Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thanksgiving Adventure

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me rave about Scripture Adventure’s Products before. They are a relatively new company to the market (this year), at least to my knowledge, and we’ve enjoyed everything of their’s that we’ve used so far!
Needless to say when I saw that they had a Thanksgiving Adventure I was extremely excited! We did their Easter Adventure this year and had a blast with it, and we’ve all ready stocked up on their Christmas Adventure when it was on sale earlier this year!
The Thanksgiving Adventure is new and was made specifically for the Thanksgiving Season to help families focus on giving thanks. It’s loaded with crafts, stories, recipes, and all out fun! I really can’t wait to start using this with the boys!

For the record, I was not asked to give a review of this product! We simply love their stuff so much we can't help sharing when we find another one on the market that we love so much. Oh, and if you're interested, The Easter & Christmas Adventures are currently on sale!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't Forget..

October 30th (US Time) is your last day to nominate your favorite blogs in the Homeschool Blogging Awards. There's some great blogs out there that would be fun to see in the 2010 HSB Awards Contest so don't forget to nominate them! A blog can't be eligible until they've been nominated something like 5 or 6 times in the same category!

November 1st marks the start of NaNoWriMo! Which means there's going to be some crazy mad typing, planning, and most likely a whole lot of writers block happening here. There's been much excitement as I tick off the days until November 1st, but I can't seem to convince Morgan to join me. Such a shame, because he can weave a great tale! In fact, so can Jayden. Kids can sign up for NaNoWriMo too, but they sign up at the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Website! Honestly, I think the Dare Machine over there is super awesome! I've been tempted to take some of those funny dares a few times.. Either way, Morgan just doesn't feel writing a story is worth it for a paper prize. That's right, I had him hooked until I told him the prize was a paper certificate he could print out.

As a side note, you can actually sign up for NaNoWriMo at any time, but the 50,000 word contest is only open for the month of November. Your start date is based on your location, which means I'm starting on November 1st Australia time which is equivalent to October 31st American time. Have I totally confused you yet?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Camp 2010

This past week(end) we were away on our annual camping trip. Our gang opted to take our tent with us and camp outside. It was all fun and games until first it rained on us leaving a nifty puddle under the tent on our tarp, and then proceeded to frost us in! Good times people, good times! Did I mention that we only took summer sleeping bags with us? Yes, I know it’s only spring, but we’ve never needed more then flannel jammies and spring bags down there before. I suppose we should have noticed the snow on the mountain and taken warmer supplies, but in our defense we didn’t see it until we were halfway there.
There was an overflow of some of the typical winged wildlife this year too. We’ve always had the various swallows & robins, but this year they were plentiful and slightly pesky too. In fact, one afternoon we were sitting at a picnic table with a plate of biscuits playing a game when a silly Welcome Sparrow swooped and paused just long enough to poo on our plate of goodies! I am guilty of shouting after it, “You’re not very welcoming!”  The Scarlet Robins took a huge liking to our car, or rather their reflection in the car windows and mirrors. Man, our is in need of a 
serious washing!

Saturday Mr S and I put together a huge treasure hunt for everyone else. We thought it would be huge fun to set up a big treasure hunt with clues all over camp, so Friday afternoon we took our big picnic blanket outside and worked on rhymes that would lead people from one spot to the next. Then, using our ever cunning stealth mode, we hide the clues all over camp before everyone else arrived. The actual prizes weren’t hidden until just before the first clue was revealed.

The treasure hunt was an extreme hit, and I can’t tell you how much fun we had watching everyone try to figure out the rhymes. We thought they’d blow through them, but each person had their own ideas and so there were many avenues taken in order to try and find the answers. We nearly lost it when two different people were literally under a clue but had absolutely no idea, and gave up on that particular area of search because everyone else was certain they were off the path!

We celebrated our 11th anniversary, and a sweet sister-in-law baked these two amazing cakes and made the truffles! You see with all the family together we have to make things sugar-free (the light cake), chocolate free (the light cake), & gluten free (the truffles). All of it got a huge thumbs up, including the bouquet that a sweet niece made. Personally, I think I should take some flower arranging lessons from her! There was also the funniest rendition of “Happy Anniversary” (sung to the tune of Happy Birthday) that I’ve ever heard in my life, and thus I’m rolling with laughter in each picture they tried to take after the song ended.

We celebrated a birthday as well! Yes, that’s right we share our anniversary with the same date as my sister-in-law’s birthday! That meant another three cakes, and honestly there were no complaints there. Two more chocolate mud cakes and then a yummy lemon strawberry cake (sugar free & chocolate free!) All were given big thumbs up!

