Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tree on the Trail...

Sunday afternoon around 4pm, a bad storm blew through with lightning that killed our electricity until 1am Tuesday morning. Without TV to watch, we practiced some music, read books, played games, and Haley and I started Tree on the Trail by Hollings Clancy Hollings.

Haley's violin teacher, who homeschooled her two now in college kids, did some cleaning in the spring and passed along numerous homeschooling books including a geography program using the books written by Hollings including huge maps to color and label while reading the books. I was saving them to do in the fall but with time on our hands, it seemed like a good time to start.

We had fun reading the first few chapters of the story, linking the information to what we'd read so far in History of US Book 1 by Joy Hakim, and labeling/coloring the map. Haley is keeping a notebook with help covering little side-trips based on information in the book...some of which we can now complete since we have the computer back. We finished the first 3 lessons while electricity-less and are looking forward to continuing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

School plans...September 2010-whenever

This coming year Newt and Dylan will be attending public school. Newt will be in high school (9th grade) and Dylan in middle school (7th grade). I have serious thoughts about supplementing Newt's math since he will only have math half the year due to the most ridiculous and counterproductive scheduling I've ever heard...but that's another story.

So, that leaves Haley at home with me. Mmmmrrrrhhhahaha...just kidding. Here's what we have planned for the coming school year. It's a bit ambitious so we'll see how much we get done.

Math: Saxon 76
Hands on Equations
Teaching Company's Joy of Mathematics DVDs
Problem Solving the Systematic Way Primary 6

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone Spanish and Gaelic

Language Arts: Wordly Wise 5
Editor in Chief- finish A1 then move on to A2
Michael Clay Thompson: Grammar Voyage, Paragraph Town, Caesar's English, and Building Poems (we started CE and BP last year so will finish it up then move to the next level)
Introductory Level: Best Poems and Best Short Stories (If we finish these up will move on to Lightning Literature 7th Grade.)
Reading Strands-Understanding Fiction
Critical Thinking Company books: Language SmArts and Run on Riddlers

History: History of US by Joy Hakim along with a middle school level study guide from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources along with numerous supplements like biographies, activity guides, critical thinking guides, fiction and nonfiction books. I can't possibly list them all here but as we begin each era I'll try to post which ones we're using.

Science: Biology: We are studying biology this year beginning with the human body per Haley's request, moving on to animals around winter, then to plants in the spring. Our spines...
PLATO Life Science- computer program
Teaching Company: Joy of Science DVD lectures on life and biology.
NOEO Biology complete with books and experiments
Eyewitness Books: Life
Biology for Every Kid

Human Body: Human Body for Every Kid
Head to Toe Science
The Body Book
Various books and coloring books on anatomy and slides for microscope.

Animals: Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method
Usbourne Illustrated Encyclopedia of Nature
Computer programs on cells and frog dissection

Plants: How Nature Works
Inside Guides: Incredible Plants
Handbook of Nature Study by Comstock

Music: violin and fiddle lessons plus orchestra
Teaching Company: Listen to and Understand Great Music (more for Mommy but Haley'll listen)

Art: Teaching Company: Museum Masterpieces-The Louvre
Art Activity Packets
Drawing with Children
Artistic Pursuits

Geography: Geography Literature Approach-based on books by Holling Clancy Holling- Minn of the Mississippi, Seabird, Tree on the Trail, and Paddle to the Sea

Logic: Introductory Logic by Wilson and Nance
Critical Thinking Company- Arguments, Think A Minutes, Visual Mind Benders

Monday, July 19, 2010

Swannanoa Gathering 2010

Last week, I took Haley and Dylan to Swannanoa Gathering's Celtic Week at Warren Wilson College near Asheville, North Carolina. We enjoyed a week full of Irish music and dancing, meeting new people, and visiting with old friends from last year. We were blown away by some amazing performances given by the performer/teachers in attendance. I love the sense of community at Swannanoa. The people are so warm and friendly.

Haley took an advanced fiddle class with Kevin Burke and visited Martin Hayes advanced fiddle class one day. She also took a class in ceili dancing.

Dylan took a mandolin class and two guitar classes...one with Eamon O'Leary and the other with Lunasa guitarist Donough Hennessy.

