Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Homeschooling + Blogging = No Blogging

You may have noticed that since I started homeschooling I haven’t really been posting anything here. I guess you could say I have been busy. You could also say that I have never been busier in my entire life. Something is always happening around here, and it’s making time go by much faster than usual. Every day I seem to run out of time for all the things on my To-do List. This phenomenon has made for an incredibly long To-do List. And, yes, writing posts for this blog is definitely on it.

Since the Dinosaur Unit Study, we have spent time studying cheese, one of our favorite things here at the Reddy Zoo. Hey…if I get to create my own curriculum, it should be fun. Not to mention delicious. We learned about how cheese is made, various kinds of cheese, and some of the ways cheese is used in making other food products. We invited grandparents over for a cheese tasting and the kids were spouting off cheese facts for them at lighting speed.

They also used this occasion to show their grandparents all the work they had done so far, which had been hole-punched and put into binders. They were all so proud of their binders, and they enjoyed sharing the details of some of the more complicated things they had done. It was very good for them to have that opportunity to “show-off”, as it were.

We also spent a good deal of time studying Columbus, just in time for Columbus Day. The kids really got into this more than I expected them to. They enjoyed hearing about the long voyage across the ocean. They were surprised that people didn’t know that North and South America existed in 1492. They were even more surprised to learn that Columbus still didn’t know he had reached a completely new continent. He truly thought he had found a new route to the Indies, even after making four trips here and back before his death. We were also surprised to find that Columbus didn’t actually discover America. At least not the chunk of land known today as the United States of America. He never came this far north during his travels. But his voyage did pave the way for future explorers to venture into our hemisphere and eventually settle in this great land.

In addition to our daily lessons and our Unit Studies, we have gotten involved in a Homeschool Co-op. On Wednesday mornings we meet with other homeschooling families for Art, Music and P.E. classes. It has been great for the kids not only to be with other children, but also to have those more creative type of lessons that might get skipped at home in lieu of the 3 R’s. We have also been on multiple field trips, keeping things even more fun and interesting.

Powder Valley Nature Center

Kinder Konzert at Powell Hall

Nature Walk at St. Francois State Park

All in all, I have been very pleased with homeschooling so far. In fact, I am thrilled with how well things are going. Believe it or not, I feel less stressed out this year than I did last year when three of the kids were in school. I like that we make our own schedule, we can keep our own pace, and plan our own lessons. I also like that there are no papers to sign, backpacks to pack, or lunch money to send in. Things are going very, very well.

Friday, September 11, 2009


For teaching Science and Social Studies, I decided to try using Unit Studies. A Unit Study is defined as “an in-depth study of a topic (space, trees, cars, etc.) that takes into account many areas of the topic, such as geography, science, history, art, etc. It is a complete immersion into the topic so that the student will see things as a 'whole' instead of bits and pieces learned throughout their education.” We started out with a simple subject. One I knew we would all find interesting – Dinosaurs.

I found so many fun things related to dinosaurs. I gathered books, puzzles, games, DVD's and other activities. The kids and I work on Unit Studies two afternoons a week while Banana is at preschool and Mr. H takes his naps. So far it has been working very well. We just finished our three-week study of dinosaurs. We have been very busy reading, doing hands-on activities, and we even took a field trip.

I checked out no less than twenty books about dinosaurs from the library. Some were for the kids to read, some were for me to read to them.

We made a terrarium after reading Dinosaur Habitat, a book about two brothers who find themselves inside of the younger brother’s terrarium. Not only did the plants become life sized, but so did the plastic dinosaurs the boy had carefully put in there. And they were no longer plastic!

Thankfully our dinosaurs are still plastic.

I bought a Dinosaur Dig kit from an educational retailer that I thought would be fun for the kids to try. Then I found small kits at the dollar store that I picked up just in case we needed something extra to do. It turned out that those little kits offered much more fun for a dollar than I ever thought!

The kids scraped away layers of clay to reveal tiny dinosaur bones.

Then they used the bones to make their own fossils out of clay.

They took a longer time excavating the Velociraptor bones in the bigger kit.

But the bones they found actually formed two whole dinosaurs.

We were also able to visit “Sue” before she left the St. Louis Science Center.

“Sue” is the most complete set of Tyrannosaurus bones ever found.

Her skull was HUGE!

There were bones to dig up at the exhibit as well. The kids were pros by that time!

Big D enjoyed the T-Rex vision. His body looked pretty funny with a new head.

We also watched a Discovery Channel movie telling all about the types of dinosaurs that lived in America millions of years ago.

We learned a lot AND had fun doing it!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words (or more)

Since I posted hardly anything all summer long, I went through my pictures from May through August and found quite a few worth sharing. As you can see, we had a fun summer!

Dad at an Alumni basketball game

Grandpa shoots a free throw at the Alumni basketball game

We definitely brought the most fans to the game

These two are just too cute together

Miss M's Girl Scout troop

A self-portait

Banana on a boat with a couple of her cousins

Miss M in the parish picnic parade

Big D in the parish picnic parade

C.B. in the parish picnic parade

All three kids were in the same area in the parish picnic parade group photo

Me and my kids on Mother's Day

Banana and a big ole fish in the hippo habitat at the Zoo

Banana performs in the Tiny Tot Circus

Banana becomes an elephant in the Tiny Tot Circus

Mr. H gives his baby cousin a kiss on her two-week-old head

Mr. H in a sea of bubbles after a Babaloo show

Miss M and her friends at a swim party

Mr. H and C.B. read a story on the couch together

Banana and some of her cousins at a family birthday party

Our tired niece falls asleep while playing at our house

Big D took this cool picture of his uncle from under the water on a float trip

Floating cousins

Big D entertains his baby brother in church

These two look up to no good to me

Friday, September 04, 2009

A Baby, a Birthday, and a Wedding

I have a lot to catch up on. Homeschooling does not allow me as much time to blog as I had gotten used to. In case I don’t get another opportunity to blog again soon, I decided to condense several big events into one post.

First, we have a new nephew!!

This “little” fella weighed in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces! His parents and three older brothers are ecstatic about his arrival. Miss M and I got to snuggle with him for a little while this week.

Secondly, Miss M turned TWELVE last week! You may detect a hint of shock in my words here, but that’s only because there is NO WAY I am old enough to have a twelve-year-old!! But seriously, she is everything I could ever have hoped for in a tween-age daughter. She is bright, polite, responsible and super sweet. She has been helping me with the younger kids since she was four years old, and she rarely complains.

She is starting to help my sisters-in-law with their kiddos as well, which is great because she loves her little cousins.

I don’t think I would be homeschooling right now if it wasn’t for her. Not only is she an excellent student, she is a wonderful teacher’s assistant as well.

Happy Birthday, Miss M!

And last, but not least, we had a family wedding last weekend. With a family as big as my husband’s is, there have been a lot of family weddings. But it has been four years since the last one and we were ready for a PARTY!!

The bride and groom were all smiles all evening.

Everyone looked so nice in their fancy clothes.

Big D was an excellent reader

Mr. H was ready to dance,

But he didn’t last long. He and Banana cut out early.

The rest of us had a ball.

We did the Y.M.C.A.

The Sprinkler

“Shout” (a little bit softer now)

The Macarena

And I always get a special bonus at family weddings. My husband actually dances with me!!!

It was a great night. Congratulations Uncle Beaker and Aunt Mad-dog!!!