Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Josh the artist

Since we studied the painter Jacob Lawrence for Black History month in February Josh has been on a painting frenzy. He even ask for new paints in his easter basket because he was running out. I put up an art gallery on a wall in our hall that I titled The Gallery with the Wright Art. He laughed and told me I was funny for using our name that way on the blog and now the art gallery wall. I have "hung" some of his paintings there and need to put up a few more. I'll take pictures and post one. Last night he came to me as I was posting on the blog all excited about a GREAT idea. He wants to take half of his closet and make it his art studio. He went through our bookshelves and grabbed any art book he could find and ask if he could put them in his studio. He wants to "hang" paintings, his and other famous artists, on the walls. He was lamenting the fact though that he is short of something to paint on. His dad told him we had plenty of paper and Josh responded that his material of choice is cardboard which we are in short supply of unfortunately. I had to laugh and thought Jacob Lawrence would be proud.

Wind Walk

The other week Josh and I took a "wind walk". That morning was a typical windy March day in the desert and I got the idea for a freewrite based on a "wind walk". The idea came to me because of the "color walk" that Julie suggests on her Bravewriter Lifestyle blog and egroup. I told Josh that as we walked I wanted us to become aware of the wind and when we went home we would describe the wind on our walk using our senses for our freewrite. Here are the freewrites than we did as a result:


sight - the branches swaying in the wind

hear - the wind going through the trees

smell - flower pollen being picked up in the wind

touch - trying to hold the pages of my book in my hand

taste - the wind blowing into my mouth making it hard to breathe

If the wind were a color what would it be? Gray


sight - blowing branches, bending trunks, leaves racing down the street, bird struggling to fly

hear - whoosh, whhhhhoooo, shhhhhhh, tttttttt, banging sign

smell - sharp, clean, fresh

touch - cold, strong, stinging

taste - frosty, fresh, take breath away

If the wind were a color what would it be? Blue

We have had a great time with Julie's freewrites. Be sure to check out her site from the links.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Birthday Wall Posted by Hello

This portion represents the days we celebrated the anniversaries of the first fireside chat by FDR and the Ides of March. The small picture on the left of the Ides of March poster is actually a great comic that Josh did representing the assassination of Julius Caesar. I talk about both of these days in a previous post.

Birthday Wall Posted by Hello

This is a general overview of the birthday wall. It is actually just the outside of the door to my older son's room that is a part of a wall in our front room. Every month we celebrate birthdays of people or anniversaries of events and study a little about them as they come up in that month. We have been doing this for a few years now and it is amazing the connections that will get made months down the road during a study of something totally different and yet related in some way. It usually only takes a short time in our studies to do this and is alot of fun.

Birthday Wall Posted by Hello

This is a closeup of a portion of the birthday wall. This represented the day we studied a little about Albert Einstein to celebrate his birthday.

Mallard Ducks seen in Las Vegas Desert! Posted by Hello

This afternoon Josh and I decided to take a quick walk up to our neighborhood park. As we got there Josh caught sight of two ducks under the pathwalk bridge. They were a male and female that looked like those in this picture. I didn't have our camera with us so found this picture online when we came home to show what they looked like. We stopped to observe them and as we did they came out to greet us. I was amazed at how close they were willing to get to us and yet not come within reaching distance. After checking us out they waddled off, and yes ducks really do waddle lol, and we followed at a reasonable distance away. They went to the opposite pathwalk bridge taking their time in their meanderings to get there to preen their feathers. Josh interestingly thought that the female, which is the less colorful one, was the prettier of the two. As the male preened his feathers we caught sight of a beautiful purple patch on the inside of his wings. The two waddled some more and then without warning took to flight. It was such an incredible sight. Josh and I were both flabbergasted that none of the other people who happened by the ducks seemed very interested. We think the ducks probably are from the golf course which is adjacent to the park. We both put entries about the ducks in our nature journals which I had luckily thought to bring.

