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Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday photo

Barefoot bliss

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An alien comes to visit

Green June Beetle
   We decided to grill out for supper, and J-man was being the "helper," bringing Daddy a clean plate when he came running back in the house calling for me to come see this "huge green bug."  We always seem to get the most interesting visitors on our back porch.  After the brothers came to see him too, everyone bravely let the little alien crawl on their fingers before taking him to the edge of the woods so he wouldn't accidentally get stepped on.  The thing they found most fascinating and wonderful about him was the shiny metallic green on his face, legs, and underside.  Can you see his beauty, too?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Rain


How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain!

How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout!

Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain!

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Map Trek Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to: Jessica:

Jessica said...

This would be a great resource to use with our history curriculum!
July 21, 2011 9:00 PM

Please contact me with your mailing information and Knowledge Quest will send you your book/cd set.

Thanks to everyone who entered!  Stay tuned for more fantastic giveaways...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

DIY: Upcycled/Recycled Ramen Noodle Doodles

   Handy Dandy Ramen Noodle Doodle Pad

Save the cardboard outerwrap from a cup o' noodles package, and cut off the front and top panels, leaving them attached to each other.

Cut strips of scrap paper just a bit smaller than the cardboard and staple to the inside, leaving a small flap at the top.  Fold pages to line up with the outerwrap fold.

Put a strip of tape along the flap to reinforce it and punch a hole in the center.  Add a piece of yarn, string, twine, or ric-rac (it kind of looks like a ramen noodle,) through the hole and tie a knot, leaving the ends free.

Fold up your booklet, and wrap the string around it to keep it closed, and tuck in a small (putt-putt golf) pencil.

Perfect for grocery lists, doodles, and reminders to buy more ramen noodles.

Monday, July 18, 2011

On our bookshelf

   We just discovered this book at our local used bookstore, and my 7-year-old can't get enough of it.  This volume includes three stories, and there is something to do at the end of each two-page section.  Some of the "puzzles" involve putting the parts of a story in the correct order or looking for a hidden object in the picture.  There are mazes and riddles, maps and logic problems, and all kinds of goodness in this book.  J-man is perfecting his reading comprehension skills, learning sequencing, plot, and main idea, finding context clues, and having a great time, too.

   From my search on the web, I discovered that there are many more books in this series, but many are out of print :(

   If you are fortunate enough to stumble upon one, your littles will hopefully love it as much as mine does.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

DIY: Upcycled/Recycled Summer Scrapbooks

   I love to scrapbook, but between homeschooling three different grade levels and getting dinner on the table, I have fallen WAY behind.  I have done this project with my boys several times so they can create their own scrapbooks to chronicle some of their interests and adventures.  These are a great way to document field trips, vacations, family reunions, sports, and hobbies.  You'll be amazed at what your kids (of all ages) come up with using things headed for the trash can.  When we go on field trips,  my boys tell me what they want me to take photos of, or I hand them the camera and let them click away.  I print the photos wallet-sized on glossy paper so a bunch will fit on the same page. 

Materials used:

Sturdy cardboard cut from empty boxes
Leftover scrapbook supplies (stickers, papers, yarn, letters, etc.)
Clothing tags, discarded file folders
Rubber stamps/ink/paint
Glue sticks
Hole punch
Binder rings
Paper cutter or ruler

"g" is for goat, plus a pocket page for the zoo brochure.

   I help the kids cut out their cardboard covers, and once they've chosen the papers they want to use, we cut them all out assembly line style.  Although these journals can be any size, when working with all of my boys at once, I have found it easiest to make the covers and pages all the same size so we don't have to measure over and over again.  If you don't have a paper trimmer, older kids can do the measuring and marking on the papers before cutting them out.  We use whatever leftover cardstock, scrapbook papers, gift-wrap, magazine/catalog pages, and envelopes (saved from junk mail) we have on hand.  The one rule we follow is not to purchase anything new to make these.   Cutting out all the pages is the most time-consuming part--you may want to have this done in advance for younger kids.  Don't bind the pages yet.

Fantasy locker room.

   Once the pages are cut, the kids plan out their theme, choose their photos and embellishments, and get busy putting it all together.  Papers are glued onto the cardboard covers, and inside pages are glued together back-to-back.  The kids love getting to experiment with rub-ons, stickers, rubber stamps, paint dabbers, staples, etc. as they journal, create collages, and arrange their photos.

