Sunday, November 25, 2012


We’ve been plugging away at school in dribs and drabs, in between getting the house straightened up after the storms and preparing for the holidays.

Vicki is doing really well with reading.  We’ve been using the Hubbard’s Cupboard word family readers.  I highlight the words I want her to read and I read the others.  I did it this way because I wanted her to have practice with the word families but she was having trouble with sight words.  She’s doing a lot better with those now and can read can, see, yes, no, the, and and possibly a few others.   She can read most of the short /a/, /e/ and /i/ word families.  I’m going to start pulling out our Cat in the Hat-type beginning readers for her to work on.

She had a few days recently where she didn’t want to do any school and kept complaining that things were “too hard”.   After a total melt-down over writing the number “3” on her math worksheet, I started writing the answers in highlighter after she told me them and letting her trace.  That ended the melt-down and she ended up doing three days worth of planned work at once.

Vicki has also been enjoying using her 100 chart to practice counting, and we’ve been playing some of our printable games from Kelly’s Kindergarten to work on reading. 

Georgie is continuing to do a mix of complaining that things are too easy and are “baby questions” or deciding they are too hard and not wanting to try.

Math is easily his best subject but it’s also the one he tries to get out of doing the most.  He loves his Algebra Readiness Made Easy puzzles but otherwise, he’s constantly trying to make deals to do less math.  I tried to have him play Carrot Sticks Math for some extra drill practice but he would just plug in numbers until he got it right instead of actually solving the problem.  He definitely needs more drill in subtraction facts.

Language arts aren’t going as well as math.  Mostly because he doesn’t want to take the time to read the instructions so he knows what to do.  We’ve been working on commas in Grammar, and describing words in Writing.  I’ll definitely be printing out some extra pages from Evan Moor to give him more practice in both of these.

For Reading Comprehension, we are using pages from Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Reading Grade 4 and Evan Moor Read and Understand Leveled Texts Grade 4.   He does okay with the Skill Sharpeners but the Leveled Texts are giving him some trouble.  The passages are longer and he doesn’t want to take the time to read them carefully.   I’ll probably take a step back to the Grade 3 level or chose shorter passages for now.

Spelling is coming pretty easily to him, at least so far.  We are up to Step 8 in AAS2 and have been working on reviewing all the words before proceeding to Step 9. 

The holidays are coming so we will be spending more time doing crafts and fun activities, while concentrating on math and reading practice.  After the holidays we will be reorganizing (again!) to set up dedicated school areas, which will hopefully lead to smoother days.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

4-H Cloverbuds – Birds

Our latest unit with our 4-H Cloverbud Group was Birds.   We ended up holding our field trip before our library meeting due to illness (mine).

We took a trip to the Trailside Nature Center and started with a nice hike through the woods.  To the kids, this meant running as fast as possible along the trail.


The kids had a great time exploring a Lenape wigwam, bird viewing windows, a night display where they could experience nocturnal animals, and a discovery room.

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A few weeks later, we had our library meeting.  We started with a trivia game about birds.  I used the question cards and Fun Fact cards from our Camp game.


The question cards contain multiple choice questions at four different difficulty levels.   The Fun Fact cards contain…fun facts.  I reworded the facts into True or False questions.  

I try to avoid direct competitions so we played as more of a collaborative game.  I had all the kids line up at one side of the room.  I would read the question and all the choices, then they would put one hand up and, using sign language signs for a, b or c, or thumbs up/thumbs down for true/false, indicate what they thought the correct answer was.  In reality, they yelled out the answer while bouncing up and down.  Everyone who answered the question correctly would take a step forward.  If the answer was wrong, stay in place. 

I used mainly the level one or two questions like:  “What shape does a flock of geese fly in: a) V, b) I, c) L”  or “What color is a cardinal? a) red, b) blue, c) green”.  But there were a few harder ones like: “True or False, the nuthatch is a bird that can walk upside down along a tree truck” or “True or False, the ostrich is the largest bird in the world and can reach 9 feet tall”.   The kids did a great job and learned quite a bit about birds.

We then discussed:

What birds have:  feathers, wing
What birds do:  fly, some swim, some run
What birds eat:  seeds, berries, worms, fish

Our second game the kids pretended to be birds looking for food.  Each kid had a nest on the floor out of masking tape.  Scattered around the room was food (plastic bugs from our bug hunt).  The kids searched for food while music was playing.  When the music stopped, if they weren’t back to their nest, they had to drop whatever they were holding.  They could only collect the amount of food they could hold in one hand.

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After that game, we moved on to our crafts.  As usual, Legos were available to anyone who didn’t want to do crafts.  I provided paper, scissors, glue, feathers, eyes, markers, crayons and paper bags to let the kids make their own birds.

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Friday, November 2, 2012


Due to circumstances beyond our control, school is temporarily suspended.

Okay, so not all of it was circumstances beyond our control but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Most of last week was spent making Halloween costumes.  This year Vicki wanted to be Strawberry Shortcake, while Georgie wanted to be a Minecraft creeper. 

Strawberry Shortcake is definitely available but reviews of the costumes mentioned easy tearing, too small sizing, and poor quality.  For $40+, I wanted better than that.

Meanwhile, a creeper costume evidently isn’t available for purchase regardless of price (with the exception of one mask for $80+).

So, this became a year for homemade costumes (Yippee! I like making costumes).

Vicki’s wasn’t too hard.  I made a tutu skirt following the directions that can be found all over Pinterest.  I used sparkly dark pink and light pink tulle, then glued strawberry stickers on the skirt.   For the shirt, I bought a white long-sleeve t-shirt and drew a strawberry and two diamonds with Sharpies.  The hat was made using a white ball cap and a pink bandana.  Spots and a stem were painted on the bandana to have it resemble a strawberry and it was then attached to the ball cap.  The costume was topped off with a pair of green and white striped tights.  I thought it came out pretty cute and Vicki was happy with it.

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For Georgie’s creeper costume, I used foam board cut and taped together into the proper size box.   Creeper “skin” was printed from the internet and used to cover the box.  It was then laminated to prevent the ink from running if it became wet.  The eye holes and mouth were covered from the inside with a piece from a fishnet stocking, so it would look solid but Georgie would still be able to see out.  The side panels for the body were open and hinged so he could stick his arms out.  It came out a little awkward for movement but looks pretty cool.


The reason I spent so much time working on the costumes when there was still almost a week until Halloween was because we went to the Halloween festival at our local museum on Saturday.

There were craft tables with Trick or Treat locations throughout the museum. Georgie wasn’t interested in a lot of the crafts and was disappointed with the candy selections but it was still fun.

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Now for the Out of Our Control part: Hurricane Sandy.   We lost power Monday and estimates have it returning in 7 to 14 days.  We were lucky than many people since our house is undamaged, although we did have a tree fall in the direction of our house.  The new swingset that we just finished putting together prevented it from hitting the house so it is suspended about 5 feet over the roof.  No damage was done to the swingset either.


We went down to visit Granny Franny for a few days and will probably spend most of next week with Granny Kaye, until our power comes back.