Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up....{the one where the dogs wore clothes}

Speaking of clothes, this dark load really sums up our week - a lot going on, but it sure wasn't laundry.  I did eventually get all this washed just in time for two kids to get the stomach flu.  Blah!

Here are the adorable pups Amber's been watching.  I think I mentioned last week they wear ski jackets.  I didn't make that up.  Amber just brought them in from a chilly evening walk.  

They went home yesterday, and I actually miss them.  I can't say that too loud or everyone will be begging for a dog again.

Bella is wearing a cheetah fur trimmed sweater vest while she studies "Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent"
Maria had such fun dressing Teddy all week.  And what a trooper Teddy was, she actually would lay on her back like a baby, letting Maria velcro the clothes on.

And when it doesn't work out quite right, ask your 12 year old brother for help.

Amber and I participated in a 5K.  It was the first one of the year - cold and had one killer hill.

When I shared the recipe for Southern Pork Barbecue, I listed the other new recipes I'd tried.  This is Frank's Chicken from this cookbook cooking in the crockpot.  I'll share this recipe soon.  It turned out very tender chicken.  I think I'll use a little less rosemary next time, though.


Noteworthy Homeschooling News

Amber finished Algebra 1 Teaching Textbooks this week.  She worked so hard this year, never missing a day, and it's really paid off.  She's very prepared for Geometry.

Joseph read a book to me at the library.  I pulled a Margaret Hillert book off the shelf and while I typed out a blog post, he sat and read the entire book to me.  I heard a few missed words, but I let them go and a couple times he went back and reread the sentence with the right word.  That's a HUGE win in my book because that means he's actually comprehending what he's reading.

Margaret Hillert's Beginning to Read series has become a favorite of mine this year.  Joe has been responding so well to the limited vocabulary in her books.

That about wraps up our week.  It's a windy, dreary day here in Wisconsin.  Springtime temperatures are welcome anytime now!!

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Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Science Curriculum Review {Moving Beyond the Page}

When talking with homeschooling moms, one thing I hear over and over is their concern for providing a good science education, yet moms often feel unprepared.

Once my background in science comes up, the confessions start pouring in:

I'm not really into science.

I don't know how to teach science.

I let my husband handle it.

Science takes up too much time and makes such a mess.

Now, I have a rebuttal for each of these confessions, and if you don't like harsh, you might want to stop reading because it's about to get real.  I feel strongly about science education - no sugar coating my opinion.

So, you're not into science.  Okay.  What if your child told you they're not into Math or loading the dishwasher or saying Thank you.  As the authority you would require those be done anyway.  Right?  Each state has requirements regarding science and since they are the authority, must be followed.

Let's address the I don't know how to teach science argument.  When I first started homeschooling, the only thing I knew how to teach was science, but I learned how to teach reading and spelling and math.  If you're going to take the plunge and homeschool then you'll need to develop your style for teaching each subject.

Unless your husband is begging to teach science lessons, letting your husband handle the science education in the evening is like a public school teacher sending home a note saying she's going to let you handle the grammar instruction because it's not really her thing or there isn't enough time in the day.  That would be unheard of.  

Science does take up time and sometimes it makes a huge mess, especially in the volcano and oobleck making years.  But, with an open mind, a block of time and a plan, it can be a fun time learning with your kids.  


We've done science many, many, many ways over the years.  I have shelves of curriculum I like, and unfortunately, spent money on some that was plain awful.  Since I tailor each child's curriculum to best fit their needs, I've used science curriculums of all kind.

This year I chose Moving Beyond the Page for Sam (6th grade).  Sixth grade curriculum is all over the place when it comes to level of difficulty.  I knew Sam needed something concrete, well laid out with daily assignments.  I also knew a cumbersome textbook with a read a chapter, answer 25 review questions approach was not going to work for him.  I wanted a science program with variety in the assignments and the use of "real" books as the main source of information.

I wanted a packaged curriculum to alleviate too much prep work on my part.  

I was introduced to Moving Beyond the Page at our Virtual Learning curriculum fair.  One look through and I knew I needed to do a little more research at their website.  

A few things I found:

*Age groups, rather than grade level
*Units which use real books
*Assignments including weblinks
*Ready to go box of Lab/Activity supplies

I settled on four units - 1 for each month of Trimester 2 - Weather and Climate, Cells, Our Changing Earth, and one more to finish out the year in May - The Hydrosphere.

