Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Preliminary Christmas ideas

OK. I can't procrastinate much longer here. I need to get a list of ideas to my mom and sister so they can have time to shop and mail presents. Monday while Violet was in swim class, I asked Jessie for ideas, but she wasn't much help. I asked Violet for ideas, but most of her ideas duplicate things we already have. So I hit the catalogs and a few internet sites looking for ideas.

Ideas for Jessie
Yamaha recorder
Jump ropes (8' and 16')
Felicity's birthday dress and Patriot ??
Anagrams game
Lompos 303 game
Amaze-ing Labyrinth game
More cards for her Rush Hour game
Little Pilgrim's Progress
Vernon books or Bethlehem Press books
new sewing or latch hook kit
Mosaic kit
Cat's cradle
Painting kit
Brownie or other type of mix to make with Mom
Bag to carry her Bible

Ideas for Violet
Yamaha recorder
Jump Ropes (8' and 16')
Blockus game
Screwball Scramble game
beginning Sudoku book
more Disney fairy books
new sewing or latch hook kit
Mosaic kit
Cat's cradle
Painting kit
Brownie or other type of mix to make with Mom
Bag to carry her Bible

Battery operated ladder truck
Fire station playset
New knight costume with all of the armor
Feed the Kitty game
beginning painting kit
craft kits purchased or put together by me
new backpack

Well, it's a start. I'll give the kids a couple more days to come up with ideas before talking it over with DH. Ideally I actually want to limit presents this year and focus on quality items that the kids will truly use instead of the quantity of ideas that have inundated our house in the past (several of which I ended up reselling on EBay). Now I just have to figure out how to tactfully explain this to our extended family.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Can You Find 25 Books of the Bible Hidden in This Paragraph?

This is a most remarkable puzzle. Someone found
it in the seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to
Honolulu, keeping himself occupied for hours. One
man from Illinois workrd on it while fishing from
his john boat. Roy Clark studied it while playing his
banjo. Elanine Victs mentioned it in her column once.
One woman judges the job to be so involving, she brews
a cup of tea to calm her nerves. There will be some
names that are really easy to spot...that's a fact. Some
people will soon find themselves in a jam, especially
since the book names are not necessarily capitalized.
The truth is, from answers we get, we are forced to
admit it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some
of them at the worst. Something in our genes is
responsible for the difficulty we have. Those able to
find all of them will hear great lamentations from those
who have to be shown. One revelation may help. Books
like Timothy and Samuel may appear without their
numbers. And puncutation or spaces in the middle are
normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete. Remember,
there are 25 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this

Jessie had a blast working on this puzzle Sunday during church so I thought I would pass it along. She found about half of them with no help. Then I made a list of the names she missed. I only had to show her 3 or 4 at the end of the afternoon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Week 10: Just the Basics

I had originally intended to start school back up full swing this week, but it just didn't happen. I spent a good portion of my week finding, sorting, washing, drying, and folding fall and winter clothes for the 3 kids. I think all the clothes are clean now. I just need to match them up, put the fall and winter clothes in the drawers, and pack away the summer clothes. This week we stuck mostly to the basics. The only extras we did were geography and a tiny bit of history.


Jessie is thrilled to be continuing the money section of Singapore this week. She's enjoyed a nice break from multiplication and division. In Miquon, she has been learning about perimeter and area of 2D and 3D objects. The 2D objects went fine. The 3D ones weren't so bad once she actually made the figures in the books.

Violet has done extremely well with her addition work this week. Part of the time she was adding just units to larger numbers, and the rest of the time she was adding groups of ten. Her favorite part of math this week was the fractions section in Miquon where it asks you to draw something (a frown, a hat, feet, etc.) on a given fraction of the snowmen on the page.


Both girls are up to the 3rd stanza of our current memory poem Against Quarreling and Fighting. We've finished reading A Lion to Guard Us and have gone back to working on Little Pilgrim's Progress for literature. Jessie has finished up SWO D now and will get next week off from spelling since I haven't order SWO E yet. While she is doing fine with R&S 3, the grammar concepts still don't seem to be sinking in. I guess I'll have her finish up this year and then evaluate if there is a better option for next year. For CW, she completed her final draft of The Princess and the Pea this week. Violet is now halfway through SWO B. She didn't do grammar this week. I guess by the end of next week, I'll need to make a decision about what we'll do for her this year for grammar.


In geography we completed our Florida booklet and started on Georgia. In history we read about Pocahontas but didn't get around to making any history booklets this week.

No art or music this week.


Benny's preschool basically consisted of a week as my helper. We did read a few books and play hide and seek with the number frogs. We sorted clothes. He came outside with me to hang them up. We picked up toys and put them away. Friday, he decided to put the groceries away while I started dinner. Most everything seems to have ended up where it belongs except I did notice the Sucanat was in the produce drawer of the refrigerator this morning. Oh well, I guess being refrigerated won't hurt it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Using up the final jars of pumpkin

Time to use up that pumpkin I canned last year before I can more for this year. Here's my favorite way to use up the pumpkin and satisfy my chocolate craving at the same time.

Chocolate Pumpkin Nut Bread

1 2/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar (usually I substitute brown sugar or sucanat)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts (optional)

Beat sugar, eggs, and oil. Add dry ingredients. Add pumpkin. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350 for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan. Makes 1 loaf.

