Archive for the ‘Scouting’ Category

Keeping Home Education Organized: Part 1

Howdy to all of you!  For a while there I thought it was almost spring… until I heard the weather report on the radio while driving the kids to the 4-H building to pick up their fruit orders from the fundraiser.  As fundraisers go, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had to do over the years. At least it’s useful and I can definitely come up with something to do with a box of cooking/baking apples (apple pie comes to mind) or 6 whole pineapples (like freezing them for smoothies or other later use.)

With temps. being below normal all winter (except for a freakishly nice streak last week), it’s too early yet for the many gardening tasks ahead, a so far only a few precious tomato seedlings just beginning to sprout this week, I’ve been turning my attention to other tasks… teaching the kids to cook, trying to keep school lessons graded on-time and recorded in the grade book, looking over the lessons for the rest of the spring term and doing lesson planning, making lists of curriculum subjects we need more of before the rest (so I don’t have to pay over-night or 2-day shipping fees, or else lose a week or two waiting on books) and planning for our trip to the nearest home-school convention in May.

A lot of these tasks are paperwork organizational ones.  I don’t claim to a paper organizing guru… especially in some areas… like the incoming mail from my (snail) mailbox.  On the grade-book, lesson planning and student planner front I’ve gained a great deal of confidence in the last year.  Through trial and error, we’ve learned more about ourselves and what works (and more importantly what doesn’t) for our family.  I’ve tried a lot of planners and planning pages that are out there in the marketplace (mainly 2 types… those available in the stores and those that are available online that you can print out and use), but they always seem to end up requiring a goodly amount of “tweaking” in order for them to work for my family and I always end up with this random mix of pages I printed out that really don’t look like they belong together.  From an artistic point of view, I find the lack of cohesion annoying at best.  My main complaints of store-bought student planners are number one that they are almost always dated and lack flexibility and two that they are typically designed for high school students.  Research has shown though that these organizational skills are best formed in 2nd/3rd graders, not jr. high and high school.

The best store-bought planners I’ve found for Elementary students are little spiral-bound assignment notebooks made by Mead (yes the people that make notebooks and Trapper Keepers that you remember from your school days.)  These are inexpensive (usually $3 or so) and I can find them at a couple my local (non-chain) grocery stores.  Each page has sections for 3 days and (Subject, Assignment, Date) at the top of each section.  You can use it one of two ways: 1 section per subject and all the assignments for that subject for a week (probably how the manufacturer intended it) or you could use it like we do.  I simply list all of the subjects/assignments for one day in a section and where it says Date:  I write the day of the week.  Then I just cross the completed assignment with a highlighter.  It’s simple and it works… for assignments… but it lacks planning pages for activities, home- school co-op, sports/clubs, church and for longer-term school and club projects… you would have to get another different planner for that sort of thing.   My kids’ complaint with these little planners…” THEY ARE SO BORING-LOOKING MOMMMMMM! ” I ask you… just how many planners should a 2nd to 5th/6th grader really be asked to maintain (even with a great deal of adult help)?  The answer to this question should never be more than ONE!  These are kids who have trouble keeping track of their shoes, toys, mittens and just about everything else that comes in pairs or more… so a pair of planners (one school-work and one social life) is just too much!

Having your student’s “paperwork organizational brain” all in one book makes their life and yours a great deal easier.  I had some specific requirements I struggled to find elsewhere (or if I did find it the format was super boring or not quite what I needed in some aspect or other.)

My Requirements:

* We school 6 days a week,  so we need either a 3-day per page or 6-day per page

* Longer-term Project planner pages for research papers (which we will be starting in the Fall), literature log/book report to ensure independent reading, and projects/goals for 4-H etc.

*Social organization pages.

*Month at a glance calendars to accompany the 5 weeks of assignment pages every month.

*Cohesive artistic design.

 

To this end result I used the Printmaster Platinum 6 program on my computer to design something that would work for my kids,  a planner that met our needs and wouldn’t bore the children to tears.  I may eventually design another version or two… or three…. as we all know that all children are very different.  For now the boys and decide we all like the “chalkboard” look… so we went a little old-school for our first home-school student planner.  I am going to try to add this on here as a downloadable file (you all let me know if it didn’t work.)  I will add pictures of the completed project after I try my link myself from our other computer which is the one that works with our printer.  It is meant to be copied with additional copies of the assignments, social and project pages for each month.

Daily Assignments

(Please Note: You are welcome to download and print it for personal use only, but please be respectful and don’t copy for commercial use.)

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To Bake OR Not to Bake- A Math Lesson

Almost every child LOVES COOKIES.  We all know this… entire marketing campaigns are based on this fact in the fall of the year when the kiddies go back to school, the weather starts cooling and folks start thinking about football, homecoming games, treat-laden parties and the major baking holidays.

