Friday, February 29, 2008

A Leap Day Rabbit Trail

We are very fond of rabbit trails. We're studying Ancient Rome, and just learned that Julius Caesar first proclaimed the last day of February as Leap Year Day in 45BC. Back then, February 30th was the last day of the last month of the year, which is why he picked it.

Then, in 4 AD, Emperor Caesar Augustus corrected a counting error in Leap Years. He also got the month of August named after him, and stole the last day of February so that August could have 31 days, just like Julius' month.

By 1582, Pope Gregory XIII recognized that Easter would eventually occur closer and closer to Christmas. The calendar was altered so that a leap day would occur in any year that is divisible by 4 but not divisible by 100 except when the year is divisible by 400. 1600 and 2000, although century marks, have a Leap Day.

This just begs for a special one-day mini unit. Check this out for more than you can possibly do in one day! The link says it's math, and it is, but it's also a LOT more!

If we end up with a lapbook, I'll post it.

Happy Leapin'!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sick-Days School

It is always quite amazing to me HOW our Heavenly Father teaches us just what He wants us to know - and just what we NEED to learn. And then I'm always amazed that I'm amazed. What I mean is, He uses the same teaching methods that we do as earthly parents - pretty much whatever it takes to get the lessons across - so I'm not sure why it amazes me so much. He plays to our strengths while helping to strengthen our weaknesses. It's one of the (many!) reasons I love homeschooling.

What I'm trying to say is that this week I seem to be learning yet another lesson that I didn't know I needed to learn. It is, so far, a strange week - which is to say that it doesn't fit the relaxed-but-fairly-predictable schedule we usually keep around here. I'm just starting to feel better, Jelly is deep in the throes of a nasty headcold, last night Doodle began her journey to feverish misery with a flu bug, and Daddy is working NOT at home as he has been so much lately, but actually IN his office. Do you blame him for wanting to escape? ;o)

Things are just not what they should be.


Not having enough energy to have our daily devotional isn't a good reason not to have it because having it always makes us feel better, especially if we feel especially crummy before we begin. (This is even more true when you feel physically fine and spiritually crummy.)

Looking at scrapbooks, lapbooks, and notebooks is a great way to sneak in some school when there isn't any energy to "do" school.

Unless your throat really hurts or your cough prohibits it (then let someone else do it!), reading out loud together is a great way to help lift sagging spirits. (Hank, the Cowdog, anyone?)

Cool, creamy yogurt or a fruity, frozen Jamba Juice can tempt even those with sore throats and no appetites.

Amazing things can be accomplished 15- (or even just 5) minutes at a time.

So, Jamba Juice and a story coming right up!

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wonderwood Read-a-thon

I hoped it wouldn't happen, but it did.

I have succumbed to the family cold and feel basically miserable.

So, when there's no energy for anything else, we have read-a-thons. They work differently at different times. Here's what we did this time:

* Regular morning devotional, including a GREAT old book by Emma Marr Petersen (the wife of Elder Mark E. Petersen), Book of Mormom Stories for Young Latter-Day Saints. It's out of print, but we found it used and very inexpensive at
* Math (Awww, Mama!)
* Read-a-loud for science - Currently we're reading a Magic School Bus Book, Rocky Road Trip
* Silent reading time - The girls kept track of the pages they read, writing down page numbers each time they started and stopped, and earned one minute of family game time for each page read. Woohoo! They get to cash in when everyone feels good enough to play.

Mama read too, but my pages don't count toward game time. ;o) We use Homeschool Tracker to log the independent reading everyone does, including Mama and Daddy Woody.

I've been hearing a lot lately about the Charlie Bone books, so we picked up the first one at the library last week and asked Woody to read it. He'll post his review soon. For now I'll just say that Jelly and I will probably both be reading it soon.

I'm currently reading the Elm Creek Quilts novels, by Jennifer Chiaverini, and enjoying them a lot. Good stories for and about women. Jelly actually read the first one after I did, and enjoyed it. I decided not to let her read the next two, but only because they deal with more adult themes. NOT at all inappropriate, though, just more about grown-up reality than a 10-year-old needs to think about. No offensive language or anything. She asked when she COULD read them. I told her when she's 16. We'll see.

