Let’s Talk Curriculum

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the products or businesses listed here. This is all my opinion, and I am not being compensated in any way.

It’s that time of year again- curriculum shopping time! Being the nerd that I am, there’s just nothing like receiving those boxes of new books at my doorstep. But I have to confess, I was a little worried that this year would be a bit of a disappointment. You see, unschooling means using life as your curriculum, and, to me, just a few weeks ago I was lamenting the fact that the only actual curriculum I would be buying were the books for Devin’s private investigation unit.
I needn’t have worried. This has, by far, been the best curriculum shopping year ever because I wasn’t confined to buying just books. Here I’m going to share our newest learning tools for the rest of this year and next year.

Our Books

-Life of Fred- In order to make math less monotonous and more enjoyable for everyone, we’ve all decided on Life of Fred for math.I actually ordered almost every single book available up through advanced algebra. The only one I did not get is beginning algebra because Dillon won’t be doing that until 10th grade. I also ordered the Life of Fred high school language arts curriculum as well.

Teaching Astronomy through Art Books 1 and 2

Astronomy- A Self-Teaching Guide

Understanding Psychology- Third Edition

Traditional Logic 1- Introduction to Formal Logic

The Definitive Book of Body Language, Body Language 101, and Liespotting

For those of you new to my blog, you can find our approach to unschooling high school here-https://redheadmom8.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/navigating-the-red-tape-part-3-our-path-to-an-accredited-diploma/

All the Other Good Stuff

– Minecraft Homeschool

– Five Below is a homeschooler’s dream. It has such a vast array of activities for kids at the lowest possible prices. We purchased tons of crafts, paints, sketchbooks, mini Lego sets, books-yes, more books-, and games.

– Toys R Us has also been an excellent resource for us. While it is a bit pricier, the quality and assortment of activities is phenomenal. Some examples of what we got there are:
– a model solar system with an interactive tablet
– a microscope, telescope, and binoculars
– Lincoln Logs and Legos
– a butterfly kit where you actually send away for real caterpillars
– soooo many games
– Monopoly
– Yahtzee
– Scattergories
– Duck Dynasty trivia
– Brain Quest States game
– a keyboard which is compatible with Apple devices
– a Pretend and Play school set- my personal favorite since my girls love to play school

– We did get a few items at Walmart as well, such as a kid’s guitar, which is really just a miniature version of a real guitar, a mini trampoline, and a sewing machine, since the girls and I really want to learn how to sew.

Our “school” shopping this year has far surpassed my expectations. Now onto watching the kids get inspired!!

What has been your favorite curriculum purchase?

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Break Week??? But You’re Unschoolers!

#unschooling

     Tomorrow marks the beginning of our first break week since Christmas break. Since we school year round, we follow a six weeks on, one week off schedule with longer breaks over Christmas, Easter, and the summer. Why do you need breaks if you’re unschooling? you might ask. I can only answer for our family, but here’s why.

– I don’t need to log in what my children do during this break. Think of it as more of a break for me than my kids. While this week may look similar to ”on” weeks, I can take a breather from the tedious record-keeping required by PA.

– My kids can get a respite from their math curriculum. To be sure, there will be plenty of math learned this week, but they won’t even realize it! Measuring for experiments and recipes, board games, divvying up meal portions, and geometry will continue as usual. These are activities that come naturally to my children. Unfortunately, required standardized testing has made me anxious enough that I do require my kids in third grade and up to complete a traditional math curriculum. I really do have trouble reconciling this. I see my kids doing math all the time without ever knowing it, but, somehow, I doubt that would be enough for the school district. I am switching to Life of Fred next year, though. (I actually just ordered almost all of these books since I have such a wide age range.) This erases the sting a little because literature based math will definitely be better for everyone to swallow.

I can just let my children be. Although I’m definitely getting better at this, I still feel sometimes like I’m hovering over them to see exactly what they’re doing so I can later write it down. I often wonder if the powers that be realize how much this hinders learning. If a child is left alone, he/she will naturally accomplish so much more than if they know they’re being watched. I know this. I’ve seen it happen with my own children. They’ll be happily pursuing any number of activities, but if I start questioning them too much, they’ll immediately freeze and just stop. Maybe it’s out of self-consciousness or thinking that what they were doing wasn’t what I expected of them. I’m not saying you shouldn’t show interest in what your children are doing…I’m saying that, in my case, I went a little overboard. And I’ll admit that even now I still unintentionally express irritation sometimes when I don’t see the value of their pursuits. This is not a fault of my children- it’s my own, and I’m working hard to rid myself of this ”school” mentality.

