Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trying to catch up before life carries me away again - End of 1st Quarter Review

It's been a month since I last blogged!  EEK!  Can't let life get away from me for so long.

It's been a long month filled with medical problems (me), stress (getting ready to move), last minute trips (the fun part of the month) and trying to fit a little bit of school in here and there.

Little to say not a lot of real "school" work was done.. but we still learned a lot

- We learned about Carlsbad Caverns, Mexican Free-tail Bats, and that hiking out of Carlsbad Caverns with 4 kids is a long tiring process (1.25 miles gaining 800ft in elevation!)

- We learned about the Mogollon people who lived in the cliffs of what is now the Gila National Forest in the 1300s, we took a beautiful hike up to the dwellings, found a few lizards and snakes along the way, and I found out that walking along the edge of a cliff with a curious 3 year old boy will give you a heart attack.

- We've learned that you can learn a lot from board games

- I've learned how to take every type of marker, crayon, or colored pencil off my walls after R and little E had fun making masterpieces on the rental houses walls.

- We've learned random safety facts after working through several cub scout achievements.  D is a Wolf Cub this year and is looking forward to rejoining his Den/Pack in October.

- We visited Family in Phoenix and had a great time swimming in the pool and catching up with family members that it's been way too long since we had last seen.

- The kids have learned the last two weeks how to entertain themselves with very few toys since I have packed up most of them.

Actual School work that has been completed -

Math - D has worked through Unit 3 Chapter 2 in Singapore Math 3A - We are taking time to finish memorizing the multiplication tables before we move onto Chapter 3 that starts working on multiplying through 1000.  He has been spending time playing on and to work on keeping fresh on basic skills and memorizing his math facts while we stall on multiplication for a little while.

Language Arts -  In Grammar we have finally finished the last few lessons in Growing with Grammar 1 (We started this in January) and has started into the first unit of Growing with Grammer 2.  D likes that this program is independent for him and he can work on it by himself.  In First Language Lessons 2 (Old Combined book) we are only on Lesson 117.  I have put more of an emphasis on completing GWG1 the past couple of months so now we will go back to splitting our time between both programs.  In Phonics D is on Explode the Code book 7 - Lesson 10.  He has continued to work on this independently while we have been doing minimal school work these last few weeks.  Spelling - D is having trouble with AAS.  I'm not sure if it is that we aren't doing as much review as we should or that he just isn't remembering the rules, or that he knows the rules but doesn't apply them in other writing.   Over the next couple of weeks of minimal school I'm going to review words with him from past lessons and see what lessons he is having difficulty with.  I'm finding that what he knows from spelling doesn't carry over into writing for other subjects.  He has difficulty spelling words in his grammar workbook that I know we covered in AAS.    Reading - This is the one that the D has not slowed down on while we have been having light days of school.  He's read a ton of books.  I'd like to get him to move into reading higher level books, but at the same time I don't want to frustrate him and kill his love of reading.  He will sit down and read an entire Magic Tree House - Merlin Mission book in an afternoon.  He did take the time to read all of Little House in the Big Woods after I had read part of it as a read aloud and then stopped.  Writing - We are still SLOWLY working our way through WWE 1.  I hope that by January we can move up to WWE2.  D is just now finally giving good narrations and being able to answer most of the comprehension questions. We are going to pick and choose our way through the last 10 weeks and finish up before we take our Christmas break.  Then in January we will be starting with WWE2.

Latin - Latin was starting to frustrate D so we took a break from it.  We will start back up after we get settled back into our house in a few weeks but will be taking it slower and using 2 weeks per lesson so we have more time to review vocab words
Science - Science has once again been put on hold to work on the basics. We try to spend some time each week reading something science based or playing with things online.  D is loving Monster Physics on the Ipad and watching National Geographic Videos.  Once we get back home we will be checking out the Science in Imagineering Videos from Disney.  We are still only partway through Life Science.  This fall we are going to concentrate on finishing the animal portion of Life Science, spend the winter working on Astronomy, and then in the spring go back and finish the plant portion of Life Science as we work on starting our garden.

