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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wilderness Wildlife Week-Free Photography Classes and More

For the last 3-4 years I have been attending the Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge.
This photo is from last year-2014. Lexi and I went during the week to a class about Snowflake photography. It was so cool!
This was one of the Vendors selling and displaying outdoor recreational equipment.
This Eagle has been there and loves to get his picture taken.
A Barred Owl
This year they had a couple of hawks too.
The diversity of this is incredible. From hiking information, to history of the Smokies, Appalachian music, kids get to make several crafts, they have planned day hikes and bus tours.
Every year I have wanted to go on the Cades Cove Photo Bus tour. (But every year I have had a conflict.) But it is still on my to do list. Maybe next year.
It's a great time to go and also take the kids. There are children's books, story times, Lynn McCoy usually brings her rescue animals out for people to see and pet.

Pictures from this year's event. 2015

Here were some really cute stuffed animals. Only $5 each to benefit the Eagle Foundation.

Of course I had to get Lexi one.

One of the Hawks that was there this year.

Some Stoneware figures made there by an exhibitor.

The Eagle showing off his wings. (Taken with an Iphone.)
I just have to say iphones really could improve when it comes to photographing motion!

I am very excited that next year this event will be held in May instead of January. It can really be hard to hit these hikes etc, on these cold, snowy days. So the warmer weather will really make this a better event!

Out of all the things to do and see here my favorite part is the photography sessions. These are all free and done by great photographers. This year - I only attended the photography workshops because that is where my interest is right now. If you are interested in reading more about that you can see my post on the photography sessions later this week. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Traditional scrapbooking vs. Project Life.

This year I decided to try a different approach to scrapbooking. Mainly because I am behind, and really want to try to catch up. I also have an album I want to do of my father-who died this past year. When I was home for his memorial 100's of pictures were found. I was overwhelmed wondering how I would manage to catch up on my own family's memories, much less do dad's life too.

I had heard of project life in the past-but didn't think much about it. Until I saw some pre-arranged pocket pages at Hobby Lobby. I found 60 page protectors made by Paper Studio. They came in a box and were $19.99. I had a 40% of coupon and thought I would give then a try. ($14 is a pretty good price for 60 pages in my opinion. Plus I got different styles and could use front and back. So before I get into what Project Life is. Let me show you traditional scrapbooking.

Here is a traditional 12X12 page I made a couple years back. I find paper, I mat each picture, I add journaling hopefully I have enough of the mat paper to match the background paper. I need a cutter, adhesive, or glue, and idea of how to arrange the page, etc. I kept this page pretty simple due to lack of time to spend embellishing it further.

Here is the 2nd page of that spread.

