Follow the life of Carla in the Country!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

School Is Now In Session :o)

Well, it's that time of year again, the start of a new school year. David is still in the field, trying to finish bringing in the hay crop, before he starts on the oats. Since I'm off this week (we were originally going camping this week....but plans change), I thought I'd start the homeschooling.

Today isn't the official kick-off to school, as Mitchell did a short report on the Leaning Tower of Pisa. That was Monday. He heard about the Tower a few days before that, and so he and Dave did some research. Mitchell wrote up a short report and even drew a picture of the Tower. Did you know it used to be a Bell Tower? I didn't!! And they removed the bells to reduce the weight-load of the tower, to hopefully slow down the leaning. See, even at age 39, I've learned something new!!

Today we started with some spelling words (I searched the internet for "grade three spelling"). I'm not really sure what words he can and can't spell. Some of the easy ones he has trouble spelling, yet some of the more difficult words he spells without mistakes. Today's words are: about, across, add, afraid, after, afternoon, again, age, ago, air, almost and also. We'll review them each day and then have a spelling test at the end of the week (which is my plan, we'll see what happens).

Our science curriculum is a combination of life learning (what goes on around us and how humans interact); Read & Understand Science; and Evan Moore Daily Science. We had a short review of the solar system before my cell phone chirped. Life has a way of interrupting us and we had to go retrieve Dave from the south hay field (he had moved the tractor and swather this morning, and needed a ride home to get his truck). On the way home, I quizzed Mitchell on his spelling words. (See? Learning never stops, even when life gets in the way!)

Towards the end of his grade 2 year, we started Mitchell on Cursive Handwriting. We didn't get very far, so I thought we should pick up on that again. Mitchell had a couple melt-downs but he took a short walk around the house to clear his mind and came back to continue his handwriting.

Here's a picture of his handwriting, practicing "add" and "dad" and "gad" and "gag". He did pretty good I think.

We're using "Handwriting Without Tears" that we purchased at the 2010 SHBE Convention. It starts with the "magic c" which can be transformed into an "a" or "g" or "d". We start with the book, learning how to form the letter, then we do extended practice in a notebook. I don't find the workbook has sufficient space to practice the letters, so we just supplement with the notebook.

It's nearly lunchtime so perhaps we'll leave Geography & Map Activities (Rand McNally) until the afternoon. He really does well in Geography and even asked to do some today.

I haven't started any homeschooling with Matthew and Micheal yet this year. As you can see in one photo above, I'm also sorting out our books and curriculum. I have a pile for them, and then sorted out completed curriculum from last year and then this year's books. Perhaps in the next day or two I'll have them start up again as well. We have Numbers, Alphabet, and two different Printing workbooks for them (as they're at different stages academically).

The great thing with Homeschooling is we can tailor the curriculum to suit their abilities. Even though the boys are twins, they differ in their skills, vocabulary, speech and comprehension. The public school system would keep them at the same skill levels, so Matthew would likely lag behind and Michael wouldn't be using his full potential, when being taught the same curriculum.

Well, lunch is eaten and the fixings are put back in the fridge. The boys are getting big enough they make their own sandwiches most days. Today was ham and cheese. Simple and yummy.

Mitchell loves geography and learning about maps. Today's lesson is on South America. We are learning about the countries and their respective capital cities. And did you know some people in Brazil like to put bananas and cinnamon on pizza!! (again, I'm learning something new even at my age!!) Llamas live in the mountains of South America. Watch out, they spit!! (eww, yuck) Jaguars are large spotted cats that live in the forest or grasslands where they can hide. And toucans are colorful birds that live in rain forests (a forest that receives at least 100" of rain each year).

Well, that's all for today's lesson. I hope you enjoyed learning with us!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2010 Harvest Kickoff!

Today is the first day of canning for this growing season!!

A local lady has connections to the fruit truck deliveries from British Columbia each summer and into the fall months. Every couple weeks or so now there will be a different fruit on their truck, and we preorder about a week prior to delivery. This week's delivery was BC Cherries. YUM!

My boys absolutely L-O-V-E canned cherries. They'll eat them fresh too, but if given a choice of any home canned fruit, they pick cherries every time. I bought a 20lb case of cherries last night, and today I canned 14 pints of cherries, 2 quarts of pie filling and even had a good bowlful leftover to munch on fresh. I'm thinking now I should have ordered 2 cases, as I know how fast these will fly off the shelves!

These aren't my own recipes but ones I've gotten out of published cookbooks, so I will post specifics regarding the books.

Cherry Pie Filling
(Company's Coming Preserves Revised Edition, pg 102, c1994)

2lbs fresh pitted cherries (about 6 cups)
1 tbsp water
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp minute tapioca
1/4 tsp almond flavoring

Place all 5 ingredients in large pot. Stir as you bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Pack fruit into hot sterilized quart jar to within 1" of top. Fill with juice to within 1/2" of top. Secure lid.

Process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Makes 1 quart, enough for one 9" pie. Repeat for as many jars as you like.

And for canning cherries in syrup, I use the Medium Syrup below:

Hot Pack Syrup
(Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving, pg 38, c1995)

Medium Syrup, approx 30% sugar:
7 Pint Jars requires approximately 4 cups water + 1 3/4 cups white sugar

I typically Hot Pack cherries so they have a longer shelf-life.
"In hot packing, the prepared fruit is added to the boiling syrup or liquid. The mixture is brought back to a boil and simmered for a few minutes." I go one step more and process the pints in a boiling water bath for about 5 minutes. It's not in the original recipe, but since I have the canner full of boiling water to sterilize the jars, it couldn't hurt to process for even 5 minutes. Usually within 20 minutes of removing the jars, I can hear the seals "popping". I love that sound!

I really should have taken pictures throughout the process but Dave was in the field (and don't forget the repair shop too!) today so my photographer was busy elsewhere. If my hands weren't dripping with cherry juice I would have taken them myself ;)