Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer School: Snack Break!

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
Charleston, South Carolina

The boys had never heard of Forrest Gump.
However, life really is like a box of chocolates
because we received an unexpected Bubba Gump gift certificate
while strolling through downtown Charleston.
They did not understand any of the movie references
found throughout the menu or
in the restaurant decor.
But they loved using the
Run, Forrest, Run and
Stop, Forrest, Stop
signs to get our server's attention.
Poor guy.
We left him a good tip.

Enjoying Gelato at a Local Sweet Shop

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer School: Beach School

While camping at Skidaway Island, Georgia,
we went to nearby Tybee Island to enjoy the beach.
We also ended each day in Charleston at the beach on the Isle of Palms.
Both beaches were beautiful and provided a nice way to unwind
and to learn a little, too.

Here is what the boys learned at "Beach School"....


This "peregrine falcoln" kite caught the attention of everyone on the beach.
Orville enjoyed making its "wings" flap by tugging on the string.



The boys dug pits in the moist sand
and waited for the ocean water to return and fill them.
Once filled, each pit was called a "water source".
Then they dug canals to connect the sources.


We gave the boys words to spell in the sand.
They had to write quickly before the water erased their work.


This is the saddest sand castle ever constructed.
And I am using the word "constructed" very loosely!
We had to hault work on it suddenly
because someone needed to go to the potty. :)


 Similar to spelling words,
we gave the boys math problems to work in the sand.
The ocean was the timer,
and the boys had to complete their calculations
before the tide washed the problem away.

I could attend Beach School everyday!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Personal Safety

Recently I read Stranger Danger at the HS Post about teaching children personal safety preparedness. Talking to our children about emergency situations and potential threats to their safety is not an easy thing to do, but, in my opinion, necessary.  Their post made me think, and I decided to go back over some self-defence strategies with the boys.

Last weekend, I had to put a few of my own self-defence strategies into action.  Before I tell the story, let me assure you that I am okay.  I was not attacked but had good reason to fear I was about to be.  I had to maneuver quickly to remove myself from a threatening situation.

I went to my local shopping center on Saturday, late in the afternoon, while it was still daylight.  I parked in the first available spot I found, about 1/3 of the way down a fairly large and crowded lot.  I put the car in park, turned off the ignition, and put my keys in my right pocket.  That is my habit because I tend to be absent-minded and lose them or lock them in the car otherwise.  Then, I reached over to the passenger seat, picked up my shopping list, and turned to open my door.  I was thinking about getting in the store and back out quickly and not considering my surroundings.

As I stepped out of the car, a very tall, very large man was standing directly over me.  His proximity startled me and put me on guard.  He asked me if I could give him "a light".  I glanced down at his hand and saw an already-lit cigarette.  I quickly slammed my car door shut and moved to the middle of the parking lot where I would be highly visible to others, all the while securing my purse between my arm and side and grabbing my cell phone from my left pocket with my left hand and my pepper spray (attached to my key ring and in my right pocket) with my right hand.

He followed me and berated me for assuming that he was up to no good.  He accused me of racial profiling, but I refused even to give him a glance.  I was tempted to explain to him that I was scared because of his proximity, his size, and his bogus request.  Furthermore, I wanted to tell him that if had he made the same request from a few feet away and without a lit cigarrette in hand, I would have kindly informed him of my non-smoker status and moved on.  I was not going to answer him, though, and potentially provoke him.

I just kept watching him out of my peripheral, walking toward the door as fast as I could.  He continued to follow me, now asking for personal information like my age.  I did not answer and kept my finger on the pepper spray trigger, ready to fire should he so much as move a finger toward me. 

After I had walked about five paces, he turned and wandered back through the parking lot.  Once I was safely inside the shopping center, I spoke to the store manager who promptly called the police.  Then I called Michael who came to escort me home. 

I feel certain that had I looked in my purse for a lighter the man would have grabbed the purse from me.  It is possible that had I yielded to his fear tactics that he would have attacked me.  I cannot know any of these things for certain but I do give thanks to God for His protection over me and my property.  I am even more thankful that the boys were at home with Michael.  I can say that my first line of defense was prayer- the Nehemiah 2, short, quick, and to-the-point type of prayer.  God heard my cry for help and protected me.

