Monday, September 29, 2014

FIAR: Night of the Moonjellies

Our first "row" of first grade was Night of the Moonjellies, by Mark Shasha.  This is a touching story of a seven year old boy, Mark, who works at his Grandmother's seaside diner, MarGra's.  Mark finds a moon jelly on the beach one morning, and Grandma takes Mark on a special adventure one night after the diner closes to release the moon jelly into the night sea.  

I got all creative at lunch one day and made jellyfish and starfish.

I thought beyond a doubt that I was on the right track to being Very Cool.

But she promptly disassembled her lunch and made it into a horse instead!!  Ha!
Major points for creativity there!
(Emma is a horse FANATIC, and although she enjoyed studying sea animals this week, this lunch proves where her heart is.)

We had great fun making watercolor jellyfish one afternoon.

We also followed a simple recipe for making "sea glass" hard candy.  I'm generally intimidated by using a candy thermometer, but this recipe was super easy and quite delicious!  (It was also very pretty!)


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn syrup
6 T water

Stir together in heavy saucepan over MEDIUM heat until dissolved.  Use wooden spoon to stir.  Attach candy thermometer and let sit until mixture reaches 250 degrees (don't stir).  Add two drops of food coloring....don't stir....and continue to let sit until it reaches 300 degrees.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/4-1/2 tsp of flavoring.  (We used 1/4 tsp of orange extract.)  Pour onto well greased metal pan and cool completely.  

Cover with wax paper and tap with hammer to break into pieces.  Place pieces in zip lock bag with powdered sugar and shake to coat.  This gives the candy a dull, weathered look, like sea glass.

We had a tea party one night with chamomile tea and melon slices (just like in the book), and read the book aloud as a family.

By far the BIG HIT of our study this week was swimming with moon jellies!  I bought glow sticks at the dollar store and sealed them in bags of water to make "moon jellies".  We floated them all in the pool after dark one night and the kids all jumped in to swim.  Emma was DELIGHTED.  The night ended with the boys having moon jelly fights in the pitch dark across the pool volleyball net!  It was a blast!!

We ended the week with a Seaside Diner Dinner.

We bought sea-themed paper goods from the party supply store, and decorated our table with homemade hermit crabs (from Kiwi Crate), our sea glass candy, and our jellyfish in a bottle experiment.  We also hung art work from this unit in the window and dangled homemade jellyfish crafts from the chandelier.

The Menu:

Hotdogs (I didn't think our family would eat lobster rolls.)
Crunchy onion rings with fry sauce
Seaweed Salad (Cole slaw)
Jelly 'n Fish (Swedish fish in blue jell-o)
Coral Kabobs (Cantaloupe and Watermelon cubes on skewers)
Ocean Water (blue kool-aid and Sprite)

Sea horse project compliments of art projects for kids.

Throughout the week Emma colored and painted various fish and sea creatures from coloring sheets.  We combined them onto a sea mural, and also made aquariums out of paper plates (via pinterest).

Some other things we did during this row...
Chose jellyfish and lobsters as two animals to study more closely.
Learned the six New England states and located them on the map.
Studied our five senses, focusing particularly on sound words.
Focused on the character trait of responsibility, and made a book about things we are responsible for.

We celebrated this fun row with a field trip to the aquarium with our good friends.  I found a scavenger hunt printout to take with us.  We found lots of animals on the list.....but not a single jellyfish in the entire aquarium!  Go figure!  (Moonjellies are technically not jellyfish....they do not have tentacles and do not sting, but they are bio luminescent creatures that look very similar to jellyfish.)

Emma loved the polka dotted sting rays.  They were so fluid and graceful!

We were also tickled to see a sloth because we just read about sloths in our morning devotional.  We are working through a Bible study (My Big Book of 5 Minute Devotions:  Celebrating God's World) that uses all different animals to teach godly character qualities.  We read about the sloth to teach us patience!  Naturally!  This guy does look rather patient.....

It is fun when I can plan a field trip that my whole family will enjoy.  Since we have such an age gap, that is a challenge, but anything relating to animals is a hit with everyone.

The sea cow was my favorite exhibit.

This was a great row, and set the stage for an exciting year ahead.  Five In A Row is definitely Emma's favorite part of our homeschooling day, and we have certainly found a curriculum that is as much fun for me as it is for her.

Welcome to First Grade, and Our Curriculum Picks

I have two daughters who are almost 16 years apart.  That means I get to do senior year of college and first grade in the same year.  :-)  Yes, our family is spread out, but that keeps life interesting.  These two are peas in a pod.  Emma ADORES her older sister, and having her home from college during this past summer was a little slice of heaven.  Before Sissy left, they took a trip to the pet store and each bought a Beta fish.  Hannah got to drive cross country with hers nestled in a cup holder.  

