Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weekly Highlights

Our week started off with us getting back to our old schedule... only to find that I don't really like our old schedule. It's un-motivating. It's overly ambitious. It's a task master and it's crampin' our school time! So, back to the drawing board to tweak our routine and schedule!

Both boys started their new geography curriculum this week and it was a hit, especially for Jake! Jake is working through the Trail Guide to U.S. Geography" curriculum. He LOVES it! We put together his Geography notebook and got to work.

The first region we are working through is the New England region. So, we jumped right in learning about the state of Maine this week!

Did you know that Maine is where chewing gum and chalkboards come from?? (We didn't either).

In his notebook, Jake has to record the typical information such as state capitol, state bird, insect and flower (Maine's is the Chickadee, Honeybee, and Pine cone with tassel - in that order). He also recorded information about the prominent industries, climate, highest point, national monuments and parks and other fun information. Jake created his own maps, complete with having to mark where the capitol (Augusta), major rivers, national parks and the Appalachian trail are located. Pretty fun stuff! We LOVE Trail Guide to Geography!

I added Highlight's Which Way USA puzzle book and map of Maine to this lesson! It was the icing on the cake and helped reinforce what we were learning through fun puzzles, word searches and other games! This is a monthly subscription we've gotten for the past year or so and I've been waiting for the perfect time to use them! I think I've found it!

Josh worked through his World History books and is reading a historical novel - "Theras and His Town".

Josh is working through the "Trail Guide to World Geography" curriculum to coincide with World History this year. History and Geography go together like Yin and Yang; Laurel and Hardy; pancakes and syrup; peanut butter and chocolate... like... ok, you get the idea. An amazing history professor drove home the point that one must have a working knowledge of geography to fully understand history.. and I have to say, I agree!
I would have pictures but my 12 year old ducked and dodged most of my picture taking. Ah, boys! Ah, pre-teen boys! I'm thankful for the ones I got for this post! The first two weeks of the curriculum have him creating a notebook, mapping out the continents, oceans, reviewing latitude and longitude and giving a nice overview of the world, in general, prior to delving into specific countries. I'm sure I'll have more pictures to post on this awesome curriculum as we get deeper into it. Said pictures may or may not include my 12 year old. :)
This week also brought us a fun Field trip day to the Crocker Art Museum! They hold monthly homeschool days and this one happened to have a performance to go with it! The 'theme' for this month was Baroque Art and being that this genre of art began in Florence, Italy and started a renaissance in the arts there, it seemed fitting to have the Sacramento Opera come and perform and teach about the history of Opera. Very cool presentation!

Someone may be a smidge done with the picture taking...

Old Crocker museum that belonged to the Crocker family and was used as their home in the 1800s (even has a bowling alley and skating rink down in the basement!).

Old museum attaches to the new museum - pretty cool!

We found ourselves out and about a lot more than usual this week but we still kept up with our math, Shurley English assignments, Anatomy, Piano practice and Bible.

Whoa! Might want to slow down on the pretzel sticks!

I was excited to get in the mail our new Bible study curriculum this week. I'll have to post details next week. I liked what we were using but a friend recommended this, so I borrowed the manual and ordered the posters and workbooks. Our other curriculum, God's Great Covenant, is great! I really love how it thoroughly and chronologically walks us through the Bible, so I'm using that still, in addition to this new one, just at a slower pace.

All in all, a great week in school! Those were our highlights, what were yours?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thankful Thursdays Link-up: Thankful for the lessons...

I'm linking up to Three Thinking Mothers today for Thankful Thursdays!

Thankfulness isn't something that comes easily to the human heart. It is difficult to seek out what we can be thankful for in a situation when you're in the middle of it. Yet, God wants us to be thankful "always". Not just for a season or when things are going well. No, we are to give thanks in the middle of pain, in the trauma, in the exhaustion. He calls us to give thanks during the strife, the frustration, the tears and the loss. He calls us to thanksgiving... no matter what.

This year has been a year of painful lessons God is taking me through in succession. They haven't been fun. They haven't been pleasant. Many of the situations left me hurt and angry and opened the door for the roots of bitterness and resentment to grow. God had to grab me and shake me a bit to embrace the truth that I so often quote to others but wasn't applying to my life. "God is in control". That very saying that I so often reminded others of, I myself was not living out. It didn't feel as though God were in control. In fact, it felt out of control.

So, on this day, I am thankful. Thankful for the lessons. Whispers of thanks fall from my lips and heart as God revealed truth and gave love so freely to me. Tears of gratitude well up when I think of that day. To have encountered God in a tangible way, asking me to give Him the hurt and frustration. Asking me to rest and let go. My heart sings with thankfulness when I remember that day He freed me from my own prison. He rescued me from myself. He showed me that it is not about others' actions but about my own heart. He unchained my shackles of anger and frustration and hurt and led me down the path of peace and leaning on Him. For that, I. AM. THANKFUL.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

REVIEW: Create a Story board game

A few weeks ago, Sacramento had a pretty rainy day sandwiched between some warm weather in October. The boys and I decided to scrap our regularly scheduled school day to embark on a "Game Day". Who says learning has to come in the form of textbooks and worksheets??

Among the math, earth science, anatomy, and history games we played that day, we discovered a little gem that had been sitting in our closet for far too long. This board game is called "Create a Story; The Creative Writing Game". We had not played it up to this point, sadly.

(Forgive the pictures. They are not the best quality. Remember, it was a dark and stormy day).

Setting up the board is a cinch! The board is the medium in which each person's story is structured. It is through random chance of drawing cards which determine the Setting, Description, Characters, Resolution and even the topic sentence of your story. With plenty of cards to choose, based on the roll of the die, the variety of story lines are endless!

Once you and the other players have moved through the board and arrived at the end, the real fun begins! Everyone flips over the cards they have and fills out this Outline sheet with the information on the cards. This is where the deeper thinking skills kick in as each player must choose the cards that would make the most coherent story. Notice I said 'coherent'. This does not exclude goofy, ridiculous, outlandish and off the wall!

From this completed Outline sheet, everyone then begins to write their creative writing story on a piece of binder paper. As a way to help guide them, there is a scoring grid that lets them know where they can earn points.

(sorry, I can't get the picture to turn despite trying several times)

Once everyone was finished, we each read our story out loud and critiqued it based on this scoring pad.

Create a Story board game is a lot of fun, even for "non-writers", which I would classify at least one of my two boys. At first he was uncomfortable and slightly overwhelmed but by the time it came to writing out his story, and he saw that all the components of his story were ready and waiting to be written down, he loosened up and had fun!
The game doesn't dictate the story to you, instead it helps facilitate the player in writing the details and developing a story based on the various cards you draw.

This game really tapped into our imaginations, taught proper structure for writing a story and did so in a fun, non-intimidating way! Both of my boys walked away from this game feeling more confident in their writing abilities.

The one drawback is the PRICE! Yikes! It sells for around $45-$50 but looking around that is a typical price nowadays for a board game. If you can splurge and get this item for your schooling, I would recommend doing so!

*I was not paid or even given this game for free in return for my honest review. I just decided to review it. ;)