2nd Week Using Adventures in Sea & Sky

This is our 2nd week into WinterPromise’s program: Adventures in Sea & Sky. I think Otter’s favorite read-aloud right now is Treasure Island. I’m not sure how much of it he really understands because of all the dialect and maritime vocabulary, but every time I finish reading for the day he begs for more. I love that!
I also love how he’s really being engaged by all of the activities – not only the ones WP scheduled but all of the extras I’ve gathered up too. Sea & Sky is a terrific theme to expand on. There are all sorts of science extras you can add, along with plenty of crafts and movies.

This week Otter continued work on his mollusks lapbook (you can see more pics in some previous posts). Next week he’ll be starting one on whales. I can’t speak highly enough about lapbooks. They add a hands-on component that really helps learning STICK. They are fun to “review” too. Here are a few pictures of some of the new items he added:

Slug diet booklet

Slug diet

Lift the flaps to see what slugs eat!

what slugs eat

Learning about slugs vs. snails:

Lift the flap slug

Shutterfold with a map inside and questions to answer on each flap

Octopus shutterfold

Multiplying by 8’s – Lift the flaps to see the answers:

Multiplying by 8's

Accordion fold for octopus facts

Octopus Facts

Anyone else’s kid mix printing with cursive? roll eyes

Outrageous octopus facts

We also worked from the book 1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life. This week’s drawing was a sea cucumber. As before, I drew mine on the computer, while Otter followed along on paper. He is really enjoying this book. Each step is pretty simple to follow. We’re also looking up the items we’re drawing online for photos, videos, and more information.

Mom’s sea cucumber

Sea Cucumber

Otter’s sea cucumber

Otter's Sea Cucumber drawing

Our First Week with Sea & Sky

We’ve been enjoying our first week with Sea & Sky.

Yesterday Otter made a “shadow box ship” from the book Sailors, Whalers, Fantastic Sea Voyages. The activity book’s instructions call for supplies like craft foam and wooden dowels but since I didn’t have any of that on hand we just used card stock paper. I think it was probably easier to do that way anyway. The instructions were a little bit vague for Otter to accomplish this activity on his own so I helped direct him. We didn’t do everything exactly how it was described, but Otter was happy with the end result:

Shadow box ship

Bear is going to be making a much more detailed paper model from the Canon Creative Park website.

Otter has also been working a free lapbook about mollusks. He’s enjoying the added science component to his schedule as well as some additional hands-on activities. Here’s are some pictures of what he’s accomplished so far:

The cover of his lapbook

Mollusks lapbook

What is a mollusk? flap book

Mollusk lapbook lift the flap

Inside “What is a mollusk?”

What is a mollusk?

A 3 panel squid booklet

Lapbook component about squids

Inside the booklet

squid lapbook item

All in the mollusk family booklet

All in the Mollusk family lapbook booklet

Inside the mollusk family booklet with 3 individual tabs

Lapbook page on mollusks

We also got to start the notebooking component of Sea & Sky. The program comes with a packet of papers called the “Make Your Own Captain’s Log”. Today Otter did a sheet on labeling a ship (hmmm, interesting color choices for the sails, LOL):

Label a ship

He’s keeping all of his papers for S&S in a notebook:

Sea & Sky notebook

So far I’m finding the pacing of Sea & Sky to be very manageable. Both boys are really enjoying our read-aloud of Treasure Island and there seems to be a very good balance of activities.

My only complaint so far is that one of the books scheduled as a reader (Voyage of Ice) turned out to have, in my opinion and for MY family’s values, some inappropriate material in it for the ages it was scheduled for (3rd-6th). I’m actually quite irked about this. I am NOT criticizing Winter Promise for choosing the book as a reader. I understand that it is our responsibility as parents to preview our children’s materials and ultimately make choices and decisions regarding them and also that every family is quite different in their beliefs and philosophies. However, I would have liked a little warning about the level of romance and violence it contains. I am really quite liberal when it comes to read-alouds (books I read out loud while my kids listen) because I can be on hand to discuss things with the kids and help expose them to real life, under my terms. However, when it comes to just handing my 11 year old son something to read by himself, I am a lot more picky. Voyage of Ice is quite an amazing adventure story that is very educational about life on a whaling ship but fails my test as a reader. We will, however,be doing it as a read-aloud with some edits on the fly.

