Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cooking Class, Week 2

So, a friend and I are swapping kids for classes that we've put together this summer. As I mentioned in the previous post, she is teaching Kimball and her kids photography. I am teaching cooking to my two oldest and her son, Spencer. Last week we talked about kitchen safety, learned how to follow directions by making brownies from a mix, and planned our future menus.

It was important to me that the boys learn to make some things that they love to eat, so we talked about favorite meals when we were planning out the summer's menu. Spencer said he loved angel hair pasta with herbs best-- his favorite comes from Pasta Roni (classic kid, loves the packaged stuff!:) I assured him that I could teach him to make it without using a boxed mix. So on the plan for today's class: Breadsticks and Angel Hair Pasta with Garlic Herb Butter and Parmesan.

For the pasta, I couldn't find a recipe that was just what I was looking for, so I made one up. We started by harvesting some basil and Italian parsley from the garden (we found some other goodies there as well, including these first cherry tomatoes!!!) We made a herb butter in the food processor by combining 1/3 cup fresh herbs (heavier on the basil than the parsley), 1/2 cup butter, and 2 cloves of garlic. We rolled it up in saran wrap and put it in the fridge for a while. Then we cooked our angel hair pasta (1 lb.) to al dente. We drained the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid, and tossed it with 1 cup of shredded Parmesan and most of the herbed butter. We served it with some more Parmesan on top. Yummy.

For the breadsticks, we used a recipe that I've had since my college days. I can't remember anymore which of my BYU roommates brought this with her to school, but it has been one of my go-to recipes for breadsticks and pizza crust ever since. We doubled this recipe so that Spencer could take some home to share.

First, we combined 1 1/2 cups warm water with 1 T. yeast and let it proof (watched it grow.) Then we put in our mixer with 1 T. olive oil, 1 T. honey, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, 1 T. malted milk (optional), and 3-4 cups of flour. We mixed it until it was smooth and elastic. Then we divided it into 12 pieces and rolled and twisted it into breadsticks.

We let them raise for about half an hour, then baked them at 400 degrees. Then, the boys brushed them in butter and sprinkled some with Parmesan cheese. We even did a few with the herbed butter, which looked the prettiest.

Since we had found some ripe tomatoes and a cucumber in the garden, I threw together a quick green salad (nothing fancy, just the way my husband likes it) and we had a great lunch!

Also, check out Heidi's photo blog for more fun with their photography class!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Extra classes

I've got guests in town and have been too busy to do a weekly report, but I thought I'd link you to my friend's blog. She has posted pictures from Kimball's first day of photography class. They'll be meeting four times in the next weeks. I am doing a once-a-week cooking class for Kimball, Henry, and her son, Spencer. Just trying to keep them busy and learning this summer!

In our first cooking class last week, the boys learned how to make brownies from a mix (this will be their only "from a mix" recipe, talked about kitchen safety, and planned the menus for our future classes. Here they are enjoying the batter in the bowl. I hope that Jared isn"t reading!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekly Report

We are schooling this summer, but not as intensely. This week was our first week with Henry home all the time (yeah!)

We relished in history, studying 2 SOTW chapters on The Old Kingdom of Egypt (mummies and pyramids, which we did over three days), and the Akkadian Empire. The boys had fun building a pyramid, although I was disappointed with the outcome. The only sugar cubes I had been able to find were "rough cut," which meant that they weren't perfect cubes. I guess more people use the little packets these days in their coffee.

We also did some map work, a coloring page on King Sargon, and a word search on Sumerian inventions.

We began eating more from our garden, although the tomatoes are not ready to harvest yet. We wonder if our cherry tomato plant is going to take over the entire yard. Here is Kimball reporting on the the monster tomato plant:

Henry has been reading books aloud to me every day. He and I discussed our goal to have him reading chapter books independently by the fall. He still prefers when I read to him, but he is doing so well. He especially enjoyed reading Frog and Toad to me this week. One day, he chose to read the chapter called, "Cookies." I think it was a ploy because I really really had to use my self control to not make cookies for the rest of the day. (We have been focusing on healthier eating habits, too!)

For read alouds, Daddy has started reading Call of the Wild to Kimball and Henry at night. I continue to read ASOUE, book the 13th (we are only averaging about four chapters a week, so it's not going very quickly.) We are also listening to The Giver in the car, which everyone is loving. I was excited when Henry noted a similarity between the community in The Giver and one of the communities in an ASOUE book--the Village of Fowl Devotees. Both communities have lots and lots of rules so that the members of the communities are always afraid of breaking a rule. They also have a committee that makes up the rules and reviews them.

