Wednesday, February 27, 2013

US History – Native Americans, Tlingit

Our next tribe to learn about was the Tlingit.  The Tlingit live in the Northwestern areas of Canada and the Alaskan peninsula.

We started by reading a couple of books about the Tlingit.   Children of the Tlingit was a good general fact book, and had a lot of information about their lives today.

We also read The Frog Princess, A Tlingit Legend from Alaska.   George thought he knew how the story would go and was glad when it was different than he expected. 

The kids then colored in the pocket pages from Evan Moor History Pockets, while I read through the information pages.`  Once they were done, Vicki glued hers onto paper to make a notebook page, while George’s were added to our chart.


The Tlingit wore potlatch hats and Chilkat robes for special occasions.  They wore animal skin and leather pants, earrings and nose rings.   They ate salmon and other fish, sea lion, otter, goat, bear, and elk.   They made totem poles representing their family group, and lived in plank long houses. 

The kids made their own totem poles using pictures I found through Dover coloring books  (they have quite a few free samples on the website) and Paper Totem Poles.   The kids each picked out two totems to color and add to their poles.  The poles were made by taping two old peanut butter jars together and covering with construction paper.

Even Vicki actually took some time to color hers in neatly and with more than one crayon.


While the kids were coloring in their totem poles, I worked on putting together a paper Northwest Coast Cedar House model I found through Pinterest.   


The kids spent quite a bit of time playing with the house, their totem poles, and the Native American paper dolls we have from Dover.

George finished up by adding a few facts to his “research notebook” which has been upgraded from a legal pad to a composition notebook.

I’m not sure which tribe we will do next.  On the schedule is Nez Perce, but George is pushing for the Sioux or the Navajo.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Two Week Wrap-Up

The past two weeks have been surprisingly busy and yet, amazingly unproductive.

We had a 4-H Cloverbud meeting on Symbols of the US/Famous Americans.  We discussed the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the kids learned about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, the current Flag, the 13 colonies Flag, bald eagles, Liberty Bell, and Statue of Liberty by playing an active trivia game.  They also did a penny relay race (with penny on shoe), and a penny toss game.   Our craft was to make their own flag, although we definitely had some creative interpretations.


Valentine’s Day we went over a friends house for a tea party.  The kids had a great time playing while I really enjoyed chatting with the other moms.   Of course there was a lot of discussion about how awful this winter has been for stomach bugs and flu.  I completely jinxed us by talking about how my guys never get sick….two days later both had a stomach bug.   They were over the puking after the weekend but still feeling droopy, as well as lots of coughing and sneezing.   So, we skipped school for a couple days, and jumped back into it right as I was taking my turn with the nasty cold.

I did manage to complete lots of planning for our upcoming weeks.  I have been wanting to add more literature and writing to our school but was really torn between the different options.  I decided to go with Brave Writer.  I already had The Writers Jungle and purchased Jot It Down, The Wand, and a few issues of The Arrow through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.    We are going to start with Poetry Thursdays (better for us than Tuesdays because of 4-H), the fairy tale projects from Jot It Down, and both kids will be doing The Wand.   In looking at The Arrow, I decided it would be better to start Georgie in Level 2 of The Wand.  Since we haven’t done any dictation or copywork yet, and The Arrow doesn’t offer as much guidance, I thought it was best for both of us to ease into it.

I also decided to dig out my old copy of Evan Moor Beginning Geography.  We did a little bit of this a couple years ago but only went as far as map skills.  I decided this would be perfect to do while I am waiting for the weather to get warm enough to do all the field trips I have planned for when we start our States study.

We did get through some actual school work even though George told me, “we shouldn’t do school while I’m still sick <<cough>> <<cough>>, it can cause serious problems!”



Vicki still struggles some with handwriting.  She’s getting better at writing her name, although she is not at all consistent with the size of the letters.  She finished 5 pages from her HWT book in these weeks.  I’m curious to see how she handles the copywork in The Wand next week.

