Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
I cannot believe we have already completed 20 weeks of school this year!! Wow! It is passing so fast! That means a 100 days of school party is in order, and the kids reminded me of this mid-week. I have to be honest, the year round schedule is not working for us, at least not the 3 months on with 1 month off. The kids are just too hard to get back into a work groove after a month off, and by the time they are into the swing of things again it’s almost time to cycle off again. So…I’ve decided we will still school year round, but not on any set schedule. We will take time off when needed, whether it be for holidays, day trips, family vacations, or so forth. I am
OCD disciplined enough to more than keep track of our days and make sure we have all 180 in and then some. On to our week…
Jack did complete our Itty Bitty Bookworm unit centered around the book, Go Away Big Green Monster!, and very enthusiastically. From our IBB unit, Jack sorted monsters by color and shape, counted monsters, and made a monster. He LOVES this book. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times myself and Hanna read it to him. He has it memorized.
I purchased a flannel board set for our book of the week from Glitterful Felt Stories. We did this every day at Jack’s request. He loves the flannel board!
Another fun idea from Itty Bitty Bookworm was to trace and cut out all the parts for the green monster to make one. Hanna got this prepared for Jack and he glued them all down while I read the story. He also informed me that he would like the big, green monster to come play with him at the beach and help him dig:-).
Other than this, Jack enjoyed his usual—our October sensory bin, play-doh, trucks, and coloring.
Joe learned several new sounds in reading/phonics—“ee” and “ea” as in each, and as in bread. He did very well with these. I introduced a new game with these sounds from Happy Phonics. It’s a matching and spelling game. He and I both really enjoy the games from Happy Phonics.
I printed readers from Progressive Phonics for the sounds th, sh, ch, wh, and ee. Joe enjoys reading to me and I love watching and listening to him as he reads. There is nothing like watching your child learn to read, it is such a good feeling.
His writing practice for the week continued to come from Explode the Code Books 2 and 3.
I bought the game Logic Links for Joe and Hanna to play together. They both LOVE it! They played it often during the week. Joe is able to do the beginner cards very well, and Hanna does the advanced ones. This is a wonderful game to encourage and develop critical thinking skills.
I have known for a while that I need to do something about Joe’s math. He has been using Abeka’s 5K program. It is very, very easy for him, no challenges whatsoever. Joe is so eager to learn. He honestly never complains about anything I ask him to do in his school work. Really, I could ask him to write the same sentence over and over until he fills a whole page and he’d do it. His work ethic is super. He loves to be challenged and always asks for “something harder”. I’ve had him whizzing through his Abeka math book. The only glitch we hit was telling time. This was solved very quickly by reading Telling Time With Big Mama Cat for about a week, and me explaining that each number on the clock represents 5 minutes. He picked up on it instantly, and went from struggling with telling time to the half hour to being able to tell any time (other than individual minutes like 6:43, for example). Joe adds and subtracts in his head very quickly, he can count by 2’s, 5’s, 10’s and even 11’s without me even teaching him how, and he can count money rapidly. He definitely gets these skills from his Daddy—I take no credit in the math department!
I read review after review for math curriculums the past couple weeks. I finally decided to have him take the Horizons Math Placement test. He took two of them, and I was able to determine he needs to be placed in 2nd grade math. (I had him leave blank the things we haven’t covered yet.) I ordered Horizons 2nd Grade Complete Math kit, and we will begin it when we get it and I read over it. Here are pictures of the placement test he took for 2nd grade Horizons Math. Click on them to enlarge—these are just thumbnails.
In History we finished SOTW chapter 7 and 8, and began chapter 9. We did not complete any extra projects for history, but Hanna and Joe mapped and we read lots of books on India and China.
In Science we worked on Lesson Two in Apologia Zoology 2 Swimming Creatures which focused on whales. We learned that whales are Cetaceans, we learned about baleen and toothed whales, dolphins, porpoises (I didn’t know what the difference of these two were until this week), whale migration, whalers, beached whales and that scientists think whales are very loyal to each other and will go to great extents to protect one another. Whales are also very good mothers. I have thoroughly enjoyed our studies on whales so far and could go on and on about more that I’ve learned. Next week we plan to complete lesson two along with an experiment and additions to Hanna’s Ocean Box.
