Posts Tagged ‘teacher’

The English Beast Raised its Head Today

February 25, 2014

For the Colombian princess, English has been her second language for almost three years now.  She has learned to read quite well now, but she SHINES in the creative spelling department. (ugh!) I have come to realize that in the Crosby household we must not speak very clearly.  You’d think I would have better pronunciation as I’m on my third time through the entire Downton Abbey series! Here is a little glimpse into our English lessons today.

explode the code 002

Nora reads a sentence and then checks the YES box or the NO box.

1. Can a tiny baby sleep in a playpen? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain.  “A tiny baby can’t sleep in the sand out in the open at the park by the swings!” she explains, horrified that I might think that is acceptable! Ah, playpen = playground. Situation rectified.

2.  Can cattle fit in a cradle? YES is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If the cradle is big enough and you have a small cattle, it could fit,” she justifies! I ask her to define cattle. “It’s the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Ah, cattle = kennel.  Situation rectified.

3.  Are there animals in a stable? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. Rolling her eyes she points out the obvious for her mother, “How could an animal fit in a stable?”  I ask her to define stable. “It’s when you hit that silver thing and stable the pages together.” Ah, so stable = staple.

4. Do you put a kettle on the stove? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “There are big holes in the side of the kettle.  Water wouldn’t stay in there and I think the plastic would melt,” she reasons.  I ask her to define kettle. “Its the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Wait, I thought that was cattle?  So, cattle = kennel = kettle.  This is making perfect sense.

And this was all within fifteen minutes!  But that is not all.

5. Can a needle vanish in the tall grass? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If you hold onto the needle it won’t bannish!” (implied: DUH, Mom!) I underline the V in vanish and she corrects her pronunciation.  I ask her to define vanish. “It’s when you bisappear.”  Oh my stars.

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 3: GENERAL GRANT HIKE

October 29, 2012

GENERAL GRANT HIKE.   Day #3 brought sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s!  Whooo HOoooooOOOOooo!

During our stay at Kings Canyon there was a prescribed burn going on so the mornings and evenings were quite smokey…. which made for great sun ray pictures!

We took advantage of the clear weather and did the hike to the General Grant Tree which was a 1/2 mile from our campground.  This was our first glimpse of one of the BIG trees.  General Grant is the third largest tree in the world.  It started growing before the Egyptians built the pyramids.  Yes, it’s true.  Along the trail there were several fallen trees expanding our minds as to the enormity of these specimens.  In the middle of the trail the 7-year-old girl that was with us randomly announces to no one in particular, “This is a great place to shuffle” and proceeds to do the shuffle right there on the pine straw.  Priceless.

No, there will be no photo essay of General Grant…. my camera batteries died on this hike.  Bummer, dude.  But we did sit on the hill above Gen. Grant and broke out our nature journals and drew the immense fire scar on the tree’s back side.  While we sat there drawing, coloring and munching on beef jerky, groups of tourists came by from France.  We spoke with a few of them, but their English was about as good as our French.  About 90% of the people we met during our week stay were from France.  We still don’t know why….

Deer were plentiful in our campground and all around the parks.  These timid animals were not afraid of people or cars.  Sad.  Our girls were playing on the jumbo fallen log in the meadow behind our camp when a group of four deer came near.  The girls froze and whispered to each other as they watched the gentle animals graze.  Eventually one of the teenage boys yelled and the deer took off.  Nora had never seen deer run before.  She came scooting over to the camp and proclaimed, “Mom, they don’t run. They bounce!”  So cute!

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 2: The BLUSTERY DAY & STUMP MEADOW

October 28, 2012

THE BLUSTERY DAY.  As the snow continued to fall, we realized our plans for the day had slowly drifted away, much like the snowflakes we were witnessing making their listless trek to the white ground below.  National Park solution #1: Visitor Center!  Yeehaw!  A roof, heated rooms, a movie, warm bathrooms with hot running water, etc. etc.  Off we went.  We took in a 20 minute movie about Kings Canyon with the three teenage boys reading the last word of every subtitle.  Did my homeschooling-mama-heart good. I taught those youngsters to read when they were wild, little, dirty whippersnappers.

