Sunday, September 27, 2015

Busy Bag Swap!

Check out how fun each activity is:

Paint Samplers with Clothespins
Is this cute or what? Just laminate some paint samplers from the hardware store after you've cut a strip off the end to glue to clothespins. This mom even put the secondary colours (green, purple, and orange) on the other side of the cards and clothespins. 

 Strainer/Hat with Pipecleaner/Benderoos

Simply get a strainer and pipe cleaners from the dollar store. Voila! Magic hat.

Magnet Fun Ball
Get a container (this happens to be a juice drink that was round and clear.) Fill it full of tiny objects that have paperclips attached to them. Also fill it with cut up pipe cleaners. Attach a magnet to a popsicle stick and wrap them both with tape to make the wand. Attach the wand to the container's lid with string. You might consider supergluing the lid on so that kiddos can't open it.

Mickey Mouse Paperclip Match
Get some paperclips. Print out mickey mouse templates of the same colour, then laminate them.

Pom pom Ball Colour Match

(This one was the one I did.) Get containers with different coloured lids and pom poms that match from the dollar store. Take a metal pipe and heat it up by placing the end on the stove's burner. Using a hot pad, take the pipe and melt the lid until a hole is formed.

Puzzles and Stickers

One mom gave us all a puzzle and some stickers. Perfect.

Zen Garden Rainbow Container

Buy a container and paintbrushes from the dollar store (the dollar store is my friend.) Laminate a rainbow that fits the bottom. Put a couple tablespoons of salt into the container. 

Dino Stomp
Playdough and toy dinosaurs. Your toddler will figure it me.

Amber Creed is a good friend of mine who is awesome enough to hold "mom nights" where once a month, homeschool moms in the area are invited to come together and chat. There's good food and good times.

This is our respite. We meet new moms. We're casual. We are candid. We are real. We need it....or at least I do.

This month we swapped "busy bags." Thanks to Elisha, we learned about this world of "give your toddler something to do so you can teach your other kids" bags.

Eight moms made eight of the same bag. We swapped them at mom's night. Those same eight moms went home with eight different bags. Brilliant.

And it WORKED. Check out the joy on my busy little man"s face:

Okay, so I must say this was my first attempt at making my blog Pinterest worthy. This will probably be the last time too. Too much work and fuss.

Now on to the real me----

This week was so so busy. I didn't have time to do everything I wanted. This is starting to be a theme for this semester.

We did get a bit of history in. We learned about the first civilizations. I taught it super fast and incomplete, but today I quized Maxwell to see if he got any of it, and this is what happened:

Me "Hey Maxwell, what's something you need for a civilization?"
Him "Farmers"
Me "What were the two rivers surrounding the first civilizations?"
Him "Tigris and Euphrates."
Me "What were some things they invented?"
Him "The wheel and writing."

Booyah. Guess I didn't fail totally.

We weaved baskets as our activity, but I only had enough for one basket and it was actually really hard to do (maybe because we had no idea what we were doing) so, yah, whatever.

Science was CRAZY fun!  We learned about polymers.....i.e.....SLIME! Well, slime, plastic, rubber, know....all that not-liquid-not-solid stuff.

Among other things, we had jello, and stuck pencils through plastic water baggies and skewers through balloons.

But the main fun of the day was making slime. I wasn't prepared enough, so I made everyone's slime runny, but if they played with it enough it turned into putty. At least it was a nice day so I could send them outside with it!

So a few days ago I get a call from the new Cub Scout leader saying that the new time for cubs was 3:30 on Thursdays. Science "ends" at 3:30 on Thursdays but it's not a sure thing that we are done by then. I just told him that my kids would always be late.

I have 15 kids in my class right now! I can't worry about getting my boys out the door for cubs! I get the feeling that the leader doesn't think too favourably about homeschool, so I'm sure I'm just adding to his stigma about us, but I just can't cater to everyone right now.

We of course went way over 3:30 because of the slime, (I didn't even get to cornstarch and water; the best polymer ever) and Maxwell headed over way late, and Hyrum was too caught up in slime to want to go. Whatever. We can't do everything.

The slime was played with all day, and I'm not sure where it all went too....this kind of haunts me.