Hanna began Winston Grammar. So far, so good. You can read my complete review and thoughts on this program *here*. TT Math 6 is still moving along very well for her, as are the rest of her courses. She is doing great this year in her attitude and work ethic. I am very proud of her and the progress she has made!
Our study of “The Living Christ” is still something we are enjoying. We are working on week 3. Hanna is memorizing each week pretty quickly. I am not focusing on memorization for Joe. He doesn’t really want to, but he instead is very eager to try and read each week’s assignment on his own. This is just as good as far as I’m concerned.
Phew! A lot to cover this week! I think that finally wraps it up. We had a very good week, all of us. I couldn’t ask for anymore. Everyone got along so well, the little boys napped every afternoon after their 2 month nap strike, and we got lots of work done. I can only hope next week goes as well:-).
I am linking this post to:
- Preschool Corner and 5K Too @ Homeschool Creations
- Weekly Wrap-Up @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Hanna has been using Basic Winston Grammar for about 3 weeks. So far, we both like it, I’ll post again in a month or so with another update. I wanted to give a brief rundown of Winston Grammar, what it includes and how it works in this post.
- Student Workbook including worksheets, pre and post-tests
- Teacher’s Manual
- clue cards
- non-function cards
…are double sided. On one side is the name of a part of speech with it’s abbreviation used in sentence labeling. On the other side… …are brief clues about the part of speech. These cards are used by the student when doing the worksheets for daily practice, but not on tests—at least not on tests in our homeschool:-). Pictured above are the backsides of the clue cards for articles, nouns, verbs and helping verbs.
The program moves pretty slow and is designed to be done for about 10 minutes per day. Here is how it goes:
- Introduce part(s) of speech to student with appropriate clue card(s). (So far I have only introduced articles and nouns to Hanna in lessons 1 and 2.)
- Have student use clue cards to map out a sentence. Any word/part of speech not yet learned will be marked with a black, blank card.
- Label parts of speech in sentences on workbook practice worksheets.
The student is only supposed to do 3-5 sentences per day, so a worksheet will take 2 or 3 days to complete. Next, the student is to find the parts of speech they are learning in books. For example, I had Hanna find/label parts of speech she’s practicing/learning in a Nancy Drew Book she was currently reading. This is to be done until they have no mistakes and show signs of mastery. Finally, they are to use the parts of speech in their own writing and label them so that you know they were not included accidentally. After this, you move on to the next lesson.
Even though articles and nouns are very basic and not new to Hanna, we are following the program each step of the way and thoroughly. I found that it was most difficult for her to pick out the parts of speech in her Nancy Drew book, so I can see already how each of the mastery steps is needed and beneficial. I think this slow progression is going to be just what Hanna needs to (hopefully!) master and enjoy? grammar.
So far I am giving Basic Winston Grammar two very big thumbs up! I’ll update on our progress and thoughts after we’ve completed several more lessons.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Hanna made Joe and Jack two adorable Trick-or-Treat bags. I tried to get her to make one for herself too, but she insisted that she wanted to continue using her flashlight style Jack-o-Lantern she’s had since she first started trick-or-treating.
I wanted the boys to have something they could use year after year, and was also homemade. So, when I came across an idea for canvas trick-or-treat bags I thought they were perfect! Hanna volunteered to make them for me, which made me even happier:-). The bags came in a 3 pack which means there is an extra one that we will use for Jesse next year.
Here is what we used:
- small canvas bags
- assorted beads and buttons
- Halloween cookie cutters
- googly eyes (for Joe’s bat)
- glow in the dark acrylic paint
- Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue
Here is what we did:
- Pre-wash, but air dry canvas bags, then iron.
- Trace cookie cutter of your choice onto the front of the canvas bag with a pencil.
- Fill in the outline of your shape with buttons and beads, gluing down with a generous amount of Tacky Glue.
- Use beads and/or buttons to make the words Treats—or whatever you choose on your bag, and glue on.
- Paint glow in the dark paint on your bag for added flair. I painted a glow in the dark moon on Joe’s, and a couple stripes—one on the top and another at the bottom on Jack’s.
- Allow to dry for 24-48 hours.
You are now ready to Trick-or-Treat in style! My boys are very excited to take their new bags out this weekend, especially Jack who asks several times daily:-). Thank you so much Hanna for being so sweet to make these bags for your brothers. That makes them extra special!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I love games that are fun, educational and require lots of thinking without my kids realizing it. Knot So Fast is one of those games!
