Sunday, November 8, 2009

Running 4 Kids!

Well, homeschool kids get so many perks don't they? I mean, they're not over scheduled, they get plenty of rest, and plenty of time to PLAY! My kids are outside a lot and love learning new sports and games. If you are looking for a different way to get your kids active, or maybe looking for some quality time with one of your kids in particular, running is a great way for both. My almost 7 year old has been wanting to run with her daddy since he started training for a half-marathon a couple of months ago. He has been consistent with his training but has not yet found a good way to incorporate her into it. Tonight I found some GREAT answers on a running site just for kids - They have articles to get you started and answers to questions from beginners to advanced kid runners. They also have "ribbon" programs designed to give your child that sense of accomplishment that every kid needs. After reading the article about getting started, it almost made me want to start running myself! I can't wait to see some serious father/daughter bonding!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Units So Far

Well, I hardly ever post here, but I think about it all the time! I think to myself, "hey! This is cool! I should share it on my blog!" ...but I never do. Here are some of the highlights so far.

We are doing unit studies on various countries and cultures. I do my best to draw Abby's language arts out of the country we are studying and so far the "Draw Write Now" series has allowed us to do this very successfully. We have language arts, reading and math every day. We have science once a week. Everything else seems to fall into place where it will.

For the unit studies, we started with Geography as a subject, then moved on to our first continent: Asia. In Asia, we have covered China, Japan, South Korea and now India. We are almost through with India. We start the week with an introduction to the country we're studying. We color a map of the country, then look it up on GoogleEarth to see where it is relative to where we are. Next, we use Wikipedia for general info which Abby adds to a section of her colored map (capitol, currency, religion, population and so forth.) Next, we look up traditional music and dances on Youtube. This part is always their favorite. We also read a lot of literature from each country. Traditional tales as well as books written by authors of that nationality give the children a good feel for the culture we're discussing.

For China, we watched people dancing with a Golden Dragon during a festival, listened to traditional Chinese instruments and watched a 2 year old Chinese girl kick our butts with her chopstick usage. Later in that week, we also watched NatGeo clips about Pandas. Other things we did for China: went on a "made in China" scavenger hunt, built a "great wall" out of Legos, purchased unusual foods from China and ate Chinese food (with chop sticks). It was a great unit!

For Japan, we watched a PBS documentary on Japan which included bullet trains, sumo wrestling, traditional culture and modern Japan. Baxter and Ford pretended to be sumo wrestlers - sorry I didn't video it. We also learned about origami and haiku. We played a really fun Japanese game called Fuku Warai. You basically draw a big circle on a piece of plain white paper (face shape) and cut out eyes, nose and mouth from other paper. Next, blind-fold one player who is handed the shapes and must try to put them on the face the right way. Needless to say, the kids thought this was hilarious! I had the idea to try it with Mr. Potato Head and it was even more hilarious. Fuku Warai is a fun and easy to recreate Japanese children's game. Finally, we went out for sushi and hibachi. That made this unit extra-special.

For India, we watched a Youtube clip of a young Indian girl dancing the bharatanatyam (don't ask me how to say it). We then made bell-ankle bracelets and tried to do our own version of the dance. They have begged to do this every day since. We have learned about monsoons (very appropriate considering the amounts of rain we've had). We've learned about elephants and tigers, snakes, the mongoose, and peacocks. We made a peacock art project. We have discussed religion in depth during this unit. It is hard for the children to wrap their heads around the idea that people worship "multiple gods" and not our God. We enjoyed a long read with Rudyard Kiplings' "Rikki Tikki Tavi." We will conclude this unit with an Indian Welcome Drawing and a real curry feast which we will prepare on Friday.

Before we conclude our study of Asia, I am spending a day (tomorrow) talking about missions there in SE Asia.

