Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10/40 Window Study for Younger Children

My older kids are doing Sonlight's Core F this year and I wanted something for Sunshine, who is in 4th grade this year.  With his auditory processing issues, he's just not able to handle longer chapter books yet, and he's definitely not ready for Core F.

I've looked and looked for a resource to use for youngers each time I've done Core F. This is my second full time through it and I planned to do it once with these kids several years ago but changed my mind at the last minute and did something else.  I've attempted to plan out fun hands-on activities for youngers before and it always ended up being too much.

This time around I found Expedition Earth from  It's not perfect, but it's the closest to what I've been looking for.  There are a lot of elements I've pulled into my plan and I think what it really gave me was permission to do "less is more."  Even after putting together my full plan for each week, once we actually began doing it, I cut some things out.  For instance, it's just not necessary for Sunshine to know the population or land area of each country.  Those super large numbers aren't that meaningful to him yet and there are other things about each country or culture I'd like to stick with him (like WHERE the country is).

I've also made his schedule to only loosely coordinate with Core F with each country he studies taking only two weeks.  Here is the schedule:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Moneywise Kids

This is a great little game I picked up 5 years or so ago.  Sunshine and I have been playing it during Special Time all week and he's really catching on to the premise.  I see his math improving so much in just 3 days!

You begin the game with a $100 bill.  There are tokens face-down in the center.  The object is to collect all 6 tokens, which must be purchased for anywhere from $5-30 each AND have $100 in savings in order to win.  You can either shake the dice and earn money (a 1 is $10, all others are face value) OR choose a token.  There are also 4 "pay a bill" tokens--2 each of SICK or POTHOLE.  If you've purchased either the Medical Care token or Paid Your Taxes token, you won't have to pay the bill.  The only other rule in the game is that whenever able, you must trade your money for the biggest bill you can.  So when you've collected 5 ones, you must trade them for a 5.  Two fives must be traded for a ten.  Etc.  It's great for helping kids learn to make change and learn what each bill is worth, plus the idea of budgeting (to buy your tokens) and saving (the $100 to win at the end).

I already see Sunshine knowing how much change he'll get from a $20 to pay for a $15 token, and understanding that if he has 5 ones and a 5 and a 10, he can trade up for a $20.  He's also checking for himself what bills he'll collect from his roll.  Upon shaking a 4 and a 3, he recounts to tell me that for the roll of 7, he needs a five and 2 ones.

Hurray for simplicity and fun in a board game!  (and no lottery tokens!  Boo to PayDay!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Native American Field Trip

As a fun culmination to our Native American studies, we took a day and visited the Milwaukee Public Museum.  They have some great American Indian exhibits, including a bison hunt and some neat Northwest Coast items.   Here are the kids with a totem pole and in the doorway of the plank house.

It's not a hands-on museum, but the kids were really motivated by all the things they recognized that we'd read about.  It's also home to a teepee, a life-size adobe home of the southwest and a nice display of the Northeast Woodland Indians, in addition to some we hadn't studied.

It's a great natural history museum with lots of miniature and life-size dioramas. They have a nice Wisconsin mammoth (or mastodon, I forget which) and many displays of artifacts from around the world. We've visited many times after we've studied world cultures, Wisconsin history and Native Americans.  If you're close by, check it out.  We buy a family pass and in two visits, have it paid for.  (They also let Auntie in on our pass the last two times we've been there!)

Northwest Coast Indians

 The kids really enjoyed Kahtahah and it gave a very good overview of one of the peoples of this region.  Everything else I read to them, they already knew about from reading this book.

We found the idea for these cute Totem Poles online.

 My raven and Pepper's whale

Sunshine's beaver and Banana Boy's raccoon.

Southwest Indians

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bison Paintings

 Banana Boy

We got this fun idea from this blog.  I thought they were so cute, and the kids are always begging to do art. 

