Friday, December 12, 2008
Now we are reading Walk the World's Rim. This is a great book, used by Sonlight in Core 3. It's actually scheduled as one of the first books you read in Core 3 when you are studying American Indians, but we skipped it at that time. I don't remember my rationale for that back then, but it's working out perfectly to read it now, because Esteban is an African slave to one of the Spanish explorers.
The slave theme actually features prominantly in the story because there is such a contrast between Esteban's attitude toward being a slave and Chakao's attitude. In Chakao's mind, an Indian is a coward if he is enslaved because he didn't have the courage to fight his captors and prevent his enslavement. In Esteban's mind, it takes great courage to be a slave and serve your master with dignity.
Esteban was an intelligent, brave African explorer (he's not really African-American, is he? He was brought to Spain and is owned by a Spanish master. Therefore, I'd say he is African-Spanish. Hmmm.) The Indians were fascinated by him, his master valued him only as property, Chakao idolized him, and Cabeza de Vaca (I love that name--- Head of the Cow!) respected him as a valuable member of their party. Makes for interesting dynamics within the group!
It's an exciting, but very sad story. We're only about half-way through, but the girls are begging every day to "Just read one more chapter!"
Here is a worksheet on Esteban.
Friday, December 5, 2008
In any case, it was a great story and I'm pleased that we began with that one. My aim in this study has been to begin with where and how slavery began. I didn't want to just jump in to the Civil War, but I wanted the girls to understand the origins of slavery in America and how it differed from slavery throughout history.
The second book we read was Bound for America: The Forced Migration of Africans to the New World.
This was an excellent book, as well and a good next choice. (Really, I just browsed through the online library catalog and picked out whatever books seemed interesting. I probably checked out 40 books and we'll use 6 or 7 of them. I love my library!) This book gave a very good overview of slavery throughout history, moving into how the Africans cam to be enslaved in such numbers and how slavery in the Americas differed from historical slavery. It detailed the evolution of how Africans were captured for slavery, explained the Middle Passage, detailed the transport of Africans to the coast and their harrowing trip across the ocean.
The girls have been quick to point out the use of terms discounting the humanity of black by whites such as "creatures," "cargo," and such. We've talked much about the different world views of the Africans vs. the Americans. The horror of this whole piece of history is so great, that it's difficult to give 8 and 10 year olds enough to understand the tragedy without overwhelming them with the details of the atrocities.
The third book we read was the most awesome yet. The Old African, by Julius Lester, appears at first glance to be just another picture book made for young children.
Oh my goodness, no! Yes, the artwork is fabulous and beautiful and very appropriate for children. The girls were fascinated to see the pictures detailing the capture and transport of the Old African and his fellow Africans to the New World.
The text on the other hand! It's a good thing I am able to edit on the fly! This book is not for independent reading by children, nor for those who like to read over your shoulder as you read aloud. There is language, graphic details of the brutality the Africans suffered, a scene with $*xual overtones between a sailor and an African woman, suicide by the Africans, and, central to the story, a theme of magic and supernatural power.
Yet this book did more to give us a clear and graphic picture of the attitude of a slave owner, the brutality the slaves suffered, the confusion and fright the Africans suffered in their capture and transport over the ocean and the hope and overpowering desire for freedom all slaves carried, even those born into slavery.
I was near tears through most of this story, and if you know me, you know I am not a crier. I did a lot of editing as I read aloud. I'd urge anyone who wanted to use this book to preread it or be prepared to edit on the fly. I'm not sure I would have shared all the details with even my 13 year old. Maybe. Not without discussion, for sure.
So that was our day in history. Enjoy!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Yesterday we read about the ancient African kingdoms of Nubia and Egypt. We made sandstone columns. They were a little crumbly to carve so we thought we'd wait to carve them when they hardened. Yeah. Today they are too hard. Oh, well. It was fun to play with sand in December.
Today we started and read half-way through the exciting book, The Slave Ship by Emma Gelders Sterne This is the story of the ship , the Amistad, which was a sugar schooner from Cuba overtaken by slaves recently arrived from Africa in 1839. They captured the ship and attempted to sail back to Africa. The white navigator onboard tricked them into sailing to America where their case was heard by the supreme court and, unbelievably, they were sent back to Africa!
The story is exciting and sometimes funny and it is giving us LOTS to talk about. We are exploring the attitudes of the Cuban slave trader (the poor Africans are better off now that they live in a civilized country), the Cuban plantation owners (examining the slaves on the auction block, considering them as stupid and animal-like, even as they sail the ship), the young slave boy of the captain who, although black was born into slavery and considers the Africans as stupid and ungrateful for their opportunities (since he is given beautiful clothes and a job for an important man). We are discussing the importance of material goods and a "civilized" life vs. freedom and fewer opportunities. We are seeing the brutality (although not over the top for an 8 and 10 year old) of the life of the African slaves. Most of all, we are getting a wonderful picture of the humanity of the African people, their pride and spirit.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Unless I can trick them.
I explained Pepper's page to her in about 45 different ways and she still didn't get it, crying the whole time (her, not me). I peeked ahead to the next page, but knew her tolerance for math was shot for the day, so closed the book.
Then I asked Banana Boy, "Wanna play a fun game???????"
I laid out the next page's problem for him with the rods. The question was 7 + 9 = __ + __ = ? where the two blanks must be the same number. (the answer is 8, BTW)
BB started to puzzle it out, when Pepper leaned in, all interested, and grabbed her own rods to try to figure it out. Daisy, too, got in on the action. Suddenly, I was in demand to "make another one for me, Mama!" Go figure.
We completed that whole page of problems. I asked, "Want to do another page?" to a resounding chorus of "NO!s"
Then I got out our rod book Hidden Rods, Hidden Numbers
I made a problem for Banana Boy, but it was too hard for him. Pepper tried it and was able to solve the first one. Daisy wanted to play, too, so for the next half hour, I read them problems from the book and they solved them with rods. Very fun.
