Thursday, April 30, 2009

Book Basket ~ Rain, Rain and Kids' Choices

For the final week of April, I chose to check out books about rain ~ you know, "April showers bring May flowers" ~ you gotta read about rain in April, right?

So here's a listing of our Rain (and other weather-related) books:
  • Flash, Crash, Rumble and Roll by Franklyn Branley
  • The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow: I love this author's way with words...this book tells the story of a rainstorm. This book is quite unique in that there is a 2-page spread of just words (no illustrations) followed by a 2-page spread of of illustrations (with no words). I loved how this encouraged my kids and I to create pictures in our heads while reading, and then to search out what we read about in the illustrations that followed.
  • Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman: this is a wordless book ~ only illustrations are used to tell the story of a little boy who is stuck inside alone on a rainy day. At first my 5-year old was not at all interested in this wordless book. But after "reading" it to her and my 2-year old, I later found her "reading" it to herself, and later to the 2-year old :)
  • Thundercake by Patricia Polacco: We love Patricia Polacco books around here. In this book, Polacco tells the story of how her Babushka (Grandmother) helped calm her fear of thunder and lightening by turning a stormy day into a baking day. (Note: Many of Polacco's books are taken from stories of her own childhood.)
  • Peter Spier's Rain: this is another wordless book about the adventures that a brother and sister have while taking a walk on a rainy day.

We also checked out some books that had nothing to do with our theme:

  • Melvin Might? by Jon Scieszka: part of a new series of books entitled "Jon Scieszka's Trucktown" ~ my 2-year old pulled this one off the shelf as we were heading to check our books out, it had a very colorful cover with a mixer truck flying through the air ~ I guess it was just too irresisitable for my truck-loving little guy! Cute story about a mixer who overcomes his tendency to worry in order to help a friend.
  • Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco: A cute story about a girl and her (very large) imaginary friend.
  • Appelemando's Dreams by Patricia Polacco
  • Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words by Jane O'Connor: Fancy Nancy is one of my 5yo daughter's favorite characters right now.
  • Fancy Nancy at the Museum by Jane O'Connor: Another of my 5yo dd's picks. I do like how this author introduces us to lots of "fancy" words in her stories ~ it makes our everyday conversation a bit more interesting :)
The following books are in my 7yo's "to read" pile:

We went by the library's drive-through window last night and picked up a new batch of books for next week ~ we're looking forward to reading about gardens. Plus, I got a couple of books that I've seen reviewed on some other book basket posts :)

To see what others are reading ~ check out The Happy Housewife's new book basket series!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Pinewood Derby Chronicles

Every year the AWANA program that we attend hosts a Pinewood Derby. Awards are handed out for fastest car, car design, and non-car design.
In 2005, our then 4-year old son worked hard on his first Pinewood Derby race car. He chose the paint colors, painted the car and added a cool Superman sticker. The end result was a very cool looking race car (IMHO :))

He came away his first Pinewood Derby with an honorable mention for car design ~ and most of all, he had tons of fun.

In 2006, he decided to recreate the Batmobile for the Pinewood Derby ~ he had a blast decorating his car in preparation for the race.

He returned from the Pinewood Derby with a first place finish in the car design category!

Fast forward to 2009 ~ another Pinewood Derby, and another award, third place car design for his Jimmy Johnson car.

Not sure if this means that he has a future in car design :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Menu Plan ~ April 26 thru May 2

With the weather we had last week, I'm not sure whether to plan for winter comfort foods or switch over to cool summer dishes: we started the week with chilly rain, followed by a couple days of beautiful springtime weather and then the weekend brought scorching summer temps!

So this week, we're just sticking with meals that we enjoy eating...and here's the plan:

  • tortilla pizzas, apple slices
  • pb&j sandwiches, oranges
  • snacky lunch (pretzels, cheese slices, fruit)
  • quesadillas, oranges

For lots more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Finer Things ~ Celebrating Springtime

Is there anything finer than beautiful spring weather (except maybe crisp fall weather)? It seems that spring has finally arrived here in our neck of the woods, and we have been outside enjoying our favorite springtime activities...



drawing with chalk

more chalk art

and soaking up the rays during lunch :)

To see what finer things others are celebrating, check out Amy's blog.

