Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ramblings of a night owl in the early morning...read with caution! haha!


Coffee, Devo, Bagel and Kitties.  

Do you ever "blog" in your head? Oh my goodness I do, all the time...while washing the dishes, driving to town, hanging clothes on the line.  I have so much to share with you people, but getting it from my head to the computer is another story!  If I had a device that would translate my thoughts directly to the computer - well my blog would be a lot longer.  LOL  I love the idea of a blog because it's a scrapbook of sorts and for me, who never seems to take the time to scrapbook or even just put the pictures together in some sort of an album, well my blog is it.  

Have you heard of Minecraft?  If you haven't, well I don't know whether to be jealous, tell you to watch out or scoff at your missing out on this great learning tool.  ;)

My boys discovered Minecraft a while back when someone started yakking about it.  I put it off as long as I could, but eventually I too got sucked in to the magic of block people and 1980's looking graphics.  I sometimes feel like I am back in the world of Atari.  I describe it as computer generated legos - except everything is a cube.  It's crazy, but they love, Love, LOVE it!  I have to tell you that I love how creative they get to be and how much they are using their thinking, reasoning and creativity skills.  So my friend, Kim, mentioned a homeschool, kid-safe, server and I got the boys signed up.  This particular server offers classes too.  That's right, classes built right into the playing of Minecraft.  A somewhat heavenly concept to my kiddos, let me tell ya!  So, I looked into it and decided we would try it out.  Red picked a class on Plants and Bug picked a class on Animal Habitats.  OH MY GOODNESS!  It is so much more than I thought it was going to be!!!  Each week they get an assignment which teaches a lesson - using videos, reading and various web pages about each subject.  Then after they do the lesson part they are given a building assignment on the Skrafty Minecraft Education Portal.  

So, Red built a model of the parts of a plant, photosynthesis, compost, pollinators, a venus fly trap, a garden, etc.  It is really the coolest thing.  He had to think long and hard and really stretch is thinking skills to figure out how to make each part out of blocks.  He really enjoyed it.  
Here is a pic of Red's lesson on pollination.
 
Here is a look at Red's plant plot - you can see his photosynthesis near the top - the square with yellow and blue is his garden, he also made a bee and the rectangle is a greenhouse.
 
Bug's class is a bit longer and he is still working on his class.  So far he has learned about the desert, the woodlands and the Artic Tundra.  Did you know that a sidewinder snake never has to drink water?  It gets all the water it needs from it's prey.  We watched this cool video about the sidewider and let me tell you it was crazy freaky to watch that snake moving sideways - SO FAST!  AUGH!  But it was very interesting too.  Bug builds each habitat on the Minecraft portal and after learning all about it and the animals, plants, etc that live there.  He's got some pretty cool habitats going.  I love how creative he gets to be.

Here is a view of one of the lessons - desert animals.  See that super cool camel - that's the one we want!

Here is a pic of Bug's Woodlands plot - The big brown thing off to the left is a "tree house".   He has horses and various woodlands animals in the plot. 

I also love that this gets in a bit of extra "science" for them.  Bug is working on the lifepac science and it's going really well.  I like the layout and the easy going nature of it. 
Bug's Science Journal

Red and I are still doing to lapbook journal idea I came up with - we just finished up rocks.  He really enjoyed that unit because he loves rocks.  We just finished that yesterday. 
A look into Red's Science Journal - Igneous Rocks.

He picked moon phases to work on next, so I have a list of books to get at the library.  We are also still working through Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures.  The boys are really excited because I told them that if we finish Zoology 1, that in the fall we could take the Zoology 3: Land Animals of the 6th day in the Skrafty School portal.  You can imagine how excited they are.  LOL  Each class will cover a reading in the book as well as activities and building assignments over what they learned.  Again - layered learning at it's best!  I am going to use the lapbook for that one along with the text and the Minecraft server.  It should be a spectacular class.  

