Monday, May 31, 2010
The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet, A Month of Meals Made Easy by Nanci Slagle.
The 30 Day Gourmet also has a very helpful website.
Armed with the goal of freezer cooking, I have been trying to plan our meals for the entire month. If my plans go well, I will be making extra meals and freezing them along the way. Hopefully, this will make July's menu plan even easier.
Without further ado, here is my Weekly Menu Plan:
Monday - Steaks on the grill, baked potatoes, grilled vegetables (We already ate this dinner and it was yummy!)
Tuesday - Homestyle Chicken and Noodles
Wednesday - Barbecue Pork Sandwiches and Baked Beans
Thursday - Taco Bar
Friday - Pasta Dinner with Homemade Meat Sauce, Broccoli, Garlic Bread. (I plan to make a huge batch of spaghetti sauce and freeze quite a bit of it.)
Saturday - Broccoli Cheese Casserole
Sunday - Ham and Bean Soup
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The first step in my Ham and Bean Soup recipe is to have a meaty ham bone. One year, my mom gave me the left-over Honey Baked Ham that she had purchased for Christmas. My family gobbled up the ham and I decided to use the bone for Ham and Bean Soup. Yummy!
We don't have too many Honey Baked Hams come into our life because well, they're really pricey. Several years ago, we had a Honey Baked Ham store open just a few miles from our house. We stopped in and asked if they sell ham bones. I figured it was a long shot but I was very pleasantly surprised.
When my husband purchased one for us a few days ago, the price per pound was $2.59 so he paid about $8.00 for the ham bone pictured below.As you can see from the picture, the ham bones are VERY meaty. After cooking all day in the crock-pot, the ham just falls from the bone. The ham can then be chopped up and added to the soup. My whole family loves this meal (except for my youngest) and the cooking soup makes the whole house smell delicious.
If you don't have access to a Honey Baked Ham store, I have had very good success with a ham bone from a ham purchased at the grocery store. My family doesn't enjoy the soup as much if made only with ham hocks.
My favorite way to prepare this recipe is to get it ready in the evening, and then start cooking it on low around 11:00 pm. Then, we have a wonderful soup ready for us at lunchtime and we wake up to yummy smells.
Ham and Bean Soup
1 1/4 cups dry navy beans
3 medium potatoes peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, ground
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 cups water
ham bone with meat attached
In a 3-quart saucepan bring 3 cups water and beans to boiling. Boil, uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain.
In a large crock-pot, combine potatoes, carrots, onion, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir in drained beans and 5 cups water. Place ham bone on top of bean mixture.
Cover, cook on low-heat setting for 10-12 hours.
I sometimes add another cup of water if I get up in the morning and the soup is looking thick.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
- Swim team practice - while my boys will continue with their current practice schedule, my daughter will add three additional morning practices to her practice schedule for a total of 9 practices per week.
- Swim meets - 4 week-ends are taken with swim meets.
- USA Sectionals in Indiana - 5 days are taken with USA Sectionals in Indiana for my daughter.
- VBS - one week will be spent at VBS. My youngest is attending VBS and the rest of us are volunteering. My daughter is hoping to work in the nursery and my middle son is hoping to work in the games section. I just want to do something that doesn't require a lot of thought and planning.
- Cook-outs and summer parties with extended family - we will be celebrating Duncan's birthday, my mother-in-law's birthday, and my niece's birthday.
In addition to swim team and church activities, all of the children have some school work to do over the summer.
- My youngest will need to finish Growing With Grammar English 3, practice math facts on Facts First, and read assigned books.
- My middle son will need to finish Spelling Workout Level D, practice math facts on Facts First, and read assigned books.
- My daughter will need to finish Pre-Algebra, practice math facts on Facts First, and read assigned books. She will be finishing Lord of the Flies and will be reading Jane Eyre and Call of the Wild over break.
So, what will I be doing over the summer? Well, I have so many goals for the summer that another post will be needed for that discussion. Here are just a few of my big goals for the summer:
- Take my kids to swim team every day, and often twice a day. Not really a goal but a definite reality of how I will be spending a chunk of my time this summer. I don't mind, I just read, read, read while I wait for them. And, we listen to books on tape on the way there!
- Finish organizing in my craft room.
- Do some bulk cooking and get my freezer organized.
- School prep for the new school year, lots of school prep.
- Purchase a rug for our school room.
- Lots of nature hikes.
