Washington D.C. Day 2

Madison had to get a picture of her on Madison Drive. πŸ˜‰

We started out day 2 with a docent tour of the National Archives Museum. We saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The best part pf this tour is that we were in a small group and we were in the museum before it opened to the public, so we didn’t have to deal with crowds to see these magnificent documents. The rest of the tour was amazing and we learned a lot. We also were able to view the Magna Carta. Next time, we will go into the Boeing Learning Center. This museum is one that you should reserve online tickets for even if you do not take the tour.

Next, we set out to tour the monuments. The metro does not cover this area, so we chose to buy tickets for a hop on- hop off bus. I highly recommend doing this. There are several to choose from. We chose one from Groupon, but it did have downsides. The buses didn’t come as frequently and there were not as many stops. We did get a free night tour, so that made up for the other inconveniences. The Big Bus was popular and it can be bought at a discounted price with a purchase of the Washington D.C. Explorer Pass. We did end up purchasing an Explorer Pass for other things, but we found a better deal on it on Groupon.

Our first memorial stop was the Jefferson Memorial.


The second stop was the FDR memorial.



And the final memorial of the day was the Lincoln Memorial.


Before we went to the memorials we picked up a National Junior Ranger National Mall and Memorial folder with sheets to complete for each memorial for Madison to turn in and earn a National Junior Ranger pin. She was also able to stamp the back of the folder  with a stamp that had the date and the memorial name. The stamps were located in the bookstores by the registers of each memorial. The Jefferson Memorial had a really neat Park Ranger store.

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Washington D.C. Day 1

This trip was very busy, but very rewarding. We had booked the airfare for this trip months in advance at a very good price. Finding a hotel was challenging, but in the end we feel we picked the perfect one within our price range. We ended up choosing the Grand Hyatt. It was in a safe area, was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see and we were able to access the metro from below the lobby.

September was a great month to visit because it wasn’t crowded and the weather was perfect. When we checked into our hotel we were offered to upgrade to the Club Level. We chose to do this because they offered breakfast, snacks, appetizers and deserts. It also included a coffee machine that made lattes and cappuccinos and included bottled water, sparkling water, milk, and sodas. We quickly added up the costs of bottled water ($4 in the gift shop), Starbucks for breakfast in the morning, etc. and the price for the upgrade was a better deal. We ended up eating a big lunch out everyday, but that was the only time we needed to eat a meal.




After we checked in we headed to the National Museum of American History. When we arrived, we took a Highlights tour. We learned the history behind many things including the Star Spangled Banner, George Washington’s uniform, Abraham Lincoln’s hat, the First Lady’s gowns, Julia Child’s Kitchen, Thomas Jefferson’s lap desk, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, the chairs and table used by Lee and Grant during the surrender ceremony at Appomattox Court House, and much more. The amount to see is overwhelming. Of course after all of the history Madison learned and even with her love of American History, her favorite sight was a doll house. Yep, a doll house. It is a super cool doll house and she is now inspired to build her own from scratch. She went back later in the trip just to have Jeff take a picture of each room. Here is more information on the Dolls’ House.

The top hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was shot. 

Madison posing as President with Regan’s administration.

After the American History museum we were tired. We had woken up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight. We had watched the sunrise while in the air and we were exhausted by this point so we called it a night.

Our Homeschool Curriculum and Activities for 2017-2018


Here we go on our fourth year of homeschooling! I have finally learned that I always have a plan or an idea for a plan for what we are going to do for the year curriculum wise and then it ALWAYS changes. So here is my initial plan for this year. Ha! Ha! Also, this post contains affiliate links, so please see my disclosure policy for more information.

English:

  1.  Madison is going to be taking an Introduction to Composition course this year. It is an accredited, online class and she is really looking forward to it. I think it will be a great challenge for her and will help her writing immensely.
  2. Madison will also continue to use Wordly Wise 3000 online. She has just begun book 7. This is probably the only curriculum that we still use from the beginning. It is wonderful!

Math:

I just don’t even want to talk about Math right now. I think we are going to try AELKS. I will update with a post when I figure it out.