Besides our daily family "devotional," which involves a hymn, family prayer, and reading together about 10 verses in the Book of Mormon before Daddy goes to work, we've added some new scripture study into our day. We are now reading about 2 chapters a day in the Old Testament Stories book. Kimball has been reading this on his own for years, but our other boys are getting so much out of it. We take turns reading each verse and discussing. I love that it tells a story in each chapter so it gives us something to talk about and take away each time we read. This week we covered the premortal existence, the creation, the fall, plus Joseph in Egypt (we skipped ahead on the first day we talked about Egypt.) I also found that this engages Ian much better than our other scripture study.

Another new element we incorporated this week was "circle time." We used that name because it was familiar to the boys, who called it that in preschool. We gather together and sit in a circle on the floor and sing preschool and primary songs. We are gearing this mostly towards Bronwen and Ian, but so far the big boys love it because they adore Bronwen and think it is fun to see her dance, clap, and sing with us. I love that it is giving Ian some of the attention he is so obviously craving.

We have been playing games together a lot as well. Boggle is a new favorite with Kimball and Henry and they don't seem to be discouraged that I can blow them out of the water. I have told them that it isn't really fair for us to compete against each other now, since we are at all different stages of learning, but that we should just do our best. Henry is allowed to spell words phonetically. We also learned Castle Keep today, which would be especially fun for a family to introduce when you are studying medieval times. Chomp is also a fun new game we found at Learning Express that uses the concept of a food chain.

We had swimming lessons this week. Kimball worked on side breathing in freestyle and breast stroke, Henry learned back stroke and practiced side breathing, and Ian learned scoops and kicks without having his floaties on. We all love to swim and take some time most days in the summer to get in a pool.

Henry and Kimball continue to enjoy their martial arts class as well. This is Henry's second week, and Kimball has been doing it for several months now.

Kimball passed off two new songs at his piano lesson. We also discovered my old sheet music and I've decided to start practicing the piano again. It's really sad how after 8 years of lessons I now only play the hymns (and those, not very well without practice.) I've gotten a bit rusty, but it's nothing that practice won't fix.

Saturday was flag day, so we had a little flag ceremony in the front yard and read a book about the Star Spangled Banner. Kimball wrote out the Pledge of Allegiance on a drawing of the flag that he made. We sang the Star Spangled Banner, which we learned last year.

Our song of the week was Fathers from the Children's Songbook. The boys are participating in a special music number at church tomorrow and they needed to learn the chorus.

We had lots of fun learning together this week. Maybe next week, we'll pull out some math facts worksheets. Maybe not. But we will keep on learning! We love homeschooling and are grateful for this opportunity.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kimball's Cinematic Premiere

Linking Cube Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Chapter 1: Jabba's Palace

We did very little formal schooling this week since we were very busy with other things. Kimball decided that he wanted to make a movie of his "Linking Cube Star Wars" ideas. He built the characters, props, and the set. He tried to shoot the movie himself, but after several frustrating attempts, he solicited Mom's help. This was our 4th take and the best for the time we had to work with--unfortunately, you can hear someone outside resealing our concrete during part of it. Kimball is proud of his work and hopes to shoot future mini-episodes of Linking Cube Star Wars.

GoodReads Review

The River Between Us The River Between Us by Richard Peck

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
I found this in youth fiction at the library, a department which can have very enjoyable, wholesome reading. It was a pretty quick read but the subject matter was anything but fluffy. This book tells the story of a fatherless family set in a poverty-stricken frontier town on the Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil War. It deals with themes of war, bigotry, gossip, loyalty, and family. Some of the outcomes of the book seemed predictable, but the ending caught me off guard, which is always enjoyable. The book also begins and ends with a narration by a descendant of the family, set 60 years later, which allows the reader some perspective of how the events of the book impacted future generations.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Weekly Report

It's almost the end of the public school year--Henry's last day of kindergarten is Thursday. I am finding it a bit harder to keep on our schedule lately and I don't know if it's spring fever or just lots of other things distracting me. We have been doing schoolwork daily, but not our full routine and I know that I need to get back on track. With that being said, I am strongly considering taking a week off this week--which would mean that we'd only do history, reading aloud, and math fact worksheets. Henry has mostly early days this week instead of afternoon, plus we have cousins in town from Utah, so I think we will be hard pressed to accomplish more than that this week.

