Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I'll Bet You Would Remember The Pony Express If You Were Taught This Way!

In my previous homeschooling posts, I've mentioned how the Konos Curriculum teaches to all learning styles. If you immerse yourself into a subject - not just reading about it - you will retain so much more (and of course it is so much more fun!). In previous posts, you can see examples of our family immersing ourselves in the Revolutionary War last year or in the human body earlier this year.

We are continuing our studies about cooperation and states and regions. This week we have been studying the great plain states. No, we are not just learning the states and capitals. We are learning about the history, geography, economics, etc. about the different states. One of the history events we have been studying this week is the Pony Express. Yes, we have read and talked about it, but nothing will help you remember it like acting it out. So you can see the kiddos in action in a couple of videos below.

In one of the books we read, it had an advertisement for Pony Express riders that we thought was interesting and a little funny:

"YOUNG, SKINNY WIRY FELLOWS, not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week."

Once the Pony Express was in full operation, 80 or more determined riders between the ages of 11 and 45 were out riding night and day. I can't image sending an 11 year old boy to ride 75-100 miles through Indian Territory, in the dark, over snowy mountain passes! We are so spoiled now days! One fifteen-year-old rider (Nick Wilson) was shot in the forehead with an arrow. He survived, and until his death at the age of seventy-one, wore his hat pulled low to hide the scar. I think I would have worn my scar proudly!!! During the short duration of the Pony Express, horses were stolen, stations were burned to the ground and sixteen men, including an Express rider were killed. His horse carried the mail to the next relay station all by himself!

The riders only had about 2 minutes to change horses at each station. They would run the horses for about 15 miles and then change to a fresh horse. One station developed biscuits with holes in them so the riders could "stab" their food. You'll see the kiddos attempting this in the video. The riders also blew horns to alert the station that they were coming so that the next horse could be ready. You'll also see the kiddo's alerting the station of their approach. What brave riders they are - to face the dangers in our neighborhood to deliver the mail!

Yet, two more brave Pony Express Riders:

So, do you want to come school at our house?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Here Kitty Kitty

I made this little purse and am working on another one for two of my nieces who just had their first communion yesterday. I know, I know I am very late but I have way too much going on right now. But didn't this turn out so cute? I think Schelly and Marisa will love these. They can carry their little bibles or rosaries in them to church.

The pattern is one I found by two Australian sisters. Their line of patterns are called Melly and Me.

(photo from Melly and Me)
They make all kinds of cool things like these cute crazy birds (no I didn't make these).

(photo from Melly and Me)
And just look at these monkeys! Aren't these the most adorable things? I think maybe Barb might have found these as well because I seem to remember some that she showed me.

Go give Melly and Me a visit and see what they are up to.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Homeschooling - Its a Lifestyle of Learning

When my husband and I first started thinking about homeschooling, I immediately thought: "there is no way I could do that!". I had a million reasons why not, mostly a confidence issue and yes, probably a little bit of selfishness about my time! However, I know without a doubt we were called to do it. As with most things that God is prompting me to do, I can't just jump in easily, I have to be pushed, kicking and screaming most of the way. God has to basically "kick me between the shoulders" into what I'm being called to do. That is definitely how our homeschool journey started out.

Homeschooling had been in the back of our minds for about a year. My son was four and we had "thought about it", but I had all the typical excuses: I don't have the patience, we can't afford for me quit my job, they will miss out on something ......... And then came the kick between the shoulders: I had a medically fragile infant who couldn't be exposed to lots of germs, aka kids bringing home a bug from school. So our homeschooling journey began. Talk about a hard time to start homeschooling! I had a very sick baby, having multiple brain surgeries, with lots of hospital stays . . . . and we were homeschooling with little sleep, lots of stress, and very little patience, but I had no choice!

