Posts Tagged ‘home school’

Homeschooling is More than Workbooks at the Kitchen Table

March 5, 2017

When we were diligently studying WWII in American history in our homeschool, I assigned the kids the project of making a game. Foolishly I assumed they would come up with some sort of board game with the Axis and Allies picking sides and battling it out with cards, or dice or Popsicle sticks to dominate the world. I should have known better with MY children.

When I give my students active assignments such as this there is always a laundry list of requirements for their “class” presentation. Just like real school. This particular list included, but was not limited to: make a game that 4-6 people can play, design a game board, include historical information, wear an applicable costume when presenting, have props for the players and make it fun!

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(To my dismay, I did not take a picture of Austin wearing his costume… but this shows what he looked like at that time… thrilled to be giving a report!)

To say I was surprised when my son walked in dressed like Hitler is an understatement. He had absconded the master closet with a tan Royal Rangers shirt of his father’s. He designed a swastika arm band, found a skinny tan tie, and made gold medals for the getup. His blonde hair was slicked over and he had a felt mustache in miniature taped to his upper lip. Scarily, he did resemble the German fascist.

For props we all wore similar black felt mustaches and hand drawn arm bands. The game board was pretty straight forward with six columns leading to the top where he had boldly scribed, “Who Wants to Be Hitler?” … sort of like Jeopardy. At this stage I was falsely assuming that my son was glorifying a mad man and I was simply waiting for the moment to stop the game.

To my surprise (and relief), as we rolled the dice to move up the board, we had to answer detailed questions about the Jews, Germany, death camps, Hitler, the Nazis, Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass), persecution, ethnic cleansing, the death trains, etc. The strategy of the game was well thought out. As players, you didn’t want to be Hitler, so you had to understand the times and his hideous plan in order to stay where you were on the board and not ascend to the top. For every wrong answer, you moved closer to “being Hitler.”

The process of playing the game brought home the idea that if you didn’t understand what was going on in society, you would be caught up in the nightmare becoming part of the problem. Discussions following the game were extremely contrite and somber. These kids understood the sins of at least THIS past generation, hopefully being somewhat equipped to stand up against injustice if a situation arose in their lives.

My son received an A on his game and presentation and the game was laid to rest forever.

Unfortunately, somehow the swastika-armband-clad-shirt ended up on a hanger in the front room of our house before it made its way back to my husband’s side of the closet. In the 18 hours it hung in the front room, the doorbell must have wrung at least five times for various and sundry reasons. When spying the shirt, several eyebrows were raised heavenward wondering what in the world was going on in the Crosby homeschool. Fumbling through various thoughts in my head, I knew I should NOT say, “We just played Who Wants to be Hitler!” I feebly came up with, “We are studying World War II,” and smiled my pretty homeschool-mom-smile… the one that makes people assume I have my act together.

May 21st! The END…. sort of…

May 21, 2016

School is kind of “out for the summer” but in a different way than with my usual end-of-May homeschool mama joy and celebration. There was no counting down the days this year.

We have learned that some of the Colombian Princess’s challenges with memory are due to vast breaks in education… you know, like summer. So in a much diminished fashion, we are schooling a few days a week while home this summer, just to keep the pump primed. She was not real thrilled about this news, and I couldn’t let her know that I was not real thrilled about it either. Someone has to be excited about education… and it SHOULD be the teacher in most cases.

So now the home front needs some love and attention. In case anyone wonders what the Crosbys are doing for the next three months, get out your notepads and pencils… here you go:

  1. We bought a stand up deep freeze to put in the garage.
  2. Cleaning out the garage so we can fit in the stand up deep freeze.
  3. Buying a shed to put the stuff that doesn’t need to be in the garage somewhere else. (Does the cost of the shed and deep freeze justify the savings on large quantities of meat? I’m not sure.)
  4. Hauling junk from the side yard to the dump so we can put a shed in the side yard. (Is anyone besides me thinking of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?”)
  5. Switching Austin’s and Nora’s bedrooms. (Austin gets the yellow room with the flowers and butterflies around the top of the walls! Oh goody!) This is happening because my niece from Maui is coming to live with us on the mainland for a bit… sharing the BIG room with Nora.
  6. Picking up a room divider from a generous friend for the BIG room.
  7. Gathering and selling an enormous amount of American Girl doll paraphernalia that is no longer played with. (She will be 13 years old in two months…. I feel there are a few more years to play with dolls…. because she is my baby girl after all.)
  8. Selling the cute white dresser from the yellow room. (Wide is no longer cool when you share a room. Tall is where it’s at.)
  9. Selling all the cutesy little girl purple and lime green room decor. (Awwwww.)
  10. Borrowing a single bed from my brother’s house. The BIG room is only so BIG.
  11. Cleaning out the master closet. (I am going to start this today as soon as this blog is finished.  Blogcrastination is what that is called.) I mean TOTALLY cleaning it out. It’s been 12 years since we’ve seen the walls and back carpet in there. Don’t judge. If there is dust lining the shoulders on top of the hanger marks, Rickey, it’s leaving.
  12. Buying #2 new door handle and bolt lock for the front door. My first attempt was feeble even though the lame wrong size handle is on the door right now. It looks like Billy-Bob came by and changed it for us. Wrong size… with a screw hole two inches below the handle. Dumb.

