Saturday, September 12, 2009

Liahona 2009-10

I am breathing a HUGE sigh of relief. Our little homeschool support group is alive and growing!

Last year Liahona's leader turned over the reins to yours truly, since her last homeschooler is doing mostly community collge courses now. I tried not to take it personally when our group shrank to almost nonexistence. On the positive side, we-the-few-but-mighty, had some fun park days and some grand field trip adventures! The girls have some very special friends that they would not have if it weren't for Liahona.

Jelly (on the right)and her friend, Leah

Doodle and her pals, Clara, Hannah, and Emily

We're all looking forward to adventures with old AND new friends this year. We had a park day / planning meeting on Wednesday and the group has more than doubled in size! We have teenagers, too, so there are now kids from pre-school through high school. Hurray!!

So watch this space for Liahona adventures - coming soon!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mission: Homeschool

There are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. The flexibility that is possible is just one of the many reasons that this style of learning fits our family so well.

In California, 4th graders study California History. That means missions, ranchos, and the gold rush. Oh, and did I mention missions?

We started our study of our state's history last year
, when Jelly was in 6th grade and Doodle was the official 4th grader. Because we split our Social Studies time by also finishing a study of World History, we decided to give California History a little more time this year. It fits perfectly this way because at Wonderwood Academy, the explorers have now found the New World, and the colonists have arrived on the East coast. So we're learning about what happened with the Spanish padres and the Native Americans on the West coast while the settlers were working things out with the Eastern Woodland "Indians" in Jamestown.

Last week our learning adventures took form as one of our extended field trips, and managed to combine it with some great family visits. We learned a lot, had a great time, and made some wonderful memories.

Since we covered the missions to the south of us last year, it was time to go north. Saving the two closest to us, because we can do those in a couple of day trips sometime when we need a spur-of-the-moment get-away, we left Friday after work and drove up the coast to Lompoc.

No offense to Lompoc, but there isn't much there. Well, there's a federal prison, an air force base, and a mission. Our visit was confined, pun intended, not to jail or base, but to pursuits historical.

We got to our hotel in time for the girls to enjoy the pool.

After a breakfast that would have been more satisfactory had I been able to enjoy it WITH my family, rather than at the bottom of the stairs above which the breakfast room was located (NO elevator, thus no access), we trekked out to the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park. Our visit was timed to coincide with very infrequently held "Village Days." In retrospect, it was the girls' favorite of the trip. Location allows it to feel more like it probably felt during the mission era than the other missions we've visited so far. AND, Village Days are highly interactive. MUCH to see and do... with DO being the keyword. The girls carved soapstone charms, wove baskets, made reed ducks, tried their hand at a Chumash game, decorated toy bull roarers with pictograms, created palm frond brooms, chatted with costumed docents and authentic mountain men, and explored top to bottom. It was a blast! See for yourself.

It sprinkled, almost, as we were on our way to Buellton, CA, home of the famous Andersen's Restaurant. It poured buckets while we sipped split pea soup, gazing out through a beautiful picture window onto a rain-washed garden. When we were ready to leave, the downpour slowed to a drizzle and then was over.

Perfect timing. There was a wedding going on at Mission Santa Ines, so we enjoyed the gardens before going inside the mission church.

I have no picture evidence, but our next stop was Goleta Beach. The girls enjoyed their customary pier walk with Papa, and then we enjoyed his and his wife's hospitality for the night. The girls were introduced to the story of "Brigadoon" and it made us wish even more that we'd been able to see goddaughter SwimChick, who lives in Vancouver, WA, in a recent youth production of the musical.

More traditions kept as the girls picked fresh citrus the next morning before we said our so longs. We like to take oranges and lemons from Papa and Dorothy with us to the cousins, who are usually our next stop.