Next stop: Russia! Europe is next on the agenda and we will spend the rest of our time there until December 7th. I will try to post more highlights when I can. Here's the rest of our schedule:

10/19: Russia

10/26: Great Britain

11/2: France

11/9: Italy

11/16-11/26: Pilgrims/Thanksgiving

11/30: Spain

December: Christmas around the world

1/4: Antarctica

1/11: The Arctic

1/18: Canada

1/25: Mexico

2/1-2/12: USA

2/15: Australia

2/22: New Zealand

3/1: Germany

3/8: Holland

3/15: Ireland

3/22: Brazil

3/29: Venezuela

4/5: Peru

4/12: Argentina

4/19: South Africa

4/26: Kenya

5/3: Morocco

5/10: Nigeria

5/17: Egypt

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Day In Reverse

So many things are going on right now. Lots of time is devoted to soccer but our teams are great. School is going smoothly but we feel a little pressed for time most days. Yesterday, I needed to make a trip to Walmart and make a pot pie to take for lunch w/ my parents so I did our day in reverse. It worked very well, actually. We got up, made breakfast, attended to the pets as usual, got Baxter off to work and I did my yoga routine. Then the kids got dressed and I got ready and we headed to the library to pick up books that we needed for the week. Then it was off to Walmart!

I had forgotten what joy there is walking into a Walmart Supercenter where the check-out people are standing by the candy asking you if you're ready to check out! The truth is, I LOVE WALMART! How could you not? It's such a time saver! Where else can you buy 5 pounds of Oreda french fries ($3 cheaper than everywhere else), a roasted chicken, cereal that everybody will eat, underwear for your children, GE Reveal light bulbs, a new tennis racquet, a bean bag chair and cream or ointment for every ailment under the sun? Walmart is fabulous! What I do not enjoy about Walmart are some of the people that go there. My friend Jennifer found a wonderful web site called which highlights this very nicely. My solution is simply to go early while the display of oranges is still unspoiled and the hunting supplies have yet to be picked over.

In the afternoon, the kids did their regular lessons that they usually do in the mornings but they seemed to speed through the lessons a little faster. I was really surprised by this. I expected them to be so mentally drained but just the opposite was true. Big moment of the day: Ford started reading. He can read the "at" sound and read the words fat, cat, mat, sat, pat etc... The best part is his excitement. He could barely contain himself when he realized he had read actual words. I have to say Hooked on Phonics really does work. In fact, I'm trying to figure out who to give our set to when we're done with it. Any takers?

Friday, September 4, 2009

So Far, So Good

Our first three weeks were very smooth. As a student myself, I learned the importance of a child understanding what the subject is about. We are enjoying learning all about what geography is and why we study it. It is so much more than just looking at maps and studying facts. It is also the history of religion, philosophy, and the motivation behind why we find it so necessary to explore beyond our front porches. These are concepts that even my four year old can appreciate. There are a lot of great geography activities you can do with your kids. We have created a papier-mache earth and a map of our house. If you have older kids, let them make a map of your neighborhood or favorite shopping mall. You could even map-out Wal-Mart if you wanted to! Just understanding what a map is and why we need them is a basic concept that is so important to grasp.

My first grader is enjoying Draw Write Now. We have been working out of Book 6. She is compiling a book of illustrations and short sentences this year. So far, she has pages from creatures that live in various ocean habitats and in different types of habitats on land. Copying the pictures step by step is helping her penmanship and I am allowing her to decide which sentences from the book (2 out of 4) would best describe her picture. Maybe we have a future editor on our hands!

My preschooler is completely confident in his phonics sounds and we have decided that he can start the yellow workbook in HOP on Monday.

