Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This year, we got to have 3 Thanksgiving dinners in one week! First, we went to Nana and Pop-pop's for an early one before they went to New York to visit family up there. The kids had a blast when Pop-pop made paper airplanes for them and they got to throwing them from the loft over the living room. :) Sadly, we forgot the camera, so we don't have any pictures. :/

Later in the week, we rode down to Grandma and Grandpa's house to make Thanksgiving dinner for them. On Wednesday, we had a little surprise for the kids. They'd been dying to see Star Wars for a while, but we don't own the movies. (I'm still kind of a purist and have been waiting in vain for the day they release the originals in their old, unedited glory... I may have to give up on that.) However, Grandpa has all 6 movies, so we had a big marathon and watched Episodes 4, 5, and 6 on Wednesday followed by 1 and 2 on Thursday and then 3 on Friday. Of course, they loved them. :) Now they're dying to see Episode 7 when it comes out.

During a break in the movies, the kids did some decorating for the Thanksgiving table.
The kids decorated by making their traditional Thanksgiving chain of what they're thankful for. Then they made turkeys from pears, zucchini and carrots.

 They were very cute. :) One slowly sagged as the sticks pressed further into the pear so it looked like it was pecking the ground.  

We didn't let them watch movies the whole time they were there. We made them take advantage of  the beautiful weather we had while we were there. 
As always, a favorite pastime is to go on the roof of the workshop and throw sticks or whatever off. This time of year is great because there's an abundance of acorns.

 We found a lot of them in various stages of sprouting.
 Some of them had tiny feeder roots coming off the main sprout.

 That didn't stop the boys from throwing them off, though. :) 
 Olivia did her best Pippi Longstocking impersonation, walking the peak of the roof. She recently read the book a few times.
She and Rebecca went with a big homeschooling group  to see a performance of it at UNCG last week.
 On the night of Thanksgiving, we went out to see the  nearly full moon. The kids were surprised by how bright it was. They could even see their shadows like in Owl Moon.

 The next day, the kids really wanted to ride horses, so Grandma took them all out for a turn on the horse.

 While he was waiting for his turn, Ezra did his best Hulk impersonation with the quick-release cross-ties.

 Finally, it was time to go on the horse.

They all had so much fun!

Later that afternoon, we packed up our things and headed out to the Great-Grandparents' house for our third Thanksgiving dinner of the week. The kids headed right out to the backyard where they love to play.

Ezra being the monkey that he is. :)

 Of course, the best part for the kids was going on the zipline. We enhanced it this visit with a swing seat. We also taught the kids to help stop each other near the end so there were less close calls with the brick wall. :)

They just can't get enough of that! I'm sure I'll eventually give in and put one in our yard. :)

Here is Rebecca's G-dad with the kids. They adore him. We spent a couple days the week before Thanksgiving at their house. The little girls like to sit on G-ma's lap (when her pain would allow it) and watch cartoons.

We discovered a Pomegranate bush in the backyard of Rebecca's grandparent's house. Rebecca was super excited about this find! G-ma tells us that it was at her home growing up. Then they transplanted it to this house. Rebecca's dad remembers eating from it as a kid. The pomegranate seeds were much more tart than the ones found in the store but they were delicious! We froze a nice supply of seeds so we can enjoy them for a while. It would be nice to figure out if we could grow a bush for our home from a cutting. :) 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fall Term 2015

This term, the focus was on a very exciting part of history: the time period from just before the American Revolution to just after the War of 1812. We covered both world history and American history.  For American history, we started with what led up to the Revolutionary War; things like the Stamp Act and the Tea Tax. Once the War began, we read several books about the War and the people who fought both on the battlefield and in the government. We read George vs George, Toliver's Secret, A Young Patriot, and Benjamin Franklin. They gave a great deal of insight into all facets of how the War was fought and won. Olivia has also been reading George Washington's World and Amos Fortune. For World history, we covered events like the French Revolution and the rise and fall of Napoleon along with the view of the American Revolution and it's aftermath from the European point-of-view. We read The Story of Napoleon, which was a very interesting account of his entire life, from childhood to exile.

