Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I brought my camera but had very few opportunity to take pictures. I was on the kitchen crew: we set up tables, grilled 50 packages of hot dogs, cut up fruit and the desserts, poured drinks, and washed dishes after lunch. Afterwards I went home, settled in on the couch, turned on RFDTV to watch Campfire Café, and immediately fell asleep. I woke up to find Schnickelfritz asleep in the recliner so he must have had a full day too.
This game is Musical Buckets. Rather than scurry around for an empty chair you have to sit you tush in a bucket of water. The littlest kids eventually sink down in the buckets and have to be pulled out. They have so much fun, they don't even worry about who's the winner.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Did the blog title throw you for a loop? Yes the company famous for its lap books also makes notebooks for older kids. My son was recently given the opportunity to check out their Basic Survival Skills Note Pack. The cover says "For Grades 6 and up," but my 10 year old found it engaging and had no problems answering the questions. It's been a good foundation for his Royal Rangers (and someday FCF) camping merits.
That's not to say your kid would be ready for a year of roughing it after this study, but they would know what to do if they got lost while hiking. We covered 6 steps to take in an emergency, Do's & Don'ts of where to place shelter, food & equipment that should be part of your outdoor gear, and special tips for desert, water, swamp, and mountainous climates.
The bulk of the note pack are pages for recording the information learned. I gave him the appropriate pages and he could fill them in as note taking practice while I lectured. This is more learning survival theory rather than practicing skills--no need to build a fire or lean-to shelter unless you want to. The 23 Hands-on activities mentioned on the HOAC website are really filling out the note sheets. The 2 extension activities are making a burnoose and organizing a survival kit.
Now here's the good news--you can win your own copy of Basic Survival Skills.
Disclaimer: I received a free PDF copy of the Basic Survival note pack for this review and I'd like to thank Hands of a Child for making a free copy available to one of my readers.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
There aren't many times that I've envied the opportunities public school students have, but I did wish my son could participate in the National Archery in Schools program described in my Missouri Conservation magazine. Schnickelfritz has been talking about archery since Camporama last summer where he got a bull's-eye on his first try! I wanted a place where he could learn and practice before I committed to purchasing a bow (I especially wanted to see his reaction when he learned you DON’T get a bull’s-eye every time). Isn't it great when God provides for our wants as well as our needs? Back in March we attended the Truth and the Outdoors event and made PVC bows & arrows. The same ministry that brought us that program has begun offering archery lessons through Centershot Ministries. If you're like me and never heard of the program, here's a promotional video.
I was so impressed when I first arrived, not only to see 40+ kids eager to learn, but to see 10 men who would be teaching the archery skills and the Bible lessons. So often children's ministry and VBS programs are led almost exclusively by women. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I’m always please for my son to have male role models. This guy here must have come straight from work because he still had his mechanic’s shirt on.
Safety, safety, safety! In the first lesson the kids learn not to even approach the bow rack until they hear the appropriate whistle command. There are signals to Get Bows, Shoot, Retrieve Arrows, and an emergency stop everything whistle. Even in weeks six and seven they still get tests--an adult will throw a ball into the shooting range and the emergency whistle is blown. The student have to slowly release tension on the bow, return arrows to the quiver and bows to the bow rack, and stand behind the line.
There are more kids than bows so the group is split and half go to to Bible lessons (and have a snack) while the other half practices.
If your church is looking for a new outreach ministry, this is a program for kids and adults! If you’re looking for an already established ministry, I haven’t found a place on the Centershot website to find host churches by zip code, but according to a 2013 video there are more than 2000 participating churches.
We’ve got two more lessons in the 8 week session. So how’s Schnickelfritz doing? Judge for yourself.
