Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | August 31, 2011

A New School Year

Wow!  Summer Vacation Is At An End…


The Smith family has some big changes for this school year.  Ezra and Evan will be attending public school!  Of course, I’ll continue to augment their education using the classical methods we’ve been utilizing, but it’s off to first and third grade for my youngest two boys!  I feel excited and nervous all at once. 

We’ll see how this year goes and re-evaluate our plans for next year.  As a home educator, I carry a certain bit of sadness at this change.  It was a difficult decision.  The boys are quite involved in sports and clubs outside of home, so socialization was never an issue in our family.  However, because our boys are only 18 months apart in age, they are constantly in the same groups!  The attended Tiger Cub Scouts in the same pack, wrestled in the same weight brackets, are in the same Sunday School class, and have the same friends on our neighborhood street.  They were not having to stand apart from one another in any situation.  Now I love that the boys are so close (except for when they decide that they want to pummel one another over various squabbles that all six-to-eight year olds engage in), but they always had one another to rely on.  For a few hours each day, they will be separated. 

I plan to keep up on the blog as there are countless projects and activities that will enhance their schooling experience.  I am a firm believer that whether you home educate or not, you are always teaching your children something!  Teachers cannot be held responsible for a child’s entire education…they simply don’t have enough hours to go ’round!

A few of my goals are:

1.  Read a chapter a week in the Story Of The World history series with the boys.

2.  Practice math skills above and beyond what they are learning in school. 

3.  Review geography skills once a week – for retention as well as new learning.

4.  Read daily with and to the boys.

5.  Have the boys practice story narration on whatever materials they are reading in school or at home.

6.  Continue to encourage memory work.

The boys had a busy summer.  We had two vacation trips and numerous daily trips to amusement parks, fairs, picnics, and parties.  They experienced their first water slides this summer.  We are harvesting our garden produce, and the chickens are laying eggs like mad-cluckers!  Ezra & Evan also helped with the many home improvement projects around the home.  We painted our house this summer.  Now let me tell you, allowing them to paint was hard for me – really – a six and eight year old with paintbrushes is a frightening scene for any mother!  But it all ended well, and the boys loved ‘helping’. 

A new school year begins in a week!  Here’s to a healthy, happy, growing, maturing year!

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 25, 2011

West Scranton HS Wrestling 2011 Varsity Rookie of the Year!

  Invader Wrestling Banquet for the 2010-2011 Season………

  Our fourteen year old freshman was awarded Rookie of the Year for his great success over this wrestling season as well as earning an Iron Man Award for not missing a single practice, meeting, or match throughout the entire year! 

His accomplishments also include earning a spot on the District II Academic All-Star First Team for achieving a .500 win stat and maintaining a 3.82 GPA.  He wrestled at 119 pounds this season, making the varsity line-up.  It was challenging, and he discovered a new level of wrestling at the high school level. 

He continues to work over the off-season, wrestling at Sir Wrestling Club on alternating weekends (Find their site here…., and continuing his training four to five days a week at Scranton MMA (Find their site here…..  Both are phenomenal gyms which build not only strength and skill in young men, but character as well.  He will attend a week-long wrestling camp at a nearby university with his team in late June, and hopes to participate in a few tournaments over the summer. 

Needless to say, we are proud of his dedication to the sport he loves.  The 132 or 140 pound slot is looking mighty attractive for the upcoming year. ……

Finally…..A Letterman!

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 25, 2011

Some Time With Dad……..

Trout Fisherman Alert!!!


Lackawanna State Park in Northeastern Pennsylvania is a favorite spot for my husband and boys to do some trout fishing.  Here, the boys are with Pap-Pap while Dad snaps a photo.  Fishing is one of the ways that the boys get some time to connect with Dad, learning and enjoying while spending time in the outdoors.  (Plus it allows me a bit of time alone to clean, add the plethora of papers to the portfolios, and simply enjoy a cup of coffee in sweet silence!)

They have been quite successful this season, catching about 20 fish total.  We gift those catches to one of the nurses who works with my husband……We’re more Haddock people.  Although when the boys go out with Dad, I’m not sure he gets any fishing in himself……He gets his own fishing time in when it’s just him and our older son.  Still, Ezra and Evan love when Dad takes them out for an afternoon of ‘guy-time’.  So do I.

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 17, 2011

More Computer Fun For The Classroom….

Comic Strip Creations …..Combine Learning and Fun For Young Learners!

Another great site for displaying classroom learning is Comic Creator at Read/Write/Think…..

Ezra and Evan created a comic strip to show off their new knowledge of conifers and deciduous trees.  The format was very ‘user friendly’ for young students, and the boys were able to add backgrounds, images, and text boxes all on their own after we created one slide together.  It is definitely worth checking out. 

Some drawbacks to the program include little room to add text, limiting the information your students can share and the size of the comic when it prints. (The boys had trouble coloring the small slides)  The boys used the six slide panel,  so the picture boxes may be larger if one of the lesser slide options is selected.  Also, the images, though many, may not be useful for your particular project. 

I think it would be most useful for simple story narrations, and we will use the program again.

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 11, 2011

Brushing Up On Botany…..

Using Technology In Our Classroom…….

This week, one assignment for our botany class is to learn the differences between gymnosperms and angiosperms, and to be able to differentiate within angiosperms between monocots and dicots.  A fellow homeschooling mom sent me links to Scholastic’s Study Jams.

