Summary Saturday: To Be A Man or a Bug-Eyed Magpie

We really went back to school full force this week. I have discovered that when we take too much time off, the girls fight like crazy, I'm grouchier, and the house is messier. We all do better with a schedule!

You know the old saying, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." Or my version, "An idle mind is a place where mischief is created and carried out on siblings with much screaming and gnashing of teeth by everyone involved."
Here was our very productive, cleaner, more peaceful week full of school fun!

Chipette (2nd grade):
We actually finished our egg experiment a couple of weeks ago, but I totally forgot to post the update. Here it is:
Even though an eggshell is porous to allow air through, it is not porous enough to allow water to enter the egg. Chipette and I talked about how bad that would be for the forming chick and why God would have designed the egg that way.

Lucky for us, our new science project showed up in our pecan tree in the backyard. A small fuzzy caterpillar promptly captured and named Mr. Butterbuns. BTW, I have no idea where my children come up with these names, but anyway here is a picture of Mr. Butterbuns:
Chipette is diligently changing out fresh pecan leaves every couple of days and so far he's staying alive. We are all hoping to watch him make a chrysalis.

Chipette is still studying verbs this week and we finished up by using our white board and some Mom ingenuity to make fill in the blanks more fun. I wrote out six sentences, wrote the verbs on paper, cut them out and let Chipette tape them in the proper place on the white board.
It's so funny how just changing things up a little bit bring joy into a grammar lesson. She wanted to do six we did! Next week, we'll be moving on to nouns.

Magpie (Pre-K):
This week Magpie has worked on the letter "I" and learning its short vowel sound. We made an ice cream cone out of a capital letter I. Pay careful attention to the sprinkles on top:
Sorry about Magpie's expression. She has informed me that in all of her school pictures she wants to make sure that her "crazy eyes" are in each. and. every. one. Basically that means you will be seeing a lot of bug-eyed pictures for the foreseeable future.

When Chipette was in Pre-K, which was my very beginning year as a home schooler, I bought two or three sets of folder games thinking that we would get so much use out of them. What I didn't count on was that Chipette does not enjoy things like that, so all of my grandiose plans of file folder fun was out the window. Lucky for me, I am getting a good return on my investment because Magpie loves them and drags them out at least once a day to play. Here she is working on matching up beginning sounds:

There are two versions to this game, and Magpie thought the second one would be too difficult for her, but I encouraged her to try and she did great! Now this is her new favorite.

We also worked on some beginning math skills this week with weight. I went around the house and chose five objects, stuck them in Monkey's socks, then had Magpie hold each sock up and compare it to another sock until she was able to put them in order from heaviest to lightest:

Notice the "crazy eyes"...again...*sigh*. Anyway, she got them in the right order, then we had the big reveal of what was in each sock:
Ha!...I cut out the "crazy eyes"...take that! In order from heaviest to lightest: shotgun shell (We live in the South, people!), vitamin bottle, tinker toy, razor, USB stick.

This week for art we worked on landscapes...3-D landscapes. Chipette produced a 3-D graveyard scene (too much Monster High methinks!):
Magpie made a house with an elephant in the front yard, a "hand tree", a bridge, and grass:
I thought they both did a very good job, quite imaginative!

We also watched some more Salsa Spanish this week. Even Monkey was interested:
He pulled his own chair over and everything!

Monkey (Mischief Manager):
Speaking of Monkey, this week while we were schooling he worked on my refrigerator:
And tried his hand at shaving like "Da-Da":
This is what homeschooling with a toddler looks like! Obviously one of my girls was not doing her job of "playing with brother" while I did school with the other.

Loving a schedule, but not shaving cream in the tree house,



Thrifty Thursday: The Summer Olympics 2012

In case you didn't know it, the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics is tomorrow. In honor of this once every four year event, I'm linking some free or almost free resources to use with your own kids to study this special holdover from ancient times.

Free resources:

So cheap it should be free:

Hopefully some of these resources will be a way for your family to all enjoy and learn via the Summer Olympics!

So excited to share the Olympics with my girls since they are old enough to enjoy it this time around in the tree house,



Wordless Wednesday: Child Safe Guns

Always time for squirt guns in the tree house,


Tasty Tuesday: Brown Sugar and the Beanstalk

In the South we have a reputation for taking vegetables and cooking them in a way so that all the vitamins and nutrients are counteracted by the bacon grease and salt that we add to them.