With this page above I took a large 8X10 page and embellished with ribbons etc.
In the past I have even used Scrapbook software- to try to make things go faster. But I would spend hours at the computer designing pages, and needed to go find different papers and elements-to me even harder and more time consuming than using paper and stickers etc.
(Digital page-I would print these at home and add them to my book-costing lots of $$$ on ink.)
You could send them to a place to be put in a book, but figuring out formats isn't that easy either.
OK so enter Project Life.  The whole concept is really simple. Instead of having to design your whole page, you already have pre-cut pockets. You can do one page or 2 page spreads. Or just a collection of photos and journal about them. It doesn't have to be a theme.
Here are what the page protectors look like. You just slide in your photos, slide in cute cards to add journaling etc. You can always add more stickers and embellishments if you want.
But you don't have to. There are many different types of variety packs, this is just one.
Becky Higgins PROJECT LIFE POCKET PAGES-Sml Variety 12-Pk #4 scrapbooking 380261
So like I said I started with a 60 Ct. pack of these -although mine were from Paper Studio. (Hobby Lobby) very similar -same concept.
I went home and slapped a few pictures I had laying around from last year into these pages. I added a few 4x6 card cut outs and 2x3 cut outs (from Paper Studio) that I also found at Hobby Lobby on sale. (They were OK, but when I saw the prices on the Project Life stuff-I decided it was a better deal in the long run.) Plus the Paper Studio ones are paper, Project life is more of a cardstock quality.
I got the binder here (pictured below) on sale for $7. (I wasn't picky about colors, I just wanted materials.) I went and started looking at the Core Kits. They have all the cards already in them. 4x6 cards, 2x3 cards, and some fold in half so you can add more journaling and leave part of the journaling hanging out.  Most of these core kits run about $30 each. So I figured I would go ahead and spend about $80 and get 2 kits and a binder. But when I began looking I noticed that the Amber and Cobalt kits were on sale-less than $10 each. (With the same amount of cards, as the other kits.)  (I'm not sure if they will still be at this price later, but as of today they are still less than $10 each.  The cobalt has more blues and reds, the Amber is prettier and more girly. So I knew between the two I could definitely get a year or so out of them. 
Here is what some of the cobalt cards look like.
Here is the Amber
They are cardstock type quality not paper. And they really are lovely! 
Here you see the concept. Pictures in, journaling papers in. I didn't have to cut
or crop any photos. I just added in the cards as they came cut. I will have to go back and actually add journaling later. But right now my focus was getting them into an album.
So I plan to use this-to get caught up, and perhaps even in the future to stay caught up. If I feel creative and want to do a traditional page now and then I can. But with busy lives it is sometimes hard. I was really feeling bad about neglecting our scrapbooking for the past couple years. Now I see a doable solution. This year- I hope to do 1-2 pages a month. I really think it is doable in less than 30 minutes. The hardest part really is sending the pictures to the place where you print them. 
If you want more info there are a lot of youtube videos that talk about Project Life.
Not many get to the point quickly- though. I found most of them quite exhausting. I would fast forward them to try to get the info I was looking for. I really disliked the ones complaining about how expensive Project Life was. If you search-you can find some great deals. Wait till stuff goes on sale. Go back often and look and see what is being phased out. The new kits are always more expensive. The older ones get put on sale. Plus after spending $$$ on traditional scrapbooking, this really seems cheaper even if you did pay full price. Best wishes, and Happy Scrappin!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

September Highlights

Wow September has flown by, and it looks like we will get little relief in October. All but 3 days are already full on our calendar and a few days we have multiple things to do. Of course October's busyness is due to some fun family outings we have planned.

Here are our highlights for September.
Mid September we took a week off and went to Myrtle Beach.
It was the kids first time at the beach. (At least that they can remember.)
We had a great time. We stayed right on the ocean at a resort.
It had a water park type area in it-so between swimming
and the beach-they had a blast!

Cherry Grove Pier
A big stingray swimming under the pier.

Back home in Tennesssee, I decided to get busy with my photography again.

Me and my daughter chasing a sunset-to capture some pics. She is on my truck playing with my iphone 6 taking some pictures so we can compare.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Australia unit week 3-180 Days Around the World

This week we finished our Australia unit study.

Our focus was on history and the religions. We watched the movie "Australia".

The kids did an Aboriginal art project.
Lexi designed a menu describing foods you would find in Australia.
Peyton made a dictionary page explaining some commonly used Australian terms.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Homeschooling, what does it take?

So what does it take to homeschool? A willing heart, and some perseverance, When you get the "why" the "how" comes.

The Why becomes the How.

There are many things to consider when you are considering homeschooling.
I think the most important thing you need to figure out is WHY?
Why do you want to homeschool your child? This is what it always comes back to in the end. There will be days you want to call it quits. Guess what? Life is like that. There are days I hated public school when I was a kid, and days I liked it. There are good days in our homeschool journey, and their are days that can be frustrating.  There are good times, and tough times, and life happens. It will happen when you homeschool too.

The Vision:  The "why" is not the vision. The "why" is the road that keeps you going toward the vision, that you are uncovering during this journey.

I have an incredible book that I re-read often. It is called "The Angel in the Marble." This book made such a big difference in how I approached homeschooling. One of the articles mentions Michaelangelo. He would walk around a square piece of marble for days and just stare at it. Of course people felt this was odd behavior. When questioned, he responded "I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free."  He was able to capture a vision of what that piece of marble would become. He would begin to chip away, little by little, and then stare some more. He continued in this fashion until his work was done.

We like, Michaelangelo,  are called to seek the vision God has for our children. We should ask for wisdom to provide the resources they need to learn and become the person they are to become. We don't need to regurgitate information to them. This goes so much further than just academics. We are to contribute to building the whole person, - mind, spirit and body.