Emma brought hers home, named it Rainbow, and set it up as our first grade mascot!

We made some changes to our homeschooling room this year.  I will probably share more about his space later on, because I absolutely love reading about other people's homeschool spaces.  Primarily, we put in new flooring and set up a new desk system from Ikea.  This space has evolved a lot through the years to meet our constantly changing needs.  It was VERY fun to make it first grade friendly!

I had a few treats waiting on the desk the first day of school.  We kicked off week one with a Seashore theme, so I bought a bag of Swedish Fish to give her.  However, they were eaten by teenage boys the night before!  ARGH!  Candy can't ever be hidden well enough in this house to be truly safe.  They were super lucky I happened to have an unopened package of goldfish cookies in the pantry to substitute!  :-)

I also ordered her some Smencils......scented pencils that sounded super fun.
Neither she nor I could stand the overpowering smell, so they were in the trash by the end of day two.  Ha!
Live and learn.

I have had this easel from Ikea for a year or two, unopened.  I finally created a space for it and set it up in the school room.  I think she will enjoy using it this coming year.

I sent her on a little scavenger hunt, leaving notes in all her books and little "stations" I had set up around the room.  As we worked our way through the hunt I introduced her to all the fun things we will be doing in the coming year.

The night before first grade we hit a major milestone....she lost an upper tooth!!!

Oh. My. Stars.  She looks so much older now.  *sniff, sniff*

My son's bird, Bella, came in for a visit on Day One.

We are big pet lovers and have no shortage of animal friends in our house.

With three older children, we have been out of the early elementary years in our homeschool for quite some time now.  It is a joy and a privilege to be diving into first grade one more time.  I absolutely LOVE the younger years!!!  For those who care to follow along on our journey, here is a brief listing and description of our curriculum choices...


FIVE IN A ROW - This is an exciting, literature based, multi-sensory approach to learning.  There are four volumes of Five In A Row, and this year we will work from Volumes 1 and 2.  "Rowing" a book means reading the same book five days in a row, using the story as a springboard for various areas of study (history, culture & geography, math, science, language arts, and fine arts).  Although the manual is the only necessary component for using FIAR (other than the literature books themselves), we like to add in lots of hands on projects, recipes, crafts, and some lap booking.  

Math - Horizons Math 1

Reading and Phonics - All About Reading, Levels 1 and 2

Bible - My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions: Celebrating God's World
(First Semester)

Handwriting - Getty-Dubay Italic Book A

Science - Nancy Larson Science Level 1
Apologia Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day

Art Journal
We LOVE art, and will compile an art journal through-out the year.  We use various sources, including ideas from Pinterest, but these are my two favorite resources:

I also have two highschoolers in my homeschool this year.  My oldest son is a junior, and my youngest is a freshman.  This blog will primarily chronicle our adventures in first grade, but I will from time to time include updates about the boys.  For those who might be curious, here is a listing of our high school resources:


Worldview - Worldviews of the Western World by David Quinne
(This is a comprehensive humanities course, taken at a worldview co-op, that covers everything except math and science.  It is a four year program.)

Science - Apologia Biology

Math - Teaching Textbooks Geometry


American Government - Co-op class utilizing Sonlight resources

World Geography - Co-op class

Science - Apologia Chemistry

Math - Teaching Textbooks

American Sign Language - Master ASL

So, that is what will keep us all in the hustle and bustle this year.
Looking forward to another exciting and productive year of learning and growing together!!

And Away We Go!!!

Hi There!  My name is Brooke, and this is our story.....

We are blessed with four amazing kids.  Our oldest is a senior in college, studying to be a nurse.  She is far from home, and we miss her bunches, so visits home are always special times.  We began homeschooling when she was in second grade and have never looked back.

Our two boys are in high school.  I used to keep a family blog, but now the boys are at an age where they don't particularly love having their pictures constantly taken and stories about them recorded daily.  They both attend homeschooling classes outside of our home; each in a setting that caters to their particular needs and interests.  They study hard and play even harder, and while I am far from a homeschooling expert, I can honestly say that the high schooling years are GREAT!

Our youngest is the exclamation point at the end of our family.  She lives life to the fullest with a joyful boldness.  She attended mother's day out, preschool, and kindergarten at a local church.  This year marks the start of our homeschool journey with her as we blaze a trail into first grade, primarily using FIVE IN A ROW as our curriculum to guide us.  This blog will record our adventures together.

I love the homeschooling life.....reading, creating, experiencing, DOING.  It isn't always easy, and it's hardly ever tidy, but I treasure the memories we have created through the years, and am exceedingly grateful for the bonds this lifestyle has created in our family.

Thanks for stopping by to follow our story.....