School Days 2011~ A Beautiful Beginning

Reading, Writing, 'Rithmatic...

We have successfully completed the first week of our 8th year of home education.

Here are some glimpses of our week.  Enjoy.

State Studies

"Coast to Coast" is a set of study sheets I designed to help my kids gather and organize information as we made our way through each of the United States of America.

Coast to Coast is organized into 4 pages covering everything from state bird to natural landmarks to famous natives.  Two of the pages include mapping exercises.  You will need a simple outline map of your state to complete this part of the study.  I get mine here.

The study culminates in a creative writing exercise.  Learners take all of their new knowledge of a particular state, pretend they are on vacation there, and write a letter home telling all about what they have seen and experienced.

These have been such a helpful tool for us, guiding our reading and research, while at the same time giving us valuable composition, grammar, and spelling practice.

The samples were done by my son at the 6th grade level.

My 3rd grader also used these sheets.  However, I did have to give him quite a bit of guidance.

I  think you could use these from 3rd (guided) even up to 8th grade; depending on the learner.

Here is a link to the PDF of Coast to Coast.  You are free to use this file for your homeschool or your co-op.  Please do not call it your own creation and/or try and sell it.  Simply pass it on to bless others!  Thanks

President Profile~Older

Continued from yesterday's post....

These are the sheets I created for my older children to use in studying about our presidents.  I designed them to serve not only as research organizers, but also writing prompts.

These sheets will give them guidelines as to what to look for as they read.  Depending on how strong their writing is, you may need to do a good bit of coaching at first.  My kids needed most help with composition and resisting the urge to just copy straight out of the book.  I needed to help them digest what they were reading, organize it their minds, then put it down in their own words.

These samples were done by my daughter in her 8th grade year.  My son used the same sheets that year when he was in 6th grade.

Here is the link to the PDF for President Profile~Older.  You are free to use this file for your homeschool or your co-op.  Please do not call it your own creation and/or try and sell it.  Simply pass it on to bless others!  Thanks

President Profile~Younger

When studying presidents we needed a tool to guide our research and organize our findings.

These are samples from my son, done in 3rd grade.

You could work through the sheets, taking written narrations, with a young elementary age (1st/2nd grade).  Older elementary (3rd-5th) can certainly do this on their own.

You can gather information on the presidents from library books, online, and a good spine book.  I like this one.

Here is the link to the PDF.  You are free to use this file for your homeschool or your co-op.  Please do not call it your own creation and/or try and sell it.  Simply pass it on to bless others!  Thanks

Home Made Doughnuts~A Beautifully Delicious Treat

Saturday morning and I am wanting doughnuts.  I wonder how hard it is to make them, so I pull out my trusty King Arthur Cookbook.  The recipe "Doughnuts for sugaring" on p.86 looked like the closest thing to an "old fashioned", my favorite kind of bakery treat.  A quick look online gave me a few more ideas.  I tweeked the KA recipe a bit and came up with this amazingly simple but scrumptious recipe.

Old Fashioned Sour Cream Doughnuts

2 eggs
1/2 cup cultured buttermilk (regular or non-fat)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
3 TBS butter, melted
4 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat eggs, buttermilk, & sour cream until light (about 1.5 minutes).  Add the sugar and melted butter, beat with whisk until smooth.  In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, soda, powder, salt, & spices together.  Using a mixing spoon, blend the flour mix into the wet ingredients, mixing as little as possible.

Turn this sticky dough out onto a well-floured surface and work it a bit until it holds nicely together.  Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough out until it is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick (I like 1/4).  Cut the doughnuts out. I used these....

one is a small flower, the other used to be an easily bent into a circle shape.  You can fry the small circle cut outs to make doughnut holes or work them back into the dough to roll out more doughnuts.

Let the doughnuts rest while you heat up the oil.  In a frying pan, heavy dutch oven, or electric skillet (what I used), heat vegetable oil to 365 degrees F.  It needs to be deep enough for the doughnuts to float, but not be submerged.  My oil was about 3/4-1 inch high.

Fry the doughnuts, a few at a time...they need room to expand so don't crowd them.  Cook on each side until golden brown, about 1.5 min each side.  Remove to cookie rack placed over paper towels to drain and cool a bit.  Allow the oil to return to 365 between batches.

For Glaze:
In a bowl large enough to dip a doughnut, mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract.  Add water, 1 tsp. at a time until it is the consistency of thin glue.

Prepare a second cookie rack on top of paper towels.  You will use this to "drain" your glazed doughnuts.

Once cooled enough to handle, dip the top of each doughnut in glaze.  Place on second cookie rack and allow to harden for a few minutes while you work on cutting and frying more doughnuts.  Go back and do a second dip, allowing each to harden on the cookie rack.

Move your lovely creations to a serving dish, step back, and watch your family members' mouths drop at the sight of your masterpiece.

You should probably take a picture before serving the family...these will disappear FAST!

Silence After the Storm

A post from 7/11/2011 which I though I'd lost.  Rediscovered as I am learning about how blogging works.  Enjoy. ~a

Rain has been pounding the rooftop for over an hour.

We were soaked from head to toe after our 20ft sprint from car to front door (garage is not fully clear of boxes yet).

The air-conditioned house felt extra cold to our wet skin.

Sopping shoes left at the door, we track damp footprints from foyer to kitchen.

Arms and legs dry quickly as we warm up leftovers for a tasty lunch of rice, lima beans and tomato gravy.

