Friday, August 29, 2014

Thankful Thursday: A Quiet Week, Sort Of

I am not sure quiet is the right word for this past week. Much of the week followed our normal rhythm, work was done, we ate and slept and played. I am thankful for routine and the normality of our days.

We did have two more "exciting" moments when first my father-in-law spent some time in the E.R. (doing better now) followed by my father taking a trip (at home, but still in the midst of what's going on). I am thankful that thus far both are doing ok.

We started our last insect study and are knee-deep in butterflies around here. I'm so thankful for the burst of kid excitement.



And for pie - so thankful! Yes, such a silly thing, but you know, since my boys went gluten-free pies are a rarity for us. I make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and at the start of summer I made my first key-lime pie. We also had a disaster of a silk pie for Miss L's birthday, but let's not count that. So here it is, the end of summer, and I made a blueberry pie. It was delicious! Needless to say, the pie was gone in less than a day. Mr. A was especially bummed.


I'm thankful for surprise visitors nearly every time we go out of the house. The other day we found a katydid nymph in the driveway. It was as big as my palm. Very cool. 


We are wrapping up our 8th week of our first quarter for the 2014-15 school year, and I am looking forward to a bit of a break as we start into our fall, extracurricular schedule. I have loved our free summer nights. No more, no more.

I am thankful for a pretty smooth quarter thus far. We've had a few hiccups, but in general this year is off to a great start. 

I am thankful for eager young learners. A few short years ago, I dreaded teaching Mr. D. I never would have imagined him so eager, so willing, so fast to catch onto facts and ideas. And Miss L is ever eager to learn, along with little sis tagging along, doing her version of "school." (She grabs a coloring book and draws and "writes.") Each child is so unique.

This past week the boys have struggled a bit with sleeping, mostly Mr. A. One night when Mr. A actually fell asleep at a decent time, Mr. Dr did not. He crept into my room, and proceeded to do math problems. He's been a little upset about doing subtraction after doing addition for so long. However, it took him less than a day to catch on to using addition to solve subtraction so it is going much smoother. 

So, this particular night, for fun, we filled pages with circles of number families and he would write out the different combinations. I showed him a number line while learning about infinity and negative numbers and negative infinity (he was interested and giving me big subtraction problems). He wanted to write the biggest number he could on a page, but then we couldn't figure what the number actually was. Hey, I only go to quadrillions (would the next be pentagillions???). It really is such a nice relief after math struggles with another child. I am thankful, and excited, to see all these connections going on in his brain.


The kids enjoy karate with their dad. Another (very large) family of kids participate and they invited us to one of the kid's 8th grade football team. We're talking small town football, in the midwest, against two rival teams (towns are neighbors). 

Know what I loved about it besides the beautiful weather?


The small-town feel of safety and comfort. Inside the field, kids ran all over, under the bleachers, the grass, and no parents hovered. Families grouped together and talked. Everyone was friendly. It was just so nice, and I am thankful to find that bits of life like that still exists. 

Ah, thankful for sweeties like this one. We passed a football shaped recycle bin and she turns to me, all excited, and said, "Look at the basketball!!!" :) Obviously, we are not sports fanatics, but this game gave us a new perspective.



Here's to hoping this next week is just as normal, just as ordinary, as this one, because our little slice of life is pretty darn good at the moment, and I want to savor it.

God bless!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thankful Thursday: In Need of Thanks

I don't know about you, but I have too much negativity building up on my social media. I am in serious need of reviving the Thankful Thursday posts. Life is never perfect but it sure can be beautiful.

First off, I am thankful I can sit in the comfort of my home and create this thankful post.

I am thankful for this little girl, growing up way too fast. The crazy toddler/3's/4's seem to be melting into the sweet world of a 5 year old eager to please and learn. She is into jewelry and clothes, letters and sounds, "writing" and taking care of anyone or anything that will let her.


I am thankful for this bundle of sweetness. She is definitely a momma's girl which is a change for me after the other three for this age. She loves cuddles, to have me read to her for any spare minute I have, and she talks up a storm. I have no idea what she says most of the time but she is very earnest.