I did some sample bison and then the kids did theirs.  When they went to put their paintings together, I shared some of my bison with them.  BB's two front bison are his own.  BB decided to add a bison skull and a rock to his, as well.  He was initially very frustrated at his bison drawings, but once we got to the painting and gluing part, he took off.  I love how he cut one in half to make it walking into the scene.

Pepper's bison are all her own.  She hates drawing animals, but I think her little bison turned out really well.  Better than my childish stick calves!  Her lying-down bison is also really well done.

Sunshine's two HUGE bison are his own.  I like his sun and how he remembered to tuck the feet of the back bison behind the head of the front one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Plains Indians Schedule

The Buffalo Painting can be found here

And the Buffalo Parts activity can be found here.

Peanut Butter Pemmican

More palatable to kids than the suet kind...

"Peanut butter" pemmican

1 part jerky
1 part peanuts or pecans, unroasted
1 part raisins
1 part any seedless dried fruit(s) not preserved with sulfites—apples, peaches, blueberries, etc.
Peanut butter and honey, in a two-to-one ratio
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional, but contrasts nicely with the sweet fruits and honey.)

Powder the jerky in a blender. Add fruit and nuts. Microwave honey and peanut butter to soften them, then blend them into the mixture. (Use less than you think you'll need, just enough to bind everything together. If you get it wrong, it's easier to add more peanut butter and honey than to add more of everything else.) Add cayenne pepper, working it in thoroughly. Store in plastic bags

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another New School Year, Another Attempt to Document our Homeschool

on a regular basis...

I found myself looking back to the year that I blogged here regularly to remind myself what resources I'd used when we studied American history before.  It made me wish I'd kept up recording our homeschool here.  So here goes another attempt.

For 2013, the four youngers are home.  Sunshine is in 3rd grade (although about 2nd academically), Banana Boy is in 5th, Pepper 7th and Daisy 10th.  Rose Bud will be a senior in public school and applied to her first college yesterday.  :( :)

We are once again beginning American History by studying four regional types of American Indians.

For the forest Indians of the Northeast, our schedule looks like this:

Resources we are using include
Legend Chart


Longhouse Model-- from the Scholastic book Easy Make & Learn Projects: Northeast Indians.  I got a free sample download from this book once, which was the longhouse project.  I can't find the link to it now.

Region Map--two cute ideas  Native Americans 008 and 


Pepper is making a Powerpoint comparing the 4 regions and is reading all the literature.  Banana Boy is reading most of the literature.  Sunshine is listening in and reading some easy readers aloud to me.  His first one is Little Runner of the Longhouse.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Daily Calendar Math with Sunshine

Sunshine, 2nd grade, struggles a bit with math and I've been struggling to find ways to help him understand and retain the math concepts he needs for 2nd grade.  You'd think, as a person with a math teaching background, this would be an easy task for me, but I tend to draw a blank on ideas.

He loves to play games, so we've been playing lots of math games and more math games.

I signed him up for DreamBox, and while I think it's an excellent format that makes ALL the games educationally relevant (unlike many video math games in which kids can too easily spend time playing the "reward" games of no educational merit), the concepts quickly outpaced his math skills and he grew frustrated.

We're still using Singapore Primary Math and I started him out in book 1A this year, which is a good fit for him.  We're moving very slowly through it.

So, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I've finally hit upon a great tool for efficiently working on the many skills he needs to keep current.  A daily math "calendar."  It's really more of a Number-of-the-Day, with the number being tied to the calendar.  He doesn't need practice with actual calendar concepts as he is schedule-driven and came to understand those ideas quite young.

So without further ado, here is what we have going:
 This is on our white board in the dining room, where we do school.  I think the skills are fairly self-explanatory.  For the addition and subtraction sentences, I give him the format _+_ = 3 and _-_=3 and he fills in the blanks.  He can choose any numbers that work.  I am reminding him that for the subtraction sentence, the initial number has to be larger than the answer (I know, there are technical terms for those numbers--even as a math teacher, I never learned them.  One is a subtrahend, I think, and the answer is the difference.  Don't really care.)