So, what do you have planned for this summer? If you homeschool, do you homeschool over the summer? Do you have a long list of projects to complete over the summer?
Monday, May 24, 2010
Throughout the zoo, I noticed that somebody had a fairly quirky sense of humour when it came to the signs. As we were in the area of the zoo by the rhinos, I noticed this sign. My daughter and I both found it very funny - good advice, but perhaps a bit out of place. In case the text on the sign isn't clear it reads, "Do not swim in rivers, West African Dwarf Crocodiles are potential dangers."
Baby animals always make observing the animals even more enchanting. We were treated with an adorable baby elephant at the elephant exhibit. The little guy was giving himself a dirt bath.We were thrilled to have the male lion out and about. I can't remember ever visiting a zoo where the lions weren't all asleep in the shade. This lion was moving about and roaring. We could hear the lion's roar for a long time after we left the exhibit. Quite impressive.Duncan is always attracted to maps. He likes to know where he is and where our car is parked whenever we go visit someplace.The Pittsburgh Zoo has a lovely aquarium. We had an amazing time observing an incredibly active octopus! Amber and I posed for a picture on the upper level of the aquarium, and yes, she is noticeably taller than me now.
After visiting the zoo, our plans were to go to our hotel, order a pizza, and play some games. My husband, on a completely spontaneous whim suggested we go to Station Square instead. I was a bit thrown off because we had not planned to visit Station Square and I'm a planner. But, I decided to roll with my husband's suggestion and I'm so glad that I did! I'll share our adventure at the Hard Rock Cafe in my next Pittsburgh Trip post.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I smiled and felt a deep happiness regarding the profound nature of my little one's statement. "Yes, I replied, really good books are like that."
I've been smiling all day every time I think of his innocent but oh so true statement. A classic book speaks to the reader through time and space. Even though Duncan is reading a copy of Charlotte's Web from my own childhood, he is gaining joy from the book just as I did when I was a child. Through space and time, Charlotte's Web is speaking to him as it did to me so long ago.
Charlotte's Web is definitely an old, new book.
Monday, May 17, 2010
As I shake myself out of my pleasant daydream, I can readily assure you that while we have had some absolutely wonderful nature outings (although I've never worn a skirt and my children have NEVER been quiet on the trails), many have been disappointing to me.
Why were some of our nature outings disappointing to me? I have finally realized that I was focusing way too much on my children's reactions to our nature study rather than to my own. As in so many other aspects of our homeschool, if I want positive attitudes in my children, the attitudes have to begin with me.
Now, I have a VERY positive attitude towards nature study. I read (with great delight) Barb's Handbook of Nature Study blog. Her blog has been an incredible source of support and encouragement for the pursuit of nature study with my family. Barb's focus is often, if not always, on finding ways to incorporate nature study into one's everyday life.
I plan big nature study outings and have high expectations for them. I desperately want my children to be interested in the beauty of nature, to have a desire to know the names of the living things they see outside, and to experience the joy and calm of God's creation in the natural world.
But I am starting to realize that in my zeal for everybody to be positive about nature study, I've been missing the simple. I've been missing the everyday. I've been missing ways for nature study to just be a part of our lives. To integrate nature study into my children's lives as a true appreciation every day and not just something we do as part of school, nature study can't be separated completely from daily life as something else "to do for school."
I finally realized that I was putting too much pressure on my children in regards to nature study- the pressure of my expectations. How can one delight in the joy of nature when one is trying to live up to somebody else's expectations of how one should delight in the joy of nature? I was simply trying too hard and only focusing on the "big outings." I was also focusing too much on my children and not enough on my reactions to nature. My kids are smart and they pay attention to me. They know when I expect things to be a certain way and the pressure of those expectations can weigh heavily on their young hearts.
So, I decided to just focus on one of my own nature study interests without involving the children. I made this plan without artifice and no expectations for anybody else's behavior except my own. I want to know the names of the birds that come to our feeder. Eventually I would like to be able to identify them by their calls and songs.
Rather than trying to get everybody on board for a big summer-long bird study (my first inclination), at the beginning of May, I started quietly and without any fanfare, making a list of the birds that I see at our bird feeder. Our bird feeder is right outside our kitchen windows so I get to look at the bird feeder quite a bit just as I go about my daily routines of cleaning and cooking in the kitchen.
I was so happy to get this picture of the lovely Rose Breasted Grosbeak that visited our bird feeder recently.
