Friday, February 21, 2014

Star Wars Phonics: Activity #1

One of the behaviors of autism spectrum disorder and Dabrowski's gifted overexcitabilities is hyperfocus and obsessions. Some frequent special interests are Legos, minecraft, Star Wars, Titanic, Subway, etc. It can be very difficult to redirect a child to anything outside of his interest.

So what's a mom to do?

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

One activity I have found that will capture my hyper-focused child's attention is to use word cards combined with Star Wars characters.

I downloaded some Star Wars printables from Teachers Notebook, cut out the characters, and glued them on construction paper. It would be great to have these laminated for durability.

For the activity, I put all the Abeka short vowel word cards on the floor and have my child make sentences. Sometimes we write extra words on paper; sometimes we just say any extra words that are needed.

"Darth Vader [chews] gum."

"Princess Leia met Luke Skywalker and zip[ped down] the hill."

Simple and effective.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Visual-Spatial Games

My children are interested in drafting, architecture, and engineering.

Here is my collection of visual-spatial exercises and games.

Ruler Game

Angle Identification Puzzles
Angle Rotation to Jewel

Jigsaw Puzzles
President Rotation Puzzle
Animal Puzzles
Customizable Jigsaw Puzzles

Tangram and Similar Puzzles
Place It Square Game

Tetris Puzzles
3D Tetris

Visual Spatial Test
Purdue Spatial Test

Visual Acuity
Stick Pattern Match
Color Puzzle

Construction Puzzles
Build a Rail Line

Cartesian Coordinate Games
Find the Alien
Shape Mods (This one is awesome!)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ice Storm: 4 Essentials You Don't Want to be Without

The weatherman had the audacity to use the ‘s’ word on the air: ‘snow’! Those of us around here in South Georgia and North Florida know that dem’s fightin’ words. It’s a Yankee invasion all over again. Gov. Deal has put in a diplomatic request for Minnesota to come get this stuff and take it back where it belongs, but I hear negotiations are icy.

I suppose we will have to prepare. Here is a list of essentials:

1) Bread, milk, and eggs.

Everyone knows that the most important thing anyone needs in an emergency is hefty supply of French toast. Please hurry to the store and buy them out. You might want to spring for some cinnamon and syrup, too. Oh, and maybe some powdered sugar.

2) Deodorant

Ice is heavy. It knocks over trees. Which knock over power lines. Which renders hot water heaters useless. Which leads to stinky people. Stock up on deodorant. Those with teenagers should grab at least three and double up on the French toast supplies, too.

3) Board games

You will need a fair way to determine who goes first when it’s time to resort to cannibalism. I recommend something fairly straight forward like Chutes and Ladders. Candyland would not be advisable here. When people are already salivating over you, you don’t want them thinking of food any more than they already are. If you have a significant knowledge of random information, you might want to aim for trivia-style games. Here’s where your expertise in sci-fi celebrities of the 1970s can really be helpful.

4) Flashlights

No matter the emergency, there is always a run on flashlights despite the fact that there was a run on them during the last emergency three months ago. Where did all the flashlights go? It’s simple. They shrank, just like wool sweaters and favorite jeans shrink. Between hurricane season and ice storms, while no one is looking, they migrate under the bed and slowly waste away. I hear this happens with snow shovels, too. Please help spread the word. Tool Migration Awareness benefits us all.

Dear reader, do be sensible, prepare, and act wisely. The Red Cross and other websites have great recommendations on what supplies you should have on hand during bad weather. Keep safe and stay warm.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Table for Nine

There is a new column in the Thomasville Townie called Table for Nine. Written by yours truly, it tells the tales and antics of my large family.

This first column is about how children change the laws of physics.

CLICK HERE TO READ! Page 2, Upper left.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Arbor Day Poster Contest

Every year the Thomasville Garden Club selects a school from which to invite children to participate in their Arbor Day Poster Contest. This year they chose *drum roll* HOMESCHOOLERS, grades K-3rd, in Thomas and neighboring counties.
There are even prizes! $15 for 1st place in each grade and $25 for the overall winner.

