Monday, September 27, 2010

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

We've made it through two full weeks of homeschooling and we're still going strong! This past week, we used the story Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Aidan LOVES machinery of any kind, so I knew this one would be a hit.

Monday, we visited The Henry Ford Museum with our friends. We had a great time looking at all of the old steam-powered machinery. The museum houses the oldest known steam engine; which we thought was pretty cool. Looking at all of the old well-maintained machinery gave us an opportunity to talk about good stewardship. We also checked out lots of the hands-on exhibits. Aidan crafted his own "steam engine" out of tinker toys.

Tuesday, we talked about personification and read a little story called My Digger and Me. Aidan made up his own story about a steam shovel named Oscar.

We painted trees on Wednesday for art. We practiced making distant trees that looked like puffballs and close-up trees with branches and leaves.

Matt handled math on Thursday. He and the kids practiced drawing squares with a stencil and made little rubber band shapes on a geoboard. We also watched a video of the story and baked our own "Mike Mulligan Cake" complete with perfect square hole, dirt and steam shovel.

For science on Friday, we read What is a Gas? and watched an awesome DVD about steam power. We made pinwheels and powered them with steam from the tea kettle. They didn't spin as well as we hoped they would. I guess that's what you get with a homemade pinwheel!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Week 1: The Story About Ping

Our first official homeschool week of preschool began on Monday. We are using a great program called Five in a Row. We read a different story book each week. Each day, we then choose a different subject to study with a lesson relevant to the week's story. Subjects include Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Math and Science.

We began our first week with The Story About Ping. This was a book that I had as a child; but, ironically, didn't really enjoy. As an adult, though, I loved it. Luckily, Aidan really enjoyed it. Earlier in the week, he told me he wanted a pet duck. By the end of the week, he wanted to BE a duck.

We began our Social Studies lesson on Monday. First, we located China on a VERY LARGE world map which now hangs in our living room. We placed a little "Ping" disk on the map and then discussed the culture of China and the Yangtze River, the setting for the story.

Tuesday was Language Arts day. We discussed the definition of a "classic story". We also had our first day of music class.

Art Day came on Wednesday. We discussed artist's perspective and then practiced drawing from different perspectives. In order to keep Aidan interested, we drew LIGHTBULBS from different perspectives.

Thursday began with a visit to the Franklin Cider Mill to feed ducks with another homeschooling family. We then headed to the park for a homeschool picnic. Matt taught Aidan's Math lesson that evening and it went really well. They used cubes to represent ducks and sorted and organized all of Ping's family.

Friday was Science Day. Earlier in the day, we learned all about ducks and made little Yangtze Rivers with "wise-eyed boats" and ducks. In the evening, Matt and Aidan played "Sink or Float" and charted their results.

Tomorrow, we'll end our week with a trip to our favorite Chinese restaurant, Hong Hua. I usually order the Peking Duck when we go; but, I am guessing that is off the table for now!

In addition to our daily school lesson, we read a small Bible story each morning and discuss it. We also try to fit in time for music, some type of small manipulative or craft and outside time to run around. These are all activities that Adelaide can participate in, as well.

I'm really happy we made the decision to homeschool. I'm sure not every week will go as smoothly or be as productive; but, we'll do the best we can.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Music Together

This past Tuesday we had our first Music Together class. The kids had a great time singing, dancing and playing instruments.

We are in class with a few of our friends, which makes it a little more fun. I knew Aidan would enjoy the program. He loves anything musical. Adelaide was the big surprise. Whenever I try to sing a song to her at home, she tells, "No! Don't!" That was actually the first SENTENCE she ever spoke. It is still probably her favorite sentence. However, she seemed to have a really good time and actually participated. These are some pictures my friend took at the trial class we attended a few weeks ago.

The teacher, Miss Karen, has a local company called Music Makers. She is great with the kids and seems to manage Aidan rather well. The classes are a little expensive, especially with two kids enrolled; but, the program seems to be well-developed and well-run.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Something to Crow About

Every year, for as long as I can remember, we have ended summer with the Canfield Fair. Five years of living in Michigan has not changed that tradition. Our hometown fair is one of the largest county fairs in the country; and, in my opinion, the best! It is six days of fun, friends and fried food.

This year was one of the best we've had. We went to the fair for four full days. The kids did remarkably well considering they were tired and full of corn dogs and giant lemonades most of the time. We tried to check out different things each day to keep things interesting.

