Monday, 31 January 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: The Story of Valentine's Day

The Story of Valentine's Day by Clyde Robert Bulla explains the story behind Valentine's Day with many historical facts and customs. There are different legends around this holiday, even different stores of the Roman priest Valentine. Valentine's Day spread to other countries and the other explains how the holiday changed over time.
In the last few pages, there are a few ideas for valentines and a recipe for cookies.

"It was also during the Middle Ages that Valentine's Day became a children's holiday. English children went from door to door in groups singing songs. The mistress of the house would often throw flowers or pennies to the children or give them sweet buns made with plum filling. "

Join in and include your Book Sharing post below! Happy Reading!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Homemade Valentines & a Special Event!

This week was a lot of fun! We had a great productive week with our school work. We finished watching the Europe travel DVDs that I mentioned last week. Next week we will be learning about Africa!

In Canadian History, we read more about the Canadian Pacific Railway and how it was built using this great book. We learned about the Klondike Gold Rush and also covered a bit of world history for that time period. 

We started again French this week on Monday and did a little relaxed test on Friday.

On Thursday we decided to start on our Valentine Cards for the exchange we are participating in. We made sixteen cards, following Adrienne's idea of cutting an old local map for one side and pink or red construction paper for the opposite side. I think they turned out great. We also added some information about where we live. We are using a blank USA states map to keep track of where we send the cards and where the ones we will receive are coming from.  While I was cutting the map and hearts (Adrienne did the pasting and writing), Adrienne read aloud The Story of Valentine's Day by Clyde Bulla. It's a great non-fiction book on the origins of Valentine's Day, and I will be sharing more about it tomorrow.

On Tuesday evening, we attended a library event for the Family Literacy Day and had a great time. We also were given free new books! We didn't expect that so it was a wonderful surprise. We love books! Sadly, only 1 other family showed up for the event. It was still fun, but it always makes me sad to see that the library is being under-used so much in this area.

That evening, one of the boys in the other family mentioned that an author was coming to his school on that Friday for a special presentation. When he mentioned the author's name, I knew I had to ask him which school he went to. The author is Canadian, his name is Shane Peacock and he writes a great series of books called The Boy Sherlock Holmes. Adrienne read last year this series and loved them. She counts this author as one of her top five favourites. The school that the author was visiting was the school my children attended a couple of years ago for only one year. I decided I had nothing to loose by contacting the principal and asking if we could attend. The worse that could happen was a "no".

The principal emailed back and said that, although it was an unusual request, she would allow us to attend the presentation!

So, on Friday afternoon, Adrienne and I went to the local public school and listened to an awesome presentation by Shane Peacock. He chatted with Adrienne before the start of the event and seemed pleased to find out that she had read all the books in the series. He asked her which was her favourite and explained what message he was trying to pass on through the story. Unfortunately, it seemed that most of the other kids hadn't read all the books. She knew a particular answer to a question that he asked the audience but told her she wasn't allowed to participate, since she was the only one that had read the book! He referred back to her a few times. The presentation was really well done, he talked about how he became an author, stressing on how you need to start at the bottom and work hard to get to where he is now. He promoted the love for books and reading. It was an awesome event!

This week is the start of Journey North Mystery Class. If you haven't heard about it, make sure to visit their site. It might be an activity you would enjoy (and it's free!). I can't say enough how much we love this activity.

Finally, if you would like to read other homeschool families wrap-up posts, be sure to visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Journey North Mystery Class Starts Monday!!

Journey North Mystery Class starts this Monday. We will be participating for the fourth year in a row and are really looking forward to it!

This weekly activity takes us right into spring and includes learning about science, world geography, math, history and more I'm sure! I can't say enough good things about it!

You can read more about it yourself, and sign up if you like, at Journey North.

