Saturday, May 31, 2008

Parade magazine wants our vote

Parade magazine has posted a poll online about homeschooling and teacher credentials.
Before you vote, keep this quote in mind.

“Some of the worst teachers I’ve ever seen are highly certified. Look at our public schools. They’re full of certified teachers. What kind of magic is that accomplishing? But I can take you to the best teachers I’ve ever seen, and most of them are uncertified.... We don’t have evidence at all that what we do in schools of education makes much difference in teacher competence.”—Dr. Donald Ericksen, UCLA

Go here to vote:
Should parents need teaching credentials to home-school their kids?

Cowan's Gap

We enjoyed 4 fabulous days at Cowan's Gap State Park near McConnellsburg, Pa. In Pennsylvania we are blessed with our state parks. We went to Cowan's Gap on Memorial Day and stayed in one of their cabins for 3 nights. Our favorite cabin is cabin K because it has an outdoor patio under cover with a fireplace. So if it rains, you can still have a fire. This time, we were in Cabin C, which was just as enjoyable. We like the week right after Memorial Day since it's still considered off season, but it's warm enough to swim (usually). The cost of renting a cabin in a Pa state park is only $33 a night. There are no bathrooms in the cabins, but they are close by and they are clean. I don't know about other state parks, but Cowan's Gap's cabins have a full size refrigerator and an electric stove with oven. This helps to keep the cost of this vacation very low.

Here are some pictures of our trip. My husband taught the girls how to make a fire with flint and steel.

We took many nature walks and found abundant wildlife.

One day, some good friends of ours came to visit. When I took ds(3) to the bathroom, he found a snake on the driveway that was flattened. He picked it up with a stick and couldn't wait to show his friends. When we arrived back at the cabin, his friend found a snake just like my son's except his was alive!!!!!
This one found a salamander.

Friday, May 30, 2008

School vs Real Life and Planning for Next Year

There is a woman in my life who has homeschooled her two sons all the way through. One she graduated two years ago and the other is 17 (I think). The other day we were talking about homeschooling and she said that when her boys were younger she "tried very hard to make that line between school and real life as fuzzy as possible."

Didn't Charlotte Mason say, "Life is an atmosphere"?

As I sit here and work on my goals for next year, these words keep scrolling through my head. This past year, I have put way too much emphasis on the 180 days that my children need to complete to be in compliance with the law. I think next year, I just need to put our attendance chart out of sight. I plan create a habit of math and copywork every day along with reading lots of books. We will also take up handicrafts in the afternoons. I'm hoping each girl will finish a quilt next year. There will be art and music appreciation incorporated into our days as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Subway Boycott - Let's get real

First of all, my feathers didn't get all in a ruffle over the Subway contest. The top prize is for playground equipment that we really don't have any use for. Of course we could use the $100 gift card, but it's not available to us at this time. I'd also like a 1978 Corvette, but that's not available to me either.
Subway is being raked over the coals for exercising free enterprise. Have you heard of "Free Enterprise"? It's an American ideal. It says that Subway can choose what kind of contest it wants to run and they can set the rules. To make sure everyone is included and not offended would be communism, wouldn't it? Aren't there activities that we participate in that excludes those who attend public schools and private schools? What about our co-ops? Do we exclude cyber schoolers because they are considered public school? We have that right, right? PrairieFrog Blog makes a good point when she says, "It would be entirely different if they were refusing service to paying homeschooling patrons, or seating homeschoolers in a separate section, but we've become so petty we get up in arms if even gifts and donations aren't all inclusive." She goes on to explain her point and I encourage you to visit her blog so I won't have to repeat it all here.
To lighten things up a little - Of course Subway doesn't want to include homeschoolers. They don't want us to dominate yet another academic competition. We already have the National Spelling Bee and the National Geography Bee.
2006 National Spelling Bee
2007 National Spelling Bee
2005 National Geography Bee
2007 Geography Bee - This is the first girl in 17 years and she was a homeschooler
2008 National Geography Bee Finalists - Check out Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and Montana.
Instead of putting our energy to boycotting Subway, why not put our energy into doing the best we can in the competitions that are open to homeschoolers?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Greek Festival

We attended a Greek Festival in Camp Hill, Pa today and we had a blast. It took us about an hour to drive there, but it was worth it. There was lots of food, Greek dancing, music, art and a tour of the church which included a history of the orthodox church dating back to 25 A.D. It was fascinating.
The food was amazing. They had an "A La Carte" section where we ordered. We put all of the food on the table like a little buffet and everyone got to taste everything. I didn't try anything I didn't like. Did I say the food was amazing? Oh yes, and they had desserts, too. Just amazing. I even tried a Greek coffee. It got a little gritty toward the bottom of the cup, but it was very good. I guess I drank it around 4:30. Right now it's close to midnight and I think I'm still feeling a little buzz.
The traditional dancing left me a little envious. My mother's family is Serbian Orthodox and all of my cousins had the opportunity to learn the traditional Serbian dances while we were growing up. If I lived closer to Pittsburgh, my kids would learn those dances as well. As it stands, we live in a cultural wasteland where zoning denies any culture from infiltrating into our area unless you count tattoo parlors as art. (Ooh, did I say that out loud?)Anyway, we had a great time and I highly recommend this festival as a field trip.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

So much going on....

Chicken update - The chickens now reside outside instead of in our basement. We had them in a huge rubbermaid container and one morning I walked into the basement and one was perched on the edge of the container. That night, they were outside.

Tadpoles - A good friend called one afternoon to tell me that she found tadpoles at our local park. I was thrilled. The first chance we had, we went over and scooped some up for a nature study. I was thrilled that even my 3 year old wanted to make a page for his nature journal.

Homeschool Evaluations - Evaluation season is starting here in Pennsylvania. I really enjoy this time of year when I get the opportuntiy to do evaluations. I really look forward to this time of year for this reason. It's fun to see all the creative projects and field trips that families have participated in.

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival - Today, we went on a field trip to Maryland's Sheep & Wool Festival. It was a blast. We watched a demonstration of sheep dogs herding sheep. We also saw some unique art, listened to music that was fun and music that was beautiful and I was able to get a funnel cake (one of my favorite parts of any summertime festival).

The weeks ahead - May is a very busy month. Tomorrow evening I will be hosting a Portfolio Share at my house. This will be an opportunity for those new to homeschooling in Pennsylvania to see what goes into a portfolio. On May 12, I will be giving a seminar on what a Charlotte Mason education is and how to do it and still comply with Pa homeschool law. I am really looking forward to that evening. At the end of the month, we will be taking 4 days to go camping in a cabin at a state park that is about an hour away. I am really looking forward to that annual family event as well.
Somewhere in there, we will be continuing to work on Ancient Greece and all that goes with it. Over the summer, I plan to have the kids do a math page out of their Math-U-See books each day except weekends. I am also planning lots of trips and other fun activities, but dont' tell the kids they might learn from it, because then they might resist.