I am thankful for an almost neat school room. We still use the dining table most of the time but it sure is nice to have a room for comfort and to store all our books and supplies. I am thankful for a great to start to a new year. We are actually over half-way through our first quarter, and while some days I want to pull out my hair, in general, it is going great.


I am thankful for a fun day at the fair. We only stayed a few hours. That was enough for me. My mom, the woodcarver, sets up a table at the fair so we visited with her in the "old-towne" part of the fair for a bit.


I am thankful for fair fries. If you can find a seller than only fries fries, then you have yourself a gluten-free lunch or dinner at the fair, as long as you skip the malt vinegar! It was worth the $6. We don't buy anything else aside from ride bands. Even admission was free on this day!


I am thankful for this guy. Talk about growing up too fast. He's my thinker, this one. If only I knew what was going on in that head of his. A carver friend gave him this little raccoon. Isn't he sweet?


I am thankful for this bundle of smiles. Usually. Sometimes he reverts to his old self and hides under the table or a pillow. Then he realizes that if he just finishes his work he can play instead of pout. He's a joy to teach. Really. Most of the time. He's pretty stubborn. And look what he has? A dragon carved by my mom.


I am thankful the fair rides brought my kids joy because I felt hot and sweaty and exhausted.


And my favorite! I am thankful that these two still feel comfortable holding hands every now and then in public. Sweet innocence. Sweet brothers.



I am thankful for play-doh. It keeps everyone quite busy. Of course, most of our gluten-free Aroma Dough is gone as it hardened from too much use.


I am thankful for a shrine nearby that feels more welcoming than our own local parish (from the priests and the laity). We go there for confession and daily Mass once a week. The kids just love it too.


Need I say anything more?


Look at this! I am so thankful for excitement over a new bike rider. Though it looks as if her training wheels are working, they are not, and Miss L is now riding on two wheels!


I am thankful for family and for gatherings of friends and family. Summer time is easy.


I am blessed and for that I am truly thankful.

"As to the past, let us entrust it to God's mercy, the future to Divine Providence. Our task is to live holy the present moment." ~~ St. Gianna Molla

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Homeschool Science: Beetles, Flies, & True Bugs

Here I am, moving along in catching up with our summer science on the blog (we are in our last lesson of insects as we speak). So far I covered an introduction to insects, insect life cycles and life styles, and social insects.

Now we come to beetles, flies, and true bugs. Though interesting enough, I think the shine for insects waned a bit with this lesson. I blame it on summer.

For our core reading, we used Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures (lesson 12). The kids also did notebook work and hands-on fun.

The first experiment the boys did was to pick a few locations and hypothesize which location the insects would like best. We dug out holes at each location and sifted through for insects. This was a huge bust as we found zero insects. What a bummer! That's an experiment for you, though.


We put out some bananas to "catch" a fly in order to watch it clean its face and how it moves around.


A lightening bug crawling up the side of the jar (which is really hard to take a picture of!). We have done plenty of lightening bug chases this summer.


The kids did an experiment to see how a water strider "walks" on water by placing a pin on top of a piece of toilet paper square in a dish of water. The paper sinks, leaving the pin to float on top of the water. This was magic to the kids. They loved it. We also got down on our bellies at a local pond to watch the water striders glide around, trying to avoid the dragonflies wanting to eat them. That was definitely a hit.



Some neat extras:

Notebooks


Miss L (Pre-K/K)


  • Coloring page (beetles, flies, and true bugs).
  • Fill-in the sentence: If I were a ladybug I would _____________.
  • The Lightening Bug poem.
  • Fingerprint lightening bug jar.
  • One neat thing I learned.
  • Firefly anatomy.
  • How-to-draw a ladybug.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. D (1st/2nd)


  • Coloring page (beetles, flies, and true bugs).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Fill-in-the-blank ladybug anatomy.
  • Water strider picture and questions.
  • Life cycle of a firefly wheel.
  • Fingerprint lightening bug jars.
  • Catch lightening bugs and record how many you caught.
  • How-to-draw a ladybug.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. A (3rd/4th)


**Full 3rd/4th Notebook Here**

  • Coloring page (beetles, flies, and true bugs).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Vocabulary.
  • A Ladybug Story (colors in Spanish).
  • Fill-in-the-blank anatomy of a ladybug.
  • Water strider picture and questions.
  • Life cycle of a firefly wheel.
  • Fingerprint lightening bug jars.
  • Catch lightening bugs and record how many you caught.
  • How-to-draw a ladybug.
  • Hands-On recording pages.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Homeschool Science: Social Insects

After our Introduction to Insects, followed by Insect Life Cycles and Life Styles, we went on to study social insects. This is probably Mr. A's favorite lesson thus far as one of his favorite insects are ants.