Homeschooling moms have a big advantage over their public school teaching counterparts in the area of math to keep their students engaged in lesson material and at the same time give their youngsters a fun break from the day-to-day on-paper math assignments.  The homeschooling mother (or father, or grandparent… whatever the case may be) has: #1. a pantry containing food ingredients #2. cooking equipment and facilities ever present when at home (cooking in the car is probably NOT a good option unless your home is also your mode of transportation) #3 a handy supply of cookbooks, recipe card or perhaps recipes memorized from years of experience. #4 As a parent, IF your children have any food issues such as allergies, you KNOW what they are and unless the result of your math lesson is going to end up as snack for the next scout meeting or church potluck, you don’t have to worry about anybody else’s allergies except your family’s.

I don’t know about your kids, but mine love the process of making cookies almost as much as they love eating them.  That said, our family does have a few food limitations among our children: corn/corn syrup, gluten, milk protein, soybeans, bananas, strawberries and avocados.  With that in mind, we do quite a bit of our own baking anyway.  Baking is a great way to make math fun, particularly when trying to teach fractions.

Today’s math skill (new) was adding fractions and to this end, we used 1/3 and 1/2 measuring cups and a 1/4 tsp measuring spoon (okay, I couldn’t find any of the others anyway… but we made it work for us!) to measure ingredients.  We also ended up writing our own recipe for these cookies as we went along and the oldest wrote it down on recipe cards. Life Skills Lesson: Bake a healthy, low-sugar and yummy  “go-to” cookie that even my future 20-something possibly bachelor sons could make on their own without too much difficulty for their lunchboxes and such when they are grown and on their own. (Clever Mama!)  Bonus Lessons: Creative Writing and Penmanship practice … check!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanut Cookies

1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 cups Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2+ 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 cups brown sugar (or 50/50 blend of brown sugar/splenda or brown sugar/stevia)

1/4 + 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs (or 3 medium… that’s what I happened to have)

1/3 cup cocoa powder (baking, not hot chocolate mix)

1/4 + 1/4+ 1/4+ 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 + 1/3 cup of room temp. leftover coffee (adjust as needed depending on the moisture of your flour)

1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2 cups whole millet flour

1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2+1/2+ 1/2+ 1/2 cups Gluten-Free all purpose flour (use your favorite blend) Adjust flour as needed if your cookie dough seems too wet from the coffee

1/3 cup Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips (okay, this was all I had left of the bag)

1/3+ 1/3 + 1/3 cups chopped peanuts

1/2 cup Sugar in a small bowl (add more if needed

1. Cream together in a large mixing bowl, the peanut butter and brown sugar.

2. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and stir in thoroughly.

3.  Stir in the coffee (it will look very loose almost like pancake batter at this point.)

4. In another mixing bowl mix the flours, cocoa powder and baking powder.

5. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients 1/3 or so at a time. Mixing well between additions.

6. Stir in the chocolate chips and peanuts.

7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or foil and chill for at least 2 hours.

8.  After the dough is chilled, Preheat the oven to 350 F.

9. Remove the dough from your fridge and scoop out walnut-sized balls of dough.  Roll the dough in sugar (as you would regular peanut butter cookies) and place on your baking sheet.

10.  Using a fork, lightly squish the cookie dough balls in a criss-cross fashion (again like regular peanut butter cookies).

11.  Place your cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes (use your judgement here, if you like soft cookies take them out when they look well set, if you like a crunchier cookie leave them a couple minutes longer, but plan to keep a close eye on them so they don’t burn.

12.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack or plate.

13.  Let the kiddies enjoy the results of their math lesson, but don’t forget to save some for dad’s lunch too!

For holidays you can use colored sugar or roll them in sprinkles to dress them up a bit.

For Extra Credit, check with  your 4-H and Scout leaders to see if this math project can count toward a 4-h project (perhaps and Educational Display in Baking/cooking as part of a cookbook you child writes out him/herself) or for a cooking belt loop in Cub-Scouts/Badge in Girl Scouts.

(*  I apologize for lack of photos at the present time, my camera bit the dust after the 4-H photography clinic we had in late July and we haven’t had the funds to replace it just yet.  I will bake these cookies again another day after we DO replace the camera, edit and re-post this again in an updated version with photos.)

We Are So Excited! Part 1

My middle and youngest brothers

My middle and youngest brothers

There are so many things for our family to be excited about this spring and summer, that it is hard to keep them in order and write about them all.

I guess one of the most exciting events will be  this coming summer. My younger brother, Eric, is getting married to the sweetest gal I’ve ever met, his fiancee, Rachel. (Eric is picture on the right wearing the glasses and standing next to my baby brother, Roy.)  As if a wedding and the resulting family reunion that creates wasn’t exciting enough,  Eric and Rachel will tie the knot on Pioneer Pa and I’s  11th Wedding Anniversary.  It is sure to be a great time for all, including our kids, who will be getting to see their cousins for the first time in 7 years and getting to see their great-grandmothers, whom the older two barely remember and the youngest has never met.

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma... I learned from the best!

The Original Modern Pioneer Ma… I learned from the best!