If you would like to see past posts from us, click here.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know by Nathan Hale is a fun picture book with vibrant illustrations. It tells the story of the Fell family and their little devil that lives in their house. He is a little devil, so he does all kinds of naughty things, of course. The Fells take Ms. Phisto's (the green lady) offer to remove the little devil right away, but things turn out different than they expected. Maybe their little devil wasn't so bad...This story is all about the saying: "you're better off with the devil you know than the devil you don't"!

We really enjoyed this book's story and the illustrations!

If you would like to share your current favourite children book, please leave your link below. Happy Reading!

Video Games for Critical Thinking? Yes!

I am not a huge fan of video games in general. I do limit the time my children spend on them, especially while they're little. Having said that, I can recognize some benefits, especially with certain games.

We have used some games for their puzzles, critical thinking, logic-type styles. Over the last couple of years, my oldest has enjoyed working through the Professor Layton games on her Nintendo DS. I have actually played them myself and know that my brain was getting a good workout! There is a new title out, shown on the photo, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. This game is a nice combination of adventure/mystery story and many puzzles to solve (over 165!). There are two other titles available in North America, Professor Layton and the Curious Village and Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. If you follow the links on each of the game names, you will be taken to the official sites and can read more of the stories, watch videos, and try some of the puzzles (look for puzzle demos). I have recommended these games often. I think that they are a great alternative to some of the critical thinking-type workbooks.

Another game that is new to us and that we are trying out is part of the Phoenix Wright series.

Here is a short review from ign:

You play the role of Apollo Justice, a green defense attorney who must defend some of the most unlikely, guilty-seeming clients one could imagine. This is done through two primary gameplay modes: Investigation Mode and Courtroom Mode. In Investigation Mode, Apollo (and his trusty partner Trucy) visit crime scenes, interview witnesses and suspects, and generally navigate the dreary, mystery-filled corridors of criminal defense. In Courtroom Mode, the prosecution and defense trade blows, presenting evidence, examining and cross-examining witnesses, and vying for the success of their side of ever-more complicated, multi-faceted cases. (from

Adrienne enjoys mysteries and solving crimes. She just started this game, so I don't have as much information about this game as the Professor Layton series yet but I will be trying out myself too.

How about you? Do you use video games in your homeschool? I know that many of us use Wii Fit and other physical/exercice type video games as our PE. We do, especially in the winter months, when weather sometimes stops us from being outdoors for long periods of time. Leave a comment and let me know what your favourite games for home learning are!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Europe, Canadian Railway, and more..

This past week, the kids accomplished a lot of their independent work while I worked with Celeste on her math and language arts. It really felt like we had a routine going on!
We were all finished by late morning most days and able to do our "together" subjects (science, history, geography..) in the afternoon. Another routine is our dog sitting always near us while we work:

Part of the language arts that I ask my children to continue with, no matter their age, is reading aloud to me. I quickly snapped this photo of my oldest Adrienne (13) while she was reading a part of Ali Baba to me from her Elson Reader. My two older children never enjoyed "readers" until these, I talked more about them here. 

This week we continued working on our projects. Celeste had picked horses for her lapbook and it starting to come together. She asked everyone to draw a horse for her lapbook, and I have been taking a few notes while we read, which she then copies. We have enjoyed these books and a few more. I will share a booklist when we are all finished with the lapbook:

The library has started to showcase Valentine's Day books, so we brought some home! So far, these are Celeste's favourites:

Andre is also working hard at his research on aliens. He asked all of us to draw a UFO!

Adrienne is also continuing her research on pirates, but I will share more about hers when she is finished.

We have been learning about Europe in our World Geography, and since we are now at the end of it, and moving on to Africa next, I thought it would be nice to add some interesting books to finish off this part of the world. I visited the library, and found a series of 6 DVDs instead. I am always a bit unsure about travel-type DVDs because we have tried them in the past, and they were either very boring or not really appropriate! I wanted to give them another try, and so far we have really enjoyed this series. We watch it during our lunch, instead of me reading aloud, and we have now "traveled" to Germany, Austria, Paris, and various parts of France. Any library should have these type of DVDs, but here is the one we are watching: Best of Europe with Rudy Maxa (Questar). The library had 6 DVDs put together in a set which include: The Heart of France, Molto Italiano, Fairy Tale Europe Germany & Austria, London & Beyond, Wondrous Europe, and Enchanted Italy.

