Saturday, March 28, 2009

Winter Promise

I've decided I don't like this curriculum. It is just not a good fit for us.

I've decided I don't like
American Story 1
Animals & Their Worlds
I'm Ready to Learn

I hate looking at those guides on my shelf every day.


My Unconventional Book Sale

Ok, I have two boxes ready to go. At this point I'm really only selling to people I "know" (which might include you)

Email me at if you'd like me to send you a copy of the list. It's in a Word document. There is some great stuff and some cheap stuff.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Itty Bitty Bookworm Curriculum Giveaway

Ok, last year I posted about the Brightly Beaming curriculum for preschoolers.

Today I discovered a new preschool curriculum, Itty-Bitty Bookworm.

This is so cool! I can't wait to try it out with Sunshine. It is a literature-based curriculum with hands-on, very organized and very doable. I also think it's more age-appropriate that Brightly Beaming. At least for Sunshine, who is not a typical 4 yo.

Since I haven't used it yet, I'll let you read about it for yourself at Itty-Bitty Bookworm or you can read the stellar review at Homeschool Creations.

Oh, did I mention the best part? Homeschool Creations is GIVING AWAY one full year of this curriculum (a $300 value) so bop on over there and check it out before April 2.

Oh, did I mention the second-best part? Look at how CUTE these worms are!

Itty-Bitty Bookworm's logo

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What I Might Put in the Boxes

And as long as I'm thinking about it, I'm going to brainstorm my own list of things I can put in Banana Boy's boxes

Explode the Code
Singapore Math
Computer time
Jumping on Mini Tramp
Mommy, It's a Renoir folders
Take it to Your Seat Geography Folders
Science minibooks
Books for him to read to me
Books for him to read alone
Books for me to read to him
Activity he can play with Sunshine
Handwriting Without Tears activities
Tangram Animals
Animal sorting (little animals with cards like reptile, mammal)
Puzzles, especially GeoPuzzles
Journal writing
Story starters
Measuring activities
Board game with someone
Math Wrap-Ups
Art projects
Color By Number
Dot to Dots
AWANA practice
Bible to read
Wedgit cards to complete
Cards to play War
Play outside time
Movie to watch
GeoSafari Laptop and cards
Draw Write Now
Ed Emberley Drawing book
Choretime (as a minibreak between school activities)

I bet I can think of way more....

Gonna Hop on the Workbox Bandwagon!

I was just thinking of posting to some homeschooling boards this morning about ideas for organizing Banana Boy's day next fall.  

I am terrible about accountability and it's very easy for me to lose the kids when we get off track.  The phone rings and they all wander away.  We have to leave to go pick up Sunshine and we never get back to school for the rest of the day.  Someone has something hard, begins to cry and it gets shelved until next week.  They avoid (read: "forget" ) to do something they don't really enjoy and suddenly, we haven't done Spanish or written in journals for 5 weeks.

You know just what I mean, right?  Right?

So, I was looking for a very obvious, very organized way to chart what Banana Boy has and has not done for the day/week/month.  I've made oodles of schedules and charts and I just don't check up on them to see if the kids are checking off what they've done.

Lo, and behold, I travel to my new favorite homeschool blog, 1+1+1=1, and there are workboxes.  She posted about them earlier in the week with a promise to give more details.  Got 'em.

So I can't give you any details about them yet, as I haven't tried them, but you can look for yourself as to what's involved.  All I can say is I. Am. Excited!

Sue Patrick's Workbox System or, Where to Get the Book

Walking By the Way (on the sidebar on the right, scroll to "Wonderful Workboxes"  She has several posts about them and this way you can find them all including What to Put in Workboxes.)

Joyful Mother of Six  and more posts #1 #2 #3 #4 #5

Color Me Orange An idea for doing it in a space-saving way with multiple children (I was just thinking, this would be great for the girls, too, but where to put all those bins???)  more Color Me Orange posts on workboxes  #1 #2

Our Lifesong (using workboxes in a tiny apartment and what to do with the completed boxes and materials)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wisconsin's First People or Who Needs A Textbook?

Today we read about Wisconsin's first people. There were several different groups that archaeologists break into


Archaic Indians

Woodland Peoples




Everything you wanted to know about them and more!

