All Girls School

Still sick and waiting for Spring
January 31, 2008, 10:50 pm
Filed under: garden

Just as I nurse one of the girls back to health, another wakes up with a fever. This is getting seriously old. We are trucking along with some bare minimum items, like spelling, reading and math. She’s still got a couple of illustrations to finish up for the story writing contest. Other than that, there have been a lot of naps and completely non-educational videos and some board and video games. It was actually warm enough for two days that I insisted we go to the park because we needed the fresh air and I NEEDED to get out of the house and have them run off some energy.

One thing that we have been working on is planning our garden. This will be the first year that we have ever tried to grow anything edible. I have to say that most of my previous attempts at growing anything other than children have been failures. I think we’ll be trying out square foot gardening. I am hopeful that following this technique will allow us to have a successful first growing season and inspire us to do more next year. I let the girls pick out what we are growing and they decided on tomatoes, jalapenos, spinach, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, cucumbers and strawberries. Those are going to be planted in the square foot bed. I, personally, want some blueberries and found a fairly local farm to purchase from. Those will be planted in a row against the house. The last thing the girls wanted to plant was pumpkins so we can make jack-o-lanterns out of them this Halloween. Those will have a space along the fence so they can spread out a bit. When I write it all out, it sounds like a lot, but I think that the way it will be laid out will keep it manageable. (I’ll admit that the zucchini were my idea, they hate zucchini, but the rest were theirs, I swear.)  I’m excited to watch the girls raise these plants from seed to harvest and watch them delight in eating the foods that they cultivated.

But, that’s all moot if we don’t drive this illness from our house. That is my mission for the rest of the week. No more sickness.


January 24, 2008, 6:29 pm
Filed under: girlies

The little two girlies are sick. Sick sick sick. Miserable fever sick, where they loll about with glazed eyes and flushed cheeks and are just so weak and floppy and whimpering and sick. Mimi mixed it up with a little vomiting, too. It’s been barrels of fun over here. Aside from learning how many loads of laundry can actually be done in a day, not much formal schooling has been accomplished. We’ve done our best, seeing as she hasn’t been sick at all (knock wood), to at least do some stuff. She’s been doing her spelling, some clock work in her math book and lots of reading from our Little House book. Other than that, we mostly just cater to the babes. Maybe next week we’ll delve back into things, but this week is just about maintaining my sanity and washing the sheets over and over and over and over again.

January 20, 2008, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Bubba, family, field trip, history

Our field trip was awful. The youngest two had ear infections, making them crabby to begin with. It was freezing and snowing and windy and miserable outside. We ended up in the car for too long. The actual exhibits consisted of a long time line full of text with very few images and no interactivity. There were very few exhibits showing artifacts from the era. The little two were running through the museum, stomping their boots on the wood floor, causing huge echoing footfalls to reverberate off the walls. The littlest decided to strip completely naked inside the kid-sized Victorian playhouse so that she could more comfortably dress up in the clothing in the trunk. When we went upstairs, the kids whined to go downstairs. When we went downstairs, the kids whined to go upstairs. Bubba lost her notebook somewhere in the library, requiring a second traipse throughout the facility. Dad accidentally fed the wrong side of the meter when trying to keep kids from darting into the street, resulting in a parking ticket. Yay!! This is what home schooling is all about, right?

We were able to see a few of the Underground Railroad locations and I really enjoyed those. We spent about an hour in our favorite toy store and I picked up some great books. We ate lunch at our favorite restaurant and it was soooo good. The kids got to play with their cousins for a little while, in fact, Bubba spent the night. I think, in retrospect, it will be remembered favorably, just not yet.

Little House
January 15, 2008, 11:16 am
Filed under: Bubba, reading

This is where I confess that I’ve never read any of the Little House books. I have seen the television shows, but never felt compelled to read them. Bubba and I started Little House in the Big Woods today and we both love it. She told me that she wants to read the whole book today. I’m afraid there is too much laundry to do for us to just sit on the couch all afternoon, but I’m thrilled that she found another series to read other than Ramona. (As much as I love Ramona, too, I need a break from her precocious little self.)

Writing Contest
January 11, 2008, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Bubba, field trip, history, writing

Last year we saw ads for the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest and Bubba was intrigued, but not motivated to actually enter. This year, though, she is really excited about it. She had a great title for her story and a good rough outline of how it would play out. We sat down and brainstormed a little bit to refine some of her ideas and talked about the main points of a story to make sure it followed a logical progression. I asked a lot of questions, but let her supply all of the answers and solutions. She then dictated it to me and I typed it up on the computer. I am going to have her write it out neatly on the final paper. She has decided that to illustrate it she wants to draw all of the outlines in black, help scan them into the computer, and then color them in with Photoshop. That will be another lesson for her as soon as she’s finished drawing. I am trying to let her do the picture thing on her own, but keep taking her back to the site that shows previous winners and how their images are detailed and brightly colored. We talked about focal points and how the main action in the picture should probably be the biggest thing drawn on the paper. She’s getting it and we’re really excited about the finished book. I think I may go to lulu or something and get one printed for her after she enters. Maybe we’ll do this every year, so that when she’s finished she will have a progression of 12 years of fully printed and bound books. That would be such a treasure for a bookshelf.

