Friday, December 4, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Before Thanksgiving weekend, a regional qualifyng tournament took place. We were quite stunned that after the individual component awards were given out (for the missions themselves, teamwork, technical merit, and their project performance), we learned that Ben's team won 2nd place overall! This was a total shock to everyone, a huge blessing, and an exciting evening for us. The Champion's Award:
The Champion's Award is the most prestigious award that a team can win. It celebrates the ultimate success of the FIRST mission and FLL Core Values. A champion is someone who passionately supports a cause. For FLL, our champions passionately inspire and motivate others about the excitement of science and technology, solving problems, working as a team, and demonstrating respect and Gracious Professionalism.Quite a huge deal for Ben and the whole team!
Their next stop is the state tournament, which is purported to be much more difficult, as some teams are there for the sole purpose of winning (think: stacking a team with the oldest kids). I much prefer the manner in which Ben's team is run: a variety of ages and skill levels and every child participates in all aspects of the team -- from running missions, programming, and helping research their project report.
If you were to ask Ben what is favorite part of FLL has been, without a doubt he'd say that building is the best part. Of course, if you had asked him before FLL started what his favorite part was, he would've said, "building" as well [grin]. While his interest hasn't changed, he's certainly been pulled and stretched to try new and different things (public speaking, learning to get along with a crowd of kids that have known each other for a few years, -- heck, *winning* is a new thing for him!) that has made this whole experience wonderful.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
It is 2:35 am. I shouldn't have had that diet coke at 6:30. I'm reaping the consequences now.
Plus, I'm feeling a little stressed about school. Most everything is going well -- good even. But, there were some loose ends that I never fully tied up prior to starting our school year on Aug. 24, and I'm stressing about those right now:
- Verse Memorization never planned out
- Poetry Memorization never planned out (using Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization)
- We've only done 1 week of our ArtPacs lesson (in three weeks)
- Ben is still reviewing his Latin lesson from last year, but I haven't implemented our chanting... or even figured out what we'd do for it.
- I forgot (!) to have Luke begin some gentle narration during history/Bible and science. He is loving reading about animals for science right now (and the internet links from Usborne's Word of Animals book have been wonderful), but I'd like to get him used to the idea of summarizing an idea he's learned. And drawing a picture of what we've read about (check off "art" for the day).
- I want to get a plan for the accountability meetings Ben and I have about our history lessons. This will become very important next week as we begin our Egyptian studies.
- I never took a first day of school picture of the kids. Bad mommy!
Friday, July 31, 2009
And he's back.
He decided to leave me for 4 1/2 days so he could go to Cub World camp. What could he do there at camp that could possibly be better than what we do here? What's the big deal with archery, BB guns, swimming, Native American village, Fort Friendship and Webelo Woods?
This was the first time any of my children had left me for more than 36 hours. I had practiced crying a week or two before he left, and felt pretty sure that I could hold it in -- until we got in the car to come home without him. In fact (she said, patting herself on the back.) I didn't cry at all when we dropped him off, nor did I cry when we left the camp with one less monster in the back of the van.
And, in fact, Monday didn't feel weird without him. Monday night didn't either. Tuesday was OK, too. But after that, I started to *really* miss him. He's probably my cuddliest kid, and I missed that. I missed hearing his voice and hearing him say, "Hey, Mom, did you know that...." So, Wednesday was *really* hard -- I think that's when I started counting down the hours until Thursday at 5pm.
Picking him up, I was a little nervous as to his reaction to us. Did he miss us enough? Did he have so much fun he wouldn't want to come home? Even Luke and Levi were very excited to see him. We approached his den's tents to find him............
...not there. Just his pack of dirty duds. Thanks.
We grabbed his gear, walked back towards the dining hall, and eventually saw his den....but not him. Even more saddness.
Finally, one of the little boys saw him running into the administrator's office. I started walking over to him, and just a few seconds later he cam out of the office and gave me a big stinkin' hug.
He missed me! He missed us! Yea!
