Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

I made some changes this week partially due to Georgie’s CAT test results, partially due to wanting to get more structured and partially due to the general craziness of life.

Georgie started each day with either copywork or his HWT book.  HWT is going well but we are about 3/4 of the way through the 1st grade book and he is still having some struggles.  He tends to write too large for the lines and, when he does his copywork he still has a tendency to use mostly uppercase letters.   I probably will either increase his copywork and slow down his HWT book or continue they way we are now where we alternate each but when we finish the HWT book do copywork until he seems ready for the 2nd grade book.

ETC Book 4 is going well.  He experienced his first sign of trouble this week.  In the lesson on where to separate open/closed syllables, he had quite a few wrong.  I’m not sure if this is because he really didn’t understand the rule or if it was because he was whining, complaining and wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.   I will probably find or make some additional worksheets for the lessons so far to make sure he understands the rules before we continue on.

He’s continuing to enjoy his Algebra Readiness puzzles and math riddles.  He’s currently doing three digit addition without carrying for his riddles.

Spectrum Reading Comprehension is going well.  His CAT test grade equivalency for Reading Comprehension was 4.9 and Reading Vocabulary was 3.4, so a 2nd grade book shouldn’t really be a problem for him.  And it’s not but he still likes to complain about it.  Every day he complains that the paragraph is too long, then he reads it in about 30 seconds and has no trouble answering the questions right away.  I have no plans to accelerate but I am planning a few things to encourage him to spend more time reading that I will go into more next week after giving them a try. :-)

He’s been doing the various rules for capitalization in his Spectrum Language Arts book.  We are almost done with this section but I think I might need to get him more practice since I’m not sure if he’s retaining everything.

I did accelerate him some in Math Mammoth.  His grade equivalencies for Math Computation was 3.1 and Math Problems and Concepts was 4.1.  That, combined with the fact that he keeps insisting he shouldn’t have to do anymore math since he already knows it all, led to me deciding to change things a little bit.  I looked through our current chapters and skipped a few pages for things he seems to have a full understanding of, crossed off some problems for other thing and started some multiplication with him.  I also added in a few games for him to practice his facts without drilling, including dice & domino math from Confessions of a Homeschooler, dice addition from  Mrs. Meachem’s Classroom Snapshots  and flashcard war.  I am also thinking he can probably play regular Yahtzee at this point so I’m going to print out some scorecards that are available from various places on the internet.   I’m also considering getting the first unit of the new Beast Academy curriculum.

In spelling we’ve been reviewing all of the words for Level 1.  He did very well except for some confusion between when to use c versus k, and problems that arose from his speech.  He still pronounces th like f and that had him spelling some words wrong.

Vicki spent the week playing on the computer, watching Leapfrog videos and playing games with Georgie and I.  She does seem to have made some progress with reading that indicates that some of her difficulties may be due more to her being uncooperative than her being unready.  This week she clearly read the word EXIT and Chinese Noodle House.  Both were in plain black letters on white signs with nothing to give clues as to what they said.  I may pull out some of the old Kelly’s Kindergarten card games I used to play with Georgie and see how she does.

We took a field trip to a large bakery this week.  A post on that can be seen here, but below are some additional (better) pictures.

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We finished up the week with Daddy and Georgie marching in the Little League parade.  While we were waiting, Vicki studied some ants eating a piece of candy off the sidewalk.


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bakery Tour Field Trip

One of the local homeschool moms arranged a field trip to a local bakery for yesterday.  (Thanks Celia!!)  I was picturing a small neighborhood bakery that might show the kids a commercial size mixer and oven, maybe go over decorating cakes and that kind of thing.  This was SOOOO much better than that!

Anthony & Sons is a large wholesale producer of bread products.   We toured their 65,000 square foot facility.  (I’m sorry about the picture quality but I forgot my camera and these were taken using my phone).

Everybody had to wear a hair net to enter the baking area.  Vicki was fine with it but Georgie was not happy at all and kept pulling and tucking it around his hat.

