Our life in books

This is our eigth year of homeschooling and I finally got around to blogging about our adventures a few years ago.
I love the path that God has us on.
We get to enjoy the lightbulb moments in educating our children and have quite a few of them ourselves.

We are starting Exploration to 1850's this school year, 2012-2013 using My Father's World curriculum.
Rome to the Reformation,
Exploration to the 1850's and NOW.........

Below is the week by week of lessons for this year if you'd like to start at the beginning.
There is also a handy LABELS area that you can peek through to find a specific lesson.

Week by Week - MFW: Creation to the Greeks

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lessons on NATURE

We had a little storm the other night.....
Actually, Todd was out of town and my mother-in-law was here keeping me company and helping out with the kids. She and I were up most of the night- pacing the floors and waiting for the big tree in the front yard to come through the picture window. It really was the scariest, loudest storm in Pasadena. No rain, no lightening just fierce and howling winds. I have never seen ( in person) anything close to this kind of damage.  Our street lost over 20 full grown trees- it was so sad walking out the door the next morning. The very first thing I heard in the early morning hours was the sound of chain saws.  A neighbor was cutting the limbs off a huge branch that had fallen across the street and was preventing any cars from passing and trapping their cars in their driveway. We had no power from 10 pm until the late the next evening due to power lines that were down all over the city.

As morning broke Thursday in Pasadena, the entire city appears to have been affected by ferocious winds that knocked down trees and power lines -- posing hazards for motorists and city workers alike.
Fire and police officials reported "throughout the entire 26 square miles of the city, streets are littered with trees and tree limbs, downed power lines and wires," said Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck, in an interview in the basement of City Hall. "Pasadena seemed to be the epicenter" of the windstorm, he said.
Officials have declared a local state of emergency, called all employees into work, and asked for mutual aid assistance from Los Angeles County Public Works, Beck said. Pasadena public schools have been closed, as have city libraries.
About 6,000 customers remain without electricity from the city's utility, Pasadena Water and Power, he said.
A tree split an apartment complex, forcing the city to evacuate 37 residents. Colorado Boulevard through Old Town Pasadena was obstructed with at least two large tree limbs. In the southern part of town, a tree lay across all of Grand Avenue. A tree fell on a car outside a Denny’s restaurant, and the driver had to be extracted.
Talking with long-time employees, Beck said "no one can recollect when something so severe and encompassing has occurred" in Pasadena.
Now for the pictures.
The kids and I went on a little adventure walk around the few blocks in our neighborhood to document the damage.  The kids loved climbing on all the downed trees and seeing the stop signs twisted and bent to the ground but it brought tears to my eyes to see these beautiful trees and yards demolished. I have neighbors who lost both cars when I tree fell on it and this week- that same tree that's laying across their yard has Christmas lights on it. Turning lemons into lemonade. I didn't mind the lack of power either- sometimes we all need to be unplugged! Candles, a fire, books, and flashlight games were entertaining enough. I also enjoyed the camaraderie and the conversations among my fellow neighbors as we all walked around outside and recounted our stories. Nothing like a storm to bring everyone out!
 These are the hedges in my backyard
 The trees outside my kitchen window that give such beautiful filtered sun each morning.
 my neighbor's driveway
 a deodar tree falls across an intersection
 .....and takes out a stop sign.
 this was the largest tree that we saw- it fell on the house, what house?  I know!
 same tree - different angle
our stoplight at the corner - bent in half by WIND.

Zoo reports - Week 8

A field trip to the LA Zoo requires a little follow-up writing assignment:

Mackenzie took all of these photos with her camera she received for her birthday.

These are baby otters in the care center - they were loud but really cute when they played around like puppies.

 Self Portrait


  We watched the chimpanzees for a long time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Library Tools

I love our library system. I have been taking the kids weekly for years. Last year, our librarian put together a HOMESCHOOL section in one of our branches with models and microscopes and resources for homeschoolers. She focused on science and the need to touch, hold and take things apart.   This is the model of the brain. It's labeled with all the major parts and it's a wonderful tool to pass around. We copied it's structure into a notebook page for extra practice.

Tinker toys made a comeback this week. 
It's a amazing what they come up with: this is a carousel for Lego minifigures.

I learned something new this week too!  I learned how to make twistees in my boys' hair. We spent an hour like this.........
the TV was on, mind you, but he was very patient and actually loved the results. It only lasts about two days but this is our go- to style now for Kibru's hair now that he doesn't want to cut it.