More everything you wanted to know

Even More!

Solve the Mammoth Mystery

Mammoth History in Kenosha County

Kenosha Public Museum FREE Field Trip! See the Schaefer Mammoth and check out dioramas on Wisconsin history

Field Trip!  Visit the Boaz Mastadon and here

Archaic Indians

Missisippi Valley Archaeology Center on Archaic Tradition   Don't forget to check out all the links down the side

Article on the Archaic Tradition.

Pictures of Archaic spearpoints

Field Trip!  Visit an Archaic site

Woodland Tradition

This site is really all you need

Woodland effigy mounds

Field Trip!  Visit Wisconsin effigy mounds

Milwaukee Public Museum artifact collection (check out the other links at the top to read more about Aztalan)

More about the Mississippians

Field Trip!  Visit the Aztalan site
and walk inside an Aztalan house at the Wisconsin Historical Museum


Field Trip!  See rock carvings and paintings

Friday, March 13, 2009

Carrie and The Crazy Quilt

Carrie and The Crazy Quilt -- a nice little book about the Peshtigo Fire, of which there is very little historical fiction available. Not Newbery Honor material, but an exciting story that gave the girls a good sense of that event in our history.

And the best news! There are two sequels, Carrie and the Apple Pie and Carrie and Boarding House. Yay!

As you can see, we will be jumping around history a bit, but in the end we'll hopefully have a good picture of our state's history.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome to Wisconsin!

We just couldn't take one more minute of plain old American History and we've prematurely jumped into our Wisconsin history studies!

Here are the materials we're using:

Wisconsin: Our State, Our Story This is the new 4th grade Wisconsin history textbook. We got it from the library. Luckily, there are 35 copies, so we should be able to keep renewing it/checking it out until we're done.

A Journey Through Learning's My State Lapbook This is the first lapbook I've ever purchased. I looked through a lot of free resources and many other state lapbooks at CurrClick before deciding on this one. Not that this one is the best out there, but it best met OUR needs. The girls have already begun their lapbooks. One thing I really like about this particular kit, and something we discovered AFTER we began putting it together, is that there is plenty of "white space" between the booklets, which means we are able to place them closer than they are mapped out in the instructions and we will then have room to add some of our own booklets (we've already made two maps about Wisconsin's topography and glaciation which we will add.)

Right now we're reading and really enjoying Wisconsin Forest Tales It's historical fiction about the history of Wisconsin forests from Indian times to logging (our favorite story so far!) to the Peshtigo fire (children's fiction on this topic is VERY sparse) to homesteading, Dutch Elm disease to school forests.

Some fun little trivial things we've done

Found and colored Wisconsin on our world map

Drew the line for 90 degrees W longitude and 45 degrees N latitude. Guess where they cross! Wisconsin is right smack in the very center of the Northern/Western hemispheres!!! How cool is that!

We ate two apples, one cut into the northern and southern hemisphers and one cut into the western and eastern hemispheres

We found all the interesting places in Wisconsin like where dad and mom went to college, where Grandma and Grandpa live, what route we take to Grandma and Grandpa's house, where Auntie lives.

Today we were reading that some of the white pines growing in northern Wisconsin in the early 1800s were bigger than the arms of THREE MEN around! We made a circle with our arms, Daisy, Pepper and I and THAT was a pretty big tree!

We explored the "glaciers and glacial features" in our yard (the melting snowbanks

We made moraines and till on the carpet using a sheet of paper (the glacier) and the Bananagram tiles.

We watched the first few parts of Sesquecentennial Wisconsin Stories If you have RealPlayer you can watch this in 6-8 min. segments.

Friday, March 6, 2009

15 Miles on the Erie Canal

We are almost finished with this portion of American History we'll call Core 3 (and I mean that loosely, since we've really not followed Core 3 at all)

Recently we did a little trek down the Erie Canal.

We read The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal and i found it to be a fairly annoying book. I really thought i would like it better, but something about all the extra text in the pictures bugged me. Necessary, I suppose, to illustrate the building of a canal which takes place over time AND space, but it annoyed me nonetheless. Maybe next time we'll stick with Sonlight's Erie Canal book.

