Saturday, February 27, 2010

Two months of the year done!!

We finished off the rest of the week pretty well. It helped that we had no outside activities planned for Thursday and Friday. All of us needed a bit of a rest.

In history we only completed our US History assignments this week as I didn't feel like rushing through World History. We read Shh! We're Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz, touched on the Constitution and Bill of Rights and discussed.

We studied Mercury and Venus in science. The girls completed notebook pages, both choosing to draw and write about Venus.
Then the girls pulled out the planet pack and put our solar system on the wall.

Mary continued working though temperature in her math program, but also worked on her multiplication facts in build up to beginning division in a couple of weeks.

In Language Arts we studied the poem "Jabberwocky" and discussed rhyming schemes and Mary continued working on irregular plural nouns.

Katie enjoyed playing on SpellingCity to cement her spelling words, although this list was really easy for her anyway. She took her test on Friday and scored another 100%. She is still working on memorizing her addition facts to 20. Her Math Mammoth lessons have been working on mental tricks of addition that are really confusing Katie for some reason, so we are focusing on memorizing. Katie completed her writing assignment of narrating The Frog Prince and did several sheets on nouns for grammar.

I don't have any pictures of Emily this week, but she kept busy too. We finished a couple more lessons in OPGTR, and is now sounding out 4-letter words with blended endings. Emily LOVES being able to read. We also started working on inequalities in math and introduced the 'alligator' mouth. Her handwriting is really coming along well this winter, she worked on letters x, z, and h this week.

Robbie and I did some work this week with counting and colors. His favorite activities though are letters...writing letters and sounding out letters. He is starting to sound out CVC words on his own.

Friday evening I took the children to my in-laws, came home to clean the house and then took my hardworking man out to dinner. We needed a night out to talk and reconnect after this crazy month.



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mid Week Update

I figured I needed to do a mid-week update this week as it is so busy. I know that I would forget half of what we have done if I wait until Friday.

We started off the week the same way we ended it...with more cookie booths. Sunday Katie's Brownie troop sold cookies. They lucked out with wonderful weather and a great location and sold a ton of boxes. After the booth I hit the library for the week.

Monday we got an early start so that we could finish before my dentist appointment at 2pm. I knew I wouldn't be up to any more teaching after having my new crown put on. The girls had a blast hanging out with their grandmother for the afternoon. I rushed home to find out that Mary's soccer practice had been canceled again due to rain. The poor girls have only had one practice this month and games begin the first weekend of March.

Tuesday was a wash for table work. We did not actually sit down and work through anything. Our library did not have a book I needed for the Girl Scout meeting so I needed to drive to another branch (there wasn't time enough to request it and have it delivered). I found the book and also found several books on New Zealand and Australia that our branch also did not have. We got home in time for a quick lunch and nap time for Robbie before beginning our afternoon activities.

During naptime Mary and I read Ray Bradbury's All Summer in A Day and then watched the short movie on You Tube. During our drive we had talked about other planets being able to sustain life and for some reason this story and video popped in my head. Mary enjoyed the story except she doesn't like the abrupt ending. But, I felt it gave us a lot of discussion material.

Emily then had her next-to-last dance class and I needed to get Katie ready for her drama class play right after. Mary designed and made the pieces for Katie's costume as the third little pig.

Here Katie is building her brick house

You can't see the pig's tale that Mary made from a paper towel tube - which I thought was very creative.

Katie was really worried that she might have to hold her script for the first time in any of her plays. She had one long-ish line that she kept stumbling over when practicing. But, she stepped up and did a great job without the scipt.

After Katie's play it was rush back home so that I could gather all the materials for the Girl Scout meeting. I was leading it and had stressed over the planning of the meeting for several weeks. Monday was World Thinking Day and I wanted something fun & relevant. Finally I decided to talk about World Hunger. The girls that were there (almost half were out sick) enjoyed it and really loved the book Hungry Planet What the World Eats.

I was basically thrilled when Tuesday was finally over and I could crawl into bed last night.

