A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Spiders and Squirrels and Snakes, Oh My!

The end of the school year is in sight, and the great outdoors are calling! (If the rain ever stops ;P) Join me for another week of highlights from There’s No Place Like Home!

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Well, we’ve now just completed the second last week of school for the Littles and the Big Kids. The Teens have another three weeks to go because they follow a more traditional school schedule. The end of the school year is a bit bittersweet for me because, while I love the summer, I do not enjoy the lack of structure from not doing our school routine everyday. Besides that, I really do enjoy our school routine, so I know that I’m going to be bored out of my mind without the hustle and bustle of the school day. Oh, well. Just plan on me posting lots of new unit studies because that’s what I usually spend my time doing when boredom sets in. I will admit, however that I am looking forward to the deep cleaning we always do the first few days of summer break because this house is a wreck.

This week was very similar to last week in that it’s been cold and, once again, I had to take five children to the dentist. Fun. No cavities this week, but one does need to see an orthodontist. Joy. Other than that, it’s been a pretty laid back week- as far as a household of twelve people can be laid back. 🙂 Now on to our week:

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.)

The Littles

This week we started reading Madeline, which the kids have enjoyed so far. We found France, where the story takes place, on our world map and each child got their own map to place a story disk on. They also colored their own French flags, and we discussed so many different topics while reading, such as appendixes, hospital visits, steamboats, land line telephones (who would’ve thought they would be considered history in our lifetime!?), and the Eiffel Tower.

I’m going to confess that we spent a lot of time vegging out in front of the TV because it’s just been a cold, rainy week, and we really didn’t feel like venturing outside.

The Big Kids

The older kids are still working on their research/reference unit and will probably do so until the end of next week when they finish school. We read about Noah Webster and each child has been busy compiling a list of words they don’t know from our read-alouds and their silent reading selections (which, incidentally, are all the same as last week) to author their own dictionaries. Today they got to decorate the covers.

Caollin (11) did get to spend some time at the creek with Dillon (16), and she had a blast finding salamanders, crayfish, and a newt. Otherwise, they, too, have just been relaxing in the house, waiting for the sun to finally come out again.

The Teens

Schoolwork-wise, it’s really just been business as usual with these three.

Arianna (14) has been busy reading and helping with the younger kids during school time this week. On Sunday she went to see a local theater group’s performance of “Mary Poppins” with my mother. She really enjoyed it and hopes to see some more shows like it. (She recently saw “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” as well).

Dillon is still having the time of his life taking photographs and has even ventured out in this dreary weather to hone his photography skills. Here’s a sampling of what he did this week:

A few days ago he created a Facebook page for his photography, and he’s really been working hard at perfecting his skills.

Devin (17) has, once again, spent a lot of time with our oldest son this week. She’s looking forward to next month’s anime convention in Atlantic City and is busying herself with the details of what characters she’s going to cosplay. She also wants a job in the worst way, but I just haven’t gotten around to getting her a photo ID just yet.

Unfortunately, our school district does not issue school IDs to homeschoolers, which makes everything from getting a job to attending after-school events to taking SATs that much harder. I honestly believe they should begin issuing them to homeschoolers, since we do have to report to them yearly, so our kids are, technically, still students in the district, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, this has been our week! What’s yours looked like?

 

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Looking at the Bright Side of Unschooling

Finding balance within your homeschool is the key to superior learning, and some unschooling philosophies can play a key role in that.

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Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After writing yesterday’s post about our experience with unschooling, I began to wonder if I was able to adequately convey our good experiences with it. I fear that there was a bit of negativity at the end, and I felt the need to clarify myself.

I am not against unschooling. I feel that some of its philosophies about allowing children to pursue their own interests and using life as a curriculum hit the nail right on the head. I have seen first-hand how much children learn when they have a vested interest in something. In fact, our family still uses natural learning as an important part of our homeschooling routine. Our structured learning normally takes only about two hours a day, while the rest of the day is open for my children to engage in anything they find useful and interesting.

What this has looked like this past week has been my son deciding that he would like to become a wildlife photographer after spending hours at the creek every day taking photos like these:

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Spending six hours a day doing structured school work would have prevented him from committing the time he did towards this project. Is this as valuable as book work? I’d have to say that this holds even more value because this is something he initiated on his own and will, therefore, remember all the better.