Once it was dark out we brought out the sparklers, a birthday tradition in our house and the boys wanted to know if we’d take them to camp with us. We did, but honestly I do not recommend the Reject Shop sparklers! We’ve always gone with Chicken Feed (I know, I’m so cheap!) or Woolies brand(s) and never had issues, but wowser the ones we took this time took forever to light! 

Once the sparklers ran out we pulled out glow sticks. These are also a birthday tradition in our home and the boys asked if we could take some of these as well, and we decided it would be super fun in the dark at camp! Lots of fun with these, including a few games of night tag. 

Our evening ended with a beautiful bonfire which was both fun and warming! There was much temptation in the middle of the night to pick the tent up and move it closer, it probably would have kept the frost off too! No one remembered to bring marshmallows though, and there was a few grumbles around the campfire for it. 

Before packing up to head home again we went for our annual walk in the bush. Waterfalls, leeches, and Black Cockatoos were all spotted on the walk. There was also a lot of giggles, pictures, and insanity when it was discovered that I had not been joking about joining them on our walk in 4 layers of clothing, one of which included pink snowman jammies. What can I say, I was cold!

We came home tired but happy. The boys are all ready making plans for next year. Some of which includes, but is not limited to wombats, chocolate, marshmallows, bigger treasure hunts. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Journal

Last year we shared our 30 Days of Thanks & Giving, and I'm still undecided if I will come up with 30 new crafts for my guys or not. For one thing, we haven't completely settled on our Thanksgiving school plans yet, but we're leaning towards the Homeschool In The Woods History Travellers Colonial Life. We love HSITW and they keep us really busy. However, we did have a whole lot of fun with our crafts last year so we'll see what unfolds for us this year!

However, what I wanted to share is that the A 30 Day Thanksgiving Journal I mentioned in our 30 Days of Thanks & Giving is currently on special at Currclick! It's a few dollars off it's normal price. We really love this little journal which has a verse a day for copywork and a place for each child to write down something they are thankful for. The best part is it's an ebook so you can run off as many copies as you need for your family!

I also spotted this Thanksgiving Lapbook & Information Sheets for a mere $1.00. I'm not so sure about it as a Lapbook, but it has the most amazing coloring-in pictures that my boys will go ga-ga for. They are in a big coloring in stage and Jayden still hasn't stopped discussing Squanto with us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Proof

Yes, I know it's blurry, but that's what happens when you run across a room snapping photos. You'll notice the chicken wire in the photo, that's on the top of the stairs. We were in the doorway attempting to run after the Tassie Devil for a better photo, thus the blur.

My kids are still way over this event, despite the hysterics of the night it happened. In fact, this evening I told them that I'd seen a wallaby on my morning walk, and, I added, "It scared the beejeepers out of me too!" Morgan rolled with laughter, Jayden only wanted to know if I'd spotted a wombat too. The child is so hooked on wombats right now he's asking for a "real live one for my birthday." We've all ready nixed that, but he's holding out hope.

I'm not sure why this is the only foot print photo we have, but it is. The back prints are kinda cute to be honest and a lot more dainty. Weird, but true!  The smudge in the background is where I cleaned up some of the "wet" that was left behind after it parted ways. Did you know that Tassie Devils can emit an odor similar to that of a skunk when they are in distress? This fellow did not stink, which simply proves he was most likely sitting under that bench snickering at the same slides we were!

Did you also know that a female Tassie Devil can give birth to 40-60 babies (imps) at a time? It's true, but only 4 survive because she only has 4 teats in her pouch. Imps are born and race to be the first to the teats, the first four win and the rest don't survive at all! Talk about rough, especially when you're roughly the size of a grain of rice!

Which led us to discuss the fact that if they could get a few non-pregnant Tassie Devil females to lactate they could easily up the devil population in a very short time. While this might sound incredibly insane, and most likely is, we found ourselves discussing it due to the ravaging DFTD.

We knew that Tassie Devils have very little hair on their cute little pink ears, but we happened to learn that you can watch their ears for signs of excitement or distress. Apparently when distressed or excited they had excess blood flowing to their ears and it turns them red. Which made us think of blushing right up to your ears! Our visitor had normal pink ears, yet another sign that he was completely delighted with our entertainment for the evening..

Which made us wonder exactly which slide he liked the best, and my guess is the one with the big tree in it where everyone crowded around hunting for the kola that was supposedly hiding in it. Jury's still out as to which lump in the tree was Mr Kola, but I'm beginning to think I wasn't the only one trying to hide a few snickers and snorts when that when popped up..

