Friday, March 28, 2014

Wrap-Up Through 3/21/14

Once again computer problems have led to being far behind with posting but I've been working on catching up.  I now have a brand-new computer that will hopefully result in the need to come up with a completely new excuse.  J

The kids have been having a lot of fun the past few weeks.  Swimming lessons and Zumba have continued at the Y, the kids have been studying Vikings (including putting together a really cool village) and Electricity (full posts will come when the units are finished)....

and we started our Nature Study (those posts can be seen here and here).

The kids have been going ice skating each week and they’ve been doing great!  This week George made a full lap around the ice by himself!
They've also gone bowling...
 on a fun trip to the Camden Adventure Aquarium (see that post here)...
and another class at the Montclair Art Museum.  This time they cut out pictures, glued them to cardstock and made cards that could be stacked into towers.

We also had a very solemn funeral for Kevin – a pet ant George had for one night...

and Vicki has gotten quite good at hula hooping (she says Daddy taught her but it definitely wasn’t by example).  I'll have to see if I can get some video of my two girls hula hooping.  Steph is quite good at it too.

Vicki finally did some baking with Daddy using the new pans she received for Christmas (she also made jello with Jennifer)...

and Georgie has had a great time playing his new Dungeons & Dragons game, Legend of Drizzt.  Mommy has had the pleasure of playing with him.

And, of course, the kids have continued with their regular sit-down school work.
Scholastic just had another Dollar Days sale so I picked up a few more supplemental resources.  Between the Scholastic stuff and the Evan Moor Teacher’s File Box, we are in good shape for materials as long as the kids continue to like and do well with worksheets.

Language Arts

Vicki has finished the 1st grade Handwriting Without Tears book and started the 2nd grade book.   She definitely getting better, and is WAY more willing to write than she used to be, but she definitely still needs the detailed instruction.

The file for our Scholastic DoDEA Skill Builder Grammar, Usage and Mechanics Grade 1 on my external harddrive is corrupt and I have been unable to get it online again (I can find it online but the pdf will not open.  Not even from work.).  Vicki has completed through page 48 but it looks like we are going to need to switch to something else.   Most likely that will be Evan Moor since I have the membership in the Teacher’s File Box and their options also offer a slow, easy introduction.   She has been working on naming words, singular/plural nouns, describing words, the pronoun them, linking verbs, words that compare, and capitalizing special names.
Vicki has almost completed the Scholastic Second Grade Basic Skills: Reading Comprehension and Skills book.  She is giving the Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension – 2nd Grade book a try next.   This is the same series Georgie is using and is definitely at a higher level than the Scholastic so she will be starting with the 2nd grade level.

Using “The Wand”, Vicki has finished the units on A Kiss for Little Bear, which covered “one” words (one, once, only, none, long, alone) and question words (who, what, where, when, why, which), place words (where, there, here) and Danny and the Dinosaur which did more with the <wh> digraph (who, what, where, when, why, which).

In addition to the books for “The Wand”, Vicki has been reading her way through the Junie B. Jones books, has read How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup the Hero (to go along with the Viking study), and the Viking Ships at Sunrise Magic Tree House book.


Vicki is continuing to do well with Math Mammoth 1B, although it’s definitely not her favorite.  She has completed through page 27 which included activities using the 100 chart, building numbers to 100, and working with groups of 10s.

Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Math Gr 1, she has completed through page 96.   Activities included adding and subtracting to 16, word problems, graphing, telling time to the half hour, and adding up coins (pennies, nickels, dimes).  I believe she is almost finished with the first grade book.  When she is done, she will move on to the second grade book.

Language Arts

George has finished the Handwriting Without Tears – Grade 3 book.  Since he has the letter formation down pretty well and just needs more practice, he will not be continuing with the HWT books.  Instead he will do practice using various resources, including a new one from Scholastic – Cursive Practice Jokes & Riddles.
He continues to do very well with Evan Moor Skill Sharpeners Spell and Write.  He completed the Grade 4 book and moved on to Grade 5.   Most weeks he gets 100% on the tests.   I like the way these also introduce various grammar concepts, writing assignments AND interesting passages that sometimes lead to wanting to know more.

