Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Weekly Wrap-up

Just a quick wrap-up before I let three weeks go between updates.  :-)

We haven’t done anything with our history or science in the past couple of weeks.  

We worked on preparing and planting our garden.  Vicki enjoyed helping, at least for small amounts of time.


We continued to enjoy the large variety of birds visiting our yard.

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We did visit a diner while waiting for Steph to finish one of her last classes for the year, which I guess we could count as part of our New Jersey study since New Jersey is the “Diner Capital of the World”.   While enjoying some traditional offerings (french fries and gyros), we played some Pokemon to pass the time.


We also finally managed to go try homeschool soccer.  Vicki has talked about wanting to play soccer for a while, and this seemed a better way to try it out than paying for town rec.   It was a very hot day when we went, and she complained a little bit, “It’s harder than I thought!” but I think she’ll like it once she gets the idea.  Georgie even played for a little while.

Once again I made some changes to our set-up.  Georgie is back to using his weekly binder with all his work.  I prefer this because I don’t have to pull things out every day.  He prefers it because he can see exactly what he needs to do.

I’ve also followed through on giving Vicki more hands-on and games.

I also added dedicated reading time to each day. Vicki reads from her AAR readers or uses her TAG system.   I bring out three books that I think are at the right level and let Georgie pick which he wants to read.



AAR : Vicki seems to be really enjoying All About Reading.   Since a lot of it is review, we’ve been doing one Step a day.  She is up to Lesson 7 and so far, so good.   We have spread some of the fluency pages out over two days.  She gets really excited to fill in a star on the progress chart each day.

HWT K:  We are continuing to work on handwriting using the chalkboard to practice before doing it in the book.  She’s also working on her name each day.


HWT 2:  George has almost finished the 2nd grade HWT book.  We will be starting cursive next week.  I plan to go over proper formation using the chalkboard before doing the workbook page.  I’m hoping this will help improve his technique.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write Gr 3: He is continuing to do well with spelling.   Recently we worked on adjectives and capitalization, as well as spelling.

Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Gr 4:  He’s doing much better on these.  I have him redo any questions that are wrong (usually with a reminder to read carefully) and that seems to have helped a lot.

Scholastic Analogies Gr 4-5:  We stopped the analogies for now, in favor of Evan Moor Word-A-Day.  He was having a lot of trouble with the analogies, mainly from being unfamiliar with the words. 

Evan Moor Daily 6-Trait Writing Gr 3: He’s up to pg 19.  He doesn’t love it, he doesn’t hate it.  He does need a lot of hand-holding to come up with answers and we are still on the first topic.

The Wand:  We finished the activities that go along with Harry and the Lady Next Door.

Reading:  I instituted daily reading time after his independent work and before the stuff we do together.  So far he read The Mouse and the Motorcycle and A Cricket in Time Square.  He really liked both, so he’s finally realizing there are good things to read besides Magic Tree House and comic books.



Math Mammoth 1A: Vicki is almost done with Chapter 1 in Math Mammoth.  She is getting a lot faster with her addition facts and doesn’t have to count as much. But, I also think she’s getting bored with it.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Gr 1:   She definitely prefers the variety and color in the EM worksheets.   She worked on graphing, subtraction, addition, and measuring.

Games:  We played a lot of math games the past couple of weeks.   Popsicle stick math (draw two sticks with numbers on them, add them and cover the result on a bingo-type board), figuring out which symbol (< > or =) to place between two playing cards, or one playing card and one addition flash card, Flip 10 – played like concentration but instead of matching pictures keep two cards that add up to 10.  We played using colored glass stones (like you would see in vases), playing cards, Disney-themed Go Fish cards, flash cards.


Math Mammoth (3B, 4A, 4B):  George is up to pg 110 in 3B (division), pg 67 in 4A (place value) and pg 138 in 4B (fractions).  He seems to fully understand all three and I’ve been skipping pages and problems once he shows understanding.

Beast Academy 3A: We started the perimeter problems in Beast Academy.  So far he understands the idea but the problems have been very basic.

Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy Gr 4: Still very easy for him.  He doesn’t fill in any of the steps they suggest to figure out the answer, he just jumps right to it. 

Scholastic Solve the Riddle Math Practice Multiplication and Division:   Great for drilling the facts.  