Today hasn't been very productive either. I think I am totally burned out by all the running around this month. We've listened to Phantom of the Opera several times, read a synopsis of the story and found that our library has a Children's Illustrated Classic version that I will be checking out. The little ones have had a very messy, creative day. Emily is thrilled with her ART Day. In a little while we will top it off with a actual art class. I am letting the big girls rot their minds in front of the computer ;-)

For a list, so I can make myself feel a little better about this week...
~ Mary is drilling herself on her multiplication facts. She decided that is more interesting than studying Celsius and working on telling time (again). I'm thrilled because the next chapter we jump into division again and it will be so much easier if she can nail her 7 & 8 facts.
~ Katie is drilling herself on addition facts. In this case I have a bribecarrot for her.
~ I've changed up our phonics routine (again), at least for Mary. Found this free phonics remediation program for older children. Mary is actually really enjoying it and has looked forward to completing each lesson. There are a month worth of lessons and for the first three weeks the student is supposed to limit extra reading to help overcome bad habits. Which means Mary is dying to be able to read this week. She wanted to start reading the Marvelous Land of Oz.
~ We read D'Aularies George Washington and completed a George Washington word search for Washington's birthday on Monday.
~ Emily is continuing her work on even numbers
~ Robbie has been focusing on letters this week
~ Robbie has decided that most of his board books are now "boring".
~ We've talked about the planets in the Solar System, but have not actually pulled out any books and studied this week.
~ Grammar has been more noun work for both Mary and Katie. Mary is working on irregular plural nouns, while Katie is learning about nouns.
~ Read, discussed and watched All Summer in A Day.
~ Watching a lot of the Olympics!!!
~ Counting money and learning about bookkeeping with the Girl Scout cookies.

I'm hoping Thursday & Friday will be more normal as I have a lot of things on the to do list.



Recovering Lost Treasures

This one is for me....

I found my old, ancient CD that I got in high school. I am enjoying listening to this today. Kids...not so much. I have decided that the next time The Phantom of the Opera comes close to us we are going!!

Next up...Les Miserable.



Friday, February 19, 2010

School is Cool!

Well a least a couple of my students think so!

This has been one of the better weeks we have had in the last month. We are still busy, busy, busy...but I am slowly feeling more organized. I spent the past weekend organizing our homeschool supplies a little. I repurposed an under-used metal shelving unit to store the tubs with preschool materials. Now Robbie and Emily can pull out what they want to work on and easily put it away. Amazingly, they are doing the clean-up too!!

I also cleaned out the cabinet where I store previously used material and reference material for topics we are not currently studying. Over the last six months it had becoming a dumping area and I hated going in there to look for anything. Out went used coloring books and activity books that no one was going to use again. And, I have a pile of books to donate/resell.

This leaves me with a lot more room and I organized everything by hopefully I will be able to find what I am looking for six months from now.

This week we accomplished:
~ Mary began working on the chapter in math on time and measurement
~ Katie is working on adding numbers greater than 10
~ Emily began working on even numbers
~ The girls are working through Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading as a group. Emily needs to learn how to work together and the phonics/blending review will not hurt Mary & Katie.
~ Read about the end of The Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation
~ Mary began working on memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution. We began by reading through and defining the more difficult vocabulary. This helped us understand how the Constitution was a response to the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.
~ Read Betsy Dowdy's Ride by Nell Wise Wechter aloud. Mary enjoyed it because it has a girl as the heroine and is set in Currituck, NC a place we really enjoy visiting.
~ Mary is reading through The Secret Soldier: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Ann McGovern.
~ I continue to read Doctor Dolittle to Katie.
~ Katie is reading The Littles.
~ We finished reading and exploring China this week with Emily. Complete with hanging lanterns strung across the family room.
~ We read about the solar system this week. Mary and Katie added drawings of the solar system to their "Book of Space".
~ Mary worked on singular and plural nouns in grammar.
~ Katie scored 100% on her spelling test.
~ Since the atmosphere was so clear last night we had an impromptu star gazing session.
~ Watched the Olympics, staying up way too late~
~ Began reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as our evening read aloud.
~ Katie practiced the flute and is finally starting to make some noise.

And to round out the week the girls had their rec department classes and Brownies for Katie.

Currently they are hanging out watching Magic School Bus videos (Mary is trying to act like she doesn't like them anymore). All their neighborhood friends are gone for the weekend.

This weekend we have more cookie booths for GS, I need to finish planning Emily's next literature/geography unit (South Seas/Australia), finish planning everything else for next
week...and maybe resting since next week will be a doozy.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wenesday Art Classes

On Wednesdays Mary and Emily have been taking art classes at the local rec center. I wasn't expecting A LOT and really signed them up as something to do during the winter when soccer wasn't happening. Emily loves art; drawing and creating. Mary has always been more into crafts, and I had to encourage her to go to the class at the beginning.

