Wednesday, October 13, 2010

happy reader(s)

So Noodle was a bit late to the whole reading game. A year ago at this time, we were diligently working through beginning chapter books (like the Rainbow Fairy series) by having her read aloud to me for a while every day. It was quite tedious at times, but I felt that she just needed to keep practicing to improve her skills, more than more phonics work, so that's what we did. Now she is at the point where she really does enjoy reading, and she is skilled enough that she does okay reading on her own. She started Scout, one of the Puppy Place books last night at bedtime and then finished it off today, all on her own! I was thrilled! I will continue having her read as part of our school day, but it is just so rewarding to think of the progress she has made over the past 18 months.

Spud is also doing really well with his reading. He is really getting his beginner books down solid and he is much less intimidated when encountering new words. He is working through Explode the Code book 1, and I think that is a really good way for him to practice & review.

Hooray for books!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Term A, Week Three

Highlights from the week:

We have been getting together with some homeschooling friends in the neighborhood one or two mornings a week for some "P.E./recess" type fun, and this week we biked down the River Trail to Utah Lake. I had never biked out there before, and it was really fun and beautiful. The kids did great. It was 4 miles round trip but nobody got too tired or complained (I think that's an advantage of doing these things with friends). It took a couple of hours, and we didn't get started doing "school" until after 1, but it was worth it.

On Friday we had arranged a field trip up to Tracy Aviary with the Boys Club I coordinated. It was a follow up activity to our owl pellets a couple weeks ago. David was able to come with us and we had a great time. My favorite parts were seeing the birds in the bird encounters (a red-crested turaco and an American Crow), seeing the HUGE Andean Condor basking with his wings open (very zen-like) in the sun, and hearing the family of five kookaburras laugh and laugh and laugh. I don't know if I knew (if I did, I'd forgotten) that they are called Laughing Kookaburras.


Red Crested Turaco

Kookaburras have long been one of my favorite birds. I think they are just so cute and chubby. I learned that older offspring often stay around and help care for their younger siblings. David said he read that on a couple other bird species' signs, too. So neat! The kookaburras at the Aviary were a mom and dad and their three youngsters, all hatched this past spring. The chicks were already full-sized, though.

In other news, Spud is doing really well reading his beginning reader books. We have quite a number of Bob books, which he likes okay, but he really likes the Clever Critter books by Nora Gaydos. We only have the Advanced Level One set and one of the Level Two sets, but I am tempted to get more because he likes them so much. I think I should probably just check out other first readers from the library and save the $. I've reinforced to him over and over that if he doesn't know a word he can either sound it out or ask me (or both), so he has stopped doing his, "Uh, uh, uh.." pathetic thing when he gets stuck. That is big progress!

Noodle finished her math on the Green Track (I'll explain more later) so she was able to earn the cute hedgehog she'd picked out at This is the Place Park gift shop, plus an extra four dollars. The idea is that she controls how quickly she moves forward with math and if she can master the material faster, and have a Green Level Effort (finish with minimal mistakes in an appropriate amount of time without needing reminders to focus), she can earn rewards. If she moves at our old pace, one chapter a week with many "focus reminders," that's a Red Level Effort. In between is a Yellow Level Effort. Probably sounds a little more complicated than it is. Anyways, her math covered some new ideas the last three weeks and she is doing well at understanding them. I think she needs to solidify her add/subtract facts, though, so this next week we are going to do review and drill. I'm hoping that it will be easier for her to stay on task when the small tasks that make up the problem can be completed more automatically.

