Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up

We didn’t get a whole lot of school done in the past two weeks.  Georgie was very excited about his upcoming birthday and Granny Franny came to visit over the weekend.


HANDWRITINGHandwriting Without Tears is still going well.   We’ve moved on from magic C words to the letter corner starts.  Georgie had his new Webkinz friends helping him out.


READING/PHONICS – We are up to Lesson 57 in Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.   I still haven’t had to actually teach any of these lessons yet. 

We are finishing up Book 2 of Explode the Code and moving on to Book 3.   Like OPGTR, this seems to be review for him.  I’m going to have to decide if we are going to proceed to Book 4 or skip it for Book 5 and return to it later.  Many users of ETC say Book 4 is harder since it goes into syllabication of compound words.  

SPELLING – We didn’t get back into our All About Spelling yet.   We continued to do some review but Georgie was so uncooperative for much of these weeks that I didn’t bother bringing out the whiteboard and tiles.

GRAMMAR – We are continuing with Scholastic Grammar, Usage and Mechanics and McMillian Treasure Grammar along with the Scholastic 1st Grade Basic Skills: Reading Comprehension and Reading Skills book that I picked up at one of the Dollar Day sales.  He is having no trouble with the Reading Comprehension pages and once we are done with those, I think I’m going to add Writing With Ease to our days.

I’ve added some simple word search puzzles from another one of the books from Scholastic’s Dollar Days 1st Grade Basic Skills.

MATH – Georgie has continued to do well with Math Mammoth.  He spent some time answering the questions on a blackboard.


Despite the fact that he seems to enjoy math and even loves to do word problems, one day he did describe it “It’s like someone is eating my eyeballs.”

SIGN LANGUAGE – We introduced conversation words from our sign language book but didn’t spend much time reviewing them so we won’t move on from these yet.

Some day I’m going to add an Art and/or Drawing program for Georgie.  For now, he loves drawing pictures of aliens and monsters, like this “tickle monster”.


I did some reorganization of Georgie’s work (yes, again).  I was using a modified weekly workbox type system in a hanging file folder holder where I could pull out a given days folder for a subject, have him do the work, then pull out the next subject’s folder…


but in the literally 3 minutes it would take me to pull out the next folder, he would wander off and it would sometimes take a while to get him back.  He also would frequently ask how much more he had to do, or would want to do things in a different order and the file folders weren’t enough of a visual for him.

After a thread on TWTM forums about using a weekly binder, I decided to give it a try.  We school 4 days a week (theoretically) so I used four dividers.  Each days work is put behind a divider.  Some are sheets that I typed up and will say “Do With Mom”, others are worksheets that he could do himself, but I pretty much sit with him for all his work.  This allows him to see exactly how much is left for that day and he can do it out of order if he wants.


All my workbooks, except HWT already had the pages separated out so this was an easy adaptation.   My hope is that eventually this will make it possible for me to work with both him and Vicki at the same time.  So far he seems to prefer the binder.

Vicki has very strongly requested some additional school stuff to do.  MEP isn’t going well since it requires quite a bit of preparation.  I thought about getting Singapore Earlybird math for her but then realized that there were many, many Math activities available through my Evan-Moor Teacher’s File Box subscription. So, I’ve been working on gathering together some activities at her level.  I’m hoping to start next week with a little bit of sit together time to do Math (from Evan-Moor), Phonics (I have Get Ready, Get Set and Go for the Code) and Handwriting (we already have Handwriting without Tears Pre-K).  In the meantime, she’s been playing with our Tag maps and games….


doing her own “work” with the help of her new Webkinz buddy…


and still loving her HWT capital letter pieces.


This September is when Georgie would have started kindergarten if we weren’t homeschooling.   He is working above that grade level in everything except maybe handwriting (although he is working in the first grade HWT book) so I think it has been a success so far.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Birthday Boy and Girl

I never did a big post for Vicki’s 4th Birthday last month and since Georgie’s 6th Birthday is early next week, I decided it would be good to combine their pictorial flashback.  People are always asking me if these two are twins so it seems even more appropriate.

Georgie came first:

2005_0824GeorgeJrWeek10023b portrait 8-8-06b

07 06 07 052b

Then Vicki joined the family:

07 22 07 032

09 22 07 026

2008 02 22 006

2008 05 24 053 high res

2009 03 26 011

2009 07 22 271

2009 10 31 028_edited-1b



Happy Birthday to my little guys.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Long Overdue Weekly Update

My last Weekly Update was July 15th and covered pretty much dance and camping.   Although most of my posts in July were field trips and family time, we did spend some time doing academics.

HANDWRITING – We are continuing along with Handwriting Without Tears.  This is easily the subject that Georgie resists the most but we are averaging two new letters per week.   Usually there’s a two page spread per letter so this means we’re doing about one page a day.  I usually start with this since I figure it’s best to do it while he’s fresh.


READING/PHONICS – We are up to Lesson 55 in Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.   So far all of these have been pretty easy for Georgie.  I usually make up a sheet for him of just the words he needs to read since he doesn’t seem to care for the look of the text in the book.

Georgie is just about done with Book 2 of Explode the Code.  He could probably be moving through these much faster but I usually only give him 4 pages to do at a time. 

I finally gave in and moved our reading books onto a shelf that can be easily reached by the kids.  I had resisted doing this because Vicki has been very very bad about ripping pages.  So far it is working well, we haven’t had too many repairs and Georgie is spending lots of time practicing reading.  We have a good collection of Dr. Seuss-type books and I’m working on adding more leveled readers.  He’s definitely reading far in advance of what we are doing in either OPGTR or ETC.    I figure there are probably some gaps so we will continue doing both those programs in order.