Book Basket ~ Birds

I'm definitely a theme gal when it comes to checking books out of the library ~ and this month our theme has been birds with a bit of springtime thrown in...

This list does not include all of the books that we checked out this past month, it only includes the books that I will keep on my list as worthy of checking out again :)

Check out The Happy Housewife's Book Basket series for more book recommendations.

The MACHE Convention

One convention down, one (or maybe two) to go...

This past weekend, my husband and I took our 7-year old on a date ~ after dropping the two younger ones at Grandma and Papa's for a day of fun, we headed over to our small local airport for some plane-watching and a bit of lunch.

From there it was a very short drive to our small local homeschool convention. This was the first year that we brought our son along ~ we thought he'd enjoy checking out the many books and toys (educational, of course!) on display.

When we arrived at the convention, my husband and son headed off on their own while I took my prepared list and began my browsing.

Here's what I brought home:

and a very cute set of little nature readers

I also picked up a couple of miscellaneous items...but I am pleased to say that I stuck to my list.

After speaking with one vendor (and veteran homeschooling mom) I decided against adding a spelling program for now, we'll continue to work on copywork and revisit spelling when planning his third grade year.

I was not able to find a copy of StartWrite, so I plan on ordering that program on-line at some point.

There are still some things on my list that I was not able to purchase this time around, so they will remain on the list for our next convention - less than 2 weeks away :)

Oh, and in case you were wondering if the guys found anything interesting at the convention...

yep, my son is the proud owner of his first civil war style cap gun!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Art of Exaggeration

I do believe that she has perfected the art of exaggeration...
She doesn't say, "Wow Mom, it's hot in here!", nope, she exclaims "It's hotter than 20 hundred suns!" (we're still workin' on the numbers thing).

And things aren't simply "big" to her ~ when asking me for help with folding her blanket she proclaims "it's as big as a dinosaur" - it's not quite that large, but...

Or my favorite, "that hurts as bad as 100 snake bites!" (wow, maybe I need to use some detangler when combing her hair) - and for the record, she has never been bitten by a snake ;).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ Spring Photo Shoot

We'll call this one "Babydoll in a Tree", courtesy of my 5-year old daughter :)

There's lots more pictures at Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Fun ~ Plane Watching

This past weekend, we headed to our local airport to do some plane watching with our oldest son. As you can see, this airport is very small - which makes it perfect for plane-watching with our kids.
There was lots of plane action happening...lots of take-offs and landings.

I love that we could get up-close with the planes , only a fence to separate us.

We'll definitely be returning ~ with the younger ones in tow.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Finer Things ~ The best of friends

One of my most favorite finer things...hearing my two-year old say to his brother and sister: "Wyan (two-year old speak for Ryan) and Abby you're my best fwends".

To see what finer things others are celebrating, head over to Amy's blog.

The Restless Robin

Our nature study topic for this month is birds. Everytime we begin to study a new topic, one of the first things I do is load up our shelves with books about that topic. First I go through our own bookshelves and pull out all of the books that we own about our topic ~ I like to include fiction and non-fiction, picture books and chapter books.

Once I scour our shelves, I go onto our library's online catalog and do a basic search for children's books about our topic. I quickly glance over the book descriptions and choose about 15-20 to reserve. These get added to our library book basket and I read them to the kids throughout the month.

Yesterday my daughter's read-aloud choice was The Restless Robin by Marjorie Flack. This book was originally published in 1937 ~ and it's definitely a keeper.

It begins with Mr. Cock Robin leaving his winter home in the State of Georgia to head north for the spring. Mr. Robin travels through South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington D.C., Maryland, and on until he finally reaches his intended destination in the State of New Hampshire. We are able to follow Mr. Robin's travels on a map included in the illustrations ~ my kids especially loved it when Mr. Robin passed through our home state of Maryland :)

Once he reaches his destination, he considers many different trees before deciding where to settle down. After choosing his home, he waits for Mrs. Robin to return ~ and once she does they build their nest. Mrs. Robin soon has a nest full of eggs and the story continues as their babies hatch and grow. I really appreciate how the author weaves a charming little story while sharing many facts about birds and their habits.