History - History has been downgraded to listening to the SOTW CDs in the car.  I'm getting ready to put them on my IPOD so D can listen to them while he works on other things. He has lost interest in Ancient Civilizations, so I think we are just going to listen to the CD's a few times, do a few fun activities that I know that D will like and then in January move onto SOTW 2. There is no point in making him doactivities that he isn't enjoying.  When he is doing SOTW 3 or 4 S and R will be working on SOTW 1 so he can always jump in on those activities on more time before he moves to Logic stage ancients. 


Some days I feel like that I am failing at giving him the education that he deserves -  I wish we could get to more history and science but most days I am struggling to get the basics done, keep up with the house, keep up with the little kids, give the little kids some time that they need, and have some time for myself so I don't go insane.

But then I remember that he is working in Math and Reading at 2 grade levels above where he should be, that he gets to have some amazing experiences like hiking in the National Forests, and that I get to spend all day with him (even if he drives me crazy some days) I get hugs and "I love you" in the middle of the day just because he felt like telling me.  I have a 7.5 year old who is happy to spend time with his siblings, and is willing to take on the responsibility of watching them for a few minutes while I work on something else.

 There will always be more time to get into Science and History (Like when we don't have to spend half our day learning how to read and write and do basic arithmetic)  Eventually I won't have a house full of little monsters, instead I'll have a house full of teenagers!!! (DOUBLE EEK!) I know that some day I will miss these crazy days, that I will miss the chaos and the screaming and fighting, I'll miss evenings of being curled up in their beds reading books together.  So for now I'm trying to get over the fact that maybe we don't do as much science and history as we should, and that we don't always read great books  (Although I don't know how many more times I can stand reading Mercy Watson to S) I  have 4 wonderful children who love each other, who enjoy learning, and who are teaching each other random things (S who taught herself how to read is trying to teach R his letters and sounds).  It may not be the educational path that I set out on originally, but we can always wander back to that path later when life isn't throwing me loops and curves as often.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Not Back to School Fun Day

Wednesday the local public schools started so we had our "Not Back to School" Fun Day

We started our day heading to the grocery store to buy doughnuts and juice and then heading to the park for a breakfast picnic and playtime.

After the little kids were worn out we went home and did a small amount of normal school work and played computer games while we waited for it to be time for little E to go down for his nap.

Once he was down for his nap the big kids and I started playing board games.  We LOVE board games in our house.  Our homeschool closet is stocked with lots of games.

D and S enjoyed working together to play Multiplication Twister.  Since D was too twisted up to find the numbers he would solve the multiplication problem and then tell S the answer.  She then searched the board for the number and pointed it out to him.  D got to practice his multiplication tables and S worked on number recognition.  Woot!  Math Game for two.  We also did a little frog hopping from answer to answer on the board.  D multiplying and S just looking for the numbers.

By the time E was up from his nap the big kids were tired of games and both were happy to curl up with a book for a little while and I played cars with the little boys.

After reading for a bit the big kids both wanted to play computer games again so they were happy to be allowed another time on the computers to play.   D is back to enjoying Dreambox and S is still in love with Reading Eggs.  S is going to be upset at the end of the month when our Reading Eggs subscription ends.

After their computer time was over D got to go play in the garage with his new tool set.  He is learning to hammer nails in straight so he can eventually build and paint a few birdhouses for his grandparent's for Christmas.  So he happily sat in the garage for about an hour pounding in nails and measuring how far one nail was from another etc.

Overall it was a fun day and the kids were worn out at the end of the day.  Can't ask for much more!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Update - Aug 6-10th

It was a slow week around our house.

Monday we did our normal work, but I had to drag D through it kicking and screaming.  It was a tough day and I was happy to take Tuesday off to head to the zoo.

Way too many pictures from the zoo

Actually got all 4 of them to sit together!

E enjoying the sea lions

Taking a break while sitting in the shade watching the giraffes

My family of meerkats

This tiger came over and put it's face right up to the glass in front of each of the kids trying to smell them. 

When did these two grow up! 

Wednesday D again wanted nothing to do with school and was picking on his siblings most of the day... so it was not a good day and I quickly called school off for the day, took away all electronics and told the kids to find someway to amuse themselves the rest of the day.