In Canadian History, we continued reading about Confederation. I found online the short film The Ballad of Crowfoot  after we read the lyrics in our Spirit of Canada book :

We also read about the Canadian Pacific Railway and visited the Canadian Pacific website. They have a great section for children about their history. There is also great resources at this site.
Because we are hoping to start our history rotation again next school year, I am including a few world events  starting now with our Canadian History study. We had left off around this time period approximately last year. The curriculum I am using (Modern History Through Canadian Eyes ) is wonderful for this purpose. We talked about the American Civil War and listened to the  Gettysburg Address .

I hope you enjoyed reading our wrap-up. I have to say that these posts are very helpful to me, especially when I feel that we haven't accomplished much in a particular week. When I sit down and write my wrap-up post, I always feel better!

If you would like to read other homeschool families' posts, please visit the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschooler s blog.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Who are your Top 10 Classical Composers?

Afternoon Practice by Laurie Pace.

The New York Times is asking you to vote on your favourite classical composers. There is more than just an article though, there is a series of videos where Anthony Tommasini, the chief musical critic, talks about these great classical composers, mixing some of the history of each composer and also playing the piano, explaining more about certain pieces so we can really appreciate the music.

I learned about this from Christina at Rockhound Place. When I visited the links she posted, I thought this would be great for our music appreciation! I was planning on getting back to our art & music appreciation this Friday, and this will be perfect. We will watch together the videos and can talk about which ones are our favourites, and then vote.

You can visit the main article which explains the story behind the idea of the vote: The Greatest. I especially like this quote: "So if you were to try to compile a list of the 10 greatest composers in history, how would you go about it? For me the resulting list would not be the point. But the process of coming up with such a list might be clarifying and instructive, as well as exasperating and fun."

You can also go straight to the video series and the voting page: Top 10 Composers .

Monday, 17 January 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Skid

What a fascinating book! I found it at our library and thought that it might interest Adrienne for her project about pirates. The legendary kraken and pirates go together, no?! We are not finished with this book yet, but I wanted to share it anyway. 

"Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid" is written by HP Newquist.

The book is divided into four parts. The first one explains some of the Tales of the sea serpent throughout history. There are beautiful illustrations throughout the entire book, ancient maps, photos of ancient pottery, photographs, and old drawings.

The second part's title is What was imagined might be real, this section explains more about history and how towards 1870 more of the beasts were found dead on beaches around the world and the effect on science and people.
The third part is A real-life monster, scientists discover more about these creatures and this chapter explains more about the giant squids, describing every part. The parrot-like beak on the giant squid might be weird, we learned, but the inside of its mouth is "like something from a horror movie. Architeuthis has a tongue-like muscle covered with rows of tiny, sharp blades, also made of chitin (chitin is hard bony substance)." There's many more interesting facts about the giant squid in this part!

Finally, the last part is called The monster rises  and here is the subtitle which says it all "the myth of the kraken and the portrayal of the giant squid as a huge predator have been kept alive in front of movie cameras-and in the pages of books-for a long time." This part talks about movies and books, but also about the expeditions and their results.
Here is a great site to see photos from a dissection done by New Zealand scientists of a colossal squid (which is different than the giant squid), and a giant squid: A Close Look at the Colossal Squid. Check out the photo of the colossal squid's tentacles with the hooks (it's the 5th picture), the beak is next!  
The short video below is footage from a colossal squid captured in 2007. In the video, they explained that the squid wouldn't have survived if they let it go, so they brought in on board.

