Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Math U See Decimal Street

All the kids are using Math U See this year, and so far it is working out wonderfully. All the kids are eager to watch their DVD lessons and even Tristan (4) wants to watch the Primer DVDs. I had kept the Decimal Street lapbook in the back of my mind, but just decided to go ahead and make one out of posterboard. Both examples are on the Math U See blog. But, I didn't want to use one whole posterboard for just one decimal street, so I modified it a bit. These are used in the lower programs to teach place value.

I made four of these for the three youngest kids doing the program, and 2 year old Thomas who sometimes doesn't want to be left out.

I took a large posterboard sheet and cut it in two longwise. The large red castle is two red file folders taped together and the red, green, and sun are all cardstock just pasted on. The road is construction paper.
I glued on the file folder and card stock and then used my old laminating trick-clear packing tape. I love using that for laminating. I also use clear contact paper, but I just thought tape would be easier for this project.

I did actually use the clear contact paper to laminate the little cars. I googled something like "car clip art" and found this little car. I pasted it onto Word and sized it up just a little, colored them, cut them out and pasted on some numbers that I alread had printed for something else a while back. Then, laminated them with contact paper. I took a close up picture, but then realized that I had the flash on and it was too bright. And, I didn't remember how to turn it off. I really need to learn to use that camera after seven years now.

Pretty easy, yet I feel like I accomplished something!

On the back are these neat stickers I found at the Dollar Tree. There were many different kinds, but here are the shapes, number chart, addition and subtraction charts. I just stuck them on the back of the decimal street. They were the "Educational Sticker Charts". I just heart Dollar Tree!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Musings

Mom, I have three teeth. I know you've been feeding me carrots, apples, sweet potatoes, and pears, but....

what do you mean I can't have burgers and fries???

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Bloggy Award!

I've been given a bloggy award from Amy Lynne over at Mom's Balance. "Living, laughing and enjoying each precious moment". Well said! Isn't that what "mommying" is all about? Thanks Amy Lynne!

Here are the rules of this award:
- This award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming.
- These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.
- They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.
- Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
- Please give more attention to these writers.
- Deliver this award to other bloggers who must choose others to pass it on to and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.
- I will pass this award to some of my bloggy friends that I find exceedingly charming...

Mmm. So many friends to choose! I pick these gals, some are real life friends and others are real blogging friends, but all are friends.
Marsha at "Morgan Happenings"
Kathleen at "Treasured Chapters"
Rachel at "Thoughts from rh"
Michelle at "Lights on the Lake"

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The School Year in Further Detail

I, by far, have mastered this thing called homeschooling, but I have figured out what works for us. Actually, the dynamic changes every year somewhat, because we throw in a new baby (and a tired, pregnant mama) and that difficult, albeit loveable, two year old stage. All but two of our children are spaced two years or less apart. That being said, we vascillate each year between some more high strung youngsters with shorter attention spans, and more quiet, eager-to-do-schoolwork youngsters with longer attention spans.

Overall what has worked best for me, is to plan my own curriculum. My rebellious nature (lol) has caused me to look at a curriculum and say, "But, we have this book instead of the one that it calls for. But, we have the supplies to do this activity instead of the ones it calls for. But, we are more interested in this topic instead of.... You get the idea. So, instead of using the "middleman" curriculum, I just go straight to the books and choose activities that we are interested in. For instance, this year we are covering 1800's American history, (with some world history added). I took a timeline of the US 1800's and picked the topics I want to cover. One of those topics is "The Alamo". Now, all I've done is planned to check out the book "The Alamo: Surrounded and Outnumbered..." by Shelley Tanaka, and "Voices of the Alamo" by Sherry Garland. Then printed off some activities for lapbook/notebooks or color sheets. The older capable kids would do the more complex activities and the younger kids (ages 2-6) would color (or cut and paste since I keep plenty of construction paper and glue stick on hand). I obtain all this material by searching the internet, getting homeschooling newsletters and checking out sites like Homeschool Freeebie of the day. Here is a post about my history planning and here is one about science.