Here is a sampling of the problems from the book:
Longest rod shorter than yellow.
(find the four rods)
Train is longer than purple but shorter than orange.
All the rods are alike.
(find the five rods)
Problems from Set 1, p. 1-30
w = 1
Longest x 8 <> 32
Shortest x 7 > 20
Train of evens = 8
From Set 2, p. 31-60
A) 1 number
B) it is less than 45
C) it is a multiple of 6
D) twice the number is greater than 60
E) it is not a multiple of 4
The number is ______
From Set 3, pp. 61-78
Answers are in the back of the book.
From what I can tell at Amazon, the book seems to be out of print, but is available used. If this looks like a game your children would enjoy, try to pick up a copy.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
What is 7 + 7? "Easy! 14"
What coin is 1 cent? "A penny!" (he shouts all the answers)
How much is 8 tens? thinking, thinking, thinking, "EIGHTY! That was easy. I just counted by tens 8 times!"
He IS making progress with his language. Last weekend he told Papa, "Papa, pease, teeth, Sunshine," asking Papa to help him brush his teeth. But that was a LONG sentence for him.
His latest obsession is "This one." "Right here." "There!"
He still is not using any personal pronouns (me, you, him, her, etc.) He uses very few verbs and then only in isolation (like "Run, run, run" when he is running.
He understands EVERYTHING and can follow multi-step directions (go in the bathroom and bring mama the towel)
He also has become obsessed with one of our Signing Times dvds. He watches "Alex and Leah" every day at naptime, sometimes twice. He is picking up all the signs in this video and will do them along with the movie.
The other day I noticed Mr. GT had bought pears at the store. I pulled one out of the bag and showed it to him. "Sunshine, what's this?"
"App-app," he said.
"No," I said, and signed "pear" to him.
"Pay!" he shouted and did the sign back. Pretty smart little cookie, huh?
Here are some pics of his latest adventuresI had to make slings for Pepper and him for their babies. He's obsessed with his baby lately and is quite a good little daddy.He was reading Banana Boy's Bob Books to his baby. Here is how he reads, "Bob sit. Bob cat. Bob waah!" Correction: He is actually reading a Fun Tales book in this picture, but he thought it was a Bob book. So did I, apparently.
Making something out of blocks (up)
and Playing dress-up with Daisy. (down)
Next, she's giving him clues. "Find James Buck an an. He has fives by his name. Warmer....Colder.....Warmer... Warmer!!!! YETH!"
"Find Calvin Coolidge. It starts with a C. Two C's."
Banana Boy wants to see that Marak Obama's picture, but then he reasons to himself, "I guess he's not on there yet because he didn't get there yet and they (all the other presidents) were there for lots of times."
Then they are talking about Theodore Roosevelt. BB asks why there are mountains in the background of his picture and Pepper explains,
"He loved animals and he made lots of parks because people were shooting the animals and then they had a place to live."
*I* didn't teach her that! We haven't even gotten to TR yet. She picks all that up from reading books.
Also this week, in Pepper's world:
She colored her December calendar (and filed all the rest of them in her binder), filled out the dates and announced there were STILL 35 days until Christmas! All with no help from me.
She quizzed BB on sight words. We have a bunch of them hanging on the kitchen cabinet.
She opened the Penguin set and had an Antarctic penguin party.
She worked on discovering whether sums and products of numbers were odd or even. This is in her Miquon Blue book. So for example, she works
2+2, 4+6, 12+30 and so on, a whole column of them and determines whether the sum is odd or even. Eventually, it asks her to decide whether ANY even + even combination will always be even (yes, it will) and then she has to make up 3 or 4 of her own problems following the pattern. She followed this same pattern for odd + even, even + odd and odd + odd, then odd x odd, odd x even, even x odd and even x even. Because of my head cold, it makes even ME dizzy thinking about it.
She and I also played Bananagrams together, making just one puzzle instead of each our own.
If you have grade schoolers and you have not yet purchased this game, PUT IT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST! We LOVE this game.
It's fast to play and anyone can join in. You turn all the tiles face down in the middle of the table and each person picks 21 tiles (for 2-5 players, fewer if there are more players). Someone says "split" and everyone turns over all their tiles in front of them. You each begin building your own Scrabble/Crossword style puzzle using just your tiles. If you get stuck with a bad tile, you can "dump" and exchange it for 3 new ones. Whenever anyone has used all their tiles, they say "peel" and everyone picks one new tile. The first one to use up all their tiles after the middle tiles have been used up says, "bananas" and wins.
Banana Boy gets his own set of 21 tiles and makes 3 letter words, but he's not required to connect them together. It's great for his beginning reading and spelling. Pepper and Daisy are pretty evenly matched, since Pepper is a natural speller and Daisy is not. I am fast at using my tiles, but rather than using my last tile and calling "peel" right away, I stop and help out whomever looks stuck. I spend as much time helping the kids as I do making my own puzzle, but we don't play competitively anyway.
The girls got out their Hands & Hearts Early American kit this week and made pomanders. The skewer, the cloves and the string and ribbon were all included. We just had to supply the apples.
We also discussed the importance of correct spelling and how changing the spelling of a word changes the vowel sound from long to short or vice versa. We explored the difference between exploding the CODE and exploding a COD, being sure you are eating a SNACK and not a SNAKE, and SCRAPPING, not SCRAPING your photographs.
She also colored a picture of Lewis and Clark and read about 4 million books about Sacagawea.
So there you have it. A week in Pepper's unschooling world.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Daisy's MarkerPoint art
She thought this was so cool, especially since she's done cross-stitch on fabric. She worked most of the morning on it and I even caught her doing some math to figure out the placement of some "stitches."
edited to add: I wasn't very clear about the mechanics of this project. We printed graph paper off the computer (5 squares to the inch) and she made the design lightly in pencil. Then she traced over all the x's with markers.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Teaching Sunshine about the color red
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Helping Banana Boy with math
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
I hate math blocks (unless I am not using them for math)
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
I love math blocks when they are not for math!!!!
