Sunday, September 28, 2014

Nihil, or what we accomplished this week...

Have you ever had weeks like this?  Weeks where you feel you accomplished nothing-zilch-nada (or, in Latin, nihil)?

That would be the kind of week we had. Not only that, but it's taken me almost entire week to write about it.

The reality is that we did accomplish some stuff, even in a week when I feel like we didn't. For instance, we had three school days completely tied up in all-day rehearsals and performances.

But that left us with only one day for our "normal" school work. And any week you have just one day for "normal" school work, it's not a very "normal" school day. (At least that's our experience.)

Matter of fact, it was this week that I decided that some of our scheduled reading will be best-suited for Christmas break.

The current plan is to come back to Everything You Need to Know about American History HomeworkA Presidential Scrapbook, and Star-Spangled State Book during Christmas break. For us, it will be better to use these as a review during November and December (and beyond).

This week, we switched our reading plan a bit to accommodate for our crazy drama schedule.

We decided to set aside The Cabin Faced West for now due to time constraints and instead used Phoebe the Spy as our family read aloud (which was read partly by me, partly by Stephen). On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being "I didn't like it" to 5 being "I loved it") David rated it 1,000. David also read George Washington And The General's Dog (not pictured because I have already misplaced it) and George Washington -- Soldier, Hero, President out loud. Stephen's independent reading included Guns for General Washington: A Story of the American Revolution (which he is still working on because he was distracted by other reading material, like the new Answers in Genesis magazine he found in the mailbox). We read A Picture Book of George Washington and about half of If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution, which we'll come back to later in the year when we memorize the Preamble and Bill of Rights. We also had a Magic School Bus book, but now I'm not sure if we actually read it. (Perhaps these memory lapses are due to lack of sleep? Isaac just started teething, and we've had a few rough nights. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Gary gets home Thursday!) 

Without my prompting, the boys started reading Pop-up Facts Human Body, which contains pull tabs, flaps, wheels, and other fun interactive pieces. (We originally bought this from a used book store, and it has since been a favorite.)

On Monday (our only "normal' school day for the past two weeks), we started using Comic Illustration Pages...

...and a quick new multiplication drill sheet. {More about this soon! Until then, you can download the drill sheet here.}

I also started using Timeline Thumbnails because I have struggled so much with memorizing timeline. {More about this soon! Until then, you can download a Timeline Thumbnail Template here.}

David continued practicing the states & capitals with our states & capitals file folder game.

And that's about it! After two weeks of juggling the Homeschool Dramatic Society, we cranked back up our "normal" routine with these few activities and our core work (math + Essentials), which included some last-minute, throw-it-together very well thought-out presentations for our Tuesday CC classes.

Now that we've had two weeks off, I'm ready to have a week off. Thank goodness fall break is just around the corner!

This post contains affiliate links.  

Blacklight Puppet Ministry

This year marks Stephen's second year as a member of our church's blacklight puppet team…

Stephen operates the head of a 7-foot-tall puppet manipulated by two team members!
In February 2010, as we adjusted from a city of millions to a county of about 20,000 people, we were absolutely amazed to find a puppet ministry like this here in rural middle Tennessee. We'd never seen anything quite like it, not even in Houston! The life-sized puppets are handmade by the church members, and the pastor's wife is the creator and director of the program and the concept/design for the puppets. She spends hundreds of hours preparing for this 40-minute program.  


Although this is actually an entire program with skits, you can find the songs from previous puppet shows at the Big Image Puppet Youtube Channel. The following five videos are those in which Stephen performed!

Free (a beautiful ocean scene)

Stomp (this is the one with the 7-foot puppet)

Below are links to a couple of our favorite songs from puppet shows across the past few years:

You can watch several more of our church's fun backlight puppet videos by clicking here.  

You are invited!