The kids were cute. They made little blobs and acted out blobs eating other blobs to make them bigger.

Daniel has loved all the things we've been busy with. Especially art. He's been asking when we can go back to his painting class everyday. He has started sketching on his own accord. I caught him drawing himself from a picture on the wall:

As for the math and reading world, can I just say again that I love Rightstart? It's the type of math the makes you UNDERSTAND math instead of just memorizing things. for instance, check this out:

Well, not sure if you can see it, but Maxwell was supposed to find the perimeter of these shapes. He was supposed to use fractions with eighths, but he didn't realize that, so he added fractions with fourths AND eighths. I've never taught him how to find common denominators, but because he understands how fractions compare, he could add them up no problem. COOL!

Also, I've started taking a college course on teaching Reading to Dyslexics via Coursera.

Lots of homeschool teenagers get their education through coursera, so it's fun to see what it's like. I'm learning quite a bit. Love so many things about this internet age we live in.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Atoms and Attacking Hamsters

Eek, I missed last week's post. well here it is:

Last week we continued to learn about dinosaurs. How can you not love dinosaurs? We excavated our fossils we made last week. We even wore eye protection. I thought with all my crazy activities and experiments, eyewear was a good investment. Check out Brady with double the protection:

This week we learned about the last ice age. It's pretty cool to think about all those HUGE mammals. I had bought some really cute books that I had borrowed from the library last year....I must say...I've spent A LOT of money this year already.....oops.

We had our own cave for hieroglyphics. So fun, but so fun turned into too close for comfort. Put 6 kids in a box and eventually there will be shoving...

If you look at my history plans you'll notice that I skipped Adam and Eve and we didn't do a second ice age project.....well, we haven't had time!  The downstairs McKays are at gymnastics, and Hyrum has been being diagnosed in speech. We'll see how this week goes. We still read books and discuss throughout the week so whatever.

For science last week we continued to learn about atoms. I was so proud, a five year old in our class went home, and when his mom asked him what he learned he said "we learned about electrons." Booyah! if a five year old can retain even the word electrons, I've succeeded.

We made atom models, and of course, the kid's favourite models were the ones made of candy!
They were very proud of their models:

This week for science we started learning about the states of matter. This is the suggested first lesson, but I'm glad I taught about atoms first. I think it makes more sense. We did some fun stuff. Including models of solid, liquid, and gas molecules, and the balloon in the bottle tricks.

I did the balloon in the bottle tricks because of Steve Spangler. He's my geek inspiration. My family is constantly watching these kind of videos:

So I have to give one of my students $10. It is "scientifically impossible" to blow a wad of paper INTO a bottle with a little opening. I said I would give $10 to the kid who could do it, and they had a lot of fun blowing and having the wad hit them in the face, but then one boy gently blew and i think it just, I don't know, but the point is, it went IN. My bad!

Here's another Steve Spangler doing the experiment:

In world of Reading writing and arithmetic, I did not do a full week. I'm a bit peeved about that. But with the play and all the other stuff going on.....oh blah, it wasn't a great week. I need to figure this out.

But one thing that went well was the Rightstart math games. This is one of the reasons I love this curriculum: the games. This time I thought it was cute enough to share. So you take 12 tiles and then take fraction cards and then each time you put down a fraction card, you get to take that fraction of the tiles.  I doubt I explained that very well, but the point is, it teaches fractions in a fun way.

A great Science -Math connection was made by Maxwell this week, I was asking him "What would happen if you kept making the denominator higher?" and he replied "the fraction pieces would get smaller and smaller until you would break it into molecules and then you would break that into atoms and then you would just have the empty space in the atoms making up the fractions." Oh yah, pat myself on the back moment.

Now, I titled this post "atoms and attacking Hamsters" Why would I do that? well, here's an......



Friday, September 4, 2015

I DID IT! Week one is conquered!

We are back people!!!

We had a busy week, and it will only get busier. My kids are in:

The Play "Wizard of Oz"
Martial Arts
Art Classes
Robotics Club
My Science Club
Cub Scouts
And maybe Gymnastics

Yikes. A teacher in gymnastics just moved and so classes are getting cancelled. Do I count this as a blessing, or do I sign them up for a different time? Still undecided.

