New School Year

This year we will

Dive into our DNA

Dodge Vesuvian ash

Watch the Roman Empire Fall

See castles rise

Design paper plate skeletons

Conquer their, they’re and there

Discover the troublesome value of “X”

Meet El Cid, Chaucer & Charlemagne

Type tiny treatises

Provide public orations (in our dining room)

Before a restless audience (our siblings)

Find free field trips

Create archaic crafts

Travel through time

Circle the world

Build brain cells

Solve problems

Inhale books —

All at home

and

in

our

slippers.


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

| Your Child’s Summer Reading: 3 Picks for Book Series |

As a parent, perhaps you feel like the last academic year has been a rollercoaster ride, and you want your child’s brain to stay sharp over summer. Maybe you are wisely thinking ahead to rainy day activities, or simply want to find more quality reading suggestions. 

Here are my top 3 picks for kids reading series. These are suitable for parent read-alouds, audiobook, or for independent readers aged 8 and up, depending on ability. (I have read these books and they are not just for kids!)

The Mysterious Benedict Society (5 Books in the Series) 

These action-packed volumes take a group of gifted (multi-ethnic) children through physical and mental challenges and the readers will enjoy the ride immensely. Friendship, danger, riddles, puzzles and mysteries await readers of all ages. These are tremendously well-crafted, intriguing stories and we loved the audio versions, read by the talented Del Roy.

Awards include: E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Older Readers, Massachussetts Children’s Book Award, Iowa Children’s Choice Award Nominee.

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (7 Books in the Series) 

This is an engaging series of seven books about a 13 year old kid lawyer. Theo faces typical and unusual challenges as he uses his gifts to help others, hunt down fugitives, defend himself when framed and dig through evidence to discover the truth. Written by bestselling author John Grisham and designed for young readers. Excellent audio version for all books in the series narrated by Richard Thomas. 

Here is one adult review to which I can relate:  

…”I purchased the Theodore Boone novel not realizing it was geared towards younger readers. I’m 47 years old and a professional in the communications industry. I found the novel refreshing and interesting…definitely recommend this series regardless of your age…” (Amazon.com review)

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (5 Books in the Series)

Kyle Keeley would rather play games than read, but he and his team end up getting the chance to spend a night in the new town library, which was recently designed by the eccentric game creator, Mr. Lemoncello. The exciting team challenge is to complete all of the puzzles and clues in order to escape from the technologically-savvy new library. These books have been called a cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Night At the Museum, and are peppered with humor, quirky characters, and suspenseful fun. We loved the audio versions of these books, read by engaging narrator, Jesse Bernstein.

Happy Reading!

–Lisa

Photo by Unsplash

{ Tribute to the Homeschooling Mother }

It’s a little late for Mother’s Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week, but I am reposting this blog post, originally published on May 9, 2018 ~ in celebration of homeschooling moms everywhere. 

The homeschooling mother has no paycheck, union, or prep hour

     She wears a comfortable uniform and decorates with toddler art

She doesn’t weave her way through crowded hallways

     She treads a path littered with laundry and Legos

She doesn’t eat her lunch in the Teacher’s Lounge

    She nibbles between dish-doing and question-answering

When a stranger asks her daughter,

     “What’s 3 x 4?”

And her daughter looks at the ceiling

     And her son doesn’t seem to know his countries from his states

The homeschooling mother never says,

“What are they teaching you at school?”

     She just blushes

and vows to get out the flashcards.

But the homeschooling mother’s students:

Can divide the last cookie into perfect thirds

Know how to survive in the Arctic

Translate Latin phrases

Play Bach on a violin

Have stepped into the Middle Ages — in costume

Know where to find the beginning of wisdom

Have looked at the Civil War from the eyes of South, North and the Native American

(And can tell you what else was going on in the world at the same time)

Perform chemistry magic using home ingredients

Talk to nursing home residents without flinching

And, they can tell you in which episode Eugene went missing from the town of Odyssey.

And when her children finally graduate

     Strong, able and kind

Generous and grateful

They know how to work hard

And they know where to find what they don’t know

Fueled by faith,

They stand on conviction

The homeschooling mother

Senses that her gain is good

And she truly is…A REAL TEACHER.

©  Lisa M. Luciano 2018

{ Confessions of a Reluctant Homeschool Mom }

I have been living carefree, as if summer would last forever. Casual breakfasts at 9:00, lingering discussions over the kitchen table with my cup of coffee…late lunches at 1:00…cat naps on the sofa….easy, cool dinners created with garden produce. I have awakened in the morning thinking: maybe we will go to the beach today? Or the farmer’s market? Or perhaps we will grab our books and art supplies and blankets and fall asleep in the sun?

Fun bike rides on rail trails over the summer.

Not anymore. It is time to pay for the slothful sins of summer. I should have been hunting down appropriate textbooks and gathering resources. Week after week, I saw the universe of school supplies, shining from a distance in the aisles of Walmart. But did I walk toward the light? No. I lived in avoidance, by walking the long way round, through automotive or pet supplies.