Interested in learning a few fun facts about the Tasmanian icon? Check out this fantastic website, which is all I can offer you because I'm afraid I'm just not willing to lend out my field guide! (Second one down; fantastic book!) 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Close Encounters

We, here at the Aussie Pumpkin Patch, have been away camping for the past 5 glorious days. Okay, so maybe not entirely glorious when you wake up and your tent is covered with frost so thick you hear your husband whacking at it to unzip the doorway so you can all make a mad dash for the toilets, but we did have an immense amount of fun! So much so, that Jayden uttered his normal, "Please, no! Can we stay one more day? Can we just live here forever and ever?" He's such an outdoor fun loving person.

So let me rewind to night number 2. Mr S and I decided to cook some meatballs up on the outside electric grill/bbq. Nana was left inside cooking up some pasta to go with it. Yes, we had access to a kitchen (of sorts) and we took advantage of them. Each of us was busy about our tasks while the boys were in the Common Room doorway asking what they should do. We had the outside doors wide open, which is pretty normal when we're camping, and the dog came running in when he stopped dead and started growling while the fur on his back went straight up.

This sent chills up my back to be honest because our dog barely barks much less growls! He will bark when playing but that's about it. We've had relatives come all the way in our home before without the dog so much as uttering one tiny woof! I walked all the way through the Common Room and out the front door and looked around. I honestly figured the possum Buster had been chasing might be making a sneak attack for the tin of biscuits we had in the kitchen. I was wrong. There was nothing there. I walked out the door, down the steps and peered up and down the dirt paths. Nothing.

Mr S looked out the other doorway at the other end and saw nothing either. The children had seen nothing abnormal in the room while debating which game to play and so we figured the dog spooked himself. Only, his "self spooking" caused him to run out the door and sit there glaring. He refused to enter the building again. Worse yet, he was being very cautious of letting people out of his sight.

Mr S and I dealt with the meatballs and I dashed back and forth between the outdoor and indoor cooking areas to assist where needed and keep an eye on the boys. The dog wasn't happy with any of this and finally took a stand in the middle of walk way that I was traveling. I moved around him and we carried on.

We ate our tea and discussed the fun we were going to have watching all the slides Nana had been sorting through over the past two afternoons. I had the boys so psyched up for this event the only thing that could have disappointed them was the power going out! We cleaned up from tea and then while Mr S set up the project I rearranged the common room sliding a few chairs here and there.

We sat down and I noticed the dog was still firmly refusing to come inside, but after an hour or two of looking at some pretty cute and funny slides I heard him whimper outside. I suggested we have a bedtime snack and I opened the door to let the dog in. He pushed his way into the doorway and his hackles went straight up again! This was too weird for us to ignore any longer and while I looked up, still expecting a possum, Mr S had the sense to look down and follow the dog's view.

Hiding under the bench I had grabbed, but decided not to move, was the biggest Tassie Devil we've ever seen. I mean seriously big. Buster big. It was just sitting there watching us. I suspect he was probably giggling as half the slides, or probably more of the reactions we had to those slides! Mr S doesn't want to cause full fledged panic and says very calmly, "Kendra, there's a devil in there." I turn around and stepped up on a chair to peer through the doorway, and sure enough there he was with a bit of apple hanging out of his mouth.

Very calmly I say, "Boys, on the table now. Right here where I can reach you." they clambered up looking utterly confused. Mr S darted around the building to open the far door and I grabbed a broom before saying, "Nana, you need to move backwards and climb up on the bench behind you." Nana says, "What's going on?"

I say that Mr S has spotted a Tassie Devil and we need to get it out. Nana peers out the window, her feet inches away from the curious wildlife and says, "How on earth can he see it out there?" It was now dark out, and she had a good point, but I was more concerned she was going to step on the devil's tail!

At this point the boys looked down and they can now see it. Morgan screams and Morgan's scream so terrified Jayden he starts to cry. All of which Mr S and I promptly ignore. Such cruelty, I know, but we were more intent on getting the wildlife out before our dog went totally psycho! Tassie Devils have an incredibly strong jaw and if it came down to a face off, chances are our dog would come home with some broken bones.

On top of that, I was equally curious to note if the devil, currently sitting in our common room having himself a wonderful smirk at the commotion, was suffering from the ever fatal tumor disease that is currently wreaking havoc on the poor creatures. This fellow has a perfect little snout, minus a few scars from skirmishes, most likely with his own kind.

Unfortunately, my findings did nothing to calm my freaked out kids, my nervous mother-in-law and my, now agape, husband. He was somewhere between confusion and shock as to why his wife was holding a giant push broom and staring at a Tasmanian Devil's face. I will admit that before I continued to push the devil out of the room I dragged my kids through the half wall into the kitchen and assured them it would not attack them unless they tried to take the apple from it's mouth.

