Friday, July 31, 2015

Our Weekly Wrap-Up 7-31-15

This has been a fun week at our house! The past 2 days have been a little crazy, and we were not able to fit in as many "cowboy" activities. (Life happens, y'all!)

We did one more cowboy themed devotion with Psalm 23 comparing the cowboy caring for the cattle to the loving care of the Lord our Good Shepherd.

Big Brother has spent some unstructured time reading our cowboy library books on his own. He has dressed up and played pretend in his cowboy wardrobe, too.

He ended his Cowboy Camp with his weekly horseback riding lesson this afternoon. He is learning to ride Western style, and his riding skills are excellent! I have to say I think he would make a fine cowboy!! :)

Big Brother is excited about getting to take a little field trip to a veterenarian's office near us tomorrow. He loves animals and has a very compassionate nature, and he has mentioned becoming a vet when he grows up. I hope this will really be a beneficial learning experience for him!

In other news, Little Brother attended his first Kindermusik class this afternoon! He loved it! I taught Kindermusik once upon a time when Big Brother was a toddler, but I am no longer licensed. I was so glad when I found out there was a new studio offering Kindermusik classes for Little Brother's age group in our area at a convenient time! He was happy about seeing other "babies," and the activities were so fun for him! They played drums and jingle bells, rode beach towels around the room, read stories, played with peek-a-boo scarves, and sang some fun songs. I really like that the teacher incorporates ASL into the class activities, too. If you have youngsters from newborn to age 7, I encourage you to see if you have Kindermusik classes in your area! Most teachers let you attend the first class for free to see if you and your child like it before you enroll. Little Brother looks forward to going back next week!

School starts here on Monday! I am totally excited!!!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

2015 Cowboy Camp - Day 3

Today was Day 3 of Cowboy Camp! Click to read about Day 1 and Day 2!

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Big Brother really got into our singing this morning! He loves yelling "Yeehaw!" when we sing "I'm in the Lord's Army" Cowboy-Style. Little Brother likes "Happy Trails" because we pat our knees to sound like horses trotting as we sing.

For today's devotion we talked about how ranchers branded their cattle to be able to tell which ones belonged to them. I asked the question "How will people know that we belong to the Lord? What does 'God's brand' look like?" We found the answer in John 13:34-35.

Later on we read all about the branding process in Cowboys: A Library of Congress Book. We looked at many different ranch's brands and Big Brother drew some of them. He also created a couple brands of his own!

We finished reading The Wild West: An Interactive History Adventure. Today we learned about the people who went out west in search of riches. (This book has really captivated Big Brother's attention! I want to try to find some of the other books in this series.)

Much of the rest of the day was spent with Big Brother working on creating a script for a little western movie he wants to make with his LEGOs. He made up a short story about the James-Younger outlaw gang. He dictated the script to me and I wrote it down for him. Then he spent some time going through his LEGO mini-figures deciding which would play which characters in his story. He is so creative! :)

We did not have as many different activities today because Little Brother had a checkup at the pediatrician's office. (Poor little fellow got 3 different shots, but he's a trooper!)

We have really been enjoying learning as much as we can about cowboys and the wild west this week! We still have 2 more days to go. We'll see y'all on down the trail!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 Cowboy Camp - Day 2

Day 2 of Cowboy Camp has been another day of fun! Did you miss my post about Day 1? You can find it here!

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Cowboy Camp Day 2 started bright and early! Big Brother was eager for another day of fun and learning.

After breakfast, we all dressed up in cowboy fashion and sang our cowboy songs. Both boys had fun with this!

For today's devotion, we talked about all the different jobs different cowboys had on a cattle drive. We talked about cooks, wranglers, trail bosses, and night herders. All had important jobs to do, and they all had to work together for one goal: to get the herd of cattle safely to market. We read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and discussed how every Christian has different gifts, different jobs to do, and each of us has an important place in furthering God's Kingdom.

Chorin' Time was next! Today Big Brother took care of the laundry then he and Little Brother cleaned up the living room together.

Once chores were done, we jumped into the lawman section of The Wild West: An Interactive History Adventure. Today Big Brother learned what it would have been like to be a deputy U.S. Marshall in 1876.

I found a lesson on "how to draw cowboy boots" in the Abeka Art Projects 3 book I bought for Big Brother to use for art class this year, and we decided to give it a try next. I am a musician - NOT an artist! But the directions were pretty simple to follow, and we were both rather proud of our completed drawings!

