Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's journal: February 23, 2013


In my life this week...The Hubby left for Germany on Monday morning.  He'll be home tomorrow evening (Saturday)!  It has been an amazingly better week than expected, but I sure am glad he'll be home soon.  Looking forward to having our family all in one place again!

In our homeschool this week...Today (Friday) we started a unit on owls to go with our five in a row of Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.  The kids did a little art lesson on how to draw owls, and that went really well!  I love how their owls turned out.  We have yet to paint/color them in, but I'm thinking I will frame them when they're done.  The boys are pretty interested in owls, so this will be a fun unit over the next week.  We also jumped back into Story of the World.  It was amazing, like we hadn't even missed a beat.  We picked up in Chapter nine where we left off.  It was so easy to just pick it up where we were.  Love the flow of that history! 

Favorite resource this week...Living Montessori Now's free Presidents' day printables, and Montessori inspired Presidents' day activities.  I am loving Montessori more and more, and loved making these exact activities for my preschooler.  He had fun doing them.  Some we didn't get to and we'll save for next year.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...make your homeschool come first each day, sometimes it's hard, but it's worth it.

I am inspired curriculum.  Or, even sometimes old curriculum that is brought back to life!  We had some curriculum changes the past few weeks, new math books, old math books brought back out, and Story of the World started up again.  It helps get us all excited about doing school again.  Even if for only a short time :-)

Places we're going and people we're seeing...we didn't have Monday school because it was President's day, so we ended up going to the bookstore and the farm store.  My in-laws came on Wednesday and have stayed for a few days, until Saturday.  We went to Ikea on Wednesday afternoon, swimming on Thursday evening, and the library and Costco on Friday.  On Saturday we have a birthday party to go to for a homeschool friend that a certain 4 year old is looking forward to.  We also went to homeschool playgroup on Thursday afternoon and learned about making lefsa, and tasted it too!

My favorite thing this week was a great week, lots of favorites to choose from.  I'm going to pick Grandma and April cleaning and re-organizing April's room.  They even rearranged all the furniture.  It needed to be done, and I'm so glad I didn't have to do it with her!  One less thing on my list to do!  I love seeing her clean room now too!

Things I'm wroking on...planning activities for our girls group at church, and a lesson I have to substitute teach on Sunday for Aarons Sunday school class.

What's working/not working for's not working for us to be gone all the time!  I need to start being better again about scheduling things during our school time.

I'm reading...a Thomas Jefferson Education, and The work and the Glory.

The kids are reading...Aaron read a new Elephant and Piggie book this week, and he was faster at reading it too!  April is reading Meet Molly for her Portraits of American Girlhood history, but after this one we are going to quit.  Aric has devoured every owl book we had on hand (me reading it to him of course).  I got more at the library today, and I'm sure he'll want to read every single one soon.

I'm cooking...I rocked the kitchen this week!  It's not very many weeks I can say that.  I made some yummy baked tacos on Sunday night that even my Hubby was very impressed with.  Then, I made homemade pizza on Monday night, my best yet.  I made some chocolate chip muffins for breakfast one morning, those are always a hit.  But, what's even better is that I was able to keep up with the dishes too!  It's not very often I can say that too.

I'm grateful in-laws coming here to be with us these last few days of this week.  I always worry when my Hubby has to go out of town, and week long trips are the worst.  I'm so thankful that they just offered to come here and be with us, and that their visit has been so fun.  I'm thankful for the excitement the kids have when they are here.  I'm thankful for the company.  I was thinking today about how on Monday night for some reason a huge wave of loneliness came over me.  I'm not sure where it came from, but not only was my husband gone, but I felt completely friendless.  I had no friends that knew I was alone this week, and no one that I felt I could just call up and talk to.  Their visit was a much welcome relief and comfort.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

My boys' two favorite books right now.  Fly guy, and Elephant and Piggie books.  We pretty much get them every time we go to the library now.


I'm joining iHomeschool network's Homeschool Mother's Journal


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

curriculum changes

Sometimes I feel like we are changing curriculum like we change our clothes!  No, just kidding, we really don't change that much.  But, it is the time of year where I have to do a little re-evaluating of what's working and what's not working.

