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Archive for August, 2009

Play Dough–All Afternoon!

Play Dough--All Afternoon!

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Wow, what a week!  Trying to fit the substitute paper route (see previous entry) in our already crowded schedule sure makes our lives interesting!

School is moving along.  We just finished Lesson 10 today.  We are settling into our daily routine, and I think everyone is getting used to the schedule.  It took awhile for the kids to get used to the new time slots for music lessons, and a few practices were missed.  That hasn’t happened for a few days, though, so hopefully that won’t happen anymore.

Probably our biggest development in school for this week is that John is settling on a topic for his science project.  He checked a book out from the library called Crime Scene Science Fair Projects by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. It has several interesting ideas in it, but John was particularly focused on a project involving DNA extraction.  We read that section of the book and looked up more information on the internet, and I think it could be turned into an interesting project.  So, the next step will be writing a research paper about his chosen topic before beginning the actual experiment/data collection.  I’ll continue to post updates on his progress.

Other than picking a science project and running newspapers all over town, things are going along pretty smoothly.  All of the kids are enjoying their teachers, and I am enjoying getting back into our school routine.

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Paper Route Subs–Again


Well, we are busy delivering newspapers again.  One of Brock’s friends from scouts has two routes, and his family went on vacation this week.  So, he asked if we could fill in.  We started last Thursday, and will have the routes through the end of this week.

It’s not too bad now that Dan is home to help.  He was out of town for the first two nights, so I did both of the routes with all five of the kids.  It took about three hours to complete, and we were all wiped out by the time we were finished.  I guess the boy who usually does these routes does them on his bike.  We didn’t know that when we agreed to help out.  Walking the routes takes a lot more energy and time than using a bike…..  I was pretty discouraged after doing those two days.

Things are going better now that Dan is home to help.  He takes some of the kids on one route, and I take the rest on the other route.  Doing it that way only takes about an hour, and we still have time (and energy) to enjoy the rest of our evening.  Each day gets a little easier, and the kids have been great helpers through it all.

Last time we substituted, I contemplated whether we should get our own route.  That was during our summer break from school.  Now that we are back in school, I really don’t think it would work on a long-term basis.  It falls right after school when I should be making supper and the kids should be doing homework.  By the time we finish the routes, get supper, and the kids finish up their homework, there is little time left for the kids to be kids.  So at least for now, I think we’ll stay substitutes rather than getting our own route.

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We are enrolled in A Beka Academy DVD Program 1, which is the Academy’s accredited program.  We have to regularly send in papers and reports on our kids’ progress and follow their program to the letter.

This year was the first year that we encountered the required P.E. class.  It is currently required in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, and I was always curious how it would be implemented.  I searched the internet for specific information, but never found what I needed until my materials came.  So I wanted to make an entry about this topic in case anyone else is looking for this same information.

The class is scheduled for 50 minutes every day.  They break that time into these segments:

10 minutes calisthentics

Minimum 15-20 minutes of activity or skills test

10 minutes of cool down

remaining time for shower, changing clothes, etc.

They have several options for the activity portion of the schedule.  Some of them are aerobics, baseball, basketball, cycling, rope skipping, running, skating, swimming, treadmill, etc.  For each activity, A Beka gives a weekly chart of goals to meet.  4 days each week are spent practicing, and the 5th day is a “skills test” for which the student must meet that week’s goal to pass.  It is all pass/fail–either the student meets the goal or he doesn’t.  The letter grade on the report card is determined by the number of passes.  (To get an A, there can be no fails; to get a B, there can be one fail, etc.)

John is doing a combination of using our elliptical trainer and our stationary bike.  The weekly goals are very attainable, but do require effort.  The first week’s goal is cycling 2.0 miles in 11 minutes or less.  By the 5th week, the goal is 2.0 miles in 8 minutes or less.   The distance and speed gradually increase until a “conditioned” level is reached and maintained.  For the stationary bike, the “conditioned” level is 7 miles in 35 minutes or less.  It seems a little overwhelming at first, but it is definitely a realistic schedule of increasing difficulty.  I personally began using the exercise bike every day beginning last Christmas.  I gradually worked my way up to what I do now which is 7 miles in 30 minutes or less, so if I can do it, anybody can!  😉

We are combining this class with the Personal Fitness merit badge for Boy Scouts.  We are using the flexibility and strength exercises listed in the official Personal Fitness Merit Badge Booklet on pages 68-79 for the calisthentics portion of the daily program.  I am glad that we are doing the requirements for this badge along with the A Beka program because the Boy Scouts require testing/charting of progress both in acquisition of skills and body measurements.  The merit badge requires a 12-week program, so we are going to stick with those specific exercises for at least 12 weeks, and then we will evaluate whether we want to change or add others for the rest of the school year.

