Friday, March 30, 2012

Math Tip

Last year I found a nugget for helping elementary age kids learn math. 

After the lesson when they are doing their practice problems/homework and they have a number of the same type of problem,  demonstrate how to do the first problem to them. Actually take the pencil and the workbook/paper and say the steps out loud as you do them and have the child watch.  Then have them do the next problem. 

Keep doing that for the remainder of that lesson.  You do a problem then the child does one.

The next day you could do that again or do one and have the child do two and then repeat that. This seems to be especially helpful with concepts that are hard for the child to grasp. 

If you try this, leave a comment and let me know what you think.  I actually learned it from a company called Little Giant Steps which we used last year with positive results.

On another note....My friend, Tara, pulled out her camera at the ball fields and realized that my kids are hams!

Levi (by Tara)   

My computer skills are improving.  Embarrassingly, when Tara sent me these pictures I didn't know how to save them to a file so I could upload them to the blog.  It took a few tries, but I finally figured out how to download the pics, save them in a picture folder and find them again to post on the blog!!!  

Sophia (by Tara)

Jesse (by Tara)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

San Antonio Home School Convention

A number of years ago while on active duty in the Army I represented Army nursing and Army ROTC scholarships at College Fairs in the northeast United States.  I loved traveling around and talking with parents and students. 

Fast forward a few years.  In May, I'll be representing Analytical Grammar (AG) at the local Home School Convention.  Right now four of my kids use AG and I love it.  So, I'm excited to tell others about it at the convention!

My kids and I were talking this morning about what God is training us to do.  So much of what I did in my life before homeschooling prepared me for it. 

If you are going to the FEAST convention, look for me there!

Analytical Grammar, Inc.
(919) 783-0795

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Only 9 more weeks of school?!

 I think this is the first year that I am not "chompin at the bit" to finish school.  Not sure why. I think it's manageable right now and I'm enjoying it, yeah!! 

 The best thing about the school year so far?  I'll give two things that pop into my head- Bible and blogging 

  1. Bible because it's so relevant.  I encourage you to check out the curriculum and the free website that we use to augment.  Foundations 1 by Anne Elliot and Calvary Chapel   
  2. Blogging- because I can have the whole blog printed and I'll have a hard copy of our school year with pictures and everything!
I guess you are wondering if I'm going to have a worst thing about homeschooling this year?!

Hmmm.  Let me see.  Where should I begin?

Actually, nothing immediately pops into my head.  Oh, I would have like to do more field trips.  And, I have a second thing too.  Homeschooling with a toddler/preschooler (he turned 3 in November so he was both a toddler and a preschooler this year).  I've always homeschooled with a baby, toddler and/ or a preschooler and it's HARD.  Whoever said it would be easy, though, right? 

Would I give it up?  I don't think so.

Spontaneous artwork yesterday:

Sophia woke up with the idea to paint this.  Surfer dude!

Jesse loves to paint trees.  The birds have some beautiful red color on them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Quadrangle, Fort Sam Houston

Today after school I took Jesse and Levi to the Quadrangle to see and feed the animals.  Boy it's spring time there.  Plants, animals, people. 

The Quadrangle is a mile or less form our house so Jesse and I walked and Levi rode his bike.  The Quadrangle was built between 1876 and 1879 as part of Fort Sam Houston.  It's in the register of National Register of Historic Places

Jesse by a strutting peacock.  By the way, the strutting peacocks will still eat the lettuce leaves even when they are busy trying to attract a mate.

Levi was excited to be by the animals.

Some of the nine deer resting in their shaded area.  The Quadrangle is bringing in a pregnant deer in the next few months.  So, soon there will be 2 fawns...maybe they will get a buck or two.

The deer ate right out of Jesse's hand.  That red rooster chased Levi all over the Quadrangle!

We'll have goslings soon!

This is one of the bushes that Luke and Josh helped to plant during Ryan S.'s Eagle Scout project last year.  And now, it's not only thriving, but it's a nesting area.  See below for larger scale pic.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend activities

This weekend was the start of the spring soccer season for many local club soccer teams.  Luke played two games, Josh played two games and Caroline played two games.