The ten of us wandered the displays, felt the sharp blades of the 20 foot saw that was once used on the mammoth Sequoia trees, looked into bird nests, examined various sized pine cones and felt the bark of the enormous trees.  Much to our surprise, there was a beautiful educational room at the back of the center that we inhabited for several hours.  Our art boxes were brought in from the cars and we homeschooled in our socks in the shadows of three enormous paintings of the life zones we had studied.  Perfect!

Each of the wall murals was abounding in animals and plants of each zone.  The kids had made diorama boxes of these exact scenarios and they recollected many of the flora and fauna.

Postcards were purchased, written, stamped and sent home to various recipients whose addresses we knew by memory. We ate granola bars and cheese sticks.  Of course, we also did the booklets for the Jr. Ranger Program!  What would a trip to a national park be without doing a word find puzzle???  We learned about backpacking canisters for bear-safe food storage… see the black can?

As the natives got restless, we had wheelbarrow races and then we played charades in teams with National Park dice.  No one will ever forget Austin’s portrayal of a space ship complete with noises… because we are all familiar with the sounds made by alien flying saucers.

STUMP MEADOW.  After lunch, the snow had turned to rain and then to mist, allowing us to venture out and see a bit of the park.  Our first stop was Stump Meadow where hundreds of the BIG trees were harvested in the 1850s.  You can’t quite grasp the vastness of this area from a picture, but I offer my feeble attempt.

All eight of our children fit into the fire scar of this big stump with room to spare.  We have been reading My Side of the Mountain and the sequel The Far Side of the Mountain about Sam Gribley who, at 15,  moved from NYC to the hills and made a giant Hemlock his home.  Every time we saw a new BIGGER stump or hollowed-out tree the kids would claim, “This one will be my home!”

One last photo for you which I titled “The Little Colombian and the Giant Tree.”  Yes, Nora is standing there at the bottom, but I couldn’t back up far enough to get the top of the tree in the picture.  They are BIG.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Kings Canyon Camping Episode 1: The ARRIVAL & FIRST MORNING

October 27, 2012

THE ARRIVAL.  Driving the supposed 10 hours and 21 minutes from Phoenix, AZ to Kings Canyon National Park, CA was almost uneventful with the exception of the swaying tent trailer that required only 60 MPH, the unfindable Visalia Costco that was a Walmart (seems that Costco moved to a new building and didn’t tell Mapquest), and the Park Ranger who said the showers were closed for winter. He was mistaken much to my relief after the 13 hour trip with two crazy moms and eight kids.

We arrived at Azalea Campground with about 90 minutes of sunlight to spare.  Every camper was in motion getting tents set up, wood hauled, food in bear boxes, fire built, trailer leveled, etc.  THEN, being a mom, I went to the closest bathroom building that was just a hop, skip and jump from our campsite, only to find out that it was also closed for winter.  GAH!  Next time we will check bathrooms BEFORE we unpack and set up camp.  So, much exercise was had ALL week hiking the hill to the open bathroom facility.

We tucked ourselves into chilly sleeping bags and beds, turned the propane heater to low in the trailer and snuggled in for a cozy night.  My night time camping routine might seem needlessly silly to some, but it works for me.  Wool socks with sweat pants tucked into them. Long sleeve t-shirt tucked into the sweat pants to halt drafty freezing breezes.  Long sleeve flannel jammie shirt.  Long sleeve red Mickey Mouse hooded sweatshirt with drawstring hood that is tied down to a small circle that only reveals my nose and mouth.  And earplugs.  And hand warmers…. I hold them in my hands until they are toasty, then I put the little bags of comfy warmth into my socks for the night.  BAM!  Arizona woman sleeps in a thin tent trailer at 6,500 feet in October in comfort.

THE FIRST MORNING.  My initial recollection was that there was daylight instead of darkness unlike the other 42 times I awoke during the night. My nose told me that it was chilly out….. really chilly.  Next, an early riser who had already departed from the tent trailer cheerily yelled, “It’s snowing!”  Turning over and snuggling down deeper into my warm nest, I closed my eyes and groaned, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo!”  But it was true.  Weather.com had predicted only a 40% chance of rain or light snow.  They were 60% wrong.