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Daisy's Green Anaconda strangling a Capybara
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Pepper discovered a new snake species that had heretofore been unknown
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Take my picture, too!!!
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Pack of African Wild Dogs (collie version)
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Zebras are good with math
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Take my picture, too!!!
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Doing spelling another way
|From SCHOOL SEPT OCT|
Monday, October 27, 2008
Yesterday BB says to me, out of the blue, "Mom, do you know what 5 pears and 5 pears are?" He's always giving me little problems to solve, usually involving thirty-twenty hundred, five hundred, seventy-eight, ninety-seven, 40 hundred." (that's all one number, BTW)
So I think to myself, well, 5 pears plus 5 pears is going to be, "10 pears!" I say, triumphantly.
"No, Mom, it's TWENTY!" Because of course, my 5 year old means PAIRS!!!
Friday, October 10, 2008
The past few weeks have actually been productive, if not exciting. We've been busily plowing through math, Explode the Code, R&S Grammar and AWANA. Spelling has completely fallen by the wayside as Daisy conveniently "forgets" to do it. Today we did two days' worth and she thought she was going to die! Many tears.
We finished Eli Whitney yesterday. I actually dislike this book. It has a happy ending, and I guess the theme by which Eli Whitney lives his life--to keep on keeping on--is fulfilled in the end. But, golly, he had a hard road of it! I kept wanting to quit reading the book, his life is so depressing! It also throws in A LOT of "what else is going on in the world right now" information." It might be a better book to read AFTER we've covered more of that info, sort of as a wrap up.
Anyway, we finished it.
We also finally finished Mrs. Frisby! The girls LOVED this book as much as I did when I was young and begged every day to read more.
For our next "fun" book, as they call it, I think we'll read The Ordinary Princess. I never read this story until I read it aloud to Rose Bud when she was this age and she and I both loved it. I think they'll enjoy this one as well.
We've also begun Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, another "keep on keeping on" story, also by Jean Lee Latham. This is a much better story, though. Very exciting.
Pepper has begun carrying in addition and, after the initial resistance to learning something new, has discovered she is good at it and has caught on to it quickly. She was dismayed to look ahead in her book and discover about 12 pages of practice of this skill before she moves into what looks to her to be more of the same. This would be borrowing in subtraction!
WHY do I have to do all THIS! It doesn't look fun!
Well, I told her, this would be the major work of a second grader: learning to borrow and carry.
sigh of resignation.
Daisy, at least, is enjoying learning to round off in math.
And in science, we've finally finished our savanna unit and have begun to learn about the rainforest.
One last great resource we used for the savanna: Wildebeest: The Great African Migration or, as we like to call it in our house, 48 Ways to Kill a Wildebeest. This was a GREAT movie, if your kids don't mind death and destruction. My girls actually watched it at BEDTIME and loved it! It told the story of the wildebeest of Africa and their great migration (in case you didn't get the gist of it from the title!). Unfortunately for the wildebeest, they have a tough life.
We saw baby wildebeest get separated from their mothers and die of dehydration, baby wildebeest (hereafter known as WB) get eaten by hyenas, baby WB cross a muddy river and bake to a hard muddy crust in the sun, baby WB born deformed and doomed. We enjoyed watching adult WB trample each other, get eaten by lions, hyenas, giant crocodiles, vultures and wild dogs, break a leg and drown, fall and drown, get dragged under by crocodiles and drown. The only thing we never saw was a WB get hit by lightning. I think one even died of a heart attack over stress from the failing economy.
In any case, it was a well-done video (although I think all the WB were eaten raw) and if you don't have squeamish kids, it's worth a watch if you can find it.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I just love love love this book! I loved it as a kid and as I am reading it to Pepper and Daisy now I am enjoying it just as much as ever, and so are they! At the end of every chapter they are begging for more. Pepper said today, "Can't you read more? It is SO exciting!"
I remember loving the magical world of the rats, knowing it was completely imaginary but believing it was entirely possible! I applauded the courage of Mrs. Frisby and mourned the loss (or was it??) of Justin. I disliked the shrew for her shrewiness and laughed at Jeremy for his inability to pass up anything shiny just because it was...shiny. I marveled at the wonder that was the story of the mice and the rats. And I smiled at how the legacy of NIMH lived on in the children of the original captives.
If you have never read this book before, I urge you to explore it with your children. Pepper is going on 8 ("In 8 days, Mom, it will be only 3 months until my birthday") and Daisy is nearly 10.
Or if you love a great can't-put-it-down story as much as I do, just curl up in your favorite chair tonight after the kids are in bed and read it straight through.
You won't be sorry!
Here are some online links I have found for this story (but not used):
BookPunch free lesson plan (writing activities for grades 3-9)
Literature Unit made by 4th & 5th graders (typical schooly type stuff with some word searches)
This blog has some interesting ideas for extensions, including using Google Earth to "experience" Mrs. Frisby's flight with Jeremy
And a nice review of Robert C. O'Brien's works
Monday, September 15, 2008
We are doing an animal study, loosely based on Winter Promise's Animals and Their Worlds. I bought the teacher's guide and a few books and doodads, but mostly we're using the public library and our own library.
Here's what we've got going.
Last week we read from the Usborne World of Animals. We basically whizzed through the first 32 pages which cover animal basics like carnivore/herbivore, camoflauge, hibernation, the animal kingdom, animal instincts, homes, migration...all those cool animal buzz-words one should be familiar with. For the most part, the girls were.
We are reading about habitats, which is how WP's program is organized, so we read in Animal Habitats.
We'll also be using several books to explore the habitats in greater depth. One is Usborne Book of World Wildlife (I'm kind of an Usborne junkie--we own a lot of Usborne!) and the other is One Small Square: African Savanna.