I'm also reading Peculiar in a Good Way by Mary Ellen Edmunds. It's the kind of book I read a bit at time, so I can think about and absorb what she says. I've loved MEE ever since she worked at the MTC when I was there before going on my mission to Honduras. She is so much fun to read/listen to, and also really touches my spirit.

Cross-Country Quilters is on the okay list if she wants to read it (the 4th in the Elm Creek series), but for now, Jelly is in the middle of about five different series.
* Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series
* The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
* The Wild Horse Island series by Terri Farley
* Animal Ark books by Ben M. Baglio
* Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Of course, there are lots of NON-series books mixed in, too. Jelly is an AVID reader.

Doodle is current reading Dragonsdale by Salamanda Drake, The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne, and various other classic tales about girls - Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter, and Heidi by Johanna Spyri, for example. She's my modern-day old-fashioned girl, and loves reading "old-fashioned" adventures about girls.

What're YOU reading?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wonderwood Academy Course of Study

UPDATE: The chronological record of studies at Wonderwood Academy is up-to-date!

Regular readers already know that we've been homeschoolers since before our girls were born. We've gotten lots of help and support from many different people, in person and online. There is no way to thank you all enough. I decided that it's time to pay it back, and maybe even pay it forward, by detailing a bit of what we have done, are doing, and may do in the future.

I decided that a chronological approach makes the most sense (to me, anyway). I hope that this is helpful to someone. It will make a nice record for us, as I print an archival copy of all our family blogs once a year.

Labels: ,

Wonderwood Academy 2007-8

Jelly – 5th grade
Doodle – 3rd grade

Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure
Hogwarts Correspondence School Yr. 4
Typing Instructor Deluxe
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Piano Classes
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
Finishing Greece
Middle Ages ?

We started this school year almost a month later than we usually do, but still started when “most” public schools do – the week after Labor Day. Due to my recuperation, we started off with only half days, but it didn’t take long to work back up to our usual school schedule. The girls got used to taking impromptu breaks, as we didn’t always know exactly when the home nurses were going to come. It’s nice to be back to “normal” now. :o)

A typical day looks something (we are not at all rigid, but do function better with a basic plan) like this:

* Wake up, breakfast, get ready, and chores done by 10:00 a.m.
* 10:00 – 10:45 a.m. Devotional and Scripture Reading/Study (On Mondays, we also do the Nat’l Anthem or another patriotic song, and the Pledge of Allegiance.) Sometimes this includes the Bible portion of the Learning Adventures curriculum.
* 10:45 – 11:15 a.m. Copywork and Memorization
* 11:15 – 11:45 a.m. Math-U-See
* 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Lunch and “Recess”
* 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Learning Adventures or other Unit Study, including Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Fine Arts – It isn’t really a non-stop, two-hour block, because it includes reading aloud together as well as our notebooking, lapbooking, hands-on, and sometimes extra Hogwarts classes or projects. (We used to do “Show and Tell” every Monday right after our lunch break, but it isn’t a regular thing anymore – I hate to think that the girls are growing out of it. Maybe I need to call it something else, and get us going again. It is great practice for giving talks, speeches, or presentations.)
* 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Typing and Independent Reading (While one dd does a lesson on the computer (Typing Instructor Deluxe), the other reads silently. (Sometimes Doodle likes to go in Mama and Daddy’s room to read “out loud” to one of her dolls.) Then the girls swap places. We’re also planning to add Rosetta Stone Spanish into this time slot, but I still haven’t figured out the Management software yet, so for now, Spanish is informal, with an occasional bit of notebooking.

We go to the library as a family quite often. The Learning Adventures curriculum relies heavily on living books, which is one of the reasons it fits us so well. When the girls were little, we went once a week at Storytime, and just checked out books then as well. We don’t really have a regular day anymore, but still are VERY faithful library patrons. The girls were thrilled earlier this year when they got their OWN library cards. Now they use the self-checkout machine like seasoned veterans. :o)

We meet with our local support group, Liahona, on Wednesday afternoons. If we have a field trip, we may not “do” any other school that day. If it is a park day, we try to get in our usual morning stuff before we go.

We officially finished our study of Ancient Greece in November by sponsoring a field trip to the Getty Villa, in Malibu, CA. It was a bit last minute, but some of our homeschool friends were able to join us.

