2017-18 School Year–Week Twenty-One

I think last week just might be one of the busiest school weeks we’ve ever had! Because it was so crazy, I’m just going to hit the highlights…and there were a lot of them!

On Monday, we had our 100th Day of School (Observed). We technically hit the milestone a few weeks ago, but as far as our “Doodlebug Countdown” was concerned, Monday was the day. I always try to make an extra big deal of the 100th Day when we have a kindergartener, so I assembled 100 of various objects from around the house…Lego bricks, safety pins, m&ms, cotton balls, popcorn kernels, crayons, pennies, and flashcards, all so Chickadee could see that 100 of different things can look (and feel) very different! She even counted to 100 all by herself…twice! To continue our 100th Day celebration, we also took a trip to the Missouri Botanical Garden, where we visited the Orchid Show, and took a walk around the Chinese Garden in anticipation of the Lunar New Year:

Wednesday was also a busy day, as it was both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. We were busy at church with acolyting and altar guild, but we found time for a Valentine’s Day craft, as well…”Valenswines!”

And on Friday, we continued our celebration of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and added in a Lunar New Celebration, as well. This gave us an opportunity to learn not only how the holiday is celebrated in South Korea, but several other Asian countries, as well. We had two more fun craft projects to add the shield kites we made last week…fans and lanterns:

An another fun dinner, where we tried foods from several Asian countries:

We’ve also kept up with our Olympics medal chart all week:

Don’t be fooled…we did all of our regular school work, too. But that’s not nearly as fun to write about when we’ve had such an exciting week!

2017-18 School Year–Week Twenty

While this was a normal school week for us, I have to admit that we spent most of the week looking forward to the start of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and our first experience with Korean food. We did manage to work that into school, though, so at least we kept busy while we waited!

In addition to learning a bit about the history of Korea, and some of the current challenges that peninsula faces, I also came up with a reading list to help us learn about Korea. We especially enjoyed reading some Korean folk tales this week…you can learn a lot about a country by seeing how they tried to explain things! We also made shield kites, after learning about what an anticipated event kite-flying is in Korea, especially for the Lunar New Year, which occurs next week. They’re not exactly sky-worthy, but they look really cool. And we identified all of the different cities who have hosted the Winter Olympics since they began in 1924. Trying to label that many European cities on a fairly small map was quite a challenge!

We did all of our regular schoolwork, too, but nothing was particularly notable. Next week, though, we’re celebrating our “official” 100th day of school!

What We’re Reading–All About South Korea

Some of the books we’ll be using to learn about South Korea during this year’s Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang have already been covered in our “Learning About Asia” book list. I looked for some new titles (many by Linda Sue Park, who is of Korean heritage), with good reviews though, (to be honest, however, we don’t have them all at home, and I don’t know yet if we’ll be able to get them from the library), and also found a new cookbook, so we’ll be trying some Korean cuisine, as well!

2017-18 School Year–Week Nineteen

I can’t believe we’ve made it to February! Historically, this is my least favorite month of the year, because everything is so blah. Christmas seems like an eternity ago, but the end of the school year is still pretty far away. The weather is usually not the best. And there aren’t any special days (unless you’re into Valentine’s Day…I’m not) to break up the monotony. This year is different, though, because it’s a Winter Olympics year! So February isn’t looking too bad, even if our calendar is a little on the crazy side!

It’s been so nice to have a relatively normal week after all the crazy we’ve had since before Christmas. I say “relatively” because yesterday my students had a proposal for me. They said they’d do double lessons in all of their subjects if I would let them have today off. I couldn’t think of a good reason to say “no” to that, so we ended up with a four-day week that contained five days worth of work!

We’ve been studying a lot of interesting things this week. My four students are all over the place in their religion lessons. Turkey and Bunny have been learning about Joshua leading the Israelites. Ladybug is a little farther into the Old Testament, and got to read one of my favorite stories: Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Chickadee is even farther ahead of her siblings, and has started the New Testament, with stories about the Annunciation and the birth of John the Baptist.

Ladybug has been working with fractions and common factors in math. She kind of remembers learning about those topics before, but kind of not, so it’s almost like it’s new to her. Turkey and Bunny have been working with radicals, and they can’t remember why they used to think that was a difficult topic! Chickadee has been measuring in inches.

History has been a lot of fun. Turkey and Bunny learned all about Cyrus the Great, something Bunny was very excited about. Ladybug read about ancient Athens and Sparta, and their on-again off-again wars. Next week, she gets to move on to Alexander the Great, which is also exciting!

I’m really excited about our science lessons right now, too. Ladybug continued to learn about members of family bovidae, including bison and sheep, before moving on to family camelidae. Turkey and Bunny are learning about Mendelian Inheritance, and have been creating Punnett squares for various genetic traits. They even made an earlobe pedigree for our family! This is probably my favorite thing in biology, so it’s been a lot of fun to teach it!

We are nearing the end of both Heidi and Beowulf, and we started the final book in the Ramona series, Ramona’s World. Turkey and Bunny have also been working on writing assignments to show the emotions of characters in a story, while Ladybug is working on longer summaries of different literature selections.

Next week should be another fairly standard week, with the addition of the beginning of the Olympics, and some new lessons on South Korea…plus a bit of Korean cooking!

2017-18 School Year–Week Eighteen+

I’m wrapping up two-ish weeks of school, and I’m late with it to boot! But when you see how busy we’ve been, I think you’ll see why!