Back in September we started "spelling journals" - a place to keep the various activities we do for each unit of spelling.  I like the variety of ways we come up with to work with words rather than the same old - writing 3 times each, sentences, definitions, etc.  I have found that my kids resist that so much and then we don't get much accomplished at all. So, variety works VERY, VERY well for us.  Each week they have words that they work on - I am using the lists from Building Spelling Skills, but we go over the words and only work on the words that they do not know how to spell correctly.  This saves a lot of tedious work that they hated.  We glue, type, write, bounce, throw a ball, match, say out loud, make flash cards, flap books, fold-a-bles...just about anything you can think of to learn the words.  So far it is going very, very well.  Here is a peak at Bug's unit a few weeks ago.  He typed the words out one day and another day he did word puzzles.  Each unit's work is glued into the journal for safe keeping.
 
Here is a quick look at our History journal - this is Bug's map of Native Americans Tribes in Texas.  We were discussing how far these peoples migrated from the middle east and how long it took, etc.  We talked about various tribes and where they lived in Texas.
 
Bug finished the subtraction facts program on xtramath.org.  He can complete all the facts (0-10) in less than 3 seconds.  Woo-Hoo!  I absolutely love that program.  I can really see a difference in their math since we began using that for memorizing facts.  He began the multiplication placement test yesterday and I was so excited to see so many boxes already green!  (Green means he answered correctly in 3 seconds or less.)  Red is right behind him - at 97% on subtraction.  I love how good they are doing with math.  What a relief for me.  ;)

I am trying to stay ahead of their learning by doing my own studies.  I started Biology a few weeks back and I have to say that I am enjoying it.  It's a bit overwhelming at times, but I think it's giving me some good knowledge that I can use with the boys.  Plus I will have my lapbook journal to use for future reference - bonus!  I just happened to be reading about photosynthesis at the same time Red was and we had a really great discussion about it!  Love that!

Here is a look at my journal - I am currently working on a unit about atoms and molecules and DNA.  I have a system I use that seems to be working well.  I read through the chapter, answer all the questions (using the book as needed) in the lapbook pages, then I go back and work through the notebooking pages that are included with the lapbook set I bought.  It makes me go through the questions twice.  I like this - extra studying I think.  I have found that I remember more of the answers the second time. 
I have also added some math to my own studies.  I have always felt that I just don't quite measure up in the math department.  I often find that I wonder the best way to explain something to the boys without confusing them, etc.  This is one of the reasons that I love to Teaching Textbooks program so much, it does the explaining for me and is so much smoother than I.  But I wanted to sharpen my own skills, so I pulled out one of the Saxon texts I have in my curriculum box and am working my way through it.

Eve, our newest family addition is doing well.  No eggs yet, but honestly that doesn't bother me.  She is just a big old pet to me anyway.  I have to say that I think all she needed was to be the #1 chicken.  LOL  She is the sweetest thing really.  I am almost afraid to get her a friend, she might resent it.  I think she likes being the only one.  She is so funny, she follows me around the yard all the time.  #ilovemychicken  You know what is really funny, Smokey seems to be afraid of her.  Which really surprised me.  He is definitely the alpha cat around here and I figured if anyone wanted to eat the chicken it would be Smoke.  Nope, he is scared of her!  Funny!  He gets down low, eyes as big as saucers and slinks away when he sees her.  Lucky on the other hand still wants to make her his dinner!  #winnerwinnerchickendinner #donteatmychicken #badkitty  When we are in the backyard, I let her out of the coop to free range.  Well when Lucky comes back there we say #blackisback, so watch out!  LOL

 

This is the one of the first days after we brought her home, Messy was very, very intrigued by Eve.






Another first few days - Lucky has discovered the chicken.  He would stalk around the coop watching her.  Poor chicken!

 

 

Here is Eve's first time venturing out of the "henitentiary".







Our neighbor's daughter LOVES Eve, she was out in the backyard with me one afternoon and I looked up to find her in the run with the chicken!  LOL


 
These three are turning into the best of friends.  They just crack me up!