Sometimes the preschool aged kids get too antsy and some of them have not liked coloring. So, I keep some different blocks, legos, puzzles, etc. to bring out a few at a time. I'm really particular about what comes out though, because if I have to spend 20 minutes cleaning up beans all over the house, then the ten minutes of a "bean sorting" activity is not worth it. I do like the idea of having learning centers set up around like with art supplies or whatever, but we just don't have the space to do that. So, I do set up a few things like this is the lego wall or the puzzle table, but whatever I take out I have to be able to put away relatively easily.

For the school aged kids, I keep everyone on the same topic in a subject. Now, Brittany is high school and will be doing more independent work and research on her own, so we went with a different topic for her history and science. The rest of the kids will be all be doing 1800's US History and Astronomy/Geology for science this year. We ONLY do history two days per week and science two days per week. We do history on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and science on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for about 2 hours each. Two hours sounds like a lot, but realistically by the time you've read the book and discussed and done whatever activity, two hours goes by really quickly. If the younger kids get bored, then they can finish their activity and go play. They generally stay interested for the most part and I try to plan fun stuff like experiments, sometimes a craft, and educational related videos, too. But really, for the younger elementary ages, the basics are really what's important to focus on. The history, science, art, music, etc. are just extras at this stage. I have noticed that the younger kids pick up so much just listening to the read alouds, watching the videos, and taking part in the experiments and crafts. So, I do plan the basics for the younger kids in the mornings when they are more "fresh".

Now the one extra thing that I did plan is to read aloud the Little House Books to the little kids and I didn't think the older boys would be as interested in that, so I have that time scheduled for one hour (right before lunchtime) when the older boys are doing their writing assignments.

With the other subjects-that they don't all do together- I have them staggered to be doing each subject at a different time than the other kids doing that subject. For instance, in the past I had everyone scheduled from say, 9-10am doing math. But, everyone needed my help doing math all at once, since that is a heftier subject. But now, I have only maybe one or two children doing math while other children are doing subjects that require less of my attention like their spelling books. (It also helps that we are using Math U See this year which has DVDs.) Brittany will need the least of my help, and I'll be available to her whenever she needs me, but I have scheduled a specific time just to discuss and evaluate her assignments and address any questions/concerns she has for the week. (Or day as the case may be.)

Basically, the only subjects the kids are doing everyday (Mon.-Thurs.) are Bible, Spelling, and Math. They will do science two days, history two days, and writing and literature two days. So, I guess the key here is that you don't have to do every subject every day. Some state laws require 180 days and certain subjects, but if you are covering a week's worth of work in two days, what's the difference?

For the rest of the kids it will be very "hands on" teaching for me, but I prefer that. Also, if you don't prefer to do your own curriculum, there are some that include all grades on the same subject. I know Tapestry of Grace does that-it's more of a classical approach. It really is a lot of work on my part, but I want to do it. It works out best for us.

Also, I plan out everything-I mean EVERYTHING- over the summer, down to what libray books I will use and the call numbers. I have all printables printed out and ready to go. This saves me SO much time during the school year. I don't have to go back and do anything, it's all ready for me when we start in the morning. I just pull out the notebooks with my plans and we're ready to go. I had to start planning like this basically from the beginning. Most of our marriage we have only had one vehicle, so if I needed something from the library or supplies from the store, I was stuck. I needed to know ahead of time what I needed and when I needed it. Over time, I have tweaked and reworked, and now have everything the way it works best for us. I also just have to limit outside activities for us because the amount of time it takes to get 8 kids ready for something is exhausting.

So, that is a little more detail about our school year.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The New School Year Has Begun!

Here is a run down of what all the kids will be doing this year.

Brittany: 9th grade

History and Literature: Middle Ages British History (focus on the royalty of the time period) with studies of Shakespeare's "Julius Ceasar", "Hamlet" and also "A Tale of Two Cities". She'll also read various biographies and research on the kings and queens of that time.