I kind of feel like since I homeschool them, I have the time for extracurricular activities. Half of these are just for this semester anyway.

Not all of these started this week but I did start my science club! It went pretty good, but I'm worried about the size of my class. Five boys didn't come, and it was overflowing as is. Hummm....

I began the class with a demonstration that was supposed to get them all excited about chemistry. I didn't add enough of this expensive chemical that I had bummed off of the High School chemistry teacher, so what was supposed to look like this:

or this

Ended up looking like this:

I got so frustrated, that after class I spent another $75 on Amazon on Science supplies so I could do this experiment right! (Thank goodness for funding.) Stay tuned, because when we learn about exothermic reactions, even Steve Spangler will be impressed.

After that depressing fizzle, we talked about the Atom! I started with a Brainpop video. I plan on Brainpop being a habit. And then we did our normal experiments which included talking about how static electricity is electrons moving from one atom to the next.

History this year is going to ROCK!  I'm motivated to do it because my sister-in-law is living in our basement apartment and her kids come up for history.

This week we talked about the creation. I love being able to talk to them about my own beliefs of how God is a god of order and science. I am not a "young earth Christian" but I am not an "science and evolution INSTEAD of God" person either. I believe the bible simplified things for our benefit. And I am blessed enough to be able to teach history in my own way.

We made creation collages to celebrate. We had everything from baggies of water, to plastic farm animals.  Look at Daniel's, who wrote I <3 U God....SO CUTE!

 And even Hyrum go into it. I never know when he'll like doing a craft, but he was really cute with this one and has it taped to his wall above his bed even now.

We also started learning about dinosaurs. My kids love this....shocker.  We made "dinosaur tracks" in "mud" which we "preserved" with plaster. Daniel insisted on doing a face mold.

This week I actually did all my reading writing and arithmetic with my kids. It takes four hours folks. That's because of interruptions and crying and poop, but 9am to 1pm is really what I need open for them.

William goes crazy as I take his older brothers one on one without him in the spotlight. I got sick of him on my lap (his favourite spot ALL of last year) so I bought some colouring books, blocks, and other toddler learning toys that I only get out for this time.

He loves it, but his older brothers get distracted by William now....go figure. And now Abraham is on my lap.

One on One time has been paying off for Daniel. He's loving his new reading and spelling abilities. I still think he's my first NON dyslexic boy. He even had his "b"s and "d"s figured out. But he DOES have trouble with "Y." Since it's called "why" it should make the sound "wh" right? Or at least that's Daniel's Logic.

He was so cute. He got so excited when he realized how much of "Hop on Pop" he could read (it's been his favourite book for a while now) that he made his own Hop on Pop book:

And he actually sounded out most of those words instead of copying them from the book.

Hyrum has been last in One on One this week. This is not good. Both of our patience is gone by then....more on Hyrum's blog about this.  But I did go to a Mom's night (LOVE these!) and I shared some problems and they suggested I try doing a "complete the task" chart for him, and I think it's going to help.

The cut out cartoons are given to him and he gets to velcro one on top of each picture when he's done with the task.

And Maxwell is going to start Barton book 5 next week! Which means I need to train myself and I had to get at least the first set of sight word cards ready.

I've committed to waking up at a decent hour, because if I do, I actually have time to be a teacher. My friend Alisha said "If I treat homeschool like a job, then I get so much accomplished." And that's what I need to do. I start at a certain time and no dilly dally until I've accomplished what I wanted to.

This means we have changed to morning scripture study with Papa, which is beautiful. Check out my cutie William:


When he prays he says "name, Jesus Cries, amen"

Can I just say that I have an awesome husband? Cause I do! For family home evening this week he gave everyone--including One year old Abraham, who would not be left out--Father's blessings. William was blessed to be safe (which is a blessing he needs with how crazy he is) and Maxwell was blessed to be an example, Daniel to be loving, and Hyrum's was really special about thow he is going to be brilliant! We are one blessed family!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ancient History Lesson Plans

It's much easier since I've done this four years ago. But I changed some things because of Classical Conversations Timeline song (the first half we will memorize,) and the Story of the World.