I’m hoping to have this all done by next week. I know that will not happen, but I am a positive thinker! Where are my minions?

Enjoy your summer, peeps!  Let me know what projects you have going on! I need some company.

That’s MY Girl!

March 14, 2014

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Nora, my 10-year-old, came and inquired about the “easiest” dictionary for her to use.  “The Children’s Picture Dictionary that you keep in your playhouse is the easiest one,” I answered.  Then she spied it.  My pretty sky blue Complete Christian Dictionary was in arms-reach on the homeschool shelf in the family room.  She pulled it down and sheepishly asked if she could use THIS one.  “Of course you can but it doesn’t have as many words as a regular dictionary,” I explained.

She hopefully queried her daddy, Do you want to sit on the couch with me and read the dictionary?  Hahahaha!  That’s my girl!  The three males rolled their proverbial eyeballs at me.  Gah!

Sitting on the couch for about 20 minutes, she was flipping pages left and right and I could hear, under her breath, “J K L M,” and “S T U V W.”  Finally I questioned, “What word are you looking up?”  “Booty,” she replied, which brought on a burst of laughter from me, her father and brothers.  She’s not thinking baby booties…. unfortunately.  We (term used very loosely) taught her the clapping game Big Booty when she joined our family in Colombia.  To no avail, I tried to explain slang words. I eventually gave up with, “Booty won’t be in the Christian dictionary.”

“Why not?” she inquisitively asked.  One of her brothers told her, “Bad words aren’t in the Christian dictionary.”  Her big brown eyes flew open as she realized booty is not a good word to be using. “Is it a swear?” she almost whispered.  Her daddy replied, “Not really, but it won’t be in there.”

“Are you sure bad words aren’t in here?  Let’s look one up and see.  What’s a bad word?” she expectantly asked her daddy.  “Well, you tell me all the bad words you know and then we’ll see,” my tricky husband answered.  Hahaha!  She wasn’t falling for that!  Then her brothers glanced at each other and one of them added, “We can think of some bad words you could look up.”  Not funny and not happening, thankyouverymuch.

Nora settled for looking up “any” word.  Then she came up with TRAP.  Her and her daddy spent WAY too long finding the T… then the R…. then the dictionary fell and closed and they had to start all over.  She asked again, “What does it start with?” “C” said one of her mischievous brothers.  We all chuckled and I threw the wet blanket on the crowd conversation again adding, “It’s a CHRISTIAN dictionary…. trap starts with T in the Christian dictionary.”  Good grief!

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.

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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.

Chicken Coop Construction

December 17, 2013

Third time’s a charm, right?  I hope so!  This is our third attempt at raising chickens.  The other two tries were highly successful and with each adventure we learn a little more.  Nov. 25th, Nora’s Gotcha Day, we bought some new chickies.  Darling little fluffy peepers…. soon turned into noisy, smelly growing birds.  But we love them.  Truly.  From that day, I knew I had approximately three weeks to get a coop built.  Time got away from me… and I ended up purchasing a bigger plastic storage tub to make my planning/collecting/building time last a tad bit longer.

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My sweet supportive husband did not want chickens.  At all.  He didn’t even care if we would eventually get two dozen eggs a week.  Nope.  He is scarred from having to clean out maggoty chicken poop a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away.  It’s okay.  If I were born in a different era, I’m sure I would have fit right in with Little House on the Prairie.  Oh to have a free range flock!  I dream of wearing fashionable rubber boots and collecting eggs in a hand-woven basket from my huge coop at the back of the grassy property.  But no.  I’m in Phoenix.  In an HOA, nonetheless.  But it’s all good.