He completed three units in the time period of this wrap-up:

The first had a passage titled “Hero of the Sky” which was about Amelia Earhart.  Spelling lists for that week were two, too, their, there, weather, great, whether, all ready, already, teacher, league, people. The grammar topics obviously included homonyms.  Also included was proper punctuation for various titles and when to use capitals, underline, or quotes. (something it is clear that I occasionally struggle with J )

His writing assignments were to write a Cinquain….
A hero, buggy
kick, swings, saves
a tall thin great hero

And to come up with questions to conduct an interview with Amelia Earhart.   

“What was the crash like? How bad was it? Do we need to call a ambulance? Or a repairman?  Should I get you a get well soon balloon? Are you bleeding?”
The next unit was called “Animal Helpers” and discussed service animals.  The word list included happily, swiftly, hopeless, tireless, recall, rebuild, unable, unlike, service, alert, person, guide.  He got 100% on his test and also learned the definitions for the words, and the differences between may/can and sit/set.

One of his writings assignments was to list other ways animals may help people…
Snake: rat/mice control
Cat: be sweet, loving Need I say more?
Armadillo: I meant anteater - the ant eater
Cheetah: speed, catch criminals
Jester: not an animal but we all need a laugh
fish: good cat award

and to write an Acrostic poem about animal friends.
(not about animals)

And last but not least, last week he moved on to the 5th grade book.  The first unit was “Baseball by the Numbers” and the word list was: which, another, rough, once, trouble, cousin, until, baseball, batter, field, pitcher and umpire.
The grammar activity for this week was on the difference between declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory sentences and the correct punctuation to use with each.

Another acrostic poem was included this week:

And he had an assignment to write about a baseball game.
About 18 people are playing…3 teams…the Gravebusters VS Obelisks, The Gods VS Screeching Strikers!   Team Gravebusters: Leader Drake, Co-Leader Kia, Member Kong, Member Tyu, Member Lily, and Member Pipi. Team Obelisks the Gods: Leader Obelisk, Co-Leader Lin, Member Clement, Member Jack, Member Jill, and Member Jacob. Team Screeching strikers: Leader/Birdmaster Birda, Co-Leader/Co-Birdmaster/Birda’s Sister Eagle, Member Kaw, Member Kaw II, Member Kaw III, Member Kaw IIII. The game was tuff for the Screeching Strikers and The Gods, because they we’re playing on a graveyard field and the Gravebusters are masters on that type of field. But eventually, The Screeching Strikers came back around when they started used their super fast pitching reflexes. The game ended up like this: 1st Place: Team Gravebusters, 2nd Place: Team Screeching Strikers, 3rd Place: Team Obelisks and The Gods. It was at night when this game happened and it went on 12:00AM-5:00AM.

He’s been typing his stories on the computer and his typing speed has been increasing quite a bit.  His accuracy with capitals and punctuation aren’t great but I’m not sure that’s a typing issue.
He has completed through page 146 in Evan Moor Daily Reading Comprehension Gr 4.   This week the passages were discussing character and setting, and theme, compare and contrast, making inferences, author’s purpose, and prediction.

He has completed through week 15 in Evan Moor Word-A-Day, which included the word lists:
motion, encouraged, demand, pollution
applaud, tattered, observe, function
command, hilarious, devour, solo

He did passages on Trumpet of the Swan, "Today is Monday", "Old Mother Hubbard" and The Saturdays in Writing with Ease.

Reading: In the past few weeks, George has been doing quite a bit of reading.  For his official school reading time he has read:  Stick-o-pedia Volume 1 and 2, Judy Moody and Stink The Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt, The Trumpet of the Swan, Usborne Greek Myths, Hank Zipzer Day of the Iguana, James and the Giant Peach, Time Warp Trio: Viking It and Liking It.  His free reading in the past week has centered around the Adventure Guide and Players Guide that came with his new Dungeons & Dragons Legend of Drizzt board
, or his Pokemon books, or his Simpsons comic books.  Not the best literature but some of the terminology probably stretches his abilities so it’s all good.