We ate dinner together, he showed us around the facilities, and told us about all the fun he'd had, all the rain they'd endured, and shared with us a bunch of silly songs and jokes he'd learned. His smile was huge. He was very dirty; some say he stank. But I didn't mind. My boy is back.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Our first vacation this summer -- over the 4th of July holiday -- took place in Acadia NP. We've been unseasonably wet and cold this summer, but God answered prayer and held the rain for the evening hours.
This is our second trip to the top of Cadillac Mountain on our 1st day at Acadia. The first trip was overcast. After a ranger guided hike, the sun came out, so we had our fist view of Desert Island (pronounced "dessert").
Acadia is unique in that it was acquired piece-by-piece by regular (OK, rich industrialists) people who saw the beauty and uniqueness of this part of Maine. It was then turned over the the US government as a gift for future generations. Thank you; it is georgous.
This is called Bubble Rock. It is a natural rock perched on the edge of a precipice. You cannot tell from my smile, but it took a bit of convincing to get me to where you see me in the picture. The older I get, the more I cannot stand heights (not that I liked them a whole lot 20 years ago!).
Here we are on July4th, waiting for the fireworks in Bar Harbor. It was a wonderful evening and we had fun picking out our favorite explosions.
We've been camping annually since Luke was in utero, and I can tell the difference between camping with a baby and camping with The Boys. No diapers, Pack-n-Plays, strollers, etc. While these trips have always been fun, it is getting enjoyable now that we are over the baby/toddler hump. I am looking forward to more trips to new destinations that we can explore together.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
The drizzly night saw only the requisite four and half innings, but we filled our bellies with Kayem Fenway Franks, Cracker Jack, soda and Sour Patch Kids. The kids helped pass the wave around the stadium, watched for home runs and pop-ups, and enjoyed people watching.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
It's time for my annual post that lays out all the homeschool resources we'll be using in the coming year. I'll have a FIFTH and FIRST grader and FOUR YEAR OLD (yes, I did yell out those grades -- I cannot believe my babies are getting big!). I write this all out in case someone stumbles across the blog who is curious to know what we're using, as well as a record for me. I also use this as my "to do" list so that I can remember what I've entered into Homeschool Tracker.
History (B & L) - Tapestry of Grace Year 1 (this is my affiliate link)
Literature (B & L) - Tapestry of Grace Year 1
Bible (B & L) - Tapestry of Grace Year 1
Geography (B & L) - Tapestry of Grace Year 1
Art Appreciation (B & L) - Tapestry of Grace Year 1
I have one boy reading Upper Grammar books and one boy using Lower Grammar books. Much of Ben's work will be done on his own, with weekly accountability meetings with me and then a weekly test ( I wrote about how we decided to do this and what it involves here)
Grammar - Growing with Grammar 5, editing workbooks
Writing - Institute for Excellence in Writing Ancient History based themed writing lessons.
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise 3000 Book 5.
Math - Singapore Math 4B & Intensive Practice workbooks; moving on as mastery occurs
Latin - Lively Latin Big Book 1 (We've been using this for 1 1/2 years -- I don't know if we'll *ever* finish this.)
Critical Thinking - Building Thinking Skills, Reading Detective, Revenge of the Riddle Spiders (something we had this year, but I didn't remember to use it).
Science - Sonlight Science 4
Phonics - All About Spelling, Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
Grammar: I am going to hold off on grammar for the first part of the year; Luke really needs to spend time getting reading down, so that is where our energies will be spent. After that, we can consider First Language Lessons.
Writing/Handwriting: Reason for Handwriting & copywork
Math: Singapore Math 1A
Critical Thinking: I cannot remember what I have for Luke....but I have something in my stash.
Science - Sonlight Science 1
I have a variety of workbooks for him. He is the best colorer in the world (my world at least), and he loves to cut paper, too. He wants to do his own science experiments ("Mom, I wan to do a science esperiment with a rubber band and a string. Can we do this now?"), so I know he'll enjoy sitting in with us when we do both Luke's projects.
Comments: I have received the new SL sciences and love the look of them. It has been a *long time* since we've used SL for science and I'm happy to be able to rely completely on their schedule and well selected books this year. My thoughts on science have evolved over the past four years (Ben's grammar year rotation), and I am at peace with the fact that the experiments for Luke do not coordinate with readings. Rather, I'm pleased that he is going to be exposed to a variety of topics and materials and am looking forward to the joy of the discovery of God's world with both boys.
