Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Learning Log of December 2012

The kids' first Lego house with swimming pool and palm trees.
Happy New Year!!

2013 here we come!!

As for how December 2012 went... I am always amazed how our books, studies and researches get connected somehow. As unschoolers, we don't follow a set curriculum, but sometimes you would think we do Unit Studies, or directed hands-on projects. We don't, on purpose. It really just happens.
This month, we looked into Maple Syrup production, Lego building which connected to Physical properties and addition and multiplication; we also learned about the industrial growth that happened in America at the turn of the century and that connected to Charlie Chaplin and comedy and black and white movies. We talked about people being different: autism, Down's syndrome; appearances, the gospel... DS7 with his "ginormous" questions asked things like "How do we know Jesus is real?" and "Which is more important love or food?" That question in particular reminded me of the Harlow experiment with the monkeys and I found 
 this video and we watched together. We talked about adoption and how children in most orphanages are left by themselves in cribs. No one holds them or comforts them. 
We have been talking about adoption a lot.  
A question that popped up this month was: "Why don't we adopt?"
So yeah, amazing month... It was lovely and intense and profound.  
Enjoy the photos and I hope you find something useful in my links.

Books Read Out Loud to All

Homemade CARROT oven fries! These are sooooo good!!
* This month as our daily devotional we are following an Advent reading schedule. We are using The Jesus Storybook Bible with it. You can find the reading plan HERE. In years past we tried different Advent readings and activities like making ornaments and such but they were always too much work and we never completed them all. I am really enjoying just reading the daily story and praying and talking about it. We already had this Bible which we gave to DD9 a couple years ago. DD5 is really enjoying the way the stories read and the beautiful illustrations.

* We continue with the new routine we established in November. Every  night an hour before bedtime, we sit down in the living room under the covers, all huddled together like cats, one over the other and Dad reads to us. We finished Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen. The book led us to videos on how to harvest maple syrup (check out links at the video section of this post) and books about Pennsylvania. I highly recommend this book. It's such an uplifting story. Perfect for winter time. It's all about restoration, new beginnings, friendships and family. The link provides a Christian review of the book.

* After the Miracles on Maple Hill, we heard the Invention of Hugo Cabret and then the Brinkmans Adventures. See more information about it on the Audio Books section.

* The Bible.
* Rocket Writes a Story by  Tad Hills
* Turley Trouble by Wendi Silvano

Homemade Chocolate Mousse I made for Christmas! To die for!!
* A Christmas book a day as per Jessica's idea in Teachable Moments:
- The Christmas Candle by Richard Paul Evans;
- A Pirate's Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates;
- The Christmas Song Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire by Mel Torme and Robert Wells
- The Legend of the Christmas Stockings by Rick Osborne;
- Cobweb Christmas - The Tradition of Tinsel by Shirley Climo
- Lighthouse Christmas by Toni Buzzeo
- If you Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff
- The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
- Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
- The Dinosaurs Night Before Christmas by Anne Muecke with CD.
- The Christmas Train - a True Story by Thomas S. Monson - read by DD9 to all her siblings.
- Who's that Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
- Can't Wait Till Christmas! by Mike Huckabee
- The Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett
- The Very First Christmas by Paul L. Maier - I loved this book! It had so many Biblical and historical facts incorporated into this children's Christmas book, just the way it should be. I highly recommend it if you are looking for something more than feel good stories and Santa Claus nonsense.
- Christmas Wombat by Jackie French

One cold morning we listened to all the CDs in this site while we played.
*Dora and Diego's Treasure Hunt
* Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl - I can REad 1
* Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
* Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman. Illustrated by Teresa Murfin. I loved this book. As a mixed media artist myself I love to see other artists using their talents and produce beautiful things!
* Beauty and the Beaks - a Turkey's Cautionary Tale by Mary Jane and Herm Auch
* Mud Pie Queen by Meg Greve
* The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz

* Look and Find books: TinkerBell and the Great Fairy Rescue; Dinosaurs;
* Four Twits, a Dragon and a Princess - a story about learning the Four Times Table by Professor Paradox - got on the Kindle for FREE. This was a Math book in disguise and the kids loved it!! It's funny and exciting!
* Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
* How to Speak Horse - A Horse-Crazy kid's Guide to Reading Body Language and "Talking Back" by Andrea & Markus Eschbach
* Dixie - I can Read ! level 1
* I Spy - Riddles by Jean Marzollo - level 1
* Fancy Nancy - Splendid Speller - I can Read! level 1

Audio Books

Crayon art we made with old crayons! Video on YouTube... see LINK below.
* The Brinkman Adventures - Are you studying about missionaries and martyrs? Or maybe you would like to introduce missions in your homeschooling curriculum? I would highly recommend these audio dramas. You can go to the website and sample an episode.
They even allow you to download the mp3 files for your ANY amount donation. You can also get all 4 CDs with 3 files each for a mere donation of $20.00. I highly recommend these! The producers of this awesome resource do not want money to stop you from enjoying these stories. So for any amount donation you can download or even purchase the CDs. For more information on this resource you can read ABOUT IT here.