Science:

Madison finished Life and Earth Science through Accellus and just began Physical Science. While she onePhysical Science lesson a day, will begin our Moving Beyond the Page 11-13 units. We are going to start with Technological Design and then Earth Cycles and Systems, Force and Motion, The Hydrosphere again and The Atmosphere. This way she gets some hands on experiments. There are a TON of hands on activities in each of these units. She learns best visually, but she isn’t going to have fun just watching videos all of the time.

Social Studies/History:

Madison completed US History I and is finishing up US History II and US Government High School courses through Accellus in preparation for our upcoming trip to Washington D.C. Then she will finish up Middle School Geography. She was half way through this course and we stopped to focus on US History. Geography is not her favorite subject so this course was perfect for her. While it’s a long course, the videos are relatively short so even if it takes us forever to get through it, at least she will have it under her belt. She has already listened to all four volumes of Story of the World, so we are going to do Personal Finance next. Then we will look into CLEP and AP tests for US and World History.

Electives and Activities:

We joined a homeschool co-op and so once a week Madison will be taking a Homeschool PE class, a cooking class, and a Math Mania class. She is excited and is really looking forward to this co-op.

Madison will continue to do art through HomeArtSTudio and Meet the Masters.

She will continue her third year of piano lessons.

Madison will also continue her foreign language learning with Rosetta Stone Learn Spanish: Rosetta Stone Spanish (Latin America) – Level 1-5 Set, Learn French: Rosetta Stone French – Level 1-5 Set, and Learn Italian: Rosetta Stone Italian – Level 1-5 Set.

Most of her free time has been dedicated to playing Chess. See my post on A Girl and Her Love of Chess for more details.

Madison will also be doing Speech and Debate this Spring with the DFW Speech Club. Madison is not old enough yet, but when she turns 12, she cannot wait to join the Debate Club too!

A Girl and Her Love of Chess


Madison has always ‘liked’ chess, but recently she has engulfed herself in it. The past six months she has taken her love for chess to a much higher level.

Madison discovered chess tournaments at North Texas Chess Academy. She participated and learned how to use a chess clock and notate the game. At first it was a little intimidating, but after attending a few it became much easier. She also started taking private lessons with Coach Chris. Every single time we get into the car after one of her lessons she says, “I love Chess so much!” She not only understands the game so much better and not just technically, but also now is starting to understand the history, wonder, and the players that have achieved greatness. She has also attended camps that she enjoyed as well. And she has had the opporutnity to meet the newest champions that live in our area at North Texas Chess Academy. It has been quite a special experience!


Over the summer Madison took another chess camp through Mosaic with Alexey Root. Throughout the week the kids in the class play each other. At the end, the top two winners play each other. It was a complicated and grueling game, but Madison ended up winning. This boosted her self-confidence and what encouraged her need to grow and learn more about chess.

Madison’s birthday is over the summer and her Pen Pal that she has been writing back and forth with for 2 years sent her the perfect gift!

 

Madison also has a unique opportunity to have weekly small group online chess sessions for two hours with a Grandmaster. She loves these sessions and looks forward to them every week!

For the Fall, Madison plans on continuing all of the things above and has decided to join two chess clubs. The first one is with a local Catholic Homeschool Association. They will practice together and compete as a team in local Scholastic Chess Tournaments. The second club is an Online Homeschool Chess Club. They have weekly lessons and then participate in live, rated online chess tournaments twice a week.

She is very excited for these new endeavors. She has been playing chess for hours already, but it is much more fun when they are organized events where you can build friendships. πŸ™‚ 

Her favorite person to play though is her Papa. 

His gift is what encouraged her to learn to begin with. πŸ™‚ 


 

 

Our Incredible Journey of Giftedness ContinuesΒ 


Just when I thought the road we are traveling along was amazing, it becomes more amazing and with deeper meaning. 

I was struggling with how Madison could meet friends that she truly identified with. And don’t get me wrong, she has amazing friends. But there seemed to be something missing and she expressed knowing that. 