Big Brother's Drawing

My Drawing

To sneak in some math drill today, I had Big Brother play "Quick Draw!" I would call out a math problem and he had to quickly write the answer up on the dry erase board. I have to say that when it comes to math, Big Brother is definitely quick on the draw! ;)

Before we ate lunch, I asked for some help in the "chuckwagon" to prepare for tonight's supper. Big Brother followed my directions and got the roast cooking in the slow cooker.

Throughout the morning, Little Brother (15 months old today!) joined in as much as possible. He loves wearing a hat and toy gun, and he spent a good amount of time playing at his little table with toy horses and cows. He has learned that horses say "neigh" and cows say "moo." He knows the ASL signs for HORSE and COW, and he can say both words very clearly. After lunch, he was ready to go down for his nap.

While Little Brother napped this afternoon, Big Brother and I settled in for some more reading. The first book we read today was Cowboy With a Camera.

This book was fascinating with photos taken by a young cowboy in the early 1900s who wanted to capture all the rugged realities of life on the open range before they disappeared completely.

The book mentioned that very young boys often worked as wranglers, and it mentioned a popular cowboy song called Little Joe the Wrangler. We found it on YouTube and listened to the King of the Cowboys himself, Roy Rogers, sing this sad story about a young wrangler who died trying to stop a stampede.

The next book we read was called B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet. Written in rhyme, this book tells all about cowboy life from A to Z! Big Brother chose a short, fun portion from this book to copy onto notebook paper for his cowboy booklet.

Big Brother and I did some more browsing through DK's Wild West Eyewitness Book for a while. We mostly looked at pictures and read anything that seemed interesting.

Big Brother continued practicing "Home on the Range" today on the piano. He loves that song! :)

Then we played a few more rounds of Wild West Hangman before Big Brother decided make up stories and play with his western LEGO toys for the remainder of the afternoon.

Cowboy Camp has been great so far! Check back tomorrow for more rootin' tootin' fun for Day 3!!

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Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 Cowboy Camp - Day 1

In my last post, I announced that this week has been declared "Cowboy Camp" here at our house as we celebrate our last week of summer vacation!

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Today was Cowboy Camp Day 1, and it has been a BLAST!

To help get in the camp mood, Big Brother slept in a sleeping bag last night. He got up at 7:00 a.m. and Cowboy Camp officially began!

First off, he dressed up in a cowboy hat, bandana, t-shirt, vest, jeans, cowboy boots, toy gun, gun belt, and holster! I joined the fun by wearing braids, a checkered shirt, jean skirt, cowboy hat, and a bandana. Little Brother also wore a cowboy hat for awhile. :)

For this week, we have renamed our kitchen/dining area "the chuckwagon." Big Brother's first duty was to help make scrambled eggs for breakfast. He did a fine job!

After breakfast, we sang some fun songs. We sang "I'm a Little Cowboy," "I'm in the Lord's Army - Cowboy Style," and "Happy Trails." We incorporated fun motions and sound effects for each song, and Little Brother even joined in the fun!

Then we did a simple devotion. We talked about all the things a cowboy wears and the purpose for each part of his gear. Then we read about what God tells Christians to put on in order to do our jobs in Ephesians 6:10-18. After prayer it was time for "chorin'."

We talked about how cowboys had to work hard all day long. Big Brother worked on his daily laundry load and then helped wash up some dishes. (Because, hey, even chores are fun when you are dressed as a cowboy!)

Our next activity was some reading time. We decided to start reading in The Wild West: An Interactive History Adventure. This book is so neat! You choose how you want to learn about the west: as an outlaw, a lawman, or as a fortune seeker. Then throughout the story you make various choices, all with different outcomes. There are real people, places, and facts in the stories; and the maps and pictures are great! Today Big Brother chose to explore the wild west from the perspective of an outlaw. We took turns reading paragraphs, and he loved getting to make choices in the story! He is really looking forward to learning from the perspective of a western lawman tomorrow.

Next it was game time (with some sneaky spelling and vocabulary practice thrown in!). I found this neat little Wild West Hangman magnetic game at Dollar Tree over the weekend.

We both took turns several times choosing words related to our cowboy theme having the other try to guess. It was fun!

After several games of Wild West Hangman, it was time to go outside for awhile. While we were outside we had a gun fight...a squirt-gun fight, that is! I cannot think of a better way to cool off and have fun on a hot day!