If you would like to participate in Book Sharing Monday, please leave a link to your post in the mr. linky below. Happy Reading!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up ~ Two Weeks Worth!

We started again our regular homeschool schedule on January 3rd. I completely forgot to do a wrap-up post last week, so here are two weeks worth!

Getting back to a routine was nice after our holiday break. The main subjects were covered and I was pleased to notice progress with Celeste's reading. It seems that it is getting a bit easier for her. She is also still enjoying Math, using Miquon Math. I am surprised at what she is learning, already multiplication!

Adrienne is finishing working with the Kiss My Math book for her math and will be getting back to her Teaching Textbooks Algebra next week. We'll see how that goes, she has really been enjoying the series by Danica McKellar.

Andre is doing excellent with Teaching Textbooks 6. This is wonderful, because Math wasn't a strong subject for him in the past.

Both Adrienne and Andre are continuing with Growing with Grammar and Sequential Spelling.

For writing, they don't enjoy regular writing curriculums, so after taking December off (following the heavy writing month of November-NaNoWriMo), I asked them if they would prefer to work on a special research project this month with a topic of their choice. They can present it in a notebook, lapbook or just an essay format. I think they will choose the notebook format to be able to include illustrations. Adrienne finished the first section of Jensen's Format Writing , then they all chose their topics. Celeste didn't want to be left behind so I will be working with her on a lapbook on horses. We are making our own.

Adrienne chose pirates as her research topic. Andre is learning all he can about aliens! They are both very interested in these two topics and requested many books from the library. Last week, they read a lot and also worked out their outlines. This week they are writing their first draft. I am looking forward to their finished research project!

We finished reading aloud Sigmund Freud this week by Kathleen Krull. It wasn't as captivating to my children as Isaac Newton's biography was, but still interesting. I read aloud during lunch.
After finishing Freud, we started another book by Kathleen Krull called "They Saw the Future". It's all about oracles, psychics, scientists and great thinkers. I featured it in a Book Sharing Monday post.

We started again a few more subjects, like poetry memorization. I am still surprised how much my children like this! They are really quick at memorizing!

We also are continuing with our study of Canadian History. We are learning about Confederation right now. And finally, we are continuing our study of World Geography with Easter Europe.

It's been a busy two weeks, filled with school-ish work, but we are enjoying it. We have also had a few discussions about high school. Adrienne is currently grade 8 age, so we will need to decide what happens for next year soon. Not knowing where we will be living next year poses a bit of a problem for the decision making, but hopefully we will get answers soon.

If you would like to read more wrap-up posts from other homeschool families, please visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Lego Quest # 32 :: Coral Reef

"The vehicle is a submarine that can also go on land. The diver is on a submersible vehicle, he is looking for treasure. In the brown cave there is an octopus with the remains of a recent diver. The pink and yellow things are coral." created by Adrienne.

Lego Quest is an awesome activity for homeschool/unschool kids. There are 43 amazing submissions for this coral reef theme! See  all of them here.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: They Saw the Future

They Saw the Future: Oracles, Psychics, Scientists, Great Thinkers, and Pretty Good Guessers is written by Kathleen Krull. I picked up this book at our library because my son is always fascinated by the "unknown" and thought it would be interesting to him to read about the Oracles, Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci for example. He asked me to read it aloud and only then I realized that it was written by Kathleen Krull, same author that wrote the Giants of Science that I shared here.

In this book, twelve personalities are introduced who "saw the future", visionary people that were from all different walks of life. From the Oracle at Delphi, the Maya, to Marshall McLuhan and many more, the book has very interesting biographies. Similar to the Giants of Science series, I would recommend this one for ages 10 and up. My son is loving this one so far, and wants to learn more about Nostradamus!

