Monday, September 14, 2015

I'm down but not out

I have been having some serious shoulder pain, which turns out to be a problem in my neck. Still, it has made sitting at my desk unbearable and sitting at all unpleasant. I am in physical therapy and it seems to be helping, but it seems like it will be a slow healing process.

So anyway, writing is just not happening right now. We have some things going on in school and other activities I plan to write about. I just haven't had the opportunity to get it on the blog. Please don't give up on me and if you would, send a prayer my way! I am anxious to get back to my usual pace again!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Small is an atom?

In our World of Science book we are learning about atoms so I logged on to Easy Peasy All-in-one Homeschool to find some supplemental ways to explore them.

On their Easy Peasy Chemistry and Physics page I found links to these fun interactive helpful tools!

At Molecularium we played in the Nanolab. There you could build molecules, zoom in to see their size, and check them out in the different states of matter.

Then at Learn.Genetics we found a cool tool that lets you get a feel for the real size and scale of a cell. Use the scroll bar along the bottom to keep zooming in. It's really cool!

We followed up with this video showing the size by continuing to look at things that are 1,000 times smaller than the object we are looking at. The music is just background and has no context, so we muted it as we watched.

It's really hard to wrap your head around how really tiny an atom is, but these sure do help give us some perspective.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A+ For Math

By A+ I don't actually mean that's my daughter's grade, but rather it is the program we are using for math again this year.  A+ Tutorsoft is math program you can purchase to use online or on a CD. It has instructional videos, interactive quizzes, as well as both online and printable worksheets and exams. It has everything we need for one year of math.

Gess really struggles with math so we are using the 3rd grade curriculum. Gess has been unable to memorize her math facts so I still allow her to use helps (including counting on her fingers) to help her solve problems, but she is able to add and subtract large numbers that way. We will begin focusing on multiplication and division this year.

I prefer A+ over other online programs because the lessons are presented in a way that Gess seems to both enjoy and understand. When it's time to do the interactive quiz I often have her solve the problem on the board instead of a worksheet. She enjoys that. Here she is comparing three numbers and putting them in order from greatest to least.

Once she finds the answer she sits back down at her desk to enter the solution.

I know this seems like a lot of up and down, but for her that seems to help. Math frustrates her so I think it helps for her to be able to "walk away" from the worksheet while she tries to find a solution. Whatever the case, it works for us.

While my laptop works well for the lesson and interactive quiz, the font for the online worksheets is pretty small. When I increase the font she can't see the whole thing on the page. For us that isn't a problem because we have a big screen television hooked up in our living room. (It's how we watch streaming television and avoid the cost of cable!) Anyway, here she is doing an online worksheet.

I use the online worksheets for lengthy word problems because it is easier to for her to read them online than on a printed page. There is less ink and paper waste that way too. I will use the printable worksheets when she has actual problems to solve. For now she has just been reviewing basic number sense like comparing numbers, writing numbers in various forms, and things like that. Next week we start on addition!

I am also using Life of Fred to supplement our math. We do A+ in the morning and she has one assignment to complete after school. Then we do Life of Fred together in the afternoon. I will share more about that later.

Gess is doing an excellent job reading so this year I am going to trying to make some major headway in math!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The World Of Science

With Gess now being in what many call middle school it has been hard for me to find appropriate curriculum. She can read really well and her comprehension is even pretty good, but it is not yet ready for middle school level. Couple that with her inability to read small print and it makes finding a text book hard.

We have also been all over the place on science. It has turned out to be Gesserine's favorite subject and many times I have let her choose the topic. Her fascination with weather comes alive every spring and in the winter when she is often sick she focuses on human anatomy and biology. While we have done some studies on plants and animals and various other things, I fear there are some things she has missed. So this year we are doing a full science review. For that I purchased the book The World of Science from Master Books.

The book is divided into 7 sections. It covers 6 majors areas of science with the final section being experiments that correspond with the other 6 sections of the book. The topics covered are:

1. Matter and Chemicals
2. Energy, Motions, and Machines
3. Electricity and Magnetism
4. Light and Sound
5. Earth and Life
6. Space and Time

Of course there are only brief explanations of each topic but it will be great to review and it will help me discover what Gess may have forgotten or possibly not covered in her previous studies. As we go through the book I plan to supplement with extra resources either from our previous text books, library books, personal library, or the internet. The experiments also look to be lots of fun. You can see some sample pages of the book at their website. The image below will lead to that link.