Here are some tips from the TGC:
Poster Tips  

1. A good poster has a bold and simple design.  
2. Its message is easily understood, and is delivered both in picture and in text.  
3. Try providing paper to children in order to initiate the program.  
4. Posters will be judged 20 percent each for: originality, design, slogan, artwork, and overall effectiveness of the message.  

Poster Ideas 

Have students think about how useful trees are for our community, our animal friends and for having fun.   

Many animals, such as birds, squirrels, raccoons and a variety of insects, spend much of their lives in trees. These animals are born in trees, live in trees, raise their young in trees and seldom come down to the ground. Trees provide them shelter from the weather and from enemies. Trees provide food in the form of fruits, nuts, leaves, bark, and roots. Even dead trees provide shelter and food for many insects. 

Many types of trees provide food for people too. Apples, pears, peaches and cherries come from trees, as do nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts. Trees make our world a nicer place. Image your neighborhood without trees. Parks and campgrounds would certainly not be the same without trees. We all love the sight of trees. 

The quality of our environment - the air, soil and water - depends on the roles trees play. Trees help create rain as they expel moisture into the atmosphere: their roots draw it from the soil and their leaves return it to the air. Trees clean the air we breathe by taking in carbon dioxide through the leaves and then giving off oxygen we need to breathe. If trees didn't breathe, neither could we. Roots help hold soil in place to prevent erosion which not only saves soil, but also keeps our waterways cleaner. You may have observed that water is usually cleaner when there is an abundance of trees. Trees provide shade in the summer to help cool our homes. In the winter, they block wind to help warm our homes. 

Then there is fun.  Climbing trees, swinging in tire swings, adventures under trees hiding from our friends and having a picnic in the shade of a tree. 

There are many ways to express how trees are useful other than cutting down and using it for lumber.   

Poster Rules  
1. All poster entrees must be sponsored by a local Garden Club.  
2. Posters must feature trees. 
3. Arbor Day posters must include the theme: Trees – How Useful They Can Be. 
4. Each entry should be 12 x 18 inches in size  (large construction paper is ideal for this). 
5. Materials that can be used include: crayons, markers, poster paints, water colors, etc. The choice of paper is up to the child.  
6. No three-dimensional posters, computer scanned, or electronically generated images will be accepted.  
7. Check for spelling.  Posters with misspelled words will be disqualified. 
8. Put the following information on the back of the poster in the lower-right corner: The artist’s name and grade.  If it is permissible, please include the teacher’s name, and the address, phone number, and email address for the artist and/or their parent or guardian. Be cautious if using a dark marker as it may show through. This information may be either written directly on the back of the poster or written on a separate sheet of paper that is then pasted in place.  
9. Posters are to be completed by individual student. 
10. Deadline is February 5, 2014 to the Thomasville Garden Club, Inc. representative 

What is Arbor Day? 

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton (1832-1902), a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan. Throughout his long and productive career, Morton worked to improve agricultural techniques in his adopted state and throughout the United States when he served as President Grover Cleveland's Secretary of Agriculture. But his most important legacy is Arbor Day.

Morton felt that Nebraska's landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees. He set an example himself planting orchards, shade trees and wind breaks on his own farm and he urged his neighbors to follow suit. Morton's real opportunity, though, arrived when he became a member of Nebraska's state board of agriculture. He proposed that a special day be set aside dedicated to tree planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees. 

Nebraska's first Arbor Day was an amazing success. More than one million trees were planted. A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and the young state made it an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22nd to coincide with Morton's birthday.

In the years following that first Arbor Day, Morton's idea spread beyond Nebraska with Kansas, Tennessee, Minnesota and Ohio all proclaiming their own Arbor Days. Today all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day with Georgia being the third Friday in February. At the federal level, in 1970, President Richard Nixon proclaimed the last Friday in April as National Arbor Day. Arbor Day is also now celebrated in other countries including Australia. Variations are celebrated as 'Greening Week' of Japan, 'The New Year's Days of Trees' in Israel, 'The Tree-loving Week' of Korea, 'The Reforestation Week' of Yugoslavia, 'The Students' Afforestation Day' of Iceland and 'The National Festival of Tree Planting' in India. Julius Sterling Morton would be proud. Sometimes one good idea can make a real difference.