Our first stop, on the first day, was MACHINERY! Aidan had been talking about seeing the old machines for an entire year. We spent hours and hours looking at old steam engines, tractors and other assorted farm equipment. I thought he'd get his fill the first day. I was wrong. I think we spent more time in that area during the week than I have in my entire life.

We also spent some time playing GAMES the first day. I'm not usually one to waste money on dumb stuff (unless it's for me); but, the games were reasonable and the operators were really nice to the kids. Everyone got a prize. Adelaide even got to take home her duck. It might have had something to do with her reaction when she found out that she was supposed to trade it in for a prize.

The second day was all about RIDES! I can't believe my child would even get on one. I also can't believe that I've become a mother that happily straps my firstborn son into a rusty old contraption assembled by teenagers that will fling him through space. Adelaide has mellowed me.

I thought the ride operators were all exceptionally kind to the kids. I suppose I held certain preconceived notions about "carnies"; but, these ones really changed my mind. So... to you, Crazy Bus operator and all of your coworkers, I say, "Thank you! You're doing an awesome job!" (Just not you, Tubs of Fun lady, you were kinda cranky).

We spent most of the third day talking with old friends and hiding out in the grandstand from the rain. We also used the time to browse the animal barns and check out all the cute peeps. (Not Youngstown slang -look how cute they are!)

Our last day was big fun, too. We gave each and every machine and tractor one more thorough investigation. We played a few more games, ate our last round of yummy fair food, oh...and bought THREE chickens. (MUCH more to follow on that...)

Moonshine and PVC

Saturdays at our house are usually filled with lots of time outside working on projects and finishing neglected chores. That usually means the kids are wandering around the yard and garage getting into whatever is within reach.

A few months ago, Matt made Aidan his own set of PVC pipes. Matt was trying to install a new sump pump; but, Aidan refused to let him have any of the pipes. We thought if he had his own set, he would leave the household ones alone. These pipes come in handy for all sorts of things. We make machines, marble runs, telephones and musical instruments. In case you're wondering, we are aware of the dangers of PVC. We're just not the type to let toxic substances ruin our fun!

Today, when Adelaide and I came home from the farm market, Aidan was already hard at work on his latest invention. I think he may have inadvertently (or not) created our own home whiskey distillery. It comes complete with full water hookup, a fermenting area and a holding tank. The kids spent the rest of the morning dumping in mega bubble solution and shoveling cracked corn into a box at the end.

It's nice to see a bit of my family's West Virginia heritage in my kids. I'm certain that Moyer children have been playing like this "up the holler" for generations.

Like most moonshine operations, disaster is common. You can see we suffered a huge explosion in the early afternoon. I wonder if Mrs. Beam's yard looked like this when her children were young?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


This week, we tried out two new projects: Lite-Brite and Fuse Beads! We brought back my old Lite-Brite from Ohio for Aidan and tucked it away in the basement. Today was a hot, humid day and Addie was taking a long nap, so I figured it was a great day to bring it out. When I took it out of the box, it seemed much smaller than I remembered. I guess I'm just bigger. I plugged it in and the twenty-five-year-old lightbulb still worked!

Aidan had a blast with it. He dumped ALL of the pegs out so he could "see them better". We made some shapes, letters and smiley faces. His only complaint was that the pegs were full of air bubbles. Aidan has high quality control standards.

Fuse Beads were one of my favorites when I was a kid. You design a pattern on a little plastic peg board and then iron it with piece of paper between. The plastic melts a little and the pictures stick together. This weekend, Aidan and I found a set at Joann's made for tiny fingers. The beads are much bigger. The kids had a great time with them. Aidan made a "gear machine" with his, big surprise, I know! Adelaide was more into sorting and organizing them. I made a fish and a school bus, in case you're wondering!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Last Stitch

Last week my sewing machine officially died. In our our house, this sort of declaration is a big deal. "We" don't ever throw ANYTHING away, "we" just keep fixing it. Therefore, I have the good fortune of never having to inconvenience myself with selecting a shiny new dishwasher or fancy washer and dryer... sigh.

Now, the White 999 Precision Built (debatable) Zigzag lived a VERY LONG life. Before I inherited her, she belonged to the deceased great-aunt of a long-ago boyfriend. It's important to note that when I received this sewing machine, it was a vast improvement upon the one I had been using, which only sewed in reverse.

