Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Alamo Interviews

This post has been updated and I think now the video should work, I'm still figuring out the whole video thing!

As part of our Unit Study on the Alamo both of my girls are reading everything they can about the battle.

Soph read this book:

And Em read this one:

Both gave wonderful accounts of what it was like to be inside the Alamo during the 13 day battle. As a book report they choose to interview one another as the played the part of their characters from the book. They did a great job and it was a fun alternative to writing a book report, which Soph would do just about anything to avoid.

I'm new to the cut and edit video program I have at the moment so I'm trying to figure out the whole process. This is a pretty rough edit, but I wanted to share just a bit of it.

Em is playing the Boy In The Alamo, who followed his older brother to the battle. Soph, is Susanna, who along with her baby survived the Alamo. She lost her husband during the battle and had to face Santa Anna when it was all over. When Santa Anna released her she went to find Sam Houston to tell him what had happened.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Math Story by my 7 year old

The other day at breakfast we were looking out the window and some blackbirds that were gathering on our playhouse roof. We watched as they flew in and flew off one by one. Soph, my 7 year old, started to make addition and subtraction problems as the birds came and went. We got to talking about how this would be a great idea for a counting book, one not only she but her younger sister could enjoy. That afternoon she sat down at the computer and quickly typed out her story. We edited it together for misspellings and punctuation.

It was a simple exercise that involved math, writing, grammar, and creativity. For me it embodies the ideal learning experience.

7 birds sitting on a playhouse, 1 flew away.
1 more flew away. Now there were 5.
One was pecking on the wood. One was looking up at the blue sky. One was black as can be. And one more flew away.

She added some clip art, but I can not get that to copy here. I still need some lessons on copy and pasting into my blog posts:)

Do you have some neat ideas for math books? I'd love to hear.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monster Spray- WFMW

It's time for another Works For Me Wednesday! This week my tip comes from my 9 year old daughter.
It seems when you move to a house out in the country there are all kinds of weird noises that you have to get used too. Coyotes howling, owls hooting, mice that have claimed the house as there own because well that's what mice do. Not to mention suddenly you have an upstairs to get used to.

Yep, all of the above happened right here at Cotton-Top Hills when we first moved in and there were certain members of the family that were scared to turn off their lights at night. Ahem, if you've read this story ,from my other blog, you'll know it wasn't just the littlest of my family that was frightened.

Anyway, for things that go bump and maybe squeak in the night we have a solution. Keep Away Monster Spray.

Yes, every household with small children should have a bottle of this around the house. A few squirts of this under the bed, in the closet, wherever right before bed does the trick. My children kept the bottle by their bed for a little while and would randomly spray it whenever they woke up during the night.

Okay, just so you know we talked about monsters not being real. We talked about praying for God to watch over us each night. But do you remember when you were a kid and adults would tell you all these things and you'd still wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream scared to death? I do. That's why I slept with my closet light on. Well, our little Monster Away spray is just like the closet light but it conserves energy. I'm all about saving money and helping the environment. Guess we should really call this our Keep Away "Green" Monster Spray or whatever. You get the idea.

*If you haven't signed up for my 50 dollar toy give-away you have until 8pm tonight just leave a comment here:)
So that is my tip for the Wednesday. Head over to We Are That Family for more tips!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Google Earth and The Alamo

This semester we started off by learning about the Alamo. This is our year of Texas history and it has been so much fun. I did not attend elementary school in Texas so I did not spend much time on the events that shaped this great state. I love learning along with my children. I'm getting smarter every day!

I found this great Lesson Plan booklet for 4th grade from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. They also have one for 7th grade if you have older children. Today's lesson is to start our timeline that we will eventually hang in our schoolroom.

I love these projects because we cover so many fundamentals by doing one activity. Soph has been practicing her numbers by writing the years on our timeline. Em is writing the events of each year. They both are helping with the illustrations.

Along the way we are using Google Earth to locate places in San Antonio. If you have never used this it is an awesome tool for so many things. They have a free version you can download to your computer very easily.

Here is an image from Google maps of where the Alamo is located, point A.

You can even click on street view and act like you are standing right in front of the Alamo.

You can take tours, zoom in and out and do all sorts of fun things. So as a homeschooler your mind starts to go a little crazy. We can learn direction, coordinates, write directions from point A to Points B. Look at different historic buildings and research them and the list is never ending.

You can even go to

the Moon!