For the homeowner, Arbor Day is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the trees on your property and plan for the future. Inspect your trees. Note any broken branches or evidence of disease or insect infestation. Think about how planting new trees might improve the look of your property or provide wind or heat protection. Take a trip to your local nursery to see what's available and to get new ideas. Walk around your neighborhood. Are there any public areas where tree planting or tree maintenance might make a real difference to your community? Talk with your neighbors. Find out what their opinions are. And, oh yes, plant a tree.

Thomasville Garden Club, Inc. Representative: 

Mary Tomlinson 
Arbor Day Poster Chairman 
Telephone:  229/226-6649 (Home) 
229/403-6046 (Cell) 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Victorian Fun!

American Heritage Girls Troop FL1230 (and siblings) visited the Thomas County Historical Society this week. They learned about the history of Thomas County and toured a log house, a middle class Victorian house, and bowled in an original private Victorian bowling alley.


Monday, January 13, 2014

January Sunflowers

The Cairo Homeschoolers are hopping this month! They don't let the cold keep
them down.

Students learned about Van Gogh and practiced painting sunflowers. Don't they look summery?


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Team Lean: The Ultimate Low-Calorie, Paleo, Vegan Meal

Stop the presses!

I've found the BEST meal ever!

Faux couscous.

Or better yet. Fouscous.

Oh, yes. Fouscous.

Couscous is made from semolina. It's like a noodle, but crumbly, if that makes any sense. It's really yummy, too, but our family is gluten-free, so wheat-based couscous is a no-go for us.

This stuff is made from cauliflower.

Cauliflower is crazy high in vitamin C, magnesium, B-6, and molybdenum. It's GREAT for you. Like most vegetables, it's really low in calories (only about 150 calories per head). I don't know about you, though, but that's not enough to make me eat it raw.

When I saw a similar recipe over at Melanie Johnson's blog, Antiquated Notions, I was torn. I despise raw cauliflower, but out of my love for and deprivation from couscous, I decided to give it a try. I developed this recipe for the stovetop and gave it a Northern African flavor (that's from where couscous originates).

Here we go!


1 head cauliflower
1 large onion
2T fat
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. corriander
2 pinches dried basil
1/8 tsp. garam masala

Chop one cauliflower and one large onion into small pieces. Pulse them in the food processor until it resembles small crumbles (couscous). Set aside until all of the cauliflower is crumbly.

Heat 2 T of your choice of fat (olive oil, coconut oil, butter, etc.). When it is melted, add 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic and the cauliflower/onion mixture. While cooking add 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 2 tsp. ground coriander seed, 2 pinches of dried basil, 1/8 tsp. garam masala (or just cloves, if you don't have garam masala). Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and fragrant (about 10 minutes).

And that's it.

For an extra punch of nutrients, add a side of collard greens. I found some pre-chopped last week and about did a dance in the store (I despise chopping greens even more than I despise eating raw cauliflower).

For extra protein, throw in some fava beans, or pintos or navy beans, if (like me) you don't have a local source for favas.

One batch of this feeds about 5 people, so for my crew, I make two heads. No one left the table hungry. You can absolutely STUFF yourself on this with minimal caloric impact. Eating a quarter of a batch would be about 80 calories. Add a side of greens, some beans, and you are set for the best low calorie meal ever!

This is a homeschooling blog, so here's the educational bit. Cauliflower is so called because the farmer ties the leaves up over the flower buds (the white part) to make it especially white. The leaves look like a hood, or caul, ergo CAUL-i-FLOWER.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dry Ice #10: Poppers!

This is the tenth segment in a series on dry ice experiments. CLICK HERE FOR SAFETY INFORMATION.

While the bubble volcano was the most impressive experiment we did, the poppers were the most fun. Each child got a small container; we used cocoa boxes, raisin canisters, anything that could hold liquid and had a semi-tight fitting lid.

Using sharp scissors (be careful, kids, don't run!), we cut a small (like in the lid. I then placed a small piece (1" long or less) piece of dry ice in the container and fill it with warm water. The lid was placed back on. That was cool enough because
the mist would shoot up through the hole. It looked like a steam engine (it's the Hogwarts Express!).