So fast forward and she met a friend. A friend that had the same interest level at chess as she did. Someone who challenged her. It was utopia for her.

And then we attended a class where she met another friend. And the conversations between the three were mind blowing to her. 

And I saw her smile and her eyes light up. She talked about that outing for days. 

And at that point, I realized I needed to apply for the Davidson Young Scholars Program on her behalf. And with an amazing amount of support, I did. And she was accepted. 

By doing this, I am helping her by supporting her social and emotional needs as well as her intellectual needs. And they are needs. 

I am so grateful for all of the support we have received throughout this process.. It has been amazing and we do not go one day without praising God and the path she has been lead to take. We are extremely appreciative of the support we are receiving. She really needed it. 

Testing her was the best decision I have ever made. It not only gave me the insight on how to educate her in the best manner possible, it opened the doors she really needed. To be she is. And to be supported. And to open doors for me to support her in the best possible way. 

And all of this was made possible by the encouragement and the support of friends and a special person that understands Madison and provides the opportunity to encourage her and to go out of their way to make a huge impact in her life. 

God is good. Always. 

I will post more to come on how we have learned to choose to focus on what really benefits Madison. What she loves and how she learns best. 

February 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

This month was a lighter month as far as activities go. Madison decided she wanted to join Homeschool Band and play the clarinet so we added one more weekly activity to the list. She enjoys practicing and does it on her own, so it’s been good so far. This month she learned about aquatic science in her Junior Master Naturalist program at the Perot and went on a field trip to the Trinity River Audubon Center. She lost me when she came home and started taking about leaches and eggs. 🀒

Madison is continuing her piano lessons and catechism classes as well as homeschool PE. 

We decided to spend a day at the zoo and Madison loves to take her treasures into the Nature Trading Center. She is collecting points and saving them up for something that has a high value. Madison also brought some additional items to get help identifying them. She loves to talk to the experts! 


Here she is feeding the giraffe. 


And she enjoyed hanging out with the birds.

It was Engineer Week and the American Society of Civil Engineers had a booth at the Perot Museum. They had a contest to see who could build the tallest building that could stand on its own by only using 2 sheets of paper, 10 inches of tape and 5 paper clips. 

This was an excellent challenge for Madison because she didn’t realize how hard it would be and it took her out of her comfort zone. She was very focused and was irritated when I tried talking to her while she was building it because she didn’t want me to give her any hints. She wanted to figure it out herself and it wasn’t coming easily for her. This ended up being a great thing, because she was happy to build it tall enough to get her name on the board and then when we got home she decided she needed to learn more so that she could understand structures and engineering better. It lit a fire. πŸ™‚ I have a knex bridge education set I’ll pull out and I’ve been researching more STEM ideas on Pinterest. 


Bless the Engineers who were working the booth that day. When Madison is determined and focused she can be quite a bear. That’s a work in progress. She wanted to go back and try again before we left, but I figured we had enough for one day. 

I think it will be easier for her to grasp the concept once she has high school physics and higher math. But it is so awesome to have activities like this to drive her to want to learn more and we’ll practice with other ideas in the meantime. 

It was also neat to hear from friends on Facebook who went on Monday and Friday and shared the different heights that were in the lead and to see pictures of their kids building their structures. 

We ended the month with an art class at the DMA. The theme this month was ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the class learned about real and mythical creatures in a special exhibition called Art and Nature in the Middle Ages. Madison really enjoyed this class and learned a lot. 


Then they went to the studio and created their own mythical creature and wrote with calligraphy pens.


Madison also decided it was time to cut her hair. She is now 7 inches lighter. Thank goodness! It will be so much easier to maintain now.



Madison finished up Secret of the Andes and Incas, Aztecs and Mayans this month with a final project that consisted of writing a 5 paragraph narrative essay. We are trucking along through the rest and I am in the process of exploring more tools to help her socially and with her education. More to come on that next month. πŸ™‚ 

January 2017 Gifted Homeschooling Update

img_5797This post contains affiliate links. Please see my complete disclosure for more details.