We are using Prima Latina for Latin this year (only Noodle and I, though Spud does listen in some), and I am really enjoying it. I think Noodle enjoys that we are learning it, though she kind of grumps when it is time to do it. As we learn a bit more vocab and can talk "secretly," though, I think the allure will be stronger. But I'm enjoying it a lot!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week Two

So, I don't think I have it in me to maintain an exhaustively detailed update of everything we do. Especially since I am kind of cutting back for now, seeing what we can handle, and then will add back in "extras". Some notable things from the week, thus far:

Spud has done REALLY well this week with his lessons. He has only had one "poor attitude" incident, and that was today. I tried to help him shake it, but in the end, I asked him to go to his room until he felt ready to continue with a happy voice and happy face. He came down and did just fine after that. I talked to Noodle about the importance of responding to him with kindness, as I think her rudeness earlier in the morning had put him in a bit of a funk that he just wasn't shaking. During lunch prep, we had a nice conversation about how you can always look for things to be angry about. I said, "You could wake up every morning and think of a new thing to be upset about, and NEVER run out of things." We went through a number of examples, mostly ridiculous like, "Today I'm upset that I don't have my very own horse to ride," and "Today I'm going to be angry that I don't get to eat all the chocolate I want," but I think it made the point. Not that they'll remember it, but I plan to revisit the lesson in the not-too-distant future. I said that we can also look for things to be happy about, and told them how people who look for things to be upset about aren't as healthy because their bodies spend so much energy dealing with the bad emotions that they get worn down.

One thing that seems to work really well with Spud is explaining the why behind some of the parts of his schoolwork that seem pointless. He is definitely not a kid to do busy work. Also, when he asks me if he has to do something a certain way, or at all, I will explain to him what the idea is, and allow him to do it "his" way as long as it accomplishes the same goal. For example, in his Explode the Code book, yesterday he said he couldn't read the sentences because they were too small. I am pretty sure that his eyes are fine, but I know that smaller print can be hard for beginning readers, so I didn't push it and allowed him to skip that page. I asked him if I could type the sentences up and print them larger so he could do the page, and he said he thought that would work. So I did, and he did the page without problem today. Also, today he was supposed to "X" the box that went with the correct sentence, but he only wanted to do a slash instead of a full X. Since this is something that obviously doesn't matter, I allowed it. Also, I haven't been requiring that he do the pages where you have to write the words out, since his fine motor skills are not quite there yet. But he has chosen to do them, after asking me if he has to write in lowercase letters. I told him that it is preferred, as most of our writing is, in fact, in lowercase letters, but that he can use capitals or a mix of capitals and lowercase if he wants. I figure this isn't a penmanship exercise (no way I'm touching that right now), so it really doesn't matter. He is sufficiently exacting upon himself that I really don't feel the need to be at all critical of his writing attempts. He has been very good at asking how to write the numbers he doesn't know, and has been amenable to my gentle suggestions that he might find it easier to do them in such and such way.

Today we did something that I've been wanting to do for a looong time and we've just not really done it before (at least not quite so thoroughly). Noodle picked up the most recent National Geographic magazine that was on the counter since it just arrived this week, and asked about something on the cover. We started looking through it, and we looked through THE ENTIRE MAGAZINE together, reading photo captions, answering questions, etc. It was awesome! And it was interesting to all of us. We learned about the oil spill in the gulf, talked about kids born with cleft palates (there was a Smile Train advertisement in there), talked about mountain climbers on Everest, a paternal mouth brooding fish, Jane Goodall and what she's helped discover about chimpanzees over the past 50 years, prehistoric animals of New Zealand/Australia, and problems of overfishing in the ocean. Pretty fabulous science/geography/current events lessons, methinks. I know they won't remember all or even most of it, but I love the analogy of the grammar school years giving kids "pegs" to hang future information on. They need exposure to a lot of information, and they will be able to start to organize it and develop interests. I am actually amazed at how much they do remember.