Little Brother got nice and messy (and tired) playing outside, so when we came in he was ready for a bath and a nap.

After lunch, I challenged Big Brother with the following word problem I had written on the dry erase board:

You are a trail boss on a cattle drive. You are 100 miles from the rail head, and you have 10 days left to get the cattle there. How many miles do you need to move your herd each day to get to the rail head on time?

(It took him about 5 seconds to come up with the correct answer: 10 miles per day! That actually would have been about the fastest a cattle drive could have travelled.)

After our easy little math challenge, we sat on the couch and I read the book Cowboys and the Wild West aloud to Big Brother. It was very interesting with quotes from real cowboys and plenty of great pictures. We consulted our US Map anytime places were mentioned for a quick geography lesson. We spent well over an hour absorbed in this little book.

In our reading, we came across a part of a poem about the life of a cowboy, and Big Brother copied it down on notebook paper to put in a little booklet we are making about cowboys.

For his piano practice today, Big Brother played "Home on the Range," and we sang it together.

He spent the rest of the afternoon either browsing DK's Wild West Eyewitness Book or playing and making up stories with his cowboy LEGO pieces!

Little Brother LOVES horses and cows right now; so he was pretty happy looking at pictures of them in our books, riding his rocking horse, and playing with his Little People Farm set!

And that was Day 1 of Cowboy Camp! What do you think? Big Brother told Daddy that he had lots of fun, so I guess that means it was a success! Stay tuned for Day 2!

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back to School Homeschool Traditions

We are getting steadily closer to the beginning of our new homeschool year! Even though summer is fun and breaks are nice, it will actually be great to be back on a steady school routine.

Many homeschoolers have some sort of special "back to school" tradition to make getting back to work a little more fun and to create special family memories. Some families plan an extra special breakfast or dinner to celebrate the first day of school. Some celebrate the official first day with a fun field trip. Many moms take special "first day of school" pictures of each of their children every year. I just love all these great ways to celebrate a brand new year of learning together!

We started a fun little tradition of our own last year that I look forward to continuing both this year and in years to come!

The week before the official first week of school (which would be this next week!), we choose an interesting theme or topic and spend the week learning about and enjoying that topic (like a really fun unit study).

Last year our theme was LEGO! :) Big Brother did a really neat LEGO unit study and lapbook, and he dearly loved it! We researched the founder of the LEGO company, learned how LEGO bricks are made, did some great LEGO math activities, and of course built some cool stuff with LEGO! He had a different LEGO Challenge each day, new vocabulary words to learn, and for copywork he copied inspiring quotes from famous inventors. We took lots of pictures during the week, and he still talks about all the things he learned.

THIS year we are excited to continue this back to school tradition with a fresh new theme! Since I want this to be really fun and engaging, I asked Big Brother what he would like the theme to be this year. His answer....


So for the next week to celebrate the end of summer break and the beginning of the new school year at our house, we are having Cowboy Camp! I have all kinds of ideas for making this really fun, educational, and memorable for both boys. I am still getting my plans together, and I hope to share with you sometime mid-week about how it is going!

Do you have any special "back to school" traditions at your house? I would love to hear about them! Have any ideas, books, or activities you could recommend for our Cowboy Camp (I have 7 & 1 year old boys)? Please feel free to share in the comments!!

Happy trails!!!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

KY Homeschools - Annual Letter of Intent

Here in Kentucky, homeschoolers (for now, at least!) enjoy a good amount of freedom under the law. While home education is legal in some form in all 50 states, Kentuckians have nowhere near as many regulations or "hoops" to jump through as homeschoolers in some other states. We have no testing requirements, no mandatory inspections or yearly evaluations, no teacher qualifications, and no waiting for government approval to start homeschooling. We are supposed to keep attendance records and to teach basic subjects for a minimum number of days per year.

The biggest requirement we have to fulfill each year is to send a letter of intent to our local school board. This letter is supposed be sent within 2 weeks of the starting of the public school year if your child(ren) is (are) between the ages of 6 and 18. Your letter has to state the name(s) and age(s) of your child(ren) (again, only those between the ages of 6 and 18 must be listed) along with the address of your homeschool. No more; no less!

Last year when Big Brother was 6 at the beginning of the school year was the first time I had to send our letter of intent to the local school board. This year's letter is ready to go to the post office on my next trip to town tomorrow! My letter is short, cordial, and straight to the point. :)

You can type up a simple letter of your own (there is a sample on the CHEK website) or if your family is a member of HSLDA (you should be!!) they have a form you may use.

