Monday, August 4, 2014

First Day of School 2014

We started our 8th year of homeschooling today! I took some photos, but it is a big pain to rearrange them here so these are in NO particular order.

Katie begins 6th grade this year.  I like to print out these fun workpages for them to do first thing to start out the year.  I should've been keeping them each year in a folder all together, but they are just in with our end of the year box each time. Oh well.

Here  is Katie's page.

And Noah working on his "newspaper" page.

The table was all set last night, with first day of school double wall tumblers for Katie and Noah in an attempt to make it easier to stay well hydrated.

Ruby will be much easier this year...than last year anyway. She was having some fun with Noah in between things today.

Here is Noah's page.  He didn't draw himself.  It's actually a box for a photo.

Everyone busy on their pages.  Ruby wanted to get measured too, so I printed one for her as well.

Up close of Katie's cup.

This was after the "first day" photo you will see later.  She is into this whole posing thing right now.

Noah's other first day activity.  SO all boy.

Tracing a map.

Up close of Noah's cup.

Ruby and I played a lot today while Katie and Noah worked on their assignments.

Katie's newspaper page.

Ruby and I did work on her "All About Ruby" book that she's supposed to be taking for her first day of her 3 yr old program.  This is a page she was supposed to fill with her favorite colors.

Ruby's new cup and sticker book.

Okay, so at first I asked them if they wanted to get dressed for a first day of school photo.  They, of course, said no.  So I said come on then we are taking a photo.  This is what I got.

Ruby's page.

I am in love with these cups, can you tell? 

We had a good first day.  I am already feeling tired from getting going pretty early.  Can't wait for coffee season! haha!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back to School 2014! (picture heavy and long!)

Big changes this year for our homeschool! #1 is that Ruby will be attending a twice per week 3 year old program at Education Play Station.  It's the same place that Katie and Noah have taken afternoon homeschool classes for years now, and only a five minute drive.  This will open up our day twice per week to get a lot DONE! (Both the big kids AND Corey we hope!)

Secondly, I am giving Katie and Noah more responsibility!  They are going to have their planners with the week's assignments and be in charge of making sure it all gets done.  Of course there will be several things that I have to do with them, like science, and math lessons, introducing new language lessons, etc.  But a lot of what they do daily, vocabulary, reading comprehension, etc. will be ready and available for them to start on first thing, and even work ahead as they like.

I offered Noah several choices for cute covers, but he wanted one made plainly. ha.

Inside is their pencil pouch, weekly plan sheet, and dividers with pocket dividers for each subject. The pocket dividers have any worksheets and such that they will need.

And this is where it really gets exciting for me, as the busy wife, mom, and teacher.
I have the ENTIRE year's worth of their plans...DONE.
Yes, 36 weeks, 180 days, all written out.
I am considering getting a fireproof file cabinet for them, no joke, haha.

I was going to make copies of them, but I am relatively sure we won't lose them.  And I am only putting one week at a time in their planner.  I may make copies, but it's not on my have to get done list before next week.

Here are all their workbooks and textbooks divided up.  The plan is to put these on their desks or somewhere more convenient for them to access daily, but we don't have their desk areas set up.
We are having to wait a bit in between getting loft beds to get this all set up, but I look forward to their having space and a school area that is not a centrally used area of the house.  That proved to be quite a challenge last year. It's not just adding and subtracting and beginner chapter books anymore.  They need quiet!

I also have a separate set of my own plans similar to their sheets, but I found I didn't need to write as much on it since they have such detailed directions.  But I did have time, since I finished everything, to make this (above) overview of the year. I hope that this will help me stay on track with offering enrichment and beyond the page activities.  I want to be more diligent with getting extra books from the library, so this list will help me stay on top of that.  I have also been browsing and finding online resources, websites, youtube videos, etc to go along with what we are doing.  These are things I've desired to add in the past, but got bogged down with the week to week and the micromanaging of the basics. As you can see we are focusing on a second year of American History,  beginning with the post revolutionary war period.