One of the books that I read to my children in preparation for this trip was about Johnny and Teddy (John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt) titled The Camping Trip that Changed America.  Mr. Muir took the President camping in Yosemite to raise his awareness of the vast and enormously beautiful landscape that needed protection and the National Parks were born.  The two men awoke to a snow covered valley below them and Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed it the “best day of my life!”  The President’s joy was his alone as I did not share his feelings upon seeing snow while camping in the Sierra Nevadas, but I was glad for the experience for my city-slicker kids.  Every kid should camp in the snow ONCE! Simply to say they did…. and lived to tell the story.

Banana pancakes have never tasted quite as delectable as they did that cold cold inaugural morning of our week’s stay at Kings Canyon.

Please stay tuned for the upcoming episodes of Kings Canyon Camping.

Spring Break #1, 2012

March 31, 2012

I love homeschooling.  I think I’ve mentioned that here before.  I love it for several reasons…. one of them being the freedom to make and follow (or not) your own schedule.  So, way back in August when our co-op moms were deciding on Spring Break, we picked the first week of April.  That sounded good to all of us.  Done.  Bam.  Then last week we got a call from my husband’s brother asking if we wanted a week of company for their Spring Break.  SURE!  So today wrapped up Spring Break #1.

Next week starts Spring Break #2, only because it was already on the schedule and we don’t have to go to class on Wednesday as per usual.  The Crosby’s will be doing school work, but it will be a tad relaxed.  And everybody said…. AMEN! 

Spring Break #3 will be later in April, when our son has a cycling race in Monterey.  We don’t plan to bring any school work on that trip either.  I did alert the pupils that the same amount of math, history and English will need to be done by the end of Spring Break #3….  in order to keep the water flowing in the primed schoolwork pump. 

See why I love homeschooling?  Here is a photo tribute to spring Break #1, 2012.

Street Hockey Championship in the cul-de-sac.

The Metate Trail in the Spur Cross Recreational Area…. HUGE saguaros!

What would a hike be without some planking?

And to finish off hike #1…. some ruins. 

Spring Break #1, Hike #2 at Black Canyon Recreation Trail

The cacti are just beginning to bloom their AMAZING blossoms.

And we discovered there was a river at the bottom of the trial….. that we didn’t plan on… in time, water or food… so we will return to this hike someday when we are prepared.

Goodbye Spring Break #1.  Hello Spring Break #2!  (I love homeschooling.)

I love Little Kids

January 15, 2012

Luke, our nephew, came for a hike with us last weekend.  I am SO entertained by the sayings that come out of his little 7-year-old mouth!  This was a hike on a preserve where there are also mountain bike riders as well as people on horseback pounding the trails with us pedestrians.  Nora and Luke were hiking a bit ahead of my husband and I, when we noticed that they stopped and were analyzing something on the trail that lay between them.  As we approached, we saw the it was horse poop.  I asked, “What in the world is that?”  Luke answered right away, “It’s poop from a cow.”  We have never seen cows on the hills behind our house!  Ever!  And we’ve seen the horses getting in and out of their trailers at the trail head.  It made me laugh.  Obviously a city-fied boy…. once you’ve seen a cow pie, you could hardly mistake them for horse droppings!

A half hour later, we had come to a T in the path and turned west, having never gone that way previously.  My husband suggested that we take a picture of the trail map (from the trail head) when we get back so we could figure out where we had hiked.  I remarked that the trails are probably on a state website and we could just look them up on the computer.  Luke chimed in stating the obvious that I had obviously missed, “Auntie Linda, there aren’t any computers out here!”  As if to say DUH!

Last year when Luke was in kindergarten, every time I saw him I would ask him if he went to school that day (even on holidays and weekends.)  Did his teacher show up?  Did she teach him anything he didn’t already know?  And I tried with great effort to get him to raise his hand in class and ask, “When are you going to teach me something I don’t already know.”  I coached him.  I prodded.  I modeled. But he never asked.  Smart kid.

