Friday, May 30, 2008

Summer Schedule

Well, I have grand hopes for our summer.  Of course, we're busy like crazy, so i don't know how much school will get done.  Rose Bud is going to earn $20 a week watching Sunshine two mornings a week.  And I think I'll pay Daisy something to watch him for an hour the other two mornings


My plan is to do some school with Banana Boy on a regular basis, mainly some reading.  He's never been much into books and so I haven't read to him as I should have.  He's interested in science, so I think we'll read through some sciencey books together.


I've been meaning to blog about a great resource on the net that I'm going to loosely use with Sunshine.  Many of you who already homeschool, probably know about it, but I wanted to share it for my adoption friends. 


It's a homeschool curriculum for preschoolers called Letter of the Week.  It's fairly rigorous academically, which is not popular in all preschool circles.  But if you are able to be flexible  and to pick and choose, there are some great ideas and suggestions here and it's very well organized for you.


Now, Sunshine is 3, but in looking through this curriculum I realized that in some areas he is no where NEAR age level in this curriculum.  So what I am doing with him is to go all the way back in her Brightly Beaming Babies and Brightly Beaming Toddler curriculum, which is for newborn to 2, and I will be "catching him up."  I figure he missed a lot of things as an infant that he would have gotten having one-on-one with a mommy.  So we'll be doing little snippets, maybe at a more advanced pace than on the schedule.  Part of this I will be having Rose Bud and Daisy do with him during their playtime with him.


I have to sit down with the printouts and pick out some specific activities.  I'll try to post the schedule here as I get to it.


As for the rest, the plan for Daisy is to continue with grammar, spelling and math as well as state geography (we're about half-way done) and American history.


Pepper will be doing grammar, state geography and American history, plus math games.


Banana Boy will be reading with me, working on HIS reading, and playing math games.


And I told Rose Bud she should pick out something to study for the summer.  Being Rose Bud, she immediately got out her Key to Fractions book and started working through it.  She was bound and determined to finish the whole book that night.  I finally made her go to bed at 9 pm with 4 pages to go in the book.  She's in Book 3, so that project should keep her busy another week or so (there are 10 books total).  Actually, she and Jay Bud, next door, are interested in WWII, so I may steer them in that direction.  Probably I'll just get her a bunch of books to read.  I remember being absolutely obsessed with the Holocaust when I was that age and reading tons of historical fiction about kids who lived through it (like Anne Frank).  edited to add:  actually Anne Frank did not live through it, as she died.  But she lived it.


In addition to all that, we have swimming lessons (Pepper, BB and Sunshine), gymnastics (Pepper), T-Ball (BB),  Bible Camp (Rose Bud and Daisy), VBS (everyone) and 3 vacations (a 4-day church campout, a week in a cabin in Missouri and 4 days at Family Camp)  A special end-of-summer event will be Pepper's tonsilectomy.  Oh, and RoseBud has 3 days of band camp.


Happy Summer!!!!



Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Word About Public School

Probably more than one word, if you know me at all.


Leslie asked how we decided Rose Bud and Banana Boy should go to public school while the others do not.


Rose Bud asked, at the end of 5th grade, if she could try public school.  After MUCH discussion between Mr. GT and me we decided to let her try it.  Some of the deciding factors were:


She is a very responsible, motivated and bright student.  We were fairly sure she'd flourish academically.


She is a really good kid, grounded in her values.  Remaining so was a condition of her staying in PS.


We have an excellent school system.


She was entering 6th grade and Middle School.  We figured this was a good transition point for her.  All the students would be new to the school and she wouldn't feel so "new."


It turned out to be a good decision.  She has thrived under the structure of public school.  She has been entirely responsible for her work, getting it done and in on time.  She manages her time beautifully.  She loves to learn.  The 6th grade team has been beyond excellent!  They are all very compassionate, sensitive teachers and we think they've done a great job balancing the hand-holding vs. building independence as these kids enter middle school.  She joined band in April and has worked really hard learning to play her instrument.  The 6th graders don't have many opportunities for extracurriculars (which I appreciate)--they keep them on a pretty tight rein, focusing on academics.  But next year she will have to chance to try out some sports and a few other things.


Why she's going again?  It was what she asked for for Christmas!  And we let her know we were very pleased with how well she was doing her "job" which was to learn, get the best grades she could, maintain a good attitude at home and be a good friend in school.  As long as those things stay "up" she's in.  At this point, she has agreed to come home for 8th grade (that was part of the deal for going to 7th grade and it also hinged on the plan that we would be moved to our land by that point.  The latter is not happening now, at least not that soon, so we'll see where we are by 8th grade.


As for Banana Boy, he has his little issues, mainly with anger at home.  They have NEVER seen this at either preschool or Sunday School.  Really, they love him to bits and he has been a bit of a favorite.  Since I get the brunt of if and since he does so well in a structured class, we thought that having the really positive experience of that continue would be good for him.


Academically, he is probably at K level now, so I'm not worried about whether he gains anything at all next year.  I still plan to do a little work with him in the afternoons.


My thought is that if he and I butt heads all day, this is not a good thing.  But if he can go to kindergarten and have a delightful time all morning, then come home all happy and have a delightful time with me, then we're having a delightful day!


He also has been growing out of the dreadful stage and gaining control of his emotions at an astonishing pace (progress literally month by month), so we're expecting that by 1st grade, he'll be at home full time.


Both Daisy and Pepper want to be home, love to be together, and are thriving in homeschool, so home they shall remain.


Sunshine will be in preschool (the same one BB just graduated from) two mornings a week.


Methinks it will be mighty quiet around here those mornings!!!





Saturday, May 24, 2008

Really, We're Still Here!

It feels like we've been getting nothing done lately.  With the end of the school year, Banana Boy and Rose Bud have been having end-of-the-year goings-on. 

Rose Bud had the all-band concert (6th-12th grade) which was fabulous.  We have a really great music department here and the middle school band director is especially good.  I think I mentioned that RB only just started playing the clarinet in April and within a month was able to play in this concert.  She has been working so hard and sometimes will practice for almost an hour!


Rose Bud also did a slide presentation yesterday on her trip to India for her Social Studies class.  They've been studying different countries around the world all year and are just now getting to India.  Mr. GT suggested she ask to share her pictures since she's been there and her SS teacher was all over that.  So we put together a powerpoint of her photos, she organized them and colored the slides, we put captions on and she prepared to do it for 6th hour. 


Yesterday morning, when she arrived, Mr. G actually asked her if she would do it for all four classes intead of just hers.  I was so glad he did.  What a great opportunity to practice public speaking and I'm so proud of her for being proud of India and her brothers!


I sat in on the 6th hour presentation (and brought an Indian snack!) and she did a great job.  The kids asked terrific questions and her teacher was very pleased.  He also mentioned to me before the class, how impressed he was with the orphanage.  He said it didn't look anything like what he expected and that it looked more like a school.  He also noted that he could see how well fed and taken care of the children were.  I of course, put in a plug for Holt.


Banana Boy had his last day of preschool this week, complete with a recapping slide show of photos from the year.  Very cute!  The kids all had a great time running around in the gym afterwards and BB was so cute with his two best friends.  Hopefully, he'll end up with at least one of them in his kindergarten class next year.


At home, we've finished The Witch of Blackbird Pond (I ended up getting it on disc and letting the girls finish listening to it on their CD player).  We also read a book called American Diaries: Sarah Anne Hartford--Massachusetts, 1651.  It is not a very well-written story.  I read it a few years ago with Rose Bud.  But it is an easier read than Witch of Blackbird Pond for the younger ones and it does give a good overview of Puritan life.  So we slogged through it.  (if you want more details about the not well-written part, it is very ponderously written and is almost hard to follow because they take so much time to get through the first half.  The ending is also too contrived and too happy for how I think it really would have happened.  They don't stay true to character.  But, as I said, it does give a good glimpse into the times and the younger girls enjoyed the story.)


Daisy is almost finished with her sampler.  Pepper has abandoned hers.


I've gotten some more math games in the mail and will review those shortly.


We're about half-way through our state study (we're up to North and South Dakota!  Woo hoo!)  Daisy is still gamely plodding along.  Pepper fusses every time.  I did buy Pepper a School Zone 50 states workbook which she is enjoying.  She is also using Yo, Sacramento and enjoys the puns they use to help you memorize the capitals.  (wow!  just went to Amazon to get the link to the picture and that book is selling for over $30!!  Get it from your library.  I wouldn't pay $30 for it.  Glad I ordered it from Scholastic back when it was in print!)


Currently we are reading Ben & Me about Benjamin Franklin.  RoseBud never wanted to read this story so this is my first time through it and it's very good.  I think it used to be a Sonlight 3 book but that they've since replaced it with something else.


I've been promising the girls we'd make the quill pens from the Hearts and Hands kits when we studied Ben Franklin, so that will be on the slate this week.



Monday, May 12, 2008

Siblings and Homeschooling

I looked out the window this afternoon to check on the kids and saw this sweet picture:

They certainly are not always like this.  In fact, they spend as much time shouting at each other as they do playing together.  In fact, Pepper kicked Banana Boy this morning.


 I watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 last night for the first time.  We don't have cable and we were at my mom's.  There was apparently a JK+8 marathon on.  Anyway, those kids kept whacking each other over the head with whatever weapon was handy.  If no weapon was handy, they just used their handies!  She seemed fairly great at discipline and seemed to have good ideas about structure, yet these kids kept slapping each other!  Except for the very littlest ones (and obviously Pepper!) my kids seldom hurt each other physically.  We just don't allow it.


I do believe that having only each other to play with for most of the day promotes bonding.  I don't usually see all three of them hanging together.  Banana Boy has his best friend next door available all day and the girls are joined at the hip.   But two of them will often pair off and play for a long time.


I also believe that homeschooling (or living in a culture of all-the-time learning) really encourages them to play things that require intense participation with and by others.  When they play, they are playing Indian or pirate or house or adoption or school or some other imaginative thing.  The best friend neighbor kids are a part of this too.


I just thought it was so sweet to see the three of them out there together, heads together involved in something intense.  I had no idea when I took the picture what it was.


I did find out.


Do you want to know?


They were making their own knives.  More specifically, they were making one for their brother, who didn't yet have one.


Isn't that sweet?


I love homeschooling!



Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Color Puzzle

That was the title of last week's art lesson.  The idea was to blend the primary colors to make the secondary colors.  But leave it to me to look for the easy way out--we used highlighters to color the shapes (except for Banana Boy who used colored pencils) and we just used the appropriate color highlighter for the blended area (ie: instead of mixing pink and blue, we colored with the purple highlighter)  So the shapes are primary colors, except where they overlap to make the secondaries.  Cool, huh?






Banana Boy's  (and I must say, it is an experience to do color art actvities with a color-blind child!)  


Actually, I just noticed now, when proofing this, that he colored the overlap between the red triangle and the yellow square at the top of the picture green!



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Math Games

Both Pepper and Banana Boy have finished their math books for the year and since BB could use some maturity before he tackles Singapore 1 and Pepper could use a little work on her addition and subtraction facts before she tackles Singapore 2, the three of us are just playing math games right now.

Daisy is being terrific about keeping Sunshine busy while we play our game.  So far we've been able to play a different game every day (we'll run out soon and have to start over, I suppose).

This week we've played:

Sum Swamp-- a very fun game for addition and subtraction with numbers 1-6....if you don't mind the Endless Swamp Loop.  If infinite loops make you crazy (as they should any decent math geek), you can play that you just have to go around once.  The little rubber swamp creatures are my favorite part of the game.

Dino Math Tracks-- Even more fun than Sum Swamp!  This game teaches place value in a way that even 5 yos can understand (if you have a smart 5 yo).  Again, my favorite part is the little rubber dinos (actually, one set is mammoths).  The girls' favorite part is to finish first and get put their dinos in the choicest spot in the center.  According to Pepper, this has "yummy grass, luscious flowers and the sweetest water."  Yeah, those are her actual words.

War --  Come on, you've played this!  BB and I played the traditional war with the higher card taking the win.  Pepper and I played with two cards down at once and we had to add the two numbers together, highest total won.  And yes, I played them both at once!  We had 3 decks of cards mixed together and I just gave myself the biggest stack.  BB and I laid down a card each and determined the winner, then Pepper and I played.  Then back to BB.  (I won both games!)

Knock Out and Jelly Beans  -- These are cool games.  We have the double-sided board with these two games on it.  Comes with colored marbles and dice.  Jelly Beans is your basic shut-box game--try to cover all the numbers 1-12.  BB and I played this side.  Then Pepper and I played Knock Out which is a knock-out fun game!  She creamed me!  Tip for making it easier--when we had filled all the numbers through 12, we allowed us each 3 rolls per turn to try and accumulate higher-number dice (like in Yahtzee).  That helped the game take 20 minutes as opposed to 3 hours (and we gave up without ever getting an 18...3 sixes).  I also played 3 games of Knock Out with BB using only one die and the numbers 1-6.  I was surprised that this was mighty fun, too!

Future plans:  We have Number Chase, Monopoly, a bazillion logic/thinking skills games, Mancala, a card game I made up for making pairs to equal 10, the borrowing/carrying game with my Base 10 blocks and a few new things I ordered today:  Number Hunt, and another from Learning Resources: Addition and Subtraction Game Board Book  (I actually bought mine from Hands and Hearts, but their website was down when I was typing this, so I couldn't get a link).

A couple of other things that look fun, but which I don't have:  Lauri Numer-O-Saurus, cool for hopping onto the number, and another fromLauri, the Busy Bug Collector game. 

I'm also hoping to find some pre-made math bingo games online that I can just print out.  I've never been a huge fan of bingo, but it will provide a little variety.

In history news, this week we're reading about the Puritans and the Salem witch trials and reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond--great book!  It's just a tad above these two, although they are interested to hear the story.

Don't know if I mentioned that last week we read about pirates.  Interesting stuff, those pirates!

One last note, Daisy is going to be doing a mini-preschool with Sunshine 3 days/week this summer.  She's very excited (as am I--don't know how else I'd fit it in!)  It's going to be VERY simple and hopefully right up Mr. Four-Second-Attention-Span's alley.  She can play that with him while we are playing math games.  I'll post our plans when we get some.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

If You're Just Beginning to Consider Homeschooling



don't read today's post!


A Day in My Life, by Sandwich


5:45 am  Through a haze of sleep, I can feel repeated pounding on my legs.  It's the 3 yo kicking me because he's ready to get up.  I'm not.  I carry him out to Dad for breakfast and crawl back into my cave of covers.


6:30 am  The door opens as dh comes in to get dressed for work.  I pretend I'm sleeping.


6:48 am  Rose Bud comes in to find out if she can play her clarinet on the deck since Banana Boy is still sleeping.  Sure, whatever.  I give up on sleep and get up.


6:49 am I'm in the bathroom.  Sunshine finds me and puts his cold hands up my shirt.  Pepper finds me and wants to know if she can have cereal.  Banana Boy is up and finds me.  He is wailing because he is awake and no one thought to have a bowl of cereal waiting for him.  (huh?!) 

7:00 am  I pour BB a bowl of yogurt and granola, hand Sunshine his fifth bowl of breakfast (he's had 4 bowls of cereal, Pepper informs me) so he gets a bowl of yogurt.  He eats two bites and runs off.


7:15 am  I manage to get the coffee pot going.  BB is wailing because I've asked him to take off his diaper--excuse me, Pull-up.  Then I've asked him to get dressed.  Sunshine sees big brother getting dressed and also wants to get dressed.  Yay!


7:30 am  BB is over his wailing and is leaping around in joy because he is almost finished with his Kindergarten math book.  I halt the leaping and tell him that if he doesn't get said math book out, he'll be working in it the rest of his life.


7:35 am I set BB to work in his math book.  Daisy is working in her math book.  Pepper has her math book out and is also excited that she will be finishing it today.  Only one review left!  Sunshine is happily coloring.  I love homeschooling!


7:36 am  BB turns the page to find fractions.  Now I will spend 10 minutes with him to explain that.  The other 3 are happily busy.  I love homeschooling! 

7:37 am I begin to discuss fractions with BB.  Pepper calls me over to check her first problem.  Sunshine gets out the Bear Family counters to play hide and seek.


7:38 am  I excuse myself from BB to check Pepper's problem.  It's wrong.  Pepper begins to cry.  I sit down to look through it and help her find her mistake.  Sunshine dumps the bears on the floor.  I find Pepper's mistake and have her fix it.  BB is missing.


7:40 am BB is back at his seat and I am explaining fractions.  Sunshine is happily playing bears.  Pepper is fixing her problem and moving on.


7:42 am  The phone rings.  Best Friend  wants to know how come my kids never fight and what I've done to make them best friends.  Sunshine's phone detector goes off and he is pulling at my leg, book in hand.  I sit in the recliner with him, pretending to read while listening to Best Friend.  Pepper joins us in the recliner, crying because she doesn't understand her math.  BB is very patiently sitting in his seat waiting to learn fractions.

7:49 am  Hang up with Best Friend.  Turn to Pepper to help with math.  Sunshine grabs my face to turn it back to his book.  Tell BB to hang on, I'll be right there.


7:50 am Phone rings.  Mom has a virus on her computer and wants to warn me to be careful with mine.  Chat a few minutes while pretending to read some more to Sunshine.  "Yes, that's a church!  You should run your virus scan.  Good!  That IS Baby Jesus!  Good Boy, Banana Boy, you're waiting so patiently.  It found a virus?  Great!  I'm glad you didn't get infected.  Ok, now what is 20 - 18?  How many do you need to get from 18 to 20?  Sunshine, Mommy's on the phone!  Why don't you find something else to do, BB, until Mom can help you?  What's the matter, Daisy?  Why are YOU crying? Ok, I'll be right there.  Mom, I have to go!  Bye"


7:58 am  Help Daisy find mistake in math.  Help Pepper then send her back to table to do as much as she can on her own.  Get out Eating the Fractions to read to BB in recliner.  Explain to Sunshine that we are going to read brother's story now and he can listen.


8:06 am Finish fraction book and set BB to re-reading it to himself.  Call crying Pepper back to see where she is stuck.  Read some more book with Sunshine.


8:10 am  Decide this is Hooey!  Tell Sunshine he needs to play alone awhile while Mommy helps sisters.  Sit down with Pepper and work through story problems.  Have BB sit next to me to work on fractions in math book.  Sunshine happily playing with bears.


8:15 am Praise Sunshine for playing nicely alone.  He gets up and dumps bears again and begins kicking them around.  Note to self:  Don't notice baby when he is behaving well.


8:18 am Sunshine decides that now is a good time to be potty trained.  Jump up, rip off his diaper and help him sit on potty.  Sigh as everyone else gets off-track.  Clean up floor and remind Sunshine he needs to POINT IT DOWN!  Get out unders for him.

8:20 am  Show BB how to fold paper in half and complete fraction activity.  Continue to help Pepper with story problems.  Send Sunshine off to finish yogurt. 

8:26 am Turn around to gleeful, "Mama!!" to find this:

8:27 am Put Sunshine in bath and send Daisy in to supervise.  She decides to join him.  Calm crying BB who can't seem to color today.  Tell Pepper, yes, she can finish the rest of the lesson tomorrow.  Wonder how they would all do in public school.


Epilogue:  Quickly did grammar with Pepper while Daisy was getting Sunshine dressed.  Sent Pepper, BB and Sunshine out to play with a bucket of snack.  Did grammar and spelling with Daisy.  Whew.  Basics done.  Wonder if we'll get to history today?


There are 5 baskets of laundry to fold, breakfast dishes to wash and a load of wet laundry to hang out.   I need to help Daisy find her cross stitching that has been lost for a week.  Kids are all out biking in the driveway (although I did just hear Sunshine drop his tricycle down the deck stairs).


Pretty par for the course around here.  But...


BB got 10 M&Ms for finishing his math book.  He was very excited and proud!  Daisy remembered all the components of writing sentences with quotations in them from yesterday and got all her grammar questions correct.  Pepper --well, Pepper is Pepper.  I plan to just play math games with her and BB the rest of the summer and wait until fall to begin both of their new math books.  Sunshine told me he wanted to use the potty!  I don't have a virus on my computer.  


I do love homeschooling!