Last week we put together some notebook pages on habitats using cool pictures from Evan-Moor's Giant Science Resource Book. (I love Evan-Moor's website. They have a nifty viewer that lets you look at every single page in most of their books before you buy it! And their materials are pretty neat, too!)
Some online habitat games
Make your own habitat to keep the animal happy and healthy
Habitats Quiz -- a little hard!
This week we are beginning a study of the grasslands, particularly African Savannas. We'll focus on the lion as our animal of the week. Today we read about the lion from Marvels of Creation: Magnificent Mammals.
I've also found a bunch of fun links on the web for the African Savanna.
For Younger Kids: Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies
Fun Safari Game (this is really CUTE!)
Oh, and I bought my kids a Toob. They had fun getting out our other animal figures and having all the lions attack all the grass-eaters. The lions were very full! Our light green braided rug made a great savanna because it was a) flat and b) open. The couch was open but not flat. Under the couch was flat but not open. The kids set up a water hole and a few trees and bushes for the browsers.
And I forgot to take pictures.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Did I mention Pepper is doing school online? I thought I'd share some of the cool links I've found for her. Really, you can teach your child everything they need to know, for free, online.
There is the pattern block site I already shared. If you go to their main page, they have lots of other interactive math manipulatives.
One she has really enjoyed is multiplication.com. Her especial favorites are the ice cream scoop game and the fairy game. This is a second grader who is gifted at math, but hasn't really begun multiplying yet. Yet, for the reward of fairies, she was doing 4x9.
Practicing her states.
Spelling City -- add your own spelling words for teaching activities, games using them and a test or choose from their lists
Tons of really cool animal and habitat stuff here.
And if your kids like Highlight Magazines Hidden Pictures, they will have a field day here!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
We are back at art with the start of a new school year. To keep things manageable, I'm only aiming to do it once a week on Fridays.
Today's lesson was in pointilism and the artist was Georges Seurat. Here are a few links:
Picture of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte to color (it's just a black and white version of the painting--a little hard to color, in my mind)
Jigsaw puzzle of the painting to put together (fun for building familiarity with famous paintings)
Did you know this? "The painting is featured in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Ferris' friend Cameron is shown locking eyes on the little girl in the center of the painting and being transfixed. The scene portrays Cameron observing a little girl up close whereupon he realizes that, though from a distance all seems on order, there is no shape or form to her face. " Wickipedia, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
Here's an activity (the description of pointillism is better suited for older kids) called Dot to Dot Seurat using dot stickers.
Hmm, it wasn't really pointillism. Read this.
Here are a few more activities (the color-mixing sounds fun!) and picture book suggestions.
We let Sunshine paint, too.
I think Daisy made the really great circle in the top right-hand corner of his paper, lest you be too impressed. The rest is his own original creation though!
Oh, so what did we do for art? The girls took some of our Lauri puzzles (remember those?) and traced shapes onto paper. Lauri puzzles also make great stencils! Then they painted with paint (red, blue and yellow) and Q-tips.
I'm not connected to my printer right now, but I'll get those scanned in for you to see.
9/12/08 Here are the pictures I promised last week. Pepper's is the fish, Daisy's is the butterflies:
And here is what they made after they finished the project. They like to keep painting since they have the art materials out. I love that Pepper made another dot picture, even tho it doesn't consist of mixed dots. She did mix the paint to get green. Daisy made a self-portrait, not with dots, but I love her frame!
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Well, our homeschool year is off to a rolicking start! I managed to get two kids off to public school, make our homeschooling schedule and actually stick to it, all with a wild 3 year old under foot.
Let's start with the three year old.
He is SO much easier to work with this year. First of all, he is beginning to be able to do little activities for more than 30 seconds at a time. I've started having rug time with him. We have a big oval rug in the living room and I set out 4 different preschool activities for him. I set the timer for 15 minutes and if he gets off the rug, I patiently steer him back "until the timer beeps." So far so good.
The girls are taking turns playing with him while I work one-on-one with the other. Here he is making dinosaur tracks with Daisy.
As for Daisy & Pepper, their first day began with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Both started out with bad attitudes and cries of "too much work!! Too hard!" Apparently they've gotten rusty over the summer. After a little chat with Mr. GT (who was home because it was Labor Day) their attitudes improved and we had no more trouble the rest of the week.
As usual, their favorite subject is history and they can't wait for me to read to them each day. We are reading Toliver's Secret and they really are enjoying this exciting story of the Revolutionary War. Daisy is reading through our Sonlight Core 3 shelf. She just finished The Corn Grows Ripe and is reading Vostaas.
Daisy is finishing up Singapore 3B in math and was inspired to fly through the section on capacity and completed about 8 lessons in 4 days.
She also learned this useful skill (the trick is to do it with your eyes OPEN!
Pepper reluctantly did math, Explode the Code and her states. As I've mentioned before, she's a really good unschooler. Workbooks give her hives. Unfortunately, for the time being she is stuck with them. Eventually I'd like to be able to give her more hands-on, activity-based learning. The math games we did this summer worked really well for her.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
First of all, I can't believe I have FOUR kids who have passed the kindergarten milestone! I don't feel that old! My friend next door put her LAST child on the bus yesterday! She's home all alone!
I don't have any desire to be home alone. I'd be lonely and I'd waste time. I'm glad to have Daisy, Pepper and Sunshine here with me.
I was surprised by how sad I was to send Banana Boy. I know we're doing the right thing for this child, this year. He ran off with hardly a backward glance and loved his first day. He already has a crush on his teacher!
But it feels so strange to hear him come home sharing rules he's already internalized that I didn't teach him (why can't he internalize MY rules?) and beaming about the pattern he made (orange, yellow, blue, orange, yellow, blue, orange (stopping there because that's all the spaces there were)) and the picture he drew of he and his teacher living in a castle.