I then suggested they stand with the dog because he was clearly not willing to help us chase the wildlife out of the building! Mr S, however, was. He and I managed to get the silly beast to crawl back out from under the bench where, I kid you not, that devil proceeded to pick up another slice of apple, sniff Nana's embroidery, check out a toy the boys had left on the floor and then ever so slowly walk out the door. There was absolutely no speed about him until the moment we grabbed the camera and took off after him!

As soon as Mr S was out the door with the camera the naughty little devil (no pun intended) took to the woods like there was no tomorrow! We returned to the kitchen to reward the dog with leftover meatballs for guarding the kids; rewarded the kids with pieces of chocolate slice for not panicking and for heading my warning immediately; and to discuss in complete awe and amazement the incredible sight we'd just witnessed!

Then, because it's just how we do things around here, I proceeded to pull out the Aussie Mammals guide books that is well dog eared and read to the boys about Tassie Devils. They were delighted to get down on the floor and note that his footprints (picture coming) were as distinctive as the book described.

Jayden then informed us he did not really cry, it was just that he felt so frightened his teeth shook and when he tried to make them stop his eyes started popping out water!  (I seriously nearly had my eyeballs popping out water over this description!) He then begged us to leave the door open so he could catch a wombat. His request was denied, much to his utter disappointment.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

11 Years Later..

Eleven years ago today, on what was dubbed the coldest day of the year, we said, "I do." Today, still madly in love, I just wanted to say Happy Anniversary Pumpkin Pie! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Humphrey, Humphrey, Humphrey!

Have you read the funny, funny, funny Humphrey books? If not, you’re really missing out! The boys gain audio book tokens each time they read the equivalent of 10 books around here. We keep track with a reading caterpillar pinned up in the dinning room. 
The boys both met their first 10 book goal a few weeks (or more) ago since we started the Audio Book prize and Morgan cashed in for the first 3 Humphrey books which were sold as a set through Oh my goodness! Humphrey is the funniest hamster in the whole wide world!
The stories are all written from the perspective of a hamster who happens to be the class pet in room 26 in an Longfellow Elementary. He quickly gets to know all his classmates and manages to help many of them overcome some pretty big hurdles in their lives. For instance, he helps Speak-Up-Seyeh not be afraid to speak up, and he helps Lower-Your-Voice-Aj learn to talk a tad quieter. He even helps The Most Important Person in the whole school (aka the principle)! Humphrey might be small and semi contained, thanks to the lock that doesn’t really lock, but he sure knows how to Squeak Up when the time is right! 
The boys tend to pop on a Humphrey story when they are doing the dishes thanks to the ipod dock being in the kitchen! Humphrey keeps us all laughing, laughing, laughing and I’m pretty sure we’ve all tried at least 1 Humphrey impersonation around here! I’m even considering buying the collection copy of the books for Morgan for Christmas, and a plush golden hamster to go with it! He'd go crazy for it.

While we have enjoyed the audio version of Humphrey (and will continue to) I will admit that at first the voice of Humphrey was kinda squeaky and it caught me off guard, but it quickly grew on me! We can’t wait to see what happens to Humphrey next and I’m pretty sure if I don’t upload the next book there will be mutiny in the kitchen when I ask the boys to attend to their daily dishes tasks!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wooden Nativity

Have I mentioned before that I enjoy collecting nativities? I do. I'm not one to collect much of anything, but I really enjoy collecting different nativities. We own quite a few, some here some in the US still. We have one that seems to stay out year round on the top of my microwave.

Despite all the various nativities we've owned we've never really owned one that was 100% child proof. When Morgan was all most 2 we had a glass nativity that he was quite gentle with, but after each "character" disappeared one by one over a weeks time I began to wonder what was going on. I found them all tucked neatly in his bed. Over the month (or more) that we had it out a few lost hands or other tiny bits and pieces.

That same nativity is still tucked away somewhere. The year before last we picked up another new glass nativity that was a tad whimsical. It survived one week before poor Mary was split in half and required a bit of glue and tape to repair. There was something about her scaling a mountain and toppling off when she had her poor accident.

So last year when our local Christian book store had this particular wooden one on display I made note to the family that next year (which is this year) we'd purchase that one to add to our collection! A month or so ago I was in the shop and asked about them because they had none on display. The lady working told me that they would be ordering them and put my name down on the list so they'd hold one for me, and last week she called to say it was in!

