle 3's sentences are a little difficult to master because there is an exact date involved in almost every single one.  Last time through this cycle, we drew a timeline to help us keep our dates in order.

Over the weekend, I saw this idea on Facebook, and thought surely my daughter and I could easily recreate a wall-of-frames for our History sentences.  We are snowed in today, so it truly was the best use of our time.  We'll keep this hanging up for as long as possible to help us master our United States History.