When my daughter turned 3, I enrolled her in her first dance class. It was a creative movement class. I had no idea then that dance would become a passion for her. For her, dance is worship, she can express herself through it. The older she gets, the more I see dance really becoming a big part of her life and who she is.  As we continued on the journey, I allowed her to take different types of dance classes, gymnastics, art, and follow musical interests like piano and most recently guitar. Some things she likes, other things, she may find she is not so passionate about. That is okay. I am partnering with God, in helping her find her destiny.

The Mission: What am I trying to accomplish here.

When I began our homeschooling journey, I wrote out a simple mission statement. It is still in my binder today. It states my vision and my why. My mission has never, ever changed. The vision will become more specific over time, it will fine tune and become more focused. But the mission remains the same. Why am I doing, what I am doing?  There are many reasons I homeschool, but what I want at the end of this journey is what matters most.  One day, the kids will be ready to go out on their own-who do I want them to be?  What kind of person do I want to put out into this world-that so desperately needs people that care.  That is simply two things-I want to know my children (relationship), and I want them to become the person that God has created and destined them to become.

Under my mission statement I have this written:
Relationships first,  (with God, with each other.)
Life Skills second,  (character, diligence, work ethic, etc.)
Academics third. (reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc.)

Keeping priorities in order is key.  Sometimes, we may have to set things down-to get this back in the right priority.

Other things to consider are:

My child's learning style. (Auditory, kinesthetic, visual?)

What curriculum to use.

What activities to be involved in: co-ops, dance, sports if available, etc.  It is important to find others on this journey to support you-and you likewise can be a support system to them. Sometimes the simplest thing can just be one friend of two that you can talk to when you need to vent.
My child is an individual, and the plan for one child, may look very different from the plan of another child. (This is OK. If you haven't read the "School for Animals" article, now is a good time to read it.)

Invest in Yourself
The other thing I highly recommend is to invest in yourself. You cannot give yourself, if you are tired, and frustrated or burnt out.  Get with other like minded moms/parents. Join in some fun activities to help strengthen you and your children. Their are even online support groups that can offer support.

Last but not least is:

You can learn as you go.

Remember, You don't have to have a 12 year plan-when your child is in Kindergarten. Don't become overwhelmed by the "what ifs".  You are not going to ruin your child. You are just taking a different route to get to the final destination. Just take it one year at a time. (Or one semester at a time.)  I began with a 1 year plan.  I knew I could always enroll him the following semester if I needed to or felt I couldn't handle the task.  You don't have to have it all figured out now. You can learn as you go too. On the journey you and your children will both begin to grow and change.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Australia Unit Week 2

This week we continued our Australia Study. We are using 180 Days Around the World. I love this curriculum It is so incredibly versatile. Anyway, here is what we learned about this week. The kids have really excelled here and surprised me with their work and creativity. I really love that they are learning to research more on their own, and write and do projects about it.

Sometimes the kids have the same assignments, some times they are age specific assignments. They will list Jr. High assignments and High School Assignments. Other times I may decide that Lexi do an assignment and choose a different one for Peyton.

This is an assignment I chose for Peyton to do. He had to create a map showing the industry, agriculture etc. of Australia. He also had to create a map key. I think he did great, but I would have preferred a little more color in the map, but I thought his pictures were pretty creative.
He was allowed to choose and animal to do a report about.  He chose the Dingo.

They really enjoyed this activity and really came out shining with their creativity and humor.
They had to each design a travel brochure on some place in Australia.
Peyton chose New South Wales.
He read about fruit farms in New South Wales-and that all the fruit on the Island comes from this area. So it became a pretty big part of his brochure.
On the first page, he highlights fishing and fruit.
The next pages talk about hiking (mountains in the area),
and visiting a real live working fruit farm.
Surfing, and fruit eating and a no refund policy. (Humor there.) LOL

Here is some of Lexi's work.
Her travel brochure was on the Great Barrier Reef

She includes facts, activities like diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, etc.

