Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Animal Drawings by RileyAnn

Here is a sampling of RileyAnn's animal drawings....

She's created these as part of our Galloping the Globe study.

She prefers the Draw Write Now books for drawing models, ideas, and samples.

Then she writes her own sentences based on facts from the books we've read.

So far, we've studied North America....

Christmas Around the World.....

and South America.

I am continually amazed by her God given talent and the books that He has led us to use for teaching.  It's such a blessing to watch our kids grow and expand their minds...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Update on Timmy (the calf)

Timmy is doing great!  He has been weaned off milk replacer and the kids recently halter broke him.

Timmy has also gained a roommate named Sunnybear.  Sunnybear was born from one of our beef cattle, but had a rough start.  It appears as though he may have hurt or froze his hooves.  The Farmer immediately brought him home and the kids have been nursing him back to health since. He's doing well.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Somewhere More Holy

Somewhere More Holy: Stories from a Bewildered Father, Stumbling Husband, Reluctant Handyman, and Prodigal Son

I just finished reading Somewhere More Holy and it was great!  Sometimes I was laughing out loud and my kids would ask what was so funny and beg me to read it aloud to them.  Other times I was crying.  Tony Woodlief writes of grief after losing their 3 year old daughter to cancer.  He also writes of hope and joy in regard to his four sons born since.

Woodlief is candid and very real when speaking of his deep depression and near divorce.  He also reveals his inadequacies as a father and husband.  He says, "So while I don't feel worthy or fit to raise Caleb, Eli, Isaac, and Isaiah, I know that for some inexplicable reason, God believes I am."  This gave me a sense of his realness as I too struggle with the responsibility of parenting.  I need reminders that God put me in this role for a reason so He must feel I'm capable.

Each chapter of the book is arranged by rooms in his home.  According to Woodlief, "That's because we live our short lives room by room....Life happens room by room, and God comes to us in all these places....."  There is also a tie to the rooms of the heart at the end of the book when one son asks Celeste, Woodlief's wife, "who do you love best?"  Her answer was brilliant, but I won't spoil the ending for you.  I highly recommend this book as it has made a mark on me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Farewell to Clarabelle....

The Farmer made a sad discovery this morning.  When he and the girls went to feed the calves, Clarabelle was dead in her pen.  A couple of days ago, she got tangled in some hay bales.  She'd been eating/drinking fine since, but apparently she must have injured herself internally or some how that we were unaware of.  RileyAnn is really struggling with this.  She feels like a failure, though we all know it was not her fault.  It's so unfortunate.  It's hard to know the right words to say....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hearty Scrambled Eggs with Vegetables

Here's my latest breakfast creation.  It was a definite hit and a great way to entice us all to eat more vegetables.

12 eggs scrambled w/2 cups milk
Approx. 1/2 to 1 lb. bacon fried and chopped in pieces
1 cup spinach chopped
4-6 Campari tomatoes chopped (or tomato of choice)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Add everything together in a large fry pan.  Cook until desired consistency and serve.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Introducing Clarabelle...

Introducing Clarabelle, the most recent edition to our farm...

RileyAnn has been wanting a Jersey calf for the longest time.  

She has dreams of milking cows, churning butter, and making yogurt and cheese.  

So far, Clarabelle is loved by all...

Monday, January 23, 2012

South America

We are currently Galloping the Globe in South America.  A couple of weeks ago, we made Brigaderiros from Brazil.

They tasted like chocolate and caramel all in one and were absolutely delightful!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To Milwaukee and Back....

Well, I've been away for a few days attending the Wisconsin School Boards Association (WASB) convention.  Yup, that's right, I'm a member of our local public school board and we homeschool our three youngest children.    I am so passionate about education!  I'm involved at a variety of levels and try not to judge whether you public school, private school, or homeschool your children.  Each and every child is precious and unique in God's sight, therefore, each and every child/family has different educational needs.

I listened to several speakers at the WASB convention including State Superintendent Tony Evers, WI Senator Herb Kohl, WI Governor Scott Walker, Will Richardson, and Wes Moore, author or The Other Wes Moore.  We've had some pretty radical changes in our legislature over the past year, including the end of collective bargaining, but all the speakers were upbeat and positive in their continued support for public education.