Now, I humbly and hurriedly dig through a tangle of spiral wires, only to uncover the wide ruled notebooks that nobody wanted. I have ordered books on Amazon, but they won’t arrive until next week. My younger son asked yesterday, “I wonder what the spelling words will be?” I muse internally, “Hmmm, I wonder, too…” I start scratching down a possible word list.

How could I have lived in such denial? Even now, just hours before the bell rings, am I planning? No, I am sitting here at my computer, looking for suitable photos to post here with my ramblings.

The air is chilly. The coffee is brewing. I don’t know what I will serve for breakfast. The First Day of School has arrived.

More soon.

We discovered a lovely new beach this summer. I wish we had gone just once more…
This is me. I turned 55 this summer and I have been homeschooling for around 25 years.

{ It Will End When it Ends. }

Being sheltered at home does not hinder learning. On the contrary — we have more time than ever to carry on with our studies. This is a fact that parents like, but may cause students to glare and grimace.

Since being homebound, we have picked up and played our dusty musical instruments, rediscovered board games and watched endless episodes of Perry Mason.

My daughter and I have sewn 50+ face masks, like the one worn below by the 15-year-old author of this homeschool-assigned report:

What to Know About the Coronavirus

20200404_144430
The author is sporting a Star Wars Stormtroopers face covering.

At this point in time, it’s common to hear the words “Coronavirus” or “Covid-19” dropped into everyday chatter. It seems as though it is the foremost issue on most Americans’ minds. It would also appear as though everyone on TV has some new statistic or symptom that is now “breaking news”. What I’d like to do is break it down into the simplest of terms for the average person. Everyone should know the basics of the virus and what they should be doing about it. So, let’s just jump right into it. 

Firstly, the question of origin must be asked and answered. Depending on the news channel you’re watching, they might call it “The Chinese Virus”, some say that it is racist to call it just that. Either way, the virus has strong ties to China. According to several trustworthy news outlets, the Coronavirus has been traced back to the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China. 

Now, this next part might disgust you, but in China, it is fairly common to have markets where animals such as bats, snakes and rabbits are sold as food. This goes on despite the selling of these animals being illegal. Nevertheless, it is believed that the coronavirus was originally carried by one of those animals and then passed along to humans. That’s not where the gross part ends though. No, sadly when a concerned Chinese doctor first came across the virus in December and reported it, the government shut him up. They accused him of: “spreading rumors and disturbing the social order.”  It took three costly weeks for the government to finally acknowledge the disease as a real threat. By then, it had spread exponentially. By the way, that doctor, Li Wenliang, age 34, died in February 2020 of the virus.

So now that you know some of the history of the virus itself, I feel the need to explain some of the terms frequently used in relation to it. You may hear doctors saying things like “the novel coronavirus.” Well, that simply means it is the new coronavirus. There have been other strains, or versions of the disease. You may have heard of the names “SARS” or “MERS” both of which are strains of coronavirus which are all respiratory diseases. The one that we hear of now is known as COVID-19. The COVID part stands for COronaVIrus Disease. And 19 is simply the year it popped up on the proverbial radar, which would be 2019.  

We’ve already covered how the disease started. Now the logical question would be, how will it end? 

The truth is that it will end when it ends. 

Some think that we are right around the corner from a vaccine. Some say the warmer temperatures of summer will kill off the virus, as is the case with most respiratory diseases. Others hold to the idea that if everyone stays away from each other, everything will calm down. And to be honest, they could all be true, but they could equally be totally wrong. At the moment, all we know is that we should all be washing our hands an insane amount, keeping our distance from large gatherings and just use common sense. Someone put it quite simply when they stated that we should all act as though we have it. 

If you knew you were infected, you wouldn’t go out in public, would you? And we know that the infected can spread infection even though they don’t exhibit any symptoms. So there is a chance you could be carrying it. The bottom line is: Be responsible, wash your hands well, try to stay away from large groups of people, and treat others as you would want to be treated. 

Bibliography: thesun.co.UK, womenshealthmag.com, nydailynews.com

{ Cardboard Creations }

When you can’t locate the kitchen scissors…

When the toilet paper roll disappears prematurely…

When there’s a trail of cardboard clippings that lead downstairs…

You know creativity is happening here.

 

Creating with Cardboard

Out of the Box 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers
Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Projects…

 

Here’s the book, given by Tia, that started the 3-day rummaging through the recyclables…

The usurping of Mama’s tape…

the glue frenzy…

The lamenting of the ring toss that is too flimsy to stand…

…and the rejoicing over castle towers that stand strong.

