Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sparky Award

So proud of Daniel for earning the Sparky Award!  This is his 3rd year as a Spark and he has worked through all of the books and all of the review and extra credit books too.  

He has been very motivated to earn this award!  He has memorized over 150 verses as a Spark!

Way to go Daniel.  I'm proud of you!

More than the awards though, I pray that God's word will always be hidden deep in your heart.  Its a treasure that can never be taken away!


Monday, February 25, 2013

Beyond FIAR Co-op: The Saturdays #2

We had a fun day on our second meeting of The Saturdays.  This is such a fun book!  

We started with a devotion and read this Seuss story.  A fun story in which the lesson is that you must learn to face problems and not run away from them.  

We had a two-part lesson.  The first was on Science Fairs.  We are planning to have a science fair with our group as a part of our study of Neil Armstrong (next book).  This lesson was to help them prepare and be able to work in advance.  (Nothing like some notice so that they will have several months to prepare.)

We discussed the steps of the scientific method.  I read a story to them of a girl working through these steps in doing an experiment and what she learned along the way.  There are lots of great sites with information on science fairs.

Here are free posters on the Scientific Method.

Here is a site with lots of different science fair projects by grade level.

We watched this video on Science Fairs.  How to Prepare for a Science Fair.

Next, we put into practice some of the steps of the scientific method.  We applied these to learning about static electricity.  We first talked about "What is static electricity".  I went over the charges of atoms and what happens when the charge is changed.  For example, why does your hair stand up after you have taken off a knit or wool hat?  When you pull off the hat, electrons (negative charge) move from your hair to your hat.  Now your hairs each have a positive charge.  Things with the same charge repel each other so the hairs try to move away from each other.  The farthest that they can get is to stand up and move away from all the other hairs.

The children were divided into 3 groups and given a baggie with objects in it to conduct an experiment on static electricity.  They were told to come up with a question.  Form a hypothesis on what they thought would happen.  Test the hypothesis.  Analyze the data.  Draw a conclusion and share their findings with the group.

Group 1:  salt, pepper, comb, wool or hair
Group 2:  comb, wool or hair, and tissue paper of different sizes.
Group 3:  2 balloons, aluminum can, wool or hair

Group 1 was trying to magically separate salt from pepper using static electricity.  Read more here.
Group 2 was trying to charge the comb so that it picked up pieces of paper.   More here.
Group 3 found that they could use a charged balloon to move an aluminum can.  This was a fun one!

The next part of our co-op focused on the olfactory system.  They learned about how this works in humans and various animals.

The animal facts were fascinating.  I never cease to be amazed at all that God has done in creation!

Then it was time to put their olfactory system to the test!  They started by selecting some scented wax.

Each student chose a different piece and tried to identify the scent.

Next, each was given a chart with 12 spaces.  They then smelled from 12 different containers.

As they smelled, they were to record what they thought each smell came from.

Some were easy.
Others were quite hard.

And when we finished, it was time to feast.  We chose to have foods that were listed as some of the smells from the streets of New York City.  We had a baked potato bar with lots of toppings, hamburgers also with lots of toppings, doughnuts, brownies and a variety of juices.  Yummy!

A fun and informative day.  I love our time with this group!


Saturday, February 16, 2013


I started this post on Tuesday and then just didn't finish it.  Monday was a day.  Some of it planned and some of it not.  Several of the things though made me realize how I rely on things other than God in recognizing my own worth.  Some lessons you think you learn and then you realize that the layers go deeper and there is still more to pull away.

I love being a Mom.  It has been the most amazing blessing to have and raise children.  I truly could not imagine doing anything that I love more.  The joys.  The discoveries.  The hugs and kisses.  All of it.  It has also been the hardest thing I have ever done too.  From sickness to pain and trials - those that are on the outside and the harder ones that are on the inside.  Being a parent has caused me to recognize my own frailty and my need for God.  It has caused me to fall to my knees so many times as I'm just not strong enough to do this on my own!  (And so glad that I don't have to!)

So, back to Monday.  Not too much going on initially.  I had planned to have a morning at home and then take one of my boys for testing in the afternoon.  Our state requires yearly testing as homeschoolers and I was interested in a test that might help recognize some of the learning struggles he is having.

