Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Power Writing

This year, we added a writing curriculum into our schooling mix (apart from what is taught in our Language curriculum).  I waited on this so that I could take my three older kids through it together.  It seems to be working well, and cuts down on the number of times that I will be teaching the same thing over again.  Right now it is focusing more on creative writing rather than structured writing.

But, I was really wanting to add in a few lessons on structured writing.  As I was going through a tub of my old classroom supplies, I came across these posters that I used to have hanging in my classroom to help the kids with structured writing.  We called it Power Writing and I think I will hang them in my home for a while as we are learning about writing. 

Power 1 - Main Idea

Power 2 - Major Detail

Power 3 - Minor Detail

This is not something that I created myself and don't know whose original work this is but I did copy it onto posters...haha.

After teaching my older three kids about structured writing I had them write a report on the political rally that we went to a few weeks ago. They were to choose three things about the rally to write about.  They started with an intro sentence telling what they were going to say, list each of the three things and give a description of each, and then end with a conclusion sentence telling what they had just said.

Here is part of the report that Abby (6 years old and the one who would give permission to have her report posted) wrote about the Kirk Adams' congressional rally.

A few weeks later we were able to go to a presidential primary rally.  So, I had the kids write reports again.  This time I had them write a compare/contrast report on the similarities or differences between the two rallies.  We still used structure but just changed the tone a bit.  Here is Abby's report.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A household election

As we are learning through the elections this year, I thought it would be fun to hold a "mock election".  What better way to learn about elections than to have one right in our own home!  But, what to have them run we have no president...haha.  It had to be intriguing and fun...something that they would all want to "win".  I also wanted it to be something that they would do for the family.  That way they could have campaign promises and work to win votes.  So, I decided to give the kids an opportunity to run for Fantastic Friday Field-trip Chooser.  Try fitting that on a political sign...haha. 

I told the kids and they were all on board.  First, I explained the rules of the game.  The three older kids would run for office.  Every family member would get two votes...down to Sethy.  They would be allowed to create and put up signs and run their campaign how they felt was right.  Voters needed to keep in mind the promises that would be made and if they believe the candidate could actually deliver on the promises.  Obviously, if the promise of Disneyland was made, that candidate isn't to be trusted.  I also set a budget of $20 (ish...isn't that how Washington sets our federal budget??) for the field trip.  This would include the six kids and mom.  The things that wouldn't have to come from the budget would be gas money and a homemade picnic lunch.

I provided the kids with art supplies that I bought in red. white, and blue to create signs, etc.  Here are a few pictures of them creating signs and decorations for their campaigns.

As time progressed, the kids realized just how fickle the voters could be.  I guess we have several "swing voters" in our house...haha!
At first, the kids were trying to plan trips to the Lego Store or to Mc Donalds (a place they don't get to go often).  But, $20 is a tight budget for those things and none of the candidates could seem to pull ahead in the daily polls.

Finally, in a desperate attempt to gain votes, Nathan pledged to take a "free" field trip and give a tax refund...meaning that he would split the $20 budget money between the older four kids...each would get $5.  WOW.  I didn't even give him any hints.  He may be a born politician...haha!  Now everyone wanted to vote for him.  Brennan saw that the polls showed that he was behind and desperately tried to gain back votes by promising a $4 per kid tax refund and an ice cream.  Isn't that how it goes in real life?  Oh, this was SO much fun to watch!

I let the kids run their campaigns for most of the month of February so that they would get a good taste of winning and keeping votes.  When it came time to vote, I placed each of the older three kids' color coded drinking cups on the floor in the piano room.  Then we had the family wait in the other room as each person cast their two votes in the cup(s) of the candidate(s) they supported.

To keep it "secret ballets", I had Wesley vote first, then Seth (who couldn't give anything away), then Peter and I, and then the older kids one at a time.

In the end, it was the tax cut that won the votes.  Guess we have a house full of Republicans...haha.

Although the kids just thought this was another fun game that mom came up with, they really learned a great deal about winning and keeping votes and how the polls can an instant.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Presidential Rally

Today we decided to take the kids to another rally...this time for one of the republican presidential candidates.  We heard that Rick Santorum would be in town and thought it would be a great learning experience after going, a few weeks ago, to a rally for Kirk Adams, who is running for Congress.