Friday, May 10, 2013
One of the questions we homeschool teachers always get (after that socialization one) is “How can you teach all that?” The truth is, there are some subjects that need to be outsourced. In our house it’s foreign language. I can’t teach Spanish because I don’t know Spanish—that’s what Co-ops are for. I can bring a virtual co-op into my home with Spanish for You! and its creator, Debbie Arnett. She’s been teaching Spanish to students from K-12 for the past fourteen years. The unique thing about her curriculum is it’s built around themes and she provides syllabi and worksheets for three grade groups: 3-4, 5-6, 7-8. We received her Fiestas package (grades 3-8) to review. Our package included:
- the Spanish For You! book (ours was an eBook, but a purchased set will have a soft-cover copy)
- PDF Lesson Guides for grades 3-4 (30 wks.), 5-6 (24 wks.), 7-8 (24 wks.)
- PDF worksheets for every lessons (for each grade). Page 1 has the exercises, page 2 has the answers.
- MP3 audio files for every lesson—a set by the author and a set by a native speaker.
- PDF files of flashcard pictures for vocabulary words
The first week of the lesson focused on vocabulary (cake, friends, candle, etc.) and verbs to sing, to open (as in a present), to eat, and to talk. And yes, we did have to learn to conjugate the verbs, including an informal “you all” used only in Spain. The driving force of Spanish for You! is the flashcards. We did receive PDF files for the object vocabulary, but the lesson plans really want your kids to make their own as a memory reinforcement. You’ll have to make the verb and sentence flashcards anyway (stock up on index cards—you’ll need a lot!) There are pages of games using these flashcards at the front of the book. Of course my son’s favorite game wasn’t even in the book. I hide all the English translation cards around the basement and then show him one of the Spanish cards. He has to race around the room and then bring back the correct card to me. It’s a great game for Wiggle Worms
The audio files are great for practicing pronunciation and learning to answer questions. I had to sit next to the computer ready to press the pause button because there's not that time between phrases. My Schnickelfritz needed just a little more time, especially when he was responding to a question and wasn't just repeating what the speaker said.
There are usually worksheet assignments every day as well (the lesson plans are designed with a 4 day per week schedule). My advice is to take some time Sunday night to print out the worksheets you’ll need for the week. Each sheet is its own file and I had a difficult time finding the ones I needed. Part way through the review period I received an email from the author saying she’d organized the worksheets into folders by lesson so this may help.
|Some days he drew pictures of the vocabulary.||Days when he had to write were harder. There was no explanation that accent marks were important in spelling the word.|
The lessons need to be done in order so if learning about the Day of the Dead isn’t appealing to you, you may want to try the other curriculum which is about seasons. I didn’t know that it had nothing to do with Halloween (which we don’t celebrate), but is to honor friends and family who have passed on. Still I don’t think I’ll have a need to be able to say “Regresa al cementerio” (Return to the cemetery)any time soon. I get that the program is just to prepare students for formal high school Spanish, but I’d still like to learn things that I may use in real life not just learn for the sake of learning. Maybe the new book coming out this year on Travels would be more what I have in mind. The teaching and review methods were certainly effective and easy to follow.
As I mentioned, I don’t know Spanish but I understand there are differences between how it’s spoken in Latin America and Spain. It appears this curriculum is trying to cover both. The native speaker for the audio is from Mexico and the Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday. On the other hand we had to learn the “you all” form of verbs used only in Spain with people you address on a first name basis (highly unlikely I’ll ever need that) and the April Fair is a fiesta in Seville, Spain.
The package with all grades (3-8) is $64.95. If you’ve got an only child like me, you can just buy one grade level for $39.95. Want to try before you buy? This page has samples from both the Fiestas and Estaciones books.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Here’s my take on Apple Pie to go with last week’s pot roast dinner.
8 baking apples (whatever it takes to fill the pie pan)
1 Cup sugar
3 T. all purpose flour
3 T. cinnamon red hot candies
2 T butter
pie crust for a double crust pie
Put the sugar, flour, and red hots in a large bowl. As you peel, core, and slice the apples stir them in the sugar mixture to prevent browning (you’ll also start to get a pretty pink syrup).
Place the bottom crust in the pie pan and fill with the apple/syrup mixture. Cut up the butter and dot the top of the apples before adding the top crust.
