Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ H is for Holidays

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  We took a bit of a break for Christmas and New Year, and here we are, ready to go!

This week, H is for Holidays.  Because as soon as it seems like I finish one, another is around the corner.  There is a rhythm, especially if your faith tradition uses a liturgical calendar.  For the first time, we’re in one that does.  And it’s exciting!  But it’s also exhausting.  I feel like I’m jumping from one holiday to the next, one fast, one feast, it’s always one more.  Some days, I just want to jump off this ride and catch my breath!!

It’s times like that that I need to step back and remember.  First of all, the holy days are not about me.  The fasts are a time of reflection and remembrance.  They’re when we stop and ponder.  We wonder, and we give thanks.  The fasts aren’t about me.

 

The feasts aren’t about me, either.  They celebrate the holiness and awesomeness of God.  They celebrate what He has given us, through His people, through His church, through all of His blessings.  They celebrate our new lives with Him, in communion with Him.  The feasts aren’t about me.

When I get caught up in rushing from one holy day to the next, which is so easy to do, coming out of the Nativity season, and heading very shortly into Lent, I need to step back and remember… These were designed to bring me closer to Him.  They were given to me, a wonderful gift, to enrich and deepen my life in Him.  It’s not about decorations and special foods (although, those can brighten a holy day).  It’s about the sacredness, the mystery, and the One who is behind it all.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and may God bless you in the New Year.

 

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Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ G is for Geometry

Welcome to Blogging Through the Alphabet this week!!  This week we’re on G, and I’m tackling what is ironically one of my kids’ FAVORITE subjects ~ Geometry.

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I say ironically, because really, I hate geometry.  To be fair, though, had I learned it like this, I probably wouldn’t hate it so much.  We’re introducing Geometry using the Waldorf method.  And it’s REALLY cool.  I’ve blogged about it before, here, but it’s just so beautiful and, well, cool, I thought I’d bring it up again.

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Waldorf Geometry uses free hand drawing, form drawing, and real life examples to teach the student about shapes.  It’s introduced around 5th grade as it’s own block, but done so in a gentle, Waldorf-y way.  For my kids, it really instilled a love of the shapes and colors.
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Last year Danny did 5th grade Geometry.  This year, he’s in 6th grade, and we’re letting him take the lead a bit more in his own school.  He’s allowed to do any of the blocks he wants, whenever he wants, but he has to stick with the block topics in the book.  He’s allowed to work at his own pace.  I asked him if he wanted to start Geometry, and he shot that idea down.  “I want to save the best for last!”  Yeah, he loves it.

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Freehanding the geometry shapes gives them a real sense of the shape and dimensions.  They are also required to create a main lesson book with the concepts they’re learning in it, such as area, radius, any formulas, and the like.

 

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The pictures in this post are taken from last year’s geometry lesson.  I hope to have new ones to show you soon!  In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Waldorf geometry, check out the beautiful videos below!

This is Jamie York’s geometry series.  I’m just posting the first video of five, so make sure you check the Youtube sidebar to see all 5!

This next video is the Sample Video for Waldorf Essentials Geometry. This is what we use, and it’s simple and beautiful!

A few more, for your viewing pleasure. (Please keep in mind that many of these images were probably created by the teacher, not the students. Although quality is important, so is the experience. That’s what we focus on in our homeschool.)

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Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ F is for Fasting

F for Fasting

Welcome to Blogging Through the Alphabet!!  We’re on F this week (apologies to my blogging friends for being late!), and I struggled a bit to decide what to post on.  I finally settled on F is for Fasting.  Mostly because I’m REALLY. HUNGRY.

In the Orthodox Church, we’re in the middle of the Nativity Fast.  That means, no meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, fish, oil, or wine.  (It’s a bit more complicated than that, we’re allowed fish, oil, and wine are certain days, but mostly you get the drift…)  The Fast lasts for 40 days, and will end after Liturgy on Christmas Morning.  This is our first major Fast (we do fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well, but this is the first extended Fast we’ve done), and here are some things I’ve learned:

Nativity Icon

1)  Pay attention to the calendar.  Because going out to your favorite farm to visit a friend the day before the Fast starts and coming home with a kick butt roast, beef bacon, chicken, and bones for broth is just not a good idea.  Just don’t do this to yourself.  My roast is staring at me in my freezer.