She has completed through Lesson 42 in OPGTR.    We aren’t running into many words that she already knows, but she is very good at sounding out new words.

She has completely finished ETC book 1 and has started on book 2.   Since books 1 and 2 are supposedly kindergarten level, she is right on track.


George completed only 3 pages of HWT but has picked up the amount of writing he does with his other subjects.   He still has a tendency to write in all capitals whenever it’s not in the book so I’m curious to see how the copywork for The Wand goes next week.

We tried Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension 4th Grade and it seems a better match than the 3rd grade book.  At this level, he has to read more carefully and may even have to reread a little bit, but he is able to answer the questions.  It’s good for him to have something he actually has to work at a little. 

He did 6 pages from his Spectrum Language Arts book.  He is much better at picking the correct verb than he was at punctuation.  I don’t think we are going to continue this once we start Brave Writer next week.  The Wand goes over quite a few grammar rules, plus our new spelling has a lot as well.

Speaking of spelling….we finished All About Spelling 2.    This was too easy for George pretty much from the beginning.   I like AAS but it is definitely over-kill for George, who appears to be a natural speller.   In addition to going over the spelling rules as they come up in The Wand, he will be doing Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell & Write.   Each week there is a list of 10 words, definitions, practice with grammar and punctuation, and some creative writing.   I started him in the 3rd grade book, even though I think he may already know many of the words, some of the other activities are at the correct level.



Vicki is continuing to do one page from MM1A each day, as well as one page from Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Grade 1.  MM is mainly all addition at this point, while EMSS adds in some other activities, such as patterns, subtraction, and skip counting.

Since she asked, she also started learning about Time this week.   I thought MM might move to fast, so we used a wipe-off book from Leap Frog that we already had instead.  Time to the hour was super easy but I’m not sure how quickly she will proceed since she doesn’t know how to skip count by 5’s yet.


George is almost done with his Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy so I’m hoping they have another Dollar Days sale soon, so I can look for a 4th grade book.  These have been extremely easy for him for a while, but he really likes doing them.

He is also almost done with the last of his Solve the Riddle Math Puzzles.  These have been good for practicing addition and subtraction but I don’t think we need another resource at this point in time.   He is doing Xtra math to work on drill.

He completed 3 pages from MM on fractions.  He was doing fine with fractions until we started hitting adding and subtracting with conversions to mixed numbers.  I made some fraction puzzles using paper plates and they really seemed to help him understand it a lot better. 


He did a couple pages of multiplication from MM this week – the x10 and x5 tables, both of which were pretty easy.

In Beast Academy he is working through the hundreds chart chapter.   He clearly caught the pattern while marking the multiples of 8 and 12, since he was able to mark them off with no sign of counting.


I’m looking forward to all our changes next week.   We have been having a good year so far and I think our new stuff will make it even better.

We will be doing the muscular system in science next week, and the Tlingit in US history.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up

We called school for the weekend a day early thanks to the impending blizzard.   While homeschoolers don’t get snow days (and our local schools actually only have an early closing), daddy is home, everyone is snuggled under blankets, and we still had a really good week.

One of our activities this week was starting our study of Native Americans by learning about the Inuit.   If I was brave (and younger with less aches and pains) I’d take the kids out in the snow to experience some of what it’s like to live as an Inuit.  Instead, our indoor activities will have to do.


We also continued with our human body study by learning about the skeletal system

I also did an updated Day In the Life post on Monday, to reflect our new set-up and routine.



Vicki added short /u/ words and the high-frequency words are, one, two and go to her word book.  She also gave “three cheers for the first Z words, woo hoo”. 

She is up to Lesson 40 in OPGTR and will begin two letter blends very shortly.  She is slow but fairly accurate with reading cvc words.

She is almost done with ETC Book 1 and completed pages 73 through 82 this week.

She completed two pages of HWT and has gotten much better at writing her name.  Making extra guiding dots made a big difference to her confidence and willingness to really try.

We played a game of Mouse House this week to work on rhymes (from Scholastic Phonemic Awareness Activities for Early Reading Success).