Mary has ended up LOVING her art class. She only has one more week, because after this it will be full force into soccer season. Last night she came home with this:

DH and I are really impressed with what she has been able to learn through a rec class. See the detail:

She is carrying over what she is learning in art class to her schoolwork here at home and is talking about submitting some work to a children's magazine.

Since I have no artistic drawing ability it would be wonderful to see her continue working on this side of herself.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm really tired...

of being tired. The winter has seemed like one long, energy-draining blur. I'm so wishing I was on a warm, quiet beach somewhere soaking up lots of Vitamin D. One of the lovely things about living in NC is our winter. We normally get a little cold, a few chances to see snow, but otherwise it is normally mild and sometimes even warm. This winter has been COLD. I don't remember the last time or temps even got into the 50s. Then there is the rain, and snow, and melting snow. Outside is one large mud pit, that the children are trying to bring inside one shoe sole at a time.

I've already told my kids that the first pretty, 70 degree day we have I am declaring a holiday!

It is the middle of February and I have done nothing. Nothing! To prepare our garden bed. It is such a mud puddle right now we can't even work in it. In another few weeks I should be able to begin planting...but I have not even been motivated to think about gardening this winter.

On the plus side we have had a good beginning to this week for school.

Mary and Emily are cutting out the Chinese Lanterns to hang. All the kids (and even a few extra) helped us decorate for the Chinese New Year.

Enjoying their handiwork.

Everyone enjoying preschool!

Working on her Science Notebook. She will not let me see it until it is done.

Emily really enjoys her MEP Math lessons

Robbie likes the counting bears & cups

Last night we also finally finished sorting through the girls cookie orders. Thankfully the majority rode of with DH in the car to work today. Only a few are left to deliver the friends and family!! Still have lots of cookies to help the troop get rid of. Our booths have been horrible, what with the bad weather and bad economy. I'm afraid when it is all said and done our troop (and myself) will end up losing money on the cookie sales. I know that I am already going to have to buy more cookies than I had planned on.

The little ones have already set up their table and pulled out the preschool boxes. I guess my day is getting started!



Saturday, February 13, 2010

Week 6 2010

Another week and I feel like we are still trying to find our groove, or in better words a groove that *I* like. I was really focusing on different ways to try and occupy Robbie better. He is at the point that he actually does enjoy a workplace just for him and things to do that are his.
The beginning of the week I scrounged to find the pieces of preschool materials I had dating back to Mary. I've added a couple new items, put everything in easy to grab plastic bags and plastic tubs. Now I just need a place to store it all. Sorting and rearranging all the homeschooling stuff is next on my agenda.

Cooking Lessons - educational & delicious!

My mom came through town for a quick whirlwind visit to try and beat the snow. She brought with her a child-sized folding table and chair set she had. That way I can now set up a table for Robbie and Emily to use and put it away after school.
This week we did manage to finish up the Revolutionary War in our history study and begin our new science topic, The Solar System. The beginning of the week we were much more focused on our daily work...Mary began working in a new Grammar workbook and Katie asked to go back to weekly spelling lists. By the end of the week we focused on History and Science...I really wanted to finish the Revolutionary period and was excited about the new Science. Plus, I was really working at organizing and trying different things with Robbie.

We had more snow overnight last night...a wonderful wet, heavy snow that should soak every bit of clothing the children try to wear outside. I have to actually drive in this stuff today as we will be picking up GS cookies today and sorting them for the troop. My southern, home-body self is not looking forward to this.



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I write "Q"

And "A" and "H"....

It might have been a bad hair day, but he had a lot of fun in preschool this morning!



It's February

We have the February Blahs. Compounded by the fact that our winter has been colder and wetter than normal, everyone is starting to get a little stir crazy. My tolerance for noise has fallen to near record levels...and I am just ready for a string of warm days with nothing falling from the sky.

I've already gone through the hissy fit stage of cabin fever and moved on into the process of trying new things to distract the children for awhile. There were two areas I really, really needed to control so that (finger's crossed) our days would go a little easier. First was Robbie, and the fact he is a curious & loud 3-year-old boy. And the second was Mary and Katie 'entertaining" each other at the table while we were working.