2)  Pay attention to your protein.  Lack of protein makes me hungry.  I need protein to keep my blood sugar up.  There is lots of protein apart from animal products, but I do need to pay attention to make sure I’m getting enough.

3)  There are TONS of blogs out there with fasting recipes.  Check out Orthodox Mom and Oh She Cooks.  My friend Tess at Circling Through This Life blogs about Fasting Foods sometimes.  Here’s her recipe for an awesome Talipa dish I’m going to try REALLY soon.  Google Lenten Fast Foods.  Pinterest is also a GREAT reference.  I’m building a Pinterest board just for the fasts.  There are also Facebook Groups for fasting.

4)  What we’re doing isn’t necessarily what everyone is doing, or what everyone *should* do.  Because this is our first big Fast, we’re focusing on being meat-less, and giving ourselves more leniency with the eggs and cheese, especially since we have kids.  That is what works for US.  I know another family who is still eating chicken and fish during the Fast.  They have health needs that require that.  Speak to your priest about what works for you.

5)  The Fast is not about food.  Although we focus on food, the point is to bring us to prayer, and reflection.  To bring us closer to God.  That’s something we’re working on.  The Nativity season is one of deep spirituality, that tends to get overlooked in the hustle and bustle and focus on celebration.  We must remember, first to Fast, and then to Feast.   This is a great article from Ancient Faith about the spiritual aspects of the Nativity Fast.  It does us no good to fast from food, if we’re forgetting what we *should* be doing:  Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.  Are you spending significant amounts of time in prayer and meditation?  Are you giving alms, generously, without thought of what you are getting in return (including thanks, or  a pat on the back)?

Nativity Fast

The Nativity Fast is giving us good preparation for Lent, which comes early this year.  Although we’ve been far from perfect, we are praying, and working at it.  We are focusing back on the meaning of the Season, reflection, and contemplation.

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Whovian Wednesdays: Have a Timey-Wimey Christmas!!

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Hey Whovians!!  This week has been C.R.A.Z.Y. with piano recitals and sickness and St. Nicholas and… yeah, nuts.  So we didn’t do our Doctor Who History this week.  Instead, I thought I’d bring you some of the most awesome Doctor Who gifts for the little Whovian you have!  Or for your.  Whatever.  ;)

1)  Doctor Who Board Games.  There are a bunch of these!!  We’re getting Monopoly this year (available in 50th Anniversary Edition and Regeneration Edition), although we got Chess last year (HUGE. HIT.).  We’ve also found this awesome TARDIS themed Jenga-thing, Yahtzee, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit.  There’s also a Doctor Who DVD Board Game, which I’m hoping to snatch up maybe this spring.  You can check them all out at the widget below.

2) Doctor Who Clothing… OK, there are SO MANY ways you could do this.  Of course, the standard Fourth Doctor’s Scarf, and the Fez and Bow Tie, to TONS of fan shirts and other stuff at ThinkGeek.com.  Seriously tons of stuff there.  Bathrobes to slippers, to tshirts, to PJ pants, to… whatever.  Lots and lots.  (Tons of other stuff besides clothing, too.)

***Just a disclaimer on ThinkGeek.com.  Those guys have SERIOUSLY twisted senses of humor.  Yesterday, when I was Christmas shopping, I kept finding the BEST STUFF.  But it was April Fool’s Day jokes they never took down.  Jerks.  SO NOT COOL TO GET A GIRL’S HOPES UP LIKE THAT.***

3)  Sonic Screwdrivers…  OK, these are cool, I’ll be the first to admit.  But you should know that they make a REALLY obnoxious sound.  You don’t realize how obnoxious it is when the Doctor is pressing it for like 2 seconds on TV.  Now, when your children are having Sonic Wars in the backseat of your van on a 16 hour road trip… yeah.  However, if you can handle it, these are awesome gifts.  So far, I’ve found the Tenth Doctor’s Screwdriver, 11th Doctor’s Screwdriver, and 12th Doctor’s Screwdriver, along with a Personalize Your Own Sonic Screwdriver Set, because… dude.  Making your own sonic?? Too cool.

