Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grammar~Montessori R & D Manuals-Obesogens


Consider joining in on this project. It's easy, fun, and you'll be helping bees (which helps all of us!):

Why do I have to learn grammar?

It all started because I was googling Mary Daly's The First Whole Book of Diagrams that I saw for sale. I love her timeline so I wanted to see it. One thing led to another (you know how it is with googling!) and I found this wonderful site. Here is an excerpt that beautifully answers the age-old question put forth by youth to their elders. Funny thing: I was just asked that exact question the week I found this. My answer was nothing like her rationale and we'll just leave it at that :). I printed copies for each child to glue in their Writer's Notebooks. We don't do grammar in those but that way they'll see it occasionally and I'll remember where to find it. Here is the link. I'm posting the excerpt but go check out all of the other goodies there using the top tool bar. There are wonderful lists of books for history and science.

"Why do I have to learn grammar?"
Core knowledge. If you're educated, you know grammar. It's like learning state capitols. No one yet has asked me the capitol of North Dakota (it's Bismarck). But it's one of those things educated people learn.
Jargon. Grammar provides a vocabulary to communicate about writing. When your teacher says, "Great vivid adjectives," it helps to know what adjective means.
Be able to apply rules. One rule says, "Avoid passive voice; it makes dull writing." You can't avoid passive voice until you know what it is.
Understand writing better. Can you compose music without knowledge of music theory, major/minor chords, and dominant sevenths? Well, yes. But you'll write music better if you know music theory.
Analyze others' writing. A knowledge of grammar lets you analyze, describe, and eventually imitate the style of good writing.
Foreign Languages. Knowledge of grammar helps you learn foreign languages, especially inflected ones (all the European languages).
It's a mental discipline. The Army makes recruits do pushups. Now I've never yet seen a soldier do pushups when he's fighting the enemy. But building up those muscles equips him to perform his other tasks. So also, learning grammar strengthens logic skills, and you use logic elsewhere.
Equipping. I want to equip my child for whatever God calls him to. Even if today he wants to be a fireman, one day God might call him into a vocation that requires strong writing skills.

Our Grammar Curricula:

We used Montessori R & D Language Arts 1 (Elem). Then we moved to Winston Grammar Basic. We are almost finished with that and will go back to R&D, Language Arts 2 (Elem). This sequence has worked out beautifully for us. The hardest part for me is to decide whether a prepositional phrase is an adverb or adjective and what it modifies. Seriously. They get that part right more often than I do! Youngest dd is ready to start R&D Language Arts 1 (Elem). I've been procrastinating because I need to reorganize the labels first. It's the latent perfectionist in me (sigh). Would it just be easier to make now labels? Nah!

Montessori R and D Manuals:

Here is my brag on Montessori R and D: When I was pulling from the different free resources for Montessori presentations I felt pulled in different directions, disorganized, and overwhelmed. Once I just started using their albums for my spine and main resource, and using moteaco and such as supplements, things went smoother for me and I was actually doing presentations. They don't have the colored illustrations and such like some of the others but that's actually what I like and that helps them be affordable. The diagrams and lists are very helpful in making materials and/or using bought materials. I was able to make all of the necessary labels for Vol 1 using their lists.

I just got Vol. 2 (Elem) and am jazzed about delving into it. However, I'm going to make myself prep to use Vol. 1 with younger dd before I start 2 with the olders and use them parallel-ish. This is because I know myself. I'll get so engrossed that I'll forget to do younger dd's. If I make myself do the tedious task of sorting/organizing the little cards before the fun part of new presentations it will get done faster.
Speaking of those little cards, for Vol 1 I used plastic baseball card sleeves and wrote the page numbers with a sharpie on each plastic pocket. It was so easy to grab the album and the appropriate cards when I was going to present. I'll post a picture below. Not pretty but very functional!
Take a look at the table of contents of these wonderful albums (click on each one; then click on "view table of contents in pdf"). As I said, we've done 1, and will begin vol 2 asap. Volume 3 is Word Study and I definitely want to do that one. Yes, I could spend hours and hours scouring the internet and come up with the works, but I think I'd like the works together with proper presentations for this. We have effectively done mechanics (vol 4) in writing workshop so I'll skip over that one for the olders. I'll have to see with younger dd. Right now she's still confusing upper case when it's not necessary in a sentence, so she would probably benefit from those activities. Then we'll go into Volume 5 for sure. It is 'Advanced Grammar' for ages 9-12 (Elem II). It seems very comprehensive from the table of contents. Once we've exhausted all that Montessori R and D has to offer we'll switch back to Winston Grammar Advanced.

