Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mummies, VBS, & Swimming Pools!

Today we finished up Day 19 of our school year. It is hard to believe we only have 11 days left in our Egypt unit study. We are having so much fun this summer! Here are a few interesting happenings I wanted to share:

Hot Dog Mummy!

What study of Ancient Egypt would be complete without learning about mummification? To get some hands on experience and better understand this fascinating process, we decided to mummify a hot dog!

We needed:

- a hot dog (any kind will do)
- a deep plastic container with lid
- a large box of baking soda
- yarn/string
- a ruler
- pencil and paper for making a lab report
- 2 weeks to wait for the process to complete

Here is the page where I found full instructions for completing this "Minding Your Mummies" project!


Both of our boys attended a one-day VBS last weekend. My parents offered to take them for the day while my hubby and I enjoyed some much appreciated "date" time. Big Brother had attended several VBS programs before, but this was Little Brother's first. From the sounds of it, they had a wonderful time singing active songs and playing new games. Their lesson was about the story of the fiery furnace and about standing strong for Jesus. I was very impressed when Big Brother came home telling me he had felt challenged to start really putting God first in his life. I have noticed him reading his Bible and praying on his own outside of school time faithfully this week. That really puts a smile on my face! VBS programs and summer Bible camps had a big impact on my life growing up, and I was glad to see my boys getting a taste of that this summer.


Big Brother has been desperately needing a new outlet for his seemingly endless energy. After looking at and comparing numerous activities, we decided that swimming would be a great way to get in some fun P.E. this summer! I'm not a fan of the idea of going to a public pool (health concerns as well as the modesty issues involved). Thankfully the Lord worked it out that we were able to go in together with my parents on purchasing a pool and the needed supplies. What could be better than having a private pool at your grandparents' house?!

So this week Big Brother has been very motivated to get our schoolwork finished by lunchtime and so we could go to the pool at my parents' house for an afternoon of P.E. I am working on teaching him swimming skills and safety. He is doing great, and we are both enjoying the exercise. He loves racing me across the pool and playing "Marco Polo." Little Brother is still a little nervous in the water, and that's just fine. He did seem to like the pool better when he had some balls and a toy boat to play with in the water. He also seems to like practicing kicking!

Just a last little note here while I am on the swimming pool! We all sunburn very easily. For the first couple days, I slathered both boys in sunscreen (despite their protests, which were many and loud), but I forgot to use it myself. And I have the worst sunburn ever to prove it! OUCH!!! I found a simple homemade remedy to soothe the pain, though. Mix 4 Tbsp. of baking soda with just enough cold water to make a paste, use a cotton ball to rub it on your sunburn, leave on about 10-15 minutes, and gently rinse. It felt so cool!

And yes, I think I will remember to use my sunscreen from now on!!

So what is your family up to this summer?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Enjoying The Golden Goblet

Today is Day 12 of our 2016-2017 school year using AWOA as our main curriculum.

We are now digging deeply into our assigned literature for this unit, a book called The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. This fictional story about a boy named Ranofer who works in a goldsmith shop is set in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. We are really enjoying this book very much!

I love reading books aloud in our homeschool, and thankfully Big and Little Brother both also like to hear a good story.

To keep his hands busy while I read aloud as well as to help him actively process what happens in the story each day, Big Brother has created character cards.

As we meet characters in our reading each day, he makes a simple drawing on an index card and we label each card with the character's name. Then he uses these cards something like paper dolls to act out the events of the chapter as we read. This keeps him listening carefully and busily engaged in the story.

His drawings are rather simple, but he has include some good details that he has picked up from listening to the book. For example, he gave Rekh the goldsmith a bad leg just like the character in the story, and he gave the cruel stonecutter Gebu a sour face and a stonecutting tool.

When I first looked through The Golden Goblet before we started reading it together, I had wondered if it might be too challenging for an 8 year old to grasp. But I should not have worried! He loves it, and he even begs for me to keep reading after we finish our assigned chapter each day.

Little Brother is listening in on the reading with us, too. Although I am certain he's not grasping much of the story, he is practicing listening and enjoying either playing quietly with Play-doh or coloring.

I am also enjoying getting into the story of poor Ranofer myself. I have not read ahead to see how it all ends, so I am always excited to see what comes next in each day's assigned chapter!

Click here to find The Golden Goblet on Amazon!!

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

More Fun Spelling Activities!