Much to my surprise, all three of my children and my husband noticed that I was keeping a list. They noticed that I was looking up birds that I couldn't readily identify in my Birds of Ohio book. They noticed...and noticing my interest awakened their own interest.
I've caught my teenage daughter looking up a bird in the field guide. She has named the Titmouse her favorite bird and remarks on the adorable little bird whenever she sees one at the feeder.
My youngest child eagerly looked up a small, red bird in the field guide that we spotted at the feeder. He quickly identified it as a Purple Finch and was eager to tell his father about it when he got home.
My middle son has been commenting on birds when we are out and about. He is noticing the birds we see and shows interest in learning their names.
My whole family was interested to hear what I had read about the Cowbird, the only parasitic bird living in our state.
I am finding more eager helpers to fill up our bird feeder.
That's quite a bit of interest from the simple act of making a list of birds that I see at our bird feeder.
While it is certainly beneficial to go on nature study outings, true incorporation of nature study into daily life has to begin with an awakening of interest in a topic related to the natural world. My interest spurred my family's interest. And it all began with me, quietly and without any fanfare, making a simple list.
I am still going to plan big nature study outings but I will try to leave my expectations in my daydreams and just focus on the joy of being out in nature with my family. More importantly, though, I am going to continue to look for ways to incorporate nature study into our daily lives in simple ways. I am also going to try to remember that the attitudes of my family members, positive or negative, often begin with me.
Friday, May 14, 2010
As usual, Mason had his own particular interpretation of the assignment. I like how his parade picture really has a cartoon feel to it with his fantastical band members.
My daughter's picture is incredibly detailed and precise. She worked on her picture for an extremely long time. I even got started on some much needed organizing and de-cluttering in our basement art room while she finished her picture!While some of the detail is lost without seeing the picture up close, you can note how each person in the crowd was carefully drawn and colored. I adore the band members with their acrobatics!We have only 3 more weeks to go before summer break! We are all looking forward to a break in our routine for 8 full weeks! We will be starting back up with full-fledged school August 2nd. If you want to read a very detailed post about how I planned out our school year start/end dates and vacation days for next year, you can read it here.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
- Background Information
- Starting With Resources That You Own
- Utilizing Free Resources
- Breaking the Main Topic into Sub-Topics and Choosing Areas of Study
Hands-on projects and wonderful fiction books are my very favorite parts of our unit studies. Particularly with history unit studies, fiction books can be chosen that coordinate perfectly with the period of history studied. Reading great historical fiction can bring meaning and life to a period in history that was previously only facts and dates in a person's mind. While I adore great fiction books to go along with our unit studies, actually choosing wonderful fiction books for read-alouds and independent reading is a complicated process for me.
One of my biggest goals for my children is for them to love reading. Reading is one of the great joys in my life and I want to pass that love on to my children. I also want my children to read classic literature - both classic children's literature and college-prep classic literature.
Given my goals, I take choosing the books we read for read-alouds and independent reading very seriously. We only have so much time and I want to choose really good books for the time that we have available.
So, how do I go about finding wonderful fiction for our unit studies?
One of the places that I find great fiction books to coordinate with different periods in history is in homeschool catalogs. I have three favorite companies that have outstanding books, often linked to a particular historical time period. These catalogs also offer brief descriptions of the titles. My three favorite homeschool catalogs for finding great fiction books are:
All three companies offer free print catalogs as well as extensive websites.
Top 100 Lists/Reading Lists
Reading Lists for College Bound Students
Since I want my children to read classic literature, I try to choose titles from "Top 100" lists. I highly recommend a book I first read about at Kris' blog, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers - Reading Lists for College-Bound Students.
In Reading Lists for College-Bound Students, brief summaries are given for each of the 100 Most Recommended Works which I find wildly helpful. The list is divided into:
- Novels and Short Stories
Since I'm currently planning unit studies for a year of Ancient History study, I went through the Top 100 list very carefully and marked all of the books that would coordinate well with a study of Ancient History. From the list, all of the following would coordinate well with a study of Ancient History:
- Plato, Republic
- Aristotle, Poetics
- Vergil, The Aeneid
- Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
- Euripides, Medea
- Aeschylus, Orestia
- Aristophanes, Lysistrata.
I would like to include at least a few of these titles in my oldest child's reading list for next year but I will need to take a closer look at them before deciding.
Other Reading Lists
Another great source for a Top 100 List for College Bound Students can be found at the CollegeBoard website.
Recently, I found a great list of the Top 100 Children's Books.
