Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a fun little find from the library

Last night at the library was one of those nights where I was frustrated. I like to have stacks of library books to strew around the house for the kids to pick up and read. I usually pick up books related to our history study... but right now our history topic doesn't have many books available.

So... I wandered around aimlessly, pulling random books off of the shelves and putting them into our library bag. This book was one of the random books I brought home...

I brought it out at dinner to look it over and quickly discovered what a gem it is. It is a whole book of folk tales for the kids to figure out! The kids asked me to read the first one aloud while we ate and the next thing I knew were totally hooked! They loved trying to figure out the answer to each story... it really got them thinking! I don't think that they've figured one out without hints yet, but even when I have to give them the answer, they have really enjoyed going back through and seeing how that answer works. They begged to do some more at breakfast this morning!

Anyway... I just thought I would share this find since so far we're really enjoying it!

Friday, February 20, 2009

setting up shop

So, the other day I mentioned that I had ordered some new homeschool stuff.... in that stack was this...

We've only been at it this week but my goodness has it been a hit so far! The grade range on this product is listed as grades 3-6... but I'm using it with my two which are 1st and 3rd grade.

They are so incredibly into it. We spent a couple of days deciding what inventory we needed to open our store. It was slow going... but Alex got lots of practice with multiplication as he extended the costs.

Then we had to make our price tags. They worked as a team. Alex did the mark-up calculations and Clara recorded them in the book....
Alex got an introduction to division through this exercise. And through our initial exercise of extending the costs, we even eased Clara into some multiplication... she's very proud of herself since she's doing multiplication too (it doesn't matter to her that the questions that we ask her help on are multiplying by 0's or 1's.... since she's good at skip counting by 5's we've been having her "help" us on those as well). It's been a very easy program to adapt to each kid's individual ability. They each have their main role.... Alex will be working more with figuring orders and Clara will be keeping track of inventory. It's so amazing to me how easily they grasp new concepts when there is an actual purpose to what they're learning.

Once the prices were figured... they excitedly asked if they could actually make a pet store. Why not? So, they've been working feverishly at setting up their shop.... they even worked on it until bedtime tonight (school on a Friday night???) :-)

Here's the progress so far....
They've taken over an old secretary that's currently hanging out in what will, at some point, be my office. On top you have some finished pet food bags (those yet to be colored are on the bottom there)..... the rest is hard to see... but the bigger wads of yarn are leashes and the smaller ones are collars.

Here's Alex showing off a newly finished dog food bag...
some dogs who are waiting for a new home....
and the cats...
After I took these photos they went digging through their stuffed animals looking for birds and rabbits to add to their store.

They absolutely cannot wait to have their first customers! I love seeing them so excited about math... I can't wait to see what else they have in mind for their store!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Egyptian Art

The kids and I decided to take a little field trip yesterday. We always make several trips a year to the Art Institute and given that admission is free in February... we thought it would be a perfect destination yesterday.

We didn't have a whole lot of time.... just a couple of hours before we had to head to Clara's dance class, so we had to pick a few priorities to hit.

To go along with Story of the World Volume 1, we decided to visit the ancient Egypt section first...

Head of an Official...

Coffin and Mummy of Paankhenamun....Canopic Jar of Amunhotep, Chief Builder of Amun...
Statue of Osiris...
Mummy Head Cover...

No matter how many times we visit this exhibit, we find something new... or we've read something more so the items have even more meaning for us. I love that we have the opportunity to visit these items over and over.

I have more pics and more rambling to do but given that I have a cold that has decided to take up residence in my head... I'm going to save the rest for later and join the kids in the floor (they're working on their pet store!).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

oooooh.... new stuff!

Right after Christmas each year I get the itch to mix things up a bit with our homeschooling. So, this year I finally made my decisions and placed my orders the last of January. Everything is in now and as of yesterday, we've used it all at least once....

Simply Charlotte Mason Your Business Math Series - Pet Store
All About Spelling
English from the Roots Up Flashcards, Vol. 1
ThinkFun Math Dice
Kids Across, Parents Down: Crazy Critters

I'll write more about these later as we have more time to use them and see what we truly think of them. So far, so good though! We're really enjoying everything... but we'll have to see what the staying power ends up to be.