I put all the maps, science notebooking, math work, literature studies divided up for the year in this file box.  This is actually a bankers box because that's what I put our stuff in at the end of the year.  So it will just go back in as they finish each week.  They each have their own 36 folders.

Now, because I am a nerd, I will show exactly what all they are doing this year.

I discovered these books from Rainbow Resources last year.  We started some and I went ahead and ordered the next books for this year at the same time.  These are more like a regular school reading textbook.  It has excerpts from many different works and walks them through analyzing, connecting, looking at author's style and craft, etc and all that jazz and buzzwords.  They will do these once or twice a week and independently. I just showed one of the books obviously.  I will say just in case someone somewhere actually reads this post, that the above pictured book was listed for 5th grade and the 6th grade book moves up quite a bit in skill and is less colorful and appealing than this one. Just FYI.  The subject matter is varied as well, everything from personal concentration camp stories to funny poems. I also have a poetry study worktext that I ordered from them that we will do once a week on Fridays together.  Poetry is kind of difficult for this age, ready for beyond rhyming verse, yet some abstract things are more difficult to grasp. The book I got gives exposure to several different styles and walks through analyzing them.

Another book from Rainbow Resource.  This is a quick daily reading comprehension test skills type workbook.  Can be done in less than ten minutes per day, or as Noah liked to do last year, do the week's worth in one sitting.  It helps me remember to teach them certain things about this "type stuff" that I don't think of till they miss a question using the strategy, or whatnot.

We are sticking with Sequential Spelling.  I did not order the workbooks this year, but I will just have them do the lists on notebook paper in their notebooks.  I think I will alternate between doing the daily tests aloud and having them just copy one of the lists on their own, that way they are still being exposed to the words on a daily basis, even if we don't have time some days to sit and do all the words.  I love this program!

Also using Wordly Wise again.  Love it.  This will be independent work. Each book has 20 lists, so I have them take two weeks to complete the work for one list most weeks.

We are changing Language/Grammar programs this year.  We had used First Language Lessons the past two years, but about 1/3 way through last year it just got SO tedious.  The workbooks are really boring and extremely repetitive.  I decided to go with an oldie but goody and use Abeka.  
We aren't doing the Composition lessons included, but they are very heavy with the basic grammar and sentence structure/writing as well.  A nice change, with some alternate terminology which I think will be useful for them to be exposed to for a while. This will alternate between being independent and something I do with them depending on how much they already have learned about whatever lesson they are doing.

I actually lack plans for the second half of the year for Writing/Composition because this program will be finished at Christmas.  But, it does have suggestions in the teacher book for what to do next if you don't want to purchase another level of their program yet.  I've decided to wait and see how they are doing with their writing to decide what to do the second part of the year.  I've sang the praises of this program on another post, still loving it.

And now, my favorite part of the curriculum choosing!
Literature studies!
I spent a lot of time looking at suggested readings lists, reading levels of various books, etc. 
It can all be so subjective for the topics, etc of good literature.
So, I combined a lot of different suggestions, my own previous experiences, and what I could find online for free study resources to choose these books for the year.

The first half of the year they will read the same books.  I remember enjoying A Wrinkle in Time.  I've never read Shiloh, but feel they should read it, from the synopsis I think they will enjoy it. I found some good study packets online for both of these books.
After they finish these around Thanksgiving, they are going to do a biography of their choice with a report.  Yes, they could easily breeze through these books faster, but with the study packet that goes along chapter by chapter, it will take longer to complete.  I think it's good for them to be forced to read at a slower pace and think more about each aspect of the story.

In January, Noah will read Old Yeller, while Katie begins Little Women.
Both of these books have free study questions I found online, and both even have a website with links for exploring different things in the book.  Animals, rabies, etc for Old Yeller.  And a Louisa May Alcott website with a virtual tour of the Orchard House, and many other fun things to do.

I then plan to do the old "compare the book to the movie" idea.  We've never really done this formally, so I think they will enjoy doing it with several of the books they are reading this year.