     So, this is why my family takes ”breaks.” They’re still learning all the time, but they’re learning in freedom this week. Freedom from an overregulated state and, as a result, a leech for a Mom. And, honestly, that’s enough for anyone to need to take a breather.

Do you school year round? If you’re unschooling (or not), do you feel the need for breaks as well? I’d love to read your thoughts on this!

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Random 5 Friday- Snowed In!

#snowedin

Our area got record- breaking snow accumulation yesterday- at least 20 inches.

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This means that we’ll be stuck in the house for a while, so creativity is going to be key. Here are five things we’ve done since being snowed in.

1. We made good use of DVDs. American Girl DVDs, Ponyo, and The Emperor’s New Groove have been hits.

2. We’ve done lots and lots of crafting- painting rocks, Chinese lanterns, Sharpie art, and clay creations.

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3. Lots of learning has been happening through silly and gross facts books, solar system games, and Egyptian treasures kits.

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4. Minecraft, as usual, is occupying much of the big kids’ time.

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5. Lastly, my personal favorite, random silliness has been rampant.

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What are your favorite homebound activities??

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Making Your Home Sing Monday

An Intimate Glimpse into Life with Ten Kids- February

#extralargefamilies

     Life with ten kids isn’t easy, but it’s usually not as hectic as most people would believe. Today you’re invited in to our unschooling household- as is…no embellishments (like I would need to do that), no gloss overs. This is the real deal.
     If you’re not familiar with my blog, here is another post in which I listed everyone by name and, if it’s one of the kids, by age. Just to clarify things, we actually have eleven kids, but our oldest, Brendan, is twenty and no longer lives at home. I always feel bad leaving him out, so now that that’s off my chest…on to our day!

February 13, 2014

1:40am- I wake up to use the bathroom and decide to moderate some comments on my blog- I hate to let them sit all night. Shortly afterwards, Kenzie wakes up. She goes back to sleep after a few minutes of fussing. (She’s teething again. I feel like every time I write one of these posts, she’s teething and crabby. Oh, well. Such is life.)

2:45am- I’m still awake- that blasted Dunkin Donuts coffee! Kenzie wakes up again, then shortly falls back asleep.

3:20am- …still awake…Kenzie wakes again. I get her calmed down again. I check my Twitter, since I can’t sleep anyway. I try watching some goofy SyFy movie, hoping it will put me to sleep, to no avail. I don’t know how it is with you, but I need to be watching something that actually interests me in order to fall asleep. Put in my favorite movie, I’m out like a light. Turn on an infomercial, and I’m up all night. So…I put in a Sherlock DVD- the one where Moriarty returns, and I’m out in 15 minutes flat. See?

7:15am- London wakes up and asks me if I can play Yahtzee with her. Not now. Can she make a clay charm? Later. Sigh…I might as well get up.
   Shawn is off today because of the weather. I open the front door to look out and see this-

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Already?

7:45- I hear most of the other kids awake upstairs. Kenzie is content…for the moment.

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8:15- By now Kenzie’s screaming. As you’re reading this, just imagine it as background music because I hear it off and on all.day.long. I make myself coffee and a bagel and cereal for the kids.

9am- Chore time! Everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, but that doesn’t stop several of the kids from whining. After a minute or two, they stop, and everything gets done. Chores only take 15-20 minutes, if that.

9:15- I get Ireland, Summer, and Kenzie dressed. Then their dresser falls apart.

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

9:30- I went to 5 Below and bought a ton of stuff the day before, so the kids are eager to try everything.

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Little decals came with this kit to cut out and put on the rocks like tattoos. We must have twenty pairs of scissors, but I can’t find any, so I have to use a utility knife. Not particularly safe when you’ve got children surrounding you.

Suddenly, I hear Shawn and Dillon upstairs yelling and banging things. Apparently, there was a mouse in my shoe tote. They got it. Yuck.
Unfortunately, all the noise wakes up Kenzie, who fell asleep only 45 minutes earlier.

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She is not a happy camper. Poor thing.

10am- The kids move on to clay, a 3-d animal game, and pretending to be pirates.

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Summer didn’t have a pirate scarf for her head, so she used bubble wrap. Innovation.

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Kenzie is much happier by this time.

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11am- I introduce drawing with Sharpies. Remind me to keep Summer far away from them.

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Since I have to keep a close eye on the kids with the Sharpies, I create my own masterpiece.

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Here’s Summer’s masterpiece. I guess I should have watched them closer.