A wonderful time was had by all - even when it sprinkled on us a bit it did NOT dampen our spirits. We also had a Greek feast at Daphne’s Restaurant, in Anaheim Hills, CA. The girls want to go to Getty Villa again, so we have plans to celebrate there when we finish our study of Ancient Rome - we’ll just change our focus from Greek to Roman exhibits, tours, and presentations. No problem. :o)

For the 4th year in a row we participated the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the Yorba Linda Messiah Sing-Along at the Nixon Library. Daddy Woody is the tenor soloist. The girls are already VERY familiar with some of the Christmas selections, so it has been easy to add a study of Handel and the Messiah to our study of Rome. The life and ministry of Christ occurred within the timeframe of the Roman Empire, so studying the oratorio now is working out well.

Since Doodle’s birthday is in December, and since our family loves trains, it was just a natural for a very special party theme – a Polar Express Pajama Party! I’ve already blogged lots of details about it, so you can get more info here.

Polar Express Pajama Party
Snuggled in and ready to watch the movie,
with their stockings full of movie-watching goodies.

At Christmastime, we continued to work on the Symbols of Christmas lapbook we started last year. We listened to music, sang, read LOTS of holiday stories, crafted, and baked. We did a LOT of gingerbread, in honor of our Mawgs.
The girls each put together and decorated a house from a kit.
One was a Wilton, and the other was from Trader Joe’s. I think they both turned out great!

Because we were actually at HOME on Christmas Eve, we had a special celebration. The girls received Owl Post, with directions, supplies, and gifts for “A Hogwarts Holiday – Christmas in the Great Hall.” They had fun decorating 12 mini trees with different themes after a breakfast of cauldron cakes and other British breakfast items. Lunch was pumpkin pasties and butterbeer, and we had Quidditch Players Pie for dinner, washed down with pumpkin juice, of course. During the course of the day, the girls brewed potions, made treats from Honeydukes recipes, and played games including a variation on Wizards chess and Harry Potter Scene It.

A magical holiday.

Our focus this year was to have a JOYFUL and peaceful holiday. We attended two Christmas Around the World celebrations - our plan is to make that our holiday theme next year! So cool!

2008 started out with a bang! For three years now the girls have actually stayed up playing family games and listening to Daddy Woody read aloud (Inkheart) until midnight to welcome in the New Year by banging on pots and pans, blowing horns, and pulling “poppers” that explode with bursting confetti streamers. Good, um, not-so-clean, fun! ;o) Those things are messy like crazy, but not too bad to clean up. Especially if the girls decide to pick up all the streamers and decorate Daddy! Everyone gets a big hug and kiss at midnight, and this year we toasted with Martinelle’s Sparkling Cider. Yum.

In January, we celebrated a milestone event. Doodle and two of her cousins have all been baptized within the last six months. There is another picture of these three as babies, each in a car seat – three in a row in the middle of Grandma’s living room. If I had a digital copy, I’d post it here. Hmm… maybe we can scan it.

This one was taken at the celebration party after Ben’s baptism.
(His was the last of the three.)
Definitely cute cousins.

February fun has included making and delivering chocolate rocket valentines for friends and family. We got the idea a couple of years ago when some friends launched and landed Livesaver rockets at our house. We adapted the idea, making ours from Rollos, Hugs, tissue paper, tape, and a bit of hot glue to hold the nose cones in place.

These are the lapbooks (all from Hands of a Child) we’re working on right now. They coordinate with our Learning Adventures – A World of Adventures. We’re in the Ancient Rome unit, with rocks, minerals, and volcanoes as our science topics.
Ancient Rome
Rocks & Minerals/ Rodney Rockhound

The plan is to finish Rome by the end of March, and start the next unit, the Middle Ages, at the beginning of April. It probably won’t happen quite that way, though – we enjoy rabbit trails and extra projects too much!

We also have plans to do these lapbook studies in HOAC coops this spring:
Cinderella Stories Around the World
Mythological Creatures Around the World
Art Appreciation
Music Appreciation

We continue to add timeline figures and other entries to our Book of the Centuries. The girls really enjoy looking through them and at their finished lapbooks.

Home and school, for us, together are most definitely a magical adventure and a winning combination.

