Friday, April 29, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: 4/24-4/29/11

We ended up taking an unscheduled Spring Break last week thanks to unexpected doctor visits and lots of practice driving.  We were able to get right back in to things this week, despite spending most of the week away from home. 

Language Arts

We didn’t do any spelling this week since I didn’t want to bring the large white board and all the little tiles with us.

Georgie is continuing to do fairly well with Handwriting without Tears.  He really likes writing in the book but I usually have him practice on lined or gray box paper first.  We have gone through the different uppercase letters forms but we are doing some review of the whole alphabet since he still doesn’t always use proper form (starting at the top and going down, etc.).  We will probably move on to numbers and lowercase letters next week but continue practicing with uppercase letters at least a couple times a week.

We are continuing along in our Grammar programs.  We are still working on telling sentences and Georgie is having no problem knowing if something is a complete sentence or not.  We also played with our new Mad Libs Junior book – Animals, Animals, Animals.  Georgie surprised me by being able to read most of the word lists himself.  Which brings us to….

Reading.  Georgie is doing excellent with his reading.  We did Lessons 43,44,45 and 46 in Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  These all dealt with ending consonant blends.  We are doing about one lesson a day as long as he is able to read the lesson without a problem. 

He read I Wish I Had Duck Feet all by himself to add to his bookworm.  We read a selection from Frog and Toad Are Friends by alternating – he would read a two page spread, then I would read the next one.  He also read most of Rainbow Fish – Finders Keepers but had me read the last few pages.

In addition to the books I pick out for him to read, he is trying to read every book we use for school.  We used our Usborne IL Encyclopedia of World History to learn about evolution this week and he tried to read the selections we were discussing.  He was only able to read about half the words in each paragraph but since he doesn’t mind if I correct him, I like that he is so excited to try.  Even if it does make everything take twice as long.

We did three or four pages from Explode the Code each day.  These are also dealing with ending blends and we ran into a few pages that we hadn’t covered in OPGTR yet.   Since I really want to use these for review, we may have to take a break to give us a chance to get a little further in OPGTR.  I think I am going to continue using these for review until Georgie is proficient in reading.  They really do a good job of reinforcing what we are covering in OPGTR and helps me confirm that he really does understand a lesson.

Vicki has done very little this week except play on the computer.  She knows all her letter sounds but was resistant to blending so we may have to take a break for a little while. 


We are continuing along with Math Mammoth.  I know I’ve seen on forums that students don’t need to do all the problems on a page if they show they understand the concept but Georgie actually likes to do them all.  He won’t necessarily do them in order, but he likes finishing a page.  Each day we are doing an addition page and a subtraction page from 1A, then each day we do one additional page on Place Value, Clock or Shapes/Measuring from 1B.  We are holding off on continuing with money until he has a better understanding of Place Value and adding two digit numbers.


We did a brief overview of Evolution as part of our Prehistory unit.

Georgie recently saw a show that did a presentation of the American Sign Language alphabet.   This caught his attention in a big way and he came running into the kitchen where Steph and I were talking to show us some letters.  Steph and I both know the ASL alphabet so we were able to explore it further with him.   Georgie showed so much interest, I decided to add Sign Language to our curriculum.   So far we are working on  the alphabet, his name and the sign for “I Love You”.

The town where Steph goes to school has a K-8 School for the Deaf that sends its graduates to her high school.   They offer a wonderful 1/2 year course in Sign Language that taught about deaf culture and offered the opportunity for discussion and practice with deaf students.  Steph took this class her sophomore year and was able to give me the materials from her class to get us started.  They are a wonderful resource and will help me a lot as we proceed but since they are written at a high school level, I also ordered the Scholastic book Sign Language My First 100 Words.
My First 100 Words (Sign Language)
Not too many pictures this week but I did manage to get one half-way decent shot of my three kids together.

Prehistory – Part 3 Evolution

The next topic in our Prehistory program was a brief overview of evolution.  Since we will be discussing evolution as we proceed through the eras of prehistory, this was meant to just introduce the concept.

We read from our Usborne IL Encyclopedia of World History and read the story Our Family Tree.
Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story

Then we explored watched some episodes of Just So Darwin, which are cartoons with stories about animals such as “Why does the giraffe have a long neck” and “Why is the Platypus so unusual?” told from an evolutionary point of view.   My kids love watching programs about animals so these were a big hit. 