It was a wonderful day of stress free learning both out in nature with the ducks and having our Tuesday teatime reading the poetry of Robert Frost to celebrate his birthday which was this past Saturday. We both picked a poem from the book Poetry for Young People - Robert Frost choosing one from the Poems of Spring section. I also read a section from a biography I had from the library which told about how Frost and his wife taught their children at home until they were 10 years old. Very interesting homeschooling lives they led. The book is A Restless Spirit, The Story of Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober. While eating our chocolate chip scones and drinking our Earl Grey Green tea I also read from Shakespeare's Spy by Gary Blackwood. We are almost to the end of the book and not wanting to finish in one way because this is the last of the series. This is a fantastic series that has really captured Josh's interest and imagination.

Monday, March 21, 2005

week of 3/14 thru 3/18

This past week was a shortened one since Friday was Josh's birthday and I let him take the day off studies. I laugh when I think this because even though we didn't do anything formally I know much learning still goes on.

Within the last week we celebrated:

Ides of March - read various internet articles on the Ides of March/Julius Caesar and his assassination. I had him complete a written documentaion page on this. He created a comic strip for one of the sections which turned out very funny. We read the section from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar where the soothsayer tells Caesar to "beware the Ides of March" and then used this for copywork. Of course we had to continue reading our book Shakespeare's Scribe by Gary Blackwood. Josh absolutely loves this series and begs for me to read. He has resorted to reading parts himself when my voice gives out then has to let me know what happened so I am not lost in the story line. We ended up finishing the book later in the week and I found the last title Shakespeare's Spy at the library yesterday and we started on it last night.

St. Patrick's Day - We read a picture book called Mary McLean and the St. Patrick's Day Parade by Steve Kroll which had Josh and a friend looking for leprechauns in our backyard later that night. We finished our short study of immigration/immigrants on this day by reading and discussing the following books: How People Immigrate (A True Book series) by Sarah De Capua, Ellis Island, Doorway to Freedom by Steven Kroll and Coming to America, The Story of Immigration by Betsy Maestro. We discussed a few of the issues involved in immigration and reflected on some of the negative attitudes apparent in our own city after seeing the graffiti "No Illegal Immigrants" on a power box on a street not far from where we live. We had a St. Paddy's Day Tea on this day and enjoyed Shamrock Shakes which has been a tradition since Josh found the recipe in the back of the book, Bailey School Kids Leprechaun's Don't Play Fetch years ago.

Albert Einstein's birthday - We read an internet article titled "2005 Einstein Year in Germany" and reflected that his older brother will be able to be a part of this when he goes on his trip to Germany this summer. We also read a short bio on Einstein in the Core K 6 book. (That is the Core Knowledge What your 6th grader Needs to Know by ED Hirsch) We supplemented that with a few pages from the book Albert Einstein and Relativity - Science Discoveries by Steve Parker. I also found two really nice picture books to go along with this study: Rescuing Einstein's Compass by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim and Odd Boy Out, Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown. His copywork for this day was a quote by Einstein and he also completed a written documentation page for this study.

We also acknowledged this past week the birthday of President Andrew Jackson by reading his President's card in the Fandex series and the admittance of Maine into the Union by reading their Fandex State card. These are wonderful cards if you are not familiar with them. They are easily avaiable at most bookstores.

We did a little better in our nature studies this week. We took a "wind walk" on Monday since it was extremely windy. Then we came home (after 5 minutes up at the park - it was that windy lol) and we did freewriting recording words, phrases etc describing the wind by using our senses. On Wednesday after our visit to the library we decided to head up to the park up the street it was such a beautiful day. We took a snack, binoculars, a bottle of water and our nature journals. Josh climbed one of the trees and we each drew an entry of a sign of spring that we saw. I read from a book we had gotten from the library titled Saguaro Moon , A Desert Journal by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini. We had alot of fun as we saw many white-tailed antelope squirrels. A few were very brave and came fairly close to where we were seated.

In math we are still reviewing fractions. I want to make sure he has a complete grasp on this before we move on.