I think this will be a great way to review before Gess enters on into high school. While our focus is usually on reading, math, and basic life skills science and social studies have still been a priority for me. It helps that Gess has had an eager interest in science. That actually helped spark her reading interest for she loved reading about the weather and other science related topics. I can barely get her to read a novel but give her a science book and she won't put it down!  I think this book will add greatly to her library and will spark many new avenues of interest. I am eager to see just how far this book will take us!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Day of School

We officially started school yesterday! I always think I am going to wait until later in September but since all of our friends head back, the pool closes, the reading program ends, and all the other "summer time" stuff ends, we go ahead and start.

We had a very productive day! We got in all our subjects including math twice, as well as a haircut, painting class, library time, and the park. I also cleaned two houses, neither of which were my own. I am very excited about the year! I will share our subjects one at a time in future posts.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mommy Moment: Summer Reading

Not only did I sign Gess up for the library reading program but I also participated. I only had to read 10 books and they can be any 10 books but I always challenge myself to read something outside of my usual reading patterns. They must be new authors, or genres, or something to that affect and I can only check out what I find by browsing the shelves. I figured I would tell you about all the new items I explored because after all, now that Gess is older I don't really read with her anymore so I can't tell you about the books she read. I can, however tell you about mine.

Summer Reading List 2015

My first selection was The Aushwitz Escape by Joel Rosenberg. This was on my "to read" list anyway and I was excited to get it. It was an exceptional book and I highly recommend it to everyone. I have done much reading, study, and research on the concentration camps myself and I could tell that while this was fictional, it was very careful to be as historically accurate as possible. After reading it, I re-watched The BBC documentary: Auschwitz Inside the Nazi State and felt as if pieces of the book were coming alive. I hope that one day that make this into a movie!  Highly Recommended!

My next selection was more disappointing. It was Longbourn by Jo Baker. I loved the premise which was following the lives of the servants while the events of Pride and Prejudice took place. Since Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my all time favorite book, I had to give it a try. It wasn't too terribly bad but I didn't like the way it was too sexually explicit and immoral. As with every book and movie today, some character has to be gay and others have to be sexually promiscuous and there was just too much graphic detail in parts of it. That really doesn't come to life very much until halfway through and it was in small segments so I finished the book, but if I had know I would have passed on the read altogether. I already have in my mind what kind of people the Bennet family are and I didn't care for their take on some of them. I imagine it is hard to mess another work of fiction and make everyone pleased with it though.

I have this thing where I actually keep two books going at any one time. One is usually educational or spiritual and the other recreational. So, while I was reading the above book, I was also reading this Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly. I have to admit I was unsure of it at first but it came highly recommended. Historically it was intriguing. It is so fascinating to read about the events and culture that surrounded those passages that we are so familiar with. It really put the entire picture of Jesus' death into historic perspective. Learning about the Roman and Jewish leadership made it come more alive. I have to admit he doesn't hold back and there are a few explicit details I wish he had left out, but the depths of the wickedness of the times are facts. Highly Recommended!

Unlike many folks, I wasn't a huge fan of Little Women but I was willing to give A Long Fatal Love Chase also by Louisa May Alcott a try. I enjoyed reading it much more and the story was rather intriguing. It was, however, as the title reflects, a fatal love chase and a long one at that so it is kind of depressing, but entertaining along the way. I found myself pondering where this young lady might have gotten such an idea for a story. It certainly gives insight into how one looks at right and wrong, men and women, the saints and the sinners. Because it's not a very happy book I am not shouting about it from the rooftops but I am not sorry I read it.

My next book on Biblical study was What's So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey. I can't tell you how much this impacted my life. I read this book at such an important time. While the courts were redefining marriage, Philip was talking about his friendship with a person who professes to be a Christian and is gay. He doesn't compromise on the issue but he reminds us that we need to handle all things with grace. The phrase that stuck with me the most was Grace versus Ungrace. You won't believe how often I now recognize ungrace in my own life as well as those around me. I think every Christian would benefit from this book! Highly Recommended!