We also played the Monster Game where you get to create a creature and see how well he survives in the jungle.  Information is provided about animals with similar ears, noses, teeth and eyes and why they work well (or poorly) for survival.

Next week we will start working our way through the eras of Prehistory beginning with the Vendian Period.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: 4/11-4/15/11

We had a really good week despite Daddy being out of the country and all the literal and figurative headaches that came along with that disruption to our routine.  Not to mention the fact that I have to cook dinner.

Language Arts
Georgie is continuing to advance quickly with his reading abilities.  I felt that using All About Spelling as a reading and spelling program wasn’t moving fast enough so we started Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading this week.  I started him on Lesson 40, which is a review of short vowels words, since this is where he is as far as official work is concerned.  He completed lessons 40, 41 (double consonants), 42 (ck combination) and 43 (lk, lb and lp endings) without any real problems.  We will do Lesson 43 again next week since he did have a little hesitation with that one but I think we will be moving pretty fast through this, at least for now.  We will continue with All About Spelling for spelling and the review of phonics rules.

Georgie read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish all by himself and completely in one sitting (it’s 63 pages long).  His stamina for reading is definitely improving along with his ability.

I had the opportunity to let the kids try out Click n Read this week (Thanks Jana!!).  Both kids really liked it so I’m going to be adding this to our curriculum.  It won’t be a daily thing but it will be great to occupy one kid while I’m working with the other.  There is a special buy of $29.99 for a lifetime account through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.
Georgie is loving Handwriting without Tears.  I’ve been keeping the plan for each day pretty short since he generally doesn't like writing.  We’re doing the Grade 1 book so we’re starting with a review of capital letters.  Since I want to make sure he’s doing them correctly, I printed off some gray block paper with the starting dots and I have him practice on that before doing the book.  He’s so eager he wants to do multiple pages each day.  I have to stop him since his hand gets tired and he ends up holding the pencil in his right hand but guiding it with his left.

We didn’t do any Explode the Code this week but we’ll start back up with that next week.  It won’t align exactly with OPGTR so will generally be a review.  We’re working in Book 2 and I haven’t yet decided if we are going to continue it after this book.  With OPGTR, HWT and AAS, not to mention Click n Read, it may be too much to continue with ETC as well. 

I started Vicki with Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading as well.  We started by reviewing all the letter sounds to make sure she knew them well.  She did, so next week we will try some blending and see how it goes.  For now we are using the letters from Fridge Phonics.
Vicki also played on Click n Read this week.  She enjoyed it as well and has no problem with doing it by herself.  I set her up with my laptop on her table with her back to Georgie.  She had to wear headphones this week since my laptop is set up to use a headset to do Skype video calls with Daddy.  This actually worked well (except I couldn’t hear what she was doing) since it didn’t distract Georgie as much as I think it would with speakers.
Vicki is doing the Pre-K level of Handwriting without Tears.  She used the capital letter guides I printed out, along with the foam pieces, to build letters this week.  She really enjoyed this and went through most of the alphabet each day.
We continued with our new Math Mammoth this week.  We are doing a few selected pages from 1A to learn their method of teaching addition and subtraction.  Mixed in starting next week will be pages on Place Value, Clock, and Shapes and Measuring.  We will also continue doing MEP along with it but I’m thinking of moving Georgie up to Year 2.  Year 1 is going very slowly and he’s starting to get a little bored with it.

We played one of the games suggested in Math Mammoth – 10 Out.  Kind of like Go Fish but you put down matches that add up to 10.  Georgie was VERY good at this and was making matches using 3 or 4 cards at at time.
I never posted a weekly wrap-up last week but we finished Part 1 of our Prehistory unit (formation of the Earth) last week and Part 2 (fossils) this week.
We also spent an entire day outside since we finally had some beautiful weather. (Counts as physical education, nature study and art, right?)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finally – A Nice Spring Day!

We finally had some decent weather around here.  The kids and I took advantage of it to spend the entire day outside.

We went to a local county park that has a great overlook where you can see New York City on a clear day.  I’ve been going to this park since I was young enough that my dad had to carry me part of the way up.  Since I wasn’t too sure I could even make it up the fairly steep, 1.3 mile trail anymore, I wasn’t going to even try with the little guys so we stuck to checking out the wildflower trails.

Evidently it was too early in the year because we didn’t see any wildflowers.  We did have a nice little hike through the woods and over a cute little bridge.




We saw only one small patch of little white flowers in one of the few spots without a sign telling us what grows there.


