Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Homeschool Mother's journal: Our great week

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In our homeschool this week...we are lapbooking like crazy over here.  Each child has a lapbook that they are working on right now.  Aaron is working on a shark lapbook (found here at homeschool share), and learning all about sharks through various books.  Aric is working on a Batman preschool lapbook that just focuses on preschool skills with the fun of Batman included.  We've been calling it Batman school, he loves it!  And, April just started a fun "chicken" lapbook (also here at homeschool share) because she wants to learn more about the chicken's we are raising.  She asked me the other night if chickens can see color, and I said, "I don't know!  Maybe we should learn about them more!"  So, she decided it would be fun to do a lapbook.


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While I read The Titanic lost and found by Judy Donnelly the boys made their own boat.  Aric had a ship to put together, and Aaron colored a picture of the Titanic sinking.  He got tired, so it didn't get colored all the way.
We also read about the Titanic since it is something that Aaron has been very interested in recently.  He saw a picture of the sinking titanic on the cover of a magazine and that piqued his interest, so we talked about it, and found a short beginning reader about it.  All the kids were interested in the titanic but Aaron asked the most questions. 

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P4220944 April did this fractions coloring page.  She didn't like reducing the fractions, but she made it!  She's doing great with her Singapore math.  She's picking up the algebra really quickly.  In fact, there was one part I couldn't figure out what it was trying to explain, and April explained it to me!  Wow, that was a switch.  It's hard to make your brain go backward when you already know the stuff.  I can do algebra pretty good, but I couldn't figure out the process that the book was trying to explain, lol.  April figured it out quite quickly though.  I like that she is feeling more challenged in math now, although that doesn't mean she's always happy to do it.

 I stressed a good deal about the work boxes being gone.  Many days I didn't think I could do it.  Things just weren't working, and I hated having piles of books and school work everywhere making it very confusing.  It felt so unorganized!  It was literally driving me crazy.  I spent most of last weekend thinking about what I should do.  At that point I was ready to bring the work boxes back.  While I was doing the thinking I realized it wasn't the work boxes that was the problem, it was what I was putting in there.  I needed to change and get rid of some of our current curriculum.  The kids were just needing to move up to the next level in a lot of things, like math.  I was so excited and relieved when I realized this!  Now I just needed a plan for new work boxes because there was still the space issue.  I didn't want same shelf with shoe box system, and I can't justify going out and getting the Ikea shelves that I've wanted for a long time.  So, I thought some more.  Finally, on Sunday night when I was getting ready for school this week I saw these file organizers, and it came to me!  I have these file shelves that were holding our various papers for printing.  I took all the computer paper off, and starting putting their school work in each slot.  It fit!  It was an answer to a prayer that I had been praying all weekend.  Aren't they great?  I was so excited, and they have worked great all week.  Our school went way smoother this week.
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Aaron's shelves
I only have 2 of these right now, one for April and one for Aaron.  I went back to Costco to see if they have them anymore, but I didn't find them.  So, I'm on the search for something similar.  Ideally I'd like to have more than six slots for each child, and I need one for Aric's preschool lapbooks and such.  They are great for space, and they don't bend the books like the work boxes we had did. 
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April's shelves
We also went to the tulip field's this week and did a nature study mixed with some fun activities that they have there.  Post and pictures on that to come soon.  We also have been busy building a chicken coop so the kids are learning some about that when they help Michele.

P4220946April has been reading a ton of American girl books again, but she was reading this one in particular for the online homeschool American Girl club.  She ended up not doing the club because we couldn't get logged in.  She was bummed.



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Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...follow your child's interest.  Most of what we have done this week came from something the children were interested in, and it has been so fun to watch.  Also, don't worry if things don't fit together, or don't last the length of time you think it should.


Places we're going and people we're seeing...The 2 older kids went to work with Daddy for take your sons and daughters to work day.   They had a fun time with all the demos some of which included lasers which are always cool.  We went to the tulip festival which was beautiful and fun.  April had a friend over, and we made it to the library this week too.  It was a pretty packed week.