The link will take you to Scholastic’s site where students can first watch a video segment on angiosperms and then take a short quiz.  Below is the link to the gymnosperm Study Jam.

Ezra and Evan enjoyed the clips and scored perfect on the tests, leading me to believe that the information presented was well suited to their age group.  It also allowed me to sneak in computer time, which is such an important skill  young learners need to start exploring.  Navigating the internet, even when I know where I’m going is a bit daunting for me.  I grew up when the ancient art of handwriting reports and drawing pictures was still en vogue.  Today, cutting and pasting images into computer generated slide shows, adding external links to a research paper, and creating power point presentations are ‘must have skills’ for successful students.  While I still make the boys handwrite their compositions and add in drawings, I’ve also been adding in more computer activities and searches.  We are starting with the basics here…..and going slowly. 

  Scholastic’s site was great!  And I wanted to give it a ‘plug’ to fellow home educators.

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 5, 2011

Botany In A Day…….(or Four)

Botany In A Day: The Patterns Method Of Plant Identification….

Thomas J. Elpel’s Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America


This is the book that Ezra is using during his study of  botany with the home school group under Nathaniel W.  The text is advanced for his age, but reading sections aloud allows us to utilize this wonderful book.  There are many black line illustrations within the 206 pages, and we cannot hope to cover all the material in the four classes.  But we will have the book for future reference. 

The instructor assigned homework to prepare for next week’s class, and Lenore (a fellow homeschooling mother) gave me the idea to create ‘plant trading cards’ to showcase the information we gathered from our internet searches on the plants to look up for next week.  The few we worked on today were a hit, and I’m sure the boys will like to show off their cards.  The pictures on each will help as the students look for these specific plants during their nature walk.  Who knows how many the boys will add to their collection before we finish our study of plants!

The boys are looking forward to next Monday’s class.  I am too, although I hope the weather is much warmer.  The park is quite a bit higher in elevation than the city where we live, causing a 20 degree temperature difference!  I learned a great deal about various uses for common plants found in our area.  My favorite was discovering that the roots of Queen Anne’s Lace , my favorite weed, are edible!  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to put that knowledge to good use, but you never know, right?

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | May 5, 2011

The Smith Boys Study Botany…….

Botanist/Survival Expert Nathaniel W. Makes Botany Study Interesting and Interactive For Young Learners………




Smelling the Mustard Garlic plant with fellow classmates.....

Class lesson time at Promised Land State Park

Leave it to boys to create an interesting 'find' to show teacher......

Warming up by the fire before the first nature walk....

Any event based around plants should include tree climbing, right??

Evan & his friend, David, too young for participation, find other diversions to entertain themselves.....

Ezra in a 'castle' window.....

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | April 30, 2011

Maria With ‘The Mauve’…….

Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | April 30, 2011

A Sad Day For The Smith Family

All Dogs Go To Heaven…..Especially ‘The Mauve’……..

Today, our faithful, old girl ‘The Mauve’ went to sleep for the last time.  It’s a very sad day here.  Nine years ago, the Smith family went to the pound to select our first family dog.  A wild, young female husky & pit-bull mix picked us that day, and we fell in love with her soft brindle and white coat, her mixed up eyes (one was brown and the other was husky blue), and her enthusiasm for life.  She was about a year old or so at the time – we never knew how old she actually was, and she was WILD, WILD, WILD!!  She chewed a Playstation.  She devoured Bratz dolls.  She consumed army men at an alarming rate.  She ran away for 10 minute intervals, always returning after she’d had a good run.  (The vet told us that was the husky coming out in her)  We put up a 4 foot fence, which she leaped as if it were a fun thing to do.  My husband tore it out and replaced it the next year with a 5 foot fence.  She found other ways out.  We added Invisible Fence….The Mauve was not happy.  Every so often one of the kids would leave the gate open and you’d hear her yowling as she ran at a breakneck pace across the ‘danger zone’.  Ten minutes later you’d hear her yowling again as she came back.  She was a spunky girl!

When we brought Ezra home, she took her responsibilities seriously.  Wherever the baby was, The Mauve was there too.  She guarded him as if he were her pup.  When Evan arrived 18 months later, she gave me the most pitiful look as if to say….,”Why Momma….Why would you bring another of these things home?”.  But like the good dog she was, she lavished him with her motherly, dog-love.  In vain she tried to keep those little boys clean, licking their feet when they played barefoot outside.  She hovered around the table, hoover-ing up all the crumbs little hands dropped to the floor, awaiting the delicious dinner scraps that would cover her dog food with practiced patience.  We truly had the best dog for our family. 

She started slowing down about a year and a half ago, and I noticed last summer that she was dragging her left hind leg.  A trip to the vet uncovered that she had a degenerative nerve disease that has no treatment.  Progressively, she lost feeling in her hind end.  We watched her carefully.  Seeing her unable to enjoy herself was too much.  She fell over, couldn’t climb the stairs (she had always slept in our room), and struggled to walk to the kitchen for her treats.  We knew it was time.  The Mauve was a faithful & devoted companion to our family; it was our job to return the kindness.  Good-bye ‘Mavis’ ….You were the best dog and we miss you already.

The boys had many names for our old girl, and in honor of her passing, I give you our salute to all of them.

The Mauve, Hattie Mae, Mae-Mae, Minerva, Hattrick, Mavis, Maybe Baby, Pooter-Doo, Dinky Dog…………………


Posted by: homeeducatingthesmithboys | April 28, 2011

Saucy & Silly Smith Snapshots

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