Monday, February 29, 2016

10 Books About St. Patrick's Day

Over the weekend I was going through and updating some old posts.  I stumbled on quite a few about St. Patrick's Day and realized that it's coming up soon!  So I decided to compile a list of books that would be fun to read all about St. Patrick's day, Ireland and the Potato famine!

Here are our picks for St. Patrick's Day reading:

1.  The Night Before St. Patrick's Day-- Written with the same lilting rhyming patter as The Night Before Christmas this cute story is sure to be a hit. 

2.  The Leprechaun's Gold-- A classic Irish tale about two harpists who decide to have a contest to see who is the best.  Told with beautiful pictures and a real "Irish" feel this book is great. 

3. The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh-- I can not wait to read this story with my boys! I love the illustrations and the facts about Ireland, the potato famine, and this one family's story about immigrating to the United States. 


4.  The St. Patrick's Day Shamrock Mystery-- We loved this chapter book! Two sisters must solve the mystery of where all the shamrocks are coming from and end up with a new friend in the end. 

5.  The Luck of the Irish-- This easy reader story will be perfect for my youngest son to read to me this St. Patrick's Day!  

6.  That's What Leprechauns Do-- A cute story about the job of leprechauns.  Follow these three cute little leprechauns as they bury their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; stopping to have a bit of fun along the way. 

7.  Katie's Wish-- Another story about the potato famine; in this story Katie hates potatoes and wishes they would just go away.  But when they do she feels guilty that she caused the famine.  

8.  How to Catch a Leprechaun-- This new book looks hilarious.  Exciting pictures, a cute, catchy rhyming story line.  I'm pretty sure this will become a new family favorite! 

9.  St. Patrick's Day Alphabet-- A great book that covers 26 of the stories and legends about St Patrick's Day in an easy to read and understand format.  

10.  S is for Shamrock; An Ireland Alphabet-- We love the books in this series and figured St. Patrick's Day was the perfect opportunity to learn more about Ireland.  

(all images of books courtesy of 



Mother of 3's Day in the Life with an 11, 10, and 8 Year Old

I have often summarized our day and how the general flow of our day goes but I have never done a read day in the life post before.  I have been reading so many of them lately that I decided to give it a shot.... and realized that it's really not that easy to keep track of the clock and what we're doing each day.

Each day is totally different from the next day.  Some days we have errands and planned activities.  Some days we plan to be at home for the entire day.  The only thing I know for sure is that our day will never go as planned.  

Here is what our day looked like LAST Monday:

6:00 I wake up and creep over to boys' room doors closing them quietly hoping not to wake the boys.  I am my husbands alarm and I wake him for work.  I then finish folding the laundry he started last night and head downstairs.

I settle on the couch and start on social media; posting the day's blog, linking up to any linky parties (here is a list of all the Linky Parties I participate in regularly), and trying to answer e-mails.

The boys work is already piled on the table since I actually remembered to put it all out Sunday night before going to bed.

7:00 The kids wake (late for once!).  Having had all their electronics and the TV taken away they had no incentive to get up early and they are wandering around rather bored and unsure what to do this morning.  I take the time to head upstairs and make my bed, get dressed for the day, and start a load of laundry.

7:30  Ian settles at the tale and begins working on his math.  He has two pages in his Key To Decimals book 2 and two pages in Are You a Math Genius? book.  he is unhappy that today is an extra math day and he grumbles over adding and subtracting decimals.

8:00 Alec wanders into the kitchen to prepare breakfast and starts reading his geography book: Minette's Feast.  He enjoys the book and asks me a few questions about Julia Child so I look them up on Google and read him the answers.  

8:30  Alec asks how many states start with each letter of the alphabet and wants to know if we have one state that starts with each letter.  I set him up with a paper and pen and he went off to study our wall map, making tally marks and seeing which letter most of the states start with.  Evan decides to make himself an egg sandwich for breakfast and asks for some help in the kitchen.