I can’t wait to see what adventures await!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wonderwood Academy 2006-7

Jelly – 4th grade
Doodle – 2nd grade

Typing Instructor Deluxe
Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure
Hogwarts Correspondence School Yr. 3
Medical, Magical, and Marine Science
MANY library books on MANY topics, because, because, because!

Because of the girls extreme fascination with pioneers, and the virtual Oregon Trail trip we made last winter, we started our school year off with an “Extended Field Trip.”

After attending a temple open house in Sacramento, visiting Donner Memorial State Park, a family reunion, and visiting with extended family along the way, we met up in Montpelier, ID, with the "Neighbor" family, at about the half-way point along the Oregon Trail. (We actually got a personal tour that started in Cokeville, WY, -a tiny town where my mom was born- from a dear history-loving uncle and aunt, before we met up.) Together, our two families followed the trail, with many stops along the way, to the End of the Trail Museum, in Oregon City, OR. Though we began with a good base knowledge, we gained new respect and admiration for those amazing pioneers AND the country they traveled and settled. We also had an incredible time!

SwimChick, Doodle, & Jelly, "Pioneer Girls"
at the Nat'l Oregon/California Trail Center, in Montpelier, ID

Fort Hall Replica, Pocatello, ID

SwimChick's grandma made her pioneer costume, but we got Jelly's and Doodle's from Kelly's Costumes. The quality is great and the girls still wear them - sometimes for dress-up and sometimes just because they like the dresses so much. :o) As we traveled, the girls worked on their Pioneers lapbooks. (They didn’t do much on them, though, because we kept them too busy! Next time around for this study, we’re planning to do a more complete lapbook on the entire Oregon Trail.) As we made our way home at the end of our vacation, we did a mini study on the California Gold Rush, with stops at Sutter’s Fort and Mill, and a boomtown (Columbia, CA). Again, we’ll be more thorough when we study US (and California) History, but it was a great introduction.

Travel for a family wedding later in the fall gave us a chance to see some great fall colors up close and personal – a great science class! On our way home, we focused on LDS history in Southern Utah. We visited Cove Fort and several historic points of interest in St. George. We love LIVING history!

Our main course of study for the year:
Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure
Finishing our unit study of Ancient Egypt and beginning Ancient Greece

To kick off this year’s studies on our unit on Ancient Egypt, we sponsored a field trip for our local homeschool support group to the Bowers Museum. They had a great Mummies exhibit called Death and the After Life in Ancient Egypt, on loan from the British Museum.

We also did some great projects that the girls really enjoyed. We had an Egyptian feast (great all except the figs, but we do like Fig Newtons!), made sugar cube, Lego, and Math-U-See block pyramids (andfigured out the total number of cubes/Legos/blocks used for each), made not-so-scary mummies (complete with sarcophagus), and read the Egyptian Cinderella and the Golden Goblet. Doodle especially liked making paddle dolls using the Hands and Hearts Ancient Egypt Discovery Kit.

We focused on our Hogwarts classes around Halloween, even correlating support group field trips to Sea World and the Aquarium of the Pacific with our study of Magical Creatures.

We finished our Hogwarts Halloween by assembling the lapbooks the girls worked on for about a week. Both Jelly and Doodle are very proud of the way they finished up, and rightfully so. Jelly especially was excited to show her origami ghost to her origami-loving friend.

The Halloween lapbooks were only our second attempt at “from scratch/on our own” folder projects. We used a different technique for assembling the base folders than we’d ever done before, and it worked out really well. We had three main topics and so the girls’ work showcased the studies we did in these three areas: History of Magic(al Holidays - Halloween); Herbology (Pumpkins and how they grow); and Halloween Celebrations and Customs Around the World (anthropology and geography). We used three folders, with the second and third inserted into the first so that when completed, it opened like a regular book rather than being shutter-folded. Of course, we also included jokes and riddles, pumpkin poetry and a concentration game, and a build-a-skeleton game (Science - Body Systems) played like the classic game of Beetle/Cootie. It was based on this free lapbook that I got from the Seiler Clan's website, and then we added stuff I’d collected over the years from ALL kinds of sources.

Halloween Lapbooks - Front Covers
Notice the tabs on the right-hand side. They are labeled with the three main topics.

