Saturday, February 26, 2011

Secular Resources for Sonlight Core 1& 2

These are the resources and changes that our family used for the combined Core 1 & 2.  If you are new to Sonlight, or even a veteran Sonlight user, you might want to get a printed catalog to help you determine which books are right for your family.  The print material makes it so much easier to see which books are from Christian publishing companies (marked with an x in the catalog) and makes noting your choices a little easier than just using the website.


Many secular Sonlight users keep Hillyer's A Child's History of the World as the spine for their history lessons.  It isn't overly religious but I found it to be slightly condescending and at times bigoted towards non-christian cultures.  We replaced it with Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of the World, volumes 1 and 2.  If you decide to go with The Story of the World check out this website which matches up the chapters of A Child's History of the world with The Story of the World.  It makes connecting the books to the plan in your instructor's guide much easier.


Spragget and Johnstone's Window on the World has many pages of ways to pray for non-Christian peoples and describes many different countries in regard to their progress toward Christianity.  We replaced it with DK publishing's A Life Like Mine and First Atlas.

Read Alouds and Readers

These are the books we left out and are really the easiest to replace.  If it was a biography/memoir I tried to replace it with a biography/memoir.  If it was fiction/literature I replaced it with a good children's literature title.  Have fun and choose what you and your children will enjoy.

Titles we replaced:

And the Word Came With Power by by Joanne Shetler, Patricia Purvis

Gladys Aylward
More Stories from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Spring Fever

Last week we really enjoyed the springtime weather we experienced here on the east coast.  I guess we should have expected the break in winter to be fleeting.  It was just a tease but it gave us a serious case of spring fever.  We will just have to wait patiently I guess.

So here is how our week worked out:


We continued our study of the rise of the Roman Empire.  I indulged the kids interest in gladiators and allowed them to watch a documentary on Roman gladiators.

Since subscribing to Notebooking Pages Ms. Q has been really working hard on her notebooking.  She has been using colored pencils and really making them look good.  I am always encouraging her to "make work you can be proud of."  Sometimes it's difficult to get her to have any accountability for her work considering she doesn't receive any grades but she likes showing off her notebook pages, at least for now.

We switched gears a bit to follow Ms. Q's interest in Ancient Egypt and have been spending our evenings enjoying National Geographic Channel's Treasures of Egypt week.  Each night there has been a different documentary on the time period.  Ms. Q was holding her breath in anticipation of Friday night's show about Cleopatra.  She and Fred went to the Cleopatra exhibit that was showing at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia after Christmas.  (This was actually Fred's Christmas gift to her.)  Since then she has been interested in learning more about Cleopatra and this period in history.  Look for a webquest about Cleopatra next month per Ms. Q's request!


We started a new unit on inventions.  I really thought that this would spark some interest in inventing things but Ms. Q doesn't really appear to be interested, even after we learned about child inventors.  She and her father are always thinking of  things that would make life easier.  I was surprised that this did not motivate her to actually pursue her ideas further.  Sometimes you just can't tell what will interest your kids I guess.

 Language Arts
Little M had a lot of fun this week working on his alphabet.  He's not required to do any work but he likes to feel like a big kid so he has school boxes with things like ABC cards, objects for counting, puzzles, and scissor practice.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with him next year with regard to preschool but so far he really enjoys learning and asks for things to do.  I hope it stays that way.

Ms. Q finished the internet scavenger hunt and the sports reporter assignment for her Iditarod webquest this week.  She was disappointed that she could not work on the third section of the webquest, which is to create a poster for a musher.  She is really looking forward to choosing a musher for us to cheer for when the race starts.  She also practiced her writing skills by sending out some emails to our friends and family asking them for pledges for the Girl Scout Pull the Plug event.  She is trying to get others to notice how vampire electricity usage contributes to depleting resources.  (Vampire electrical usage is the power used by appliances and other electrical devices when you are not using them, like a remote ready tv or the clock on your coffee pot.)

We finished reading Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski this week and it is now one of our favorite books.  The story is set in the 1800's in rural Florida but don't let that put you off.  It chronicles the feud between two neighbors and how the feud affects their children.  Ms. Q actually drew a parallel between the Slater and Boyer families in Strawberry Girl and the Montague and Capulet families in Romeo and Juliet.  She wondered if the two young characters in Strawberry Girl would find themselves as star-crossed lovers.  The story also sparked some interesting conversations about neighborly responsibility and alcohol abuse.


Ms. Q has been working on multiple digit addition for what seems like a really long time.  In reality it has only been a few weeks and she really needs the practice but she has begun to complain.  So today we made banana muffins for math.  It was the most delicious class of the week!

Well hopefully for next week's wrap-up I will be able to write that we called off school in order to enjoy the spring weather because we sure do need it to cure our spring fever.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crafty, Craft

Ok maybe we aren't that crafty but I just loved this idea and wanted to share it.  Ms. Q made this gem initial window hanger for her cousin's birthday.  It's a little difficult to see in the picture but her cousin's name starts with the letter "R" so in the center of the frame is a blue "R" surrounded by green gems. 