Dem Bones

Part of our last few weeks in studying the human body has been spent putting together paper skeletons bone by bone.  Of course, all the skeletons make my house look like Halloween all over again but 'it's for the kids, Larry!'  Sorry -we've also been re-watching some Veggie Tales for the sake of our 5 year old who has never seen them and now has enough English to understand them. I never get tired of those quirky veggies.

This is Harper posing with her completed skeleton, Happy.

 Everett doing some scissor work before assembly.

Remember that trip to the zoo a few weeks back?
I had the children write about one of their favorite animals and look up some details on those animals in our giant animal ATLAS.

Harper's Essay:
 Mackenzie's Essay:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall traditions

Every year, without fail, the kids and I go to a pumpkin patch and working farm. Sometimes more than once. It's just too fun to do just once.
This year, we went once in IL and once in CA so we got the full spectrum of activities.  One of favorites is the corn maze and of course, the animals! We took a hay ride, climbed the hay pyramids and picked out some fabulous oversized pumpkins.  All in a days' work.

 Kibru's very first time on a real horse! He was soooo excited.

Just trying to get some good ones.


 sweet Everett climbed on the carriage and posed for mom.

Roman Mosaics - Week 5

Continuing with the Romans and their way of life.  Mosaics were popular designs on walls and floors in houses, temples and public areas. We designed our own and took a part of the morning for an art lesson.

 Mackenzie is tiling a letter'M' and Ev is working on a snake.

 Kibru ducked out of the picture but this is his work - a fish.

 Completed work set out to dry. With these skills, it's onto the bathroom floor.........I wish.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Medieval Writing Class

I finally farmed out a subject that doesn't have to do with the ARTS.  Having not had a single lesson in either drawing or musical theory, I had good reason! But writing, well, not my strongest subject either.

I started to investigate writing classes in the summer. I wanted a class that my 5th grader could attend once or twice a week and get more in-depth instruction and feel challenged to upgrade her writing. We have been focusing on this for the last year or so and it's one of the more challenging topics for me to teach. I have never been a great writer and have an ongoing struggle with too much/too soon when it comes to pushing for kids to write when they aren't ready. But Mackenzie was now showing signs of being ready.....

Over the summer, Mackenzie continued to work on and add to her story she started at the end of our school year. It 's a prequel to Percy Jackson and is written freehand on about 16 pages as it stands right now. I was so impressed with her desire to write even when it wasn't required that I thought it was time to get more formal instruction and additional challenges.

Excellence in Writing offers some great classes for all ages and we decided to sign her up for a Medieval Writing Class that is offered once/week . The course follows along with our curriculum for the year, so it really was a perfect fit.  She is doing really well and there has been hardly a complaint about the work. Love it when a plans comes together!

Here is a quick sampling of her work so far. All the paragraphs are based on history that is taught in class.

"The Middle Ages are mostly remembered for intrepid knights, massive castles and wealthy kings, but these were not brilliant times. The Middle Ages began with the crumbling of the Roman Empire in the 400-500's. Warriors stormed Europe and seized parts of it. The Barbarians were not civilized,they lived in tents, ate raw food, and they did not bathe. They were fetid. The Barbarians had no interest in arts and learning like the Roman people. The Barbarians invaded the Roman lands and split them up into smaller kingdoms. The sophisticated life of the Roman people was lost. Some call this time the Dark Ages because we do not know very much about it."

All in all, a good effort on her first concise paragraph describing the events that led to the end of the Roman Empire.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

" All Roads lead to Rome"

Having used My Father's World for four years now, we are finally at the ROMANS. The Egyptian and Greek civilizations so enraptured the children that they hesitated to let the course of history continue but rather preferred to freeze time at the last of God's prophets, height of Greek power and Alexander the Great.

I convinced them that it was necessary for them to understand the full picture, the whole story up to now and I promised that Rome would be just as fun!

We began a few weeks ago with the founding of Rome around 750B.C.  To be sure, that story/myth of Romulus and Remus always freaks me out. I hate looking at the statue of the wolf feeding the babies....ewww!

Life as a Roman pupil would have included writing on a clay tablet so here we are making our versions :

We started reading The Bronze Bow in the first week because the story was so relevant and reading aloud is one of my students' favorite things.

We also switched to studying about the Roman versions of all the Greek gods. We chose The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan to read aloud as well It's about a fantastical adventure for a son of Jupiter  in modern times. Although not my favorite author, it's so nice of him to introduce new Roman characters and follow the historical record of how the Romans essentially borrowed most of the myths and deities from Greece and renamed them.