Cut vents or decorative shapes in the top crust for venting. This is a very juicy pie so you may want to put something under the dish to keep spills from the bottom of the oven. Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.
Friday, May 3, 2013
It was noisy and there were lots of big machines (leaving us very little room to stand and observe). Need another clue? Look carefully at the next picture.
Do you see the white objects at the bottom, can you tell what they are? Here's a different angle.
For the final day of his bowling project we got to go back and see the pin setting machines. I never imagined the complexity...or the expense. The sweeper arm that brushes the pins to the back during the frame can cost $20,000! So please don't throw a ball at it if it gets stuck in the down position--you just make bowling games that much more expensive for everyone if it needs to be replaced.
Also, for safety's sake, if an employee has to go behind the lane to fix something in your lane DON'T resume bowling until you see them come out of the back area again...even if your lane looks ready. They could be reattaching a panel or something and these machines could crush them if they still had an arm in the way.
This was one of those local field trips I'd never thought about. We had had 8 weeks of lessons in the history, rules and how-tos of bowling. I bet that a bowling alley would be happy to do a tour for a homeschool group if they came and bowled a game or two. Our local alley has cheaper rates for games & shoes if you come during the day (and it's not smoky then either). Fritz loves watching machinery at work...but his favorite part was being given one of the damaged pins to take home.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
It's the words a parent never wants to hear--"I think you'd better come, your son's been hurt." I had been sitting in the church sanctuary reading quietly while my son attended co-op classes. How could he get hurt in a book discussion class? I found him in the hallway and gave him the quick once-over to make sure he was okay, then I started asking questions to see how this could have happened in the first place.
He'd been sent to the hallway for talking out of turn in class. While being disciplined another boy walked up and teased him and Schnickelfritz started grappling with him. This led another boy to leave the book class and punch my son in a very sensitive spot while defending his friend. All that mother concern over my son's well-being faded as the story unfurled. Now I was angry--disciplined by another teacher, fighting in the hallway? My first reaction was to throw the book at him (not the literal one from class). Possible punishments swirled in my head--take away the X-Box, make him write sentences, etc. We couldn't actually leave co-op because I was teaching a class next hour.
Of course, that was a reaction--I was embarrassed by my son's behavior in front of all the other Christian, homeschooling mothers at co-op. What my son needed was a response. (Think about taking medicine--you want you body to respond, not react to the treatment). Fortunately at that moment my mind hearkened back to something I'd just been reading in The Christian Parenting Handbook (remember I said I'd been reading in the sanctuary?). Chapter 3, entitled "Consequences Aren't the Only Answer" warns that parents who believe the bigger the punishment, the quicker the change are usually disappointed. My goal should be a changed heart, not just a punishment for doing wrong. Schnickelfritz has a problem with self-control: he couldn't wait until the teacher called on him to speak, he couldn't let the teaser pass by without attacking him.
Without knowing it I was already working into chapter 4, "Identify Character Qualities to Address Problems." I was looking at the self control issue rather than the symptoms--talking in class and reacting to teasing. I took Schnickelfritz to an empty classroom and we started working on Chapter 5, "Transfer Responsibility for Change to the Child." I asked Fritz to come up with 5 things he could do to help himself when he needed to keep quiet and when someone was laughing at him.
All that good parenting advice and I was only on chapter 5--I couldn't wait to discover the wisdom in the remaining 45 chapters. The Christian Parenting Handbook covers 50 principles, each in their own brief chapter. You can certainly get through one in a sitting. And they're not all focused on punishment and discipline. There are chapter titles like "Teach Kids to Add Energy to Family Life", "Use Mealtimes to Build Relationships", and "The Value of Grandparents."
As I mentioned on Monday, this is the launch week for the book and it's already been a smash. The online retailers have sold out of print copies, but you can still get eBooks through them. If you'd like the print version, you may order at The National Center for Biblical Parenting. They are offering a 25% discount. You'll still receive the $400 in freebies.
Through May 5th you can also enter my Christian Parenting Giveaway and the mega blog giveaway listed below.