Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Documentaries We Have Watched Lately

  America: The Story of Us- A great overview of American history for all ages, though older kids might want something more in-depth. There is a little violence, but I would not describe it as bloody or over the top ( if your kids are sensitive, you might want to preview first). My five-year old does tend to be sensitive, but enjoyed watching with us.  The only part that bothered my kids at all was the discussion of the Donner party which went on a bit long for their tastes. We all learned a lot from this one and I plan to watch it again with the kids when we do Core D (American history!) next year.

Mankind: The Story of All of Us- We had high hopes for this one, but it is much more graphic than The Story of Us and just didn't work for us. I will say my boys enjoyed it, but Grace was pretty grossed out by it and Rose didn't want to sit in the same room when it was playing. We only watched the first three episodes, though so this might not apply to the whole series. The episode about Jesus and the crucifixion was too graphic for my crew. And after the part discussing how many women Genghis Khan raped and the image of a woman throwing herself off a wall when she knew he was coming, we had had enough. Not saying this is a bad series ( it is well-reviewed on Amazon!) but beware with younger/sensitive kids.  If I had had more time I would have liked to preview the rest of the series to see if it could work for us.

Modern Marvels: The Great Wall of China-I found this on Netflix. It is a good, short program (about an hour). I would not buy it to own and I doubt we will watch it again, but it was informative, nicely done, and the kids enjoyed it. No real concerns here for younger kids. 

Wild China- This was a huge hit! It is a long series-about six hours total-  but we were still sad to see it end! I especially enjoyed this one because I am used to sitting on the edge of my seat when watching nature documentaries with little kids. You just know that as soon as they start smiling at that baby panda a tiger is going to swoop down and carry it off... but happily, there was none of that here except for one very short scene in the last episode where a snake catches a bird. This is just a beautiful series. The scenery, the wildlife, the people and the narration all added up to make us feel like we had taken a little field trip to China. It was an awesome way to end our China unit for Core F, especially since so many of the things mentioned in our books were included. We also really enjoyed watching "Hunting Dragons", the special feature on the last disc which shows the challenges involved in making the film. 

So next up, we are still watching Cosmos and just started The Story of India. We are really enjoying both. 

Till next time!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Musings

***Outside my window...I think we will get our first daffodil this week! The crocuses came up a few days ago and surprisingly our little duck flock has not eaten them yet.

 ***Things I'm thinking about...Easter! We did shopping over the weekend and I find I get very frazzled putting together Easter baskets. We try to keep it pretty simple but doing up four Easter baskets without spending a ton of money (yet still making them nice)-well it always frazzles me a little.

***Barn & garden happenings...I started the garden over the weekend. So far I have peas, lettuce, kale, endive, radish, parsnip, beets, and potatoes in. This week I hope to get some basil seeds going indoors. 

***In our kitchen... Grace is on "kids cook Monday" and she is making white bean and turkey crock pot chili. I just got this crock pot, because we broke ours. I do love a pretty appliance;). This weekend we will be coloring eggs of course, and making hot cross buns. And maybe a Peeps Cake. I have conflicting feelings about Peeps, but the kids love them. One of their favorite parts of Easter is putting a peep in the microwave to see what happens. If you haven't tried it, it's a must. Just keep a close eye on things, if you don't it could get quite messy;).

  *** In our homeschool...Last week I said I wasn't going to read A Little Princess with James, but I did anyway and so far no complaints. I love this book. This week I am continuing with my planning and trying to decide grammar for James. He will be in 4th grade and I am deciding between no formal grammar, MCT's Grammar Town, or something else. I was able to get a few of our books for next year at a used book sale over the weekend, so I am quite excited about that. 

***Creating...Not too much.The kids made these eggs for art and we hung them up in the windows. 

  ***Reading and watching... We finished Wild China and I highly recommend it! We watched Jumanji with the kids over the weekend. I have been DVRing Your Inner Fish to watch with them after we finish with Cosmos.

***A few plans for the week ahead... Oh. wow. So many appointments this week! I have two separate doctor appointments, the kids each have a dentist appointment, and one has an orthodontist appointment. And the dog is going to the vet. That's eight appointments-though the dentist ones are back-to-back, so that is some relief.

Have a wonderful week, and Happy Easter to you!

Friday, April 11, 2014

First Grade Plans

Rose will be in first grade come fall! This is my plan for her...always subject to change, of course!