I feel prepared to review Moving Beyond the Page science units now that Sam is finishing up with his 3rd unit.  These units are well designed.

Sam is not our most independent learner, however, after a few pointers, completes each day's work with minimal complaining.  The lessons have been challenging and time consuming.  This is not a 5 minutes and you're done curriculum.  It requires effort.  On average he works on science 45 minutes a day.  The last lesson took well over an hour to design a classification system for household items.  I'm glad it took that long because by the end he demonstrated a strong grasp of the process of taxonomic classification.

Here Sam's learning about erosion in Our Changing Earth.  This activity simulates wind's impact on various soil types.

5 Reasons I Like Moving Beyond the Page

1.  Unit topics are arranged by age group rather than grade level.  I chose 3 units for ages 10-12 and 1 unit for ages 11-13.  These overlapping age groups allow you to choose the right level for your child.

2.  Customizable to your child's interests or to fill in holes in their knowledge with a specific unit.  Buy only the units you'll use.  We never make it through a full year packaged curriculum and all that wasted money just burns me.

3.  Spiral bound work text includes daily lesson plans and activity sheets.  For distractable children, having everything in one place is necessary.  If extra pages are needed for any of the activities, I have Sam staple them right into his work text.

4.  Two options are available for many of the activities.  Typically, option #1 requires less writing, option #2 requires more involved writing.  On days when we're busier option #1 fits our need, otherwise I like option #2 - it offers greater opportunity for critical thinking.

5.  I love the ready to go science kits that come with each unit.  Other than normal household supplies, everything is in the box and labeled.

I've been thinking about next year already and Moving Beyond the Page will definitely be a part of our curriculum for Sam (7th grade next year) and I'm considering trying out a literature unit for Joseph to see how it works for special education.

I'd love to hear what you're using for science and how you like it.  Share in the comments or at Facebook.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Simple Nature Study in the Homeschool

Warren said it best today:

I saw my first Red-winged Blackbird, the melt is in full swing, and the herbicide sales rep called today.  It must be the first day of Spring.
As part of the agricultural world, we are very attune to the changing of seasons.  Each season brings its own type of work.

I enjoy pointing out signs of the changing seasons to the kids.  When they're young every little change outside is so exciting and they're so eager to listen and learn, but as they grow older and develop other interests sometimes they become blinded to all the intricacies if the changing seasons.

I think it's so important that children become and stay aware of the natural world around them.  In our fast paced lives and with nearly unlimited access to screens, it's easy to take our eyes off the slower paced natural world.

One book I've used over and over for nature study is The Beginning Naturalist:  Weekly Encounters with the Natural World.  With 52 very short chapters following the seasons, this book introduces the reader to the seasons, including:  midwinter to mudtime, spring into summer, summer, and fall and winter again.

None of my kids have read this cover to cover in order, however, I assign chapters based on the time of year.  For example, now would be a great time to read "Pussy Willows" and "Redpolls".  After reading, they narrate the chapter to me.  This way I can add any unusual sightings or experiences I've had.

Sam started this book last spring, in 5th grade, and just now finished it.  I typically assign 1-2 chapters per week, aiming at having them read ahead a little so they are ready for whatever nature encounters are to come.

You might like

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Southern Pork Barbecue....{and more new recipes}

I mentioned the other day that I was going to lay off the new recipes.  For one, I end up buying spices that I don't normally have on hand, and spices are expensive.  The second reason for giving up new recipes is that sometimes they are terrible, which is money down the drain - something I can't afford at this point in life.  We're getting close to having 4 teenagers in the house - 1 needs packable lunch food, 1 is a bodybuilder, 1 makes Greek yogurt, chia seed, fruit, etc. smoothies every morning, and 1 is growing like a weed (age 12, wears size 13 shoe).

Logically, I should be whipping up tacos, spaghetti, meatloaf, and soups all with a side of rice, potatoes, or bread.  But, I just can't restrain myself.  I love looking up recipes on Pinterest.  I love reading cookbooks and marking all the recipes that sound good with Post-it Notes.  I love trying new recipes.

Last month a friend gave me a cookbook that she somehow had two of.  Jackpot!!

I read through it many times and marked 11 recipes.  The first one I tried was Southern Pork Barbecue.  It is delicious!!!

