August

Now that we are back into the school year, I’ll be blogging on a regular basis and sharing free goodies I create for the kids throughout the year as well as what we’re doing.

So far we are loving WP’s Children Around the World program (with our own additions). Last week we studied the British Isles. The kids made us all a delicious lunch of tea sandwiches and other assorted goodies:

Tuna and egg salad (no crusts), crackers w/cheese and grapes:

Tea sandwiches

Gotta have some fancy cookies too:

Cookies and stuff!

Bear and Emily also treated us to a wonderful dinner of shepherd’s pie and Yorkshire pudding! I love having kids old enough to cook!

These are the recipes they used: Shepherd’s pie (except that we used real mashed potatoes) and Yorkshire Pudding (gotta love the Internet for an on the fly British themed dinner).
Both the items were so easy to make and pretty good. I don’t think the shepherd’s pie was totally authentic, but it was good “comfort” food and I’m sure we’ll be making it again. I also really liked the Yorkshire pudding. It had a kind of spongy, soft texture and a very gentle / subtle flavor.

This weekend they are going to treat us all to scones and tea. Bear is really our “resident cook”. He LOVES to cook and experiment with food and he’s pretty darn good at it too. Otter is following in big brother’s footsteps, at least with the interest, if not the skill (YET). Wink I’m so glad our core program schedules in so many fun recipes. I’m glad too that Bear and Emily want to stretch themselves and add in more. I think this year is going to be a culinary adventure.

Some other highlights from what we are doing:

Google Earth – If you don’t have this FREE program…go and get it. Our kids LOVE it. Otter begs to use it EVERY DAY. I’m not kidding.
We turned on real time weather (or whatever it’s called) and can even see the current cloud cover and temperatures all over the world. Last week we combed over England and also spent quite a bit of time over at the Shetland Islands. You can click on wikipedia articles, click on pictures and even videos that are linked to certain locations. It really has helped make us so much more familiar with many different places. You can really get a feel for the land, buildings and even culture. Is it green and lush? Dry? Are there hills? How are things the same or different from where we live. What are the buildings like? Do they have cars? Swimming pools? Schools? Museums? It’s very open ended and a lot of fun.

Hungry Planet: What the World Eat – We all love this book. You can see what other people eat all over the world. See a preview of what the book contains here. The big kids are reading it themselves, but Otter and I comb over the pictures of the different types of food and compare them to what we eat.

We are using Otter’s Science this year. I’m so glad I decided to create this so the boys can learn the same topics together. Here’s a pic of last week’s project they worked on together – edible DNA! Out of all the models of DNA we’ve made over the years, this one is the hands-down-winner. I’m not going to admit that I took a handful of those wonderful, fruity little colored marshmallows and used them for my own experiment: “how fast can mom cram her mouth full of puffy sugary goodness?” See, I like science too. And this one: can you get air through a licorice with the ends bit off? Verdict: you can. It’s all in the name of science folks.

DNA

I wanted to keep my kids together in as many things as I could this year (which honestly isn’t too much because of the age differences) and already it’s paying off. The kids are working together during their “shared” subjects and projects really well. Don’t ask me how they are the rest of the time. *roll eyes*
Anyway, I’ve noticed a heightened level of cooperation and helpfulness that is fostered by this type of sharing. Some of our best years homeschooling were when I had Bear and Emily combined in almost every subject (with allowances for their abilities / different levels). I like having us all on the same page for some of our school day.

With our geography program, I will read some things out loud to everyone and we do some activities together (like culture movies, practicing map skills, or exploring Google Earth) and then we break it down to just Otter and Bear (for the sticker atlases or some lower level items) and then break it off totally to their individual work: Emily reads one book, Bear another and Otter works on a travel diary page, etc.

With science I usually read a book out loud to both Bear and Otter, we all work together out of the Blood and Guts book and maybe do an activity or lab and then Bear does the high school portion while Otter might do a dictation with me or one of the cut & paste books (that are just too easy for Bear). They both watch most of the Brain Pop movies but Otter usually answers the questions on the quizzes unless there is a question that is “too hard”.

Besides the shared subjects, Emily is also teaching Bear German. He was going to take a 2nd year of Latin but then we found out that the military academies would really like you to take a modern language. He may not apply to any of the academies, but doesn’t want this door closed. We already have all the materials on hand for German as well as family who lives in Germany, so we decided to go with it. This is not only a great review for Emily, but it also gives both siblings some positive time together.

On a last note, I want to thank everyone for the complimentary emails about the different materials from our site you’ve all been using. I’m really excited to see how many of you will be sharing our journey this year with Otter’s science and others of you who are using our history or geography curriculum. I wish you all a wonderful year and thank you for the blessings of your encouragement.

I also want to thank everyone for the multitude of Amazon orders that have been made recently. We had a list of Bible related books lined up that we wanted to order. As of last week, in one month, there was almost EXACTLY the amount of $ we needed to purchase these items made through Amazon commissions. I thank you all and above all I thank God for knowing our needs and desires.