We couldn't leave Santa Barbara, though, before a visit to the Queen of the Missions.
It was exciting to learn that the lone woman of San Nicolas island, on whose life the book Island of the Blue Dolphin is based, is actually buried in the cemetery of the Santa Barbara Mission. We are currently listening to/reading, and very much enjoying her story as part of A New World of Adventures unit study curriculum.

Our last night, but NOT our last evening, was spent with the aforementioned cousins. We had a great visit, and since the twins weren't starting school until Tuesday, we extended our visit time by taking them with us to our final mission of this trip.

I can't believe it, but again I have no pictorial evidence for this part of the trip. We did, though, thoroughly enjoy visiting with the twins' family, including a loving mama, a big brother who introduced Jelly to the awesome world of rpgs, a big sister who has since started her first term at UC Berkeley, and a new baby brother, adorable but with one of those sensitive level sensors that activate fussing unless he's being held by someone completely vertical, slightly bouncing, and who is preferably serenading him softly so that he knows he has their complete attention. Their daddy, unfortunately, we did not get to visit with, as he was on the road. One of our tradtions here is to exchange hand-me-downs. It's a wonderful system. Oh, for the record, the lemonade and orange juice, freshly squeezed by the kids, was delicious, as always.

Before heading home, we spent our last evening of this mini mission trip visiting with family on the Woody side. I think the girls were suprised at how much fun they had with just boy cousins. LOL The kids were having the kind of fun that moves too fast to be caught on film. I believe it involved an uncle and the kind of fear that induces laughing so hard you almost can't breathe.

Our mission for this mini mission trip was a complete success.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living Dolls

Costumes, make-up, and pretend are not solely the domain of those Hollywood and Broadway folks who work so "hard" to make sure we are entertained. Dressing dolls is an entertaining passion for some. Our dolls dress themselves.

This post is just a small sample of some of the (I was going to say FREE ! LOL Anyone with kids knows how NOT true that is!) ways the girls have entertained us over the past year.

We participate in the traditional HUGE party, carnival, and Trunk or Treat at church every October, usually the Saturday evening before Halloween. Then, since the girls have already had a chance to stock up on sweets in a safe environment, we started a NEW family tradition to replace Trick or Treating. On the actual Halloween, the girls dress up in their costumes and then we go on an adventure. In 2008 we used our annual pass to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. The colors in their costumes rivaled some of the gorgeous tropical fish we saw.

Doodle decided that we should have a Native American at our Thanksgiving feast. Here she’s helping to sauté the aromatics that will flavor our dressing. Doesn’t she have amazing eyelashes? My brother has eyelashes like that, too. No make-up needed there!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving finds us at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA, welcoming the Christmas season with a traditional Messiah Sing-a-Long. It may not be the White House, but the roses are beautiful and the smiles are sweet.

December runs the gamut from silly to sublime. Most of what you see here is the silly.

Jelly, at ALMOST age 12, got this sunny rose at her New Beginnings program – perfect for our sunshiny blondie. She is growing up wonderfully! (The roses in the background are in the planter at the front of our home. Jelly’s own bedroom window is just out of the top of the frame.)

This collage represents the months we all spent preparing and sharing the production of the Savior of the World. Everyone who knows us agreed that the girls were the most angelic angels!

Woody Family Vacation 2009 was dubbed “The Big Loop Trip.” We traveled over 5000 miles in a very lopsided figure 8.

We went so that we could participate in granddaughter Tamara’s (she’s the cutie wearing the pink jacket and belt) baptism, (and being so close, we couldn’t NOT go to the Mall of America),



and we stopped at many National Parks, monuments, and memorials, and kid-friendly museums along the way.

Salt Lake City was the last stop in the loop that provided dress-up opportunities of a HUGE variety, including not-pictured-here dressing up to go to a live broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – Music and the Spoken Word in the company of the most wonderful senior missionary couple serving!

When we’d recovered from the trip, we didn’t wait long to further our adventures. The girls enjoyed most of the attention they got (they weren’t thrilled at the idea of being sold to pirates!) in their costumes at the German Renaissance Festival, Koroneburg, in Corona, CA.

