Friday, October 19, 2007

Learning adventures this week

I am trying to remember to post a weekly update of all the school work we have done each week. We are doing so many things, and I want to be able to keep track of it more regularly.
So here it is! Our week in Grade 2:

Math: Completed up to Lesson 28 in MUS Alpha (learning up to the minus 6 math facts), and did a daily fast math fact practice.

Religion: Chapter 4 in Faith and Life, Chapter 3 in the more workbooky Treasure of My Catholic Faith, Read stories of many saints in preparation for the upcoming All Saints Day.

Spelling: Completed Lesson five in My Catholic Speller A. She only got 11/15 so we'll be reviewing it again on Monday.

Grammar: Finished memorizing Singing by Robert Louis Stevenson, talked more about nouns and learned that ideas can be nouns too. (The love I have for my dog is great!). Started learning the names of the months, and practiced copy writing.

Phonics: Read 4 stories out of Little Angel Reader C, reviewing -ir, -ur, and -er sounds. She did great!! Read the entire Little Bear's Visit story.

Science: Finished our Butterfly and Moth unit in Biology, did a narration on how butterflies hide from enemies.

History: Learned about Ancient Egypt, Joseph and his brothers, and what life was like back then. Drew a map.

Social Studies: Learned about North American landmarks: Golden Gate bridge, Statue of Liberty, Ste. Anne de Beaupre shrine, Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls.

Art: She's just about finished making her puppet art class. Can't wait to see the finished product. We also attended an art seminar for homeschoolers and did some drawings.

Music: Weekly choir practice for Girls choir, and church choir. One more week before the fall concert!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Gift of Art

We were privileged to attend a beautiful seminar put on for Catholic homeschoolers in our area called the 'Gift of Art'. The afternoon consisted of two guest speakers, lots of beautiful religious art to look at, and many projects to try our hands at afterwards. Of course our resident artist (age 6) was inspired, and she spent the entire hour and a half after the presentation patiently drawing the following two pictures. She didn't even stop to play or chat with her friends which is very uncharacteristic of her. She was inspired!!

The first is a drawing of the nativity, looking at the Holy Family from inside the barn. You can see through the window and door in the back that it's night outside. I love the use of perspective to show depth of field.

The second picture is her copy of an old painting of Mary. (notice she couldn't help but add in a crown for Mary).

The preschooler was also inspired to draw, and he produced 5 drawings!! The first is of Noah's ark (see the rainbow on the top?) and the second is of Mary also. I was amazed at how his printing is developing.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

preschool mania

It seems like everyone is having fun with preschool this year. Kim at Starry Sky Ranch is posting a weekly feast of ideas at her Friday Funschool, and Elizabeth and Katherine are taking a trip Along the Alphabet path with Waldorf inspired activities at Serendipity. Beautfiul! I love the Apple pie with the As all over the crust.

I didn't really have any plans for preschool this year. With the twins here, I was going to take things very casually with the littles and just let them explore their new house and yard, playing most of the day.

Apparently they have other plans! I have been overwhelmed with requests for more schoolwork from both of them each and every day. They love doing work, can't get enough of it, and are actually learning things. The four year old is writing letters, numbers and starting to draw, and the 2 year old is counting, learning her colors, and matching shapes.

Being the second time through preschool here, I am enjoying their curiosity and natural desire for learning without the stress of wondering if am I doing it 'right' or messing them up for life by trying to school at home. It turns out, this is actually fun :-)

Here are some of the things we have been doing (and we are planing more to come):

File Folder Games:

These are the best invention.. They store easily, the kids love doing them, and they are cheap and easy to make:

You start with an empty file folder, open it up and glue on the 'game', then cut out the pieces and place into an envelope that is glued onto the front. They take the pieces out and match them to the places on the 'game board'. When they are done, they put them away in the envelope.

So far, we have made an ABC matching one, a number 1-20 matching one, and a butterfly color matching one. Now I want to buy a laminator so they will last longer.

You can purchase these online, to print off yourself, or you can find some of the free ones out there. You can even try your hand and making your own from scratch. (I don't have time for that)

Here are some good links: : free printables.. we used a few of these and like them.

Enchanted I love their ideas of using yarn as lines to match shapes.

Phonics file folder games: some great ideas using pockets where you place pictures with the same sound.

MyFileFolder games: these cost $$ but look really good.


We really love Handwriting Without Tears around here. Some of the manipulatives they sell are these wooden pieces that can be laid out to make letter shapes. I haven't had the time or money to go out and buy them so I decided to make my own. I cut the pieces out of craft foam, and made some templates to lay them on from card stock.

Both the 4 year old and 2 year old like this game.

If I had that laminator, I would laminate the card stock mats and then they could also use them to roll out playdough into the letter shapes too.

Guess I know what I'll be asking for Christmas.