Literature & History

  • Sonlight Core A- Except, I think I will use the Bookshark version. I debated going right into Core B like I did with James at her age, but I just don't think she is ready. The book selection for Core A really feels right for her and the Bookshark version is secular, but otherwise mostly the same as Sonlight Core A.  I do think we may add Five True Dog Stories back in, but anything else missing from the Bookshark version we have either already read or I don't mind skipping. A small sampling of the books on our reading list... (the whole list is here). 

Language Arts

  • Sonlight Language Arts K-We have already done the first 12 weeks of this, but had to put it on "pause" when the phonics just wasn't working for her. We'll pick it back up once she is comfortable reading short words. We'll also continue with the LA "extras" for this level: Get Ready for the Code, Get Set for the Code, and Go for the Code


  • Zaner-Bloser Handwriting- I think. Or Getty-Dubay Book B.


Bookshark/Sonlight Core A Science-Because I know she will love having her own DVD of science experiments or "science guy" as he is known around here.


 Art, Electives, Etc..

  • Song School Latin-Totally not necessary, but she loves following along with her older sibs Latin CD's and chants and I know she will get a huge kick out of having her own. I am only going to order the workbook/CD combo and we will probably just use the CD until she is comfortable writing.
  • Headventure Land-the companion website that has games, coloring pages, etc.. to go along with Song School.

One planned, three more to go!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Kid's Guide to Money- A Nice Little Freebie!

 I recently received four copies of A Kid's Guide to Money from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. These were totally free and you can order them from the link above as a download or as a print copy. I think they look pretty good-especially for free!

Inside there are quite a few activities to help kids learn some basics about money. There is a discussion about wants versus needs and a little chart to fill out to get kids thinking about what is truly necessary. There is also a page devoted to making choices and opportunity cost.

And here we have a page about earning money where kids are encouraged to brainstorm some ways they could earn some.

There are also pages about budgeting and saving with space for kids to create and track a savings goal, plus  a money word search. The website has some online games, a video, and an activity where kids can design their own currency.

I think spending some time with this little book and the website will be a nice follow-up to Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? which Grace and Christopher just read for Core F.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Musings

***Outside my window...It is finally spring! I cannot begin to say how relieved I am. The weather looks great all week and it just so nice out compared to last week. Perfect. We still have tiny pockets of snow here and there, but they are fading fast.

 ***Things I'm thinking about...Homeschool planning, just like last week. I have what we will do for Core A/first grade pretty well planned out and am now working on fourth grade plans. I like to go youngest to oldest in my plans. I don't need to report to the school district until June, but I like to get started early so I don't have to stress (too much).

***Barn & garden happenings...Two-ish gallons of maple syrup and a big pan of maple candy, and we are calling the season done! Now on to the garden. We planted four apple trees over the weekend and I have some lettuce seedlings that need to go out into the cold frame. We have one chicken with a prolapsed vent that we have been treating. Hopefully she will recover okay-fingers crossed!

***In our kitchen... Our Vietnamese meal last week was a huge hit. We got a few take-out dishes and supplemented with two we made at home. I have decided that Monday is going to be "Kids Cook" night. Grace cooked last Monday- pasta with tomato-basil cream sauce. The boys are cooking this week, though I expect I will have to help them out here and there.They are very excited about cooking for everyone, and I am hoping this excitement lasts!

  *** In our homeschool...James and I are scheduled to read A Little Princess this week from our older version of Core C (I think they have dropped it from the newer version). However, I do not think he is going to enjoy this book at all (bit of an anti-princess/girly story thing going on right now) so I am thinking we will skip it.  It's getting to be that time of year when I just feel like wrapping things up and not arguing!

***Creating...Not too much. The kids have been doing art pretty consistently every Friday and I actually think they are getting burnt out on art projects. I think the next two weeks we may do an Easter craft or two instead.

  ***Reading and watching... Rose and I have been reading a fairy tale or two a night from A First Book of Fairy Tales. I am still plugging away at The Goldfinch. We have watched two episodes of Cosmos and all of our HHMI documentaries and should finish up Wild China this week. Then I need to look for something we can watch about India!

***A few plans for the week ahead... Our extracurricular load is increasing after a relatively quiet winter. This week we are adding archery and riding lessons back into the calendar. I hope to be able to find time here and there to plant some stuff-maybe peas?

***And here's our latest John Audobuon print for our picture study...ruby-throated hummingbirds. I look forward to seeing these little guys at our sugar water feeder soon. We saw our first butterflies of the season today-so hummingbirds can't be too far behind.

Have a wonderful week!