I settle at the table to work in my Thinking Tree Planner and field any questions from all three boys.  I get up frequently to help Evan at the stove and to help Ian finish up his math work.  I barely get one page finished in my book and realize that this planner might not have been my best idea.  It's just one more thing to try to squeeze into my day.  But I LOVE the planner and decide to give it a good week before I give up on it.

9:00 Evan is settled at the table eating and Alec starts on his math work after reporting on his United States Tally.  He also has two workbook pages and two pages in Are You a Math Genius?  He finishes them up quickly.  Ian has already finished up his Thinking Tree Spelling book, all of his math, read his geography book and wants some help getting his geography board set up.  We work together to put the title stickers on and glue down both his map and his flag.  He then heads upstairs to read his Treasure Hunters book and brush his teeth.

9:15  Alec has already read a few chapters in Hoodoo while waiting for me to finish helping Ian with his geography report and asks if I'll help him too.  Evan heads upstairs to get dressed and brush teeth.  Alec and I put all the title stickers on and glue down his map and flag.  While I am on the floor with stickers I pull out the letters needed for Evan's title and put them on his board for him; knowing he would never get them on straight and get all frustrated trying to help.

9:30 I get a text from my sister asking if we'd like to meet up with some old homeschooling friends we haven't seen in awhile to go hiking.  I check with the boys and respond that we'd love to and then immediately start shifting our day around and the rest of the things we wanted to accomplish.  I set aside our read aloud book, our writing assignment, and realize that we won't be adding anything new to our geography fair reports.  Nothing that we can't work on another day instead.  We do this so often that I don't even blink.  But I do want to make sure we're ready on time and that each of the boys works on math, reading, and spelling; our core subjects.

Evan asks why his gel pens are out if his Thinking Tree book is not and I tell him I can get that for him if he'd like to.  He responds that he would and so he starts in on his spelling work while I empty and re-load the dishwasher.  Knowing we'll probably be home right at dinnertime after hiking I put the steak away and pull out some frozen meatballs and sauce to throw in the crock pot.  I pull out grinder rolls and make sure we have enough salad for dinner.

I then pull out lunchboxes and rather than having them pack their own lunches I offer to do that for them today if they'll tell me what they want.

10:00 As I make lunches Ian heads outside to play in the dirt with this trucks and toys and Evan moves onto math.  I find him a page on dividing by three's and work with him for a few minutes.  He quickly moves onto a page adding two digit numbers with carrying and I offer to cross out two of the four rows of problems for him. He gets them all correct and I'm glad I didn't make him do them all for nothing.  He obviously remembers.

As I finish up in the kitchen Evan reads aloud the book The Lunchbox Surprise; needing no help at all!

10:15  Alec and Evan head outside to play in the sun for a bit while I finish getting myself ready.  I brush teeth, put on make up, finish fixing my hair, switch the laundry, start the dishwasher (which is already full), look up the address of the park we're meeting at and pack up the car.  I tell the boys that we'll be hiking along the shore today and that means it will be windy. I ask them to pack winter coats, hats, gloves, etc. and make sure everyone has their lunches.  We put our library bag in the car filled with the books we need to return today.

The boys still do not have screens back and I remind them that while we will listen to our book on CD; The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, they might want to bring something to do.  Alec pulls out our Color Counts Travel the World book and some markers while Evan settles on a Dot to Dot Count to 100 book with some pencils. They both work on their books for the entire ride! Alec colors part of the safari/ Africa page commenting on the authenticity of the page.

10:45 We head out and stop at the library.  We return our books and pick up those that are on hold for us.  It's a rather large stack today and we leave town a bit later than we'd like.

11:15 I notice our check engine light is on and call my husband to see what that means and ask if it's safe to continue on our way.  I stop and check the oil, check the gas cap.... and I'm out of ideas.