I am also going to try making my weekly reports less detailed. Please holler if you really want the details. I just need to do something that makes it easier to report and share without taking an hour to do the post.

This week in History we covered hieroglyphics and cuneiforms in SOTW. The boys were very interested in the lesson. Afterward, we used some hieroglyphic stamps and charts that my mom had given us to write our names, then sentences using the ancient alphabet. Those stamps were a big hit, Mom! I'm glad that I waited to pull them out until we had studied hieroglyphics so it was more meaningful. We also read Seeker of Knowledge, about the man who cracked the code to understanding hieroglyphics.

In math, Kimball and I continue to review and strengthen his skills on multiplying by 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10. He is getting pretty fast at it and completed 17 problems in one minute this week. That is pretty significant because he often freezes when he is "racing the clock." It can be very overwhelming and a bit over stimulating to know that speed counts.

Henry and Kimball played chess with each other all week--several games each day, with Kimball coaching Henry on moves (is it any surprise that Kimball won most of the matches? I don't think his coaching was completely altruistic!)

In reading, Henry read aloud to me a Minnie and Moo book over a couple of days' time. Kimball finished reading Dr. Dolittle and wrote his own chapter for the book. We still need to polish that and then we'll post it here. We finished listening to Farmer Boy yesterday and are ready to return to the Chronicles of Narnia with Prince Caspian. I am also still reading aloud ASOUE, which is taking forever because we've been busy.

We didn't spend as much time in our garden this week, as we received advice on our other blog that we may be overwatering. We harvested our first zucchini and yellow squash this week and had them in a delicious couscous salad tonight for dinner. Okay, the kids did not find it to be delicious except for Bronwen, who likes almost everything.

We did copywork one day. These boys don't love copywork. Any ideas on how to get them excited? Kimball copied an excerpt from The Family: A Proclamation to the World and Henry copied an Article of Faith.

Cub Scouts this week was geocaching, where they go on a treasure hunt of sorts with a GPS unit. Kimball had a great time.

Kimball practiced the piano this week but did not have a lesson because he hadn't practiced over the days that we had been camping. He loves playing the piano and making music that he knows. He memorizes the songs so quickly that I think he is playing them by ear rather than truly reading the music, especially for counting.

Science Friday this week was a lesson on the scientific method. I was out working in a friend's garden while they learned with Daddy, so I can't report much on that. I need to have the boys start reporting on Science Friday lessons.

Kimball attended martial arts class twice. Henry is going to start taking martial arts class with Kimball this week, now that kindergarten won't conflict. They also spent lots of time on the trampoline. I have had a hard time getting them to ride their bikes in the cul-de-sac lately because Kimball has developed a sudden paranoia of cats and particularly a black cat that seems to have taken up residence in the neighborhood. I'm not sure how to handle it but it is really frustrating that is stopping him from doing something that he enjoys and that is so good for him.

Alli (my sister) and Isaac came over one afternoon to play and I marveled at how therapeutic it is for Kimball to be in a large family. We have been trying for years to help him make eye contact with people, to learn to read their faces for clues to their feelings, and to be aware of other people in general. I notice that when he is playing with the babies, he is more in tune to them--perhaps because they can't tell him verbally what they want or need. He is so much more animated around babies and works really hard to get positive reactions from them. He discovered recently that Isaac smiles bigger if he looks him in the eyes, and so now he is pushing himself to make eye contact with babies--without me bugging him about it! I truly believe that children with special needs (or at least autistic spectrum disorders) can thrive in big families, where they have built in therapy!

I forgot to mention in my last post that in the past few weeks we have been focusing as a family on having our prayers be more meaningful. I have really noticed a difference in the quality of the prayers being said by our children since we have made this our focus. They seem to be more thoughtful, which is just what we hoped for. I have noticed a difference in my own prayers, as I have taken the time to listen for inspiration during my prayer time and promised to act on it. I am so grateful that prayer truly allows us to communicate with Father in Heaven and to hear the whisperings of the Spirit. I don't think that I would be homeschooling without it, as my prayers and the answers that I received helped me to know that this was the right choice for our family. That gives me strength on the days when I want to bang my head, or in those moments where I wonder if I can really be my children's teacher and their mother.