My favorite thing this week was...Seeing Aaron get excited about reading, and hearing him try to sound out a word for the first time.  I mean really trying without any help from me.  Also, having him come sit next to me while we read Charlotte's web, or his Shark wars book.  This interest in reading is huge for him, and I am hoping this means he's going to catch on soon.

What's working/not working for us...trying to build bridges out of popsicle sticks did not work for us this week.  It was a total flop.  I was very hopeful, but I think it didn't work for 2 reasons:  1. my kids are too young (most of them), and 2. I didn't plan it out real well.  I was hoping that we could do the whole weight experiment, but we couldn't even get them built.  We may re-visit that one in the future.

Questions/thoughts I have...how do you balance out child led curiosity learning with the "need to know" stuff like math, reading, writing, history, etc.  I believe in following the child's lead, but there has to be balance with stuff that they may not have any desire to do each day.  There probably isn't a solid answer to this one, that is just what I am pondering right now.

Things I'm working on...Lots of yard work, and hoping to get to my garden before it's too late.

I'm reading...mostly for fun right now.  I'm reading Fablehaven, and The little house on the prairie.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...I'm not usually a big earth day person, but I decided to take the kids outside on earth day, in the nice afternoon, and paint earths.  While we painted the earth's we talked about how God made the earth, and why we should remember and love the place we live. 
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Aaron's hands
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Aric's hands
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April's hands

Then, the next day after they dried we made heart's with the kids' hands, and glued them on. 

Hope you had a great week too!
Desiree

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Arabian horse project

I gave the assignment for this project to April last Fall, maybe the end of summer.  It worked out well for it to be a year long project because she was doing it in conjunction with all her 4H horse work too.  I told her to pick one thing about horses and learn as much as possible about it as she could.  She chose Arabian horses.  I gave her a big poster board that she could organize all her information on for showing.  I helped her with the words (on the front), a few pictures, and she did the rest.  She found all her information, and she decided how she would present it.  This originally was not related to 4H at all, just a homeschool project.  But, she ended up using it for her 4H horse presentation, and she will be submitting it at the County fair as well as showing her project horse.  I love it when pieces of homeschool just fall into place with life like that! 

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The horse picture in the middle was originally a poster she had up on her wall
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I think she did a pretty good job laying it all out, and she put in a lot of useful information.  It has some of her own drawings.
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I like how she hand wrote some of the pages.
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I thought that weight scale was pretty cute.  I think she came up with that on her own.
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I typed up that page for her, she told me what to type.  I also found those coloring pages of what an Arabian horse might wear from it's original homeland.
 She had a short time to present at 4H club, and they were all very impressed.  That's when the leader mentioned taking it to the fair for display.  April loved that idea, so she's keeping it stored in her room until July!

Desiree

kids in the kitchen--ice cream!

We found this book at the library, so Aaron decided he wanted to give the ice cream recipe a try.  The technique used for making the ice cream reminded me exactly of our ice cream ball, so we broke out the old ice cream ball to do it.

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First we gathered all the ingredients, and mixed them up.  Aaron was very excited.P4190837 P4190840 Then we put that ice cream mixture in one side of the ball, and the ice and salt in the other side of the ball, and got to shaking. There's a hole at each end of the ball. One hole puts the ice cream mixture in the middle of the ball, and the other hole lets the ice and water surround the ice cream cylinder. You have to keep the ball moving in a circular motion, round and round. P4190844 P4190843 P4190841

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This is the ice cream that stuck to the bottom of the ice cream maker, it came out all in one piece with the warm water on the outside of the cylinder, and looked kind of cool.
And, voila! You have ice cream. It works pretty good. The recipe in this book was no good though. I should have realized that the small amount of sugar it called for was not nearly enough. It was like eating unsweetened ice cream. We were very disappointed, but determined to do it again. So, we did it again a few days later with Daddy home and he found a really good recipe online. It was excellent, tasted like soft serve!

We will definitely be making more homemade ice cream, and we especially like taking our ice cream ball with us camping.  It's a fun way to get a cool treat while outdoors.