We listen to our book on CD and the boys work quietly.  It's a nice ride and we relax while eating our lunches.

12:30 We arrive and we're so happy to see our friends.  We have not met up with this family in a few years and we all remark on how much everyone has grown.  My sister arrives with her two boys and we're all introduced to a new homeschooling family that is planing to hike with us today.  We bundle up in many layers against the wind, watch the planes landing at the private airport across the channel and enjoy a few moments to gather up our stuff before heading off on our hike.

From 1:00-4:00 We enjoy a leisurely hike along the shore.  Stopping to rest at benches, boulders, and interesting nooks and crannies along the way.  The boys (yes-- even though we have 4 families hiking it's ALL boys!) discover that many of the small rocks along the shore can be thrown into larger boulders along the shore and break open.  They spend quite some time exploring all the rocks, looking for shells and setting up their own rock "business" selling rocks for shells and seaweed.  We move on and the next beach is quite a bit windier and cooler.  Alec soon finds his hives breaking out and we decide to call it a day.

Showing how they break almost perfectly
allowing them to put back together 

Writing his name in the sand 

By the time we arrive back at the car we're all set to settle at the picnic tables for a snack; until we realize it's already 4:15 and we need to leave NOW if we want to get home for dinner.

4:15 We pile into the car for our ride back home.  We finish up our book on CD and turn on the radio.   Once we're just 15 minutes away from home I have Ian call my husband and we decide that he'll run to the store for milk and cheese while I head right home and finish preparing dinner.

5:30 We arrive home and spend a few minutes emptying the car.  Ian sets the table while Evan heads outside to play.  I empty the dishwasher, start making the grinders and some pasta for Alec and Evan (who don't eat sandwiches or meatballs).  Normally they'd make their own alternate dinner but since I have lots of extra sauce I offer to cook noodles thinking it will use that up and make a quick meal.  I switch the laundry one last time.

5:45 My husband comes home and I finish the sandwiches with the cheese, check through the mail he brings in, and drain the pasta.  We sit down to eat dinner and talk about our day.  Ian pours the milk for everyone while my husband serves up the salad and I get all the hot stuff served.

6:15  Dinner is over and Evan clears the table.  My husband and I work to fill the dishwasher while Ian brings out the trash.  Ian washes the table and counters while Alec sweeps the floor.  With the kitchen all cleaned up the boys learn they can have movies and TV back (but no video games).  The younger two curl up together to watch a movie while Ian goes to his room.  My husband and I fold the last of the laundry and talk; enjoying a rare moment alone.

7:15 All the boys get their own snack

8:00 The boys get all ready for bed.  I walk through the downstairs making sure everything is cleaned up, locked up, and put out their schoolwork for the morning.  After three hours of walking and all the fresh air I'm ready for bed myself!  The boys settle down to read for a half hour on their own while I settle in my bed to watch TV for an hour or two.  They turn off their own lights at 8:30 and by 9:00 they are all asleep.

Linking Up With: Simple Homeschool Day in the Life , Homeschool Happenings.

Top 10 Games and Activities for Teaching Geography

My kids love geography!  They are always looking at our world and states map, asking about countries and states, and watching travel videos.  They love reading books about new places and pick a country or state to study each year for our homeschool geography fair.

But as much as they love learning about geography there's just something about games and hands on activities that make it even more fun and exciting.  Over the years we've found quite a few family favorites and I find that even as my oldest approaches 7th grade these games are ones that we can all play together and still learn something new.

Here are our top 10 pick for Geography Games and Activities:

1.  GeoDice-- Is a great and fun game to play.  The board has two different sides to it so there are a variety of ways to play.  Playing helps learn countries and capitals all over the world.

2.  Scrambled States of America-- If you read my blog regularly you already know that we play this game a lot! It is a really fun way learn about the 50 states and so many unusual fun facts about them.