   Once all the pages are done, place them in order, line them up to punch the holes, and add twine or binder rings to hold them together.  Easy-peasy, and so much more precious than scrapbook pages I could make myself.

   {These also make wonderful grandparent gifts.}

Anything goes...

Priceless keepsakes

Thursday, July 14, 2011

History/Geography Curriculum Resource

Map Trek: World + U.S.A.
Hardcover Atlas + Outline Maps on CD-ROM
The Complete Collection of Historical Maps

   How about a giveaway to help you get ready for the new school year, which is quickly approaching?

   If you homeschool, this will be such a valuable addition to your resources for all ages, and if you have kids who attend school outside the home, this will be a great helper for homework and special projects.

   Knowledge Quest is generously offering a  Map Trek:  World and USA Hardcover Atlas and Outline Maps on CD-ROM ($55 value!) to one of my readers.

   This set includes a hardcover book and a CD-ROM to make printing easy.  All-in-all, you will get:

276 Full-color teacher answer maps.
270 Blank outline maps for the student.
Instructions for how to use these maps
15 Grid Maps
10 Blank Grids
Lesson Plans
Glossary of terms
3 Bonus Map Sets
650 total pages

   To enter, visit the Knowledge Quest site, and then come back here and leave a comment on this post telling me why you would like to win this book and CD set.  For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway and leave me an additional comment with a link to your post.  This is open to all, but if you live internationally, you will be responsible for a $20 shipping fee.  If you live in the US, the book and CD set will be shipped to you absolutely free.

  This giveaway is open until midnight EST, Friday, July 22, 2011.

  Please be sure to come back to see if you win--I will announce the winner on my blog, and you will need to contact me with your mailing information.
Comments are now closed--winner will be announced this weekend.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Curriculum Fair: Español-ish

Curriculum Fair is a place for me to share the curriculum we use. If you check out my other posts in this series,you'll see how much we modify and revamp as we go along. Our homeschooling journey is always changing!

To introduce my kids to a foreign language, I am using Power-Glide Spanish materials. Over the past couple of years, Power-Glide has been revamped, but we are using the older materials which I bought used.

Because I don't have a strong foreign language background, I like the way this curriculum is organized, and the CDs and workbooks walk you through everything, so your students can practically work independently. Our set came with a poster of the Isla de Providencia which is the backdrop for the stories. The boys can add stickers to the poster and color in the areas as they "travel" through the workbooks.

The one addition we made to this was a good Spanish/English dictionary. The program uses diglot weaves to immerse the learner in the language, and we are finding the dictionary useful with the older level program. My boys and I are enjoying the format of this program, and the CDs are done well, with background sounds and high quality vocals, making them a pleasure to follow along.

To pique the interest of my youngest and add some more fun to our language-learning, I'm including bilingual picture books, and a few we find fun are:

  • El Pato Paco/BJU Press by Anna Turner & Beth Kitching
  • Mono y Yo (Monkey and ME) by Emily Gravett 
  • Dormilon cito (Sleepy Head) by Karma Wilson & John Segol
  • Que Hay Deba Jo De La Cama? (What's Under the Bed?) by Joe Fenton
  • El Paseo De Rosie (Rosie's Walk) by Pat Hutchins
  • Como Abrazas A Un Puercoespin (How Do You Hug a Porcupine?) by Laurie Isop

We love Rosie's Walk and were excited to find the Spanish version.
Another Cheerios prize.

I'm also going to be on the lookout for more books like these when we visit the used bookstore and the library. I want the boys to gain an appreciation for Spanish while having a gentle introduction to it during these years before high school, and it's fun to try it out when we go out for Mexican food (our favorite!) 

Are you including foreign language studies in your homeschool?

Monday, July 11, 2011

A garden conversation

Little baby cantaloupe--Ain't it PRECIOUS!!

"Boys, come out and look at the cantaloupes--we have two the size of baseballs!"

"Woah--they're huge!"

"Aren't they cute?"

"Mommy, aren't we going to eat them?"

"Yes, when they get bigger."

"Then don't call them cute."

"Why not...they are cute.  Just look at them!"

"You can't call them cute if we're going to eat them."

"Yeah, Mommy, get a grip.  They aren't your babies, you know.  You're really getting too attached to your vegetables."


