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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chemistry class!

 I have been teaching a Chemistry class for high school students.  I have ten - 10th and 11th grade students.

A few of our laboratory experiments from the last few weeks.  

 Dilution to visible extinction:
 Filtering and separating compounds

 Goggles required!

 What chemistry teacher's oven doesn't have beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks in it?

I like to call this one candy corn in honor of Halloween
We combined acetone, water and sodium chloride to make this 3 phase display.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

JPL - Jet Propulsion Laboratory Tour

Jet Propulsion Laboratory ( JPL)
 Such a mysterious and fascinating place.
I have always wanted to see what happens here and after living in Pasadena for 15 years, I finally got the chance.
Our homeschool group from CA church went together to tour the 

 This was the entrance to the clean room you see below.

We were able to observe the scientists assembling parts for a satellite that would launch in 2014.
The satellite will measure and map Earth's soil moisture.

SMAP assembly taking place before our eyes.

We had a closeup view of the Mars Curiosity Rover built right here at JPL and launched in 2011.

 This is Mission Control ( not Houston ) for manned space missions but for all other satellite monitoring around the world. 

A few late posts on our school year - WK 4- Show on the road.

There is something so sweet and special about hitting the road with just one child in tow. It's like a date night with the hubby. You get to sit across, hold hands and finish whole conversations with someone you love dearly. 
Everett was the chosen child, mainly because as his golden 9th birthday surprise, he got to spend a weekend with his godparents in Atlanta, GA.
Fortunately, the Sandel kids are homeschooled as well so we didn't miss a beat. We took our studies on the road and made up the fun as we went. Puppet shows daily, a lego class, and a birthday party for Jilly- all in one weekend.  

He ride in style in our convertible Mustang.

My bestie, Beverly !
 School with friends.
 Janie and Everett peek form behind the curtain.

Jilly, Joey and Everett have fun with clay on a beautiful fall day.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Party of FOUR!

Pam Institute of Technology
Class for 2013-2104

I am all odd grades this year in our homeschool. 
7th, 5th, 3rd, and adding this year 1st grade!

I wouldn't have predicted this turn of events but our youngest little man is making his way home this year for 1st grade after 1 year in the local public school. He is ready for action and a surprising amount of enthusiasm and cooperation considering what I was dealing with last year at this time.  What a difference a year can make. Praise the Lord for many answered prayers and for the gift of homeschooling our children.

 A little help from big sis on those sight words.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Revisiting CandyLand

Some new ideas for learning how to read. 
I don't know who needs it more, me as the teacher or my 1st grader!
I have to spice things up or I lose the discovery and the excitement in my voice that makes learning together so much more fun.

It's not just CANDYLAND - it's sight word CandyLand!
That's right folks, I have replaced all the cards (except the character cards, of course) in our game with word cards (see above) to help my emerging reader get more exposure.

I also had an idea using Pairs in Pears /Scrabble/ Bananagram tiles. Lay out letter tiles in a tall row- you need all the vowels and most of the consonants (except q,z,j,k) Sight word cards (what, why, how, be, me, see, go, have) are drawn, read out loud and the player spells out the letters in the word until you have landed on the last tile in your row. We use lego people to move along the row of tiles. When you land on the last letter in your row, you win that round. We move three tiles to the bottom of the row after each round. 
If you play best of 5 rounds, it usually gets through about 40 cards. 
 This game has already been played many times at our homeschool. 

I am also working on making this right now for some outdoor learning.
 I am going to use cardboard and sticker letters. My girls are helping me with this one. 

Happy back to school friends!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer chore charts

I had to brainstorm a bit to come up with a plan for the fabulous foursome this summer. We have plenty of travel visiting family, beach days, a few camps and overnights to keep us busy. However, for some reason, my four are particularly susceptible to down time ( read screen time) when we are home relaxing for a few hours in between all the going, going, going. I have a problem with this when there are four of them to play with each other, we have countless toys, games and books, a pool in the backyard, bikes in the garage, and a basketball court across the street. I know!!!

So, back to my plan. I just couldn't battle the question, " Mom, can I play on the computer? " for the whole summer.

I made these instead:

My thoughts were that if the children had these minimal items performed each day, it would create healthy habits, get them to be conscience of how long chores actually take, have control over their earnings and give them choices on how to spend their tickets.
I got a roll of carnival tickets are Party City!