Here is a short part from the Maya chapter, in particular about their amazing calendar:

"Invented by priests approximately 2,600 years ago, the Mayan calendar is considered by some scholars to be the most accurate ever devised. According to the Maya's highly sophisticated calculations, the world had a definite beginning: a date known as 4 Ahau 8 Cumku, or August 13, 3114 BC. The calendar was made up of at least two complex, interlocking cycles running at the same time. The first was a 365-day cyle, known as Tun, divided into eighteen months of twenty days each. The five days left over were considered extremely unlucky, requiring many sacrificial rituals. The second cycle, known as Tzolkin, was made up of thirteen months of twenty days apiece. Every single day had its own omens, prophecies, and associations - good, bad, and neutral. Exactly how the Maya determined these details is not known."

Please add your link below to your own Book Sharing Monday post! Thank you and Happy Reading!

Introducing...Sophie Nausicaa

A few Christmas photos are needed to introduce our new furry family member! We have adopted a new cat and named her Sophie Nausicaa. She is about four months old and comes from the local humane society. My husband set up the adoption and arranged for Santa to deliver her on Christmas morning. The children had no idea that a new kitty was coming, I did, but I had no idea that Santa was bringing her! What a wonderful surprise!

Adrienne's cat Clara was the first of our pets to meet Sophie. She really wasn't sure about this young one coming onto her turf at first, but now they are friends, chasing each other through the house every evening. 
Our dog has adjusted really well too, and was never worried about her. He just saw her as a play friend. Sophie isn't scared of Orion, unlike Clara. It's funny to see the difference between the two cats.
Her name, Sophie Nausicaa, was voted on. When she first came to us, she was called Sunny. We came up together with these two names from Studio Ghibli movies. We couldn't decide between the two, so we kept both! Sophie is one of the main characters from Howl's Moving Castle, and Nausicaa is the name of the princess in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Book Sharing Monday :: e.encyclopedia

Happy New Year!!

For the first Book Sharing Monday of 2011, I want to share with you a book that I gave as a Christmas gift to my children.

The e.encyclopedia by DK  has 600 subject areas and 1000 links through google. The subjects are divided in 9 categories: space, earth, nature, human body, science & technology, people & places, society & beliefs, arts & entertainment, and finally history. 

E.encyclopedia combines the best of a traditional encyclopedia with an extra digital dimension. The book's dedicated website guides the reader to the most helpful, appropriate and amazing sites the web has to offer (from dk). On most of the pages, you will find a keyword in a little grey bubble, you can use that word at this website and the link will bring you to more information, sometimes photos, videos, or other pre-selected sites by google and dk.

If you would like to participate in Book Sharing Monday, please share your link to your post below. Happy Reading!


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Fun home learning book sharing monday family books wordless wednesday nature journey north art wrap-up weekly report Reading nature study holidays photography science geography sketch tuesday canada homeschool report Me pets quilting cooking for our earth DPP Movies outdoor challenge sewing exploring get outdoors Fairy outdoor hour Iditarod birthday challenge math summer celeste journey north 2009 100books Dragon Lego music Princess animals halloween home journey north 2010 lapbook NaNoWriMo author fiesta field trip public school wreck this journal poetry 12 secrets baking birds blogs journey north 2011 spring city curriculum fitness gardening moving black history month bugs earth hour journey north 2012 planning reading my library shutter sisters sled dogs this moment travel unschooling December board games calendar quilt lego quest swap air cadets feeding my family food revolution hockey library recipes what works air show author study award backyard bird count camping dr seuss father's day pirates roald dahl space sports what my children are reading year 5 Ballet DQS6 St Patrick's Day TED talks arnosky basketball biographies eating clean for others geocaching happiness mail medical memory monday orion poems science rendezvous scree-free week 2011 skating spelling winter solstice winterfest youtube 2010 olympics Charlottetown PEI Patricia Polacco Rant appreciation book collecting good deeds helping others hooping hunger games jamie oliver maze nat orchestra peace quilt-along screen-free week snail stamps the next chapter book club video games wilderness wednesday wish wednesday world news writing