Then a child placed his finger over the hole. Pressure would build up and POP!! the lid would burst off enough to release the pressure. Once refitted, the entire sequence could begin again. The kids LOVED it. They each got their own, so there was no need to take turns.

Some kids even took the glycerine solution and made their own mini bubble volcanos.

Dry Ice #9: Bubble Volcano

This is the ninth segment in a series on dry ice experiments. CLICK HERE FOR SAFETY INFORMATION.

The other experiments were fun, but this one was by far the favorite! We made HUGE bubbles of mist that would then pop and shower and the table in clouds of vapor.

Combine in a small bowl or jar: 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup dish soap, and 1/4 cup glycerine (this can be petrol or vegetable based). This solution lasted us the entire day, and we did this experiment a LOT because it was so cool.

Place a sizeable chunk (at least 3-4 inches) in a large bowl. I used my baking bowl which is approximately
14" across. Pour warm water over the top. I did not measure how much water I used, I simply poured it from a pitcher until the mist was copious.

Dip a strip of cloth about 2 inches wide by the width of the bowl plus 8 inches long into the glycerine solution. Saturate it. Don't let it waste solution, but it should be slightly drippy.

Hold the strip taut and run it over the edge of the bowl. A bubble layer will form over the mouth of the bowl and begin to fill with mist. When the bubble layer reaches it limit, it will erupt with mist. It's very impressive to watch!

Monday, January 6, 2014

YouTube Connection: Kids Zumba

It can be hard to exercise when you have children. They easiest solution I have found is to exercise with them. My children and  I enjoy hiking, walking (urban hiking), swimming, and now KIDS ZUMBA!

We sent YouTube to the television and did a few videos at home. Then
Photo courtesy of Thomasville YMCA
we went to Kids Zumba at the Thomasville YMCA. It was sooo much fun, and Jenny did a great job leading the class. She has such an engaging personality, and she was able to keep the attention of all of the children for 50 minutes! That's an impressive feat! If you want to join us, check out the schedule here. Kids Zumba is on Monday at 4:30, in the Community Room. 

Here's a selection of videos for you to enjoy. Just push back the couch and chairs, call the kids, and have a great time bustin' a move together! 

I'm a Gummy Bear-- this is Daniel's favorite

Hamster Dance

What Does the Fox Say?

Not Zumba, but still fun: The Sid Shuffle

Reed Bingham Science Programs

Reed Bingham State Park is hosting Homeschool Days.

On these days, the interpretive rangers will give programs on various naturalist topics.

January 10
Introduction to Adaptations

February 14
Adaptation of Reptiles and Amphibians

Session 1
Students ages 9 and under
10am to 12pm

Session 2
Students ages 10 and up
1pm to 3pm

They only cost $3.00 per child (wow!!) + $5 parking
For more info contact:
Tanner Ueltzen
Interpretive Ranger
Reed Bingham State Park

Thanks to Sherry Titus-Daughtry for the scoop!

Friday, January 3, 2014

FRIENDS in Bainbridge

Here is another co-op in Bainbridge, but I am not certain that it is active.

They have a Yahoo board at:

Contact: Tonya Austinson,, 229-246-5419

I will attempt to make contact and update the post.

UPDATE: This group is no longer active. They have joined Port City Academics.

Port City Academics

For those of you in Bainbridge, Georgia, Port City Academics is an active and vibrant homeschooling co-op for upper elementary, middle, and high school students (and siblings, if accompanies by a parent).

Meetings are every Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Mason Lodge at 627 Louise Street, Bainbridge, GA, 39819, starting in September.

They will have academic opportunities and special events, such as drama, literature studies, science and social studies fairs, field trips, prom, and an end-of-the-year recognition program.

There is no charge, but they will be doing fundraisers throughout the year.

If you are interested in joining, please email Laura Hall. 

Homeschool Groups! Let's Link-Up

People frequently asks us for information on area homeschool groups. We'd like to add a tab at the top of the page for those looking for information on homeschool groups, particularly those in the Tallahassee/Wakulla/Monticello area. If you are involved in a group and would like to share your information, please complete the following form, and we will add it to the tab. We're interested in Classical Conversations groups, religious and secular co-ops, websites and Facebook groups, whatever information you would like to pass on.