Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: January 24 to 28, 2011

Georgie is continuing to trudge along in reading, writing and math.  He is showing some interest in reading harder books – particularly Frog and Toad.  He can read slightly more than 3/4 of the words on a given page but gets tired after just a few pages.   We did finish the first chapter (is that what they are considered or are they separate stories?) in Frog and Toad are Friends by alternating – he read a page then I read a page.

I recently purchased a large map of the World.  Daddy and I were in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania a few weeks ago and there was a Lakeshore Learning store right across the street.   Of course we had to go check it out and they had this large, laminated, dry-erasable wall map for $24.  It wasn’t until we were home that I realized we didn’t have any wall space large enough to put it up.  I ended up taping together four pieces of foam board to mount the map.  This probably will work better for now anyway since it makes it portable.   The kids discovered the map (and its dry-erase properties) and had a great time checking it out.   Georgie played a quiz game using the compass rose asking questions such as “what direction is China from India” and “how do you get from Canada to Brazil”.  I think this is going to end up being a great resource when we start our Continent studies (hopefully next week).  Vicki mainly just randomly circled things and asked "what is this?"
Since we were in a Geography frame of mind, we also played a lot with the TAG US map.   Georgie could be heard talking to himself “Now I know what a steamboat is!”.  He also had fun hearing how many miles it was between two points and how long it would take to drive or fly between them.    This will be very useful when we start studying the United States.
Right now New Jersey is enjoying (??) the snowiest January on record.   We have the most snow in 116 years.  
For some reason, the majority of people I talk to aren’t really enjoying it.  Until this week we were having single digit temperatures with negative windchills.  Not my idea of pleasant.  But this Wednesday we were gifted with another foot of fresh, pristine snow along with temperatures barely below freezing.  Thursday’s forecast was for sunshine and temperatures in the 40’s.   I don’t think we quite achieved that but it was close enough that we ventured out into the snow. 

Vicki plopped right down to make snow angels.
Georgie went for throwing snowballs at everyone.
The snow was deep and the underlying layers were very slippery.  Even Zappa (yes, he’s named after Frank) preferred walking in the trails already blazed.
The snow was really hard to dig in once you got past the top layer so Vicki decided she needed to find a shovel in the sandbox.  She managed to uncover one eye of our frog sandbox.  There’s probably over 2 feet of snow currently covering everything with the bottom foot very compacted.
We made a couple of attempts at a snowman but whenever we would get a decent sized base, Georgie would pick it up and throw it.  Finally we had a base too big for him to throw but we still didn’t get to finish our snowman.
Vicki decided it was more fun to build snow castles….
and play in the fort under our slide.  She was playing a pretend game where she kept peeking out and shouting “who’s that knocking at my door?”.
They spent some time having fun on the swing.
When Vicki was swinging, Georgie kept running in front of her and dodging out of the way….
but he didn’t always make it out of the way in time.
They finished up playing a pretend game. Vicki was a baby and would cry for ice cream.  Georgie would make her a vanilla “snow” cone.  I made sure to steer them away from that yellow snow.
There was a large Raptor-type bird flying around for a while.  It was pretty hard to get a picture of him and I couldn't find my binoculars to get a better look but he was most likely a turkey vulture, red shouldered hawk or red tailed hawk.
Considering it is still January, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more chances to enjoy the snow but I’m looking forward to the first Nature walk of the year that we can look for signs of Spring.  That seems very far away at the moment.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Weekly Wrap-up: Jan 17 to 21, 2011

We finally managed to get back into the normal swing of things this week. 

We started the week with a field trip to the museum for a special Peaceful Dove Craft in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day.   We also read a book about him but didn’t find a lot of resources that were at a simple enough level for these guys.
Georgie is doing great with reading.  He was able to read all (every single word!) of Green Eggs and Ham by himself this week.  We are up to short U words in ETC and AAS.  Only short E words are left and we start on long vowels. Obviously he is reading beyond the level we are officially teaching but we will continue to work through our curriculums to make sure there are no gaps.