Before our unschool experiment, I would have scoffed if he had asked me to go to the creek during the school day every single day for an entire week. I would have lectured him about the importance of getting an education. Unschooling taught me to recognize that this is an education.

It also gave me the ability to see the worth in seemingly mundane things that many parents overlook. Caring for a sick baby bird. Making homemade paint out of sidewalk chalk. Helping the neighbor in her garden. These are all things I would happily set aside school work for in order to pursue.

Does this mean I do not assign value to book learning? Absolutely not. I am a self-professed nerd, and I realize that there are some things that are better learned with some structure- usually some sort of book, but not always.

It all comes down to balance. At the end of the day- at least with my children- there are some things which are best learned when they are taught, and there are other things best left to experience in real life. This is what homeschooling is all about. Finding the balance that is right for your family and allowing the joy that follows to shine through.

For more photos like these, you can follow my son on Instagram!

 

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Unit Study Advice Every Homeschooler Needs to Know

Not sure how to use unit studies? Here are some tips I wish someone had given to me a long time ago!

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Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

In an attempt to make your life immensely easier, today I’m sharing with you some wisdom I’ve gained throughout my years of utilizing unit studies that I wish someone had shared with me. Through much trial and error, tweaking of curriculum, and, yes, burnout, I’ve reached a place in my life where I can honestly say that, yes, unit studies do, indeed, make life much more simple. This did not come easily, and only you can know what will work for your family and what will not. With that being said, here are the most practical tips I can offer you with regards to successfully implementing thematic units into your homeschool routine.

1. Unit studies are cross-curricular. Use that to your advantage. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first began to use unit studies was to use them on top of everything else we were doing. Instead of using this method to cover our science, social studies, art, etc., we would complete a full day of “school” and then add on a unit study for “fun.” Admittedly, at first it was a novel idea, and we enjoyed the activities because they were so different from the constant seatwork we were used to; however, very quickly it became too much and the “fun” wore off and was replaced by burnout, which led to sending my children back to public school for two years. When I decided to homeschool again, I was determined to use unit studies but in a much more relaxed manner. After much reading and research, I realized that unit studies sufficiently cover every required (and quite a few extra) subjects, with exception to phonics, grammar, and math- and even that is not written in stone. Some families are able to incorporate enough phonics, grammar, and math into their lessons to satisfy those requirements, as well.

2. If you choose to supplement, keep it simple. I am absolutely convinced that there is no need to supplement any area beyond math and some language arts. While these subjects are included in many unit study activities, most families feel more comfortable giving these subjects a little boost. My children have a “table time” most mornings where they will complete a math lesson and either a spelling lesson or work on memorizing passages from great literature. (We are currently using How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, which is phenomenal.) However, depending on what we will be covering on any given day in our unit study, we do not complete these lessons every single day. If I know that we will be doing a lot of writing or copywork or even some grammar lessons in our unit that day, we will only do math at table time. If I have a math lesson incorporated into what we will be pursuing, we skip the morning math lesson. My children are especially excited on those rare days that both of these subjects are covered in our activities and they get to completely skip their table time lessons. If your child will be sufficiently covering these subjects in your unit study lessons, there is no need to be redundant. Mix it up a bit. It will be refreshing for both you and your kids!

3. Don’t go overboard! Less is more. I can get a bit overexcited when creating our weekly lesson plans. If you ever happen to catch a glimpse of my lesson plan books, you will see that they are filled with eraser marks and entire weeks scratched out. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to choosing activities for my children, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I want to do it all. Everything looks so good, and I don’t want my kids (or me) to miss out on anything. So…I begin penciling in enough activities to keep us busy for twelve hours a day…until I look at it again a few hours later and realize that it’s never going to work. You know your kids best, so this is a great time to use that asset. Only you know how much your children will be able to comfortably handle in one day. At this point, besides our unit study read-aloud, I only schedule two related activities per day. That’s it. I know some people may be gasping at this statement, but I say it without guilt. I know my kids. You know yours. If your kids want to do four activities a day, go for it. If your child gets overwhelmed by any more than one per day, that’s great, too. One of the best things about homeschooling is the freedom to tailor our children’s education to fit their individual needs.

