Jan 202011
 

Wow, two weeks down of school basically this year. I can’t believe it.

Last wee, we were working on our memory verse, and Bugs insisted it was Aversions 6:2.  We were working on Ephesians 6:2….It took three days to get it straight finally. But man, it sure was funny!

The public school children had two snow days the start of last week. As homeschoolers, we didn’t take the snow days.  Even though on the second public school snow day (taken because it was so cold, not because the snow was blowing) I gave the Bugs the option of skipping school for the day and she insisted on doing it anyway. No big deal. She loves doing school.

So far, we are ahead in the main things. We are doing the Developing the Early Learner workbook series.  Over our Christmas break, we misplaced book 2 somehow…..So, since we were nearly done with it anyway, we went ahead and started book 3. We were scheduled in our curriculum to start it on Friday the 14th but went ahead and started the Monday before so she could do some workbook.  As of this writing, we are close to a fourth of the way through this 60 page workbook….Once the Bugs starts on a few pages, she insists on doing more. And more. And more. We are a bit ahead on phonics instruction too.  Though we’ve had a few days when we just couldn’t remember the sounds we knew the day before. On Friday of last week, Bugs came in and woke us parents up and we quizzed her on some sounds that words start with and what letter makes that sound and she got the letter C and it’s sound correct.  Later during school, she is shown the C flashcard and looks at me and pulls whatever sounds she wants to say and then informs me that since she told me and Hubbs this morning she didn’t need to do it again. We had quite the talk about doing our work, even if it is boring or seems strange to keep answering the same thing again and again (I could just imagine that one in a public school classroom.  The letters and phone calls I would be getting…)

Since we are doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 this year, the read alouds are pretty much on target.  For this core, the read alouds consist pretty much of different short stories, Mother Goose rhymes and things like that. Honestly, not a big deal if we end up having to skip a day or so and we can’t catch it back up.

Today I re-introduced handwriting.  My desire was to teach cursive first.  I have taught in schools before (private Christian schools) and the first one I taught at, we introduced cursive writing in kindergarten.  Those children had the most beautiful penmanship, and I agree with the cursive first philosophy.  The second school didn’t teach cursive until second grade, and since I taught a combined first and second classroom, I went ahead and let the first graders learn it too.  The first graders had better handwriting in cursive than my second graders did. I had tried a bit of cursive with the Bugs, but her fine motor skills, while still in the normal range, are on the slower end of normal.  Not a big deal since she spent her early developmental time working on her brains (believe me, this child is smart). So after failing before Christmas to try cursive with her, I went ahead and tried some print.  It was a good decision.  Today we did the capital A. After showing her three times, she started on her own, and let me tell you, she did beautifully! I was so surprised. She then went a bit A crazy and wrote A anywhere she could.  Even on some unlined paper and those were nicely done too. I guess that she was ready, and print is the way to go with this child.  I don’t know what we’ll be doing with the Beans yet though.  Guess it is too early to tell.  Though, she was sitting with us for handwriting time and decided she needed to try it too.  So I got her out some paper and showed her how to make her A. She made a few fairly nice Hs and then turned them into people. Then insisted I needed to draw dresses and shoes on them….Yeah, I can’t draw. She loved the pitiful result though.

This week we are also working on a review item for the TOS Crew.  Be looking for that review February 11th. I have another review item I’m needing to get downloaded but that has to wait until my husband is home from work so he can install it on the main CPU.  It runs Windows still and the laptop no longer does.  And for some strange reason, very few things are installable on a Linux based device like schooling helps.  It is rather annoying because we would love to give up using Windows totally but can’t because of a few things that aren’t compatible that we use. Oh well, in a perfect world…

Right now, the Beans is having massive jealousy issues with me and the Bugs and school.  I try and do something with her before we start school and she’ll have nothing to do with it.  So, then I start school and she’s trying to crawl into my lap between me, her sister and whatever book we are reading and will grab my face and try blocking my view of the book. If we are at the table working on handwriting or something, she’ll come in and try to stop me and force me to pay total attention to her.  I’ve tried diverting her attention elsewhere, tried spending time with just her before we start school, tried doing something for just us after school,tried giving her her own “school”  but nothing seems to be working.  Bugs works best in the morning not too long after breakfast, we’ve tried doing school after lunch while sister is having her “nap” time (she’s been starting to give up her nap recently) and that doesn’t work.  Bugs is wearing down a bit by then and her attention isn’t there anymore (have to admit, by that time in the day, I’m not wanting to do much either).  Do you deal with this too?  Please share what you do to curb the attention hogging behavior of your littles while trying to do school with the bigger ones.