Spelling is an area that I am really trying to focus on with Big Brother this year. We have liked using Rod & Staff's Spelling curriculum up to this point (and we will pick back up with their 4th grade book next year), but for this year we are enjoying taking a more varied and fun approach to our spelling practice!

Words of Many Colors

For spelling practice yesterday, I gave Big Brother his word list, 6 colored pencils, and a standard dice. On a Post-It note I assigned each number on the dice a certain color. So Big Brother would have to roll the dice to determine which colored pencil to use for writing each of his spelling words. This turned out to be a great way to keep him busy and focussed. (It also went very nicely along with our Joseph Bible story.) He had fun with this simple activity, and he even surprised himself at how quickly he finished the assignment!

Words in the Sand

This was a very good activity for a tactile learner, and it went along so well with our current Egypt/Desert theme. Today I called out his spelling words one at a time, and he wrote them in a pan of sand. Sometimes he used a paintbrush, and sometimes he just used his finger. Very simple and very fun!!

What are some fun ways your children have practiced spelling?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fun Alphabetizing Spelling Activity

Today was Day 3 for us using the A World of Adventure unit study curriculum, and we are loving it!

I wanted to briefly share with you an activity we did for spelling practice today that Big Brother really liked.

Normally being given the assignment of putting words in alphabetical order makes Big Brother groan. For some reason despite having a very high reading level, he still struggles with something as seemingly simple as remembering the order of the ABCs.

But this simple activity helped to make an otherwise boring and troublesome task so much more fun and interesting!

You may remember that we are in the midst of a unit study about Ancient Egypt, and as part of this unit study we are learning about the life of Joseph in the Bible. We all know the story of how Joseph was falsely accused and put into prison.

So to go along with the prison theme today when his spelling lesson called for him to alphabetize his word list, he made a spelling chain!

I cut 21 strips of construction paper so that he would have one link for each word on his current spelling list. Big Brother used a marker to write one spelling word on each strip of paper.

I had a sheet that I normally use when working with Little Brother which has all the capital letters of the alphabet printed out in order in large print, and I allowed Big Brother to use this sheet as a guide.

He carefully put each strip in the correct order, sometimes having to look to the second or third letter to determine which came next. I double-checked his order, and then we worked together to glue the strips together to make an alphabetized spelling chain.

Big Brother was so proud of his chain that he wanted to hang it up in our living room for decoration!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

First Day of School 2016-2017!

Yesterday was officially our first day of school for the 2016-2017 homeschool year! It was great, and I believe I can say that the new curriculum we have chosen for the year is going to be a huge success!

We began our morning with breakfast at about 7:45 followed by prayer and chores.

At 8:30 we began our school day with Bible. Since we are studying the life of Joseph in A World of Adventure, we started off by watching VeggieTales' fun retelling of Joseph's story The Ballad of Little Joe. It was a hit with both boys, and it really was a fun way to introduce our Bible reading for the day. While I read Genesis 37 aloud and we discussed the story, the boys worked on coloring pictures of Joseph and even made their own coats of many colors using large paper grocery bags.

Our next subject for the morning was Language Arts, and our activities tied into the Bible lesson for the day. Big Brother learned the Greek root word chronos which means "time," and he started creating a vocabulary matching game. So his writing assignment was to write three sentences telling things that happened in the story of Joseph in chronological order. Then the boys made the first pages in their "ABCs of Ancient Egypt" booklets. Today's page, of course was J is for Joseph, and they pasted the pictures of Joseph they had colored earlier onto these pages.

Big Brother practiced his cursive handwriting.

Little Brother enjoyed learning about the shape and sound of the letter J and finding the J magnet in his alphabet set.

Once Language Arts was finished, we were ready to dive head first into Social Studies by enjoying a special "Taste of Egypt" snack (complete with a "finger bowl" just like the Egyptians would have used!) while reading from a few of the library books we had checked out on Egypt.

By this time, Little Brother was asking to go watch The Ballad of Little Joe again, so I fixed him a little "Taste of Egypt" bowl to enjoy in the other room. (He came back in several times for seconds...and thirds...)

Big Brother and I read sections from several different books while we snacked on the floor. We read about the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx of Giza, several different Pharaohs, the flooding of the Nile, and the mummification process. Pretty interesting stuff! We had to watch our time because we could have easily spent the entire day like this. Big Brother said this was his favorite part of the whole day, and I am pretty sure I agree!

