Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pinewood Derby 2011

Noodle was 2nd place in the Tiger Division! YAY!! Also, he got "Best Paint Job."  Thanks to Daddy who is a professional auto painter by trade.

Weekly Accomplishments 1/24 - 1/28

~What we are reading~
Me- The Book Thief - but I am dropping it.
Bear-Gulliver's Travels, Calico Captive, Becoming a Tiger (on his own) and
The Art of Racing in the Rain (on CD)
Noodle- If You Lived With the Iroquois

Bible:  Noodle and I are still reading through the Rod & Staff Bible Stories and Leading Little Ones to God.  Bear is reading through the Bible like a Novel.  I feel we are really lacking in the Bible area right now.  I am going to get some things from Positive Action For Christ when I get my budget finished. 

Math:  Noodle is excelling and I think he really is a Math kid!!!! Woot! My first one!   He is still mixing up inches and centimeters sometimes and once in a while he adds when he is supposed to subtract, but he has most of the addition and subtraction facts down.  Also, he can do math in his head so that had me really excited!  Bear is plugging away on Algebra 1 with his tutor. 

English/Language Arts:  We are on Lesson 71 in OPGTR.  We started this book just about one year ago.  Technically we should be farther ahead, but we do not do a lesson everyday because Noodle gets overwhelmed with it sometimes.  Instead of doing one every day, I will have him read me an easy reader, a Bob Book or something else.  That way he is still getting a reading lesson of sorts.  OPGTR is fabulous and it has taught him to read - no doubt about it.  We are going to have a celebration when we finish the book.  He does two pages a day in Explode the Code book 2.  He is also doing one CLE LA lesson per day.  We never did get to any First Language Lessons this week, but he does know the definitions for noun and pronoun and he has three poems memorized. 

Reading an easy reader to me.

We practiced some of the memory work poems.  It had been about three weeks since we last reviewed so he needed more than a little prompting on Singing Time, but otherwise he did OK.   As you can see in the video, he has a flair for drama and can't resist moving around.

Haha...toward the end did you hear his big brother
(Bear) singing in the kitchen?  That's twice now I have caught him on video with his goofy singing. 

Bear is reading Gulliver's Travels for Literature and Calico Captive for History/Lit reading.  He is still working his way through CLE LA and has finally gotten the hang of diagramming sentences.  CLE has really helped him progress where other curriculum we tried for grammar, didn't.  Wordly Wise has fallen by the wayside, but will make its way back on the schedule next week.

I am so thankful that Bear loves to read.  At our house, I frequently come upon a scene like this.....

History:  I am reading If You Lived With the Iroquois to Noodle and we have had a couple of discussions about it, but mostly he is bored with it so I think I need to find something to make learning about the Native Americans a little more interesting.  We didn't do any projects this week so that certainly didn't help with the interest factor.

Bear completed several pages of reading from Heritage of Freedom, Our Island Story and The Church in History.  He is still working to compete the Book of Colonies, which has taken much longer than I anticipated.  It is almost February and we are just now hitting on the Revolutionary War.  It is a good thing we school through the summer otherwise he'd need almost 5 years, at this pace, to cover all the history he needs.

Science:  Noodle loves science.  We did an experiment about how hair keeps an animal warm.  Then we learned about some birds of prey, including the Owl, and dissected some owl pellets.  Bear was the lead lab guy on that one and Noodle very intently listened and participated.  It was a nice moment for me  - especially because right now - as I type this they are in the family room bickering.  Oh well, at least I have that memory!

Hairy Experiment

Owl Pellet

Bear completed Module 7 for Apologia Physical Science.  He really doesn't enjoy it, he tolerates it.  I always say he is a "science guy" but he is more of an "animal guy."  He prefers Biology and Zoology over Earth/Physical/Chemistry/Astronomy type science.  It's going to be a long 4 years for him!!! 

Even though Bear is only in ninth grade we are starting college prep/SAT prep activities.  Next year that will become more intense, but this year so far we do the SAT Practice Question of the Day and work on improving his writing skills. 

We registered for the new semester of co-op this week and we start on February 10th.  Noodle will be doing Art, Children's Cultures and Science Experiment classes while Bear will have Math Study Hall, Zoology and How to Write a Research Paper.