First Folder Open - History (and some Botany!)

Second Folder Open - Herbology (Pumpkins)

Third Folder Open - Halloween Around the World

Halloween Lapbooks - Back Covers

Wasn’t it nice of nature to provide such a great transition into the Christmas holidays? The rainbow arched almost from one end of the world to the other!!

And yes, we DID add an impromptu study of light to our science classes. How could we not? :o) It was Christmastime, and the LIGHT of the World was a perfect topic.

The girls’ grandma/Mawgs/my mom was gravely ill during the holiday season, and passed from this life to the next on New Year’s Eve, after a long battle with cancer. We focused what time we had for school on the Symbols of Christmas and Christmas Cheer, again joining the HOAC co-op. We were able to keep our projects with us easily as we traveled back and forth from home to be with Mawgs. It was exactly what we needed during a stressful time – it really helped us keep the spirit and joy in the season in spite of our sadness and grief about Mawgs. We had a wonderful time, and we will be working on that lapbook project for YEARS of Christmases to come!

The girls loved showing their almost-finished Egypt lapbooks to their paternal grandparents, who came for a visit from Texas in mid-January.

Ancient Egypt Lapbook - Front Cover
Included minibooks from HOAC project packs for Ancient Egypt, Mummies, Pyramids, and Desert Habitat, as well as some other projects we did.

Ancient Egypt - First Folder Open

Ancient Egypt - First Extension Flap Up

Ancient Egypt - Left and Right Flaps Open

Ancient Egypt - Vocabulary Book Open

In addition to formal school, we learned a lot about life, and how it goes on even when you’re hurting. A local homeschool support group field trip to the our county’s chapter of the Red Cross helped – we saw how people help people in times of challenge. Extra cool field trips (including a whale watching trip on a sailing ship and a port tour on a modern boat and even a trip to Disneyland!) and lots of hands-on projects kept us not-quite-busy-enough. We still missed Mawgs/Grandma a LOT!

We made a HOAC lapbook about Disneyland as a thank you gift for Daddy’s boss’s wife. She works there, and with a friend, arranged to get us all in FREE!! We loved making it, and she loved getting it!

Hands of a Child Disneyland project pack - Two folders, shutter-folded

Our study of Ancient Greece actually began in the Spring of 2007. We had the following lapbook/notebook projects from Hands of a Child: Ancient Greece, Healthy Bodies, Human Body, Five Senses.

As we had done with Egypt, we combined our studies of Ancient Greece into our Book of the Centuries and intended one large lapbook and some notebook pages. Our science unit was anything related to the human body – anatomy, biology, health and nutrition, and the five senses. One of our first activities was about fingerprints – the girls LOVED investigating!

That sums up the school year pretty well - we had lots of great adventures as we spent time investigating together!

Our Family Vacation, during the Summer of 2007, included Owl Scout Day Camp (where the girls earned four badges each) and a Northwest Coast Lighthouse Tour.

Owl Scout Camp - a la Hogwarts; Making Magical Memories!

Little did we know that the end of the tour would include an injury that would change our lives for the next four months. It was still a wonderful vacation.

But that is another story.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wonderwood Academy 2005-6

Jelly – 3rd grade
Doodle – 1st grade

Hooked on Phonics
Dolch Sight Words & Spelling
Hogwarts Correspondence School Yr. 2
Science Around Town & Country
Story of the World, Vol. 1
Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure
Horseback Riding/Swimming
LOTS of library books on LOTS of topics,
always just because we can’t not!

This was a year of transitions. We tried lots of different things, both topics and methods. It took until the end of the year, but we finally found our “groove”!! It’s still a bit eclectic, but more Charlotte Mason; less school-at-home, and a more relaxed structure; quite scheduled, but not rigid.

We began the year with a study of the United States, but after just one state (Delaware), I changed my mind about the order and timing that I thought we needed. So, instead, our study of world history began with a study of the Creation of the World. We started there, and notebooked and project-ed our way through Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel. As usual, we did these topics unit-study-style, so we got language arts, social studies (history and geography), and science covered. We had so much fun with rainbows and color!!

We took time out from our world history to have our first experience with Hands of a Child (HOAC) co-ops. Wow! So much fun, and so cool to know you’re doing the same thing as others, but with your own twist on things. It does take some effort to get your assigned job done right, but what you get in return more than makes up for it!

