Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Hahaha! It's early out in the McKay household this year. I am three weeks away from the baby's due date, and we are DONE!

For science two weeks ago, only one boy (in addition to mine) came. I was SO tired that even though I had everything planned, I was happy to see just one easy going boy come by and said "How about we watch Brain Pop for science today?" Of course they said yes, and we had an easy fun time.

We DID do one experiment. The time before, we had tried to do the classic egg-sucked-into-bottle experiment, but I had used a bottle with a neck too small. So we tried it this time. It worked, but it sucked it so hard, that the outer layer of egg got shucked off. Whatever. I say it worked:

So this week we learned about storms-lightning, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Not all of my experiments worked. Including the one I took a photo of. If you blow between two balloons, you should make low pressure and the balloons should come together. Didn't work as well as imagined.

Everyone loved Taylor's tornado though. He had already made one for the science fair.

The boys (all but one came) seemed to have more energy than usual. Maybe it was because they knew it was our last club of the year, but it was fun to get together.

Geography. Well, we we didn't do any more crafts or activities. This was not very impressive to Maxwell, but we did read lots of books. That counts for a lot,----right? I do regret not memorizing the last two geography songs (I never posted the middle east song they memorized, but they DID memorize it.) Other then that, I don't really have any regrets.

I'm so glad we did geography this year. I don't feel horrible about not covering the WHOLE WORLD because, well, there's a lot of world, and I feel like they know a lot more about that world since the beginning of the year. As a pregnant mama who needs to start nesting for this baby, that is enough for me.

And after all, when you look at their passports that we made this year, that's full of all the flags of the countries that we studied, it's a pretty impressive sight.

We certainly studied Japan. We had another Geography Fireside. Heather Burton came to share about her experience in Japan as a missionary. I don't think the kids will ever forget how Japanese people sit (she had a contest to see who could sit on their knees the longest-I think Liam Peavoy won.) And they will never forget all the bowing that's required in their culture. Heather really cracked them up when she made them all bow a million times.

We got fancy with the refreshments and made chocolate covered bananas. Well DUSTIN made chocolate covered bananas. Dustin had been the most supportive husband in the world this pregnancy. I am truly blessed.

The all-knowing Pinterest said chocolate covered bananas where Japanese, and Heather said they were very fitting. Much better than sushi to me.

Okay now for

Geography- Loved our experience. ESPECIALLY the geography firesides. I think next time I'll start them in September. I loved going to the Jewish Synagogue and to the Hare Krishna temple. More experiences like that is what I would like to see the next time we do geography. I love geography because it was so undemanding. If I missed a country or two, it didn't really matter.

Science-Science was awesome this year. Maybe it was because I love our group of boys so much. Maybe it was because I found learning astronomy so fascinating. Maybe it was because it was pretty easy to find most of the supplies for the experiments we did. Whatever the reason, it went smoothly, and it was good.

Devotionals-I finally started to get back in the rhythm of doing devotionals. I decided they needed to be easier or I would put them on the back burner, and I didn't want that to happen.  We would start by memorizing an article of faith or scripture, and then we would watch a bible video. We've actually watched a ton. They are found here.  I'm not sure what we will do after we run out of videos, but I'm sure we will manage.


Drum roll please---We have done an entire FOUR YEAR CYCLE!!!! Yep. I am done teaching my fourth year of homeschool. One would think that next year would require a lot less planning since I've already taught all the subjects before, however it is not that simple.

I started with U.S. History (from Native Americans to Post Civil War.) We were conveniently living in the states that year. I am NOT living in the States next year. Quite the conundrum.

One thing I know, I am still going to teach my kids U.S. history. We may live 15 minutes north of the border, but the founding fathers, Lewis and Clark, the Civil War etc are things I want my childrens to know about. After all, these things really affected Canada. I figure I will teach three out of four weeks about U.S. history.

That still leaves every fourth week for pure Canadian history. Ummm.  I don't know anything about Canadian history. I haven't even taken a citizenship exam yet, so ---yah---nada. I bought these books:

Hopefully I will know what to do by the end of summer. ----Moving on----

Daniel's Reading Writing and Arithmetic.-As far as reading goes, he knows all his letters and sounds, and that's all I'm worried about. And math-he knows his shapes and how to count, and that's enough. And for writing, he's dones with Handwriting Without Tears. Here's a sample of his work:

not too shabby for a preschooler eh? Well, I think it's sufficient enough.

Hyrum's Reading Writing and Arithmetic-With reading, Hyrum has done the first level of the Barton Reading and Spelling System. I will repeat it at the beginning of next school year anyway though.

For writing, his journal has been done very neat and tidy. He can have tons of dexterity when he wants to.