Georgie was very excited to see the magnetic board and letter tiles again after so many weeks off.  He immediately noticed the three new tiles (sh, ch and th) and wanted to make some words with them right away.   Unfortunately there aren’t many words that can be made with just those and one other tile (shy and the were the only ones I could think of) so he got a little frustrated.  I had to remind him of the “every word has at least one vowel” rule and that helped settle his frustration.

He was feeling very energetic this week and decided to act out the words after spelling them.  It was a good set of words for action: up (jumped up on the back of the couch), fun (danced around having fun), bug (went on a bug hunt, Vicki played the bug and he “caught” her), sun (ran to the window to look at the sun), run (ran around) and bus (pretended to drive a bus).  Surprisingly (not), at this point he was really tired and decided to spell the rest of the words orally without the accompanying action.

Math is going well.  He’s still enjoying MEP but I’m finding it very slow moving so I’m considering switching to Math Mammoth when the Homeschool Buyers Co-op has it’s special sale in March. 

Georgie has mastered time to the hour and the 1/2 hour and we will be moving on to the quarter hours next week.   We will also be doing more with elapsed time.

In Money, we’ve introduced quarters.  We may have to slow down with this soon since some of the addition needed is going to get beyond him.  He’s doing wonderfully with single digit addition but adding 25+25+10+5+3 is a little beyond him at this point.  We still play Money Bags quite a bit so he’ll probably memorize some values (say for 2 quarters) without actually understanding how to get there.  He can count by fives and tens which helped a lot with dimes and nickels.

Writing is going about the same.  He still resists writing lowercase letters.  I put some wider spaced lines on one of the lap whiteboards to see if that will help.

We did some drawing on the chalkboards this week.  Georgie loves to draw animals and aliens.  I'm thinking of adding an art curriculum sometime in the Fall but I'm not sure what would be right for him.  He loves to draw but does NOT like to be told what to draw or how to do his artwork.  I'm looking for an art curriculum that has some guidelines but then lets the project be very individual.  I'm not sure such a thing exists. 
He also spent some time quizzing Vicki using her Brainquest card decks. 
The kids got their hands on my camera a few times this week and decided to do a photography independent study.
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They even figured out how to switch to black and white pictures.
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How artistic!  They also managed to change the preview setting and it took me two days to figure out how to change it back.

Coming up: we’ll be starting our Habitats and Continents studies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trip to the Museum

We took a trip to our local museum Monday.   I don’t usually mention trips to the kids ahead of time so if our plans change they aren’t too disappointed.  But, Georgie overheard me tell Daddy I wanted to try and keep Vicki’s hair braided that night so it wouldn’t be massively knotted when we got up in the morning, and asked where we were going. (Okay, so anytime Vicki’s hair is brushed or the kids get dressed they think it means we’re going somewhere, what’s your point?).  I told him we were going to go to the museum with our friends Emma and Maddy.  Vicki overheard and came out to ask about it.  “Georgie going to the museum?  Can I come too?”  When I told her of course she was coming with us, she smiled hugely, gave me a big hug and said “Thank you Mommy, I Love the Museum!”  Awwww.
The museum usually isn’t open on Mondays or Tuesdays but they often do special crafts and activities for school holidays.  Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the museum hosted a Peaceful Dove Craft.  They provided a template, various colors of paper, various cloths, sequins and glue.   The kids enjoyed it but didn’t spend a lot of time covering the whole dove.  Vicki is definitely over her love of glue but she enjoyed cutting pieces off the various samples of cloth.
Georgie went with sequins for his dove and thought hard about each placement.  Like he does on most things these days, he also added some numbers (sometimes it's letters) and a little picture (of a doggy).
While the glue on our doves dried we went and visited our favorite exhibits at the museum.   We were told that they would be opening up a new and expanded dinosaur exhibit in April and I can’t wait to see it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: January 3 to January 7, 2011

2011!! I can't believe it's a new year already. 

After our long Holiday break, I decided to ease back in to our school routine.  The kids were enjoying playing with their new toys and, until some of the novelty wears off, it's not going to be easy pulling them away.