After our hike, we went and played in the playground.


After a quick trip to the store for supplies, I made some sidewalk paints (cornstarch, water and food coloring) and the kids decorated our patio and the outside of our chimney.



We walked down to the river but it was slightly over its banks making a big patch of mud, so we didn’t stay long.

All that exercise and the kids are now playing Wii Fit Plus.  I think I may get my wish for an early bedtime tonight. ;-)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Prehistory – Part 2 Fossils

We continued our prehistory study by learning about Fossils.  What they are, how they are made and how they are found.

First we read about fossils in our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History.  This book has wonderful pictures and brief text – the perfect combination to keep my kids interest.

We also read from the DK Eyewitness Books Prehistoric Life.

We learned about what tools paleontologists use to find fossils by doing a page out of our Junior Paleontologists Activity Book and then playing a game of Dig that Dinosaur.

Dig that Dinosaur was one of the games in a Scholastic Ebook I bought during their dollar days – Quick and Easy Learning Games: Science.  In this game, each player is attempting to gather tools and get to the dinosaurs skull first.  The directions say to use a spinner but I’ve never had a homemade spinner work well so we used dice.  It also has each player collect three tools.  I made an extra copy of the tools and had each player gather all six and discuss what each was used for.   I laminated the game in a file folder and we used plastic dinosaurs as pieces.
For the next activity, we used the Safari Ancient Fossils Toob (I love the Toob’s) along with the real fossils they were able to get at the museum during the Rock and Mineral Weekend, and some sea shells.   I wanted to do a semi-realistic dig site outside for the kids.   Thanks to pre-construction activities our yard is currently all dirt and rocks.  Perfect for a dig.  Unfortunately, though we finally had some warmer temperatures, it rained every day this week.  So, I went with plan B and we had a “dig” in our rice bin.   There were a few plastic acorns in there left over from our Fall Sensory Bin but I left them figuring that some junk is usually dug up at any site. 

Both kids had fun searching for the fossils.   Vicki really had fun pretending to dig for the fossils and then brushing them clean as they were found.  She re-buried them at least twice and found them all again.  Georgie was only interested in finding them once and then looking up what they were on the information sheet that came with the Toob.
The tools we used for our dig and what we found…
We learned about how fossils are formed and the different types of fossils by doing the first few activities in our Magic School Bus Back In Time With the Dinosaurs science kit.  We learned about True Form Fossils, Mold Fossils, Cast Fossils and Trace Fossils.  We used the kit contents to (attempt to) make samples of Mold, Cast and Trace fossils but they didn’t come out too well.  I think I may have added too much water to the plaster of paris mixture.
We also went to our local museum for the first activity in honor of the opening of the newly expanded dinosaur exhibit – making a coffee ground fossil.   First, we gathered our sediments (coffee, flour, salt), then the river water came…
and swirled them all together.  Only Vicki was willing to put her hands in there and stir it all up.
The river dried up and left behind mud.  Sea creatures died and their shells settled down and made impressions in the soft mud.
Then over millions of years (or the next day), the mud hardened into rock with an impression of the shell in it.

While at the museum we were able to examine some fossils in the Rock & Mineral collection.
We learned more about the conditions needed for fossils to form by playing the Burying Bodies game, which allows you to move a dinosaur body to different places (side of a volcano, beach, river, ocean) to find out whether its a good place for it to turn into a fossil.

We played The Road to Fossilization game from the Junior Paleontologists Activity Book which I laminated in a file folder.   We used some fossils from our Toob as pieces and rolled a die instead of flipping a coin as suggested.  Even numbers moved 2 spaces and odd numbers moved 3 spaces.  The game gave information on how fossils are formed and some of the things that can prevent formation.
During our study we also watched The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells and an episode of Sci Girls on Digging Archeology.

Books we read:
Fossils Tell of Long Ago (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)Fossils: Clues to Ancient Life (Rocks, Minerals, and Resources)
Coming up next:  A brief overview of Evolution before we start on the first life on Earth.

My First Blog Award!

