Friday, December 3, 2010

Our latest P.E. project....

Eloise loves this. Unfortunately, she will now have to wait a couple of weeks to resume her studies in archery, due to her recent arm issue. Link to my main blog on the side bar for the scoop.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Field Trip Update...

In case you haven't figured it out.....
we went to a corn maze in Mississippi.
Our children young people were able to get lost, search for arrowheads, play in corn, slide, have water pump races, rope plastic steer, and pet the animals. I think the part they liked best was being able to forget their book work and hang out with their Cool Moms all day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Special Update....

 "Justin Creeper"
2nd Place in the Funny category

 "Scare Croak"
1st place in the Funny category
(click to enlarge & see the huge dried bug on his tongue)
This was my personal favorite. It is made out of gourdes, leaves, & loofahs.

 "Anne Bowling"
1st place in the Original category.

 "Marie La Crow"
Best In Show

I am so happy for our girls. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I think that there were over 70 miniatures that were judged. The small scarecrows are positioned around the mini train tracks in the Botanical Gardens at City Park. The small, as well as the full size creations, will be on display through the end of November.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

These girls are crafty....

 Yesterday we took a field trip to "Plain Old Kristi's" place.
The girls used bits of this and scraps of that along with a bunch of creativity, to design scarecrows. The scarecrows will be placed around the train display at the botanical gardens in City Park.
Above is a pic of the girls with their finished products:

You can click on the image to get a closer look.

I almost forgot to mention....
Kristi fixed us a fabulous meal that included Asian Green Beans Flambe!

Thanks Kristi.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Portfolio Method....

     Because this is our first time homeschooling, we have been trying out various books, tools, and methods. I believe we have found one that is right for us. I tend to be an "out of the box" kind of thinker when it comes to activities and learning experiences. I do better when I have the freedom to be spontaneous. Spontaneity and flexibility is great for the actual "learning" part of school, but not so great for record keeping. The portfolio method beautifully blends the best of both worlds.
     With this method, each subject has it's own binder with divider tabs. The first section has subject specific vocabulary words and activities. In other words it contains words or phrases that will appear  in lessons throughout the year. For example, in her math binder she will find words like, congruent and vertex, in art she will learn words like, abstract and vanishing point. This section of the binder allows her to become fluent with the lingo before trying to tackle the concepts being taught.
     The next section is where we add her worksheets and written work. This is very handy for my sanity, because I am not using any particular curriculum. I use various resources to create a well rounded learning experience. With this section I can pull worksheets from her three math books as well as the net and combine them in one handy organized binder. We place all new work on top of older work, so that Eloise can see her best work first. She can also flip to the back of the file and see her improvement. 
     The third section is my favorite. This tab contains photos of all projects, experiments, & activities that apply to the binder topic. If I want to see what science experiments we did, all I have to do is pull out the "Science" binder and flip to the experiments section. The only thing that I need to incorporate now is a typed description of the activity (i.e. materials list and instructions). I currently only have pictures with hand scribbled captions. For most I suppose this would be fine, but I may eventually end up teaching students other than my own, and will need the info as well as the pictures.
     The last section contains quizzes and assessments. Assessments are sometimes in the form of a test, but will often be rubrics and informal assessments. I do not give her letter grades. This section of the binder is strictly so that she can see her mistakes and correct them. I can also use the info gathered in this section to determine what material I should include in future lessons.
     This system is one that I actually had to use for two of my classes at UNO. I found that it really helped me to satisfy both my creative/spontaneous side and my OCD/Chinese-feng shui-balanced side. I could read 5 different textbooks and glean the best parts and ditch the rest. It didn't matter if I started a project one week and then didn't pick it up again until 3am two weeks later. When it was complete, the teacher checked it. I then had to revise and re-submit the final work. Upon approval the beautiful finished product was filed neatly in the binder for all to see. The messy originals remained in the binder stapled behind the final drafts for comparison. The binder grade wasn't given until the end of the semester when you were satisfied with your work. With constant feedback this system allowed me great freedom and the ability to truly reflect on my work. I had something tangible that I could review and say, "This is where I messed up, but this is what I have learned and done this semester".
     Right now Eloise is just excited about the pretty binders that I made for her at 2am, but I believe that given some time she will come to appreciate this system as much as I do. She is a lot like me. It is hard for her to understand why everything has to be balanced. I used to be the same way. I now understand that lightning is an awesome force, but it is useless to us unless we harness & direct it. In the same manner, my daughters creativity and energy need to be harnessed and directed so that she can do great things. I know that the decision to homeschool coupled with helpful strategies will surely get us closer to that goal.

The pictures don't do this pretty glittery candy coated paper justice.
I'm such a big kid!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Learning Through Living...

Eloise & Carmacita had a wonderful time building a playground for children who otherwise wouldn't have a safe place to play.

 Eloise quickly made friends with one of the recipients and got him involved in the project.
Here they are pictured preparing to paint a hop-scotch.

 These "Kaboom" projects are truly amazing.
Volunteers from HOME DEPOT and other companies arrive in the morning and are assigned to a team. By the end of the day the whole park is assembled. This one contained a "fleur de lis" shaped garden, a covered patio, picnic tables, four square, 4 hop scotch stations and a mulched playground.

Besides all of the work the girls enjoyed eating a free lunch from Subway and hamming it up with local celebrities.

We tried to give the children light jobs like painting, but they wanted to help haul the mulch.

 Mulch is one of the jobs that Hubby usually gets to do. It is hard work!

 I will have to take a picture of the finished project the next time we go across the river.
 While we were exploring Florida's Emerald Coast, Eloise was able to conduct a couple of experiments.

 She used this bottle to produce a few drops of fresh water from the salty ocean water.
She also used a magnet to find magnetic flecks in the sand.

 Of course she had to search for shells...

 ...but some of them weren't vacant.

 After researching "hermit crabs" on the net, we discovered that these guys do not survive well in captivity.

Eloise decided to return him to his natural habitat. We then purchased another domesticated hermit crab to play with the one we originally bought to accompany the wild one. Contrary to popular belief, hermit crabs are actually very social creatures and don't do well alone.

This vacation was very timely; as we were studying animal classification and habitats.
Eloise also received hands on training about dolphins, but you will have to check out those pics on her blog.

Also, don't forget to check out her latest book review. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Great Things Are Happening....

We have been studying the civilizations that inhabited the Americas long before "Columbus sailed the ocean blue". The above are Mayan symbols that Eloise drew.

If you haven't noticed, we are a very "hands on" kind of school. Eloise is pictured crafting a leather canoe and tee pee. These were kits purchased at Hobby Lobby. The only part she needed assistance with was cutting the leather with an exacto knife. She did all of the sewing, gluing, and decorating.

These were the fruits of her labors.

The last thing I would like to mention is our new computer lab.
Thanks to a donation from the
Our class was able to upgrade from a tiny laptop to this beautiful touch screen computer.
It came fully loaded with Windows 7 and a library of educational resources.
Eloise has been learning how to use "Word" and "Mavis Beacon Typing for Kids" as well as taking a virtual tour through the human body and many other exciting programs.
The best part for the big people around here is the simplicity; the whole thing is what you see.
The only cord is the power cord.
It is amazing how advanced things have gotten since we purchased my desktop (only 3 years ago).

Check back Thursday evening for pics of our field trip.
Eloise & I will be helping Daddy build a community playground. The program is called "Kaboom" and is sponsored by The Home Depot.