4) Bronies and Whovians Unite!!!  I found the CUTEST My Little Pony/Doctor Who ponies!!!  Check out the Tenth Doctor!!  There’s actually two, check them both out!

5) Assorted stuff. Because there’s just SO. MUCH. OUT. THERE!! From teapots to mugs to floating TARDIS’ to banks to safes and EVERYTHING you could imagine in between!!!  The widget below has a TON.  Between that and ThinkGeek, you should be able to find anything you could want for the Companion in your life!  Also, check out your local bookstores (we found a BUNCH of stuff at Books-a-Million last year), and stores like HotTopic.

So, I want to know??? What are you getting your Whovians this year? Drop me a comment and tell me!!  And make sure you link up your Whovian Wednesday poasts!!

Wednesday

5 on the 5th ~ December

Welcome to this month’s 5 on the 5th!!  Every month, along with other awesome bloggers, I’m going to highlight 5 of my favorite posts from the previous month.  So, here are my posts from November!!

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

1)  Middle School Monday ~ Nonsense Poetry at KymPossible Blog  This is such a fun blog to read, anyway, and I’m definitely loving the Middle School Monday posts!  Nonsense Poetry is something I can totally get my kids into!

D-is-for-Discipling

2)  D is for Discipling Your Children at Faith, Hope, & Homeschool.  Lots of great ideas here for not just teaching, but really discipling your kids!

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3)  Atoms and the Periodic Table from Homeschool Escapade.  Because we’re having problems getting the kids to “visualize” atoms and molecules… and I love these ideas!!

Circling Through This Life

4)  A is for Advent and B is for Books from Circling Through This Life.  Tess explained the Nativity Fast, and gave me some great reading to do, to prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ.  Thank you Tess!!

5)  Homeschool Alumni Survey at Some Call It Natural.  I think this is just an outstanding idea, and I’m anxious to see the follow up to this.

So, there you have it!  5 of my favorite posts of the month!!  Check out what the other wonderful bloggers’ favorites were this month!!

5 on the Fifth

Blogging Through the Alphabet ~ E is for E-Learning

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I love having a hands on, low tech environment for my kids to learn in.  That’s seriously beautiful.  In theory.  In reality, I have 6 kids, 3 of whom are actually schooling, and there is no way I can cover everything we need to do, every single day.  So, I take serious advantage of eLearning opportunities, and here are some of the best ones I’ve found!

For the iPad/Tablet

Apps are my friend.  For reals.  Last week, my computer was completely out of commission,and our tablets saved our school.  I can put PDF files into my Kindle app, we have phonics apps (Literacy Soft’s Phonics and Reading with McGuffy App), math apps (IXL and Xtra Math apps, both only work on iPad, though), apps for timelines (Knowledge Quest), apps for music (KinderBach)… There’s seriously an app for everything.  Plus, the kids are able to use the tablets to get into their online classes through the Adobe Connect app.  These seriously turn my iPad into a one-stop-go-to for everything we need for school, particularly if we’re schooling on the road, or have a lot going on that day.

 

Online Classes

So, if you follow me on Facebook, you might have heard how we decided to enroll Kaitlyn in virtual school this year.  We chose the Classical Resource Learning Center.  I love this.  I can’t tell you how much I love this.  This makes me happy, for so many reasons.

1)  Kaitlyn is seeing that I’m not just a cruel Mama-slave-driver who is forcing her to do things NO OTHER CHILD IN THE WORLD has to do.  Because, this was an issue.  Now, Mama’s not making the assignments.  And Mama lets her sink or swim.  It’s a beautiful thing.  It’s been a hard first semester, but Kaitlyn has learned so many character and life lessons, it’s totally been worth it.

2)  Classical education.  Love it.  Live it.  Love the way it’s done at CLRC.