3. BrainBox-- There are many editions to the Brainbox games and we have The World edition.  This fun and simple game requires concentration, memorization, and attention to detail.  Each player gets a country card to study for a few minutes seconds, then they roll the dice and try to answer the question.  Questions range from the capital city of a country to what color shirt was the man wearing?  It's a fun and engaging way to learn a bit about the countries as famous landmarks, people, cities and facts are depicted in the pictures.

4.  GeoBingo-- Is a relatively new addition to our geography games but we just love it.  We have the world edition but plan to buy the United States edition soon.  Played like traditional bingo you have to be the first to cover up five of your countries in a row.  The 50 country cards are chuck full of information and yet this game is simple enough for preschoolers to play so it's great for the whole family.

5.  Stack the States-- This is our all time favorite app.  By answering trivia questions about the states you earn states to stack and when your stack reaches the line (without falling over) you are awarded a new state.  The graphics are fun and there is a second game mode where you can try to place all 50 states on a blank United States map; but be careful, three mistakes and the game is over. I don't usually pay for apps but I had heard so much about this one I decided to splurge and really it is wonderful; I even play it just for fun and have learned a lot!

6.  American Trivia-- I was actually surprised that my kids enjoyed this game so much; I thought it was quite difficult.  My middle school son just loves it though and so we'll often play just him and I.  There are colored men and they each have to follow their path through the United States; be the first to reach the end of your path and you win! Question categories include geography, history, art, and general questions which cover just about anything else having to do with the United States.

7.  Trivia Crack-- My son enjoyed playing this app on his Kindle so much we bought the board game and now we can all play.  Learning more than just geography this game requires you to be the first player to collect coins/ figures from each of the categories-- science, geography, entertainment, sports, art, and history.  It's a fun way to hone up on facts; including geography facts.

8.  Puzzles-- Puzzles are a great way to learn about geography!  We have a variety of world puzzle maps, united states puzzle maps, and picture maps of places.  We have street scenes in Paris, puzzles of the African Savannah, puzzles of the New York Skyline, etc.  My kids enjoy puzzles so these are great for us to work on together and talk about all that we see.  If they have questions we turn to books to find our answers and start a whole new unit for learning.

These last two are on our wishlist but I just could not help but share them; they sound so fun!

9.  Flags of the World-- A fun game to learn about the flags, capitals, and countries of the world. I figured with every review being 4 & 5 stars this must be a good one to play!

10. 10 Days in the USA-- This game uses a United States map as it's board and you want to be the first player to make their way to their destination using the various transportation tiles.  There are other editions available including 10 Days in Africa and 10 Days in Europe.

Linking Up With: Top 10 Tuesday,
My Full Heart: Junior High Junction


Friday, February 26, 2016

Weekly Wrap- Up-- Year #4 Week 25

This is one of those weeks where I was just glad to see it end.  It started with my two younger boys giving us a super hard time (you can read about their attitudes & consequences here), then we spent three very difficult days adjusting to a new homeschool schedule, and ended with one of the worst storms we've had in ages.  There's nothing quite like having three kids awake and scared in the middle of the night from 1-4 to make you appreciate all those nights you do get to sleep.  We were just thankful our house was still standing in the end and we were all OK.  It was that scary!

But our week wasn't all bad and the boys did work hard.  Attitudes showed remarkable improvement and the boys got along rather well the majority of the time.  We even made it out for an impromptu field trip meeting up with old homeschooling friends we hadn't seen in years!

Reading-- We read another dozen chapters together in Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw; the book is getting so good it's at the point where we don't want to put it down.  We finished listening to The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in the car and we're anxious to get to the library to start the next book on CD.  Unfortunately our library was closed and without power after the storm so we had to wait.  Alec read Hoodoo and an assortment of books for his geography fair report (which I listed under geography).  Ian read Treasure Hunters, If I Could Drive a Loader!, and Work, Dogs, Work.  Evan read The Lunchbox Surprise, and together we finished You Read to Me, I'll Read to You.