For Science, Olivia has been doing A Nature Walk with Aunt Bessie from Queen's Homeschool. It's been a really interesting adventure with a varied array of topics from:

 spiders (ew!)
 to moles (this is a clay model of a mole's tunnel)
to earthworms
 and sparrows. (a nest we found at Grandma and Grandpa's)

For Math, Olivia finished Book 4 of Math Lessons for a Living Education and changed over to Life of Fred to do Kidney, Liver, and Mineshaft. This time, she is handling the transition pretty well and learning some pretty interesting concepts like dealing with super-large numbers (turning billions and trillions into factors of 10). She doesn't seem to be having difficulty retaining the basics like she did on other occasions when we've switched. 

Gabe finished Book 2 of Math Lessons for a Living Education and so we decided to jump over and have him start Life of Fred - Apples. Both he and Ezra have been doing it together and are really enjoying the story. We have Ezra answer the questions orally while Gabe writes them out for practice. 

In Language Arts, Olivia has continued doing Intermediate Language Lessons. Gabe finished Language Lessons for Little Ones. Both Olivia and Gabe are doing daily copywork to practice their handwriting, Gabe focusing solely on printing while Olivia does both print and cursive. I personally struggle a little bit with being a perfectionist and expecting too much from them, but I am trying to impress upon them just how important good handwriting is, even in a world growing more and more reliant upon electronic communication. On that front, we've also started both of them on typing lessons through Olivia has progressed pretty fast and far in it, though once she hit a major milestone test and it took her 31 tries to finish it within the 50 seconds she was given. The point is that she did eventually get fast enough to pass it. Gabe is moving a little slower, but he still really likes it and I'm sure he will benefit from starting early.

Ezra has been working hard on his Rod and Staff preschool books, having finished Finding the Answers and moving on to Going on Eagerly. The exercises are challenging enough to keep him interested and feel excited about completing them without being so hard that he gives up in frustration. If I had any doubts about him being in the right book, they were dispelled when I accidentally started him on the Hearing and Helping Book, which is more advanced and clearly was too much for him right now. For Ezra's reading, we have been doing some sight word memorization, some word families and reading Bob books. After a frustrating start for him, he seems to be finally getting the hang of it and enjoying it.

Olivia is still voraciously reading books often taking a day or less to read a 100+ page book. Gabe has finally grown comfortable with his reading and does very well reading his Nature Reader every day. We've even found him reading for fun in his room, which is so encouraging after his early struggles with it.

Geography was a continuation and the completion of Joshua Slocum's solo journey around the world. He managed to complete his journey in 3 years, 2 months and 2 days after sailing alone for more than 46,000 miles!

As a family, we've been reading the Ralph Moody series of books together at the table. We've now finished the first two, Little Britches and Man of the Family. We will take a break from the series to read the second All of a Kind Family book, which is about a Jewish family living in New York City in the early 20th century. We loved the first book and the second is just as great!

For our Bible study, Olivia is doing Apologia's Who Am I and really enjoying it. It covers a lot of the "why are we here" questions that she's been having over the past year and does some very interesting compare-and-contrast work with other religions/belief systems. At the table, we're reading chapters  from our weekly Torah portion and doing FFOZ's Children's Torah Club workbooks. They really reinforce what they've heard in each portion and help them, in a fun way, to connect with the lessons God is teaching us through His word.

Outside the regular schoolwork, we'd been doing some nature study things on our own. We looked at mushrooms one day when we had a bunch growing in the yard.

Sadly, we missed a chance to see the spores on the ground because of rain, but they still got to examine a big one up close.
When we went for a walk a few days later, we found a whole line of mushrooms growing over a root.
We also looked at deciduous and evergreen trees. Since it's fall, it's easy to identify the two, so I gave them an assignment: find 3 different kinds of deciduous trees.

They spotted an oak.
and a pine (no, not deciduous, but big and obvious nonetheless)
And then we found maples.  unfortunately, we were too late for the beeches. The leaves were already gone from them.
There are lots of maples in our neighborhood.
 We found Silver Maples, Sugar Maples, and Hard Maples
We brought home leaves to do rubbings.