In keeping with this good, old Southern tradition….
here is what you need to make Green Bean Bundles Unbundled:

2 cans green beans
3 Tbsp. butter melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
4-6 strips of bacon but in half
salt and pepper to taste

The reason these are the unbundled version is because you can make this dish all pretty by using whole green beans and wrapping about 6-7 of the green beans in a strip of bacon. Then follow the rest of the recipe as follows. But to be honest, wrapping those green beans takes some time, so when I’m in a hurry and want the flavor of the dish without the time constraint, I make them “unbundled”. This version feeds our family of five. If you are serving a crowd, double the recipe and use a 9x13 inch baking dish.

First, drain the green beans and put green beans in a baking dish.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Mix melted butter, brown sugar, and minced garlic.

Pour over green beans.

Place strips of bacon over green beans.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Enjoy the best of Southern style green beans, bacon and brown sugar required!

I don’t cook full on Southern food very often, but when I do, it’s soooo good.

And my jogging shoes get a good workout the next day in the tree house,

Mama Monday: First Grade Read Aloud List

The last two weeks I shared our Preschool Read Aloud List and our Kindergarten Read Aloud List, so this week I thought I would share what we’ve enjoyed for our read aloud time during First Grade. This list is more evenly distributed between picture books and chapter books. The picture books tend to be longer with a higher vocabulary and thought-provoking topics. I have noted which books are chapter books and which are picture books by noting the picture books with a (pic) and chapter books with a (ch). Please keep in mind that children can understand books at a higher level than they can read them, so if the books seem advanced for this age group, they are supposed to be!
*Personal Family Favorite
  • Big Jabe by Jerdine Nolen (pic)
  • Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen (pic)*
  • Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen (pic)
  • Plantzilla by Jerdine Nolen (pic)
  • Captain Abdul’s Pirate School by Colin McNaughton (pic)*
  • Jolly Roger and the Pirates of Captain Abdul by Colin McNaughton (pic)*
  • Captain Abdul’s Little Treasure by Colin McNaughton (pic)*
  • How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long (pic)
  • Maggie and the Pirates by Ezra Jack Keats (pic)
  • Pirate Diary: The Journal of Jake Carpenter by Richard Platt (pic)
  • The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (pic)*
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley (pic)*
  • Mammoth by Patrick O’Brien (pic)
  • Eddie, Harold’s Little Brother by Ed Koch and Pat Koch Thaler (pic)
  • Ella’s Big Chance: A Jazz Age Cinderella by Shirley Hughes (pic)
  • Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola (pic)
  • The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo (pic)
  • Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie (pic)
  • Rapunzel by Paul Zelinsky (pic)
  • Hansel and Gretel by Paul Zelinsky (pic)
  • Rumpelstiltskin by Paul Zelinsky (pic)
  • Swamp Angel by Paul Zelinsky (pic)
  • Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull (pic)
  • High as a Hawk: A Brave Girl’s Historic Climb by T. A. Barron (pic)*
  • Johnny on the Spot by Edward Sorel (pic)
  • The Lost Children by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Crow Chief by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Death of the Iron Horse by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Dream Wolf by Paul Goble (pic)
  • The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Iktomi and the Berries by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Iktomi and the Boulder by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Star Boy by Paul Goble (pic)
  • Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles (pic)
  • The Boy Who Lived with the Seals by Rafe Martin (pic)
  • The First Strawberries: A Cherokee Story by Joseph Bruchac (pic)
  • Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault (pic)*
  • The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin (pic)
  • Mighty Jackie by Marissa Moss (pic)*
  • Girl Wonder by Deborah Hopkinson (pic)
  • Mama Played Baseball by David A. Adler (pic)
  • Players in Pigtails by Shana Corey (pic)
  • Molly’s Pilgrim by Barbara Cohen (pic)*
  • An Outlaw Thanksgiving by Emily Arnold McCully (pic)
  • Thanksgiving at the Tappletons’ by Eileen Spinelli (pic)
  • My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers by Christine King Farris (pic)
  • The Boy Who Drew Birds: The Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies (pic)
  • Eleanor by Barbara Cooney (pic)
  • Joe Louis: America’s Fighter by David A. Adler (pic)
  • Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist by Lesa Cline-Ransome (pic)
  • Roberto Clemente by Jonah Winter (pic)
  • You’re on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George (pic)
  • The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (pic)**** This is an amazing book for teaching younger children about discrimination! My daughter and I had wonderful discussions because of this book.
  • The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson (pic)
  • When Jessie Came Across the Sea by Amy Hest (pic)
  • Street of Gold by Rosemary Wells (pic)
  • The Real Theif by William Steig (ch)*
  • Chocolate Fever by Robert K. Smith (ch)*
  • Jelly Belly by Robert K. Smith (ch)
  • The War with Grandpa by Robert K. Smith (ch)
  • Herbie Jones by Suzy Kline (ch) series
  • The Iron Giant: A Story in Five Nights by Ted Hughes (ch)
  • Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (ch)*
  • The Littles by John Peterson (ch) series
  • The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame (ch)
  • Stone Fox by John R. Gardiner (ch)
  • The Stray by Dick King-Smith (ch)
  • The Invisible Dog by Dick King-Smith (ch)
  • Pigs Might Fly by Dick King-Smith (ch)
  • The School Mouse by Dick King-Smith (ch)
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (ch)
  • The Dragonling by Jackie French Koller (ch)
  • Deltora Quest: The Forest of Silence by Emily Rodda (ch) series
  • Cricket in Time’s Square by George Selden (ch)*
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (ch)*
  • A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla (ch)
  • Rip-Roaring Russell by Johanna Hurwitz (ch) Russell and Elisa series
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord (ch)
  • Wildfire! by Elizabeth Starr-Hill (ch)
  • The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle by Don L. Wulffson (ch)
  • The Kid Who Invented the Trampoline by Don L. Wulffson (ch)
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum (ch) series*
  • Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary (ch) series*
  • Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ch) series*
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne (ch) series*
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (ch) series*
  • The Railway Children by E. Nesbit (ch)
  • The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (ch)*
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes (ch)
  • The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth (ch)
  • The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (ch)*
  • Nurse Matilda: The Collected Tales by Christianna Brand (ch)*
Happy reading!
Book lists are long because there are just so many good ones in the tree house,