Math-- Alec and I played three or four rounds of Zeus on the Loose.  We also played a game of Farkle.  Evan, Alec and I had Labyrinth set up one day and must have played a good 5 or 6 games in total by the time we put it away.

The older two boys worked on the next two pages in their Math genius books & worked in their regular workbooks.

All three boys worked on the next two pages in Multiplication Games and Evan worked on another 8 pages in his workbook too and is so excited to see that he only has 30 or so left!

I showed Evan and Alec how to do a 9 digit by 9 digit multiplication problem and Alec soon took over.

Checking his facts 

Writing-- We read Skin Like Milk, Hair Like Silk learning about similes and metaphors.  The boys then had a handout asking them to fill in what they were as quick as, slow as, mean as, etc. The following day we wrote paint chip metaphors; using paint chip swatches from the store they wrote sentences comparing the colors to objects in real life.

The older boys worked in their cursive books one day too.

Spelling-- They all worked on the next two pages in their Thinking Tree Workbooks with the older boys working in both of their workbooks.

I love watching them coloring in their journals side by side; one math one spelling 

Evan used some markers, a spray bottle, coffee filters and a pad to absorb the water to make his sight words disappear.  I wrote out the sight words he needed to work on and he copied them onto the coffee filter using washable markers.  He read them to me, spelled them out, and once he had a good 5 words written out he soaked the coffee filter with water watching the words bleed and disappear.  He loved this!

His first four words 

They're gone!
Life Skills-- Evan made himself an egg sandwich for breakfast just about every morning this week.  By the third day he only needed my help to scoop the eggs out of the pan and put them on the toast!  Alec made a double batch of pancakes for us all; adding and reducing fractions.  Evan also helped me make dinner one night this week; we're still struggling to get back to our routine where someone helps me cook each night.  Ian spent the weekend working with his grandfather and great grandfather learning more about tools and how to use them.  The younger two boys helped my husband wash the cars.

Science-- The younger two boys attended a 4-H STEM class on wind power.  They experimented with making their own turbines using different materials and sizes of paddles.

We went on a few nature hikes; it was wonderful spending the day at the seaside after hiking out to the point.  The boys soon discovered that many of the small rocks near the shore would break open when thrown against the larger boulders and spent quite some time examining the inside of the rocks learning a bit about what types of rocks they were from one of the parents with us on the hike.

An egg case we found 

Breaking rocks 

Examining the inside 

Showing how they go back together

Using a stick to write his name 

Huddling together; hiding from the wind 

Looking for shells 

Trying to keep warm!

Ian finally completed his battery powered car; I was super impressed since half the directions were missing.  He was so disappointed at how slowly the car moved though.

Socialization-- We spent such a wonderful day with some homeschooling friends we had not seen in a few years.  It was neat to see how much everyone had grown and changed and yet the boys still all fell into playing with one another like no time has passed.

Geography-- The boys started putting their geography boards together.  They also read a few books each about their topics.  Ian read Are We There Yet?; A Journey Around Australia, Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo, My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, and Do You Do a Didgeridoo?,  Alec read The Moon Was the Best, Minette's Feast, Let's Go Hugo, and First Thousand Words in French.  Evan read Hello, Arctic! to me one day.

Teaching himself French

Ian watched Destination Australia; learning about the various areas in Australia.  He was most taken with the Opal mining. Alec started watching this movie about France and Evan started watching Frozen Planet.

Alec wondered how many states started with each letter of the alphabet and spent part of one morning making a tally chart while studying our map of the United States.

Physical Education-- We spent lots of time hiking and the boys attended their karate class this week.  We took a family trip to the bowling alley.  Ian and I completed day one of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred together.  It was fun!

Art-- Alec finally manage to complete his final Stained Glass Made Easy kit and asked if they make any more.  He just loves them!  

Linking Up with: Social Butterfly Sunday 

Weekly Wrap-Up