Online, we found some cool resources

The Boss singing that song we all learned in music class so many years ago. At this site, you get the lyrics, The Boss singing it (scroll down to the player on the right), and yes, you get the whole song! and you can even download a ringtone (I didn't)

If you want to do a driving tour of the Erie Canal today, go here (well, really, you need to go to New York, but if you click there, it will give you a map and directions!)

Who needs a book? This site has all the history, all the songs, all the pictures and all the information you could ever want about the Erie Canal.

And last, but not least, this site has more postcards, more music and a virtual tour of the Erie Canal throughout history (via postcards)

Really, I might just sell my whole library. The interactiveness of the internet amazes me. I think it's so cool to listen not only read about something in history, but to also then listen to music and look at photographs, play games, solve puzzles. All the work is done for me.

Me and Google, homeschooling the Buds together.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a Foodie Blog!

Because I don't have enough to do, here's a recipe (or two) I want to share with you.

Unstuffed Pepper Soup (adapted from Taste of Home's recipe by the same name)

2 lbs ground beef
4 peppers of various colors (I used 2 green, 1 red a yellow and an orange, and yes, that equals 5)
1 large onion
4 large cloves garlic, minced

Brown together in a dutch oven.

Meanwhile, cook according to package directions (but without the meat)
1 package Zatarain's Dirty Rice

When meat is brown and vegetables are nearly tender, add

1 quart jar homemade tomato soup or 2 cans condensed tomato soup

2 cans diced tomatoes
(I used tomatoes with garlic and onion)

1 or two beef boullion cubes

to the consistency you like

Yes, I skipped the mushrooms. I love mushrooms, but they just seemed weird in this recipe. Plus, only dh and I eat this (not one kid will eat peppers) and if I put mushrooms in, then it would just be ME eating this huge vat of soup.

Add the rice to the soup. Yum!

Oh, and as promised, here is the second recipe. Run, don't walk to your stove and make this. Mmm, mmm, mmm! And, because I can't leave well enough alone, I made this with chicken and added a few diced sun-dried tomatoes.

Justin is Mathtacular!

We just got volumes 2 & 3 of Mathtacular in our new Sonlight box. I put it in this morning and the kids were glued to the TV. Not that they aren't glued to the TV whatever is on. The other day, Daisy watched the history of the sewer systems in America's 10 largest cities (not kidding. This was on PBS at 11 am)

I guess it's good they are so interested in learning.

Anyway, they were loving Justin doing his mathy thing on the new DVD.

And something Justin did inspired Pepper to get out the Base Ten blocks, which she normally abhors. Well, she abhors them if I get them out for her to use in solving a math problem.

If she can unschool with them, apparently she loves them.

And what, you ask, was Sunshine doing during all this? Well, sometimes he was trying to knock over these creations. But then I got out some Tray Work for him and he did SO well! I was so proud of him. He mostly followed directions, kept the water in the cups, well, at least in the tray, well, at least on the towel. And he poured for 30 minutes!!!

Hopefully, this is something I can keep doing with him for next year as he will only be in school two days a week. yay, Sunshine!

Multiplication for a Friend

Here are some multiplication links I promised a friend.  Enjoy!

Times Tales   (from the website) Times Tales is a creative, innovative mnemonic-basedprogram that makes it fun and easy to memorize the upper multiplication facts. Times Tales uses cute, simple stories to provide students with a "memory peg", allowing them to quickly recall otherwise abstract facts

Timez Attack   Video game that teaches multiplication facts. Explore the castle, fight the ogres (or whatever they are). There is a free demo available for download that does most of what the purchased version does. I think you get a better variety of monsters to fight in the purchased version, among other things.

Multiplication.comMy girls LOVE this site. Fun, simple video games that drill multiplication facts. Their favorite is Fairy Fun. If I had one complaint, it's that the answer seems to usually be in only two of the four places you can choose. Not as random as I'd like, but fine. You can choose which facts to work on (perfect for Pepper who is only learning 2s and 3s right now and Daisy who needs extra work on 7s)

The sixes is our favorite song!!!

Schoolhouse Rock Remember the multiplication songs from when you were a kid? Figure 8s were my favorite. And the hide and seek one.

One more: Roll n Multiply Math Bingo, only more fun!