So, that’s where we are at the moment.  Plugging along and doing quite well. How are you going? Feel free to share.  Or even tell of something really great you’ve found.  I’m still looking for options for next year! (but then, I love looking through curriculum, I’m kind of crazy like that…).

Rearranging and Randomness

 Beans, Bugs, curriculum, family, girls, Homekeeping, TOS  Comments Off on Rearranging and Randomness
Jan 182011
 

So, is it a bit disturbing that the girls are squeezing their Bob the Tomato bean bag and turning the water red with his juice? (yes, we’ve been discussing Moses, and they have seen an animated 10 Commandments recently)

This morning, Hubbs and I were awakened by the Bugs jumping into our bed exclaiming that her brothers had gone hunting for a bear for us. She has a very active imagination apparently.  The boys returned and brought back a bear for everyone.  Beans got the baby bear, Bugs got the sister bear, Daddy got the big giant bear and Mommy, well, she got the short bear.  My husband just cracked up laughing when the Bugs proclaimed that I got the short bear. Yes, I’m short.  I’m hardly five foot two. My husband is more than a foot taller than I am…

My husband and I are in the midst of a massive rearranging of our furniture.  This is taking a lot longer than I thought it would.  Saturday and Sunday were spent in emptying the HUGE roll top desk in the living room to prepare to move it to the front bedroom which is becoming our office (it used to be the guest room until we needed the bed in there for the Bugs). We also moved a very large set of full bookshelves in the front room and cataloged every last book in them on Collectorz. Those shelves alone have just under 250 books on them…We didn’t realize how much they were all worth either until we did this.  Oy, books are expensive if you buy them new at full cover price (thankfully we buy them at garage sales, used book stores and use gift cards and such.  I haven’t paid full price for a book since my birthday in November when I finally broke down and bought one that I had been wanting for several years since I couldn’t find it elsewhere). Tonight we are going to get a few more things moved in the front room (it had turned into a catch all for junk) and get the desk moved in there and hopefully our large brown recliner. Then we can get our couch out of the kitchen, get the ottoman where I want it and shove the large blanket chest in a corner until I get the master bedroom cleaned up and the recliner in there into the living room (it’s much smaller than the one in here now) and then the blanket chest is going to our room.

Craziness, I know.  And now I’m contemplating either in the spring or in the fall (probably fall) of repainting the front office room, putting the girls in that room, repainting their room, me and Hubbs moving in there and turning the master bedroom into a larger office/study and school room. That is going to be a TON of work and I know when we get this round of organizing done, Hubbs isn’t going to be too excited for another huge project like that. I think we shall wait until fall though.  By then our finances will be better and I have a few other things I want to do this spring.

Well, enough lolly gagging around.  Time for school. Which has been going well thus far this semester.  Bugs is on target for the plans in The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. We are ahead in the Developing the Early Learner workbooks (she loves doing those) and are on target for our read alouds (however, for preschool, it is just short stories, not like we are reading HUGE chapter books yet).  This week, we are also doing the Puffer Fish study from the Curiosity Files from The Old Schoolhouse as a review item.  That review will be up on February 11th.  Be looking forward to it!  Let me tell you, the girls are loving it so far. So am I.

Ok, really going to get on with the day now. Expect a school review sometime this week and perhaps a discussion about what I’m looking at for next year.  Yes, I’ve tweaked it again 😉.

Dec 312010
 

Wow, this year has flown by for us!  Seems like yesterday we were celebrating New Years 2010.

Do you make resolutions? I didn’t last year. Or the year before.  I hated not being able to achieve them or being unrealistic. However, this year I have decided to make a few goals if you will. Goals sound so much better than resolutions, don’t you think?  Resolution can have such a negative feel to it, and always be about things you don’t want.  Like I resolve to not eat as much chocolate.  Sounds like a bummer, doesn’t it?  However, setting up goals to eat healthier sounds and feels like much more of an achievement.  Like in January, we will make the switch to home cooked breakfasts, and only have cold cereal as a special treat.  February we will…..  See, doesn’t that sound much more manageable and nice?

So, here are the goals for 2011.  Of course, I reserve the right to change and modify these goals as I see fit…..

