Friday, March 20, 2015

Homeschool Journal, Spring Books, Recipes

If you're only interested in the spring picture books, scroll to bottom. There are recipes there too.

Outside my window:
The snow melted and the kids are playing outside everyday, finding moths, flies, frogs and beetles, rejoicing at these promises of more spring and wildlife to come. Nothing on the trees yet and the grasses haven't greened, so it's dreary, but my children's happy hearts dress up my world.

I think anyone in the Midwest or East will agree? That was a long, long winter. Our temps have been anywhere from 30's to high 50's this week.

On my mind:
My children are all different, yet I'm reminded this week that they've bonded well and they're accepting of each other. I think family prayer time helps to bond siblings, allowing them to view each other as Jesus does...flawed but precious. I've been counting my blessings as a mother and my heart is full this week. Watching them grow and mature and become who God created them to be is a privilege.

Beth and Paul are rather intellectual and they're both creative. Beth works hard to gather a stack of books at the library and last week she said to me:

"I'm sorry I have so many to carry, but I just really love knowledge." (I laughed out loud at her 6-year-old cuteness.)

She makes up little skits and asks us to be this or that character, and she'll put blankets on her head or special dresses to go with her scene. And dolls! She makes dolls out of everything, but doesn't play with her store-bought dolls much anymore. Stuffed animals are really her favorites; she dresses them and uses them as dolls. Or she'll stuff some socks and glue things on the face and cuddle it like a doll, or make paper dolls from her own pictures and pretend they're real dolls too.  She is never bored and she's always busy.

Paul loves politics and geography and math and writing, so he too, is always busy and never bored. He also enjoys art and creating new patterns and homemade projects like stuffed animals for presents for his sisters. He wishes there were more hours in a day because he always has much planned for his time.

Peter and Mary have similarities too. Neither are intellectual in the traditional sense. They love nature and the outdoors and finding God's glory with their senses. Their bodies need movement. Their minds are intertwined with their senses, and they express themselves orally, not really desiring paper or pencil or books (unless it's bitter winter, in which case they look at and read nature books). When they're outside, they're joyful, and when they're inside, they're restless.

Peter is fully immersed in planning his garden and putting seeds in online shopping carts. He loves this endeavor and starts working on his wish list in January, and he draws up plans for what will go where, and then loses them and starts over.

I'm like Paul and Beth in the sense that I have many plans for my time, and I love reading and writing and thinking. Though unlike them, I'm not creative with my hands. My husband is like Peter and Mary (perhaps more so). He can't stand to be in buildings if he can help it. Daylight savings time is sweet for him because it's still light out upon his return from work at 7 PM (that's coming soon).

Somehow we're all learning to understand and appreciate each other and rejoice in our differences.

I'm Working On:
I'm working on a deeper level of cleaning up our diets--something we began five years ago within our budget constraints. Yesterday I went to two stores, spending four hours total finding better choices, like raw honey, pure maple syrup, less-processed pure cane sugar, organic strawberries, carrots, celery, apples and greens, aluminum-free baking powder, and Jasmine brown rice from Thailand, rather than from the arsenic-rich fields of the American south (though it still needs to be rinsed and cooked like pasta, to further reduce arsenic levels, which permeate rice easily from soil and water).

My shopping trip started at 8 PM and ended at midnight (two stores), and when I came through the door hubby was about ready to call the police. I absentmindedly put my old cell phone that the kids play with into my purse instead of the new one. I told hubby now that I've scrutinized every label thoroughly, all my other trips will be faster.

As I thought, there was no finding a "clean" bread or tortilla brand, and thankfully a bread maker is coming in the mail today, which, I told my hubby, I'm paying for by selling some unused homeschool curriculum.

Fair trade chocolate is available at a very small coop in the college town near us, and we will check it out, but I doubt I can afford it, unless something else goes. We will have to substitute healthy muffins and breads for our chocolate sweet tooth.

Do you find reasonably-priced fair-trade chocolate anywhere?

The budget I'm working with is not any better these five years later, but I'm more committed to finding the money by reducing our milk and meat intake, and by cutting out all commercial bread products. (Shh, don't tell my hubby about the meat). He likes all kinds of foods and perhaps if I concoct new, delectable soups, he won't notice meat's scarcity around here. He, too, cares about eating healthfully but he's very practical (and carnivorous, I might add).