The rain still pours off the sides of the gutters.

Finally, bellies full, we disperse to our respective quiet spaces.  Somewhere during chapter 4 and 6, we notice the silence.  The storm has passed, leaving behind still, fresh, wet green-ness.

How I have missed these southern summer storms.

Trees & Turtles

Yesterday brought rain.  Not the slight and steady dewy mist to which we were accustomed in Washington. This rain was alive.  Storm clouds tumbled in with the speed of a jet-liner, replacing stifling summer sky with a brooding, eerie coolness.  On my way to the Mart, I decided to stay the course.  Southern summer storms do not stay long in one place.

Made it into the store just before the deluge.  Good thing I'd brought the long list, I could be there a while.  Pushing my cart up and down the massive isles, the rain let loose its full force overhead.  In stops and starts, the water danced, then stomped, then tip-toed, then stomped again on the plastic skylights.  Intended to help illuminate this massive stuff-mart, the opaque roof tiles were of no help this day.  Thick storm overhead cast a dreary gray tone on every isle.

Making my way from paper goods, to dairy, to canned, to frozen...the rain continued.  Checking off my last two items in produce, my phone rang.  Dear Daughter called to make sure I'm okay ("You're not trying to drive in this are you, Mom?").  How sweet is that?  Then to inform me that a pine tree had just fallen on our roof.  I must say, her calm was amazing.

Me:  "What?!  How?  When?  Where?"
Her:  "It's okay, Mom.  It's on the roof over your bedroom, but I've checked all in there and don't see any damage inside."
Me:  "Was it loud?"
Her:  "Uh....yah."
Me:  "Okay, then.  Good thing we are renting."

It never did stop long enough to get the groceries in the car, so we just wet.

Arrived home to assess the damage.  There was, in fact, a tree on my roof....but not through the roof, praise God.

The storm finally emptied itself out and moved on.  That's when we found this guy....

far from home, swimming through our backyard.  Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

On My Nightstand

Reading some fantastic books.....

just for me~

One Thousand Gifts |  Ann Voskamp

Wanting To Be Her; Body Image Secrets Victoria Won't Tell You |  Michelle Graham

with my "little boys"~

Mary Poppins in the Park  |  PL Travers

with my "big girl"~

Imaginary Jesus  |  Matt Mikalatos

with my best friend~

Renovation of the Heart  | Dallas Willard

Family Binder

3-ring durable binder
page dividers (store bought or make your own)
blank monthly calendars
clear sheet protectors
worksheet for any of the following you would find useful:
  • Meal Planning
  • Grocery List
  • Gift List
  • Clothing Inventory
  • Birthday/Anniversary List
  • Personal Wish List
  • Gifts Given Log
  • Gifts Received Log
  • Celebration Sheets
  • Book Log
  • Books to Read List
  • Travel Log
  • Trip Ideas
Of course, all of this could be done on your computer/Ipad/phone.  If someone wants to apply these ideas more technologically, go right ahead.  I'll stick with low-tech for now.

1.  Make a cute cover for your Family Binder.  You can use scrapbook paper, draw something, or simply put 
     your family name.

2.  Decide what sections you will need and divide accordingly.  Here's what we have:
     grocery, clothes, gifts & cards, celebrate, church: choir, church: youth, church:  kids, dance, scouts,  
     books, travel

3.  Place your chosen worksheets in the appropriate section.  At the back of the binder insert some blank 
     sheets of paper for notes as well as several page protectors for storing misc. flyers, brochures, etc.

4.  Don't forget to USE your binder!!!!!!!

Happy Organizing!

Below are links to my family binder sheets.   You are free to copy these for personal use.  Please don't call them your own creation, or try to sell them.  Pass them on to bless others!  Thanks!

Shopping Lists
This Weeks' Meal Plan
Blank Monthly Calendar
Gifts Given Log
Book Logs
Birthdays & Anniversaries Calendar
Celebration Planner
Personal Wish List
Clothing Inventory

The Smell of Pot Roast

One of the easiest things to prepare for dinner on a busy grocery shopping day is...pot roast.  Sam's had a great deal on beautiful, Angus chuck roast ($2.98/lb), so I stocked up.

Even before putting the groceries away, start the roast.  The prep is so fast and simple, you can get it in the oven in about 10 minutes.  Then go on about your life while it is quietly doing its thing, making fork-tender meat swimming in lovely, rich au jus.

The recipe is from The Southern Living Cookbook (c.1987).  I have been making it almost all my married life (19years).  If you do not have a copy of this cookbook, try to get your hands on one. Check online, in thrift shops, your relatives' bookshelves.  If you are lucky you may find one with lots of great notes.  As a young wife who could only make spaghetti, TSLC was my text book for learning how to cook.  For us visual learners there are lots of lovely pictures on everything from canning, to cutting up a chicken, to making a meringue.  Most basic American cooking is covered in this classic southern volume.

Oven Pot Roast
1 (3- to 4-pound) chuck or rump roast
All-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 (1.25-oz) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (10 3/4-oz) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 cup dry Vermouth or white wine (I just use water)
1 (4.5-oz) jar whole mushrooms, undrained (optional)

Dredge roast in flour and pepper.  Brown roast in butter in dutch oven.  In bowl, combine soup mix, soup, and wine/water; pour over roast.  Cover and bake at 325 for 2.5 hours.  Pour mushrooms over roast and cook another 30 minutes.   Serve over rice with corn and a green salad.  Makes:  6-8 servings.