3)  The courses are rigorous, without being ridiculous.  Although it was REALLY hard for Kaitlyn to get into the swing of class discussions and what was expected of her, now that she’s getting there, she’s doing well, and growing in leaps and bounds.  I can see it in the way she speaks, the things she says.  It’s awesome to watch her grow.  She thought she couldn’t do it.  She’s doing it.  It’s awesome.

4)  CLRC is Eastern Orthodox friendly.  Since finding the Orthodox church, Prince Charming and I have been shocked at how much history we missed.  We want our children to learn much more than we did, we want them to learn to love the Church, and her people, and to understand her. I don’t want worldviews being taught that contradict her.  I know with CLRC, my kids are getting that.  They even have a whole section on Eastern Studies.  Love love love love that.

5)  Because it is a classical resource, I’m able to merge our Waldorf learning well into it.  Waldorf is all about teaching the appropriate subjects at the appropriate times.  What Kaitlyn is learning this year is what she would be learning in a Waldorf school, anyway.

We are VERY happy with the courses we’re taking at CLRC, and have plans to enroll the boys next year.  This year, we’re taking:

Basic Math (Kaitlyn and Danny are both taking this.  Kaitlyn is taking everything else alone.)

Introduction to Literature and Composition 

Introduction to the Renaissance and the Early Modern World

Introduction to Astronomy (this will change to Introduction to Meteorology next semester)

Catechism I

CLRC offers MANY more classes, and next year, Kaitlyn will be doing Greek, modern languages (we’re thinking French), along with other classes on CLRC.  We’re really excited for that!   The boys will be taking everything they can on CLRC.

OK, other things we’re doing online:  Supercharged Science!!  LOVE SUPERCHARGED SCIENCE!!  Can’t tell you how much I love this.  When the kids don’t get something, we can easily go find a video and experiment on the eScience site to explain it SO well.  Sean and Danny are using Supercharged Science as their core curriculum for science.  You can check out my review for Supercharged Science here.  Seriously can’t say enough good things about it.

A+ Tutor Software…  The big kids are doing CLRC Basic Math for their math, and Sean is using A+ Tutor Software this year for his.  They have a new Family Math Package, where you can move your students in between levels, buying just one package.  This works REALLY well for us, because Sean is just a bit behind in their math program, but is catching up QUICKLY.  So, we have him in the 1st grade math now, but I expect him to be out of it by the end of 2014, and I can switch him right into 2nd grade math, without buying a new package.  I would encourage anyone who is looking for a solid, comprehensive math program for any age to check out A+ Tutor Software.   Plus, he can do it with me on the iPad, which works just fine.

In addition to these formal programs, we also use our tablets and computers for TONS of documentary watching, article reading, current events, and so much more.  We love eLearning, it makes keeping on track in our crazy, busy lives so much easier and more attainable!

How do you use eLearning in your homeschool?  Do you have a favorite program or app?  Comment below and let me know!  And check out what everyone else has going on in the Blogging Through the Alphabet series this week!!  And, don’t forget to enter the Kindle Fire Christmas Giveaway!!!

Blogging Through the Alphabet

Kindle Fire Christmas Giveaway!

Christmas Fire Giveaway

The Crew is on hiatus from writing reviews until January. So while we have a little time on our hands, we thought we’d bless our awesome readers with a super cool Christmas Fire Giveaway! Twenty of our team members and The Old Schoolhouse have joined together to sponsor this incredible giveaway with 3 winners!

We are excited to be giving away not one, not two, but THREE Fire HD Tablets!

One person will win a Fire HD 7 Tablet, and TWO people will win a Fire HD 6 Kid’s Edition (in your choice of lime green, blue or pink).

Fire HD 7 Tablet ($139 value, one winner)

Powerful, full-featured Fire HD tablet—with beautiful 7″ HD display, 2x faster quad-core processer, dual speakers with Dolby Audio, and unsurpassed reliability in its class.

Fire HD 6 Kid’s Edition ($149 value, two winners)

All-new Fire HD 6 tablet—with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, Kid-Proof Case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee—up to $95 in savings

Giveaway

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. The winner will be announced at our It’s a Crew Christmas Facebook Party on Tuesday, December 16, 9PM ET.

RSVP for the Christmas Party.