Dressing up, dressing down, costumes, make-up, stylish do’s --- there are no end to the possibilities.

As Lucy Maud Montgomery, writing Anne of Green Gables said, "Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"

That’s what dressing up or playing with dolls does – provides extra scope for imagination as we adventure along!

And if you’re entertained in the process, so much the better. ;o)

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Start

UPDATED WITH WORKBOX PICS Sat., Sept. 12, 2009 We have now had six WEEKS of school, rather than the six days of this original post. We have also met with our homeschool support group for the first time. We're still going strong!!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Here at Wonderwood Academy, we have had, as of this morning, six and a half days of the 180 minimum required by the state of California for the 2009-2010 school year. It has been a good start to the year. We actually started on Monday, the 3rd, and had VERY full (details to follow) school days Monday through Wednesday. Life intervened on Thursday (including a flat tire on our way to pick up a box of frozen blueberries arriving by special order from Oregon), so we turned it into a half school day. Mrs. Woody needed Friday to review and revise, so we quickly scheduled a student-free day. After a Saturday filled with House Blessing and weekly organizing, and a busy Sunday schedule (which included a talk given in Primary by the Doodle), we have again this week, as we did last week, had VERY full school days Monday through Wednesday.

Our VERY full school days have come about for three reasons that we can identify. First, the girls are growing up and need a more rigorous academic schedule. Second, we have been told that the first couple of weeks of A New World of Adventures curriculum has longer days than are usual. Third, we have implemented a modified version of Sue Patrick's Workbox System, and the structure gives us the ability to accomplish MUCH ("Children using this system stay more focused and are more successful in learning and completing their school work independently.") while making sure we don't lose the fun in learning that means so much to us. ("It will then be easier to set up a school day of curriculum, variety and fun...")

Our subjects this year include, in alphabetical order (at varying grade levels from 5th to 12th):
Art Appreciation - including artist studies
Basic Drawing
California History
Daily Devotional
Early American History
Geography & Map Skills
Home Economics
Language Arts - reading, narration, copywork, spelling, grammar, writing, vocabulary
Library & Research Skills
Logical Thinking
Music Appreciation - including composer studies
Science - currently Marine Biology, later we'll add Meteorology and Physics
Spanish - Level 1
Typing (on the computer)

Whew! No wonder our days are long! (And we haven't added in our local homeschool support group, which usually meets once a week, Wednesday afternoons beginning in September.) Now, we don't do all of these subjects every day, but some of them we do. I am still reviewing and revising our schedule/s nearly every night as I prepare to fill the girls' SmartFiles, which is what we choose to call our workbox system. Rather than the many actual boxes required for use in the original system, we use some very cool hanging file boxes that we found at Walmart for less than $10 each.

We use three fileboxes, one for each girl, and one for me.

These are the coolest! The flip-up lid has these great compartments. We use the compartment in the upper left corner to store task cards either not being used that day or cards for tasks/activities that have been completed. There are supposed to be scissors in there, too, but Doodle is a grand paper crafter, and her scissors are often in use!

Besides the files, another vital component of the system is a schedule grid. We don't do it exactly as the original Workbox System, but that's one of the beauties of homeschooling. The girls each have their own daily schedule grid. These show at a quick glance what they will be doing in a single school day. When I get our task cards finished, I'll post a picture of what the grids look like. We ARE using them now, but they're not in their final form. As we work the system, we are learning what works best for us and making modifications along the way. Basically, the grids include cards for things that we do together and that are the same from day to day, and they also include numbers that correspond to file folders that contain assignments that are individualized for each of our (two) students. As a task is completed, it is removed from the grid and placed in a tray contained in the lid of the filebox. You can easily see what you've done and how much is still to be accomplished. Very cool.