Well with that background, I just want to encourage all of you beginning homeschoolers or those of you thinking about homeschooling. You can do it! It will be the hardest thing you've ever done, it will stretch you as a person and a parent and you will learn more than you ever imagined! And if you were like me (having no patience) you will gain some!!!! The rewards will also be amazing. You will have deeper relationships with your children that are only created with large amounts of time spent together. You will have the opportunity to teach them the most important things in life. You will be there to help them walk through challenges. Your children will become best friends....and of course, they can have an awesome education. Homeschooling is a tutorial method of teaching. This method has proven itself to be very beneficial. In fact, studies have shown that it doesn't matter whether you are a certified teacher or even if you have a college degree when it comes to homeschooling! The test results are the same ...... and homeschoolers test higher than publicly schooled kids by a wide margin. The studies have also shown your children will grow up to be more civically involved and successful! So don't worry about the socialization myth!

One of the biggest things I've learned on our journey so far (we've been homeschooling for 7 years) is that homeschooling is really a lifestyle. It is teaching your children a love for learning and that learning can take place at any time. It doesn't have to be in a desk, with cute little posters on the wall! We've had many a school lesson on the bike trail by the river, sitting on a rock! We've even done our math lesson some days with sidewalk chalk! In fact, each parent has done a lot of "homeschooling" without realizing it. You taught your children every day until they entered school!

If you are worrying about gaps in your child's education, be reassured that there are gaps in every child's education. No school teaches a child everything there is to learn. There is so much to learn!!! The important thing is to teach your child how to learn. Give them a strong foundation in the basics and a love of learning. If you teach them how to learn, they can learn anything with the tools you've given them!

So here is a typical example of what I mean by a lifestyle. My oldest child Jordan who is 12 has taken an interest in gold panning. He takes a trip to the library to check out every book he can find on gold panning and a video on gold panning. He visits the local geology office to visit with the staff. Of course, he pesters us until we buy him a gold pan!!! Then of course, we have to take a trip to go gold panning! It was a good excuse for us to get out of the house - we definitely have cabin fever in Eastern Oregon right now! So here are some pictures of our "hands on learning" for the day:

Jordan panning and the girls observing - yes, the girls can probably tell you a lot about gold panning too:

Here is a closeup of Jordan with his pan - we could actually see gold flakes in the soil - it was pretty cool:

Everybody gets in on the action - even the dog:

Now Jordan wants to build a sluice box . . . . . . I can see we're not finished with learning about this subject! It was a great afternoon for the family - here is a shot of dad, the kids and the dog just enjoying the day. We do live in a pretty place:

We even had a little promise of spring:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaching To Remember - That is - Teaching to Long Term Memory

In our homeschool the kids are working on learning the states and capitals. Now back when I was in school we memorized them by saying them over and over and writing them over and over .....zzzzzzzz - oh, excuse me, I fell asleep! Yes, back then I did memorize them for the short term, because that is what the teacher was teaching to - my short term memory. There is a MUCH BETTER WAY TO TEACH!!!!!

Jessica and Wade Hulcy of Konos Curriculum - love them, love them, love them - have taught me how to really teach! Jessica is an amazing woman and teacher! She inspires and challenges me every day. So how do I teach states and capitals to my kiddos' long term memory? Well, how about singing the states and capitals to a tune? How about immersing yourself into the information about each state? How about acting out whaling when you are studying the New England states? Teaching to all the different styles of learning, that is, integrating all the learning styles, helps ANYONE to really learn the information - in their long term memory. In my previous posts about homeschooling, you can see this immersion in our acting out the Revolutionary War, or dissecting a cow's eye or singing the Preamble to the Constitution.

So, back to states and capitals. When they were studying Maine, we studied lighthouses. Here is a picture of the kids' lighthouse they built by themselves. The rule was I had to keep my gag and handcuffs on - that is, I couldn't tell them how to do it. They had 20 minutes to build it, they must COOPERATE (we're studying the character trait of cooperation) and use an idea from each one of them, and it had to light.

When we studied Vermont, we studied how to make real maple syrup. No, we didn't go out and actually drill into a maple tree - not too many of those in Baker City - but we did make waffles and ate them with real maple syrup for dinner!!! Of course, we use lots of "living books", that is, we teach from a lot of library books, reading biographies about famous people, etc. We read about making maple syrup, watched videos on-line about making maple syrup ..... eating it was the best lesson of all:

Making the waffles: Then eating them:

Ok, back to my day - we are studying the Great Lakes States - cheese anyone? Which state am I talking about?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Everyone! I though I'd share the skirt I made Addie for her Easter Basket - very "Eastery" don't you think?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What we did for Spring Break!