After DD9 listened to these over and over again, we decided to listen to them together as a family. So we are currently listening to them during our before bedtime routine.  

* The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - I read about this book on a homeschooling blog somewhere and then I found it at our library. I picked it up for our before bedtime routine. The children loved it. I was specially glad that my DS7 enjoyed it. His attention span for reading and listening is amazingly increasing. I would recommend you get the book if you can. It's filled with detailed illustrations by the author himself. The illustrations are in black and white in charcoal and they are almost snapshots of a movie.

* A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White, Jr. - We began this audio book read by Bill Weideman. It's massive but so interesting.We are listening to it in the car as we go to and fro places. It can be a bit over my head sometimes, so I know the kids are not understanding every word. But I really think it's important for us to listen to hard book because we always learn something knew even if we don't get every word of it!!!

DS7 independent reading list:

Teaching a kid how to work.

*  Masters of SpinJitzu by LEGO
* Martha Speaks - Secret Agent Dog
* Martha Speaks - The Show Must Go On
* Martha Speaks - Space Dogs
* Zane: Ninja of Ice by Lego
* Jay: Ninja of Lightning by Lego

DD9 independent reading list:

* How to Train Your Dragon - Book 1 by Cressida Cowell - A new series of books. We watched the How to Train a Dragon movie but I didn't know that it was actually based on a series of 10 books. These were new acquisitions at our library and DD9 quickly grabbed hold of them. If your kids like dragons like mine does, they will love the books. We then found the TV series on YouTube. Check out the video section of this post for a link.
* How to be a Pirate - Book 2 by Cressida Cowell
* How to Speak Dragonese - Book 3 - Cressida Cowell
* How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse - Book 4 - Cressida Cowell
* How to Twist a Dragon's Tale - Book 5 - Cressida Cowell
* A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons - Book 6  - Cressida Cowell
* How to Ride a Dragon's Storm - Book 7 - Cressida Cowell
* How to Break a Dragon's Heart - Book 8 - Cressida Cowell
* Hank the Cowdog - Book 5 - Faded Love
* Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures #1 - The Mount Rushmore Calamity
* Birds and Blooms magazine - Dec/ Jan 2013 issue
* Ghosts of the White House by Cheryl Harness -a book about the presidents of the United States
* 8 Class Pets +1 Squirrel : 1 Dog = Chaos by Vivian Vande Velde

* Books on her "nightstand": Jesus Freaks; The Bathroom Bible; the Guardians of Ga'Hoole;
* DD9 is always re-reading her books that are on her shelf. Sometimes I can't keep up with the stuff she is reading, so I just try to keep "safe" books at home. I grew up reading a lot and a lot of junk because my parents didn't really mind what I read.

Activities at Home

* We melted old crayons on a large canvas and created our own art. You can see the video DD9 shot while I used the hair dryer to melt crayons. The rest of the gang helped peel, sort and arrange the crayons. You can see the video I posted on YouTube HERE with photos and instruction of How to. This was such a fun project!!

Playing hard with their train tracks and cars.
* Lots of playing: train tracks, magnets, Legos, horses, playing house, cooking,making puppets and acting them out in plays.

*  DD5 is working on Starfall. This is an awesome and FREE website. There are 4 levels of learning: the first one they learn the letters and sounds, the second level they learn to put phongrams together and make words; the third level they begin reading simple books and then the last level they are reading books on mythology and fables, plays and more. I highly recommend this site. My kids pretty much peruse the site on their own, going to pages and videos they want to see and find entertaining. And that easy they learn their letters and how to read.

I used it with DS7 when he was 4-5 y.o. And when he was ready to read he came to me and said he wanted to learn how to read. In 6 months we went through the Phonics program from Kindergarden to 2 nd grade. However we never finish 2nd grade because by then they are fluently reading and they find the lessons boring.

* Lots of cooking; lots of baking.This month we made yogurt with homemade almond milk. We prepared our own almond flour too. We also experimented with ham bone stocks and chicken stocks. 

Raking leaves... we might be doing this forever!!!
* Raking and burning leaves; raking and burning leaves; raking and burning leaves. Did I say raking and burning leaves yet?? Yeah, it's a whole lot of leaves!!

