Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Big Changes Coming

It’s been a really long time since I posted but I have a good reason.  :-)

I recently returned to work.  Full time, out of the house, Monday through Friday work.  A too good to turn down job basically fell into my lap when I wasn’t even looking.   It all happened very quickly – a phone call on Tuesday, an interview on Wednesday and starting work on Thursday.  

We will continue to homeschool but we are taking some time to work out routines and plans and catch our breath.

The plan so far:

Grammy Kaye is watching the kids during the day.  I wouldn’t be able to work and homeschool without her help.

The kids are doing Time4Learning while they are at Grammy’s house during the day.  Vicki is doing 1st grade, while Georgie is doing 3rd grade.   Time4Learning is nice because they can work at their own pace, and even work in different grade levels for each subject (one up and one down from their core grade).  We initially started Georgie in 4th grade math since that’s where he’s working in Math Mammoth, but the difference in format along with the different scope and sequence were giving him a lot of trouble.  He is now moving fast through the 3rd grade math.

They will also do independent reading while at Grammy’s house.  George has been doing great with his reading lately.  He finished Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, 3 Diary of a Wimpy Kids books (he read them more than once, really likes these), a couple Pokemon books, and he is currently working on The Wind in the Willows.

In the evenings we will do “homework”, which will consist of handwriting, educational games, some activities from The Wand and possibly some AAR for Vicki, since she tends to give Grammy the most trouble with these subjects.  Georgie is very good at doing his work independently so his homework will consist of logic puzzles (which he needs help with), writing activities (The Arrow and I’m thinking of getting WWE), and maybe we’ll continue with Math Mammoth and let T4L be mainly a supplement/review.

We will do Science, History, and Geography on Saturdays.  

I’m hoping to sign them up for classes for Phys Ed (martial arts, swimming lessons), Art and Music.

It may be a few more weeks before I’m back to regularly posting (and probably that long before we actually start those Saturday topics).  I’m still adjusting to working, and working on getting the house reorganized for our new plans.

Monday, July 8, 2013

4-H Cultural Awareness/Asian Adventure

Our latest 4-H theme was cultural awareness, and we started by visiting The Newark Museum for their Asian Awareness guided tour.  Our tour guide was AMAZING!  She had just the right touch of firmness to keep the group under control and moving along.

We started with Japan, when our tour guide put on a beautiful kimono…..



and we saw an exhibit of beautiful carves cases, and ornaments (called Netsuke when worn from the obi, or belt for the kimono).


In the China exhibits, we saw a beautiful garden carved from semi-precious stones and metal.IMG_2661

We moved onto the Southeast Asia exhibits, where George was fascinated by the Dharmachakra or Wheel of Law (from Thailand)….


and a statue of the Hindu God, Ganesha.


The museum has a Buddhist temple that was Consecrated by the fourteenth Dalai Lama.   Our tour guide explained to the kids about being respectful, about the different types of offerings (offerings are intended to be pleasing to the five senses and would include food, flowers, incense, lamps and music).


Next we visited the Look/Touch/Learn: Tibet exhibit.   The exhibit features a mural (by Tibetan Artist Phuntsok Dorje (that depicts various aspects of life in Tibet).IMG_2681

The kids were able to check out a small Tibetan tent…


play a pretend tea ceremony…..

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and spin a Buddhist prayer wheel.


After our official tour was over, we checked out a bunch of the other exhibits, including the Egyptian…

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the Native American….

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the Dynamic Earth, which was full of interactive exhibits and games….

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Generation Fit, another interactive exhibits with exercise equipment, health information, and Just Dance!


We finished up with a visit to the Fire Museum, which featured an interactive exhibit where the kids searched for fire hazards, learned what to do to escape a fire, saw the actual results of a fire on some vinyl siding.  In addition, there was historic protective clothing, equipment, illustrations and memorabilia, an 1853 Fire Hose Cart built for the Neptune Hose Company No. 1 of Newark, and a piece of the World Trade Center to honor the NJ Firefighters who assisted on 9/11.

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The Museum was a great place to visit.  I can’t believe we are less than an hour away and have never visited before.  We will be going back again (actually this month to visit the planetarium) to further explore.

If you live in the area or are visiting NJ, check out The Newark Museum.  I highly recommend it!


When we met at the library, we learned more about Japan, India and China. 

First we discussed some of the various holidays they celebrated in those countries, that we don’t celebrate.  We learned about Children’s Day and Doll’s Day in Japan, Chinese New Year in China (and learned which animal each of the kids are in the Chinese Zodiac), and Diwali and Holi in India.

We learned how to say Hello in the primary language of each country (konnichi wa – Japan, Nin Hao – China, Namaste – India).

We discussed how chopsticks were used to eat in China and Japan, and the kids tried picking up pompoms using chopsticks.


For the first time I utilized the overhead projector and the kids danced to Katti Kalandal – the Bollywood style dance in Just Dance 2. (I tried to find something more authentic but most were not appropriate for children).


We talked about Rangoli, the traditional Indian folk art designs that are displayed on the floor of the house near the doorway to welcome guests and celebrate special events.  Rangoli are usually symmetrical designs made with colored rice powder, but we made ours out of fuse beads (and not so symmetrical).  

