Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Holiday Staff Luncheon

Every year my hubby makes deviled eggs for his holiday party at work. Everyone takes a break and enjoys lunch together.

My parents cater a pizza or deli meat luncheon for their employees.

My dear friend, Debbie, who went back to teaching preschool this year had a lovely staff party at Carrabbas.

So I got to thinking. I went back to "work" as a teacher this year too! (not that I hadn't been teaching this 3 precious little ones for the first 5 years of their lives) But this year it was official. I was a teacher with a kindergarten student.

I decided that a Staff Luncheon would be a lovely idea!

I called a dear friend and fellow homeschooling mommy and we met for lunch at a local restaurant. (on the day that also happened to be my birthday...nice) We sat over a 3 hour lunch and talked about life, our walk with God, and "work". It was so nice to just chat freely for hours about educating our kids, following God's calling on our lives, and life in general.

No interruptions.


It's gonna be a yearly tradition. And yes, I think we'll plan an end of the year luncheon as well!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shiller Math Update

We use Shiller Math and I have been very happy with it. The K-3 grade math consists of three math workbooks (teacher and student) that cover the math curriculum for the four year period, though I have been told it is typical to be finished at the end of second grade.

It is a Montessori based program that builds on itself. The spiraling of activities is well done throughout the guides. Each time a topic/skill is re-introduced, a little more depth is added to it.

It isn't like anything I have seen so it is difficult to gauge a "math level", but that really doesn't matter, does it? We continue to work at K's (age 6) pace and I think we have finally caught up to her actual level at this point so we might have to go a bit slower.

We completed Book One last week and she took the final test. I am giving her the rest of 2008 "off" from math as she is well ahead of her "grade level".

Skills covered in Book One and some notes on them for myself:

1. Comparing numbers. We have compared numbers from day one in this book. We have used unit cubes, dominoes, and the bucket balance to do so. I love this because it establish a great foundation in number sense. I am quite confident in K's (age 6) ability in this area.

2. Equations in adding up to the sum of three and subtracting with the highest number used being 3. (whew...I think that is the best way to say it...LOL) K is doing great with adding and subtracting, including writing equations to represent word problems. The numbers have remained small, but they have already introduced missing addends, multi-step word problems and equations, as well as having the empty "answer box" on the left and the equation on the right. The only thing that threw her off a bit was seeing the equations written "backwards", meaning having the blank space for the answer on the left and the problem to solve on the right.
The final test also included a word problem that I thought was a bit tough for her, as well as "above" most of the practice problems we had completed. She was supposed to write an equation to represent, "Mrs. Peacock has one more seat in her car than Mr. Marley and Mr. Marley has two seats in his car." I had to walk her through this one.

3. Patterns. There has been a lot of emphasis on patterns through numbers and pictures. Kayleigh is doing well and on her test recognized very easily the pattern, "a quarter turn". She recognizes skip counting patterns quickly as well, though the "skip counting 2, starting with 1" through her off. (1, 3, 5, 7...) She can complete patterns pretty easily so far.

4. Geometry. We have gone over equilateral and isosceles triangles. WE have also had to do a lot of "which doesn't belong" with a group of shapes. They have emphasised number of sides or curved only, etc. She does well with Geometry.

4. Random Stuff.
Solo. Duet. Trio. This book includes the names of groupings like this. She is still a bit confused on duet. We need to use the terms more during the day. She was also asked to name things that come in a trio. That one is tough! (examples were stoplight lights, tricycle wheels) We are just incorporating these terms into our school day as I remember to keep reviewing them.
Roman Numerals. We have accomplished the numerals up to III.
Odd vs. Even. We need to keep reviewing these terms. She hadn't seen them in awhile. She was given the numbers, "2, 4, 6, 8" and asked to name the type of numbers. Her answer was "skip counting 2's" so I then asked if they were odd or even because her answer was correct. I wanted to see if she knew odd or even. She got it right, but I suspect it was a guess.
Ordinal Numbers. Book one went over these up to "Fourth". She knows these terms well.
Function Machines. There were a few basic lessons on function machines, though that is not what they call them yet. The book refers to them as "magic boxes" which have a rule. Something is put in, the rule is applied, and the answer comes out. She likes these and does well with them.