Monday, October 08, 2007

lessons from crabapple jelly

This past week I have been so busy getting ready for thanksgiving that I forgot to write about our jelly-making adventures!!

My neighbour has a big crabapple tree in his back yard, and kept offering them to us, as long as we picked them ourself. One crisp fall day at the tail end of apple season, I headed over there to do just that.

On his advice, I brought a big king-size bed sheet along, and carefully spread it on the ground under the tree. My plan was to shake the tree, watch as all the beautiful, crisp, red apples fall onto my sheet and happily carry them back home to process into sweet, apple jelly.

Well, if you know anything of my past adventures in new things, you'll know that things don't always go the way I am expecting. This was no exception, as the tree proved to be too solid for me to shake, the brances, too high for me to grab easily, and the apples that I could reach, too soft to use. So I hopped, and swung my arms at the branches, I climbed the fence beside the tree and tried to shake them off, and I got my toddler to help me pick up the ones on the ground that looked ok. In the end, we resorted to picking a bunch of them off the brances we found out back that he had just pruned off the tree the day before.

Back the in the kitchen, we dump all the apples into the sink and inhale the sweet smell of ripe fruit, and start to sift through all the leaves that had fallen from the tree onto my sheet with the apples. You see, when you shake a tree to get apples to come off, they aren't the only thing that falls... I had oodles of apples, leaves, and ladybugs all over the kitchen. What a mess! We tried to catch the ladybugs before they escaped into the cracks and corners of the kitchen to do who-knows-what, and we sorted through all the mushy apples and leaves.

In the end, we decided to phone grandma Sonia for help, as she is the absolute expert in anything related to the finer art of housekeeping. I need to just plug my brain into hers and download all of the amazing facts and information she has stored in there.

She came over two days in a row and we cut up the apples, boiled the juice down, made the jelly, canned it and picked some more apples to start over again. Here are some of the lessons that I learned:

1. Don't shake the apples out of the tree. You will also get all the just-about-to-fall-off-becuase-they-are-so-rotten ones, dried up leaves, ladybugs, and even a few caterpillars if you are really lucky. Also, the apples that do appear usable, end up getting bruised by landing on the ground.

2. Send your husband with a ladder and a bag to pick the apples.

3. Phone your grandma at the first sign of trouble.

4. Especially if you are thinking of substituting icing sugar for real sugar.

5. Don't use icing sugar in jelly, because it has cornstarch in it, which will thicken your jelly before it is done, making you think it's done, and leaving you with lots of cloudy, runny, sweet crabapple juice.

6. Cloudy, runny, sweet crabapple juice apparently makes good pancake syrup, and can possibly be spread in between cake layers or poured onto bread pudding. (or at least so says my grandma).

7. cooking with grandma is lots of fun, and very educational.

8. cooking without grandma is risky, and very scary.

9. Google has no search results for 'substituting icing sugar for sugar in jelly'. There! Now they should. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I am again amazed at how fast my year has passed by. Last thanksgiving, we were rejoicing that the babies were out of the hospital in time for us to celebrate all together with our whole family. The thought of eating a turkey dinner at home while the babies were alone in the hospital broke my heart (as did the thought of leaving my 3 other kids so I could be at the hospital with the babies). I am so thankful that that ordeal is over, and we are all healthy and together. Family is the biggest blessing of all, isn't it?
This year, we hosted a family dinner at our new house. It was fun, really. We've made more than a few turkeys over the past 7 years of marriage, and have begun to enjoy hosting these dinners. It must be the daily chaos of having five kids under 7 that made a turkey dinner seem like nothing!

Our Menu:
FreeRange Fresh Turkey (16 pounds)

Organic mashed potatoes

Organic steamed carrots
Organic steamed green beans

Cornbread-sausage stuffing with apples

Sesame twist rolls (homemade)

Parker House whole wheat rolls (homemade)

Organic Gingersnap cookies

Pumpkin pecan pie (homemade by sean's parents)

Rhubarb crumble pie (homemade by sean's parents)

It was so yummy!! We moved our big table into the family room, so we had lots of space, and ate by the warmth of the fireplace beside us. The table was decorated with three little mini pumpkins carved out with a tea light resting inside of each.

Most importantly, however, was the company. We enjoyed visiting with our family, watching the antics of the children, writing down what we are thankful for on our 'thanksgiving tree', and watching the birds out the window with the babies. I am always, without-fail, exhausted when everyone goes home, but fall asleep with a smile on my face, and a feeling of warmth in my heart.

Thank you God for all your blessings.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fall photos

We spent some time outside on monday taking pictures and playing in the leaves. Living in a community with big, old trees is fun in the fall when they all start to blow around and land on the ground.

The kids played outside for a long time, enjoying the fresh air. It sure is hard to get a good group shot of five kids under seven though :-)