I learned long ago how to make a complete protein when eating legumes (beans, peas, lentils) and grains. It's all in what you combine them with. When we do use meat it will be more to flavor foods, and for homemade broths, and to add some protein, rather than to dominate our main dishes.

The meat and poultry industries lack integrity. Period. And I can't afford the better meats.

Now onto our homeschool photos and some great picture books to usher spring in, plus some whole-food blog links and recipes!

Beth worked on initial blends this week in All About Reading 1.

Mary worked on the sound and uses of /oi/ and /oy/ in All About Reading 2. /Oy/ is used at the end of words, and /oi/ is used in the middle.

This stuffed animal is the famous Sparky from AWANA's Sparky class for grades K-2. The word represents the children being "sparks" for Jesus. (My whole family is loving the new Wednesday night AWANA and the church hosting it...and I made a new homeschool friend!--a real life, non-cyber one even, not that my cyber friends aren't totally real and awesome!).

The friendly Sparky visits each Sparky child's house and is returned back to the AWANA teacher the following week with a journal and pictures of his adventures. He joined us in our homeschool and he'll go to the library with us too.

Sparky is doing some drawing.

Sparky is being read to by Beth and Mary.

Sparky has his glasses on and he's reading himself this time.

Sparky is having a spelling lesson.

Goodwill is wonderful for finding any kind of container. Our drawing books needed a convenient home.

"Recess" included vigorous games of basketball and backyard soccer. 

Some yummy dinner and lunches. Black bean soup above with honey wheat corn bread, and taco soup below.

My girls don't care for math because they have trouble recognizing all the numbers dyslexics typically confuse, so sometimes when motivation is low, I offer one chocolate chip for each problem and the rest if there was no complaining.

Skip counting is also difficult for dyslexics, as is any random sequence they have to memorize, though the fives and tens should be easier than they are for Mary. The pennies help her skip count by herself.

Mary has been doing some sewing for two years now. She made a button hole and button for her stuffy and she was so proud! No, this is probably not a properly done job, but it worked.

She'll sew these pieces together for a tiny stuffed animal. I need to get my children into a sewing class soon.

We tried out Kahn Academy this week and Paul especially loves it!

Our weekly trip to the library (last Fri). We took advantage of hubby's trip to Florida to put my van in our mechanic's shop for a (yikes!) $1,200 rust job. ( wonder hubby frowned at the bread maker purchase). We picked hubby up from the airport last Monday, and since then we've been grounded during the day, with the van expected to be done on Sunday.

A neat math program at our library, enjoyed this trip by Peter and Paul.

Mary's favorite thing at this computer station is the library's Stellaluna program (one of her favorite books).

I loved this rainbow by Mary.

All About Reading 2, working on synonyms.

The boys began a new Sonlight science selection, having finished Evolution: The Grand Experiment (debunks all aspects of evolution, from a completely scientific perspective), from Sonlight Science G. This is What's Science All About, which they both enjoy.

Tuesday and Thursday for the boys look something like this, with math on the computer and writing or spelling with mom not included on this list. From their perspective, the other days feel lighter.

I put seven nutrition/cooking blogs on my sidebar to peruse for whole-food information and recipes. I found several wonderful recipes to try.

10-Minute Baked Apples from Back to the Book Nutrition

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes With Maple Cinnamon Butter at The Nourishing Gourmet

Potato-Cauliflower Chowder from 100 Days of Read Food

Sausage, Kale, White Bean Soup from 100 Days of Read Food

10 Recipes for School Lunches from 100 Days of Read Food

100 Days of Read Food offers free meal plans with shopping lists

One Pot Chicken and Brown Rice with Vegetables from Back to the Book Nutrition

Spring Picture Books

Spring brings April showers, rainbows and the promise of new life in the Easter Celebration in Super Gifts of Spring, the third book of a new seasonal four-book series by Dandi Daley Mackall. 

Playful rhymes leap off illustrated pages by Katherine Blackmore and give thanks to God for the wonderment created in Spring. The infectious rhyming prose paired with scriptural passages, give gratitude and glory to God as early learners discover the Super Gifts of Spring. Look out for the next book in the Seasons series, Special Gifts of Summer.