All in all a fun week.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Last week 3/7 - 3/11

I am telling you up front this is going to be a longgg post so if you hang in there and read the whole thing boy I sure hope you find something you can use because you deserve it for sticking with it lol. I am conducting an experiment and typing out what we did last week hoping it looks like more than it felt like. So open those eyes wide (so hopefully you don't fall asleep) and here goes:

Language Arts -

Literature -We began our Arrow book The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz and discussed opening hooks as suggested by Julie from Brave Writer. (I have talked about her great programs in previous posts and you can check things out through the link on the main page of the blog.) We also read a chapter from Wind in the Willows and a short bio of Kenneth Grahame to celebrate his birthday. This is one of Josh's favorite books that I first read to him when he was 6. I wasn't sure if he'd really enjoy it at first (the descriptions can get long for some children) but he loved every bit of it! I found a beautiful copy of the book illustrated by Inga Moore and this is where we took the chapter from.

Writing - his entries included: - Who is your favorite musher and what one question would you ask them if you could? - If you created a totem pole what would you carve on it to relect your life? - One of Julie's Friday Free Writes which he had a great time with - Face to Face with an Animal. Close your eyes and imagine yourself face to face with an animal. Really see it. Then write what you saw with your inner eye.

Copywork - from Science one day - Newton's Second Law of Motion, a quote from musher Dee Dee Jonrowe, and a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Library visit - twice in one week :) LOTS of books on various animals and a set of books on Biomes of the World (all his choice) I picked out my own for some things we are doing.

Math - with our long break we are needing to review our study of +/-/mutliplication/division of fractions with like and unlike denominators and GCF and LCD. We also did some math problems in connection with our Iditarod study and he added stats to Dee Dee's musher page.

American History - continued unit on Iditarod race by reading the following books: The Great Serum Race, Racing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller, Totem Poles by Jennifer Fritz and Storm Run by Libby Riddle. We also read The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller which was a hoot. We read the FDR card from our Fandex Presidents set, discussed his fireside chats for the anniversary of the first one he gave and then listened to one from a recording I had from years ago when studying this with Lauren. For Women's History Month using my Time Magazine unit study packet we read and discussed Frances Perkins - the first female to be appointed as a presidential cabinet member (FDR appointed her his Secretary of Labor - I LOVE it when things tie in without even trying) We also read about Eleanor Roosevelt - First Lady and wife of FDR. We read a short article from Enchanted Learning as a review of the Alamo Falls to Mexico 3/6/1836.

World History - took a trip to the bookstore to purchase Lift the Lid on Gladiators. He has researched and played gladiators all week.

Science - read a short bio from Enchanted Learning on Luther Burbank (botanist) to celebrate his birthday. He then completed a worksheet from there - Label Parts of a Plant. We read Core K 5 pages 356-358 on Mass and Matter and page 360 on Force. We read an internet article on Newton's Second Law of Motion F=MA.

Nature Study - We were remiss on getting out during the mornings even though it was beautiful. Josh spent time outside playing catch, pokemon and reading so it wasn't a complete waste. We did read a great book John Muir and Stickeen, An Icy Adventure with A No Good Dog by Julian Dunlap and Marybeth Lorbiecki.

Fine Arts -

Art - We read a short bio from Enchanted Learning on Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian to celebrate his birthday. Josh then painted his own painting in a style simiar to Mondrian's. We read the book Giotto by Mike Venezia (Josh loves his books). We reviewed this artist as he was one of our previous studies but just received this book we requested awhile ago.

Shakespeare - We continued reading The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood and ended up finishing it on Saturday morning because Josh kept begging me to keep reading till we came to the end of the story. That's ok though. We still have the next two in the series: The Shakespeare Scribe and The Shakespeare Spy. :)

Music - We read the book The Heroic Symphony by Anna Hartwell Celenza and listened to the CD that came with the book which played the four movements of this Beethoven's Symphony #3. This was an excellent book and the symphony is wonderful.

Well that was most of what we did. I didn't include other educational shows he may have wathced because this is toooo hard to try and keep track of since he thinks watching the History and Discovery Channels are for fun!