One last thing, then I've got to get to bed. Noodle is doing a karate class with a couple of friends at a local charter school two afternoons a week. After talking to David, I realized that I really need to give Spud more attention. So on Tuesday, after Noodle left, he asked (as he always does) what he could do while she was gone. He's usually hinting around to watch extra cartoons and such, but this time I said, "Why don't we start reading your Captain Underpants book?" He was pretty excited about that, and he chose to read it up on his bed. We read the first 14 chapters (they are short chapters) and the next day he was so excited to read more. On Wednesday, we also went on a walk to collect cans from the neighbors and came home and made pudding to eat after our reading. It was a lot of fun to spend some quality time with him, and I look forward to continuing it. Captain Underpants is a pretty fun series. Noodle started reading it at bedtime tonight because she wanted to be in on the story, too. I'm a fan of all things that promote reading!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week One - We survived!

Monday was rough, as it seemed that whenever I was in the middle of something with Spud or Noodle, the only thing that kept Sprout happy was wreaking massive destruction. The older kids did well on their lessons, but I was beyond frazzled by the end of school that day.

Tuesday was good but crazy and not super productive. We hosted Boys Club that afternoon, so we had the house to tidy and things to get set up in the backyard for that. It turned out really well, so I'm excited. The plan is for the Boys Club to have an activity and a field trip together every month. I am so glad it all came together, as it was hard to organize something with a bunch of people that I'd not met before. I think it will be a good mix, though. All of the parents who came seemed like pleasant, agreeable, fun people. Spud seems to me making connections with some of the boys, which is my primary goal, so hooray!

Wednesday was AWFUL. For reasons unknown to me, Spud is the sort of kid who really needs expectations spelled out explicitly. David and I had talked about this, and I was trying to implement a system of using a script to spell out expectations with our various school activities, but I didn't have one for one activity, and I don't know what triggered it, but he kind of went nuts. I could re-post what I wrote on a homeschool forum I'm a part of, but I don't feel like rehashing it. Suffices to say, he was very determined to NOT do a certain part of the lesson/exercise, and went crazy, screaming that I was torturing him. Then, after getting to the point where we finally completed the lesson, we had another explosion during lunch preparation. So, a couple people recommended a book called The Explosive Child, so I ordered it used from Amazon. It's gotten a lot of good reviews, so I hope it will have some specific strategies that might help me. Most of the time, Spud is really easy-going, but when he gets "stuck," it's terrible.

Thursday and today were both good days. We discovered today that Noodle definitely needs to do her math in the morning, as today a single assignment took over an hour, and she made a lot of errors. Most of the week we'd been doing it first thing, so I think we'll set that as the standard.

For Spud, here's what we are doing for Kindergarten:
Explode the Code Book 1 - I am requiring a page per day, but I think somedays he will voluntarily do more. One day this week, he did three. I think ETC will work well for him because it allows him to learn/review some material on his own. I did get the teacher's manual (I didn't have it when Noodle did Books 1 & 2, but found it was useful when I ordered it when she started Book 3), so I do hope to be able to do short instructional lessons with him (if we can avoid future meltdowns), but it's nice that it is fairly independent. His writing ability is really lagging, but I'm not worrying about that at all. He is trying to write, and doesn't seem too bothered by the fact that he can't make all his numbers/letters correctly, so I'm not going to stress it. I did print out and make a handwriting exercise book for him. I'll see if I can interest him in it eventually. We are doing Treasure Hunts from this book, though I've typed them up and made my own. We do one every morning, he earns a sticker, and at the end of the week, he can trade in his stickers (though I don't actually require him to give them to me, as we put them in his sticker book) for a "Mystery Car" (a hot wheels wrapped up in decorated butcher paper). He really likes these. For the early ones, there are a lot of pictures, so they don't actually HAVE to read, but he is learning some new words and being willing to try sounding them out, so I figure it's a major step forward. We are also doing Math U See Primer, a page a day. Finally, we are doing "Reading Activities," which is a bin I put 5-8 different activities in (beginning readers, flash card sets, things from Happy Phonics, Talking Words Factory DVD, Phonics Concentration (a simplified version of this game, and other stuff as I find/come up with it). He can pick 1, 2 or 3 activities. Two activities/day puts him on the "Yellow Track," three/day puts him on the Green Track, one is on Red Track. For Yellow or Green (or in between) he can earn a special prize at the end of three weeks. For Red, nothing special. I am doing a similar thing with Noodle's math to help her feel motivated to work independently and at an increased pace. He has been quite cooperative with the Reading Activities, so that's been nice. He is also doing lessons on Road To Reading, and he likes those as well. I figure we'll keep working on those as long as he is interested and enjoying them.