4. Don’t try to do every single listed activity. This ties in with #3. I promise you, if you try to complete every single suggestion, the unit study will get old fast. When choosing your activities, consider not only the activities your kids will enjoy, but also what you are comfortable with, as well. No one wants a cranky homeschool mom! While your kids may love to paint, if the thought of the mess stresses you out, skip it. There will be other opportunities for your kids in the future. (Perhaps you could even hold off on it until the summer and then move the activity outside and do it just for fun.) Stick to those suggestions that will work for all of you.

5. Don’t try to read every single book listed. As with the activities, the books are merely suggestions to get you started. You may decide not to use any books on the list and use alternatives you dig up yourself. That is perfectly fine. As the saying goes, use your curriculum…don’t let it use you.

6. If your children get bored with the topic, plan a new unit. Your son may love snakes. He may jump at the chance to memorize their names, study their habitats, create snakes out of clay, and calculate the size difference between an Egyptian cobra and a timber rattlesnake. If, however, his eyes start to glaze over after covering this unit for several weeks, it may be time to move on. Don’t destroy your child’s love of a particular subject by insisting that it be completed through to the very end. There are so many amazing things that God has created for us to learn about. This is the perfect chance to explore what else is out there!

7. Establish a general daily routine instead of an ironclad time schedule. I’m a clock-watcher. I always need to know what time it is, and I LOVE to create schedules and lists. (I guarantee that my kids will back me up on that.) One thing I’ve learned is the utter necessity of flexibility. Make general goals for starting and finishing times for your homeschool day, but accept the fact that things may not always go as planned and be okay with that. It’s not the end of the world if you finish at 2:00 instead of 12:30. Since I am officially homeschooling nine kids this year, I try to get my elementary age children done by lunchtime in order to keep the rest of the day open for the secondary age kids who do most of their work independently but do require my help sometimes. There are usually a couple times a week that I do end up working with my younger children after lunch, but it’s not a big deal because our routine allows for these circumstances.

8. It is not necessary to cover every subject every day. Just as life is not broken down into subjects, it is not necessary to break school down in this way, either. While I do include subjects covered per activity in the units I’ve written, I merely do this for record-keeping purposes. When planning our lessons, I do not pay attention to what subjects we will be covering but how each activity pertains to what we are reading each day. Sometimes you may cover history for weeks on end with only a few science lessons thrown in here and there. That is perfectly okay. If you think about it, kids are great at pursuing the sciences on their own through digging in the dirt, trying to build aerodynamic paper airplanes, and watching animal documentaries. Sometimes the tables are turned, and you may spend weeks doing science-related activities, while only covering history or social studies here and there. It balances itself out. And just as with science, kids don’t seem to have a problem touching on this area on their own through running errands with you, discussing current news topics, and running to the map to see where Fiji is. This can be true with any subject. Language arts can be covered through writing stories and emails and playing Mad Libs. Math is easily covered through playing games, handling money, and baking cookies. Don’t ever fret about going light on a subject here and there. Those topics still exist in the world around you, and they will happen naturally through simply living life.

9. Have fun! If at some point you find yourself dreading doing school, shake things up a bit and have a movie day, a park day, or take your kids for a walk. Remember that it is not a wasted day because life is learning and family relationships must always come first!

I hope this list may be a blessing to you. Just as each family is different, the same can be said about each homeschool. These tips are meant to be a guide, but it is up to you to decide how best to serve your children’s needs. Have fun and cherish every moment of your homeschooling journey. It will come to an end all too soon.

 

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Free 12-Week Greek Mythology Unit Study

Learn Greek mythology as a family with these fun hands-on activities!

 

(click here to find a downloadable PDF of this unit study)

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

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(Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I’ve always been completely fascinated by Greek Mythology and was so excited to find  D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, a beautifully illustrated compilation of classical Greek myths for my then-14-yr.-old daughter. To go with it, I purchased the Student Guide, which contains additional vocabulary, quizzes, and map work that were an awesome supplement to the book.

Recently, as I was going through some of our old homeschooling resources, I rediscovered the beauty of this book and decided to use it with my older elementary-age and middle school-age children; however, I knew that the student guide was probably not going to hold their interest. Since unit studies have been very successful for our family, I decided to attempt to create a study based on this book, and behold- here it is today.

While I did use this particular title as the backbone of the activities included, this study is very flexible in that it will work well with any Greek mythology book of your choosing. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

                                         Greek Mythology Unit Study

Recommended Resources:

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths- Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire– (I highly recommend this book above all others, as it is the foundation of all of the activities listed here.)