Thursday we spent the morning playing at the park and then doing schoolwork once Daddy went to work.  That turned around and bit me in the butt.  Kids were tired and cranky, baby E wouldn't take a nap, and R was into EVERYTHING!  By the end of the day, not much school had been done, my house looked like ToyRus exploded inside it and I was exhausted!  Homeschooling is not for the weak!

Today turned out to be our one good day of the week.  D finally sat down with me and we breezed through a lot of work and almost got caught up.  We will still have some science and history to do on Saturday, but there's not much else to do while Daddy is working all weekend so we might as well get caught up on school.

Only 5 more weeks of school before we take a month long break to move back home!  In that time I also need to make some review workbooks for D to do to keep his mind working while I'm busy packing and unpacking. I'm thinking that I am going to make some math fact sheets for him to practice on, a couple of Latin vocab word sheets, wipe off map sheets to keep practicing his states, some grammar review sheets and a bunch of sodoku and logic puzzles.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Update - July 30th to August 3rd

This week was a "just get it done" week!

Between grumpy kids, a sleep deprived mommy, and daddy's schedule messing with our normal routine, it was a LONG week.  

Most of this week was spent just quickly getting through lessons and moving on to more fun things like video games and board games.  

We spent many mornings out at the park playing before it got too hot.  The kids had a great time.  I just wish that the moms here were more welcoming to others.  Nothing like having a group of moms stand directly in front of the bench you are sitting on with their backs to you ignoring you for 30 minutes.  I'm (some what) fine with them ignoring me but do they have to stand in front of me so I'm stuck looking between their butts to find my kids on the playground!

A few highlights of the week

S read to me most evenings this week.  Lately she has been reading Mercy Watson books and short stories adapted from the Little House books.  The LH adaptations are too difficult for her, but she was doing really well with the Mercy Watson books and stumbled on only a few words per page.  

S is going to do great at narrations in a year of so when we start them.  We have been taking time every morning to read a few poems or stories from the "What your ____ needs to know" series.  Since she is so used to D being asked questions after I read passages to him that she wanted the same.  She did great at answering basic questions and giving me a complete thought.   Not bad for a not quite 5 year old!

D's whining has reduced greatly now that I do even more writing for him.  I figured it was more important to make school fun for him than to know for certain that he know's a specific set of information.  So many things that I was fighting with him over writing are all things that will be repeated year after year to make sure he has the concepts down that I finally got it through my thick head that he doesn't need to it now.  Eventually he will get out of his pencil phobic ways and start writing more on his own.

D is continuing to do great with Latin.  He needs quite a few sessions of reviewing the new words, but we are on lesson 4 this week and he has the 15 words from 1-3 down.  He can go Latin to English or English to Latin without problems.

Little E is almost done cutting his 4 canine teeth (they all came in on two days!) He's been pretty good but you can tell that his mouth has been bothering him this week.

Wild man R's big accomplishment for the week was learning how to go down the firepole at the playground all by himself.  I think he did it 25 times in a row after he figured it out.  He was worn out that day!  Next week I'm hoping to get out some of my Letter of the Week activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler and start working on them with R.  He needs something special to do with mommy.

Other big Highlight of our week was realizing that we are under 60 days until we leave New Mexico and head for our normal home in Alabama!  We are all happy to be getting ready to go home.  That means that we have 6 more weeks of school before we get a 3 week break to get moved and settled back in our AL house. 

This post was linked to the weekly wrap-up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Monday, July 30, 2012

Today was one of those days.....

Today was one of those days where the thought of putting my oldest on the bus and sending him off to school sounds WONDERFUL!  He was whiny, complaining, crying, throwing fits, and not listening all day.

These are the days that I remind myself why I homeschool...

- I love that we can work at his pace - We are ahead in many areas, but behind in a few.  His development is so uneven that he would be bored sometimes in a classroom but struggle at other times.

- I love getting to see him learn new things.  I love seeing his mind working to find the answer.  I love the way that he does things his own way.  His brain figures out math problems in ways that I never thought would work.