My daughter recently studied ancient Egypt and during the summer we watched a documentary called Egypt on Netflix. The first couple were on Howard Carter and his discovery of King Tut's tomb. So when I saw The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson I was anxious to read it. This book does a similar thing the documentary did in that it covers both the the life (and death) of the young King Tut as well as that of Howard Carter. It was a cross between non-fiction and fiction and I liked how he intertwined the two. He used the fictional narrative to tell the story, but was sure to place in the facts as he knew them. Through it he weaved in what was his own theory of what happened to the boy king. Sprinkled in between are chapters about the author himself and his adventure in the research of the book. He really felt that King Tut was murdered and he was out to prove it. As he shares his own journey you get a good sense of what was based upon fact and what was his own conjecture. Of course no one really knows what happened, but it is entertaining to read about! However there is some sexual content so keep that in mind.

After a couple of secular novels I really needed to know that my next book would be more wholesome. For that I chose At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon as it was recommended by a dear friend. This book was certainly different than anything I had read. It was a charming story of a pastor in the small town of Mitford. It's almost like it was several stories inside one story because it followed the lives of several of Father Tim's parishioners. Tim is an elderly single man who is pretty set in ways and ends up with a dog, a boy, and the possibility of a girlfriend! All this while many other adventures are going on. I am pleased that it wasn't the typical love story!  I am not sure I will follow more in the series but it was a refreshing break from the other books I read! Recommended!

Bible study is one of my favorite things I and love books that explain how the atheistic worldview doesn't play out well in reality. It's a favorite topic in our home so The Atheist's Fatal Flaw seemed rather interesting and since it was fairly new I grabbed it. I was very familiar with Norman Geisler but didn't know anything about the other author, or at least I thought so. My husband pointed out to me that the author was local. Once I realized that I found out the connection was closer than just distance! His wife is a fellow homeschooling mom and is in both our Co-op and Homeschool mom's group! I was thrilled! She is such a sweet lady! The book was really good, but somewhat frustrating in that it spends the majority of time explaining the Atheistic worldview. They were very careful to make sure they accurately presented that side before they tried to explain the flaws in it. My husband pointed out that my frustration with what the atheist says was pretty good evidence the book was doing a great job expressing their views accurately. It was fairly easy to see the flaw in their argument, but their arguments were sort of hard to follow. Not due to the authors of this book, but due to the way they speak. I will admit I spent a good deal of time looking up the definition of some words but it was worth the effort and read. I think they make a compelling argument against atheism in the book and it is a good read for anyone who is interested in the subject! Recommended!

Do you realize I haven't read any of the Narnia Chronicles? Well, I decided to start those and chose to go to the very beginning by reading The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis. I don't think I have to tell the readers how great an author C. S. Lewis is and how much I adored the book. In fact I checked it out again along with the audio version and Gess and I are both following along together. I like doing that for read alouds. It allows us to get further than I normally would because we don't get tired of actually doing the talking. We will follow up with Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe doing the same thing! Highly Recommended!

My final selection was The Schoolhouse At Prairie View by Marshall Albert Barber which was written in 1953. I have to admit I was looking for a short book because I had only one left to complete my commitment. This was still a very enchanting and informative book. It was written by a scientist from Kansas University and it was about his educational experience in a one room schoolhouse in Kansas during the late 1800's. I didn't grow up here in Kansas but I do feel as if it is home. It was so interesting to read about what it was really like to grow up here. Click on the link to his name to learn more about the author and if you can find a copy, read this book. It was great. Recommended!

That was my reading list for the Summer of 2015. What did you read this summer?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Library Fun

We are at the end of another summer reading program. Our library has the funnest activities year round but the summer ones are always the best. Here are a few examples of what Gess has done most recently.

Since Gess is a huge science buff she gets really excited over the Mad Scientist who comes each year. I particularly love how she encapsulates the theme of the program into her presentation. This year it was Super Heroes so she talked about their super powers and used science to demonstrate them! 

Playing with your food is always fun. Check out Gess' turtle, Minion cookie, and Chocolate Rocket!

The Lego club is always a big hit. Gess loves sitting and building her own thing and I think it is good for her to see what other kids do as well. Gess usually spends her time building the wall and so there is very little time to finish the stuff inside. This is a store.

All the kids who completed their reading will get a T-shirt, certificate, be in a drawing for other prizes and most importantly get invited to the pool party! They also already earned a free drink at the soda stand in the drug store, a corn dog from Sonic, a dessert from Taco John's, and a good bag filled with various things including a candy bar and soda pop.

My Gess loves to read so motivating her to do it isn't hard, but it is fun encouraging her to read things she might not usually pick and celebrating reaching goals is something we all enjoy. How was your summer reading adventure? I will share about mine on my next blog!


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