Lastly, The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is a wonderful resource for choosing books.
Picture Book Recommendations
While all of the homeschool catalogs I mentioned above include wonderful picture books that coordinate with different historical time periods, another great source to find picture books on a particular topic is A to Zoo: Subject Access to Children's Picture Books. While this book is pretty pricey to purchase, it is available in the children's area reference section at most any library. I got VERY lucky at my local library's book sale and purchased an older edition for under $1.00.
So, for example, under the keyword EGYPT, there is a list of over 20 picture books. Armed with the list, I could put those picture books on reserve at the library and pick them up when they are available.
Recommendations from Librarians
Lastly, like most homeschoolers, I'm quite the regular visitor to our local library. The librarians know me by sight. While I haven't done so, if I was particularly stuck, I would feel comfortable asking the children's area or teen's area librarian for book suggestions to coordinate with a unit study.
Do you have any great ideas for finding wonderful fiction books for unit studies? If you do, be sure to post a comment. I'd love to hear your ideas.
Future posts in this series will discuss all of the following topics related to planning unit studies:
- Choosing hands-on projects to coordinate with the topics.
- Choosing writing projects or designing a writing menu.
- Deciding if a lapbook or lapbooks will be part of the study.
- Coordinating non-fiction books with the specific topics for read-alouds and independent reading.
- Scheduling what readings will be done each day.
- Considering if there are specific subjects that I need to tie in with the unit study.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
We made quite a bit of forward progress in our United States study this week as well. My goal is to finish our two year study by the end of the school year. I am feeling more and more hopeful that we will reach our goal! This week we studied Idaho and Montana, as we move into the Rocky Mountain States.
Our art lesson this week was about drawing a parade. The project took much longer than I expected and we simply ran out of time and weren't able to finish the lesson. So, we will be finishing up next week.
The week-end will be a busy one for us. All three of my children are competing in a swim meet on Saturday so we will be spending the whole day at a pool. My boys swim in the morning session and my daughter swims in the afternoon session so we will definitely be at the pool all day. I am super excited, though, as tomorrow will be my youngest child's very first swim meet. He is excited and nervous, too.
That was our Week in Review! If you would like to read about what other homeschoolers were doing this past week, check out the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
We went to a hiking trail at a Conservation Area. The 1.6 mile hike that we took traversed through many wetland areas. Some parts of the trail were pretty muddy. My youngest was particularly careful in picking his way through the muddy parts of the trail.
Along the way, we spotted this beautiful butterfly. According to my "Common Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio" booklet from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, I think it is a Red Admiral. We also saw these beautiful purple wildflowers all along the trail. According to my Wildflowers of Ohio Field Guide, I think they are Wild Geranium. The highlight of our hike was the excitement by the creek. I had read about the Conservation Area prior to our hike and I told my children that beavers were commonly seen in the area. My oldest son noticed a thrashing tail in the water and quickly called us all over to see. He thought it must be a beaver.
For the first time, in the 2010-2011 school year, I will have a child taking high school level courses. My oldest child, who technically will be in 8th grade, will be taking Biology and Algebra I.
Why? Regarding math, when we switched from Bob Jones Math when she was starting 5th grade, she took the placement test for Teaching Textbooks and tested into Math 6. Since then she has completed Math 7 and is now finishing Pre-Algebra. Algebra I is simply the next class in the Teaching Textbooks sequence.
Regarding Biology, my oldest is definitely academically ready for a more rigorous, lab-based science course. I am also following the recommendation from Dr. Jay Wile, author of the Apologia high school textbooks, that the level of math should drive the level of science. Dr. Jay Wile recommends that those students taking Algebra I take Biology. As well, starting with high school level science in 8th grade will allow her to complete 5 of the Apologia high school science courses.
What do these high-school level courses mean for me in terms of planning our school year? Most specifically, it means that I need to be much more specific and careful when planning:
- Start and End Dates for School (in our homeschool learning never completely takes a summer break but there WILL be an end to Biology and Algebra I)
- Vacation Dates
- Flex Time (two extra weeks that allow for some flexibility in our schedule)
One of my greatest joys of homeschooling has been the flexibility of homeschooling for my family. So, now that I need to be more careful with my planning; I wanted to be sure to plan for flexibility.
I spent several hours a few evenings ago planning out the dates for our 2010-2011 school year. Now, I will discuss step-by-step how I went about planning out the broad strokes of our school year.
