Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ramblings of a night owl in the early 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  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...

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