Basically what she did was take the back off a decorative frame and hot glued the glass into the frame.  Then she arranged the blue gems into an "R" and filled in the rest of the frame with green gems.  Once she was happy with the placement of the gems, she used clear drying tacky glue to secure them to the glass.  Next she cut strips of ribbon to make the hanger and to cover the back of the frame where you could see the glue spots from removing the cardboard backing and hot glued those ribbon pieces as well.  It was really easy to make and Ms. Q had fun making it.  She asked for one for her birthday but requested that I not make it, only give her the materials to make it herself.  That girl cracks me up. 

Oh, and Happy Birthday R!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekly Wrap up: Our Busy Life

Sometimes home interferes with homeschooling.  We have had one busy, busy week this week.  To be honest we have had a difficult time getting much "school work" done this week.  I really have to give Ms. Q credit for being able to focus and get done what she has.  Little M had two appointments this week, one for the dentist and one for the doctor, and we had an unexpected visit from some grandparents who live out of state. Throw in karate twice a week, a girl scout meeting, a few hours at a store selling girl scout cookies, and a guitar lesson.  These things took up a lot of our school day. We really only do school four days a week as it is with Friday being test/review and art and library day.  I am working on being more flexible, especially when it comes to things that are important, so I am taking a few deep breaths and using this post to reflect on what DID get done this week.

We finished up our science unit on levers and pulleys.  This was one of Ms. Q's favorites I think.  In the lead picture she is proudly showing off the lever she built all by herself.  She built it while Little M was napping and wanted to leave it built until he woke up.  When he finally got up she rushed him out to the dining room to show him and the two of them spent at least a half hour lifting different objects with the lever.

In history we have been learning about ancient Rome and of course gladiators.  This is now the topic of play, which I'm not sure I totally love but at least they are depicting an historical event even if it is one of violence.  We haven't done much in the way of crafts or activities for this topic yet because Ms. Q has been focusing on her writing assignment this week.

For writing, Ms. Q is doing a webquest on the Iditarod.  We read Woodsong by Gary Paulsen a few weeks ago. In the book he details running a team of dogs in the Iditarod.  When we finished the book we googled when the next Iditarod race would be run and found out it starts March 5th this year.  We decided that we would learn more about the race and follow the mushers.  She is totally loving the webquest and has asked to work on it first everyday this week.  For the webquest she must complete an internet scavenger hunt, write a sports report on the race, and create a poster on a musher of her choice.  Then when the race starts we will be cheering on "our" musher and will be able to follow race coverage and video at

We are looking forward to a relaxing weekend with some nice weather, another morning selling girl scout cookies, and some bird watching while we participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recipe of the Day

I love to cook with my kids.  I don't mind the mess or the extra time it takes.  I think the lessons learned while cooking together are worthwhile and the time spent together is priceless.  Little M made one of our family's favorite recipes for desert today.  Very few of the recipes we use are of my own making, some recipes in my recipe box I have just jotted down over the years and have no idea where they came, but I know where this recipe came from and you can check out the site with the link below.  Let me know if you try the recipe out and what you think.

From the website Favorite Brand Name Recipes:

No-Bake Banana Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

1 ripe banana
2/3c. butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter

1. Finely chop banana. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat: stir in vanilla. Add oats and brown sugar. Heat and stir 5 minutes. Set aside 3/4c. oat mixture. Press remaining oat mixture into greased 9-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle banana over crust.

2. Melt chocolate and peanut butter together over low heat. Pour and spread over banana. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture; press down lightly. Chill 2 hours before cutting. Store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars

I'm linking to It's a Keeper Thursdays

Friday, February 11, 2011

Winter Tree and Snow

Our selected tree, picture taken by Q
Last week we decided to combine our Outdoor Hour Challenges and have two nature studies in one week.  We neglected to do our nature study the previous week so it all worked out.  We began a winter tree study and a winter weather study.

Ms. Q won rock paper scissors and was the official tree picker.  The only stipulation was that the tree had to be inside the backyard fence.  She chose the tall maple tree that sits to the side of the back door.  It was an interesting choice given that this tree is the one that holds our clothesline, had a birdhouse on it that Ms. Q made, and provides much of the shade we use when playing outside in the summer.  What was interesting is that even though this tree provides all the above uses, Ms. Q and I noted that we really never look at it.  It's just always there.  So this study allowed us the opportunity to really study something that we always look at but rarely ever see. 

For winter weather we studied snow.  The east coast has had more than it's fair share of snow this year.  In New Jersey we received more snow in the first month of this winter than we did in the entire three months of winter last year!  This is of course fun for the kids but I find as I grow older that snow has lost some of it's funness. Now that Little M is big enough to go outside with Ms. Q I don't usually go play in the snow.  Snow has become dangerous roads, closed offices, and higher utility bills.  It means cancelled activities and the possibility of a power outage.  But with a closer look at the snow this week some of that wonder has come back.  We measured the snow fall from the morning and discovered that 5 inches had fallen already that morning.  We filled a measuring cup with snow and waited for it to melt.  Each of us wagered a guess at how much water would be in the cup when the snow melted and we were all surprised.  More than one cup of snow melted down to about 1/2c. of water. Who would have thought?  This is one of the joys of homeschooling - learning together as a family.

5 inches of snow in 2 hours

More than 1 cup of snow
Melted to about 1/2 cup of water