One book I want to especially mention that we are using that did not come from the library is called Unwrapping the Pharaohs. This is a Christian-oriented book that gives a Biblical timeline for the history of Ancient Egypt. We just skimmed here and there yesterday, but we are really looking forward to digging into this book and especially meeting the different Pharaohs of the Bible. There is a DVD with this book, and we may check that out on Monday.

Big Brother recorded the different foods we ate for our snack that would have also been eaten by the ancient Egyptians.

For science, we read from several books about deserts and especially about cacti and other desert plants. For a little fun hands on learning project, each of the boys planted their own little cactus seeds!

We paused at about 12:15 for lunch. Over lunch, we talked about all the interesting things we were learning already. After lunch, we played the Worlds of Adventure quiz board game that is part of the AWOA curriculum to review what we had studied so far. This was a very fun way to review and check Big Brother's comprehension.

After our game, we enjoyed some singing time for Fine Arts. I chose a couple of short prayer songs to start teaching the boys: "Change My Heart, Oh God" and "Holiness." Little Brother catches on to song lyrics and melodies so quickly, and he was singing right along with us in no time! After the busyness and excitement of our day up to this point, some quiet singing was very refreshing.

We are re-using parts of our 3rd grade R&S math curriculum from last year rather than going on to 4th grade just yet. I thought a year of review and more hands on math activities would be beneficial for Big Brother. For our first day, I kept math pretty quick and simple. First I quizzed him orally on some multiplication facts. Then he did a few rows of division facts on paper. And to add in some fun, I introduced him to the world of cuissenare rods. He learned what numbers each color rod represents. Then I had him use the rods to show me all the different addition and subtraction facts for 10.

Big Brother's next assignment after math was typing. We have Mavis Beacon's Keyboarding Kidz, and it seems to be very good. Big Brother actually started using this program for fun during our break so he had already completed a few lessons. Yesterday he spent 30 minutes working on his typing skills with Mavis Beacon's fun lessons and games. In today's world, typing and computer skills are very important, so I want Big Brother to get a good start.

To end up the main part of our school day, Big Brother spent some time reading from a library book he chose about Howard Carter, the man who discovered King Tut! He was finished by about 2:15.

Meanwhile, Little Brother and I finished up some laundry and dishes together. Then after reading a quick story or two, Little Brother spent a little time playing his toddler preschool app on my phone while I stretched out on the couch for a much needed few minutes rest! Little Brother very rarely takes a nap during the day anymore, so I have to grab a little quiet rest time whenever I can!

Later in the evening, Big Brother and I took some pictures as part of the 4-H Photography curriculum we are working on together.

And that was our busy, fun first day of homeschool for the year!

We are all looking forward to more to come!!!!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Getting Ready for the New Homeschool Year!

Our little 2 1/2 week break is almost over! We will officially start our 2016-2017 homeschool year this Friday morning (June 3rd)!

We have had a lot of fun enjoying our time off. We have taken this time to play games, play with neighbors in the backyard, read books, paint pictures, watch movies, visit a fish hatchery, make cards for sick children, go to the park, visit the zoo, work on household chores, and much more!

We've had a busy day today purchasing a few needed school supplies and checking out 30 Egypt & desert themed books from our local library just to get us started!

There is a lot of excitement for us right now as we prepare for this new year. This will be our 6th year of homeschooling, but it is going to be very different from any that has come before for several reasons:

1. Big Brother is not really going to be in any certain "grade" this year. He successfully finished 3rd grade already, but I won't consider him in 4th grade until the year after this one. He just turned 8 this Spring, so we are just taking a maturity year...because We can! I guess for simplicity's sake he will probably just keep answering "3rd" when anyone asks him the dreaded "What grade are you in?" question.

2. We are trying out a year round schedule for the first time. Goodbye summer slide! We will be getting our first 30 days of school done before everybody else gets back from the beach! And when everyone else starts back in the fall, we will only be having to do school 4 days a week most of the time! We will have 12 months to log our required school days rather than feeling rushed to complete them in the traditional 9 months.

3. We will have a totally new curriculum with a totally new method! We are beyond excited to dive into A World of Adventure which is a complete history-based Christian unit study curriculum. We have done short unit studies before, but we have never used the unit study method as our main homeschool curriculum.

4. Little Brother will be joining in our homeschool activities much more! At 2 years old, he will be soaking up as much from our unit studies as possible while focussing on becoming more familiar with the alphabet and numbers.

I have our first day's activities and schedule pretty much planned out, and our workboxes are already loaded!

Be sure to watch out for my next post after our first day of school is complete!!