Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Trash to Treasure

A couple weeks ago, the boys brought home some items they found by the dumpster. An old wagon, some boards, and a discarded car seat. They were determined to build a "go-cart" from them. Collin thought it was a good idea to lend a hand.

There has been talk of adding a motor to it. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cooking with Boys...Kentucky Apple Cake

As I have mentioned before, my boys love to cook. Especially Thane. He wants to be a Pastry Chef when he grows up. I want to nurture their love and enthusiasm for cooking/baking so I let them help me in the kitchen often. I've tossed around the idea of creating something with them, once a week, and blogging about it, but you know what they say about good intentions and I am not about to go "there". We'll see how it goes.

Collin's Mom (Hi Janie!) makes the most delicious apple cake with rich cream cheese frosting. I was so excited when she shared the recipe with me and I hope YOU will be excited that I am sharing the recipe with YOU!

Kentucky Apple Cake
Beat: 2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
Set aside

Sift: 2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
Add to egg mixture slowly

Mix 1 can Wilderness Apple Pie Filling to batter
Pour batter into a 9x12 or 9x13 pan that has been greased & floured.
Bake at 345 degrees 40 minutes or until done. If you use a glass pan
lower temp to 325.

These are all of the ingredients you will need.

This is the first part of the recipe before it is beaten.

Thane is beating it. Such concentration!

Thane learned the reason for sifting flour and how to do it.

He just added the cinnamon without sifting it. No harm done.

After we slowly added the sifted dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and beat it, this is what it looked like. It was REALLY thick. I mean REALLY thick. Made me a bit nervous.

One of the privileges of being a cook!

Next, Thane added the can of apple pie filling. We couldn't find the Wilderness brand, so we used Comstock (210z.). He figured out that by using the spatula, he could get the majority of the filling out of the can and not waste it! Lots of learning going on.

Not sure if we were to beat the apple pie filling in, but we did. Now it was looking more like batter. I felt better.

While the cake was in the oven doing its thing, we made the cream cheese frosting.

Kentucky Apple Cake Cream Cheese Frosting

Mix: 2 3oz packages of cream cheese (room temp)
1 tsp soft butter (room temp)
2 cups powdered sugar (you may need to sift this)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix with a hand mixer and spread on cooled cake.

These are the ingredients needed for the most yummy frosting.

Thane learned about "leveling off" the dry ingredients in the measuring cups.

Mixing up the ingredients.

Good stuff! Seriously good stuff.

Thane's 2nd Grade Picks

It's hard for me to think of my baby being in second grade, but he is.

Thane and Magnus (4th grade) will continue doing this subject together. We're going to continue with US History focusing on the people and events after the Revolutionary War but before the Civil War. We'll be using the Time Traveler Early 19th Century cd from Homeschool in the Woods as our spine. The boys really enjoyed the projects as we worked through the Colonial Times and The Revolutionary War cds last year. I am sure this one will not disappoint either. We're going to stretch it out to last the whole year by adding in lots of books and videos and by doing more in-depth studies on American Indians, Lewis and Clark, the Pioneers, and CA State history.

Thane and Magnus will continue doing this subject together. We're finally going to get to the Human Body unit I put together a couple of years ago. I'm in the middle of planning an Earth science unit that will include a large amount of geology.

The boys will also be working on this subject together. We're going to continue with the Math Mammoth Blue Series. I had thrown around the idea of using Right Start Level D, but I think I am going to give Teaching Textbooks 3 a try. It won't be our "main math", but will be a nice change from worksheets. We will also continue reading books from the large list of books from Living Math and playing lots of games for reinforcement.

Language Arts
This gets tricky with Thane. Towards the end of last year, I suspected some of his reading troubles were due to dyslexia. After much research and speaking to a couple of ladies who specialize (as in are educated) in dyslexia, I am convinced that to be the case, but only mild. I've decided to abandon all of our curricula that teaches phonics with rules and use ABeCeDarian.
Here are some of it's key features:
  • Explicit, comprehensive multisensory phonics instruction
  • Sound blending and segmenting explicitly taught and practiced
  • Letter/Sound correspondences taught in the context of reading and spelling words
  • Letter sounds taught before letter names
  • Code knowledge organized by sounds with engaging sorting activities
  • No rules!
  • Precise practice routines and error correction procedures
  • Integrated handwriting and spelling instruction
  • Expert oral reading fluency practice
Besides the key features listed above, I like that it teaches reading through patterns. Thane "sees" things in patterns so I am hoping that reading will just click for him this year.

