Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Middle School Monday - Christmas Break

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Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! Except that today is Tuesday, I know. Here's the thing - we are taking an extended break for Christmas this year, and despite my best intentions I didn't get this ready to post yesterday. But I am going to leave this link-up open to the end of the month, because there's a good chance I won't get anything ready to post next week either.

On Saturday, I took Kennady to the dress rehearsal for the Children's Chorus Winter Celebration concert.


 The concert on Sunday was beautiful, but I find it hard to get decent pictures with my simple camera.  This one is a bit fuzzy, but you can see Kennady in the back row, third from the right.


 Yesterday we picked up my parents from the airport (thus my absence from my blog!) and they will be here until the first week of January, so I don't plan for us to get much school done over the next couple of weeks. Although we will be going to a cabin for a few days, so it's very likely that we'll have some field trips and phys.ed. things to count as school, and probably Kennady will take along some of her reading for school as well.

During our Christmas break, she will also be doing some artwork - she has been asked to do a "live" drawing of a manger scene for the Christmas Eve service, which is pretty exciting and an interesting challenge!

How much time off will you have over the holidays? Are there Christmas activities you do that will "count" as school? Leave a comment and let me know!

Each week I invite bloggers to share their posts about middle school here on Middle School Monday. The link is open through Friday, and I will do my best to visit, comment, and share your posts. Please grab the Middle School Monday button to add to your post or to your sidebar when you leave your link below, and please visit the other links and comment or share. I look forward to seeing what you and your middle schoolers are doing!
Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

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This post will (hopefully) also be linked at the Finishing Strong weekly link-up hosted by Education Possible.
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 ©2006-2014 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Christmas Decorating PhotoJournal

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You know all the crafty, homemaking websites and magazines that show immaculately clean homes all decked out in gorgeous holiday array? Yeah, those pictures were not taken at my house. And probably won't be either. But we do like to deck our halls, or at least our living room, and when Stacie at Super Mommy to the Rescue invited homeschool bloggers to share pictures of their Christmas trees and decorations in a link-up, I decided to show a few of ours. 

My attempts at photos of our Christmas tree don't actually do it justice, in my opinion. We put the tree almost in the doorway between our living room and front entry. We hardly ever use the front door, or that room entry so it's a good spot because the tree can be seen from almost all the way around.  Here are a couple shots seen from the living room side -
   

-and here it is seen from the entry side. Our coat closet and stairs are at that doorway, so we do see the tree from this side, even though we don't go through the doors there. As you can see, I don't put quite as much on this side - the bows and snowflakes are all for the other side.

I used to think a theme for ornaments would be great, but I could never stick to just one theme. Overall, I try to keep to red and white. We have a very large collection of Coca-Cola ornaments; quite a few sports team ornaments; and we're starting to add Tim Horton's coffee themed ornaments as well.
Most years we take a family vacation late in the fall, and we like to pick up an ornament to add to our tree. You can see a couple of mementos from Disney vacations in the collage above, as well as a souvenir from one of the vacations to Canada. (Truth is, the Tim Horton's ornaments come from Canada too!) This woodcut nativity scene is from a trip to Florida that included a visit to St Augustine.

This, however, is my favorite nativity. It is styled after African wood carvings. I love how Joseph is holding the infant Jesus up - it conveys such joy!

This music box remains a favorite holiday decoration too. It is a lighthouse (yes, it does light up) that plays "I Saw Three Ships", and the lighthouse keeper bears a striking resemblance to St Nick.

This year we have a real fir wreath on our front door. It really needs a spotlight on it, but we haven't got that rigged up yet.
We also have a Moravian star on the front porch. I was first introduced to these when I was hired as a church pianist for a small Moravian congregation when we first moved to Maryland. We live fairly  close to Graceham Moravian Church, which was founded in 1746, so these stars are often seen in this area.







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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Virtual Refrigerator - Fleece Wreaths

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Welcome to another edition of the Virtual Refrigerator! This weekly blog hop is co-hosted by A Glimpse of Our LifeHomeschool Coffee Break, and Every Bed of Roses. We all cordially invite you to add your link sharing the art that's on your Virtual Refrigerator and then hop over to the other blogs and admire what's on their Fridges! 
   
