Monday, August 30, 2010

Quote of the Day!

Not because it's profound or particularly meaningful, but just because I like it.

"English is a mongrel that follows other languages down dark alleys, assaults them and goes through their pockets looking for loose grammar."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick!

I think that's the mantra of little boys. Or at least the "carry a big stick" part. They love sticks. Whether it's a long whip that was recently pruned from the climbing rose or part of a branch of something, sticks are wonderful. They can be fishing poles, or whips...

Or baseball bats....

Or anything. God was definitely thinking of little boys when He invented sticks!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Had your history today?

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
George Santayana
Hmmm, so... does that mean that studying history is important? One of the things that I really agonized over when I was putting together our homeschool curriculum was how to teach our kids history. I remember my own meager education in history, fraught with dry text-books and unenthusiastic teachers and was determined that my children were going to get a strong and solid history education. The neo-classical educational model I am following recommends that a child's education be composed of three 4-year world history cycles. The first cycle being more or less exposure and introduction to world history, with the subsequent two cycles delving more in depth. For our first cycle we are using the Story of the World series of books written by Susan Wise Bauer. All I can say is.... these books are awesome. We started the first book about Ancient times last year around Christmas. It is written to be a broad scope of the most important events in Ancient History up to the Fall of Rome. Now the book only has forty-two chapters, so when I say broad, I mean broad. But, I believe it touches on the most important events that had bearing on the furtherance of World Civilizations. And instead of being a dull, dry text book, The Story of the World is written in narrative form, bringing out interesting tid-bits and trivia that stick in a person's mind and help them remember.
Now, you may be thinking... that's all well and good for a homeschooler. But, we're not a homeschooling family, so why are you telling us about this book? I'll tell you why... because it's a great book for everyone. The chapters are short, only 2-3 pages - perfect for bedtime reading or any kind of story time. It's an interesting book. I've learned a lot myself, so even if you don't have kids, it's a great, easy to read informative book. It's also on tape, so you could pop it in when you're driving as well. Right now we're studying the Romans. Have you ever heard of the Punic Wars? Do you know what they are? Well, we learned today that the Punic Wars were the wars Rome fought with Carthage and that's where Hannibal and the elephants came in. Great stuff for young boys. Great stuff for moms!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

There's more than one way to mow a lawn...

There's this way. For those traditionalists!

And then there's this way, for those who like to live life a little more dangerously!

And then... you can also just stand around with your sword and be cute if you really don't feel like cutting the lawn is your thing!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Take me out to the ball game....

Take me out to the crowds! Buy me some peanuts and cracker-jack! I don't care if I never get back!

Or at least buy me a bowl of icecream for $3.50 and make sure you have cash because they DO NOT take credit cards! Yes, we went to the ball game last night. It's become a tradition for us to go to a Grizzlies game each summer. Usually, my dad gets tickets from his fruit... grower.... shipper... pest controller... I don't know. Somehow he gets his hands on tickets. Anyhow, we were going to go at the end of July because Dad had tickets, but then he had that pesky surgery the night before the game and that kind of put the kabosh on those plans. But, thankfully, Hubby got some tickets through work and we were able to take in a game afterall. We had a lot of fun this year, especially since we had awesome seats and the boys had played a year of t-ball and had some inkling of what was going on down there. We sat right above the dug-out of the visiting team, about 5 rows up, so we could really see what was happening down there on the field. Unfortunately, sitting so close to the field limited the amount of people I could see and when I go to ball games, "people watching" is almost as much fun as watching the game. In some instances, it's more fun! Especially when the game is rather slow, as it was last night. We left at the end of the 7th inning (we had to stay for the "7th Inning Stretch") and the score was 4-0 in favor of Omaha. But, we still had fun, ate a bowl of ice cream and spent some quality time together as a family.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

They really do work!

No, the aliens have not landed. It's science time at Liberty Christian School!

We are studying Earth Science this year in our homeschool and this week's subject is Day and Night. Yesterday we got out the old inflatable globe, went into the closet with a flashlight and saw why we actually have day and night. It was very interesting. Today, we made a sun-dial. It's really pretty cool. You can see on the example where 12 noon is. That's where we began and used our handy-dandy compass to make sure that the straw on our sun-dial was pointing due north. Then, every hour on the hour we go outside and mark where the shadow is. I think we'll probably quit about 5:00, because we have soccer practice and then the sun is starting to go behind the house, but I think the point will be made and for second grade... this is good enough! It was a fun experiment!

Monday, August 16, 2010

This is what happens when children get bored...