Math-I have seen so much improvement this year. It is very encouraging. Math has never been a huge strong point with Hyrum. Rightstart has been the right program for him. I've been proud of how far he's come. This worksheet below he did without the help of his abacus and without counting. He understood the concept and quickly answered the questions. This says a lot- believe me.

I've decided to have it on official records that he is doing Grade One again next year. Hyrum is still six years old, so he is the youngest in Grade One this year. Repeating grade one will mean he will be the oldest in the grade instead. This will be good with any standardized testing he might have to do, as well as city athletics, which are arranged by grade.  It will also make me feel a little more at ease about his academic achievement.

Maxwell's Reading Writing and Arithmetic: Reading and writing-He is half way through Level 3 of the Barton Reading and Spelling system. I feel good about this. I will write an extensive post about the Barton system later when (WHEN) I see more success.

It's kind of funny. I think I haven't mentioned on this blog about Maxwell's dyslexia, yet this is what I think about the most when I think about homeschooling. This is what I talk to other moms about. Maxwell is very intelligent, however, reading is so difficult for him.

I have a lot of hope and faith in the Barton system. It is rated as the best program by the American Dyslexic Association. I've heard so many success stories. I hope our family will have them as well. Especially since I know Hyrum is showing all the signs of dyslexia as well.

Anyway- Arithmetic is of course going really well. Maxwell passed off all his multiplication in the middle of the year. He memorized most of it using stories he learned through Times Tales.  But then, after going through the Rightstart program, he has stopped using the stories when ever he can. I hear him under his breath when he is trying to figure out 4x8 he says "16 plus 16 is 32" instead of saying "the snowman went on the chair...blah blah blah." That's what I like about Rightstart. It really gives kids an understanding of how math works. Not just memorization.

So there you have it. We are done with the year. I might have a few posts this summer though. We are going to have a homeschool scripture camp, and we still have our end of year homeschool organization fieldtrip.

This summer I will do the Barton system with Maxwell, and the other two boys will do Explode the Code online, and THAT'S IT. Baby time for our family.

PS (a long one) I just realized that I should say that I really liked all the extra curricular activities we've done this year. Gymnastics, the Westwind Co-op, the Play, Robotics (THANK YOU CAYLEEN!,) Soccer (still going on-love talking to all the moms while the boys play,) and piano (even though I don't make Maxwell practice as much as I should) have been what my family needed.

Also, I thought I would include these few stories that Maxwell wrote. I showed him a picture, and then he wrote a story to go along with it:

The Adventure of the Hidden Hole

Lucy and Jack were walking along one day in the forest. They saw this old rickety house. They decided to go in it. They were looking around at all the engravings on the wall when suddenly the floor underneath Jack cracked. Jack and Lucy decided to see what was under the floor board to see why it was cracking. 

When they looked under it, there was nothing but a black deep hole. They ran back to their house to get a flashlight, so that they could see what was under the floor board. When they went into the hole that they made by lifting up the floor board, there was a tunnel. They decided to walk along it. Then they saw a ladder going up. They went up the ladder.

When they came out of the hole, they looked around,and there was a big castle wall. They got out of the hole.They walked up to the castle's wall and knocked. Then a drawbridge went down suddenly and they walked across it to see what was in the castle. All they saw was lots and lots of big chests.

There was only one living thing that they could see: a crow.  They decided this would be a great place to play. 

They started to play. While they were playing, they played hide and go seek. Lucy was opening a chest to hide in, but as she was opening it, she saw that it wasn't empty. It was full of clothing. She said to Jack "Jack come here, I found something we can play dress up with."

Jack quickly ran over to Lucy to see what she had found. When Jack got to Lucy, he was so excited that he started opening lots of chests. Lucy did too. 

Jack was opening a chest. He was expecting to see clothing, but instead he found treasure. 

Then they started to open the chests more fiercely to see if they could find more treasure. Lucy found ten chests full of treasure. Jack found nine chests full of treasure.They decided to bring home one treasure chest every day.

When they picked up one of the treasure chests, they were expecting it to be quite light, but instead it was heavy. Jack ran home to get something to put the treasure chest on to make it easier to move. Jack was very fast. He got his wagon. Jack and Lucy lifted the treasure chest onto the wagon and then is was very easy pulling it to the hole.

Lucy decided to to get her wagon so that she could bring it into the tunnel and Jack could put the treasure from his wagon, down the ladder to her wagon. Her wagon was much better on bumpy roads then Jack's. They decided to use Lucy's for the tunnel and for the forest.

They quickly got home. They were very glad that they had gotten the treasure chest. Jack decided to get some really pretty rocks to make a trail to the old rickety house so that they could find it again.