December's Art Challenge: Christmas
The hosts of the Virtual Refrigerator put our heads together and decided to give a themed challenge to each other and to our readers each month. For December, the theme is Christmas, and we're sure that we and all our participants will have plenty of ideas for related art projects to share! We'll be featuring themed submissions to the Fridge as we go along. Please continue to share any art posts on our Virtual Fridge as well - we love seeing all of them! - and we hope the theme provides a little additional challenge and inspiration!

A couple weeks ago I shared the Fleece Wreath we worked on as a preview to the Christmas Craft Breakfast. And I said I would update it, so here I am to do just that!  Here is that first wreath we made, all finished:


And a recap of the instructions:
I bought a bargain fleece blanket at WalMart (under $3) and we cut strips from that - about 1-1/2 inches by 6 inches. Kennady had prepared a wire hanger as the frame by bending it into a circle shape. Then she tied the fleece strips onto the hanger (just simple knots) and pushed them together to make it full. We think we used around 100 strips. Once the hanger was completely covered with the fleece strips, we bent the hook part into a circle so it's a built-in hanging loop for the wreath. We thought about covering it with ribbon or yarn that matches the fleece, which is a good idea to make it more finished-looking, but it's not absolutely necessary. Our bow is from the dollar store - the decorator bows with a twist tie fastener on the back. We were ready for the Christmas Craft Breakfast!






Before the Craft Breakfast, Kennady and I cut some holiday print fleece blankets into strips, and put them in bags of about 100 each. We also bent wire coat hangers into circles, and DH helped us bend the hook of each hanger into a loop. These hangers were a heavier gauge, so that took a pliers.

At the breakfast, we just put out the supplies, and gave some quick instructions. Depending on the age of the kid, this took about 10-15 minutes to do. And did I mention that there is NO GLUE involved?! Bonus!!!


Here is a finished wreath made by one of the middle school age kids.

We had some random scraps and a few bows left over, so Kennady made one more wreath at home. We didn't have enough fabric to make it as full as the others, but it's still festive!
Fleece Wreath


You can grab the button above and add it to your post. Add your link here to share your child's art or your arts and crafts how-to posts. Please visit the other blogs and admire what's on their Virtual Refrigerators!

You may also follow the Virtual Refrigerator's group Pinterest board. If you'd like to join us, just ask and one of the Fridge hosts can send you an invite. Continue to share your posts on the link-up each week, and on the Pinterest board!








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 ©2006-2014 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland


Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
When we were preparing to move to the state of Maryland about eighteen years ago, I knew almost nothing about it, other than that it was home to the city of Baltimore. And having been through Baltimore, I knew that was where the Baltimore Orioles played and that it was home to the B&O Railroad Museum. What a surprise to find out that there is a lot more to Maryland than the city of Baltimore! Fellow Crew blogger Adena is hosting a Learning through the 50 States link-up, and has invited bloggers to share about their states, so I'm delighted to tell readers a little more about Maryland.

Maryland became known as "The Old Line State" during the Revolutionary War, when the 400 soldiers of the Maryland Regiment fought a British force of 10,000. General George Washington's army was able to escape thanks to the Maryland Regiment, and he depended on the brave and disciplined Maryland Line throughout the war. Maryland's other nickname, "Free State" might sound like it dates to its colonial days or the Revolution as well, but in fact that name was earned in 1919 when Marylanders opposed prohibition because they felt it violated state's rights.

