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?