The second day we added a few things:  the spelling of the number (four), and some dots to illustrate whether the number was odd or even.

 The math tools we're using include Base Ten blocks (my favorite!) for the Tens/Ones work and a Hundreds Chart for the 1More/10 More/100 More work and for the skip counting.   We also pulled in a number line with negative numbers today to find what was 10 less than 4.  He hopped his pen down the number line and recorded the answer, but I didn't include much explanation about the concept.

I'm really excited about this simple way to daily practice a number of basic skills!  I'm thrilled that I thought of it at the beginning of the new year so we can begin in a place that is easy for him to experience success, yet we'll be able to gently progress to quite an advanced level as we work up to 365!  And he thinks it's really fun, so that's an added bonus.  It will be a daily routine, which he thrives on, so it will be easy to maintain.

For now, we're doing it on the white board, but I may print it on a piece of cardstock and laminate it for him to erase and do daily with an overhead marker. This would be an easy way to do it with multiple kids, too, and avoid competition over the whiteboard.

I also found a page for Pepper that I may have her do which includes arrays, prime factorization, rounding and reduction of fractions. I have to modify some of the skills to be relevant before I give it to her.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Bayeux Tapestry

Nifty online resources for studying the Bayeux Tapestry (Lesson 55 in Mystery of History II)

An animated version of part of the Bayeux Tapestry:
 Activities to go along with your study.

And this is a little trickier to find, but there is a Stuff You Missed in History Class podcast about the Bayeux Tapestry. You probably have to go into iTunes, to their podcasts and search for it. Searching for Bayeux Tapestry in the iTunes Store may likely bring it up. The podcast is free.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mystery of History, Volume 2, Weeks 1 & 2, (Which Actually Took Us 3 Weeks)

We are excitedly jumping into our next phase of history, one I've never even been in: the Early Church and Medieval times.

Somehow, we've skipped over this time period.  Rose Bud was working through ancient history when she went off to public school.  Daisy was small and was lightly going through a little ancient history with us.  When Rose Bud was very small, we went through Sonlight's Core 1 and only half-heartedly through Core 2, which contained the medieval period.  Somehow it was much more fun to reach American history and we took our sweet time enjoying Cores 3 and 4.  Somewhere in there Rose Bud and I (with Daisy tagging along) also did Core 5.

When Rose Bud went to public school, Daisy and Pepper and I tackled Cores 3 and 4 again, enjoying American history all over.  I then debated and agonized over doing Core 5.  So many wise ones who had gone before discouraged its use by a 4th grader, which Pepper was.  So after investing in it and deciding to use it, at the 11th hour I bailed and we went for Core 6, Ancient History.

Well, it wasn't many days after that decision that I decided Mystery of History, which, being a Curriculum Junkie, I already owned was a better fit.  And we never looked back.

And now we are beginning MOH2.

So without further ado, here are our first two weeks:
Mystery of History 2

Pentecost and the First Followers of Jesus c. A.D. 29 
Saul, Who is Also Called Paul A.D. 31
Paul's Missionary Journeys c. A.D. 46-66
Nero A.D. 37-68
Martyrs of the Early Church c. A.D. 64-257