When I recieved Knot So Fast from Timberdoodle for review, I have to be completely honest, I was a little skeptical as to whether my kids would like it. I decided to open it up, read the instructions myself and then set it up in the middle of our homeschool table and just see if it drew the kids in. I knew they would spot it and be curious about it, but whether it would draw them in enough to occupy them was another question. I had it ready before they even got up one morning.
Well, it not only drew in the kids, but Jamie too. I found him sitting at the table by himself like this:
After Hanna finished her chores, she came in and joined him (on her own). They played against each other for a short bit.
Next, Joe came in and watched the two of them.
It didn’t take too long before Joe wanted to try it himself. He and Hanna played for a while, but Joe kept practicing and trying more knots by himself off and on the whole morning.
This was day one of introducing Knot So Fast. I wondered if the novelty would wear off, and this would be another learning game the kids would only pull out when I forced the issue. Very happy to report that this game has been pulled out each afternoon by Hanna and Joe without me even mentioning it since that first day.
I have to add that Knot So Fast is recommended for ages 8+. Joe is only 5 years old, and he is able to tie lots of the knots that he attempts, and he thoroughly enjoys playing and understands what he is doing. He has even beaten his 11 year old sister some of the time.
Knot tying is an important skill, but what I like besides the fact that the kids are learning to tie knots while playing, is the critical thinking skills they are gaining, fine motor skills practice, and manual dexterity, especially for a child Joe’s age. Knot So Fast is gong to come in very handy for years to come with a house full of boys who will be in Boy Scouts!
What does Knot So Fast include:
- Tug-o-war Scorekeeper
- 4 Ropes
- 4 Rings
- 30-second Timer
- 40 Challenge Cards that are 4 different levels—Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert
- Instruction Manual
What does Knot So Fast Provide?
- Time together as a family playing a game that teaches while having fun.
- Knot tying skills that can help for a lifetime.
- Critical thinking skills and fine motor skills practice, as well as manual dexterity in children.
- Will help immensely with Boy Scouts who need practice for all those merit badges in knot tying!
I am very pleased with Knot So Fast, and even happier that the kids are having so much fun with it. It would make a great birthday present, or Christmas present, which is right around the corner!
Be sure to check out Timberdoodle on Facebook. Through next Tuesday they are running some awesome giveaways! Today’s, for example, was Rosetta Stone.
Friday, October 22, 2010
We have gotten a lot accomplished the last two weeks of school and had a lot of fun while doing it. It’s been nice to go on several field trips and actually see a little about what we’ve been learning.
Jack continued to just have fun playing. I am going to have to make sure I do what I can to get in some school type stuff for him next week, because I’ve got a really fun Itty Bitty Bookworm unit planned out based on the book, Go Away Big Green Monster,that I really want to share with him. This week though he had fun playing, coloring, and just being a two-year-old while we schooled. It’s been wonderful to have him be content to entertain himself so much the past couple weeks because we’d just come off of a pretty long and needy spell.
Joe learned three new sounds—”tch” as in patch, “ch” as in school, and “a” as in ball. This week all of his lessons from ETC came from book 3. This also served as his writing practice for the week. He’s doing the pages pretty fast, so I don’t worry too much about other handwriting practice when we move quickly in his Code books.
In math he worked on addition using his Usborne Sticker Addition book. This is pretty simple addition, but it’s good practice and fun, so I thought it was perfect for a laid back week. We also continued with telling time to the hour and half hour, counting by fives and did a bit of patterning.
In Science we began lesson two from Apologia Zoology 2 Swimming Creatures. This lesson is about whales. We are learning some pretty interesting facts about whales so far. I love reading aloud with the kids in Science and History. We watched a video on YouTube of humpback whales. The kids enjoy watching videos and looking at images online about what we are studying—I do too. It makes it much more real.
We covered chapters 6 and 7 in Story of the World, Volume Two, Middle Ages. We are in India right now. We are reading some very good books, and I am still favoring History over all else we do in our homeschool.
Hanna and Joe both made edible oases for a history project—so far all of our history projects have come from the SOTW Activity Book which is awesome! These were made in pie pan's from Dollar Tree. They put a thin layer of brown sugar on the bottom, used animal crackers for their animals, made an oasis out of blue M&M’s, and made palm trees out of tootsie rolls and cut up fruit slices that were held together with toothpicks.