Overall, I am really happy with this curriculum. I was a bit scared to teach my own children math because that is my background. I wasn't sure how I would like the curriculum's out there. But I love this one.

It is like NOTHING I have ever seen and it isn't the way I taught (or was taught). I find it strange that we have only done addition up to 3, yet have learned equilateral and isosceles triangles. But it makes a lot of sense to me. She is really learning the basics is ALL areas of math.

I also think this guide uses a variety of manipulatives and gives an excellent basis in number sense. I saw WAY too many older elementary students and middle school students who lacked basic number sense, so this is really important to me. I know how important it is for success in mathematics.

In January, we will begin Book 2. I have a feeling we will move a bit slower through this book and I have no problem with that. There is no reason to rush any subject! I look forward to beginning the next book to see how this curriculum keeps developing.

*side note - If you are "new" to homeschooling and have young kids like I do. This curriculum is a great investment because you can purchase 5 years of free downloads for $50. You can download the current guides at anytime and print a copy for the next child. So while the initial investment was a bit expensive. That is it. I won't have to buy anything else for any child in this house. The guides are saved in my email and we can just print them as we need them!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Better off with me?

This pregnancy has made me feel a bit nauseous and quite tired during the day. Sometimes I worry about the fact the kids are home with me instead of at school with a vibrant, energetic teacher and a room full of other kids.

I try to keep us going in math and reading as much as possible.

But the other day I found myself laying on the floor while the girls were playing. I mentioned math to K (age 6) and she said, "OK, but first I want to do a show for you." She proceeded to use a bunch of little stuffed dogs, some rescue heroes, and her dollhouse to perform a 20 minute self-created narration for T (age 4) and I.

She used phrases such as, "...and the dog scampered up the side of the house," and "He peered into the windows."

I listened to her story telling and her growing vocabulary while I laid there for 20 minutes. God used that time to give me an amazing sense of peace about her being home with me even in the midst of my exhaustion. It was a beautifully creative, imaginative, and fun use of her time.

After that, we continued playing and watched a show.

I decided there would be time for math another day. On that day, we enjoyed the creativity of childhood.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanksgiving Craft Day

During the holidays I sometimes find myself "concerned" that my kids aren't at school doing all that fun holiday stuff: making crafts, having parades and parties, etc. You know, all the stuff I loved about school! I begin to think they'd be having more fun there then they are at home.

Which could be true some days. But they are home with me, so it really doesn't matter, huh?

SO, instead of wallowing in my concerns, I decided to host a Thanksgiving craft time with some of our homeschool friends. I found two crafts the kids could make and all of the moms brought snacks.

In a effort to get in the spirit, I made Pilgrim Hat snacks. Which is pretty impressive for me because I am NOT a kitchen person. In all honesty, I am not a crafty person which I why I invite friends because that seems to make it more fun and doable.

We started by making the Pilgrim Hat because it was a bit more difficult. The mom's had to do a lot of the measuring, stapling, and taping.

Then we worked on making Indian Headresses. We used paper feathers, real feathers, and sequins to make them sparkle a bit.

Of course there was food involved.

The group tried on their pilgrim hats before leaving.

The final product was worn on Thanksgiving Day.

Without a doubt those are the two cutest Indians girls I have seen around these parts!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cranberry Thanksgiving Art

One fun activity we did during our FIAR study of the book, Cranberry Thanksgiving by Harry Devlin, was to experiment with warm and cool colors in our paintings, just as the illustrator does. As evening falls in the book, the hues and colors used in the sky change. We talked about this and they tried it ourselves.

We used warm colors (red, yellow, orange) to create a daytime sky.

Next we painted the same scene using cool colors (purple, blue, green) to create a nighttime sky.

I know it made an impression on the girls. We are now in mid-December and K (age 6) began using cool colors for her sky in a coloring yesterday to show that it was nighttime.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wonders of God's Creation Video Series

We purchased this video series this weekend at the Family Christian Bookstores. I took a chance on it because I had never heard of it at all. I hoped it would be educational as well as kid friendly.