School is fun for them still. We have had 3 field trips already! I am planning on about one per week so we're right on schedule. However, with flu season heating up, we may be postponing a lot of them as time goes on. It's a great year to home-school!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nose to the Grind-Stone

We officially start school tomorrow. Things were put off slightly when our books didn't arrive on time. In fact, some of them are not yet here! Argh! It will be a slow and easy transition for us. I am planning on a thorough review of the Hooked on Phonics with my Preschooler. My first grader will start her language arts curriculum as well. We are doing a notebooking curriculum this year, so they will also have the opportunity to decorate their notebooks any way they want. I find that my kids love being able to personalize things and take charge - even if it is of something as insignificant as their notebooks. We are all ready and excited to start the new year!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Cirriculum

These are my final book selections for this school year:

Language Arts -

  • Draw Write Now (8 book series ) by Marie Hablitzel ($62)
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves (Why, Commas Really DO Matter!) by Lynne Truss ($10)
  • Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl ($14.65)

Math -

  • Abeka Math 1st grade ($40)

Science -

  • Real Science 4 Kids Pre Level-1 Chemistry ($29)
  • Real Science 4 Kids Pre Level-1 Biology ($29)

Social Studies -

  • Galloping the Globe ($24.99)

Art -

  • The Anti-Coloring Book ($10.40)
  • Draw Write Now (see above)

Music -

  • considering piano lessons for Abby

Foreign Language -

  • an introduction to languages around the world through music

Bible Study -

  • The Discoverers' Bible NIRV

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Planning Phase

I am having a really tough time with selecting a curriculum for this coming year. I want something organized and laid out for me, yet flexible. I want Abby to enjoy the lessons but I want them to challenge her. I don't want to spend all day doing workbook pages. I want to incorporate a lot of hands-on learning into the process. I want classic books as read-alouds and I want a Christian perspective but I don't think religion has to be a part of every page of text we read. I don't want to dumb-down things because my kids are small. I would like to take advantage of the library as much as possible but I am willing to buy some text books if they are really excellent finds. Oh, and I don't want to spend a fortune.

So, I think this means that I'm going to be building my own curriculum again this year. I did it last year for Kindergarten and I think I did a pretty great job. She is reading above grade level and performing at or above grade level in math. Both kids learned a lot and had a lot of fun in the unit studies we did together. I really thought to myself, "I guess for 1st grade, I need to buckle down and purchase a "big box" curricula that is totally comprehensive so that I don't mess up anything." However, after having sifted through all of those without finding one I'm even half-way sold on, I feel left in a lurch.

I am going to begin my planning on July 1st. This will give me a whole month before the Homeschool Expo to select the text books, workbooks and other materials I will need. If I have any indecisions by then, I can use the Expo to iron out my choices. Then, I will have August to outline all of my lesson plans for the year. It's a pretty big task but one that I'm sure I can do if I stay well organized.

I think I will buy CORE Knowledge and use it as a jumping-off point along with the state requirements. I think I've found a Language Arts book I like but I am also considering the McGuffy Readers since that's what my mom used with me as a small child.

As far as Ford is concerned, I have some Abeka workbooks for him that my sister gave me. They look very good and I will use them for his writing and math practice. I am also going to begin the Yellow workbook of Hooked on Phonics with him. I had thought I would do it with him over the Summer but I have been too busy to attempt the consistent schedule it demands for success with reading. I loved the program for Abby and I'm sure it will work well for Ford too. We also purchased the Hooked on French program and it is completely ineffective. Ford plays lots of video games on the computer and on Wii but he cannot seem to understand the point of the Hooked on Phonics computer activities. Abby finds it completely boring. I am considering Muzzy but I will have to weigh it against the cost of everything else I decide to buy.

I also want to include biblical teachings but I am at a loss for good ideas in this department. Just like History, Math and Science, you don't want your kids to learn the wrong things when it comes to the Bible. Teaching can be easy but it is very difficult to un-teach anything.

