Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Friday, November 30, 2012

On the Eve of the Advent Season

'Twas the night before advent...

We took a couple minutes today to prepare for the upcoming advent season!  For Bud, I decided to make a "Husband Christmas Count down".  Tomorrow he'll pull the #1 card off the twine, and get his first Christmas surprise!!  

The girls made a Christmas count down chain for their room.

This is such an exciting time of year!  I'm looking forward to each and every fun event we have planned from now until the New Year!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Christmas Service Project 1 - Operation Christmas Child

In true Leslie fashion, we waited until the very last minute to turn in our shoe boxes ;)

The girls had a blast picking out items to donate to less fortunate children in other parts of the world.  We opted to donate our $7/box online, and taking advantage of the "Follow Your Box" option.  That way, we can turn this into a geography lesson when we get an email letting us know where our boxes ended up.  I'm so excited!
The girls picked out:

  • Teddy bears
  • Candy
  • Socks
  • Cups
  • Wash cloths
  • Crayons
  • Coloring books/notebooks
  • Hair accessories
  • Puzzles

Other ideas we'll take advantage of next year (don't let me forget!):
  • Fat quarters
  • Sewing scissors
  • Needles/thread
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Shoes

Monday, November 19, 2012

Two Cowgirls Preschool: Letter A

We celebrated our first snow fall with hot cocoa during circle time
Well, we are officially in "lazy preschool" mode.  I knew Christmas would "interfere" with our schedule a bit, but it's really caused me to be lazy with my preschool.  She's still learning, but there's very little structure.

Here's what we did:

We read The Very First Thanksgiving Day.  I thought this book was OK, but we both really enjoyed looking at the pictures.

We did our first service project of the year, by making placemats to be handed out to Meals on Wheels clients.  From what I hear, they really enjoy getting artwork from kids.  The girls had a blast making them!

We had a lot of outings.  The kids had ice skating lessons, a trip to Como Park for Lil' Explorers, and a visit to the Science Museum with friends.

Here's what Elise did while Millie had lessons:

Nature Study - Mice

When asked what rodent Millie wanted to study for her first nature study of the year, she chose mice.  She knew she'd have some time to herself while Elise was at a preschool event at Como Park, and that there are mice running around the tropics room.  This was quite an accomplishment for Millie.  She doesn't usually like to leave my side alone, but she was really brave last Thursday.  She spent 45 minutes exploring the tropics room at Como, talking to zoo keepers, and taking pictures.  She was quite proud of herself (and I of her!).

Anywhooo, back to the nature study.

We get all of our nature study ideas by following this blog.  I read a few passages about mice aloud to Millie from the Handbook Of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.  Then, she was set free to photograph, observe, and record info about the mice she found at Como.

Here's what she found out:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Two Cowgirls Preschool - Letter Z

Our theme this week was "Thanksgiving".  Each morning during circle time we talked about what we were thankful for (next year, remind me to write them down and make a Thankful Tree!).  Millie read a couple cute books about Thanksgiving.  Their favorite was Mousekin's Thanksgiving.

Here's what we did this week:

Day 1:  We worked on a "Z" worksheet.  She loves tracing letters, and has now started copying the letters off her ABC board that we use during circle time (for fun, I might add!).  I'm glad she's finally taking an interest in her letters!!  We read the book Farmers Market Rounding, which was way over her head.  She liked looking at and talking about the pictures, though.  For fun, we baked soft gingerbread cookies.

Day 3:  Today Elise practiced cutting, by cutting out feathers for a turkey.  She loves cutting papers into bits, but wasn't interested in cutting along the line.  I ended up cutting out most of the feathers.  Anywhoo, she practiced writing her letters on the back, and plans to send her beautiful piece of art to her Great Grandma.  We read The Ox Cart Man.  I LOVE that  book!  So did Elise.  What a great story with beautiful illustrations!

Here's what Elise did while I was teaching Millie this week:

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I really need to up the ante our art/handcrafts/PE department.  I must pat myself on the back this week, as we covered all of them!  For art, we went to the Children's Museum art room to do a little finger painting.  Elise painted a little bit (I mean a really little bit), until she discovered the sensory bin, filled with shaving cream and gourds.  Great fun!  For handicrafts, we made wooden spoon puppets.  Last but not least, the girls started Learn To Skate.  Elise is moving around like crazy on the ice.  I'm really proud of her!!!

Most of my inspiration for this week's preschool came from Wee Folk Art.  
Find out what other homeschool families were up to last week, here!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

3rd Grade, 1st Quarter. A Review.