As I was taking Caroline to an early game yesterday I listened to a voicemail on my cell (I don't do that very often) and I found out that Jesse had his baseball assessment right at that time.  So, I ran (drove) home picked him up and took him the assessment which was on the field across from Caroline's game.

I got some sunburn this weekend since I sat outside watching soccer games for two days and it was hot and sunny.  Summer has started in south central Texas.  Time to stock up on sunscreen.

It feels like I skimped on school prep...I made the schedules for this week, briefly looked at the history and geography lessons, and I still need to read the Bible lesson for tomorrow before going to bed.

I did, however, find out some good info from my neighbor about how kids apply to West Point.  And, she said that not everyone who gets accepted has 1400 SAT scores!  Some have significantly lower scores.  So there is hope that if my kids want to go there, not sure if any of them do, they might actually have a chance if their SAT scores aren't "up there."  We considering having Luke attend the week long leadership camp there after his junior year.

I also created a budget for Steve and I.  We need it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hunting and fishing in Texas.

 We found some new places to explore at the zoo today (well,  it was Thursday). There was a whole educational building for children 5 and under and it had fishing!!!
"Got one"!  Sophia and Levi

When not playing soccer, hunting is the new past time.  It's turkey season now.  Hunting starts at 0500. Picture taken Sat at 1200pm-ish.

 They are holding decoys to get the live turkeys to come close enough for Luke to shoot with a 22 cal. or Josh to shoot with a compound bow. 

Now that Sophia (left below ) is reading...she can't stop.  She invites friends over to read too.

Levi's collage.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Things to do in San Antonio

I was thinking the other day that I'd like to get out and do more in the area with the kids.  So I started a list of things to do in the San Antonio area so I can refer to it when I get the itch to get out and do something.

 North Star Mall - My favorite mall!
 *LaValita- La Villita Historic Arts Village.  Interesting shops.
* Missions- This trail includes many historic mission's built in the 1700's by Spain. Mission San Jose and Mission Conception are both easily in biking distance from downtown, as the furthest (Mission San Jose) is about 5 miles south.
 River Walk- The walking part is free.  The shops- not. 
Farmer's Market at the Pearl Brewery every Sat morning until 1:00 pm.  Local foods and shops.
*McNay Art Museum- Entrance to Main Collection Galleries is FREE on H-E-B Thursday Nights(4-9pm) and on AT&T First Sundays of the Month.
Witte Museum- Free on Tuesday afternoons.  This has great information about Texas and a ton of animal exhibits.
O. P. Schnabel Park - for biking and hiking
Beach- about 2.5 hours away

Not Free
*Children's Museum...haven't been there yet,  but  the younger kids love the  one in New Braunfels.
Amazing Jump- Group rate is $5.  Regular price is $15.
Zoo-  San Antonio's zoo is small-medium scale.  These are the best size zoos to go to when you have young children.  I get the family membership each year with a military rate.
*Tower of the Americas
*McNay Art Museum-
   Children 12 and under                    FREE
   Adults                                              $15
   Students with I.D. (13 +)                 $12
   Seniors (65 +)                                  $12
   Active Military                                $12
*Segway Tours
Riverboat Tours- I highly recommend these.
* Land Heritage Institute- a living land museum on 1200 acres of open space along the banks of the Medina River on the far south side of San Antonio preserving, maintaining and interpreting 10,000 years of continual human habitation.  It is open to the public every second Saturday of the month.  Cost:  $3 donation.

*  Places I haven't gone with the kids yet.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dual Credit vs. Early Admission

I called the local community college and talked to the representatives about Luke enrolling in dual credit courses.  The rules just changed in Texas so now, instead of having FREE dual credit classes for high school juniors and seniors, private schools now have to PAY for dual credit courses.  Homeschools in Texas are considered private schools. 

The community colleges offer a limited number of courses that are considered dual credit.  So, since we now have to pay for them, and they are limited, the reps suggested having Luke register as an Early Admission student.  Students who are considered early admission can take ANY classes the colleges offer and the price is the same as dual credit courses.  There are some other differences, but registering as an Early Admission student now makes more sense than taking dual credit classes since the price is the same and the student can choose from so many more classes. An Early Admission student is actually a university student just like one who graduated from high school and starts college there;  students can start college at age 16.

