Thursday, May 31, 2012

Polyphemus Moth

Yesterday, while the kids were clearing a brushy/grassy area in the yard, Angel came across this Polyphemus Moth.

This morning we used our Pocket Naturalist Guide on Butterflies & Moths to identify it.  From there, we were able to Google search the name and come up with a variety of information about this particular species.  I really appreciate these guides for a quick reference.  I highly recommend them for your nature study :)

Photos by RileyAnn

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pinatas and Parties

After studying Mexico and reading about pinatas, RileyAnn wanted to surprise Angel for her Birthday.  She decided to create a fish pinata.

Here are her steps:

1. Blow up a balloon

2. Use water and glue or Mod Podge and coat balloon with newspaper, leaving a small 2" section uncovered

3. Wait for it dry and repeat 3+ times, depending on desired strength

4. Pop Balloon through 2" uncovered section pull out the balloon

5. When final coat is dry, paint or decorate as your heart desires

6. Stuff with treats or money or whatever is fun through the 2" hole

7. Drill or cut a hole for string to hang

8. Invite friends and family

9. Blind fold them and hit away.......

Angel was surprised....

We had a great time breaking it....

So much fun, that the girls decided to make another for Ruben's birthday.  Of course it had to be green and yellow.  You know....John Deere and Green Bay Packer colors ;-)

Here's our little cowboy trying to smash it....

Even his pregnant mom took a turn....

Unfortunately, we had trouble getting the string to hold it up.  After several attempts at retying, the young kids just beat it open on the ground. 

A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

High School Electives

Many parents often ask about high school electives for homeschoolers.  What is as an elective?  How do you log elective hours?  Should I used a box curricula for electives?  I remember asking some of these same things myself.  After much research an experimentation, I'm hoping to answer some of these questions by sharing some thoughts on our homeschool high school electives.

Electives can really consist of anything over and above the core subjects of Language Arts, History, Math, and Science.  Some common elective areas may be Art, Music, Physical Education, Ag Science, Tech Ed, Computer Science, Foreign Language, Business, Logic, Philosophy, Home Economics/Life Skills, etc. Some consider Bible or Theology an elective.  Though in our homeschool, it's a required core.  

Typically, each state has certain requirements for high school graduation.  For example, in Wisconsin, DPI requires that the educational program must provide a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in six subject areas (reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health)".  You can view the WI requirements here.  You'll want to be sure to check with your State Department of Education to see what those requirements are.  You will also want to check with potential colleges so see what their elective requirements are.  

There are various ways to log elective hours.  If you choose a box curricula, the requirements are set for you.  The publisher will usually give you grading rubrics as well as schedules to follow and advice on how to assign credit.   Many people find this a safe and effective route to take.  

Others like to specialize or customize their students education to various passions and interests of the student.  For example, if your student loves photography, cooking, welding, or writing computer software, use these interests/passions for elective hours.  Or maybe you own a family construction company and your son works several hours a week with you building houses.  As a farm family, Angel has had many experiences relating to agriculture.  I've given specific examples below that illustrate how we've drawn from these experiences and gave non-traditional credit in ag sciences.

Animal Science 

Sheared sheep
Assist in vaccinating various animals – identify pests and diseases of the animal science industry and their prevention, control, and treatment
Assist in dehorning cattle
Assist in castrating pig, cattle, and sheep
Assist in milking cow
Assist in building a rabbit hutch
Feed animals (cattle, sheep, horse, pig, rabbits, cats) – demonstrate proper knowledge of animal nutrition
Research various animal breeds and characteristics
Understand domestic animal practices, including nutrition, reproduction, health maintenance, and housing
Research and identify animal anatomy
Read, studied, & researched from:
-       Storey’s Guide to Raising Pigs by Kelly Klober
-       Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep by Paula Simmons
-       The Cattle Health Handbook by Heather Smith Thomas
-       The Kingfisher Illustrated Horse & Pony Encyclopedia by Sandy Ransford
-       Cloud’s Legacy: The Wild Stallion Returns by Ginger Kathrensh
Field trip Minnesota Zoo
Field trip to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