Summary Saturday: Being Odd Gets You Even

Well, my Summary Saturday post is not going to reflect everything we did this week because my camera has no batteries.

Why does my camera have no batteries? Because my Preacher Man was panicking two nights ago because none of the Wii remotes would work, and of course there were no AA batteries in the closet.

Why was Preacher Man panicking because the Wii remote wouldn’t work? His nighttime ritual of watching Top Gear through Netflix was about to be derailed. I couldn’t stand his sad, pathetic face so I gave him the batteries out of my camera.

Therefore, most of these pictures are our school pictures that we took during the week before Friday night when my batteries went MIA, but I’ll try to share our fun stuff from Friday and Saturday sans pictures.

First up is Magpie’s preschool work. Here she is building the walls of Jericho out of Legos. I would tell her a shape and she had to make the “walls” into that shape. This was her pentagon:

After we built the walls, her and Monkey marched around them, then blew on their trumpets and knocked them down. They both thought this was great fun! Here they are blowing their trumpets:

This week Chipette and I worked on some truths in math about odd/even and addition. We were using her MEP lessons (quickly becoming our favorite math!) and the first section on the worksheet had her come up with all of the two number combinations to make 15. Then she had to color the odd number in the addends if there was one. There was always one number that was odd not matter which set she used. We talked about what happens when you even+even, odd+odd, even+odd, and odd+even. If the addends are both even or both odd, then you will get an even answer. If the addends are mixed even or odd, then you will get an odd answer.

The final problem on her worksheet asked her to use the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Divide the numbers so that their answers are the same number. Here is one of Chipette’s attempts:

Then we talked about, how you would never get the same answer because you would always have an odd/even combination in one group, even if you always had an odd/odd or even/even combination in the other. There was no way to work the problem!

This is why I love MEP. It gives kids problems that don’t have an answer to prove the math principle they just learned. Chipette was really excited to figure this out. I spent the rest of the day rattling off numbers and asking her if the answer would be odd or even. She got it right every time!

Next up was our “fun” activity for grammar. Chipette is becoming a regular grammar guru. I wrote six sentences on the marker board. Her job was to find the verbs in each sentence. Then we talked about what type of sentence each was. One of them was imperative, the rest were declarative. I told her to change one of the declarative sentences into an exclamatory and the other into an interrogative.