Messy and Scamp like the chicken coop way too much. As soon as Eve steps out (and sometimes before) they are headed in to check it out, roll around or find a place to nap.  Crazy animals!



Baseball season is underway and the boys are having a good time.  Red's team moved up a league this year and they are having to work a little harder.  It's really good for them I think to actually have some competition.  I think it helps to build their skills.  Bug is playing short stop again this year and loves it.  He is so long and lanky and fast!  We get out in the backyard and practice.  I figure our next property needs to have space for a ball field.  

Zoo Pictures - The Johnson Family Zoo:

Messy - all worn out.

The Rebels turn two!
 
Sweet Minnie Me

 
Momma's Smoke

 
Bug's Luck-Luck 

  Sometimes Eve is so quiet that I forget she is in the backyard!  I find myself frantically searching and calling her name (someday I know she will answer) and then undoubtedly find munching away somewhere - like in the cedar trees!


Messy climbing high in the red oak tree!









Forever Friends...









One rainy Sunday morning, I decided to sit out on the back porch and watch the sermon on my computer. Since I was out back and it wasn't raining that hard, I decided to let Eve free range.   Well the "not so hard" rain didn't last long because it started pouring,
thundering and lightening in nothing flat!  LOL  So, here I was with a hound hiding under the bench, Messy crouching beside me and a wet chicken at my feet.  My dilemma was clear - do I make a run for the coop or bring her in.  Hubs won't mind...right?  LOL  It slowed down a bit after some minutes so Eve and I made a run for the coop - thank goodness for bagels!  I shut her in tight and made it back to the porch, soggy, but before thunder boomed again.

Here's a funny story - my sweet man, #lovehim!  Last week while Bug and I were learning about the desert we watched a video about camels.  Well I have to tell you know that they are the cutest things!  Oh my goodness!  Bug and I have decided that we need a camel for our "zoo" (and a turtle).  So I casually mention this to Hubs.  I am cracking up as I type this because he is just so darn sweet.  He didn't say, "No way are you crazy?"  His answer was, "Do you know how much those things eat?"  LOL  I love him, he knows me all to well.  So, someday....I'll be sure to post a picture for you.  ;)



A parting picture...

Three friends, breaking bread together...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Time for an update!

What's up with us?

Our school year has been going along well.  I use the word "well" because I admit that it has been a struggle at times.  Overall the boys are doing very, very well in their studies and I feel like we are moving through the material at a good pace.  I have added in a few things since the new year and I think it is working out well. 

I admit our curriculum, schedule and methods are constantly changing.  I have found that the boys get tired of repetition, as do I.  I like to change things up from time to time, keep it fresh and keep their heads in the game.  This also works well with Red because I haven't found what works "best" for him just yet.  I just keep praying that I am following God's plan.  I am consistently inconsistent...but I find that is possibly the key to good homeschooling (for me anyway).

We are still working our way through the Apologia Zoology "Flying Animals of the 5th day" using the lapbook set I found at currclick.  I really like this lapbook - it works well with the book and it adds in an extra layer of learning for the boys. 

Here is a look at the lapbook for our Zoology study (complete with a Minnie Me!).


I have added in another science curriculum for Bug.  I picked up some other science - a lifepac set - Bug.  I like the layout and I think it's a good way for him to work on some extra "science" stuff on his own. 

I also added in some more "science" stuff for Red - his is a  bit different though.  Currclick had a great sale a while back and I picked up several lapbook/mini book sets about various science subjects.  So using these in a spiral, I have set up a "science notebook" for Red.  He picked a set about tornadoes to work on first (surprise, surprise) so that is where we started.  I picked up a few books at the library for us to look at as well. 

Red's science journal:
 
Our history study has been moving along really well - I really like this curriculum.  We began talking about the continents and oceans, so I expanded that part on my own.  The boys have "continent work" each school day - they answer three questions about the continents - name some animals, countries, interesting facts, etc.  This will go into their history journals as part of the continent section.  We are forming "books" for each continent.  We are also learning about the oceans.  I have picked up several books about each ocean and we are learning all kinds of interesting facts about them.