It snowed in Texas!!! Not a lot, but enough! πŸ™‚

It’s funny, I wonder why I am always tired and have bags under my eyes and then I write a monthly update post and see what we’ve done in a month and then I remember why. At the same time I know it’s not forever and will last Madison a lifetime and that is what makes it all worth it.
This month Madison went to the Perot Museum quite a bit. She learned about Ornithology in her Junior Master Naturalist class and went on a field trip to the John Bunker Sands Wetlands.

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The Perot had a special event called Journey to Mars that was presented by Lockheed Martin. They had a school bus set up and the windows inside were screens that showed a simulation as though you were driving on Mars. Madison enjoyed building her own stomp rocket and launched it and made her own badge.

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Madison’s favorite part of this event was talking to Dr Z. She went to speak to him on three different occasions while she was there. He amazed her and she loved hearing everything he had to say. They had some great conversations.

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The Perot also hosted a homeschool day early in the month. The focus was on Nano meters. Madison had never heard of nano meters before so she learned quite a bit. She even got to see nano gold and learn how it is being studied in the medical field.

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Unfortunately, we have had a bad season of allergies this month. Madison had a lot of sinus headaches and lost her voice. I started her on Zertec and she improved immensely. While she wasn’t feeling well she watched the series American Genius on Netflix. She really enjoyed this series.

Madison has continued Thinkwell 7th grade Math and we are on track to start Algebra I in early February. She also plays Prodigy for fun which allows her to practice and solidify basic skills at the same time she advances in higher math.

We are currently working on The Secret of the Andes unit from Moving Beyond the Page. In this unit in conjunction with the language arts unit, we are also working on the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans unit from Moving Beyond the Page. We dug deeper into this unit by reading the Mountains Discover Kids magazine and coordinating lesson plans as well as reading the Peru book from Top Secret.

In Secret of the Andes, we covered present, past and future verbs, verbals, a gerund, an infinitive, a participle, a verbal phrase, and how to write sentences with different beginnings. We will wrap up this unit with her writing a narrative essay in the beginning of February.

In Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans, Madison learned Mayan and Aztec History and Geography, Daily Life of the Maya’s and Aztecs, Mesoamerocan Warefare, Mesoamerican Knowledge, Mesoamerican Religion mans Celebration, History and Government of the Ican Impire, Daily Life of the Incas, The Art and Beliefs of the Incas, Incan Knowledge and Warefare, and Legacies of the Mayas, Aztecs, and Incas. The Perot has a traveling exhibit coming in February on the Mayans that we look forward to seeing. Madison read about Peru in Geography of the World and then colored Peru in on her wall map of the world.

The Thinkwell AP American Government course Madison is taking has been going very well without any issues. She has covered The Foundations of Government, Political Culture, and The History of the Constitution. Each of these have 4 – 5 subsections. She answers questions after each subsection. She will take a practice test and test after each chapter. Hopefully she does just as well on those.

With the recent Presidential inauguration, we took the opportunity to learn about the history of inauguration, the current cabinet positions and nominations as well as our President’s 100 day plan. We are tracking the 100 plan as well. Before the inauguration Madison also listened to the book Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame (and What the Neighbors Thought) (Lives of . . .).

For science Madison completed the Astronomy Unit study from Intellego and read and did lesson plans from the Discover Kids Space magazine. She also received her first Tinker Crate which was about polymers. It was a hit. She loved making mars mud, bouncy balls, slime and putty all by herself and reading and reviewing polymers at the same time.

As far as Art and Music go, Madison is continuing her piano lessons and loving them. She read the booklet and listened to the Maestro Classics ‘Carnival of the Animals.’

Madison completed a couple of projects from the DVD from Home Art Studio. We are still on third grade. She loves these art projects. The video shows her what to do and all I have to do is buy the supplies.

She also started a kit to learn how to draw and paint with water color pencils.General Pencil Learn to Draw and Paint with Watercolor Pencils

We attended the DMA homeschool class where Madison learned about patterns and wax resist. We enjoyed hanging out with friends and we also met some new friends!