So, that's our Kindergarten. He also joins us for Story of the World, Vol. 2. We didn't start Science this week, but he'll join us for that as well.

I'll post Noodle's studies later. I'm tired of thinking about school.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Day of School, take two

So, after a less than auspicious beginning a couple weeks ago, I decided to bag it all until after my niece's wedding (where I was the photographer), wait for David to come home to help me strategize some things, and just let the kids enjoy the tail end of summer. So, we start afresh on Monday. I'm frantically trying to finish the last of my preparations, mostly some motivational things and whatnot to help them track their progress and stay on course. I'm hoping to get Noodle taking more charge over her math and hopefully coming to like it more. We'll see.... Main goal for Spud this year: READING! As soon as he feels confident and/or sufficiently motivated, I really feel like he'll be able to take off like crazy. It's just a matter of finding that motivation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

starting off with a whimper

Well, I'd hoped to start the year off with a BANG, but it is turning into more of a whimper. Sprout has been sick since Saturday night, we were up from 3:30 to 5:30 Sunday morning, I didn't sleep at all Sunday night, and the fever/crankiness continues. Yesterday was one of the worst days in memory. Not because of the kids, really, just because there were enough little things that I couldn't handle in my sleep deprived state. We did have a nice walk along the river trail, though.

Last night's sleep wasn't much better, so when Tina came in this morning to take Sprout, I slept until 10. Then after I got out of the shower I saw that I'd missed a call from a friend. I called him, and he told me that our neighbor had been killed this morning in a plane crash in Nepal. The kids and I went over to hug them and give them our condolences. It's devastating.

So, we've started some things this week, but a lot of it will probably wait until next week. I ordered Explode the Code book 1 for Spud, and I think he will like it. He seems to really like doing the same stuff that Noodle does. He is enthusiastic about his math work, though, so far, so I hope he keeps liking that. I wish I could help him feel strong in this whole learning to read process. He is so worried about making mistakes that he gets worked up about even trying sometimes. It's hard.

Today they were both working on their math assignments (yay!) but then started fighting at the table. I thought, "Seriously? This is how it's going to be?" ::sigh:: Their fighting drives me to the edge. But they seem less affected by it than I am, and I need to figure out how to keep it as their problem.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


So, in case you are curious, what we ended up doing for summer was this:
Noodle continued reading aloud (some Encyclopedia Brown books and others) a few days almost every week, did a couple weeks more of Writing With Ease and a couple chapters of Math. Spud kept working on his Progressive Phonics flash cards and stories. Other than that, we've had a lot of unstructured time, so it's been good.

A few months back, we started checking out books on tape/CD for the kids to listen to at night, which Noodle absolutely loves. I think Spud falls asleep too fast most of the time to enjoy the stories much. Noodle just finished listening to all four books in the Dealing with Dragons series, and she told me last night that when she is ten, she wants to read all the books by herself. I think she chose age 10 because it seems far enough in the future that she feels like her ability will be up to it by then. I thought that was great, and I was so happy that she is so excited about the books. Books on tape have been great because I have a hard time carving out read-aloud time with them. We can usually get two or more picture books in during the day when we are "in school," but after history and the other reading I do with them, I'm tired. David typically reads a chapter to them at night from a book (they've done all the Chronicles of Narnia a couple times in Noodle's lifetime and are presently reading the 3rd Alcatraz book). But, her love for these Dragons books has really shown me the power of books on tape. She is so interested in them, which is awesome!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

we are still alive!!

