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Monday, June 30, 2014

Homeschool Portfolios, Camp Anderson and A Tropical Low

Vacation is over, family have returned back to their home states, and we are back to normal.  DJ is heading off to Camp Anderson, with the Fanning Springs Church Youth Group.  He is excited and I hope they get decent weather.

Speaking of weather, we have had no rain in almost one week.  It is hot, and humid, dangerously so.  Heat indexes well over 100.  Be sure to drink plenty of water if you need to be out in it.  There is a tropical depression sitting in the Atlantic, just off the coast of Florida.  It is expected to strengthen, and possibly be the first Tropical Storm of the year.  Just in time for the 4th of July weekend, ugh.  DJ will be 14 on the 4th of July.

I have started our homeschool portfolios.  Our evaluation is in two weeks.  I take a lot of time putting our portfolios together, and will share them when they are done.  If you need tips on a portfolio feel free to ask.

DJ finished his last book, To Kill A Mockingbird, and will be completing his book report today before leaving for camp.  My printer is having a moment, so I can not print his Language Arts final exam.  Good thing I had him do book reports and other Grammar final exam tests. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Visit to One of My Most Favorite Places in Florida: St Augustine Beach

If you have been following along with our family fun vacation, then you know we have been to Otter Springs, Shired Island, and now St Augustine Beach. Yesterday, we took my sister and her husband, to St Augustine Beach. We first went to St Augustine last year in March, with my father in law. We visited the Ripley's Museum, and rode the trolley. But, my FIL really wanted to visit the ocean. It was very cold, but we took him out to St Augustine Beach, and we were hooked. We have not gotten back out there until yesterday. St Augustine is a small historic town right on the Atlantic Ocean, South of Jacksonville and North of Daytona Beach. It is an amazingly beautiful beach, and huge. There were a lot of people there, couldn't even find a parking space, but the beach is so large it seemed empty. The water is blue and beautiful. Of course my kids just loved the waves. You do get sunburned very easy on the ocean. It was probably 95 degrees yesterday and with the breeze you don't feel really hot. After about three hours a thunderstorm rolled in and got everything we had on the beach soaked, lol, so we left. My husband and I have vowed to go back at least once a month, since we just love it there so much. Where we are in Florida, everything is like 2-3 hours away depending on weather and traffic. All the big beaches anyways. Clearwater, St Petes, Orlando, Jacksonville, Destin places like that. Anything more south of Tampa is going to take us too long to be worth the trip. Today, is Wednesday, and they went back to Shired Island to see my other sister. We opted to not do that as it is not our favorite place to be, and with sunburns already we saw no need. Tomorrow is a huge chance of rain, so everyone is coming here to our house to swim, and have Chinese food. My one sister leaves Fri morning, and I have to work, so tomorrow will be our goodbyes. Seems to have gone so fast.  Oh and DJ found a deceased Star Fish and brought it home.  I will be putting it in resin for him and making a Christmas ornament that he can keep forever. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Visit to Shired Island Florida

We go to Shired Island in the Big Bend of Florida, about once a year. Normally in cooler weather, because I don't care for the water. In 2010 Shired Island was still rated the top polluted beach in the USA failing 90% of tests. I can not find any updated info, but one blogger stated it was improving with no facts to back that up. There are about 8 camp sites, one of which my sister and her small family decided to camp at for the week. My daughter, who is ten, will still go in the water, but my husband, son and I prefer not to. If she is in the water, I am at the edge. The water does not get deep, and when it is low tide you really can walk out quite far. A nice lady, also visiting the beach, said they had been told that Great White Sharks had been seen there, and two of them were tagged by rangers but that only one could be found. That freaked me out just a tiny bit.

We have lived in Florida nine years, so we have been to Shired Island and least 9 times. Normally the water is murky and only clear on the shore line. It was the same this time, but the water had a tea colored tinge to it, and the water in the public restroom and shower had the same tea colored water. There was a sign up that said do not drink the water. Normally while there we see Horseshoe Crabs, Stingrays usually dead and washed ashore, lots of Sandpipers, White Cranes and other birds. I was surprised at how little wild life we saw. The little sand crabs were there, lots more than usual, the one below is a real close up shot of one living in a rotting log with about twenty others. We saw no Stingrays, no Horseshoe Crabs, no Blue Crabs either. Only a few Seagulls, one with a completely black head. No Sandpipers, Cranes, or other birds at all. There is now cell phone service, never was before, because apparently someplace condos were put in. There are road signs now, and the dock has been made all nice. The water is still a concern though, and why was there not much animal life. I am happy to say I will not be visiting Shired Island again for a while. It was nice to see my family, and thank goodness it was overcast so not unbearably hot, but I won't miss it.

