Friday, March 21, 2014

The Middle East and other things

We are having Post Play fun. We had the cast party yesterday, and Maxwell got the "cheery" award and Hyrum got the "projection" award. Maxwell-enthusiastically happy, and Hyrum-loud?  Yep, the director got them pegged right.

And now it's time to try and figure out how to get costumes back to the right people and what to do with sets and props-

We also had our Gymnastics Finale! I have absolutely loved it that the Homeschool organization has been doing gymnastics this winter. At least we've had SOMETHING to get us moving and out of the house!

For science one week we learned about erosion, and how water, wind, and glaciers can all effect it. In the mist of it, we talked about how surface area effects how fast things get eroded, and how if something is broken up, there is more surface area. What better way to show this then with Rice Crispy treats? ;) We frosted the surface area of a cake pan full of treats, then cut it, then we had to frost more, then we cut that and had to frost more, etc. The boys of course loved this.

We also had not so yummy experiments, like seeing how fast water flowed through different soil (rocks, sand, clay.)

This week we talked about water and how it effects the earth. It was pretty low key since only two boys came (by the way, I would have girls in my class, but there are no girls! Well, hardly any. Homeschooled kids in my neighbourhood seem to all be boys, and that works out just fine for me.)

Anyway, for one of our experiments, we made rivers. We talked about how water takes the path of least resistance.

For geography, we learned about Israel. We made groggers as our activity. In my international craft book, they suggested a complex, time consuming grogger. I went online and found people making them out of legos....Legos please! We watched the veggie tale "Esther" while making grogger noise. Little did we know that it was ACTUALLY PURIM! Haha perfect timing.

We also studied Saudi Arabia. We made prayer mats as our activity. We made stamps out of potatoes to make geometric designs on our mats. It didn't end up as pretty as any Arabian mat, but the boys had fun, and that's the point....right?

We studied Iran and Iraq at the same time. That worked out just fine, and it was easier to distinguish the two. For the record, when I was teaching about the gulf war last year, I had a hard time finding any books on it. The book Iraq by Paul Mason gives a pretty good account of it.

For our activity, they decorated their names written in Arabic. As an art history buff, I am aware that muslims are forbidden to have art that could be an idol. This limits them to art made out of geometric design (sometimes with flora) and calligraphy.

And in other homeschool news, I had a quick "mom's retreat" the other day with some other moms (obviously.) As homeschool moms, these are very cleansing. You need breaks from your kids that you see 24 hrs a day! Seriously! and girly talk is always needed. This retreat was way too short.

I had planned on making my sight word cards there, but I talked too much to get very many done. These are a lot harder then it looks, but stories that make up a sight word really help my kids learn them.

"Who is that king with the throne and money?" "Where is the pirates treasure? By the palm trees." Yah, I got the idea to make the "w" palm trees with treasure from "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." Remember that movie? (I'm not sure who I'm talking to when I ask questions on this blog, but I think my sister reads this at least---hi Danette!)

The library had an awesome Dr Seus birthday with cool seus trees make of pool noodles and tissue paper. They went all out.

So it was Leprechaun time again, and my boys got really into creating traps like always. They even made couches, beds, and swimming pools this year!

And I thought I would throw in this really cute photo of the boys:

So that's it! We are off for the next few weeks to the south. Utah, Arizona, Idaho- just not frozen (still) Alberta. I'll do some school while we're gone, but it will be low key.

Speaking of low key: I felt like I gained ten pounds last week. This pregnancy is in full force. I suddenly can't bend over, sit on the floor easily, or even walk fast. My energy is sapped. I think "low key" is the rule for the rest of the year. If I hardly get anymore geography done---blame the baby constantly kicking me.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The All Consuming Play

Wow. What a Week!

The play. The play that has taken up our life for the past month, is over.

And guess what? Our "Neverland" was incredibly cute, ran smoothly, and all the kids did awesome. Just check out this quick "trailer" my sister-in-law made:

I wrote about how I was in charge of costumes, but I didn't write about how Dustin ended up doing most of the sets. Yep. He made the pirate ship, the canoe, the hideout stump, the teepees, and the beds. The canoe was especially cool because it scooted around stage smoothly like it was on water.

Last week, when I was handing out costumes, I was watching the play. I was a bit worried. No one was helping the kids get on and off the stage, the kids hadn't done it on the stage before, and the set people were doing things for the first time. I realized they needed more help, so I stepped in. Another mom did too, and some teenagers came to our aid as well.

So now I was a backstage worker.

Back at the beginning of February, Dustin was wanting to get away from winter by running away to Arizona. But we couldn't go because of---the play. Dustin hates feeling trapped, so he started saying he didn't want the kids to do a play ever again. (Often Dustin gives ultimatums that he changes his mind on, so I'm not too worried.)

Then I got sick and Dustin was Mom and Dad for two weeks. Then there was the combination of costumes, sets, backstage work, and being trapped in winter, and----well----lets just say a certain husband is VERY HAPPY the play is over.

Don't get me wrong; You will never find a more supportive husband, but at the end of the day, statements like "I hope everyone's enjoying themselves, because this is your one chance." could be heard.

Really though, it was an amazing experience.

Here's the lost boys: (Maxwell is top left)

The Darlings: (isn't Michael aka Hyrum cute?)