Just busy! Homeschool stuff is going well, though I've kind of streamlined down to the essentials for now. I'm not getting a lot of "extra" books at the library for science or history, but we have consistently worked on our math and language arts. We are still doing our science and history, but without so much accessory stuff. Especially as the weather is nicer, I prefer to give the kids a lot of unstructured time. Plus, the first weekend of April Noodle got her new puppy, which she named Orbit. She wanted a space name, which I think was inspired by our current study of the Solar System and outer space. It's a great name for him, especially since he can and does run circles around the rest of us. That's been both fun and a little crazy.

I'm in the process of forming a boys' activity group. Last month, Spud's best friend moved to Colorado, and another family from our homeschool group (with 2 boys) moved to Idaho. Our group has kind of dwindled now, and it was small to begin with, so it either needs an influx of new blood or I've got to figure something else out. But the guy needs some more friends. There aren't a ton of boys his age in the neighborhood, really, and he is the sort who doesn't really feel comfortable just going places alone to play. I have gotten quite a few responses of interested moms, so I'm hopeful we'll be able to get something fun going soon.

Other than that, Noodle is now reading and enjoying the first Encyclopedia Brown book, which is fun for me since I really enjoyed those books as a kid, too. She and Spud have been playing Detective on and off the past week.

I'm trying to figure out what we'll do during summer. I know I want to keep Noodle moving forward on her Writing With Ease lessons (we started Book 2 last week) and the math, but I think we'll largely take a break from formal history and science. We are nearly at the end of Story of the World 1, and I think I'd rather just start Volume 2 in the fall. Maybe I'll get motivated during the summer and really prepare for some cool "extras". I'm not sure what we are doing for science next year. I think we might do Life Science, since I never did a formal thing with Noodle and Spud will be at a great age for that. I still need to do some research.

And here's Orbit, for your enjoyment.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Term D, Week 5 Report

We had a pretty good week last week. I hadn't gone to the library to get the extra books for our Science & History topics, but I figured it was not going to kill us NOT to learn extra. But since we were learning about Buddha, and I like Buddha a lot, I picked up some books near the end of the week, and we'll read those this week.

Noodle has been reading Rascal, a book from The Puppy Place series. (She finished it today.) I'd read her the first book in the series a couple of years ago, but we opted to start with this one (#4 in the series, we don't have #2 or #3), rather than reread the other one. She liked it, and I thought it was good because it actually has some training pointers. Since she'll be getting a puppy for her birthday this summer, it seems like a good idea to read some puppy related books. There weren't any pictures inside the text, but that didn't bother her too much after the initial disappointment wore off.

I also asked the librarian a couple of weeks ago for a selection of books at the level of the Rainbow Fairies and Puppy Place books, and the librarian was so helpful. Last week, I picked up some "graphic novel/comic book" style books for her to try. Today she read from Fashion Kitty versus the Fashion Queen for a half hour during Reading Time. That is something we started last week, too. We didn't do it every day because of some other schedule constraints, but we did it 3 times. I started with just 15 minutes, but soon bumped it up to 20. I think we'll stay at 20-30 for now. Spud looks at books or listens to Noodle read, and I read a book silently to myself, but I'm available to help Noodle with any words or meanings she needs explained. She was not super keen on the idea of MORE reading, but she seems to be warming up to it very nicely. I sure like it. I'm making steady progress through Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, and he's the reason that I felt okay getting Noodle these comic-type books to read. She is such a visual/picture-oriented kid that it seemed like a good fit. And Mr. Trelease says the most important thing is to get the kids hooked on books, even if those books aren't classic literature. If they develop the skills and stamina required, they will eventually be interested and able to read the classics. I read scores of Babysitters' Club books in grade school, and it didn't ruin me as a reader, so there must be something to that notion.