A total of 3 tickets ( one per colored section on the chart) can be earned daily 
unless you choose to offer one of the BONUS chores for an additional ticket or $$. 

3 tickets are worth 30 minutes of screen time.
15 tickets and you get to choose a special date with mom or dad
20 tickets and you can choose an activity of your choice for fun (movies, bowling, sleepover)
40 tickets and you can cash in for a $20 gift card!

Tickets are labeled and given out the day after the chore is complete.
Tickets can also be taken away for poor behavior, fighting, disobedience, disrespectful attitudes and the like. There is a list for this too! I haven't had to take away many tickets this summer thus far. 
It's been freeing for me to not have to monitor the free screens and they are responding beautifully to the lesson of time management and choices.  It's a real dilemma to them to have to choose to pay for the screen time ( a temporary fix) or save for the bigger reward. 

My sweet Everett has already cashed in a precious 15 tickets for a reward:
 a date with mom and dad to Shogun! Kibru is saving for the gift card - go figure!

We compromise too- they are all seeing a movie tomorrow for 5 tickets each.

This is a keeper for us.

Monday, June 3, 2013

End of year projects- #1 Hawaii diagram with volcano

Explosions are always a hit!

 Bottle + tissue paper + duct tape = the general shape of a volcano

 water + flour = easy paper maiche for terrain

 Paint + black sharpie = Muana Loa volcano on Hawaii

Baking soda + vinegar + red dye = lava death for lego tourists.

Coming soon............
empire state building and a covered wagon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Science: plant dissection, root study

Plant dissection: perfect spring project

Sadly I don't have a blooming flowers in our garden/yard (yet) so we borrowed some from our neighbors abundant camellia bushes. Mostly just the ones that had already fallen to the ground ;-)
The kids loved taking each piece off the stem, taping it to the paper and labeling it.  We also used food dye to color flowers and demonstrate the vascular system in these plants. The flower tips were blue in a few hours. The celery took more time- 6 -12 hours before we saw color on the leaves.

The frog and the dragon

The frog and the dragon

Our local library had a drawing contest in the month of April. We entered three pieces of artwork and two were winners! Harper and Everett received 2nd and 3rd place and some goodies to go along with the joy. 

On a related note, we've been studying the French Revolution and Harper drew this for her history notebook to remember the details.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mixed media at the Library

How much do I love our library?  So much! Not only do the librarians know my kids by name but they invite the homeschoolers for special art and activities. 

This is a mixed media artist who came by to help the students create some displays for the library's art month in March. They used everything under the sun starting with old books that were recycled, painted, torn, and glued upon. The kids thought it was awesome that nothing was off limits. Rip that book, douse it in feathers, add some paint splatters - yep!

Harper was going for it

 Mackenzie was getting the hang of things.

Saturday, February 2, 2013



Is there anything more exciting to study than the American Revolution? I certainly love it and I love teaching it, so many great characters and too many biographies to possibly read in one unit. MFW provides some great reads but I thought I would offer up a few of my choice additions and supplements.

I found these History Pockets (pics 2,3,4) to make - they help to sort things out and give a sequence to events leading up to and during the Revolution.

George Washington's World is a brilliant book and I copy the black and white people pages and let the kids color all the characters while I read the assigned pages.

Benjamin Franklin - Live Wire - from the Heroes of History collection along with the Ben and Me novel written from the mouse, Amos' point of view.

Famous Figures of the American Revolution - color, cutout and put together these movable figures to make history come 'alive'

 Each child made a history pocket for the pages that we will add week to week. 

 Movable figures cover and completed Washington and Boone.

Ways to listen and save paper.

We starting reading 'The Hobbit' in November in anticipation of the movie coming at Christmas time.
The book is fantastic, a classic, a masterpiece in setting up the 3 following books, it's just also really wordy for their age. Tolkien's descriptions are sometimes paragraphs long about scenery. I love it, they tend to start moving around so....... we now color while we listen. It's great, no talking, lots of concentrating and sometimes a snack before bed.

Another new device that has saved us reams of paper already is this, 
It's an LCD writer that works well for math work, spelling words, and vocabulary lists, saving us lots of scratch paper.
Each student has one and they use them everyday. 
Fun to take in the car or to a waiting room and great for pictionary!