In the morning, the son going for testing had a cold.  Felt tired.  Said he hadn't slept well the night before.  I checked for a fever.  Nothing really amiss.  Debated going and in the end just decided to push through it.  (That was not my best decision and in hindsight I wish that I had just taken a different son - but no crying over spilt milk.)  On our way there, he declined to eat the food I bought him.   A favorite. I'm not sure if it was nerves or what.  He also mentioned again being tired.

So, he did the testing.  Honestly, having your child tested is not a huge surprise.  You know your child and where they struggle.  Sometimes though maybe it just doesn't seem as bad.

The testing did reveal struggles and strengths.  It was nice that there were both.  She also shared some suggestions of things to try with him.  It is hard though too - seeing the numbers and knowing your child doesn't "measure up" to where they should be in the learning.  That is one of the blessings though of schooling at home.  We can move at the pace of our children and do what is best for them.

When you are teaching your own children, its hard not to see yourself as "successful" or "failing" based on how your children "perform".  I really am not a fan of testing for those reasons.  (I do believe that testing can be good and helpful in some circumstances, but not really necessary for all students.)  It is easy to question if you are doing enough.  Do I spend enough time here?  Are my priorities in line?  Can I do this?

Why do these doubts and whispers of failure come?  Why is it so easy to listen to the accusations?  Where is the truth in what I am hearing?  Whose is the voice that I'm listening to?

Is a child who struggles to learn a mark of a poor teacher?  Or perhaps his struggles would be even greater if he were in a different environment that didn't allow him to learn at his own pace.

Or is it just another reminder that this calling is not promised to be an easy path?  A reminder that I need to rely on God each day for all that I am doing.  A reminder that the One who has called us to this journey will fully equip and strengthen us to accomplish it.  A reminder that I don't have the strength or wisdom to accomplish this on my own.  A reminder that my life, my time and my talents belong to Him.

So you can see where my day was heading.  It wasn't one of those days where I was excited about all that had been done and feeling good about my own performance.  Maybe though, that is really the point.  My focus can sometimes wonder off the goal.  My eyes and heart need to be encouraged to look to God for everything- strength, purpose and joy.

It was nice to have some sweetness in my day come after all of this.  I've been wanting to make Valentines for the grandparents and last night decided that this was it!  I had seen some cute ideas online and decided to try a few of them out.

Thankfully, Eliana was cooperative.  (She isn't always.  LOL)

She loved stamping and painting.  We did hearts first.  (Yes, that is just a bent toilet paper tube.  Pretty clever isn't it?  I found it on Pinterest.)

 Then some painting with fingers.

All super cute.  Everyone joined in the fun.  It was one of those moments that just made my heart happy. It wasn't about me being a "good mom" but more that God was blessing my day and reminding me of so many things.  What I'm doing - though hard at times - is also filled to overflowing with joy.  My children are gifts to be enjoyed and to delight in.  Our days and nights should be filled with laughter and messes and fun.

In the end, I'm called to remember that God loves me and is working in me just as He is working the lives and hearts of my children.

I'm thankful for that too.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

FIAR: All Those Secrets of the World

I don't always (or often) do a great job at taking photos of our weeks with FIAR books.  I'm not really sure why.  This time of year, I really just don't take a lot of photos period.  I think I get wiped out with Christmas and this month is just a slower month.  And it seems to ebb and flow like that every year.  Still not sure why not more pictures.  Anyway, I did have a few from this week that I thought I would share.

We rowed the book All Those Secrets of the World.  Loved this story.  It takes place during WWII when the main character's Daddy goes off to fight in the war.  Its a story of perspective.

One of the lessons has to do with the perspective of things when they are close versus far away.  The "secret" is that things seem smaller when they are far away.  We tried this outside.

In the story, a little boy moves away from the main character until he is no bigger than her fingernail.

We both tested this out.
 Also tried an optical illusion.  I think I need more practice with this one.
 We also talked about the area of the story - Chesapeake and remembering being there this summer.  Of course we made the meal substituting gluten free ingredients to make it safe for our family.

 Clam chowder and crab cakes.  Yummy.  I do love these meals as it gives us an opportunity to try things that we might not otherwise.  I think it encourages children to try new things when they have had a hand in making them too.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Field Trip to the Symphony

What a neat field trip.  I'm not a huge classical music fan.  Not because I don't like it, but I just haven't spent a lot of time with it.  Much of it though is very beautiful.  We went to a special showing geared for school aged children.  This was a perfect tie- in with two of the books that we have been studying - Babar (with Daniel) and The Saturdays (with Joshua and Isaiah).  Love it when it works out like that!