Governor Walker spoke of his Read to Lead initiative and promised funding for the program.  http://walker.wi.gov/?Page=73abc335-902f-4ba4-be42-b7cc1ecde905

Will Richardson is an outspoken advocate for change in schools and classrooms in regard to using the Web and other technologies now available.  He promoted creating a love of learning in our kids rather than making them learned.  He spoke of the Kahn Academy and Newton.  He suggested that Google may be old news as new technologies and search engines like Wolfram Alpha come onto the scene.  Many of Mr. Richardson's ideas were a little out there for some, but I liked his idea of individualizing education to meet the needs of all youth and to encourage a love of learning, something like homeschooling.

Overall, it was a good convention with many opportunities to learn about the latest initiatives in education and to collaborate with colleagues from around the state.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to attend.  On the ride home, I suggested I was excited to get home, back to the country, and back into my daily routine.  Another board member laughed and said I was getting old.  But if old means stability, security, being with family, and breathing fresh dairy air, I take it as a compliment :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Science - The Saga Continues....

Well, we've tried WinterPromise Animal Habitats for 2 weeks and decided it's not what we were hoping for.  Ruben hates it.  RileyAnn is tolerating it.  I'm not crazy about it.  I should have known since I'm not a fan of Usborne and DK books as spines.  This was the biggest reason why we didn't stick with Sonlight.

On a positive note, we do really like the One Small Square book we're reading about the Tropical Rain Forest.  I think I'll continue to incorporate the One Small Square series into our Galloping the Globe study.

Tropical Rain Forest

Last night and this morning, I sat down with several science curricula and came up with some random thoughts.  The Apologia Young Explorer series is too advanced for K-2nd in my humble opinion.  I could see if you had an older child, maybe 4th to 6th grade that was using the series, then you could include younger siblings in some of the projects.  But, as a starter for those early grades, I just feel it's too much.  Therefore, we will not be completing "Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day" this spring as mentioned in another post.  I put it back on the shelf for a later date.

I spent a great amount of time this morning looking at Answers in Genesis God's Design for Life series and I really think it will work for us.  AIG recommends doing 3 lessons per week to complete the 3 book series in one school year.  I think I will break them up to 2 books per school year.  I'm leaning toward completing The World of Plants this summer/fall, followed by The Animal Kingdom.  Then we may do The Human Body the following year.  I'll keep you posted on this when the time comes.

For now, I've decided to write my own curricula using Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson. You can read the book free here.  We own a couple of books in the Among the....People series and they are so cute and cleverly written with a moral or character lesson in each chapter.  Riley and Ruben have wanted me to read this aloud for some time.  RileyAnn wanted another science study like the Simply Charlotte Mason Outdoor Secrets study we just finished.  So, I spent the afternoon in a feeble attempt to write one.


I'm planning to use Draw Write Now Book 1, Favorite Poems Old & New, and Bible verses for copywork.  I'll also be pulling some picture books off our shelves for supplemental reading about various animals.

Draw Write Now, Book 1: On the Farm-Kids and Critters-Storybook Characters (Draw-Write-Now)     Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected For Boys and Girls

If this works well, I may publish or post the plans here at a later date.  We'll do a test run first...  :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Egg Bake

Here's a family favorite breakfast....

12 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup diced ham
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 onion diced
1 bag refrigerated hash browns
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all together.  Pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for approx. 45 minutes or until set in the middle and brown around the edges.  

We enjoyed this for breakfast on Christmas morning with homemade bread, homemade blackberry freezer jam, and fresh fruit.  


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Science Quandary

It seems I've been in a science predicament since day one.  Science is definitely my least favorite subject.  It's either so dumbed down and simplistic, it's boring or it's so high off my academic radar, that I'm stumped and still bored.  Most curricula that looks fun is geared toward 4th to 6th grade.  This creates a problem with my 1st, 2nd, and 10th grade kids.

Our 10th grader is content with the Apologia science courses by Dr. Jay Wile.  This is a blessing to me since the texts are written to the student for independent study and the labs use simple household items.

I've looked at all the Apologia Young Explorer series and own most of them.  I've even attempted starting the first Zoology book with RileyAnn more than once. Unfortunately, neither of us can get past the "Classification" and "Binomial Nomenclature" section.  We really want it to work, but I know from the feeling in my gut and the look on her face, it's just not happening.