Continent Work:

 
Here is a look at the continent mini books we've been working on.  The "continent work goes into this part of their history journal.  As each mini book is opened, they can find various facts and info about the continent.
Along with our mini books I am using a lapbook template about the seven continents.  We are researching each one, learning facts, locations, etc. and adding them to our history journal - I made a special section for continents and oceans at the back of the journal to keep all this work.
 
I've also added a "morning warm-up" to our routine.  I put up a few math things and some language arts stuff each day.  The boys work it all out in a daily warm-up journal.  I like this approach because it practices writing (Woo-Hoo!) and it reinforces skills that we are currently working on.
 
Morning Warm-up:
:
 
Have you ever played Quirkle?  I picked it up last year at Antique Alley, but we never took the time to learn it.  Well a few weeks ago we broke it out for the first time and I have to tell you WE LOVE IT!  It's so fun - yelling "QUIRKLE" and trying to figure out your strategy.  Tons of fun!
 
The boys and I have started a study of the 10 commandments.  We are using Grapevine Studies Stick Figuring Through the Bible.  The boys are making a book.
The triangle represents God and the figure is Moses and you can see the tablets off to the right.
 
The boys are enjoying all of their ECCHO classes.  I am enjoying leading the group this semester.  We have a very large group of families attending this spring.  It's such a great group.  Bug loves his chain reactions class.  He spends the week after class coming up with chain reactions at home.  Messy was helping him out this time.  Sweet girl that she is!

Baseball has started up again...we love it.  Bug is a Marlin and Red is a Dodger again.  They both won their first game.  We are all so excited, we love baseball! 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

First Bat - Dodgers take the W - 11 to 6.

 



I have started a new "study" of my own - Exploring Creation through Biology (Apologia).  I love it!  I have always been a fan of learning.  I love to learn, I love to read, I love to study.  I generally have a study of some sort going...a book, a bible study, something.  As I was digging in one of my curriculum boxes, I came across this set.  I actually picked it up at a sale last fall.  Since Apologia is one of my favorite sciences and it was a GREAT deal, I grabbed it up!  I am so glad I did.  I finished module 1 in 2 days and made a 103 on my test.  My hubs and kids laugh at me as I spout out various tidbits that I learn.  I took biology in both high school and college and I don't really remember learning much.  I guess the older I get the better a student I come.  (Which gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel with my Red!  I just hope it doesn't take three decades to get better!  ha!)  I got the lapbook set for Biology from currclick and it has been making my study so much more interesting.  I am putting them together in a spiral - I figure it will be a good resource for the boys later on.  Some of Bug's current unit coincides with what I am studying, so that is neat.  I think it will definitely help me to understand what he is learning better and hopefully I will be able to better help him! 

Here is a look at my science notebook:

 
Other go-ings-on...

If you look VERY closely at the middle of the picture - hovering over the green flowering plant - well you can see a gorgeous hummingbird moth!  I was out in the garden with Hubs and caught a glimpse at this special wonder!  He buzzed around several plants for about five minutes or so - it was the coolest thing ever!  I was so excited. 


Messy the cat is very much at home these days.  She loves Bug's HUGE dog, his name is Burt.  She will seek him out to sit on him - it is the funnies thing.  I love her.
 


The "Henitentary"

My sweet friend Karen has chickens...and she had one that was being a bully to the others.  I've been wanting to get chickens for a while, but Hubby kept putting off building me a coop.  Well Eve (the evil chicken) was the perfect excuse!  Haha!  My sweet man built the Henitentary for Eve!  We brought her home last weekend, in the middle of a wild and crazy storm no less! 

Here is Miss Eve...I have to tell you I think she is quite sweet!

