Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Making it fun

In reading/phonics, the boys have been learning their "blends". CH, SH, SM, SN, TH, WH... you get the idea. After a week and a half of studying about 10 of these blends, I gave them some letter cards and had them play a game. The boys each got some select cards with letters on them. I had them work on their own (with a divider so they couldn't see each other) to spell a word. I gave them each a metal bowl, turned upside down, and a spoon. This was their buzzer. It wasn't a race, but just making a noise on a bowl when you're done is enough to make a game totally fun. If they spelled the word right, then they won an M&M. As if the bowl noise wasn't enough... you get an M&M, too!

Yesterday was the first attempt at this game. They tried really hard, but had a difficult time spelling the words (that, shop, chat, etc). They can read these words very well, but to recall it and correctly create it was a whole different story. They did get a few, but it wasn't easy.

Today, after our phonics lesson and review, I decided to try again. Wow, what a difference a day makes! They both did fabulous! We even branched from 4 letter words to do a few 5 letter ones. It was really cool to see them be able to spell the words, but even cooler to see that they were having an awesome time doing so!

(And, yes. Asa decided to go to school today without a shirt. Ahhh... homeschool freedom.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why do homeschool families always have so many kids?

Well, I don't know the answer to this question, but I've asked it before. It seems that homeschool families put around in extra large vans full to the brim with their well behaved offspring. In my head I envision the mothers orchestrating individual lessons for her 5 kids while simultaneously pulling one of the planned and prepared dinners from the freezer that she made with her once-a-month-cooking-plan. Of course, each ingredient that she created these meals with were purchased using no less than 2 coupons, which were then doubled by the grocery store, leaving her with a minuscule grocery bill. Somehow, she managed to tote her 5 children to 3 different stores in order to get the deals necessary to feel her entire family of 7 for $150 a month. I know these people exist. I have no idea what planet they come from, but I wish I could visit there and get some pointers.

I do, however, understand how the ended up with such large families. It seems that the act of homeschooling, or even the act of deciding to homeschool, instantly makes you fertile. If I had only known this fact, I could have saved tens of thousands of dollars and a whole heck of a lot of time. It seems that such fertility can be increased further if the homeschooling mother decides to sell all of her unused baby items on Craigslist. Not only is this infertility treatment option affordable, it can actually be lucrative. In my case, I went through and cleaned out all of the boys' old clothes, swings, baby baths, unused toys, all of the clothing Ivey has outgrown... everything that I am not currectly using for Ivey. It sold like crazy. The little that I had left I put up on Ebay. There I was, sitting on a Saturday morning amongst boxes of paid-for-waiting-to-be-shipped packages of baby items when I found out that I was indeed going to need all of those things that I had just sold. Yes, we are having another baby!

I found out of Jeff's birthday, but decided not to say anything until the next day. I expected for the next morning's test to be lighter than that one was... as is typical for me. No need to stir him up for no reason. However, the next morning, I was staring at a very very dark line. I have stared at enough lines over the past 9 years to know what is really really positive and what is barely positive. This was blazing. Sure enough, my beta levels are nice and high, and rose with an excellent doubling time. At 6 weeks, we had our first ultrasound and saw a flickering heartbeat. Now, I am almost 10 weeks along!

So... I've been trucking through the first trimester exhaustion and queasiness while changing (and washing) poopy diapers and having all 3 kids home 24/7! So far, the medical concern is my ability to get in enough calories to continue to feed Ivey and grow a new little peanut... oh yeah, and support myself. Ivey will be a year old in October, so if I can just make it until she is on whole milk I plan to drop down to just a morning and a night feeding and taper off from there as needed. Then, when she's 17 months, I will have a newborn and will start all over again!

When we found out that we were having Ivey, it was a little sad to us that she would not have a buddy. The boys always had each other, and we love the fact that they can play and talk and learn together. Well, it seems that Ivey was supposed to have a buddy after all! Now, I just keep thinking of all the craziness that will come about from having a family of 6. We won't fit at a booth with a chair on the end... I have flatware for 8, which will only get us through 1 meal... we already go through almost 3 gallons of milk a week, so that will probably increase to 4 or maybe even 5... but think of all the fun and laughter and crazy Christmas mornings we will have!