I hope this information is helpful.  John is enjoying P.E. very much.  I think he is surprising himself on how much he can do!

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Our first week of school has gone pretty smoothly.  We are gradually getting closer to a full schedule, and I think everything is going to fit just fine.

Kara is enjoying kindergarten.  She really likes her penmanship class.  I hope her enthusiasm sticks because she is doing a very nice job!

Luke and Cosette are still in the review portions of their classes.  They are both looking forward to getting on to new things, but I have explained to them that review is normal and necessary since a lot of learning is dusty after a summer break.

Brock is doing a great job in 5th grade.  He likes having a man teacher for math.

We are still adjusting to John’s 7th grade schedule.  He certainly has a full day by the time he completes all of his classes and homework.  He is in the beginning stages of a major science project.  This project will eventually include a research paper, an investigation, a science-fair-like display, and an oral report.  He is excited about it.  He is supposed to have a topic picked out in the next few days.  If any of my readers has any great suggestions for a 7th grade science project, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

I am always happy to get back into a school routine.  I enjoy seeing my kids growing academically, spiritually, and physically.

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This video is a demonstration of the new fad in our house:  using our chin-up bar to climb up the doorway.  All three of my big kids think this is the greatest thing ever while my two younger kids wish their legs were long enough to do it too! 😉

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Yesterday we met my goal of getting school started.  It’s an adjustment getting back into routine, but it is a good adjustment. The first couple of days have gone very smoothly, thanks to my Mom who helps me chart out a plan for our school day.  (I am still making minor adjustments to the schedule as we are seeing how it fits in real time.  When it has been finalized, I will make another post about that specifically.)

Kara is in A Beka Academy K5, program 1, and has Mrs. Bere as her video teacher.  Mrs. Bere is the only teacher that all five of my kids will have shared.  She does an amazing job, so I am happy about that.  K5 starts out with only partial days, so it will take a week or two to get into our full schedule.

Luke is in 2nd grade this year and has Mrs. Chappell for his video teacher.  He is the 3rd of my kids to have her, and I have always enjoyed her calm, pleasant disposition.

Cosette is in 3rd grade and gets to be the first one of us to try out the new teacher, Mrs. Achuff.  I am sure that she will be a fine teacher.  Cosette enjoys having the brand new books since she has always had hand-me-downs for the non-consumables up until now.  She was a little frustrated on her first day of school because all of a sudden she was supposed to be writing in 3/4 space cursive instead of whole-space cursive.  I told her that John and Brock also struggled with that at first, but that she will catch on to the smaller “font” soon.  She felt better knowing that she was not the only one who found this a hard habit to change!

Brock is in 5th grade and has Mr. Howe, Mrs. Bere (yes, the same teacher as Kara!), and Mrs. Yohe.  5th grade was recorded several years later than the K5 program, and Mrs. Bere does a great job with both age groups.  Brock is really trying hard on penmanship, which has not always been easy for him.  I am proud of him for that.  Mr. Howe is a neat teacher, and I know that Brock will learn a lot from him in math this year.

This is John’s first official year of junior high.  It is hard to believe that he has already reached 7th grade.  There are a few things that are different in the format of the junior high than in the elementary years, but John is not having any trouble adapting. He will have a fun year.  He gets to do a big science project, and that is something that will be right up his alley.  He also has P.E. this year, and I think between the A Beka Academy requirements and the requirements for the Eagle Scout-required merit badge for physical fitness, I think we have put together a good plan and set appropriate goals.

I was always curious about how A Beka Academy did P. E. since it is required in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades.  I searched and searched and never really found the answer until my material came this summer.  So, in a few days, I will write a separate entry about what John is doing.  Hopefully it will help others who are wondering about P. E. like I was.

I am planning on making a new category on this blog this year called Abeka Academy Weekly Journal.  I am going to try to summarize highlights from each of our weeks of school.  It will be a good way to record the special memories that come with homeschooling.