Madison is continuing Rosetta Stone Homeschool Spanish (Latin America) Level 1-5 Set including Audio Companion, Visual Latin, and Wordly Wise 3000 Level 6 online. She reads her Daily Devotions and attends her weekly Religious Formation class. Madison also attends Homeschool PE weekly as well as American Heritage Girls. This month they had an awards ceremony and she received her badges in Photography, Living in the U.S.A., Fishing, Geology, and Aviation.

She loves playing chess kids and chess with others whenever she can. We attended a chess strategy session at the Library featuring Alexey Root and then Madison had a blast playing chess with her friend.

We love board games and I love the classics, but Madison has recently learned how to play Ticket To Ride, SET: The Family Game of Visual Perception,and Castle Panic. Next on her list of games to learn is Catan 5th Edition. Check out the Gameschooling Challenge from My Little Poppies. It is so much fun to see all the games people are playing, what is out there and which are the most fun.

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January also included fishing and a Top Golf outing for Madison and Jeff.

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So, I’ve decided from my last post that we cannot do it all, but now We’ve decided to try. Ha. Ha. We don’t have a path or a plan. We’re on a week by week basis now. πŸ™‚

December 2016 Homeschooling Update

December was filled with family, friends, blessings, and fun.

We started off the month with Madison’s Speech and Debate Tournament.

It was a 13 hour day and in the end, she placed 3rd in Junior Open Interpretation, 5th in Junior Informative and 6th in Sweepstakes. We were very proud of all the work she put into this. The best part was the knowledge she gained from learning how to write. She formulated a thesis statement, 3 main points, an introduction, and conclusion. She also learned how to cut a chapter book so it tells the story in 8 minutes. She learned so much from this experience.

Here are the videos of her speeches:

We decided it would be a good idea to take a break for the Spring semester so we can get more school in and to enroll again next Fall.

Madison participated in the Annual Great Hope Floats rain gutter regatta race with her American Heritage Girls troops and the Trial Life Troops. By a stroke of luck, her snowball making boat won first place.

Madison’s happy place is Color Me Mine and she enjoyed painting gifts for family and friends throughout the month.


We attended a Christmas party with our local co-op and Madison performed a piano piece for the recital. We also decorated gingerbread houses with friends, had an ornament exchange, and went on a horse drawn sleigh ride around town to enjoy the Christmas lights.

Madison really enjoyed the Dallas Art Museum Homeschool class this month.


They discussed the art while learning about the difference between fact and opinion. The art was very engaging.

Madison attended a very fun camp through NuMinds called Santa Runs on S.T.E.A.M. The camp was very engaging and creative. It was perfect for gifted children. The creative and fun way they were learning really engages gifted learners and brings out their desire to take their learning to the next level and encourages their critical and logical thinking without them even realizing it because they are having so much fun.

If only the public and private schools would embrace this curriculum and way of learning in their gifted programs…

I would encourage everyone to ‘like’ their Facebook page. They are doing some wonderful things for gifted learners.

Madison enjoyed decorating a STAR tree again this year. A STAR tree is a sad tree along the road. πŸ™‚ It’s a little thing we do in our town to spread the Christmas cheer.

My oldest daughter, Alyssa came home from Austin for Christmas and my parents came to visit too.

Jeff turned 50 this year! What a milestone to celebrate!

Madison enjoyed playing chess with my father.

She received Greek Mythology chess pieces from my parents for Christmas this year. She loves them!

Jeff, my dad, Alyssa, and Madison enjoyed spending quality time at Top Golf.


We visited Alyssa in Austin after Christmas and went to the Bullock Museum and the Texas State Capitol.

We also went to a pizza place called Rebel. Madison was excited to get dye free cotton candy.

We managed to squeeze in a visit to the Sistine Chapel Exhbition.

As far as curriculum goes, Madison did school up until the 20th of December minus the days we had activities. She did Daily Devotions, Jesus Our Guide, Wordly Wise book 6, Texas Citizenship, Space, Thinkwell Math 7, finished the History of Us and read the books on the December 2016 book list.