– Any book from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series- Rick Riordan

– Any book from the Heroes in Training series- Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Tornadoes– Gail Gibbons

A Komodo Dragon Hatchling Grows Up– Katie Marsico

About Arachnids– Cathryn Sill

Komodo Dragons- Giant Lizards of Indonesia – James Martin

Komodo Dragons– Thane Maynard

Extreme Weather– National Geographic Kids

Scorpions– Elizabeth Raum

Scorpions!– Laurence Pringle

Classic Starts- Greek Myths– Diane Namm

Vultures– Sandra Markle

Pegasus Marianna Mayer

Disney Storybook Collection

Vultures– Wayne Lynch

Vultures– Lynn M. Stone

Mythological Creatures– Lynn Curlee

– Greece! Rome! Monsters!– John Harris

– movies- The Lightning Thief and Sea of Monsters

Vocabulary:

mythology           idol                     Titan
god                         goddess             bountiful
Cyclopes               universe            sprite
nymph                   trident               lightning
invisibility            helm                  thunderbolt
iridescent              throne               ambrosia
nectar                     underworld      ichor
mortal                     immortality    strait
forge                        volcano            chariot
discord                    pain                   panic
famine                    oblivion            prudence
irreverent              grotto                constellation
pomegranate        eternal              wizened
lyre                          satyr                   muse
spellbound            sacrifice             offspring
centaur                   pegasus             chimera

Activities:

1. Read a section of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths together daily. (Literature, History)

2. Select several vocabulary words each week and practice writing them in cursive. (Language Arts)

3. Read one of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books as a family or independently. Write a book review when finished. (Language Arts)

4. Watch the Percy Jackson movies after reading the books. Write a paper highlighting the many differences between the books and the films. What did you think of these changes? (Language Arts)

5. Discuss the Gaea concept still held by some people in modern times. Is this biblical? (Social Studies, Critical Thinking)

6. Research pantheism, Wicca, and other pagan religions. What does the Bible say about these practices? (Social Studies, Bible)

7. Draw a cyclops. (Art)

8. Discuss the trident, the lightning bolt, and the cap (helm) of invisibility. Write an essay about which you’d choose and why. Read it aloud when finished. (Language Arts)

9. Draw a picture of Argus with his 100 eyes. Why is this a good quality for a guard? (Art, Critical Thinking)

10. Zeus would often disguise himself as animals or other objects when coming down to Earth. can you think of a time that God took another form? (Ex.burning bush) What would you disguise yourself as? (Critical Thinking)

11. Take a trip to a blacksmith shop. (Field Trip, Social Studies)

12. Hephaestus’s forge was in a volcano. Research volcanoes. (Science)

13. Build a clay volcano around an empty water bottle. When finished, pour in some baking soda, red food coloring, a little dish detergent, and vinegar. What happens? (Science, Art)

14. Try the same thing as above, but pour in some soda and Mentos candy instead. Did you get the same reaction? Why do you think that is? (Science)

15. No one knows where Aphrodite came from. Write your own myth explaining how you think she came about. (Language Arts)

16. Who does Eros remind you of? (Cupid) Draw a picture of him. (Art)

17. Make some beaded jewelry. (Art)

18. Cupid is the Roman name for Eros, and Venus is the Roman name for Aphrodite. Learn the Roman names for the Greek gods. (Language Arts, History)

19. Act out the story of the apple of discord. (Art, History)

20. Discuss the meaning of pain, panic, famine, and oblivion. (Language Arts)

21. Learn how to weave or watch a weaving demonstration. (Art, Life Skills)

22. Athena turned Arachne into a spider for being prideful about her weaving. Learn about arachnids. Where does the word “arachnid” come from? (History, Science, Language Arts)

23. Use blocks, Legos, or clay to build a representation of Poseidon’s underwater palace. (Art)

24. Learn how islands can be formed by earthquakes. (Geography, Science)

25. Draw your own rendition of Python. (Art)

26. The dragons of Greek mythology are mythical creatures which may have been based on dinosaurs. Today the earth still holds an island which is home to real dragons. Research the Komodo dragon and write a report or a fact sheet on them. (Science, History, Language Arts))

27. Orion was killed by a scorpion sent by Apollo. Write a report or fact sheet on scorpions. (Science, Language Arts)

28. Study the Orion constellation. Orion’s belt is very easy to locate. Look for it the next time you are out on a clear night. (Science)

