Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Knights and Gardening

Wow, this week went by so quickly!   One reason I really like writing these wrap-ups is it lets me focus on what we actually got done in the week.

We took off Tuesday to spend in the garden.  Fred was off of work so we decided to use him to help us finish up building our square foot garden and fill the raised boxes.  You can read more about our garden in our Homeschool Village Garden Challenge Update.

Thursday was another day off but not a planned one.  Here is how everyone spent the day.

They are installing a water main on our street and Thursday was the day they worked on the front of our house.  We were not able to make it to our homeschool playgroup on Thursday partly because we could not get out of the driveway and partly for Baby C's stunning rash.  The fever he had last Friday became a diagnosis of Roseola.  He's feeling better today and his rash is almost gone thankfully. 

Here's what else we've been up to this week.

Ms. Q

Ms. Q is still learning about the Middle Ages and this week she learned about knights and chivalry.  She had fun making up stories with THESE Medieval Life Cards. She even brought them to the dinner table so her father and brother could play.

A sample flashcard: A knight leaving the castle.

She was really interested in the daily lives of people living in this time period, so she spent some time researching and excitedly telling me all about it.  I think she's going to be a little disappointed when we move on to something else.  I think the fact that she has focused on kings, queens, knights, and nobles all this week was the reason she was willing to get up early on Friday morning to watch The Royal Wedding.  We didn't make the 4am start time (for the East Coast of the US) but we did get up early enough to enjoy the festivities.  And we got up early enough to be really tired for most of the day!

Ms. Q also finished another post for her blog.  You can find it HERE if you want to check it out.

Little M

Instead of a letter of the week this week, Little M learned all about gardens and plants.  He learned what plants need to grow, how they grow, the difference between a flower and a vegetable, and practiced his letters with garden related words.

We have been spending more and more time outside both in the garden and playing.  Can't wait to spend more though!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Garden Challenge - April Update

This is our first update for the Homeschool Village's Garden Challenge.  Our introductory post can be found HERE.

Unfortunately we don't have much of an update.  Spring has finally sprung in the Garden State but we cannot count on frost-free  nights until mid-May.  The one thing I can update on is our newest discovery.  While Ms. Q and I were perusing the gardening section at the public library we came across this book:

All New Square Foot Gardening

I am relatively new to gardening so please excuse my ignorance about this but I am totally in love with this book!  Yes we came a little late to the square foot gardening party (the first book was written in 1979) but we are making up for it.  If you haven't read this book I highly recommend you check it out.  Instead of long rows in our garden with relatively few kinds of vegetables, we are going to plant just a few seeds at a time in raised boxes and plant a greater selection of produce.  This has delayed our planting somewhat but I really think it will be worth it.

Here is what we have done in the garden so far:

Little M, Ms. Q and I measured out the garden area to build our square foot boxes.

Dear Hubby built us these great boxes.
Ms. Q and I helped him fill them in.
Some of our tax return money will go to filling the walkways with mulch.

This week Ms. Q will be completing the boxes with a grid so that we can begin to plant a few cool weather plants.  Our plan is to put in peas, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots, and radishes within the next two weeks.  The rest of our picks for produce will have to wait until after that May 15th Last Spring Frost date.

We also started a compost bin for the garden.  

You can read how we did it and how to make your own HERE.

Little M has been busy with his Garden Preschool Pack from Homeschool Creations.  He is really excited for Tot School in the morning and loves to tell his dad all about what he learned. 

He also found a "new friend" in the garden that we had to learn more about.

A "new [worm] friend"

We can't wait to start planting and of course harvesting our garden.   Having them grow their own is really the easiest way to get kids to eat their veggies!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Review of The Curiosity Files: Blue-Footed Booby

Last week I had the opportunity to review The Curiosity Files: Blue-Footed Booby.   Published by The Oldschoolhouse Magazine, this e-book has just about everything you need for a complete study of these amazing creatures and their equally amazing habitat.

We spent a week using this unit and we cetainly could have spent more.  I ordered some books from the library about the Galapagos Islands and Charles Darwin to go along with what the kids were learning.  The e-book has a list of books that looked really good but they were not available anywhere in our library system and sadly our budget did not allow for me to purchase them.

We started out the week learning "everything you never wanted to know about the blue-footed booby."  The material was very thourogh and Ms. Q thought it quite interesting.  Little M listened along for a few minutes but it was a little too much for him.  He did enjoy the coloring page of the blue-footed booby though and happily colored it while we finished reading.