I hope to give it another honest attempt around the beginning of March since it's about "Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day".  We have many birds returning to the area in early spring and I think it will be fun to learn about them as they arrive.  I also hope to read The Burgess Bird Book for Children, which looks absolutely adorable.  I believe both kiddos will enjoy the Burgess book.  

I recently completed Outdoor Secrets by Simply Charlotte Mason with RileyAnn and Ruben.  Riley really enjoyed this.  She felt good about the nature journal she created.

Riley and Ruben both liked the stories by Margaret Boyle.  Outdoor Secrets is very low key so I really didn't mind it.  I'm not a hands on type of person.  I'm perfectly content reading a story and drawing a picture about it.  I keep telling myself that I need to get over myself, but dear RileyAnn is like me in many ways.  So though I'm trying to focus on curricula for her, it still comes back to me.  It's funny how God creates little people that so closely resemble us.  My mother always used to say, "I hope you have all girls and they act just like you".  I don't think she meant it as a compliment at the time, but I digress.

I have spent numerous hours researching various science products.  When I ask the kids what they would like to learn about, they simply say animals and human body, which is really what we've already studied the most.  I was hoping to broaden their horizons.

Recently, I created this chart with different types of sciences and various curricula that we own or I've researched and may be of interest.

Types of Science and Various Resources
Biological Sciences
Biology – the study of life and living things
-       God’s Design for Life by AIG **
-       Apologia Exploring Creation w/Biology, Marine, & Advanced
-       NOEO Biology I & II
-       Real Science 4 Kids Biology
-       Biology 101: Biology According to the Days of Creation by Westfield Studios
-       Exploring the World of Biology by John Tiner
-       Christian Kids Explore Biology by Bright Ideas Press

Ecology – the study of ecosystems
-       God’s Design for Chemistry & Ecology by AIG **
-       Exploring the World Around You by Gary Parker

Botany – the study of plants
-       God’s Design for Life by AIG **
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany

Physiology/Anatomy – the study of the human body and how it functions
-       God’s Design for Life by AIG **
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology
-       Body by Design by Alan Gillen

Zoology – the study of the animal kingdom
-       God’s Design for Life by AIG **
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Zoology 1, 2, & 3
-       Thornton Burgess Animal Books
Physical Sciences
Physics – the study of matter and energy in space and time
-       God’s Design for the Physical World by AIG
-       Exploring the World of Physics by John Tiner
-       Apologia Exploring Creation w/Physics & Advanced
-       NOEO Physics I & II
-       Real Science 4 Kids Physics

Chemistry – the study of chemical elements and compounds
-       God’s Design for Chemistry & Ecology by AIG **
-       Exploring the World of Chemistry by John Tiner
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Chemistry & Advanced
-       NOEO Chemistry I & II
-       Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry
-       Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press

Astronomy – the study of outer space and everything in it
-       God’s Design for Heaven and Earth by AIG **
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Astronomy
-       Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space by Bright Ideas Press **
-       Universe by Design by Danny Faulkner

Earth science
-       Meteorology
-       Geology
-       Oceanography
-       God’s Design for Heaven and Earth by AIG **
-       Exploring the Planet Earth by John Tiner
-       Apologia Exploring Creation with Physical Science
-       Christian Kids Explore Earth & Space by Bright Ideas Press **
-       Flood by Design by Michael Oard
-       Geology by Design by Carl Froede Jr.
Social Sciences
Anthropology – the study of human beings

Sociology – the study of societies and how humans act in groups

Psychology – the study of the mind and behavior

Fields Related to Science
Medicine – the study of diseases and health in humans and animals
-       Exploring the History of Medicine by John Tiner

Mathematics – the study of numbers, shapes, and patterns
-       Exploring the World of Mathematics by John Tiner

Computer Science – the study of how to treat information

Statistics – the study of data

Engineering – the use of science and math to make things

Alchemy – the study of basic elements, fire, water, earth, and air – similar to chemistry

General Science & Misc.