The series is called, "Wonders of God's Creation", and includes 6 DVD's (totalling over 10 hours of video) on topics from the galaxy to the animal kingdom, to forces of nature, to human development.

I reminded me of something you'd watch on the Discovery Channel, yet this appeared to have a Christian "spin" on the topics.

It is normally $59.99, but was on sale for $29.99. AND this weekend the Family Christian Bookstores have put out a 25% off coupon, so you can purchase the series for $23. So I took a chance.

I am SO GLAD that I did. We have watched the Animal Kingdom video and some of the Astronomy video. Each topic begins with a 5 minute talk about God being revealed in his creation, which includes appropriate scripture. Each DVD topic ends with an appropriate reflection on the imprint of God upon creation.

Now, the actual videos have been filled with amazing images and fasinating and informative information!

Did you know that all Monarch butterflies head south to California or Mexico for the winter. ALL of the Northern Monarchs gather in these two locations and the footage of millions of them clinging to the trees is amazing! They look like the leaves! My girls loved it!

And the information on the lives of bees was fascinating. We got to see the Scout bee return to the hive and communicate through a series of dances and shakes. He communicated the taste of the nectar he found (and distributed samples) as well as the LOCATION! It was so cool.

We are midway through our Solar System. Tomorrow we'll head to the Gas Giants and explore. The girls are pretending that they are on a space shuttle.

Clearly, we are loving these so far so I thought I'd pass on a heads up on the sale. I haven't watch the human development one to see how much is revealed, so I can't speak to that. I intend to preview it before the kids view it. And I can't wait to watch the forces of nature!

Field Trip: Sharp's Farm

Our Classical Conversations co-op took a field trip to Sharp's Farm - a pilgrim farm in the area. Here we all are...who says homeschoolers don't socialize? *wink

We began with a really neat corn maze. At each choice in the maze, there was a question to answer. You were given two choices as answers, each with a direction of which way to head next. If you got the right answers, you made it through the maze. My girls had a blast with this!

We had some time to feed the animals in between activities.

All aboard for the hayride!

It provided a nice sit down moment for the moms!

We went right through the creek, which the kids loved!

I truly love experiencing these activities and days with my girls! (D - age 22 months - was experiencing a wonderful day with grandma due to the length of field trip)

The day ended with a rotation to various speakers and activities. We learned about the ways of the Indians...

life as a pilgrim...

and about games the pilgrim children played. This last station was the favorite for my kids!

It was a bit long for little T (age 4), but she hung in there until the last speaker. Then she chose to sit outside with me while K (age 6) sat in with group. We had a great day and perfect weather!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


So, at the beginning of the year I created a lovely daily schedule for us to follow:

Wake up and get dressed. Everyone should be downstairs by...
9 AM - breakfast
9:30 AM - morning chore (rotates daily)
10:00 AM - morning board
10:30 AM - snack/Read Aloud Time
- Literature and Activity (from FIAR)
11:30ish - Handwriting then Free time
12:30 - Lunch and PM chore
1:30 - Quiet Play
2:30 - Math and Phonics

Really, it looked so good on paper. But it has never worked out. Everything was going great initially except that Handwriting was moved to the afternoon with Math and Phonics.

Then the chores got to difficult to do with a toddler at my feet. They include bathroom cleaning upstairs on M, T, and R. It was never getting done.

Then bible study began on Tuesday AM's and Classical Conversations began on Wednesday AM's. That totally screwed up the morning because we had to be out of the house. Our Morning Board wasn't getting done on those days and neither were the chores.

I decided on Wednesdays we wouldn't do anything in the afternoon. CC was enough. You'd think I could get a chore done, but found myself napping from the busy day and then playing with the kids.

Then I realized that I have three children. The oldest one is 6. Not much about my days are predictable.

Quiet play time has never worked out too well.

Then I got pregnant. And TIRED. So everything fell apart. I have been consistent with math, phonics, and handwriting. I consider these the essentials of kindergarten. We backed off so much other "stuff" as we just enjoyed literature and some basic interacting with it.

Quiet time in the afternoon has turned into 1 hour of a TV show while mommy sleeps, crashed out on the sofa. (Did I mention this pregnancy has me tired?)