Well if you stayed with all that I sure hope you found something you can use in your own journey. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

lost info on home page

Ok So I finally post to update things here with pictures and everything and as I looked at the blog to check the pictures I realized where in the world are my profile. links etc.? Goodness. It's hard to be old in this technological age. Where are my children when I need them? lol. Oh yeah. At work, school and the homeschooler is still asleep lucky guy.

He has been having a great time with a new passion lately. Roman gladiators! I don't have any idea where this came from but hey he has gone through the four books I brought home from the library, been reading the sites I found online and bookmarked for him, has talked his dad into helping him build a coliseum after he drew up his own architectural plans for one, and has been "playing" gladiator since I made him a shield out of a cardboard box top and he made his own lance. He is waiting for the milk jug to be empty so we can begin to work on a helmet. All this has been on "his own time" after we have done our "formal studies". I have learned more than I thought I wanted to about gladiators lately. Did you know there are various different types? I didn't but do now!

He has also found a new series that he is really enjoying. He stumbled upon them last week when we were at the library. The series is called Kid Caramel Private Investigator by Dwayne J. Ferguson. He has read the first 3 books in the series and has asked to look at the bookstore for the 4th since they don't have it at the library. He even had a friend who was over visiting this weekend playing detective outside with him. This is something he has been into since he began reading the Hardy Boy mysteries and now can carry on through this new series. I love it when their interests and passions spill over into their "imaginary play" and even more glad that he hasn't lost this as he has gotten older. It is important "to pretend" no matter what your age.

We are having a great time following the 33 rd Iditarod Dog Sled Race. We have been doing this for years! He has once again picked Dee Dee Jonrowe as his musher to follow. She is a favorite of both of us and we are hoping this is the year she will win. Go Dee Dee!!! You can follow along too at this website: I always add in math, language arts, science etc topics in our formal study time that go along with the race.

Well I best get together some things we are working on today.

(Checking the blog after I posted this it looks like my links and such are found. Boy am I smart or what? Fixed it and didn't even realize it lol)

This is the second painting Wheel of Colors. Posted by Hello

These are two paintings that Josh did after our study of the painter Jacob Lawrence. The first is done on a piece of a cardboard box just as Lawrence did when he was growing up in Harlem NY. It is titled Fire in the Sky. The second painting is done on the top lid of a coffee can. Josh's idea entirely. It is titled Wheel of Colors.  Posted by Hello

This is a poster collage Josh did for his written documentation for our study of the Enlightenment.  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

catching up

WOW! What is that old saying? When it rains it pours.... That is how the month of February felt to me. It started off with Josh being sick with a bad cold. Then his older brother had two seizures within 4 hours and we ended up at the emergency room only to have him come down with strep throat and end up back in the emergency room again 2 days later. A week later it was the sleep deprivation EEG and a few days after that the appt. with the neurologist. Then there was Josh's President's Day ice hockey tournament here in Las Vegas to be followed by another tournament in Fargo, ND 4 days later. It is now March and as things have begun to settle down along comes Spring in the way of high 70's and lots of sunshine.

I worry as I look at my planner and there are days empty of planning etc. AND then I begin thinking, "But wait..." What about the audio book, Al Capone Does My Shirts, that we so enjoyed listening to and reminisced about our trip to San Fransicsco at the same time. It prompted much discussion on autism since this is a major part of the book... AND the study we did of Jacob Lawrence the painter and Langston Hughes the poet for Black History month. Josh had such a great time painting on a piece of cardboard box just like Lawrence did when he was young. It has inspired him to make MANY paintings since then all of his own initiative. AND We have been enjoying Tuesday teatime and reading poetry and picture books along with our all-time favorites, Mr Putter and Tabby books by Cynthia Rylant. We are both too old for those some may say but hey I think NOT. They always bring a smile to both our faces and isn't that a good enough reason to keep reading such great books. AND We have been finishing our study of fractions and will soon move on. AND We are still enjoying The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood and did a review of Hamlet since that is the play talked about in the book. AND we did a month of working on the writing process with Julie's Bravewriting lifestyle in which he wrote a really nice piece on ice hockey (of course). I have only scratched the surface really of things we did during this month that I so worried about because our formal study time got thrown off course. It seems we journeyed on even in the midst of storms.