In the past I hesitated to have Luke take dual enrollment classes at the community colleges (even when they were free) because the content would be from a secular worldview vs. a Biblical worldview.  

So, I started looking at online dual enrollment classes at Christian colleges.  A few months ago I contacted Grand Canyon University (GCU) about their dual credit and they sent me a list of classes they offer.  It's a substantial list.  It costs about the same as the community college courses. Now, I am pursuing the GCU, or other Christian colleges, dual credit route.  Liberty University offers them too and I'm getting more information from them.

Choices are becoming infinite when it comes to homeschooling from K-college!
Luke won't necessarily complete his college degree online, but there is that possibility.  He can snowboard or mountain bike by day and work on college courses by night anywhere in the world.

Josh wants to get as much college work during high school as possible.  He isn't interested in the "college experience".

Easy Pumpkin Pie

You might remember that we are studying the colonial period in the US.  Colonist ate alot of pumpkin- often it made the difference between surviving and starving.  Colonists learned about saving the seeds and growing pumpkins from the Native Americans.  They made their pumpkin pie in a square pan. 

Colonial Kids by Laurie Carlson has a delicious pumpkin pie recipe (below) that we made this week in school.  I used a store bought graham cracker crust because I thought it would taste good, but I reminded the kids that the colonists didn't to that!

Pumkin Pie
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup milk
1 cup canned pumpkin (used a can)
1 and 1/2 tsps pumpkin pie spice
2 cups whipped topping, chilled
1 pre-baked pie shell or graham cracker pie crust
Mix the instant pubbdin and the milk in a bowl with wire wisk.
Whip it until it's completely mixed.
It will begin to thicken.
Stire in teh canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice, then gently stir in the whipped topping.
Spoon the mixture into the pie crust.
Refrigerate several hours until firm.

Snippet of a break during school yesterday...

Jesse and Sophia jumping.  Listen carefully to the, "one, two, three".  Levi being made to sit quietly for a minute.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dual Credit, CLEP, Science

I'm not sure if I'm ever done planning for the next year.  

I decided last week to look into Luke, a junior next year, taking dual credit classes.  So, I've been on the phone and computer getting him enrolled.  Fortunately, I didn't miss the deadline.  He'll have to take a placement test to see if he is eligible to take college level courses.  I'm not sure if he will take any courses at the community college but I want to have that possibility in place in case we decide to go that route. 

What is dual credit?  That's when high school juniors and seniors take classes at a college and they earn both college credit and high school credit at the same time.  A down side is that these credits may not transfer to a private college or out-of-state college.  Even if Luke takes some classes and they don't transfer, the classes that he takes will only take one semester to complete vs. an entire year if he took the class as a high school class.  Also, I can note on his transcript that he took college classes and that can add validity to his transcript, as if that's necessary!  ( :  
Possible classes that he might take include chemistry, economics, pre-calc and physics. 

What about CLEP? 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pound Cake Fan

We are studying American colonial times in history.  When possible I like to add in some of the suggested arts and crafts- the easy, but memorable, ones.  Pound cake is a recipe (called a receipt in colonial times) that is easy to remember.  This isn't something that I would normally make because, well, it doesn't involve chocolate, so what's the point really?   But, we (I) need memories to cement history lessons in our minds.  And, I had all the ingredients already.  So, Caroline (age 12), Jesse (age 9) and Sophia (age 8)
 helped under duress...I mean, helped dutifully.
Well!  Was I surprised at how good pound cake is- even minus the chocolate!!  I like to make recipes where I can see  a picture ahead of time.  So I put a picture and the recipe below.  If you've never made/eaten/become a fan of pound cake, I highly recommend that you try it.  It reminds me of a shortbread cookies- so good and so easy. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My curriculum for next year!

Ooooh, I had some time to myself to do some homeschool planning!!!!  Steve ended up taking the kids to the beach (2.5 hours away) at Corpus Christi all day on Friday.  I spent half the day doing wash and the other half planning our school for next year!  Wow, what a relief.  In the past, I've had to fit this in during the wee hours of the night.  What a difference it made to do it during a weekday and during daylight. 