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We saw the huge flour silos, watched the dough get weighted out, formed and scored, watched the raw rolls and loafs enter the huge ovens and watched the nice brown bread come out.  We saw the slicer and the cooling racks.  The whole place smelled like fresh bread and yeast.

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The kids were given some raw dough to feel and play around with.

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Georgie did very well with the whole tour except when everyone went inside one of the refrigerators. 

When the tour finished, everyone was given a bag with a nice fresh loaf of rye bread and some rolls.  Vicki ate about 4 of the rolls just on the ride home.  Very yummy but not good for my attempt at lower carb dieting.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4-H Cloverbuds – Bugs Part 2

We had part 2 of our Bug unit with Cloverbuds this week.  Part 1 was our field trip to the Bug Museum and can be seen here.

We started our meeting, as usual, with the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H Pledge.  For attendance this week, I had them stand up and tell everyone their favorite part of the Bug Museum trip or (for those who didn’t make the trip or couldn’t remember) their favorite bug.   We then moved right to our main activity which was a Bug Hunt.  Since our meetings take place in one room at the library, I tried to be a little creative when hiding the bugs.  There were stacks of chairs and a few tables set up around the room that offered places to tuck some bugs.  I bought tape and had some crawling up the walls or hanging from door knobs.   The ants and cockroaches really blended in well with the brown carpeting.

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There were 13 different bugs – a package of 12 different ones that I bought at Party City and a package of butterflies that I purchased separately.   I made up bingo-type cards with 6 bugs each (can be downloaded from Google Docs here, there are 15 different cards.).  Each of the kids had a card attached to a plastic baggie and were able to search for the bugs on their card.  This ensured there everyone would be able to find the same number of bugs.  With an age range of 4 to 9, I wanted to make sure everyone would have the chance to hunt.   To help the kids match up the plastic bugs I provided a master copy of all the pictures with their descriptions for reference.

The kids were given magnifying glasses (great find at the Dollar Store!) and sent off to hunt.


The kids had a lot of fun with the bug hunt.   For our craft, we had two separate activities.  The kids had a choice of making Thank you cards to send to our tour guide from the Bug Museum or building bug shelters from Legos.

The cards were made using markers, crayons and foam stickers.


Since there are some kids who aren’t into crafts and I wasn’t sure how long the hunt would take, I bought along some random Legos that the kids could then use to build homes for their bugs.  Most of what they built were vehicles.

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I also brought along many of our bug books for anyone who wanted to look through them.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up: 4/2/12 – 4/7/12

We have finally found a good routine to our days and had a very good week as a result. 

I finally did a detailed Day in the Life post which can be seen here

Georgie started each day with Handwriting.  He does HWT alternating with copywork.  He is still having trouble with writing too much in capitals and he’s also gotten in the habit of putting lines between each word.   I saw an idea on Pinterest to use a popsicle stick to hold spaces between words while writing.  I may try this or a Lego for Georgie and see if I can get him to stop writing lines. 

Georgie is working through ETC Book 4.  So far he is doing an entire 8 page lesson each day.  If it starts getting more difficult, we will slow down.

This was our first full week using the Spectrum Reading and Language Arts books.  Georgie complained about the story being too long in the Reading but then said that the comprehension questions were too easy.    In the Language Arts book he is learning capitalization.  This moves very fast – just one lesson with each situation of capitalization.  Scholastic was moving too slowly but I may need to start using a mix of both to make sure he retains the information.

Georgie completed the basic Reading Eggs lessons this week.  Which I guess is a good thing since they took away the majority of our free trial.  He’s getting a lot of practice reading when he plays his other computer games (Toon Town and Minecraft are the current favorites) but I’m still working on ways to encourage him to read more books.

We did Step 22 in All About Spelling Level 1, which is on compound words.  He has no problem with the concept of compound words thanks to ETC and Reading Eggs but he was having trouble spelling some things he should know by this time (like desktop, he couldn’t remember how to spell desk).  So, I decided to do a review of everything up to that point to see if he had some area that he was weak.   He turned it into a game by collecting the cards that he answered correctly and putting them out in a grid.  So far he’s only missed a few words, mostly the difference between when to use k and when to use c.


