Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reading Chapter Books....

A couple of weeks ago RileyAnn decided she was going to read a "chapter book".   She tried this a few months back with the Little House series, but it fell by the wayside.  This time, she chose More Stories from Grandma's Attic by Arletta Richardson and she finished it!  I read the first book in the Grandmas' Attic series to her in Kindergarten as part of Sonlight and she really enjoyed it.

She has since moved on to Mandie and the Washington Nightmare, which is book 12 in the Mandie Series by Lois Gladys Leppard.  Angel starting reading the Mandie series aloud with Riley a couple of years ago. Both girls have enjoyed these.  Now, Riley is very excited to be reading the next book in the series on her own.

I get teary eyed when I see her around the house with her book.  It's just so precious!  The Farmer has even commented on a couple of occasions.  Last week, she said, "Mom, I just LOVE books!"  It was music to my ears.  What a joy to be able to watch her grow and blossom in so many ways...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kids and Calves...An Update from the Farm

Lucky is back in the pasture full time with his momma.  The Farmer and kids have been checking on him on a regular basis and he seems to be doing very well.

Meet Ginger....our latest addition.  A neighbor is selling his beef cattle as he catches them.  Last week, he called The Farmer and asked if he was interested in a hereford calf.  So The Farmer loaded up the kids and went to check it out.

A short time later, they were back with this lovely little girl, now known to us as Ginger.  Ginger is a few months old and was recently weaned.  The Farmer put her in the barn to help her adjust and plans to release her on pasture this spring.  Welcome Ginger!

Timmy is doing well also.  Saturday my niece was visiting so the kids put him on the halter and led him around.  My dad, who's a retired farmer, was also visiting and got quite a kick out of seeing them!  Kids and calves....what a blessing!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Among the Farmyard People Lesson Plans

After finishing Outdoor Secrets and floundering around science land for a bit (post 1, post 2), I decided to write my own lesson plans based on the book Among the Farmyard People by Clara Dillingham Pierson.  I would say it's geared for K-2nd grade.  So far, we've completed 4 weeks of the study and I'm happy to say, it's going great!  RileyAnn and Ruben are both digging it :)

Here's an overview of the resources used in the study:

Books Needed for Study

Among the Farmyard People

Among the Farmyard People (Yesterday's Classics)

Draw Write Now Book 1

Draw Write Now, Book 1: On the Farm-Kids and Critters-Storybook Characters (Draw-Write-Now)

Favorite Poems Old & New

Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected For Boys and Girls

Bible - any version you choose

Books Suggested for Study

Choose one:
1.    Egg to Chick by M. Selsam
2.    The Egg - A First Discovery Book
3.    DK See How They Grow: Chick

Choose one:
1.    The Little Lamb by Judy Dunn
2.    Who Loves the Little Lamb by Lezlie Evans
3.    Sheep by Peter Murray

Choose one:

1.    The Little Pig by Judy Dunn
2.    Pigs: A True Book by Sara Swan Miller

Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox

Mice and Rats by Allan Fowler

Choose one:

1.    Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack
2.    The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet
3.    Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco

How the Guinea Fowl got her Spots: a Swahili Tale of Friendship Retold by Barbara Knutson

Bible Verses

Proverbs 13:3
Proverbs 11:2
Proverbs 11:30
Proverbs 13:4
Rd about Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau
Ephesians 6:1
Ephesians 4:32 – OR- Proverbs 17:9
Proverbs 10:8
Proverbs 1:10
Proverbs 15:1 – OR- 15:4
Proverbs 16:18
Proverbs 12:13 -OR- 12:15

We are completing 3 lessons per week, which will take 18 weeks to finish.  But, you can alter to fit whatever schedule you choose.  We read the story from Among the Farmyard People on Monday, then follow up with other readings, drawings, copy work, etc., on Wednesday and Friday.  Here's the plan.....