And, now I can start our week post-Spring-Break school not behind!!   I didn't say, "ahead", most likely because I'm not sure what that looks like, but wow, not behind is awesome!

While I was surfing the web during my planning I came upon a wonderful website for homeschoolers.  The Homeschool Helper:

My plan is coming along really well so far....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

High School Government Class

Why read about government when you actually learn about it by participating in it? Luke and Josh are going to Colorado Springs with Generation Joshua's IGovern.  It's a one week camp for teens to learn about government by simulating that they are part of the government.

Here's what the website has to say about the camp:
"Imagine a verdant mountain paradise, where students can escape from the stress of life, relax among the sandstone cliffs, and swim in beautiful Eagle Lake. Alas, all is not well in paradise. There are decisions to be made, a nation to govern, and bad policies to fight. Amidst the towering trees, bills are drafted and debated, national and international policies are formulated, and a presidential election hangs in the balance.

 At iGovern, your teen portrays a member of the United States Congress. Our simulation this year focuses on international relations. From the first day of camp, students will be forced to address tough political questions and decide how their faith relates to political decision-making. A presidential election is also underway where your teen can run for office, manage a campaign, or plan a successful fundraising strategy. Winning requires a cogent message and a cohesive team."

  Before they go, the students have to complete some assignments including writing two fictitious bills and reading the US Constitution. 

Students can earn 0.5 high school credits for a government class. 

Will they let moms go?!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Homeschool conference: Intimidating?

I'm going to a conference for homeschoolers who also blog.

The conference is limited to 200 people; so it will be intimate, I suppose.  Attendees are linking their blog, and other social media info, to a site for other attendees to see before we arrive.  I've looked at a few of their blogs...if I ever actually got intimidated about anything, it would be about attending this conference with ladies who are way out of my blogging/social media league.  These are people who write books, get paid to speak in public, and have thousands of followers on their blog site.  Thousands of followers!?

Instead of being intimidated I'm looking at this as a chance to learn from 199 other women who are way more tech savvy than I am.  Yup.  And, a chance to just have fun.  Basically, I going there to be schooled!  Good thing it's a home"school" conference. 

Here is how one of the attendees described herself on her's hilarious...
"Dianna is the 2010 version of the Well-Brought-Up-Southern-Girl. She knows shouldn’t give the children Twinkies for breakfast, drink hard liquor before 5 p.m., or scream obscenities at the top of her lungs, unless there are extenuating circumstances."

Read between her lines...there are always extenuating circumstances.  ahhhh. It's going to be interesting...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

High School German and Spanish

Oklahoma State University has online, asynchronous German and Spanish courses for homeschoolers.  They offer German I-IV and AP and Spanish I-III and AP.  I'm not sure why German goes to IV and Spanish only to III.  They offer a reduced rate for the German classes for homeschoolers ($250 compared to $389 for the Spanish).

There are so many positive aspects of this online language program.  I can't think of any negatives.  Luke is in German II and Josh will start Spanish II with them next year after completing Spanish I with The Potter's School this year.
  • Students can start the course any time of the year.  The student/parent just tells OSU the preferred start date.  
  •  They don't bill you until after 4 weeks of the student's start date!  Every other online course we've used has required payment when you register.   
  •  Students work at their own pace.  They can finish the course in a few months or a few years.  There is even a summer Spanish program where students can earn one high school credit during the summer.  That's great for students who need to "catch up" or get ahead.  
  •  Each week students talk to an instructor via Skype.  The instructor will assess the student's progress by seeing how much work they've completed and then they will have conversations in Spanish or German with the student.  We even used this course when we lived in Germany and we were able to Skype each week for the "tutor" session.  
  •  The staff at OSU is so receptive, helpful and responsive.  They are wonderful to work with. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Homeschool conference for bloggers


You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. ~ Titus 2:1 


The 2:1 Conference is the premier conference for Christian bloggers who homeschool (or plan to homeschool) their children.  We're here to encourage and equip you in your personal journeys of faith, blogging, homeschooling and motherhood.  Our desire is to help you grow all these in His grace. 

Wow!  I get to go to a homeschool conference!  A rare, coveted occurrence for me.