Sunday, March 26, 2017


I'll be honest: Not a huge amount of purposeful homeschool has happened this month. But REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE? Oh you bet baby!!!

We learned all about:

Airport travel (my kids did awesome!)


Flower Botany:

Fresh water springs:

Poisonous creatures, and how to treat them. Abraham and Daniel stepped on sea urchins, and we swam with a venomous sea snake (a docile breed) and we've seen venomous centipedes and stonefish.

What "rainy season" truly means.

Snorkeling lessons:

and Entomology. Lots and lots of Entomology.

We have also found out how to start BUILDING A HOUSE!

This house will not be our primary residence, but it will be our beach house.

Also, we have had a lot of cultural experiences! (Obviously) We are in the minority ethnic race here, and even if you are white, you are most likely an Australian or french.

We go to church, and it's all in Bislama. Our boys have learned a few words, and are so proud, but the cutest is when Abraham says "tanku tumas" which is "thank you too much."

We've hired a house girl, and she assures us that she will teach my kids bislama. Haha.

Even with all these awesome social studies hands-on fantasticness, we did get a chance to finally end our WWII unit by talking about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We made lanterns and set them into calm ocean waters to remember those who had died and suffered from those two explosions.

As for Math? Well yes, we did do some:

Daniel can now do long subtraction

And the book had him take his "midyear test" even though we are more than 2/3s of the way through the book.

Hyrum can now do long multiplication by double digits, but it was not easy. He dragged his feet, but he gets it.

And this was pretty awesome of him: we play this game of "guess my rule" and he nailed really tricky rules fast and easily:

Also, I'm not sure I've said this, but he understands how to square a number and what "square root" means.

Maxwell's math has finally moved beyond tessellations. THANK GOODNESS! That was a long unit. He liked it, though. Now he's studying exponents and things.

And English? Well, not as much has been done.

Maxwell was on a reading frenzy before we left, but I couldn't take very many books with me (whimper whimper sniff sniff) but he did read "Babe" and a couple of other books.

I'm really going to start focusing on his writing.

Hyrum and Daniel have been reading to me from a Barton "chapter books." My nephew will start tutoring them tomorrow. (Did I mention how it became to much of a source of anxiety to teach my lovely boys so I've been delegating?)

So yeah, we are in VANUATU! And we will be for the rest of the school year. Crazy ride.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Temple Trip to Hawaii! and WWII

You know, it's pretty awesome how many times things seem to fall into serendipity in my homeschool. Last week, one of the coolest ever happened.

We were starting to learn about the start of WWII. (This happens only once every four years folks.) and of course, one of the main events at the start of WWII was what?

PEARL HARBOUR!!!! Oh yeah! Up close and personal learning at it's finest!

So let me digress a bit to fill in all the gaps that led to this perfect homeschool moment.

As far as history goes, we learned about Gandhi. We watched the movie while making our own clothes. White pants (they chose pants over shirts.) Maxwell insisted that his had pockets because he hates pants without pockets, and I thought " want to actually wear these after today?"

We also took ocean water from our backyard and boiled the salt out of it.

Then we switched gears and learned about the depression. I LOVE the movie Kit Kittredge!! I haven't read the books, but Maxwell did! We read other books. Story of the World and History of US was included. Love those read-out-loud friendly books!

We had a hobo symbol walk. Hyrum went along with me and wrote all the symbols, and the rest of us followed later to decipher the messages. Again, this was a little awkward to do if your neighbors catch you writing cryptic messages in front of their house (which they always do!)

Abraham was even excited and would yell "GOOD GARBAGE!!!" whenever he saw the dead fish symbol.

The depression leads nicely into WWII. Especially since Germany's depression sort of caused Hitler.  I had my boys watch

Because believe it or not, Ducktales is the BEST way to teach inflation to children! The episode Land of Tra La La and And the Episode Dough Ray Me are pure Economics 101. But good luck trying to find a copy! They are not on the DVDs Disney sells! 

We learned all about WWII, and I didn't actually like teaching it. It's too sad. I still need to teach specifically about the atomic bomb. Blah.

We talked about Albert Einstein. We talked about how he was jewish and had to flee Hitler.

I've been thinking a lot about refugees this past week. With Trump and everything, this world is so crazy. I don't think we need to be like Sweden (the US would have to have over 5 million refugees a year to have the population ratio equivalent to Sweden) but I don't think shrinking the very little amount of refugees the US lets in is an answer.

In every book we read it seemed jews moved to America after the war. I remember doing a college paper reading from primary sources on how a boat that came to NY carrying 900 refugee jews during WWII was sent back to europe. 1/4 of them died in concentration camps.

