Spring Break Wrap Up

The last two weeks flew by!  We didn’t go anywhere.  We didn’t do anything crazy.  We just hung out at home, swam in the lake, enjoyed the lake, and celebrated life!  We started the break off with Sims’s birthday and ended it with a concert!  Over all, we had a  terrific two weeks.  The pictures show it all!

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Brave Writer Essay Prep Dynamic Thinking

Are you looking for a writing class for a reluctant writer? Or do you want your child’s writing class to be different/better than the typical writing class? I was!

We have been through a TON of writing programs-IEW, Writeshop, Essentials in Writing…..They are all great and teach the basics of writing a 5 paragraph paper.   The result was….well, a boring five paragraph paper.

My oldest just dreads writing.  DREADS it!! However, he is a pretty creative writer and comes up with good ideas.  Getting those ideas on paper is extremely tough and takes some work (this is the dysgraphic brain kicking in).

For years, I have been reading the Brave Writer blogs and using the book club packets from Brave Writer.  I have the Writer’s Jungle Book and have done several activities through it, but that was about it until this year.  I looked at the online classes and decided to take the plunge.  The classes are pricey in my opinion which was my biggest hesitation.

Thankfully, the class was AMAZING!  We started with an essay prep class even though he can write a five paragraph paper.  I wanted my oldest to be completely independent with getting his thoughts down (I wanted to be out of the picture completely-although, I did keep up with the class on my own).  The class had generally 3 writing assignments per week and reading everyday.  None of the assignments were overwhelming or crazy time consuming.  The best part for my oldest was using a timer to write.  I have suggested this time and time before, but when it was actually part of the assignment, he loved it.

I am looking forward to the next essay prep class on research.  He starts that one next week.

 

(FYI-I do not receive any compensation or anything for writing this.  It is simply a review of a class that we took)

Back to School Time!

I am still in denial that we are actually starting school which is why this post is slightly delayed.  We started school last Monday as a group.  Sims started an online class a few weeks ago.  As much as I would love to show you a beautiful back to school picture of the three of them smiling, I have nothing close.  I have pictures of the three of them steadily working and looking at their books for the year.

Overall, the week went well.  Monday, we spent at home.  Tuesday, Parks and I headed out for his writing class while the older two stayed home and worked.  Wednesday, we went to the park for the first day of our 4H co-op and pretended that it is still summer by hitting the lake for a swim afterwards.  Thursday, we hit the barn.  Friday, we finished up any unfinished work from the week.  We also celebrated Sawyer’s last allergy shot!!  (Five years ago, Sawyer found out that she is allergic to the five bee types that we have here in NC.  Over the past five years, she has gone monthly to get two shots-equivalent to getting 18 bee stings at once.  She is amazing.) The workload was light this week.  My hope was just to get everyone into a rhythm.  I think that it worked pretty well.

In addition to celebrating, Sawyer’s last shot, we also watched Sims compete in his first deep water solo rock climbing event at the US National White Water Center.  The competition was a lot of fun to watch!

2017/2018 Year End Wrap Up

I always love looking back on the year.  I always end the year thinking that we really should have gotten through more information.  Then I reflect back and realize that we did get through a lot of information.  It happens every year.  And just like every year in the past, my beginning of year plans/curriculum changes throughout the year.

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Parks completed fifth grade this year.  He wanted to work on spelling and writing (did he really?).  Those were his personal goals.  I simply wanted him to do his school work daily without arguing about it.  I am not sure where we ended on his goals or mine, but he did work on spelling and writing and he did do school everyday including working with a tutor two days a week (a local homeschooling grad who is going to the local college).  Parks worked through Ancient History including Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China and Greece.  He read lots of myths from those time periods and areas.  He also did blocks on geometry and astronomy.  He read several books including a children’s version of The Epic of Gilgamesh, Starry River of the Sky, The Odyssey (a Children’s version), Blood and Guts, A Rise in the Sun and Secret of the Andes.  For math, Parks did a variety of things, but he mainly focused on Life of Fred books Apples to Jelly Beans.  I found that he is having a tough time with multiple step math problems such as division, so we will be working on that through the summer.  He also worked through Growing with Grammar, Soaring with Spelling and Apples and Pear Spelling.  He invented more contraptions than I can think of-rubber band guns, lego cars, tech deck skateparks, rales for his scooter, and so much more.  He found out that he loves snowboarding, and he recently has refound his love for wake boarding.  He lives to ride his bike and to play with friends.  I feel like he really grew up a lot this year.  He still doesn’t like school, but he is wiling to do it.  He has very high expectations for himself and works hard at the things he loves.  I hope next year, we can find something in school that he loves too so he sees the benefit of working hard in that area as well.

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Sawyer’s happy place

Sawyer finished up seventh grade-although I feel that she completed middle school!  She worked hard this year and has found a love for learning that amazes me.  She loved pretty much every subject that I threw at her (don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t jumping at the bit for more school work.  She simply enjoyed learning).  Sawyer worked through blocks on Ancient Rome (just a review), Islam, Alchemy and Chemistry, Wish/Wonder/Surprise, Astronomy, China in the Middle Ages, Europe in the Middle Age, Geometry, and Photosynthesis.  She read more books than I can fit on this page.  She reads–alot.  :). She also worked through Growing with Grammar and Soaring with Spelling.  She did the Life of Fred math books for fractions, decimals and percents.  Sawyer also worked with a tutor on creative writing.  She wrote some awesome stories that I hope she continues to work with.  She brought the characters to life through her stories. She also continued to work on her sewing.  She made several new things this year including a dress, water bottle holders, her Halloween costume and many more smaller items.  Her artistic side really popped this year too.  If she isn’t reading or outside, she is drawing.  She also found that she truly enjoys rock climbing indoors (Sims, as you will see later, loves climbing outdoors).  She enjoys the challenge of completing the routes.