Maryland is also sometimes called "America in Miniature" because its 10,460 square miles includes just about every natural geographical feature, except a desert. This is probably what surprised me most as I got to know my new home state! Of course there is the Chesapeake Bay and all the waterways around the Atlantic Ocean, and its major source, the Susquehenna River; but Maryland also boasts pastureland and farmland, quarries and iron pits, the Great Falls of the Potomac River,  mountains and valleys, forests, orchards, vineyards, and sub-Arctic swamp! We live in a region of Maryland that is mostly rural, and the views from my house include farms, forests, and mountains. Quite different from the major urban center of Baltimore and from the Chesapeake Bay area that most people associate with our state!
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Great Falls of the Potomac
  If you want to learn state songs, December is the perfect time to practice singing "Maryland, My Maryland". That's because it is sung to the same tune as "Oh Christmas Tree"!
Maryland State Symbols
The Maryland State Flag is one of the oldest in the nation, based on the escutcheon of the first Lord Baltimore's seal, dating back to the 1600s. The black and gold quarters are from the arms of the Calvert family, and the red and white quarters are from the arms of the Crossland family. It is the only state flag based on English heraldry. Maryland is the only state to have a specific guideline regarding the flagpole - if an ornament is displayed on top of the flagpole, it must be a gold cross bottony.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
State Crustacean - Maryland Blue Crab
State Insect - Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly
State Dog - Chesapeake Bay Retriever
State Bird - Baltimore Oriole
State Reptile - Diamondback Terrapin
State Flower - Black-Eyed Susan
State Boat - The skipjack (the last working boat under sail in North America)
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Maryland coloring page
 (Go HERE to print this Maryland Coloring Page)

 Try Our Food!
Crab cakes - a patty of seasoned crabmeat, breaded and fried. Can be served on a roll, like a burger, or eaten on its own. Personally, I don't care for any kind of shellfish, so I don't eat these. And I try to avoid making them, if possible. If you don't want to commit to the crabmeat, just get a tin of Old Bay Seasoning and put it on everything. Especially French fries. And use it in every conceivable meat, fish or poultry dish you make as well. You can get Old Bay seasoned potato chips, so for even less commitment, you could try the taste.

Smith Island Cake - a moist yellow cake, in 8 to 15 layers with a cooked chocolate icing. The official dessert of Maryland, and it is to die for!! And requires patience to make all those layers! Much easier to order at a restaurant or from the bakery.

If you visit...
These are some of the awesome places in Maryland that we have visited, but is by no means an exhaustive list!

Historic St Mary's City - the fourth permanent British settlement in North America, founded in 1634. Although founded by staunch Catholics, its basic tenet was religious tolerance and freedom, and the first settlers were about half Catholic and half Protestant. Today you can catch a glimpse of colony life in a living history museum that includes a working print house, an apothecary, a tobacco plantation, and the state house. There's also a replica of the ship that carried the first settlers.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Annapolis,  the state capitol - The Maryland State House is the only one that has also served as the nation's capitol, from 1783-1784.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Fort McHenry - Now a National Monument, this fort was the one being bombed by the British during the War of 1812, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words to The Star-Spangled Banner.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
C & O National Historic Park - You can hike or bike the towpaths, visit the museum and lockhouses (you can even stay in some of the lockhouses overnight!), and ride the mule-towed canal boat.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
There are a number of Civil War sites to visit, including Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield. As a border state, Maryland's loyalties were often divided during the War Between the States but it remained with the Union. Its proximity to Washington DC meant that several battles were fought here. Antietam was a strategical Union victory and a turning point in the war; and Monocacy has been called 'The Battle that Saved Washington, DC' because the Union troops were able to delay the Confederate march towards the capitol.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
Catoctin Mountain Park - The Appalachian Trail runs through this area of west central Maryland, and it's a beautiful place to hike and camp.
Wisp ski resort and Swallow Falls State Park - both are in the Deep Creek area of western Maryland.
Learning Through the 50 States - Maryland
 Did you learn anything new about Maryland? Leave a comment and let me know! This post is linked at Learning through the 50 States hosted by AdenaF. Visit the other states through her link-up!  photo af476399-be9e-4d50-a2d2-1a3a7c3fe9dc.jpg
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 on the Fifth - December 2014


It's time for the 5 on the Fifth link-up hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me.  Past time, actually. I really did write (most of) this post on December 5th - but the weekend was crazy and I forgot to finish it! Quick recap of the "rules": Each blogger participating writes a post highlighting five blog posts (from others!) that really caught their eye over the past month or so, and we pin and share the posts too.