It will take Katie a good bit longer to "study" through Little Women, so Noah will move on to this one:

Katie read this over the summer on her own, and I think Noah will enjoy it also.  A free study guide was found online.

By the last month of school, they will almost be on the same timeline again, so I chose some short easy reads to finish out the year. Frindle for Noah, and Tuck Everlasting for Katie. I found study guides for both of these online as well.  I think they are going to have some good book reading and study done this year! Now, to plan a trip to McKay's to go ahead and get copies of all these books!

One 9 weeks for the year we will work through this health book for science time.
Health is going to be big this year.  Several big milestones on the horizon for my preteens.

Yes, they will be in 5th and 6th grade, but this will still be a resource for us this year as we study American History.

My favorite find is this book:

$3 each at McKay's for two copies, so perfect! It has a chronological walk through of many interesting American History topics.  Interesting drawings and photos.  Nothing fancy, but it's a good resource.

We are also going to be using these books.  I cannot remember where we found or acquired these. We bought a set of some kind of books from a friend's yardsale, I can't remember if it was these, or if we got these from a grandparent.  But it is great for throwing in an in depth look at major historical milestones.

The publish date is 1977. I was able to plan to use one almost every week of our History study. In addition to those, we are doing US Geography, states and capitals mastery, and lapbooks to go along with the Civil War and Oregon trail (already printed and ready in our folders).  I hope to add more, but I definitely had a great basic plan ready to do. At the end of the year we are going to do the Georgia State History notebook project that I had planned to do last year but didn't get to actually do.

Abeka Math 5 and 6.  I will be learning a lot as I work through the 6th grade program with Katie this year.  Well, relearning.  We will be delving into pi and areas of circles, compound interest, and tons of more complicated fractions concepts.  Yay! I don't buy the teacher manuals anymore.  These student books have boxes that walk through each new concept.  I have found the Abeka teacher manuals just include more drills and repetition daily which honestly, as helpful as it might be to make them super robot math machines, I just don't have time.  Some people may spend 8-4 doing school, but I just can't, we live in the real world, haha. I got things to do and places to go!

I didn't get a photo, but we will be returning to Home Science Adventures this year. Microscopic Exploration, Insects, and Light. I would love to do a more intensive science program, but maybe I can alternate a heavy history year and a heavy science year.  I just don't have time for both! This program is mainly experiment based with some notebooking and the kit comes with everything down to the last cotton ball and rubber band.  We plan to do a couple of lessons/experiments per week while Ruby is in class and also do a lot of our history reading and Writing curriculum those days.  We will see how it goes in action and see what we have to adjust. The place that Ruby goes is a actually 5 minutes driveway to driveway.  Seriously, leave any earlier and you are too early, haha.  That's a big reason it will work for us.  The time she's away will be completely usable time.  And Katie and Noah are old enough to stay here and get started on work while I take and pick her up.  Corey is usually home during those hours as well, so he will be able to work on his schoolwork some and save more of our weekends! 

I really like this Bible study program I found recently.  It's called Bible Study for all Ages.
You get these workpages that lead through a particular passage and the workpages are adapted for different age groups. Same Bible verses, different pages and pictures with different depths of activities to study it for different ages.  So Ruby can follow along and do things on her level, while Katie and Noah learn more in depth about the topic.  Have I been repetitive enough with this? haha.
Anyway, it can actually take a good amount of time to work through each one on the advanced pages, so we will plan to do one lesson of these per week throughout the week together as a family.

I feel that we have a very full year ahead of us.  And I also feel it will be very productive and fulfilling! I look forward to seeing if planning out the entire year works well.  I had thought of doing it several different times but never actually took the time needed to do it.  I really hope it pays off!
We are continuing Noah with karate, he gets to go twice a week.  And Katie has weekly violin lessons.  Since her extracurricular is a solo activity we decided it would be beneficial for her to go to a class at EPS as well. So, she is going to take a geography class once a week.  It uses Around the World in 180 days by Apologia and studies countries and mission work around the world.  I think it will be a good fit for her, give her some extra geography study, and give her a chance for group interaction.