29. What is a lyre? Listen to music from one. (Music)

30. Read about Hermes. Can newborn babies really do what the story tells us he did? Why or why not? (Critical Thinking)

31. Hades was not only Lord of the Underworld, but he was also rich beyond measure since he owned all the jewels under the earth. Where are precious stones found? Learn about this process. (Science)

32. Visit a cave that is open to visitors which exhibits geological finds, such as crystals. (Field Trip, Science)

33. Cerberus was a three-headed dog who guarded the entrance to Hades. Paint a picture of him. (Art)

34. Persephone was stolen away by Hades to become his bride. Discuss stranger danger. (Safety)

35. How did the Greeks use the story of Persephone and Demeter to explain the seasons? Find out how the seasons really occur. (History, Science)

36. Using a globe and a lamp or large ball as the sun, give a visual demonstration of how the seasons are caused by the tilt of the earth’s axis. (Science)

37. Dionysus, the god of wine, was raised around leopards and tigers, who were very fond of him. Make some paper plate leopards and tigers. Eat some grapes as a snack! (Art)

38. What does it mean that dolphins are the most human creatures? Read about dolphins. (Science. Critical Thinking)

39. Prometheus was said to have modeled man out of clay, while his brother Epimetheus made animals. Make some people and animals out of clay. (Art)

40. The story tells us that Epimetheus gave all of the good gifts to the animals and didn’t leave much for Prometheus to bestow upon the humans. In what ways are animals more gifted than men (speed, better sight, smell, hearing, endurance, etc.)? In what ways are humans superior? What is the most important thing we have that the animals do not? (Science, Critical Thinking)

41. Draw Prometheus and the eagle. (Art)

42. What does it mean to “open Pandora’s box?” (Language Arts)

43. Define greed, vanity, slander, and envy. Do you see these in the world today? (Language Arts)

44. Compare the biblical flood to the Greek flood. Study worldwide flood legends. Why do you think it is that secular geologists ignore these stories and insist that no worldwide flood ever happened? (History, Critical Thinking, Social Studies)

45. Write an essay on tornadoes, hurricanes, or typhoons. (Science)

46. Read the story of Helios. Why is it dangerous to look at the sun? Does this story make a good case for why it is best to obey your parents? (Science, Health, Safety)

47. Write about a time you did not obey your parents and something bad happened because of it. (Language Arts)

48. What are centaurs and satyrs? (Language Arts)

49. Draw the transition of Tithonus from man to grasshopper. (Art)

50. Write grasshopper facts. (Science, Language Arts)

51. If a pregnancy lasts nine months and Selene bore 50 daughters, how many months was she pregnant altogether? How many years is that? (Math)

52. In Greek mythology, satyrs live 10,000 times longer than humans. If the average human life span is 85 years, how long would the average satyr life span be? (Math)

53. Listen to a recording of a shepherd’s pipe. (Music)

54. Read the story of Echo and Narcissus. How does Echo’s punishment fit her name? (Language Arts)

55. What does “narcissistic” mean? How does this fit Narcissus? (Language Arts, Social Studies)

56. Make a set of reed pipes using drinking straws. (Art, Music)

57. In the Greek Olympics, winners would be awarded with a laurel wreath. Why? (History)

58. Define cunning, savage, and vulgar. (Language Arts)

59. Why was Chiron different than the other centaurs? Why do parental care and discipline make such a big difference in a child’s life? (Critical Thinking)

60. What word is derived from “Hygeia,” and what does it mean? Who was Hygeia? (Language Arts, History)

61. Re-enact a doctor’s visit. Assign roles of nurse, doctor, patient, receptionist, etc. Be sure to take measurements of height and weight, check temperatures, and give eye exams! (Health, Social Studies)

62. Learn about the Nine Muses. Write a list of their names and what they do. Memorize them. (Language Arts, History)

63. If there were nine Muses… (Math)
-How many eyes altogether? Fingers? Fingers and toes?

64. Orpheus’s wife was killed by a venomous snake. Research them. Do any live near you? Learn what to do in the event of a snake bite. (Science, Health/Safety)

65. The story of Orpheus claims that he found the entrance to Hades at the end of the world. Does the world really have an end? What does this tell you about how the Greeks thought the earth was shaped? (Science, Critical Thinking, History, Social Studies)