Math Mammoth is still going well.  I’m not always having him do a whole page anymore if he clearly understands the concepts.   He’s starting to get bored with addition and subtraction.  He very clearly understands the concepts and how they relate to each other.  He doesn’t have all the facts memorized but we may move ahead while still doing some practice drilling.  We played a game this week using Addition and Subtraction flash cards.  I mixed together the two decks, split the result in half and stuck each half in a sock since they were printed on both sides (and Georgie likes to cheat).  We then played War where we each put down a card and whoever has the higher result, keeps the cards.  He loves playing games and doesn’t even seem to realize he’s working on facts.


He’s still enjoying his Algebra Readiness puzzles and his Math riddles.   He does one of each every day and they seem to be his favorite part of school.

His biggest weakness with math right now seems to be differentiating between the different coins and their values.  We covered a few pages in MM and I let him use real coins to show the correct values.


I also had flash cards from Oriental Trading that had various quiz questions about money.  Georgie enjoyed doing these and they seem to be helping him remember the values.  Daddy often gives Georgie the change out of his pocket when he gets home from work.  I’m trying to remind him to make Georgie tell him how much they are worth before giving them to him.


Vicki had another week when she wasn’t interested in doing much school.    She did play Reading Eggs and is up to Lesson 11.  I’m not sure she’s retaining much since when I watched her she was having a lot of trouble.  I think she advanced by continuing to try until she got something right.   Once the trial is gone, I’m going to try out PBS Island, which is now a free site.  She also plays Toon Town with her brother.

She did one HWT lesson, one Evan-Moor math sheet, one MEP lesson, 4 pages of Get Ready for the Code, one A to Z dot-to-dot.   Other than that she played with some letter matching activities, her wipe-off books, dominos, scale and unifix cubes and some wipe-off counting cards.   She seems to be having trouble with letter sounds which she’s known for years so I may step back a little and do a more intense review.

She got her hands on an orange highlighter and painted tiger stripes on her face and belly….


and evidently got her hands on my camera and did a pictorial study of our dog, Zappa.

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We studied the inside of the earth in Science this week, which can be seen here


We did some Nature Study, which can be seen here.


We finished up the week by dying Easter eggs.  Vicki decided that her hands were good enough to use for putting the eggs in and out of the dye so wound up with green hands.

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Next week will be a full week of field trips, Cloverbuds and a study of New Jersey.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Inside the Earth

We did the first of our rock and mineral units yesterday.  We are using REAL Science Odyssey Earth and Space but out of order and only in pieces.

I like RSO for the nice concise overviews it gives for each topic and the simple demonstrations.  It is easy to supplement when desired. 

We watched a short video at Discovery Streaming called “Beneath the Surface:  Earth’s Inner Structure”.   This was a nice introduction to the topic.

We discussed various things that have layers. The video had mentioned a hard boiled egg, we discussed Oreo cookies, cake, sandwiches and fruits. We then talked about how the earth also has layers.

We read two books about the earth – The Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth by Cole, and How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the Earth by McNulty. The only problem with the How to dig.. book was that the book presented it as something that was really possible so I had to keep telling Georgie that “no, we couldn’t go visit the inner core and no one ever has”.


We read the summary page from RSO: Earth and Space and made our own play-doh model of the earth.   We made a inner core of pink, wrapped that in an outer core of yellow, a mantle of orange and then a crust of blue and green to show the continents and oceans.  Georgie had some trouble getting the new layers of play-doh to completely cover the previous ones.  We shaved a small piece off the edge so he did still wind up with 1/2 an earth that showed the layers.


We finished up by coloring and reading a small printable book and doing a worksheet from Evan-Moor Teacher’s File Box.

Our next unit will be showing how rocks are made of minerals and learning about mineral identification.