Saturday, December 29, 2007

Returning to Life

What a wonderful Christmas celebration we had. My family was all in town, staying at my home, and we had a wonderful visit. The boys -- six of them -- had a wonderful time playing with one another, I enjoyed visiting with my brother and his wife and my parents. We went down to my in laws on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so there was plenty of driving.

But, I'm getting ready for our last week of Christmas vacation and preparing myself for our new subjects. Although everything is entered into Homeschool Tracker, I've now got to assign it to Ben. And, I've got to pull out the LA materials I'll be using with Luke to teach him to read -- we're going to follow Sonlights K level LA from a few years ago; it was too slow for Ben at the time, but it will work quite well for Luke, I'm sure.

But, I couldn't leave well enough alone with just planning out subjects -- I went ahead and trashed the school room. It had a hand-torn wallpaper treatment from the previous owner that we weren't in love with, so I started ripping the paper off and using water to remove the wallpaper that was under the torn paper treatment. Now comes spackling touch ups and primer. Oh, and since we're pulling all this off, it would be a good time to go ahead and poke a couple holes in the wall to install a ceiling mounted light. I mean, I'd hate to go ahead and prime and paint the walls, only to poke holes in them at a later date, right?

So, I think this means our school room will be a mess for a little while. I'm thankful we've got other places to school in the meantime.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My Life Will Never Be The Same Again

After a frustrating Friday when Levi would not stay in his crib for naptime, I came to the sad conclusion that -- sniff, whine -- he was going to have to be in the toddler bed. No amount of discipline would keep him from flippin' his little legs over the rail.


Last night was his first night in his big boy bed. He actually stayed in bed and feel asleep -- yea, little man!

But, today's nap time was another story. From now on, I forsee that he'll have an hour of "room time" that will likely not result in a nap, but will give me the short break I need in my day to either follow up with calls, put my feet up, or ....whatever. I'm thinkin' we're going back to everyone having a quiet room time during Levi's "nap" so that I can resume regular adult brainwave functioning for a short time.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ben's First Piano Recital

Here is video from Ben's first recital. His teacher is sitting next to him. He's playing "Jolly Old St. Nicholas." He got up to the piano and quickly started his song, so I missed the first few notes.

Ben was really nervous, but he did so good -- we're all proud of him.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Week 15 Report

We are definitely in a pre-vacation mode this week! We're still doing school, but it is very "light."

Read Alouds: We finished Family Under the Bridge. I love it when Ben shouts, "Read More!" Luke was more than able to keep up with the story. We started Father Christmas Letters, but since it is a holiday themed book, we only have a week to read it and it is nonrenewable, so I'm not sure we'll finish.

We've been working on Hand of a Child's Symbols of Christmas lapbook. It's been really fun! We'll finish this up next week, put it all together and share it with our family when they visit for Christmas.

Readers: Ben is working through Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder and one of the Sugar Creek Gang books (I can't think of it's title, but it is the first in the series). I'm finding it hard to get good reading material for Ben at this point (outside school reading), because many of the books at the library are just too wizardy/ fantasy for my tastes. He's working through the Time Warp Trio books again (he read them mostly in 2nd grade and last summer) -- so he is even having trouble finding good books, too. So the Sugar Creek Gang is what we're test-driving to see if it is worth getting the series for him. I'm pleased that it is a Christian series -- hopefully the story line is good. If you have any recommendations for chapter books for an 8 year old boy, please post them!

Science: We've done about a week and a half worth of science this week, and will continue to be science-intense next week. We softed an egg shell using vinegar this week to show how important calcium.

Piano: Ben's been pracaticing for his recital tomorrow. I'll try to remember to take the camera and post the video.

Geography: We're working through a couple Weekly Reader workbooks about geography and map reading skills. Although we've been making maps since 1st grade, I wanted to use these couple weeks to review things like map symbols, reading road maps (interstate and highway markers). I also found a great total free downloadable geography game called Seterra. You can customize it for each continent's name, countries, US states, state capitals, and I think flags, too. Definitely something than can be used with a huge range of ages (including adult).

Flashmaster/ Math: We are just using the Flashmaster to re-baseline Ben's progress with math facts since we started using it in September. I'm pleased to say he's improved in his speed and accuracy with all four operations! All his subtraction and addition facts were 90% or better, which was the target. Next week, we'll play some math games with some of our fun dice.