I guess I still like the schedule and hope to go back to it. I have NO goals of returning in 2008. I am going to take the holiday season easy as we do our Jesse Tree and study Advent. But I would like to kick off January with a return to scheduling.

Now, anyone have any good suggestions on how this works with little ones in your house? Especially the chores. I'd like to see them more involved, but it is tough to juggle!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quarter Update Fall 2008

So it appears to be that time of year for parent teacher conferences. I summed up the academic thoughts from my conference. You know, with myself...

Hymns - We learned about 4 of our hymns so far. The girls are familiar with "Holy, Holy, Holy", "A mighty Fortress is our God", "This is my Father's World", and "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing". We learned at least the first verse of all of them. "This is my Father's World" lent itself nicely to sign language, so the girls learned how to sign the first verse. I have to admit that "A mighty Fortress" is a tough hymn in terms of vocabulary and understanding. The devotionals helped out, but boy is a tough one! We'll continue learning, "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing" this month.

Memory Work - We completed A-G in our, "ABC bible verses" book. The girls also memorized The Lord's Prayer and John 1:1-7. We are working on 4 verses for the season of Advent and taking a break from the ABC bible verses. K has memorized the books of the Old Testament for her bible class.

Devotionals - We continue to work through, "Leading Little Ones to God" at dinnertime. We'll probably repeat it again next year.

K has continued to work through Book 1, of Shiller Math. I love this curriculum, though it is not traditional at all. The short lessons work well for her at this age. We have worked on the basic math symbols as well as greater than or equal to and less than or equal to symbols. We have started some basic addition, even doing 4 digits without regrouping. She is on lesson 182(ish) and will finish Book One by Christmas.

K continues to work through the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. She took off reading so quickly, so the lessons feel "below" her skill level, but I have no doubt that reviewing phonics rules will benefit her in the future. I can already see improvement.

We finished Explode the Code book 1 and are about halfway through Book 2.

We have taken a break from OPG and ETC twice to complete units in Modern Curriculum Press Plaid Phonics Program, Level B. She has started Unit 2 and we will finish it in December.

K is almost finished the Handwriting Without Tears - Letters and Numbers for Me. I see a huge improvement in her use of lower case as well as her letter formation. We still have a few to drill into her head, such as the letter "O" which she wants to begin at the bottom instead of the top and a few numbers she continues to write backwards. BUT this is all typical for Kindergarten, so I have no concerns.

We'll go ahead and move on to "My Printing Power" (level 1st grade) after the holidays to continue to reinforce manuscript.

We have completed several literature studies from Five in a Row, as well as several from Homeschool Share. We took a 2 week break to study Autumn and a 2 week break to study Thanksgiving using various literature sources. Our 2 weeks of poetry were a favorite of mine, so I hope to do more.

Map - K (age 6) has memorized all 50 states and capitals. She is currently working on mountain ranges through the US. While the physical features will be added bonuses as she learns them at CC, I plan to keep reviewing the states and capitals next quarter to make sure she knows the locations.

Events - The girls memorized 12 history sentences describing key events from 1492 (Columbus) to 1865 (end of the Civil War). They are all part of our CC Memory Work, and thankfully they are songs!

We completed unit studies on Johnny Appleseed, Columbus, and are currently studying the Pilgrims.

Our first 6 weeks at CC incorporated Science Experiments about Anatomy and the workings of our bodies. During our second 6 weeks, the girls built models of their bodies using the book, My Body. They really enjoyed this!

We have done various studies during our literature studies as well, everything from bouancy to Mallard Ducks. One of the most yummy studies was our study of the phases of the moon during our poetry unit. We used oreos to create the moon phases! (see picture)

The girls also learned a memory sentence each week in the topic of anatomy. I can't say we focused on mastery of these sentences, but certainly gained familiarity.

Other Memory Work
I have come up with some memory work that I think is important for kindergarteners, which we do instead of the Latin and English at CC. This quarter we have memorized our address, phone number, mom's cell, dad's cell, and the days of the week. We are currently working on dad's work number and the months of the year.

