Friday, April 3, 2015

Road Trip to the Grand Canyon

Our road trip continued...
We drove down a lonely highway and spotted a herd of bison. 
Along this lonely highway,there is not a person, store, or gas station in sight.  It is like traveling back in time, as we imagined the pioneers traveling through this wilderness with everything they owned on their covered wagons. 
 We pulled over on the side of the road to take in the view of the Colorado River, north of the Grand Canyon. 

After a long drive, we reached the Grand Canyon at sunset. 
This was our first visit to the Grand Canyon.  Pulling up to this "look out" I had no idea what wonder I was about to see.   
What a gift!

Zion National Park

Last fall we rented a r.v and went on a road trip to Zion National Park. 
 The fall was the perfect time to visit.  The leaves were changing, the weather was beautiful and it wasn't crowded.
 We had about three days to explore the park.  We hiked a few trails and went on a drive through the canyon. 
 The rock formations were enormous.  The colors were breathtaking.  I couldn't help but gaze at he red rock against the blue sky. 
 If you look closely, you can see a few rock climbers.  I had a zoom lens on my camera and they were still small.  This may give you an idea of just how enormous these rocks are.
 We seem to find hearts when we hike.  It has now turned into a hiking tradition in our family. Silly Guy found this double heart shaped fungus growing on a rock. 
We also spotted some wildlife along the hiking trails.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Crockpot Steak Chili

My family loves chili especially on a cold winter day.  We have 5 people in our family.  This recipe makes about 7-8 full bowls of chili.
Crockpot Steak Chili
  • 3-4 lbs of sirlon steak, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 large carrots or 3/4 bag of matchstick carrots
  • 3/4 cup green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cups canned tomatoes
  • 2 cans of beans ( I use 1 can pinto beans and one can of kidney beans)
  • 2 cans of green enchilada sauce( I use mild because the kids don't like it too spicy)
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Trim your steak, removing the fat.  Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil and add steak to a pan, browning the steak.
  2. Dice the onions, carrots, and green pepper.  I save myself a little time and buy a bag of the matchstick carrots.
  3. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon leaving any juices in the pan.
  4. Add the onions, green pepper, and carrots to the juices left in the pan and sauté until vegetables are tender.
  5. Now it's time to dump everything in the crockpot and forget about it:)  Add the steak, tender vegetables, whole canned tomatoes, beans, enchilada sauce, chili powder, salt, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, paprika, and sugar to the crockpot.
  6. Cook for 6-8 hours.  I usually serve the chili with cornbread or rice.

Homeschool High School Preparing for the S.A.T.

My daughter has been studying for the SAT so she can enter a four-year college.  This is a first for our homeschool so I can't say if these resources will work but I feel it is my job to prepare her for success.  Some resources I have bought and others I've found free on the internet.
I've never given her "timed"tests and I think that is her biggest challenge.  I am hoping by creating a SAT study plan she'll be a little less anxious about being timed.
I'll start with the free resources first.
  • Here you can find a vocabulary list of prefixes, suffixes, and roots.  I have had her work on memorizing the list. One study has shown that with 24 prefixes and 14 roots you can unlock the meaning of 100,000 words.  So imagine how many more words you can decode by adding to that list.  This strategy was suggested to my daughter at an SAT class she took at our local library in the fall.  I thought it was a great idea to help with the vocabulary portion of the test.
  • Free Vocabulary has a list of 5,000 SAT words with definitions.  This list could be used throughout high school as vocabulary practice;  write sentences, a story, journal entry, etc. using the words.
  • SAT free math practice has many printable worksheets.
  • At the SAT class,  the teacher told the students to practice, practice, practice the basic math facts as much as possible to improve time and to avoid simple errors. At you can create free printable worksheets on a variety of topics.
  • I came upon this website, .  They offer a free downloadable 8 week SAT prep plan.  The plan consists of learning one thousand words, practice and explanations on all sections of the test, 6 full-length practice tests, and write 8 essays.  She has been working through this plan since Christmas break.  She prefers reading from paper to reading on the computer so this would be the only downfall for her but she's shown improvement on the practice tests so it must be helping.
  •  Ineedapencil has been very useful as well.  It is free to sign up.  There are 50+ lessons on the site.  They keep track of your progress as you complete the lessons.  After you have completed, there is practice SAT test that can be printed.  The good thing about this site is you can pick and choose which lessons your child may need further review and have them complete that specific lesson.  
  • At  you can find many resources and sign up for a "question of the day" which comes directly to your inbox.
Resources I bought:
My daughter loves to write but writing a timed essay on a topic you don't choose and graded by an audience you don't know is a challenge.   I can't say enough about Institute for Excellence in Writing!  I bought this course, High School Essay Intensive:  SAT Preparation & College Application Essay Strategies.  The course doesn't teach the student how to write but teaches the student strategies for taking the written part of the exam and offers lots of opportunity for practice!  She writes 2 timed essays per week and has been wonderful to watch her grow through this course.    