This year I did a horrible job of documenting our school year. It was far too hard to remember what we'd done each week. And, in all honesty, I didn't get done all I'd wanted to do for each child, and didn't want that glaring reality staring me in the face each week. There I said it. I feel better.
So now it is summer time and time to prepare for the coming school year. I want to get back into the habit of journaling about our journey. Mostly for me. But if someone happens upon a post that helps them to think, "I'm not the only one!" or "Wow, I can do this way better than this chick!" then that will be a good thing.
We've been on summer break since May 29th. The first week we had guests, and this week we've been getting adjusted to a less scheduled life. The boys do have educational goals for the summer. Ben is going to practice math, with math worksheets and Key to Fractions for review. Luke is going to work on reading. This week we went through our All About Spelling words from Level 1, which he completed a while ago. I thought this would be a gentle re-introduction to reading. I also plan on using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading to help us move along. I'm pleased to see that Luke is still remembering the silent -e rule! Yea!
We have also been insanely busy with baseball this week, and I feel like today was the first day I've been able to come up for air. Although Ben had practice, it wasn't until the end of the day. We actually sat down together at the dining room table and ate an entire meal together that was cooked here at home. It was won.der.ful. No hotdogs or fries were allowed.
What does summer mean to this homeschooling mom?
- Playing with my kids more. During the day. When we would normally be studying.
- Catch up and stay current in my read-the-Bible-in-a-year plan. I'm about 3 and a half weeks behind. oops.
- Working on home improvement projects. I have two cans of paint staring me down.
- Giving away our piano. Now that Ben is done with piano lessons (which he's had for the past two and a half years), I'm ready to get rid of the piano. If piano lessons are part of the littler boys' musical education, we'll get a keyboard that does not need tuning.
- Clean the school room. Our used curriculum sale is next week. I have a lot of things to unload and then I'll use the money to buy next year's resources. Cha-Ching!
- Catching up on read alouds with the kids. There are books that I want to read to Luke and that I know Ben would enjoy again.
- Investigate strategies to encourage continued independent learning and organization. For all of us.
- Read a couple just-for-fun books. I discovered that I can make lists of books at our library's website, and I've started one for me, since I never remember what I want to read once I enter the facility.
- Hike 5 fire towers with the kids this summer. And other outdoor stuff.
- See our friends. Lots.
- Make sure Ben practices math this summer. And Latin vocabulary weekly.
- Progress through our reading program with Luke. Make sure I have plenty of chocolate chips and/or M & Ms for motivation.
- Watch Teaching Writing: Structure and Style and decide if we'll use this next year.
- Sneak in learning and discovery. Especially out of doors. And maybe rainy day art projects. Goodness, we've had enough rainy days already and this was our first week of vacation.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
We are two weeks away from finishing our first full unit (9 weeks) of Tapestry of Grace. This is a huge accomplishment for us (as I mentioned before, we *almost* finished a unit of TOG when Ben was in 1st grade; but, I had a brand new baby and couldn't quite wrap my brain around lesson planning at that season in life). One of the reason that we've been so diligent with this unit is because we have been working with another homeschooling family and meeting weekly to do a craft and geography/mapwork to enhance our readings. I have so enjoyed these weekly meetings! It has been a long, long time, since my homeschooling has involved weekly hands-on activities, so this has been such a blessing to Ben and I.
So, this week we met, practiced our Morse code abilities and did our mapwork. Afterward, I really wanted to learn how this other mother ("D." I'll call her) used TOG to accomplish educational goals. I decided to use this post to flesh out these new insights.
1. Type out student threads for Ben. Give him this to help him to guide his reading during the week. (Currently, we are doing the Core history readings together, but eventually he will need to be responsible for them on his own).
2. Mentor him for a few weeks with the student threads and core history books. Help him to take "notes" and use the sheet to write down ideas for discussion
3. Plan on having discussions with him about the student thread material. Do this whether or not we are reading together or not. This will prepare him for accountability discussions when we hit he dialectic level (6th grade). Also this will prepare him for the tests, which we will begin to use in 5th grade.