I pulled back out Robbie's box and reloaded it with some new activities. Activity boxes are hit or miss with Robbie - some days he is all into them, and others he could care less. I'm thinking I need to get two or three activity boxes into a rotation for him, and that it would be worth spending a little money on. My biggest concern is keeping it all contained since he is a world champion scatterer and if I am using it to entertain him while working with his sisters I don't have time to stand guard over it. Mary has already offered her smaller box of legos to add to the activity box.

It is a work in progress, but Robbie was happily occupied with his box most of Tuesday.

He got to play with the color tiles and separate them by color into a muffin tin. I also resurrected the old Leap Frog fridge letter sounds magnet, so he could wander around the house playing the Alphabet song and the sounds each letter makes.

As for the older girls, I asked for their suggestions. A friend of theirs had made her own 'homework' cubby. Basically, a tri-fold presentation board with pockets and helper items - blocks out distractions and keeps items close by. I figured it was worth a try.

Monday, we picked up two presentation boards and I cut them down a little. Then the girls used scrap fabric to make their own pockets.

They were quite excited to use them Tuesday and did very well staying on task. Each girl also stores a book to read if they have to wait for me between lessons.

This the best close-up I have of Mary's board. She has her multiplication facts for reference, her weekly to-do list, the current poem she is working on. Pockets for a calculator (used to check her math after she is done with the assignment), a ruler, pencils, pens and marker, and a spot for her current reading book.

The cats were very interested in these new items.
The end of the table works perfectly as a spot for Emily when she takes 10-15 minutes here and there to do tablework.

I am also continuing to shop for those really nice clipboards with the built-in storage so that the girls can move around the house more and find their own quiet spots to work on independent activities. Something I would like to see more.

Tuesday was better and more productive than it has been for a few weeks. We'll see if it holds.



Friday, February 05, 2010

Week 5 2010

I wish I could say that this was the week we got back to normal and the children suddenly morphed into all sweetness and light. Ah, no!

Instead, I had a little thing called irony visit me. After fussing for two weeks about how the public schools having Mondays off interrupted our schedule and made the week more chaotic...the ps kids were off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I trudged ahead, regardless, as my very unlucky kids do not have their education held hostage by the weather.

Monday, I think their little brains were fried by all the snow as Mary was incapable of remembering any math from the last two years and Katie couldn't manage to sit in a chair without falling out of it. After that tough day, each day this week got a little better.

I've switched around the schedule a bit, now we will do History and Science on alternate days (except for reading). It will give us more time to work through projects. And, hopefully science labs will stop falling through the cracks.

This week:
~ Katie finished clocks & calendars in Math!! A very happy day for her.
~ Mary is multiplying 3-digit numbers
~ Mary worked on noun-verb agreement
~ Continued working on narration and dictation with Mary
~ Katie is learning how to do dictations
~ Completed History Pocket set on Causes of Revolutionary War
~ Covered beginning of Revolutionary War
~ Mary read: "Daniel Boone", "And Then What Happened Paul Revere?",and "Adventures of George Washington"
~ Katie finished reading her Fairy Book and began reading "The Littles"
~ We read about weather forecasting and weather maps
~ Mary and Katie completed their last week of Weather Class at the rec department, and gave a presentation to the other parents.
~ Emily made her book on Animals of China
~ We read more legends of China
~ I thought about doing K'er Math with Emily, but she was too busy doing 1st grade level math on the computer????
~ Emily is having fun reading through her Bob Books and the HOP readers
~ Robbie snuck onto the computer every chance he got. He has figured out how to get himself to Starfall and PBS Kids on his own (we really need another one (or two) computers in this house)
~ I spent the beginning part of the week comparing different history programs to decide which one I wanted to tweak to actually use
~ I spent the end of the week comparing Grammar programs for next year to decide which one I wanted to try...and which one *I* actually understood
~ Planning and then rescheduling GS Cookie booths for this weekend, then picking up cookies in the rain today
~ Playing geography games and Apples to Apples with the kids who are tired of being cooped-up inside the house.
~ Mary is in stage 2 of her rock tumbling...they already looked very nice after the first cycle. She has jewelry ideas for several rocks and is waiting for Mamaw to come visit to take her shopping at Michaels.

I am thrilled that Mary read so many books this week!! It is such a huge improvement. I found that she HATES starting a new book, but by the time she gets to the middle of the book she will not stop reading until she is done. I am totally doing a happy dance!!

The week is over and I am ready for the weekend!!


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.