Christmas is just a couple weeks away, and the Advent season has already begun. During a time of year when it's all too easy to put pressure on ourselves to take on more than we can handle, I really liked this article at The Art of Simple: How to Simplify the Holidays without Feeling like a Scrooge


And another article on a related theme of remembering that stuff is just stuff: What Losing Losing My Decorations Taught Me... from Jenni at Our Journey.

With a new Schoolhouse Review Crew year about to start, I am being introduced to some new blogs as new Crew members join us. One of those is Meagan at More Than a Coupon Queen. I noticed her post about 9 Christmas Science Experiments and thought some of these ideas looked like a lot of fun!

Around the holidays, many of us have fond memories related to food and family traditions. Here is a great how-to post from Joanie at Simple Living Mama on making your own family traditions cookbook: How To Create a Family Recipe Book - Passing Down Traditions. Wouldn't that make a wonderful gift?

And finally, if you're looking for a fun Christmas gift idea for a kid that likes to make music, you might want to consider an ocarina. If you're like me, and not too sure what an ocarina even IS, read Marcy's review and enter the giveaway too! Learn to play the ocarina: Ocarina FUNdamentals Review (and giveaway)
Ben and Me

Join in at 5 on the Fifth and follow on the 5 on the Fifth Pinterest board as well.
5 on the Fifth

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 ©2006-2014 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/

Monday, December 8, 2014

Middle School Monday - Christmas Crafts

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Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! Today I'd like to share a little about the Christmas Craft Breakfast Kennady and I enjoyed on Friday.  This is an annual event our homeschool group does, where we come together for a breakfast of "Christmas Craft Breakfast Casserole" (an egg/bread/cheese strata), fresh fruit, and pastries; then set up for the various crafts. Moms and older teens are the crafters - everyone volunteering to do this plans a craft ahead of time, and then when registration opens for the event, those who are attending can sign up their child(ren) for the crafts they want to do.

After last year's event, Kennady figured she was getting too old to be doing the crafts and thought she might want to teach a craft in 2014. So we started planning earlier in the fall and came up with a craft that we thought would work - a fleece wreath. Kennady and I made a sample at home in November so we had an idea of how long it would take to complete.





We also estimated the cost of the supplies, so we could set a price for each kid to do the craft. I kept a list of who registered to do our craft, so that we could buy sufficient materials and prepare everything. This wreath is basically strips of fleece (cut from a fleece blanket) tied onto a coat hanger, so we had to buy a couple of fleece blankets, a package of coat hangers, and some bows. We prepared ahead of time by cutting the fleece into 6-inch strips and putting about 100 strips into a bag for each wreath; and we  shaped the hangers into circles. (Well, the truth is that we got hubby and the boys to do that part.)

After we cleared away the food at the craft breakfast, Kennady and I set up our table with the wreath-shaped coat-hangers, the packages of fleece strips, and the bows we had to choose from. Oh, and our completed example. This wreath was done by one of the kids at the breakfast. I love how it turned out!


Oh yeah, and it turned out the Kennady changed her mind about being "too old" to do crafts once she saw some of the options! She made this Christmas hurricane lamp,


a velvet bookmark with charm,


and this lighted glass block ornament.




And on the ride home we started planning for next year!

Does your middle schooler enjoy making crafts for the holidays, or do you have a favorite holiday activity with your homeschool group? Leave a comment and let me know!

Each week I invite bloggers to share their posts about middle school here on Middle School Monday. The link is open through Friday, and I will do my best to visit, comment, and share your posts. Please grab the Middle School Monday button to add to your post or to your sidebar when you leave your link below, and please visit the other links and comment or share. I look forward to seeing what you and your middle schoolers are doing!
Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

Please visit your neighbors, leave comments, and share!








This post will also be linked at the Finishing Strong weekly link-up hosted by Education Possible.
Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years
Don't miss a coffee break! Subscribe to Homeschool Coffee Break by Email!

 ©2006-2014 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/