I also believe that preparedness was a means that God used for my protection.  I was very thankful in that moment for both my pepper spray and my cell phone.  Even though I did not have to use either, they were in specific places where I could easily access them.  I did not have to think but only react.  I also have 911 saved as memory 9, so I only have to press one button in case of an emergency. 

I don't think I would have opened my purse for a lighter (since I don't have one) but I am thankful that I saw the lit cigarrette anyway.  I believe God alerted me to the danger and simultaneously gave me the calm to get out of harm's way.  (Though you should have seen me once in the store.  I walked past what I needed to buy five times before I saw it on the shelf!)

This encounter has prompted us to evaluate some of our safety procedures/precautions.  We don't want to fall into the trap of "what-if's".  God is sovereign.  He ordained my encounter with the man in the parking lot and wisely governs all things.  He has been my protector all my days and will continue to keep me for all eternity. 

We know, however, that the Lord can use our preparedness for our benefit and we are thinking about how well we have prepared ourselves, and more importantly, the boys, for emergency situations.

What are some precautions you take?  How do you prepare yourself and your children for emergencies?  Please feel free to share.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flip minoHD Video Camera Giveaway

The funniest lady in the blogosphere, Fiddledeedee, is hosting a giveaway for a Cisco Flip minoHD video camera.

This teeny, tiny camera, smaller than an iphone, looks like a winner.  You can read more about this product, valued at $199.99, and about how you can enter to win one of your own at Fiddledeedee

The folks at Cisco are holding a promotional sweepstakes, too.  One person who enters will win $10,000.  Visit Fiddledeedee for the details on how you can enter.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer School: Weaponry

The Battery
Charleston, South Carolina

Birding 101: Birding by Ear

Spending an afternoon trying to decide if the bird I just heard sang "zee, zip" or "zip, zee" is NOT my idea of fun.  When we first started this birding adventure of ours, I thought we would never bird by ear.  If we couldn't see it, then we wouldn't identify it.

But then we started hearing A LOT more birds than we saw and decided birding by ear was the way to go.

We decided to carry the Identiflyer with us on every birding outing but found it really difficult to try to match what we were hearing to the recordings.  We found ourselves fumbling through all those cards, and by the time we would find something remotely similar, the real-life bird would have flown the coop.  Our untrained ears could not distinguish between the really similar tunes, either.  It was con.fu.sing.

I decided we had to do some study at home so we would be more prepared while in the field.  I challenged the boys to use the resources below to memorize five songs/calls per week.  As I heard the bird recordings sing over and over again in my living room, dining room, and classroom (and two little boys mimic them incessantly), I soon memorized them, too.  :)

Here are some of the resources we found most helpful:

Les Beletsky's Bird Songs is our absolute favorite!  The boys have spent hours looking and listening to this great book and accompanying audio files... so much time in fact that they have memorized almost every bird song contained on it.

We bought this version for my MIL, and she loves it.  I like the smaller size and think it would be much easier to take into the field.  However, it does contain fewer birds than the original.

The boys listen to Birding by Ear or More Birding by Ear at bedtime about twice per week.  It is soothing and nice to fall asleep to and it has helped them to memorize dozens of calls.

By far, the most effective learning tool has been the Audubon plush birds.  The boys could not help but learn the bird calls as they played with their "friends" who "speak" in authentic bird sounds.

The Identiflyer has been instrumental in helping the boys identify birds by ear.  We have used it to practice at home with guessing games... I play a song, and they tell me the corresponding bird.  

As I mentioned earlier, however, it is limiting.  You must be familiar with what is on each card to help you narrow your search or have the time and patience to go through each bird on each card until you find a match.  When we have time to sit, listen and match, it is a very helpful in-field tool.  Plus, if we make an i.d. that way, we never forget it. 

Another con is that the cards must be bought individually, so you can only make a match if you have the right card.  Expensive and cumbersome, but still excellent for home study or slow days in the park.

One day, I would like to purchase this...

The recordings are saved within the pen.  You scan a bar code listed in an accompanying book to access a particular bird's song.  Much easier, I would think.

The real trick to memorizing, however, has been the use of mnemonics

Some of the books I have recommended in this post, as well as field guides, provide ideas for phrases that can be sung to the bird's tune to aid memory.  We have found it most effective to create our own when possible. 

Writing mnemonics is a creative task, and there is not a right or wrong.  We use phrases that hold meaning to us, describe the bird, or contain its name as often as possible.  Click here to be redirected to a document we created which contains most of the mnemonics we use.  Some were created by other bird watchers; some are Olive Plants orginals.  Either way, please feel free to use as many as you find helpful.  We compiled this list quickly, so please overlook any errors.  Thanks and enjoy!   