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Camping in the Back Yard



The girls have patiently waited for their turn to sleep in a tent.  They have watched their brothers go to various camps and really haven’t complained too much, but they have hinted pretty strongly that they would like a turn sometime too.  Well, Dan is such a good Daddy!  This weekend after going to camp with the boys on Friday night and Saturday night, he agreed to set up the tents in the back yard for the girls to use on Sunday night.  Not only that, he also volunteered to sleep outside with them!

The girls, of course, were delighted, and Dan said they did a great job.  Kara and Cosette both reported that sleeping in a tent is a lot of fun.  They even stayed out when it started to rain–there was even a little bit of thunder, so they were pretty brave!  Fortunately, they did come in before the hail started.  ;P

I can definitely see that more sleeping bags are in our future.  I guess it would be fun to be able to sleep outside with the girls on some of the nights when the boys are out.  (To be honest, I personally have never slept in a tent.  Do you think I would be tough enough to do it?!)

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Scout Merit Badge Camp

This past weekend, Dan took all three of the boys to a Boy Scout/Cub Scout camp whose focus was on merit badges.  All three of my boys came home very happy with what they accomplished.

John took a class for the Eagle Scout required merit badge of Citizenship in the Nation.  We had worked on quite a few prerequisites before the camp, and John likes this kind of topic a lot.  He enjoys learning about America’s founding documents and the importance of being diligent to keep our country free.  He also ended up taking a Veterinarian Medicine class, which kind of surprised me.  He basically chose it because he needed something to fit that time slot that he had not already completed.  He ended up loving that class and looks forward to completing the merit badge by doing some observation at a local vet clinic.  In the afternoon, John took a skeet shooting class and got to shoot a shot gun for the first time.  He hit some of the clay targets, so he was happy.  Scouting definitely exposes boys to a variety of activities and career choices, and all of that is good.

Brock enjoyed the camp as well.  He took a hands-on chemistry class and did his favorite scout activity of archery.  Going to these camps always is an adventure in eating, and Brock is getting braver at trying new things.  For this camp, the scoutmaster just mixed up a whole bunch of ingredients to put together a “minestrone.”  All three of my boys told me how delicious it was!  I have known this particular scout master for a long, long time, and it never ceases to amaze me how he can come up with yummy food just by throwing in a little of this and a little of that.  I sure can’t do that–I have to have a recipe!

Dan said that Luke was a “hot dog” scout at camp.  He was one of the youngest boys there, but he jumped right into every activity and did just great.  I guess he even volunteered to do some animal calls on a stage in front of everyone!  He especially enjoyed the games and water balloon activities.

Here is a video of the boys telling about camp:

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This weekend the girls and I were on our own.  Dan and the boys went to a Scout Merit Badge Camp (an entry about that will be posted soon!), so we had the house all to ourselves!

Whenever we have times like this where some of the kids are off doing something special, I try to have fun stuff for the kids here at home to do too.  This weekend was no exception.  I took the girls to the local doughnut shop for breakfast, we played some Wii party games (I got beat terribly!), and the girls got a special treat for helping me get ready to start school.  I will explain:

I have had a very, very busy summer, and am running behind on getting school ready to start.  I guess it snuck up on me, but I really want to get back to the books–starting this Wednesday.  So, I have been cramming to try to get everything done for that.  I really need to remember to start about a week earlier on my school preparations next year!  So, even though I wanted the girls to have a special weekend, I also needed to get school preparations done too.  So I tried to find something fun that the girls could help me with, and I found just the thing!  There were some filing crates and sorting baskets that needed to be washed off before I could get them set up for this school term, so I told the girls that they could put on their swimming suits and have fun in the water while they helped me get those things cleaned up.  They had a BALL!  Of course, cleaning turned into water fights, and after they had everything squirted off, I hooked up the hose to the sprinkler so they could just play in the water for awhile.  They really enjoyed themselves, and they helped me out too.  A good deal for all of us!

We set the crates out to dry, and I planned on bringing them back into our school room downstairs after supper.  Cosette decided on her own, however, that she could do that to help her Momma.  She loaded that stuff up and made several trips in and out to bring everything in, and Kara joined in too.  I was so proud of them!

So, this weekend was a lot of fun with the girls, but I am glad that my boys are home now too.  By the way, I had a great afternoon working on school preparations today, so I think that the goal of starting school on Wednesday is well on its way to being met!

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