Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowy Saturday

We had our snowstorm. Of course it is a snowstorm only by our southern standards. But, fun for all the big and small kids all the same.



Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 Week 4

I have to say it was another odd week. We started off with another day off for the ps kids on Monday, so we didn't have anything organized for that day. Mary did work on her presentation for the weather badge, which is also the science we are currently studying.

Tuesday and Wednesday passed in a blur as the girls never really wanted to settle down to any sit down work. Every assignment seemed to me like pulling teeth. Plus the afternoons were busy driving them back and forth to activities. Mary did a very cool drawing in her art class of the 'Microscopic World'.

Emily started her 'Round the World Unit and has really enjoyed having her own thing to study. We read The Legend of the Moon Goddess and the Rabbit and Tikki Tikki Tembo. We located China on the World Map and colored in China on a printout, and we colored the flag of China.

Mary read George the Drummer Boy and began reading a biography of Daniel Boone. She completed her assignment on Where was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? by writing a paragraph summary of the book.

Katie got her script for this session's play in her Drama Class. They are doing the Three Little Pigs, and she got the part of the third pig. She was been working on memorizing that.

Today, Mary and Katie had their second weather class. They are LOVING this class. It is taught by a meteorologist and are learning so much. Since our science topic is weather right now, it works out that they are doing on the hands-on activities there. A little break for me. And, the teacher keeps them busy. I'm amazed by all the things they do each day.

Mary showed me their lab sheets after class today and I was impressed.

Apparently Mary took these notes as the teacher talked. She did not copy from the board as I assumed.

Katie drew pictures to describe the activities that they did - which apparently involved hair dryers, ping pong balls, hurricane flags and alka-seltzer.

I've decided that we need to add a new computer to my wish list. We have another computer user....

He is loving Starfall, PBS Kids and Playhouse Disney.

So, it wasn't the week planned out on paper, but it wasn't too bad.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Another Teacher Workday

Another week that begins with our 'day off'. The public schools had a teacher workday since it is the end of the 1st semester. It began as a pretty odd day. Shortly after DH got to work they were evacuated for a gas leak and sent home (I was totally unaware of this). DH left his cell phone here by mistake and and I started getting calls on it. Finally I answered when I saw that it was his boss. Apparently the leak had been repaired and they had reopened, but DH didn't have his phone, so had to wait until he finished the 30 minute drive home to tell him that he needed to turn back around and drive 30 minutes back to work.

Mary had some reading leftover from last week to finish, which she did in small chunks throughout the day. She was a little upset that I made her go back to the beginning of the book after she could not answer some basic comprehension questions, but maybe she will learn that staring at a book for 15 minutes isn't necessarily reading.

Otherwise it was a much quieter ps day off than normal. I watched Mary's best friend since her dad had to work, and the two of them spent the morning getting their project ready to present tomorrow night at Girl Scouts. They completed the Weather Badge together.

Katie seemed to still be recuperating from overnight at the museum with her Brownie Troop. Kind of glad I wasn't trying to teach her anything today, it could have been pretty frustrating.

The neighbor took the my two older girls and Mary's best friend to the bounce house during Robbie's nap time and Emily was able to play with her friend, so I actually finished planning this week and think I am ready to go for tomorrow morning.

This one is excited to start her China Unit Study tomorrow.

She saw that China was purple on the world map and is very excited that I picked that one because it is her very favorite color!



Friday, January 22, 2010

More Planning

I've been tossing around ideas and window shopping curriculum trying to decide what to study with Katie and Emily for the rest of this year and for next year. Mary is/will be doing Story of the World 3/4 and a corresponding US History. I don't like the idea of wrapping the younger ones in, especially as we move into modern history. And, I didn't like the idea of starting Emily and Katie in SOTW 1 next year, putting them on an entirely different rotation. What I liked was the idea of Sonlight's Core K, but I didn't like what I saw of the Instructor's Guide. I figured I could put together my own World Culture study, especially as Mary and I did a little bit of that when she was younger.

I've sketched out the plan for the next year-and-a-half. I plan on using our personal library, wonderful public library, Enchanted Learning, and the internet in general as our resources. My goal is to make the study include geography, culture, literature, art and science. In addition to this we will continue normal studies and reading through the appropriate Ambleside Online literature list.

We will be starting our China Unit next week and study that until mid February when we celebrate the Chinese New Year. I've already planned this and will start working on the next units in the weeks to come.



2010 Week 3

Our week won't really be finished until this afternoon, but while Mary and Katie are at their Weather class I figured I could have some time to update for the week.

We've had another busy, productive week and lived up to the name of our blog. The weather has been wet, allowing for a lot of muddy shoes and pants. And, the girls have been particularly interested in art this week.