Hubs says this is her "mugshot"

Inmate 001
 
Going into the "Big House"

 
The Lookout

Lucky is checking on his prisoner

 

 
 
 The kitties are quite fascinated by Eve - see Lucky checking her out on the other side of the run?  :)
I got Eve a "salad ball" as Red calls it.  (Cabbage) - I attempted to hang it using string but it didn't hold well - so Hubs found me some wire.  I think Eve is enjoying it - she spends a lot of time out in her run pecking at it. 
 

 
Well I had better get the boys off to bed....so until next time...  we-
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

I've SURVIVED!

I began this post - then life overtook me and I didn't get back to it...but I will leave it as I started it and then continue...I hope you enjoy my ramblings...

Our first week of school has come and gone and I can say I have survived!

Is that bad?

Well ptttthhh (tongue sticking out, nose crinkled, arms waving) to you!

:)

We began our new school year this week and while day 2 met with many challenges, overall it's been good.

We've settled into routine nicely, and boy oh boy do I like routine.  The boys agree apparently even thought they may not like admitting it.  Hehe

Our school hours are 10-2:30, I love that.  It gives us a good base of what is allowed when without hundreds of questions (that they already know the answer too).

I have also incorporated interactive journals this year - the boys have a journal for science, spelling, poetry, literature study and history.

Here is a look at Bug's poetry journal.  On the right side of the page is the introduction info we went over about Rudyard Kipling.  Then on the right is the "connection" he made with this info.  He drew a scene from the jungle book.
 
Here is a look at Bug's spelling journal.  One day 1 he goes over the words (that is the green sheet on the right hand side; and makes flash cards (in the pocket on the left).  Then the next day he does review words by finding them in the sentences (red sheet) and an activity - like the word find on the left.  Day three he words in his building spelling skills book, Day 4 he takes a pre-test (or test).  Everything gets glued onto these two pages.  That way he can see all of his work for Unit 1 at one time when he is reviewing.
 
This is a look into Red's history journal (Day 2).  This year we are studying Our Nation Under God by Christian Liberty Press.  On the right you can see the information that I provided them (we glued it in).  Then the boys made flaps to cover the definition of each type of government. 
 
Here is a look at Bug's science journal.  We are using Zoology 1 Flying animals of the 5th day by Apologia.  I got the lapbook that goes with the curriculum from currclick and I am so excited that I did.  We are using all the lapbook parts in our interactive journal.  On the first day we review "What is zoology" and the boys wrote down the definition in a mini book.   Then we added that to the journal.  Our next lesson was about Animal Classification, after the lesson, we created a brochure and added it to our journal.  When we complete lesson 1, these pages will be filled.










Here's a look at Bug's History Journal (Day 1).  On the right you will see Chapter 1 and the information we discussed.  Then you can see the various flaps we made to cover verses we looked up.  We were talking about since God created our world he has the right to govern us.  So we looked up several verses in the bible.  We either glued or wrote the verse on in our journal and created a flap to go over it.  The blue is our Jesus flap, the black is the "universe" and the white is a cloud.



Here is a screen shot of the board during our government lesson.  I am so excited about my new board...it's so big and I have so much room...love love love it!


We did a poetry lesson over "lanterns" - which is a light, airy Japanese poem.  Here you can see what we were learning.  Line 1. is one syllable, Line 2 is two syllables, Line 3 is three syllables, Line 4 is four syllables and Line 5 is one syllable.  Next to it you can see the poem that Bug wrote about the color purple and the poem I wrote about God.
 
Here you can see a few of our lanterns hanging on the wall.  Ms. Kellie, I think the space one is for you.  Your Jr. Astronaut Training classes have certainly made an impact! 

Space
Is Cool
and it is
black and has stars
Cool
 


The work is done....


The board is clean...
 

 
The work all checked...
 
And that's all folks....wow, I can't believe another year has begun.  I am so very blessed be able to teach my boys.  I have to remind myself of this blessing time after time, but I truly feel blessed.
 
Until next time...hug your babies and to love one another...
 
we-