Friday, August 26, 2011

(MFW-ECC) Exploring Countries and Cultures - Week 4

Our Week in Review


Tuesday was a bit of WAS a crazy day. We had to make 3 round trips to the High school all between the hours of 6am and 8am. My 14 year old brother is in cross-country and band, so when my dad is out of town for work (which is quite often), I get the honor of chauffeuring him around. I know, FUN, right?!?

My kids were not thrilled about getting up at 5:30 am, but I used this as an opportunity to point out all the big yellow vehicles (aka: the school buses) on the road off to pick up lots of other sleepy-heads just like them...and they do that EVERY DAY during the week. Needless to say, they were thankful for the times they get to sleep in because we home school. 

When we were out that afternoon, we saw those same buses dropping kids back off at home (around 3:30) and my kids said, "they keep them at school THAT long?!?"...ahhh, yet another reason they were thankful to home school on Tuesday :)

Now, for the art project ;) We chose to do the flip book. The kids had a blast!! I could not believe how long and hard they worked on them. Each video below is just a few seconds long and captures each of their creations. 

When Big J got home from work that evening, he decided to take it one step further and worked with the kids (and legos) to make a 'motion picture' using the camera and pictures. It turned out pretty good. What do you think?

We found our flip books at Hobby Lobby back in the arts and paints section...6 in a pack for $3.99...and of course, I used a 40% off coupon making them even cheaper ;)


On Monday, in Prop. of Eco., I read the very first paragraph on page 42, then I focused on the orange words and briefly described deciduous forests, deciduous trees, coniferous forests, and coniferous trees. We also talked about the 'fun facts'. We finally brought out The Great Animal Search book and focused on pages 6-7. The kids *love* this book! We will have some fun and find a few animals each day this week. On Monday. we found all the animals on the left side of page 6. I had no idea there was a "real" animal called the Wolverine and it looked nothing like what I was thinking. I guess from the X-Men show, I was picturing something larger and more vicious-looking. Granted, they do have sharp teeth and claws, but I was picturing something totally different. LOL!


On Monday, we used our state place mats from last year to go over the interesting facts in 'A Trip Around the World'. The facts covered many states, so this also served as our review of state names. We did not do the 'Advanced' section. We also used out state puzzle throughout the week to review our state names and locations.

Near the end of the week, I brought out a blank map of the US and I was blown away by just how many states my kids knew. I guess they really ARE learning after all :)


On Monday, we read about the Navajo. Hogans are their traditional one-room homes. They are constructed of wood and mud or stone. The boys thought it would be fun during recess to try and build their own 'hogan'. 

The boys used dirt from our dirt pile, a little water, and mixed in lots of crunched up leaves and sticks.

A opted for some indoor play instead of building a 'hogan'

We also spent this week learning about Harriet Tubman. The last part of the story we read on Friday brought tears to my eyes. What an amazingly courageous woman of God she was! 

The kids had a blast making Harriet Tubman flap books. We haven't done anything like this in a while so they enjoyed all the cutting and pasting. Not sure if the boys will get around to the coloring part of it though ;) 

The end product is a cute picture book that tells the story of Harriet Tubman's underground railroad through 'hide-a-way' flap pictures. Click here to print out the free flap book to make with your kiddos :)

On Friday, I also read-aloud the book "The Night of the Moonjellies". The kiddos loved this book. They also had lots of questions the book did not answer, so we had some fun surfing the web for information and real pictures. After that, they made their own moonjellies. In the story, the little boy helped out at Mar-Gras, a hotdog and hamburger stand. So, we topped it off with hotdogs for lunch :)

Here is the link to the activity with directions and pictures on how to make these cute little moonjellies. (A word of warning though, be prepared to go back behind your kids are hot glue their ribbons on. This was the only way I could keep them from falling off.)

And in case you missed Week 3, you can find it here.

I hope you had a great week as well!

(This post has been linked up at 2 Ladybugs and a Lizard and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Borrowed this from a fellow blogger over at A Heart Like Water...

I highly recommend it. It is about an hour long, but worth every second! A must-see for any Christian parent :)

Divided Trailer from NCFIC on Vimeo.

Like the trailer??? The full length video can see seen here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

MFW-ECC - Week 3 - North America

 The excitement is building...just one more week before we leave the United States and head to Mexico ;)

Some of the highlights from this week were...