Oh, two weeks ago we attended a Lego Party at a homeschooler's home in the next town. I didn't know either of the other families who attended, but the kids had a great time and I really enjoyed talking to the other moms. We oddly had quite a bit in common. I guess similar types are often attracted to homeschooling. It was really fun, and the hosting mom said she'd like to do it again. The kids were introduced to Bionicles, which they now think are the coolest thing ever.

Last Saturday we went to a St Patrick's Day activity at a local learning center/preschool. Even though we had to wait quite a while for the "premier" attractions, the balloon guy and face painting, the kids had a fun time and I was glad we went. Plus, we found out today that Noodle's name was drawn in the drawing for a prize!

So, things are going well. We are trying to get outside on the warmer days. It gets up to low/mid-50s sometimes lately, so that's been nice.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Term D, Week 3 Report

Yeah, so I guess I missed Week 2.

This was another rough week, as I started out by getting absolutely NO sleep Sunday night. So, we spent the week kind of in survival mode, rather than Productive Mode. We got the basics done, though. We did manage to do one day of science and we finally got around to doing history today (it was originally scheduled for Tuesday!). We are studying Rome, and we learned about gladiators today, as well as about Roman construction/building. I had no idea that gladiators were slaves/POWs/criminals. Nor that they were so specific in their different types of gladiators. Nor did I know that they went to "gladiator school" in essentially a prison environment. All very interesting. Oh, and did you know these gladiator fights went on for SEVEN HUNDRED YEARS!?! Sometimes, when I think about the history of our own country, and how many people think we have gone so far astray of our founding, I have to think about the other nations/empires/etc that lasted so much longer. I wonder if the incredible advance of technology has sped up the process of weakening our national fiber. If we marched along more steadily in our advances, rather than in leaps and giant bounds, would we be able to keep more in line with our founding principles? Anyways, I digress.

So,we agreed to set aside some of our tax return for homeschooling materials, and I actually went down to the bank today and set up a separate account, just so I can track expenditures better. So now I am faced with the fun, but kind of daunting, task of deciding what we want most. We are planning to start Latin either this summer or next fall, so that is a definite. I also will need the next level of Writing With Ease. Oh, on a reporting note, we started doing the WWE1 lessons 2 per day, so we can get through the material faster. I guess Noodle should really be in WWE2 (and probably a bit further along in math) now, as a 2nd grader, so I think we will continue through summer with language arts and math, probably just 3x/week. I am sure other homeschoolers experience a similar "floundering" as they try and figure out what works best, and I know people's pproaches and methods evolve over time and depending on the child, but it can be unnerving to feel like you are trying to reinvent the wheel, but not just ANY wheel, a customized wheel tailored specifically to your child's unique gifts and abilities.

We have read a bunch of chapters of Inkheart the past couple of days. We started it over a year ago, and took MANY months off. I want to watch the movie with the kids, though, so we have recommitted ourselves to finishing it. Plus, I've started reading up in the playroom, so they can do other stuff while they listen instead of just sitting on the sofa. I think that makes a big difference for Spud. It's a good story, but I don't recommend it for a read-aloud simply because of the length. The language is quite descriptive, and the chapters are often long, and there are a lot of chapters. I think it would have a much better pace as a silent read.

Did I mention Noodle started the Math U See Beta book? I am excited for her to learn addition and subtraction of large numbers. I think that is kind of fun math to do. It's very orderly, but you do have a sense of accomplishment at the end because you have been dealing with BIG numbers! I told her as much this week. We'll see if I can spark some enthusiasm from her. She's not a big fan of math right now, which I think is too bad because it comes to her rather easily. Though she does like it now that I set a timer for 30 minutes, and if she finishes her math work in that amount of time, we will play a game of her choosing for 10 minutes, plus whatever time is left out of the 30. I've been teaching her to play Racko.

