Texas Adventure Week Six: Colonization-Stephen F. Austin & Don Martin de Leon

Our Texas Adventure has been pretty low-key this week. We briefly discussed Mexico’s war for independence from Spain and spent the rest of the week learning about the empresarios who began settling Texas. We focused on two in particular: Stephen F. Austin and Martin de Leon. 

Stephen F. Austin is probably the most well-known empresario, both because of the size of his colony and his later role in the Texas Revolution. His colony, known as the Old Three Hundred, was the largest and most successful colony in the region. He worked tirelessly for the rights of the Texas colonists, even spending time in a Mexican prison for his efforts. I’m hoping to visit the historical site at San Felipe in the near future.

click to enlarge

We also chose to focus on Martin de Leon because his colony included the area where we live. He founded and lived in our city and is buried here. His colony was the only predominantly Mexican colony in Texas and his cattle brand was the first registered brand in the state. We really enjoyed reading about him in Martin De Leon: Tejano Empresario, a brief biography I found. It’s been fun to read about the history behind familiar landmarks and locations that we see on a daily basis.

Some of the resources we’ve used this week:
US map
Texas map

Next week we’ll take a break to prepare for Easter, but we’re also planning to visit a few more missions. Hopefully I’ll have some good pictures to share with you two weeks from now! We’ll spend a little more time on the colonization of Texas and then move into the Texas Revolution.

Don’t miss the first five updates in this series:

Weekly Wrap-Up 1.21.11: Projects!

I didn’t even write an update last week because it was such a routine week! This week my hubby has been off so we worked on several projects around the house.
First, the Karate Kid and his dad made his Awana Grand Prix car. He wanted a skateboard car. They painted a lightning bolt on it so we added the verse Job 36:32 to it:  

He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark. 

Appropriate, since he won 3rd place for speed!
Next, we worked on getting the boys’ room in shape. Karate Kid and Monkey Boy share a room, but in the state it was in, Monkey Boy couldn’t even really play or keep his toys in there. We took down the crib and put up the toddler bed, sorted the pile of baby items that were taking up an entire corner of the room, and organized Monkey Boy’s toys into baskets under his new bed. 
Karate Kid also sorted through the FIFTY-FIVE (yes, fifty-five!) karate tournament trophies that were overtaking the room, selecting which ones to keep and which ones to take a picture of and discard. He kept thirty and let twenty-five go…I’m very proud of him! 
The “keepers”
The room looks great and Monkey Boy loves his big boy bed and how accessible his toys are now!
We also cleaned out and organized the toy baskets and cabinet in the living room, where we keep building toys, games, puzzles and other “shared” items.
Finally, the Dancer’s dressing table was completed! This little antique dressing table has been in my family for years…I had it in my room growing up. But…it had multiple layers of paint on it and it was looking pretty sad. Several years ago we decided to give it to the Dancer for Christmas, but didn’t get it stripped and refinished in time. 
So, we gave it to her half-done, and her dad promised he would finish it. It’s been in the garage ever since. He’s worked on it a little bit here and there, but it always seemed to get crowded off the list by more pressing projects. 
This week, he finally finished it! We elected to repaint it, since it was nearly impossible to get every last bit of the old paint off every crack and crevice. I think it turned out nice, and the Dancer is thrilled! All that’s left is to put the mirrors back in.
On the academic front, the Dancer kept up with her history reading, math, and writing assignments on her own and Karate Kid kept up with math, grammar, and his reader. He’s currently reading and enjoying Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. I have a feeling I’m going to have to track down more of the series for him!

Peanut elected not to do any preschool this week, with the exception of continuing to read out of A First Book of Fairy Tales. Monkey Boy has just been having a great time playing in his own room with his newly organized toys…it’s as good as having new stuff! He’s loving his big brother’s old Rescue Heroes figures. I’m sure glad I saved them, since Fisher Price doesn’t make them anymore. I sure wish they did…every boy I’ve known has loved them!

It’s been a busy, productive week around here! How has everyone else’s week been?
Linked with Weekly Wrap Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekly Wrap-Up 1.7.11: Back to the Routine!

After a fun weekend popping firecrackers with family and friends and playing our new Wiiit was back to the routine for us here this week, with a normal school schedule and most of our regular activities starting back up.

Henry and RibsyDeveloping the Early Learner: Level 1The Dancer had kept up with her history and literature reading through the holidays, so for her it was just a matter of adding back in science, math and writing. I’d let Karate Kid slide a bit on his reading when he finished his last reader, so he buckled back down this week with Henry and Ribsy. He also got started back with math, we picked back up learning about pronouns, and we spent some time reviewing All About Spelling. Peanut transitioned from Christmas School back to her usual preschool materials…we reviewed all the All About Spelling phonogram cards and started Developing the Early Learner: Level 1, a readiness skills series I’ve used and liked with both older kids.

Wii Fit Plus with Balance BoardWe’ve added Wii Fit to our school schedule…after everything else is done, right before lunch, we each do the body test and play three games. The kids are having a blast with it and the exercise is great for me too…in fact I made it one of my 3 in 30 goals for the month to spend at least 15 minutes a day on it! The favorite games seem to be hula hoop, ski jumping, and kung fu.