Start with a Major Subject or a High School Level Course
Since I have a child taking two high school level courses next school year, I used those two courses as the framework for setting up our school year. If I were planning the school year and I didn't have high school courses to plan, then I would use a major subject as the organizing framework. For example, I might use the oldest child's math curriculum or the history curriculum if Sonlight or Winter Promise was used.
We purchased the Sonlight Biology Kit which includes a schedule to complete the entire Biology course in 36 weeks with 5 days of work in the subject each week (180 days). So, I know I need 36 FULL weeks and 180 days to complete the Biology course with my daughter.
Then, I looked at the Algebra I Teaching Textbooks curriculum. TT Algebra I has 129 lessons and there are 18 chapters which means there are 18 chapter tests. Therefore, I need 147 days to finish the course with my daughter. So, to complete Algebra I in 36 weeks, I need to schedule 4 lessons a week for 33 weeks and 5 lessons a week for 3 weeks. Since the beginning of the book should be at least some review, I will schedule the first 3 weeks of school with 5 lessons per week and the remaining 33 weeks wih 4 lessons per week from Algebra I.
So, in a nutshell, I know that I need at least 36 full weeks to complete both Biology and Algebra I with my daughter. All of the other subjects can be completed within the 36 week framework.
Determine Vacation Days
Regarding vacation days, we take the normal vacation days off that are familiar to most people.
- Thanksgiving - one week off school
- Christmas - four weeks off school (our longer break also accommodates two out-of-state swim meets in December)
- Spring Break - one week
What is a bit unusual, though, is that I also need to schedule for out-of-state swim meets. My daughter is a nationally ranked USA swimmer so she attends several big meets throughout the short course season. We attend a large meet in Pennsylvania during the month of December. As well, my daughter is extremely close to making a Junior National time cut so I needed to tentatively plan for travel to Georgia for Junior Nationals in December. So, to make things easier, given two out-of-state swim meets and Christmas, I just planned a 4 week break for Christmas.
We will also travel somewhere in March for USA Sectionals. What makes this planning difficult for me is that the details (including the exact date) have not been posted yet. Therefore, I know we will be travelling somewhere, sometime in March but I don't know exactly where or when.
So, to deal with this uncertainty, I am planning for a week off in March which will be determined later.
I also planned in a week off to attend the MidWest Homeschool Convention 2011 in Cincinnati with my family.
So, while your needs for scheduling time off will most likely be different than mine, giving a lot of thought to when it would be most beneficial to take time off can help the school year run more smoothly. I embrace the freedom of homeschooling and take planned time off when it is helpful for our family.
Include Flex Time in the Planning
Lastly, in order to successfully plan a school year in which all that must be accomplished actually gets accomplished, I think it is important to factor in a bit of flex time. What is flex time? For me, flex time means that I plan for 39 full weeks of school when I only need 36. Therefore, I have 3 extra weeks already scheduled into our school year that I don't strictly need to finish what we need to finish.
What do I do with those extra 3 weeks?
Remember how I can't schedule our Spring Break yet because I don't know the exact dates for the USA Sectionals swim meet? One of those extra 3 weeks will be taken off for that out-of-state swim meet.
The other two weeks can be used:
- If any of us gets really sick.
- If we get behind and just need some time to review, catch-up, or catch our breath!
- To allow for the unexpected.
Now, I do try to set up the children's work schedules so that Fridays are lighter work days. We do art together on Friday afternoons so a lighter work day allows for an art class. As well, lighter work days on Fridays make it much easier to catch-up over the week-end or on Monday if we decide to visit a science center, museum, or take a nature hike.
If I find towards the end of our school year that we simply didn't need the extra 2 weeks flex time then we simply are done with our studies two weeks earlier than planned.
The Final Schedule
All of this planning and thinking allowed me to create a master schedule for our school year which includes the vacation days that we need and also allows for some flexibility. All of this planning should also ensure that we will not get to June and discover that we still have 3 full weeks of Biology to complete when we all just really need a little break.
Without further ado, here is the master schedule that should work for us in the 2010-2011 school year:
August 2, 2010 - First Day of New School Year
November 22 - November 26 - Thanksgiving Break (one week)
December 6 - December 31 - Christmas Break (four weeks)
March 28 - April 1 - Spring Break/Homeschool Conference (one week)
***One additional week will be scheduled off when I have the dates for Spring Sectionals.
June 10, 2011 - Last Day of School (We may end up to 2 weeks earlier depending on how many of the flex days we need to use.)