66. Radamanthus, a son of Zeus and Europa, was so wise he became a judge in the underworld. Who is the true judge of all? (Critical Thinking)

67. Learn about the American judicial system. (Social Studies)

68. Locate Crete and Thebes on a map. (Geography)

69. Pelops participated in a chariot race to win his bride. His opponent lost because of an intentional malfunction of the wheel and axle. Study simple machines. (Science)

70. Pelops initiated the first Olympic games. Watch an Olympic event. Videos of these can be found on YouTube.com (Social Studies, Physical Education)

71. Host your own Olympic games. Plan events, make your own medals, and don’t forget a laurel wreath! (Physical Education, Art)

72. In the tale of King Midas, he grew a pair of donkey ears. In what other story did a character grow a pair of donkey ears? Read “Pinocchio.” (Literature)

73. King Midas’s servant was so desperate to tell someone about the king’s donkey ears that he dug a hole in the ground and whispered it into there. Unfortunately, some nearby reeds heard it, so they whispered it to each other over and over again. Soon, everyone knew the king’s secret. Play “Whisper Down the Alley.” (History, Language Arts)

74. When an ancient Greek passed away, a loved one would place a coin under his/her tongue. What was this for? (History, Social Studies)

75. Read about Pegasus, and write a report. (Language Arts, History)

76. Study the chimera and the different meanings of the word. (History, Language Arts)

77. Melampus could understand animals and once overheard the conversation of some vultures having a meal. Write a report on vultures. Include a drawing or picture of one. (Science, Language Arts, Art)

78. If Melampus wanted 1/3 of the kingdom for himself and 1/3 for his brother, how much did that leave the king with? What portion of the kingdom did the brothers now possess? (Math)

79. Read about Heracles’s labor of retrieving the apple from the Garden of Hesperides. Eat an apple while doing so. (Language Arts)

80. King Minos’s half-man/half-bull son, the Minotaur, had to be kept in an underground labyrinth. Do a maze or make one of your own. (Math)

81. King Minos used a conch shell to find out where his servant, Daedelus, was hiding. The conch shell has long been thought to allow people to hear the ocean when holding their ear up to one. Is this true? What can really be heard? (Blood circulating through the ear) (Science)

82. Oedipus was able to solve the Sphinx’s riddle. Read some riddles aloud or make up some of your own. (Language Arts)

83. What is an Oedipal complex? (Social Studies)

84. Draw a harpy or a siren. (Art)

85. Jason defeated the fire-breathing dragon in order to get the Golden Fleece. Discuss fire safety. (Safety)

86. Visit a local fire station. Bake them cookies. (Safety, Field Trip, Life Skills)

87. Artemis once sent a huge boar to avenge her anger against a king. Write oa report or a fact sheet on wild boars. (Science, Language Arts)

88. Draw Atalanta hunting the boar. (Art)

89. Atalanta was very fast and won many races. Have your own race. (Physical Education)

90. Achilles was invulnerable except for on his heel. What is an Achilles tendon? (Science)
91. Read about the Trojan War. (History)

92. Build a model of the Trojan Horse using items from around the house. Be creative! (Art)

93. Look at pictures of the architecture in ancient Greece. Does any of it look similar to famous buildings in the US? (History, Social Studies)

94. The gods and goddesses would often commemorate heroes by placing constellations in their honor in the sky. Make a chalk pastel night sky scenery. Be sure to include your favorite constellations! (Art)

 

 

 

 

 

Every Week Should Be Break Week

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Looks familiar from last week’s post, right? And the week before…and the week before. I’m telling you, I am so sick of snow. I’m ready to pack up everything and move South. Maybe Louisiana…or Texas…or Australia. We’ve gotten so much snow that our city was completely unprepared. They ran out of salt for the streets, and all the stores ran out of rock salt. Of course we didn’t have any, so I told my husband to sprinkle some cat litter for traction. He did more than sprinkle. He poured so much out front and out back that it looked like we were living on a beach. What a mess. He’s got most of it cleaned up now, and he’s got a plan on how he’ll shovel up the rest. Oy vey.