- I love that the rest of my kids can stay on their own schedule and not have to live there life based on the school schedule.

- I love that I can curl up on the couch reading books and playing board games with my kids and call it school.

- I love that I can teach him things that interest him.  Watching him read about something and then go searching the internet for more information makes my heart sing.

- I love that my kids ask questions constantly.  They know that if I don't have the answer I will help them find  the answer.

- I love that on days like today when everybody needed more sleep, patience and understanding that we can call our day done and just enjoy some quiet time.

- I love that I get the best hours of the day with my son.  He is the happiest and most cooperative mid morning.  The afternoons are rough.  I would miss so many fun times with my son if we only had the afternoons together.

- I love that we can work our schedule around my husbands work schedule.  If my son was in public school (and it was in session right now) my son would go 9 days without seeing his Daddy because of his work hours this week.

- There are so many things that I love about homeschooling.... but after a long trying day it helps to remember why I am doing this.

This biggest reason of all is that I love my kids with all my heart and I will do anything to give them what is best for them... even if it means that I end the night questioning my decisions while drinking a glass of wine.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Weekly Update - July 23-27

Wow - We had a productive week this week!

Both kids were in great moods this week and we got all our work done everyday without a ton of complaining!

Some highlights of our week

S has finally decided she wants to learn how to write  - She found this HWOT sheet and did it herself while I was working with D.  Not bad for very little instruction on how to form her letters.  She is my child that I have to wait for her to be ready.  If you try to get her to do something before it is her idea`she will resist, but once she decides it's time to learn something she picks it up quickly. (Bolded this to remind myself of this daily!)

She also worked in her Explode the Code book a lot this week

We also did a lot of work with making tens and counting numbers to 20.

D had fun learning his Latin vocab words with a race to find his words taped around the house.  I called out either the latin or english word and he had to find to other taped to the wall in the house

He also had a great time getting to make lunch for all the kids one day

R and Little E had fun running around the house like wild men - R enjoyed watching all the birds at our feeder and waiting for hummingbirds to come to our feeder that is attached to one of our living room windows. I also started pulling out our toy bins each day.  In the spring I packed up most of our toys into 5 rubbermaid bins. The little boys get a new bin each day of the week. It helps to keep them busy while I do school with the older two.

Little E has been keeping busy by emptying out the dishwasher for me! Too bad occasionally I come back into the kitchen to a counter full of dirty dishes

Other things about our week

I further reduced the writing D has to do in a day and he was much happier.  By giving him the EXACT amount of writing that he is going to have to do for page before we start helps stop the complaining.  So for math I circle about 6 problems that he has to do on his own and then I will write for him after that.  I also made him only write the first 6 words of his narration for day 4 of WWE1.  He had been giving me bad narrations on day 4 because he didn't want to write it all down.  Now his day 4 narrations are better and he is giving me longer sentences with more detail.

D managed to read 4 books this week - 3 Magic Tree House books and one MTH research guide.

S continues to take the time to "read" chapter books.  She goes line by line reading the words that she knows and guessing at a few that she has no idea.  She is happy to do lessons in OPGTR since she knows that she will eventually be able to read MTH books when she works her way through the lessons.  I'm just thrilled that she has the patience and tracking ability to go line by line, page by page picking out the words that she can read.  I have a feeling that once she can read fluently I will be constantly saying that she has her nose in a book.

We also started a morning circle time.  I never did it with D since he had been in a Pre-K program so they had already taught him things like the calendar, days of the week, months of the year etc.  I figured that Sarah needed to start  I still haven't gotten a calendar up yet, but we have been working on nursery rhymes (I realized that my kids never learned many of them) singing the days of the week song, reading some poems from Shel Silverstein, and a bible story.  D practices his prayers that he is supposed to know for Religious Ed classes and  we also read some story selections from the "What your ____ grader needs to know"

Friday, July 20, 2012

Weekly Update - July 20th

This is the first week that I'm joining in on the Weekly Wrap up on Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

I know this week is the Curriculum Edition and if you would like to see what we are using for 2nd grade or Pre-K look here for a post from a few weeks ago when we started our new school year - I Puffy Heart New School Books

Otherwise it was another odd week in our house.