Fiddler Manus McGuire stopped to share a few tunes with Haley one afternoon. He asked her what she wanted to play and she said, "Do you know Mason's Apron in 8 parts?" He didn't know the same parts but did know the tune and followed along with her. While they were playing, Paddy Keenan (who played in the Bothy Band with Kevin Burke) stopped and recorded Haley and Manus playing then asked Haley to play a tune on her own which he recorded. She played "The Dawn" and Zac jokingly asked her if she could play something a little harder. She innocently replied, "I don't know any hard tunes."
Haley asked to try Alex's concertina. She really wants one of her own...not exactly in our budget. This concertina was made by a guy who has a 6 year waiting list and cost over $8 grand.

The kids played sessions all week. They stumbled upon Zac Leger and his friend Julian playing in this gazebo so stopped to join them. They played late into the night most nights until midnight or 1am. Paddy Keenan invited Haley to play with a group of performers late one night..."Haley, oh Haley, come play a tune with us!"

The above photos are from slow jam sessions which were held every afternoon at 6pm and were led by different performers each evening. Tunes were played at a slower pace so those just learning their instrument could play along or those who already play could learn new tunes. Haley is sitting next to Martin Hayes for one and her teacher from home, Brian Conway in another. I don't have as many photos of Dylan because he made many new friends and hung out with a group of young teens all week. He only checked in with me when necessary. He was well respected for his guitar playing skills and sought after as an accompanist all week. The last two pics are of Dylan and Haley performing in the Student Showcase the last night of camp and Haley playing with Zac and Julian after the showcase.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


A couple years ago, the kids were playing for the owner and patrons of a small coffeeshop in the next town over from us. The owner called her "neighbor" who owns a small music school and writes songs and jingles to come over and hear them. He asked them to play for the town's "day" which they did and as "payment" offered to record them in his recording studio.

We were homeschooling and the kids were very into their music so we thought it would be fun for them to see how a recording studio works. They were thrilled to have the opportunity. So in February of 2009, when Haley was 6.5 years old, they recorded some tunes and made a CD which we "sold" to family and friends. It wasn't fancy. They simply recorded all in the same room...a live type recording and Frank showed them how the equipment worked. They loved being in the recording studio and didn't mind having to redo things when they made errors.

Fastforward to now...the kids are playing "gigs" in a number of different venues, have bookings through March of next year, and we are attempting to raise money to take Haley to Ireland for the All Ireland competition. Frank was working with them off and on teaching them since the first recording teaching them how to arrange music, add in other instruments, and just think more about what they wanted the music to sound like. He wanted to do a Christmas CD but busy schedules just didn't allow us the time. A couple months ago, Haley grew enough for her new fiddle and Dylan earned his Taylor guitar so Frank offered to bring them in to record new tracks with their better-sounding instruments. They worked hard in the studio to arrange the music and layed tracks in separate rooms to a metronome often playing 2 tracks with the same instrument for a stereo effect. Dylan seems to have a knack for figuring out what sounds great and learned some of their tunes on banjo and mandolin so was able to incorporate those instruments as well. His arrangement of Morning Dew sounds really neat!

They just finished everything last week and Frank is nearly finished mixing the tracks. We are going to have these CDs professionally copied and hopefully ready for release at Haley's Ireland fundraiser later this month. The difference in their playing in 1.5 years is amazing!

Gardening and hummingbirds...

I don't know if you can see him but the male hummingbird who has begun feeding at our kitchen window is sitting on the feeder to the right. A male and female visit the feeder regularly every evening. I've even seen them feeding each other...what looks like kissing. I wonder if their nest is nearby.

Below are pics of the garden behind our house. Haley's sunflowers are over 9 feet tall and the first is just beginning to bloom. Many plants in the garden look almost prehistoric in proportion like the zucchini and those sunflowers. There are dozens and dozens of green tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, and pole limas growing. We have gotten peas, string beans, potatoes, salad, and more zucchini than I care to discuss already. Our blueberry bushes were just planted this year so still little but we did get a handfull of ripe blueberries every other day for about 2 weeks. The herbs are also growing well and I've used them to season the other vegetables we've grown.