Saturday, May 30, 2015

Our Week in Review

My sciatica has been acting up all week so we didn't get out of the house much.  Emme has been homeschooling in the evenings (this has just become our norm since I work outside of the home 3 of the days she schools).  She has been unenthusiastic all week. I think it's the biology.  I have the teacher's edition and this chapter has been exceedingly dull!  I am going to spend some time this weekend finding a way to breathe some life into this subject for next week.  

We've added some classes from The full course for art and sign language, plus pulling from history, grammar, etc. to blend in with our own curriculum.  

Em finished up the Edgar Allen Poe mini unit, reading Telltale Heart, Pit and the Pendulum, The Raven and Annabelle Lee. She enjoyed his writing.  She's a fan of earlier Stephen King books so we discussed how Poe influenced him.  King even won the Edgar Allen Poe Award for best novel this year with Mr. Mercedes.

We start our family book club on Monday!  The girls and I will each get a chance to choose a book (Jennah chose first with Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire) which we will each read and then have a fancy tea party with candles and finger foods when we discuss the book.  Jennah has been dealing with health issues and this has given her something to look forward to! 

My camera is missing - so no pictures this week!  It has to be somewhere in this small house.  My son will be doing yard work before the thunderstorms start.  We have plenty of cleaning to do today - the laundry and dishes never end!  

Emily and I will be taking an ASL lesson online today and tonight on Netflix we will be watching the second episode of Story of Us: Revolution.  

I finished three books this week.  Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch 3.5 stars (now a series on tv) and two mail-order bride books - The Lady and the Mountain Doctor by Misty M. Beller 4 stars and Colleen by Ashley Merrick 2.5 stars. 

I'm now re-reading Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible and Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr. 


Sunday, May 24, 2015

New Resources for our Homeschool : Schoolhouse Teachers

I signed up for the 30-Day $1.00 trial at SchoolHouse Teachers and we are going to try out a few classes to see if it is something that will enhance our homeschool. 

For our art class - we are going to try out the Drawing with Realism class.  Yes, we.  I'm going to try and draw too!  

"This video-based art class teaches your student key skills needed to draw a variety of textured objects with a high degree of realism. Though suitable for the beginner, it also offers challenges for more advanced students. A new unit focusing on a different object is posted each month and is divided into four instructional videos for your convenience" 

We have just started ASL lessons.  They offer a 16-week introductory course we are going to try together. 

"This sixteen-week class introduces students to ASL through videos and printable worksheets. Students have the opportunity to learn basic vocabulary and about the Deaf culture. " 

And since we have no set music curriculum - I plan to try out their History of Western Music.  

"This twelve-week course explores the history of Western music from ancient times through the modern day. Topics include the origins of music, musical styles from history, key composers and developments in musical history, and differences in various musical styles." 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Memorial Day with Teenagers

My teenagers know why we celebrate Memorial Day, but it boils down to us going over to their grandparents' house for a bbq and some red, white and blue dessert.  This year I am going to make sure they understand the importance of honoring our veterans and those who are currently serving. 

Has anyone in your family served?  

My grandfather was in World War II.  We will visit his grave with flowers (he was a big fan of flowers!  Especially hyacinth and tiger lilies!) and an American flag.

Do you have any local memorial sites? 

Our city library has a memorial right out front with the names of local soldiers who lost their life fighting for our country in Vietnam and the Korean War.

If you don't know anyone yourself, you can Celebrate Memorial Day with a Senior Vet: 

Online resources:  

The History of Memorial Day on Youtube 

I still make Emily do copywork.  Most schools do not teach cursive anymore, but I do!  I have used part of the poem "For the Fallen" to make my own cursive sheet.  

For copywork, memory work or poetry - here is a copy of "In Flanders' Field" 

There are many resources on Memorial  including:

*Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr's 1884 Speech "So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiam and faith is the condition of acting greatly."

*Poetry, such as Walt Whitman's "Dirge for Two Veterans" 

(United States Army Chorus on Youtube) 

*Presidential statements and speeches - including Ronald Reagan's Proclamation in 1981

*National moment of remembrance "Encouraging individual department and agency personnel, and Americans everywhere, to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all."

This next site from PBS broadcasts a live concert on Memorial Day - plus there are other videos and history information. 

I plan on using several of these resources to make Memorial Day more than a burger and some Jello this year!

Old Fashioned Pen Pals for a Modern World

I was just thinking about how no one writes letters anymore.  I have a couple of friends who live across the country and I don't even send them letters.  My best friend in the world lives almost 800 miles away and I shoot her e-mails when I could be sending her real live mail!

So why not have Emily (and Jennah my graduate) for that matter find a pen pal or two?  Maybe even one in another country?  Emily can certainly use the writing skills and who doesn't need a new friend?

Here are a few resources:

Homeschool Association for Military Families:  Civilian kids welcome too!  

This is a free program for homeschool kids ages 5-17.  You can choose to make a $5+ donation and you will receive a Pen Pal Starter Kit in the mail.  

The Student Letter Exchange has been around for 75 years.  You have to choose a minimum of 4 pen pals @ $1.25 each.  You select the country and the age of the pen pal.  

And what about you?  Do you want a snail mail pen pal for yourself?  Here is a site for adults to seek out someone to write to:  Old Fashioned Snail Mail Pen Pals 

Do you have any sites that you'd like to add?  Leave them in the comments! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Free Drawing Resources for Homeschool High School

Beginners may like How to Draw It - instruction on how to draw simplistic cartoon-style animals

Draw Space has 20 free lessons just for registering 

Drawing Coach has a lot of cartoon-type instruction that kids of all ages might enjoy

This post has free art teacher resources - a lot of good information 

Drawing Now has step-by-step guides to drawing things kids like - Manga, video game characters, super heroes, etc.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe Mini Unit

Tomorrow we are starting a short little study on Edgar Allan Poe.  I purchased the Complete Edgar Allan Poe  on for Kindle for .99 cents.