Nature Walk 

We could have done our nature walk in our yard in the morning, but 'yours truly' had the bright idea of heading to the park that afternoon. *FAIL* It was only 107 degrees that afternoon and after being there only 5 minutes, we had gone through every bit of our water. 10 minutes later and the kids were zapped and their poor little faces were splotchy red. Our nature "walk" ended up being more of a nature "glance" and we high-tailed it outta there to Sonic to catch the last few minutes of happy hour :)

Global Art

Because the Wee Sing song for the week was a Native American one, we opted to do the sand paintings and the kids *loved* it. 

A drew a picture of she and her brother. J drew a picture of a baseball game/field. S drew an hour glass and various shapes/designs.
If you would like to do this project, you'll need:
white cardstock, paint brushes in various sizes, glue, cup of water (to add to the glue), paper plate, & colored sand
We got the colored sand from Hobby Lobby for about $6. MUCH easier than trying to color it yourself. Maybe I took some of the fun out of it, but due to time constraints, this was the best choice for us. (This sand was originally $10, but we used a 40% off coupon.) Inside the box were 12 different sand colors, and of course, between all the kiddos, they had to use EVERY color. We used very little and had a ton left over, so we are saving it for another global art project or 2 in the future that calls for sand as well.

Some things we have changed or have done differently...

Hero Tales
This book has become our new 'read aloud'. The kiddos were not really getting into "Kingdom Tales", so we shelved that book for now.

I have talked to a few people who have had some difficulty with this book. I have a 2nd grader who is doing ECC with two 4th graders, so from the first time I introduced this book, I have simplified things and only focused on the necessary. 

Typically, I'll at least read the opening paragraph of each section. Then, we focus mainly on the bold orange words contained in that section. We may or may not do the green and blue areas depending on difficulty and/or time. Or, we may opt to simplify those areas and only touch on a few key things.

{Just to give you an example, on Tuesday, I read the opening paragraph on page 39 down to the orange word 'forest'. Then I skipped down and mentioned the layers of the forest and briefly described those (emergent, canopy, understory, shrub layer, herb layer, and floor) while I drew along on our large dry-erase board. [Another idea could be to show internet pics of the different layers...there are lots of good ones out there.] Then, we discussed a few of the animals, birds, and insects that might live in each layer. [If you live near a forest (or lots of trees) another idea would be to go on an 'extra' nature walk and see first-hand what animals you could find living in those sections...document by taking pictures, drawing pictures, or simply talk as you walk.) We skipped the 'tree anatomy' and the 'taking it further' sections. 

We also skipped the United States worksheet on Wednesday and had the kiddos put together a United States puzzle instead.

I seem to be 'skipping' a lot here lately, but if I can find an alternative to doing yet another worksheet or workbook page, I'm gonna go with that option first. And if I feel an area has already been adequately covered and discussed, then we'll cut out the worksheets that seem redundant.

If you missed our highlights from Week 2, you can check them out here

This post has been linked up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Saturday, August 13, 2011

MFW-ECC - Week 2 - I got a dollar, hey, hey, hey, hey!

Week 2 is under our belts! We made it through 5 full days of school. WHEW! Our school days are longer than last year and it feels non-stop busy from start to finish each day, but I guess that's what happens as the kids get older and the school work gets tougher. I'm hoping, once we get a good routine in place, we'll have time for longer breaks in between activities.  

In ECC, the kids have really enjoyed track #1 from Wee Sing Around the World..."Hello to All the Children of the World".

You can't tell this was "staged" can you? Noooo, of course not ;)

Some highlights from our week were...

 The Nature Walk

We thought it would be fun to complete this activity while visiting Granny at her house. She has a huge pin oak and cedar tree in her front yard.  

The Paper Dolls

As a little girl, Granny used to cut out paper this was a perfect activity for she and A to do together and take a little stroll down memory lane. 

Granny *hates* getting her picture taken, but for her great-grandbabies - she'll do anything :) ...thank you, thank you, thank you Granny for being such a good sport and creating such precious memories with the kiddos :)

The Free Clothing Giveaway

Let me just say, I am super-dee-dooper excited about all the things God is doing through our church and its people. Our church is opening a clothing closet and possibly a food pantry. Wednesday night, our family had an opportunity to get out with other church members and have a free garage sale. We went to a community near our church and passed out free children's school clothes, as well as a few adult clothes, to those who needed it. It is one thing to go away and do this type of thing on a mission trip somewhere for total strangers, but a completely different thing to do it right in your own community with people you may know...what a blessing to be a part of something like that!!!