While we’re drawing, Shawn is busy trying to put together a makeshift shovel. Ours broke the other day when he was shoveling the neighbor’s driveway. Because of the snow there’s not a single store in town that has any in stock.

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Isn’t he handy? It’s actually pretty hilarious because it’s like seven feet tall.

I decide to look outside again.

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Really??

11:30- The kids have exhausted me with their flitting from one activity to another. I put in American Girl- Molly, hoping to get them to sit for a while. Only Caollin, Bailey, Ireland, and Summer stay to watch it. Everyone else, besides Kenzie, goes upstairs with Shawn. That’s fine with me!

12pm- Lunchtime! PB&J uncrustables and beefsteak- they can pick either one. Devin wakes up. Okay, we woke her up.

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She just loves to have her picture taken!

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Dillon’s learned to just ignore me.

12:50- There’s a knock at the door. Our neighbor’s son has shoveled our front steps and sidewalk, since Shawn shoveled his mom’s driveway. (She’s so sweet. She was Devin’s first grade teacher; she’s retired now.) This motivates Shawn to shovel out our driveway out back.

1pm- I read Little House to Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and Bailey. Devin starts her schoolwork. After Little House, I read aloud to London, Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer while Dillon, Arianna, and Caollin do silent reading. They read twice a day- after family readaloud and at 8pm when I help Devin with algebra. Their afternoon reading is usually non-fiction or historical fiction. Dillon and Arianna are reading about mummies, while Caollin is reading a fictional story about a girl in the Jamestown colony. While I read aloud, the kids either play with legos, clay, or do word searches.

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Today after reading time, the kids all do their own thing…look at books, fact cards, or play a solar system game.

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I finally decide to fold laundry that’s been sitting here since yesterday. Then I notice that Summer’s gotten into my makeup…again.

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2:45- I play Yahtzee Jr. with Caollin, London, and Ireland.

3:30- We order dinner from a deli on the corner that is actually open in this weather! Yay for me! Then, it’s chores!

4pm- We eat supper. Delicious, but what a mess!

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4:30- I start cleaning the table but get sidetracked by doing another load of laundry. I put on the anime Ponyo to keep the kids occupied.

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I finish cleaning the table.

5:30- I finally get to my devotions…sort of. Kenzie starts screaming halfway through, so I have to stop.

6pm- The house is quiet, so I check my Twitter and emails.

6:30- Bathtime!! First Kenzie, then London and Ireland, then Caollin and Summer, finally Bailey and Luke.

6:45- Chore time. I know you’re probably wondering how bathtime went so fast…it’s actually still going on. That’s why I put an older kid in with a younger kid…they’re self-sufficient. Okay, except Bailey and Luke. They’re only a year apart and, apparently, aren’t ready for unsupervised bathing because they dumped an entire bottle of shampoo out today. Arianna and Dillon do their math while the house is semi-quiet.

7pm- Ireland and Summer play with clay and legos, while Caollin is fascinated with the Egyptian kit I got yesterday. She even makes a paper mummy to put in the sarcophagus.

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Kenzie’s nice and clean and ready for her devotions!

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I came down the steps and saw Arianna playing with the kids.

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Caollin’s paper doll mummy

Eventually, everyone wanted to be the pharaoh.

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Even pharaohs do math!

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7:15- Caollin moves on to Mind Bender puzzles and then her math. Several of the other kids are in my room on their electronics.

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7:45- Bedtime story…the Family Bible is MIA, so we’ll have to hunt for that tomorrow.

8pm- Bailey, Luke, Ireland, and Summer go to bed. Caollin and London paint Chinese lanterns. Then, Dillon, Arianna, Caollin, and London do more silent reading- this time anything they choose.

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I do algebra with Devin (I love the FOIL method!)

9:15- Caollin and London go up to bed, and I start writing this post.

10:53- That’s right now. I’m finishing this up, and hopefully going to bed.

Are you as tired as I am?

What’s your day like??

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Capturing the Journey- Life with Ten Kids- Week 2

#family

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Since it’s only been four days since my last post like this, the pictures are sparse, but here you go!

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Have a great week!!