I love checking on the kids when they are too quiet and seeing this -



SPELLING – We have started up again with All About Spelling.  We did a review of all the cards up through Step 11.  When we started our break from spelling we were up to Step 14 but I’m going to back up to Step 12 and do a little review as we get going again.

GRAMMAR – We are continuing with Scholastic Grammar, Usage and Mechanics and McMillian Treasure Grammar.  Both are free online, both are intended for use in classrooms but are easily adapted and both are a nice, easy introduction to Grammar.  So far, Georgie has had no trouble with any of it.  We’ve covered nouns, verbs, sentences, questions and exclamations.

We’ve also been using Scholastic 1st Grade Basic Skills: Reading Comprehension and Reading Skills that I picked up at one of the Dollar Day sales.   We are doing the Reading Comprehension pages, which consist of a short story (5 to 6 sentences) then six  questions to answer about it.  The first few we did I had to read the story, read a question and then read the story again especially the part containing the answer.   But one day Georgie suddenly was able to answer all the questions without any prompting or rereading of the story.  Now, he can read the story himself and answers the question right away. 

MATH – We are loving Math Mammoth.  We are done with 1A and will be starting Addition/Subtraction within 0 to 100 very shortly.  We are almost through Clocks in 1B and will be starting 2A soon but it’s mostly review.   Georgie can pretty much tell time to the minute now and do lapsed time if it’s just minutes or just hours.  I have a bingo-type game for him to play to match clocks with digital read-outs.


Georgie seems to really enjoy all of Math Mammoth that we are doing so far, except Shapes and Measuring.  For some reason, he doesn’t like to do those pages.

He loves word problems and on one page containing 8 word problems he answered each question and then decided to do a cumulative sum for the entire page.  He added 10 + 4 (14), +6 (20), +6 (26), +4 (30), +7 (37), +5 (42), +8 (50).  Pretty good considering we just covered adding three single digit numbers this week.  Although these little side trips do make our day longer.

Each week we are attempting to complete 8 to 10 pages in Addition/Subtraction (1B), 6 pages in Place Value (1B), 1 to 2 pages in Clocks (2A), 1 to 2 pages in Shapes and Measuring (1B) and 1 to 2 pages in Coins (1B).

SIGN LANGUAGE – We are still working on American Sign Language.  Georgie is doing very well with the alphabet and his name and we are getting ready to learn conversation words (excuse me, sorry, thank you, please, my name is.., hello).

Vicki celebrated her 4th birthday the end of July.   I’ve slowly started adding a few school-like activities to her day.


I made up a unicorn-themed generic game board that we used to play a game identifying starting letter sounds.


We have done a little work with MEP Reception.  We usually do about half a lesson (or one worksheet activity) each day, only on the days she’s feeling cooperative.

Mostly Vicki has played with her Melissa & Doug Pattern Puzzles, Wooden Magnetic Dress-up Dolls, Wooden Word Puzzles, Word Whammer…..


and her wipe-off books.


In the past few weeks we did get to the next chapter in our Prehistory study – the Devonian and Carboniferous Periods.  Check it out here.

Sussex County Farm & Horse Show/NJ State Fair

The kids and I went out to the Sussex County Farm & Horse Show/New Jersey State Fair yesterday.  It was a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 70’s/low 80’s. 

The kids weren’t to into looking at the cows and pigs this year but they really enjoyed the small animal tent with the rabbits, chickens and ducks.  Georgie wants to raise rabbits someday and they both got a kick out of some of the really strange looking chickens.  They especially enjoyed watching some eggs hatch and seeing the newly hatched chicks.


They enjoyed the pony rides (I think we may need to get Georgie horseback riding lessons some day) and the petting zoo.



There was an exhibit by the New Jersey Beekeepers Association that Georgie found very fascinating.  They had a little touch screen set-up with videos about different aspects of bee life.  Georgie watched a bunch of the videos and I grabbed a bunch of flyers so we could do a unit study on bees one of these days.  



Georgie enjoyed playing a game of checkers set up in one of the smaller livestock tents (can you tell he just jumped two of my pieces?).


Both kids were able to decorate squares to be added to quilts intended for veterans hospitals.  Georgie took this very seriously and was careful to do his best work.


The absolute favorite part of the fair for the kids, the place we spent over an hour and had to go back to later, was the Fun Farm set up by our local supermarket chain.   It was very similar to last year and the kids LOVED it.    Their favorite part was a grocery store set up with fake fruits and vegetables, cans foods, boxes of cereal and crackers (I believe it was supposed to be all food that came from the farm). There were kid size shopping carts that were really neat and I wish I could find somewhere.  They were bigger than the ones usually found in toy stores but smaller than adult size ones.  There were 3 toy cash registers set up for them to check-out their groceries.



There were also pedal tractors to ride…..


stick horses to gallop around on….


eggs to collect from stuffed chickens….


and fake cows to milk.


We went and looked at the Best in Class vegetables and Georgie was surprisingly very interested in them.  He kept pointing to the various vegetables and asking me what they were.  I will admit I had to cheat a couple of times and look at the labels.   I think he will really enjoy helping when we are able to have a garden again.

We finished up our day at the fair by playing some of the carnival games.  The kids both won stuffed animals (a pink snake for Vicki, a blue lizard and gray dolphin for Georgie).  I think next year I have to remember to just go into the venders tent and buy them a few Beanie Babies.  It would definitely have been less expensive.