The kids had a GREAT time following their maps to find their hidden treasures.

And what did they find? A dollar, of course :)

We opted to make world cookies instead of a world cake. It takes us FOOORREVVVER to eat up an entire cake, but cookies?...just a day or two :)

A few of the books we have enjoyed reading this week to go along with our ECC studies have been...
Aleeya really liked this one!

This was not the exact book ECC suggested (our library didn't have the other), but it was a cute read and happened to fit 

If there has been one thing my kids have just not gotten into, it has been the Kingdom Tales stories. 

They just really have not liked them. While the stories have great meaning and symbolism, they are also long and drawn out. I don't know if it is the time it takes to read them or my kids ages, but they lose interest in them very quickly. We made it through the first story, struggled through the 2nd, gave up part way through the 3rd and that is where it ended. We may try later on in the year or over the summer, but for now, the book is sitting on our shelf. Other than this one thing, ECC has been great so far!  

We also took some time out to go to 2 of our good friends joint skating party :)

I hope you all have had a great week as well :)

And in case you missed our review of week 1, you can check it out here :)

What is wrong with this picture?

Testing, testing, and more testing! That's the philosophy of our educational system. 

For lack of time and energy, let's start at the high school level. (And don't kid yourself, elementary and middle school students are tested and standardized tested to no end too starting as early as Kindergarten.) It doesn't matter if you have been tested throughout the entire year on a certain subject, it doesn't matter how well you have done or if you aced every test thus far... before you can go on, you have to take yet another test...finals and end-of-year exams. 

In the state of Texas, there are tests called TAKS tests that you must pass (in nearly every grade level) in order to advance to the next grade. (I think they are going to change to the STAAR (?) test soon). And if that is not enough, there are Exit Level tests to see if you are "qualified" to graduate. Many schools encourage you to take the PSAT. Some even require that you pass the PSAT before you can take the real SAT. 

So, here you have finally graduated (or are close to it) and want to pursue college. Well, guess what? MORE tests! They have to see if you are "ready to handle college classes", right?!? So, now you have to pay for and pass the SAT and ACT tests...even though it's generally acknowledged that standardized tests are not necessarily the best or most comprehensive manner of evaluating a student's talent or potential, it is the system in place at the majority of universities. 

Fast forward several years, and you are finally ready to graduate from college. You've passed all your college classes and exams and have met all the requirements to get your degree...perhaps you are even at the top of your class with an excellent GPA. Guess what?!? More tests! In my case, my education degree required me to pay for and pass ExCET tests. Before I could even take those though, I had to pass the pre-ExCET test. Really?!? How ridiculous is that! They can't just let you take the real ones - Noooooo -  you have to pass made up ones that don't even count before you can take the real ones.

Ok. So now, you have your degree and can start your career. Fast forward another several year when you decide to go back to college and pursue your Master's degree. Well, you guessed it! More tests!!! Now you have to pay for and pass your GRE. And it doesn't matter what master's degree you want to pursue (and yes, there are varying levels and difficulties of those) are lumped in there with everyone else taking the same GRE test to ( the GRE website states...) "more closely reflect the kind of thinking you'll do in graduate or business school and demonstrates that you are ready for graduate-level work". 

I've got news for them, have already started taking master's classes and have had not one ounce of trouble thus far, but you can only go so far before you are forced to take the GRE. Well, now that I have taken the GRE, and can honestly say the GRE is a HUGE, monumental waste of time and money and is a perfect display of what is wrong with the educational system. Grrr! And to make matters worse, NOT  ONE question had anything to do with the master's degree I am pursuing. Really?!? So much for showing that I am "ready for graduate-level work" anywhere remotely related to the master's degree i am pursuing. 

Can you tell I took that test today and am highly irritated about it?!? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

7 Already?!?

I'm a little late in posting this, but our little artsy fartsy drama queen turned 7 years old last week.

Happy Birthday!

8/2/2004 - 19.5 inches long and 7lbs 5 oz

Daddy made her a cute lil' puppy dog cake :) 

Friday, August 5, 2011

MFW-ECC - Week 1 - YAY!!!

Well, this week didn't go exactly as planned, but all in all, it was still a great week!