Happy Birding!

Disclosure:  I am an Amazon affiliate and will receive a commission if you purchase after following any of the links to their site included in this post or elsewhere on my blog.  I have not been compensated for writing this article and have offered my honest opinion of each product mentioned.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer School: Leadership

Commander Orville gives Lieutenant Wilbur his flight orders
in the mission briefing room of the USS Yorktown.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Summer School: Aviation

USS Yorktown
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

The Yorktown recovered the Apollo 8 capsule.

The Write Brothers under a Model of The Wright Brothers' Glider
(click the link if you want to see the new design with this pic in the header)

The boys enjoyed learning about the history of flight
from the time of gliders and biplanes to space travel.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Congratulations Orville and Wilbur!

1st Place
4th - 6th Grades
Local Science Fair

You can read about Orville's project, If All the Raindrops, by clicking here.

2nd Place
1st - 3rd Grades
Local Science Fair

You can read about Wilbur's project, Radiant Radishes, by clicking here.

Summer School: Maritime History

The USS Yorktown
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer School: Ornithology

While on vacation,
we saw a painted bunting for the first time at Skidaway Island,
near Savannah, Georgia.
This is where we camped for the first two days of our vacation.
We heard more birds than we saw.
In fact, we woke up to a chorus each morning
and had difficulty identifying the birds we heard
because there were so many
and because we are not familiar with coastal birds.

This is the 1st time I have ever photographed a hummingbird.
It was taken near our campground at Skidaway Island.

This is a lake at Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge, near Savannah, Georgia.
We saw little blue herons, common moorhens, black-crowned night herons,
wood ducks, cattle egret, northern bobwhite and white ibis here.
We also heard many types of warblers, buntings, and other song birds.

The white birds in the trees closest to the foreground are
great and snowy egrets.
There were also many anhingas mixed in with the egrets.
On the trees in the background were wood storks.

We spent three days in Charleston, South Carolina.
Here are the boys bird watching on The Battery in historic downtown.
They spotted royal tern, brown pelican, laughing gull, and boat-tailed grackle.
You can also see Fort Sumter behind them in the distance.
We (Wilbur was 1st to see it and gets major kudos for this spot) 
also spotted ospreys nesting in trees along the highway
to the beach we visited each evening.
We were unable to get a picture because of the location
along the very busy road.

We ended the birding portion of our vacation at Francis Biedler Forest,
about one hour north of Charleston.
We saw many prothonotary warblers and heard a variety of other birds.
We heard almost every species of woodpecker specific to the swamp.
We followed a boardwalk through the swamp
which made the walk easy and pleasant.
Just before leaving, we saw this barred owl perched 
about ten feet from the boardwalk.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Announcement: Quarter Mile Math

You can save $5 on any Quarter Mile Math purchase.  Keep reading to learn how to claim your savings.

I know I just announced my break from blogging yesterday, but as I was packing for our vacation, I realized I had not announced my latest affiliation.

I am now an affiliate for The Quarter Mile Math, a company I wrote a review for as a member of the TOS Crew.  Quarter Mile Math was one of our favorite products for the year; it even made my top ten list.  The boys love "riding" a horse or "driving" a car.  I love that they are practicing important math skills while playing. 

I also love the amount of math covered- practically any skill included in Kindergarten through 8th grade. 

The REALLY good news is that you can save $5 if you purchase The Quarter Mile Math through the link provided in my sidebar.  Their prices are already tremendous, as little as $2.95 per month per family (not per child) for the Deluxe Version subscription. 

To claim your savings, simply click The Quarter Mile Math icon in my sidebar.  You will be redirected to their website and the discount will be applied upon checkout.  I have also placed a link to my review beneath the icon if you would like to read about our experience with them.

Any questions?  Feel free to comment or email. 


Disclosure:  I am an affiliate for The Quarter Mile Math.  If you follow the links I have provided from this blog to their website and purchase any of their products/subscriptions, I will receive a commission.  I have not been compensated for this post and have offered my honest evaluation of their products.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Plan for Next Year

for The Curriculum Sharing Edition of
The Weekly Wrap-up
where you can find links to more
articles like this one. 