I copied from below our goals for this three week period before Christmas break and since this blog is my diary/ personal progress report of our schooling, I thought I'd better consult it and make adjustments in our last week:

  • double up on science and science experiments, since we got a little behind and since Ben loves it! - We've done pretty good with this so far. We're in week 14 (Calcium), and I'd like to finish this book, which is just three more days of reading and some internet links, too. Very doable!
  • Complete a Symbols of Christmas lapbook. It looks great! Also very doable. We do one lesson a day, and will finish it on Friday (we have no CBS nor Gym class, so this will be easy to do, too)
  • Finish our last SL gr. 3-5 reader: Mustang, Spirit of the West I decided not to go with this book. Ben's reading two other books right now, plus we've got a pile of library books.
  • Make Christmas cookies finally have started this!
  • Re-read The Light at Tern Rock and The Family Under The Bridge and other seasonal books from the library. We've done one of these books. I'll have to look at Tern Rock and see if we can read it in a week.
  • Learn some Christmas carols so that we can go caroling to our neighbors some night. I'm not sure we'll go caroling, but I will at least have us all go over and deliver cookies to our 4 closest neighbors!
  • Finish up our All About Spelling Level 2 and retest with the materials from The Writing Road to Reading We'll finish this on Monday, retest on Tuesday.
  • Re-baseline Ben's mastery of arithmetic on Flashmaster and work through some Challenging Word Problems and math games Flasmaster is done; we'll work through CWP and math games.
  • Work through some geography workbooks that I have and listen to geography songs Forgot about the geography songs, but we've been doing well with the workbooks.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Warning: A boring post of my To Do's for the new year

....We are starting a new program in Jan. -- Sonlight's Core 3 -- and math, and latin, so I have a To Do list that I need to keep track of. So, you can ignore this post, and move on down to my cool pics of the Walking on Water shoes:

  1. Input math into HST -- done
  2. Input lessons for Lively Latin into HST Done for the first two chapters
  3. Put yellow labels on Core 3 books
  4. Get activity books from library and pick out crafts for 1st 3 months
  5. Buy all craft materials ahead of time for crafts we're going to do in these first 3 months (this was the missing link for my planning in the fall. I picked out all the crafts/ hands on stuff I wanted us to do,but didn't take it to the next level, which is purchasing the materials I'd need. Had I done this, more of our activities would've been completed)
  6. Decide if we're going to purchase History Scribe for notebooking Although the pages look great I think I'm going to pass for right now. I've got Startwrtie software and have the ability to make my own notebookpages with room for drawing.
  7. Write out sequence of sounds introduced in preETC books and arrange All About Spelling phonograms in this order. I've decided to go ahead and try to use my old Sonlight LA K for Luke. It didn't work for Ben because he was reading prior to us starting the K program. Luke isn't reading yet, and I think it will be a gentle introduction for him. Actually, I suspect that we'll progress faster through this thant the scheduled 36 weeks, but this is a good framework for getting started.
  8. Go through AAS and see how I'll teach Luke to read using this program. Done I'm going to hold off initially. When SL introduces vowels, then I'll add in the phonograms.
  9. Rearrange my teacher's notebook.
  10. Give Luke an artic test and pull cards for artic. training. -done. We'll gently work on /r/ and /l/. His artic is normal for his age, but I like to work on stuff gently so it doesn't become a problem with phonemic awareness for reading skills.

...that should keep me busy for the next month. First day of school is January 7.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Long Awaited Water Shoes

We've been planning on making walking-on-water shoes (a la Leonardo da Vinci) since week 9 but I am sometimes just lame with big projects. Oh, I lied -- it was actually week 8 that Ben first picked out this project. Whatever, it has taken me six weeks to carry the monster sized piece of insulation up the 13 steps from the basement to begin our project.

First, we had to cut it to Ben's height. Then, cut that in 1/2 length-wise to make 2 skateboard-sized planks to walk on. Ben got lots of experience using the ruler and yardstick to figure all these cuts:

Here, he's cutting the tip of the planks into points:

The handsaw worked much better than the serrated bread knife. I actually had to just walk away as he was cutting with the saw. It made me too nervous to watch. "Moms always worry. It's their job to worry about everything," says Ben. Not worry, really, I'm just concerned that your fingers might fall to the floor independent of your body.

