Grade 4 Curriculum Choices

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I can’t believe my baby is going to be a 4th grader this year. Tater turned 9 a couple weeks ago, and I’m kind of in a permanent state of denial about it. At least she still calls me “mommy” and enjoys being around me. Sigh.

It’s always so much fun to choose curriculum, so I’m excited to start the school year! Here are our curriculum choices for Tater’s 4th grade:

Bible: We are not using a formal curriculum for Bible, but will read Bible stories, study heroes of faith as well as biblical character traits.

Math: We are continuing with Horizons math this year.

Science: We enjoyed Apologia’s Exploring Creation with¬†Astronomy last year, so this year we are using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. Tater’s choice…she loves doing science experiments.

Language Arts: We are doing daily Reading Comprehension worksheets, Latin Roots of English, and vocabulary.

Handwriting: No formal curriculum here either…just copywork from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Spelling: We have loved All About Spelling for Tater’s dysgraphia, and will be continuing with the program.

History: Last year I wrote my own World History curriculum using Living Books. We read almost 900 library books last school year and did corresponding crafts and hands on activities. I will be doing the same thing this year except with US History. I’m really excited!

Literature Read Alouds: All our read alouds correspond with our US History lessons. They will be:
-The Matchlock Gun
-Calico Captive
-Johnny Tremain
-By The Shores of Silver Lake
-Rifles for Watie
-Caddie Woodlawn

Art/Music:
We will be studying US Artists, popular time period music, and will be doing a lot of arts and crafts.

PE: Tater will continue in karate. She loves it and has shown quite an affinity.

Also, Junior will be starting Preschool work this year. We aren’t doing anything formal unless he wants to (I bought him an Apologia notebook to follow along in science), but he is already an eager learner and will be joining us for history, read alouds, and whatever else he wants!

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Dear Lady Who Told My Deaf Son to Be Quiet

I’m sorry he’s loud. I know. We’re working on it. He may not have heard your words of venom, but the glare on your face said it all. Even though you didn’t know his story, you rushed to judge. Let me tell you Junior’s story.

After my son was born I had sadly resigned him to a life of silence. I heard the word “deaf” and my world was crushed. Hope was lost. My precious baby boy was a birth defect statistic. The world I had envisioned for him was gone, and he would forever be labeled with a disability.

Months and months of doctor’s appointments confirming his diagnosis, and buckets of my tears later, he received the most incredible gift any person could ever receive–the gift of sound. Our baby endured a long surgery to have electrodes and magnets placed in his little body, he endured pain and pain medicine and antibiotics. He endured doctors poking and prodding, and appointments and being woken up from naps and being taken away from Curious George. He endured hours in the car and way too many meals of apple slices and chicken nuggets because his momma was just too tired. He’s endured feeling “different” and having people stare. He always offers strangers a smile, but people are rarely kind enough to smile back because they’re too busy staring.

But now, because of the gift he was given, he can finally hear his own voice. He’s only loud because he can hear. His world is no longer silent. We’re working on the volume, we really, really are. And that adds another therapy into his already overscheduled little life. We try to avoid stores and restaurants, but today, while I stood in line to get my children a cookie as a special treat, you felt inconvenienced and saw it your place to reprimand me.

And yet, you didn’t care to ask his story. You just told me to make him quiet. I was hurt and stunned, but what I really should have done was tell you what a blessing it was that you were able to hear his voice. That your ears work, that you were already born with the gift of sound. Because while he can be loud, that little voice is a miracle and I will never take it for granted.

Read Junior’s Story

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Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie

I made Chili this week, and wanted something different than my other ideas for leftover chili, so I came up with this Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie. It was SO easy, and so good. Both kids loved it, and so did I. (My husband likes everything.)

Okay folks, this is seriously simple. I’m a little embarrassed at how easy it comes together, but that’s what makes it beautiful. (And the Frito topping. That makes it beautiful too.)

Leftover Chili Tortilla Pie
Serves 4-6

-4.5 C leftover chili
-4 flour tortillas
-1.5 C shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
-1 C crushed Fritos (I buy the organic Trader Joes variety because they’re less greasy)
-Lime wedges, Avocado slices, and Sour Cream for serving

1. Start by putting 1/2 C leftover chili on the bottom of a greased 8×8 pan (I had to use a 9×9 since my 8×8 was dirty and handwashing is my nemesis.)