We picked it up last Friday and brought it home. Jayden was over joyed to spot the UK flag on it and couldn't contain his own excitement as he announced to everyone that it was made in England! In his excitement he asked if we could open it up as soon as we got home or did we have to wait until Christmas, and when I said we'd open it up as soon as we got home he nearly leapt out of his chair in the car as he loudly announced, "AWESOME! Morgan, let's get Mary out first, she can be the bad guy!" Morgan was less then impressed, "Jayden, Mary can not be the bad guy. First off she's Jesus' mom, and she's a girl!"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wildcraft Herbal Game

Remember when I posted about the Wildcraft Game a few months ago? Shortly after posting about it the company sent me an email to notify me that they had found an entire palate of the games and a person could purchase one by invite only. If it hadn't been for the whole "invite only" I would have shared the news!

The day it arrived the boys and I had a blast playing it while eating lunch, only the game took us quite a while to play and took up most of the afternoon!

This is a cooperative game, which means everyone wins or everyone loses. This appealed to my guys despite their considerably aggressive need to be competitive. There's a little story that goes with this game that you're suppose to read out before you play, and then periodically you read more of it through the game if you want. The basic idea is that Grandma has sent you up the mountain to collect  pails of huckleberries. On the way up the mountain you collect trouble cards (the spots on the board marked with an x), rainbow cards (clearly marked with a rainbow), and of course herb cards (marked with a plant). There are also a few shortcuts and then there's the moon spaces you can see. The idea is to get up the mountain and back before the sun sets. Each time you land on a moon space you use a black token to cover another bit of the rising/setting sun at the top of the board. There were many squeals around the table when these spaces were landed on!

Here's the trouble cards and the herbal cards. Each one has a different trouble pictures on it when you flip it over. Anything from ear aches and hunger to tummy trouble and rashes! The herbal cards are used to combat the trouble cards with, but you have to be able to match them up in order to use them. The spinner is used in place of a dice, and I have to say there was much glee over how well that little spinner actually worked!

Each Trouble card has a small picture of an herb that can help heal the trouble. Some herbs can be used to cure more then one thing, but you can only chose to use your herb cards on one trouble card at a time. The best part is, that you can use your herb cards to help a friend who's in trouble. The boys had a lot of fun planning how and when to help each other around the board, this was so much better then the normal, "I'm gonna win!" that we often hear.  The small (slightly blurry) card in the front of the picture is the backside of a rainbow card. You can use it one of two ways: 1 you can use it straight away to help the player farthest behind to catch up. 2 you use to give another player an herbal card to cure their "trouble".

The game is over when you all collect your huckleberries and return to Grandma's house. It's lost if you can't accomplish this before the sun sets! So far we've yet to lose the game, much to the enjoyment of the boys! We really had a lot of fun playing this game, but I will admit it took longer then I anticipated to play; not that we minded.

Notes: I was not asked to review this game, we just had so much fun with it we thought we'd share! Wildcraft now appears to be back in stock and for a limited time they are offering free shipping to US residents. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Trophy

Morgan's been playing soccer since he was three years old. At the end of each and every season he is given either a trophy and/or a medal. This is a very well cherished moment for him and he loves these keepsake tokens.

Jayden, on the other hand, has never played a season of soccer. Despite his love for sports he just doesn't do soccer. He's also never officially signed up to play any other sport as we vetoed Footy for him last year due to all games being played on Sunday mornings. This was another sore spot for him.

Needless to say Jayden was trophy"less" and medal"less" and he asked quite often if there would ever be something he could do in order to earn one. While we assured him that someday he'd probably earn one, that didn't do much for his need now.

That is, until the day he spotted a golfing trophy in a local second had shop. He stood there wide eyed and pointing at it before he finally said, "Do you think I could have that? You know, I am really good at golf, and last time I hit the ball so hard we still haven't even found it!"

For $1.50 he now has his very own special trophy, and if that wasn't enough to wow him sitting on the counter was a sports medal and when the man went to ring up the trophy he simply gave the medal to Jayden as well. Jayden is convinced it's because the man knows how hard he practices cricket, footy, and bouncing on the trampoline.  Both items are now displayed quite proudly on his bookcase, right next to the this years soccer trophy and medals.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Homeschool Blogging Awards

It's that time of year again, where you can nominate your favorite homeschool bloggers for the upcoming 2010 Homeschool Blog Awards. There are 20 different categories, and 16 days to nominate your favorite blogs. The nominations are now open, so pop on over and nominate your favorite homeschool bloggers!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

School Plans: The Bee Tree

Earlier this year our Home Ed group went for a field trip to the local Honey Farm. We signed up to go and, despite a terribly wet and cold morning, trekked the 30 minutes out to the farm. It wasn’t until we arrived and there was only one other family in site that I knew something was wrong. As it turned out, I’d marked the calendar wrong and we were an entire week late.
Our Home Ed group is making another trip out there this month, and we signed up straight away! We told the group we’d be camping out that way so if we didn’t show up not to panic, but we really hoped we’d make it. This week as I’ve been bustling around to get the last of things ready for our upcoming camping trip I was checking on the time of our trip to the Honey Farm, only to realize it was the week after we get back from camping.
Seriously. How on earth does one show up a week late and then come very close to showing up a week early?! The only other time that has ever happened was when I was pregnant with Morgan. I showed up an entire week early for a prenatal appointment. The nurse was impressed and said, “Wow, Kendra I don’t think we’ve ever had someone quite this timely before.” I was taken aback until she said, “You’re an entire week early!” Now that you’re done laughing... 