I bought the book, 501 Writing Prompts, to coincide with the IEW course. It has been valuable and has saved a lot of time on my part finding essay prompts.  The book has 501 essay prompts divided into categories:  persuasive, expository, narrative, and literary.  What I like best about the book is it gives examples of a 6 Score, 4 Score and a 1 Score.  You can find free scored essays online but I like the convenience of having easy access to the scored essays so I can compare her essay.  After we review her scored essay, we refer to the examples in the book and analyze how she can improve.

Last but not least, The Official SAT Study Guide is written by the College Board and is full of samples, tests, and SAT strategy. I bought it used on Amazon for about $5.00.

Well, I hope that some of these resources help your highschooler  prepare for the SAT.
If you've found other helpful resources I'd love to hear about them:)

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 20- A lot of Science and more...

Our week...
A couple of weeks ago, I sent out an S.O.S. to a yahoo group looking for a homeschool group and a nice lady responded to me.  We had such an awesome homeschool group in our last town and I hadn't found one locally yet.  She invited us to join and we were thrilled!  So on Monday, we joined the homeschool group for a P.E. class.  The kids had a good time getting some exercise and playing a friendly game of dodge ball.
Little Man finished All About Reading Level 2 and is so excited to jump into level 3.  Woo Hoo!!

My husband was home on Monday so he was Sweet Girl's lab partner who had a cow eye dissection in Advanced Biology:  Human Anatomy.  Little Man wanted to join in too.
I just love the look she's giving me in this picture..."I have to do what?"
The Lens
Sweet Girl also had an experiment in chemistry this week, "Household Acids and Bases".  She tested common household items using litmus paper to find which were acids and which were bases.
Silly Guy had a lab in General Science "Factors that Affect Bacterial Growth".  This was an interesting experiment.  He concluded that salt and low temperatures hurt the growth of bacteria.  He had two other experiments this week "Yeast as a Decomposer" and "Vegetative Reproduction". Both of these experiments have to sit for a few days, so he'll finish them up next week.

Little Man studied invertebrates this week in science.  We read about the worm, snail, and octopus. In the beginning of the year he chose to make a rainforest diorama for his animal project.  As we've learned about different animals throughout the year, he's been adding the ones who live in the rainforest to his diorama. This week he added the worm and the snail.  He also added the animals to the "Carnivore/Herbivore/Omnivore" chart.
Sweet Girl joined the 4H Dog Project when she was twelve years old.  She competes with Roxy in agility, obedience, rally, and showmanship.  They have received Grand Champion a few times in several different classes.  It's a lot of work but these two are a great team and I've enjoyed watching them grow over the past 4 years. This week they returned to training again, taking an obedience class.   We are hoping to find some shows this spring.

Little Man studied the poem The Flag Goes By by: Henry H. Bennett this week.  After studying the poem throughout the week, I copied it for him to put in his notebook.  He decorated the page to reflect the poem's meaning.
He also was inspired by the poem to make a Lego American Flag.
Our new read aloud is Little House in the Big Woods by: Laura Ingalls Wilder.  He drew a page in his notebook comparing where he lives to where Laura lives.

After reading Colossians 3:12-17 he made an origami shirt.  On the inside he wrote what God wants us to have inside our hearts;  love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  He tried to put it on his bear but it was too small so he glued it in his Religion notebook.