The grids are made from two pieces of cardstock, colors chosen by the girls, laminated, and then hinged together with clear packing tape. The girls get them out of their fileboxes in the morning and set them up on our mantel, where we can ALL see them. It's easy to see in the pictures when we're working together and when the girls are on their own. You can also see how I staggered their subjects so that, for example, they don't both need the computer at the same time. Also note, the girls take turns making lunch. In these pics, it's Jelly's turn to make lunch and Doodle's card just says "Break." I really need one that specifies a lunch break, but oh, well.

What's REALLY cool is that not once at the end of these extra-long days has either of our students complained. They are having a GRAND time learning. (See this post for evidence!)

It's their teacher that isn't handling the long days quite so well. Don't get me wrong... I'm LOVING that they are loving "school." I just need to find the balance that will allow me to get some other things done.

We'll get there. We always do.

In the mean time, we're enjoying the adventure.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wonderwood Academy 2008-9

Jelly – 6th grade
Doodle – 4th grade

Learning Adventures –- A World of Adventure & A NEW World of Adventure
Piano Classes
Nature Walks
LOTS of library books on LOTS of topics,
because we’re still quite partial to Charlotte Mason and her living books!

Our main course of study:
Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure
Middle Ages and Botany
Renaissance and Astronomy
Explorers and Marine Science

After last year’s late start, it was especially good to get back to school in August, as we are accustomed to doing. We had just gotten started, though, when we took a time out for the Summer Olympics. How could we not?

Check out what’s on the screen in the background. (The braids, btw, are a fun-and-more-comfortable-than-curlers way to get gorgeous wavy hair for church on Sunday.)

In trying to figure out how to do our school year in review, I decided that this year it would be easier to do by subject. If you read this to the end, you’ll get a good idea of how we covered things. We don’t always go from A to Z, but we get there!

Here we go!

We use a combination of things for our devotionals, including personal scripture study as well as the Bible study in Learning Adventures. Add in the Faith in God program and more recently Personal Progress, and fairly regular Family Home Evenings. Jelly is getting really good at planning those! The girls really made some wonderful strides in growing their testimonies this year.

Reading and other language arts (vocabulary, grammar, spelling, writing, etc.) are also covered in our unit studies. (Thank you again, Dorian!) Reading good literature, no twaddle, really has been a fun way to learn what CAN be not-so-fun skills. We did add in regular journaling, which the girls usually enjoy very much.

We continue to use Math-U-See, and both the girls are making good progress. Math probably will never be their favorite subject, but at least it doesn’t cause tears anymore.

We made it through three complete (more on the incomplete later) units in our Learning Adventures this year, which means we have finally finished the first volume, A World of Adventure. We studied the Middle Ages and Botany, the Renaissance and Astronomy, and Explorers and Marine Science.

Jelly wasn’t ready to give up learning about the ocean when we finished that unit, so we’re going to continue that next year. We’ll use Jeanne Fulbright’s Exploring Creation with Zoology 2, Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day.

So we covered science: in our unit studies (Botany/Herbology See post 9/13/2008) and also added Beach/Pier Nature Walks, and picking fruit (botany) with Papa, and swimming (marine science), swinging (physics - centrifugal force), and making juice (more botany) with cousins whenever possible!

We took field trips, like hikes at the El Dorado Nature Center (both in the fall and in the spring), checked out the Irvine Park Pumpkin Patch and Orange County Zoo (10/15/2008 post), traveled north for a Liahona Field Trip to Griffith Park Observatory, and took a tour of a local PetCo in February with a knowledgeable animal specialist as our guide. We celebrated Woody’s 25th Anniversary at Boeing in April, and a couple of days later, Jelly also had a chance to go with him to the Boeing Plant in Huntington Beach for their annual “Take Your Kid to Work Day.” Next year Doodle will be old enough to go, too!

Some of our favorite science adventures this year came about because we bought a membership at the Aquarium of the Pacific when we went there for Homeschool Day. (See post 9/12/2008) We tried to get there once a month and enjoyed every visit except our last one. It was recent, during the summer, and was just too crowded for us. We are so spoiled to being able to go places for school when most other kids are “in” school.