Anyway…on with the week…

This was our first ever break week since we’ve started unschooling. If you’re questioning why we even needed a break, I wrote about it right here. This entire week has had me pleasantly surprised.
I honestly thought that since I would not be limiting screen time that I would have a bunch of Minecrafting zombies, especially considering the fact that we’ve gotten four new laptops this week. I myself have been spending quite a bit of time on mine. Hey, give me a break. I’ve been doing all my online activity, including writing my blog, on my Android! This is new to me, too!
Looking back on the week, though, I’ve noticed something that did not escape Arianna’s attention either…the kids have been doing more this week than since we started unschooling! This has completely validated my theory that children learn best without expectations.
I found it exceedingly funny that on our second day of break, several of the kids spent hours playing school. IMAG5139 (1) And not just your typical ABC’s stuff, either. I walked into the living room, and Caollin was using our solar system model to quiz the kids on the planets. Then, she had them all sit and listen while she played with the interactive tablet that goes with it. Shortly afterward, I heard music. I looked in on the kids and saw that Caollin had “Fifty Nifty United States” playing on her tablet while the kids sang, and she played guitar! I was so happy, I almost couldn’t contain myself, but I managed to play it cool because I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
If you’ve read my blog before, you probably remember that my kids love arts and crafts, so, of course, these activities played a huge role in our week.
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Yes, she's wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?
Yes, she’s wearing a bathing suit top in the middle of winter. Choose your battles, right?

Summer's always a mess, isn't she?
Summer’s always a mess, isn’t she?

It’s taken the older kids some time to get used to Minecraft on the PC since they’ve always played the pocket edition. They’ve really learned a lot, though, and Dillon has been as diligent as ever in researching mods. He was so excited today because he learned how to make a portal using obsidian and a snowman using a pumpkin. (I have no clue.) IMAG5158
Arianna made her own lipstick with Crayola Crayons (she learned it from a makeup tutorial). She said it worked well, but it was really hard to pour it into the little containers.
I was checking my emails today when I heard Caollin using my phone to learn French on Mango Languages. I’ll tell you, out of everyone, Caollin has surprised me the most this week because she’s the one who’s spent the most time doing nothing but petting the cats. As I alluded to earlier, even Arianna has noticed the difference this week. She mentioned to me last night that we should always have break because everyone’s been so much busier…and happier. A very wise observation, I would say.
I bought my first digital camera today (yes, my 14 year old has a DSLR, but I’ve only been using my Android to take pictures). It’s certainly not a DSLR, but, hopefully, today will be the last day I have to post blurry pictures. I’m really excited about it because when you have a lot of kids, you tend to forget to do things for yourself once in a while…so this is my present to me.
Tomorrow we’re planning on finding a pantry for our kitchen because we just don’t have enough cabinet space. Saturday we’ll be having our first family portrait taken in three years. I was so afraid that Brendan, my 20 year old, would have to work, but he’s coming, too! Afterwards, the 13 of us will be taking my mom to Denny’s for her birthday. (Kids eat free! Ahem. They’ll love us.) I’ve already reserved the entire back room. We only take the kids out to a restaurant about once a year, so they’re usually very well-behaved. We shall see…

What’s your week been like?

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Weekend Review- Kenzie Is Mobile!!

Kenzie is crawling!

     It has been an exciting week here at the Sangrey house! Kenzie is crawling!

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This is a bittersweet moment for me. Sweet because she’s much happier and less clingy now that she has some freedom, but bitter in that she’ll be my last baby, and I’ll never get to witness this process in my own children again. Anyway, on to our week.
     On Monday, Devin, Dillon, and Arianna walked to the library and borrowed the Disney ”Little House on the Prairie” miniseries, so we watched the whole thing in one day. This is the second time we’ve borrowed it, but the first time we watched it, we were still reading Little House in the Big Woods. Now that we’re actually reading Little House on the Prairie, it’s neat to see the stories come to life. It’s also a great way to see how much the kids have been paying attention by noting any discrepancies. Dillon and Arianna went to a pond near our house and were busy experimenting with sound waves by throwing different size rocks on the ice. They have also kept themselves busy with their new blogs http://dragonboii12345.wordpress.com and http://unskoolgurl.wordpress.com. Caollin and London have been sewing, which, unfortunately, I can’t help them with because, well, I don’t know how to sew.

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     Tuesday it snowed, so Devin’s flash animation class was canceled, but we had a fun day indoors. (The wind chill was -15, so we were not going to go outside.) We did a neat activity from Brave Writer in which the kids were supposed to write captions on sticky notes for the pictures on our walls. Since it’s always either all or nothing with this crew they went all out and captioned a lot more than pictures!