The War Between Cats and Dogs

King Fuzzy's hair was prickly as he thought about the war outside. His tail was stiff as a bone. His whiskers were as straight as arrows. Instead of his usual purr, he growled. 
Then his butler came running up to him saying "The south tower got hit."

King Fuzzy jumped up from his chair and picked up his sword. He ran to the south tower saying "Evacuate! Evacuate! Take all your needs. Guards, put the bacon in the bomb shelter!"

The Guards said "Yes sir. We will put the bacon where the dog army will never be able to get it." 

The guards quickly ran to get the bacon and put it in a safe spot. King Fuzzy ran back to his throne and the butler came running up to up him saying "We hit the draw bridge of the dog army's castle."

The king ran to the closest window and looked out. Yes, they had hit the draw bridge. King Fuzzy told the butler "Tell the army to run into the castle."

The butler said "What about back up?" 

"I think we have enough." then King Fuzzy thought out loud, "Hum, I wonder if we could hit their south tower."

The butler said "I'll tell all our catapults to aim at their south tower." The butler ran quickly down the stairs.

The king decided to make a double catapult. He got paper and oil. He made the catapult that he thought about. He called for his guards to come and aim at the south tower of the dog's castle. Two guards came running up to him and aimed it at the south tower. They put the paper in the oil. King Fuzzy grabbed a torch and lit the paper and oil on fire. King Fuzzy took out his sword, and cut the rope. It fired at the dog's south tower. The wall exploded into flames. 

One of the guards ran down the stairs and then came running back up saying "The butler is killed!"

King Fuzzy's eyes turned narrow. He growled the angriest growl he ever had. The king said "Let's get this war over with." 

Just then, one of his villagers said "25 of our people have died. One of them was the butler."

"How many dogs do you thing we have killed?" King fuzzy asked the villager.

The villager said "One of our spies said 25 including Queen Jewel."

King Fuzzy said "Raise the flag that says 'We will share the bacon.'"

When the dog king saw the flag, he said "Raise our flag that says we will share our milk. There has been enough death."

The solders saw the flags and quickly ran to each other's castles to share the milk and bacon. King Fuzzy wrote a letter to King Ruff, the dog king and this is what the letter said:

"King Ruff, I heard that your queen was killed. I am sorry, Let's make sure that there's no more wars between us by sharing everything that we have."

A few days later, King Fuzzy got a letter from King Ruff saying "I like the idea of sharing our stuff so that there are no more wars between us."

The kingdom of the cats and dogs lived in peace forever more.

Faith and Tim's Castle Adventure

Tim and Faith were on a school trip at the ruins of a castle. They had wandered very far from the rest of their class. Tim was looking under stones for treasure. Tim was lifting up a rock when he saw a little bit of gold. "Faith! Come here." He said. Faith came running up.

Faith said "Let's unbury the gold all the way." Tim agreed. They started digging around the gold.

Tim said "This looks like a golden box. Let's open it." 

Faith said "Let me open it. You always get to open stuff." 

Tim said "Okay. I'll let you open it."

While it was opening, it creaked. Tim saw numbers and a button. One said "In a war." and another one said "After the war." Tim said "I think this is a time travelling machine." Tim pressed some buttons and asked if Faith wanted to press the last button. Faith nodded her head. She pressed the button that said "After the war."

There was a flash of light and wind was whistling in their ears. Then everything was still. They opened their eyes to see the golden box was in Faith's backpack.

Then they looked around. The stones beneath their feet looked newer. They quickly ran to the drawbridge of one of the castles and walked across it to look inside. 

The first thing that they saw was bones on the ground, mice, and vines growing up the walls. They decided to look around some more. They were walking along a hall, when one of the suits of armour moved. 

Tim said  to Faith "Did you see that?" Faith nodded her head. "Is anyone there?" Time asked. Then the suit of armour let go of the spear he was holding, and took off his helmet.

There was a face that had freckles and blue nice looking eyes. He had a hat that was pointy and dark blue with lots of yellow stars on it and one moon in the middle. He said "Hello young lads. Where did you come from?"

They answered saying "We're just here on a field trip." 

The wizard asked "Have you seen the rest of the castle?"

"No. Will you show us?" They answered.

The wizard said "I would be glad to. Just let me take off my armour, so that I can move faster."

They helped the wizard take off the armour. Once the wizard was out of his armour, he showed them the treasure room. He had them stop right outside the door. Tim saw some gold, and asked the wizard "Could I have some gold?" The wizard nodded "yes." Faith asked if she could have some jewellery. The wizard said yes.

Tim asked "Where do you think the best gold is?"

The wizard pointed to the far corner. "That crown comes with a golden suit of armour." 