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Our next 4-H topic (for July, this post is really late), is Space and will include a visit to the planetarium at the Newark Museum.

Long Over-due Wrap-Up

It’s been a month since I did a weekly wrap-up.  We have continued to do some school during that time (including our 4-H Global Awareness activities and field trip, which I will blog about next), but we’ve also finished planting the garden, enjoying some of the summer weather, getting to know some of the babies that have joined our birds (we appear to have a young cardinal, downy woodpecker, and bluebird) and just relaxing. 



I’ve also been working on (once again) rearranging things.  The kids will be doing school with a sitter a couple times a week (either Granny Kaye or Big Sis Stephanie) but we never know which days until the weekend before.  So, I’ve been working on figuring out a system that will work well both at home with me and with someone else, possibly at a different location.   I ended up making just a few minor changes. 

Georgie was already working out of a weekly binder for his math and language arts and his set-up hasn’t changed.  

The big change will be for Vicki.  She now has her own weekly binder that holds her math pages, and handwriting page or a note about what page she should do in her HWT book, the fluency pages from AAR and also for AAR, a plastic page from a photo book that will hold an index card outlining what to do, any word/phonogram cards that are needed for the lesson, and any activity pieces.


Both kids also now have backpacks they can use to hold their binders, reading books, pencil boxes full of supplies, and fun stuff to do once school is finished.  Anything that uses the large whiteboard and letter tiles for AAS will be done at home with me, along with any big projects, and all history, science, art, music, etc.

And now, to show what actual progress we have made….



AAR : She is LOVING AAR.  I’m loving that it really seems to be working, and that she has readers that are at a perfect level.  We recently did an activity involving egg shapes and a spatula and she continued to use the spatula for days after.  She insisted I put the word cards down “on the grill” so she could flip them with the spatula.  We are up to Lesson 16 and have introduced the /th/ sound, which gave her some trouble.  She wanted to pronounce it /f/.


HWT K: She’s doing much better with the extra practice on the chalkboard.  She is up to pg 60 and should be starting the 1st grade book by September.  She still is resistant to writing outside of her workbook, even when writing for fun she will just make scribbles.

Games: We played quite a few phonics, rhyming and sight word games but the only new one was Sight Word Safari that I found through Pinterest.  She really had fun even though she couldn’t read all the words (those she couldn’t read, I just read for her).

Readers: She’s been reading through both the Level 1 and Level 2 AAR1 readers, plus her TAG books, and some easy Dr. Seuss.


HWT 3:  We’ve barely begun cursive but so far it’s going okay.  I would say it’s no better and no worse than his printing.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write Gr 3:  Recent activities for spelling included homophones, capitalization and punctuation.

Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Gr 4: He’s having no trouble with any of these any more, and they have led to him wanting to know more about some of the topics covered (like the differences between rats and mice).

The Wand: We finished up the activities for Owl Moon.  We may not move on until September.

Evan Moor Word-A-Day: He says these are too easy but there is occasionally a word he doesn’t know. 

Reading:  In the past few weeks he has read: Dragon Slayer’s Academy: The New Kid at School, Dragon Slayer’s Academy: Revenge of the Dragon Lady, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and Dairy of a Wimpy Kid (four times).  I’m going to try and find more Dragon Slayer’s Academy and Wimpy Kid books for him since he really enjoyed those.



Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Gr 1:  She is still doing well.  She is up to page 43 and has covered addition, subtraction, geometry, patterns, graphing, and time.

I think I’m going to pull out some of her old wipe-off books to get her some practice in writing numbers.  I think this is one of the areas that HWT is weak in.

Games:  We played lots of math games recently, including:  Hickory Dickory Clock and Shark Attack (from Scholastic 15 Fun and Easy Games for Young Learners: Math), Shape Fill-in, and Add/Sub to 12.  We also did some skip counting by 2’s using shoes.



Math Mammoth (3B, 4A, 4B):  He has finished Division in 3B and is currently in the last chapter (for him) Multiplication.  He is working on Chapter 1 in 4A but we have put Fractions in 4B on hold for now.  We worked on lining up lists of numbers for addition and subtraction, using graph paper.


Beast Academy 3A: He is almost finished with 3A and I’m still trying to decide if we will continue with 3B.

Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy Gr 4: Now that he’s slowed down and follows the steps, he is again finding these too easy.

Scholastic Solve the Riddle Math Practice Multiplication and Division:  He’s doing well with these and they are great for drill.

Scholastic Logic Posters, Problems and Puzzles:  We have been working on grid puzzles together. He REALLY enjoys these so I’m going to have to find more.

Math Games:  He was having some trouble with place value to the millions so I pulled out the old place value cards (similar to these ones but we had them up to 10,000 place) and made additional cards to cover all the way to the millions.  We spent a couple days going over them and he once again decided it was too easy.  We also played some Yahtzee and Money Bags.

The next week is going to be very slow because Georgie is on vacation with Granny Franny.  

And here’s more bird pictures (and one bug picture).IMG_2873 IMG_2890  IMG_2938 IMG_2964 IMG_2969 IMG_3022  IMG_3058