Old MacDonald had a ... garden? Yes! Sing along with young Jo MacDonald as she grows healthy food for people and wild creatures. E-I-E-I-O! Find out how butterflies, bumblebees, and birds help a garden to thrive - and how you can help them too. And keep an eye on one mysterious plant. What will it become? Youngsters learn about garden ecosystems and stewardship through this playful adaptation of Old MacDonald Had a Farm.

Barbara Cooney's story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went. Miss Rumphius received the American Book Award in the year of publication.

Violet runs the fastest, sings the highest, looks the fanciest, and talks the loudest. Everyone agrees that she's the best. Except Rosie. Rosie isn't fast, or loud, or fancy, but she's tired of hearing that Violet is the best. When their class grows pea plants, Rosie's and Violet's are the first to sprout! But Violet's is a little taller. So Rosie pushes some soil over Violet's sprout to slow it down. And for a moment, Rosie's plant is the best -- but she feels terrible.
And she feels even worse when she learns that Violet has the chicken pox. So for the next two weeks, Rosie waters her plant -- and Violet's too. She turns them in the sun, and sings them quiet growing songs. And her teacher says that Rosie is the best gardener she's ever had. Definitely the best.
This empathetic story captures every child's desire to be noticed and praised, and the subtle competitions that go on in a classroom. It's a book to swell every shy child's heart. 

A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha's heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil's dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead.

Thirteen very different voices -- old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful -- tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.
"As a vacant lot is transformed into a community garden, these vignettes give glimpses into the lives of the fledgling gardeners. As satisfying as harvesting produce straight from the vine." -- School Library Journal

In the Middle Ages, people believed that insects were evil, born from mud in a process called spontaneous generation. Maria Merian was only a child, but she disagreed. She watched carefully as caterpillars spun themselves cocoons, which opened to reveal summer birds, or butterflies and moths. Maria studied the whole life cycle of the summer birds, and documented what she learned in vibrant paintings.

This is the story of one young girl who took the time to observe and learn, and in so doing disproved a theory that went all the way back to ancient Greece.

Lydia Grace Finch brings a suitcase full of seeds to the big gray city, where she goes to stay with her Uncle Jim, a cantankerous baker. There she initiates a gradual transformation, bit by bit brightening the shop and bringing smiles to customers' faces with the flowers she grows. But it is in a secret place that Lydia Grace works on her masterpiece -- an ambitious rooftop garden -- which she hopes will make even Uncle Jim smile.

Sarah Stewart introduces readers to an engaging and determined young heroine, whose story is told through letters written home, while David Small's illustrations beautifully evoke the Depression-era setting.
The Gardener is a 1997 New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of the Year and a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book.

A funny, accessible chapter-book series about an irrepressible third grader.
Marty McGuire's third-grade class has a special assignment: Save the Earth! Even more exciting, the best project wins a special award. Marty's pretty sure her classmates' ideas won't stand a chance against her plan to turn the garbage from the school cafeteria into fertilizer. All she needs is a little help from her teammate and best friend, Annie -- and the worms in her grandma's garden.
But it turns out that worms are awfully SLOW eaters. And when the critters escape, the whole class starts grumbling. Can Marty save the Earth without losing her friends?

An ode to muddy hands and feet, brown earth, and new grass. Simple text and exuberant illustrations will make children and their grown-up friends want to sink their feet into gooey, gloppy, mucky, magnificent mud.

From Publishers Weekly ; Introduced in Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, the cute little fox Fletcher now discovers spring. Seeing blossoms swirling through the air—Beeke renders them as a flurry of white smudges—Fletcher becomes convinced that the snow has returned. Feeling bouncy [and] full-of-importance, he sounds the alarm to his forest comrades, who are not a little peeved when they realize Fletcher's mistake. All is quickly forgiven as they revel in the glories of the season: The animals scooped up pawfuls and clawfuls of blossoms from the ground, and covered him in a tickly shower of fluttering white petals! The distinctly British lilt of Rawlinson's prose should prove captivating for preschoolers. But it's Beeke who gives this book its reason for being. Working in her signature naïf style, she gives each character a vivid personality (the steadfast porcupine and slacker rabbits are particularly memorable) and conjures up an irresistible forest: bathed in warm greens and yellows, punctuated with impish bursts of color, and just imposing enough to be a suitable setting for adventure. Ages 3–7.

How was your week, friends? Thank you for visiting.

Weekly Wrap-Up

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