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!