That's the original recipe above.  Basically you slow cook a pork roast in water, shred the meat, add a delicious BBQ sauce, load up your buns, and top it with cole slaw.  It might sound weird, but cole slaw on burgers and such is pretty common fare in the south.

Here it is all cooked and shredded with the sauce.

Southern Pork Barbecue (with my changes and notes)
3-lb. boneless prok loin roast, trimmed mine was 4.5 pounds with a bone
1 c. water
18-oz. bottle barbecue sauce I used Sweet Baby Ray's original
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 T. hot pepper sauce I used 1T. Taco Bell Fire sauce
1/4 c. brown sugar, packed next time I will omit this completely
1 tsp. salt go light
1 tsp. pepper
16 to 20 mini hamburger buns any buns will work fine

Place roast in a slow cooker; add water.  Cover and cook on high setting for 7 hours.  Shred met; return to slow cooker.  Stir in remaining ingredients; cover and cook on low setting for one hour.  Serve on buns, topped with coleslaw.  Makes 8 to 10 servings, 2 buns each.  Next time I will take out some of the liquid before adding the BBQ sauce ingredients, so it's not so drippy.

1 head cabbage, shredded I used 1 bag coleslaw mix
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sugar I used 1/4 cup
1/4 c. cider vinegar

Mix all together and serve on Pork Barbecue.

Linking up with
Menu Plan Monday - weekly dinner inspiration for the week of March 20/17 - dinner without stress and chaos

I also made Frank's Chicken for supper last night.  I'll share that one later this week.

And if you like Sunbelt Granola bars, then you will like this recipe for Double Crunch Bars.

I also made Philly Cheesesteaks, a recipe I found on Pinterest, which were yummy.

3-Ingredient Hawaiian Chicken, not so great.

Happy Spring.  I hope your week is off to a great start.  I woke up to the awful sound of a child throwing up.  It's not the sound that's so awful, but the thought of it traveling through the entire family.  St. Joseph, pray for us.

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap-Up.....{two weeks worth}

Weeks go by so quick so these weekly wrap-ups are turning into more of a two or three week wrap-up.  I have a variety of miscellaneous pictures from March, which I'll use to recap the month so far.

At first glance it appears to be Joseph's birthday, but of course, his is in August.  March brings us Warren's birthday.  The little kids really wanted Dad's birthday to be a party.  The best place I know of to get party supplies is Dollar Tree (where everything's a dollar, except some candy bars, which are only 69 cents).  $4.00 later we had all the makings of a party - 1 balloon, 1 centerpiece, 18 birthday plates, and a 60 pack of candles.  We didn't use all the candles, but it was nice to actually have enough.

Once the balloon was tied to Dad's chair, Joe sat down and literally didn't move all day.  He kept saying, "It's mine, it's mine."  I see lots of helium balloons in my future - because let me tell you, knowing exactly where to look for him was pure joy and I need more of that in my life.  Keeping track of his wanderings is a full time job.  Often I need a few LTE's to help out, too.

That's a lot of fire.

Sadly, Nick had to work so he missed out on the fun, but we saved him some fish and cake.

 Sam, Joseph, Peter, and Maria have been following along with Holy Heroes' Lenten Adventure.

Peter's been sneaking off with my camera lately.  He fills the card with pictures like these.


Counting down, remembering to pray for the daily intention, placing coins in the Rice Bowl - Lent is well under way.  You can find directions and a free printable for making your own calendar here.

Always playing communion.  This little activity keeps her busy for a long time, and she has no problem distributing them to the entire family.

One day the ground is clear, the next it's covered in snow again.  I just want the sun - cold March temps are bearable if it's sunny.  Amber's already working with Rhythm getting ready for fair.

Now that Sam has turned intermediate, he's advanced to clip shoes.  He just bought them in size 13.  And he's still growing!


Amber is dog sitting; there's 3 of them.  Family? recognize these dogs?  Bella, Daisy, and Teddy(not shown)

Amber and Bella

Joe and Bella
These little dogs live a pretty posh life.  They wear sweaters and ski jackets.  They eat salmon and bible bread.  They have their own stroller and rolling luggage.  We get to keep them for another 10 days.

That sums up our March so far.  

On the homeschooling front, we're in week 25, which means we should wrap up the year on May 27, just in time to get the garden in.

I hope to be back soon with a number of recipe reviews and a recap of what we're using for math this year and how it's working.

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Weekly Wrap-Up