When children are young, they enjoy being pushed on their swingset. They don't go too high. They hold on tight. And then.... what a feeling of accomplishment when they actually learn to pump. Wow!!! And then... they figure out what happens when they let go on the up-side of the swing and they go flying out of the seat half way across the yard. So, what happens when they get bored of that? I'll tell you what happens. This.and this....
I apologize for the poor photo quality. I am getting a new camera for Christmas. In case you can't tell what is going on, Missy-Lou is standing on Bubba's shoulders. And yes, they do swing that way.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Sympathies to Mrs. Johnson

I had a wonderful piano teacher when I was growing up. Her name was Charlene Johnson. She was actually my mom's piano teacher, too, when my mom was growing up, though Mrs. Johnson wasn't a whole lot older than my mom. So, when it was my turn to learn the piano, I went to Mrs. Johnson. I think she was doing a special favor to my mom because she would not teach beginners and now I know why.

We have started a Fine Arts componet to our homeschool education and I have taken it upon myself to not only educate the children musically through the appreciation of fine music, but also in teaching them music theory and how to play the recorder. Oi vey! We do have a pretty good book titled appropriately enough, "How to Play the Recorder".

Yesterday I taught the kids a quarter note, half note and whole note, and also how to play "B". Today, we practiced the quarter note, the whole note and "B". I am exhausted. Duh-duh can actually most of the time get a decent tone from his instrument, but Bubba... it's been very difficult. We did have some success today. The boys actually really like it, and my goal is by Christmas to be able to play "Jingle Bells!" But now, they're all outside digging in the dirt.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dark mornings!

I try to walk at 5:30 in the morning. No, it's a little more than from the bed to the bathroom. I try to actually get out and exercise. It's hard, but I do work at it. It's easy in the summer because it tends to be reasonably light out at 5:30, but last week... I noticed a change. I hadn't walked in a couple of days and then, I woke up at 5:30 and looked outside and noticed something. It was dark. Not pitch dark like in the middle of winter, but a lot darker than it had been. It's always quite a realization when that happens. I know that things are changing. The seasons are moving on. Summer's not stagnating like sometimes it seems. When I was younger I used to love the change of seasons. I love change. But now, I don't love the change of seasons. It's not that I love summer so much, but I know that when the seasons change time is marching on. The kids are getting older and I get this panicked feeling like, "I'm not spending enough time with them!" even though I'm basically with them 24/7. I want to hold on to the moment, but it just slips through my fingers like water. So... what do you do? Get up later, I guess. When it's not quite so dark.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Math

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that you can tailor your curriculum to your child's strengths and weaknesses. Math is something I'm tweaking this year. I started out the boys with A Beka's K4 and K5 curriculum. I can't say enough good things about A Beka's early childhood materials. Their phonics program is excellent and their numbers curriculum gives a very good foundation. So, it went without saying that we'd continue with A Beka's math program, but as Bubba continued through the year, he really hated math. I knew it wasn't because he couldn't do it, he's got a very mathematical mind, although he's pretty lazy. He hated the speed drills and actually seemed kind of bored with the rest of the work. So, after seeing a thread on one of my homeschool forums about Singapore Math, I thought I'd give it a try. I ordered it at the end of last year even, and Bubba had a good 2 weeks of the curriculum before we broke for summer. Wow. What a change. Singapore Math is the actual math curriculum used in Singapore, it's just written in English with American conventions. What's so good about Singapore Math? I have no idea. I just know that their kids consistently score above and beyond most other countries in mathematics, which is why the US has imported their math program.

It is not as broad as A Beka math in its scope, but it is rigorous and extremely conceptual. It has caught Bubba's attention and challenges him. It is causing him to think things through and not just memorize facts. It is hard for me. I am not a math person, so even this 2nd grade math from Singapore has caused me to have to relearn a lot of things, but it's good for me, too! So, this year we'll be doing a hybrid math program - Singapore and A Beka.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The First Day of School!

Well, we survived it... the first day of school here in homeschool land. While all the other children were still out riding bikes and savoring their last days of freedom, my poor children were inside learning things like... "A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought." and "I says i, as in Indian" and the Nazca Indians of Peru made these cool drawings on the earth that can only be seen completely from the air, but they didn't have airplanes thousands of years ago so... how did they do that? and forming number bonds (don't ask, I've switched to Sinagpore Math, and it's really good, but it's a lot different than A Beka).

So, we started out fine, very little fussing and arguing. Well, from the boys. Missy Lou was decidedly less than enthusiastic to start preschool, so she refused to get dressed, and then she refused to eat breakfast and then threw a fit when I told her she needed to get dressed in order to join us for flag salute. And then my dear friend came by with some yummy peaches. And then my mother came by with some plums. And then the garbage truck came by and we all had to run outside and watch it. But, we were able to finish up our studies by lunch. Being the first day of school, the lessons were pretty short, and we also aren't starting Fine Arts until next week, so I don't anticipate us finishing before lunch AND being able to watch "Dragon Tales" on a regular basis, but we'll see how it all works out.