Until next time.....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week 4: 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Wow.  I read The Help for week 3, but I read 98% of it Saturday and finished up the last 15 minutes this morning. I finally couldn't keep my eyes open anymore and went to sleep at 2am, thinking about the people in The Help

Wow.  I laughed.  I cried.  I knew the author took certain liberties and at first I was a little bothered by the dialect, but I got over it before the first chapter ended.  I loved these women (except Miss Hilly of course!) and I couldn't bear to tear myself away from the book.  I didn't do one dish, didn't do any laundry or cook anything.  Everyone was on their own all day while I stayed in my pj's, reading all day long while lounging on my bed. My husband kept asking, "Are you planning on doing anything?  Are you going to take a shower? What's for dinner?"  Finally he figured out that he was indeed going to be neglected all day and so were the children.  Then around 11:30 pm the question every half hour until I finally had to stop at 2am was, "Are you going to turn the lights out anytime soon?"  I literally dreaded having to go to sleep but finally I had to put the book down.

I woke up at 7am and was supposed to drive my son to his zoo job, but I coaxed my husband in to going along to do the driving so I could finish the book! I discoved this morning that there is a movie version being made and due to be released in August of this year! Yay!! I really hope Hollywood doesn't screw it up :/

The book for Week 4 is The Book Thief.  I tried starting it today, but it is just too soon after The Help, so I will get back to it again tomorrow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weekly Accomplishments 1/17 - 1/21

Weekly Report is now Weekly Accomplishments!  It sounds so much more positive.  Thank you to The Homeschool Village for the new name.

~What we are reading:

Me:  The Hunger Games and Thomas Jefferson Education (still!!!)
Bear: Robinson Crusoe and Becoming a Tiger
Noodle: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing on CD

It has been a weird week.  Very busy, but I am having trouble having anything to show for it.  I had several distractions from DH and oldest ds. 

Bear continues with Robinson Crusoe.  He is now on Module 7 of Apologia Physical Science.  As for everything else, it's the usual and he just gets it done.  Nothing exciting as far as school work.  For Scouts he will be doing some Orienteering this weekend.  Also, he loves, loves, love volunteering at the Zoo.  He gets to handle the big snakes.  This one is a Red Tail Boa or Common Boa. The pictures are from my Blackberry so the quality isn't stellar.

He is fascinated by the big cats too, but he doesn't get to touch those!  He was bitten by a Kinkajou a couple of weeks ago.  No bigee, but we think it is kind of funny since it isn't everyday you can say you were bitten by a Kinkajou!  There is also a hilarious Prairie Dog named Chippy and every time Bear goes to feed him he tries to escape. 

Noodle's week was the usual too.  No exciting projects, just the 3 R's mostly.  Surprisingly, no pictures.  We did make it to the library this week and checked out a few more Guinea Pig books, which he has been reading up on because he is about to get two sows.  We are going today to buy the cage and then on Sunday we'll go pick out two baby sows.  We have been talking about names, but so far he can't make a decision.  I think Molly and Polly would be cute, but he said no.  I am looking forward to hearing the names he picks. 

Some of our plans for next week:

Noodle - Do a mini lit unit for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Do "Hairy" science experiment and make a soda bottle bird feeder.  Read If You Lived With the Iroquois.

Bear:  Start reading Gulliver's Travels and Calico Captive. Take History Midterm Exam.  Start working on Science Fair project that is coming up in April.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How do you know a curriculum isn't working for your child?

Over at The Homeschool Village the discussion is how to know when a curriculum isn't working for your child.

I used to think if my child was crying, whining or generally complaining every time I pulled something out to work on that it meant something was wrong with the curriculum. I dumped and bought countless curriculum and programs because of it.  Now I know that isn't one of the signs, at least not here at our homeschool.

I know something isn't working when there is 1) no retention, 2) no progress/child is beyond the material or, 3) no ability to grasp the assignment because the material is beyond the child.  At our house crying or being bored with something doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile or not working.  My 14 yo constantly complains about doing history because it isn't his thing, not because the 1 million programs I have presented to him aren't interesting.  So, history isn't his thing, too bad, history is required at our school.  I know the program we use is engrossing, thorough and varied enough to be engaging for most students.  Now, science, that is his passion and he devours 200 page books in a 12-24 hour period.  Books that I can't get past the first paragraph because, science isn't my penchant. 

My 7 year old hates The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, but it WORKS. He is learning to read.  He may not fancy the curriculum, but he wants to read.  The book has no pictures so it isn't visually appealing to him and it is repetitive in some ways, but it WORKS.  I don't discard it because he complains.  If he wasn't learning to read or never remembered anything we did on previous days, then I would toss it.  He knows that he can read all the easy reader books he chooses at the library because the OPGTR has taught him to read with my guidance.  When he gripes I remind him that in order to read all the things he wants to read that he must go through the reading lessons, and then he lets out a big sigh, rolls his eyes and says, "OK, let's do it."  When we finish the  OPGTR we will have a little celebration!  He has that to look forward to.