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Terms and Conditions:

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. Entry into this giveaway will subscribe you to the Schoolhouse Review Crew email list.

Sponsoring Crew Bloggers

Only Passionate Curiosity I Choose Joy! Homeschool Encouragement Ben and Me The Potter’s Hand Academy As We Walk Along the Road Adventures with Jude A Mama’s Story futureflyingsaucers Kathys Cluttered Mind Footprints in the Butter Crystal Starr Lextin Academy Living Life and Learning My Harbor Lights Our Homeschool Studio Pea of Sweetness Embracing Destiny Be The One Simple Living Mama Our team of bloggers will be sharing about how tablets can be used in homeschooling, and linking up their posts here for you to learn more.


Whovian Wednesdays: 18th Century France

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Welcome back to Whovian Wednesdays!  We took last week off for Thanksgiving, but we’re back in full swing now!!  We left off at Lesson 7 with The Girl in the Fireplace,  set in 18th Century France.

**whew**  This one was a bit… much for Danny.  ;)  While he loved the episode, he was a bit icked out by the Doctor’s romance with Madame du Pompadour, and even less impressed when I actually had him read biographies of her.  hehehe  He’s in an all-romance-is-gross-and-I’m-never-getting-married stage.  The evil mom in me thought it was kinda funny, to be honest.

So, after I had my fun (“But he looooooooooooves her!!”  “Mom!!  STOPPIT!! IT’S THE DOCTOR!”  “Noooooooo, he loves Rose!!”), we got on to the good stuff. :D  Danny did do biographical research on Madame du Pompadour, and wrote an essay about her.  (Note… be prepared for some interesting questions, especially if you have younger students.  Such as, “Mom?  What’s a “mistress”?  Like Missy?”  Um, no.  And “Mom, what’s a courtesan?”  Fun fun.)  After that, I let him get back to the Doctor Who stuff, and he wrote another essay about why the Clockwork Droids chose her.  He has lots of theories on that.

Danny also drew a map of France, and labelled the Palace of Versailles on it.  I like having him draw out the maps in his main lesson book more than just label black line maps.  I think we’ll continue doing that.

Map of France

 

There is SO much art history to study, and he had a good time doing that, and going off on rabbit trails, so I just let him.  It’s art.  It’s supposed to be full of rabbit trails.  He also has a Minecraft activity, but we just bought the actual Minecraft on the computer, rather than the free app, so he’s busy redoing all of his lessons in that, to save them.  Or something.  I don’t get Minecraft, but he assures me he’s not just swindling villagers, he’s actually working.

Finally, the literature and movies available for this time period are ABUNDANT!  In fact, I had a really hard time picking one for him.  We finally decided on The Three Muskateers by Alexandre Dumas.  When he’s done reading, which should be shortly, we’ll watch the Disney version of the movie.  Because… Paul McGann, Tim Curray, Chris O’Donnell… Oh my!!  I love that movie.  There are some other great novels and movies in the widget below, so check them out!

Overall, we had a lot of fun this week!!  Stay tuned next week for more Daleks!!

Keurig 2.0 Giveaway!!

Keurig

Early this morning, I shared our first giveaway of the day with you… our Inspired to Give $400 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!  Well, here’s another, just for you!  We’re partnering up to give away a Keurig 2.0 Coffee Maker with a few extra surprises!!  All you need to do is enter below for your chance to win!  Total prizes are worth $300  Merry Christmas!!

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Inspired to Give December Giveaway

It’s Cyber Monday, and I have an awesome giveaway for you this morning!!  As the mom of 6 kids, it can be so hard to shop for everyone, and to AFFORD all of those gifts!  The amazing bloggers at the Inspired Blogger Network are here to help you out, and I’m blessed to be a part of this amazing group of bloggers, and am even more blessed to bring you this giveaway!

The bloggers of the Inspired Bloggers Network have gathered to add some SPARKLE and SHINE to your December with TWO $400 giftcards to Amazon!

Giveaway Sparkle

I am excited to be on the SPARKLE team with these other awesome bloggers:

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Be sure to enter the giveaway from Team Shine!

And check out all the wonderful gift ideas below…