Here are their Elementary Language Manuals:

Here are pictures of how I organized all of the word cards for Vol. 1 for easy use. It was worth every minute of organizing... now I just need to do it all over again to be ready for youngest dd. After the presentations the cards were set out for shelf work. Then I would sort of just put them up when they weren't needed anymore mixed together (especially since they weren't necessarily done with the cards in order of presentation).

I could say more about their math manuals but I'll leave that for another post :).

A must-see video from CBS. I can't believe it's in mainstream media! Spend 4 short minutes for your family's health. If you want to find local food try I cannot insert the video but here is the youtube link:
This wonderful video came from Kelly's blog here:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caves Mini-Unit ~ Ranch Beans

Cave Mini-Unit Resources:
This has a good demonstration of cave formation using sugar cubes and clay. Go through the links on the right for more mini-lessons. BTW, use modeling clay, NOT air-drying clay or playdough. We experimented with all 3 materials (photos below)

This is an awesome site.

I printed this cave map; used removable tape to block out the words; copied the blocked-out map; made little labels for them to lay on top of the blank boxes; and peeled off the tape for the control (photo below). Even though there aren't very many things to 'label,' they'll be getting a lot of info as they study the map. This could also just be used as a poster or as a page to put in their lapbook. We'll probably glue one in their culture notebooks if we don't lapbook caves.

Click on the left tool bar for some neat activities:

Cool virtual tour:

Make your own formations:

I haven't looked through this thoroughly yet but I used their study for Texas Missions a few years ago and it was well done:

This section has some good lessons:

Last but not least, one of my all-time favorite resources: homeschool share. They actually have one for the book we read. Gee - I should have checked there first :)

And now I'm making myself stop before I end up writing a thesis for a mini-unit! For sure we'll make the cave using clay and sugar cubes. I've already printed from several of the above resources and have put some notes in a document so I can remember some of these great ideas. We checked some non-fiction cave and rock books out from the library. They will either glue things in their culture notebooks or make lapbooks with things like the cave cut-out with details (like the one I used to make the labeling activity), map of Mammoth Cave, and other printables.

Here is a partial list of books we read:

-Cave Sleuths by L. Lindop

-Caves by S. Kramer

-Caves: Mysteries Beneath our Feet by D. Harrison (excellent for youngers)

-Caving: Exploring Limestone Caves by L. Brimner

-One Small Square: Cave by D. Silver (EXCELLENT!)

-Stalactities Hang Down and other questions about caves by Kingfisher (Wonder Why series)

-Texas Caves by B. Pittman

What's Cookin'?

-[I wrote this a long time ago but am keeping it in] Being Sunday my dc wanted to gorge themselves with sweets (sigh) and basically did with the help of my mom, myself, and dh. You would think they've been without sweets for years and it's only been 4 days since Lent started! It's a mental thing, I think. As much for the grownups as for the children because each one of us spoiled them with a 'treat.' Anyway, I thought my 'treat' for Sunday was fairly decent because it's full of milk, egg yolk, and we ate it with bananas. I was at my mom's watching Fast Food My Way with Pepin and he whipped up this pastry cream that was a basic vanilla pudding. I doubled the recipe but the single recipe would have been plenty for our family of 5 because it's very rich. Now I'm not sure how to keep the extra until next Sunday. I'm considering freezing it and eating it like ice cream. Any ideas? I used fresh milk instead of half and half, turbinado instead of refined sugar, and more vanilla. The recipe is in the sidebar here:

- I asked dh what kind of beans he wanted. I expected pinto, kidney, black, etc. He said "ranch beans." Hmmm. That stumped me. So, upon googling ranch bean recipes I found tons and tons that use a can of ranch beans in the recipe and found only one before I got dizzy that was actually a recipe to make them (happened to be first on the list, btw). It calls for chili powder. Okay, on to research recipes for chili powder. Several places had the same recipe so I'll just post it instead of a link:
1 tsp paprika; 2 tsp ground cumin; 1 tsp cayenne pepper; 1 tsp oregano; 2 tsp garlic powder.
Regarding the ranch beans, he kindly offered to pick up a can on the way home. I can't eat commercially processed beans but if this recipe doesn't come out he may end up with a can of beans after all, lol. I didn't have any cumin so I made the chili powder without.