So, we did a few worksheets but mostly used manipulatives and games to review.   I quizzed Georgie using our play clock and he had a good grasp of time to the hour and time to the half hour.

We played our Money Bags game to review coin values.  We haven't really done quarters or dollars yet but he's still able to enjoy the game with a little bit of help.  We play using real coins and bills since it can be hard enough telling the real thing apart - the little bits of plastic can be very difficult.

We played his new Silly Sentences game.  He's having a lot of fun with this, it's helping him practice reading and teaching him parts of speech.
Very Silly Sentences Game
We did start our PE program using the exercise dice I made.   One dice has 6 stretching/warm-up exercises and the other has 6 active exercises (jumping jacks, running in place, walking on tip-toes).  The kids roll one of those dice along with two of our large foam dice.  They add together the numbers on the foam dice and then do the activity on the exercise die the correct number of times.

After that, Georgie thought it was time for him to teach Vicki and I some dance moves.   This involved lots of spinning, jumping and throwing themselves onto the chair.

Both kids also enjoyed playing with Georgie's new Tag system.  Vicki loved the US map which has all kinds of games and songs to play.

Georgie's favorites are the Super Speller and the Funny Phrases.

We also made up lots of stories and I've come to the conclusion both my children have much better imaginations than I do.  Vicki's usually involve unicorns and rainbows and princesses and friends living happily ever after.  Georgie's have a little more plot and usually involve a variety of animals (both real and imaginary - sometimes unicorns and dragons feature) having races, getting injured and their friends coming to the rescue.  I definitely have to start writing more of these down but their favorite time to tell them is in bed while doing anything to postpone  getting ready to go to sleep.

Next week we plan to jump back in to our normal work routine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Best of Our New Stuff

We had lots of fun over break and the kids received way too many toys, as usual.  There were a few things they received that are going to be a wonderful addition to our school days. 

First of these are My First Mosaics. 


The kids received these from Grandpa Charlie and were eager to play with them right away.  They were each given a different set – Georgie had vehicles and Vicki had pets.  They came with a colorful board and lots (and lots and lots) of foam stickers in different colors and shapes.  The idea is to place the stickers over their corresponding spot on the board.   Even Vicki was able to do these with just a little bit of help peeling the stickers from their backing.   There are plenty of extra stickers so they can mix it up rather than following the layout and peeling and placing the stickers was a great fine motor activity.    The kids played with their pictures after they finished them.    The kitten went for a ride on the rocket.


Unfortunately we lost track of them after that and Vicki decided to remove the stickers from her picture and stick them on everything in her room.  Two weeks later and I’m still finding these little stickers everywhere (especially in my washing machine).

The kids received the Very Silly Sentences game from Granny Franny.

Very Silly Sentences Game

This game is a lot of fun, has all different levels to play and teaches the parts of speech.   We are currently doing the easiest level since Georgie is just learning to read (although so far he’s been able to read most of the cards) so each game lasts about 15 minutes.

We started back with “real” school today.  For details on how wonderfully that is going, check back on Friday for our weekly wrap-up.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Two Great Giveaways at Secular Homeschool

Secular Homeschool has two great giveaways for January.

First is Arithmetic Village:
"These brand new, beautiful books introduce simple math concepts through whimsical rhymes and light-hearted characters. Polly Plus collects jewels slowly and methodically. Linus Minus is carefree and careless, losing jewels throughout the village. Tina times discovered the trick that adding in groups can make counting quick. King David Divide is obsessively fair. He always makes sure all people receive their fair share. If a group of jewels cannot be divided equally, the left over jewels go to his dog, Rover (who represents remainder.)"

and the other is Learning At Home:  A Mother's Guide to Homeschooling.
"This book offers honest, insightful observations about children, learning, and family relationships. Marty Layne has drawn on her experience of homeschooling her four children to provide a warm and delightful book, filled with obvious affection and love."

Check out Secular Homeschool for more information and to enter to win.