Our Social Studies started this year with the Middle Ages, (See post 9/19/2008), but we also began our concurrent history study of the California Missions when we went to San Diego to celebrate Woody's birthday. Later, in the spring, we also toured the mission at San Juan Capistrano. We have plans to visit many more, if not all, the missions in the next year or so.

For Halloween, Jelly and the Doodle dressed as Renaissance witches, probably influenced by our Middle Ages/Renaissance studies. Another dress-up opportunity came when we went to Koroneburg, the German Renaissance Faire in Corona, in May of this year. The girls were both “knighted” into the Order of the Fabled Readers. Great fun!

We actually try to avoid some “Current Events”, but in November we did a Civics Field Trip. After discussing the issues, we voted and then watched the returns come in. You win some, you lose some. It was a learning experience. Enough said.

We had a HUGE focus on Fine Arts this year, mostly because of the fact that the entire family was involved in the Savior of the World production (See 10/13/2008 post.) In addition to weekly angel choir rehearsals, the girls took piano lessons beginning in September. Our holiday concert season began, as usual, with the Messiah Sing-Along, sponsored by the Yorba Linda Arts Alliance. Because Woody is their tenor soloist, it's a tradition that has opened our Christmas season on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for five years now. During December, the entire Woody family was busy rehearsing, singing for or attending special Christmas concerts.

Rehearsals for the SOTW intensified after the holidays, exponentially each month until opening night, March 25, 2009. Jury duty for Mrs. Woody (and MANY field trips to the court house) complicated everyone’s lives beginning the last week of February and continuing three to four days a week through the opening week of the production of the Savior of the World. There were 10 shows. We are SO thankful that we were able to share that amazing experience as a family. It is something we will always treasure. We also were able to share the experience in May of attending a live broadcast (on Mother’s Day) of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir -– Music and the Spoken Word. What a blessing! Concert season ended for this school year with the annual Patriotic Community Concert in Anaheim Hills –on the Saturday before the 4th of July. We are blessed to be Americans…………. . . and occasionally proud, too.

Life skills are daily events at Wonderwood Academy but we had a few focus events this year. In November, Liahona took a free field trip to Albertson's - with a focus on learning to be "Healthy Eaters". That same month, Liahona had a quilting class under the trees at Heritage Park. We got a fabulous intro and mini history of quilting, a hands-on opportunity for kids and grown-ups to use a rotary cutter, and made decisions on what kind of quilts we wanted to make. We had planned on actually MAKING quilts this year, but family difficulties for our instructor left us hanging. The new plan, at least for our family, is to make a quilt square as we study each state this year and put a quilt together when we finish the 50th one.

November was definitely the month for a focus on life skills. On the 15th, the Freeway Complex fire burned closer than any fire we've experienced before. Our bishop's family, as well as two other families at church, lost their home. Half the ward was evacuated. Jelly was packed and ready to go. Doodle handled her fears by escaping into one of her favorite movies. Though it's been amazing to see the strength and love of our ward family as people step in to serve each other, I hope we never have that experience again. If we do, we ARE more prepared to handle it. We continue to work on our emergency preparedness supplies and plans.

In December, our baby, the Doodlebug, turned nine years old!! This was a year for a family celebration, so she got to plan the entire day's menus. She developed a love for hand sewing when she was tiny, watching her Grandma Joy, and still talks about how she used to "help" put in some of the stitches. Watching Aunt Debby work on her current project revived Doodle's desires for a project that she can do "by herself." So, her special birthday gift was to select a printed cross stitch project. She's making a pillow case with a princess design.

Also in December, Christmas School was in session at Wonderwood Academy. We participated (along with God daughter, SwimChick) in a special HOAC Co-Op on the Twelve Days of Christmas and combined that with Christmas Around the World. In conjunction with that, for at least the third year (I need to check on this) we attended the Orange Stake's Creche and Christmas Concert. It was especially fun this year to look for nativities from the countries we studied in our Christmas unit at Wonderwood.