Tentative Weekly Schedule:

Monday: School 8:30-1pm, breaks for snack and lunch.  Katie at geography 1-2:30
Tuesday: School 8:30-1. Ruby at prek 9-12. Karate 5:30-6:15
Wednesday: School 8:30-1. Nothing else!
Thursday: School 8:30-1. Ruby at prek 9-12. Violin 1:45-2:15 
Friday: School 8:30-1. Nothing else! 
Saturday: Karate 10:15-11am

I plan to do a library day either Tuesday or Thursday in  "town" if I need things from the big library, or any other day at the local location.  We've been fairly consistent this summer so I hope we can keep up the pattern!
We plan to start next week, which will be a week before Ruby's and Katie's classes begin. I am excited, yet not looking forward to earlier mornings!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Next things next

Time keeps on slipping..into the future. ha.

After a very crazy time, we enter yet another crazy time.  I haven't blogged in a while, simply because I've felt my life has been too personal to put out there.  As if life could be more personal that it is at any given point in time.  I don't really care to put everything in my life out there right now, but things are progressing and God is good.  Always good.  We eagerly await the next phase of following where God would have us minister, in what ways, and how. It's sure to be so very satisfying when we figure it out.  I recently went through a Bible study and one of the points was "eat it before you tweet it." Meaning....the Word God gives you doesn't have to immediately go right back out.  You need to get the full meaning, the full WORD before you spit it back out and lose grasp of what it means to you.  Sometimes we step out too soon on faith because we get an inkling or because something is so good it has to be what's next.  But then, if we wait, God will take us and lead us to that next place.  When we are ready.  After we had digested the word. Following the Lord, and not jumping out in front of Him excitedly.  There is wisdom in waiting.  And there is peace in that place.  Sometimes doing something just to be doing something does more harm than good. If it's a distraction from the growth, absorbing the Word and praying for doors to be opened. It will be harder to see the right door when it opens if you are busy jumping in and out of others, dealing with the wasted time and energies thereof.
It reminds me of kids (or adults) counting down to vacation.  It's fun and exciting, mom and dad have told us we are going, but if we left right away we wouldn't have a place to stay.  The place to stay will be ready when it's our time.  And we will be ready, packed, prepared, and responsibilities taken care of.

We've had Christmas and birthdays.  We've completed THE most difficult year of homeschooling to date.  A two year old is extremely challenging and distracting.  We made it though.  We finished testing.  I'm waiting for the results to come and then I can box up this year and put it out of sight and out of mind.  Hoping and praying for a better year next school year.  And looking forward to a BREAK.  Corey will have a school break at the same time, so maybe our family can actually sit down together and have some time that is quality for the first time in a while.  A time without thinking about the school projects that need done, or how behind we are in this or that.

We finished 4th and 5th grade this year, which means I will be teaching a middle schooler next year! I am excited! What a blessing to spend these next few years becoming friends with my daughter, BLESSING and guiding her through this TIME. Any grown women will appreciate this sentiment to its fullest!
And Noah, so close behind, will turn ten this summer.  In just a few weeks.
They are simply wonderful kids!

Ruby is three and going to a two day preschool this fall.  Haha.  It will be good for everyone, not the least of which is our daily heavier school schedules.  We are excited for her!

I have a new laptop, which is blowing my mind.  I can touch the screen and it has a completely different layout and I feel SO very old trying to use it!

Very late bedtime calls!
I won't promise to blog soon, but maybe!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Toddler Days

Since Ruby has been 1 day old....she's been pretty high maintenance.
Beginning with a sensitivity to milk, putting me completely dairy free for about eight months, and suffering with some severe reflux, she's always kept us on our toes.

Napping and sleeping are no different. 
Don't get me wrong, she slept well very early on, and hasn't ever really REFUSED to sleep, except that time I forgot to get my frappe DECAF when she was about 5-6 months old.
Her latest trend is to nap in the recliner.
I have sat  behind her, rocking and reading history or science out loud to Katie and Noah while she watches a show or lullabye Pandora.