Noodle finished the last (seventh) Rainbow Fairy book this week, and while we have some of the Pet Fairies from the library, we are taking a fairy break and reading Rascal, from the Puppy Place series. It seems appropriate, since she is going to be getting her very own dog in a few months. She's enjoying it so far. We own a few of them, so it seemed like a good choice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Term D, Week 1 Report

This was a ROUGH week. We had a couple different activities going on (Noodle had Imagination Club on Wednesday and we had a homeschool co-op President's Day party on Thursday), and silly me decided to get creative at the last possible minute and make up little Valentiney things. We made bean-bag hearts for all the kids in Imagination Club, and Teddy Roosevelt valentines (he was our selected president to share information about) for the co-op kids. So, we did very little actual "school" on W/Th.

Other than that, we started our Space half of our Earth Science study. Hopefully we can have some fun with it. Space is always so fascinating to kids.

In history this week we did the People of the Americas. The Story of the World does a good job to point out that the reason we don't know much about these people is because we don't have written records. I guess some of the Central American people did keep written records, but we don't know how to read them. It was kind of an epiphany to me to realize that. Yeah, I should have thought of it earlier, but it hit me in a different way. I guess that's why we are encouraged to keep a our existence is documented. Hopefully the internet and Google are here to stay (*wink*) and my blog will live on after my demise....future generations can read my random thoughts, I will speak like a voice from the dust! Or whatever.

Also, Sprout had about a five day streak of TERRIBLE nights. By Wednesday, I felt like the living dead. I ended up going to bed at 8:30 Wednesday night, and I felt human once again on Thursday. Then David had to go to bed at 8:30 on Thursday night. He seems to be over the worst of it (he had a fever for a couple nights and a horrendously runny nose). So, hopefully next week we will be back on track.

I have been reading the Charlotte Mason series in Modern English and while I don't think I'm likely to go full boar Charlotte Mason, there are some things that I would really like to incorporate into our homeschool. I want to have a more rich literature environment. To that end, I made a goal for us to read 100 books this term. Seeing as we are one week into the term and only have five books read (remember how this week kicked my trash?), this might have been a bit ambitious. Heck, the kids and I have been puttering our way through Inkheart for over a year now. David reads to the kids every night (unless it's a late movie night) from novels, so they are a bit slower pace than required for our book list. And I read various poems and stories from compilation books and the like, but those won't count as full books for this chart. So you can see that it is going to be a bit of a stretch. Oh well. And we already lost the chart and I'm printing a new one. ::sigh:: Such is life.

I am trying to prep the "spare room" for David's sisters to move in at the end of the month. Which has not been easy, since it was my craft/sewing room, plus it's where we keep Sprout's diapers and clothes. I'm not sure where his stuff will go. My stuff has been moved down to the office or will go out to the garage, which means some garage stuff needs to make it's way back to the shed. I'm also trying to purge stuff, which is a painful and slow process for me. I'm getting better...

Oh, one other thing that was crazy this week: some homeschooling mom friends and I decided to do a Preschool Activities in a Bag swap, and even though we met the end of November and divvied it all out, I was working on things up through the very last day. But I did finish them. I'm actually quite excited for the activities, as I think they will be fun for Spud, even though he is kind of advanced as far as "preschool" goes. I think he'll like the hands-on stuff, though he doesn't need the letters/numbers so much.

Oh yeah, I started teaching Spud (and Noodle since she likes to join in) a Skip Counting by 2s song to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. You go up to 30. This blog has song suggestions for different skip-counting songs.

Noodle finished Math U See Alpha at the end of Term C, and the rest of our Beta materials came this week, so we will be delving into that next week. She told me that since math is her least favorite, she'd rather do it last. Then she thought about it and said she'd rather have it first so it would be done with for the day. Smart girl. In order to promote doodle-free and dallying-free work, we have started playing a quick game (Racko, Blink, Guess Who?, UNO, Mastermind, etc) if she finished her math assignments in a set time. Anything she doesn't finish, she will need to do later in the day as "homework". After sitting down and thinking about just how much time I thought we should be spending in the different subjects each day, I decided it was silly that it seemed to take us so long to get through things. I know there are interruptions (especially with Sprout), but I wanted to get things a bit more streamlined. I timed a lot of our subjects this week, so I have a better idea of how long things take. I'd like to be finished with the main stuff by lunch, and only have Science or History to do after lunch, and maybe her piano practice.