Weekly Wrap Up Week 19

Share your week too at Weekly Wrap-Up hosted by Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
I'd say our week was productive.
Little man was busy but he informed me he wants more school work.
I'm thinking about adding in a foreign language.  Any recommendations for a first grader?
In science he was learning about salmon and seahorses as a part of the fish unit.  After his reading and narration, I found a few YouTube videos for him to watch.  Check out this video.
 It's  about the Leafy Sea Dragon Seahorse.  He's a great example of camouflage.
For his experiment We sliced a cucumber and placed three pieces in both salt and fresh water.  We checked the flexibility of the cucumbers after 30 minutes, and then again after an hour to demonstrate how fish cells respond to fresh and salty water.

Little man's bible study was from Ephesians 6:  10-11 "The Whole Armor of God" .  After the bible study, he made armor for his teddy bear.
How cute does he look!

I recently found a website that offers online art classes ArtAchieve.  Usually I try to come up with something or find an art lesson on the internet but these lessons are laid out so nice and it's a break for me:)
The lessons usually come with some background information, warm-up, pep talk and step-by-step drawing guide.  The boys love the lessons and have really been happy with the end result.
This week they drew the "Owl from Bali".  It was a lesson in warm and cool colors.
Little Man's artwork is on the top and Silly guy's is on the bottom.
They used black paper, chalk and oil pastels.

Silly guy finished up his World War II chapter in Story of the World Volume 4.
He wrote a biography about F.D.R. and made a poster.
He also wrote an interpretation of the poem "Breathes There the Man" by Sir Walter Scott.
He finished up Module 9 in Apologia General Science.  He was a week ahead so he took the time to review &  study for the Module test.

Sweet girl had a busy week too.  She had a mid-term , a research paper on "The Industrial Revolution", chemistry test, and she has started trigonometry.  She is going to take 3 semesters to complete  trigonometry which will carry her through her senior year.
In November, she participated in NANOWRIMO Young Writers Program.  If you are not familiar with NANOWRIMO( National Writing Month),  writers from around the world are challenged to set a word count goal and write everyday for the entire month of November.  Then the writer submits their novel to get a "self-publishing"offer.  She won and will receive 5 printed copies of her novel and will be able to sell her novel on Amazon.

Classroom Pet

I'm using the curriculum Heart of Dakota: Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory with Little Man.
Recently for our read aloud, we read Pagoo by: Holling Clancy Holling as our "non-fiction"genre book.  How interesting this book was for both Little Man & myself.  We just loved following this young hermit crab and learning about what life is like in "Tide-pool Town".
We focused on the character trait of obedience while reading Pagoo.  I have to admit, I wasn't really sure how a hermit crab was going to be an  example of obedience, but surprisingly he was.  He had a friend who was always with him, Old Pal Instinct.  When he obeyed Old Pal, he remained safe in his dangerous underwater world and when he ignored him it almost cost him his life.
"Teach me, O Lord, the way of your stautes, and I will observe it to the end.  Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart." Psalm 119:  33-34
The book even inspired us to adopt four hermit crabs of our own:  Pagoo, Herman, Luke, and Peeta.

Watching and Observing

In August, we moved to a house that lies at the base of a beautiful mountain range in the High Desert.  We've always lived in a neighborhood in a suburb or city and this is our first home in the country.
My husband has just recently retired after serving in the U.S. Navy for 20 years and he was blessed with a job that brought us here.  While moving away from friends is difficult, we love the peace and tranquility that has come with living in the country.
The children have enjoyed exploring the "Sagebrush Forest" that surrounds our property.  While exploring one afternoon they found this cactus growing wild.

We have a herd of deer that wander through our property quite often.  It has been interesting to track and watch this herd change and grow through a couple of seasons.  In late summer, we saw what seemed to be the same four deer regularly;  two doe and two bucks.  Then during the breeding season we saw maybe one or two at a time usually a buck with a doe.  The past couple of weeks we started to see the herd again and it has grown.  There were nine deer total;  four fawn's, two bucks, and 3 doe. We were overjoyed to see all of the little babies.
One morning our small terrier, Wally, was outside when they visited.  He walked up to them, naturally curious.  One new fawn's was curious too.  As I watched the little fawn bend his head down, the two touched noses.  I don't think the fawn liked how Wally smelled because he backed away and shook his head.  Of course I didn't have my camera to capture this cuteness, but I did enjoy sitting quietly and watching these two investigate each other.
My parents bought the kids a "Stealth Cam" for Christmas.  The "Stealth Cam" is a motion activated outdoor camera that can also take night vision pictures.  All of the data is stored on a sd card.  If you look at the bottom of the picture you can see it gives you the date, time, temperature, and the phase of the moon of when the picture was taken.  We attached it to the tree hoping to observe them.  We wanted to see what time of day they were coming around and how often they've been coming. This is going to be a great tool for our homeschool and nature study.
Here are some of the pictures from the "Stealth Cam"