And within about five minutes, she is OUT.


Even mid-cheerio. (yes, she loves these owl pajamas!)

So, this weekend, we put a recliner in her bedroom because even though she would nap for 1 1/2-2 hrs in the recliner, it was kind of a pain worrying that someone might ring the doorbell or not be able to unload the dishwasher, etc.

It took a little longer today, closer to twenty minutes of rocking, but eventually....
she was out....

She slept about an hour and a half. 

Her latest favorite sayings:
"Mommy, I WUB (fill in the blank, pretty much whatever you are talking about)"
"It's my favit (favorite)"
or many times "It's my favit dame" (favorite game)
"Mommy (or Tatie or Noah, or Daddy, or Nanna, etc) You my best fwen" (your're my best friend)
The other night she came up to me and swaying her hips back and forth said, 
"Mommy, say, Whatchou do----in?" 
(I think she got this from Isabella on Phineas and Ferb)
She loves to try to sing ABC's and the Diego and Dora songs.
Also, she will say "I don wike dat" randomly about stuff.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Institute for Excellence in Writing.  Wordy Title.
Okay, so I've raved about it before, but I want to say again that I absolutely LOVE this writing program. It is so academically rich with teaching how to write.  The DVD lessons at times can be a little long, but Katie and Noah seem to stay interested and entertained by them.  And they are acquiring great skills by following at outline for how to write certain methods.  We are doing Student Writing Intensive A at the rate of completing a full lesson every 1-2 weeks.  If you don't know anything about the program and have never been to one of the workshops, I HIGHLY recommend buying or borrowing (like I did) the Teaching Writing Seminar on DVD.  In all honesty, you COULD teach this method by just watching that seminar, quite easily in fact, but it would be difficult to use their writing intensives without having seen the DVD seminar.  That's how good it is.  I am a certified elementary school teacher, and what I learned from that seminar was crucial to our success with this program, it's not just a gimmick!  Now, I love the "set" of lessons with the DVD lessons for the kids, because honestly it does a much more thorough job than I would do of teaching the material in an interesting way, and the kids get to listen to someone besides me, and I know they are getting a HIGH quality level of instruction in writing.
Let's face it...being able to write (all genres, clearly, concisely, and with correct grammar) is the foundation for success in any higher education. In all subject areas, not just for English majors and professional writers. I am so thankful I found this program for 4/5th grade when they are really just beginning to be capable of understanding some higher level styles and information for writing and writing "about."

We use a separate curriculum for Language and Grammar.  Because as the teaching seminar points out, writing and grammar/spelling are two completely different things.  Do NOT try to teach spelling while you are trying to get a child to write a story.  Two totally different sides of the brain and slows down creativity and flow in an extreme way!  (same thing goes for HANDwriting and Writing!) I could go on and on about all the wonderful things I learned from that DVD but I will stop! ha ha.  Language/Grammar and Writing WILL all mesh together, but like learning to talk on a cell phone and drive, they can't be learned simultaneously.

At the beginning of the year they were creating a "key-word outline" by taking apart informational or other texts sentence by sentence.  They would then test this outline by retelling the information or story by only using their outline.  This helped them be sure they were choosing quality terms and words from the original text for their outline.  They would then re-write the paragraph, using their keyword outline.  What wonderful practice for essay, research papers, and public speaking!  Along the way they were introduced to stylistic techniques (with mini lessons to show how to use and brainstorm lists to draw from) to include in their rewriting.  Things like "use a "who or which" clause, or include a quality adverb.  They also started a banned words list, so they are no longer allowed to use the word "said" but must choose a better and more interesting word to use instead.  By making all of these things a requirement, although they are searching and putting them in that way, these techniques will become more of a habit and they will easily find ways to do it more independently.  They both mostly are able to fit all the requirements in on their own, but sometimes I do give them some hints or help in suggesting where might be a good place to include them in their rough draft.