Then we had to cut about 56 pieces of duct tape in incremental measurements. Definitely a two person job. Here Ben is making duct tape pyramids, which he'll use for both his foot pockets and water pockets on the bottom to catch water and help him propel himself forward.
Then I spent the next hour vacuuming up tiny pieces of pink insulation that got everywhere.

Finally, we went to the indoor pool and tried them out:

He didn't actually walk on water, but he did get vertical at least.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Photo Friday

Week 14 Report

I've just come to the realization that I should post my weekly reports on Thursday, because we are out of the house all day on Friday and don't do a significant amount of work on Fridays. So, Here's my slideshow of some of the highlights of our week:

Cen you see the hydrogen bubbles coming off the copper wire in the picture? Nothin' like a little electricity and water to get a boy excited about science!

It has been an enjoyable week as we re-read "The Family Under the Bridge" which takes place at Christmas time in Paris. This is a read-loud that I read to Ben for his Kindergarten year, but he doesn't seem to mind hearing it again. Luke's taken to saying, "Ooh, la, la" just as Armand does in the book -- it is cute! We also have Light at Tern Rock, which is also set at Christmas time, and I'm hoping we'll get to that this month, too.

Ben has memorized Psalm 24, and I'm hoping to have him present it to his Dad tonight or tomorrow. I'll try to remember to record it so the grandparents can see his work.

We've done some informal math this week as we await the arrival of our next set of books. We played a math game and Ben completed some mental math sheets. I guess next week we'll go ahead and re-test his skills on the Flashmaster.

Waiting for Mr. UPS

It's been a while since Mr. UPS brought us a school box. He came yesterday with something for one of the boys for Christmas, and while that was nice, it is even BETTER when he brings school stuff. I just tracked the package, and it is indeed out for delivery..... More later....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Advent 2007

I'm really excited about this advent season. God's just lined up everything so wonderfully that it is a joy to prepare for Christmas this year. I've done a few things different which has made all the difference in the world: we stopped full-time school the week after Thanksgiving, and now we're just doing "light" school -- science, spelling or grammar, math a Christmas themed redad aloud or two or three. Oh, and Bible study if we ever all all well enough to return, LOL!

What we're doing this year:

(1) Bartholemew's Passage each night at dinner
(2) Conscious effort to all be home for dinner together each night during advent (which means giving the boys a bigger afternoon snack if Daddy is going to be a little late)
(3) An Advent sticker calendar I picked up for $1 in last year's after Christmas sale
(4) Lighting the advent wreath each night as we read Bartholemew's Passage
Next week we'll start to make cookies for our neighbors and sing Christmas carols around the tree (one of my favorite memories of Christmas as a child)
I hope you are enjoying your own advent memories!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Latin and coming changes

I've finally stopped being indecisive and purchased Lively Latin for January. After looking at samples (it is written to the student) and viewing the table of contents, I believe it will fulfill our needs and exceed my expectations. Ben has been working through Prima Latina since 2nd grade. We've got the DVD (I couldn't have taught it without them!), but it is just getting stale -- for me as a teacher and Ben as a student. Given all the options available to homeschoolers, the ability to tailor an education to each student, and the ability to direct our own course as we homeschool, I don't think we should have to have "stale" subjects in our home -- especially in content driven subjects (history, science, latin...spelling might always be stale to some).

Just looking over the TOC, I see these bulleted point that I love:

  1. Pick a Latin Name (when I took 4 yrs of high school Spanish, I was "Elena," which Oldest and Deares Friend Jen still uses for me!)
  2. What is a verb conjugation?
  3. How to decline a noun (I'm looking forward to learning this, too)
  4. mythology cards and games (games! woo-hoo!)
  5. Learn about the Roman legion and soldiers (I've got three boys, for pete's sake -- this is wonderful!)
  6. Maps and Battle Plans (do you think we can copy the battle plans for the Bionicles laying around the house to use to defeat whatever Bionicles defeat?)

So I passed on the good news to Ben: "I've got good news and good news this morning....We're done with Prima Latina...and we're starting a new Latin program in January." Ben: " Can I have more good news?"