We invite you to join us at our next annual blacklight puppet show at Carthage Full Gospel Church in Carthage, TN, on Sunday, October 26 and November 2, 2014 at 6:00 PMIf you happen to live within an hour's drive of the following address and are not busy on one of these evenings, we would love for you to be our guest at a quaint little church under a bridge in rural middle Tennessee. Seating starts at 5:15PM on a first-come basis. If you plan to come, feel free to shoot me an email so we can be on the look-out for you!

109 First Avenue West
Carthage, TN 37030

View Larger Map

Cycle 3 Week 9 Weekly Link-Up

The Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weekly Link-up is a place for bloggers to share their ideas and activities with other CC parents and tutors for each week during Cycle 3 (2014-2015 school year). Unlike most weekly link-ups, this link-up will not be organized according to date but will be organized according to the week of CC. As such, these weekly link-ups will remain open for several months to accommodate for all the different schedules implemented by various CC Communities.  

This Link-Up is for Cycle 3:  Week 9

If you are looking for a different week, click here.

If you are looking for the Cycle 2 Weekly Link-Up, click here.
If you are looking for the Cycle 1 Weekly Link-Up, click here.

For bloggers who'd like a button, just copy and
paste the following html code into your webpage.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

<a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood" width="225" height="225" /></a>

Would you like to participate? 
For bloggers:  Feel free to share either 1) your plans for the week listed above or 2) what you did for this particular week of CC. When submitting your entry, please include the name of your blog or blog post and link directly to your post for the week noted in the post heading (so we can find it!) rather than to your entire blog. Also please link back to this page in your blog post so that your readers can check others' websites who are participating as well.  My hope is that this link-up encourages a feeling of community and friendship in the CC blogging world.

For non-bloggers:  Bookmark or pin this page and remember to visit the fabulous Cycle 3 blog entries that will be posted in the near future - all kinds of ideas for supplementing Classical Conversations. Check back often to see if others have submitted their ideas!

Bloggers:  By participating in this link-up, you agree that you will not post the words (in text, audio, or video format) of the history, science, timeline, or other specific wording found within the Foundations Guide in your blog post. You also agree to not post links to youtube videos, on-line Quizlet flashcards, or other material containing memory work sentences from the Foundations Guide.  Please do not post any material you have downloaded from CC Connected if it is not your own creation. You may include a reference to a specific file you have found useful by stating the name of the file so that it may be searched on CC Connected. This website strives to maintain the highest degree of integrity in honoring copyrights owned by Classical Conversations (or any other person or company, for that matter). Thank you for being honorable and trustworthy in your participation in this link-up!

This link-up is intended to be used with the Foundations Guide 4th Edition.  

For those receiving this in your email inbox, just click on the heading of this post to access the "Add Your Link" button or to access links that have been submitted. (But be patient, as it will take some time for bloggers to get their posts written and their links up!)

This will help all of us to easily find the ideas others have shared for each week of Classical Conversations! Thank you for participating!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Comic Illustration Pages {Free Notebooking Printables}

As we incorporate a few new notebooking techniques into our studies, we wanted to share our comic illustration pages in hopes that they're a helpful tool for other comic-crazed children (or parents).  I've found this to be more motivating for our children than our typical copywork...

These pages can be used for just about any memory work or copywork, as long as a picture can be associated with it. I've also thought about printing the pages on card stock and cutting out their finished work to provide us with history or science "flashcards" for our youngest.

Here are the download options:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lego Room Makeover: Our Storage Solution

I have to admit it.  LEGOs make me crazy.  Well, LEGOs themselves don't make me crazy, but the mess associated with them does. Those of you who have LEGO-crazed children may identify?  Or at least you might know what it's like to step on one of those cute little mini-figures in the middle of the night?

I'm not sure which one hurts most:  the pain or the insanity.  Oh, how I have racked my brain to come up with a plan for these thousands of LEGOs that litter the floors of our home!