Our favorite part of the book is at the end when the little boy robin "Buffy" (who cannot fly yet), is stuck in a lilac bush awaiting rescue - he is "peep peeping" very loudly, calling for help, when other birds respond to his cries with their own unique bird calls: an Oriole and then a Chickadee begin to chatter, followed by a Thrasher, a Peabody bird, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Bluebird, a Song Sparrow, a Flicker and finally a Meadowlark. They all sing their songs to the scared little robin ~ and the best part is that the words and the music of each of their songs is included in the illustrations (now if only I could read music :0)

This book has been a wonderful addition to our bird study and one that I definitely would love to add to our home library. However, it might take a bit of searching to find a copy because it appears that it is out of print :(

Book Basket ~ My 7-year old's free reading list

I've been wanting/needing to update my 7-year old's free reading book basket. He's a voracious reader - and I want to keep him stocked with quality literature to choose from.

The problem I am having with finding books for him is that he is at a tricky reading level. He's past the Frog & Toad books ~ he can finish those very quickly, but he is not quite ready to read "Little House" books (and others like them) on his own. Actually, I think he could read them, but I think their length and lack of many illustrations intimidates him.

So I pulled out my Sonlight Curriculum and my Veritas Press catalogs (we don't use either of these curriculums, but I love using their catalogs for book ideas) in search of book suggestions. I chose these two catalogs because I knew their catalogs contained books that I consider "rich" and wholesome.

So here's the list I came up with:

I gathered the ones that were already on our bookshelves and placed them in a separate basket. The titles that we don't own are on my library reserve list. As he finishes them, I plan to add reviews so that I can have a record for the future (if I don't write it down, I will definitely forget :))

Check out what others are reading at the Happy Housewife's Book Basket series.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Preparing My List

Our first homeschool convention of the season is quickly approaching and even though we already have most of our curriculum for next year, there are a few more resources that I would like to examine and maybe purchase. I've found that I make much better use of my time at these conventions when I have a plan and a shopping list.

Language Arts: I've been debating about whether I should add some spelling next year for my oldest (7) ~ two resources that I want to check out are Sequential Spelling and Spelling by Sound and Structure.

I'm also considering adding in an English resource like Primary Language Lessons or First Language Lessons.

My 5-year old daughter will be officially joining us for school next year. She is currently working through Rod & Staff preschool workbooks. Once she finishes those, I plan to use the same Kindergarten language arts program that I used with my oldest.

Handwriting: DS7 just completed the Italics Workbook B - not sure whether I want to go on to Book C or just move on to creating all of my own copywork. Either way, I do want to purchase some kind of font/copywork program ~ I definitely want to check out StartWrite.

For my k'er I need to purchase a new copy of the Italics Workbook A.

Literature: We are currently about 1/3 of the way through Ambleside Online's Year One - but I guess it couldn't hurt to make a list of Year Two's books and snag them if I can find used or bargain copies while we're shopping.

I just completed a "free reading" list for my 7-year old and I put together a book basket that contained some books from this list. However, he is a voracious reader, and I know that he will probably go through these books very quickly. Now would probably be the perfect time to put together a list for next year so I can take advantage of the used book sales at the conventions.

Math: We are using Mastering Mathematics for my 7-year old's math curriculum - and we own all of the workbooks needed through about 6th - 7th grade, so math is covered for my oldest.

For my upcoming K'er - I plan to use Singapore's Early Bird Math workbooks - we have 1A and 1B, so I guess I could/should add 2A and 2B to my list.

Science: Covered ~ Ambleside includes a number of living science books in it's curriculum. We are also trying to do some of the nature study challenges posted on the Handbook of Nature Study blog.

History: Covered by our Ambleside curriculum.