For our core reading, we used Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures (lesson 11). The kids also did notebook work and hands-on fun, as well as a few extras.

One of the experiments from the book was to see what might stop an ant. This was all Mr. A's doing. All plates had jelly on them. One plate was left by itself while the other three Mr. A placed potential barriers around. As you can see, the ants almost immediately found the lone plate. It took a bit longer but they eventually scouted out around the sticks, and the chalk and the leaves plates came a little later.



Another hands-on project was to have an ant farm. The book has instructions to build your own but I thought it might be easier to purchase a farm. I saw too many farms with bad reviews so I thought I would try the one from Insect Lore as I have had success with them in the past. We did have ants escaping. Thank goodness we were right there when it happened! A little tape over a hole in the bottom worked to keep the ants in (the hole shouldn't have made a difference as it was under the dome and supposedly inaccessible to the ants).

Would I buy more ants for this farm again? Nope. Next time the kids can make their own ant farms or lay in the grass and observe them themselves.


Some neat extras:


Notebooks


Miss L (Pre-K/K)


  • Coloring page (social insects).
  • Fill-in the sentence: Would you rather be an ant or a bee?
  • Bees and beehive poem and puppet play (puppet template).
  • Snack: Ants on a Log.
  • Count ants.
  • One neat thing I learned.
  • Honey bee page.
  • Make book: Bee, Bee: A Book About Shapes.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. D (1st/2nd)


  • Coloring page (social insects).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Life cycle of a bee.
  • Honey bee anatomy.
  • Life of ant sequence cards.
  • Honey bee page.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. A (3rd/4th)


**Full 3rd/4th Notebook Here**

  • Coloring page (social insects).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Different kind of bees.
  • May I have this dance?
  • Life cycle of a bee.
  • Honey bee anatomy.
  • Life of ant sequence cards.
  • Honey bee page.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Homeschool Science: Insect Life Cycles and Life Styles

The kids and I are nearly done with our summer insect study! It has been a lot of fun. First we had an introduction to insects, and next we learned about insect life cycles and life styles.

For our core reading, we used Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 1: Flying Creatures (lesson 10). The kids also did notebook work and hands-on fun.

One of the fun things with studying insects is that the kids are really looking at the small things everywhere, insects or not. They are using their eyes and observing, not just the obvious, but the not so obvious.


The kids did an experiment using tin cans to see which food insects like better (cans in the same location, different food) as well as which location insects prefer (cans in different locations, same food). We found that they preferred lunch meat over fruit and that they liked it better by our bushes rather than up next to the house -- whew.


See, finding bugs everywhere now? Miss L is by far my biggest animal/bug-loving child. She is fearless in catching anything that moves.


As part of the lesson we headed outside to find insect egg cases, which for us, was hard to do. We had our praying mantis case of course:


And we saw these sacs, but the kids knew they were spider eggs, not insect ones.


We saw galls in our trees. One tree in particular was covered in galls. Probably from a wasp of some sort?


We rounded each lesson with notebook work, not all of which was done with a pencil. :) Miss L is demonstrating the life cycle of a butterfly.

Egg:


Caterpillar (larva):


Chrysalis (pupa):


Butterfly (adult):


We also watched this neat time lapse video of a butterfly's life cycle and continued to add stickers and read about insects in the kids' Ultimate Sticker Book.

