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I am a very lucky woman with a husband and son who are smart, witty and entertaining. Our son, B, attended public school for two years, and then we embarked on a new adventure in the Fall of 2010 - homeschooling. We don't have all the answers, but we know B and this has been the best thing for him. I blog to preserve our stories and our memories, share recipes, vent and ramble on about our crazy, yet blessed, life. Would you care to follow along?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

President in a Bag - James Monroe

Monday, my Dad came out and hung with B.  They went to Target, out to lunch, watched America's Funniest Videos and worked on American History.  B had been stuck on his President in a Bag of James Monroe and my Dad is a huge American History fan, so I thought they could inspire each other. Since his retirement, my Dad always asks for historical non-fiction books each birthday and Christmas about US presidents, wars, battles, generals, etc.  He's quite well-read.

B shared with his Poppop what he knew about Monroe and my Dad was pleasantly surprised that B knew some things he did not.  Then my Dad shared some things he knew about Monroe of which B was unaware.  B showed his Poppop the US Presidents binder he keeps that includes elements from this fabulous lap book I found on homeschoolshare.com, as well as his President in a Bag assignments. The two of them came up with seven things about President Monroe, however B only wanted to show five for his assignment. For the first time, he arranged all the items and took the picture.

Here are the five items B and his Poppop came up with to represent the life of our fifth president, James Monroe:

#1: A Suitcase.  After his presidency and the death of his wife, Elizabeth, Monroe moved to New York to live with his daughter, Maria.

#2: A Map of Florida:  The Florida territory was obtained from Spain during Monroe's presidency.

#3: A Pen.  In 1820, Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, admitting Maine into the union as a free state to balance Missouri's new admittance as a slave one.

#4: A Tricorne.  Monroe was the last of the revolutionaries, the last of the Founding Fathers, and his nickname was "The Last of the Hats".

#5: Sparklers (the closest thing we had to fireworks):  Monroe was the 3rd president to die on the Fourth of July.  He died on the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary.

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag, as well as where we got this idea, in these posts:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

President in a Bag - James Madison

In September 2013, I wrote a blog post about a wonderful teacher who came up with the President in a Bag idea and inspired us to implement that idea into our study of the American Presidents.  You can read about her here, in our first President in a Bag - George Washington.  

These are the 5 items B came up with to describe the life of our 4th president, James Madison:

#1 A Pen: This repeat item didn't surprise me since Madison was a Founding Father.  The pen reminds B that Madison is the author of The Bill of Rights.

#2: A Checkbook: Madison came up with the idea of checks and balances in our federal government, so that one branch does not gain more power than the others.

#3 A Gardening Hand Cultivator: Madison grew up on a tabacco plantation and retired there after his presidency.  Even though the plantation had slaves, Madison believed slavery was evil and wanted it abolished.

#4 A Bar of Soap: Madison was the shortest US president, at 5'4", and never weighed more than 100 pounds.  A friend of his said he was, "…no bigger than a bar of soap."

#5 A Pair of Pants: Madison was the 1st president to wear trousers, instead of knee britches, in the White House.  B wanted me to tell y'all that the pair of pants in the picture belong to Ken, Barbie's boyfriend.  He felt this needed to be clarified, else y'all would wonder where in the world we got the giant pen, checkbook, cultivator and bar of soap.  So, PSA complete.  ;o)

Read about our other Presidents in a Bag:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Using the App "Heads Up" by Ellen Degeneres in Our Homeschool Lessons

Ellen DeGeneres created this wonderful, free application called Heads Up!  It's a guessing game you download onto iTunes or an Android.  You hold your device, i.e. iPad, facing away form you, and words or phrases will appear on the screen.  Your partner is looking at the screen and they have to get you to guess what's there.  When you guess correctly, you tilt the screen forward to go to the next card; when you can't get it or your partner can't describe it, you tilt the screen back to pass.  You have a minute to guess as many as you can and the app keeps track of your score for you.

It's like Charades and $100,000 Pyramid for the digital age (so dating myself!).  There are a number of categories called "decks" from which to choose - some are free and some are a one time fee of $0.99 - and there are decks for most ages.  It is so much fun!  We took it with us on our Thanksgiving trip to Boston and introduced it to my parents and my brother.  We were laughing so hard and yelling out our guesses so loud, we thought for sure the guests in the neighboring hotel rooms would call the front desk on us.

But it's not just fun; there are great educational uses for this game, as well.  Anytime I can make a lesson into a game, I've got B's attention.  With the clock running, B has to focus, read, recognize (do I know what that is or not?), make a decision whether to describe it or pass and figure out what to say or do to get me to guess correctly.  Those are a lot of skills to be working on at the same time!  With most decks, you have to use your words and/or sounds to describe things plus there is one deck where you cannot speak at all.

The only thing I dislike about this app, is that it uses the camera on your device to record video of the person acting out/describing what is on the screen.  You can choose to share this video with The Ellen Degeneres Show, your friends or not.  I am not interested in sharing with anyone and wish that I could turn this feature off.  So, I have covered the cameras on both sides of my device to prevent anything from showing up.  Because I don't know what happens to those recordings if I don't share.  Are they deleted?  Saved?  Who might be viewing them?

Although there are learning opportunities in any deck you choose,  I'm going to mention just four of them:

  1. "Animals Gone Wild" - B is an animal lover and huge fan of Wild Kratts.  He loves it when an animal he's recently learned about shows up in the list.  And when there's one he doesn't know, he wants to research it and find out all he can about it.
  2. "Wish You Were Here" - This deck is a great Geography lesson.  It contains landmarks, bodies of waters, fun travel destinations, etc., from The Colosseum, to The Baltic Sea to Disney World.
  3. "Perfect Pairs" - This is a new deck to us and it's a Language Arts lesson in alliteration.   It contains 2-word phrases that begin with the same letter.  We played it tonight and I could not complete the round after one of B's clues had me laughing so hard.  He said, "Oh, oh!  This is something we can't do when friends come over!"  It turns out, the phrase was "double dip".  LOL
  4. "Build Your Own Deck" - This is the best one!  For $0.99, I just bought this deck tonight (you can buy as many as you want at $0.99/ea), named it "Fun with Homeschool" and started creating cards with things we've learned or are learning in homeschool.  Isn't that AWESOME?!  I've added names of famous people, Math & Science terms, historical documents, etc.  I'm throwing it all into one deck because I'm frugal and not very organized, but you can buy and create decks about more specific topics if you want.
We don't always use this app for lessons; plenty of times we just play for fun.  However, every time we play, we're learning - about people, places, things and how to communicate with each other.