Adventures in the Sea & Sky

Today we are starting our new school year (yes, we school year-round). Both boys are using WinterPromise’s Adventures in the Sea & Sky program. Like anything else I use, I couldn’t help but tweak it some and put together some extras. I’ll be chronicling our journey with Sea & Sky this year and taking pictures of our projects. If you are curious about this curriculum (at least our experience with it), hopefully you’ll get an idea of what it’s like through my blog.

Today to celebrate our starting this theme I made the kids a lunch of octopus, ocean water, sea foam, sea stars and fish. Or something like that…

Octopus hot dog

The octopus is made out of a hot dog with a mustard face. The ocean waves/water beneath him are Top Ramen noodles with blue food coloring. The fish are Goldfish crackers and the star fish is a slice of star fruit. To wash it all down I created some “sea foam”: sparkling apple cider colored with blue food coloring.

Hot dog octopus

The kids LOVED it. It was a great way to start off our studies.

Another extra I added was the book 1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life. In the schedule of extras I created I assigned Otter drawings that match up (for the most part) what we are studying each week. I’ve added a study of mollusks for science so today he learned how to draw an octopus. I opened up Corel Painter and with my trusty tablet drew each step for him as he followed along. Then we both colored our creations. Here is my drawing (digital pen & ink, and watercolors):


Here is Otter’s drawing:


Otter’s going to keep his drawings in the notebook we’re working on. Other extras for this week are a free lapbook on mollusks, a mollusks movie on BrainPop, and some notebooking pages I found online: Mollusks paragraph & questions and Mollusks worksheet. He’s also reading Eyewitness Classics: 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and doing a few other goodies like watching a Treasure Island movie online to give him some visual context for this week’s WP read-aloud and more.

The Eyewitness book is really nice. The original 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is still WAY over Otter’s head right now. The Eyewitness version is 63 pages long with a much abridged story, lots of wonderful illustrations and photographs as well as side box style information to make certain things in the story more clear or to explain facts related to the story. If you click the title linked above you can see a free preview of it on Amazon. I also like the fact that the book contains 2 page spreads on history and science like a section on submarines, the ocean depths, sea exploration and more. There are also maps showing the fictional voyage. It’s a wonderful version of the story for younger readers.

March update

Long time no blog! We were all very sick. In fact that was the sickest I can ever remember being since I was a child! Both of the boys had pneumonia after having the flu. We were all hacking and coughing but thankfully we’re all better now and back to our normal lives – like doing school!

Here are some of the things Otter is working on:

Barton Reading & Spelling Program

We are back into using the Barton Reading and Spelling program. Otter was having some problems with spelling and reading. With spelling he would “decorate” with letters, add in letters that are not sounded in the word or mix up the proper letters. For example he would spell bird as brid, noises as noseses, spider as sipter, black as blake, bowl as blole, etc. After reading about some of the things he’s been doing I started thinking about and investigating the possibility of Dyslexia. We are in the process of getting him tested and (so far) it doesn’t look like Dyslexia is the problem after all. However, I have noticed some real improvement in his spelling and reading since using a combination of Barton and Sequential Spelling so I’m going to continue using both through the end levels.

Barton is expensive, but it really does work. Even though the first few levels seem really easy and unecessary we have gone through every lesson without skipping anything. I am VERY pleased with the results. If you have a child who is struggling with reading or spelling, I encourage you to check out the Barton website and watch some free videos or read the Dyslexia warning signs check list. The program is very easy to use. First you watch a teacher training video that not only explains step-by-step how to teach the material, but also goes over common mistakes a child might make and how to handle them. After watching the teacher training you can start the lessons. Each lesson is totally scripted and all materials are included like letter tiles, worksheets, reading sheets, etc. (and in the 4th level a Franklin Spelling Ace).

cactusIn science Otter is wrapping up learning about the desert in WinterPromise’s Animals & Their Worlds Program. Dad bought us a cactus to go with what “we” are learning! He is excited to start learning about the forest habitat next week.