E continues to work odd shifts (mainly being gone 12:30pm - 11:00pm) so our schooling is happening at all hours of the day to work around his schedule.

The kids have been spending many hours playing with their playmobil in the afternoon when it is just too hot to be outside.

I have been working with D and S first thing in the morning while E is here to play with the little boys and then later in the afternoon when little E is napping we finish up our work and play some games.

Highlights of the week -

D finished 4 books this week - 2 Magic Tree house books, one Magic Tree House Research Guide, and a Geronimo Stilton book.

Many nights you will find the two big kids trying to get in a little more reading time before I turn the lights out for the night.

S continues to impress me with how well she taught herself to read. We blasted our way through 8 lessons in OPGTR getting up to the first lesson on blends. I'm still making sure to hit every lesson so I don't worry about her missing something. She is also working through Explode the Code 1.

R has randomly started singing his ABC's - Most of the time I hear him singing them to himself in the bathroom!

In the past month S has gone from not being able to recognize any number over 15 to recognizing and reading any number up to 100.

Low points of the week -

D continues to whine and complain about the amount of writing I am making him do. I don't feel that it is too much for a boy of his age (and he used to do at least this much writing last year without complaint) I've been trying to find ways to reduce his writing or split it up as much as I can but there is only so much I can do to reduce the writing. If anyone has any suggestions on how to deal with a pencil phobic 7 year old boy I'd love to hear them!!!

D working on a Dinosaur puzzle/model

Friday, July 13, 2012

2 weeks done!

It's been 2 weeks since we've started our new school year.
Days completed - 9

Good things

D is finally doing well with WWE1 - We have stopped and started this program several times due to his difficulty and frustration with answering the comprehension questions. He has finally matured to the point where he can listen and remember the story even if it isn't something he liked. We are on week 20 so hopefully half way through the year we can make the switch over to WWE 2

We are making progress in Science and History despite the horrible library we have here. Using programs the rely on a large number of living books is very hard when you have a poorly stocked library. I am looking forward to being back home in a few months and back to our wonderful library system.

We started Latin with a few tears, but now he is looking forward to it and we have a goal of surprising his Sunday school teacher with him saying the Our Father in Latin one day.

Everything else is moving right along.

The Bad Things

It's nearly impossible to keep a 7 y.o attention on his work while his siblings are running around the house!

The little boys have decided that anytime I sit down at the kitchen table with D is a perfect time to find trouble. This generally means that Little E is putting things in the toilet and R is flooding the bathroom playing in the sink. It doesn't seem to matter what activities I pull out they won't play with it unless I'm right there with them. On good days they will play with a new bin of toys for about 30 minutes alone before they start trying to destroy the house.

Oh the whining and meltdowns about writing! D thinks that having to write more than a few words at any given time is the end of the world. I scribe for him a lot but he was writing more at the beginning of the year last year than he is now. Working on using those hand muscles and writing more on his own. I think we are going to have to go back to having daily handwriting practice on top of the 3 days of copying in WWE.

Highlights of the weeks
- D started riding his bike without training wheels!

- S took a reading test with Daddy (she won't read for me) and tested at an upper 1st grade level. She has some beginning chapter books that she "reads" to herself in bed at night. I'm starting to think that she reads a lot more of them than we realized. She has the patience to go word by word, line by line reading what she can. She comes out of her room every morning happy that she read one more chapter. We are going to push hard on OPGTR with her until we get to a lesson that she starts to have trouble.

- S likes to come up to me and tell me random math facts that she has figured out. We are working our way through Singapore Essentials B and I think I will have to add in Miquon Orange here soon.

- I managed to bribe the kids with fireworks and ice cream on the 4th of July to get a picture of all 4 of them together

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Puffy Heart New School Books!

It's the start of a new school year around our house and I'm loving the smell/feel of new books. I was always the kid at school who loved the years that we got new textbooks and I didn't have to carry around a grubby book that many other kids had touched.