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Being non-supportive, Mr. Wallet didn’t feel the need to “invest” in chicken coop construction.  Go figure!  The one I would love to build comes in a tidy box with a shiny picture on the front of a two story coop with a run, shutters, metal roof and wood paneling that I admire with ogling eyes.  For a mere $249, it could be gracing my backyard!  Trying to keep peace on the farmstead, I have been pouring over Craigslist, an online garage sale…. particularly the FREE section.  She shoots, she scores!  I found a 3’x3’x3′ wooden shipping crate!  PERFECT!  I did talk my sweet supportive husband into dumpster diving with me in the next neighborhood where new homes are being built.  We totally scored some 4×6 treated beams and a bunch of other useful pieces of wood.

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Yesterday was spent removing nails, measuring, sawing and praying.  Today I called my two nephews and niece over from across the street to help me and three of my kids get the legs on this baby.  We should have video taped the whole ordeal.  They are ALL sarcastic and funny and loud.  I was explaining the procedure, “Two of you need to lift the crate,” before I could breathe my eldest nephew named his sister and cousin for that job.  Hardy har har.  The four remaining cousins were to hold legs in place while I screwed it all together.  They were all in place but talking so loudly I finally pulled the trigger on the drill and yelled something …. nice… like “Please use your inside voices” or some other such nonsense.  They all laughed.  In my face.  Anyway, we did get the coop duty done.  Tomorrow is front door construction and heat-lamp hole drilling.

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The girls are getting all feathered out already!  HURRY!

Hello, My Name is Linda

April 9, 2013

Yes, this is another blog relating the to car accident that I unwillingly participated in 3 1/2 weeks ago.  A deep fog has permeated my brain for three weeks leaving me wondering what my childrens’ names are, grasping for common words like “ride” and “sit”, and feeling vulnerable and alone.  Yes, it is drugs.  Yes, I’ve written about this before when I was on narcotics for tooth pain.  I had forgotten the lonely drug induced blanket that wraps itself around your neck for days on end.  Finally, when I was thinking homeschooling was pretty well done for the year (with two more months to go) I went to visit my doctor.  Sorry, pupils.

Typically I am an in-control woman.  Administration is one of my gifts, as well as teaching, organizing and being sarcastic.  But I could do none of those while the blanket hugged me like a scratchy wool scarf.  Sitting on the tissue papered table at the physician’s office, I tried to explain in my not-usually-wobbly-voice that I am on an involuntary emotional roller coaster because of the drugs.  My voice never wobbles.  But it wobbled woefully.  “I need to gain control of my life again,” I feebly explained.  “Is there a pain medication that conquers pain but doesn’t leave people in this fog?”  And there is.  Thank God!  It’s in a 3-day patch that transdermally inputs the drug into your system at a consistently controlled rate.  No more roller coastering for me, baby.

I am now addicted to a little 3/4″ x 1″ plastic patch.  And I’m okay with that.  I was missing me.  I’m partially back.  Doing simple tasks like showering or making waffles are still followed up with a two hour nap.  But I’m okay with that too.  I know my limits.  It’s two outings per day… only twice or three times per week.  More than that and I break out in a sweat.

Hope returned yesterday when I broke out the botany text book and decided school would be underway once again.  It will be more self-guided than teacher-ruled, as is my persuasion.  Flowers and pollination will be devoured by my little busy bees for the next few weeks.  I even found an activity requiring powdered donuts to demonstrate cross-pollination.  Homeschooling rocks…. or blooms in this case.

“Why I Love Nature” by Linda Ann Crosby

March 6, 2013

With the sun shining and the temperatures in the comfort zone, we have been spending far more time outside in March than in December, January and February combined.  Nature Journals have been forced upon my children and one out of three is loving it.  That’s pretty good odds… and I love it, so we’re even Steven.  I’m trying to teach them about botany, art, relaxing and creating in God’s creation.  You’d think a kid who doesn’t have to sit indoors and do math would jump at the chance to draw in the sunshine.  But no. If my boys ever lie on those long black leather couches and explain how I ruined them, I’m sure the Nature Journals will be mentioned.  But that does not deter me.  :o)

Last week we ventured out the front door to draw a Texas Ebony tree in our yard.  This is a REAL Nature Journal… not a fake Nature Journal… so there are rules to be followed.  AND this has to count for a botany grade for a high school student.  Not like a “draw-a-dumb-tree-and-color-it-green” journal.  NOOOOooooooo.  The requirements include, but are not limited to: draw the shape of the tree, the bark, the leaves, the leaf arrangement, the thorns (we’re in Arizona… all the trees have thorns), the flowers, the seeds, the pods.  And when you have all that drawn with exact measurements beside each, the leaves need to have their shape, venation and margin analyzed and recorded.  SEE?!  Not your average lame Nature Journal.