And every now and then we capture some unidentified wild animal:)

From our kitchen window we watched this Peregrine Falcon as he perched on our fence.  It looked like a juvenile to us.  We think he was stalking the small birds at the bird feeder.  He sat just long enough for me to snap a picture.  The next day we saw him flying around over head, gracefully and elegantly.

Easy Chicken, Green Beans and Potatoes...Yum!

Easy Chicken, Green Bean and Potatoes
This recipe is about as simple as it gets, but it is a winner winner chicken dinner at our house:)
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 red potatoes quartered
  • 16 oz. bag of frozen green beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 12 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Clean and dry the chicken.  After cleaning, pound the chicken breasts with a tenderizer.  Salt and pepper( to taste)the chicken on both sides.  Place the chicken in the center of the baking dish.
  3. Quarter the potatoes and place them on one side of the chicken.
  4. Add the 16 oz. bag of frozen green beans to the other side of the chicken.
  5. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and minced garlic on top of the dish. Cut up the 6 tablespoons of butter and evenly place on top of the dish also.
  6. Cook for about 45 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Dragonfly Art Project

My boys have an age gap of 7 years so they don't get the opportunity to work together that often.
Art is one of those subjects that brings them together and it is something they look forward to.
This week the boys did the "Dragonfly from Ecuador" art lesson over at Art Achieve.
They used oil pastels and watercolors to create a resist painting.   This lesson also focused on how to use the media to create an opaque and transparent effect in their art  work.
First they drew the dragonfly following Art Achieve's step-by-step lesson plans.
Then they colored in their dragonfly drawing oil pastels using warm colors.

When they finished coloring, they used watercolors to create a resist.
Little Man thought this was just the neatest thing and his favorite part of the project:)


The boys love these lessons!  They are always very happy with their work when they've finished.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Savoring Autumn and Homeschooling

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons; cooler weather, leaves changing, fresh smell, sweaters, apples and pumpkins.
My last homeschooler, Little Man, has started kindergarten this year and we are having so much fun. He's so eager and excited to learn which is refreshing. He actually comes up with a lot of ideas on his own and I'm going with it. 
I'm coming to a place in our homeschooling journey where I have learned to enjoy the journey while learning along the way:)
Anyway, a little bit of our week...
Little Man made this leaf man after we returned from a nature walk. 
My garden has kind of taken on a life of it's own this fall with wildflowers and pumpkins growing wild.

This is the fruit of the pumpkin plant that has taken over.  The kids were so excited to have grown such a big, beautiful pumpkin. This week we'll be doing some of the pumpkin activities found at Our Journey Westward.  I also have planned a pumpkin nature study for this week using the Handbook of Nature Study by: Anna Comstock.

Sweet Girl is studying Biology this school year in science.  This weeks lab was a mushroom study/disection.  

Some artwork..."Pumpkin Still Life"
They both used glue for the line work and chalk pastels to add color, shade and texture.  Silly Guy still hasn't finished his because he was sick at the end of the week but I have Little Man's and Sweet Girl's to post. 

Little Man's

Sweet Girl's

Friday, September 9, 2011

Marshmallow Molecules

Silly Guy is learning about Chemistry this year using the Real Science 4 Kids curriculum. This week he and Little Man made marshmallow molecules.

Supplies:  Large marshmallows, small colored marshmallows, and toothpicks.
  First he had to make shapes using any number of toothpicks and marshmallows.   

After learning the "rules" and assigning each "atom"  a marshmallow he was to create molecules. 

   H2O                                                                                                                               NH3



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