Wendy (my niece---with fake hair that I ordered on Amazon. Mireyah cut her hair really short right after she got the part, and the directors freaked out. Fake hair to the rescue.) and Peter:

And some cute shots of them acting on dress rehearsal night:

I'm a bit bummed I didn't get a photo of the indian scene. Dustin did an awesome job of making it look good. I wasn't thinking, and just wanted photos where my kids were acting. Oh well.

By the way, while the 11 and youngers were doing Peter Pan, the teenagers were doing Midsummer Night's Dream.

They did an amazing job (and it was fun that I didn't have to lift a finger for their play.) Seriously, it was the best Shakespeare play I've seen teenagers put on. I was expecting something really dry and hard to sit through, with teenagers trying to make something funny that they didn't understand themselves.

But no: they added some modern songs, and a few modern lines, and it really worked out well. I know that sounds weird, but trust me, it worked, and the audience was laughing wholeheartedly.

At one point some actors were talking about how they needed to look on the calendar to see if the moon shineth on the night of the play they were rehearsing for, and they snatched an ipad from a guy in the front row and asked Siri if the moon shineth, and Siri said "Yes, the moon shineth on that night."  It was great.

Here's their "trailer:"

Anyway, we didn't do science this week, and only one country got done: Syria.

I couldn't find any books kids would be interested in on Syria. This was unique. I've found dozens of books on each country I've done this year. We usually start with some dry books that tell about the culture and facts about the country, and then we read books that are fables, legends, or true stories from that country. I couldn't find anything for Syria but a DVD documentary.

When I started the DVD, Maxwell said "Wait, we haven't read the fun books yet."

The DVD was really great. It was made before the war. The last thing the narrator said was "With a little bit of luck, Syria's amazing past will continue into the future." and my boys all said "nope. That didn't happen."

Each of the Boys have a passport where they stick the flag of the country we're studying into. For Syria, I had them put in TWO flags and we talked about the civil war going on there.

For our activity we made a hamsa craft. This charm is apparently used by christians, jews, and muslims in Syria, so it was perfect. I got the idea from here.

And as a side note, my boys LOVE lego, and usually when I'm teaching one-on-one, the other boys are playing lego, but they got a bit tired of it this week I guess, and they would draw/play instead. They would each draw castles with warriors, cannons, weapons, and fortifications, and then discuss how and why their own castle would defeat the other boy's castle.

I thought this was really cute.  Here's a couple of sample castles.

That's it, happy homeschooling!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Costumes, Ukraine, Costumes, Vampires, Costumes


I still cough a little, but I feel like myself again, and I got a lot done last week.

Last week was mostly getting ready for the play. I made TONS of costumes! I was seriously behind my sewing machine more than anywhere else. Here's my helper with John Darling's top hat:

I didn't have to sew every costume, but I had to make sure everyone had a costume. This meant a lot of time on Amazon, finding the perfect look. I was also on the phone for hours with all the moms finding out who had what costumes ready or who was able to share a costume they already had.

After all that work, everyone looks great:

I have to brag a little: We decided Tiger Lily needed to look fancier than the other indians, so we ordered her costume on Amazon. My HORRIBLE post office said it hadn't come in even though my computer said it was there. I panicked and made a costume for her. I later called the post office and asked if it had come in "no."I gave them my tracking number "oh yah, here it is." URRGH! Finally I was able to give Tiger Lily her costume, but she said she liked the one I made better than the Amazon one!

I was a little worried in the middle of the week when it took FIVE hours to go through the play once, but now everyone has it down to 1 1/2 hours, so things look promising.

As far as school goes, we didn't get as much reading, writing, and arithmetic in as we should have, but hey, you do what you can, right?

We did do science, which felt so good. I haven't done science for like a month. We studied earth's moving plates, which included earthquakes and volcanoes.

We had a lot of fun experiments. I even made a sample of the earth's crust:

And we made our own mentos and coke volcano:

But first, we ate the sugar crystals we made a month ago. They got this big in two weeks, and then stayed about the same size. Yummy and educational.

For geography, we studied Ukraine. We talked about the revolution going on there right now, and how the McKays came from Ukraine (our last name should be Kostyniuk.) We read this awesome book "Enough" by Forchuk, that showed the political struggles in Ukraine. We also read "The Bird's Gift" which tells about Ukrainian Easter eggs, and since we decorated them for our ancient history year, I thought I would record it here.  We made Matryoshka dolls out of different sized cups as our activity.

We also studied Romania. Um, we kind of studied Vampires instead of studying very much about Romania. Romania= Transylvania= Dracula= Vampires----- um yah. My boys had fun. We read this book that kind of freaked Daniel out; "Transylvania" by Von Finn, which was all about Dracula legends in Romania. We did lots of vampire fun for our activity. I got my ideas from here.

We made cupcakes that had been bitten by vampires:

Made vampire bats from balloons:

And drank blood with vampire straws:

Last but not least, we had another geography fireside. I have really loved these firesides, and have learned so much.

Some of my best friends, the Walshes, are refugees from Zimbabwe. They came to talk to us about living there. Randomly, I have another good friend from Zimbabwe, although he is not a refugee. He was too busy to prepare anything, but he and his family still came.

The Walshes have some wicked awesome stories. Like having to take guns with them wherever they went as children because of war, having a spitting cobra living in their stable eating all their rats, and having friends save and save to travel 12 hours to the temple and converting others on the way.