This year D is in 2nd Grade and S is doing Pre-K/K She misses the cutoff for K but is ready for K materials so we are calling it Pre-K and working at her level.

I need to remember to take our start of the school year pictures over the 4th while E is home to help me keep the little ones busy while I do pictures of the big kids.

D - 2nd

Language Arts
Phonics - Finish Explode the Code Series (Books 7 and 8)
Writing - Finish Writing with Ease 1 and move into 2
Spelling - Finish All About Spelling 2 and start 3
Reading - Continue to Read - Aloud with me books above his level and read independently books At/Below his level (4th- 5th grade level)

Singapore Math - Standards ed 3A/3B along with Intensive Practice and Creative Word Problems 2
He also plays a lot on

Continue to work our way through History Odyssey Ancients and eventually move into Middle Ages
(History was the thing we put off the most last year)

Real Science Odyssey - Finish Life and start Earth and Space.

Working on memorizing - States and their locations, then will learn the state capitals.

Prima Latina - May put this off until later in the year. Tried it today and it was met with tears and frustration. Going to give it another try next week when he is not so tired.

Critical Thinking
Primarily Logic Boo
Lots of Logic puzzles and games
Logic Links

Going to try to complete one lapbook a month on the topic of his choice. Currently finishing one on Meerkats and getting ready to start on Desert Animals

S - PreK

Singapore Essential Math B and then moving into 1A
Handwriting without tears - Kindergarten
Explode the Code 1
Reading Bob Books
Going to try several units from B4FIAR and FIAR vol 1

Monday, January 30, 2012

Changes, Changes and more Changes

Things around our house have changed a lot over the past couple of months.

In November we found out that the temporary move that we were hoping to take to Utah was unavailable but that we could go to New Mexico instead. So plans changed, we started looking for info on the new city and worked toward getting ready to move. My husband went to New Mexico the few days before Thanksgiving to make sure that he wanted to take the temporary job and find us a place to live. In the few days that he was there he found and rented a house for us.

Once he got home we started the long process of packing up the house. I called for a vacation from homeschool and the kids got a very long winter break. We spent the first part of December working on packing and getting our house ready to be empty for almost a year. Many home remodeling projects, a trip to urgent care for a sliced finger (mine) and trips to the recycling center for boxes we had the house packed and ready to be left.

The week before Christmas we packed up the small amount of stuff going with us, and got the house ready for us to leave. Then we started the long drive. In order to keep things half way normal for the kids we still went to Kansas to visit family for Christmas so we took the LONG way to New Mexico.

We drove (with a very packed car) from Alabama to Kansas. Spent 4 days visiting with relatives before we packed up again and made the long drive to New Mexico.

We arrived in New Mexico during the week between Christmas and New Years. We spent the next week unpacking and getting settled into our rental house. After New Years my husband went back to work and the kids and I settled back into our homeschool routine. Amazingly D did not forget much during his extended break. A few quick review days and he was back up to speed in all his programs.

D Progress for the year

Phonics - D has finished ETC 5 and has started on book 6
- AAS - We are on step 13 of Level 2 - I was hoping to be moving through this quicker but it has been set aside a few times
- OPGTR - We have 15 lessons left to complete to book - D is easily reading Magic Tree House books and also has been enjoying a jr. novel about Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Grammar - We are 2/3 of the way through year 1 of First Language Lessons.
Writing - We set Writing with Ease 1 aside earlier this year because D was struggling with the narration. We picked it back up once we got to New Mexico and it has been going much better.
Math - D has finished Singpore Math 2A and is cruising through 2B. He has enjoyed learning his multiplication facts. He understands the concept we are now just working on memorizing the facts. We plays a lot on Timez Attack and on

Science - Another one that has taken a back burner this year. We are starting to work our way through Real Science Odyssey again. Hopefully once we finish more of our phonics work for the year we can spend more time on Science and History. If not we will do a few intense weeks over the summer on science to get through. We also may start Real Science Odyssey Earth and Space early since we are in a great place to stargaze.

History - Again another one that has taken a back burner to Math and Reading this year. We have started working on Ancient Egypt this past week. Hopefully the fun of studying ancient Egypt will keep us going this time.