Agricultural Processing 

Examine what the food industry involves
Help plant and maintain garden
Harvest food
Assist in making maple syrup
Read, studied & researched from:
-       Processed People - video
-       Food Matters - video
-       Food Inc. – video
-       Fresh - video
-       The Omnivore’s Dilema: The Secrets Behind what you Eat by Michael Pollan
-       Food: How Safe? – article from National Geographic May 2002 written by Jennifer Ackermann
-       Agri-View - newspaper
-       Country Today - newspaper
Drive tractor (tractor & equipment safety)
Rake hay
Recognize the world’s need for agriculture and agricultural occupations
Field trip to Castle Rock Organic Farms in Osseo, WI
Field trip to Scenic Orchard in Augusta, WI
Field trip to Boettcher’s Sugar Bush – maple syrup production
Field trip to Corn Palace in South Dakota
Field trip to animal sale barns
Interviewed a local turkey grower
Attended Farm Family presentation on Agriculture in China

Attended Farm Family presentation on Agriculture in Italy

If you are using a non-traditional elective, keep track of time spent.  A typical high school course consists of approx. 120-180 hours, with the average for electives being 120 hours per credit.  It's not necessary to account for every minute, a general guideline is 40-50 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 36 weeks, for one credit.  We could have easily given Angel multiple credits for her ag experiences, however, it is not necessary, nor effective, to overdue it.  Also, I feel it's important to show our students as well rounded with a variety of experiences.  There will be time to specialize and narrow that focus later in life.  

We use a mix of box curricula and specialized interests for electives.  Here's a variety of electives Angel has and will complete throughout her high school experience.

Typing for Christian Service - Rod & Staff boxed set

Animal Science - specialized non-traditional

Ag Processing - specialized non-traditional

Natural History & Outdoor Recreation - specialized non-traditional

Choir & Music Appreciation - specialized non-traditional

Art History - Short Lessons in Art History boxed set

Logic - misc. books including The Thinking Toolbox and The Fallacy Detectives

Health - Total Health boxed set

Introduction to World Cultures - specialized non-traditional

Life Skills - specialized non-traditional

A great resource for planning your homeschool high school experience is Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+La by Barbara Edtl Shelton.  Mrs. Shelton homeschooled her three children through high school and gives a wealth of information and practical advice on how to do so.   

Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+u+la, Updated   -     
        By: Barbara Edtl Shelton

You can homeschool through high school!  Feel free to comment or let me know if you have specific questions regarding high school electives. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

For the Birds

We finished reading the Burgess Bird Book for Children this week and it was bittersweet.  We learned so much about birds.  From the youngest to the oldest, it was a treat.  We are all more in tune to the birds we're seeing.  Also, Angel just finished her Apologia Biology course and the last module was on Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals.  It was so fitting.  The kids went on several nature walks and found many of the birds we read about.

RileyAnn found this nest of newly hatched Robins...

Angel spotted this Rose Breasted Grosbeak and nest....

Ruben found this Robin nest attached to the dump trailer...

Unfortunately, the boys needed to use the dump trailer, so the nest was removed for fear that when the trailer tipped up to dump the dirt, the eggs would fall out and break.  They did return the nest to the original location, however, they could not reattach it to the trailer; since God created Robins to complete this special task.  We are hopeful that the mother Robin claimed the eggs.  

In addition, we have a plethora of sparrows cleaning out the feeder daily.  We've also seen Blue Birds, Redwing Blackbirds, an Oriole pair, a Catbird, Goldfinches, a Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Eagles, Hawks, and Killdeer.   We highly recommend The Burgess Bird Book for Children for young and old alike.   

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Birthday Haircut

The day before his 7th birthday,
Caught red handed for all to see.
A boy in the bathroom buzzing and clipping
Who wanted to surprise me.

He clipped and buzzed
To his delight.
But when I found him,
It was a fright!