We spent 6 weeks on Drawing at CC. The girls do various crafts and activities at home, but we really haven't followed a good program for this. We pull a lot of the FIAR art activities in our unit studies. I think this is adequate for kindergarten. A favorite was creating the same scene twice, one time we used warm colors so it looked like daytime. The second time we used cool colors to make it appear to be evening. (Cranberry Thanksgiving activity)

The girls completed 6 weeks of music theory at CC. I hope to follow up on this after the holidays.

We learned about the food pyramid, following the goals for the local public school kindergarteners.

Physical Education
This summer K (age 6) learned to ride her bike without training wheels. We used to take a 1 mile walk to the village center and back weekly. Now that it is winter, we aren't doing that. They girls have been in ballet since September and love it!

That about sums it up. Somedays it feels like we get so little accomplished, but when you look back it is so nice to see how much you have done!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When You Rise Up: A book review

I borrowed this book, "When you Rise Up," by R.C. Sproul Jr. (RC) from a friend who recommended it highly! I immediately recognized the title from a fellow blogger's reading list and was looking forward to reading it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It challenged my thinking about homeschooling on so many levels. Now I find that several days later, I am still processing through some of the author's thoughts. There is no way I could cover every thing that is on my mind from this book! There is TOO MUCH good stuff!

Oh how I enjoy a book that challenges me to THINK! Clearly, I highly recommend this book if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling. It will really help guide your purposes as you lay them out before God.

I will say that R.C. Sproul Jr. is extremely passionate about the responsibility of Christian parents to homeschool their covenant children. He doesn't sugar coat it and doesn't mince words. As a result, he did help me feel more secure and firm about my decision to homeschool. I may not agree with every conclusion he has drawn, but his book gave me a lot to think about.

In no particular order, here are some of the thoughts that I have been processing due to this book:

1. Psalm 78: 1-8. This passage was referred to throughout the book. What struck me from the passage was, "...Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God..."

I had never really thought about the fact that I am training my children to tell their children about God. I guess I know that, but never really pondered it deeply. I want to train my children, give them such a secure theological foundation and a biblical worldview that they can communicate and teach their own children. It is one thing to know something, yet another thing to be able to communicate it.

2. Curriculum. R.C. Sproul emphasizes that the Bible is our central curriculum. It isn't just a subject we sprinkle into the day. It isn't something we do for 10-15 minutes in the morning and check it off our list.

Once again, this is something I know, but don't always act upon. It is new to me to think of education in a biblical worldview. He emphasizes the the entire goal of academia is to glorify God and come to know Him better. I admit that I never looked at it that way in my own studies. I just did math, science, or history without seeing it as it relates to God.

I want to change this for my kids. I want them to see God more clearly as a result of their academic studies. As we study math (my personal favorite), I want them to recognize that math belongs to God. He invented math and rules over it. It is always objective and speaks truth because God is truth. Our academic studies should draw us closer to God and bring glory to Him.

In all honesty, I have a lot of praying and studying to do in this area. It was never part of my view of academics and I am not sure how to communicate it to my kids effectively, but that doesn't mean I won't pray for the wisdom to do so. This thought drives me to my knees in prayer...that my children might see God's hand in all of their studies and that I will be equip to guide them in this journey.

This is a great reason to have my children home with me and I have decided to focus on it. The local public school, while excellent in academics, can NOT give my children this sort of worldview.

3. How I measure up. R.C. Sproul challenged Christian parents to STOP measuring their children by the world's standards! He challenged homeschooling parents to stop defending homeschooling by the world's standards. It should not surprise us that homeschoolers are successful academically, but we should not feel the need to defend our choice by quoting the SAT scores of homeschoolers.

We don't homeschool because "my kids can be better than your kids, by your standards" because we aren't called to live by the world's standards. God calls me to raise Godly children who may or may not excel in the eyes of the world, but I am more interested in Godly children than smart children.

Granted, my children might be called to be brilliant doctors, Harvard Graduates, or even president one day. And I fully intend to prepare them to the best of my ability for any door God opens in their lives. I hope that by homeschooling I can better prepare them for the paths God has laid out for them.

But Harvard Graduates, brilliant doctors, and presidents are not my goal. Only God will direct those final outcomes as I prepare their hearts to follow Him completely and I educate them to walk through the doors He opens in their lives.