One thing that I’m struggling with is her desire to win. She wants to win. Badly. Very very badly. The prizes are great after all. First prize is a flat screen television, second is a laptop, and third is an MP3 player. All the winners also receive a set of Reading Rainbow books and videos for themselves, their local library and their school. I’m trying to explain to her that this is a nation wide contest and although winning would be great, the real reward is in the process of creating a work that is all her own. If I remember correctly, all entrants get a certificate signed by LeVar Burton, so at least there is something. I just hope she isn’t so set on winning that she will be crushed if she doesn’t. My one consolation is that winners aren’t revealed until August, so there’s a lot of time between then and now for her mind to be taken off of its “winning” focus.

Also, we did see the National Treasure movie. While it was a fun movie and we all enjoyed it, it held far fewer history storylines than the first. This one was more about action and treasure than history. That’s ok, though, it’s fun to have something fun and somewhat educational for the whole family to enjoy. We are continuing on with Bubba’s interest in Kansas Civil War history. I found a book on Harriet Tubman in one of our boxes and pulled that out since she had shown a keen interest in the Underground Railroad. We read it and I kept crying as I read. It was ridiculous of me, but I’m just so moved by the courage and determination of all those that lived in that time and fought for their freedom. Bubba though I was crazy. She asked about visiting some Underground Railroad stops some time. I told her that I thought they were all east of us and that some day we would definitely take a trip to do so. But, in researching our local history I found out that an Underground Railroad did indeed go through parts of Kansas. So, we’re taking a trip next week to do a whole tour of Lawrence. I contacted the Underground Railroad Association of Douglas County, KS and they gave me a detailed listing of places in and around Lawrence that were part of it. I was so excited to find this out. I also contacted their Community History Museum and a woman there was delighted to tell me all kinds of stuff about their exhibits and things. They have a localized Civil War exhibit there, as well as information on a self-guided walking tour of the area. So, a week from today we will be tooling around to find all of these places (as well as having lunch at our favorite and most missed restaurant ever). It’s funny, but I lived in and around that area for a long time and never once tried to find out anything about the history of the area. Pictures to come after our field trip.

The Return
January 8, 2008, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Bubba, logic, math, spelling

This being the longest break we’ve had in schooling so far, I was unsure what to expect when we started up again yesterday. Bubba seemed eager to get to work, so we just dove in. After evaluating some of her spelling in the letters she’s been writing, I decided that we would bust out the spelling book that we abandoned when we decided to forgo worksheets for a while. She spells very phonetically and just needs more structured spelling practice. I noticed over the break that the fractions work we had been doing was sinking in because she would describe things in terms of fractions naturally in conversation. She also started intuitively adding fractions in her head a few times. I was excited to see her taking those next steps just by thinking logically about what would happen if you needed 1/2 of a 1/2 C. of flour.

One of her favorite things to do are these Mind Benders.
(here’s a very basic example)

I used to do these in my SPARK class when I was in elementary school and I always loved them. So, when I found this series of books, I had to get the first one to see if she shared my love for them. She does. Do these types of activities have a specific name other than mind benders? That is a rather generic term that can apply to so many different activities and I’d like to find more of these for her. She is blowing through the book and I need to order the next one for her. What really amazed me is that she had been struggling the week before the break with some of them because they were getting a little harder. It appears that having those weeks off allowed these harder logic puzzles to stew in her mind and congeal in a way that makes sense to her because she was ripping through them.

We have a new big writing project, but it’s late so I’ll write about it next time.

New Year
January 2, 2008, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Bubba, holiday

We had a wonderful Christmas and New Year and Bubba has been enjoying her winter break from school. (honestly, so am I.) We have had lots of time to visit with family and friends and get things accomplished around the house. But, starting next week we’ll be back to the old grind. I thought I should make some homeschool resolutions for us.

1. Integrate more science into our daily school life. This will be much easier once Spring makes its appearance, but I have plenty of resources for engaging indoor activities since Bubba is not all that keen on reading about scientific topics in general.

2. Plan a garden with the girls. (This is an overlap to one of my personal resolutions.) The garden will be small this first year so that we don’t overwhelm ourselves, but I want the two oldest to pick one thing to plan that will be theirs to care for (with help from me, of course). It will be a learning experience for us all and I just hope things grow because I have a notoriously un-green thumb.

3. Start a photography unit with Bubba. We have an old digital camera that takes decent photos. I want to start talking about photography as an art form and give shooting assignments. Then, at the end of the school year, I want to have an open house for family and friends that showcases her work. I think we will make it informal because while she loves being the center of attention, it has to happen on her terms, not because I put her on the spot and make her talk about her work to everyone.

4. Play more games. We have so many games that will encourage lots of different skills, yet it rarely occurs to any of us to pull one out. I don’t know why that is, but I want to start doing it more and including the younger girls, too. Playing Go Fish and Crazy 8s is how Bubba learned her numbers when she was younger, but I haven’t done that with the little two.

I don’t think those goals are too difficult, just stuff that I wanted to consciously put out there so that I can refer back to it when I forget what my focus is.