We’ve been saving the book The Bee Tree by Patricia Polocca to row until our visit to the Honey Farm. We knew quite early in the year that this trip was happening, but not exactly when. As soon as it popped up on the field trip calendar I pulled the book off the shelf, and grabbed a few bee books from the library. The Bee Tree is a sweet story about a little girl and her grandpa going off on an adventure, and they discover something even sweeter then honey!

As soon as I knew the home ed group was going to the Honey Farm again I made up a lapbook for this sweet story knowing that we’d be rowing it before we went. The lapbook includes many things from the manual, but I also snagged some of the freebie minit books from Homeschool Share.

We also wanted to spend lots of time learning about honey bees, after all we do consume a lot of honey! So, I also snagged all most all the little booklets for the free Honey Bee lapbook over at Homeschool Share too. I absolutely love the amount of information included in that lapbook! We’ve also been squirreling away lots of other bee stuff so we’re also using bits and pieces from The Notebooking Nook's Honey Bee mini books, Bee Unit Study & Activity Book, & Honey Bee Mini Lapbook

I absolutely love the Alphabet State books. The pictures are amazing and they are loaded with information! However, our little library system doesn’t happen to have this series of books. (All though they do have some of the country ones in this series!) While we’re still working on obtaining the collection M is for Mitten is one we don’t own. So, instead, I picked up the Michigan Lapbook for a dollar from Currclick, and I think I might have gotten it during a sale so it was a bit less. It has just enough little booklets and information in it that the boys were satisfied with what they’d learned. Needless to say, our lapbook is extremely large this week!

We’ll also be reading some of the following books:
Aside from all that fun stuff we’re also hoping to make some salt dough nuggets which we’ll paint yellow or gold. We might hide them around the house or bury them outside for the kids to find. I think our math journals this week will contain some of the fun math questions put together for this story over at Homeschool Share (can you tell we love this site? You should really check it out if you haven't!) as well as some Hexagon work.

Mr S also bought us a pack of BeesWax Candle Kit last time we were out at the Honey Farm. So I'm sure we'll have fun with those too! He also picked the boys up each a little booklet full of games and things called Polly's Honey Adventure Booklet (these are 'free' with a tour of the farm, but a tour requires a group; you also get a scoop of their delicious ice cream which is sweetened 100% with honey.) For a bit of extra gold fun we picked up an authentic (don't ask me how it can authentic) fool's gold kit

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Crazy Family

While visiting a Second Hand store last week Morgan found this insanely funny blow-up lolly. Mr S grabbed it up and pretended to be eating it, which inspired everyone else to give it a go. Check out my eyes, clearly I'm experiencing a sugar rush! I'm pretty sure Jayden's eyes indicate the same thing happening there. Morgans favorite part? When he whacks people with it, that crazy lolly lets out a great little squeak!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun At The Park

A week or so ago we accompanied Mr S on a business meeting, and by accompany I mean we dropped him off and went to hang out at a local park. The boys had a blast playing on this train and the rest of the play equipment that's not in the picture.

The covered area in the background is the "train station" where some of us were ordered to wait until the train arrived. I'm pretty sure I should have asked for a refund because by the time the train got to me the Engineer was worn out and decided it was time to take a boating trip.

Looks like the captain of this ship could certainly use some driving lessons! It appears that all his passengers jumped ship out of terror, or is that laughter?

Jayden and his Carrot decided to show us what the Statue of Liberty would like if it just so happened to be along the coast of Tasmania. Don't you think it's a good resemblance?

He's also pretty good at changing faces and emotions pretty quickly "just for fun". 

Don't you just love that toothless grin? If he's lucky he might have a few teeth by Christmas!

Then there's the whole macho look too.. All in a day's work.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Garden Visitor

Check out the bandicoot hiding out in the garden. He's only a bitty one, but incredibly brave and noisy! The other day the boys were outside playing up under the same tree they attempted to skateboard under.

There was another Revolutionary War Battle happening up there with bows and arrows and much stomping when all of a sudden the bandicoot scared them and they came running inside.