George did two pages of HWT this week.   He is half way through the 2nd grade book and still has a tendency to write in capital letters everywhere but it his workbook.  We will start using Brave Writer soon, including copywork, and hopefully the extra practice outside of the workbook will help.

He completed two pages from Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension 3rd Grade without any difficulties.  We will try a few pages from the 4th Grade level next week and then decide which is the best fit for him.

He did four pages in his Spectrum Grammar, and four pages from Spectrum Language Arts.  I haven’t decided if we will continue these once we start Brave Writer.  Once I get a better look at The Arrow and Jot It Down, I will make that decision.

He did an additional reading comprehension activity from Skill Sharpeners Reading Grade 4.  I really liked the activities in this one.  New vocabulary words, synonyms, alphabetizing by the third or fourth letter, and a logic grid puzzle.

He read the three stories found in Tales from My Father’s Dragon this week, but is still more likely to reread his Magic Tree House books rather than something new.

Three Tales of My Father's Dragon



Vicki did the last two pages from her Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math – Kindergarten and two pages from MM1A.   She’s getting a little bored with all the addition in MM so we may move a little faster with these.

She did addition drills using some file folder games, did some tangram puzzles using magnetic shapes, and did some hundred chart activities.


George did two of his riddles from Scholastic Solve the Riddle Math Practice book.   He’s gotten a lot better at these and hopefully it’s improving his recollection of basic math facts.

He did just one page from Beast Academy.   He just started the hundred’s chart chapter and for some reason he chose to do the worksheet according to what was described in the Guide Book, instead of following the directions on the page.  Weird since what he was doing was much harder than what was actually asked for.  Once he read it more carefully, he didn’t have any difficulty at all.

He completed two pages from MM on multiplication, and two pages on fractions.

He played Xtra Math on the computer to drill addition facts, and played Gumball Bingo to drill multiplication.


Vicki started taking sewing lessons from Grammy Kaye this week. 

George is continuing to enjoy his Pokemon League, although there were a few ringers there this week.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

US History – Native Americans, Inuit

As part of our US History, we are learning about Native Americans.  Even though we are doing this as history, I want to make sure the kids realize that Native Americans are not just part of the past.  That there are many Native Americans still living in the United States.

We did some general reading about Native Americans, from our Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History, from Children Just Like Me, and from Native American Myths.

Native American Myths (Myths from Around the World)

We read through the introduction pages from Native American History Pockets and the kids colored in the cover page.   We will not put these together as pockets the way Evan Moor directs.   We will be making notebook pages from some of the activities, and just doing our own thing with others.

We went through the Native American edition of our Studies Weekly and George did a cross-word puzzle of vocabulary terms.

The first specific tribe we learned about was the Inuit.   The Inuit live in the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland and Alaska.   While I read the Student Booklet information pages from Evan Moor History Pockets, the kids colored in the pocket header, dictionary cards and the shelter stamp.   Vicki made a notebook page out of hers, while George’s were put on a poster we will be adding to as we study each tribe.



Evan Moor provides a comparison chart to fill in during the course of the study, but I thought adding the pictures to a larger grid would have more impact.

After getting some background information, we marked the regions where the Inuit live on our large world map.


At this point, George realized that he had the PERFECT books to read for what we were learning about and ran to get The Magic Tree House Polar Bears Past Bedtime and the Research Guide Polar Bears and the Arctic.  After promising him we could read through them at the end, we read a couple of picture books about Inuit.

Immi’s Gift is about a girl who receives some colorful gifts while ice fishing…

Immi's Gift

while The Very Last First Time is about an Inuit girls first trip under the ice to hunt for mussels. 

Very Last First Time

After reading both stories, we discussed some of the things that were different about the lives of the girls in the stories compared to our lives.  George’s main one was “I don’t eat mussels, YUCK!”.  George is familiar with mussels since we see the shells on the beach at the shore.

We discussed how one of the things the Inuit people do for entertainment during the long winters is tell stories (a project from History Pockets).  George made up a story about two brothers.   After I typed it up for him, he illustrated it by drawing pictures and with some Animal Planet stickers we had.  