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     On Wednesday we repeated an experiment that we tried the other week, which worked but would have worked better with a smaller egg. So I bought some, and we tried it again. The object is to demonstrate how a flame in a bottle can create a vacuum strong enough to suck an egg into a bottle.
It worked much better this time. The rest of the day was spent running errands- picking up Caollin’s new glasses, an appointment, and grocery shopping. Afterwards, our day looked like this

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     Thursday was actually a really productive day. I’ve been slacking off a bit in the laundry department, so I did a lot of catch up work there.

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Then, I corrected math work, which I’ve also been neglecting the past couple of days.

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We also made a really cool fake lung, thanks to Dot-to-Dot Connections. This is definitely worth checking out.

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Dillon is quite the character, isn’t he?

Devin helped make dinner today.

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Boxed fried chicken, instant mashed potatoes, and canned vegetables. Stop laughing. This is the same girl who asked me a few months ago how to turn the oven on. This is progress.

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This picture has nothing to do with what I’ve been writing about, but Luke is as elusive as Bigfoot, so if I can get a picture of him, I’m posting it!

     Our plans for Friday include a plate tectonics activity using Graham crackers and whipped cream. (I guess you’ve realized why my kids want to do this.) Beyond that, we’ll just go with the flow. Happy weekend!

What are some highlights of your week?

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Caption This!

…my kids were writing and having fun with it!

     I’m always on the lookout for creative ways to get my kids interested in writing, so every time I get my daily writing tip from Brave Writer, I get excited. A few days ago, the tip was to use sticky notes to put captions on the photos around the house. I suggested the activity to my kids, and they jumped on it!

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This says, ”Brendan pees like a girl.” because he’s squatting. Sometimes my kids’ senses of humor are…um…questionable.

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I believe this one said, ”I like trucks…and steak.” Again, what I said before…

     These captions may have been a little goofy, but I’ll take it because my kids were writing and having fun with it!
     And, trust me, they went beyond writing captions for just pictures.

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This is a caption on our TV that says, ”TV rots your brain.”

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Yes, that’s a sticky note on Luke’s head. It says, ”Luke has Q-Tip hair.”

     Finding writing ideas that get my children excited are few and far between, but this one was definitely a hit!

Do you have any good writing ideas? What’s gotten your kids excited?

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Five Things I Learned from My Kids Yesterday

What have you learned from your kids today?

Sometimes I think know that I learn as much from my kids as they learn from me. This is my list of five things I learned just yesterday!

1. I’m pretty terrible at
     play dough creations. My kids
     are all artists. Believe me,
      they don’t get it from me.

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This is my, um, zebra.
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This is my son’s. See the difference?

2. It’s okay to go with the flow.
     I’ve always been a rigid follower
     of schedules. I used to have
     charts of all kinds taped
      everywhere throughout the
      house. It drove my husband
      crazy. The schedules have since
       come down, but this is what
       goes through my head:
       Breakfast- 8, Chores- 9, Get
        Dressed- 9:30, etc. Yesterday
        my adult son stopped by
        unexpectedly, and while my
        other kids were having a
         blast with him, all I kept
         thinking was, We should be
         reading Little House on the
         Prairie right now. We never
         plotted those countries in the
         atlas. Chores should have
         started already. After
         watching them for a while,
         though, it finally hit me that
         these things are not that
         important, and I was at
         peace.

3. Exercise can be fun. This is
     something I’ve forgotten, but
     it’s actually pretty pathetic
     because I used to be a dance
     teacher. Listening to my kids
     outside yesterday playing Simon
     Says, Sharks and Minnows, and
     soccer reminded me of that.

4. Minecraft and Ruzzle are not
     the only electronic games of
     value. I discreetly rolled my
      eyes when my son told me he
      downloaded yet another game,
      until he started asking me
      questions about sea creatures,
      dinosaurs, and the
      government. I asked him what
      he needed this for; it was his
      new game.

5. Take time to play. My kids are
     so active, and they’re always
     playing, playing, playing. I took
     their cue yesterday and played
     play dough, Memory, and
     Apples to Apples; I had a blast!
     While it is important to get
     things done, especially with
     such a large family, it’s equally
     important to have fun and live
     life!

What have you learned from your kids today?

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