Lets start with history.  So, I added this Portraits of American Girlhood a few months back for a change in April's history.  It's a lovely book of unit studies centered around the American girl books, but it does not cover much history except the time period that the girl lives in.  It's great, we have learned a lot, but we aren't getting very far.  There is a lot of historical stuff to go along with the books, but those take a lot of time for not a lot of history learned.  I have been feeling like this isn't working.  I was having to make April read books she already has read, and she wasn't really getting a lot out of it.  So, long story short, we will still use this book, but just for "extra" history fun.  Not as her main history.  I decided this a few nights ago.  Well, I was pondering what to do for April's history.  Do we go back to Story of the World?  I want to, but wasn't sure how April would feel about that.  Not that she has all the say, but I want to consider her feelings.  So, at breakfast this morning I told her my plan with the American Girl history.  She agreed, and then on her own she said "I'd like to go back to Story of the World."  Woohoo!  That made me so happy!  I didn't even have to bring it up (which I was planning on doing).  So, we are back to Story of the World.  I hope we can get through the chapters quicker than we were before!


On to Math.  A few things here.  One, Aaron was bored.  He blatantly asked me one morning if he could have something more challenging.  As I watched him, I agreed.  He needed something different.  He has been using Singapore math, and Life of Fred Apples (which we will still use, but that's just a supplement for us).  I have to admit I have not liked the Singapore math books and didn't want to buy another the next level up.  We needed a different curriculum completely.  Saxon?  Too tedious for this age.  He doesn't need tedious.  Somehow I came across Horizons math in my searching.  Oh, I think it was from Sonlight that I discovered it.  I was looking at what math Sonlight recommended since I was looking at buying their Curriculum next year.  So, I had each child do the Horizon math placement tests.  I started Aaron at level 2.  He was able to do almost all of it, and with no problems.  This kid is really a wiz at math!  I was stunned at what he knew and could figure out.  So, I picked up Horizons math level 2 for him, and Level K for Aric.  They both are doing great with these books.  Aric is moving along pretty quickly in it.


Second, I also had April do the placement test for level 6 because she's about frustrated with her Singapore too.  She didn't really pass with flying colors.  I didn't want to get the level 6 for her just yet.  So, what to do?  For some reason her old Saxon 5/4 math book popped into my head the other night as I was feeling frustrated about what to do.  I got it out and looked at it.  She had only made it about 1/4 through the book, and where she left off was about where she needed more work in.  There were still lots of great math lessons in the book!  I stuck it in her workbox for the next day.  She did great with her lesson, and no frustrations. So, we'll go back to that for a while, and see how it works.

As for Geography.  Aaron is now studying each of the United States one by one.  We are using Road trip USA, Which way USA, and library books to learn about each one.

A little FIAR addition.  I have really been digging into Five in a row lately.  I'm trying to incorporate it into our weeks as much as I can.  I love learning from children's picture books, and it has helped my boys immensely at getting more excited about reading.  I was very excited to add this to our Five in a Row collection.  I now also have 3 Volumes of Five in a row manuals.  I love having them on hand.  So excited for this cookbook!

 That's all I have for now.  I'm excited for these changes, and hope to change some other things up over the next few months. 


Wordless Wednesday: Tot school

He's loving it! IMG_2844

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Chinese new year!

We didn't get to do much to celebrate Chinese new year this year, but we did go to the Portland Chinese garden last month (January) for a field trip!  I bet this place would be gorgeous in the Spring too, although it was very beautiful still even in the middle of Winter.

 At the time of this field trip we were also doing a little rock nature study, so we were looking at all the many things that were made of rock.  There was much to find made out of rocks.  There were bridges, buildings, statues, and even natural rock formations.  The ground had some pretty rock walkways also.  It tied in so perfectly with our nature study, love it when that happens!

What we saw in pictures...
Love beautiful places like this! 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Feb. 8


In my life this week...I pruned hacked  a bush in my front yard to get some twigs for a new decoration that I wanted to create for my mantle.  It was a lot of fun making, and a much needed creative outlet.  I've wanted to get something on my bare mantle, and a homeschool friend had a decoration similar to this that I just loved.  It's not much, but it sure does spruce up the place.  I've got lots more ideas I can't wait to get done to decorate this space.