Faith asked where the best jewels were. The wizard pointed in the middle of the room at a different crown. The wizard said "No one is allowed in the treasure room. If you go in there, there are booby traps, but I will be able to get your treasures with magic." The wizard pointed at the gold crown, and it floated up into the air. Behind it, was another crown made out of jewels that started floating as well.

The crowns came floating to Faith and Tim who grabbed them and put them in their backpacks.

Then the wizard showed them to the throne room.

When they got there, there were two figures in armour with swords pointing at each other. The wizard said "These were once two mighty kings. Now they are dead. Their kingdoms were taken by two other kingdoms after they died. I hid here because I did not want a different castle. I was born here, and I love it here.

Tim and Faith asked "What do you eat?"

The Wizard said "Oh, I eat the vine's fruit."

Tim and Faith said "We better go home." 

The wizard said "How are you getting home?"

"Oh, all that we have to do, is use our golden box, and press a few buttons to go home." Then they showed the wizard their golden box and said "We will see you later." They pressed a button and after  two flashes of light and whistling wind  in their ears, they were home.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Two weeks down, Two weeks to go

A week ago when we had science where we learned about the atmosphere and air. One of the experiments that we did was to show that air has weight. The balloon with air outweighs the balloon with no air.

This week we learned about air pressure. We did lots of experiments that showed how air kept cardboard on full glasses of water and how air pressure can suck up water. Changes in air pressure crushed our milk carton, and here it blew up (sort of) a balloon.

We also made our own fake barometer. (Real barometers take too long to get results from.) With ours, when you pushed down on the balloon top of the big jar, the little jar's balloon would go in too, and if you pulled the big one's up, the other one would go up too.

Notice how all the experiments I took photos of used BALLOONS? Ya, I kinda thought I would prove my point that I made in my last post about how useful balloons are when doing science.

Anyway, only two more weeks of science, and last science class we only had one boy missing, so I thought I would take a photo of them all.  They sure get along really well, and I think they have liked coming to science as much as I have enjoyed putting it on.

For geography we learned about Africa----ummm----only two countries in Africa. But hey, we've already learned about Zimbabwe, so really THREE countries----yah, pathetic I know, but I'm big and pregnant and that's enough of an excuse for me.

We learned about Mozambique (our World Vision child is from Mozambique if you were wondering why I chose to study such a random country.)  We played mancala as our activity. I really like mancala. I had never played it before. It's simple enough for Daniel to play, and if you lose any pieces, it doesn't matter because you can use something else for pieces (like lego....which we have in plentiful supply.)

We also learned about both Congos. I chose the Congos, because that's where their cousin is on his mission. We wrote him (and all the other cousins who are on missions) as our activity. Daniel's picture was especially cute. It was of Jesus on the cross with two guards and Mary:

Well, that's it. Two weeks, and that's it. We have also had our home visit from the homeschool organization and I've had some mom meetings, but yep, that's it.

Two more weeks. In fact, I might get done sooner. I told Maxwell that as soon as he was done with his math book, all we would do for school during the summer is reading. He is now pretty motivated to get done with his math book ASAP. Two weeks of lessons might be done sooner, and Hyrum's school could certainly be condensed, and Daniel is pretty much done with his Handwriting Without Tears, which was my goal for him. Whoo Hoo!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

We're Back! with a Science Fair

Yes we are back. Goodbye warm Arizona, hello Alberta---it snowed the first day we were back---yah.

We will miss AZ. Where we swam outside everyday and got to spend lots of time with far away cousins.

As far as school goes, we actually did really well at keeping up with reading, writing, and arithmetic.  In fact, Hyrum is to the point that he is starting to tell time.

Geography suffered. We did study India, however. We watched a documentary (eye opener to how rich we are in North America.) and for our activity, we went to the COLOR FESTIVAL!!! We've gone before, and we plan to make it a tradition. It's a hindu (or Harikrishna) form of karma to throw powder color at each other to celebrate the beginning of spring. And it's a total blast.

We also had some other education experiences on our trip. Like having Grandma reading classics like Mary Poppins to my kids-along with some other picture books.


Art (on LONG drives)-this one is Daniel's monster eating a guy--so cute.

Biology lessons---having their newest cousin be born---

And going to things like Natural History Museums.

After a month and a half, we had to cut our trip a little short when William smashed a mirror on top of his head.

But that made it so we were able to be here for the science fair! Hyrum did his on balloons with static electricity. He's always doing this with balloons anyway. It was only natural that this be his experiment.

Maxwell did his on why balloons with water in them won't pop when you put fire under them.

Balloons are so useful. When teaching physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science, I have used balloons many times. If you want a science experiment nook in your house, be sure to include balloons.

Well, we are now in the swing of being home. It's pretty nice. But geography might continue to suffer.

Also for the record, I'll include this photo because these geography books are awesome for kids.