The New Year, and January 2009 brought renewed goals, 15 min. at a time!!!

Having survived the spring, we made plans for and took what we called the Big Loop Expedition – It was a HUGE Field Trip, motivated by our granddaughter’s baptism in Minnesota. We traveled and explored for nearly three weeks., which included visiting MANY national parks, monuments, and memorials. That trip really deserves a post all its own.

Add in Girls’ Camp, and nearly weekly Mutual activities for Jelly now that she has turned 12, cooking, continued trips to our local libraries (two of them now), and play days and family adventures whenever we can arrange them, and you have what we are pleased to call a very well-rounded school year.

Can’t wait for the next one to begin!

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 09, 2009

2009 First Full Week in Review

My ribcage feels like a boxing match has been held inside me (due to all the bronchitis-induced coughing), I sound like a tenor (so says Debby - I'd actually go so far as to say baritone) instead of the alto I am; we're still working on getting Christmas decorations down, laundry caught up, and decluttering done (all 15 minutes at a time); Woody is still working to catch up after his work laptop died and had to have a new hard drive and a new system board put in (he's also trying to catch up on the missed sleep that has all caused); BUT ALL THINGS TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION, I am still officially declaring this a good week.

The bills are done and up to date, and we're okay.

We had three great days of school. I'd originally hoped for 5, but am thrilled with three. I'll share a couple of quotes from the girls, and you'll understand. Jelly - "I LOVE learning! I've missed it!" Doodle - "Cursive writing is so much fun!" It goes on. Seriously.

I know that what they've really missed has been a structured routine. As easy-going as we are, we all thrive when we're following a schedule and doing our routines. Ours is not a "tight" structure - on the contrary. It's really just a guide to keep us on track. If things take less time, or even longer than we expect, no problem. We move on when we're ready. The disclaimer here, though, is that our timer, for CERTAIN things, also keeps us moving and on track. It may not be an exact science, but for us it works. The evidence can't be denied.

We have wrapped up everything we left dangling from 2008, and we're ready to move on! Woohoo!

So now I'm in planning mode again. Details to follow.

I LOVE making lists! Bwwaaahaaahaaaa!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Again I Say, Rejoice!

It is so nice, when lots of things seem to be completely topsy-turvy, to get an affirmation that you're going in the right direction. It's a reason to rejoice! A quote from this article appeared in my inbox right after I posted my goals for this year.

This is what it said:
"Only one verse of scripture in the entire King James Version of the New Testament suggests what the Savior did to develop himself from age twelve until he began his formal ministry at age thirty: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52; see JST, Matt. 3:24–26). In other words, the Savior developed in the same areas indicated on the poll: intellectually (in wisdom and knowledge), physically (in stature), socially (in favor with man), and spiritually (in favor with God).

I am convinced that if we make and keep resolutions in those four areas, we will have a happier and more successful new year this coming year and every year for the rest of our lives." ~Joe J. Christensen, “Resolutions,” Ensign, Dec 1994, 62–67

You'll have to read the article to find out what poll he was referring to. You might even find some other great words of wisdom if you take the time. :o)

What it said to me is that my four 15-minute goals ARE going to make 2009 an incredible year!

We're still fighting winter colds (though we're staying hydrated, trying to get enough rest, and eating healthier), we still have Christmas decorations up (though we did start taking them down yesterday, 15 minutes at a time!), we know we have an extra busy several months ahead of us (though we're excited for the reason - the Savior of the World production), and there are LOTS of long-term to-dos on our list (though 15 minutes at a time we're starting to see progress already!). BUT we're enjoying each other - working AND playing together, learning and adventuring together, praying and growing together - and feeling very blessed.

So, again I say, rejoice!

Labels: , , , ,