What made it challenging is I used sentences from The Witches by Roald Dahl, so these weren’t things like, “The dog ran.” Now find the verb. I wasn’t sure if she could handle the challenge, but all of our grammar reviewing has paid off. She rocked it!

She gave herself an A- because she forgot to underline the linking verb “was” in the third sentence. But I was very pleased with her attempt. These sentences were much longer than what we had been working with and more complicated.
Monkey just couldn’t stay away from us during school time this week, so he moved his Little People sets into the dining room and spent quite a while getting them all lined up just so.

This Friday night our family had the wonderful opportunity to participate in Friday Night Singing. Over fifteen area churches were invited to attend, some even as far away as seventy miles. We had a great turnout at our church, wonderful food afterward, met lots of new people, and caught up with some old friends. I have such found memories of doing things like this as a child and I know my kids really enjoyed it, even if Magpie did fall asleep on the pew!

Today we got to attend our new friends’, C and A, birthday party. C turned five and A turned one, so two very important birthdays! Here is a picture of C at Magpie’s recent party:

The kids had a wonderful time splashing in the pool and sliding down the inflatable water slide. A busy ending to our week, but well worth it!

Using plenty of verbs (singing, sliding, splashing, eating, learning) in the tree house,



Thrifty Thursday: Target Dollar Aisle

The dollar aisle at Target is a favorite place of mine to shop most of the time, but especially at back to school time. I visited there this past week and scored some great stuff for our upcoming school year that I thought I would share with you.

Last year, I purchased the Math Bingo and Time Bingo of these games. When I saw the Spanish and Alphabet versions this year, I grabbed them. We’ve already played the alphabet one, and it was great. It reviews beginning letter sound, ending letter sounds, and alphabet order. Quite a challenge for my preschooler and a good review for my 2nd grader. The Spanish one goes over basic Spanish vocabulary terms.

Last year I also purchased two packs of these flashcards, the presidents and instruments of the orchestra. I have used the orchestra cards during our Circle Time and am working with Chipette on putting the president cards in order as we study American history this year. Since we are doing world and U.S. geography next year for school, the U.S. state flashcards and the animal flashcards will work perfectly. The animal flashcards will go with our science study, animals around the world.

Next, I found these early reader books. I hadn’t seen these on the dollar aisle before, but it’s very possible I missed them. When you’re shopping with three kids, you tend to miss quite a few things! Anyway, I was most excited about the Declaration of Independence easy reader. It made a very complicated subject very easy to understand for the basic learner. I’m making Chipette read through it next week even though we’ve already passed that point in history. The girls were most excited about the Up Close Critters book. The pictures in it are just crazy!

A few years back,I found individual white boards on the Target dollar aisle, while I liked them I didn’t like that they didn’t have lines. Having my girls practice their handwriting (manuscript for Magpie and cursive for Chipette) on the white boards was a little difficult to explain without those lines. When i saw these this year, I snatched them up and even got one for Monkey, who has really enjoyed writing on his board like the big sisters!

Final total:
2 Bingo games
2 packs of flashcards
5 easy readers
3 individual white boards
$12 for everything!
And that’s why I love the Target dollar aisle!!!
Check out the Target closest to you to find out what good school deals they have in your area.
Schooling for dollars (sometimes lots of dollars!) in the tree house,


Tasty Tuesday: Culture Clash

When my parents were visiting a couple of weeks ago, my mom left a recipe at my house by accident. Well that’s like throwing raw fish in a shark tank! I was all over it! She had actually brought it because she had made it at her house and thought it was so delicious that she wanted to share. We didn’t have time for her to cook while they  were here, so I decided to make it myself.
It sounded like a great recipe to me since it combined my two favorite ethnic foods, Mexican and Italian, and it was easy, which is always a prerequisite for recipes in my kitchen.
Here is what you need to make Mexican Chicken Manicotti:

8 uncooked manicotti shells
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. green onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
2 cups picante sauce
First, cook and drain manicotti shells as directed on package.

Next, mix cream cheese, 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, onion, cilantro, and garlic in medium bowl.

Stir in chicken.

Fill manicotti shells with chicken mixture. I use my fingers because it’s a lot easier.

Arrange filled shells in ungreased 13x9 pan.

Pour picante sauce over shells.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover and bake 40 to 45 minutes until filling is hot in center.

And, as usual, mom was right! Delicious.

Love when forgetfulness leads to the enjoyable melding of two cultures on my plate in the tree house,