Remember, the purpose of this letter is to simply notify the local board that your child(ren) will be homeschooled this year. You are NOT requesting "permission" to homeschool (it is a constitutional right in KY!), nor are you "registering" your homeschool (what exactly would be the purpose of that anyway??) Many new folks get confused about this, so I just wanted to make that clear.

Some school boards are naturally friendlier toward homeschoolers than others; and some may push the limits, ask for more information than is required by law, or even threaten legal action against homeschoolers. But HSLDA lawyers are always able to clear up these "misunderstandings" pretty quickly, so again, make sure you are members!!

I recommend sending your letter Certified Mail and request a Return Receipt. Yes it costs a little extra and is a little more hassle at the post office; but this way someone at the school board office has to sign for the letter, and you get the receipt back as proof that your letter was sent and received. Keep this receipt stapled to a copy of your letter in your records.

I DO NOT recommend going personally into the school board office and delivering your letter. I have known of homeschoolers ending up with problems this way because the board supposedly lost or claimed to have never received their letter (and the family had no proof.) Some school board staff may also try to overstep their legal bounds (request more information than required, etc.) if you go to their office.

Even if you have friends on the school board or who work in the office, be careful. Many public school officials and teachers have not been properly educated on the laws that govern homeschooling, so just be aware of that and do not be swayed! (Again, join HSLDA!! They are not paying me anything to tell you this!)

If you do not live in Kentucky, please follow the laws in your state. If you are unsure exactly what the law requires of homeschoolers in your state, visit HSLDA to learn.

How about you? Have you fulfilled your homeschool-related legal duties for this year yet? I know it is still summer, but don't let it slip! I pray we all have a blessed, peaceful 2015-2016 school year!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Our Plans for 2015-2016!

I know I already did a basic curriculum post for the upcoming year, but I have added a few new things! I was able to attend a few local homeschool book sales, and I have added a few more classes to Big Brother's list. I also have something for Little Brother now, too!

So here is an updated list for Big Brother's 3rd grade year:

Math - R&S Exploring Arithmetic Grade 3

Spelling - R&S Spelling by Sound and Structure Grade 3

Reading- R&S 3rd Grade Bible Nurture Readers (along with at least 30 minutes of D.E.A.R. time each day...Drop Everything And Read!)

English - R&S Beginning Wisely for 3rd Grade & ABeka Oral Language Exercises

History/Geography - ABeka Our American Heritage

Science - ABeka Exploring God's World 3rd grade & Christian Liberty Grade 3 Nature Reader

Handwriting - ABeka Writing with Phonics 2 (Cursive)

Health - ABeka Developing Good Health 4

Art - Abeka Art Projects 3

Music - Madonna Woods Piano Course for Christians

Bible - Daily Quiet Time & Scripture Talk program with our Co-op (More on Scripture Talk in a later post!!)

P.E. - Daily Exercise, Speed Cup Stacking (with our Co-op), & Horseback Riding lessons

Computer - Once per week I will be teaching him basic typing skills, word processing, and perhaps some Powerpoint skills.

Little Brother has not been left out! I have purchased ABeka Nursery Arts & Crafts for ages 18 months to 2 for him. There are basically 2 simple arts and crafts projects for me to do with him each week geared toward helping him learn colors and shapes. He will still get lots of free playtime throughout the day and be read to A LOT! I also hope to have him join in as much as possible with the more active parts of Big Brother's Morning Memory Hour each day to maybe learn some songs, Scriptures, new ASL signs, and maybe even some Spanish. We shall see what he picks up! ;)

Our new school year will officially begin August 3rd. I am excited!! We took advantage of some back-to-school sales earlier this week and stocked up on school supplies. I also purchased a small coil binding machine that I have had my eyes on for a long time (oh the possibilities!).

Our homeschool group has a Back-to-School Ice Cream Social planned for later in August, and our weekly co-op classes begin September 3rd. Big Brother is really looking forward to having some fun and learning with his friends! We will probably be participating in monthly field trips with our homeschool group as well. We are really blessed with a smaller, more intimate group here. :)

Are you making plans to homeschool this year? I would LOVE to hear your plans and ideas!! Feel free to comment below!!!

I hope to post as soon as possible about our new homeschool schedule. Stay tuned!! :)

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My Blogging App is Fixed!!