Science: Abeka biology (I tweaked this around a bit to fit what we needed.)

Math: Math U See

Fallacy Detectives: One chapter per week

Writing: One Year Adventure Novel

Bible: Kay Arthur's "How to Study Your Bible" intro. to Inductive study; A series of lessons on the book of Mark that I created for a college class I was taking a few years ago

Tyler: 7th grade

History: study of the 1800's American History

Science: Astronomy and Geology

Math: Math U See

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Liturature: Reading/completeing study guides for "Across Five Aprils", The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", "The Red Badge of Courage" and "With Lee in Virginia"

Spelling: Spelling Workout G

Bible: Kay Arthur Inductive Studies for Kids

Timothy: 4th Grade

History: study of 1800's American History

Science: Astronomy and Geology

Math: Math U See

Writing: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Literature: Reading/study activities for Chronicle of Narnia books

Spelling: Spelling Workout D

Bible: Kay Arthur Inductive Studies for Kids

Bethany: 2nd grade and Brooke: 1st Grade

History: Little House on the Praire Books and activities

Science: activities for Astronomy and Geology (with the older boys)

Spelling: Spelling Workout B, Brooke will be in book A

Literature: various book based activities-we'll do one per week

Math: Math U See (with some Abeka on the side. We started with Abeka last year, and I need to get into Math U See and really figure out where they are because Math U See is different from most programs.

Bible: scripture memory, songs, worksheets, etc. from the New Testament-put together by me.

Tristan and Thomas: Preschool

Bible: will do the same with Bethany and Brooke

Preschool time: 45 minutes of fun activities based on books

Various worksheets and color sheets with the correlating subjects the older kids are studying during history and science times.

Fridays: All Together Time

On Fridays, all the kids will be doing school together.

In the mornings: Bible, Manners, Spanish, and on a rotating basis poetry, art and music.

In the afternoons, Geography: an Africa unit the first half of the year; an Alaska/Iditarod study the second half.

I know this sounds like a lot, it is.

Special Week Units

We wrapped up our first week of homeschooling this week. I didn't get everything done that I had wanted to beforehand, so we had a light week. I like to plan several weeklong units that are something different that what we normally do to give the kids a change of pace. I decided to just go ahead and do one of those units this week. We studied economics. I know. Very lightweight, indeed.

We used "Whatever Happened to Penny Candy" (which I even learned a lot from) and some free comic books from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. I found various worksheets and vocabulary games and activites for the older kids on the internet, and some lapbook suitable items for the younger kids here and here.

I'm planning another weeklong unit for Thanksgiving. Last year we focused on Jamestown and the Pilgrim settlement, but this year I think we'll take it easier and just make some treats and read some books from that time period.

We'll do a two week long unit before Christmas with a Jesse tree. Here are the devotionals and here are the ornaments to cut out. (I have not explored everything on that website, and have even changed a little of the wording in the devotionals, so use these at your own discretion.) I also have some fun treats and crafts planned.

In the spring, we are also going to do a weeklong unit on Resurrection Day (Easter). I'm really excited about this one. I found a copy of a Haggadah online, (here is a copy of one, it is not the exact one I am using-I can't seem to find the link to it.) so we are going to have a Passover feast. We had a Messianic Jew come to the church we attended about ten years ago and give a presentation of the Passover feast with explanations to all the prophecies that it represented- that Christ fulfilled. It was so interesting. We have the vidoe tape that was made from the presentation. We'll also do some other fun treats and crafts. I found some neat monologues from The Joyful Heart, we'll make Resurrection buns and Resurrection cookies. I'll supplement with various other coloring sheets and minibooklets to make a lapbook.

And last, but certainly not McLeast, we'll do a St. Patrick's Day one-day unit. I have a free lapbook unit that I got as a freebie from Hands of Child and a free unit study from Homeschool in the Woods. I don't believe either of these are available as freebies anymore, but there are many free goodies to be found just by using your search engine. Here is a fun Lucky Charms graph.
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