So, to prepare, the kids and I went to The Dollar Store and bought some poster boards, markers, and flags.  Then we went home and talked about what people write on rally posters.  One of my kids suggested that we write "Ricky is the Man".  Haha.  Well, we didn't put that on a sign but I was impressed with the signs that the kids did create.  Here are a few pictures.

I honestly had no idea that Wesley could write as we haven't started schooling him yet.  Amazing what they just pick up!

 I love this picture that Abby drew of The Capitol building. 
After loading everyone into the van and driving downtown, we arrived at the rally with time to small feat with six kids...haha!

Here are a few pictures of the kids waiting for the rally to begin.

Our funny little Sethy is always ready to clown around and have fun...laughter is one of his gifts:)
Ransom, on the other hand was not so happy...actually only at this moment because I handed him away to get a picture.  He really is a Santorum supporter...honest.

 That's my patriotic little boy!

After prayer and introductions from several fantastic speakers, Rick Santorum, his wife, and three of their children came on stage.  

The kids really enjoyed this rally as two of the speakers before Rick Santorum were people that my kids had met before.  I love for the kids to see that those people on stage are just regular people like you and I.  

Here is a picture of Peter and Wesley enjoying the rally.
Looks like that flag waving is hard work...haha. least you know she did it all on her own...haha!
Here are the older boys taking it all in.  I love how you can see their personalities in their expressions and posture.
Here is Wesley as Santorum was speaking.  I couldn't get him to stay still enough to get a clear shot.

After the rally, Santorum walked right out into the crowd and talked to the media and supporters, signed autographs, and shook hands.  Fantastic.  Here are a few pictures of this.

Here is Rick Santorum shaking hands with the boys.  Those heads at the bottom of the picture are Nathan and Brennan.

We managed to get a campaign sign autographed.  You can see Nathan, Brennan, and Wesley all watching.
We took home a few yard signs.  Better put them up quick the Arizona primary is next week!
 You can't start them too young...haha! 
(Disclaimer: I did not go out and purchase a republican toy for my infant was a gift.  But, he has been carrying it around tons lately.  Smart kid!)

Here is Nathan with his autographed campaign sign...which is now hanging above his little Alex Keaton...haha.

We also made it into a CNN report on the rally that I can't get to upload here but here is the link.

This was a busy, exciting, and educational day for all of us.   In the end, I am really happy with how the kids are learning through the elections.

 I believe that as a parent, it is important to train our children in every area of life.  How will they know, if we don't teach them? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Growing...or hoping to grow

Today, for our Fantastic Friday, I decided to build and plant a garden with the kids.  I had seen a really great garden box built out of concrete blocks on Pintrest.  So, I decided to give it a try.  The last time I planted a garden, it was in the ground and required tons of weeding.  Hopefully, this above the ground garden will produce as much fruit without the weeding.
We started by drawing our garden and what we wanted to plant.  Then we made a list of the supplies that we would need. 

Sounds simple...yes?  Well, we went to Lowe's and after spending an hour gathering our supplies were told that they couldn't load the promised concrete blocks into my van because they were all out.


We left the supplies and went to Home Depot.  After spending another hour picking out our supplies, and paying (thankfully they had the blocks!), we were ready to roll.

We scoped out the backyard for the best place to plant.  We wanted a place that would get morning sun and afternoon shade as it will begin to get very hot all too soon here in Arizona.  After locating the perfect place, we set to work.

The older boys unloaded the van using a wagon...and Seth took advantage of the empty wagon on the return trips...haha.  Here are a few pictures.

We rolled out the weed paper and placed the concrete blocks around.  Then it was time to fill with soil.

 I think Seth was hoping to grow a Thomas the Train plant...haha.

Finally the garden was filled. We may need to get a little more soil and fill to the top.

The kids were really eager to plant the seeds.  So, while they planted, I filled in our "garden map" so that we will be able to remember what was planted where.  

I really love how the blocks naturally make little planters for herbs and things.

Lastly we added water.

The best thing about this spot for our garden is that it gets morning sun and afternoon shade.

And, as we were planting, I noticed that our grapevine is starting to sprout. Yay!

I wonder what it would take to actually live off of the land? ...more land?  haha.

To go along with our garden, I thought it would be good for the kids to see just how things sprout.  So, we are sprouting a few beans in a ziploc bag to give a visual for what is happening under the soil.

I will update with new pictures as things begin to grow so check back in a few weeks.