We did co-ops for two HOAC lapbooks, but there was so much information that I got overwhelmed and we didn’t finish either Thanksgiving or Pilgrims. We are planning on finishing them another year. No worries. Everything is tucked away in ziplock bags and folders, and will be ready for us when we are ready for them.

After Christmas, and our holiday/family activities, we went back in time to finish: Ancient Mesopotamia. This was our first purchased lapbook project that we completed all at once. We had only made one lapbook previously that we kind of made up as we went along. (The Little House one.) It was SO wonderful to have most of the work done for us! We used the guide, reading and discussing it a bit at a time, and then doing the minibook project/s that went along with that section of the guide. It had been a LONG time since I’d even thought about Mesopotamia, and I didn’t remember much. We really enjoyed doing these projects, though we ended up putting them in our notebooks on cardstock rather than in a lapbook. We also added paper dolls (from EMC 3701 – History Pockets, Ancient Civilizations) because our girls really like to pretend that they are living history.

The girls still hadn’t had enough of pioneers, so when I found about an online Wagon Train experience, “Westward Ho!” in January 2006, we decided to join up. We made Oregon Trail journals, and assumed pioneer identities. All the pretend was right up our alley! Plus, the girls already had such a good background on pioneers that they REALLY got into it. It was fun that Auntie Neighbor and SwimChick were “making the trip,” too!

After finishing our virtual Oregon Trail Trek, and while we waited for our new curriculum, we had some fun with holiday studies (St. Patrick’s Day) and Hogwarts classes. Then we got ancient history going again with the Story of the World, Vol.1. The girls had fun testing their skills as archeologists at a “dig” and investigating cave paintings.

We were really busy (all year!) with some great field trips for science – gardening in Santa Barbara; Rancho Los Alamitos; Discovery Science Center; Natural History Museum in L.A.; Knott's Berry Farm; IMAX; an Amtrak trip to Texas (Remember the Alamo!) - across the desert and back again; and lots of beach trips.

To celebrate her birthday, Jelly chose a Harry-Potter-themed sleepover party. We were able to use a lot of the ideas we got from our Hogwarts Correspondence School classes. We had a magical time! I'm including a picture collage of some of the things we included in our Hogwarts weekend.

Our main course of study for the last month of the year, our new curriculum:
Learning Adventures – A World of Adventure. We absolutely LOVE this! It includes everything except math, typing, and Spanish, (which we want to get into more formally soon). The author is great to answer any and all questions, too. We love that the studies are based on living books, and reinforced with notebooking and LOTS of hands-on activities.

Our study of Ancient Egypt began with the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. We started one HUGE lapbook, combining four from Hands of a Child into one, (Ancient Egypt, Pyramids, Mummies, Desert Habitat) using two folders, with flaps and extensions. We just barely got started on this unit, so we continued it in 2006-7. Check that post for more info.

By the time this school year was over, I finally felt like I really had a handle on what works for us. Sometimes homeschoolers speak of having to de-tox their kids for a while after they are pulled out of public school to be homeschooled. The longer the exposure to public school, the longer the time required for de-toxing.

Apparently, the same phenomenon affects those of us who have been teachers in public school. ;o)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wonderwood Academy 2004-5

Jelly – 2nd grade Doodle – Kindergarten

Still ecclectic with a Charlotte Mason twist:
Singapore Math
Hooked on Phonics
Dolch Sight Words & Spelling
All About Me – Notebooking
Holiday Studies
Hogwarts Correspondence School Yr. 1
Gingerbread Unit Study
Horseback Riding
Swimming (incl. lessons)
Nature Studies at the Beach
Vacation Bible School
LOTS of library books on LOTS of topics, just because!