So, I only have two weeks left of this unit, but my intention to to implement these strategies this week. Tomorrow (Thursday already) will be the first day that we'll have a chance to read W26 core history materials (looks like a great book...America at the Time of Sitting Bull). In the future (the fall!), my initial plan will be to try this:
Monday: read general introduction (first page from SAPs) at breakfast. Read over student threads with Ben prior to starting school. Assign core history readings to fall, in general, over the first 3 days.
Tuesday: continue reading
Wednesday: continue reading
Thursday: met for a discussion of the student threads
Plus, we'll have TOG group where we can do geography maps and an activity together.
Well, it is a starting point at least.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This picture here is from Saturday, when we tried to yank it out with a piece of thread. I've never tried this before (on myself or my offspring) and I will never tried it again -- wet thread does not wrap around tooth and stay there. It was a waste of time!
And here's the Sunday morning version of Luke:
Isn't he cute? He has at least three other very loose teeth, and I suspect he'll look like a jack-o-lantern soon as his top left tooth is very wiggly.
School-wise, we are plugging along, enjoying our read alouds outside on a warm sunny day (we hit 80+ on Tuesday!) We are in week three of our TOG Civil War studies. We read the Gettysburg Address today, and dissected its language and prose to understand Lincoln's meaning. Talk about vocabulary development. We also learned that Lincoln authorized the Medal of Honor (now called the Congressional Medal of Honor) during the Civil War. I'm needing to remind myself that the information we're learning about is an introduction to the Civil War and a 4th grader does not need to understand nor know about each and every battle during the civil war. I've got Joy Hakim's History of US book 6 on hold at Barnes and Noble and am looking forward to a more age appropriate introduction to the global themes of the Civil War.
Does this mean I'm not happy with TOG? No, not at all. I just realize that I need a spine book beyond DK's Eye Witness books. They provide good information on topics related to the Civil War, but it is not helping me to get an overview of this time period. For example, this week's geography thread guided the student to learn about several (5 or so) sites of battles: Gettysburg, Antietam, Vicksburg, 2nd Battle of Bull Run...and one other I cannot recall at the moment. However we didn't really touch on those at all in the reading for this week. Now, I'd read the teacher's notes, so I underlined/ highlighted key points to tell Ben , but it was frustrating to have threads to teach without any guidance in resources. I'll have to ask on the TOG forums about this.
We're doing a little TOG group with another family, and I have really enjoyed the small group learning setting. Today, we did mapwork and each of the two students had to present to the other some information. Ben had to present to S. (for privacy's sake) about what a Union soldier would carry in his pack. S. had to prepare a care package for a soldier and she wrote a letter from a soldier to his family at home. What I appreciated about doing this was the opportunity for Ben to have to talk to someone else and prepare information for someone besides me. This just adds another layer to his schooling and I'm thankful to have this opportunity with the C. family.
Luke is motoring with his reading skills. I'm so pleased with what he is learning. This week we're working on two-syllable words with open and closed syllable constructions (such as be/long). This is challenging to him, because he has to remember that these words have long and short vowel sounds, but he is getting it, especially after I've made him use his tiles to spell the word (I'm italicizing this for my own benefit). When I do this, he sees more easily where the syllable division is, and where the long vowel sound needs to be pronounced. After this lesson (which may last for a while, as I want him to be real solid at this step), we'll be breaking into VCe words (vowel-consonant-silent e), then I know he'll be taking off like a rocket.
Three weeks ago we did our first round of standardized testing. Ben took the CAT/5 (California Achievement Test) with two other families at a friend's house. It took us 4 morning for 2 - 2.5 hours each time. We'll have the results mid-May.
Ben is also finishing up his piano lessons. His final recital will be May 29. Next fall, he'll be moving on to the elementay band program at our local public school. He wants to play the drums. I'm reliving high school all over again --- my brother practicing the drums under my bedroom while I'm trying to do homework. He used to practice with headphones on, beating the rhythm to some song being played on his boom box (hello, 19080s). I can still hear the rhythm in my head, and you all should be happy that I cannot type out the snare, base drum and cymbal sounds. Because I'd do it if I could, just to help you get a taste of my life back then.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Hee, hee, hee, did I getcha hooked by my post's title?