For history we just finished studying about World War I and the Great Depression/Dust bowl. Here are some of Otter’s notebooking pages. I find that notebooking helps him retain what he’s learned and the pages are fun to flip through for “review”.

WP World War I page and and WWI map from Knowledge Quest.

world war I

WWI propaganda posters from online with a copywork sentence.

Notebooking page on Theodore Roosevelt and pictures of National Parks he signed legislation for:

More WWI posters and a page about the stock market crash of 1929:

Stamps showcasing events and items from the 1930’s (the website where we got the pictures from was scheduled in the WP guidebook as an optional extra). Otter really likes to learn and recite dates, so now we have some more that he knows:

We didn’t like one of the books WP scheduled for WWI (Dear America’s When Christmas Comes Again) so I substituted with Where Poppies Grow – a very visual scrapbook style book. The new WP catalog came out and it looks like they replaced the book we didn’t like with something else. Kudos to WP for working on their programs to make them even better.

 Otter really loved it when we read one of the books scheduled in WP’s middler pack: Hoping for Rain: The Dust Bowl Adventures of Patty and Earl Buckler. He didn’t like the book scheduled in the regular program (Rose’s Journal) so we ended up using Hoping for Rain exclusively. I personally thought both were excellent.

Otter is totally itching to get to World War II.

In math Otter just finished up RightStart’s Level D and moved on to Level E.

In other news, you probably have to be on another planet to not have heard about the recent court decision concerning homeschooling in California. Please consider signing the online petition, if you haven’t yet. Click here to go to it.

I am very encouraged by the following:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced today that the California Department of Education has completed a legal review of the February 28 California Court of Appeal ruling regarding home schooling. O’Connell issued the following statement:

“I have reviewed this case, and I want to assure parents that chose to home school that California Department of Education policy will not change in any way as a result of this ruling. Parents still have the right to home school in our state.

“Every child in our state has a legal right to get an education, and I want every child to get an education that will prepare them for success in college and the world of work in the challenging global economy.

“As the head of California’s public school system, I hope that every parent would want to send their children to public school. However, traditional public schools may not be the best fit for every student. Within the public school system there are a range of options available. Students can take independent study classes, attend a charter school, or participate in non-classroom-based programs. But some parents choose to send their children to private schools or to home school, and I respect that right.

“I admire the dedication of parents who commit to oversee their children’s education through home schooling. But, no matter what educational program a student participates in, it is critical that the program prepares them for future success in the global economy. I urge any parent who is considering or involved in home schooling their children to take advantage of resources and support available through their county or district offices of education.”

I guess it’s going to be a wait and see game. I’m hoping things will continue to stay positive.

American History Notebooking Pages

Otter finished some more WP notebooking pages. Here are some pics:

The Battle of Little Bighorn:


Sharing the news about moving west and a page about Levi Strauss and the invention of blue jeans:

Moving West and blue jeans

Transcontinental railroad and traveling west in wagons (the top part of the wagon page is lift-the-flap):
Transcontinental railroad and wagons

Some history pocket things about the Oregon Trail pasted into ds’s history notebook (including a “quilt block” made from felt):

History Pocket

A Wild West wanted poster:

Wanted poster

More History Pocket stuff:

More History Pockets

History Pockets Moving West is schedule in the WinterPromise Middlers Pack but we are just doing the pages whenever we feel like it and have the time.

I also didn’t end up liking the Down the Yukon by Will Hobbs and am substituting Caddie Woodlawn instead. Caddie Woodlawn was scheduled as a reader in the LA package, but we aren’t using that this year. Instead, I am using the readers as substitutes for some of the adventure reading assignments.

WinterPromise’s American Story 2

I am doing WinterPromise’s American Story 2 this year with my youngest. He is LOVING it. The schedule is so “doable” and the books are totally engaging and fun. Every day, when I am finished with the scheduled reading, Ds keeps begging me to read more. I don’t usually indulge him because that keeps him eager for the next day’s work. 😉

Here are some pictures of ds’s recent notebooking pages. We are currently wrapping up learning about the Civil War and the Underground Railroad.

Ds’s drawing of Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began:

Fort Sumter

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