My goal is children who love the Lord and know the the secret to the good life is only found in following Him. In this house, we will celebrate the 6 year old who spends her own birthday money to get herself AND her little sister magnet dolls rather then getting herself two gifts. We'll rejoice in the sister who comforts and loves her brother when he falls down. And we'll encourage the child who takes compassion on those around her rather then trampling them on the way to the top. We will celebrate these moments above high reading levels and glowing math scores.

I am more convince after reading this book that having my children at home will give me an advantage in helping me equip my kids to celebrate their success in the eyes of God rather than the eyes of the world.

4. I am fully equipped! The bible declares that I am fully equipped for every good work that God has planned for me. It is my responsiblity to raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, since I feel a strong call from the Lord to homeschool my children in order to raise them in the nuture and admonition of the Lord, I can rest assured that I am fully equipped to do so.

I will NOT allow myself to believe the lies that sometimes creep into my head. I will NOT believe that the local school system can do a better job educating my child. I am fully committed to following God's calling in this area and He will equip me to do the the job my children need me to do!

I will NOT believe that some aspect of the very child God has given me is better suited for school rather than home. Too often comments I hear plant thoughts in my mind that if I have a certain type of child, they'd be better off in a school environment. I am not going to buy into it! My children are going to be successful at home with me whether they are shy, outgoing, introverted, extroverted, athletic, musical or rambuncious! God will help me to provide what they need for their individual personalities in a way that guides them to His calling on their lives.

Clearly, the book has also driven me to my knees for continual guidance while educating my children. Because the calling can be completely overwhelming as any parent can relate to.

I am going to stop there. I will add that there was SO MUCH MORE in this book but I'll never get my thoughts published at this rate! I think I will read it again over the summer to give me focus before the next year of homeschooling.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here's a Little Poem: Unit I (Week 10/6-10/10)

We took a break from our Five in a Row unit studies to spend a week reading and studying poetry. Poetry happens to be a FAVORITE topic of mine, so I was excited to introduce my children to the world of poetry.

We used this unit study from homeschool share and did the first three lessons. The kids had a blast studying rhyme, repetition, and onomatopoeia!

Now I learned onomatopeoia in middle school and remember it to this day because my teacher played us a song about it. I can still sing that song in my head, at least the chorus, so I went on a search for it at the library.

I thought I found it, but was wrong. But it didn't matter because the song I found was GREAT and the girls love it! The Fingernail Fairy CD by Peter McCory has a song called, "Onomatopoeia" and it is AWESOME! If your library has it, it is well worth borrowing during your own poetry unit. My girls will not forget onomatopoeia!

The best part of the week was when K (age 5) randomly wrote her own poem. The girls were playing with GeoTrax and she came in the room and said, "I made up my own poem!"

Clickety-Clack Clickety-Clack
A train goes past.
Clickety-Clack Clickety-Clack
I love to watch the trains.

Not bad kiddo! Fabulous repetition and onomatopeoia.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bible Study

Tuesday has become a favorite day for all of us! It is bible study day and we love it.

This bible study has been a HUGE blessing for our homeschooling year. I knew it was going to be great, but I truly didn't realize how wonderful it would be.

For a long time I had looked into women's bible study's during the day, but the timing didn't work out, or they didn't have childcare for children under 2. I had been particularly interested in BSF (bible study fellowship) for the amazing children's program I heard about, but the childcare didn't include children under 2.

It's been a long time since I haven't had a child under 2.

I knew this year was going to be impossible (so I thought) to find a bible study because I had to have childcare for a little boy under 2 as well as a big girl who "should be in school all day". At least most studies assume that and don't have anything for homeschooled children.

Thankfully I live in a AMAZINGLY active homeschool area! And this year a very large community church up the road added a bible study for homeschool students that takes place during the Tuesday morning women's study!

That means mommy goes to study.

D (age 22 months) goes to childcare.

T (age 4) goes to childcare.

K (age 5) goes to bible class.

We all LOVE it! Every classroom has their lessons and memory work. On week one, we were given a schedule of bible stories for each classroom. Even little D colors a sheet and hears a little story each week.