002 003 004 005 006 007 008 009

The last thing we did was set up a diorama using styrofoam blocks, artic animals, and some Native American paper dolls from Dover.

George drew some of the scenes from his story on the poster board base, while Vicki took two halves of a block and rubbed them together to make it “snow”.  Our ingluviak was very rough since the blocks wouldn’t stick together well (and the kids had no patience).  My original intention was to paint the blocks, which were kind of a off-white color, so they looked more snow-like, but the kids didn’t want to wait so they just played with it as it was.


Styrofoam Project Bricks

George added a few facts to his “research notebook” which is actually just a legal pad (I really need to get him a good spiral notebook for this) and we were done.


The next tribe we will learn about is the Tlingit.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Human Body: Skeletal System

I’d like to introduce you to Rose.   Rose is our body poster from the Evan Moor Giant Science Resource Book.    As we learn about each body system, diagrams will be added, but first the kids gave her some color.


Our first system is the skeletal system, and we read all about it, and bones in our Science Encyclopedia, the Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia, and Scholastic Kid’s Encyclopedia – Science.  Each had some overlapping information but they all had different pictures and a slightly different presentation.

The kids took a look at their ribs in the mirror, felt their clavicle, patella, and thumped on their skulls.  They then started quizzing me on what various bones were called, and were very impressed that I actually knew (I still remember them from a test in high school 20+ years ago).

We made a cross-section model of a bone using red pipe cleaners to represent blood vessels running through bone marrow of yellow play-doh (yeah, I use a lot of play-doh for building models). 


Our spongy bone is represented by a sponge cloth…..


while compact bone was a cardboard tube, wrapped with a white paper periosteum with red blood vessels drawn on it.

We read the Magic School Bus Search for the Missing Bones, which lead to more feeling and tapping on bones, while coloring in a full skeleton from Evan Moor Giant Science Resource Book

The Search for the Missing Bones (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 2)

We finished up by adding the skeletal system to Rose.  (Vicki had done a little coloring on the ribs).


Our next system will be the muscular system.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Day in the Life 2013

Our new schedule and set-up are going so well, I thought I would do another Day in the Life post.  I thought my last DITL post was fairly recently but when I checked, it was actually last April, so a LOOOONG time ago (okay not really but things have changed a lot since then).

Other than Daddy, who leaves for work by 7am, Vicki is the first one awake most mornings (somewhere between 7am and 8:30am).  She snuggles into a blanket on the couch to drink her Pediasure while watching some tv – usually a DVR’d episode of Wild Kratts or Pokemon.


George usually doesn’t wake up until closer to 9am.  When he does get up, he settles on the couch, steals the remote from Vicki, they fight until mom takes the remote away and picks a show (Wild Kratts), and then he gets his Pediasure to drink.  While this is going on I’m attempting to have my breakfast and tea, and check my email, Facebook, and forums.

Once George finishes his drink and has woken up a little bit, the television goes off, the kids brush their teeth, sometimes they get dressed, and we start school.  This morning I had to break up a Pokemon battle that had commenced in George’s bedroom.


Our current set-up has the kids working at separate folding tables in the living room, with me sitting in between them.

With lots of pencil tapping, noise making, and fidgeting, Georgie starts his “independent” work.   This consists of one page from Evan-Moor Daily Reading Comprehension 3rd grade (we are trying out both the 3rd and 4th grade to see where he should be), one puzzle from Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy 3rd Grade (which are actually too easy for him and take him about 5 seconds to complete), one puzzle from Scholastic Addition and Subtraction Riddles to drill facts, one page from his Handwriting without Tears book (2nd grade), one 2-page lesson from his Spectrum Language Arts 2nd grade book, two pages from his Spectrum Writing 2nd grade book, and any reading from his Beast Academy Guide Book.  Anything that he needs help with he can put in a magazine holder labeled “Stop and Wait for Mom” that holds the work we do together.  He also places any completed work there for me to check.