In our homeschool this week...I officially started tot school with Alex.  He loved it!  I have to say that with this being my 3rd time around doing tot school getting ready for it was a breeze.  I think I finally know what I'm doing!  It only took 3 kids to figure it out :-)  LOL.  I just hope it's a sign that things will get easier as we go through each year.

As for the older kids' homeschool this week...I think we finally finished up Texas with Aaron, but we have a few more books to read that we picked up at the library today.  We finally got his Chuck wagon craft done.  At the end he said he didn't like it because the wheels were too big.  I think they turned out really cute (I say "they" because Aric wanted to make one too).  It was pretty fun to make.  I'm excited to move onto the next state with him.  Utah is up next!


Places we're going and people we're seeing...oh my we have been going, going, going!  I think I'm ready to slow down again!  Anyway, we went to the library this week, finished up swim lessons, art class, horse lessons, Monday school co-op, friends house to play, bread exchange, and April started a Harry Potter book club at her BFF's house.  Phew!  Oh, and we also managed to make it to the homeschool bookstore too for a much needed review of new potential math curricula.

My favorite thing this week was...Aaron memorizing part of a poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost.  He memorized the first stanza which was pretty good for him.  He really impresses me with how quickly he can memorize something.

My kiddos favorite thing this week...Monday school.  They all love it (except Alex, he doesn't like the nursery).  Aaron's "camping" class they made a real fire outside, he was so excited.  He also loved making a viking sword and a shield in his Magic Treehouse book club.

Things I'm working on...oh I have quite the list!  But, I guess I'm focusing this week on thinking about decorating.  I have not been much of a decorator other than at Christmas time, so I've been excited and inspired to be more creative in that area.  I want to focus on "family" themed decorations so it should be pretty fun.  I used to feel like I didn't have any time to waste on decorating other than a few knick knacks here or there, but lately I have felt that I should make the time because it brings me happiness to create and make my home beautiful especially with family memories.  So, that's what I'm working on probably over the next year or so.  It'll definitely be a slow process.  My next project is a canvas with all our hand prints on it and our family name at the top.

I'm cooking...crockpot Italian chicken over rice, and tacos.  Those were my two "winning" dinners this week (meaning most everybody loved them).  I need to get back into the meal planning, and cooking groove again.

I'm grateful for...good books, a great family, a wonderful Hubby, pictures of family memories up on the wall, snuggles and hugs and kisses from my little ones, so many great and interesting things to learn even when I'm an adult.

I'm praying number to not be called in for jury duty on Monday morning.

Something I am ogling or have my eye on...sonlight curriculum.  I want it.  I don't want to spend that much money, but I think it would be a perfect fit for us.  Sometimes I get tired of pulling our curriculum bits and pieces together, and I've seen how wonderfully sonlight works for so many families.  I am considering it for next year.  I am really trying to decide if I should get the Kindergarden level now for my Pre-K.  He's ready for Kindergarden level in so many ways, so I'm not sure I want to wait.  I don't know yet.  We'll see!

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...Aaron reciting the first part of the poem.  This isn't the best video, but it was all he would let me get :-)  I asked him to recite it again a few days later, and he still remembers it.  Hopefully we can get the rest soon!

So, that's our week in a nutshell!  To see other homeschool journal entries visit iHomeschool network.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

FIAR: Katy and the Big Snow

I am loving Five in a Row more and more with each book.  I love the memories, the learning that happens (without really doing any school), and just sitting down with my boys to read a good book each day.  I love the questions, the ideas, and the dreams that my boys come up with when we have these fun five in a row adventures.

This was a great little book.  It's amazing what we found in this fun story, Katy and the Big Snow.  It's a lot of work and time to do all this, but so worth it! 

Social Studies:  Responsibility

This is a great book for talking about responsibilities in and around a city.  I found a great use for these community block play people I picked up a while back.  The boys would hold these while we read the story, and when it got to the part in the story they would hold up the worker that was calling for help.  I got to thinking that since not everybody has these great little people on hand that you could always print up some pictures of city workers and glue them to sticks to use while reading the story as well.