Our main course of study:
American Girl books

We learned about the following 6 girls, having previously studied Kirsten - 1854. The stories are not great literature, but they are good stories, and serve well as “tags” to associate with real history. Each book has a fantastic feature in the back called “A Peek into the Past.” We took off on a lot of rabbit trails after reading those features.
(Descriptions from the American Girl website) --
Kaya - 1764
Meet Kaya, Kaya’s Escape!, Kaya’s Hero, Kaya and Lone Dog, Kaya Shows the Way, and Changes for Kaya. These are stories of an adventurous girl. Author: Janet Shaw.
Felicity - 1774 Williamsburg
Meet Felicity; Felicity Learns a Lesson; Felicity’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Felicity!; Felicity Saves the Day; and Changes for Felicity. These are stories of an independent, spirited girl. Author: Valerie Tripp.
Josefina - 1824
Meet Josefina; Josefina Learns a Lesson; Josefina’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Josefina!; Josefina Saves the Day; and Changes for Josefina. These are stories of a caring, faithful girl. Author: Valerie Tripp.
Samantha - 1904
Meet Samantha; Samantha Learns a Lesson; Samantha’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Samantha!; Samantha Saves the Day; and Changes for Samantha. These are stories of a compassionate, generous girl that offer lessons about choices and friendship that still touch girls today. Author: Susan S. Adler, Maxine Rose Schur, and Valerie Tripp.
Kit - 1934 Cincinnati
Meet Kit; Kit Learns a Lesson; Kit’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Kit!; Kit Saves the Day; and Changes for Kit. These are stories of a resourceful, inquisitive girl. Author: Valerie Tripp.
Molly - World War Two
Meet Molly; Molly Learns a Lesson; Molly’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Molly!; Molly Saves the Day; and Changes for Molly. These are stories of a lovable, patriotic girl. Author: Valerie Tripp.

Resources we used included:
Teacher Guides, Craft Books, and Paper Dolls published by Pleasant Company. You can still get the paper dolls on the American Girl website, but the Teacher Guides and Craft Books are not currently available. We found some of them at our library, and you can find some of them used through Amazon or Ebay, but they’re usually pretty expensive. We let the girls choose their favorite American Girl, and got them each a set of paperdolls. Otherwise we used only the books we could find from the library, and had more than enough to work with.

As we learned about each time period, we played games, did crafts (sewing puppets (Samantha); weaving placemats (Kaya)), made paper dolls, cooked and ate food from (patriotic cookies and candy flags (Molly)), wrote newspaper articles (Kit), and even listened to music appropriate to the time. Our Homeschool support group has a Great Brain Day each year where students share what they have become experts at during the year.

Great Brain Day - A presentation on Kaya and the Nez Perce

When I was searching for links to help you out, I found this:
It is a listmania list on Here is the description:
David F. Pocai says: "This list contains resources for teaching history with the American Girl books. This list is geared toward homeschoolers, but can be used for larger groups.

We also had a TON of magical fun doing some Hogwarts correspondence classes. (You have to be a member of the appropriate Yahoo groups to access these files.) They served mostly as our science curriculum. Our regular classes were Potions and Care of Muggle and Magical Creatures, but the girls had a few extra lessons occasionally just to keep things interesting - Honeydukes Home Ec., History of Muggles and Magic, and Herbology, for example.

Bertie Botts Beans – Graphing/Math

Potions – Keeping a lab book, including test results (Daddy=guinea pig!); in the Kids’ Corner at the Visitors’ Center (Sequoia Nat’l Park); coloring eggs with potions
Herbology – Fall Leaves; Field trip to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands (herbology AND magical creatures!)
History of Muggles and Magic – Field trip to the Autry Western Heritage Museum and the Holyland Exhibition, both in Los Angeles; Field trip to Rancho Los Cerritos in Long Beach (Josefina); Field trip to the Lady Washington, a tall ship at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum (Also for Magical Creatures) - Check this site to see if the Lady will be in your area any time soon.
Care of Muggle and Magical Creatures - Field trip to the Santa Ana Zoo

Gingerbread Unit Study

We focused on all things gingerbread during the month of December. We made paperdolls and then dressed them everyday appropriately for the weather. We read every gingerbread story we could get our hands on. We used Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby online activities. We made cinnamon and applesause “gingerbread” ornaments. The girls did an Advent Lego Calendar, and made gingerbread men for one of the days. We made Old Fashioned Gingersnaps and gingerbread cookies. As a culminating activity, we went to Grandma/Mawgs’ house for a gingerbread and graham cracker house-making celebration with some cousins. School made our house smell yummy all month long!

