Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Unschooling with Pepper

Got a box from Timberdoodle in the mail today.  LOVE Timberdoodle!  I find the best treasures there.


Here is today's treasure:


Pepper and I have a lovely few moments together today.  The two big girls were off at Take Your Daughter to Work day with Dad.  Banana Boy was at preschool and Sunshine was napping.  Pepper and I got to break into the new puzzles. 


This human body puzzle is cool!  It's two-sided, nice and thick and not too easy, but not too hard, to put together.  Pepper spent a few minutes, once it was completed, matching the numbered body parts to their names at the bottom.  Ta Da!  Science!  Yay, Me!



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Homeschool Gems

First of all, I have to say that I am so blessed to have such a beautiful library!  Thanks, Honey!  Secondly, I have to confess that I have a little, tiny addiction to books.  ahem.


However, as we were listening to one of our favorite CDs this morning, I began to think about my very favorite homeschooling gems.  These are the things I return to kid after kid.  These are the things I enjoy each time I use them.  These are the items, if I was forced (at gunpoint) to give up all but a few homeschooling things, I would keep.


One Hundred Sheep skip counting CD  This is the CD we were listening to this morning.  It teaches skip counting from 2s to 10s via Bible stories and song.  And these songs are crack-up-the-adults-listening hilarious!  Our favorite is the 6s.  Plus the skip counting song part sticks in your head.  A good thing.


WeeBeeTunes DVDs  For geography, we love these!  There are two DVDs (I wish they'd make more!).  Each continent has it's own character who travels around and visits different countries.  Again, there are songs (I love learning to music) and the video.  At the top of the page in the link, you can click on Samples and hear some of the songs.  You don't get the benefit of the video, but I can tell you, it's very cute.  MeiLin Yak is our favorite character.  "What's in your backpack, MeiLin Yak?  What do you have to show us today?"


Singapore Math has made us very happy.  You can buy teacher's guides for it now, but I've never used one because it comes intuitively for me being a math geek, and all.  I'm currently taking my 4th kid through the K books and still love it.  Rose Bud went to public school this year into the 6th grade math program they are using.  It all was very easy for her, which was fine for me.  The testing, if nothing else, was new to her.  On the standardized testing, she actually did just average, except for the algebraic portions where she was BELOW average.  However, at the semester, her math teacher (love you, Mrs. H!) asked if RoseBud could be moved into the advanced math class (doing 7th grade math) as the regular math was not challenging her enough.  I was all for that!  And she segued in without much trouble (thank you, Mrs. F, for giving her the extra help and time!).


Now Rose Bud (and the rest of my kids) are all math geniuses....I mean naturals at math (math geeks, we like to call ourselves), so she likely would have done fine with a different program than Singapore.  But it has worked well for all of us so far and we're stickin' with it!


Rod & Staff English  This is an excellent, very solid grammar program and all three girls have loved it.  We never seem to finish a whole book before moving on to the next one, but it always works out.  They have a very good survey of grammar topics, diagramming, lots of practice and some review of writing (although I've heard from others who use the writing in here that they like it, we never get to it).  We do most of the work orally, except for diagramming and things they need extra practice on.  We have always used just the student text book and no other components.  When we do do the writing assignments, they always work on the white board.  Their favorite part of this program has always been when they need to identify two different things (say the noun and the verb), I hold out my hands, labeling one noun and one verb.  Then the girls "pick up" the word out of the book and drop it into the proper hand.  Silly, but effective!


The best place to buy it is directly from Rod and Staff, but they are not online.  You can call them at 1-606-522-4348.  The service and friendliness is awesome and shipping is very fast!  (I've heard that the Anabaptist website that sells R&S materials online is not as reliable and is a different company)


Word & Song Bible CDs produced by Focus on the Family  Banana Boy knew Bible stories I hardly knew after listening to this at bedtime and naptime for several months.  Most stories have a corresponding song to go along with them.  The voices are by an all-star cast including, Packer fans, our dearly departed Reggie White as Samson!  The Bible itself is so-so (I mean the Word & Song Bible, not THE Bible) but the CDs are worth their weight in gold!


Geopuzzles  Love these and my kids do too!  Banana Boy was doing these last year at age four (he is rather gifted at puzzles!).  In his case, he was just learning to recognize the shapes of the countries and how they fit together, but the girls, of course, could read the names.  Fun, easy, brainless learning.


My Base Ten Blocks, which I've mentioned before.  Just noticed in re-reading that entry, that Leslie had asked where to buy them.  Plastic blocks are available at Rainbow Resource (free shipping if your order is $150 or more.  I never seem to have trouble making the minimum...)  The wooden set is available at Christian Book Distributors (CBD).


My ABC Bible Verses   Love, love, love this little book!  There is a Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet and a sweet story illustrating its meaning in a way preschoolers and kindergarteners can understand.  All my kids have begun memorizing Bible verses with this book and Banana Boy is beginning to work through it.  Yesterday, I came into the kitchen pretending to whine at him about something (he is my star whiner) and he came up to me with a little smirk and said, "Mom, A soft answer turns away wrath."


Bob Books   The BEST little phonics readers for beginners.  All those trendy, character-based phonics sets they sell in the Scholastic catalog can't hold a candle to Bob Books (which are also sold by Scholastic, BTW).  The others aren't truly phonetic and contain too many site words for beginners, IMHO.


Let's Read And Find Out books  I can't own enough of these very basic, easy to understand yet in-depth science books for elementary students.  Our Favorite is What Happens to a Hamburger.


I Can Read series of history books  These are wonderful history readers for 1-3 grade.  My girls read them over and over.  Most of the other I Can Read books are great too.


Ok, they are going to shoot me with that gun if I keep adding stuff.  I guess those would be my absolute favorites.