Really, we've been up to no trouble (thankfully). Just doing our school thing. I just looked back through my posts, and I realize it has been since the beginning of December that I posted a real weekly report or summary of our homeschool journey this year. Wow. That is a long time!
I'd have to get up off the couch (I'm wireless now, yipee!) to get our weekly lesson plans to see what we had actually done in the past four months. Since I use this blog as a digital scrapbook of our homeschool journey, I'm going to go ahead and give a brief summary. (Oh, cool, I just realized I've got Homeschool Tracker on this laptop, and I can open it and see what we did.)
December: The goal for this month, after finishing Core 3, was to continue on pace with math, grammar, Latin, and spelling. We continued our trips to the library and Ben read whatever he wanted. We also tried to catch up on science. I had been really excited about Real Science 4 Kids Physics I initially. I appreciated that the book was written to students; I liked that there was a science experiment for each chapter. I really liked that each experiment was written to follow the scientific method. But, I have to admit, I miss the "pile of books" method of elementary science discovery. That is what I call our previous science curriculae (Sonlight Science and Noeo) because we are given a schedule and a "pile of books" to read through that covers a whole variety of topics for the subjects given. Then, we sit on the couch and read, do an experiment, read more.
January: January was full of skiing. The boys skiied on Thursdays, and it was honestly hard to get them to re-focus on Friday mornings. So, January and part of February is three to three-and-a-half days of school. Since we finished SL, we moved onto our state study. We decided to use a lapbook as the method to collate what we learned about our state. Never heard of a lapbook before? Here is a site that seems pretty comprehensive (I have not completely read it, however). Instead of buying Hand of a Child's state specific lapbook, I decided to buy their type-in template books (thinking that we'd get a lot of use from this) and using this free site as a guide as well. I found a few books at the library (historical fiction) that were about our state, and we used non-fiction resources to learn about the geography, history, resources and people in our state (as well as many other interesting facts).
It was about this time that I decided to cut our loses with our physics program and just finish the reading, do a minimal amount of notebooking, finish appropriate experiements and sell it so I could purchase something else. We've had Snap Circuits since Ben was about 5, so I decided we'd use the student and teacher guides to learn more about electricity and electronics. One of the things I'd love for all of our boys is to leave our home with useful skills which can be their primary or secondary source of income for their family. Perhaps this fantastic set will inspire Ben to become an electrician or explore small engine repair or...who knows what.
About this time, homeschooler in our area became aware of some new homeschooling legislation in our state that in my mind would significantly limit the freedoms that we enjoy in creating an education tailored to the needs of our children. As I write this, we are awaiting an "inexpedient to legislate" vote in the house of representatives here but are gritting our teach in expectation of what will come when the second of the two bills is reviewed by the education committe for future legislation. Honestly, I feel like the "golden years" of homeschooling freedom are coming to an end, especially given the current political climate in which parental rights are under attack and individual liberties are being assaulted.
Now: So, here we are nearing the end of March. We are nearing the end of our study of our state. We are learning about famous people in our state and Ben has a map to complete which shows the locations of major industries in our state. I think the spring will bring many field trips to attractions in our state, and we'll compile that for our lapbook. Books are ordered for our next unit study, the civil war using Tapestry of Grace. Luke has just yesterday finished All About Spelling Level 1 and is doing great reading and spelling. He was doodling on the dry erase board and wrote "Bostin Bruins" -- exactly like that! I was so shocked at how he figured out how to spell bruins. We are on pace to finish Horizons math in May, and will move onto Singapore Math 1A immediately (no break over the summer).