* Also playing soccer, basketball... enjoying every drop of autumn's sunshine until winter began.
Lots of fun with the sling shot and acorns that abound around our house.

* Gardening: cleaning beds and preparing them for winter. Maintaining the compost pile. We were surprised to find out that we can grow cabbage, romaine lettuce and green onions from the scraps left.

* More playing: we made our own Oobi puppets using pom poms and googly eyes we had on hands. We glued the pom poms and eyes to pipe cleaners and wrapped them around fingers and hands. We also used trays and salt to play with toys and practice letters and draw. You can see one of our video takes HERE.

* For Christmas we played with the BB gun ; the monster truck and the 2 wheeler scooter. A couple of times, DH moved the cars out of the garage so the kids could play in there since the weather did not permit the kids go outside.

Arrange your chocolate chips on the dough before you put them in the oven.
* DD9 and I are still doing the  Mother/ Daughter journal. My DS7 got a notebook for Christmas and I began a Mother/ Son journal with him. We are writing notes to each other. :)

* DD9 sold over $100 in cards at our church and to friends locally. She calculated her tithe and talked about opening a bank account. She included her brother in her selling spree and every card he sold he got to keep the money. It was a profitable business for all. 

* DS7 finished his science experiment with water evaporation. After Lego Club, he decided he wanted to make instructional videos on how to build things with Legos. You can see his first video of how to build a couch here. 

* DS7 is building a lot. With some string, tape and scissors he has been creating webs, traps and tents. With magnets, blocks and legos, he is building robots, machines, cars and buildings. He is also coming up with all sorts of ideas. He is attempting to make music with his mouth like THIS GUY.

* One rainy cold morning we listened to all the CDs of Beethoven's Wig on their website and the kids played, sang and danced to them. When we got tired we played with salt trays. I gave them each a tray with some salt in it and they drew pictures and practice their handwriting. We then used our construction toys like a bulldozer and tractors to move the salt around.
Snow in a tray full of salt.

Field Trips/ Activities Outside Home

* Karate classes

Santa at breakfast. :)
* The Local college hosted Breakfast with Santa to raise funds for scholarships. They invited the local dance studios and groups to perform, and our 2 girls got to dance a tap and ballet routine. It was a great morning. We got to see the local talents and Santa, the Grinch and Frosty the Snowman.

* We went to Musical called Searching for Christmas III. It's written, produced and performed by a Youth Ministry in our area. It's always amazing. This year the kids got to sit in the front on the floor and were really up close to all the performers. It was awesome! Not only the performance is amazing, the message is extraordinaire. If you would like to see it, you can click HERE and watch Searching for Christmas II that was performed last Christmas.

* Ballet and tap classes.

* We drove around to see the Christmas lights and decorations. A local park has a special display put on at this time of the year. We always enjoy riding around together appreciating how some people go way over board with lights!! :)

Lego Club at our local Library.
* Lego Club - a homeschool Dad is now hosting an once a month Lego Club at our local  library. We went and he taught on the basics of constructing buildings. We watched a couple of instructional videos and my children absorbed every ounce of the class. It's been a Lego building frenzy every since. My DS7 even came up with his own instructional video on how to build a couch. You can see it HERE.

DD9 enjoying the baby goats.

* A friend invited us to visit her house and see her goats and chickens. We brought along another homeschooling family. The kids got to bottle feed the baby goats, feed the chickens and see a goat be milked. It was a great learning experience. I think I got an animal lover in my family. Can you guess who it is?

Websites/ Links we found and used

* Videos on YouTube on how Maple Syrup is harvested. The old fashioned way and the commercialized way.

* I have compiled a few Playlists on my YouTube channel and we have been using them: Christmas Music; Crafts for the KIDS;

Playing Cellcraft game
* Games: CellCraft Game (exploring the cell structure through game. I highly recommend this! The link provides downloads for FREE or a website where you can play); miniclip games; Sheppard Software Math Games; American Girl website's games

* Free Piano Lessons 4 Kids - DS7 still learning piano on his own using this website. All the videos are FREE and on YouTube. The instructor offers the lessons in PDF format for purchase as well as the videos on DVD.

* DD9 still using Rosetta Stone Software to learn Spanish. (she is getting really good at it!) she does basically 5-10 minutes a day. Also using the HEV Project website to further her cursive learning. She has mastered her cursive handwriting. WE are now waiting for the videos teaching the upper case letters.