Monday, May 4, 2009

May 2009

Monday May 4th:

  • NATGEO Video on the Jaguar
  • Wii Fit
  • A - 5 -10 pages in K Arithmetic, tracing numbers 20-24, Read one Little Bear story w/ me, language arts lesson on out/oud sound, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 30 minutes of independent reading time,
  • F - Letter "N" workbook pages, HOP letter sounds flash cards, 1 fun coloring page, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 15 minutes story time/15 minutes book time
  • Farmer Boy, chapter 3

Tuesday May 5th:

  • French lesson
  • Yoga
  • A - 5-10 pages in K Arithmetic, tracing numbers 25-29, Read one Harold and the Purple Crayon story, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 30 minutes of independent reading time
  • F - Letter "O" workbook pages, Number "0" workbook pages, HOP letter sounds flash cards, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 15 minutes story time/ 15 minutes of book time
  • Farmer Boy, chapter 4

Wednesday May 6th:

  • Music & Rhythm - jump rope/jumping rhyme "3 Blind Mice"
  • WiiFit
  • A - 5-10 pages in K Arithmetic, tracing numbers 30-34, Read last Harold and the Purple Crayon story, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 30 minutes of independent reading time, Computer Time,
  • F - Letter "P" workbook pages, Number "1" workbook pages, HOP letter sounds flash cards, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 15 minutes story time/15 minutes of book time, Keyboard lesson
  • Farmer Boy, chapter 5 + discussion question #1

Thursday May 7th:

  • Art Project (TBD)
  • Yoga
  • A - 5-10 pages in K Arithmetic, tracing numbers 35-39, read Dinosaur Time basic reader, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 30 minutes of independent reading time, Keyboard lesson
  • F - Letter "Q" workbook pages, Number "2" workbook pages, HOP letter sounds flash cards, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 15 minutes story time/15 minutes of book time, Computer Time
  • Farmer Boy, chapter 6

Friday May 8th:

  • Cooking Fun
  • Movement - TBD
  • A - 5-10 pages in K Arithmetic, tracing numbers 40-44, read BASIC READER TBD, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 30 minutes of independent reading time,
  • F - Letter "R" workbook pages, Number "3" workbook pages, HOP letter sounds flash cards, Science lesson from "Amazing Earth", 15 minutes story time/ 15 minutes of book time
  • Farmer Boy, chapter 7

Saturday - Sunday

  • Farmer Boy, chapters 8-9

Monday May 11: Our tadpole has arrived!!

  • Workbook pages for both, lesson on tadpole development and anatomy

Tuesday May 12:

  • A - Arithmetic pages, handwriting page, one chapter of Josephina and the Story Quilt,
  • F - Letter "S" and number "3"
  • Both - bike riding on The Silver Comet Trail
  • Farmer Boy

Wednesday May 13:

  • A - Arithmetic pages, handwriting page (address & phone number, one chapter of Josephina and the Story Quilt
  • F - letter "T" and number "4"
  • Both - Library day
  • Farmer Boy - questions about Farmer Boy so far

Thursday May 14:

  • A - Arithmetic pages, handwriting page, one chapter of Josephina and the Story Quilt
  • F - letter "U" and number "5"
  • Science video on tadpole metamorphosis
  • Playgroup - 3:30 @ Liz's house
  • Farmer Boy

Friday May 15:

  • A - Arithmetic pages, handwriting page, next chapter in Josephina and the Story Quilt
  • F - letter "V" and number review
  • Safety Day - go over stranger danger, bike safety/street safety, calling 911 etc...
  • Farmer Boy

Monday May 18:

  • A - 6 pages in Arithmetic, plus extra fun pages from the back; copying address & phone number; language arts refresher lesson on "oo" and "ee"; finish Josephina and the Story Quilt;
  • F - letter X and number 6, plus letter review; work w/ abacus; page from "learn to read"; phonics sounds CD w/ flashcards; leggos
  • Together - lesson on Butterflies, read "Wild World of Butterflies"; observe chryslides and tadpole development; computer time; Farmer Boy; continue safety talk....

Tuesday May 19:

  • A - 6 pages in Arithmetic, plus extra fun pages from the back; copying address & phone number; language arts lesson on "ough, ought, and ph"; begin reading Frog and Toad Are Friends;
  • F - letter Y and numbers 7 and 8; phonics sounds CD w/ flashcards
  • Together - lifecycles lesson on Honeybees