Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Junior Rangers - Great Sand Dunes

While at the sand dunes with our Egypt Camp we learned about the Junior Ranger Program that the National Parks have.  I'd never heard of it before but we stumbled upon Junior Ranger Day.  A special day at the sand dunes where kids could earn a Junior Ranger patch for completing certain activities.  At first I wasn't too thrilled about trying to do that and Egypt Camp (Steve was gone sand-boarding and I had to manage it all) but eventually the call of the rangers was just too enticing :).  We got a little form and started completing the activities.  The boys learned a ton and had a fantastic time doing the activities.  They worked with rangers to learn about the surge of the water and how/why it happens by the sand dunes.  They also learned about 3 types of beetles that are common on the sand dunes: the circus beetle, the tiger beetle and the cricket. 
 They also learned about some of the animals by pretending to be the kangaroo rat.
 They rolled down the hill like the circus beetle and learned all about furs and skull bones of different animals in the area.
 They learned to shoot a spear and earned their badges!  I got them the green vests to hold all their badges (another "Egyptian" had one to show off all her badges and it is so awesome!).  When we get home I'll be putting the badges on so they are ready for their next adventure.
Oh yea, did I say badges (plural)? I sure did. We earned the special badge on Junior Ranger day.  Then we learned that each National Park also has a park badge that you can earn by doing other activities.  The next day we went to the visitors center, got the booklet and completed all the work and learning needed to earn the Sand Dunes patch.  CJ has now declared that when he grows up he'd like to be a ranger.  Sweet.

Egypt Homeschool Camp June 2014

The boys had a fantastic time at Egypt Camp this past weekend. We spent all of last semester studying all about Ancient Egypt with our Homeschool Co-Op and ended the study with 3 days at the Great Sand Dunes.  How cool is that?  We've never been down there before but it was a spectacular location and I think we'll go again in a couple years.  We played in the sand and the water at the beach a lot.  We were supposed to build pyramids at first but the boys decided that sand castles were a more reasonable option :).  We met the rest of the group for dinner time and all the kids had on their costumes.  They each had tunics, some had swords, other had fans, we even had a pharaoh.  Each child was called up to spin the wheel of fate that encourage role playing activities - such as "Your cat died.  See the embalmer." or "Professional Mourner for 1 hour." or "The Pharaoh is pleased with you."  Each kid had an occupation, such as scribe/farmer/fisherman, etc.  EMan was a fisherman and CJ was the Pharaoh's Zoo Keeper.  The first night we had a weighing of the heart activity just like in the book of the dead.  I got to play the roll of Isis.  Sweet eh?  The kids had small bags with an anatomically correct heart stamped on them and they filled them with their pick of random items.  If it was heavier than the feather they were devoured.  If it was lighter they were free to move on.  The kids thought it was great fun.
 Steve took a morning and went sandboarding.  The rest of us hung out for a wheel of fate activity followed by an irrigation challenge.  They were split into two villages and had to dig a canal and build a shaduf (a sort of lever inspired bucket lifting tool the ancient Egyptians built).  CJ's team won the challenge.
 Next they had crocodile hunting.  They had to chase after an inflatable crocodile down the river, bring it back to camp and put mud on its eyes.  After more free play in the water we changed into costumes and learned that the old Pharaoh died and there was a new one!
 We celebrated the new pharaoh with a big feast and a talent show.  I was proud of CJ for playing "Hot Cross Buns" on his recorder for the talent show and EMan for showing all the cool things he can do with silly putty.  What fun talents!  We also enjoyed a market with the group.  Everyone, according to their occupation, traded goods and services with each other.  At one point EMan became very popular because word got out that he was trading Swedish Fish candies.  Everyone wanted some of those!  CJ got lots of attention from others wanting his finger puppet lions, tigers, zebras and giraffes.  He also had a blow up monkey that he traded for a fancy necklace!
One of the games we played was called tug of hoop.  Using the crooks we made in class the point was to tug and twist the hoop away from the other person.  EMan LOVED this game and played it with everyone who was willing.  On another note: CJ found a bug, he must be a bug magnet!

Memorial Day Excitement

We had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend with family in Utah.  It was a wonderful experience to take my kids to the different locations where family headstones are and talk to them a little about our heritage and family members that lived before we did.
We also had a fantastic family reunion at my sisters house.  She has a fantastic yard that she's building into a natural playscape.  She has a path of logs buried into the ground that the kids love walking and playing on.  One of them is even painted with tic-tac-toe lines and cute little bug rocks are there ready to play.  CJ of course found a bug to show everyone, that is quite an interest of his!
 My sister confiscated all our phones at the start of the reunion.  I LOVE this idea.  Even though some family members felt violated having it taken away it took away any distractions they could have been while we all played and had fun together.  Speaking of playing and having fun: she drew a "Sorry!" board on her driveway with sidewalk chalk and we played life size Sorry!  It was such a hoot!  She also had dowels painted for jumbo size pick up sticks on the grass.  That was a ton a fun.
 We played tic-tac-toe on the log (another of CJ's favorite games) as well as lawn twister.  I've done lawn twister before, but with this many people playing we made the board a little bigger and included a side section that was for kids only. It was fun to play with family to see who could be the winner.  She also made a giant Kerplunk game with bamboo sticks and balls from a ball pit.  I'm not sure a family reunion in the future will ever hold up to this much fun.
 After all the fun we camped in tents in her backyard, had a yummy breakfast and visited our Nana who let the boys pick out teddy bears from her collection.  CJ got "Snuggles" and EMan got "Andy Panda".  They both love their teddy bears and held them close the whole car ride home. What a great time!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum and Records : The End of the Year

I have kept most of the work CJ has done for Kindergarten in a file box.  I’ll most likely only keep the binder contents after a couple of years.  Now that the school year is over his records book is completed. Here is what it contains: 
In the first pocket is an invitation from his birthday party and a picture craft he did.  Next are page protectors containing an outline of the curriculum we used throughout the year. 
 I keep these pages as a working document throughout the year and I add details as things pop up, as they always do.  I also have them hyperlinked so I can quickly remember the source and any evaluator can quickly see what I'm referring to.  It includes dates of completion and references to quantity of time in class, etc.
Here it is in the folder:
Next, there is a report card that is part of a K-5 series aligned with Common Core that I'll use each year.  I have a huge issue with Common Core (totally against it).  I don't use the report card to guide what we do, but it is nice to see what items we can improve on. 
After the report cards are the certificates and documents from completed programs and classes throughout the year. 
I've also included his vaccination record as well as a few doctor reports for my own organization.  There are also camp outlines and some art. The rest of the box contains his actual workbooks that he used throughout the year.  Like I mentioned earlier - I'll most likely only hang on to the blue folder after a couple years (most likely after EMan completes Kindergarten I'll get rid of it, but it'll be a nice reference for that).  I'm not required to keep work pages as documentation but if opting out of formal testing (I will be) it will be nice to show the evaluator what we've been up to. 
I like to date everything with a start/completion date for easy reference. That way I can sift through the papers and add dates to the first sheet if I forgot them and easily have date references to his learning.

It's so nice to have all these things organized and ready!  I can now say CJ is officially Graduated from Kindergarten.  Woo Hoo! Perhaps now I'll take the boys out for ice cream :).