Her animal report on Koalas, and another report she did on the Cane Toad problem.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Easy Grammar Plus

The first thing I have to say about this curriculum is, I really wish I had found this a couple years ago. We have tried many different grammar curriculums and I love this approach. When I went online to find out more about it at Rainbow Resource. I saw a video. It discussed the idea of teaching kids prepositions first. Then they learn to mark out prepositions. This allows them to simply the sentence and then they can figure out the subject and verb.
For example if we take the following sentence:
Over the river, and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go.
Now if we ask the student what is the subject of the sentence, you will likely get many answers.
( river, woods, grandmother, house, we). Now a student proficient in grammar will know the answer.
So by learning that over, through and to are prepositions, we can know that the subject is not contained in a prepositional phrase. Students are taught to identify the preposition, then strike through them. 
Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house, we go.
So when we strike through the prepositional phrases, we are simply left with "We go."
Now, finding our subject and verb are easy. "We" is the subject and "go" is the verb.
What I want to know is:  Why wasn't I taught like this. I remember years of being frustrated in school having to diagram sentences, trying to determine parts of speech. How easy is this system.  The only thing I really remember about prepositions was it was supposed to be a place a mouse could go. (But that system doesn't always work." 
When I was in my 20's someone corrected me over the phone. I said "Where are you at?"  My client laughed and said "Don't you know you cannot end a sentence with a preposition?"  I said, "What was a preposition?" He said "At, is a preposition."
So anyway, back to the topic here-the first lessons are spent on learning prepositions. The book uses many ways to help the children learn and memorize the 50 most common prepositions. (Really, they just need to know one when they see it.)
The first day we played Preposition Bingo.

The kids chose words from the list of prepositions and wrote them randomly on their bingo board.
As I called them out, they covered them up. (This helps in familiarizing the kids with some of the words.)
Ok, yes I see it is upside down. I haven't figured out a good way to get my phone pics into my blog.
And don't want to upload them to my computer and then have to upload them again here. So I email them to my blog. (And since they are small on my phone I did not notice they were upside down. ) There is no app in blogger to let me straighten it out, so use your imagination. LOL
Here is the list of prepositions we went over this week.
This is a word scramble activity that is just getting the kids familiar with the words again.
The Teacher's Manual really is essential to this program. It guides you through how to demonstrate things to the kids. The lessons are fairly short -and would only take 15-20 minutes a day. Which is great because we also have a full writing curriculum this year. In the TM it shows the worksheet the kids will do and has a worksheet with the answers as well. It also has a pre/post test.
We spent our first 3 days doing the Pre-Test. This is a fairly long test, so I split it up so I would not overwhelm the kids.
Anyway, I know I am going to love this curriculum. I can really see the difference in the style already. I know at the end of the year when I do the post test I will see much improvement.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Australia Unit Study -Week 1

I have to say that my favorite thing about homeschooling is the journey.  Not only are my children learning, but I am learning new things every day with them. As we study a subject, I learn and my passion also becomes ignited. It's not just pouring information in-it is helping kids ask questions about things-and helping them go get those answers.

This month, in our History/Geography program we are learning about Australia. We will take 3-4 weeks to explore this continent. The curriculum I chose is very much, a research based curriculum. It really guides the children -having them learn things about that country/continent. We learn about the geography, the topography, the culture, history, wildlife, agriculture, trade, natural resources etc. We also add in living books. So we can engage in the lives of people through a book located in the country.

Here are a few books I got from the library. This will help them do research. I also allow some internet use. I want them to use multiple resources, and not just google the answers.

Lexi is reading "Quicksand Pony." and Peyton is reading a Kindle book "Escape to Murray River". 

I found a couple videos -that would enable us to learn about the Great Barrier Reef and Amazing Animals in Australia. During this month they will do written and oral reports on these subjects. They have to choose one animal to research. They will give a report on the Great Barrier Reef. I like mixing it, and not making them write every single thing. I believe they can learn best by doing different types of reports.

Here is the map work they did the first week.

A list of things to label:

Geography Research

On Monday -they defined some geographical terms as well as found unique things about Australia.

Then each day they did a page of research. Here are a couple days.


We also watched Youtube videos on the Great Artesian Basin and Lake Eyre.
Next week will be even more fun as they begin to do various reports and projects.
So far -I am loving this curriculum. You can add to it as you see fit. You can decide how much you feel each child needs to do. Another great benefit when dealing with children of multiple ages is that the activities are labeled for JR High and High School. So I can assign those to upper level students in addition to the regular work. It could even be used as a 2 year curriculum if you wanted to do a more exhaustive review.