T and K come out of their rooms bubbling over with excitement about their lessons.

I have been quite thrilled with the homeschool bible class. The kids are given 1/2 hour to do independent homework as everyone arrives. K is able to get phonics and handwriting done! Then they have a bible story, using the Veritas Bible Cards, Genesis through Joshua, which are exactly the resource we are using at CC!!!! (love it!) K also has craft time and game time at class. This allows her some time to play the "traditional school yard games" such as sharks and minnows and freeze tag.

Believe it or not, I worry that she'll "miss out" on games like that, so I am thrilled she is playing them! (oh the things we worry about...)

K is given homework each week, including memory work. Right now she is memorizing the books of the Old Testament for class. She also receives a few optional worksheets. And the teacher is fabulous about emailing the sections of the bible to review and read.

AND, I love my study! The group clicked well on week 1. The study is in-depth and goes beyond the "come back with all of these retorical questions answered" type of study.

We love Tuesday in this house and I pray that the church is able to continue this for a long time to come!

(if you live in my area, email me and I'll give you the exact church and information for next year!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homeschool Share

A fellow homeschooling mom recommended the website, Homeschool Share, to me.


Let me pass on the recommendation that you go to this site! There is a wealth of information, resources, and links.

If you are using any volume of Five in a Row, then you'll be interested in the FIAR resource section.

The unit study section is another favorite of mine! Just click on the age you are teaching and go to a list of literature titles appropriate for that age group. Click on a title and you are given an entire unit study, complete with links, worksheets, and extensions.

Take some time to explore the site. We have found it quite useful this year. In fact, as I sit at this machine, I am using this site to plan a study on Curious George next week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lentil: Weekly Highlights (9/29-10/3)

A few highlights of our week:

We studied the book, Lentil by Robert McCloskey. In the story, the town decides to celebrate the return of the town's "most important citizen", Colonel Carter.

We used the military connection in combination with our Kids with Purpose Guide to serve the men and women in our military with letters! We talked about how sad it would be to be so far from your family for so long. Then we discussed how great it would feel to get a letter or package. Our KWP guide suggested using the site, Any Soldier, to get names and addresses. It was an excellent, up-to-date site, with great information!

Each of the girls wrote a letter:

T drew herself with the soldiers. I just thought that was so precious...

K's letter:

Then we colored in an American Flag on the back and included photos of the kids:

The girls really enjoyed this. Of course, we hope to get an email or note back, but we explained to them that we might not. The soldiers have a lot of things they are doing to fight for our country and for the freedom of those in other countries.

Definitely a favorite activity so far!

Handwriting. K (age 5) finished the upper case manuscript in HWT. I assume she is doing fine...that's the hard part about that handwriting "average" for kindergarten or is she WAY OFF?

T decided to give it a try:

Art. We discussed horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines. (diagonal was on the back)

K really improved her abilities to copy the design:

T (age 4) gave it a whirl as well:

It was a fun week. I feel like we have found a bit of a groove, but continue to work on it each week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

State Dinner Night

One of the goals for the girls this year is to memorize the US states and capitals. We work on five a week and they officially know more than their mommy. This week put me over the edge with several states that I didn't know. (darn midwest....sorry my fellow Missouri residents)

We wanted to have some fun with this, so every Friday night we host a state dinner using recipes from the book, "Eat your way through the USA." The book includes recipes for a entire meal from each US state. A main dish, side dish, and dessert are provided. We occasionally add in a salad or bread to round out the meal.

It's been fun to invite family and friends over on Friday night! I think it's a tradition we'll stick with because it kicks off the weekend with some fun. Not to mention, it forces this non-cook to have some fun in the kitchen.

We have eaten our way through 6 states and must say:

Mississippi - We loved your mud! It was the most decadent dessert yet! Plus, as one who dislikes the kitchen, I had no idea I could make chicken and dumplings from scratch. I was quite proud of that meal and boy was it yummy!

Maine - We are so thankful you produce so much lobster for us! The casserole was delicious!

Kentucky - We don't often eat such artery clogging sandwiches, but boy was my hubby thrilled to eat the Hot Browns. (turkey, bacon, melted cheese on crusty french bread...)