On a side note my daughter is required to change out of her wet suit, wash hands before leaving, and shower as soon as returning home. Can't be too safe.  I think if you had a boat, and didn't want to swim it would be nice, but I wouldn't eat anything caught in this suspect water.  If anyone has any recent stats on the water, besides 2010, or before, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Otter Springs Camp Ground in Florida

Both my sisters, and their families, are here visiting us in FL. They are both camping but at two different places. This makes for interesting times seeing everyone. Today, we spent the day at Otter Springs and Campground, with Norma and George. There were thunderstorms on and off all day, but there is an inground pool, that is in a large screen house type building. That is nice, because even if it didn't thunder all day, the springs are not able to be swam in at this time. You probably have seen me blog about Otter Springs before. We did a clean up day there with our 4H group, two years ago, and every year our 4H county award dinner is held at Otter Springs. They have a beautiful banquet hall where a lot of families come, camp and hold their reunion there. I had never actually been down by the springs. The spring itself is nice and clean, but due to Spring flooding there is still a lot of ponding and icky water sitting around. DJ said he saw a snake in the water by the scummy side, but I didn't see it. This spring is rather deep, the marker set in the water had the water at 7.40 feet of water, and that was a very quick drop off. So, you would have to be very careful if swimming with small children there. It is a beautiful place to camp and see the more natural side of Florida. Check it out sometime if in the area. Tomorrow we are off to Shired Island to see my other sister and her family, and then Tues we are hoping to get out to the Atlantic Ocean, one of my husband's favorite things to do.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Free or Frugal Friday Homeschool

We have family coming to visit from out of state, this next week.  So, I am not sure I will be able to blog.  I will try. 

This week Caitlin read a book about the Oregon Trail, on We Give Books.  They have a Summer reading program.  We opted to not do the activity, but she did watch a video about the Oregon Trail.  This is of course free, and books are donated to kids in need after your child reads.

Camp Wonderopalis, also free, is giving me the same issue as last year.  We used it twice and now I can not log in.  This is a total annoyance and I probably will not try again. 

If you are someone that uses manipulatives when you teach Math, then you know they can be very expensive.  You can use anything though, that you have a lot of.  For example this week, Caitlin and I used some of the many beads that were given to her.  They are plastic, and a nice size, so they work perfectly.  You could use candy, cut up straws, toys like Pet shops or other figurines.  Anything that are small, but not too small, that you have a lot of .  Legos comes to mind too.  We don't do Legos, I find them more of a pain than useful. 

DJ continues with Introduction to Forensics, on Coursera, free of course.  DJ, and I, also started watching his Math U See videos for Algebra 1 for next year.  These are not free, lol, but they are very useful.  The gentleman is easy to listen to, stays on track mostly, and explains things in a way you can understand. 

Here are some free resources that I have been saving, and maybe you would like to use too.  I am trying to clean up my favorites, so sharing them here makes more sense as a filing source.

Virtual Eye Dissection:
Writing Exercises:
Pond Life Microscope:

Come back for more free ideas next week.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World Sea Turtle Day and A Sea Turtle Class

As you may have read, DJ wants to be a Marine Biologist.  Matter of fact his 4H presentation this year was on the subject of the Leatherback Sea Turtle.  So yesterday, which was World Sea Turtle Day, we went to a Sea Turtle class, at the local library.  The Sea Turtle Conservancy, located in Gainesville, FL put on the class.  It was a very interesting class, and I learned quite a bit.  DJ said he did not learn anything new, lol.  The gentleman giving the class was more than happy to answer our millions of questions.  Most importantly I wanted to know if the turtle numbers had improved since they began in the 1950's.  He said yes, and that Loggerhead Turtles were close to be being removed from the Endangered Species list.  Something like 20 years from now, not tomorrow or anything, but still they are making progress.  Some of the things I took away from it were:

1-  If you see garbage, plastic bags or helium balloons on the beach pick them up and throw them away.  Sea Turtles, and other marine life will eat these and die.  They do gently encourage people to not even use these products, but they realize this is not an easy task.

2-  If you are lucky enough to see sea turtles making their nests on the beach don't bother them.  They can actually get spooked and leave the nest without finishing.  Don't flash a camera right in their face.  Don't be loud.  They do offer a turtle walk in Melbourne, FL where you can watch the sea turtles in the nesting process.  There are only a few spots left for this year.  We will definitely be signing up to do this next year.  What a wonderful experience. 