Steppin' Out

Today was the first full blown day of school. We had reading, spelling, writing, math (the boys got to work on "number bond using M&M's... good call on my part!), and history. We will work violin tonight. I was so pleased that Asa and Addison are loving history. The Story Of The World is so well written. Today's lesson was "How Do We Know What Happened?". Instead of just explaining how civilizations leave behind artifacts for us to learn from, the book reads like a story of a family who lived in a village along the river. The mom dropped a pot, the dad's knife blade broke in the field, and the little boy was playing with a toy clay ox and cart. It told the story of how they had to move when their was a drought... and the things they left behind were covered with mud and dirt and then grass. It went on to tell a story of a man who found the grass field and discovered there was a village there long ago. I was floored at how well this way of teaching worked for them. They were fascinated! They drew pictures of things in the story and had a totally complete concept of archeology and how we learn about the past. Success!

After our lessons today, I took the boys and their friend, Ethan, to a home-school art class! Today we learned about Alexander Calder, an American sculptor. He used a lot of wire in his art and was the inventor of the mobile. The kids made wire fish... and it was a hit! It was a little tricky to twist the wire around, but with a little help, they were able to make it work. Here are the boys with their sculptures!

Friday, August 14, 2009

If I had a rule about too many tiny toy pieces, think of all the brain power that would be lost!

Here are a couple videos of Asa and his Lego creations from the last two days. The video quality is bad, but I think you can get the idea. In one, he used red yarn to connect his Lego motor to a windmill like contraption. Next, he managed to talk me out of two of my bobbins and some thread and hooked them up so that his motor will wind the thread from one to the other. I guess my current sewing project inspired him. After the bobbins he came down and asked me to cut a long strip of material and sew the ends together. So, I did. He took it upstairs, mounted it on a few fat tires and created a conveyor belt Lego launcher.

1st Grade, Here We Come!

We had a very successful first day of school! I started on Friday so that we could spend today learning the routine, getting our notebooks together, creating our History folders, practicing handwriting, getting our spelling word list, etc. The boys absolutely loved it! Addison said that he likes not having a big class so he doesn't have to "wait all the time"! I let each one go at their own pace, separately, and it worked very well.

They especially loved the chapter book that we started today. It's called "Stink!" and much to my surprise, it is full of really great hidden lessons. For example, today the boys learned what an "idiom" is, just because Stink explained the meaning to his sister. Excellent!

On Monday, we will really kick off in each subject. I need to go in the attic and find some new toys for Ivey to keep her occupied while we have class. Today she did very well at the beginning and then went down for a 2 hour nap. I think some new things to just bring out at school time will help keep her happy while she's awake. Luckily, she is a very good girl!

Let me just say that the personal whiteboards with 1st grade writing lines that I picked up at Target for $1 a piece was a great buy! We were able to practice writing our spelling words and do lots of handwriting practice without using tons of paper. I'm pleased!

(Yes, Addison is using a colored pencil in each hand. He needed brown and green to color his eyes!)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Teacher Work Night

I was up super late getting my plans in order for school to start! We are going to start on the 17th (actually, on the previous Friday to get the boys prepped). I am still working on lessons plans for History (waiting on one of the books), but I have all of the other subjects mapped out for first 3 weeks! I need a couple more nights in order to finish up and get all of my handouts all ready to go.

I fluctuate between being excited and being terrified for my sanity! We are going today to meet a homeschool group at Fort Yargo for swimming at the beach there. I've been part of their email group for a while now and I'm excited to go meet some of them face to face! We have a friend who is also homeschooling, so hopefully we will have plenty of activities and events to keep the kids (and me) engaged and social.

The plan for the year is:

Spelling - 1000 Words for Spelling Success
Creative Writing Journal
Reading/Phonics using the Hooked On Phonics 1st Grade Curriculum
Singapore Math 1A and 1B

History using a modified History Odyssey, which uses the Story of the World, The Encyclopedia of World History, and various other books... I'm also adding the Story of the World Activity Book and History Pockets. We will be learning about Ancient Civilizations for the entire year... The First People through The Last Emperor of Rome.
Violin (I may add some music theory or use piano, too)

Science using Real Science 4 Kids Pre-Level 1 Chemistry to start and then Biology later in the year. Very cool!!

Spanish using DVD
PE/Health (come on, I'm a health teacher!)
Social Studies