Desiree

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A library story

I just wanted to share this story about an opportunity that came up recently that was so unexpected, but as soon as it was presented I simply knew it was the right thing for us to do.  Do you ever have that experience?  I like it when unexpected life opportunities pop up like this that you wouldn't even think about, but yet it seems so right.  It also doesn't include any pain or tragedy, which can be another kind of unexpected life opportunity which we don't often see as meaningful right at the time.  Anyway, on with the story...

Photo Credit: Paul
We went up to Wilsonville's library this week (it's a short drive, about 15 minutes).  Now we don't live in Wilsonville, but we stop in their library every once in a while because they have a nice little used book store in the front with really cheap books.  Sometimes we stop in for their awesome story time too.  Well, this time we decided to go into the actual library part and check out the children's area even though we don't have a card there.  I have come to the conclusion that no 2 libraries are alike!  It was such a lovely area with interesting books displayed.  I always used to assume that a library was a library in what it had to offer as far as book selection.  Well, the kids quickly found books that we had never seen in our library.  I felt bad that I had to tell them we couldn't check them out, and knew that we couldn't get some of them in our own library system.  So, I decided that we'd go ask how much it would cost us for an out of district library pass since we are in that area so often.  I was bummed to hear $95.  But, they base that on what an average property tax payer would pay, and what all the other libraries might charge in this area.  There was more though!  She said that that fee could be waived with 11 hours of volunteer service at the library, and my oldest daughter could help with her hours counting as well.  Volunteer, me???  I had never thought about that.  I thought, what a neat opportunity!  I had never imagined volunteering at the library.  April, my oldest was immediately excited when she heard that.  She wanted to sign up right there when she gave us some of the volunteer job descriptions.  It's most of the mundane work like going through shelves of books to make sure there isn't any book that shouldn't be there, and making sure they are all there, or checking in books.  Needless to say, we are both excited to do this.  We love books, so why not?  I'm only wishing we could do it during the day, but I still have the littlest boys, so it'll be an evening volunteer job for now.  I love when opportunities arise like this seemingly at the perfect time, in the perfect place.  It's as if a door opened up that I didn't know existed, and we were invited to step right in.

We don't start until next week.  We have a time set up for the evening to work about 2.5 hours.  We'll see if we are as excited after the first time, lol.  I'm sure we will be though.  I'm excited to work with books, and learn the workings of a library.  We have to volunteer only 11 hours of service to get our card.  If it's something we decide we like we may even go beyond that.  It's a good opportunity for April to volunteer and do something outside of our home.  She can also count the hours for her 4H horse project!  Another bonus because she doesn't yet have any volunteer hours for anything. 

I'm thankful for this opportunity because I've wanted to get my kids involved in service, but never really knew how.  I mean we've done some small things here and there, and for church, but as a family I'd love to do more.  How do you get your kids out and volunteering?

Desiree

Monday, April 16, 2012

Math changes

I have been spending the last few weeks to make some final decisions on our curriculum choices for next school year (which will start now).  The kids are ready to move up in a lot of things, so I wanted to figure it all out.  Here's what I decided...I'm only going to change their science and math for the most part, and I'm not going to buy a big boxed curriculum this time since what I really want is pretty expensive.  I'm just going to make changes and add things as I see fit throughout the coming school year.