3-  Use LED lights if you own a hotel or business on one of the beaches that the sea turtles nest on. 

To read more about sea turtles and how you can help, visit their website.  They have some neat events coming up soon.  Watch for the Tour De Turtles, check it out on their website. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Super Easy Ice Cream Cake for Father's Day

This was by far the easiest cake I have ever made in my life. All you need is a box of 12 ice cream sandwiches, frosting, and garnish. Now you can use cool whip, and fruit to write the word DAD. But, for me if I am going to eat an ice cream cake, I am eating it with real frosting and candy topping.

This cake is supposed to be two layers. But, my husband opened the ice cream sandwiches and ate some of them, even though I told him not to. He claims he did not hear that, lol. I place five ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a glass rectangle dish. I frosted it with vanilla frosting. Then using sprinkles I had on hand, I wrote DAD. Good thing this is fast to make, because it was blazing hot today, and it began to melt pretty fast. Then I covered it and put it in the freezer until Sunday.

I will definitely be making one of these again, so easy, love it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Getting Ready for Hurricane Season and A Solar Garden Light Experiment

We have been in Florida 9 years now. The first year we were here, 2005, was when Hurricane Katrina hit LA. We have not had a big one hit the Gulf Coast area since then. We are probably due. Every year I put together an emergency Hurricane Kit. When we lived up north I always had one for the Winter months. Of course it had much different supplies. In the past I have always used a bin, as shown in the image to the link. This year, I decided to use a large tote bag. Why? Because the bin is a pain to navigate. It would be hard for one person to carry alone, and probably need two at most times. My son is strong enough to carry it, as am I, but I just think the bag would be much easier to move. I will share a picture of the bag, and its contents, when I get it completed. Hurricane season has already started, but it is very rare to get a big storm this early. I have started on putting it together, and it should be done in a few days. The biggest issue is always food. How much food, what kind of food, etc. I have started storing water, so that is not a big deal.

This next part has to do with batteries. Every year my kids take the flashlights and poof they are never to be found again. Every year, I have to buy a ton of batteries, and new flashlights. Kind of expensive and a pain. So, I got thinking. If you read my craft blog, then you know that I have been painting bottles and turning them into solar powered garden lights. I have ten of them now. This has allowed me not to have to use the outside light at night, to ward of weirdos. The motion sensitive light, in the back is still active. I started to wonder, how long do the solar lights stay on at night. I really didn't know since it is always daylight when I get up. So, I read some other websites, and blogs to see if anyone else knew. The results were not good, definitely not all night and only a few hours were the most popular results. Well, me being me, I decided to try it for myself. So, last night at 8 PM I brought in one of the garden lights. I put it in my bathroom, and waited. Eventually I went to bed. I got up once during the night, at 3, and it was still lit and nice and bright. When I got up at 7 in the morning, it was still lit. Hard to tell how bright it was at that time of day. At 10 AM I returned it to the garden, and it was still lit. So, you are probably thinking I spent a lot of money on these lights and that is why I got good results. Nope, I paid .97 cents at Walmart, and 1 dollar at the Dollar Tree. We do get a ton of sunlight in FL, this time of year, so that might be why my results were so good. I have no idea. What I do know is that I will be picking up more of these and putting them in the garden so they are charged and ready to go should we ever lose power for an extended amount of time, or have to evacuate. The only other thing I am unsure of, is do they charge even if you don't pull out the little tab, or only if you pull out the little tab. Will have to figure that out.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Grammar Capitalization Printable Board Game

It is the first official day of Summer Vacation. I decided to do a Grammar game with Caitlin today, and then I will let her do the money math game online, after we swim. We had so much fun playing the, What Gets Capitalized, game that she actually wanted to play it again. I have no idea why the concept of Capitalization is so difficult for her to grasp, but I am hoping the game will help. It only took us about 20 minutes to play, and you can find the rules and printables, here.

We also played our USA states and capitals Geography game, which you can find by doing a search on this blog. Use the search box at the top of the page to make it easier.

DJ is on week 4 of Introduction to Forensics, through Coursera. He had his first real test last week. Though he said it was real hard, he likes the course and wants to keep going to the end. He did one more Grammar and Math test, and he is almost completely done with testing.