Scholastic Logic Posters, Problems and Puzzles:   We started on Number Logic problems.  He is having a lot of fun with these and even attempted a few of them completely on his own (these are in the part of his binder that we do together).   An example of these problems would be:
-This is an even number that has four digits.
-Only two different even numbers are used.
-The same digit is in the ones and the tens place.
-The digit in the ones place is 1/4 the digit in the thousands place
-The two-digit number made by the tens and the ones place is 1/4 the two digit number made by the thousands and hundreds place.
What is the number?

I’m hoping I can find something similar when we finish this book because these are really a lot of fun. 

Games/Extras:  We’ve played a lot of multiplication war.  He is almost done with subtraction in Xtra Math and will move right into multiplication.   I’m still giving him extra practice problems with addition and subtraction because he seems to forget about borrowing and carrying if he hasn’t done it in a few days.

New Jersey: Thomas Edison

I just realized I never actually wrote a post about our trip to Thomas Edison’s Laboratory complex in West Orange, NJ.    We went there as part of our US States study, specifically New Jersey, our home state. 

We started out by reading about Thomas Edison in a few books.  All of our general New Jersey books had a section on Thomas Edison, and we read Thomas Edison: Inventor with a Lot of Bright Ideas.

Our visit to the laboratory complex was fun, but I think the kids will appreciate it more in a few years.    We did get to hear an early phonograph, and take a quick guided tour of the Chemistry lab. 

There was an I Spy checklist the kids used to find things, which helped keep their interest for a little while.


The time clock where Edison and his employees punched in every day.


Thomas Edison’s desk in the library.


The machine shop..


The old elevator…

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the photo department with the early fire extinguisher..


the music room….


Looking at all that glass, I can understand why the Ranger made our tour of the Chemistry lab a quick one.

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The Black Maria, the first film studio.  It was built on a track so the whole building could rotate and utilize the sunlight.

IMG_2412 After our visit, we came home and explored the website for the park.   The kids were most interested in the games but it was also a good review of our visit.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weekly (??) Wrap-up

Hi all <<waves hello>>  I’m back.  I feel like it’s been forever since I last posted but it’s only been two weeks, so I guess that’s not TOO bad.   Of course, my last weekly wrap-up was a week before that.

We’ve been pretty busy.  Some school stuff (or at least educational in the broadest sense), some not.  The not stuff involved cleaning out the garage so there’s someplace to put all of Steph’s crap when she comes home from school for the summer, making changes to our school set-up (yep, again <sigh>), and organizing all my school games (I have 39 different games, that I printed, laminated and prepared for Georgie but hardly used because he never needed the practice, that I reorganized so I can easily use them for Vicki). 

The last posts two weeks ago were about our Fish study with 4-H Cloverbuds, including our field trip to the Pequest Fish Hatchery.  Lots of fun and very educational. 


We also learned about the Respiratory System.  This means we only have the Nervous System and the Five Senses, Genetics and a little bit of Reproduction to finish up our Human Body study.   I am trying to decide between electricity and space for our next topic.   Electricity because  Georgie received a Snap Circuits set for Christmas that I really want to break out.   Space because the kids have been playing a lot of space themed games lately.  We are scheduled to go to the planetarium with Cloverbuds in July so space may be better done then.


We have done lots of informal nature study in the past few weeks.  Spring has definitely exploded with color around here (despite frost warnings at night up until last week)…


we’ve been learning all about the different birds visiting, including a few new ones, like a rose-breasted grosbeak….


and a grey catbird….


as well as our favorites, like our red-winged blackbird.  It turns out we have at least two of these that visit regularly.


We also have what we think are house wrens building in a couple of our bird houses.

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The kids both received binoculars in their Easter baskets so we’ve been looking at lots of birds while they learn how to use them, and how to look things up in the field guide.

The other field guide getting a lot of use around here, is the one for Insects and Spiders.    They have been searching the yard diligently every day for new bugs to make pets.  Since I won’t allow them in the house, they live in a big pot of dirt on the deck.  They’ve turned over just about every decent sized rock in the yard (including all the slate stepping stones) and I just love hearing my little girl exclaim, “awww, look at the adorable maggots!”.


They decided that they had so many bugs, they needed to sell them.  So, they started their own company, Bugs Inc., and made flyers advertising their services as bug babysitters and procurers of pets, that they planned to hang all over town.  When mommy showed little enthusiasm for hanging posters containing her cell phone number along with our last name, they decided they would sell the posters.  So for $1 you could get your very own poster, telling you how to buy a pet bug for just $10.  Add another $7 for a bug book, and our family receives a $5 discount.