I have dedicated 11 posts to answering questions about homeschooling and curriculum.  You can read all the posts in this series by clicking on their titles listed in my sidebar under the heading Considering Homeschooling?

If you have followed this series from the start, you know that we are eclectic schoolers who like to pull together a number of resources for our homeschool program.  Now that I have told you about school past and present, please allow me to divulge the plans for school future.

There are a few studies the boys will complete together next year. 
  • Diana Waring's History Revealed (Ancients):  This study is designed for middle school and offers a core text along with her audio recordings.  I think this will be perfect for math/science son who likes to start with the big picture.  For my history-loving son, there are suggestions for extended readings and research.  For both boys, there are many hands-on activity suggestions, each of which addresses a different learning style.  I am really excited about this study.

  • Literature Study - The Chronicles of Narnia SeriesI have purchased 3 copies of each of the 7 books, one for each boy and one for me.  We will read aloud together, switching turns as reader, then discuss.  I will be using Veritas Press's Chronicles of Narnia Comprehension Guide for our discussion time, and I may have them complete some of the activities included in the guide as well.  We will read 1-2 chapters per day, 3-4 days per week whick will allow us to complete one book per month.  During the 8th month, I plan to read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar with them, and during the last month of school, we will not have a literature study (or we may complete make-up work if necessary).

  • Harmony Fine Arts, Grade 5:  This fine arts curriculum is affordable and looks like it will be fun and easy to complete.  Barb, the Harmony Art Mom, offers 3 options for the visual art study, one of which includes Artistic Pursuits.  Both boys will complete her grade 5, option 2.  Wilbur will also complete option 3 for the Artisitic Pursuits component.  All of grade 5 focuses on ancient art which will tie into our history studies.  Grade 5 music appreciation introduces the orchestra.

  • The violin book: Book 1, beginning basics : correct hold and elements of sound production by Eden Vaning-Rosen:  I found this at a curriculum fair last month.  Her method of introducing the violin in small, clear increments and of learning to play before learning to read music looks very do-able.  Wilbur has expressed an interest in violin for a couple of years, and we have not been able to afford private lessons.  Though I would rather provide private instruction, these books will make it possible for me to give him an introduction.  When I came home with all the books and cd's in this program, Orville decided that he wants to play, too.
Wilbur's studies will also include the following:

  • Singapore Math, levels 4B and 5A

  • The Quarter Mile Math:  Wilbur LOVES to play The Quarter Mile.  He "drives" a car or moves his horse by completing math problems.  It is a comprehensive math practice software (it covers many skills from counting through pre-algebra) and motivates students with self competition.  You can read my review here.

  • Apologia Young Explorers Series, Zoology 3: Wilbur is looking forward to this study about the land animals God created during the sixth day.

  • Draw and Write through History (Draw and Write Through History (Creation through Jonah, Volume 1) Greece and Rome):  These are handwriting practice books in which the copy work pertains to the time period.  Interspersed are art lessons which teach students how to draw pictures pertaining to the period, too.  I found them at the curriculum fair last month and knew they would motivate him to write and learn history.  He is so excited about them AND is excited to start a study of the ancients.  I think these books have prompted the interest.  This is MAJOR.  He is NEVER interested in history.  However, he is salivating over these books and the History Revealed materials. We could have a winner, folks! 

  • Artistic Pursuits, 4-6 Book One (coupled with Harmony Fine Arts, mentioned above)

Orville's studies will also include the following:
  • Veritas Press Omnibus I:  Go ahead, giggle....  We have decided to return to Veritas Press.  I'll go buy a big stack of paper bags before Wilbur starts Omni I!  ;)

  • Singapore Math, levels 6 A & B (He is NOT happy that his 1st books are pink! hahaha)

  • Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science

  • Falacy Detective by Nathaniel Bluedorn

  • Piano lessons
We have a big year ahead of us.  I am excited about the many great opportunities that await the boys.

But for now...

I'm off to enjoy the summer!

I hope you have found this series helpful.  Enjoy your summer, too!   Please, feel free to ask me questions if you have any.

And remember, by God's grace, you can homeschool, too!

Happy curriculum hunting!

Disclosure:  I am an affiliate for All About Spelling, The Quarter Mile Math, and Amazon.  If you complete purchases after following the links I provided in this post (or elsewhere on my blog) to their websites, I will receive a commission.  I am not an affiliate for any other companies mentioned in this post.  I have not been compensated for this article and have provided my honest opinon.