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So, after the Texas Ebony had been admired from afar, with a magnifying glass and everything in between, we gathered around the kitchen table and I asked to see the renderings.   Three of four were identifiable.  The fourth tree, however, was ……  …….  interesting.  I questioned said artist, “If I gave your picture to Dad and sent him to the front yard, could he locate the Texas Ebony?” (We only have three trees in the front yard.)  “Probably not.”  “Go try again, son.”

And the nature loving just keeps on rolling here at L.A.K.E. Academy, a homeschool where gifted children thrive…. whether they want to or not.  heh heh heh.

President’s Day 2013

February 18, 2013

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On any holiday that is not Christmas and Easter, my homeschooling students ask if they get the day off.  We do take off each of their birthdays, and MINE, obviously!  But Valentine’s Day is not a day off.  Neither is Groundhog’s Day nor the first day of any season….nor the equinox of the moon… nor any eclipse.  Nor the first day the NHL starts again after a strike.  However, President’s Day was granted as a day off IF the kids could recite the entire list of the presidents of the United States.  Didn’t even have to be in order.

We have a handy dandy Presidents of the United States place mat that re-arrived on the table during breakfast this morning, being that it IS President’s Day.  (Remember when we used to get off Lincoln AND Washington’s birthdays?)  None of my pupils have given their recitation of the country’s leaders as of yet… 2:48 p.m.

My 9-year-old was fascinated with all the “funny looking” men.  She asked how many of them I knew personally.  Um… none.  Then she asked if I was alive with George Washington.  Um… no.  “So how many have you been alive for?”  Good question. I took a gander at the place mat.  Nine.  I have been alive for nine presidents.

How many presidents have you been alive for?

 

Wonderful Winter Weather

February 16, 2013

Last Friday at homeschool park day the moms FROZE in our chairs!  It was so windy and cold!  Well, for Phoenix, that is.  It wasn’t windy at our house when we left, but 10 minutes later when we pulled into the park we hoped and prayed there were jackets in the back of the van.  Thankfully, I found one for myself… my son’s hockey jacket from 5 years ago… when he was 11.  No, it didn’t exactly fit, but I was able to zip it up and block the blustery cold out.  It fit quite like a wetsuit.  A wetsuit that is too small.

The wind blew and blew for the two hours we were huddled with arms folded tightly in the sunshine.  One of my sons kept asking me, “Mom, do you know what your hair looks like?”  I could see my shadow and knew it was an amusing shape… and ever-changing shape.  “Mom, did you do your hair this morning?”  “Mom, you should really go look at your hair.”  There was nothing I could do, so I didn’t bother.  For some strange reason, my 14-year-old son was extremely concerned about my hair… and my image.  Maybe it was HIS image???

Yesterday was park day again. Imagine that!  Friday just keeps happening over and over.  Prepared for wind gusts of 50+mph, I donned a sweat suit with jacket and LOTS of hairspray.  Lo and behold, winter ended in Phoenix.  It was 74* F with sunny skies and not a trace of a breeze.  Yesterday was also the day the moms play flag football with the kids… and lose miserably, I might add.  I couldn’t even keep my jacket on sitting still because it was so warm.  After playing football for ten minutes I was frying, looking for my water and a shady spot to collapse.

Spring has sprung.  The air is warm, the flowers are blooming.  God, please let spring last more than ten days this year!!!  Please!!!

RECESS!

February 5, 2013

Today we were having a bonafide homeschool debate between the evolutionists and the creationists.  Sadly, the creationists needed a bit more evidence and hard facts to substantiate their beliefs.  Despite a few deficiencies in preparation, there was deep discussion and questioning to be had.  We are studying the Grand Canyon and I was absolutely appalled at how the THEORY of evolution is presented as fact on so many websites….. primarily run by the government.  Sadly true.

Anyway, at the end of the debate the kids asked what activity we were doing next and I replied, “RECESS!”  A cheer rose up from seven of our eight pupils…. and then one little Colombian questioned, “What’s recess?”  Uproarious laughter followed.  Too funny, the things we take for granted in our knowledge of “real” school.  I’m all about this fake schooling because I am learning SO MUCH!

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Several years ago, my son, who didn’t read until he was NINE years old, asked what school they would go to if anything ever happened to me.  I teared up thinking that my bright boy who was years ahead in math and science would have been labeled and most likely put in special education had he attended school.  Knowing how wiggly he is, I told him, “You wouldn’t like school, honey.  You have to sit in a desk ALL day long!”  His clear blue eyes widened and he whispered in awe, “You get a DESK?!?”  Nope, he had never seen the inside of a classroom before!

Long live homeschooling!  Poobah Poobah!