He drank milk at snack time. He made four hoops at recess. He met a new friend in his class and found a couple of old ones. He surmised that it's probably illegal to go to the bathroom in the weeds on the playground (although they didn't specifically say not to!) He unpacked all the things I told him to from his backpack and delivered them where they needed to go.
I'm so proud of him and happy for the independence and success he's experiencing. For this child, an institutional, structured setting is perfect for him at this time. I'm glad we have the opportunity to homeschool the ones who need it and send to public school the ones for whom that fits.
But I'm finding it feels very different to send a little person to kindergarten than it did to send him to preschool.
And I'm finding it feels very different to send my 12 year old responsible, can-handle-things-on-her-own off to middle school where I know she can rebut the ideas that don't gel with our family morals than it does to send my innocent, impressionable 5 yo away to kindergarten. (He said the bus was scary because the other kids were saying mean words (!!).)
I'm excited for both of them and it feels fun to "play school." But the heartbeat of time it took for my boy to step onto the bus and be whisked away was all too short for me yesterday. I was expecting the moment to last longer, the transition between baby and big boy. And it happened in a blink of an eye.
He and I will still be working on math and Bible and AWANA and reading at home in the afternoons. He'll be doing lots of playing, too. Our days will be smoother for spending a little less time together.
But this morning he didn't want to wake up. He's not a morning person. Of course, his fighting bedtime last night (a nightly ritual) didn't help. He climbed into bed with me to snuggle under the warm covers this morning and I wanted to just hold him there and keep him home where he could sleep longer and take his usual sweet time beginning his day. Instead, I had to finally get him up and fed and dressed and ready and walk him, shivering, down to the bus.
I'm an ambivalent Kindergarten Mama. I love it and I hate it. I want him and I need him there. I want him and I need him home. I'm proud of him and I'm afraid for him. I love to see the excitement in his eyes when he comes home to tell me about his day. I miss seeing the excitement in his eyes when he is learning something new at home. I feel proud for sending him. I feel guilty for sending him.
I'm glad I only have to do this once!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
I worked on the girls' schedules today and got their binders organized. They organized their school benches a few weeks ago and cleaned them out.
I am having serious thoughts of simplicity. I am such a curriculum junkie. Every time I read about something, it sounds so good and I think I have to have it. But seriously, the only thing I've ever been really happy with and have worked consistently with, is Sonlight.
I always feel just a little disloyal when I am using something else. Thinking about just sticking with the SL IG makes me feel like I am coming home.
I was reading some threads on the SL Forums today comparing SL with other curriculums, particularly those that are hands-on. The opinion that most struck a chord with me was that it is easy to add in a few hands-on things to Sonlight. I have plenty of activity books, there are ideas all over the internet. To choose a different curriculum just for the hands-on and then supplement with SL seems overkill.
I think Pepper will do just fine with Core 3 this year if we go straight Sonlight. That she was so young was the major reason I was looking at other things.
So I'm thinking of going at the regular pace with Core 3 until we're finished, then jumping into Core 4. I think we must be about at Week 15 in Core 3, so that leaves us with 22 to go. That would be into about February and we should be able to finish Core 4 by that same time the following year.
That would put Pepper at just-turned 9 when we begin Core 5 and that will be all right for her, I think.
Does anyone know if we can list and sell books on our blog? My guess would be that it is not allowed--I've never seen it done. But when I read the fine print, I couldn't decipher whether that was a rule or not. Please let me know in the comments, if you know.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I think I've settled on what we'll do for Bible, at least to start out. Last year, I had purchased My First Catechism: An Illustrated Version of Luther's Small Catechism. A few weeks ago, I was browsing the Concordia Publishing site and found a workbook to go along with it. I've decided to have Daisy and Pepper work through the exercises together. I think discussing the answers and taking turns filling them in will be more valuable than having them each fill in a workbook. Plus Pepper is just a little young for this. Working with Daisy, however, I think she'll be able to do it.
For Banana Boy, I'm going to continue with ABC Bible Verses and a new book I found for him at the half-price bookstore: His Mighty Warrior: A Treasure Map from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd. I love this little book! It is written as letters to a little boy from God, includes a bible verse and a prayer. It is very sweet and very empowering. You can see an exerpt from the book on the CBD website at the link above. BB and I are also reading through The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. I also LOVE this book. It is a fairly typical children's story Bible (except that there is some really funny parents-only-are-going-to-catch-it humor) but every story points out how every part of the Bible points to God's plan for salvation.
For science, I found a little book at Concordia Publishing called Even the Sound Waves Obey Him. The subtitle is "Bible Stories Brought to Life with Science." It is for grades PreK-2, but I think the object lessons are well-done and perhaps the Bible point is even more valuable than the science concept in each lesson. For example, the first lesson is Genesis 1-2, God creates everything in his own image. The science activity is to look at your reflection in a metal spoon. You talk about reflections and the concave/convex concept. The upside down concave image reminds us that sin distorts our image and we no longer resemble God. Plus, as Science Losers, I'm sure there will be lessons we haven't done! There are only 44 in the book, so we should be able to finish this in one semester and then tackle something else.
Banana Boy is all signed up for Kindergarten. His class eats lunch at 11:40, so he'll get dropped off at the office on their way to lunch and I'll pick him up. This way, he won't be leaving in the middle of an activity and won't stand out so much as being different. Plus his best friend will be attending half-days, too, (yay! We can carpool!) so there will be two of them leaving before lunch.
Here is what he is missing in the afternoon:
Instead, he'll be at home, bonding with me!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The reason I haven't been posting about our homeschool is that what you see is what you get. There hasn't been much of it lately.
We went on vacation and that was educational and fun. You can read all about it here.
I think a bunch of us played a math game one day. Daisy and Rose Bud have been having fun getting in on the math games.