Notebooks


Miss L (Pre-K/K)


  • Coloring page (insect life cycles and life styles).
  • Fill-in the sentence: My favorite insect is ______________.
  • Look at life cycles of flies and preying mantises.
  • Ladybug math.
  • Pretend to grow into a butterfly.
  • One neat thing I learned.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. D (1st/2nd)


  • Coloring page (insect life cycles and life styles).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Look at life cycles of flies and preying mantises.
  • Choose an insect and draw its life cycle.
  • My bug jar -- draw bugs of your choice for fun.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Mr. A (3rd/4th)


**Full 3rd/4th Notebook Here**
  • Coloring page (insect life cycles and life styles).
  • What did I learn?
  • Draw something from the lesson.
  • Vocabulary.
  • Butterfly life cycle snack.
  • Look at life cycles of flies and preying mantises.
  • Choose an insect and draw its life cycle.
  • Hands-On recording pages.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Our Catholic Faith for Littles: God Made Me & I'm Special

August's Theme: God Made Me & I'm Special



Prayer Work


Continue learning prayers at each child's level.

Coloring Pages


*Change up the medium -- crayons, colored pencils, markers, water colors, etc.!*
  • Psalm 42 and 139 (Resource)
  • Angel Coloring Pages: God Made Us Angel and the Recreating Angel (Resource)

Reading


Read Catholic Treasure Box #3 and #4 -- use as inspiration depending on child's interest.

Read Bible Stories (from the Catholic Book of Bible Stories):
  • God Remembers Joseph
  • God Watches Over Baby Moses
  • God Saves the Israelites
  • Crossing the Sea


Bonus Activity Ideas


*My goal is to do one activity a week. Some tie in the overall monthly theme while others tie into the Bible stories.*
  • Make a family tree.
  • Draw your family.
  • Play God Knows Me game: ask child, "Where is God?" Child answers, "Here beside me!" Ask, "Where is that?" and child answers, "Beside me in my [bedroom]." The child then chooses a new spot and the questions are repeated.
  • All About Me Rainbow printable.
  • Video interview.
  • Self-portrait.
  • Take a 5 senses nature walk.
  • Play with Our Catholic Family paper dolls.


Here is a simple lesson plan if you need one (repeat each week for a month):

Monday: Prayer work. Introduce topic and do a coloring page.

Tuesday: Prayer work. Read from Catholic Treasure Box.

Wednesday: Prayer work and Bible story.

Thursday: Prayer work and activity.

This is my simplified version that works with our homeschooling schedule. You could do so much more if you only have little ones or are planning a class. Everything could fit into a single, weekly class as well. Let the plans inspire you, not weigh you down.

God bless.

Friday, August 1, 2014

August 2014 Liturgical Plans

Dedication: Immaculate Heart of Mary




August 8: St. Dominic 



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saint.
  • Make holy card to display.
  • Stay up and gaze at the stars.

August 10: St. Lawrence


  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saint.
  • Make holy card to display.
  • Attend a family BBQ.

August 11: St. Clare of Assisi




August 14: St. Maximillian Kolbe



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saint.
  • Make a holy card to display.
  • Make intentional sacrifices for others.

August 15: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of Mary.
  • Holy Day of Obligation! Attend Mass.
  • Make holy card to display.
  • Food: blueberry muffins with toppers (like these) OR a special dinner of chicken, assumpta salad, assumption "cloud" rolls, and dessert (something using flowers, the color blue, clouds, or herbs).

August 18: St. Helen



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saint.
  • Pick basil from our herb garden, smell it, decorate the table with it, cook with it, and tell the story of St. Helen finding the true cross.
  • Play a game. Hide a cross and the kids have to find it.

August 22: Queenship of Mary



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of Mary.
  • Make holy card to display.
  • Craft: stand-up Queen of Mary coloring page (will probably use watercolors).
  • Food: crown lunch and/or crown cake (or bundt cake filled with flowers and stars).
  • Sing Hail Holy Queen.
  • Pray Hail Holy Queen or the Memorare.

August 23: St. Rose of Lima



  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saint.
  • Make holy card.
  • Make *rosy* (pink) lemonade and cross-shaped cookies for snack.
  • Copy work or art work using the words, "Apart from the cross there is no ladder by which we may get to heaven."

August 27: St. Monica and August 28: St. Augustine


  • Tell story of and pray for intercession of saints.
  • Pray for fallen-away family members.
  • Make holy card to display for St. Augustine.
  • Do something for mom.