All Girls School

Spring Fever
April 23, 2008, 4:17 pm
Filed under: baby, Bubba, garden, history, pen pal, reading, writing

We’re having a difficult time concentrating on anything but being outside lately. Spring is so lovely and we have lots of things to keep us busy in the backyard. We have planted everything except the pumpkins, as we’re planning on using them for jack-o-lanterns. The blueberry bushes are looking great and I can hardly wait for the first fruits to appear. One of the strawberry bushes didn’t survive, so I pulled it and stuck in some green onions. Since the baby destroyed the jalapeno starts, we planted extra green beans in their spot. Bubba had fun helping with the planting and watering. We’ve had our first garden watering turned sprinkler spray down of the year. The kids loved it and were soaked. It was warm enough that day that they dried out fairly quickly. I made a little corner area for the girls. I put down a bunch of concrete pavers and surrounded them by planting a wall of sunflowers. I put a bunch of wildflower seeds around it, too, so they have some lower “pretty” ones until the sunflowers grow tall enough to make the corner private.

We’ve been working on our summer history book, but have taken a bit of a break from everything else. We wound up most things, but I’m going to start back in with some subtraction work soon. We’re still reading every day, although she’ fighting me a bit on the silent reading. She prefers to read out loud to her sisters. I don’t mind that at all, I actively encourage it. But, when she tries to count these insanely easy readers as her reading for the day, I have to draw the line. For summer writing, I think we’ll stick to her pen pal letters and some small dictations from the history text.


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.

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.

From the theater
December 18, 2007, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Bubba, history, websites

This week we are gearing up for the theatrical release of National Treasure 2. Bubba fell in love with the first one and we have been anxiously awaiting the sequel. I thought that since this film is about John Wilkes Booth’s missing diary pages, it would be a good idea if she had a lesson on the subject of the Civil War and all that surrounded it. I kept it as simple as I could, because I didn’t feel like anything more than a surface explanation would be necessary at this point. So, we started with discussing slavery and what that meant. We then looked up a map showing the Mason-Dixon line and talked about which states were considered Northern and Southern. We looked up Abraham Lincoln’s biography as well as John Wilkes Booth’s. She and I discussed the assassination and even read the actual diary entries. We ended up having to discuss tyranny and why Booth felt Lincoln was a tyrant. She was very interested in the Underground Railroad, so I foresee a unit study on that in our future. She was also fascinated to learn about the fight over whether Kansas would be considered a free state or a slave state and wants to learn about the battles that took place here so we can visit some of the sites. (Next month will be Kansas’s birthday, so it will fit nicely into our lessons on the state’s history.)

I was excited at her excitement. We looked up the movie’s main site and explored there a little bit. We watched the trailer and there were a bunch of games that she enjoyed playing.  I can see her being a history buff like myself (or at least a historical fiction fan).

Medieval Wrap-Up
October 1, 2007, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Bubba, girlies, history

We have been learning about the medieval times since school began. We’ve done lots of reading and we watched an entertaining documentary. Our big plan was to host a medieval feast last Wednesday. We ended up changing that due to a family birthday party. We had thought about rescheduling for this week, but Bubba and I are more keen on moving on to the next thing rather than stretching this one more week.

We did have our grand finale at the Renaissance Festival on Saturday, though. (I know, I know, the Renaissance is not Medieval, but there were no Medieval Festivals to attend.) We stayed for the whole day and had a blast. The girlies were spoiled by their grandparents (and a little bit by us). The highlights included elephant rides, pony rides, huge turkey legs, face painting, being knighted by the Queen herself, and, Bubba’s favorite, the joust.

By far the most educational aspect of the day came from an unintentional run-in with the Beefeaters. A gorgeous little boy with red curly hair and a kilt grabbed Bubba and pulled her under the rope to their area and she was given special lessons. They taught her how to hold her weapon and the correct way to use it. Then they dressed her in full armor and told us all about how the people dressed for battle and what the duration would have been like and all kinds of fascinating details.

After that we were allowed to hold many of their weapons, including a 500-year-old sword. It was such an engaging way to learn about history. I wish there were more accessible events like this.

Bubba’s favorite items of the day were getting to dress up in her headdress and cape, watching the joust, face painting, and playing the sideshow games.