Hi everyone! After 3 months or so of sporadic posting, I THINK I have finally gotten all the bugs worked out of the app I use to post on the blog (Bloggeroid for Blogger)! So hopefully you will ve hearing from me much more often as we are now gearing up for a new homeschool year here!

So have you missed reading frequent posts on this blog? Is there a homeschooling or other closely related topic you would like to see me do a post about in the future? Drop me a comment!

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Don't Do Laundry Anymore! **

Yes, you read that title right!

In my last post, I mentioned that Big Brother,  my 7 year old son, has completely taken over the washing/drying of all our family's laundry. What a tremendous blessing!! I no longer have any dealings with the washing machine or the dryer. All I do is fold/hang the clean clothes and put them away. And my son is gaining valuable life skills (and some exercise!) in the process.

So how does this work?

I sat down with Big Brother at the beginning of summer break, and we talked about all the different chores that must be done in our home. I told him as he is growing older he is getting old enough to really be a big blessing to our home and family. He was excited at the idea of getting to make a real contribution! After hearing all the different jobs he could choose from, he decided to take on the challenge of doing the laundry. He has been faithful in doing this job all summer!

So first I showed him how we sort our laundry. We keep it super simple here by having a certain laundry basket for each kind of load (example: white clothes go in their own basket, towels & wash cloths go in their own, etc). Each person is responsible for making sure their dirty laundry makes it into the appropriate basket.

Next, we sat down together and made out a daily laundry schedule for the week. On Monday he washes bed linens, Tuesdays is dark clothes, whites and towels on Wednesday, and so on. Instructions for water level, temperature, etc. are written beside each day's load also. The schedule is posted on the wall beside the washing machine in our laundry closet so he can quickly see what needs to be done for the day and get started.

For the first week or so I guided him through each step of running the laundry through the machines. Our laundry detergent is on a shelf above the machines, so he stands on a small step stool in order to reach the soap on his own. I have showed him how to carefully measure out and pour in the detergenr before putting the load in the machine. He has learned to listen for the washing machine to kick off so he can switch the load to the dryer. He knows to take out the filter, clean it, and replace it before setting the timer and turning the dryer on. The dryer alarms when it is finished running, and he puts the load of clean laundry into a basket and takes it to my room for folding/hanging.

By the end of the first week, he was doing all the steps on his own with me simply there to supervise and answer questions. By the second week he was completing the job totally on his own. Now he gets it done and I do not even have to be involved at all. I am free to attend to other chores knowing he is fully capable of taking care of the laundry!

We live in a small, rented duplex, and our landlord takes care of all the mowing and maintenance. We are not allowed to have pets here either, so thosemore "boyish" chores are not available to him right now.Doing the laundry involves lots of moving, reaching, and lifting which are good for him though! He even bragged to Grandma the other day that he was getting bigger muscles from lifting all those heavy laundry baskets! ;)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What We Are Doing This Summer!

Hi everyone!

I apologize for being unable to keep the blog updated for a while. I have had some major issues with my smartphone (my only internet source) and the app I use for posting. Right now I am using Blogger on my browser, and it does not work as well. :(

So we finished up Big Brother's 2nd grade year back in May. Our homeschool group had a nice celebration to close out the year.

We have been really enjoying a much more relaxed schedule/routine so far this summer! Big Brother spends alot of time reading and playing LEGOs. We have also found time to play some favorite games (and to learn a few new ones!). He has horseback riding lessons once a week, and we make almost daily trips to the park.

Big Brother has also been focussing on learning some important life skills this summer. He is now totally in charge of washing and drying ALL our laundry (I just fold/hang and put away). This has been so very VERY helpful to me and a great learning experience for him. I will post soon just how we do it. :)

Little Brother is a toddler now, and he is fun to try to keep up with for sure!! Climbing is his most recent discovery, so. At 14 months old he is starting to become a little more verbal, and his use of signs to communicate has really taken off! I am starting to think about weaning him soon, so I would appreciate your prayers with that! Big Brother was not weaned until 2, but I was younger then...

In other news, my husband and I have started on a weight loss journey together. We are in our 3rd week of doing Weight Watchers (at home for free), and so far we are both doing really well with it! It has been fun choosing healthy foods and exercising together.

I hope to post more help me pray about these technical issues. I missing sharing and hearing from my readers!!!

Hope everyone is having a great summer and I wish you all  a Happy July 4th!!!!

God bless!!!