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When God Answers…Make Sure You’re Listening

#discerningGod’swill

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     Last month I wrote a post called ”When God Answers.” It was, in essence, about a question I had posed to God and how he answered it…or I thought he answered it. I was having second thoughts over a birth control implant, called Implanon, that I had gotten. After having a DVT in my tenth pregnancy and being on blood thinning injections throughout my entire eleventh pregnancy, my doctors sufficiently scared me into it.
     I prayed that God would give me a clear answer regarding whether I should have it removed. A week later, I went to the ER with pain in my right calf. There was no DVT there, just some superficial clots, but they did find a newly formed DVT behind my right knee…a place where I never experienced any pain.
     I took this as God’s answer to my prayers- I still do- but I know now that I was completely wrong in my interpretation of it. You see, I so wanted, out of fear, for His answer to be, ”Yes, Shelly, you did the right thing,” that I believe I took His response and conformed it to mean what I wanted it to. Here is what I assumed: God had led me to the hospital as soon as this clot had formed to save my life and to warn me that this is what would happen in any future pregnancies. I truly did believe that, so I was at peace with my decision.
     Until someone pointed out that one of the effects of Implanon is that it prevents implantation. I don’t know about you, but, to me, that’s abortion. I denied it at first. I told myself that the woman who told me this was misled, but I decided to research it anyway.
     Not only was she right, but a rare side effect of Implanon is blood clots! I got another DVT two months after I had it implanted! I told myself that this was God’s way of telling me that I did the right thing, but I now know that this blood clot was probably caused by the Implanon! That was my answer, and I got it completely wrong!
     To make matters worse, the reason I agreed to get this implant was because a. The doctor told me this would not increase my risk of blood clots and b. I had told my doctor that I didn’t want an IUD because they prevent implantation, and I’m pro-life (obviously, I have 11 kids), but she conveniently omitted the fact that Implanon does, too!
     I’m furious that my doctor lied to me and put something in my body that goes against everything I believe in, and I’m furious with myself for not seeing this situation clearly from the beginning. I guess discernment is something I still need to pray about.
     Next week, I have an appointment to have this thing removed. I was literally sick to my stomach when I found all this out and waiting this long makes it even worse. I’m not looking forward to going there because I know that my doctor is going to give me a hard time, and she will badger me about alternative methods. Suffice it to say, this will be my last appointment there.
     The point of this post is to plead with you to listen objectively and wholeheartedly when you’re waiting for an answer from God, and never, ever, assume your doctor will voluntarily give you information you haven’t specifically asked for. Unfortunately, we can’t even trust them anymore.
     On a final note, if you’ve decided to peruse my archives to read the original post, I’ve deleted it. I don’t want to mislead anyone else into thinking that this was God’s will for me. It was mine.

Have you ever misinterpreted God’s will, only to discover it later in a big way?

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Beware of the Pack Mentality

#faith

Last week I decided to open a twitter account because, well, that’s the thing to do. With the whole Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate still fresh in my mind, I tweeted a question my daughter once posed about evolution. I thought it was innocent enough…wrong!
Saturday and Sunday I was attacked all.day.long by athiests and evolutionists. And not just personal attacks against me, but against homeschooling, the bible, God, and my children! The slants against my children were particularly vicious-

-”Her children probably don’t even know how to spell IQ.”

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There goes that idea.

-”Your children are going to be scientifically illiterate.”

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Hmmm…

-”Did a goat just back over one of them?”
I’m assuming this is referring to the ”all homeschoolers live on farms” stereotype. Funny thing is, I live in the city!

-”You are raising your kids on hell and fear.”
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They look terrified, don’t they? Actually, Dillon did get sick a few minutes after this was taken.

-”You’re sheltering your children from the real world.”
Boy, that’s original. Actually, it’s hard to shelter them considering we live in the city and are the only Christians in the entire family.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to wrap my brain around why they care so much about a person with nine twitter followers. I must have had to block about fifteen people, and I’ve never blocked anyone before! (referring to when I still had a Facebook account)
I felt like I was in one of my kids’ games! You know the ones- where every time you beat a bad guy, five more show up? They were acting like a pack of wild, injured animals. Wait…that’s when I realized something- they’re acting this way because instinctively they know their time is almost up. Instinctively, they know that they’re wrong, and someday they will have to face the Almighty God, and they’re terrified. Like I said, a pack of injured animals.
Someday, we will all meet Him, and I’ll be honored to say that I was persecuted in His holy and precious name. What about you?

    
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Five Free Field Trips

#homeschool #freefieldtrips

Having ten kids in the house can be a bit of a financial strain, so we have to be creative when it comes to field trips. Maybe some of these field trip ideas will inspire you and help you save money!

1. Allentown Art Museum- Our local art museum has free admission on Sundays and a free children’s art workshop where instructors will help them with an art project, or they can choose another independent project.