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
- to learn new material
- review new and old materials
- as a form of assessment.
One of my favorite hands-on projects are child-created board games. Not only is the whole process of making the game educational, the game itself serves as a valuable and fun tool for review. I just love these types of assignments – they integrate several different school subjects and encourage creativity...
I'm writing over at the Homeschool Classroom today. Please join me at The Homeschool Classroom to read the rest of my article.
The other morning, my dad called me (they are back from Florida and live next door), and told me to go outside and look on the barn roof. There on the roof were two geese. I had to laugh as our dog barked up at the geese and the geese honked down at our dog!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I really like the gold dust powder she incorporated into this painting and the incredible detail of the eye.
I love the colors in this Georgia O'Keefe inspired painting!
This painting is unique because of the different materials that were added to the painting. It is actually a picture of my daughter painting a picture of a crab complete with a covered table, watercolor set, and a real paintbrush. The necklace features yarn and a heart-shaped bead.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Just this school year, I put together a Grading Basket for myself. Now, instead of going on a seek and find mission for all of the things I need to grade my children's work each day, I simply grab my grading basket and am ready to go.
What is in my grading basket?
- Teacher's Manuals/Answer Keys
- Reward Stickers
- Post-It Notes in a few different sizes
Another advantage to keeping everything in one place is that I can quickly grab my grading basket and take it out to the back porch if the weather is nice. Or I can quickly put it in the trunk of the car if I will be grading while waiting for my children at swimming.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
Books from April
- Key of Light by Nora Roberts (4)
- Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts (4)
- Watchers by Dean R. Koontz (5)
What did I watch while folding laundry, cutting out lapbook parts for school, or walking on the treadmill this month? Well, quite a bit. My daughter and I even made it out to see one movie at the theater this month - Clash of the Titans. We couldn't resist after studying Greek Mythology this school year.
Unusually, I watched several movies this month that I really didn't like very much. Usually, I like most movies that I see but Duplicity, Adam, and The Time Traveler's Wife were movies that I just didn't find enjoyable. I've talked to many folks who loved The Time Traveler's Wife, though, so I think my opinion is in the minority.
Movies from April
- Surrogates (3)
- Boston Legal Season 3 (4)
- Boston Legal Season 4 (4)
- Clash of the Titans (2010) (3)
- Regarding Henry (5)
- Adam (2)
- Taken (5)
- 10,000 BC (3)
- The Time Traveler's Wife (2)
- Sherlock Holmes (3)
- 2012 (4)
- Duplicity (1)
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Since we finished our Astronomy unit study, we are not starting another unit study this school year. Our main work together this week has been doubling up on our United States geography study. My goal is to finish with our two year study in the next 5 weeks. This week we focused on New Mexico and Arizona. While we've really enjoyed learning about the 50 states, I think we're all getting ready for this long study to be done. The children are truly proud of their notebooks, though. They have been creating some tremendous notebooks during our U.S. geography study.
My youngest child finished his math program this week so he will be just practicing his multiplication and division facts on Facts First for the remainder of the year (and over summer break). Actually, all three of my children will be required to practice their math facts on Facts First over the summer. My middle son has informed me that I just don't get the concept of "summer break."
My oldest child and I are reading "The Hobbit." I am enjoying the book so much! I'm inspired to read the other three books in the Lord of the Rings series now. Mason is still reading through the Percy Jackson books - he is reading the fourth book now. I'm going to have to start reading the last book in the series soon to keep up with him. My youngest is now reading, "The Littles," a book which I'm not reading. He is using a Pockets of Time reading comprehension activity from Fortunately For You books to go along with the book.
As is often the case, one of our most enjoyable parts of the week was our weekly art lesson. This week's lesson focused on the art of the expressionistic painter Rouault (1871-1958). Rouault painted many of his paintings with black outlines and jewel-like colors so that the paintings had the feeling of a stained-glass window.
Using face cards from a deck of cards as inspiration, each of my children created their own Rouault-inspired painting. We used big pieces of paper for this painting project (18 x 24). After sketching out their drawings on a smaller piece of paper, they lightly sketched their drawings on the large paper.
After completing their sketches, they outlined their sketches in black paint.
Mason, 11, added his own unique style to the project, as always! I like the mixture of blues and greens that he used in his background.Amber, 13, created a beautiful painting with an extremely rich variety of colors. I think all three of the paintings turned out really well and managed to capture a bit of a stained-glass feeling.