Here is Joe’s:
We are plugging away with our study of “The Living Christ”. Hanna and Joe are really enjoying this, and have both memorized week 1. (We are moving at our own pace.) Hanna has also memorized week 2, and Joe has partially memorized it. Joe loves the booklet I made for him with the small picture cards and tries to read from them off and on each day. This has turned into excellent reading practice for him!! I read The Friend magazine to them each day at lunch and they all look forward to this. Jack is participating in our reading so patiently and enthusiastically. I am thankful we are doing this.
Hanna moved along fine in Teaching Textbooks Math 6, Wordly Wise Book 6, Writing Strands Level 3 and Queen’s Language Lessons. Although I had planned to begin Winston Grammar this week, we did not. Next week I will for sure. With field trips and other planning we have going on at home, this was a busy week.
We went on a zoo field trip yesterday, just because. We all felt like a break from the normal and the weather has been perfect! It was a fun trip and we all enjoyed it.
That wraps another week of “Our Homeschool Fun”, and it has been.
I am linking this post to:
Thursday, October 21, 2010
This past week the kids each worked on a Halloween craft. I let Hanna and Joe choose their own, but I picked out something fun and simple for Jack, so we’ll start with his. For Jack, I put out white paper, orange and black tempera paints and assorted Halloween cookie cutters. He had fun dipping the cookie cutters in the paint and then painting on the paper. Of course, he ended up hitting the cookie cutters onto the plate so hard over and over again, which meant paint was splattering everywhere—activity over. But, he did have fun:-).
I let Joe choose what he liked best from several ideas I found online. He chose a haunted house craft based on the book Ghosts in the House. We followed the directions exactly as they are over at Journey Into Unschooling. This turned out great.
Hanna browsed ideas at The Crafty Crow and found what she wanted to make—haunted houses from cereal boxes. She added these to her Halloween shelf in her room next to the house she made last year from a kit she got for her birthday. She’s working on another house this week. I’ll share it when she finishes up. She is so good at crafting independently. She is able to find the idea, gather all her supplies, make the craft and then clean it all up—so nice!
Here are some of our favorite Halloween books about haunted houses and trick or treating we’ve been enjoying together.
I am linking this post to:
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
We went on a field trip to the Renaissance Festival over the weekend. Since we will be studying the Renaissance period later in the school year I thought this would be a wonderful history activity for us. Now, it wasn’t exactly a huge educational trip, but it was so much fun! We all had a blast! It was neat to see everyone in period costumes, all the villages set up, the games, acrobats, music—everywhere we turned there was some sort of action going on. The kids thought it was one of the neatest places they’d ever been—at least Hanna and Joe. I think Jack was a little overwhelmed with all the busyness and people everywhere, but I know despite this he still had a very good time.
Here are pictures from the day.
One of our favorite’s from the day was the Joust Tournament. Joe especially enjoyed this. It was really neat to see these costumes and watch them riding on the horses.
Now, I know Jack didn’t know what to think during the Joust. He sat still as a stone the whole time in his stroller. I didn’t dare ask him if he was ok, or what he was thinking, because honestly I couldn’t tell if he was scared and I was afraid he might start crying if I said something to him. But, afterward when Jamie and I asked him if he liked it he said yes several times, so let’s hope he was telling the truth and wasn’t sitting there scared:-).
The kids had fun on some of the rides too. All of the rides were man-powered. Jack and I enjoyed this huge Rocking Horse. It was SO big and tall. Two women were at the bottom making it rock back and forth while we were in it. It really was rocking too. I had to hold on. Jack liked this a lot.
Hanna’s favorite of the whole day was the Catapult Jumping. I was afraid to let her do this because I think it looks dangerous, but she is getting to the age to where she wants to do adventurous things, so I didn’t want to say no. I remember wanting to do things like this and having no fear. She did it and liked it so much she did it a second time.
Hanna and Joe both climbed the rock wall. Hanna likes to do this and did well. It was Joe’s first time. He did it twice and thought it was so much fun. He did super and made it all the way to the top.
Jamie wanted to do paintball. The poor guy in the armor looks like he’s been hit quite a few times throughout the day.
We had such a great time at this festival! We all thought it was the neatest place. This will definitely be a new trip we take each year. A super, super fun day!