Friday, January 31, 2014

An Explosion of Fun!

Our Hawaii Unit Study was a "blast" as we focused on volcanoes!

But before we get to that, here are some other interesting facts about Hawaii -

1.  President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu.

2. My youngest daughter's name is of Hawaiian origin ~ Kalia.
Funny Quote - After we looked at a picture of a Kalia tree, Carysse said, "Why did they name a tree after Kalia? Did they name a tree after me too?" :-)

3.  Protestant missionaries arrived there in 1820. They taught many Hawaiians about Christianity...what a blessing!

4. The Dole Pineapple Plantation is there. So, we decided to make what we call, Hawaiian Tropical Smoothie. It's made with Dole pineapples, pineapple juice, coconut milk, & strawberries...yum!

Now, onto Volcanoes!
 Hawaii is made up of many islands. The islands were created by volcanoes erupting at the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

During her playtime, Carysse made this model of a volcano using unifix cubes.

We had fun doing a volcano experiment.

Then Carysse described the experiment on a recording sheet.

This is a newspaper article about a volcano eruption the same week we were studying volcanoes!

Also, the girls enjoyed watching The Magic School Bus Blows Its Top which is about volcanoes & Kalia colored this volcano sheet.
Books Read - Welcome to the USA: HawaiiVolcanoesVolcano Explorers, &
Gopher to the Rescue! A Volcano Recovery Story

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Great Grace & Great Buys

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  2 Corinthians 9:8

In Christian Homeschooling, we need to depend on God's grace constantly! Many days I try to do it in my own strength, but that always leads to failure & despair. 
We can't do it on our own. 
The same truth that the Lord told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 also applies to us believers. He said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I am SLOWLY learning that truth as it pertains to homeschooling.  With that said, please don't let the photos of smiling faces and seemingly organized lessons fool you as you visit my blog. I'm a fellow recipient of God's sweet grace. For example:

* I don't have a systematic daily plan.

* I don't have an organized schedule.

* We try to follow this general plan. However, for our USA Unit that I've been creating, I make a weekly list of activities that I would like to do.  Then as the week goes on, I plug in an activity whenever it seems to fit and cross it out as we go.  I don't have a set day or time to do any of the activities.  That system works best for our family.  For example, one day my 19 mo. old had a rough day, so after we put him to bed, we did a Science Experiment at 7:30 in the evening.  That's one of the joys of homeschooling; you can do school whenever you want.

*Make your homeschool your own!  There's no perfect rhyme or rhythm.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you know how I struggled during my first year.  This year, I'm resting in God's grace for our day and in what He wants us to do regardless of what I had planned. 

*When all else fails, we keep reading!  You can NEVER read too much!  We get books from the library each week.  Most of them go along with our Unit of study and the kids also choose a few other books of their interest.  Some mornings we just stay in our PJs and read the whole morning! 

*I do have an Elementary Education Degree so I am able to improvise a lot easier than I would otherwise.  But God's grace is sufficient for each homeschool mom with or without a degree.

Great Buys: On those days that aren't working out for anything that I had planned, here are my "go to" items that I purchased that makes homeschool life more doable.  

1) Heroes of the Faith DVDs - We have 9 of them.  They are absolutely wonderful!  We often have a great discussion afterwards about the hero and how he/she stood up for Christ in the midst of persecution. 

2) Illustrated Classics for Girls - I won a drawing at our co-op for $50 of Usborne Books!  This is one of the books I chose.  The girls really enjoy it. 

3) Brain Quest Cards - I got 5 of them at a homeschool sale for 25 cents each!  They're a great review of skills for each age level.  It's nice having another reader in our home.  Carysse quizzes Kalia while I'm busy with Caleb or preparing meals.  Carysse goes through her own cards during transition times as well.  

4) I first talked about counting bears in this post; they're still a favorite.  I turned my mini muffin pan into a sorting/pattern activity by putting colored sticker dots into each section.

5) Every homeschool of preschoolers needs magnetic letters!  I found this alphabet printable here. We like how the "J" is for Baby Jesus.

6) Giant Slot & Build Shapes from Lakeshore - lots of fun for all ages! Carysse made a snowflake... she's so creative. 

7) We also use pattern blocks. I used them all the time as a classroom teacher. I knew my kids would enjoy them as well. I found the printables here.

Keep calm & Homeschool on! 
Remember, God's grace is sufficient for you, for His power is made perfect in weakness. 
(2 Corinthians 12:9a)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Living the Dream!

We read lots of interesting facts in this book, but it was a no-brainer deciding on what we'd focus on for our Georgia Unit Study.  Of course it was going to be none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was born in Atlanta, GA.  The Lord greatly used him to open many doors of freedom for Black Americans and other ethnic minority groups.  Last August marked the 50th Anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech.  We watched the speech on YouTube.  Much has been accomplished in this country since then like the inauguration of the 1st Black President! However, because we live in a fallen world and many are blinded by the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), until Jesus Christ returns there will be prejudice, racism, and bigotry over ethnic differences.  But God! We can still rejoice in all that He has done over these past 50 years through One Man's Dream. 

Because we're a week away from MLK Day, I thought I'd share with you 4 of our favorite books about him.  You should check them out! 

This is a board book that the smallest kids can hold.  I like it because it has simple text with various key words written in larger, colorful font.  

This one was written by MLK's son.  It shows the endearing relationship of father & son but also portrays the reality of the brutal times and the emotions that the son experienced. 

This one was written by MLK's niece and gives more of a light-hearted glimpse of MLK.  He was famous to others, but to Angela Watkins, he was a fun-loving, beloved uncle.  

This book has absolutely the most beautiful illustrations ever!  MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech is put to color with wonderfully, riveting paintings by illustrator, Kadir Nelson.  There's also a Bonus - It comes with a CD of MLK's speech recorded on August 28, 1963! 

Carysse also used the book to complete a MLK Cloze and descriptive word chart.  

  We made a list of Evidence of God's blessings through MLK's Dream.  

This stamp was on a card that I received the same week we were studying MLK!   

Of all the things she could have written on this activity, she wrote...
 What a blessing!

What a privilege to do this unit with my two little brown sweeties! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

See you later, Alligator!

Although Florida is mostly known as the "Sunshine State" and for its delicious oranges, we decided to devote the unit to the state's reptile, The American of God's amazing creatures!

Trivia: How much do you know about Alligators & Crocodiles?
1) Which ones upper & lower teeth can be seen when its jaws are closed?
Answer: The crocodile.  An alligator's top teeth can only be seen when its jaws are closed.
2) Which one has a wide head & snout?
Answer:  The alligator. A crocodile has a narrow head & snout.
3) How long can each of them go without food?  
Answer: Up to 2 years!
4) Where is the only area in the USA inhabited by both alligators and crocodiles?
Answer: The southern tip of Florida.

We really like how this book illustrated and explained the differences between these two very similar reptiles.

What I like most about Unit Studies is that you can combine all the subjects into one study for a more contextual, meaningful learning experience.  This increases understanding and aides in comprehension.  For example, instead of randomly explaining the term cold-blooded, we learned that alligators are cold-blooded and talked about the difference between cold & warm-blooded.  And there you have it...a Science Lesson!

I also introduced Carysse to the math concept of greater than/less than.  I downloaded a free worksheet from Teachers pay Teachers.

Incorporating Math & Snacks is always a fun hands on learning experience.  I enjoy combining the two so much that I even have a Pinterest Board named "Munching on Math" with many ideas. 
Here's an activity that I made for Kalia. 

We also completed an Alligator description chart & made Alligator Pie.
Excuse the half eaten/used ingredients photo...this is a homeschool not the food network!:-)

The girls thought it was really good and can't wait to make it again! 

I found this preschool activity for Kalia.  She liked how it turns the letter A into an alligator.
Other Books Read - Welcome to the USA: Florida & I am an Alligator.

Happy New Year!
Have a Blessed 2014!