Total of one and a half hours of Summer fun school today. I think we can handle this a couple days a week. Tomorrow I will introduce a fun Math card game to Caitlin. Well if I can find the deck of cards, lol.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Burning A Crayon for Emergencies and Cinnamom Bun Sausage Rolls

I did not take a picture of the cinnamon buns when done, but you will get the idea. These would be perfect for a holiday party or quick breakfast. All you need is a can, or two, of the refrigerated cinnamon bun rolls and some breakfast sausage. Preheat your oven, according to the package directions, and lay your buns out on the baking sheet. Insert one breakfast sausage into the center of the cinnamon bun. It will look a little odd. Then bake them as directed and add the icing as soon as you take them out of the oven. Now, next time I will just cook the sausages quickly in a pan, to brown them, let them cool and then insert them into the buns. I also made some without icing, and used Maple Syrup on top instead. They were really delicious both ways.

Every year, at the end of the school year, I clean out the crayon, pen and pencil bucket. In previous years we have had a ton of little tiny pieces of crayons that would never be usable again. However, my kids now paint, use colored pencils, and markers for their art work. So, there were a lot of nice whole crayons still. I had read a while ago that a crayon would burn up to two hours in an emergency, others said 30 minutes. Well, I thought it was the perfect day to try. Before I say how I did it, I noticed a few things that I would not do. Burn the candle upright sitting on something. This is silly since it could just fall over and burn down your house, tent whatever. Burning the candle from the pointed end. This is common sense that it would not work this way, but I will let you know I tested it, and it did not work this way. There is too much wax, and not enough paper to get the candle burning, and maintain it.

So, I tried it a couple of different ways. First I got one of my old candle jars, with wick less candles scraps in it. I broke a Crayola crayon in half, and lit it. It did take a bit before it started to really burn, maybe 15 seconds. I timed it, and after 30 minutes it was still burning, even though it appeared all the paper was gone. Next, I tried to burn a crayon that had no paper left on it. Nope, it just melts and does not burn. Third, I tried to stand the candle up, in the jar, and burn it. The pointed end will not burn, even the other end did not stay burning more than a couple of minutes in the upright position. I am not sure why that would be, but it is true. Also, not all crayons are created equal. We have a variety of crayons, Crayola, Roseart, and some Dollar Tree ones too. The cheaper the crayon, the worse the results. The really cheap ones don't burn at all. The paper will not even light, odd right. And the wax when hot fizzes and sparks like a Sparkler on 4th of July. Very weird. But they are useless for burning, because they don't burn. Also crayon wax stays very hot, for a very long time. Candle wax cools instantly when removed from flame. Not crayon wax, trust me. So, now I have a huge Ziploc bag full of crayons. Lucky for me it is hurricane season and these babies might come in handy in my ready bin. They would make excellent fire starters for camping and hiking too. They are light weight and small. Oh and by the way, that is not a baby sitting by the candle, it is my daughter's doll.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Free or Frugal Friday Test Sites We Used This Year

We are pretty much done with our regular school year.  Caitlin is done, and she did real well.  She only got tested on Math, Writing and Spelling.

DJ on the other hand gets tested in all classes.  I gave him his final for Writing, yesterday.  I gave him the option to pick the topic, but he could not come up with one for sure.  He loves to make up funny parodies to songs, so his assignment is to write a parody about Biscuit, that is the dog, to the tune of, We Will Rock You.  He was quite excited, and already has part of it done.  It will be posted to his blog and then printed to add to his homeschool evaluation portfolio.  Of course he has to use proper Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation. 

He did Earth Science for Science class.  He did not complete all the lessons, we used CK12, but Science is not a priority.  We are working our way through the tests on this website, for the topics he did cover.  I just write down the grade and topic when he is done. 

For Math, again we used CK12, I am using for testing.  He is testing on the Pre Algebra section not, 8th grade Math.  I can print the results as he finishes each section.   Not every section has a test yet.  He was graded on CK12 for all sections, so I will see if I can print them from his portfolio.  I am happy to see he has retained his Math very well. 

History, he did Middle Ages.  Can not find an online test, so he will probably just write up an essay about what he learned.

Language Arts and Reading:  DJ did 9th grade Language Arts through the open network of Utah learning website.  He has done a book report for each book he read.  I used Easy Test Maker to create a final exam on the things he covered in the lessons.  He will not take this until he has finished reading the last book, To Kill A Mockingbird.  In the meantime he has been working his way through the Grammar tests on Cengage.  Again I print the results as he takes them.  I am only picking one test from each section. 

All of the websites mentioned are free to use.  Please be supportive to them, so they can stay free for all users, not just homeschoolers. 

Now for Summer Vacation!  Don't worry I will continue to post over the Summer.  Summer is when I get to write posts on opinions, hot topics, and fun crafty things to do.  So, stick around.

Currclick for Homeschoolers


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