Family Vacations (Extended Field Trips) – In no particular order: Three Rivers, Sequoia Nat’l Park, California Pioneer Life – Mt. Shasta area/Whiskeytown Nat’l Rec. Area , a trip on the Coast Starlight Train, river trip on a sternwheeler down the Columbia River, OMSI in Portland, OR, and a grist mill near Vancouver, WA.

We lived, laughed, loved, and learned a lot!

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 08, 2008

Wonderwood Academy 2003-4

Jelly– 1st grade
Doodle – Pre-K
Ecclectic w/a Charlotte Mason Twist:
Living Math
Hooked on Phonics
Dolch Sight Words & Spelling
All About Me – Notebooking
Geography – Where in the World Am I? – Notebooking
Ballet/Tap Classes
Swim Lessons
Vacation Bible School
LOTS of library books on LOTS of topics, just because!

Our main course of study:
The Prairie Primer: Literature Based Unit Studies Utilizing the "Little House" Series by Margie Gray (Author)

We used the first three original books:
Little House in the Big Woods
Farmer Boy
Little House on the Prairie

…almost all of the My First Little House Books
… and lots of the Little House Chapter Books.

Mawgs(Grandma)and Doodle enjoy a snuggle and a story.

Some of the additional resource we used included:
(Many of them are available here.)
The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker, Garth Williams

Laura Ingalls Wilder Country: The People and places in Laura Ingalls Wilder's life and books by William Anderson
The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins, Christina Wyss Eriksson, Deborah Maze (Illustrator), Garth Williams (Illustrator)

My Little House Crafts Book: 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House
by Carolyn Strom Collins (Author), Mary Collier (Illustrator)

My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Renee Graef (Illustrator)

My Little House Songbook (My First Little House Books)by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Holly Jones (Illustrator)

Little House on the Prairie – DVD Set - The Complete Season 1 (1974)
Starring: Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert

We made our very first lapbook, from scratch! It included all KINDS of topics (cross-curriculum) from our unit study on the Little House books.

Front Cover of Little House Lapbook

Inside with extension closed

Inside with minibook open, right flap minibook open

Inside with extension flap up

Animal Tracks Minibook open

Left flap open - animals:cup envelope, vocabulary cards:mini folder

(It would be easier to do this project now, because Hands of a Child has a lapbook project pack called "A Little House in the Woods.")

When Laura started to grow up, the girls lost interest in her story, but NOT in pioneers. They wanted more about LITTLE pioneer girls.

So, we switched over to:
Kirsten: An American Girl

Jelly and Kirsten

Kirsten’s six-book set features her stories of growing up in 1854 on the Minnesota frontier prairie. They include Meet Kirsten; Kirsten Learns a Lesson; Kirsten’s Surprise; Happy Birthday, Kirsten!; Kirsten Saves the Day; and Changes for Kirsten. These stories of a steadfast girl offer lessons about choices and friendship that still touch girls today. Author: Janet Shaw.

Kirsten’s Paper Dolls This set includes paper dolls of Kirsten, Anna, and Singing Bird, plus outfits and accessories that attach with reusable sticky dots. Also included are illustrated backgrounds so girls can re-create their favorite Kirsten stories.

All year long we did as many hands-on projects as we could, (making maple syrup candy, sewing projects, building a log cabin, homemade chicken and noodles, making butter, and also managed a few related field trips (pioneer theater – Promised Valley; science center – baby chicks, growing gardens; Kellog House – 19th century family life).

Maple Sugar Candy on "Snow"

Our paper log cabin – Jelly and Doodle were pleased, and their dolls loved their new home!

The summer of 2004, for Jelly’s 7th birthday, she had an awesome Little House Birthday Party. It was a great end-of-unit-study celebration!!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Logical Conclusions

I love my daughters incredibly much. They are beautiful, inside and out.

Hear me out on this one:

* There is no question that Jelly is my biological daughter, and was always meant to be my daughter, since before we started counting time on Earth. (If you don't know the story, just trust me on this one.)

* Woody is a major train fan - not a fanatic, just a major fan of trains real and trains model. (Is there a technical name for that?)

* Woody is, without a doubt, Jelly's father. (Again, trust me.)

Therefore, when Woody says, speaking of Jelly, "Her little train stops at many stations," he knows whereof he speaks.

('Nuff said?)

Labels: ,