So the learning is endless.

Have you used Google Earth? What are some ways you've used it or what are some creative ways you teach geography?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kindermusik Fun

With my two oldest girls we lived too far from town to come in each week for Kindermusik, but now that we live much closer Little One has been enjoying her class since she was 16 months old. If you've never heard of Kindermusik it is a class for infants through preschool age that engages your child in music, dance, sign language, instrument playing and fun with other kiddos.Fun with Ms. Celeste and my girls along with a little friend

Little One looks forward to her class each week and I do too! It's a wonderful 45 minutes filled with time for me to enjoy with my youngest. My oldest are too old for these classes, but they get to participate on special days. Other days they find a cozy nook nearby to catch up on their reading or quiz each other on their spelling words for the week. It works out very nicely.

At home we have Cd's we were given with the class so that we could reinforce what we are learning in class. I'm constantly amazed by how quickly Little One learns the words and rhythms to the songs. There are also read along books that go along with each semester class, which sometimes Ms. Celeste (her teacher) will read during class.

Little One always loves when Ms. C pulls out the streamers!

The neatest thing about Kindermusik is that it is all about the kids. They are not forced to participate, can explore, and do things at their own pace. There is no pressure put on parents and very rarely does a child ever have to step out of class because they are acting up. It's a very relaxed, yet at the same time safe environment.

Anyway, if you have this program in your town you might want to check into it. It has been worth every penny and I plan on continuing with her until she is too old to go anymore.

Do you have a weekly activity that you and your young one like to participate in?
IF you haven't had a chance to check out my Eskimo Kisses And Air Hugs blog for my 50 dollar shopping spree give-away go here to sign up!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Decision to Homeschool Part 1

Well, we had a wonderful holiday and now ready to jump back into school. I just wrote an article for my community paper about homeschooling and thought I'd share it here. It's part 1 of a series, so stay tuned!

Why We Home School Part 1

We are starting our second semester of our first year of home schooling and I figured it was about time for me to share our experience so far. Before I get started I have a few disclaimers. First I have no bad feelings about public education in general. Second, Bushland Elementary is an excellent school. My family and I love the staff and all the friendships we made while our daughters went to school there. No traumatic event occurred while they were in school that caused us to decide to home school.

Now that I have that out of the way I’d like to share with you how my family’s decision to home school. My hope is that this will help shed some light on why some families choose to educate their children at home. One thing I believe very strongly in is the freedom of choice. With that freedom, we as parents, have the right to choose what is best for our children and family at any given time. If I didn’t believe so strongly in this, home schooling may never have crossed my mind.

For my family we reached a crossroads last year when my daughters were in first and third grade. I was having doubts that I was doing the best thing for my children. Our home life felt like a whirlwind of hurry up go to school, race home to hurry up to do school work, hurry up to go to volleyball practice or some event, then hurry up to get home to bed to start it all over the next day. Somewhere in the midst of all this my husband might or might not actually see his kids before kissing them goodnight. Meals together failed to be realistic, praying together only happened when there was time and someone always seemed to be sick. My husband would travel with his job to neat and exciting places and we would stay home and miss him knowing the schools absence policies wouldn’t allow for us to be picking up and leaving every other week. We were no longer operating as a family, but rather as individuals that shared a roof.

My husband comes from a family in which both of his parents have their doctorates in education. They’ve dedicated their life to public education. I, myself, have my post-graduate teaching degree. My husband has his masters in Chemical Engineering. Education is very important to our family. And I was taught to believe home schooling was crazy. Along with the following: those parents are trying to protect their children from the world, they are going to ruin their education, and probably the most famous one, how will they socialize. I’ve heard it all before, I’ve said a few myself, so why was I even thinking about it? All I can say is God put some serious questions in my heart during this time. Ones that I would agonize and cry over, ones that I would pray over many times. But in the end I knew that home schooling was my answer. I say my answer, but it was a family decision. My husband had the same concerns I did, and in the end he believed we should give home schooling a try.

So far it has been a blessing. Each day is a gift I have with my children. I now feel like I can cherish it to its fullest extent, not be hurried or rushed. Do I still have doubts, you bet I do. Do I still have stress, yes indeed. But not about my decision to home school.

Next issue I’ll talk about some of the decisions and dilemmas families face as home schoolers.

What are some decisions and dilemmas you face as home schoolers? And what brought you to this decision? I'd love to hear!