I soaked the beans overnight with the juice of 1 lemon (actually a lime) and cooked them all day in the crock pot before continuing with the recipe. I scooped some out for other meals before I got to the ranch beans.

When we were ready for the ranch beans for dinner I heated up the cooked beans in a pot on the stovetop. Before seasoning I scooped some out for youngest dd and myself. Then I sort of used this link as a guideline and basically put in about 1/2 teaspoon of the homemade chili powder and several dashes of Real Salt. That's it. No MSG, no plastic-lined can, and traditionally cooked beans with neutralized toxins that we could all enjoy.

The best part was when dh said that they were good enough to be served in any restaurant or win a contest.

- Dh and I almost had a tug-of-war for a beautiful beef bone from a chuck roast :). He wanted to give it to the dog. I wanted to use it to make stock. I won. Well, actually I hid it behind the coffee maker and he forgot about it - dirty trick, I know! I tossed it in the second batch of chicken broth I was making. Since it will be weaker than the first go-'round this will give it a great boost.
[I am actually finally publishing this in April but I don't know how to change the date and will lose the pictures if I copy/paste. So, hopefully you will be able to read it without it being hidden in the archives.]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Music Composers

This was posted at MMakers (thanks, L!). I printed the cards on cardstock for them to match the picture cards with the information cards. They could also sort by country or period. I printed the nice posters 1/4 size to save on ink and wall space (we don't have any!). I only printed posters for the ones they've already studied (3) and hope to build up as we study more.

The olders have also researched, written short biographies, and participated in a Living Museum for composers at their enrichment. I love it when things come together at the right time :).

What's Cookin'?

- After making molasses candy for our Little House in the Big Woods unit I have developed a taste for molasses. Maybe that's why this looks so good and I can't wait until Sunday to give it a go:

- I worked today (Thanks, S!) and was tuckered out so I made an easy dinner. Noodles; leftover skirt steak (or was it flank steak?); frozen veggie mix of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and some onion; with and a cream gravy made in the pan (It's a one-skillet meal sort of thing). The seasonings were just real salt, pepper, powdered ginger, and parsley. Very filling and enough for another meal.

- We made yogurt today. Usually I make it at night and leave it overnight in the oven with just the light on. This time I did it in the morning and pulled it out at 4:30. It's always a thrill when it's yoged!

- Do normal people have as many flops in the kitchen as I do??? [random thought!]

- I'm attempting milk kefir. I still haven't quite figured it out yet so I'm mainly trying to just keep them alive for now.

- We've done a couple of jars of water kefir with some dried apple slices. I thought they would grow more with the apple. They have been going up and down but no growth. At least they are kefiring.

- I am going to attempt an eggplant/egg dish I saw in Nourishing Traditions called Eggplant Kiku (p.440). I was waiting for a Friday to try it. Of course, we'll be out around dinner time so we may end up with a fish sandwich somewhere (no, no, don't stop at the drive thru!!). I almost got the saffron several times but it's just not in our budget. I just hope my eggplant is still good that is in the fridge. It looked okay this morning [flash back to my standard question of: Do normal people have as many flops in the kitchen as I do??].

- Last Sunday oldest dd made 4 buttermilk pecan pies and middle dd made 4 loaves of zucchini bread. If we don't eat them they will be entered in contest. They are all in the freezer right now... well, 3 of each are...

- I'm having an Amish Butter problem. The problem is: It's sooo good! I was able to get some Amish Butter through someone and we all love it. I think I enjoy it most of all. I love it and crave it so much that I have no self control and eat it like cheese all day long! Mmmmm. I'm really not sharing like I should. Fortunately, I found some coconut bark in the freezer yesterday so maybe that will help satiate my need for good fat right now. [And please don't worry about my cholesterol - it's fine!]

What's Schoolin'?

- The olders have been busy writing speeches, articles, horse breed presentations, plus their regular work. Soon we'll be incubating some eggs for a friend. When we were at the feed store today middle dd asked if she could have some chicks for her birthday. I WISH we could have some chickens so we could eat good eggs. We'll have to settle for book learning and hatching chicks for now.