Sorry I've not posted for a while. It's funny. Prior to this year, the majority of the kids' friends were homeschooled. We were fairly oblivious to the schedules of the schools around us. We just did school.... not realizing that it might be a day off for the schools. Well... this year we've greatly upped our number of non-homeschooled friends and now we're very aware of the various holidays and breaks. Last week and this week have fallen victim to this somewhat. Last week the public schools here were off for Lincoln's Birthday.... so we went off with a friend of mine (a public school teacher) and her daughter to a local waterpark hotel for the night. Then Sunday night Alex was invited to spend the night at a friend's house since Monday was a holiday (they homeschool too... but the sister was having a sleepover that night since her friend would not have school on Monday... so the boys had one too), Monday night Clara stayed extra late (didn't get home until nearly 9pm) at her regular after dance playdate since her friend's private school is on break this whole week.... the list goes on.

It doesn't bother me in the least... I'm so glad my kids have so many friends and that they're not limited to just "classmates".... however, it cracks me up that there are so many holidays and breaks that I was not aware of! We've been back here over two years and this is the first time I've realized that a lot of the private schools here have February breaks!

Anyway... between the holidays and breaks this week and last... plus the fact that we've had workers in our house since last Thursday.... school has been a bit sporadic. Hopefully I'll be back to regular postings again soon!

Friday, February 6, 2009

one more Egypt dvd...

I had forgotten about having this one in my Netflix queue until it showed up on Wednesday. We almost didn't watch it because we had watched several different documentaries about the pyramids already.... but the kids seemed interested in it so I put it in yesterday.

Building the Great Pyramid

I'm glad that I did. It was a completely different DVD than what we had previously watched. This was a fictionalized account of the life of one of the workers on the Great Pyramid. It followed him from the time when he was called from his small village into the service of the Pharaoh until the completion of the pyramid. Reviewers on Amazon appear to either love it or hate it. Perhaps those that hate it were expecting a more traditional documentary. That's what I was expecting... however, was very pleasantly surprised by this different view of the same information. The kids liked it too... of course, Alex more than Clara, but I wouldn't have expected anything different. :-)

I know what you mean, Angel... I tend to forget about Netflix too. Those other two movies I mentioned earlier this week had been sitting on our end table since before Christmas... sigh. I'm trying to get better about utilizing it... especially since the DVDs we've gotten from the library lately have been scratched to the point that they were unwatchable.

Juliet Dove, Queen of Love

Juliet Dove, Queen of Love: A Magic Shop Book

We finished reading this book yesterday. I have to say... surprisingly, we all really enjoyed it.

This book is this month's selection for the library's book club Alex attends. None of us were very sure about it. Alex wasn't sure about reading a book about "love". And I wasn't sure about how appropriate it would be... given that it's a book about love that centers around middle school aged kids. That's how it became our read aloud.

The basic premise of the book is that Juliet is given a magic necklace (once it's on, she can't take it off) that makes boys fall in love with her. The book is about her adventures in trying to free herself from the necklace.

The kids really enjoyed it! They thought the boys following Juliet around were really funny. It helped that Juliet wasn't too impressed with having all of these boys in love with her (she's extremely shy). She gets help on her adventure from two talking rats which the kids enjoyed. She also has help from her younger brother, Byron (who happens to be Alex's age), her little sister, her little sister's imaginary friend and several Greek goddesses. All of this made it very amusing to my two.

However, this book wasn't without some concerns. The first chapter starts out with some "mean girl" stuff. I was a little disheartened, figuring that if it was in the first chapter it would continue throughout the whole book. Thankfully, the "mean girl" stuff was very limited. The other thing is a one line reference nearer the end of the book. One of the girls, jealous of all of the attention Juliet is getting from the boys, makes this comment...

"Well, Killer, you must be giving the boys everything they want!"

This line made my cringe.... but my two had no clue what was referenced. Later in the dialog Juliet asks if everyone thinks she's kissing the boys.