All three girls have become even more staunch bookworms than before. Most afternoons you'll find two on the couch and one in the recliner with their noses in the books. Daisy is re-reading The Year of Miss Agnes and has Understood Betsy on deck. Rose Bud will read anything and everything she can get her hands on (unless it is medieval--ewww! Bleh!) or boring or that she's read too many times already or one she has read but didn't like (she is narrating over my shoulder here, can you tell?) Her latest forays have included Fox Trot cartoons, Henry Reed, and her Brio magazines. Pepper is pretty much still into short chapter books, but she lately really enjoyed the Boxcar Children and is on about the tenth one. She also loves Garfield cartoons and the Family Circus.
Banana Boy worked through an entire Grade 1 addition workbook I got for $1 at Target (RUN to your local One Spot! They had lots of cute schooly things for only a dollar each) I'm not saying it was rocket science, but for $1, he became familiar with the notation used for addition and practiced some simple addition facts. And I couldn't tear him away from it. He worked 5 or 6 pages every night on vacation. I also bought a phonics book he practiced in.
Sunshine is once again in Potty Training school and doing fairly well. He's taking himself to the potty about twice as often as he is forgetting, so I count that success. How come nobody opens a publically funded, no-child-left-behind school for getting out of diapers? How come we're EXPECTED to homeschool our kids into underwear? In my mind, this is way harder than teaching kids to read or borrow and carry! I'd gladly pack him on a bus every morning and let someone else remind him every 3 minutes to go potty and shake the poop out of his underwear!
I know. I'm supposed to cherish every moment, and I do! I just wish there weren't so many of them.
Anyway, that's been our summer! School starts in a month and then we'll be hard back at it. Banana Boy got his teacher assignment in the mail today and found out he's in the same class with his best buddy, Little Hey, which is great, since they'll both be attending only half-day.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Unedited (because I think their spellings are cute). By Pepper.
Hi! I'm Spider and this is My Adventure.
Last night I found an open window with no sceen so I jumped out. After I got out I started to wander around. First I explored the woods and then I went to the front yard. I was walking along then I saw catnip and I started to walk towards it. I was trotting across the lawn when suddenly I heard Dad calling my name. I ignored him. But then I remembered: the love, my food, Pepper's Bed. And I went to the door and said, "meow."
Yeah, I promised I'd post these after we edited them. Well, we never edited them, so except for spelling and punctuation, here is the raw adventure.
By Rose Bud
Spider's Great Adventure
Hello, my name is Spider and I'm a black cat. I'm going to tell you about my adventure last night. I was walking through the laundry room around 5:00 and smelled fresh air. It smelled too fresh to be a screen, so I went to investigate. Guess what? The window was open! Tonight I would escape. I would have to act casual so no one would guess. It was hard, but I finally made it to the kids' bedtime. I went to sleep in Pepper's bunkbed. Suddenly, I woke up. It was already midnight so I had to hurry downstairs to the window. I jumped on the washer and out the window. I was free! Free from that annoying little cat they got. I hate him! He follows me around and bats my tail. I walked off into the night. I walked down the trail into the woods. As I walked past the creek, I realized I was thirsty, so I stopped to get a drink. Blehh! That water tasted really bad. I kept walking and then I smelled chicken. Chicken is third on my list of favorites. First venison, then beef and then chicken. I sniffed around but no signs of chicken. Who knew these people had chickens? I had no idea. I walked past that green building and suddenly I smelled the most tasty, delicious smell ever. Catnip. There was a huge clump of it. Yummy! I had just started to feast when: drip, drop, right on my back. I looked around for shelter and saw the kids' playhouse. I ran over there to check it out. It looked great. A roof on top and a huge litter box underneath! I settled down to wait till the rain was over. Somehow, I fell asleep and when I woke up, it was morning. I had to get back to the catnip patch. I was trotting across the lawn when suddenly I heard Dad calling my name. I ignored him. I wanted that catnip! Then I remembered the love, the food, Pepper's bed. So I ran to the door and said, "Meow, Mrrrrrrooooowwwwwww!" They heard me and I got let inside right away. I went to my food and ate, then I drank. I ran upstairs and jumped in Pepper's bed. Soon I fell fast asleep. My adventure was fun, but I'm glad to be home.
Monday, July 7, 2008
I'm feeling led to get rid of some of my books. I buy things because other people rave about them and then we never use them. I'm trying to scrape up the courage to get rid of some and not regret it. I'm pretty certain of our style by now (although I can always justify keeping things because "maybe the boys will use this when they get older!"). At least I'm fairly certain what I do and don't like. I am finding that the girls (Pepper and Daisy) enjoy many different things than Rose Bud did, and vice versa.
Anyway, I thought I'd ponder what I want to have them do this fall.
Rose Bud in public school 7th grade
Banana Boy in public school K, half day
Sunshine in Christian preschool two mornings a week. He has to be potty-trained. He's also SO distractable. I'm on the fence as to whether preschool will help him to focus or whether he's just not ready and will be a distraction to the rest of the class. He was in an informal preschool class for an hour or so a day at the orphanage, so maybe....
Singapore Math 4 A & B. She is finishing up 3B this summer and should be ready for 4 by fall.
Rod & Staff English 3. We'll take the rest of next year to go through this book (I think we're on chapter 3 or 4) and then we'll move into R & S English 5 (skipping 4).
Sonlight LA 3 Advanced (2004 version) Probably illegal, but I'm going to reuse the sheets I had from Rose Bud. I SO loved this program and they've revised it so it is much less meaty. Rose Bud learned SOOO much from this about grammar and good writing (and so did I!) and I really want Daisy to benefit from it, too. So I'm retyping the worksheets from the answer keys that I have.
Trail Guide to U.S. Geography Finish our study of the 50 states and begin the presidents. I think I'll just make up some biography sheets for them to fill out about each president.