Of course, I believe our main efforts should be in helping people where they stand in their own countries by encouraging their own passions. That's what Dustin's been doing for the past couple of weeks in Africa.

I'm not very productive when he's gone.

In fact, I have so much to do that I've been procrastinating, including MOVING to VANUATU.  I've really got to stop writing this and work on my sister's photos ;) so let's be quick with this:

Math: Maxwell has been doing tons of tessellation work. At first I was wondering why we were spending so much time on it, but they pointed out that they are used in so many different jobs, and hey, even Dustin uses it in his games.

Hyrum has learned how to find areas.

And Daniel is moving right along too.

We also did science. We learned about the digestion system. Including your teeth. We had tablets that showed their plaque.

And we learned about birds (because I couldn't take the bird stuff with us to Vanuatu) and we dissected owl pellets. The twins were so disgusted that we were looking through throw up of fur for bones, but Gracie was in heaven!  Haha!

We are going to miss the Salas and Schafers. They are awesome. Including rock selling and birthdays.

As far as english, Amalie has been our tutor, and I haven't gotten a photo, but she was a LIFE SAVER!!! I'm sure going to miss her!

And William was interested in letter writing, and is now ready for handwriting without tears, but I don't want to deal with that in Vanuatu, so it will have to wait.

And that brings us back to Hawaii.  Maxwell found 51!!!! names to take to the temple (we weren't able to do them all...obviously.) This was such an amazing experience. A one on one adventure with our oldest awesome son.

I sure love this little man of ours!

BTW Maxwell went on his first scout camp this week!! and he had to plan his own meals and make them himself, and he chose SUSHI!!! hahahahha

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lungs, Muscles, and fish guts

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any science photos lately. Umm that's because we haven't done much lately.

Before Christmas we actually had a club where we learned about lungs. Complete with a model.

And this week I've committed myself to a science club every week I am home from now on! (That is-until we go to Vanuatu in a month and a half.) We started out this commitment with a club about muscles. I made a pretty cool model, but it got broken in the first demonstration. Oops. but we had fun with other things and I know learning was happening.

I knew I wanted a tendon model, and I showed Maxwell the youtube, and while I was teaching math to his brothers, Maxwell made three models! So fun that I can count on him. He made them so well that they could grab things nicely.

We even had an activity where they practiced fine motor skills with muscles that weren't used to it.

And this Saturday we went and fed the seals fish guts at Fisherman's Wharf and went to Chinatown.

As far as math goes, Maxwell is now able to get the areas of almost any shape. including ones with curves!

But I must say, Rightstart is not perfect (at least in the first edition) These are the things they need to focus more on:

*Order of Operations
*Converting fractions into percents and decimals
*Balancing Equations
*The Distributive Property
*short cuts of multiplication and division with multiples of 10
*multiplying and dividing decimals.

These seem so important! how did they do such a bad job of covering them? but I guess these topics will come in Jr high math ?!? Sometimes they go over it lightly or just expect you to know it. We revert to the youtube channel "Mathantics" when that happens.

Hyrum is now able to understand written numbers in the millions.

and Daniel is working on fractions inside equilateral triangles that he makes himself.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Catching Up

I "Let it Go" quite a bit, and with Christmas and my birthday....well... be grateful I'm writing now...not sure who should be Westwind teacher? Hi John.

I've been trying to figure out my homeschool life. Trying to find to joy in motherhood. One day we went on a hike with my sister in law and then we went to her house and painted, and I felt like it was a perfect day. I wanted homeschool to feel more like that.

I think trying to do Seeing Stars threw me over the edge. It was frustrating and not working. I probably didn't give it a fair chance, and I paid a lot of money for the materials and training. So I feel torn. Should I do it for all the wrong reasons, or stop for all the right ones?

I stopped. In fact, I hired my niece, Amalie, to teach Barton to Hyrum and Daniel at the same time (they are at the same level now...did I mention that?) And that has seemed to overcome the burnt out-ness or maybe it was just MY burnt out-ness that it helped. Whatever the case, she is a God send.

I feel better about reading (perhaps this is because I'm not teaching the bulk of it anymore.) I'm having Hyrum and Daniel reading the post-level-three chapter books to me, and they are doing great and..........drum roll please........


Do you know how I longed and prayed and cried to be able to post this photo! He didn't know I took it. It was not posed. This is the book "Bunnicula." I read the first chapter to him and gave him a wink and handed the book over and he stayed up until midnight reading and didn't want to do anything but READ all the next day!!

There have been a handful of books other then this one that he's read since this photo, and I don't even have to read him the first chapter anymore. He's really liked the "Littles" by Petersen. He can go through those quite quickly and easily.