Traveling to Missouri this summer for Eric and Rachel’s wedding will be our family vacation this year.  It will also be our 1st major homeschooling field trip.  We plan to visit, Independence Square & Courthouse (the gateway of the Oregon, Santa Fe and Mormon Trails), visit the Harry S. Truman Home, Library, the soda fountain where Harry Truman had his 1st job, Bess Truman’s Tea Room, Ft. Osage and the Lexington Civil War Battlefield.  If there is time, we might visit Jamesport, MO (home of the outlaw, Jesse James), a Natural History/Science Museum or a Zoo.

In other news, I’m so pleased and relieved to once again have my income taxes filed for another year.  If you’ve never had to file your farming income along with the regular income taxes for a job in town, this is quite the chores and every year I am thrilled and excited once it is crossed off my to-do list.

Other things I’m happy to have crossed off the to-do list this week: Finding Eggplant purple dress shirts for both Farmer Boys to wear at their uncle’s wedding and finding the perfect yellow & white Easter dress/dress for uncle’s wedding for our Littlest Pioneer Girl (oh and finding a matching pair of  dress shoes to go with it for $1 at the thrift store! Cha-ching!)

Other things of course have been added to the to-do list since though.  My mom and I were assigned to plan the rehearsal dinner/BBQ.  And I was specifically assigned the task of designing, baking and decorating the grooms cake because I am apparently the family guru of special foods needs AND the best cake decorator in the family.

Journey Into History with The Modern Pioneer Family

Sometime in April or May (date is still T.B.D.) our family will be traveling to my hometown in Missouri to attend my younger brother’s wedding.

Why you say is this of significance to this blog (I mean other than it is the wedding of a family member and thus an important family even to welcome a new sister-by-marriage and a new auntie to our family)?  Well, let us consider then that my “hometown” in my youth was Independence, Missouri and that I was born in Oregon City, Oregon.

Independence, Missouri holds an important place in the history of the United States of America.  It was the hometown of our President, Harry S. Truman and it is also the city from which most of our Nation’s expansion toward the Pacific Coast began.  Independence, Missouri is starting place of the 4 major traveling routes into the West:  The Santa Fe Trail, the California Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Oregon Trail (not listed in historical order on purpose.)

We have noticed some huge holes in our children’s study of American History at their local school.  Thus my husband and I have decided to put together for a history lesson project a unit study of  The Oregon Trail  for our family, in order to turn what would ordinarily be a mini-vacation to just attend a family event into an educational field trip for the children.  This is part of our efforts to “after-school” the children to augment what is turning out to be a lack-luster public school education.  To this end I visited out local lending library and checked out some books on this topic and am now working on preparing a lesson plan to outline our study of this subject.

 

Here is a list of just some of the resources we’ve found relating directly to the Oregon Trail and to the Pioneer Period of U.S. History in general:

1. Pathways of America ” The Oregon Trail” by Lynda Hatch

2. How I Survived the Oregon Trail (The Journal of Jesse Adams) by Laura Wilson

3. The Oregon Trail- Let Freedom Ring

4. If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie by Anne Kamma

5.  The American Frontier by Melanine Ann Apel

6. Black Frontiers (A History of African American Heroes In the Old West) by Lillian Schlissel

7. Cornerstones of Freedom “The Oregon Trail” by R. Conrad Stein

8. Homesteading on the Plains (Daily Life in the Land of Laura Ingalls Wilder)

9. Pioneering Women of the Wild West by Jeff Savage

10. Discovering Geography of North America with Books Kids Love by Carol J. Fuhler

11.  Pioneers (An Activity Book) by John Artman

12. Cowboys (An Activity Book) by John Artman

13. Indians (An Activity Book) by John Artman

While studying the history topic of the Oregon Trail; we will also involve Reading & Literature, Spelling, Arithmetic, Geography, Science and Music and then conclude our unit with a memorable field trip to historical sites in Independence, MO and nearby towns for some hands-on-learning.

National Cub-Scouting Week

Today marks the end of National Cub-Scouting Week, so I thought I would dedicate my post today to our 2 young Cub-scouts and their accomplishments.homeimprovement 031

Unfortunately, it’s been a couple months since they have attended meetings, between weather issues, meetings that were canceled by their den leaders for various reasons and somebody at home being sick with some sort of illness almost constantly since before Christmas.

But, back in November at our Pack Meeting, Charles participated in the Flag Ceremony and did a very good job of it.  At this meeting, both Charles and Henry also earned their Bobcat Badges… the first of many to come.homeimprovement 036

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Henry’s Tiger Den made their $200/scout quota for selling popcorn.  Charles’ Bear Den exceeded the $200/scout quota and averaged about $350/scout.  Charles was a great little salesman and earned $358 in popcorn sales for the Pack.  Both of them did AWESOME!

Both Henry and Charles have been working hard on their bowling skills with their Grandpa Bill in order to earn their belt loop awards for the sport of bowling.

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