We also observed the last few twelve days of Christmas leading up to Epiphany, reading The 12 Days of Christmas: The Story Behind a Favorite Christmas SongThe Legend of Old Befana, and The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and letting Peanut color the corresponding pages from The Christian Origin of the Twelve Days of Christmas: A Children’s Activity Book. We wrapped up with a special meal, movie, and taking down Christmas decorations.

Just Dance KidsFor an Epiphany gift, the kids got Just Dance Kids for the Wii, which they’re really enjoying! I wish I’d gotten some pictures of them playing to share. 

All in all it’s been a good week! We got a late start on a couple of days but still managed to accomplish most of what I’d hoped. As we ease back into the routine, I’ll add back in Latin, Spanish, art, and several other fun subjects if time allows.

How has the week been for everyone else as you get back into your usual routines?

Linked with Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekly Wrap-Up 12.17.10: Christmas Around the World & Hanukkah

Well, after nine Nutcracker performances last week, we’ve come up for air! As a member of the ballet company, the Dancer performed in all nine shows. The smaller ones like Peanut are divided into several casts…she only performed in three. I worked backstage for eight and watched one. I shared this picture in another post, but I’m going to share it again…just because!

The last performance was Sunday evening, so Monday was a “catch up” day…catching our breath, finding our way out from under a mountain of laundry, and reviewing our school schedule to see where we needed to pick up.

For the rest of the week, the Dancer and Karate Kid have both continued to do a minimal amount of work in their core subjects while Peanut and I continued to work on her lapbook and we all enjoyed more Christmas School with our Advent activities and study of various Christmas symbols. We learned about the candy cane, reading The Legend of the Candy Cane and watching the accompanying DVD. We read from The Adventure of Christmas about the meaning behind the colors of Christmas, the abbreviation “X-mas”, and the significance of stars. We also caught up on a few readings from our Advent storybook, Bartholomew’s Passage.

Peanut’s lapbook in progress

Children Around the World Celebrate Christmas

The Legend of the PoinsettiaThis week we began working our way through Children Around the World Celebrate Christmas, a book I picked up used several years ago that is apparently hard to find now. Each two-page spread has a child from a different country explain how they traditionally celebrate Christmas. All my kids have really enjoyed it! This week, we’ve read about Yen-chi in China, Natasha in Russia, and Pablo in Mexico. Along with reading about Christmas traditions in Mexico, we read Tomie dePaola’s delightful version of The Legend of the Poinsettia. Another great resource this year has been Currclick’s Christmas Around the World Blog Tour. Learning how cultures around the world celebrate has been wonderful for our family!

Christmas Carols for Kid's Heart (Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Vol. 3)And, although we’re getting a late start this year, we began working our way through Christmas Carols for Kid’s Heart. Twelve carols are featured, with a short devotional reading that also provides the background of the carol, followed by the music and lyrics, a verse and a short prayer. The accompanying CD has all twelve songs on it. I generally like to start early enough that we can read about one carol and then play it for a couple of days before moving on to the next one,  but this year we’re just doing one song per day. It’s neat to read about how familiar Christmas carols like Angels We Have Heard on High, Away in a Manger, and The First Noel came about! We’ve really enjoyed all the books in the Hymns for a Kid’s Heart series.

Since the last day of Hanukkah fell last week during Nutcracker, we had our belated Hanukkah celebration this week also! I was able to get some super cute plates, napkins and decorations at Target for 90% off (sometimes it pays to be late!), enough to last for several years. We watched our Hanukkah Tales & Tunes and Maccabees videos, lit our menorah, ate latkes and doughnuts, and played dreidel.

My .70 cent Hanukkah sign

Our menorah, dreidels, and chocolate coins
Latkes and blueberry applesauce!

Monkey Boy liked the dreidel (and the chocolate!) too!
Playing dreidel for chocolate coins

Fun coloring pages!
What else? I’ve caught up a bit on my book reviews, and Karate Kid has spend extra time the last few days practicing his karate forms in preparation for his black belt exam, which is TOMORROW! He’s excited and nervous…
Until next time…
Kung Hei Shing Taan
S’Rozhdestvom Khristovym
Feliz Navidad

Weekly Wrap Up 12.3.10: Christmas School!

This week, although the Dancer and Karate Kid have kept up with a bare bones schedule on their core subjects, we’ve been doing what we call Christmas School! Every year we use our school time in the weeks leading up to Christmas to learn about Christmas symbols and traditions, bake cookies and other goodies, do some fun holiday activities, and generally participate in the season of anticipation. It all ties in nicely with the family traditions we have: our Advent wreath and calendar, Jesse Tree, and St. Nicholas and Hanukkah celebrations.

I like to use Lisa Whelchel’s wonderful book The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions as my “spine”. It briefly covers 25 Christmas symbols – one for each day of Advent starting Dec. 1 – from Christmas trees to candy canes to Santa Claus. Each symbol generally has a two page spread with a brief history, a few thoughts, and activity and craft suggestions. Since we don’t do it every day, I pick 2 or 3 that fit with our other activities each day, doing them in the order that works for us. [Read more…]

Favorite Thanksgiving Resources

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Resources

Over the years, we’ve amassed quite a collection of Thanksgiving books.

I thought I’d share some of our favorites that we revisit year after year! We’ll be going through these this coming week as we prepare to celebrate. [Read more…]