Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Plans for Homeschooling 2011-12

After speaking with my homeschooling friend Kate, I got a burst of energy and decided to get our plans in order for the coming school year. So, I cleaned book shelves and went through bins of homeschooling curriculum and materials I have in the basement. I had ordered a few items already but had most of what I needed left over from homeschool years past.

Here are the plans for Haley this coming year:

Math: Finish up Saxon 76 (hopefully this summer but we may have a few chapters left) and get serious about Thinkwell Pre-Algebra. Not sure yet if we will do Saxon 87 or another Pre-Algebra program after.

Language Arts:
-I am planning a poetry study for the 1st half of the school year. We will use Best Poems from Hewitt Homeschool and then use what we learned to study poems of our choice from various poetry books we have around.

-Spelling Power
-Wordly Wise 6 and Word Roots Level B Book 1
-Selected activities from Writing Strands Level 4, Writing for 100 Days, and Writing Power
-Book Club with friends on Skype using Deconstructing Penguins

Science: Our spine will be PLATO Earth Science
Additional Materials:
DK Rocks and Minerals
Magnetism by Peter Riley
How the Earth Works by John Farndon
Just the Facts: Earth and Space Science by Jennifer Sinsel
Usbourne Rocks and Fossils
Science Experiments: Earth Science by Tammy Williams

History: Our spine will be History of US by Joy Hakim with the Study Guide (Books 3-10 We did books 1 and 2 this past year)
Additional Materials: (for the beginning part of the year)
American Revolution: National Park American History Series
Everyday Life: American Revolution
Struggle for a Continent
How Would You Survive in the American West
Daily Life in a Covered Wagon
Everyday Life: Civil War
Going Along with Lewis and Clark: Unit study
George Washington's World
Abraham Lincoln's World
Mutiny on the Amistad
Civil War

Geography and Art: Mapping the World with Art by Ellen McHenry
Artistic Pursuits Grades 4-6 Book 1 (Meant to do last year but didn't get to it)
Various art resources and project books

Foreign Language:
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Rosetta Stone Gaelic (if we get the laptop fixed)

Music: Violin/Fiddle lessons and orchestra
Piano at home

We'll see how it goes!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Big Birthday Bash!

How's that for alliteration!

Saturday was Haley's fiddle teacher's birthday party. We drove up for a lesson then stayed for the party. It was a very musical event with some great Irish musicians attending and playing. There was session-style music going on in some form or another from about 4pm until after we left at almost 10pm. Haley played the majority of the time.
Haley with her buddy, John of the best box players out there.

Birthday Session

Irish music all day = one happy kid
I don't know if Haley realizes just how lucky she is to be able to make music with all these great Irish musicians and listen to them play live. The social aspect certainly makes learning music a lot of fun for her.

That is one thing I think is missing in her classical studies...the opportunity to "play" with other people. Sure she plays in orchestra but it is very serious business and the kids only get to socialize for short periods of time either before/after/or during their 10 min. break. Also, the music is already written out. There is no changing it or ornamenting place to improvise.

At a session, they play a tune set, talk and joke around for awhile, then play some more. They improvise while playing and she learns  new tunes from the other musicians. Sunday Haley and her brothers spent almost all day playing Irish music. They busked in the park off and on for a few hours fundraising then wanted to go to the Plough session where we had to pull Haley and Dylan away 3 hours later because the rest of us were tired.

Haley and Dylan were laughing and joking around with the adult musicians the entire time. Haley and the accordian player, a different one from the photo above, kept doing little things in their playing to "shock" each other...adding ornamentation to the tunes in different ways or improvising a bit on the tunes. Dylan passed guitars back and forth with other guitar players and they shared ideas on backing the tunes. I can see why they love it so much!

Friday, June 17, 2011


Travelling to Ireland to compete every year tends to be a bit expensive especially with airfare increasing every year and a horrible euro exchange rate. If you are a girlscout, you sell cookies. If you are in a sport, around here you either sell candy or stand in the middle of the street at an intersection asking people to throw coins in a container.

The past couple years, we've had a wonderful group of people helping us raise money for Haley to go to Ireland by holding a ceili. This year Haley and Dylan will be competing and another little girl from our area, Emily, will be competing on harp.

We are planning a large ceili (Gaelic for dance) next month. Some local musicians will come help play live music and area dancers plus some friends and family who have never attempted Irish dancing will come out for an evening of music and fun. The kids will play during breaks between dance sets and we'll hold a Chinese auction with donations from area businesses.

Next weekend, all three kids are going to play at a local restaurant for tips plus the restaurant has kindly offered to give them a percentage of their profits for the evening. Besides that they have done some busking in a city park and my own kids have had a few local gigs. The kids are working hard and seeing the results of all their hard work. Hopefully they will raise enough to offset at least half the costs.


I love hummingbirds. They are amazing tiny creatures. We were a little late putting our feeders out this year due to work being done on the outside of the house. One morning I saw a hummingbird just hovering and looking in our sliding glass door, almost like he was saying, "Hey! Um! I'm here. Where's the food?"