Misc: I need to choose my plan book for next year. This year I used a very basic plan book and I loved it - not sure if I'll be able to find the exact one or if it would even work next year because I'll be adding my k'er in...

Now, that's a list of our homeschool "needs", and this year, the "needs" list isn't very long. Because the list is so short this year, I do believe that there may be some room in our homeschool budget to indulge some of my homeschool "wants" - you know, the fun stuff. This year my "wants" list includes:

How about you other homeschoolers, are you planning on attending any conventions this year?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bubble Fun

A big container of bubbles, a couple of awesome bubble wands, and a beautiful spring day...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Plan ~ April 13-19

My menu plan post for this week is a bit late. It's actually been written on my calendar since last Friday, but I'm just now getting the post done. Oh well, better late than never, right? :)

There's lots of ham dishes in the plan this week - I don't want any of our delicious leftover ham from Easter dinner to go to waste (and if I don't plan to use it - that's exactly what would happen! :))

Breakfasts ~ toasted english muffins & jelly (buy 1 get 2 free sale!), baked oatmeal, breakfast cookies, whole wheat & choco chip pancakes

Lunches ~ Broccoli Cheese Soup (leftovers), ham sandwiches, crackers & cream cheese, pb&j sandwiches, pizza quesadillas, egg salad

Dinners ~ Egg Casserole (with ham), Rodeo Chicken Sandwiches, Black Bean & Ham Soup, homemade pizza, Chicken Paprikash, Baked Ziti

By the way, if you are looking for a really good broccoli cheese soup recipe - the one that I linked to on this page is AWESOME! It really is! I've made it 3 times in the past month. My husband loves it, and my 7-year old (who gags when eating veggies) actually told his little sister that it was good - and then immediately caught himself and said "I mean, it's okay" :)

There's lots more menu plans over at OrgJunkie!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Living Lovely ~ Vacations

This week's living lovely with family theme is about vacations. Our family really looks forward to our annual trip to the beach ~ the day after we return, at least one the kids usually asks "when are we going back to the beach house?"

Before becoming parents, my husband and I enjoyed a mini-vacation at a bed-and-breakfast overlooking the sound in Nags Head, NC - and we fell in love with the slower pace of this beach town (compared to some others we had visited).

Two years later we returned to Nags Head (Duck, to be exact) for our first family vacation with our then 18-month old toddler and some family friends. We chose to visit in October (house rental rates really drop after September), and we had a wonderful time.

Caleb does NOT like the feeling of sand between his toes!
Since then, we have returned many, many times. We've vacationed there in June (much busier, but also better "beach" weather),

we've also visited in February ~ snow flurries on the beach, anyone?

Hunting for seashells on a winter beach

But I do believe that we enjoy our October visits most of all. I guess some people may say that vacationing at the beach during the off-season is a bit "out of the box", but we have found that we actually prefer this time of the year...
there are lighthouses to climb
Currituck Beach Lighthouse

a fabulous kid-friendly aquarium to explore

fun, historical sights to visit
and the sun rise over the ocean is always beautiful, no matter the time of year :)

As a one-income family on a budget, we have found ways to make our beach vacations affordable for our family:
  • rent during the off-season, we prefer vacationing in October
  • invite another family to share the rental, we love sharing our beach house with the grandparents
  • since we rent a house, we take full advantage of the kitchen and eat-in A LOT

fishing with Papa
Other ideas for future vacations on a budget:
  • Plan daytrips to visit all the nearby attactions that other people actually visit our area in order to see ~ Washington DC, nearby battlefields (Gettysburg, Antietam), Harpers Ferry
  • Take a bike trip on the C&O Canal Towpath
  • Spend a day swimming and playing at Greenbriar State Park

I picked up a great little book at a homeschool convention titled Kids Love Maryland. The subtitle for this book describes it as "a family travel guide to Exploring "Kid-Tested Places in Maryland...Year Round" - and it is crammed with information about all kinds of things you can do for fun in Maryland. I know this guide will come in handy when I run out of ideas for kid-friendly daytrips.


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