Our week started off with MLK jr. Holiday, and when our days off are on Mondays it tends to make the rest of the week disjointed and feel longer. This week was no exception. While we got things accomplished I feel like it was a long trudge uphill, through the snow.


Emily began working through MEP Math Level 1. It is a free program and I thought that it was a nice, concrete introduction to math skills. So far we have done two lessons and she seems to enjoy it. We've also continued working on sight words and reading more books. I am pulling out a few other books, in addition to her beloved "Bob" Books so that we can have a variety. She is doing well with them, but struggles if there is more than one line of text per page.

On her own she has been spending time reading on the Starfall site and playing games at PBS Kids.

Emily also had her ballet class and art class. She is continuing to gain confidence in attending classes on her own and loves being a BIG girl.


Katie's math moved into telling time to 5 minutes. This, surprisingly has taken a bit more hand-holding than I figured. She has been adding and subtracting time in her head with the digital clock for awhile now that I didn't even realize that she was so lost on an analog clock. I did find the teaching clock in our school supplies and being able to manually move the hands was helpful for her.

We started the WWE program. Katie is using Level 1. Once she gets used to the program I really think that it will be a good fit for her. She hasn't fussed about the copywork component in it and has been trying hard to do her best work. I really like the fact that we have a nice, gentle introduction to narration, especially since Mary still struggles with this.

For reading, she and I are using the next to the highest reading text I own. Flipping through it together I still think it is on the 'easy' side for her, but it gives her some hand-holding while she moves into reading longer chapter books. On her own she has chosen to read one of the Disney Fairy books we have. We are still reading "The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle as our read-aloud.

She continues to listen in on Mary's US History readings and is doing History Pocket projects along with Mary. She finished up "Paddle-to-the-Sea" by watching the short Canadian film that was made for the book. She did find that it skipped some of her favorite parts of the book.

Katie had another drama class this week and continued to work with her flute. The lesson this week was how to correctly hold the flute.


Math was continued work on double digit multiplication. She is doing fine. Math Mammoth works in such step-by-step progression it seems really slow sometimes, but I know that she is getting a solid grasp on why and how multiplication works.

Mary also started WWE this week, working at level 3. She is probably at a mid-to-late level 2, so I am adapting some of the lessons until she gets used to the process. I was worried about the dictation, but she has done fine with it. For ILL we did another picture study this week and I enjoyed the opportunity to be introduced to an American painter I did not know, John George Brown.

We've stayed on track this week for our History study. This week our focus was the beginning of the American Revolution; causes and early events. The girls have enjoyed working on history pockets again. We started reading "Tolliver's Secret" by Esther Wood Brady, and Mary read "Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May" by Jean Fritz. At the library last night Mary checked our the Illustrated Classic version of "The Three Musketeers" by Alexander Dumas.

In science Mary's focus was learning what weather is and about the atmosphere of Earth. Today, she and Katie are at their Weather class for the morning. They will attend this class for three Friday mornings.


I have been working on some lesson plans for Emily and Katie to use the rest of this year and through next. Since Katie is not ready to move into Modern History with Mary, and I don't want to start a new history rotation for Katie and Emily, I've decided to pull together materials for a 'Round-the-World Culture and Literature unit. We will be starting next week with China and celebrate the Chinese New Year." I've already gone through my shelves and have a large box of books put aside for the study and have been going through all the bookmarks I've made over the years. Eventually I will pull it all out of my head and off the scribbles on paper, and post my plan.



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Art Day

Today ended up transforming itself into an impromptu art day. First thing this morning we headed out to run errands. I had promised Mary that I would take her to Michaels to spend her gift card on some jewelry making odds & ends. While there we also picked up some more chalk pastels and watercolor pencils since they were on sale.

When we got home it was hard to get everyone settled and focused on a day of schooling. But, I did. At least until Mary got to her science assignment, which just happened to have an art component. She had to draw the atmosphere and label it.

Well, since we now had all the art supplies out, everyone wanted in on the fun.

I pulled out "The Usborne Art Treasury" and we looked at Van Goh's painting 'The Starry Night' and then Mary tried her hand with imitating his style in a landscape.

Considering she was trying to imitate a painting using chalks, I don't think it was too bad of a first attempt.

She and Katie continued working together on some other pieces. Mary was trying to teach Katie some of the techniques she has been learning in her art class on Wednesdays.

By this time I had given up today to Art and figured I should just enjoy the extra time to work on my lesson planning.



Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dictation Today

Today we did something new. Something I know I should have been doing with Mary for a couple of years now, but I just couldn't bring myself to face the wrath of introducing dictation into our school.