So the past couple of weeks they have been working on a re-write of the well-known story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"  Another strategy that IEW uses, is allowing students to use other material to draw from for inspiration.  I agreed when watching their teacher training sessions that it's really unfair to expect an elementary student to be able to completely come up with an idea to write about from absolutely nothing. In the grand scheme of life, they've only been reading less than five years (generally speaking) and don't have very much life experience to draw from.  So teaching ways to enhance a story that is given to them, summarize, learn stylistic techniques and practice them on material that is given to them, will prepare them to be really good story-tellers, and THEN they can start making even mundane every day things into good stories.  It's hard for a kid to make a trip to the store into anything more than a few sentences without tools in their possession to inspire them to make it good.

This story also included several paragraphs, stepping up from the shorter one paragraphs they've been doing.  They had to do an outline, complete their checklist, and rough draft each part separately before being done.  This is teaching them to not retell the story or tell any story for that manner, in just two sentences.  ha ha.

So back to why I'm posting.  I am SO happy with their stories they've written this week! I want to blog them here for you.  I let them (for the first time) type up their final drafts so that I could just copy and paste them here.  I am going to do a direct copy and paste, no editing!

Their checklist for this assignment:

"-ly" adverb
who/which clause
strong verb
quality adjective
because clause

banned words: said, see/saw, go/went, thought
And they are required to come up with an interesting title based around the ending of the story (again I know this isn't a MUST for creative writing, but it makes them think harder at this point in time and see the story as a whole)

And for the grammar police out there, he had a whole entire segment on the teacher training about "who/which" clauses and how it helps them become better writers, addressing the nitty gritty of fitting them/not using them in professional writing later is another issue to address later!


Noah Thompson

November 8, 2013

How the Chicken Nugget Lost His Cap

Once upon a time,there was a very foolish chicken nugget who was wearing a big red cap and playing on the swing. Then he got really bored because he had nobody to play with. 
Then he remembered one day his dad exclaimed “If you ever see a mouth be sure to quickly call to the other chicken nuggets because they will scare it away.” So he eagerly called “Mouth Mouth!” The other chicken nuggets rushed over but they they discovered there was no mouth,which made them mad. They blabbered “Don't ever do that again!”
Later, he got bored again so, overwhelmed with boredom the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!”
 The other chicken nuggets rushed over, but they got furious because there was no mouth! Then they violently screamed “Don't EVER do that again!”
 After they left the chicken nugget cried “Mouth Mouth!” because he noticed a real mouth with razor sharp teeth! But the other chicken nuggets ignored him! The chicken nugget loudly screamed “Mouth Mou......." But then the other chicken nuggets got worried and rushed over, but only found his cap.


Katie Thompson

November 8, 2013

Don't Lie
Once, there was a bug,he was a ladybug and a school bug who was very foolish. He lived on a leafy
treetop in the woods. One day he was impatiently learning math, then he got very bored because math is not very fun! Then he remembered Mrs. Webber's warning when he first started going to Redwood Elementary, ''Beware of the bird, if you see one, call for help!'' He became very curious.
He wanted to make some excitement in his classroom so he screamed loudly, ''BIRD!'' 
Mrs Webber, the principal, the janitor, and even Marsha, who is the most tough class bully, ducked and screamed! But there was no bird. He had the whole building fooled! He laughed uncontrollably!
The whole building was pretty upset with him! Marsha said ''don't ever, ever, EVER do that again you little pest!''
For a long time he did not, but one day he got SO bored, he knew he shouldn't , but it just ''happened''
to slip from his lips. ''Oh no... b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” There was panic all in Redwood Elementary. Then there was ANGER!!!!! Bugs knew he was gonna be punished. He got some severe talking-to. 
Then, a couple hours later Bugs spotted a real, beak-licking, sharp beaked, eyes gleaming
''B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B-BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!'' screamed Bugs. he was ignored. ''BIRD!'' BIRD!!!'' he was still ignored. ''BIR-------------gulp!'' At this the students and Mrs. Webber became startled! Before they could duck, the bird swooped in and greedily ate them all up!

The moral: Don't lie or other people might not believe you when you are telling the truth.