I also came to realize that Ben is really, really looking forward to reading about WWI and WWII. Originally, I thought we'd spend 5th grade working through TOG year 4, which covers the early 1900s to 2000. This wasn't what I had really, really wanted to do -- I really had wanted to restart our history rotation in 5th grade and re-start with creation to the fall of Rome. Just this past weekend, I realized that if I gave Ben every book I could find on WWI and WWII, he'd be perfectly happy. I shared this with him, and he was thrilled. Our library had the DK Eye Witness books about both of these wars, and within a day and a half, Ben had finished them. both. I'll puruse other booklists to find historical fiction and nonfiction for him. And, I'm working on convincing a good friend of mine to work through TOG 1 with me next year. wink. wink.
I'm going to post pictures from these past missed Wordless Wednesdays later.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
My dad and my favorite cousin-in-law -- my two most avid readers -- commented within the same week that my blog is very old...as in I haven't updated it in a long time.
Fear not, all.
I am now wireless and anticipate being able to blog more regularly now that my mind isn't trying to wrap itself around 21 century computer concepts. Connecting computers have evolved far beyond my comprehension level at this point. I'm very thankful for a church friend who is my computer go-to guy and for the Vonage technician who helped me set up my wireless router. Two thumbs up, this time, for tech support.
Miss Wordless Wednesdays? Me, too. I love looking at my kids in person, in scrapbooks and online.
Miss my Weekly Reports? Me, too. I enjoy the mental exercise of looking over our week from a scholastic perspective as well as assessing all our attitudes and re-focusing our week on the Reason for our schooling.
Miss my random makes-no-sense to me posts? No, me either. Sometimes I just type without reason to hear myself think.
I'll have to look up what week we're finishing. It will be a little scary to see where we might be behind.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Maybe it's just me, but I often doubt the choices I've made for the direction of our homeschool. Did I pick the right curriculum? Is our pace too fast? Too slow? ..... the questions go on and on.
We have been using All About Spelling for our spelling curriculum since 3rd grade began, and it "seems" to be working, but it is hard to get real proof. I've been using the "Spelling Scale for Home Educators" found in the 1989 Wanda Sanseri guide, "Teaching Reading at Home" to gauge Ben's spelling progress. For 3rd grade, Ben's scores had fallen roughly in the 4th grade range (I usually test him when we complete a level of AAS and at the end of the school year). But having just finished AAS level 3 last week, I tested him again, and his scores fell at a grade status of 7.0 -- woohoo! There was definitely new material for Ben to master in level 3, and I know there will be leaps and bounds of learning in level 4. Have I seen the carryover into his writing? For the most part yes. Since AAS doesn't follow traditional grade level spelling lists, it can be hard to judge, but for the most part, I think he's generalizing quite well.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
It is hard to sit down and summarize the craziness that is our life recently. I've become very distracted when I have computer time with Facebook and catching up with friends from high school and college -- a nice distraction, by the way.
The boys have started ski lessons for the next 6 weeks and are loving it, of course. They go with Dad and some neighbor friends who are also homeschooled on Thursdays. Levi and I stay home for Special Levi Days. This week we'll go to the children's museum for a little bit.
School subjects: We're working on our state study, which I had wanted to finish by mid-February, but I see now that it will need to be extended. We will finish it up by the end of February (except a couple field trips that we'll take when the weather turns nice) and then move on to Tapestry of Grace. I'm so in love with the DE version -- I've printed off only the pages that I want, so I don't have to flip through tons of high school level information that will stress me out (teaching high school doesn't stress me out, but all the page flipping does). I've gone through our library's online catalog to see what they have, and I'll begin purchasing books in the next week or two.
Ben: Ben is plugging away with math, and we should be finished with 3B in the next two weeks. We'll move straight on to 4A (mental note: plug it into HST). I do like having the extra problems text to fill in, and I'm going to get Challenging Word Problems 3 to work through periodically. We've finished All About Spelling 3 and I will have him take a baseline test this week. Everything else is plugging along.
Luke: He is doing so good with his reading! This weekend we started talking about silent E and when we were running errands, he asked me if the "e" was silent in the word "Staples." I'm so proud of him.
We've been working on being diligent in our Bible reading, and I'm working through Egermeier's with Luke for the first time. Ben is reading a couple chapters each day, and last I heard he was in Ruth. We've also moved past the Pond People and are reading about Night People for Luke's science. I asked him if he wanted to continue with these readings, and he did, so we'll work through them at his interest level.