Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Poetry Tea Time: Easter and Daffodils

I want to be more intentional about including fine arts in our homeschool.  It's easy to let those things slide when the schedule gets busy.  But I've been working on integrating more famous composers, paintings and sculptures, and of course, poetry into our school week.

Poetry is so beautiful.  It speaks to the soul and can touch us in a way that regular prose and literature just can not do. 

We have started having Poetry Tea Time and so far the kids are loving it.  The idea is to have a special time each week to enjoy "the finer things".  We play some soft classical music in the background and have a nice snack with some hot herbal tea (or maybe lemonade).  We take turns reading poetry aloud or reciting poetry that we've memorized.  If there is a painting or art piece that corresponds with our poetry selection then we will talk about that as well.

Today we had an Easter and Daffodils themed tea setting. 

Rachel loves tea parties and snacks so she was giddy to get started!

Part of the reason for having a formal tea party setting is that it is also a good way to sneak in some lessons on manners and etiquette to my children.  I was proud to see Nicholas pouring Rachel's tea for her.  He's growing up to be a fine young gentleman. 

This tea was delicious!  It's called Honeybush tea from Mountain Rose Herbs.  It's organic and it contains berries, roses, and honey.  Yum!

We had our tea party close to lunch time so I made it a little heartier than usual.  Deviled eggs...because you must have eggs if you want an Easter-themed snack.  I also had some tortillas rolled up with ham or roast beef. The deli section at the grocery made this quick and easy for me but sometimes the kids like to take the time to bake cookies or get creative with their own snacks. 

Of course, hot cross buns are perfect for an Easter-themed tea party.

We enjoyed a few chocolate eggs for our dessert.

I usually don't add anything to my hot tea but I showed the kids how to add cream and sugar to theirs. 

To make it a little more fancy than usual I put cute little sugar cubes in the sugar bowl.  I took this random picture of the kids and then realized that Nicholas was sneaking a plain sugar cube!  Oh my!

I watched Nicholas drink his tea.  He picked it up just a little bit and then leaned his body over to drink it.  THIS is part of the etiquette training that my kids need!

I showed him how to drink tea while sitting up straight and bringing the cup to his mouth!  You can tell from his eyes that he appreciated this training....

Easter is just a few days away and one of the poems I wanted to read to the children was about daffodils so I found some beautiful daffodils for the table.  They bright color and soft petals just make me happy!

I read my poem aloud and I had them take turns narrating back to me what it was about.  We talked about some vocabulary words as well as rhyme, rhythm, and personification.

Then I talked about the author, William Wordsworth, and read a few more of his poems.

Then the kids picked out some poems to read aloud.  One of the poems Nicholas read was Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

We ended our Poetry Tea Time with some recitation.  Nicholas learned Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost many years ago after his grandmother read it to him.  I asked him if I could make this video so she could see that he still knows the poem even after all these years.

We don't usually have such a formal tea time and we don't usually have a particular theme but this one was a little more formal because of Easter.  I think we all enjoyed the fancier setting so we just might continue to do it this way.  It's just a small way to make appreciating poetry a little more fun.

If you have talked to me much about homeschool and language arts, you know that I enjoy learning from Andrew Pudewa so I thought I'd share his most recent podcast which just happens to be all about poetry -

Maybe grab a cup of tea to enjoy while you listen and learn.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Oh Hail!

A little before midnight, Stuart and I were just settling into bed for the night.  We knew some bad weather was coming but didn't think much of it.  Then the weather radio alerted us that we were under a Severe Thunderstorm warning with high winds and potential for hail.  We pulled up the weather  radar on our phones.  We could see the bad weather and it was tracking right for us with an extra bright pink area forming directly in our path.  Note: bright pink = extra bad. There was nothing we could do but pray.

A short time later, the wind and light hail came but it quickly turned to big hail.  We were on the second floor and it sounded like the roof and west side of the house were being pelted with baseballs.  It was the loudest hail storm I've ever been through.  Nicholas woke up rather quickly but amazingly Rachel slept through the whole thing!

Stuart ventured out and picked up a piece of the hail to show me.

Suddenly it seemed to shift and was now hitting the house from the north.  It was pelting the windows on the back of the house.  I recorded this video because I just knew one of the windows was about to break (fortunately they didn't).

Once the hail stopped, we looked out the front door.  It looks like it had snowed out there!

Stuart scooped up this handful from the hail patch in front of the potted plant.  The pile of hail on the ground was at least an inch or two thick there.

Amazingly, we don't have any major damage.  Both vehicles have some light dents on them and no windows were broken on the vehicles or the house.  We recently had our roof checked and it was in good condition before the storm.  We don't see any obvious damage but we will have it checked out and see if we need to look into getting it replaced.  We'll probably wait until the storm season passes though.  This is always a rough time of year for houses and vehicles in this area.

Computer Skills for Kids: CompuScholar, Inc. Review

As a homeschool mom, I realize that there will be times when I am not the best teacher for certain subjects.  Computer Science is one of those.  I took several Computer Science classes during my earlier years but a lot has changed since then.  Fortunately, CompuScholar, Inc. has me covered with a wide selection of online computer skills and programming courses to help my middle school student.  

Formerly known as Homeschool Programming, CompuScholar, Inc. offers seven online courses to teach a great foundation in computer science for kids including general computer skills, web design, video game design and programming, and even Android programming, just to name a few.  The Homeschool Review Crew was given the option of reviewing one of three courses:  Digital Savvy, Web Design, or Java Programming.  My son would love to learn Java Programming but I want him to start out with a good foundation of basic computer knowledge so I opted to review the Digital Savvy course.