1. I will actively seek a healthier lifestyle for me and my family.  To do this, I will change the ways we eat to healthier options, make even more food from scratch and slowly weed out the processed snacks, cold cereals and such.  I personally will strive to do some sort of exercise four or more times a week. (hopefully I can afford that exercise video I’m really wanting soon)

2. I will work on simplifying our life. To do this I will sort through our belongings and get rid of clutter, maintaining a better cleaning schedule, and putting together and using a homemaking/keeping binder. (if you use a binder system, what do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? I’m starting one from scratch). We will work on having carved out family times to bond as a family. Also in the vein of simplification, we will work on getting totally out of debt this year except for our mortgage (which is very possible). We have a few payments left on the car and my student loans need finished (which should be taken care of most if not all with the tax return). Then, we shall begin saving for a larger vehicle to pay cash for and for home repairs that will be needed in the near future.

3. Homeschooling will be a bit more structured this semester.  Last semester ended up a bit more spontaneous than I like to be. A lot of learning did take place, but not the way I would have preferred…..I also will not plan a whole semester of lesson plans in one sitting.  I learned not to do that one last semester. I will take the time to plan every week or two so I can adapt to the changes in schedule I know will take place. I also will be more intentional with schooling the Beans.  She’s been picking up a lot on the fly, especially with phonics while I’m teaching the Bugs and she would probably benefit from the extra time and attention.

So, there are three goals for me.  Some easier to implement than others. And it will take time. I don’t expect to wake up in the morning and be fifty pounds thinner, all the cold cereal purged from our house (well, we aren’t even there at the moment) and have perfectly schooled children and a house totally in order. Changes like these come in baby steps. A little bit of progress and success at a time.  With diligence and prayer this is all attainable.

I want to say thank you to my readers for sticking with and reading this past year. I really appreciate it..

Science on Thanksgiving

 Bugs, family, homeschooling  Comments Off on Science on Thanksgiving
Nov 252010
 

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Every time we cook a whole bird of some sort, Bugs has to examine and play with the giblets. She loves to run water through the neck, and handle all the other innards. And of course we have to cut open and look at the chambers of the heart. We discuss what each of the organs does and she plays with them before we cook them for the dog. Here are some pictures of her playing with the duck giblets today. She had a lot of fun with it. The dog enjoyed her dinner of them too. I jokingly say that I fed my dog duck pate` today.

This was supposed to have posted yesterday, but due to technical errors (or operator errors) with my phone, it didn’t..

Nov 222010
 

I have learned a lot this fall as our first “official” fall of homeschooling (even though I consider us to be homeschooling since birth…).  I have learned that writing out a daily list of lessons for an entire semester probably isn’t a great idea.  Of course, within three weeks due to having to go out of town and such, we were a bit behind.  At first it was easy to catch up, but then it wasn’t so easy as one after another of us would get a bit under the weather, us girls were at my MIL’s  for a week and stuff like that. From now on, I will only sit down and plan out a month or a few weeks at a time.  Then I won’t be so discouraged looking at the plans on my lovely wall calendar that aren’t syncing with where we are at.  And we also have been dealing with the issue that we are way ahead in our workbooks and science curriculum.  Fun stuff.

I’ve learned that it is more than ok to just go and do with your materials what is best for you and your children.  After the Bugs started complaining that her stories were too short, she wanted more work than her preschool program provided, I pretty much chucked the daily lesson plans anyway.  We are reading through the read alouds, getting tons of extra books from the library weekly and having a blast learning by helping mom cook, do laundry and just living life at this stage. She seems to be understanding things that she isn’t “supposed” to yet.  If you give her a verbal math story problem (a simple addition or subtraction one), most of the time, she will get it right.  From what I’ve been reading, she should only be able to work with visual manipulatives right now and come up with correct answers by using them.  Not so for this smarty pants. I may have problems later though if she is mathematically inclined.  I’m not.

If something isn’t working for you, it is ok to just not use it.  Even if everyone you know swears it is the best there is.  We were using a phonics program that A LOT of our friends, acquaintances and people on forums I frequent use.  They love it.  It worked for them.  My eldest, not so much.  There was too much with symbols over the letters for the sounds they make, dots and lines and arrows under the letters and when we tried to sound words out in a “real book,” she didn’t recognize the letters to make the sounds she was taught they do because they didn’t have all the extra stuff surrounding them. So, I gave it up after being bored to tears, dealing with uncooperativeness during lesson time and fighting through the daily lessons. I think I have found our replacement.  We shall see.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get it in time to start second semester.  If not, then I’ll just keep on working with her using real books and sounding stuff out that way. I have the feeling though that once all this clicks in her mind, there will be absolutely no stopping her.