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Mulberry eating

Sims made it through his first year of high school.  He made some big gains in school this year.  We had a lot of growing pains in the beginning of the year trying to find the right fit of curriculum for him,  By the end of the year, I think he had a good rhythm with his work.  Almost everything changed from the beginning of the year!  LOL.  He completed Life of Fred Algebra.  This shocked me because he does work with a dyslexic brain so I never would have picked a math program that required reading.  However after trying Thinkwell Algebra and seeing that a traditional approach was not working, he asked if he could try Life of Fred.  He loved it.  The mastery approach worked well too.  He had to master the chapter prior to moving on.   For Language Arts, Sims worked through the Life of Fred Grammar series as well, and he worked with a tutor on academic writing (expository, compare/contrast, descriptive, research, and personal essays).  This also required him to learn how to get his thoughts down on paper independently.  He learned how to type and how to use speech to text software.  For Biology, we mixed it up using several different curriculums and making our own course and doing labs along the way.  For World History, he used the Simply Charlotte Mason’s Stories of the Nations along with working with the younger two on their blocks.  World Geography turned out to be one of his favorite subjects.  He used the Oak Meadow World Geography course and supplemented with several books from the Simply Charlotte Mason series.  Sims also worked with the natural resources department for our county in the beginning of the year to work on a forestry elective.  He learned about local trees and ground cover.  He  also worked with the Project Learning tree where they taught about forestry to local sixth graders.  He also did research on his own about the trees that are native to NC.  Together, Sims and I went through a Health book.  We found that most of it, we do daily and speak about in our day to day lives.  He took the “tests” at the end of each chapter and found the whole thing silly, but he completed it.  I did not give him any grades this year.  I am not sure how that will effect him in his journey to get into college.  I felt that this year was about learning how to be independent in his studies.  I think that he did great with it.  He also continued rock climbing, both indoors and outdoors.  He also took safety classes for climbing to continue learning.  He also sailed on a local sailing team and competed several times.  Sims is a very active teen.  He rarely has a down moment which is his own choice.

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My three!

As a group, the kids took an anatomy and physiology class.  They loved it.  They also cooked a lot more this year and began experimenting more with cooking.  We had more sweets than we have ever had this year!  We didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, but we did get some hiking in and a few trips.  My three kiddos are really growing up.  They are each finding themselves and they are each so very unique in their interests and personalities.

Weekly Wrap-Up

May!  It’s May!  How did that happen?  Seriously, it was just August of 2017.  I really wish that I had done a weekly wrap up throughout the year.  Even though there isn’t much exciting to report on, I would like the record of what we did.  Well, its better to start now than to never start at all.

Last weekend was full.  You know those kind of crazy weekends when you need another set of parents to get everything done?  That is what we had.  Sims and Sawyer had a climbing competition at the same time that Parks had his first day of sailing team practice.  Next, Sawyer had to be about an hour away to sing at Catawba College.  Her voice instructor brought all of the bands that she worked with this year to come play as part of her senior project.

We had a bit of an off week of school this week.  Parks was supposed to participate in the Starbase Program at our local Department of Defense.  Unfortunately, the class did not work out for him-but it was a week long camp and I had plans with the older two.  I know, I know.  Plans are meant to be flexible.  Tuesday, Parks headed to his ecology class at Latta Plantation while Sims, Sawyer and I took Bella on her first official walk/hike.  Then we went to the Discovery Place in Charlotte for Sims to take a class on cell biology.

Wednesday, Sawyer and Parks went to their drawing class.  They are learning to draw what they see and not what they imagine.  They both love to draw, but this class is really challenging them to step outside of their box with their art.  Thursday, Sims and Sawyer met with their writing teacher.  They are both wrapping up their writing programs for the year.

Friday, we hit the trails.  We met up with two other families and hike Stephens Road Nature Preserve.  Hiking was the perfect wrap up for the week.  The forest had lots of fun finds.  Then we ended the week with a performance of Parks’s band at a local spring fling and the Avengers movie.

 

A Perfect Friday

The spring is on its way!  It is not completely here yet, but it is close (I will post on the signs of spring when it does!).  On Friday, we had a perfect spring day.  The weather was perfect for riding in the field.

After riding we headed to the lake to hang out. The neighborhood that the lake house is in is beautiful this time of year.  The azaleas and the dogwoods are blooming.

Then while I was working out, our newest family member arrived!  Meet Bella Puddles.  She is an eight week-old blue healer border collie mix..  We have been watching her and her sibling for the past few weeks.  Parks has fallen in love with her.

 

Charcoal Making

We recently began a 4H group in our area which has opened up some new opportunities for us.  One new opportunity is primitive studies. Charcoal making initiated the series.  One of the fathers of the group taught the class.  Everyone had a can filled with a various type of wood-MDF, plywood, pine, oak, black maple, cedar, cherry and cotton (not a wood, but we did make charcoal with it).  We placed them in the fire and waited…and waited…and waited.  Initially, we only saw the steam come out of the containers.

Next, the wood went through pyrolysis.

Finally, the wood turned into charcoal.

The class was absolutely fascinating.  We saw how tar is a byproduct of burning (and had a lesson on how tar can coat your lungs from a burning cigaret).  We are looking forward to using the coal to smith some iron next!!