We're also going to be using the ARI 1 Level of the I See Sam readers.

He is also going to be learning cursive through the Handwriting Without Tears program to aid in the many letter reversals he does.

Once he is reading fluently, we'll continue with All About Spelling and Explode the Code.

We started using the Atelier Art dvd program last year and the boys really enjoyed it. They liked seeing the work the kids did as they were working through their lessons. We'll also include art lessons from Artistic Pursuits and Discovering Great Artists.

I haven't decided which artists we are going to study this year, but we'll continue with our picture study too.

Other Stuff
Mindbenders, Building Thinking Skills, and Typing.

Gymnastics, Swimming, and AWANA.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cake Challenge Our Way

While we were visiting my family in IA, the boys got hooked on watching The Food Network Challenge Show and Cupcake Wars. Thane has wanted to be a chef since he was 5 but now he has narrowed it down to becoming a Pastry Chef. He also wants to compete on the shows for a chance to win the $10,000 prize. What better way to practice your skills than to have your won challenge at home!
Meet the contestants...

Chef Thane and Chef Magnus

Each Chef was in charge of mixing up a box of cake batter and distributing it into the proper pans. Thane made 2 9 in. round cakes and Magnus made 12 cupcakes and 2 small bundt cakes.

Each Chef was then given the same supplies...

...and access the all of this yummy goodness for decorating...

The competition was a close one...

Magnus filled his cupcakes.

Thane topped his cakes with lots of candy.

We even had some things go wrong...

Creative minds were at work...

And in the end...

...the mess was worth it!

Travel Kits...A TOS Crew Review

***Disclaimer: I received the following product as a member of TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.***

What do you think of when you hear the word "summer"? I think of trips to the beach, plane rides to Iowa, and car trips to Washington. This is the time of year when many people pack up and head out.

Our neighbor is doing just that. They are taking off for a week and heading south to Los Angeles. I had a light-bulb moment when she mentioned to me being a bit nervous about keeping her 3 year old occupied on the 6 hour trip. "I'll put together a Travel Kit for Maya!"

"What is a Travel Kit", you ask? Well, a Travel Kit is a simple way to bless others! It's a group of items, given to someone in a creative way, that will enhance their trip in a thoughtful way. Curious? Then I encourage you to check out this E-Book, Travel Kits: A Simple Way To Bless Others, published by The Old Schoolhouse.

This E-Book is FULL of great ideas for items to include in the kit:
*Gifts for Boys such as toy cars, yo-yo's, cowboy hats, etc.
*Gifts for Girls such as jewelry, stationery, stickers, etc.
*Gifts for Moms such as favorite candy, travel pillow, materials for knitting, etc.
*Gifts for Dad such as gift card to Starbucks, cd, maps, etc.

This E-Book is FULL of creative way to package the items:
*Use a plastic bucket if the family is heading to the beach.
*Use a decorated gift bag.
*Use a box covered with wrapping paper.

This E-Book is FULL of fun ways to distribute the items, ideas for theme kits, helpful websites, and pages with tips from other travelers. Oh, and if you are a visual person, you'll like this E-Book. There are clear, colored, pictures of example kits, gifts, packaging on just about every page. I really appreciated that!

The author gave several examples of places to find the items to place inside your travel kit. You don't have to spend a small fortune either. I found most of the items for Maya's Travel Kit in the $1 section at Target and Micheal's, around the house, and even at a thrift store.

The boys and I decided to wrap some of the gifts to make it more fun for her. After all, who doesn't like opening presents?!?

Maya was very excited to receive her Travel Kit. It felt good to be a blessing to her and to her parents! I am thankful for the wonderful ideas this E-book provided. If you'd like to bless others through giving Travel Kits, I encourage you to download the 93 page Travel Kit E-book for $12.45 found at The Old Schoolhouse Store.

Click here to read what others are saying!