Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Interests + Opportunities = Electives {Homeschooling High School}

When I talked last month about Making High School Plans, I hinted that I'd be sharing the fun part of picking high school classes this month -- electives. For the most part, I've given Addison a lot of freedom to choose (or create) elective courses that fit her interests and the opportunities she's had over the past few years.

One of Addison's biggest interests is music. She sang with the Tucson Girls Chorus for the first three years of high school. For her freshman year, she added an online music theory program to her chorus rehearsals to create a class named "Music Theory and Performance." For her sophomore year, we created a "Music History and Performance" class using the Discovering Music multi-media course by Carol Reynolds, PhD. Her rehearsal schedule increased quite a bit this past year as did her volunteer time spent with a younger choir, so I counted that time as sufficient for a full credit of "Music Performance."

Her participation in the Tucson Girls Chorus led to an amazing opportunity this past year. They were invited to travel and perform in China for three weeks this past summer. Since she had some extra time in her school schedule, she started studying Chinese using Middlebury Languages for a semester. She didn't know a lot of Chinese, but she knew enough to be somewhat useful on a few occasions. She's particularly proud of the night when she helped one of her friends ask if the dumplings she was ordering were meat-filled or vegetarian.

Perhaps the best thing she learned from her Chinese studies was how to write her name in Chinese characters. I noticed them on her luggage tag when they were leaving on the trip.

Later she told us about an evening when the girls were all signing autographs after their concert. Several young Chinese girls approached her asking for her autograph. She wrote her name in English and then thought to write down the characters. The girls looked at it and then suddenly realized that they could actually read what she had written. They sounded it out and started cheering for "A-dis-son." It's perhaps her favorite memory from the trip.

I'm thankful that homeschooling allowed Addison to follow her interests and to take advantage of all the opportunities she found along the way. It's perhaps just a nice bonus that her work could count as high school credit on her transcript.

Homeschooling High School Blog Hop 2015

You can read more about High School Electives by visiting some of my friends:

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Expanders {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Our family loves playing games -- card games, video games, or board games. We recently added the Expanders board game from SimplyFun to our collection.

Expanders looked easy when we took it out of the box but is actually quite challenging. The point of the game is to get rid of all of your colored markers by covering up numbers on the board. On each turn, you can either cover any single number, any pair of numbers that match, or expand a number. A number is expanded by placing a marker on a number and then also placing markers on adjoining numbers that add up to the original number. For instance, the number twelve can be expanded to be five plus four plus two plus one. That move would allow you to place five markers on the board in a single turn.

The big catch to Expanders is that all markers must be placed so that they join another marker of the same color (or the matching color side). Each turn must balance the two goals of placing markers and/or claiming territory on the board to use for future turns.

As you can see, the rest of the players managed to keep the pink player stuck in one area which made it more difficult for her to place new markers.

I was very impressed with the thought that went into developing this game. Instead of having a single board to use, the board comes as pieces to assemble. The numbers are printed on long thin strips which fit into the colored outside frame. When Lauren and I played a two player game, we only used four number strips and two blank strips which gave us only eight lines of numbers to use. During our four player game, we used six strips and therefore had a full twelve lines of numbers to work with.

In addition, the number strips reverse from smaller (one-digit) numbers to strips with numbers up to twelve on each strip. The difference isn't very significant in terms of difficulty, but it did give us a chance to switch up our thinking between games.

Lauren mentioned at one point that she wished there was a similar game that allowed her to do multiplication or other mathematical operations instead of always doing addition for the expanded numbers. I wonder if an expansion set with larger numbers that could be factored would work.

I enjoyed working with the smaller numbers because it gave me an opportunity to focus both on the possibilities and on board position. In the game I took a picture of above, I was using the orange markers and won because I managed to use as many small numbers as I could find and to spread out all over my side of the board.

Expanders has been a great addition to our game collection, and I look forward to using it on our homeschool game days in the fall. Math plus logic plus fun equals a real win for our family!

Expanders costs $34 and is recommended ages 7 and up. The directions say that it can be played by 1-4 players, but I struggle to figure out how to make it work when I was playing solitaire. Each game lasts approximately 20 minutes.

Simply Fun Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Family Fun {July Blogging Challenge}

At first glance, this picture could be used to illustrate just how technologically addicted many modern families are.

Yes, that is four members of my family sitting in the same room, each holding a different iDevice. There were actually six of us tonight.

We weren't wrapped up in our own little worlds like many people may wrongly assume, though.

We were laughing hysterically playing one of our new favorite games -- Fibbage!

Brennan bought the Fibbage game to play on his Xbox. We use our iDevices to answer trivia-style questions with lies that we hope other people would pick as the truth.

I haven't played something this funny in a long, long time.

Please note: Some families, especially families with young children, might not want to play a game that glorifies being good liar. I also cannot guarantee that all the questions are appropriate for young children. The ones I've seen with adult content usually go right over Lauren's head, though.

July Blogging Challenge

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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Favorite Indulgences {July Blogging Challenge}

I usually think of rich, decadent desserts when I think of indulgences. Unfortunately, food allergies and type 1 diabetes mean that I rarely indulge in much dessert. My treats are carefully chosen to give me the most satisfaction with a reasonable amount of carbs.

At home, I nearly always have a jar of Peanut Butter & Co. White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter stashed in my room. I also sometimes keep a package of Junior Mints in the freezer so that I have a stash of chocolate on hand. Another favorite chocolate treat are individual packages of frozen chocolate covered strawberries (made by Dole, I think).

Last week I made an amazing new discovery:

I bought a bag of these chocolate squares when I was shopping for our trip. Each square only has five grand of carbs, and therefore I can enjoy it without worrying about sending my blood sugar through the roof. The squares are small, but not tiny. While in the middle of a long day's drive, I nibbled on one for nearly half an hour. It might have been one of my favorite stretches of the road trip that day.

July Blogging Challenge

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Reads {July Blogging Challenge}

I haven't had a chance to do much reading so far this summer, but I have a lot that I'm planning to read.

I took pictures of the books that I'm dragging along on my vacation road trip this week.

Getting a head start on school reading for next fall:

The book we were sharing for Ladies' Bible discussion group this summer:

July Blogging Challenge

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Way Back When {July Blogging Challenge}

When we moved to Arizona three years ago, we spent a few week staying in the TLFs (Temporary Lodging Facilities) on base. During that time, we started back to school -- first, sixth, and ninth grades. I took some First Day of School pictures on the playground near our TLF room.

For the past few days, we've been back in the TLFs. The playground is now covered, but otherwise looks the same as it did back then.

The kids, however, have changed quite a bit.

Brennan's grown a lot!

Addison wasn't here to take a "three years later" picture because she's studying at Oklahoma Christian University's Honors Summer Academy this week. I'll include the old picture so she doesn't feel left out.

Sime of my blogging friends are sharing way-back pictures today, and I'm having fun seeing them when they were just kids. Click the button below if you want to see.

July Blogging Challenge

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action! {July Blogging Challenge}

If you read the title and got your hopes up thinking that you'd see an awesome movie that I filmed today, I'm sorry to disappoint you. No videos today, but I do have lots of still pictures to share. 

It's a peek into our day, a rather busy day spent finishing up the last things on our moving to-do list.

Early morning run:

Breakfast of diabetic champions:

Lauren's breakfast on-the-go:

Thankful for coffee and an umbrella:

Last blood draw in Arizona:

A few groceries for the road:

Squeezing in a play date:

Quick stop for kindness stickers:


Singing at church:

Selfie with Lauren and one of the cuties in the Bible class I helped with:

The girls:

Sweet dreams:

July Blogging Challenge

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