Among The Farmyard People

The Story That The Swallow Didn’t Tell
Harsh words may lead to hurt feelings
Review the story – Discuss what a squab is? A young unfledged pigeon; young bird without flying feathers
Copy Work Proverbs 13:3
Favorite Poems Old & New
Rd pg 295 Swallow Tails by Tom Robinson
The Lamb With The Longest Tail
Bragging; pride; boasting
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 14
Copy Work Proverbs 11:2
Information on Sheep Tails
The Wonderful Shiny Egg

Possible books to read:
1.    Egg to Chick by M. Selsam
2.    The Egg - A First Discovery Book
3.    DK See How They Grow: Chick
Visit a poultry farm  -OR-
Watch video of chick hatching
The Duckling Who Didn’t Know What to Do
Friendship; helpfulness
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 24 –OR-
Rd A Duckling is Born by Hans-Heinrich Isenbart
Copy Work Proverbs 11:30 –OR- Copy Work pg.  33 “When you don’t know what to do, help somebody.”
The Fussy Queen Bee
Diligence; hard work

Favorite Poems Old & New
Rd pg 125 How Doth the Little Busy Bee or see full version
Copy stanza 1 or 2 of Isaac Watts poem and illustrate –OR-
Print coloring sheet of a bee
The Bay Colt Learns to Mind
Obedience; hard work
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 18
Copy Work Proverbs 13:4
The Twin Lambs
Selfishness; siblings
Possible books to read:
1.    The Little Lamb by Judy Dunn
2.    Who Loves the Little Lamb by Lezlie Evans
3.    Sheep by Peter Murray
Rd about Cain and Abel or Jacob and Esau in your Bible
Copy Work pg 62 “Now you are a comfort to me. You will be a happier Lamb, too, for you know that a mother’s heart is large enough for all her children, and that the more one loves, the better he loves.”
The Very Short Story of The Foolish Little Mouse
Review story and talk about the importance of obedience
Copy Work Ephesians 6:1
Favorite Poems Old & New Rd pg 136 The Mouse by Elizabeth Coatsworth
The Lonely Little Pig
Have a good time alone, and everyone will want to come.
Possible books to read:
1.    The Little Pig by Judy Dunn
2.    Pigs: A True Book by Sara Swan Miller
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 12
The Kitten Who Lost Herself
Copy Work Ephesians 4:32 – OR- Proverbs 17:9 –OR- Draw Write Now pg 38
Favorite Poems Old & New pg 157 The Kitten at Play by William Wordsworth

The Chicken Who Wouldn’t Eat Gravel
Obedience; hard work
Read Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox –OR- Favorite Poems Old & New pg 282 The Chickens
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 10 or 52
The Goose Who Wanted Her Own Way
Stubborn; strong will; selfish
Copy Work Proverbs 10:8
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 26
Why The Sheep Ran Away
Leadership; meanness
Favorite Poems Old & New pg 165 The Lamb by William Blake
Visit a sheep farm –OR-
Video on sheep shearing
The Fine Young Rat and The Trap
Temptation; danger
Copy Work Proverbs 1:10
Rd of Mice and Rats by Allan Fowler
Favorite Poems Old & New pg 137 The Field Mouse by William Sharp
The Quick-Tempered Turkey Gobbler
Disagreeable habits; quick temper
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 20
Copy Work Proverbs 15:1 – OR- 15:4
The Bragging Peacock
Possible books to read:
1.    Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester Laminack
2.    The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet
3.    Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco
Copy Work Proverbs 16:18
The Discontented Guinea Hen
Rd. How the Guinea Fowl got her Spots: a Swahili Tale of Friendship Retold by Barbara Knutson
Copy Work Proverbs 12:13 -OR- 12:15
The Oxen Talk With The Calves
Quarrel; anger
Draw Write Now Book 1 pg 16
Favorite Poems Old & New pg 41 The Quarrel by Eleanor Farjeon

Please comment and let me know what you think....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Dovekeepers

The Dovekeepers: A Novel

WOW!!  That's what I have to say about Alice Hoffman's latest release, The Dovekeepers.  This book was amazing!  We've been studying Rome, the time of Christ, and the Middle Ages that followed, this year in history.  A couple of months ago we learned of a place called Masada.

Masada is a massive fortress in the Judean Desert, along the Dead Sea, about 30 miles southeast of  Jerusalem.  It was built around 35 BC on a steep plateau by Herod the Great as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt.  Approx. 100 years later, around AD 66, at the beginning of the war between the Jews and Romans, there were some Jews who thought they shouldn't fight the Romans.  These Jews fled and thought their best defense would be to hide from the Romans.  Eventually after wandering on the run in the desert for some years, they discovered Masada and decided to take refuge there under a leader named Eleazer Ben Ya'ir.  The account of Masada was recorded by a Jewish historian, Josephus.