To add to the dilemma, we have a child who is growing into a man. Imagine how ludicrous it looks to have him building LEGOs at a table meant for toddlers. But... we haven't really known how to approach a bedroom re-design. What if he drops his interest in LEGOs? Or perhaps he really will pursue a career in LEGO design and becomes a genuine Master Builder? In an effort to make a not-so-cute-and-cuddly LEGO room that can grow with him, we opted for a different kind of design.

After I researched and pieced together my ideas (with the help of my fabulous husband!), Stephen ended up with a workshop in his bedroom.

(Now Gary is feeling a bit jealous.)

So, what do we have here?  First, two Gladiator Tool Cabinets,* along with a coordinating 8-foot maple workbench and super duper power strip that keeps the LEGOs from sliding behind the workbench.

Inside the cabinets, we have several Sterilite containers to store LEGOs by theme (e.g., Star Wars). Twelve Sterilite Large Clip Box (3.2" deep) with Blue Aquarium Latches will fit in each cabinet (although there is enough room on each shelf to use a 3.2" container stacked on top of a deeper 6.2" container).

Our 11-year-old prefers to sort his LEGOs by theme when he can determine which pieces belong to which sets. When he can't, we sort them by color with Akro-Mils 30230 Plastic Storage Stacking Hanging Akro Bin, 11-Inch by 5-Inch by 5-Inch, Black, Case of 12, which hangs on two Akro-Mils 30148 48-Inch Steel Rails for Mounting AkroBins.

These are so fantastic! The boys easily lift off the baskets to set on the workbench while they are building a LEGO creation. (And even though it's just as easy to hang them back up, I can't say it's as easy to make it a habit to do so.)

I found these great LEGO blueprint-style posters for a bit of inspiration.
And a set of metal barstools for sitting at the new LEGO workstation.

But, our son is not limited in his construct-something toys...

He also enjoys his K'nex motorized creations, like this Giant 6' Double Ferris Wheel he built for the county fair this year. Fortunately, K'nex building supplies are much easier to sort than LEGOs. 

The K'nex pieces are set up in his "chest of drawers," which is a Craftsman tool chest that we bought each of the boys a few years ago instead of investing in regular furniture. 

So what does the rest of his room look like?

His formerly ocean-themed room still includes a Titanic that looms over his new study area.

We kept the bunk bed so the boys can still use the top bunk to climb up and fiddle with the model train that circles through their rooms.

Well, maybe it doesn't look quite like this anymore. But this is what it would look like if he actually cleaned up his room. Evidently, a bedroom redesign doesn't fix that problem!

Nevertheless... finally, we have a storage solution that works for all of us!

...and the minifigures lived happily ever after.

For reference, here's a list of what we used in this LEGO room makeover:

Akro-Mils 30230 Plastic Storage Stacking Hanging Akro Bin, 11-Inch by 5-Inch by 5-Inch, Black, Case of 12
Akro-Mils 30148 48-Inch Steel Rail for Mounting AkroBins, Grey
Gladiator GAGB28FDYG Full Door Gear Box EZ RTA*
Gladiator GAWB08MTZG 8-Feet Adjustable Height Maple Work Bench
Gladiator GAAC68PSXG Powerstrip for 6-Feet or 8-Feet Work Bench
Metal Bar Stools Set of 2 Vintage Antique Style Counter Bar Stool French Black
LEGO POSTER Toy Building Construction Blocks 1961 US Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" Legos Gift Chalkboard Reproduction The Lego Movie
LEGO MINIFIGURE Poster Toy Building Construction Blocks 1979 US Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" Mini Figure Gift Chalkboard Reproduction The Lego Movie
LEGO MINIFIGURE Poster Toy Building Construction Blocks 1979 Patent Poster Print 18" x 24" MiniFig Gift Blackboard Isometric Drawing Reproduction The Lego Movie

*There are two negative reviews for these cabinets on Amazon, but this exact same model is rated highly rated on We encountered no problems during assembly. The cabinets are not flimsy and will hold more than just shop towels (but we have not tested their durability with heavy equipment).

This post contains affiliate links.  Please read our full disclosure policy for more information.