Well, this is a long and rambling post. But maybe it makes up for my absence the last, oh, forever. I don't think I blogged a single update during term C.

One more thing I want to do once the weather turns nice: I think I'd like to have a weekly day "in nature", and I think I want to spend it up the canyon. We have some great parks. The kids can take their scooters (our bikes won't fit in our widdle car) and we can go on the trail and have a picnic...I think it would be a lot of fun. I tell myself it is too far and gas costs too much, but I think it would be <25 miles round trip (and quite a bit less, depending on which park we choose), and even at $3/gallon, that only would work out to be about $3 an outing, since our car gets about 30-33 mpg. So, totally worth it! And cheaper than most other things we could do!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

bad day gotcha down?

Reading this and knowing that she wrote a whole BOOK on homeschooling makes me feel like we are probably doing okay. :o)

Monday, January 18, 2010

grammar worksheets

For grammar, we use the text First Language Lessons, but occasionally it is nice to have a worksheet for a little extra review. Here are two good worksheet sources:

Worksheet Works

Scott Foresman Reading Teacher Resources

good intentions...

I keep WANTING to post to this blog. We are having school! It's going well. The first week back after the break was a bit rough, but not too bad. Two more weeks until the end of our 3rd term, which means we are half way through our year! Whoo hoo!

Last week I hosted a homeschooling moms support group. We had a really good turn out, and I think that the women found it useful and enjoyable. I am planning on meeting every other month.

I've also been doing some intensive clutter-reduction and such, which is what has taken most of my free time. So I don't know that I'll get the updates done for the past two weeks. We have been learning more about the Greek gods & goddesses, and I have to recommend this great book by Aliki. Nice pictures, good information. I learned (maybe relearned) a lot, and Noodle really enjoyed it as well. We also watched Jim Henson's The Storyteller about Greek Myths. That was fun, too.

We are wrapping up our Earth Science study (soon moving on to space) and I am trying to figure out some activities for us to do as earth-saving folks. I got a book that has a bunch of ideas for kids to do, and we already do a lot of them. But there is always room for improvement. I do know that I want to start a regular habit of taking a grocery bag with us when we go on walks or to parks so we can pick up litter. I hate seeing trash in beautiful places (or anywhere, really).

So yeah, there's the two minute update. Better than nothing!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

good ideas!

Articles at Magical Childhood

I came across this page and skimmed a few articles. Some great ideas, both schooling related and some just general mothering/parenting stuff. For example, in the "article" Simple ways to make tonight special, it says "Go outside and teach your toddler (or older!) to howl at the moon," also, "Serve some chocolate milk or juice in fancy goblets and sit and talk for a few minutes at the table as you sip from them."

I don't know if you've ever heard of Sark, but I own a lot of her books. (You've probably seen her posters, titled such things as "How to Be An Artist" and such.) Anyways, I used to feel so creative and alive, and I loved her books and ideas on how to "live juicy". I feel like I totally suck at this now that I'm a mom. I don't want to feel like a stick in the mud. I want to feel ALIVE!! Every once in a while I capture it, and I have some sense of really living, but it's hard. I'm working steadily to get rid of STUFF. I feel like if I have less stuff to take care of, I can spend more time on what I want to do. It's a hard process for me, though. Baby steps, I suppose.

Anyways, one of my goals this year is to be more ALIVE and have more fun with the kids. I don't want to wait until I'm a grandma to be able to enjoy kids more. I want to do it more now.