Missouri - Yes, we agree that chili and mac and cheese do go great together. YUM!

New Jersey - Thank you for putting all those summer blueberries to good use. We loved that cobbler.

New Hampshire - While the adults enjoyed the Roasted Corn Chowder, I believe your Orange Juice Cake was the favorite for the kids!

We can't wait to visit the rest of the states. We'll continue our dinners until we run out of dinner options that our family will enjoy.

And since dessert is clearly the favorite part of the meal in EVERY state, we have already determined that when we run out of dinners we will DESSERT our way through the USA!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Book Recommendations

We are quite busy, but having a ball! I am behind in my updates and may or may not keep up with them. But I did want to pass on two book titles that we have run across and LOVE!

We are doing a poetry unit this week from the site, homeschool share. The entire unit is based on poems from this book. We LOVE this book. My girls adore the poems and didn't want me to stop reading the book at all. We completed most of the book on Monday, but continue to read and reread! They are fun, silly, smart, and PERFECT for younger kids!

We were having a blast reading the poems and then came to a poem titled, "August Ice Cream Cone."



We all cracked up immediately at that little poem. Perfect! (Most are longer) From bubble bees, to city noise, to the beach, this book has it all covered!

Another favorite for the last few weeks has been this book. The Scrambled States of America is hilarious. Basically, Kansas decides that he is bored in the middle of the US and decides to host a party to meet all of the states. At the party, they all decide to switch places, which of course does not work out. The side conversations in this book are hilarious and will keep an adult entertained as well as the kiddos.

Like Nevada asking Mississippi, "How would you like to become Mrs. Sippi?"

Yes, it is dry humor but quite clever. The girls love the story and the silly jokes. We HIGHLY recommend it!

And, as an added bonus, the girls have really learned to recognize the states and their shapes as the states walk around and travel.

Apparently there is a video out there as well, but we have yet to see it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Weekly Review 9/22-9/26 (Madeline)

We read, "Madeline" by Ludwig Bemelmans this week for our literature study. Madeline lives in her boarding school in France, so we began by locating France and coloring an outline of France. We placed our story disk on France on our large World Map.

Madeline has her appendix removed, so this lead to a discussion of some of our various organs. Of course, the appendix wasn't on this print out so we had to locate it ourselves. We referred to our children's anatomy book.

I am finding that my girls don't enjoy reading the same literature book five days in a row for our FIAR studies. So we have reduced it to three days. We eliminated Wednesday because we are at CC all day. Then we typically eliminate Thursday OR Friday. Three readings seems to be enough for them to get the basics of the story, the vocabulary, and to complete some activities together. This has worked MUCH better for us.

Phonics: We took a break from Ordinary Parent's Guide and Explode the Code to work on the MCP Plaid Phonics B program this week. We are going to complete Unit 1.

I really liked a little change for K. Explode the Code is GREAT and we are mid-way through book 2, but MCP's workbook is colorful and has a HUGE variety of activities. It's giving her a nice review with a little more variety!

History/Geography: The girls have to give a presentation each week at CC. This week they had to report on one of the US states. They each picked their favorite state to talk about.

T (age 4)'s favorite state is California because of the Giant Sequoia's and Redwood Trees. She shared that with the class and showed them her flag:

and her outline of the state:

K (age 5's) favorite state is Oregon because she'd like to go see a sunset there. (We have no clue where this came from). She dictated a report to me so that she could read it:

She also colored the flag...

and traced an outline...

T has decided she'd like to join in the Handwriting Practice, so I began printing her some sheets from Enchanted Learning.And she wants to participate in Reading/Phonics practice as well so she is working on letters and their sounds. While this is easy for her, she loves being part of the table time and is gaining confidence. I think it will help when it is time for her to learn to read!

After a day at CC, I am beat. On top of it this week, we went to the Science Center again! It was a blast, but I was so exhausted on Thursday that I fell asleep on the sofa for 1 hour.

The girls got their own snacks and drinks. Then K took care of doing a "project" with her little sister. When I woke up, the results were my favorite school activity of the week:

Thanks to my big girl for being so creative with her sister!