Creation-creation collage
Dinosaurs-casts of dino "tracks"

Dinosaurs-make fossils of dinos
Fall and Flood-aprons of real leaves

ice age-spray paint over hands and paint rocks 
cavemen-cave painting in huge box

Mesopotamia-weaving baskets
Fertile Crescent-crescent rolls


Joseph-sandpaper pyramids

Moses-parting the red sea w/ felt creations
Joshua-jericho wall w/ cups and trumpets

David-slingshots and stars of David
Hammurabi-make up silly laws

Assyria-Bas reliefs
Babylon-Ishtar Gate

Arabian Persia-make magic lamps
Capture of Jerusalem/Lehi-medieval flail 

Daniel-lion origami pincher
India/Gupta Dynasty-draw silhouettes w/ many arms and paint blue

India continued-marbling
Ancient China-make paper

Ancient China-floating lanterns
Ancient China-origami

Homer-trojan horse
Minoans-life sized maze

Olympics-obstacle course
Philosophers-paint coins

Alexander the Great-miniature lighthouse
Etruscans-Bullas (Teri Ebert pg 38)

Rome founded-murals
Caesar-catapults and togas

Augustus-aqueducts from tap to bath

John the Baptist-eat "locust"

Pentecost/persecution-tongue of fire crown
Nero/Gladiators-Gladiator paper cut out book

Constantine-mosaic cross
Fall of Rome/Visigoths-make swords

Nicene Creed-trinity craft 
Beowulf-celtic knot necklace

Pagans-holiday fun
Justinian-mosaics in clay

Camelot-castle of marshmallows 
Charlemagne-make shields

Feudalism-crowns and Princess cones
Francis of Assisi-bird feeder

Ancient Africa-african masks
Ancient Africa-oral bard toe puppets

Genghis Khan-his style helmet
Muhammad-pitas and turbans

Crusades-coat of arms

Robin Hood-hats and bow and arrows
Magna Carta-dragon craft

Ottoman Empire-medieval banner
100 yr war/Joan of Arc-suit of armour

Black Death-paper posies
Fire of London-hmmm-pyrotechnic fun?

Cathedrals-stained glass
Czar Ivan the Great-ukrainian easter eggs

Gutenberg-get alphabet stamps
Spanish Inquisition-spanish cross

Martin Luther-hammer on fake door
Calvin-play petanque (or get a better idea!)

Leonardo Da Vinci-the Da Vinci model
Michelangelo-paint on the bottom of table

Henry VIII pop corn bucket helmet
Elizabeth I-make ruffled collars

Shakespeare-puppets for puppet theatre
Shakespeare-puppet theatre continued

And of course, this is the year that we will for sure celebrate PASSOVER!

Sunday, July 26, 2015


As a homeschooler, school's never "out." We've been doing reading throughout the summer.  Although some days I'm not sure if it should be me teaching.

So I was going to post about my AMAZING BROTHER!! My brother Craig AND my nephew David both gave TEDx TALKS!!! Wholey moley I have a cool family! I waited to talk about our science trip with him until their movies came out on youtube, and here they are!:

Yes, I proudly claim both of them.

When I was in Utah, Craig showed us around his lab. (Yes, my love of science is legit, my brother is a Dr. of biochemistry.) Shauna, his wife, gave our family a tour of the university, and we were spoiled.

My brother inspires me. He's able to explain things so clearly. I want to be like him.

So Hyrum finished his math book!!!

Here is the final "test" he did.

This is more advanced than 2nd grade stuff here folks. Can I just tell you how proud I am of him? This is the kid who couldn't count to 12 at the beginning of the year....yah,  Total. Measurable. Improvement. Love It!!!

Maxwell finally moved past the "banana" rule chapter in reading, and I am DELIGHTED. With his progress he's making, I'm pretty sure we'll be done with book 4 by the end of summer.

Daniel is done with the first book of Barton. He's also filled up an entire notebook with his journaling.

Also,  we went to the last homeschool activity of the year. It was a "share fair" where we needed to bring something to represent something we learned. I brought my magnet sets, and I also brought my printouts of this blog (I make this blog into a physical book each year.)