 

 

~~~~

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{ This Week In Pictures }

  1. Korean stop sign, photo taken by my son because he knows I like stop signs in various foreign languages.
  2. New local bakery where my daughter and I shared a pecan caramel roll and cherry turnover, good coffee and sweet conversation.
  3. Blueberry muffins galore, made by my daughter and gratefully consumed on ski day morning.
  4. Time alone on a chairlift– beautiful and peaceful silent time. Short and sweet and high off the ground, but I’ll take it. 
  5. Trying to walk regularly outside because I should, not because I really want to, so I grit my teeth and lean into the wind.
  6. God frosted the trees for us, beautifying our homeschool ski day with His creative handiwork plus cheerful sunshine and no injuries.
  7. My husband drove this cute little Mazda Miata down to Florida for a friend recently.  It looks like a toy car, but he sure got lots of applause / envy from strangers along the way.  The admiration sat well with my husband 🙂IMG_20200212_071404_026_2
  8. I am sad to say goodbye to a wonderful audiobook trilogy about Crispin by author Avi. We finished the last of the three books this week.
  9. From beginning to end, these stories about a young orphan growing up in the Middle Ages are adventurous, suspenseful, and touching.

  1. Avi is a talented and prolific author and his first Crispin book is a Newbery Award Winner. 
  2. We also liked The Traitor’s Gate by Avi, and his newest book, Gold Rush Girl, is coming out in March. (Avi is 82 years old and still going strong!)

~~~

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{ Blizzard-Ready}

We enjoyed Homeschool Ski and Snowboard Day last Monday.

Hyland Hills in Bloomington, Minnesota is a tame spot for beginning skiers, and the 26 degree January day was perfect.

Anyone walking in to the chalet could tell it was a homeschool event — crockpots were everywhere, and the air smelled like patchouli and lavender essential oils.

Now, we are bracing for more snow, and true to our nature, Minnesotans are frantically storming the grocery stores to stock up, like we may be snowed in for months.

I confess I left the house at 6:00 a.m., determined to beat long lines and the blizzard.

After being urged last night by one of my teenagers to get some “fun food,” (as opposed to gloomy, drudgerous food?) I grabbed a few essentials:

  • meat
  • kombucha
  • microwave popcorn
  • hot chocolate mix
  • coffee and herbal teas
  • heavy cream for the coffee
  • makings for soup and homemade no-knead bread. (Not the boring soups I usually make from leftovers) but Copycat Olive Garden soups, like Zuppa Toscana.

In addition to these staples, we are armed with *anti-cabin fever* activities:

  • Season 2 of Gilligan’s Island DVDs, purchased at GoodWill
  • Crispin: At the Edge of the World. I love the Crispin books by Avi, and I wish I’d known about these when we were studying the Middle Ages.
  • A new puzzle. This is our third Mudpuppy puzzle, and it’s Kaleido-Beetles! I like Mudpuppy puzzles because they have three pictures of the finished puzzle for reference as you go, making it easier for 3 or more people to work on the puzzle.

Other Mudpuppy puzzles we have ordered are the 1000-piece Ocean Life, 500-piece Songbirds and 500-piece Butterflies of North America.

I’m glad we are ready, because it’s starting to snow…

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{ Like an Eye-Opening Ride Through An Undiscovered Village}

alexander-sinn-DX5r6BNoWVE-unsplashWe are studying similes and we are trying to avoid the trite cliches that are “as old as the hills”, so we are making up our own. Everyone chose five abstract nouns and wrote two similes for each one. I thought these were some of the best:

 

  • He felt freedom like a feather in the open air.
  • Hatred melted away like a stream in the spring.
  • Reality is like a punch in the face. 
  • Forgiveness is like a safety net.
  • The crime was as big as a bonfire.
  • His anger was like a house-eating wildfire.
  • He was as dishonest as a killdeer.
  • Their romance was like a budding flower — ever changing.
  • His anger bubbled up like a volcano.
  • Accepting defeat is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met.
  • His adventure was as fun as a ride at ValleyFair.
  • The moonlit snow sparkled like a thousand tiny jewels.
  • Jealousy is like hair loss; it might take someone else to point it out.
  • He was as calm as a painting.
  • His hatred was as hot as a burning furnace.
  • Music is like a therapy session.
  • He was as fast as a full-grown cheetah in the desert.
  • The lion’s power was like a legion of angry dragons.

 

“Reading these similes was like an eye-opening ride through  an undiscovered village.” — Me

Feather photo by Alexander Sinn

Crazy Like a Fox

Crazy Like A Fox Simile Story

Similes Dictionary    |        Figures of Speech Poster   You’re Toast  – Metaphors

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{ Finally Learning or I Get to Go to School 11 Times }

We are finally in the 1970’s in homeschool history, and this will shine a spotlight on why — for us —  homeschooling has been the best way to go: 

this may be the first time in my life I will truly understand what was happening in my childhood when I was too young to comprehend or care. 

Questions like the following will be answered for all of us: 

  • What is Watergate and why did they call it that?
  • Where and what was Camp David?
  • Who was the Shah of Iran? 
  • Why did they put yellow ribbons all over fences and buildings?

As I assigned a few reports to my oldest homeschoolers yesterday, they didn’t get why I danced around the kitchen, singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” and got busy reserving “All the President’s Men” from the library website. They didn’t understand why I told them to: “Write the first paragraph of the report like a newspaper article — like a summary; like “Watergate for Dummies.” Explain the start of the Islamic Republic of Iran like you were explaining it to a child. 

Hooray! I might finally understand all this stuff. More soon.

 ~~~~

Images:

Richard Nixon: Image by gfk DSGN from Pixabay

Foshay Tower, Minneapolis, MN.  January 25, 1981

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