I know my view may be a minority in the homeschool world because a lot of hs moms get rid of stuff that brings their kids to tears or because it isn't "fun."  In my view, it doesn't always have to be fun and there are some kids who just flat out aren't passionate about learning and will never be pleased with anything other than non-school activities.  I am not against fun and we have plenty of it, but I am an advocate of "sometimes in life we have to do stuff we don't like so later we can do the stuff we do like."  I believe it is preparation for life and someday when my children come face to face with an experience they don't like, perhaps in their career, they will know they just have to plug on through and can't just quit.  They could eventually quit when they find something more to their liking or when they complete something they committed to, however there is a lot to be said for being loyal, consistent and having a good attittude. 

My approach this last year or so has saved me oodles of money because I am no longer "curriculum hopping."  I hope I am not misunderstood.  Changing a curriculum that truly isn't working isn't "curriculum hopping" but replacing curriculum every time a child complains may be.  It may not be the curriculum that needs adjusting, it could be the child's attitude or behavior that needs to change.  Changing because I don't care for it or because I am unwilling to discipline myself to teach it may not be setting the example I want to set.  I had to get that perspective before I kept going down the road of buying and selling school books. 

Of course there are situations where we have researched programs by asking lots of questions, looked at samples, asked about other's experience with it etc., and then we get it and it isn't what we thought it was.  That's a different scenario.  That still happens to me once in a while.  Or, I change my mind about using something before we have purchased it, that has happened countless times, but I am not out any money in that instance and my child isn't affected.

Bottom line, the beauty of homeschooling is that we have choices.  We know what is best for our families and we can decide accordingly. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Next Year's Curriculum??

It's that time again.  Honestly, I am always *thinking* about new curriculum.  I am addicted.  However, I am a recovering addict as I know longer buy impulsively.  I make lists, book mark sites and I walk away.  Later, I review and delete sometimes thinking, "What was I thinking?"  Other times, it stays. 

Anyway, this is the time I start to get serious about compiling my shopping list for the fall.  The used book sales start in March usually and listings seem to pick up on the for sale sites.  I start price comparing.  While I love new stuff, I don't buy all new anymore.  I have become frugal and try to buy used as often as possible. I buy new if it is an exclusive, ultimately the best deal or if I absolutely can't find it used or cheap enough used.

I will definitely be sticking with Tapestry of Grace and their suggested book list.  Sticking with OPGTR, ETC, CLE LA, Perplexors, Apologia and Elemental Science, Abeka Math and Teaching Textbooks and all our games.  There are some other things out there that I am researching and thinking of adding to our collection.

My research/possible buy list:

Positive Action for Christ - 2md grade and Life of Christ High School bible course an the Milk, Bread Fish and Meat series
BJU DVD Spanish 1  or Rosetta Stone for high school
Introductory Logic OR Art of Argument
Veritas Press Timeline Cards
Progeny Press Lit Guides (already know I love these and own a few, have used a few, but not lately because they are pretty intense and take awhile.  We just fly through books too fast.)
Veritas Press Lit Guides
A Young Scholar's Guide to Composers
A Young Historian's Introduction to Worldview
A Child's History of Art: Architecture Set

Decisions, decisions!!!! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week 3: 52 Books in 52 Weeks

I am behind.  I am still reading The Hunger Games.  The problem is, it isn't the only book I am reading.  Then there is life and all the things I must do the keep it going.  I should be finished with The Hunger Games tonight or tomorrow.  Then I will move on to The Help.  I want to read the other two books in the "games" series, but I have to wait for them to be available at the library. I actually have Mockingjay, but I cannot read them out of order!

I am finding The Hunger Games kind of fascinating.  It is a pretty easy read and if I didn't have life interrupting me all the time I would have finished already.  Since I am the only one awake in the house right now, I am off to do some of that reading!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Weekly Report 1/10 - 1/14 - with a video!