It was fun to be part of the alternate school again. We are growing. They are going to let us use the upstairs of the building next year. We are doing the play Wizard of Oz, which I think will be a very ambitious project. 70 kids in one play? Oh boy. And Gymnastics will not officially be part of westwind school next year.

This summer we haven't been too out and about, but it's still been exciting. Mostly because Dustin's brother and his family of EIGHT have moved into our downstair apartment.

Our kids get along very well with each other, and each family has their own kitchen and laundry, so things have gone smoothly. I'm not sure how long they will stay, but it turns out that they might stay a year while they figure out where they should be. My kids won't know how to cope without them by then!

We did go down to Utah for a couple of days, but it was for a funeral, so that's not fun. We did go to the dinosaur museum there though, which I was happy about since we will be studying them this fall. It's not as big as Tyrell's but it has some pretty cool activities for the kids:

I also got to see my old best friend, Laura, which was so special to me.

And Maxwell got to see his old best friend, Morgan, which was special to him.

When we got back to Canada, Hyrum got BAPTIZED!!!

How did he get so big?!? I sure love this little boy with fierceness.

About the time of his baptism, I called Susan Barton about some questions I had on Hyrum's reading progress. She said he needed to get diagnostic testing for a complex child combination of conditions including speech language by a paediatric neuropsychologist so I could get a prioritized action plan evaluation.

Wow. did that conversation send me down a rabbit hole. I called everybody I could think of for two days straight. I've got him on the waiting list for neuropsychologists in Calgary and a paediatrician psychiatrists who specializes with language development in Lethbridge.

My family doctor had even given me a prescription for ritalin.  I decided against it. Maybe not forever, but for sure not until I know more.

All of this was a catalyst to make a new blog about Hyrum.

It only has one entry so far, but I think I will need a place to record all my thoughts and experiences with Hyrum.

I decided to make yet another blog as well. This one is for me to keep me thinking about teaching my kids how to feel the spirit, and to point out spiritual experiences. It is my most important education I can do, yet I'm too complacent about it, so I need a motivator.

It only has one post as well, but I hope to write in both of these new blogs each week with this one.

By the way, I never finished off my school year with this blog, so here it is:


Well, it's been my hardest year yet, that's for sure. I've been a basket case emotionally. Having TWO babies who constantly want my attention has been straining on school to say the least.


History? Did I actually do history? Well, we did get some accomplished. With baby craziness, I'm proud of what we actually did do. I NEEDED to cut back on something, and I don't regret it.

I do need to teach my kids about the Bill of Rights though (which should have been covered this year.) It's been nagging at me.

I've got some of my old energy back, however, and I really think I can carry out my plans for this next year coming up.


Well, I kind of condensed science a bit because we missed a few weeks here and there, but really, I think it was great. I don't know how I could have done it without Jandy and Kirsten, but with their help, I feel good about physics.


I love Rightstart. Sometimes I wonder if I should move to a math that is more video/computer based so I don't have to sit down with each kids every day for a 1/2 hour just for math, but I like the results so looks like math will continue as is. Besides, Maxwell is getting close to being done with the program.

He's going to be in FIFTH GRADE (I mean grade five eh?)!!!! Crazy.


Anxiety. Mostly for me. Half the time I think they need a different teacher. Sometimes because I think it would profit them, and half the time because I think it would profit me.

When I see homeschoolers who are reading perfectly for their age or above, I just marvel. IT WILL COME.

Now, Cursive? Writing Techniques? Typewriting?

Can I squeeze these in next year?---uhhh probably no.

We will be doing martial arts, art, gymnastics, a play, robotics, my science class, and I am going to DO history. So yah. Perhaps a wee overscheduled as is.

So there you have it, my last post for this school year.

BTW, I've been a bit of a home-body this summer, but Dustin went to AFRICA!!!

He went to help with a college his business partner set up to teach leadership skills and entrepreneurship to people in Benin (which is right next to Ghana---hey I didn't know where it was either.) It was a life changing experience, and he said he did more good in two weeks then he has done in two years.

I think I will talk more about this when I go in February!!! At least, that's the plan as of now. Let's see if I'm courageous enough! When a huge cockroach came out of Dustin's luggage and he showed me videos of foot long centipedes and showed me the bathrooms......oh boy.

But for now I will bid you adieu.