Now that Speech and Debate and the holidays are over, I have a plan that covers more for the new year. We will continue doing what we were doing in December, but will also add more writing and grammar as well as an easy Geography unit and coding and Microsoft Office. I will write a more detailed plan for January in the next post.

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  Here’s to rocking 2017! Cheers!

Sistine Chapel ExhibitionΒ 


We are fortunate that the Sistine Chapel Exhibition is currently in Dallas through January 8th, so we decided to visit it today. I was able to secure a Groupon so it made it a little more budget friendly.

It was a very intriguing exhibit to say the least. Each painting is a replica of the original size.

You can purchase an audio companion for  an additional $2. I definitely think it’s worth it. The audio takes about an hour and half to listen to. They do have signs that briefly describe each painting as well, but not as in depth as the audio does.
The display starts out with painting above you so there’s a lot of looking up while listening.



The signs show you where each picture is placed on the ceiling. They are all numbered, but aren’t all in order so there is some searching required to find the next one.


The paintings are amazing and this is the next best thing to seeing the originals.

I totally would have brought a Clorox wipe for the audio companion if I had known it was going to be so close to her face for hours. πŸ™‚ But that’s me…

 

They have a video that explains everything Michelangelo had to do to paint these and it’s kind of hidden to the right, but is a must to see and preferably before viewing the paintings.


I think this exhibition was amazing and I’m glad we went. It’s not the same viewing pictures of the paintings from a book or on the computer. And the wealth of knowledge Madison gained was worth the price of the admission. It is during the Renaissance period, so there is a lack of clothing (none) on people in the majority of the paintings. I thought I had better mention that so there are no surprises. πŸ™‚ I had to watch how I phrased that so I wouldn’t come up in searches that I didn’t want to come up in. πŸ™‚

It is in Dallas until January 8th and it’s a gem!

Visiting the Texas State Capitol

The second day we were in Austin, TX we decided to visit the Texas State Capitol.

Way up at the top of the dome is Lady Liberty. Madison is posing as lady liberty in front of the Capitol. The original Lady Liberty is on display at the Bullock Museum.

We started off with a tour of the Texas State Capitol. The tours are free and very comprehensive. Our tour guide, Elizabeth, was wonderful!

Here is a picture of the dome from the inside. If you stand on a star on the floor directly below it and clap or talk you can hear an echo that no one else around you can hear. That was pretty cool.

The hinges on the doors are really neat. They had a problem with people stealing them, so now they can be purchased in the gift shop. Madison was wanting to purchase one until she saw that they were $215.00.

We visited the Senate first and she learned all about what the Senate does and when. The desks are from 1890.



Then we visited the House of Representatives. Madison learned all about the House and what they do and when.



Madison located our Representative.



Then we toured the extension. The Texas State Capitol is the largest State Capitol in the United States. When we looked up we could see the Lady Liberty through the windows.



There are several QR codes placed inside the Capitol that you can scan to learn more about each area. We plan on doing that the next time we visit. They also have an interactive learning space to learn about each of the Texas War Heroes.

After the tour, we ventured outside to do a scavenger hunt of the grounds. They have one for the North side and one for the South. I printed them off prior to our visit. They do not have them available on site. Madison was tired after we completed the North side and suggested we save the South side so we would have something to do when we went back to visit again. She’s a hoot.


Here is a list of all of the memorials on both grounds. Here are explanations and pictures of each memorial.

This was the Korean War Veterans Memorial. It wasn’t on the scavenger hunt, but she visited all of them regardless.


Pioneer Woman


Texas Children. It represents all of the Texas children in public school. Madison is in full support of the public schools as long as she doesn’t have to attend. πŸ™‚


And…she chose to do a mannequin pose as well.

We were delighted and grateful that our State Capitol has the 10 Commandments on its grounds.


That pretty much sums up our visit to the Texas State Capitol. It was our first, but will not be our last.

Madison is interested in taking a leadership class here in upcoming years though Teenpact.

They offer camps and classes in many states for ages 8 & up.

We are so grateful for the opportunities to be able to teach Madison through hands on and engaging experiences by homeschooling.