- Youngest dd and I are really enjoying Little House on the Prairie. We're slowly making our way through the lapbook/activities for Little House in the Big Woods also. Anyway, we're at a part for which we were going to try maple sugar. I couldn't believe that a little salt-shaker container of maple sugar was $13 at the health food store. Yikes! What does it run up North? Obviously we didn't get it but will have pancakes with maple syrup on Sunday. The details in those books are amazing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Worm Tower ~ Lent ~Aspartame Name Change Alert

Worm Tower:

This is too cool! I've considered several ways to worm compost and although I love the fancy commercial worm tower, and really like the 2-bin worm compost we could keep in the garage, this one is just simple enough and low maintenance enough that it just may work :).

Problem: I found the *perfect* tube at Lowe's but it's pvc pipe. I don't want that sunk in my organic veggie garden, right? Dh reminded me that that's what our water supply goes through (but we also have a filter). I'll keep looking...

Lent Links:
[UPDATE: How could I forget to list our favorite Holy Heroes Lenten Adventures??
Here are instructions for a crown of thorns. I'm considering replacing it with a 'crown cake' like we eat on 3 Kings Day with cinnamon rolls on Easter morning.

We printed one, colored it, and put it on the refrigerator. We'll move a magnet as we go along.

She puts it in words so much better than I ever could. I especially like how she describes Lent as fasting from sin; but fasting from certain foods, prayer, and almsgiving can lead us to that.

Excellent Lenten recipe ideas (I need to soak beans asap!):

Go to Lent/Easter:

We made these Stations of the Cross candles last year. I found votive candles with straight sides at Dollar General (packs of 6 for like a dollar!). I printed and cut out the designs (will look for the link to update later). Then I simply used a glue stick to put on the glass. Last year I would light and they would take turns blowing them out as we went through each station.

Aspartame Name Change Alert:

Another ingredient name to look for on label: AminoSweet.
Here is the reference straight from the horse's mouth (so to speak) regarding the new name:

Have you ever heard of Neotame? Me neither. Not until the above article. Here is an article about Neotame from the Feingold:

What's Cookin'?
- Last week we had "Breakfast Cookies" for breakfast. I doubled the batch but used 1/2 the ratio of the honey and used milk instead of the buttermilk (and soaked overnight). I didn't use the whole ratio of peanut butter because I'm stingy and didn't want to use it all up in one recipe. I'm still waiting for the poster's permission to post the recipe...
- Here's a picture of the last batch of bread. I have some more dough in the refrigerator and can't decide whether to just make bread or do something else with it. We're coming up on the weekend so I may use some for cinnamon rolls to keep the donuts out of the house :). [update: I wasn't fast enough and the donuts made it into the house although I froze the leftovers]

- I made beef stroganoff using this Rachel Ray recipe. I had already cooked some stew meat so for that part I just sauteed it a little for flavor before adding to the gravy directly. Then I spooned it over the noodles. I just happened to have made beef bone broth the day before (I usually only have chicken) so that worked out well! I like creamy so I substituted part of the liquid for some milk I needed to use up anyway.

Our oven went out last Thursday. I lost a batch of granola bars, a batch of cereal, the breakfast oatmeal bake, and a batch of pumpkin breakfast cookies I was trying. Plus no baked bread so I got a couple of loaves of Ezekiel. I got the bran one (no soy) and the 7 sprouted grain one (no soy)(although it has sprouted corn - not sure if the sprouting would have neutralized the toxins or not; we'll see...). I tried baking a couple of things in the toaster oven but it didn't turn out too well and ended up dumped :(. A friend has lent me an electrical roaster oven so I'll be able to do some baking. [Thanks!]

What's Schoolin'?

-I have spent the last couple of weeks thoroughly obsessing over history curricula. [I guess 'thoroughly obsessing' is redundant - does anyone ever half-heartedly obsess?] I started making a post listing them all with links but that will have to wait and may not be as detailed as I'd like.
-On another note, as part of our slavery studies we've been reading The Journey to the Bottomless Pit. Now I really want a cave field trip! Spring Break, maybe? I should put some Earth Science works out; but I'd have to make them first... Hmmm...
Shelf Work photos:
This is a shell sort dd did today. You sort shells into bivalve/univalve.
The other day dd make these molecules from a kit in the Chemistry Box and then self-initiated sorting them into poisonous/non-poisonous: