Monday, September 14, 2009

Bible Study

For our Bible study this year, I have printed out pages from Bible Scribe.

Banana Boy is doing Bible stories and we are using the Bible Scribe sheets as our outline. Here is our schedule:
Monday: I read the story from The Egermeier Bible
Tuesday: BB reads the story to me from the Beginner's Bible
Wednesday: I read the story from the Jesus Storybook Bible
Thursday: BB draws a picture on his Bible Scribe sheet (his choice how he wants to illustrate the story
Friday: BB copies a Bible verse from the story on his sheet and dictates to me the story in his own words. The copywork goes on the lined portion of the sheet and the dictation in the "ribbon."

The girls are doing something similar, only we are doing a verse study. We are using the Bible Scribe New Testament Scripture packet.

We read from the Egermeir Bible, Pepper's NLT Bible, Daisy's NIV Bible and then the girls illustrate, copy the verse and write the meaning in their own words.

Bird Study Lapbook

Here is the culmination of Banana Boy's bird unit. We made a lapbook together and I think he did a great job!

The photo makes it a little hard to read. It is called "All About Birds." BB chose the title himself.He drew a robin, a red-winged blackbird and a cardinal flying (if you click on the picture, you can see them better)

Here is the inside.

His bird-watching journal. It says, "What I saw: 'a blak bird. it was big.'"

His booklet titled, "What is a Bird?"

I love the picture for "Birds are warm-blooded." He drew a penguin walking in a snowstorm (keeping itself warm with its warm blood).

Resources for Bird Unit

Next up: The Solar System.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

They Close Their Eyes And Just Breathe

If you read just one post from Sarah's Blog, please read this one. (This is the one I want you to read)

Rose Bud and I are going to India in January to help out at Sarah's homes and we are SO excited!

I have to admit when I first heard about Leslie's trip to India, I was mostly--selfishly--excited just to go to India. The "missions" part of it was really an excuse for me to go back. I looked at Sarah's blog and all the photos of her kids and I didn't really want to go "there."

Why is it that we have that kind of reaction to the handicapped? They are humans, they are children. But they look different. Is the feeling based on previous interactions we've had with real people who looked "funny," made strange noises, whom we couldn't understand? What makes it so hard for us to treat them as we treat any non-handicapped person? didn't take long for me, reading Sarah's blog on a daily basis, to catch hold of her wonderful attitude, her compassion and love and enthusiasm for these children and their possibilities.

When you read her blog everyday, you get to know the children by name. You learn their strengths and gifts, their personalities and their needs. You learn that they are human and they are just children. They look different, but they have hearts just like ours.

Sarah absolutely has a God-given gift for what she is doing. Her heart is 100% for the children.

Please read the post I linked above. Please feel the love Sarah has for all God's children. Please pray for her ministry and for our trip. And please read some more of her blog and meet all the children we will be meeting when we go.

I can't wait to hold them and love them, play with them and teach them, share their joy and their tears. KNOW them. They are human. They are GOD's children.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing Seeds

I bought these neato-mosquito containers at Oriental Trading Company about two years ago. This week, while cleaning out the school closet I decided it was high time we used them. The girls ran for their stash of seeds and they soaked them in warm water overnight. Each did two different beans, a pea and corn. Then we folded paper towel and dropped a seed in on each side of the paper towel. We fit four seeds in the container this way. The paper towel keeps the seed in place and soaks up moisture for it.

They only took about a week to grow all lush and green

What I love about the containers is that you can see the seed as it sprouts and grows. Not a very good picture of the roots here, but you get the idea.

The very sad part of our experiment, which had Pepper in tears, is that our cat thought we planted these greens for HIM. He has chomped off the tops of all of them.

Next experiment: Growing cat grass....

Friday Art: Rainbows (and a family portrait)

We are still plugging along in our book, Using Color in Your Art. This week's assignment was to imagine what is at the end of the rainbow--in other words, what does the rainbow "do" where it hits the earth?

In the example, the child colored all the flowers at the end of the rainbow in rainbow colors. I chose to make the water the rainbow "touched" spread out in rainbow colors.

So did the girls. The other part of the assignment was to paint the sky in a wash and then dab it with a papertowel to remove some of the color and make clouds.

Here is Pepper's painting.

Banana Boy's grass turned all rainbowey.

Daisy's rainbow

And finally, the family portrait, drawn by Sunshine. Isn't this cute?! It's the first time he's drawn people and I love it! I'm the big one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Spelling Resources

Here is a website listing lots of low-tech (no computer needed) ideas for practicing spelling words. There are also some websites listed where you can do creative things with your words like create mp3s from them and listen to them, animate them and more. I haven't checked out all the links, so proceed with caution. Wordle is pretty neat!

Lastly, if you are looking for something very simple, Scholastic has a Spelling Wizard that allows you to enter 10 words, then creates either an unscramble puzzle or a wordsearch.

Website Review:

Another online spelling practice website review (see post below). This is for Spelling City

Enter your word list as individual words or in a list separated by commas. As far as I can tell, your list is not saved from one visit to the next as at unless you create a personal homepage for this purpose (homepage provided by the website). This site has more spelling-related games, and the games are more puzzles than arcade-style. Some of the games are printable and handwriting practice sheets, using your list, are available to print.

Teach me
: choose a spelling word from a drop down list of your words. The word is spelled by a variety of female voices and each letter appears in a box as it is spelled. Kids will see and hear the word spelled. The word is used in context in a sentence and the word is repeated once more. Kids must choose each of the words from the drop-down menu to have it "taught."

Play a Game: a variety of games are offered and some are printable so you can take them offline.

Word Search: chooses 8 of your list words and puts them into a fairly tricky word search. The words are forward and backward, up and down and diagonal and the filler letters are many duplicates of letters in your word, so it's a challenging puzzle. It's fun to click and drag the little red circle around your word. Also printable. Customizable by easy/hard, long game/short game and timed or not.

Match It: This game asks you to match by connecting a line between a spelling word (list of 10) and a sentence using the word. Two issues I had with this game a)it is really practicing vocabulary, not spelling (which is fine if that is your goal) and b) the sentences, because they are computer-generated, are sometimes very weird.

examples: word: ally sentence: The ally volunteered at many homeless shelters (isn't an ally someone who is on your side?)

word: lullaby sentence: She whistled a lullaby (who WHISTLES a lullaby???)

word: supply sentence: Can you supply me in an hour? (with what, cocaine?)

I got four wrong out of 10 in this game! (although I did get the lullaby correct!)

HangMouse: As in hangman, spelling word displayed in dashes with the alphabet below. Correct guesses get the mouse a tidbit of cheese, incorrect wakes the cat up just a little more each time.

This game is fine. If you play it to success, you do practice spelling your word. However, it is much more fun to wake the cat with incorrect guesses! Not printable.

Alphabetize: alphabetize 10 of your words by clicking them in order and moving them to the other box.

Provides practice with and familiarity with the word list, as well as alphabetizing practice. I had one out of order and was able to click and drag it to its correct spot before submitting my list, so I got 100%. Printable.

Unscramble: One word is presented in scrambled form. User drags the letters, in the correct order, into the box below to unscramble the word.

I like this game! The user needs to be able to spell the word correctly to get a right answer. It provides good spelling practice in dragging the letters correctly to the box. Letters can be easily rearranged if they've been placed in the wrong order. A pleasant sprinkle of stars and some gentle applause greet you when you are correct. The only tricky thing is that each letter has its own "space" in the box. I began placing them over one spot and then ran out of room in the box for the last letter. I had to drag each one over one place (there is nothing to show the spaces, the letters just bounce into their spot when you drop them. Not a huge deal)

Audio Word Match: Typical memory game where you choose two tiles and if they match they disappear, if not, they flip back over. The word is spoken and read when you choose it.

Not spelling, but good for familiarity with the words. Audio and visual reinforcement. It's always fun to play Memory.

Which Word?: Same silly sentences as before only now there is a choice of four of your words below. Click on the correct word.

I didn't like the sentence before, don't like them now.
One of my sentences: The dog will _____ the walkers. Choices: multiply, spy, horrify, satisfy YOU fill in the blank.

Missing Letter: Choose from four letters to fill in the blank in the word. Only these weren't my words. Not sure where this rogue word list came from.

Sentence Unscramble: Same terrible sentences, only now scrambled.

dog will the horrify walkers Ick.

Crossword: Makes a crossword grid using your words. To get the clue, hover your mouse over the word. No numbers are used in the grid, just arrows showing whether the word goes across or down. The crossword is not traditional in the sense that many nonsense words are made by placing your words next to each other--somewhat confusing.

Guess what the clues are? You should be familiar with which word goes in the nonsensical sentence by this point in the game. I would not ask my child to navigate this confusing game.

Test Me! Provides a box for each word, a button labeled "Say it" which says just the word and a button labeled "sentence" which gives you the word in the sentence. Using the tab key after entering each word automatically says the word. I couldn't get the page to load on my Mac after I hit Check Me, so I'm not sure how it presents the scores. According to the verbage on the home page, once the test is completed, the student can print a report, retake the whole test or retake just the words they missed.

Other than the doofy sentences generated for your words, I like this site much better than kidsspell. I feel like the games are much better for practicing actual spelling of the word list. I would explore the homepage feature for the saving of lists. If you chose not to go that route, I would type the words into Word, separated by commas, and then each time you came to the website, at least you could just copy and paste your list in quickly.

I think I'll have Daisy try a few of these games.

Website Review:

Daisy has come upon a difficult spelling list, so I went looking for an online site to help her practice her spelling word. The first one I tried was It was easy to enter her list. I just typed each word, followed by a comma, in the box, then hit enter. I was able to name her list and the list is given a unique url so I can access it any time. The list remains there forever. You just need to remember to bookmark the url. I copied it and pasted it into a Word document.

I was mostly disappointed with the games, however. In a nutshell, they didn't give a child an opportunity to practice the word in a variety of ways, and many of the arcade-style games were frustrating to play. Some of the others moved SO slowly, it really was a waste of time to sit and wait. Completing one game with an entire list of 20 or so words might take 40 minutes!

Here is a review of each game.

: letters from your spelling word drop down and you must click on them in order before they reach the bottom and the dino eats them.

When I clicked the letters nothing happened. Could be a function of my Mac, but all the other games on the site worked for me.

Spellify 500: drive your racecar over the letters in the road in order and spell your word

The letters appear very infrequently. The first time I played I was 1/4 out of time before my first letter appeared. If you hit the wall, the car stops and you have to get up to speed again. If you drive over a wrong letter (most frustrating of all) all the letters you have collected disappear and you have to start over. A high speed seems essential to success in this game, but not being used to video games, I couldn't keep up with the keys. A frustrating game.

Cast a Spell: tap the letters in a spelling word in order with the wizard's wand

The letters fly all over at a very high speed and are difficult to catch with the tiny wand. The spelling list is displayed to the right, but nothing indicates which word you are spelling. You are basically trying to unscramble the moving letters. Nothing indicates that you have completed a word from the list. I think the list is just for reference, but is not extremely helpful.

Letter Drop: click on the falling letters in order and spell a word from your list before the screen fills up to the top with unused letter blocks (think tetris without the shapes)

The first two letters to fall were y and f, and none of my spelling words began with those. The third letter was s, so I clicked that. Now my choices of words from my list to spell were narrowed to spy, solidify or satisfy. Spy was at the top of my list so I waited for a p to drop. Never saw one. After a few seconds of watching letters drop, I realized I could have been spelling solidify, but now no more o's were dropping. I chose an a to try for satisfy, but never got a t. This is way too hard for even my 5th grader to try to guess which of 20 spelling words to shoot for.

Missing Letter Match: 6 spelling words are listed on buttons at the top, each missing one letter. 6 or more letters are zipping around at the bottom. Click a letter and drag it to the correct word from which it is missing.

This was one of the more promising games. It was easy to play and be successful. At success, an annoying star made an annoyingly nasal "Yay!" The print is very tiny (as in all of these games). Ok, but I didn't feel it was going to make a big impact in practicing the words.

Scramblers: Your spelling word is listed at the top. A little gremlin is building a zigzaggy tunnel to the surface, one letter at a time. Click on the letters he outputs, in order, and spell your word before he reaches the surface.

This game best practices spelling the word correctly. It is very slow. He outputs a lot of random letters before you get the ones you need, but it is easy to click the letters, you can take them from anywhere in the tunnel (even way back at the beginning) and it helps children actually spell their word. The correct spelling is at the top of the page, so they aren't spelling from memory, but it is reinforcing.

Spelloons: Balloons, each with a word, float gently down the screen. Click on the balloons containing correctly spelled words to keep them afloat. Let the incorrectly spelled words float to the bottom to pop on the spikes.

Fine, except that in my second game I was up to 7 balloons, all incorrectly spelled. They drop very slowly and that is a long time for a child to stare at an incorrectly-spelled spelling word! I want my kids to look at the word spelled CORRECTLY!

The Spellariums: Spaceships with a spelling word, one letter missing, are attacking. Use the arrow keys to choose a missle (they shoot straight up), then type the correct letter using your keyboard and press the space bar to fire.

I thought I wouldn't like this, but once I figured out how to play, it was, not fun, but at least not frustrating. Kids have to figure out which letter is missing, then type it, choose the correct missle that will hit the target and fire. I was successful almost every time. The targets are nice and wide (I'm thinking 8 & 10 yo GIRLS here with no gaming experience!) Again, this only practices filling in one missing letter.

Maybe for fun, I'd let her use one game, one time to practice a list, but in general, this site is not worth our time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our "First" Day

And here's our homeschool crew. They hate when I make them pose in the sun. Those flowers were just so pretty and there's not that much color in the gardens right now.

Banana Boy is mad because he's not going to public school. This from a boy who, just the other night, made me promise never, never, never to send him away for school again. Whatever. After this picture, he and his little attitude had a hiatus on his bed until he could think of three GOOD reasons to homeschool. Lesson 1 for the day: Look for the positive.

Here is Sunshine playing nicely for 5 minutes on his school mats. I have to deliniate a space or he's everywhere he's not supposed to be--like an anti-Visa.

For his school today, he chose from about 5 trays I set up for him. The first tray he chose was his snack. I let him cut open the wrapper with a scissors. Good fine-motor skills work, right? The next time I turned around, he was cutting his granola bar (one of those breakfast bar-like a giant fig newton things) into pieces with the scissors. sigh.

Next he washed and dried the tray in a sink of soapy water under strict instructions not to wash any of the other dishes on the counter. That went ok.

Next tray was the pompons you see above. This remains a popular activity with him. He was supposed to pick them all up with that scissorsy bug catcher thing, but he was lining them all up and naming them after friends. Hey, it kept him busy for about 7 min.

Next tray was a shape sorter. He wanted me to sit down with him and play, and the girls were busy with some independent work, so I did. I was surprised to see that he recognized the clover-shaped piece and knew he'd already put it in. He opened the lid to show me. We talked through the names of all the shapes. He knows circle, square, star, clover, diamond and triangle. AFter he put them all in, I gave him instructions to put them in a certain way, which made my little control freak mad. After a bit of fruitless negotiating and some firmness on my part, he finally complied. Obeying instructions was that lesson.

When BB was done with his school, I set to work with the girls on A Child's Geography, a new book we're trying out. Maybe they'll be too old for it, but the first chapter seemed a little yawn to me. I guess they were impressed by the facts, which Voskamp neatly put into understandable comparisons for a child. For example, when she talked about the enormity of the circumference of the Earth, she compared it to the child walking 10 hrs/day, covering 22 miles/day. It would take almost 3 years to walk the circumference of the Earth at the equator!

The exercise we chose to complete asked the kids to draw their house (teeny) then their street, town, state, country, continent and the Earth. The girls found two slates in a pile of stuff I was organizing and are insistent on doing all their work on slates this year. Here is Pepper's work.

Notes about what we read:

Pepper's World:

(photo hopefully to come soon. I can't get it to rotate!)

Back to school!

Here's our crew on the first day of school. Well, it's the first day of public school. We've been homeschooling all summer.

Lined up in order of age (except for Sunshine who burst into tears as we tried to take the first photo and had to be bribed with peanut butter cups) are

Banana Boy, age 6, grade 1
Little Hey, age 7, grade 1
Pepper, age 8, grade 3
Layley Hey, age 9, grade 4
Daisy, age 10, grade 5
Sunshine, age 4, preschool
Jay Hey, age 13, grade 8
Rose Bud, age 13 (but almost 14, MOM!), grade 8