I'll tell you that my stomach was tied up in knots anticipating Mary's reaction when I told her what we were doing for WWE today. I calmly explained to her what dictation was and how it was going to work. I could see her gearing up to give me one of her, "I can't do it" speeches, I told her that I didn't expect her to get it perfect since it was her first time...yadda, yadda, yadda. And, her attitude totally flipped.

"What will you give me if I get it all right?"

Me, feeling pretty confident, "I'll give you a bellydance."

"Really? I want to see that!"

Dang it, the child who can't spell anything without help has been playing me like a fiddle. It is a good thing I embarrass her even when no one is around, because I didn't have to dance too long.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Days Work

For the last three nights I have been trying to make sense of our history program as we move forward this semester. My goal is/has been to thread US History and World History together as we move through the Early Modern period. The Fall Semester was really heavy on US History, early colonization up to the French-Indian War. At the beginning of the year my plan was to only focus on US History, but we enjoyed reading George Washington's World so much and learning about world events that I decided over Christmas that we would pick up with Story of the World Vol. 3.

So, I needed to outline how we were going to use the following materials (not including the literature/biography books) in a way that we were not dancing all over the timeline.
Story of the World Vol.3
The Story of the USA
George Washington's World
Learning Through History Magazine: Revolutionary War
History Pockets:
American Revolution
Westward Movement

I finally found some time to sit down without children interrupting every 3 minutes this morning and figured out how it would work. First of all, I had to realize that there was no way we were going to be able to read all of George Washington's World as part of school. If Mary and Katie still enjoy it we will finish reading it in our own time.

This is what I came up with:

I don't have the details filled in for the History Pockets-Westward Movement at this time because I have not purchased the material yet. I know there are 10 pockets in this title, which fits perfectly with the time I have set to use it.

In addition to these resources, I have also been weeding through our home library and trying to figure out which books I will read as read-alouds and which ones Mary will be reading. The problem isn't that I don't have enough ;) We also have SchoolHouse Rock, The Liberty Kids DVD series and The National Geographic Lewis & Clark series that we will be using.

I'm thrilled to see that it all works out, including taking a week off for Spring Break. We will still finish history two weeks before our school year ends, which gives us a little wiggle room.



Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Week 2

We've had another good week of school, including a fun field trip on Thursday. So far our subjects and materials seem to interest the children, except for Latin (more on that later). Everyone is trying really hard to do the best job they can do and is cooperating. I really can't ask for much more than that.


Emily has been moving full-speed ahead since last fall. I've given up with trying to stay ahead of her and generally let her take the lead on what she wants to do. A first for one of my children, it has been reading. Reading, reading and more reading. We stopped working through HOP back in the fall because it moved to slowly for her. Instead she is reading through the library's collection of BOB books having very little trouble. Thanks to Leap Frog videos this child has got her blending down pat.

This week we started focusing on sight words using the Dolche pre-primer list. I made up flash cards for her and then she decided she needed to practice writing by making her own sight cards.

Emily has also been doing beginning and ending word sound worksheets, making letter posters using magazine pictures (labeling the pictures with her own unique and phonetic spellings).

In math we have started basic addition.

Along with all that we have been enjoying the library books she picked out on the last visit and reading through a collection of Fairy Tales she received for Christmas.

She is also really enjoying her Kinderdance and Art classes at the rec department this winter.


Math Mammoth Grade 1/Grade 2
We finished Grade 1 MM this week (or at least the review parts I wanted to go back over with Katie) and moved on to starting Grade 2 at Ordinal Numbers and 1/2 & 1/4 fractions. She has so much more confidence at math than she had earlier this year.

Katie spent the week copying the poem "Tree House" by Shel Silvertein. She still struggles with spacing and gets very frustrated. Next week we will be starting Writing with Ease Level 1, which will incorporate much of her copywork. And continue doing the occasional poem.

Katie finished up her short vowel worksheets and making words plural. Next week she will begin the Level C workbook for phonics.

She has been reading aloud from a text reader we had, but after this week I will be moving her on to a new one. In the last few weeks her reading has really clicked and this reader is too easy. She has been reading Calvin & Hobbes cartoons in her spare time this week.

We finished reading "Paddle-the-Sea" and mapping his journey.

Katie has been listening along to George Washington's World while I read it to Mary.

We have read about the Oceans, Coral Reefs and Seashores in The Kingfisher Living Worlds book and have read 1/2 of One Small Square:Seashore. We've also watched Planet Earth multiple times.

We have begun reading Doctor Dolittle as a read aloud.

Drama & Flute
Katie has been following along with the DVD and is working on getting her embouchure correct.

She also began her Drama class for the winter quarter.


Mary has spent this week learning how to multiply in columns. She finds this very easy following the examples and has only had 100% on her work this week. I'm glad to see that she isn't making as many pesky addition errors in her math anymore due to rushing through it.