2. Add 2 tortillas (I like the double layer so it doesn’t get soggy).

3. Add 2 C of chili on top of the tortillas, and top with 1/2 C shredded cheese.

4. Layer again. 2 tortillas, 2 C chili, 1/2 C shredded cheese.

5. Finish by sprinkling 1 C crushed Fritos on the top.

6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes, cut, and serve with lime wedges, avocado slices, and sour cream.

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DIY-“Glass” Table Cover

Back when we were fortunate enough to have a Pottery Barn outlet in California, I found all sorts of great treasures. A few of my favorites included a velvet Christmas tree skirt for $13, a set of floor-to-ceiling curtains for $20 (regularly $200, and matched my bedroom perfectly!) and a kid’s school room set–a bulletin board, desk, and bookshelf for around $100 total.

Since Stinker was just a toddler when I purchased the table, it was an art table for a while, and I sought to protect the wood from the disastrous effects of errant paint and over zealous glittering by covering it with a vinyl tablecloth. Messes wiped off easily, and it worked well. Until this year.

Now that Stinker is in school, I was looking for a way for the desk surface to be more accessible to allow for easier writing, (and more of a school desk feeling), but would still protect the table from scratches. 

Initially considering glass, I consulted my grampa (an former engineer and woodworker with his own little workshop), who suggested I look into plexiglass for the project. Not only was it significantly cheaper, but it also was safer for the kids…no shattering if it were to fall.

I measured the table (multiple times to ensure a perfect fit), and purchased a sheet of plexiglass from a home improvement store slightly larger than the table so I could make it fit (it cost less than $40). Then I found someone with a table saw (my awesome grampa!), and he cut the plexiglass sheet to fit the table perfectly. (My gramma and I helped. It was a team effort :))

Since plexiglass is lighter than glass, it doesn’t sit on top of the table as easily, so I purchased a few wood-safe velcro strips that hold the edges of the plexiglass down without the use of adhesive.

I put paper under the plexiglass, and Stinker can use dry erase markers to practice her writing and letters without wasting paper.

Simply erase when done! I love our new table, and Stinker has enjoyed sitting at a “big girl” desk.

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What We’ve Been Up To…

Okay, how is October halfway over already?!
If you were to ask me, I’d swear it was still August. And, not just because it was 90 degrees yesterday.

With homeschooling Stinker every day, including one full day of classroom time per week at a local church, Junior’s therapy appointments running two to three times a week, plus the sports and activities Stinker is involved in, I have two days this month with nothing on the calendar…and one of them is my birthday!

Despite the hectic schedule, I think I’ve been really productive. Here are some updates and some fun homeschooling ideas! (The above picture is how I organized supplies for our school room. I love that I can put all our supplies in the baskets and keep them accessible but hidden away.)

1. Junior (16 mos)
-We’re doing Auditory Verbal Therapy two to three times a week, getting him to use his cochlear implants as effectively as possible. He’s now saying “mah” (meaning either “more”, “mine”, or “mama” depending on the context), “up” (which was ironically Stinker’s first word), “hi”, and is babbling. He also understands “no”, “bye-bye”, and starts doing hand motions as soon as I start singing “The Wheels on the Bus”. It’s amazing that our child who was born deaf is learning to speak and listen, and we are so grateful for the technology!(Not familiar with Junior? Read his story starting HERE)

2. Homeschooling
-We’re thoroughly enjoying Classical Conversations. Here are a few review games we’ve done.

Lego Review. See the original Post HERE for a printable version and the rules. I found a set of these awesome make-your-own foam dice at Lakeshore, and they’ve been very useful for several review games.

Magnetic Puzzle Review.
I wrote each of the 6 review subjects on a piece of paper and taped it to the back of this magnetic puzzle we have. (Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Magnetic Bug Catching Game). Stinker uses the attached magnetic bug catcher to pick up one of the pieces. I ask her a review question, and if she answers correctly, she gets to put the piece in the puzzle. The goal is to complete the puzzle. She likes to win, even when she’s playing by herself :)

Ping Pong Cups
I modeled this game after a well-known carnival game. You stand a few feet away, and throw the ball into a plastic or paper cup. I turn the cup over (which I’ve written the subject on the bottom), and ask Stinker a question on that subject. She gets a point when she answers correctly. 10 points and she wins! (Luckily, not a goldfish like at the fair :)

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