I haven't decided if there will be a week two or if we will move on to another author.  Whatever we decided to do, I'll share it here.

We're going to start the week with the Tell-Tale Heart and The Pit and the Pendulum. 

Here is a study guide for Tell-Tale Heart and one for The Pit and the Pendulum from Schmoop.

Here is a Poe learning guide - also from Schmoop.  It includes a biography, timeline, facts and quotes.

A funny adaptation of Tell-Tale Heart on YouTube:

And you can watch a mini biography on Poe:

The Pit and the Pendulum in rap form:

After those two, of course we'll be reading The Raven. 

Here is an interactive study source.  It's pretty cool!

"This unit lets users view each stanza of the poem, pointing out Poe's use of some common literary devices. By moving the mouse over the highlighted words, users can learn more about Poe's use of these devices: Alliteration, Assonance, Internal Rhyme, and Vocabulary throughout the first half of the poem."

Here is the summary of The Raven: 

and if you need something a little more light-hearted: 

10 Netflix Movies for Homeschooling High School

Some of these may be appropriate for middle schoolers as well - and perhaps a couple for upper elementary.  I have not reviewed every movie/mini-series myself, so please preview to make your own decisions!

I plan to take advantage of my Netflix subscription with homeschooler more often.  We are currently watching The Story of Us! (#2)

1.  Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre - read for free with Kindle Unlimited.  Watch on Netflix:
Jane Eyre 2011  or Jane Eyre 1996

2.  America:  The Story of Us   along with free study guides

3.  The Bible miniseries along with the episode guide and of course, a Bible.

4.  The Diary of Anne Frank, 2009.  The Diary of a Young Girl on Amazon.   More resources here. 

5.  PBS's miniseries, The Civil War.  Classroom resources.

6.  The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents - and here is a book we used the past few years:  The President Fact Book (except ours stopped before Obama)  Oh, and an episode guide from 
Or if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch Portrait of the American Presidents, Part 1 & 2

7.  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas movie and book by John Boyne 

8.  Planet Earth - the Complete Series  and here is a review by Five J's blog!

9.  Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, 1999 and read for free here on your Kindle.  

10.  The Universe. (History Channel)  I have an astronomy buff - so we will be watching this.  (We'll be skipping any references to Big Bang, etc)  Here is an episode guide. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Three Teens

I've been remiss to not include my other two children into the mix of Educating Emme.   Homeschooling is not just about the homeschooler - it is about the family unit!  What surrounds and shapes her.

My oldest is Jennah.  She'll be 19 next month!  She's this adult now and I have no idea what to do with her.  How to talk to her. Discipline.  It's all so weird having my first grown child.  She graduated a year ago with honors from public school.  In elementary through middle school we "homeschooled" during the summer months.  Usually a long project, lots of reading, book reports, nature walks and a workbook-type curriculum for whatever next grade she would be going into.  She's always been bright.  She has this mind that I don't even understand.  She did remarkably well on her ACT and received a partial scholarship to UM, where she started last fall.

Unfortunately, without going into too much back story, Jennah is having some health troubles and is taking some time off from school right now.  She will go back -  but for the time being she is here without a structure.  School and education have been her life for so long and now I don't even think she recognizes her own life. It's a delicate situation, and I am constantly thinking about how to be a better mother to her.  I'm a little lost if you want the absolute truth of the matter.  More than a little.

Then there is THE BOY.  Jake.  He's 16. Big and strong as an ox.  Quiet and  handsome.  He is just finishing up 11th grade in public school.  He is doing relatively well in his physics, geometry, history and construction classes.  It's his literature class that is giving him difficulties!  The boy does not have a creative bone in his body!  Unlike the girls and me, he is not a reader or writer.  He has a great memory, he's great with his hands, very strong in math and science.  Grammar and spelling come easily for him too.  But ask him to write a few paragraphs about anything or to read even a short classic novel - and it's like you asked him to rewrite War and Peace!

Earlier this semester I helped him write an essay on some Hemingway and Faulkner short stories.  Then Emily and I read along with The Great Gatsby and I helped him with another 4-page essay just last week.  The teacher puts as much emphasis on the format as he does on the content.  I'm not sure that I agree with that.  Not only that, but his directions for the MLA formatting were sometimes incorrect.  So, anyway...... it was an issue in this literature loving, wannabe-writer's mind.  Now I am re-reading Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God .  It's been over 20 years since I read it last.  The teacher is reading this aloud in Jake's class.  Again - I'm not sure how I feel about Mr. D's reading aloud about the sexiness of a woman's figure to my 16-yo boy or repeating the *n* word TEN times in front of impressionable mixed-race youths.  PUBLIC SCHOOLS!!!!!!!  

Any idea how I can improve my boy's creativity?  I've tried for years upon years to instill a love of reading into his life.  I read to him all the time as a baby, toddler, young child.  We did family read-alouds of The Cricket in Times Square and The Phantom Tollbooth and Chronicles of Narnia when he became older.  He barely tolerated it then - and now he hates to read.  All he wants to do is play video games in his spare time.

Of course then there is Emily:

And me.  I'm Mom.

One of the very, very rare picture of all three of them together:

And of course, don't ever forget Cat:

That's us.  The dysfunctional lot of us.  My crazy, beautiful family.  I wouldn't change a thing.