One nice thing about homeschooling is that you can choose when, if and how you take your breaks from school. Each year our homeschool group raises money to have a week of art lessons (full days) with a local artist (Teri Axness) who is a great teacher and her art prints are very popular. The kids feel like they are taking lessons from someone famous - they love her! The kids learn about art history, artists and do at least 3 different mediums during the week. Her is a peek into our week this year. Yes, this mom loves this week as much or more than the kids!!!

We have always done a clay project during the week. The younger kids first learned about Vangoh and his love for painting flowers. Then they got to create their own three dimensional flowers. These will be garden stakes when they are finished. We don't have them back from being fired yet, but here are pictures from the creation process:

Lexie working on her masterpiece:

Here are the flowers formed and waiting to be painted (they have holes on the bottom so that they can sit on long stakes to be put in the flower garden):

Here they are painted and waiting to be fired:

The kids had a bit of extra time so they also made some little turtles - they should be cute when finished:

The older kids had a clay project too. They studied the history and art of the pueblo Indians and the making of their story teller dolls. Then, of course, we made our own story teller dolls. Here is Jordan working on his:

Here is Jordan's storyteller doll waiting to be fired. Notice the little kids laying on the storyteller - Jordan's kids are laying flat on thier backs on the storyteller's legs. This is one of the characteristics of storyteller dolls - one of my favorite parts. I love the thought of all these little kids laying all over their grandma or grandpa, listening to stories:

Here is my big nosed storytelling grandma with her grandkids hanging on her - it will be fun to see what they look like fired:

Next, the younger kiddos learned about Monet and his famous waterlilly painting. They learned about forshortening, perspective, and capturing light and color on the water. Then they made their own "Monet Water Lilly" painting with water colors and tissue paper for the water lillies. Here are Addie and Lexie working on their masterpieces:

And the artists with their finished masterpieces:

Next, the older kids learned about famous architects in history and different architectural styles. We then became architects and drew our own buildings. We could be totally original or pull styles from buildings we studied. After sketching our buildings we transferred them to copper sheets and made a repose - making the building three dimensional - then painting it with metalic paint. Here is Jordan's creation:

Here is my attempt at some Russian-style buildings:

Now back to the next projects for the younger kiddos. They studied how and artist (I can't remember her name - darn it) used repeated patterns to create her paintings. Then they drew their own:

They studied John Audobon and his drawings of birds and how he used real birds as his models. Then they created chickens two different ways. First with markers and liquid watercolor:

And then with oil crayons drawn and sandpaper - I love how those turned out:


Here are the girls and a few of the other homeschoolers posing with the famous Terri Axness herself:

The final project for the older kids included a study of Pacasso and cubism. One neat thing about this week is that I get to try projects and styles I would never choose on my own. I don't particularly like Picasso's "cubism". He used shapes to create front and side profiles of individuals at the same time. We tried our hand at our own images in "cubism" with watercolors. Very interesting. Here is Jordan and his masterpiece with the "master" herself:

And here is mom and son and their masterpieces together - does it look like us?

This was such a great education and so much fun!

A fun little girl skirt for spring

Hey sisters! On one of my searches for fun things to make (with the excuse of making something for our craft bizarre) I ran across this fun and easy way to make a skirt for little girls - no pattern required! I added the applique - the skirt is SOOOOOO easy - you sew from salvaged end to end and the bottom hem is enclosed in a ribbon. The original instructions came from - A very quick make and I just used scrap fabric I had laying around! This one is Lexie's - I think I'll tuck it in her Easter Basket. I'm going to do one for Addie with different applique - I'll show you when I'm done!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Couple More Crafty Items

This is a couple of other little things I made while sewing with Barb at the coast. A little pin cushion which I really need to practice making several times because it was so hard to get even around the corners. Kristi here is the shrinky dink pins I was telling you about. Super easy and fun to make. The kids could do this in mere minutes.

Remember that basket I made a couple of posts back? I enlarged the pattern by two inches and it is the perfect size for Easter baskets or other fun things like balls of yarn or spools of thread.
More to come later.