American History Not sure if I'm going to follow the Winter Promise American Story I guide that I bought, or continue to strike out on my own. I'm finding that I'm not that fond of The American Story BOOK, although it is used as a spine in WP AS I.
Sequential Spelling We are loving this and it is perfect for Daisy. Her spelling has really improved with this method.
Bible Not sure what yet
Singapore Math 2 A & B
R & S English 2 (we're in chapter 2 of this now)
Trail Guide to U.S. Geography (see above)
American History (see above)
Explode the Code All my kids work through this when they are first learning to read. She burned out on it at the beginning of first grade, but I'm going to have her pick up where she left off and keep working through it. She's such a good speller, I think if I have her work through these books, up to book 6, we might be able to hold off on a spelling program for quite a while.
Bible Not sure what yet
Things I'd love to work in somehow:
Latin for Children or Spanish of some sort
Science --aack! I am such a science loser. I totally get that whole, "You can do science informally when they're little" thing, but I still feel like we should work through a program. Science programs are something I could so sell, I think! I have NEVER completed a science program with any kid! I take that back. Rose Bud worked through most of Christian Kids Explore Biology. Of course, we didn't do most of the projects (she hates projects) none of the notebooking (she hates notebooking) and none of the vocabulary (she hates vocabulary). I might just sent them all to public school for 6th grade. The sixth grade science teacher is fabulous and did a great job. Rose Bud loved it! This is the mark of a good teacher: She said to me one time, "Each time I get ready to start a new unit, I think, 'Oh, this is my favorite unit to teach!' but then when the next one comes along, I like that one even better!"
A Child's Geography Another program I just bought that looks so good. We'll see if we get around to this.
Things we should do but never will:
Nature walks & a nature notebook
I think I'm going to aim low, since he'll be doing PS Kindergarten. I'm going to shoot for Bible with him and some math. I'd love it if he could start listening to some chapter books read aloud. He's not very auditory, except with music.
Literature: Good Night, Moon
Nursery Rhyme: Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat
Bible Reading: Psalm 8: 1-9
Nature Study: Flower walk
Puppets: Sock Puppets
Indoor Quiet Game: Patty Cake
Indoor Active Game: Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes
Outdoor Game: Somersaults
Fine Motor: Write with chalk
Musical Instruments: Snake Slither
Arts & Crafts: Sidewalk chalk drawings
So it was hot in the house last night AND it rained, so dh opened a window in the laundry room which is under our porch. ie: no rain could come in that window. However, he mistakenly opened the window without a screen. This morning, he looked out the window and saw a cat who looked remarkably like our cat, Spider, trotting across the lawn. Mr. GT called out to him, but the cat ignored him. Hmmm. Not our cat, then. Still suspicious, Mr. GT called once more. Still no response. However, 5 minutes later, there was a meow at the door and here was Spider, begging to come in. He's not normally an outdoor cat, so this was a great adventure for him.
I heard the whole story before the kids got up and it immediately struck me as a perfect chance to get them writing! As soon as everyone was out of bed, I relayed the tale and assigned them an essay, from Spider's perspective, on his adventure. The only guidelines were that it had to begin with him going out the laundry room window and contain these words near the end: "I was trotting across the lawn, when suddenly I heard Dad call my name. I ignored him. But then I remembered: the love, my food, Pepper's bed. And I went to the door and said, 'Meow.'"
As we edit them, I'll be typing them up and posting them here. So far, they're really cute.
Since he won't be doing any editing (at 5, getting a creative story onto paper at all is an accomplishment) here is Banana Boy's. He dictated his story to me and I wrote it down. He needed a little help getting started and was greatly assisted by the prop of Spider joining us for the writing session. He had Spider whisper to him what had happened.
Spider jumped out the window. He went on a trip. He went under the laundry hanger thing. He went in the front yard. He ate kitten chow. He saw his dad. He ignored his dad. He went in the forest. A bunny rabbit was there. He sniffed the bunny rabbit. The bunny hopped away and Spider tried to catch the bunny rabbit. He wanted to go home so he went home. He snuggled his dad and his Banana Boy.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Ok, I promised you a review of the math games I bought to use this summer and I'm finally going to get around to it.
Today we got Pegs in the Park in the mail. Hmm. I paid $9.50 for it at Rainbow Resource and I guess it was worth it.
They review it like this: This board game requires no reading skills and is recommended for children that want to have fun with counting. It comes with 44 colorful, friendly cards with pictures themed in a park. Each card has a (+) or (-) number. Pick up a card with 7 happy kites, and you move forward seven spaces. Draw a card with 5 angry ants, and you have to go back 5 spaces. First one to get to the ice-cream truck wins! Pegs in the Park teaches counting, forward and backward skills, and eye-hand coordination. *Jon
I just sat down with Daisy, Pepper and Banana Boy to play. I would say it is Candyland with counting. It does teach counting, forward and backward and eye-hand coordination. All true.
Here were a few things about it I found frustrating, making it not a perfect game: The spaces on the board are tinier than the base of the playing piece. It was hard to count the tiny spaces and hard to see exactly on which space your peg was.bbYou get more spaces to count this way (ie: you won't finish the game too quickly), but I don't see it being easy for anyone under 5--just who I would be targeting for counting practice. Those of us who played today are all stellar counters and know how to move from space to space in a board game.
The holes in the board are just a tad hard to get the piece into. I would have liked a thicker board with a longer peg on the bottom.
It is just as frustrating as Candyland. Go forward 5. Go forward 8. Go back 6. Lose a turn. You only have one space to go! OH, NO, go back 10! (at least it doesn't send you all the way back to start!) Daisy picked all the bad cards and spent most of the game within the first 15 spaces of her board, mostly going backwards.
I think I will play it with Pepper and Banana Boy, but change the game from picking one card and counting, to picking two cards and adding or subtracting the total.