In the beginning, it was heaven on earth, as for many of these Jews, it was the first time in their lives they were free of Roman rule.  They were free to worship and pray as they chose.  They were free to be who they wanted to be.  Years earlier, Herod had cut huge caverns and cisterns that would hold years worth of rainwater.  He stockpiled food supplies in great storehouses.  He also added two grand palaces to help him fight boredom should he ever be stranded there.   So upon arrival, the Jews of Masada were well provided for.  However, due to the large number of Jews at Masada and the dry season in the desert, the resources needed to be rationed and did begin to deplete.

In time, the Roman Emperor got word that nearly 1000 Jews were seeking refuge at Masada.  He sent multiple legions to stomp out these Jews who would not submit to Roman government, without success.  Masada was built on such a steep rocky cliff that it was nearly impossible to get to.  As the Roman soldiers attempted to scale the rocky cliffs, the Jews above would shower them with rocks and weapons. Time and again these Jews defeated the Romans until someone in the Roman camp came up with the idea of building a ramp to the top.  Using Jewish prisoners, the Romans erected a massive ramp of earth and wood over brutal terrain.  It took them seven months.

When the Romans completed their ramp around AD 73, they pushed and pulled weapons to the top.  One such weapon was a battering ram, which they used to knock down the outer walls of the fortress.  However, due to the weight of the weapon, part of the ramp collapsed.  The Romans were humiliated by this and set fire to the wooden gates of Masada.  But they were determined not to quit.  As they withdrew for the evening, the Masada leader,  Eleazer Ben Ya'ir, encouraged his followers to burn all their possessions and commit suicide, rather than be captured and taken back to Rome as prisoners.

Eventually, when the Romans were able to gain access to Masada, they found over 950 dead men, women, and children.  The men of Masada slayed their own wives and children, then drew names to see which men would kill each other.  They believed the last man standing would take his own life as well as the burden of sin from the rest of the group into the fiery depths of hell.

However, the historical account of Josephus tells that 2 women and 5 children survived the massacre at Masada.  This is were Alice Hoffman's novel comes to life.  It's the story of the Jews of Masada and four women who were chosen to be the dovekeepers.  Yael, who's mother dies giving birth to her.  She's raised by her father, an assassin, who hates her and blames her for his wife's death.  Revka, the wife of a village baker, who watched the horrific murder of her daughter, so she's left to care for her two grandsons.  Aziza, who was raised as a boy and became an expert marksmen and fearless warrior, yet is torn by the passion she feels toward her fellow warriors.  And Shirah, who is wise in the ways of ancient medicine and magic and is accused of being a selfish witch who loves no one.  But in the end, her deep love becomes her undoing.

The Dovekeepers was wonderfully written in a historic sense.   Alice Hoffman even visited Masada and cited resources she used to create an accurate historic setting.  Tho the characters of The Dovekeepers are fiction, I found myself enthralled by their situations as they seemed believable, not only in historic context, but in the relational way of women to this day.  Their stories are so tragic, yet beautiful.

The Dovekeepers is one of my new favorite books.  It has left a great impression on me.   The bond between mother and child struck to my core.  One disappointment was the amount of sorcery and witchcraft Hoffman uses in her story.  However, I tried to draw on my past knowledge of this time period and  keep perspective in that people of this time and throughout the Bible did worship pagan gods and false idols.  I highly recommend The Dovekeepers for adults looking to gain knowledge of this time period in history as well as entertainment.  I would not recommend this book for children due to sensuality and witchcraft.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just Passing Time....

...playing dress up,
...playing outside,

..making a blanket,
...or not,
...playing with tractors,  
...snowboarding and sledding, 

....completing puzzles, 

...reading good books, 

...and keeping warm.
                         - Winter 2011-2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm Just a Farmer....

This week, I attended the wake of a local retired farmer who died in a very tragic car accident.  He was a military veteran, a husband, the father of four, grandfather and so much more.  I grew up with his daughter and used to spend the night at their house.

He and his wife were on their way to the airport for a vacation when their car slid under a semi trailer.  Not only was he killed, but his wife was seriously injured and is currently recovering.  I was amazed by her strength at the wake.  With bruises covering her face, a broken jaw, and 50 stitches in her head, she stood greeting visitors with humility and grace.  They were to celebrate 50 years of marriage this coming summer.

Inside the memorial card was this poem......