Surprised I was
With the floor full of fuzz. 
But couldn't help but smile
At his new hair style.  
Memories :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Frog from God

A few weeks ago Angel needed a frog for biology dissection.  The kids set off for the pond and found these frog eggs.  

Upon return a week or so later, they found these tadpoles.

They brought some home "to grow".  However, after a week or so, they decided to release them.  Later that week, The Farmer, Riley and Ruben went back to the lake and found a large leopard frog.  Angel was ever grateful, but felt torn as to whether or not she should kill the frog and how to go about it.  She decided to sleep on it.  That night a big rain came.  The next morning when she opened the door to go out and do chores, right outside the garage door was a large deceased leopard frog.  She was so excited!  They were able to release the live frog and use the dead to complete the biology lab.  

A few days later, the kids and I were thrift saling with my sister.  I was witnessing to her about how we were blessed with what the Lord has provided our family.  Angel piped in and told the story of the frog.  She was so sure that God had answered her prayer and provided that frog.  It was awesome to see her conviction.  Her enthusiasm was very powerful.  My sister didn't quite know what to say.  God is good!  

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you .  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."  Matthew 7:7-8

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cowboy Story

Our girls are really enjoying Language Lessons by Sandi Queen from Queen Homeschool.  A few weeks ago, RileyAnn did a picture study of Frederick Remington's oil painting titled "The Cowboy".

Then she spent several weeks copying a poem by Bob "Reeves" Axtell.  Yesterday, she reread the poem she had copied and drew a picture of what she thought when she read the poem.

Today, for creative writing, she went back to Remington's painting and wrote a story about the cowboy and his horse.

Here's her story....

 “Giddy-up Bronze”, yelled Joe, as Bronze galloped down the steep slope. Joe was a cowboy and Bronze was his horse.  They were on a cattle drive with five other cowboys driving 200 head of cattle to Mexico where Joe lived.  They had bought the cattle in Texas and now Joe and Bronze were both eager to get home.  Joe wanted to brand the cows and Bronze was eager because he missed his nice warm stall and good oats.  The green grass was good, but Bronze liked his oats much better.  Both Bronze and Joe were wore out from the week long journey and were very glad to see things that they recognized like the big neighboring ranches and the fields of oats that Bronze loved so much.  Finally, they were home.  As Joe, Bronze and the other five cowboys rode up the driveway, Joe thought of how good he would sleep tonight in his own bed.  The End

I really enjoy watching their creativity come to life.

Last night RileyAnn told me she'd like to write a book set in "pioneer days".  She said she's been working for a couple of weeks on her list of characters.  I believe she was inspired by the wife of one of The Farmer's cousins.  We've been blessed with spending time with family we don't see that often over the last couple of weeks.  Once to celebrate a 94th birthday and once for a funeral.  You never know what the kids will take from these experiences.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mini Blogging Sabbatical

I can't believe nearly two weeks have past since my last blog post.  It's been sooooo crazy here!!  Here's a brief update as to what we've been up to.....

I had a high risk ultrasound and thankfully our baby's heart and spine look good at this point.  We will be having weekly check-ups until he's born.

Grandma had cataract surgery.  She's unable to put the drops in so I've assembled a team to assist with this.  She's a week out and seems to be doing well.  We have more follow-up appointments for her.

Jennifer took her driver's test.  Unfortunately, she didn't pass, but it's for the best as she'll have more time to practice and gain confidence.  We'll continue to chauffeur until then.

We attempted to attend a used curriculum/book sale.  However, after driving over 100 miles, there was a semi tipped over that stalled traffic big time.  So approx. 5 miles from our destination, we waited in a traffic jam.  We traveled 3 miles in just over 1 hour.  It was terrible!  Upon arriving at the sale 1.5 hours late, it was pretty picked over.  I was able to find Angel's chemistry course for fall and a few odds and ends, but mostly disappointment.

The Farmer's aunt passed away and we attended the funeral 3 hours away.  She lived a good life and it was nice to see family, but unfortunate that years go by in between.

And the usual mix, cooking, cleaning, laundry, ball games, haircuts, thrift sales....... life goes on :)