I received my first blog award yesterday from Jana at Homeschooling a Texas Tornado and a Preschool Tag-alongThank you Jana!!  I'm so excited.  Now I'm supposed to come up with seven random things about myself and pass it on to three other bloggers.  I actually slept on this since it was harder than I thought to come up with 7 random facts.  I ended up looking at old Facebook notes to see what I usually write about myself. :-D


1.  I LOVE to read.
2.  I'm currently getting book suggestions from Steph so I'm reading lots of teenage vampire stories.
3.  I very rarely cook.  DH cooks dinner 99% of the time. 
4.  I am not a morning person and I have one kid who is up by 7am every day.  (it's not the teenager who actually has to get up for school).
5.  I love musicals.   Another fun thing I get to share with Steph.
6.  My favorite ice cream is Double Dark Chocolate Fudge Crunch.
7.  I love homeschooling - it satisfies both the teacher and the obsessive planner in me.

Now, I'm going to pass this award along to three other bloggers:

The Homeschool Den
Satori Smiles
Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prehistory – Part 1

We started our Prehistory unit today by learning about the formation of the Earth.  First we watched the National Geographic movie, Earth: Making of a Planet.   The movie was very good (and appears to be available online) but at two hours long, the kids did not sit and watch the whole thing straight through.  They would wander off for a while and then return for more.

After the movie, we read in our Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History about how when it was first formed, the earth’s surface was covered with volcanoes.   We then made our own volcano.  I have never done this with the kids before so it was a new experience for them.

I have been collecting all our old, mixed up play-doh for the day we would use it to make a volcano.  We covered an old jelly jar completely to make our form.   Georgie didn’t want to touch the old play-doh because he said it was icky.  He usually likes play-doh and, other than the colors, this was no different so I’m not sure what that was all about but Vicki didn’t mind doing all the play-doh work herself.


Then we poured a mixture of vinegar, dishsoap and red food coloring into our volcano – our molten lava.

Last, we added some baking soda.   The kids loved watching the volcano erupt and wanted to do it again right away.  At first, it came out very pale pink but then it became a darker red.


You can see how big of a step back Vicki took once it started “erupting”.



Very cool….and very messy.

After our volcano settled down, we did a worksheet on the different Eras of time from the Junior Paleontologists Activity Book available from the National Park Service.   This is a resource I forgot to list in my Prehistory Plan.  We will be using different pieces of it throughout our study.

We read about Pangea in our UILEWH and did an activity showing how the continents would separate and how mountains are formed.  Ideas that I found at The Homeschool Den blog.

Next we will be learning about how fossils are formed and found.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our Upcoming Prehistory Plans Are Now Available!

Anyone who is interested in seeing details of our upcoming Prehistory study it has been posted under its own page right here.  The plan covers from the formation of the Earth to the Death of the Dinosaurs.

Weekly Wrap-Up: 3/28 to 4/1

We had a light but okay week.   I’m still patiently awaiting my Math Mammoth so we can get started.  We didn’t do any special subjects this week because I’m preparing a Dinosaur study to go along with activities at our local museum.  I’ve been gathering our resources, ordering a few extra books from the library (even though we already own 16 books on dinosaurs and prehistoric life, not counting our Usborne IL Encyclopedia of World History) and setting up our plans. 

Language Arts

Georgie continued with Explode the Code and Scholastic Grammar.  So far there hasn’t been anything in either one that causes him even a moment’s hesitation.

Georgie was very happy to see the All About Spelling tiles come out again this week.  We covered the /z/ sound at the end of a word and the /kw/ sound.    He easily spelled all the Word List words for this lesson.


While we worked on spelling, Vicki worked on our other whiteboard with her Fridge Phonics letters.  Georgie pointed out to her that the red letters were vowels.


She also worked on an upper/lower case letter matching activity I made up months ago.  These two are pretty much all the school Vicki did this week.


I rearranged things so the many, many printable games and activities I have are easier to access so hopefully we will get back to using them more.

Georgie continued with Frog Jump capitals in Handwriting Without Tears.  We will be moving on to Corner Starting Capitals next week and will probably start moving through the capitals faster.


We are continuing along with MEP and Addition/Subtraction worksheets until our Math Mammoth comes, which should be TODAY!  I can’t wait print it off and get started. 


Yes, I have a brief brag on Steph this week.  Last weekend was our last regional dance competition for the year.  Steph has been having an amazing year but last weekend she really did well.   Her tap trio (The Remedy) won Extreme Platinum (the highest award) and 4th place overall teen duet/trio, her tap small group (5 Guys Named Moe) won Extreme Platinum and 9th place overall teen small group  (out of about 100 groups) and her solo (As Fast As You Can) won Extreme Platinum and 10th place overall senior solo (out of about 75 soloists).   I’m very proud of her and all the girls, and Robert, at WTDA! 

solos 2011

5 guys named moe 2011