Roll 'n Add -- Got this in my Rainbow order today, too. This game, I love! Simple, yet brilliant. A fast play. You get a sturdy cardboard tic-tac-toe board and twenty thick plastic markers numbered 1-20, plus two 10-sided dice. Think Hollywood Squares meets addition.
Roll the two dice, add the total, pick out the matching marker (there is only one of each number, but one side is purple, the other orange, so you flip it to your color) Place it on the tic-tac-toe board. Now take turns and try to get three of your colored pieces in a row to make tic-tac-toe. If that number has already been used, you can move the piece to another spot, if it's yours or flip it if it is your opponent's. It practices addition facts to 20 using the numbers 1-10, something you don't get in most math games which use 6-sided dice (you know, the highest total you can get is 6+6=12).
There is also a version of the game where you take out all the odd-numbered discs and shake one die to find the doubles (shake an 8, play a 16; shake a 1, play a 2)
Here's something exciting! They also make Roll 'n Multiply! (It costs twice as much, but it must come with many more discs) It's going on my next wish list!
Another game I got is Munch Math and I love this one, too! This website gives you an excellent overview and screen shot of the game board, so I won't go into great detail here. But even Banana Boy has played this with us and has done all right. He can easily do the addition and subtraction and with help, can figure out the multiplication. Pepper can do the mult. on her own (she's 7) and if I remind her which number is the dividend and which is the whatever-the-other-one is called (divisor, maybe?), and she thinks in terms of cookies, she can do the division.
My favorite part of Munch Math, is that you have to try out all 4 operations to decide where to play. Say you shake a 5 and a 4. You can add and get nine, subtract and get one, multiply and get 20 and divide--well, that doesn't work. So if you have a 9 and a 1 on your food, you have to decide which to cover. Will it be easier to shake another 9 or another one? Pepper quickly figured out that the only way to get zero is to shake doubles (two of the same number, like 5 - 5) and subtract. So even though you could use 5 + 5 for your 10, you don't shake doubles that often so you should cover your zero right away.
We also bought Number Hunt. The best part about this game is that it is organic and fair trade. Honestly, there are 6 different ways to play and practice different skills, but the directions are very vague and don't always seem to work out in actual play. We had to make up some of our own rules in confusing situations. We do still play it. It's not useless. Our favorite version is Compare It, where you shake the die and compare that number to the number of the space on which you are sitting. If the die is higher, you move forward that many. If the space is higher, you move back the number on the die. The die is wooden, large and very nice. The markers are small, flat and cardboard--I like nice tall pieces I can easily hold. I always wanted to be the horse in Monopoly!
Another one I bought is Addition & Subtraction Game Board Books -- six cardboard games in one folder. Not worth $16.50, unless you don't own and can't find ANY other math games anywhere. The games are pretty basic and also sometimes confusing to figure out. We made up our own rules for some of these, too. The biggest thing that annoyed ME, was that the game boards, made of laminated tagboard, are folded in half and stored in the folder. The logical result of this is that they don't lie flat when you play them, making the tiny cardboard, laminated circle markers slide around. Erg!
On a positive note, I bought Lauri's Shape Bingo from Rainbow for $11.95 and what you see is what you get! It's Lauri quality, fun to play (even if you don't need to learn your shapes!) and good for teaching a variety of shapes if you do need to learn them. Plus they can simply be used as puzzles! It's always fun to play Bingo, even if you don't need to learn something! Daisy, Pepper, Banana Boy and I all enjoyed this.
And lastly, our most super-fun purchase today was a handful of SMENCILS! It's not a math game, but Banana Boy couldn't WAIT to get out his math book and use his (really stinky!) Chocolate Smencil. I didn't even tell him to! I'd think carefully about just which artificial scents you can stomach. Of course, I'm very sensitive to smells anyway. I think I'd enjoy the peppermint or the root beer. There's a great review of these over at Rainbow.
Let me know if you have other math games you are enjoying. It's so much cheaper to get a good review for free than to buy the game and try it out myself!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Rose Bud got her report card and she had A's, two A+s and an A- in gym--because she didn't know she was supposed to bring her tennis shoes the last day (they had already cleaned out their gym lockers). So she was marked down for a dress violation. Oh, well.
She's very happy about her homeroom and house assignment for next year and we are too. I think her homeroom teacher will be a good fit for her. And her best friend is in her homeroom, too.
For the summer, she's working through an Algebra book and she's doing Sonlights Language Arts 6--I had purchased it last summer for her before we knew she was going to public school. She wanted something to keep busy with this summer and she chose those two things off the shelf. She is also reading about WW I, WW II and the Vietnam War.
She's excited to be earning money this summer: $5/week for doing extra chores and $20/week for watching Sunshine two mornings (believe me, he's worth it!). Of her $20, she gives away $2, saves half and keeps $8 to spend. Aeropostale, here she comes!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
June is National Potty Training Awareness Month
Like I am not aware.
Can I just say that it is not any easier the fifth time around? Can I just say that I am sick of being kicked in the stomach while changing a poopy 3 year old who doesn't want to be changed? Can I just say that he is SO cute wearing his "unders" and running around peeing in the weeds? Can I just say,
"Listen, Son. It is National Potty Training Awareness Month and so I would like you to be aware that you are 3, you can pull your pants up and down, you know perfectly well what to do and where to do it and preschool starts in the fall. So in honor of NPTA Month, I'd like you to be aware that mommy is tired of diapers and you need to do the whole big boy potty thing. Ok? For Mommy? Let's call it your summer homeschooling curriculum. So, from now on, in the daytime, you are wearing unders. Pee goes in the potty. Everyone pees in the potty. If your unders are wet, you'll have to take them off, put them in the wash and put on dry ones. Got it? I'm glad we had this little talk about this important subject. If you ever want to discuss any of this with Mommy, I'm here for you, ok? I love you and I'm so proud of you! Now, go out there and POTTY TRAIN!"
A different picture for those of you who had to read this on BOTH my blogs