~What we are reading~
Me: The Hunger Games 
Bear: Purity Under Pressure, Dissmantling Evolution, Robinson Crusoe
Noodle: Ribsy (audiobook), Courage of Sarah Noble - Read Aloud with Mom
Dad: Life by Keith Richards

Monday:  We started today with a Bible Story - Jacob and Esau.  We also read about why we can't see God. And we learned about how Moses saw a very tiny bit of God's Glory and how awesome it was! For History Noodle watched Charlie Brown: This is America Disc 2.  He did a lesson and a half in his Abeka Arithmetic 1 book for math.  Then we played a game of Money Bags.  I won!  I read aloud The Courage of Sarah Noble.  I had planned to read it over the week, but we read the whole book today!  For Phonics he did two pages of Explode the Code Book 2.  He is about half way through that one now.  I am hoping by March he can start book 3. We did a little more from The Story of the Orchestra.  I really like this book, but currently we are borrowing it from the library. I am pretty sure I am going to order one for our home library from - it is that good! 

Bear finished reading Purity Under Pressure and wrote a response paper.  He has some pretty strong feelings about some of the stuff in the book and overall he said he feels the book is for someone who struggles with the things it addresses and that he isn't one of those people.  OK- good to know.  Hopefully when he does face a struggle, something he read will come back to the forefront of his mind.  He just had some reading today for science - no labs today.  He is still working on the book Dismantling Evolution, which he says is so "borrrrrrrring!"  He will press on anyway!

He is enjoying Robinson Crusoe so far.  He did some CLE Grammar, which he is liking much better than Rod and Staff.  Lastly he did reading for TOG History from Heritage of Freedom.

Tuesday:  Super Duper babysat for a friend's 18 month old so our morning was shot playing with the cutie.  We managed to do Explode the Code and Math.  Bear did some Algebra and some reading.  Basically, we had a day off!  I did video record Noodle reading a short story.  Enjoy our messy classroom. :/

Wednesday:  Noodle is caught up on Abeka so now we are on Lesson 85 and will just do one lesson per day unless we somehow get behind again.  I started using the curriculum guide today because some things were getting a little trickier for me to explain in language he understands.  Honestly, I wish I would have used it earlier, but it is what it is.  We practiced counting money and counting by 25's and 50's.  Then we played another game of Money Bags and this time he whooped me!

He also did the usual ETC and OPGTR.  He did some simple copy work too.  No science or history.

Bear did his usual full load.  No exciting pictures.

Thursday:  Today was a fairly productive day for Noodle. No time for games because it was park day and if we wanted to go we had to get right down to business!  We managed Bible, Math, Language Arts and did some copy work.  We don't normally do much copy work, but that makes two times this week.

Bear, again did his usual full load - which means Algebra, Physical Science, English, Literature and History.  I worry sometimes that by my reports here it seems like he doesn't do much, but he does.  He works a good 5-7 hours a day, I just don't get as involved as I do with Noodle.  Noodle's schooling is much more fun for me.  Don't get me wrong, I am more than there for Bear, but he is learning to be more independent and preparing for college since I won't be there to hold his hand.

Friday:  Today I let the boys sleep in since I am not feeling all that great and wanted to enjoy an extended quiet time for myself.  We got rolling on breakfast about 9:40.  I made pancakes in spite of how I am feeling.  I wish now I would have gone with protein instead of carbs.  Oh well.  We started school around 10:15. 

Noodle and I started our day playing the game "The Way Things Work" based on the David Maculay book.  It's fun, but a little over Noodle's head as far as questions go.  On the upside he is being exposed to things that are making him think about stuff he might not otherwise thing about at this stage.  He understands what a pulley is now, for instance.  This is a $60 game and I lucked out by finding it intact and unused at a garage sale a few months ago - for - get this - $6.  DEAL!!!

After the game Noodle did some more copywork! We are on a roll with that this week!  I am going to just keep asking him to do it until he balks and then I will take a break from it.  After copywork we did some review and a new lesson from First Language Lessons.  We are learning about pronouns.  Speaking of grammar, as an aside, one thing that we do from time to time is play Mad Libs.  I have to say that for age 7 Noodle has a pretty good grasp on the meanings of the parts of speech just because we play Mad Libs.  For Christmas I bought him some Jr. Mad Libs which are on big tablets and simpler than the regular ones we had been using.  He really cracks up when we read the final silly stories.

After FLL we played Money Bags again as a warm up to today's Abeka Math lesson, which was a test.  It was the first time he didn't get 100% and he was so brokenhearted.  I felt terrible for putting the 86% on there, but he always wants me to write 100% with a big A+ so I just graded as usual.  Poor guy.  No public school false build ups here!!  If it is wrong, it is wrong!

After math we did a CLE LA lesson and then Explode the Code. I video recorded our ETC lessons today.  If I can figure out how to post them here I will.  I promise they aren't exciting and they aren't edited - this is how he always tortures me and you can hear the frustration in my voice. Welcome to my world.

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