Homeschool Mom High School Freak Out!

January 7, 2012

This is all past tense freaking out we’re talking about… five months ago was when it occurred.  My daughter was beginning her senior year in high school and she needed a transcript for some such activity or club or other stress-producing avenue for this homeschool mother.  Lots of moms have high school homeschool anxiety… how will I teach chemistry, or trigonometry, or a foreign language when all I know is pig latin from Zoom??? 

I’m a planner by nature, so making the high school plan was right up my alley.  The lovely state we reside in has the high school requirements right there online for us to copy and paste.  I simply spread out the course requirements over four years and BAM… it was done.  Fast forward to the request for the transcript.  WHAT?  You want grades from the last three years?  Of course I kept diligent track of all of them… including electives and P.E. and driver’s education…. somewhere.  Being somewhat organized, I had thrown them all into a file folder AND I knew where it was.  Whew!

Through the first three years of high school teaching, I had also been collecting transcript templates.  They were thrown in a file folder that I knew the location of!  See?  Why was I freaking out?  I guess I had heard of other moms losing it at this point, so I jumped on the band wagon.

Truly, it was no big deal.  One balmy August afternoon when it was WAY too hot to go outdoors in Phoenix, AZ, I sat down at the computer and made my own template for an OFFICIAL HIGH SCHOOL TRANSCRIPT.  Yes, I wrote that right at the top in bold letters.  Looks really official.  I resurrected the high school plan for my daughter… the one with two cute pictures on the top… (one from 1994 when she had a waterfall hairdo and was sitting in her high chair.. and one glamor shot taken by her talented cousin, Whitney) and I filled in the classes as they actually happened.  Bam!

Why do homeschool moms freak out about this??  I’m not sure.  The Lord fills in the gaps for us EVERY time.  The credits added up to more than enough.  The required classes were accomplished.  He supplied teachers for the subjects where I know nothing.  Homeschooling is really about leaving the details up to the Lord.  We wake up every day and pray for wisdom… and then march down the stairs, feeling as unqualified as ever, and rely on the Lord to aid this sometimes weary soul.  I wouldn’t trade one day of our homeschooling adventure…. (I can think of about 10 days I would trade!) … but each day with its trials, joys and triumphs was worth every ounce of my ever-loving-sold-out devotion to God and our kids.

Tonight I copied and pasted Official High School Transcript #1 and filled in the blanks for #2.  And it’s only half way through his freshman year!  Sweet Jesus, I’m on top of this thang now!

Four Peas in a Pod

November 10, 2011

Last night was the last of ten homeschool mentoring classes that I have had the joy of attending.  You may be wondering why I would take a homeschool class….. in my eleventh year of homeschooling.  Well, believe it or not, I still don’t have it all figured out.  Our church has a homeschool support group that offered this class and since I don’t know too many homeschool moms outside of my safe little bubble, I decided to join the class.  It was WELL worth my time! Many quality friendships were made.

Every homeschool mom NEEDS a support group and/or co-op buddies in order to make it through this educational journey and not pull out all the hair on the sides of your head.  When I first started teaching my kids at home, I remember being in awe of moms who had been at the task for ten years or more.  Then I turned into one…. almost overnight.  How in the world did that happen?

Last night in our last mentoring class, we went around the circle and spoke of those ideas/books/charts/theories that inspired us the most during our time together.  For years, and I mean YEARS, like 24 years, I have known of learning styles and the benefits of figuring out how each kid ticks… so as to teach him so he understands.  However, I haven’t looked at learning styles since sweet Nora has graced our homeschooling haven.  There is a chart in our mentoring manual explaining each of the four styles and how to best help them.  I looked at it again last night and realized that I have one kid of each style.  Perfect!  I always like to get one of everything!  Like at Panda Express… how can you choose just two entrées?