Meanwhile, Vicki and I work together on her basics.  We alternate activities that involve writing with those that involve talking.

We start with her Word Book.  This is like a word wall, just in a file folder.  Each cardstock page is divided into 4 sections with a letter in each section.  New words are added by Vicki reading the words off post-it notes.  Those that she can read, she can place in her book under the correct letter.  That night I will remove the post-it and write the word in.  Each day we either add new words, or review some of the old words.  Like almost everything else, we will do it until she gets tired of it.


She then does:

-one page from her Handwriting without Tears book (kindergarten level).  She is about half way through the book so right on track to finish by the end of the school year.

-a lesson or portion of a lesson from Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading.  I write out the lessons on some of the HWT paper we have.  It consists of whatever will fit on the page, or a portion of a lesson up to a logical stopping point.  Each day we review the previous days page, and do a new page.

-one page from Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math – Kindergarten (although she only has three pages left in this book) and one page from Math Mammoth 1A.   I will find another supplement to replace the EM, something colorful without a lot of problems on the page, maybe something that does a little bit with time or money (or anything but addition).  I’m hesitant to move on to the First Grade Skill Sharpeners Math since I think it may move too fast for her.

-however many pages from Explode the Code 1 as she is willing to do.  She only has about 12 pages left in this book so we will be getting book 2 soon.

-a game to drill addition, usually something from File Folder Fun or Scholastic.  Today she played Dino Bones which I put together from two different games at File Folder Fun.

-a game to drill phonics, usually something from one of the books I got at a Scholastic Dollar Days sale.   Today we played Mouse House which is a rhyming game from Scholastic Phonemic Awareness Activities for Early Reading Success.

At this point, Vicki is done with her work (all that usually takes 30 to 45 minutes) and can play with any of our educational toys.  She almost always chooses Play-doh.  I guess it’s debatable whether play-doh is actually “educational” but it’s good for hand strength and, more importantly, keeps her occupied and quiet for a long time.  Luckily she doesn’t have any problem playing with the mushed together, mixed up colors of play-doh.


George usually still has at least some of his independent work left to do, so I’ll start checking what he did complete and see if he needs any help.


Once he finishes, we will do the things we always do together:

-2 to 3 pages from Math Mammoth 3A or 3B.  He is currently working on fractions and multiplication.

-1 page from the Beast Academy 3A workbook.  We just started the 100’s chart chapter.

-Some multiplication drill using bingo, flashcards or dice.

-usually one Step from All About Spelling 2.  Right now he’s able to spell all the words without hesitation and we only have a few steps left.  I’m still debating whether to continue with AAS or switch to something less intensive.

At this point (sometimes earlier) we stop for lunch.  George likes to eat lunch between 11 am and noon.  Since he doesn’t have anything but his Pediasure in the morning, he is pretty hungry.  Vicki will have been snacking her way through the morning.

After lunch, we do Spanish – either watching a First Espanol video , doing some pages from The Complete Book of Spanish or going over our word wall.


Mondays are Literature days (or at least supposed to be…) and today we did read The Little Red Hen and do some activities from Evan Moor Literature Pockets.   Wednesdays are (supposed to be) Art and Fridays are (supposed to be) Music.

Usually at this point the kids are sent to their rooms for quiet time while I try to get a little exercise in.  

Once I give up, they are allowed to play educational games on the computer.  For George this always starts with some drill using Xtra Math.  For Vicki, it will be Starfall, PBS Kids or Jumpstart but today, for the first time, Vicki had a sewing lesson from Grammy Kaye, where she made a little purse.



This is the usual format for our Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  On Tuesdays and Thursday we do a little bit of Math (drills or games) and Language Arts (games), then spend the entire rest of the day doing science, history, geography, projects, field trips or just more games.

Once it gets warmer, I’m hoping afternoon quiet time turns into afternoon outside time.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up

We had a pretty boring week except for starting our human body study by learning about cells.