Blonde hair gone wild

Bean blossoms

Big green maters


Red? bell pepper


Berry surprised

Salsa harvest +1

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Read-Along/Learn-Along

   If you've been reading Moon Over Manifest with us for our Summer Read-Along, you may want to explore the historical aspects of this book further.  World War I, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, coal mining and unfair working conditions, racism and discrimination, immigration, and moonshining are all included in the story.

  If you want to explore any of these topics, or if you'd like to read some more books set in these time periods or dealing with these issues, I've compiled a list of some resources that you may find useful.  Most of these should be available at the library.  If your community has a history museum, you may want to pay it a visit as well.  I hope you enjoyed delving into this book as much as we have!

Books to read:

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Dust for Dinner by Ann Turner (An I Can Read Book)
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Hero Over Here by Kathleen V. Kudlinski
The Moffats, The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., and The Moffat Museum by Eleanor Estes
Moonshiner's Son by Carolyn Reeder
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Books for further research:

Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley
Children of the Great Depression by Russell Freedman
Dust to Eat:  Drought and Depression in the 1930s by Michael L. Cooper
The Great Depression by R. Conrad Stein (Cornertones of Freedom)
A History of US #9--War, Peace, and All That Jazz (1918-1945) by Joy Hakim
Immigrant Kids by Russell Freedman
The World Wars (Usborne)

Friday photo

Some see weeds/I see flowers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fungus amongus

How the "mushroom cloud" got its name?

An after-dinner walk led to the discovery of some ginormous mushrooms standing guard alongside our neighborhood nature trail. I'm learning to bring my camera along on our outings--we always find something interesting, and I was happy that these photos turned out since it was getting dark.

Now, as a homeschool mom, I'm always thinking of how I can extend my kids' learning, but I also listen to them and their interests before becoming "teacherzilla." They are all very inquisitive, and they usually want to find out more about something. I don't know if it's a boy thing, a homeschooler thing, or simply my kids, but they tend to go full-force, gung-ho into something when they are interested in it, wanting to know everything there is to know. 

Sometimes, a mushroom is just a mushroom...

But, sometimes a discovery can lead to a lesson or a whole unit study.  Our Handbook of Nature Study and collection of field guides are usually the first things I turn to when we want to explore something further. Then I will search the internet for resources such as this mushroom workbook. We may even plan a trip to the library to find more information. 

We love to do art projects such as this spore prints activity (super fun, and easy enough for my youngest to do, but we did it with smaller mushrooms found around our yard,) and we'll definitely draw pictures in our nature journals. We might even make mushroom sculptures out of dough.

If we have a book that includes the topic at hand, we will add it to our stack for read-aloud time, such as this one:

We may even write stories about an imaginary miniature world living under the mushrooms, or poems, or a list of facts we've learned.  We'll talk about having respect for nature and being careful not to knock the mushrooms over when we look closer, so that others can enjoy discovering them too.

And to top it all off, we might go to the grocery store, choose some interesting mushrooms to try, and make a fabulous mushroom pizza.

But sometimes, a mushroom is just a mushroom.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An apple for the teacher

When we went to Target yesterday, we were surprised to see that the summer aisles had been re-vamped, and the school supplies were out!  Is it that time already?  We love to check out all the cool new things from backpacks and lunchboxes to notebooks and pens.  Although we don't need too many supplies, it's always fun to browse.  And, who doesn't love a new notebook?

With back-to-school approaching, I wanted to share some perks I have discovered that teachers (including homeschool teachers) can get.  All you have to do is ask at most places and show an I.D. such as an accountability association, Homeschool Legal Defense, or homeschool support group card to get most discounts.  Many stores will issue you a card or key tag, while others simply want to see your I.D. when you make a purchase.  Some of these rewards will be an immediate discount on your purchase, while others use a point system and issue coupons after you build up a certain amount.  Staples and Office Depot will email you coupons for things like free printer paper from time to time.  If you need new clothes, Loft gives a discount to teachers on regular priced items, and JCrew does as well, even if you are buying men's or kid's clothes.

If you know of any other businesses that offer teacher rewards, please add them in the comments!

Edited 7/11/11
More discounts at:

* Must present a valid educator ID. Includes sale items. Some exclusions apply.
JoAnn's Crafts and Fabrics