-       Apologia Exploring Creation w/General Science
-       Christian Liberty Nature Readers
-       The Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock
-       106 Days of Creation by SCM
-       Outdoor Secrets by SCM
-       Considering God’s Creation by Mortimer and Smith
-       Janice VanCleave Science Books
-       Bob Jones
-       ABeka
-       Genesis for Kids by Lambier, Stevenson, & Save
-       Science in a Creation Week by Unfred
-       Evan-Moor Giant Science
-       Unit Studies  by http://homeschoolshare.com/
-       Field Guides
-       Read Living Books
-       TOPS Learning Systems
-       AIMS
-       Rod & Staff
-       Beautiful Feet A History of Science by Rebecca Berg
-       How Does God Do That? Complete Earth Science by Harris

Total Health
Bob Jones

** indicates books that cover multiple types of science – may be listed in more than one category

By creating this chart, I really hoped to organize my thoughts more than anything.  I also like the way Jessica at Trivium Academy created a K-8 science plan.  I've come to realize, it's more fun creating charts and planning science than actually doing science.  However, unfortunately, this does nothing for our children.  

Since, we've incorporated some WinterPromise Animal Habitats into our day.  It really fits nicely with the Galloping the Globe study we're doing.  We're currently studying South America so I pulled out the WP section on Rain Forests.  I'm really just biding time until we start our bird study, but RileyAnn seems to be digging it so far.   It really depends on the day for Ruben.  He didn't care for reptiles and amphibians last week, but he hung around for monkeys today.  I've only added science 2 days a week, which seems sufficient at this point.  It works well with the 3 day a week history rotation we've been doing. 

I'm sticking with it for now and I believe sooner or later with much prayer it will all work itself out.    

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A is for Applesauce

Last fall, a dear friend borrowed me her food mill.  She gave us a bushel of tomatoes and I wanted to try to make juice.  Well, needless to say, I absolutely fell in LOVE with that mill!  The juice turned out great and I tried applesauce as well.  The farmer and the kids were crazy about all the yummy treats I was cranking out with that mill.  

So I went on a mission to buy a food mill.  Well of course, they just don't make things like they used to.  So after searching high and lo at various local stores without success, (everything was plastic), I hit the internet.  I was able to buy the above pictured mill on E-bay and it was the heavy duty USA made mill just like the one I borrowed.  I was ecstatic and so was my family! 

Since, we've been cranking out homemade applesauce like nobody's business.  The farmer helped me make this batch over new years.  We are in awe of the ease of making sauce and it's an unbelievably tasty treat.  Just wash and chunk the apples.  Throw them in a large pot, peelings, core, and all, with approx. 1 inch of water.  Cook until soft.  Add sugar if desired.  Stir until dissolved.  Press softened apple mixture with mill and serve.  Approx. 6-8 lbs. of apples result in approx. 2 quarts of sauce.

I will never buy applesauce again.....Enjoy!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Rambling About Reading....

Ok...so I've been on several homeschool forums and it seems teaching reading is a concern for many homeschool moms.  Myself included.  I have been researching reading programs for some time and own several.  I also have come to realize, what works for one child, may not always work for the other.

After attending a conference in CO last month and hearing Dr. David Sousa speak about how the brain learns, I recently started reading one of his books called...

How the Brain Learns to Read

....and believe it or not, it's very fascinating.

Did you know, learning to read, unlike spoken language, is not a natural ability?   According to Dr. Sousa, "The brain has no areas specialized for reading.  The skills needed to link the sounds of language to the letters of the alphabet must be learned through direct instruction."  In other words, God hard-wired our brains genetically to speak naturally.  However, we must be taught to read.

Dr. Sousa's book goes on to stress the importance of a phonics based reading program for beginning readers because apparently, the English language has a deep orthography.  That is, English has a poor correspondence between how a word is pronounced and how it is spelled.  He showed a graph to demonstrate this, comparing English to a few other languages.

Language Sounds and Their Spellings
Number of Sounds (Phonemes)
Number of Ways to Spell Sounds

Dr. Sousa also talked about the major components of reading instruction being phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension  

After some research, I found this slide presentation regarding phonological and phonemic awareness.  I think the presentation does a nice job of explaining these concepts in layman's terms.  It gives some alarming statistics as well as teaching strategies to help develop strong readers.

I need to go try to finish Dr. Sousa's book since it's due tomorrow at the library.  I will say the research I've done thus far, solidifies my belief in how important phonics instruction is to teaching reading.  We'll definitely be continuing those Explode the Code books!