Read-Alouds (books I read to them)
Stephen, A Soldier of the Cross  This book was written in 1896 and republished by Lamplighter Books.  Although it is written in archaic language (lots of thees and thous and doest thou) the girls (and I) loved it!  It was a great story with an exciting plot intertwining actual characters from the Bible with some fictional go-alongs in a story of how-it-might-have-been.  It gave a good overview of what everyday life was like for various levels of society in the deserts of Egypt and in Jerusalem just after Jesus' death.
The Ides of April This very exciting story takes place in A.D. 62 during the time of Nero.  It's not related to the Christians of the time, but rather tells the life of a Roman household and its slaves.  One slave, having been accused of the murder of his master, has endangered all the slaves of the household.  Another slave who has escaped capture endeavors to save them all.  I began reading this aloud and then passed it off to the girls to finish. (I can only read so much before my voice gives out!)
The Life of St. Paul by Fosdick  This is a Landmark book and thus very easy to read.  I could assign it as a reader, however this article highlights some concerns about the author, Harry Emerson Fosdick.  These concerns didn't keep us from reading the book.  Instead, I chose to do it as a read-aloud so that we could discuss concerns as they came up.  The book does point out some interesting  ideas about Paul's life which I hadn't realized before.  For example, he points out how Jesus was a country boy, growing up in a rural area and being familiar with rural ideas and farming practices.  Along with that, the people he preached to were also mainly rural people and this is evident in the illustrations he uses; illustrations about sheep, crops, birds of the field, vineyards.  Paul, on the other hand, was a city boy from Tarsus, a booming metropolis.  He was well-educated, knew several languages and was a Roman citizen.  Hence his illustrations were of things like running the race (a reference to Roman athletics) and such.  He seldom mentioned anything related to farming or livestock.  In any case, we did notice that there is no mention of Jesus' divinity or the Holy Spirit in the book.  Also, in the later chapters, Paul is painted as being concerned about losing the respect and love of the churches, whereas the Biblical Paul would have been concerned with the churches losing love and respect for GOD (not himself).  We discussed this discrepancy and pointed out how one needs to be aware of the perspective and world-view of the author whatever one is reading.
(Incidently, here is a list of Landmark books listed chronologically)

On-going Read-Alouds
We are reading  each day from the One-Year Chronological Bible (NLT).  This is the Bible that got me to finally read through the whole Bible.  And I love the readability of the NLT.  Whichever version you choose, this is organized chronologically, so we've had Galatians inserted into our Acts of the Apostles already.  Readings are short, 15 min. a day.  We began with Acts.

Trial and Triumph  I have probably too many books about Early Church history, but I am finding, as we read through them, that they each bring something different to our experience.  Thus far we have only read about Polycarp and Blandina in this book, but both came to us in nice, short, story-format chapters.  Sometimes it's nice just to have something easy to read.

In that same vein, we are reading from Foxe: Voice of the Martyrs.  This version is published by Voice of the Martyrs organization.  This book tells the stories of the apostles, as well as early martyrs.  It has an old-fashioned feel with very old drawings (gory!) throughout.

AND we are reading from Peril and Peace, Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church.  Again, this is more of a story format.  However, rather than JUST stories of the martyrs, it also gives the history of the ancient church, such as background of the martyring Roman emperors and what worship in the early church looked like.

Pepper somehow escaped reading The Bronze Bow, although Daisy had finished it last spring, so Pepper has read that already this fall.  Pepper also read The Beast of Lor by Clyde Robert Bulla, about the Romans in early Britain.  Daisy read Titus: Comrade of the Cross, which is a prequel to Stephen listed above.  It was too challenging for Pepper, but Daisy enjoyed it, in spite of its 32 chapters and the 5 days I gave her to read it!  Both girls also paged through The Roman Colosseum by Elizabeth Mann when we read about Nero.

Other Media
"Prisoner for Christ,"  from Adventures in Odyssey Bible Eyewitness  (CD#3) told the story of Onesimus, the slave of Philemon (of Philemon in the Bible).  Twice Freed also tells the story, but the girls deemed the book, "boring."
They've been working through the Drive Thru History series and watched episodes from Greece and the Word DVD which touched on the travels of Paul.
And we love the Diana Waring CDs!  This year we are listening to the Romans, Reformers and Revolutionaries set.  For these two weeks, we are listening to Digging Deeper, Disc 1: The Exploding Church and What in the World's Going On Here? Disc 1, Track 2: 1st century Church & Emperors.

Maps and Timeline
We are combing the map exercises in MOH2 with our MapTrek maps.  And we use the Homeschool in the Woods timeline figures on our timeline.  We add the figures suggested in MOH and any others that we've read about for the week.