It was a surprisingly good read! I can't wait to see what the next book club book is!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

educational decorating :-)

We're in the process of doing some redecorating... actually, we're in the process of decorating since we've lived here a couple years now and haven't done a thing to the bedroom area of the house.

So, we needed to find a new shower curtain for the kids' bathroom (because we needed to pick a paint color). I loved their old shower curtain. It was an inexpensive clear shower curtain from Target that had a map of the world on it. It was amazing how much geography they absorbed just from being around that map daily. Clara came to me just yesterday and told me that she had been looking at the map while brushing her teeth and our flight to Mexico next month would be much shorter if we still lived in Texas. A while back Alex became interested in the South Sandwich Islands after seeing them on the map. But it is time to retire the map shower curtain as several of the holes have ripped through (more than likely... due to Clara... sigh).

So... I was on a hunt for a shower curtain... any shower curtain that was kid-friendly, yet not too kiddish.... not too boyish, not too girlish and not too dark since it's a windowless room. I wasn't necessarily looking for an educational shower curtain... but that would have been a bonus.

Well.... I found what I was looking for.... plus the educational bonus!!! I actually found two. Which of course, led to a little disagreement between the kids.

Alex loved this one...

And Clara became attached to this one...

So.... given that I was in love with them both and the colors were the same on both of them... we ordered them both. We figure we can switch them out occasionally. We ordered them from Uncommon Goods... and they arrived within a couple of days. They are so cool! We don't have them up yet since the bathroom isn't painted yet.... but we're thinking we might do a shade of orange in there.... but there's always a chance that we might chicken out and go with a blue or green.

Anyway... I just wanted to share my cool find!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

a couple of egypt dvds

We have watched a couple DVDs on Ancient Egypt lately. We got both of them from Netflix.

The first one we watched was...
This one was based on the book by the same name by David Macaulay. We had checked out the book from the library as well.

Alex really liked this movie. I was a little let down, but I think it was because I was expecting something different. I think we'll continue to get the movies from this series as we work our way through Story of the World.

The second one we watched was this one...
The History Channel Presents Egypt - Engineering an Empire

I thought this one was amazing. Alex and Clara both got into it... Alex especially. There was a lot about the "hows" and "whys" of the ancient Egyptian structures. It was amazing to see just how some of the things were constructed.

My only word of caution is that during the section on Queen Hatshepsut they document the queen's relationship with Senenmut by showing ancient lewd graffiti that had been found... they do blur out the worst parts.... but it was a subject I wasn't expecting to see in this program.

Anyway... I finally remembered to mail in our Netflix movies, so by the end of the week we'll have one more Egypt DVD to watch.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Alex has hit a point with his math that he just needs to take a bit of a break. I love that with homeschooling we are able to do this. Even though he's taking a break from his math curriculum, we still "do math".

Last week I got out these two books, although we only got partway through the top one, Fractions are Parts of Things. I took the photo before we sat down to work on them and I thought we would go through them faster than we did.

To be honest, we only got through a small portion of the Fractions book (a mere fraction of it... I amuse myself sometimes).

We would have gotten through more of the book had Alex not become so obsessed with finding halves of things....

We looked around the house at windows and furniture. We built some items ourselves from their geometry tool kits and our bucket of shapes. We even photocopied some of the trickier ones out of the book and cut up the copies in order to really see the halves.

While Alex got carried away with finding halves, Clara made this....
...a flower in a vase.

So, again... not exactly what I had in mind. I had in mind that we would breeze through two books... happily absorbing some of the material and moving on. I imagined that we would work on these books together... start to finish.


Alex didn't get exposure to all of the different fractions... but he understands half really well. He knows now that "half" isn't always obvious and that it can be found different ways.

Clara didn't stay engaged long... but she too learned quite a bit more about halves than she would have if we had gotten through the entire book in one sitting. She also explored geometric designs using our shape blocks.... creating a beautiful, intricate, symmetrical design in the base of her vase.

Sometimes the way things turn out is not just different.... but sometimes better.