Jumping in the leaves at the Alexander Ramsey House

Well, we successfully completed our first quarter of 3rd grade!  At this time last year, I had the mindset that if it didn't work out, I'd put her back in school.  But now, it's become such a part of our lives, that I can't even fathom sending her back to public school.  I have threatened to send her back (please tell me I'm not the only one who's done that!), and she told me she doesn't want to go back.  Why?  Because she can spend more time on subjects she's having trouble with (fractions, for example).  I *think* it might also because she enjoys the freedom.  Anywhoo, here's what we did this year:

Grammar:  She's using Queens Language Lessons.  This curriculum has been such a blessing!  Millie used to cry daily last year when we used Bob Jones English.  It was a great program, just too intense for Millie.  Queens is much more gentle, and the lessons are shorter and to the point.

Spelling:  We're using All About Spelling.  She was really behind on her spelling, so I had to find something that had a great track record for success.  All About Spelling has been amazing!  I'm learning right along with her.  I didn't know any of the rules that we've learned so far...  Eeek.  It's great to see her building up her confidence again!

Printing:  We're not doing anything formal.  She's been using Draw Write Now, and focusing on correct printing during spelling.  I sit next to her and observe each stroke to make sure she's going it right.  I think she's almost ready to do it on her own, but she's still working on it.  It's amazing to see her progress!

Reading and Literature:  Every morning Millie reads a picture book to Elise to practice her read aloud skills.  That has improved greatly!  Plus, it's a great way for Millie to feel included when we do circle time in the morning.  I pick out story books to correspond with our weekly theme.  During Elises's preschool time, Millie reads on her own.  This quarter she read White Fang, The Secret Garden, Animal Stories, Meet Kaya, Tikta'Lictac': An Inuit Eskimo Legend, and Little Caribou.  She reads a lot on her own too.  I'm super happy that she's started reading Little House In The Big Woods!  Yay!  Each night we do a read aloud.  This quarter we've read The Birchbark House and Mary Poppins.  We're off track on our read alouds.  Boo.  We were also supposed to have read Where The Red Fern Grows, and Trouble At Fort LaPoint, but sadly we didn't get to it.  Hopefully we can pick them up later.

Math:  Still doing Saxon.  Still loving it!

Science:  One of Millie's top two favorite subjects!  We spent the whole quarter learning about plants.  We learned about and did experiments about water plants, classifying plants, plant cells and leaf structure, stems and roots, plant tissue and movement, plant food and sensitivity, biomes, and natural cycles of plants and people.

History:  Millie's second favorite subject.  We've been focusing on the study of Native Americans.  She researched and did projects based on several of the different tribes.  We used the Native Americans History Pockets and read a lot of great books.  Along with doing really cool projects from the History Pockets book, we also made hominy (holy smokes, that was quite a process!), painted rock toys like in The Birchbark House, went to the Minnesota History Museum to see the Dakota War exhibit, and set up a plains Indian village.  Millie enjoyed the study of Native American culture so much.  Now she's asking if she can buy a bison hide so she can make things out of it... Oh boy!

Info about Grandma 'Rira
Info about Grandpa Howard

Art, Nature Study, & PE:  Millie is continuing to take piano lessons.  She's playing more advanced pieces, which is really cool!  My goal was to get to the Childrens Museum to paint and do art projects once per week, which I have not succeeded at.  We only went once this quarter.  I also wanted to do more handcrafts, and we didn't really do any.  For PE, we did as much outside as we could before the cold sets in.  We went for bike rides, walks, and also swimming and she just started ice skating lessons.  And nature study?  We didn't do any.  I think I get a "D" in the art, nature study, and PE department.

Classes and Outings:  We try to get out of the house at least 2 days per week so Millie can play with her friends.  This quarter we collected acorns for Great River Greening.  It was a fun service project, but the best part was finding a fairy house at the base of a tree on our way out to the car! We went to an apple orchard to pick apples, took Jr. Ranger classes through the National Park Service where she learned about fossils and geocaching, took archery and rock climbing at the Boy Scout Base Camp, went to the Renaissance Festival, took a polka dancing class, did Halloween crafts at a friends house, took a Populations and Water Quality class at the Bruce Vento Nature Center, spent lots of time at the library, played with a friend at the Science Museum, and co-hosted a Halloween party at our house.

It's been a fantastic year so far!  Is there anything I'd like to change?  Of course!!  I need to focus on including more art, handcrafts, PE, and nature study.