Jayden said he was going to chase it and try to shoot it with his suction cup bow and arrow to see if he could catch it to hold. However, Morgan running away screaming caused Jayden to think it might be an alligator roaming the property instead of a bandicoot?!

Yesterday, Morgan was sitting at the dinning room table reading Nate The Great to us. He's mid sentence when I jump up and say, "Check it out guys, there's the mysterious beast who scared you!" By the time I'd gotten the camera Mr Bandicoot had hopped across (yes they hop/bounce) across the small dirt patch towards the grassier area looking for seeds and bugs. Apparently he didn't get the nocturnal memo.

I managed to open the sliding door on the deck and stand there for ages without it effecting this silly fellow. It wasn't until I actually stepped out onto the deck that he bounced away. That didn't last for long, he quickly came back out and made his way across the exact same path again eventually hiding in the longer foliage (which is a nicer word for really messy part of the garden!)

He then bounded up and away under the fence. We had fun watching him for a few minutes before returning to our story. We were not only surprised to see him out and about in the middle of that afternoon, but equally surprised that Buster could have cared less about it. Now you might understand why I'm still convinced he's been in cahoots with the mice around here..

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Math Planning

There's been a bit of math planning happening around here as I rounded up games and fun for the week. I also decided that I needed a better way to keep track of things that I was planning so I whipped up a new math planning sheet.

The longest part of making it was waiting on the dreadfully slow windows machine to "do it's thing". I must say, I really am spoiled with my ever so snappy Mac and I've become less patient when attempting to deal with Windows based pcs, but I digress..

I really hope I haven't given you the wrong impression with the picture above, but my kitchen table rarely looks like that when I'm planning. In fact, I've been known to spread out to much that I had the table and the floor in use and had to chase kids and a dog out much to everyone's annoyance. All though, the dog is still convinced I was playing some kind of weird game and eyes me suspiciously anytime I pick up a stack of books now.

This is more what the table looks like about 5 minutes into things. Then I use my little paper to jot down books and resources I need, make notes of what games we'll play based on what topics, and the back is lined for notes. So what's on my table:

A collection Of Math Lessons: we now own 2 of the different levels of this book, and I must admit that I feel a warm sense of appreciation for the open honesty in which Ms. Burns writes her books. She shows exact work from the children complete with miss spellings! She shares funny stories that make me aware that my children aren't the only ones who can go askew in a math lesson over raisins (or Indians.)

Math And Literature: Ms Burns writes this book as well, there happens to be a few more in the series, but I don't know that I'll bother to obtain them. They are just simple and basic ideas for math lessons based on favorite books. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the books, but it wasn't quite what I'd expected.

Scholastic's Meeting Math Standards With Favorite Picture Books: I love this one. We tend to pick a book from here to kick start any new math topic we jump into. It's currently open to 2x2=Boo, which has some fantastic lessons to go with it. This is the same book we used when learning about estimation.

Scholastic's Math Games For Addition & Subtraction: The book fell open to a fun game board and I was trying to sort out the instructions for it. We've played quite a few of the games in this book, and one of the boys favorites happens to be Gorilla Coconuts.

Box Cars & One Eyed Jacks Game Books: These are our standard go-to books for math games. We never tire of the games in here! In fact, the games are often such a hit that the boy request them when I suggest we play a game on Saturday's. The only came we've ever gotten complaints about was Bank-It, but it turned out one of our younger players just wanted to eat the contents of the bank!

Math On The Level's Measurement Book: Yes, we happen to own the curriculum Math On The Level. (A fellow Aussie homeschooler purchased it and decided, after a few months, that she wasn't going to be using it, and now we own it.) I'm not particularly blown away by the curriculum. While I respect the fact that it is meant to cover K-8 or so,  I still think it's over priced for what you get.  My opinion is probably very biased as we've been "free flying" with math for over a year now.  So why, you might ask, is it sitting on my kitchen table?  I wanted to verify that I'd taught my child the correct solution for solving a math problem. I was quite pleased to see that I had!

I had to share this picture with you! This comes from one of my A Collection Of Math Lesson Books. They were doing a lesson where the teacher presented them with raisins for manipulatives. Only, one child dropped a raisin and he bent down to find it, which caused other children to help find it. She eventually regained control of her class, but during the "split these raisins evenly in your group" time a couple of groups who had 1 extra raisin felt the need to give it to the student who'd dropped his! If you look closely at the spread of my kitchen table above you'll notice this was the very page I was open to. After reading the "story" I couldn't stop laughing!