I'd love to hear from you if you're a homeschooler reading my blog what your homeschool gems are.  Please share!




Monday, April 21, 2008

Peter Stuyvesant

One of the books we're reading, which I've mentioned before, is The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History by Jennifer Armstrong.  I have rather mixed feelings about it. 


I like it.  I like the drawings.  I like the stories it chooses to tell.  They are definitely multi-cultural, telling the stories of the Indians and the Jews and the Africans, etc.  I'm not far enough into it to see how fairly they represent Christians, if at all.  Seems like every group gets its day except for the Christians.


It is also a bit of a difficult read for the younger set.  I've found myself really having to explain what is going on in my own words to the girls.  Daisy "gets" more than Pepper does.  If it was just Pepper, a first grader, I don't know that I would choose this book.  


They've chosen an eclectic bunch of stories--some very well known, like the Pilgrims, Pocahontas, Paul Revere's Ride, Benjamin Franklin flying his kite--things I would consider the essentials for an early elementary American history survey.  But they've also included some lesser-known stories, which I like, such as People of the Longhouse, the city of St. Augustine, the Manhattan real estate deal, the planning of the capital, etc.


I think I'm beginning to contradict myself.  Anyway, I like it.


So today we read "A Manhattan Real Estate Deal" and "Keeping Watch, Keeping the Faith."  The first story was about the Dutch buying the island of Manhattan from the Indians.  We had a good discussion comparing it to someone coming to our house and offering Daisy $10 to buy her bedroom.  Daisy takes the $10 and the bedroom belongs to the newcomer.  Only, then RoseBud gets off the bus and finds a stranger living in her room!  She didn't agree to this deal, she got nothing from this deal and so she chooses to ignore the deal, sleeping in her bed as usual.  Of course, the newcomer is not happy that she refuses to vacate his new room and quarrels ensue (probably a few arrows and bullets exchanged).  Daisy meantime is happily living across the hall with Banana Boy and her $10.


"Keeping Watch, Keeping the Faith" was a story I knew little about.  Peter Stuyvesant, the new governor of New Netherlands (aka Manhattan Island) was all alarmed to find a boatload of Jews moving in.  He refused to grant them citizenship or the rights of citizens, including the right to stand watch at night. Instead, he "allowed" them to pay a Dutch citizen to take over their watch.  All fine and good if you had the money, but what if you were poor?  Asser Levy was one such poor man who could not afford to pay to have his watch covered.  He would joyfully stand the watch--he had lots of time!  But PS would not allow it.  Eventually, Levy persevered and just stood the watch anyway, gaining the right of citizenship for the Jews in New Netherlands.


The very fun part of this was that I also had at home a library book called, The Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed into Town.  It went along perfectly with this story and was a charming rhyming picture book about cranky Peter Stuyvesant (who had a peg leg!) and how he whipped New Amsterdam into shape and made it a successful colony.  Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel  (author of Frog and Toad books--love those!)  The illustrations were funny--my kids love clever illustrations.  For example, on the last page, they show PS sleeping in his bed with his boot next to the bed.  (As Pepper said, "His ONE boot!")



In other recent school developments, we did art one day!


We are still in Secondary Colors and the project was to make a picture which radiated out from the center.  Here is what the girls came up with (mine just looked dumb.  I hate art)

Daisy's is on the left and Pepper's on the right.  And that's my toe at the very bottom of the picture...


Left to their own devices, the girls also come up with their own art projects.  Lately, they've been cutting up paper plates and decorating them.  Banana Boy got in on the activity, too.  His is the white one.




And this is Banana Boy's latest artistic endeavor.  I think it looks like a monkey, but he assures me it's a person.  It has a pet on a leash in its right hand and what I thought was a ball in the other.  But it's an Easter Egg basket.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Making samplers

I'll include finished pictures when they are done.



Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bet the Pilgrims never slacked....

We've been slacking lately.  We're in the process of buying a new house and selling this one, so I guess we're entitled.


We manage to accomplish math and geography every day.  Sometimes we read and sometimes I hand the girls a big stack of books they can read to themselves.  Luckily, there are a bunch of books they will willingly read anytime.  Like the Time Traveling Twins, and these cool photographed-at-Plymouth-Plantation books  (there are two more: Sarah Morton's Day and Samuel Eaton's Day) and any of the If You Lived... books.


So I dumped a stack like this at their feet and let them go at it.  We are also having lots of fun with hands-on crafts.  The easiest are those from Hands & Hearts.  The girls made lavender sachets--easy as pie!  All the materials were included, from the muslin and calico bits, the dried lavender, a ribbon and a little sewing kit!  Thread, needles, the whole kit and kaboodle!  I know, I could go down to my basement and find the bin with cotton scraps in it and I could run to the variety store to pick up dried lavender and I certainly could scratch up a needle and thread.  With a little luck, I have some ribbon around that coordinates with the calico scraps I found.


But when I can open the box, print out the directions and et them go at it with mimimal guidance, it is worth the $65 to me.  As an added bonus, they took the extra fabric scraps  and made teeny-tiny lavender (there was PLENTY) sachets for their dolls.  And one for their best friend next door.  I didn't help at all with those.


Now they are working on cross stitch samplers.  The pattern and idea I got from our Time Travelers CD.  In this set, you just get all the directions and paper patterns.  So I pulled out my cross stitch stuff (why is it so much fun to start a project, but not fun to ever finish it!?) and gave each of the girls a bit of Aida cloth and some floss.  Daisy is tooling along on hers, but Pepper lost interest pretty fast. Oh, well.  She is once again on a school strike.  Except for math, I'm not sure she'll ever finish first grade.


So there is what little we've been up to lately.  Enjoy!