It was a cold and wet day  - perfect for being inside!  We met up with many of our friends (not all in the picture) to enjoy the performance.

We were seated in the upper section.  It was fun to hear the musicians warming up.

 The conductor did a fabulous job!!!  He introduced the various sections and each instrument greeted us with a song or sound.  These introductions were interspersed amongst other musical selections.  A great way to do it, we all thought.

 He did a super job explaining the songs and telling us about what was happening in the music.  I really enjoyed myself.  Made me think that I need to do a better job of incorporating more classical music into our days!
 One little fidgety girl did not like sitting still and listening.  Thankfully she was able to be still and quiet as long as she was able to play on my phone.
We enjoyed lunch out with some friends afterwards.  A delightful day.

One of the other things that we enjoyed during our study of Babar was making the meal.  We've never made the meal before since it includes peanuts.  Since Christopher wasn't home, we decided to try it.  Daniel is really loving all of the cooking with FIAR!  I think I may have another chef on my hands!  I'm hoping so anyway!  Here is one of the items - dessert.

Peanut butter chocolate bars.  Yummy!

We are off to a good start this semester with our schooling.  This is a slower month and a colder month so its a good time to get things done at home.  We are having fun and making memories - my favorite part of homeschooling.

I hope you are learning and enjoying it too!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Beyond FIAR Co-op: The Saturdays 1

Well, my blogging is off to a slow start, but I am being productive at home.  We are on a good pace with our schooling.  I've been working on decluttering closets and bookshelves.  Still lots more work to do, but I'm happy to make progress.  Slow and steady.

We started a new book with the new year.  We are still in volume 3 of Beyond Five in a Row.  The book we are currently studying is The Saturdays!  What a delightfully fun story!  This book has just 8 chapters and so we spend each co-op covering topics in two of the chapters.

For our first meeting we covered a variety of topics including France and composers.  Just look at the neat display board!  (A closer view is coming up.)
We start our mornings with a devotion - something that ties in with one of the lessons or topics in the book.  The lesson this week was on doing our work as unto the Lord.  Always a good reminder to do our best at whatever we are doing because the One we are striving to please is God!

The kids really liked having these little maps when we did some geography.  (And my boys have enjoyed it at home too!)
Here are some of the composers that the children learned about.   Bach.  Tchaikovsky.  Debussy.  They also learned about some artists that were contemporaries of these composers.  We listened to the story "Goldberg Variations" which was the story of a composition that solved a riddle and was really quite fun!  Of course we listened to the music too.

We also listened to, and tried to identify, the animals from Carnival of the Animals.  The book pictured below is a fun illustration of the music.

Our next lessons moved us to France where we learned about various cheeses made in France and "toured a cheese shop" there too.  You have to love having access to so many things via the internet!

An inviting bowl of clay.  Another item mentioned the book that the children enjoy playing with.  Each child got 2 and could choose to make something here or take it home.  My boys decided to take it home and play outside at the end of co-op.  Most of the others did too.  
The book mentions the game of Parcheesi,  It had been a long time since I've played and I had quite forgotten some of the rules.  What a fun game!  I'm  hoping to play it again soon at home with my children.  

Snack time.  Really lunch time.  What a delicious spread of foods!  Of course there were french cheeses  (Brie, Boursin and one more I can't remember the name of) and bread to go along with the lessons.  French roast beef sandwiches with yummy spreads, pickles and crudités.  All of it so good.  Isn't this an amazing snack?!  

 We went home and continued the fun!  The boys played with the clay for hours!  What a delightful pastime for all of them.  Reminds me that I need to go purchase more clay!  This is what they thought the blocks of clay resembled.  LOL  Perfect!

So engrossed in their work!
 They divided up the colors and set to work.  Each creating different things.
 Joshua made vehicles (truck and airplane) and started on an army.
 Can you tell what Daniel made?  Our New York City trip made quite the impression on him!  Statue of Liberty, a helicopter and landing pad as well as the Eiffel Tower.
 Isaiah set up a concert.  Some of the army guys came over.


I love when our learning spills over into other things that we are doing.  You know a lesson was fun when you see it continued during play time!

I'm excited about our fun time with this story and look forward to sharing more about it with you.