Here's a close-up of my newest  Math Planning page. The column on the left is for writing down the books I want to use with the boys and there's a spot to tick if I  O[wn] it, $ [buy] it, or B[orrow] it. The column on the right is for marking down the games I want to play, what book they are in, and the page it's on. Makes locating them so much quicker! I also made an "Other Resources" area for those extra printables, websites, and teacher's idea books that I have on hand. The back is lined for more specific note taking on what I plan to do. You can download your own copy here if you're interested.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Workboxes Revisted

When we rearranged our house this past summer we forwent our schoolroom because we found ourselves meeting at the kitchen table more times then not anyway. Thus, the schoolroom became the office/craft room again.

We've enjoyed the change, but have sorely missed our original workboxes. When we moved into the dinning area there just wasn't room for two metal shelves and all the boxes we kept on them. We did try it for a while, but they kept getting knocked around and that meant school papers, books, and whatnot scattered everywhere.

In the end I picked up a couple of baskets that we've used as our workboxes ever since. While they are awesome baskets and fit perfectly in their place and match the file box oh so nicely, they just weren't handling the job of workboxes very well at all.

A week or two ago I was at one of the local hardware stores picking up some supplies when I spotted 4 drawer carts. I knew they'd be perfect for workboxes in a small area because they went up instead of out, not to mention they were compact and would take up significantly less room. After much debating I returned to the hardware store this weekend and picked up a set of the drawers (and again today to pick up a second set.)

Both boxes fit snuggly in our dinning area and because they are on wheels the kids can easily move them to the table if they need to; all though I prefer that they don't. Because we only have four drawers to work with and we use to consistently use six workboxes we've revamped them a bit. Notice the four pieces of velcro on the exterior of each drawer?  They match the boys schedule strips.

Each strip is numbered as Box 1 - Box 4. Jayden's are a tad nicer because I had the foresight to type on his strips in an editing program before printing them out. Each strip contains 4 things to do. When they do the task they simply remove the dot from their schedule strip and put it on the front of the drawer to indicate that it's done. They are tickled pink there's some form of a break on each strip, you should have heard them informing the Principle on this one. It was highly amusing.

This is what it looks like when they mark them off as they go along. And no, we don't really do circle time, but it's what we've dubbed our morning time around the table where we read our daily page from Cheerio's Book Of Days & do our Memory Box.

Did you spot the hooks in the other photos? There's a white hook on the side of each boys workbox drawers! That's where we hang their schedule strips. In the past we didn't honestly use the schedule strips, but with the drawers this is quite essential. Plus, I'm honestly trying to encourage Morgan to do a bit of his stuff independently. There's not a whole lot he can do on his own as we tend to school together, but we have some upcoming school plans (a year or two) where I'd like to see him doing some independent stuff and I'm slowly setting the stage for that.

This is the inside of Jayden's 1st drawer. You can see his Bible Timeline with some funny and cute pictures on top there. Underneath that is his copywork book and he has the Memory Box in his drawer for tomorrow. Yes, I snapped photos after I had the drawers ready to go for the next day. I do not slip snacks in the drawers as our morning snack is often fresh fruit and yogurt if we need/have one. I'm not exactly into ants in workboxes!

You probably noticed Jayden's strips and tags are all bigger then Morgan's.. Jayden had a wicked cold this weekend and I concentrated on getting Morgan's boxes set up for Monday. When I printed out Morgan's tags and strips I wanted to be able to use my 1-inch scrapbook punch to I wouldn't have to cut out all the tedious circles. Only, even after reducing them to 75% they were just a smidge too big for my 1-inch punch! Which meant I got stuck cutting them out by hand.

When I made Jayden's, I decided to go get a bigger punch. So Jayden's are cut out with a 1 3/4-inch punch. It all worked out in the end, and both boys are happy with what they have. I, however, am sorely tempted to remake Morgan's! If it weren't for the waste of velcro I'd probably have all ready done it too. For now, we'll wait and see if his wear our any time soon or not.

I use a combination of tags and edited some of them in a viewing/editing program I had on my Mac. I used one of the blank circles to write Unit Study on, cropped here and there in order to get what I needed. You can find the tags at the following places: 
  • Mamma Jenn has the tags (and more) seen in the first picture. In fact, I used her number tags as well as many of her workbox tags. I especially love the Dad tags!  
  • Spell Out Loud has the middle tags (and more) and I really loved most of their tags, all though I didn't use all of them. I was grateful for all the different times on the break tags there. 
  • Keeping Up With The Johnson's has the final set of tags. I liked that she had them by subject, and found her's before I'd spotted Mamma Jen's
After two days of school with our workboxes back in action Morgan said, "Man I really love it when we use workboxes! I know where everything is and what to do. It takes so much less time!" About five minutes later he was looking for the glue which he'd accidentally kicked under the recliner in the lounge. There's irony for you folks!