Language Arts
Mary has completed Lessons 5 & 6 in Intermediate Language Lessons. She has had to compose a story and we worked on how to read a poem. Next week Mary will also begin working through Writing with Ease Level 3, in addition to ILL. We are dropping Latin at this time and I will be reevaluating where we go later with that.

Mary has worked on silent d, c, g, and w this week. This advanced phonics review has been good for Mary and I see lots of improvement in her reading and spelling.


Mary is reading biographies from "They Led the Way: 14 American Woman".


SOTW vol3
read about Newton, Locke, Agricultural Revolution, Peter the Great, and the Ottoman Empire Looks West. Mary did narrations for Newton, Locke and Agricultural Revolution and a written summary for Peter the Great. We explored St. Petersburg on the web and looked at maps comparing Russia's expansion in the last 1600s and 1700s.

George Washington's World
We have read about George and Martha's wedding and Thomas Jefferson attending college in Williamsburg.

We completed the chapter on the Water Cycle in Mary's science text book. Mary answered the summary questions and completed a water cycle diagram.

We finished reading both "The Cabin Faced West" and "The Sign of the Beaver" as read alouds.

Art & Music
Mary went to her second art class at the rec center. She learned about perspective and is finding that she really does enjoy drawing (now that she has gotten a little guidance from someone who knows what they are doing.

Mary has also been working with her guitar and is still trying to build up her finger strength has she learns her first chords.
In the evening we are currently reading "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".

Mary had Girl Scouts this week and cookie sales are in full swing, which is keeping us busy. Both girls have dreams of huge sales. They are also flipping through their badge books trying to decide which badge they next want to work on.

Busy, busy, busy!! But, I feel that we are really accomplishing something lately.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Field Trip Day

We took today off from 'school' so that we could go to the Museum of Life and Science. Being cooped up so many days in the house from the cold was starting to wear on our nerves. Mary suggested we go to the Butterfly house where we know that it would be warm and we could pretend for awhile that it wasn't winter.

It was wonderful being somewhere warm and full of color.

My boy really enjoyed getting a close up of all the bugs.

After the Butterfly house we went back to the main museum where we danced for a little while,

built with Kapla blocks, explored clouds and played math games.

It was just the break we needed!!

When we came home this afternoon my order of Writing With Ease workbooks for Mary and Katie had been delivered!! I have all weekend to read through them so we can start on Monday.



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Brrrr! It is still cold. I feel like I was lied to today, so excited that the temps were going to be in the upper '40s with sunshine. Instead we've had upper 30s and clouds. I'm so over this cold snap and instead of getting more used to it, we are becoming more sensitive.

This morning it took three tries of playing

in order to wake the girls up this morning. They did not want to leave their comfy, warm spots.

On those brave excursions outside we have seen a HUGE number of birds wintering here. Lots of pretty flashes of red against the gray and brown backdrop that has been our world.

A few members of the house can sit for hours outside watching them.

Off to continue my job as a tax driver.



Monday, January 11, 2010

An extended blog vacation

Obviously my New Year's resolution did not involve blogging more. We had a wonderful Holiday season and DH was off for most of it, so we spent our time hanging with him. And, then when the Holidays were over I was all focused on getting a good jump back into 'real' the computer took a backseat to everything else.

Here we are at the beginning of the winter quarter, brrr. I guess I can say that the weather has been conducive to staying inside and getting things done. Monday, January 4th came and we jumped back in where we left off before Christmas. It wasn't nearly as difficult starting back as it has been in past years.

I got a scare this weekend when my computer contracted another virus and it kept telling me I couldn't open my pdf files. I tried to be frugal this year and got several programs as pdfs...figured they would last through several children and generally cheaper up front. I was able to clean the computer and got my pdfs back, but it is making me reconsider the advantages of having hard copies in the coming years.

Lots of activities are filling our calendar for the next two months...I am taking full advantage of the Parks and Rec department that is only a mile up the road for extra classes this year. The time and location makes it very convenient for us. Katie is doing her drama class again, Emily is taking a dance class and art class and Mary is doing an art class. Mary and Katie will also be doing a three-day track out (set up for year-round ps students) class on meteorology. It tied in so well with our study of weather this term. Tuesdays and Wednesdays we basically spend the afternoon driving back and forth (to save my sanity from having to chase Robbie through the hallways). Once it warms up we can stay and play outside during the classes.

And, we still have Girl Scouts times two. I think everyone knows what Girl Scouts do in January and February...what a frenzy this has been made into. My children are foaming at the mouth for me to take them out selling. Me, I always hated cookie sales as a scout. It is only a couple of weeks and we will get through them and then it will just be a memory until next year.


A family of six living and learning. You might catch us outside in the mud or working on crafts. We always seem to be on the go, come on and join us.