Next stop:  Rise of the Roman Republic

First Day Photos

It's Official - we have begun the 2011-2012 homeschool year.  I have 4 students this year. A fifth grader, a third-grader, a first-grader and a pre-K student. It's a hoot really. I would never have imagined myself here 6 years ago but here we are indeed! 
They jumped right in with the routine which I am so thankful for. We start school right after breakfast and go until just after lunch which makes for about a 4 1/2 hour school day. We also started a new season of our responsibility chart. The kids earn tickets for their completed chores, responsibilities throughout the week and they can 'cash' them in for extra activities, prizes or save them for something bigger like a date with Mom or Dad. So far, we have two dates on the calendar and one saving for a sleepover.

**Kibru decided his role was best played with bunny ears and spoon accessories.

Friday, August 19, 2011

THE Pam School PLAN for 2011- 2012

Rome to the Reformation Deluxe package 
This is the winner. We have been following the My Father's World Curriculum for 4 years now with the excitement building each year and each of my students truly enjoying the materials. We know it works. This year, we are adding a new student to our classroom, a Pre-K student, so I know there will be challenges ahead and my time with the veterans of the class will be so precious- all the more reason to go with what is familiar and loved in a curriculum.

Having loved the Egyptians and the Greeks so much in C to G, we will continue on to the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, the birth and life of Jesus as we study the New Testament, leading to the Middle Ages with knights and castles all the way to the Renaissance, the Reformation and Luther.  I love a good list, it just seems to propel the work somehow. Checking the items off each day, knowing what is in store, having all the ducks in a row...........for a brief moment anyway! And this is that moment.  Here's to a great year!

A list of the resources,materials, and extras that we are gearing up to tackle this school year:

5th Grade:
MFWorld Bible/History/Science/Composers
-Abeka Math 5
-IEW writing class (outside of home) on Medieval History
-First Language Lessons 4 with workbook
-Wordly Wise 3000 Book 5
-Sonlight readers G-( titles include Theras and His Town, The Roman Ransom, Mara- Daughter of the Nile,The Great and Terrible Quest, the Phantom Tollbooth, The Ides of April and Black Horses for the King) See here for all the titles.
-Abeka Windows to the World Reading Program Grade 5
-Art/Drawing classes at local studio
-Softball team

3rd Grade:
MFWorld Bible/History/Science
Abeka Math Book 3
First Language Lessons with Wkbk 3
Writing with Ease Level 3
Sonlight Readers  Level 4-5 (click here for complete list)
Wordly Wise 3000 Book 3
Explode the Code Book 8 ( workbook and online)
Abeka Windows on the World Reading Grade 3
Art- Drawing at studio
Softball team
Soccer team

1st Grade
MFWorld Core
Abeka Math Book 1
Wordly Wise A
Explode the Code 2 workbook and online
First Language Lessons Book 1
Sonlight Readers Grade 2 - click here for titles ( we already own these!)
Art at Studio
Soccer team

and for the newest student: 
Pre-K / K materials:
Lots of reading aloud from our bookshelves
Explode the Code - get ready for the code
BrainQuest K workbook
Math U See Primer with manipulatives
Art with his siblings at the Studio
soccer team

I am also considering Spanish through Rosetta Stone as we have used this in the past. Jury still out if the students and teacher want to add this or wait until the second half of the year.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We interrupt this program to introduce the newest Pam family member!

In case you missed all the references to travel and Ethiopia in previous posts.....we went, we were forever changed and we have returned with another student for our classroom. He is Kibru Todd Pam and he is our 5 year old son from Ethiopia. We waited exactly one year for him to come home. We are overjoyed and slightly overwhelmed by the journey and all it took to get here. He is amazing and already joining on on school - anything that I could print that he could trace or color- he was game.  We love him so much!

A little note on curriculum progress: We made it through the Greek material up to Week 29 before we brought our son home. We did a broad sweep of the material after Week 30 focusing on a book about Alexander the Great, Aesop's Fables, review of our memory verses.  Other subjects like Math, Wordly Wise, Grammar, and Explode the Code will be finished in the upcoming weeks of summer. That part usually takes about 45 minutes a day so.... right after breakfast until the neighborhood kids come a-knockin!

A few highlights from the weeks between trips to Ethiopia:
- Reading the Greek Myths was a huge hit and my 3 students took to acting them out and pretending to be the gods and goddesses in their free time. We also read aloud the Percy Jackson series to further our knowledge of the Greek heroes and myths.
- Memorizing scripture verses turned out to be something we could do anywhere, including airplanes and hotel rooms.
- Taking their journals on the trip allowed them to draw or write about their new experiences as they happened.

 Harper's drawing of the myth of Perseus and Medusa.

Mackenzie writes about the prophet Elijah.

Harper: statue in Nebuchadnezzar's dream
Mackenzie writes out Psalm I for memory practice