My boys loved having these to hold, and if I started reading without them they would quickly get them.  It made story time very interactive.  Good for wiggly little boys.  Although, they didn't have too hard a time holding still for this story.  We also talked about the responsibilities each worker might have.


Social studies:   Map skills

We talked about directions, north, south, east, and west.  We looked at the compass rose in the book, and noticed how it was at an angle.  My boys understood that!  I love that they got it.  They each filled out the directions on a compass rose for their lapbook.  Then, top it all off, they wanted a real compass to play/explore with.  So we picked up some cheap ones, and we had a little lesson on how to tell which direction you are going.  They had a good time finding their way out of the store!


Maps.  We talked about "Geopolis," and how it isn't a real place.  But, it could represent any place.   I told them what "Geo" and "Polis" stand for as the manual suggests.  Then we colored/painted a "Land of Make Believe" map.  I had them glue their maps to brown paper bags to give it a treasure map look.
Aaron's map
Aric working on his.  He chose to color
Aric's map
Social studies:  Street signs, and city

We made signs out of popcicle sticks and clay, and talked about what each sign was telling us.  The boys loved this.  They turned out pretty cute, and I plan to save them for future "city" building.


Then they used their signs to make an imaginary geoppolis with their trains.  I also pulled out our highway letters, and we had fun spelling Geoppolis.geoppolis

Math:  Counting by 5's

There's a great lesson on counting by 5's in this story.  Actually, there are LOTS of counting possibilities in this story.  We counted telephone poles just on the cover.  There are trucks to count.  There are numbers on the map to match up to different buildings in the city.  We did those things, but we really had fun with 55 horse power Katy, and counting by 5's.  On one page it counts the horses by 5's.  My boys each filled out a little book with 5 horses on each page, and practiced writing by 5's the numbers from 5-55.   Wow, that's a lot of 5's! 

Aric writing his numbers
He did pretty good!  He's 4, so I had to write the number down for him to copy it.
These are Aaron's numbers.  He's pretty good with counting by 5's, he didn't need much help counting or writing them.
We also did a measuring art project.  They measured 4" of snow on the left side of a large black piece of construction paper, and on the right they measured 10" of snow on the right, and painted up to each line with white paint.  We also happened to have some stickers that came with our book, so they each got to choose some for their picture.  This was a great lesson on measurement, and they got to see how deep 4" and 10" of snow would have been.



The finished pictures!
Aric's picture

Aaron's picture

Five in a row storytime with friends

I decided it would be really fun to have some friends join us for one of our "rowing" days, so we had them come on a Wednesday morning.  First I read the story to all the kids.  It really looks like they aren't paying any bit of attention, but they actually did really well.  They all listened, and we talked about a few things.  I even have the people out, and gave them each a few of them to hold until their part of the story came up.

We were also sitting on our "blanket of snow."  I pulled out a sheet, and it just happened to have snowflakes on it, how perfect was that?!


Art: Salt pictures

After we read the story, we had a little craft/art project.  They used glue and salt to make a picture.  I really wanted to make a picture of Katy for a craft, but I couldn't find anything that would work.  The paper we did these on is the same color that is in the book, an aqua-blue-ish color, that contrasts with the snow really well.  That's why I chose that color.  I forgot to talk about that to the kids, but oh well.  If you notice in this picture also the table cloth on the table is an old sheet that I drew a picture of Katy on.  I love letting them draw on these "tablecloths" the things that they learned.  These salt pictures were pretty fun.


Fun with snow

After the craft we all had some fun with snow (aka shaving cream)!  It was a blast.  I even threw the people in there, and some cars for them to drive through the snow.  The cars got stuck of course, just like in the book.


Finally, we finished off our story time with friends having hot chocolate of course!

I'm really not sure why my kids are making such funny faces in this picture.  Oh well, they make me laugh!

MMmmmm!  Hot Chocolate!

That wraps up our fun with Katy and the Big Snow!  We had so much fun with this book, and we didn't even get to everything!  Some other things we did that aren't pictured:  Katy and the big snow lapbook, snowflake matching game, and reading some other snow related books.

Here are the links for all the great ideas I found:

I am also linking this up to Delightful Learning's FIAR link up for Katy and the Big snow.
Delightful Learning


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