Anywhooo…  last night was the first time I read the little captions under each of the styles.  It made me laugh out loud.  For your personal enjoyment and mine, here they are:

  1. The Structured Learner (Inside the box) – My eldest daughter
  2. The Moving Learner (Outside the box) – My eldest son (In my mind, this one could also be PLAYS with the box!)
  3. The Analytical Learner (Stares at the box) – My younger son
  4. The Community Learner (Talks to the box) – My younger daughter

For those homeschool readers who are curious about the course, here is the link… the manual is FABULOUS!  http://www.thebalancedhomeschooler.com/

Onto more important homeschooling news, Nora’s math books arrived yesterday and she FINALLY feels like she is doing school now.  :o)  I originally tried to start her in grade two math, but I discovered too many holes in her learning…. and we are re-starting with kindergarten.  I predict she’ll be done by Christmas.  She did a week’s worth of lessons in less than an hour.  Makes this mother’s heart glad.

I’m a Poser

August 17, 2011

I figured it out.  I’m a poser.  I’m not a real homeschool mom.  It all came crashing down today as I sat at my fellow-homeschool-mom’s kitchen table.  Books, planners, test guides, lists and schedules were strewn from one end of the kitchen to the other.  She was busily slipping pink sticky-notes into each literature book before they were stored in the red plastic box that nobody is allowed to touch except her.  The queen mother of homeschooling.  I mean, good grief, the lady’s got six kids.  And no twins.  Each hot pink note said something different:   “Read Aloud”  “Jimmy”  “Easy Reader”   “Lisa”   I’ve never seen anything like it.  Mounds of books.

To my credit, I’ve done more planning this August than all of my past ten Augusts added up.  I’m branching out this year.  I’m not using the tried and true curriculum that has served me well for ten years.  I’ve always taught all of my kids together on the same topic.  It’s so much easier to teach that way!  But this year?  No.  Well, yes and no.  We are studying American History with a vengeance, but not like any unit ever tackled in this house of school.  My two high schoolers are in my US History class, so they are on the same page, albeit at drastically different levels. My junior higher is in for the shock of his life.  I just finished writing his assignment for the YEAR…. literature, history, vocabulary and math. (He’s taking a science class from the homeschool mom mentioned previously… with the booky kitchen table.)  I have NEVER written down a year’s worth of assignments for anyone, including myself.  I’ve always flown by the seat of my pants…. planning a week or two… or miraculously a month in advance.  Not this year.  This is a ton of work.

My level of comfort was surpassed when it dawned on me…. early June… that I am teaching English as a Second Language to a youngster… for the very first time in my life.  Our girl can sound out words in Spanish… she can write a handful of words in Spanish… but we are swiping the slate clean and starting at square one in English.  It’s been a while since I looked at phonics… a, ay, ah.  The more I learn the 27 phonograms, the less sense the English language makes.  Spanish is so much easier with every letter making ONLY one sound.  Brilliant.

The plan is set in stone… .like never before.  Even if I get carried off by gypsies the kids will know what to work on until late May.  They may not even notice I’m gone!  Even their dad could hold down the homeschooling fort!  All this planning does make sense to me…. but what it we have a hiccup?  What if we fall behind?  What if I need fieldtrips… LOTS of fieldtrips???  What if? 

So, fellow homeschool moms.  I’m with you this year.  My planning is done.  I’m not posing this year as a mom-educator with children at home who has it all together.  I do actually have it all together.  First time in TEN years!

History Nerds UNITE!

May 24, 2011

I simply had to share my excitement for next school year.  American History for highschool is what I will be teaching, as well as casually guiding my two younger kids through American History literature.  OH, I’m so excited about all the books we will be reading this coming year!  I’ve already announced to my two sons, who do not love reading YET, that this will be a foundational year for them and their reading careers.  Yes, they both rolled their eyes at the woman who gave birth to them!  Sheesh.

My planning is almost done and for the first time in ten years of homeschooling, I’m branching out to try a few different curricula.  Of course, I’m still using Konos for History of the World 4: American History.  Nothing beats the activities in HOW!  Nothing.  But for the youngers, I’m trying a few more structured choices that will enable them to be a bit more independent.  I’m stretching myself here, believe me.  I’m a control freak, and I’m giving up some control somewhat willingly.  We’ll see how this goes!

I’m so glad all of next school year is written down and organized and planned and structured and ready!  Whew!


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