Bugs Inc flyer 

We took a walk down to the river to see if we could find some different bugs, and to see if we could spot some of the peepers we would hear each evening.  We didn’t find either but Vicki had fun playing in the mud (Georgie was pouting because he got in trouble for pouring a bucket of water on me.  Lucky for him the bucket had a leak and I didn’t get that wet).  


Daddy picked up some more varieties of tomato seeds to get started, and the kids decided they wanted to plant something too.   After lots of deep thought and contemplation, George planted one pea and one cucumber. He named them Albert and Panner, and wrote out a schedule for taking care of them.
"What to do with my plant.
11:30 Water Albert and Panner.
1:07 Story Albert and Panner.
2:00 Story Them Again.
3:09 Water Them.
4:20 Music
5:00 Story"

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Vicki planted a couple of cucumber seeds.  I’m still holding out hope that hers will actually sprout, but Georgie’s pea already has.

As part of our New Jersey study, we learned about Thomas Edison and took a trip to his laboratory complex in West Orange.   I will do the full write-up about that sometime this weekend but for now suffice it to say it’s a trip they may appreciate more in a couple of years.

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Okay, since none of that counts as “school” <<insert eye-roll here>>, here’s what else we did the past few weeks…..



OPGTR:  I’m giving up on OPGTR.  Vicki is still stuck on beginning blends and endless review is just not doing it for her.  I ordered All About Reading 1 and we will start it next week.   Even though she’s pretty good with CVC words, we are going to start at the beginning and work through the early lessons quickly.  I think the reinforcement with sounding out each letter will help since she has a habit of throwing random letters into a word – for example, pronouncing c-a-t as cart.

HWT K:  she is up to page 52 and has gotten much better with writing her name.  We’ve moved on from just writing her first name to writing her first and last names.   She is still likely to whine, and cry, and moan while doing it, though.  I will be returning to using the lined chalkboard more, along with the little sponges.  

ETC2:  On hold until she breaks through the beginning blends barrier.


HWT 2:  He is up to page 70.   After I made him do a whole second page for “forgetting” to write in lower case, he has been much better at watching his formation.   He did a couple pages that were all homonyms, so got some grammar in there too.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write Gr 3:
He scored 100% of the latest spelling test.  The latest unit told about Washington DC, worked on capitalization, and rhyming. 

Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Gr 4:  He is up to page 40 in this book.  All except one page he did well, any mistakes were ones he could explain his reasoning and we were able to discuss why a different answer was correct.  That one day it was clear he paid no attention to what he was reading.

The Wand: We finished the first week of Harry and the Lady Next Door.  He is doing better than I thought with the copywork, the dictation is still pretty easy for him.  This weeks activities included some narration, and learning about adjectives and adverbs.

Scholastic Analogies Gr 4-5: He’s having a little bit of trouble with these.  One day it was because he misread the directions.  I can’t really blame him because when I looked at them, I didn’t understand them either.  But we were able to figure it out, and he did well once he knew what he was supposed to do.  He is having a little trouble when some of the terms are unfamiliar.   So far we’ve run into gingham, beret, tam, and a couple of bird names.  I gave him a dictionary to use when he needs to figure out what a word means.

Evan Moor Daily 6-Trait Writing Gr 3:  We haven’t even finished the first weeks worth of these.  He did okay with the couple of days we tried.   I’m thinking about adding some writing using journal prompts, and letting him type in on the computer.



Math Mammoth 1A:  Still working on addition, but almost ready to move on.  I’m going to be adding in a lot more games, and doing a lot less worksheets.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Gr 1:  Up to page 26.  Has worked on coin sorting, symmetry, ordinal numbers and graphing.


Math Mammoth (3B, 4A, 4B):  Georgie started division in 3B and found it “too easy, the is probably the easiest thing you ever gave me”.  So we may skip a few pages and move fast.   He’s also not having any trouble with fractions or place value but evidently they aren’t the easiest thing ever.  Whatever.

Beast Academy 3A:  up to page 61, which is balancing problems. 

Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy Gr 4:  So far, there still easy but I can definitely see that they are getting harder fast.  He did make one mistake when he doubled 19 to 28.

Scholastic Solve the Riddle Math Practice Multiplication and Division:  He’s up to Riddle #6, although he is using his multiplication chart quite a bit.

Scholastic Logic Posters, Problems and Puzzles:  He is really enjoying these.  We finished up the garden themed puzzles and started flag themed puzzles (which of the four flags match the clues).  I have had to explain primes, squares, and cube-roots to him.