DYSLEXIA GOOD DAY!!!! I just keep thinking of this post: Bad bad Dyslexic Day

Where I wrote this "I'm still going through the sludge. Dreaming of the day that I will see Maxwell with a chapter book that he picked up on his own account. Devouring it because he loves it. Then I take a photo. I post it on this blog, and I say how wonderful it is that he's reading. How all those countless hours are worth it. And how now I know Hyrum will be okay too. All I have to do is persevere and he will have his own photo too."

You guys!!! THIS IS THAT POST!!!!

I'm still insecure and a worry wart, but Maxwell will be okay.

Anyway, this post is already too long so let's go through history really fast...

We learned about early immigration/Ellis island and we made Lady Liberty crowns as our activity. It was fun because we did this on a boat heading to USA!

Okay so I have to tell you about this---I had read to my kids in the ferry line-up for awhile (we got there really early) and when we actually got on the ferry I read another quick story or two and then quickly talked about modern immigration issues.

I thought I was rather nonpartisan in my speech, but I did include talking about the prophet and Pres. Uchtdorf.

While we were making crowns, my sister in law (who was grateful I was teaching her children) was questioned by an older couple close to us:

Them "Who do all of these many children belong to?"

Kirsten "Oh, some are mine, and some are hers."

Them "She's homeschooling isn't she."

Kirsten (thinking they were impressed as it was a Saturday and instead of shoving devices in their hands were being educated) proudly said "Why yes, she is."

Them "oh yes, well, I don't approve of any of this."

and huffed off!!!!

Cracked me up! Yes immigration is a very sensitive issue right now, but guaranteed your kids' public school teacher has her own agenda! And you don't even know what that agenda is!!!

On the return ferry we learned about the Wright Brothers, and no one huffed about that!

We've also learned about Henry Ford and the assembly line.  We made assembly line car cookies. We had a bottleneck in our assembly line, but they were tasty in the end!

We also learned about Charles Lindbergh (I emphasized that he was Lucky Lindy) and Amelia Earhart and made lots of paper airplanes from that awesome World Record Paper Airplane book.

We learned about the early movies. We read The Invention of HUGO Cabret and watched Steam Boat Willy and they made their own stop animation movies.

They did this one 100% on their own:


And this one Hyrum did 100% on his own, and I thought it was so cute that he chose the good Samaritan!


And we learned about Women's Suffrage.....actually, I was gone ALL day and my niece Maria actually taught them and helped them make picket signs. I had left the instructions to make "Votes for women" signs and they did "vote for women" letter can sure change the meaning!

Maxwell had read "Make it Fair" which is a chapter book about Canadian Women's suffrage ON HIS OWN because of Grandma's class.

And for History's records, this book series looks really good:

And we learned about lighthouse history a bit yesterday when we visited a lighthouse:

If you look very closely you can see OTTERS in that lighthouse photo!

And since it was Christmas, we had Christmas activities. My sister Danette, the best sister anyone could ever have-who actually reads her sister's long winded blog posts ;) -invited us over to make our own gingerbread houses-

And invited to see the Gingerbread house she made...that was in a contest that may have been a little more impressive than ours-

My parents had come for Christmas, and my Dad loved the ceramics they had made for him:

And my mom loved spending time with the kids including going to the aquarium-

And my incredible sister took us to Butchart Gardens, and although the kids didn't go, I thought I would include this photo because it's just too cool:

And my boys were in the church's nativity and we had fun with TONS of family.

And for Christmas, the boys got their very own 3D printer. They had loved Papas and helped make a 3D settlers of Catan game.

Now they make their own 3D creations:

But after all the gifts, all they really wanted were the boxes they came in!

So I haven't mentioned math-well, I was totally caught up before we had Christmas break, but now I'm a few lessons behind- I blame that whole "Let it Go" thing- anyway, it will be easy to catch up because I have help from Amalie with reading, so I have more mental ability.

In math, Daniel is a year ahead of his grade at least, but he still has Dyslexic quirks that show up once in awhile. For instance, he has been able to tell time forever, but we were trying to talk about concepts like "five minutes before the hour" and it was like I was dealing with a different Daniel. He had no capabilities to do this. "Before and after" being indicated by going left or right on a round clock? One of the hardest things for a dyslexic mind.

But good news: He's doing perimeters like a pro----don't you think that should be a harder concept?----not to dyslexics!!

Hyrum's finally gone through his times tables chart for this year. He completed it last year, but we needed to do it again this year. He's excited for his date to celebrate. Now I'm going to have Daniel do it!

And Maxwell has been doing very advanced things. He knows all about Pi, tangents to circles, bisecting angles, perpendicular bisectors, angles in arcs, and much more.

WHEW! I'm caught up!