I do feel like we’ve established a good routine for doing school and we completed 15 days of school in January.  Considering we didn’t do school the week of New Year’s, that means we averaged 4 days of school each week.



Vicki is up to pg 23 in Handwriting without Tears.  She was still having a really hard time with writing her name and some letters, although it seemed to be a mix of goofing off, not wanting to try, and lack of confidence.    Just today I found something that seems to have helped a lot.  Her letter for today was W.  The first few she did, the first line came down to the middle of the box, which made the rest of the letter squished (which upset her).  So I put little marks in each spot she should start or end a line.   I did the same thing for her to practice her name and she was so happy when she formed perfect letters.   I think this might help her get past the lack of confidence and improve her letter formation.

She is up to Lesson 40 in OPGTR.   So far she is doing well, only occasionally needing to be reminded to sound a work out when she goes with the wrong vowel sound.   I’ve heard that somewhere between Lesson 40 and Lesson 60 corresponds with the end of Kindergarten level, so we seem right on track there.

She finished 12 pages in ETC this week.  She is up to page 71 so we are getting close to needing book 2.

We played high frequency word Uno a few times this week and she can read quite a few of those words.

We add new words to her word wall book each week.  She discovered notepad on the computer and decided she wanted to write a story “about my favorite thoughts” but didn’t know how to spell.  She decided to use her “word book” to help her spell the words she wanted to use.  


George is continuing to do a Step a day in AAS2.  Pretty soon I’m going to make a decision on whether we are going to order AAS3, or if I’m going to try Evan Moor spelling lists.  I like AAS but George doesn’t seem to need that level of reinforcement.

I’m trying out Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension for him.  I printed out Week 1 of both the 3rd and 4th grade to see where he falls.  So far he’s done 3 days of the 3rd grade level without any problems. 

He is currently working his way through his Spectrum Language Arts and Writing workbooks.  I really think I’m going to switch over to Brave Writer pretty soon.  I want something more literature based, but with guidance so I think some back issues of The Arrow (available through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op) and Jot It Down will work well.

He is up to page 42 in his HWT.  He is willing to do more of his own writing now but his formation is still atrocious.   When he’s not working in the book, he still tends to use mostly capital letters or a mix of lowercase and capital.  He also writes some letters backwards.  I’ve been told that many of his issues may be resolved once he start cursive writing, which is the next level.  We shall see.



Vicki is continuing to do one page from Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners K and one page from Math Mammoth 1A each day.  She’s able to do both pretty easily and seems to have some of her addition facts memorized.  I thought about starting some time with her but decided not to use MM initially, just our Judy clock and some games.

She is playing various file folder games to practice/drill addition facts.


George has finished the Time chapter from 3A, is working on the Fractions chapter from 3B, and the Multiplication Tables from 3A.  We are doing multiplication slowly since I want to make sure he has them memorized, and I don’t want to move on to division until he has them down.  

I think I made a mistake in not drilling addition facts enough.  Most concepts come so easily to him, and he usually memorizes things so quickly, that I didn’t give it enough attention.

He is currently drilling addition facts using Xtra Math and the puzzles from Scholastic Addition and Subtraction Riddles.  He is also reviewing the mental math tricks from MM.

He is currently drilling x2 and x5 using Gum Ball Bingo boards from Scholastic 15 Fun and Easy Games for Young Learners – Reading (the idea is to use it to match upper and lower case letters but the boards are blank so can be used for many other things), and cardstock discs with equations.   I think I’m going to set up the same games for +9, +8, +7 and +6.   He started doing timed drills, sometimes using his multiplication chart and sometimes with it covered up. 


He has almost completed the skip counting chapter in Beast Academy but he seems to have made the connection between skip counting and multiplication because he is answering some of the problems by looking at his multiplication table instead of counting.

He is still having way too easy of a time doing his problems from Algebra Readiness Made Easy 3rd Grade.  I’m hoping Scholastic has another Dollar Days sale soon so I can pick up the 4th and 5th grade books.  He really really likes doing these.

Next week I’m hoping to finally get back to Spanish, and do some Art and Music.