It was pretty apparent on Monday that we would not be doing a full day of school every day. So, plan B went into play and we were able to accomplish half days of school.

We started with Exploring Countries and Cultures in My Father's World, which will be phrased as ECC from here on out :) 

This week, the kids filled out and sent off their passport applications. We really hammed it up for them too!  My husband, Jason, even added in background checks. LOL! 

As far as the pre-test...I was super excited at how well they did. 

The kids had fun drawing a miniature model of the earth on their mandarin oranges. Even though we used permanent markers, when they were peeling them, the juice from the oranges mixed with the ink and it came right off all over their hands, but it did seem to wash off a lot easier than just permanent marker alone.

The kids tried to keep their peelings from falling apart, but that didn't work out so well. So glad we had a back-up...for once in my life...I actually planned ahead ;)

I really do think this activity helped the kids understand the distortions between flat maps and globes.

The kiddos did a great job on their John 3:16 poster.

For the pictures, we just made photo color copies of the first couple of pages of the People book by Peter Spier. There were some really great pictures of children from around the world. Under each picture was that child's name and the place he/she is from. 

When exploring the small area of our backyard habitat, the kids discovered...
we have been invaded by CraZy ants!!!
I think some people call them rasberry ants because of the Houston, Texas exterminator who discovered them, Tom Rasberry. Whatever their name, these ants really are crazy! They are faster and lighter in color. They don't really follow in a line with other ants, instead they swarm the ground much like bees do in the air. Odd, very odd!  They are invasive to this area and supposedly attracted to electrical equipment. Let's hope ours choose to stay in the yard!?!

We also managed to get in an extra day of delivering some meals to the elderly and shut-ins for Meals on Wheels. With the start of school and other activities, we have to drop down to just once a month. On one hand, some of the older folks were a little saddened with that news, but on the other hand, still glad they'd still get to see the kiddos every month :)

All in all, it was a great week! Next week, we continue with ECC and attempt to add in everything else. So, how was YOUR first week back?

Mission Arlington - the post with all the details

We went on our very first week long family mission trip to Mission Arlington!!!

It was a lot of fun, but I must say, it was a lot harder (and hotter) than I expected, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat :)

We went with a bunch of youth, adults, and one other family. 

We arrived on Saturday and the first thing on our list was to find a place to stay. Mission Arlington assigns you a place based mainly on your group size. Places to stay range from empty buildings, apartments, church gyms, houses...pretty much whatever they can find.

We were first assigned  to stay in two 3-bedroom apartments, but after arriving there, we realized another group was already staying there. So, we were assigned to a small house which doubled as a youth group building on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Because we shared this house with a church group, we had to totally put up and take down everything a total of 3 times throughout the week so they could use the rooms!!!

Right across the street was a Kroger store (this will come into play later on).

Guys Room

Girls Room

This house had 2 bedroom areas, a small living room, a game room (with a pool table and fooseball table), a tiny kitchen, and 2 bathrooms. Did you catch that?!? 2 bathrooms for over 30 people!!! The boys bathroom was in the center of the house. It had 2 entries, one from the girls bedroom and the other from the game room. Well, there were girls beds lined all up against the other bathroom door, so none of the guys wanted to do their "business" so close to where the girls were staying. About half way through the week, I started noticing the guys were making an awful lot of "Kroger runs". lol! I told you it would come into play later ;)

The poor air conditioning in the house just could not keep up with the heat outside nor all the body heat inside. It never stopped running!!! The thermostat never really dropped below 82 degrees, but after being out in 110 degree heat day after day...82 degrees felt pretty good!

It was HOT!!!
Starting Sunday and running through Wednesday, we went door to door passing out free stuff...from Rainbow Express flyers (their version of VBS) and food and furniture. It was so awesome seeing God work and meeting people's needs on the spot :)

one of the MANY water breaks

LOTS of knocking on doors

On Tuesday evening, we helped host a free Area Wide Kids Camp.

On Thursday, we hosted a FREE garage sale and food giveaway.

The highlight of the week was the Rainbow express our groups put on each day from Monday through Thursday. We had Bible stories, songs, Bible verses, games, snacks, and even puppet shows.

By Friday, we were worn out! But, we had a great time meeting the needs of others (both physical and spiritual), sharing and showing God's love to others, and 'bringing church to the people'. :)