2. Lehigh County Historical Society- This is a museum showcasing local history. Once in a while, they’ll have free admission, invite other local museums to display things, and give a tour of the Trexler House.

3. Allentown Fish Hatchery- This is where they raise trout for stocking during fishing season. The kids love to feed the fish (there is a small fee for the fish food) and watch them all jump all over the water.

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4. Cabela’s- We looove Cabela’s. There’s so much to look at…huge fish tanks, a fish pond, and animal displays everywhere. All of the fish and animals are labeled, and there are some displays with prerecorded narratives.

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5. Allentown Recycling Center- We set up an appointment here and actually got a guided tour. The kids also got to help separate recyclables, throw stuff into the  compactors (which they particularly enjoyed), and they got a souvenir bag with a bunch of neat stuff, including shoelaces made from recycled water bottles!

Research where you live and see what free resources you can find. So many establishments are happy to share what they do!

What free field trip ideas do you have?

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Share the Wealth Sunday Blog Hop

Weekend Review: Breakthrough

#unschooling

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     The past month has been pretty awful weather-wise, and this week was no different. Snow Monday, snow and ice Tuesday night, and we were expected to get thirty inches this weekend, but, last that I heard, that storm has changed course. I really hope that’s true because Caollin and London are being baptized on Sunday!! I’m really hoping I don’t have to postpone it because of another snowstorm.
     Anyway…on with my weekend review.
     I actually made it to church for once on Sunday because the weather was decent enough to get out of the driveway. Caollin and London were recorded giving their testimonies for their baptism this Sunday. The testimonies are usually given in person on the day it actually happens, but when children decide to get baptized, they’ll tape it so the kids aren’t too uncomfortable. Believe me, the girls really appreciate that!
     Devin spent the weekend at her friend’s house and came home Sunday afternoon. She hadn’t seen her since July, so she had a really good time.
     My panic from last week continued for part of the weekend, until I had a breakthrough when I realized one of the reasons my kids weren’t really doing anything was because of me. I was pressuring them so much about doing educational activities that I was stifling their creativity, so this week has been about standing back and watching them live life.
     There was so much snow that this was an excellent week for snowboarding. Starting Monday, Dillon and Arianna’s friend had a couple of snow days, so they spent them snowboarding and sledding on a hill at the nearby creek.
     Dillon and Arianna have also been making several YouTube videos. Dillon has been researching Minecraft mods and skins and whatnot and posting videos about how to download and install them. Arianna has been making her own makeup tutorials.
     Caollin, London, Bailey, and Ireland have been playing ”restaurant” all week. They’re very into it. Caollin made menus,

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and they’ve been busy taking orders and setting tables in Caollin and London’s bedroom.

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     Devin finished up her astronomy unit this week and has moved on to oceanography.
     Tuesday was really just a continuation of Monday’s activities. More snowboarding, restaurant play, and YouTube video production.
     Dillon found some really cool maps for Minecraft, and Caollin and he have been incorporating them into Towns they’ve been creating for the past couple of weeks.
     Caollin decided to advertise for her restaurant, so she made some illustrations of the foods they serve.
     Wednesday we researched birds indigenous to Pennsylvania and were delighted to find out that there are roadrunners here! We’ll have to check exactly where because we’d love to see one. They’re so cute!
     Dillon watched a documentary about the titan boa with his dad, and Arianna researched plants and pollination in an Abeka science book a friend gave us. Caollin and London were still busy working at their restaurant.
     On Thursday the funniest thing happened. London came downstairs crying her eyes out. I asked her what was wrong. Apparently Caollin fired her for leaving her shift early! I had to laugh because this was like a real job to them! Caollin was lecturing London about what her responsibilities are as a server. Later, I heard Caollin hire Bailey as a busboy, Ireland as a dishwasher, and Summer as a hostess.

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The dishwashing station

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The restaurant pantry

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The restaurant was moved downstairs today, so Kenzie became a customer

     Devin was busy researching how silk is made. She doesn’t mind doing projects as long as she can somehow incorporate art into it.

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     Dillon made a really neat water slide and cabin on Minecraft.

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     I went upstairs to see what Arianna was up to and found her copying passages from Psalms in rainbow markers! What a neat idea!
     Friday will probably be more of the same and a trip to the grocery store. I really don’t mind the fact that the kids did pretty much the same thing everyday because they’re delving deeper and deeper into these activities, and they’re really passionate about them.
     So, this is what our house has looked like this week…not too exciting, but the kids were happy, content, and learning, so that’s good enough for me!

How was your week?

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