I'm Just a Farmer, Plain and Simple
By Bobby Collier

I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.
Not of royal birth, but rather a worker of the earth.
I know not of riches, but rather of patches on my britches.

I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.
I know of drought and rain, of pleasure and pain.
I know the good, the bad, the happy and the sad.

I'm a man of emotions.
A man who loves this land and the beauty of its sand.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I know the spring's fresh flow and autumn's golden glow.
Of a new born calf's hesitation and an eagle's destination.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I know of tall pines and long waiting lines.
I know the warmth of campfires and the agony of flat tires.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I'm a man who loves his job.
And the life that I live.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

And I'm a reaper of harvest.
I'm the sower of seeds and I'm the tender of stock.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I know of planting corn and bailing hay and animals going astray.
I live in a complex world, but my faith guides me.
I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I am a man who works with God.
I cannot succeed without his help.
For you see, I'm just a farmer, plain and simple.

I find this so true.  We are just farmers, who work with God and cannot succeed without his help.  I get choked up just thinking about it as I'm reminded of my late grandfather, my dad, and my husband.  So many generations of men in my life who've worked this land, providing for their families.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

White Cheddar Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Boil desired amount of red potatoes with skins on. I used approx. 4-5 lbs.

Drain water and add:

1 stick butter
1 - 2 cups milk
2 bulbs fresh garlic crushed
white cheddar cheese shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Beat on medium speed with mixer to desired consistency.

I served it with steamed broccoli and BBQ pulled pork on a whole wheat bun...


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Making Masterpieces

Hillside brook, farm scenes, fall scenes, and various landscapes...

 RileyAnn and Ruben

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Growing Salt Crystals

Our history switch to Mystery of History is going great!  A couple of weeks ago, we studied The Dead Sea Scrolls.  The Dead Sea is sometimes referred to as the Salt Sea because of its high content of salt.  So we grew salt crystals as part of the lesson.

Here's RileyAnn shaking epsom salt and water.....

Then Ruben and Riley poured the mixture into a pie pan lined with black construction paper...

Then we set the pan in a sunny window and watched the crystals grow over a period of time....

As you can see, the water evaporated leaving the salt crystals.  

RileyAnn said, "It was kind of exciting to see how it changed everyday."  

Ruben said, "It was fun."  He's not a man of many words.  ;-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Death of Pretty

I've been noticing the lack of "pretty" girls when I'm out and about. Women in this day and age look so harsh.  Many moms are trying to dress like their teenage daughters and the teenage daughters are trying to dress like film stars and rock stars.  I recently read this article by Pat Archbold and was struck by the reality of it.

The point of this article is the exact discussion The Farmer and I have had on several occasions.  As the mother of 3 daughters, this is an issue near and dear to me.  How can we raise our daughters to be pretty maidens of virtue versus hot commodities?  And how can we teach our son the value of pretty versus hot?

In the NLT Bible, 1 Timothy 2:9 states "And I want women to be modest in their appearance.  They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes."

Proverbs 5:3-4 warns of the immoral woman, "For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil.  But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword."   In the NIV translation, Proverbs 7:10 paints another picture of the adulteress.  "Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent."

God calls for women to be modest and not to defile ourselves by dressing like prostitutes.  His message is loud and clear.  The challenge is remaining steadfast in the Lord regardless of the level our society has stooped to.  Every where I look, I feel surrounded by this notion of "hot".  Unfortunately, even at church.  The pressures of this life are constantly there through shows and commercials on TV, songs on the radio, movies at the theater, and various visuals on the internet.  But as Christians, we need to be stronger.  We need to rise above and set a new bar, a new standard for our young people to follow.  I pray that I can be a good role model for our girls and that their love for God will remain true.  And, kudos to Pat Archbold for starting the conversation...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Creative Color Cubes

Riley and Ruben enjoy playing with these Creative Color Cubes by Learning Resource that I picked up at a thrift sale for less than $5.  

There are 100 wooden cubes, 33 design cards, and an activity guide.

Apparently, I was disrupting Ruben's thinking mind by taking this photo.

He enjoys building.  I enjoy that he's learning patterns & sequencing, spatial reasoning & logic, visual perception, and geometric concepts.

It's a win - win!

Disclaimer- I am not being paid by Learning Resources to promote their products in anyway, shape or form.  I'm simply a homeschool mom who's found a great product and wants to spread the word.