As secular homeschoolers who beleive in the Theory of Evolution there was some content about Creation that I edited while we read.  However, being that this is an issue that surrounds the Galapagos Islands and the animals that live there, Ms. Q and I had a great discussion about understanding other's beliefs and respecting them.  It was a great opportunity for that conversation.

As I mentioned previously, this e-book has everything you need for a great unit study.  We used the e-book assignments for math, writing, vocabulary, science, georgraphy, foreign language, and art.  There were a number of activities and suplemental ideas for all these subjects at various academic levels from pre-school through highschool.  Little M (my preschooler) loved looking at pictures and coloring and enjoyed the crafts.  Ms. Q (my elementary school student) loved just about everything we did this week and was telling a mother at our homeschool playgroup about how great her week was going and how excited she was to learn about the blue-footed booby!  I'm not sure if I can say a better thing about this e-book then that.

If the blue-footed booby doesn't interest you The Curiosity Files cover a number of other topics including Zombie Fire Ants, MRSA, Puffer Fish, and Red Tide.  I'm sure they will be just as exciting and interesting.

The Curiosity Files: Blue-Footed Booby is available at The Old Schoolhouse Store and is currently priced at $6.95 in e-book format.  It is listed as appropriate for ages 8 to 13 and up.  Check it out and enjoy!

Disclaimer: As a potential TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. This review is my honest opinion.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tot School - Letter C - Cats

This week Little M worked on the letter "C" and learned about cats.  We used The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess as our spine book.
The Cat in the Hat

We read this one alot and he almost has the enitre book memorized so I wasn't sure how it was going to go using it this week but he liked reading it "for school."  He completed THIS lapbook and used some minibooks about cats that I found at Homeschool Share.

Activities included learning what the letter "C" sounds like and words that begin with "C."  He practiced using scissors and counting cards with pictures of cats on them.  He learned a little about cats and how to take care of a pet.  We also talked about rules of the house, and personal safety and what to do if a stranger comes near you.  I was surprised with the answers he gave me becuase he knew to call 911 in an emergency and to run away and not talk to a stranger.  I can't remember ever talking to him about these things.  It's amazing what kids learn without ever being taught. If you're wondering why we talked about personal safety it's because there were minibooks about this in the Cat in the Hat lapbook.  But really it ties in with the story in that the cat is a stranger and the kids do not follow the rules of the house in the story.

Here are some of the books we used this week in addition to The Cat in the Hat:

Puss in BootsCat the Cat, Who Is That?Your Pet Cat (True Books-Animals)If You Give a Cat a Cupcake (If You Give... Books)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Cats and the Blue-footed Booby

Another short week - literally.  Ms. Q came back from her trip to Washington DC with her grandparents on Tuesday.  She had a really great time and I'm pretty sure she learned a few things as well.  Here are some pictures she took (or were taken of her) on her trip:

Ms. Q at the White House

Ms. Q's finger squishing the Capital Building

Grandparents at the Jefferson Memorial

Ms. Q at the Smithsonian with Amelia Earhart - one of her favorite historical people

Ms. Q with President Lincoln

Little M still had a full week of Tot School.  He thought it was the coolest thing to have school all by himself without Ms. Q.  So I'll start the weekly school wrap-up with him this week.  Little M worked on the letter C and learned about cats.  We read the Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss as our spine book and made THIS lapbook with some minibooks about cats from Homeschool Share

Ms. Q joined in the crafting fun and they made these cats out of circles and triangles.

Ms. Q's

Little M's

Ms. Q and I tried out a new unit study about the blue-footed booby this week.  She really enjoyed learning about the blue-footed booby and the other interesting animals that live on the Galapagos Islands.  I really enjoyed having everything coordinate so well.  She learned about Charles Darwin and evolution for history, the blue-footed booby for science, researched and wrote about the blue-footed booby for language arts, and did Galapagos Island word problems and fact families for math.  The unit even had some Spanish words to learn for foreign language and some crafts for art.  Unfortunately we did not get to the crafts yet.  I had planned on completing some crafts on Friday but this is how I spent Friday:

Baby C with a fever and needing his momma

Here are a few others things from our week:

We found this mole drowned in a bucket of water near the front steps.  None of us had ever seen a mole before so we spent some time checking it out.
Ms. Q practicing her guitar

Little M playing his guitar (copying Ms. Q)

We welcomed some more nice spring days with school outside.

It was nice to just take it easy and have a relaxing school week and Baby C should be feeling better soon.