* BrainPop  - the kids watched videos on Ice Age; Flight; Avalanches;

Our own Oobi googly eyed hand puppets.
* You can now find Spelling and Tutorial Videos by Denise Eide on YouTube. I created my own YouTube Playlist to compile the videos we are using in one place. I am using her Spelling videos with DD9 and DS7 for spelling. It was a hit!!! They loved it! They are working side by side and I think DD9 has finally seen the light. It's so funny how people learn spelling differently. DS7 has no problems spelling. It's no mystery to him, he doesn't need to know the rules in order to spell a word correctly. On the other hand, for DD9 unless she knows the rules, she cannot spell simple words correctly, but she reads a ton of books. Go figure!!! You can read HERE where I wrote about it. If you got kids struggling with spelling, I think The Logic of English is a good resource. It still doesn't solve ALL the mysteries of English, but maybe 90% of it?  

* Beethoven's Wig - an assortment of classical music performed by orchestras with funny lyrics. We don't have any of the CDs. We just use the website and play the music from our computer. I highly recommend it. It's a fantastic way to get kids familiarized with classical music.

TV shows/ Videos/ Movies/ YouTube findings

Isn't he cute?
* Riders of Berk - episodes of How to Train a Dragon series Riders of Berk on YouTube.  Episode 1 to 12 of season 1. Unfortunately the episodes are no longer available for FREE but you can purchase them or watch them on cable.

* Samantha: an American Girl Holiday

* Misty - A Tale of a Puppy Sheep Dog

* Modern Times - Charlie Chaplin movie from my YouTube Charlie Chaplin movies Playlist. I had forgotten how funny he was ! So worth it!!

* Barfi! - I am a fan of Foreign movies. Unlike most American movies they are profound and with limited budgets they really need a good story in order to get the film out there. I recently found a couple of movies that were amazing. The story lines were intriguing, thought provoking, dramatic and funny all at the same time. Barfi! is an Indian production. You got to love Indian movies and their idiosyncrasies. We streamed from Netflix and the reviews were great. Go there to find more about the movie. We watched this one by ourselves, and then watched again with the children. It was as funny and entertaining as the first time.

What do you do with high energy kids when it's cold outside? You play in the garage!

The other movie my DH and I watched recently was Castway on the Moon. Oh, my! You are laughing hard, peeing on your pants hard, in the first 5 minutes. This is not a cheap comedy, but a profound movie about humanity basic needs and where we find hope. Beautiful! I highly recommend. There are subtitles on the DVD but not really necessary because there aren't many dialogues anyway. You can find Part 2 HERE. Or streamed if from Netflix.

A doll house it's all they need!
* We watched another DVD from Torchlighters on Richard Wurmbrand. (this was very violent and I don't recommend it for young children!)  I highly recommend the DVDs but preview them to make an educated decision if they are right for your family. There are resources on the website to download in PDF format for FREE as well as special features on the DVDs with interviews and other information on the main characters of the video. 

* The Nutcraker on YouTube - This Ballet version is a BBC Royal Opera House production.

* Redwall episodes on Netflix; the link provides you with the episodes on YouTube.

* Horseland, My Little Ponies, Dr MacStuffin episodes;Oobi shows ; Go Diego Go!; Backyardigans;

* More funny stuff: Tim Hawkins videos on YouTube : You got to watch this guy. He is so funny and CLEAN!! I love clean comedy. You can go to his website and purchase his downloads for just $5.00 or the CDs for $10.00. If you don't laugh your head off you don't like comedy! This is a great way to boost your mood during a cloudy and cold winter.

Mom's Eclectic Reading List

Double chocolate chip cookies from the Detoxinista website.
* The Detoxinista - wonderful recipes for GRAIN FREE baked goods. 

* I Declare by Joel Osteen

* Simplicity Parenting - I am half way this book and I found it to be true in its advices. Simple seems to be always better. A book worth checking out if you got too much in your schedule or child's life.

* Right Brain Learning - very interesting. If you got a child who hates worksheets and has a hard time learning the traditional way, you might have a right brain learner in your hands.

* The Healthy Home Economist - If you are looking for healthy and traditional cooking - food that is nourishing then you are at the right place.  

* There is more, always more.. so check my YouTube channel for videos and lessons saved there in my playlists. 

The kids new sleeping arrangements!!! :)

So again, happy new year! May God's blessings chase us down in 2013!



Susan said...

So much fun learning you all have been up to!! I've tucked away a few of these ideas for us :) Thanks for sharing! The homemade carrot fries sound yummy, and I LOVE chocolate mousse :)

Joan Concilio Otto said...

You have been up to the coolest things!! I loved the tent, too - Sarah had a "box fort" for a while earlier this year and absolutely adored it! And we are big Tim Hawkins fans also.