George has completed Math Mammoth (4B) through page 75 which finished up the chapter on place value.
He has almost completed the 5th Grade Scholastic Algebra Readiness Made Easy.   While I did buy the 6th grade and 7/8th grade books at the recent sale, they are going to take a break from these for a while since he has actually struggled occasionally with this book.  After a break, they will probably work through the 5th Grade book again before moving on.

George finished the money work book he was doing as extra math practice.  He just started using Evan Moor Daily Word Problems – Grade 4 for extra practice.  The big advantage of word problems – he has no choice but to read the directions before trying to solve the problem.  He completed Week 1.
He has almost completed Scholastic Solve the Riddle Math Practice Multiplication and Division and has good retention of multiplication facts. 

George has continued doing either a grid logic puzzle, or a Sudoku puzzle each day.  He really likes Logic grid puzzles (which makes sense to me, I always liked them too).


Nature Study Saturday - Week 2

We lucked out with another beautiful day for our second week of Nature Study on March 22nd.

Since the Spring Equinox was just a few days prior, we started out by reading about the Equinox in our Nature Connections book.    When we recorded the times for sunrise and sunset and the hours of daylight, we noticed that between last week and this week, we switched from more hours of darkness to more hours of daylight.   (Yeah!!)

This week when we went around looking for signs of Spring we actually found some!  The first crocuses were blooming in the side yard.  Every year we dig up the crocuses that come up there and move them into the garden beds in the back.  And every single year more come up in the early Spring.

When I talked excitedly about the first crocuses, Georgie pointed out that they were the “first crocuses at our house”.  I guess he has a point there.
Vicki also mentioned that we were seeing a lot more birds, as a sign of Spring.  (it could also be a sign of the bird seed we are putting out again).  It was also pretty warm, an indication that Spring was here!

We did our three tracking pictures – rhododendron (buds still tightly closed), front yard (still bare branches), and back yard (still no leaves but no snow either so that's progress) and compared them to last weeks pictures. 

The only real difference is the lack of snow.  Still no sign of buds on the trees or opening up on the rhododendron.

This week Vicki was more willing to join in the notebook activities.  They added last week’s observation pictures, filled out the Nature Notes (George drew a picture of our fence this time).

Then Vicki hung out with Daddy soaking up some sunshine. 


Nature Study Saturday Week 1

We started our Nature Study on March 15th.   This is going to be my attempt to have some time with the kids with a purpose.   :-) 

We will be using the Nature Connection book, various other books, and keeping records in nature notebooks.
The kids decorated their nature notebooks using cardstock and some cut-outs from magazines and old books.  Neither was overly enthusiastic about any of it but hopefully that will come with time.   We started out using prong folders with a  sheet protector to hold the cover but I realized that would make it harder to add pages, so we are switching to binders.

Inside were record pages from the Nature Connection including Nature Notes to fill out each day, Tracking Daylight to fill out on an ongoing basis, observation pages to record interesting observations on an on-going basis, and blank and lined paper for pictures, samples and other information.
Since it’s almost Spring we started out by looking around outside for signs of Spring.  Other than some of the snow finally melting into mud, there weren’t many.

Each week we are going to observe three different spots in our yard – our rhododendron bush (a broad-leaf evergreen), our front “yard” tangle of bushes, and down the back hill toward the river.  We will take pictures and then use those pictures to compare to the view the following week and note the differences.

We actually had a somewhat nice day for our first outing and the kids decided they wanted to plant some seeds.  George wanted another plant like Albert or Panner from last year.  I doubt they’ll grow anytime soon since they are still sitting outside in the cold.

When we went back inside, George filled out the observation pages in his notebook.  We tracked the hours of daylight using, and George drew a picture of the bare gray trees on his Nature Notes page.  Vicki refused but I’m hoping she’ll get more interested as time goes on and we go on more field trips.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Camden Adventure Aquarium Field Trip

The kids took a field trip to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden last week.  They went with a few other homeschoolers, including Jen's mom and her brother, and Daddy went along as well.  I have not been to the aquarium in years, not since Steph was 5 or  6 years old.  It has changed a lot since then so I'm hoping we'll get another chance to visit when I can go along.

The kids had a great time, especially with the Touch Tanks.  Vicki was a little reluctant at first but George dove right in.