So, the first big change we have made is math.  Both April and Aaron are going to do Life of Fred.  April is going to continue with her current book, and then when she's through we'll get either the next level which is Decimals and percents, or we may skip over that one and go straight to pre-algebra.  We'll see.  I'm excited to add the first Life of Fred elementary series "Apples" into Aaron's school.  We haven't tried it yet, but I'm hoping to this week.
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They are also going to both be doing Singapore math as their main math work since Life of Fred is somewhat of a supplement.  I spent much time at our local homeschool bookstore last week poring through these books to make sure I liked them.  I was mostly sure I wanted to do Singapore math this year, but I had to see them first.  As soon as I looked inside them it confirmed my thoughts.  It's simple and to the point.  The exercises focus only on the new concept learned, and you don't have a lot of repititon.  We did the first lesson today, and both kids liked them.  I liked them.  I cannot believe how simple they are, and I like the pictures.  I'm glad that I looked at the books pretty thoroughly though too because I was able to determine that Aaron didn't need to start with Books 1A.  It was too easy, and he would have quickly gotten bored.  I think this will be the right level for him.
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April's is pretty awesome.  It starts with pre-algebra which is what she is totally ready for.  She has been asking to do it.  Our first lesson went great this morning, she got it for the most part.  But, having a letter replace a number is a somewhat new concept for her, and she made me laugh when she was trying to put letters in all kinds of places they didn't need to be.  She got it pretty quickly though.
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Just for fun...
Other math resources.  I'm hoping to include more hands on math fun with books like these.  I pulled this book out, and of course she was definitely willing to do fractions with chocolate!  This book is fun to read though.
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More hands on math is super fun.
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We have another one called Apple fractions.  That one is cool because it also talks about different varieties of apples as well as fractions.

Desiree

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hop on Pop fun

We are focusing on Dr. Seuss books for the next little while, and we had a lot of fun with this book!   Hop on Pop is a fun easy rhyming book, and it is really funny at some parts.  So, I found a great activity to go with it here at Obseussed.  I think this is just about one of the funnest things we have done in our homeschool, and we've done a lot of fun things!  So, first, we read this book a few times (our own Pop read it the first time)...

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Then, I picked up a light yellow sheet.  I braved my hand at drawing "POP" on it.
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After POP was done I let the kids draw their favorite parts of the story.  Or whatever they wanted.  I drew a "PUP" for Aric.
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Then I let him color it in.
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I also drew a cup for him, and let him color in the black details.  He did pretty good with the top part.  I finished the handle and the side of the cup.
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Aaron wanted to write the word timbuktu, and he tried for the first time to sound out a word on his own.  Then I showed him the page with the word on it.  I know it only says "TiB2", but the fact that he sounded it out and attempted to write it from that is a first for him, and that means he's trying to figure out words.  A huge step for him!
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April drew mouse and house. 
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Alexander, well, he was just in the middle of the whole thing.  Where you can usually find him when we are trying to get something done.  Thankfully he couldn't get the lids off of these markers or we would have been in trouble.
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After the kids were done with their drawings, I got a twin mattress from April's bed (she has the oldest mattress, more bouncy!)  I turned on some music, and then we HOPPED on POP!
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Each kid had a turn to jump for a whole song.
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This is a good P.E. activity too!  They were sweaty by the time we were done.
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Even April got in on the fun!

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The clapping audience watching the jumper...
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These are also the collages that the boys made.  I printed up some activities from Seussville, and after the boys did the pages I let them cut out the pictures and make a collage.

Here is Aaron's.  He wanted to write Horton Hears a Who because he's been liking that story too.
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Here's Aric's collage.  He likes to "read" the cup on pup/pup on cup/cup on cup/pup in cup squares with me.
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Such fun!  I love book activities.  This one turned out pretty great, and I'm thankful for that.

I'm linking this one up to stART.

Desiree

Sunday, April 8, 2012

our newest tot schooler

I'm still here!  We've been experiencing some changes around here.  One of them is keeping up with this little guy during out school time.  He's into everything!!!  He wants to be in the middle of it all, and I realized that he just wants something to do with us!  So, I let him have his way once in a while, and he loves it.

He loves the dot painters and the box of markers.  He just loves to take the lids off of all the markers, but the dot painters make a cool sound when plopped on the paper.  He just kept giggling.

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Squinkies have become a favorite of his.  He just loves the little balls.
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It has since been moved, but he used to climb up onto the little desk and would get into all the school supplies and "organize" for us.
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We got these water beads recently to try them out.  Alex just loved them.  He is really good about not putting things in his mouth, but I do watch him closely with all these small items.
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I'm excited to have a tot schooler again!  He's just starting to get so interested in how things work, and using his little hands and fingers.  I'm not sure how much formal tot school I'll be doing anymore, but I will try some new things with Alex every once in a while, and try to post about them.

Desiree
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