The week of the 15th-19th was just INSANE! Moose had off school that Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and we always do some different things on that date, so while we had school, it wasn’t exactly our normal schedule. And then Moose’s school cancelled school Tuesday on account of cold (don’t even get me started…I enjoyed having him home, but I really think the schools in the St. Louis area have a different definition of cold than I do after having grown up in the Chicago suburbs!), so that wasn’t really a full day of school for us, because we wanted to hang out with him at least part of the day. We did have a normal day of school on Wednesday, but on Thursday, we hit the road dark and early to go to Chicago, where we did manage to cram a few educational activities/field trips (visits to the Adler Planetarium, the Chicago Botanic Garden, Legoland Discovery Center, and Wheaton College, to see the Perry Mastodon, which went perfectly with Ladybug’s science lessons from that week) into our weekend:

The last week wasn’t exactly standard, either. We had school on Monday, but we spent the day at the Missouri History Museum, where they were holding a “homeschool day” focusing on immigration to St. Louis. It was really interesting learning about some of the groups that settled in this area (particularly Bosnian and German immigrants), as well as what their journey might have been like, and what kind of cultural arts they brought to the area with them (we loved trying Bosnian “carpet” weaving and Scherenschnitte, which is German paper cutting). We even got to try our hand at a bit of translation!

After that, the week was more or less normal…except for the half-day we had on Friday, because Moose had another day off. Turkey, Bunny, and Ladybug all finished up chapters in their science texts. We finally got back to our literature studies of Heidi and Beowulf. Ladybug has been doing some simplified versions of the things Turkey and Bunny have been working on in geometry (volume, surface area, and drawing circles with a compass), while they have moved on to working with radicals. I never thought I’d say it, but I am so glad their curriculum for the last few years has been so demanding, because it made everything seem much easier this time through! And we tried to observe National Lutheran School Week as best we could, even though I have never really figured out how to incorporate it into our homeschool!

This week should (hopefully) be completely normal, and I’m hoping we get a lot accomplished to make up for some of the weirdness in our schedule since basically before Christmas!

2017-18 School Year–Week Seventeen

Finally back to work after our Christmas vacation!

I will confess, we kind of took things easy this week. We didn’t do every subject every day (and we never did get around to literature at all), but I still feel like we got a lot accomplished.

Turkey and Bunny found the surface area of various solids in math. Ladybug got to use a compass for the first time, to draw circles of various sizes, which she found very exciting! Chickadee continued working on counting larger numbers, as well as more basic addition.

We had a very exciting week in science. Ladybug started a new chapter on ungulates. The very first animal we learned about was the elephant, which thrilled Chickadee…they’re her favorite animal! We also learned a bit about wooly mammoths and mastodons, and I’m hoping we may have a related field trip next week. Turkey and Bunny are still learning about cells, and they jumped right into the thick of things with DNA, RNA, transcription, translation, and mitosis this week! It was a lot of information, but also very interesting.

In history, Turkey and Bunny learned about different city-states in China, and then moved west to learn more about Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. Ladybug learned about the Medes and the Persians and Cyrus the Great (Turkey and Bunny will be learning about all that next week).

We also got out of the house on Thursday, when it was (briefly) nice outside and visited the Missouri Botanical Garden. I love how it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve been there, or what time of the year it is, we always see and learn something new. We enjoyed the walk outside, as well as through the three greenhouses, and we especially enjoyed getting to watch some ducks and geese in the Japanese Garden!

I’d like to say we’ll be back on our regular schedule next week, but we have some extra special things planned, so it will be a fun, but very disjointed school week!

Christmas Ornament Crafts Revisited

It’s been quite some time since I last shared the ornament crafts we’ve done over the years, so I thought I’d update the list. In 10 years of homeschooling at Christmastime, we’ve made 16 different ornaments, and a few of those have had different variations, as well. Many of the ornaments have come from kits, but some of those are easily reproducible with the right materials.

2017–This year, we made bead and button icicle ornaments in both red & green and blue color schemes:

2016–I finally found a Nutcracker Prince ornament kit, which involved painting…a first for us at Christmas!

2015–Mop-n-Glo glitter ornaments in two different shapes!

2014–Clothespin donkeys:

2013–Spiderweb ornaments to go along with the legend of the tinsel:

2012–Jingle bell wreaths, and our one true ornament failure. I should have known better than to try to make paper ball ornaments, because I was also a failure at them when I was a student, but we tried, we made the best of our mistakes, and we made a memory!

2011–Button wreaths and pipe cleaner starbursts:

2010–Crystal snowflakes and spiral trees:

2009–To be honest, I’m not 100% sure what ornament we made this year…but I think it was probably these snowflakes:

2008–Our first year of homeschooling meant making the two simplest ornaments I knew how…beaded wreaths and candy canes:

And then there are the final two ornaments. I can’t remember what year we made either of them, but I know the penguins were part of a kit from Target…I normally avoid craft foam projects, but these were too cute to pass up! At some point, we also made Nutcracker Princes that were printed, colored, cut out, laminated, and attached at the joints with brads:

Other than hand-and-footprint turkeys, Christmas ornaments are my favorite craft project of the year. I especially love that they are something that we not only keep, but also get out again year after year to hang on our tree…and someday, the children will be able to add them to their own Christmas trees!