Bugs has been begging to learn about the stars, the sun and the moon.  I’ve been leaning heavily towards using Apologia’s Exploring Creation series next year anyway and I know this will work out well with it. I can start her in Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  Now, if anyone has a telescope they’d like to give us….. 😉

Next year, well, is still sort of up in the air.  I’ve been researching and looking at things and trying to figure out where the Bugs would be grade-wise.  At this point, I’m wishing I had ordered the Core K from Sonlight instead of the Core P 4/5.  We got it back in March this year when we had the money to order it with the plans to start this fall and to follow the public school calendar.  Well, within the first month, I realized that she was ready for P 4/5 back in the spring and is ready for Core K now.  So, I’ve been supplementing in lots of areas with extra reading, activities and such.  Hindsight is 20/20 they say.  So, after looking around and doing a lot of reading of catalogs (which I have yet more on the way from various companies) I think we are skipping kindergarten next year. It would be senseless and pure drudgery to put us both through it since she is beyond that.

I’m looking at combining Core 1 from Sonlight and the 1st grade curriculum package from Timberdoodle.  I think the read alouds from Sonlight will complement The Story of the World book and activity book from Timberdoodle very well.  They both use “real books” and narrative to teach history chronologically, which is what is recommended in the Classical Education mindset (I’m a blend of classical and Charlotte Mason). I haven’t totally decided on Bible yet, and of course, there are things that I don’t really want in the Timberdoodle package (I want a different handwriting program than either company offers for instance, and I don’t want the phonics program with the first grade Timberdoodle either, but they are willing to customize your package if they can for you, which I think is terrific), and I’m still waiting on some catalogs from other companies yet.  Good thing this is only mid-November, I’ve got some time before I have to really make these decisions.  And of course, finances will also come into play. What I want is probably not what I’m going to get as all told, just for the packages I have listed, it will be over seven hundred dollars just for the books.  Which is a bargain compared to private school, and probably what we would end up spending if we sent her to public school (which due to her birthday won’t be eligible for kindergarten until the 2012-2013 year, and she’ll be beyond that by then) for transportation (the bus for our elementary school picks up before seven a.m. which is ridiculous for school that starts at eight), school clothes, lunch box, lunch money, field trips, extra supplies (like tissues, and dry erase markers for the classroom and other stuff that personally parents shouldn’t have to provide for the whole class), and of course the teacher presents and school fundraisers that the parents get suckered into ordering from.  So, even then homeschooling would probably be cheaper than our “free” public education around here, at least for the first part of elementary school. And then, of course I will have books and teacher guides for the successive child/ren, so homeschooling gets cheaper each kid that goes through the curriculum. Instead of paying the same or more for tuition at private school, and all the same things yet again for public school. We’ll see what happens when it is time to order.  God provided for this year.  I know he won’t neglect next year either.

I have to sit down yet and compare the reading lists for the Tapestry of Grace curriculum with Sonlight yet also.  I don’t know if I would be able to do that cheaper or not yet, and TOG goes with the Classical model of education and uses The Story of the World for the spine for history too.  I have a friend who has gotten all of year one’s books for TOG on paperback swap.  Something to consider, but since I would be starting that out next year I don’t know if I have enough time or books to offer at this point on paperback swap to get it all. We shall see.

I’m also trying to decide when to start our study of Latin.  Yes, Latin. I’ve found a good starting curriculum I think (and fairly cheap too), but do I start it at where it suggests for grade level?  If so, then she isn’t in the age range for it.  But if I wait for the suggested age range, then she’ll be way above it grade level. Oh the conundrums of having an advanced child….I’m leaning towards using Song School Latin to introduce it next year and moving on from there.  I haven’t decided which Latin program we are going to be using.  Nearly all the reviews for the programs I’ve seen have been very highly in favor of it all.  Makes making the decision that much harder on me.  Oh well, there is still time, right? Do you teach Latin?  If so, what do you use for the early years?

So, have you found any great things, curriculum for your homeschool?  Want to share with me and others? Please do, I’m always looking for new resources.  Besides, I love getting new catalogs in the mail. Yeah, it doesn’t take much to excite me, does it?.