CompuScholar, Inc. Digital Savvy
My son Nicholas is 12 years old and he is enjoying the Digital Savvy course.  It is his first formal training on computers.  On most days, the lessons have him watch a video then he reads the accompanying text.  Finally he takes a quiz.  Some days he has a special hands-on activity and other days he takes an exam.
Digital Savvy is a one year course (two semesters) and contains about 33 weeks of lessons but it is nice that the course is self-paced so a child can go through the information more quickly or more slowly depending on their needs and what the school schedule allows.  My son works on the course 3 days per week. 

Nicholas says that the information is presented in a way that is easy to understand and he is learning a lot.  He has looked over the course syllabus and he is excited to get further into the course to learn some of the more exciting topics like web page design and animation.

Here is his course syllabus for the Digital Savvy course.  I think it is quite impressive.
  1. Fundamentals of Computer Hardware
  2. Fundamentals of Computer Software
  3. Operating Systems
  4. Computer Files
  5. Computer Maintenance and Trouble Shooting
  6. Computer Networks
  7. Search Engines
  8. Computer Security
  9. Word Processing
  10. Spreadsheet Programs
  11. Presentation Programs
  12. Database Technology
  13. Project Management and Teamwork
  14. Digital Images
  15. Internet Communications
  16. Social Media
  17. More Social Media
  18. Creating Web Pages
  19. Web Page Design
  20. Web Links, Images, and Animation
  21. Programming Concepts
  22. Digital Logic
  23. Careers and Professional Skills
CompuScholar, Inc.
I am very pleased with our experience with CompuScholar, Inc. and I plan to enroll Nicholas in their additional courses once he has completed Digital Savvy.  He wants to take the Game Programming with Visual Basic course next.  With technology being so ingrained throughout our world these days, computer knowledge and programming skills will be a great benefit for our children to learn. 

The self-study Digital Savvy course costs $15/month or you can get access for a year for just $120.  There is also an option for a teacher-led course which costs a little more at $35/month or $300 for the year.

If you would like to read additional reviews from other Homeschool Review Crew members on CompuScholar, Inc.'s courses on Digital Savvy, Web Design, or Java Programming, please click on the banner below:

Digital Savvy, Web Design & Java Programming {CompuScholar,Inc Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yesterland Farms {Canton}

We had a field trip with some friends to Yesterland Farm in Canton.  This was our first time to visit and we had a great time!

It is such a cute place to visit and there are so many fun things to do!

Fort Yesterland is a roller coaster ride.  I started to ride it with Rachel but she backed out at the last minute.  Nicholas had fun though.

Everyone had fun at the Rubber Duck Races.  They had to pump water into the tubes to shoot their duck across to the other side.

It was actually fun to just play with the water pumps!

I think Nicholas might be getting too big for the Yesterland Express train ride!

Rachel had fun though.

There are two petting zoo areas.  We looked at geese and turkeys in this pen.

There is animal food pellets available in vending machines for a quarter.  Rachel fed several animals.

This piggy looks a little grumpy that he didn't get any food before she ran out.

We found a bigger train ride that even adults could fit in.

It made a nice little trek through the woods.

We visited Bunnyville.  I loved the bunnies sleeping in front of the "Hare Salon - the Best Fluff and Puff in Town".

The Super Slide was a huge hit!  3 big slides that you ride down on a burlap sack!

Most of the kids tried to race each other to see who could get to the bottom of the slides first.

We found the second petting zoo.  Rachel loved on this sweet piggy for a while.

The goats were given some fresh hay while we were there.  It was funny watching them dig in!

There are little whimsical things like this piggy planter all over the property.

Rachel played on the swan rockers.

We took a picture on the giant Yesterland Farm chair.  This was only about half our of group but we filled the chair up!

My sweeties still look little in this chair!

Rachel had not wanted to ride the Yesterland Fort roller coaster but I was able to talk her into riding the Santa's Runaway Sleigh coaster.

There really wasn't much to it at all.

She smiled once she realized it wasn't scary. 

Next we did some Gem Mining.  There are many options for the material you sluice through.  Seashells and Shark Teeth, Fossils, Emerald and Ruby, or just three different sizes of random treasures. 

Our field trip price covered the small bag of random treasures.  They filled up a little bucket like this for each child.

The each bucket was dumped into a sluice tray.

These kids were anxious to start cleaning their material to see what treasures they had waiting for them.

They lowered their trays and let some of the water below wash away the sand material.

Then they started looking at what was left in their trays.

They found some really need minerals including this big piece of quartz.

One of the staff was knowledgeable about geology and he was great at helping the children identify their rocks.

There were lots of "ooohs" and "aaahs" and everyone looked at each other's finds.

It was so much fun that we decided to do it again.  Each kiddo got an Emerald and Ruby bag to sluice.  Here is how the material looked when it first got dumped in the tray.

Now the tray is lowered into the water and the rocks start appearing like magic.

Wow!  There are so cool things in there!  Arrowhead, aquamarine, tiger's eye, shark tooth, and more!

Whew!  We've had a lot of fun.  Time to rest a bit before hitting to road back home.

On the way back home, we stopped at Dairy Palace with our friends to enjoy some delicious ice cream.  What a perfect way to top off an awesome day!