I quickly filled one feeder and set it out but didn't see any critters for the next couple days. They came back though. We've counted up to 8 at one time. They feed all day long but go on a feeding frenzy in the early morning and evenings. We hear them come buzzing in like large bumble bees. Sometimes they chirrup at each other or hover facing each other like they are having a turf war. There is one beautiful red bellied male who sits close to the feeder and quickly flies in to chase away any other who has the nerve to try and eat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend Fun!!

This weekend we were invited to visit with Haley's viola playing friend, Sofia, and her family in CT. Sofia had planned a fundraising concert with some friends and asked Haley and Dylan to come up and join them.

Then about a week ago, Sofia's mom found a fiddle contest not far from their home so we signed all the kids up to play. Saturday morning was rainy and gloomy. We spent the early morning at the competition hiding under tents trying to keep ourselves but mostly the instruments dry. The rain slowed a bit while the Junior/Junior (12 and under) competition was under way then stopped completely for the Trick & Fancy division (open to any age).

Haley with Dylan accompanying her competed in both divisions. She placed 1st in the Junior/Junior. Haley's friend Sofia fiddled on her viola and her brother "fiddled" with his cello...each was a bit unconventional but both played very well. Sofia's hornpipe sounded really nice with the pianist accompanying her.

After a recall due to a tie, Haley took 2nd in the Trick & Fancy. She played her favorite tune Mason's Apron with some added left hand pizzicato and extra fancy bowings blindfolded. Ha! There were people of all ages competing in that division with everything from fancy costumes to fancy tunes with lots of chopping. One girl hula hooped while playing, another boy fiddled with his fiddle upsidedown, and a teen boy played Czardas a little extra fancy.

We didn't find out about Haley's place in the Trick competition until this morning because we had to leave the competition to go to Sofia's benefit. They had put together a very nice concert with kids playing everything from Witch's Dance to Bach Sonatas to fiddle tunes. Sofia gave a little presentation on the charity she wished to donate to and the kids ate snacks and arm wrestled afterward.

Sunday we drove to NY for Haley's fiddle lesson then hung around so we could attend her teacher's Irish session at Mickey Spillanes Pub before driving home. It was a late night.

Hiding under the tent out of the rain.

Dyl at Mickey Spillanes Pub

Arm wrestling competition

Haley and Sofia enjoying snack.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Classical music...

It seems like I am always writing about Haley's Irish music "adventures" and rarely her classical. She has many more opportunities to perform her Irish music. Yesterday her classical teacher held her end of year recital. Haley had been hoping to be able to play the Bach Concerto in E Major but her teacher asked her to revisit Meditation from Thais.

They spent the last month going over every note and phrase, every dynamic change, and every subtle nuance of bow control. I didn't know there could possibly be that much to discuss on one piece of music...Ha!

Here are the results of all their hard work...

After playing like that, we drove into the city so she could fiddle for another 4 hours at Pl*ugh and the St*rs. She had so much fun "playing" with her adult friends.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Summer Plans...

I have been trying to figure out exactly what Haley will be doing for school through the summer. I don't like to let the kids' brains turn to mush so always have a few educational ideas for each to break up the down-time. A couple hours 2-3 days a week for school is about all I plan on.

The boys are now in public school but, even so, I plan for them to do a bit of math- Alg review for Newt since he spent the last year doing Geometry and will be doing Alg.2 in school next year and Pre-Alg review for Dylan. They will also have reading...summer reading for school and do some vocabulary building activities.

My plans with Haley include continuing through Saxon 76 and Thinkwell Pre-Alg. We used a number of supplements this year to slow her down so still have a little less than half the book to finish but she seems to be moving more quickly lately like some things have clicked. The other possibility, because Saxon teaches a concept then adds to it later, is that she already understands the adds to it later parts from learning it the easy way the first time...that whole parts to whole learning style she has going on.

She will also be reading and working on her Artists lapbook. She is doing a unit on poetry at the moment and is enjoying it so we'll continue. It is a warm up so she can do the Best Poems book we have that goes a little more indepth into poetry but we'll wait to start that in Sept.

We have finished most of our readings on Colonial America...yes, it took us the entire "school-year" to do American History up to the Revolutionary War. We did a lot of activities and extra readings and followed many "bunny trails." My plan is to not get into the Revolutionary War until Sept. but to finish up the Colonial Times lapbook we began.

We are also going a bit more indepth with the Human Body at Haley's insistence so will continue working on that for the summer.

Other than that, we have some arts and crafts projects in the works. She is going to have violin lessons only once a week for the summer, most weeks anyway. I think her teacher will let her do repertoire only for the summer as well which she always loves...none of those technique books to worry about. Fiddle lessons will continue to be regular to get ready for the All Ireland in August.

That's our summer....lots of swimming at Grammy and Poppop's pool, cousins coming to visit (including the new baby twins), Celtic music camp in July, and Ireland in August! I love summer!!!