The old girl has never worked all that well. I have always spent as much time untangling messes as I have actually sewing. In spite of that, I have been able to make a few pieces of clothing and some toys for the kids. I bought a great kids' clothing book a few weeks ago and could not wait to make a dress for Addie. It seems the White 999 was in no mood.

Aidan, my machine-loving cohort, is always interested in how everything works. I am forever picking up bobbins and spools of thread scattered all over the place. I told him that the time had come to take the old girl apart. He worked for three solid hours today unscrewing anything he could reach and had a BLAST! I think it was the most fun anyone has ever had with that old machine. We finally packed her various parts and pieces up into an old bird seed box and washed our greasy hands. I did tell Aidan that this was a "one day" project. Tomorrow, we are putting the box to the curb to, "let some other friends have a chance to take her apart".

Coincidentally, my birthday is coming up soon and I have made subtle suggestions that I could really use a new sewing machine. So, if you happen to run into Matt in a craft store, remind him what a wonderful wife he has, then shove him towards the Berninas.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Feast or Famine

Each morning, during breakfast, I read the kids a short Bible story and then we talk about what it means. Aidan ALWAYS finds a way to apply the story to machinery or lightbulbs. For the past week, we have been reading about the life of Joseph. Aidan was intrigued with the story about Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream. We talked about the seven years of bounty that would be followed by the seven years of famine. I explained to him that they were going to save all of the extra food they had now, in order to have some later when the famine came.

I thought our garden would be a good way to explain the story. We've had a very productive garden this year and Aidan has been busy helping me pick, wash, can and freeze. We've made all different kinds of salsa, jams, ketchup and spaghetti sauce so far this summer. I told him that we do all of this work now so that we'll have lots of yummy stuff in the winter when the snow covers our garden.

Aidan thought about this for a while. Then, he decided to "can" some spare gears he had now, in case of "famine" later...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Today was Sock Hop day! We had a blast with all of our friends. The weather was hot; but, the milkshakes were cold! All the guests looked great in their nifty fifties attire. We even had a few guests from "the future" make an appearance! The kids both were fairly cooperative in getting into their costumes. Addie ripped her poodle off about an hour into the party; but, I got a few good pictures first.

Aidan playing it cool on the drums!

Adelaide guarding the snacks!

All week long, Aidan has called this our "Sock Puppet Party". After our last guests left, I asked him if he had a good time. He told me, "Yeah, I did; but, you forgot the puppets."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poodle Skirts for Toddlers

This Friday, we're hosting a Fifties Sock Hop for some of our little friends from our local Mom's Club. We are expecting a great turnout and hoping for cooperative weather!

To get in the spirit, the kids are going in their niftiest fifties attire. Aidan's wearing a cool pair of jeans, a white pocket tee, slicked-back hair and a new pair of sneakers. Still debating the message sent if I roll up candy cigarettes in his sleeve. Really, though, what does a three year old know about smoking? Last time my mother-in-law was visiting, Aidan told me she was, "blowing out birthday candles in her car". We'll see...I'm sure humor will prevail over common decency.

Adelaide is going in a poodle skirt. I had planned to sew one and had been checking out patterns. My sewing machine died last week, though, so I had to come up with a new plan. My husband suggested "hand sew". I opted for "no sew". So I looked around online and found this simple instructional. I had to change the measurements a little because Addie is so small. I wasn't sure how the project would turn out or when I would even work on it. The kids both fell asleep today on the way home from the zoo, so I decided to give it a go. Super simple! Half hour, start to finish! I think it turned out really well. She's still asleep so I have no idea if it will fit; but, it turned out so cute I don't even care!

First, I cut a large circle out of pink felt. I cut a smaller circle inside slightly larger than her waist. I used a marker on a string to make the circles perfect.

Next, I cut a slit in the back and added some velcro pieces.

Last, I glued on my poodle and a little fray-checked leash. That's it!

I also made her little barrettes with records for her pigtails and cut out a little "scarf" from some extra felt to go with her onesie. I am hoping to stuff her big wide feet into a pair of hand-me-down saddle shoes.

I'm really happy with how it turned out. If it fits well, we might use it for Halloween, too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The One Dollar Garage Sale Treasure

This little bicycle makes me smile.