I usually double it and don't add in the nuts. I never have pumpkin pie spice. Here is the substitute I use:

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice = 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Week 9: Slowly getting back into our rhythm

Vacation was great. I came back relaxed and refreshed. The one downside is that almost every bit of school work we did this week took twice as long as usual (or at least it seemed that way). Problem 1: the kids got used to sleeping in a bit and getting up and playing. As a result, I think 8:00 was the earliest we had breakfast this week (as opposed to the usual 7:15 or 7:30). Rather than waking them up earlier since it's almost time to switch off of daylight saving time anyway, I think we'll just focus on getting back to the rule of no books or toys before breakfast just get ready and come to the kitchen. The one small downside is that I'll have to start getting up again to shower before they wake up. (I got used to sleeping in too.) Problem 2: it's beautiful weather outside, and the kids just want to go out to play. We persisted through most of the school work on Thursday, and then I just gave up and let them go outside.

Here's what got done...


The girls have finished memorizing The Arrow and the Song so on Wednesday we began learning Against Quarreling and Fighting by Isaac Watts. We skipped doing Violet's FLL lessons while I contemplate whether to make some changes, skip some lessons, or just drop grammar altogether this year. We are reading A Lion to Guard Us for literature this week even though we haven't finished Little Pilgrim's Progress yet because it ties into our history study of Jamestown. We didn't quite finish today because we didn't get to literature every day this week so we'll finish Monday instead.
For her read aloud time, Violet has decided to take a break from the usual chapter books and read to me from her NIrV Bible instead. She picked the book of Joshua and has done quite well (other than a few names that most adults also find difficult). Since the print is smaller, we also shortened up the reading length from a full chapter to just a section.

We also manage to complete spelling, Jessie's grammar, 3 or 4 days of copywork, a little bit of CW, and Latin. For pictures, we have a page from Jessie's Building Thinking Skills on the left and Violet's copywork of her Bible verse for Sunday school on the right.


I think the girls spent more time on math this week than anything else consistently running over their allotted times. It's basically been a repeat of our first school week with both girls having trouble focusing because they would rather be playing. I'm sure it will sort itself out in a couple of weeks. Jessie (on the left) finished up reviewing multiplication and division with 6-9 using the IP workbook and was thrilled to start a unit on money today. Violet (on the right) has started a unit on adding and subtracting within 100 so far it is going well. She made it through the +6 key on the addition wrap up with very little coaching from me. It helped that I taught her to play the make 10 versions of pyramid and go fish at the beach last week.


Geography is still going well. The girls even opted to do a bit of writing this week rather than cut out all of the labels. We finished booklets for Connecticut and Delaware. In the Fifty Nifty United States song we have made it up to Michigan so I'm going to have to put some thought into how we're going to memorize the state capitals soon.

In history, we were suppose to catch up on our lapbook, study Pocahontas, and make a model of Jamestown. We did catch up a bit on the lapbook.We finished booklets on Champlain, St. Augustine, and Roanoke colony. I forget to put the Pocahontas books on hold and pick them up before we went to the beach. We read about Henry Hudson instead, but didn't get around to putting the booklet for him together. I guess next week we'll try to condense a bit. We can do the booklet, timeline, and map for Hudson on Monday. I'll read the girls the D'Aulaires version of Pocahontas for our summary and give them the chapter book originally planned to peruse on their own. Then we can start reading about the pilgrims on Tuesday. We'll either squeeze the Jamestown model in one afternoon next week or maybe just hold on to it for the next time.


We haven't started music up again yet. We'll focus on getting back on schedule next week, and then maybe add music back in the following week.

For art, I went rummaging through Benny's bookshelf and found the book A Little Whale Tale. This week the girls drew the little whale from the story. Jessie's picture is similar to the one in the book, and Violet decided to make hers very colorful.


Monday, we took the day to assess exactly what Benny has learned so far . We played our frog number game. He had only forgotten 3 so we went ahead and added the number 6. For our alphabet egg puzzles, I randomly laid out the lowercase letters. Then I held up an uppercase letter, and Benny told me what the letter was and showed me the matching lowercase letter. He now knows everything from Aa-Ff except the big E. For some reason he thinks it's a better idea to just cover the bottom line on the E and turn it into an F. The rest of the week was fairly laid back. We read a few books. He spent the morning outside with DH on his day off. Friday, he opted just to climb up on my lap and snuggle for awhile.

That's our week.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Number games for Benny

In the interest of expanding Benny's preschool number games beyond our current frog game, here are some new ideas I came up with or found online.

1. Dot to dot puzzles
This site has alphabet dot to dots for both uppercase and lowercase numbers and number ones starting as low as 1-3.
Number dot to dots ranging from 1-6 up to 1-19
A couple of 1-9 dot to dots here.

2. Feed the dog a bone
from Evan Moor Math Games and Centers

Basically, you make dog bowls and bones from paper, write numbers on the bowls, and then stick the appropriate number of bones in each bowl. Benny has two stuffed dogs that we can use to "eat" the bones.

3. Feed the hungry crocodile
We have a crocodile puppet that Benny loves. Variation one is to write numbers on card stock fish and have Benny feed the numbers to the crocodile in order. Variation two is to hold up a card with a number on it and have Benny feed the correct number of fish. I think we also have a gorilla puppet that we could feed bananas for even more variety.

4. Hide and Seek Frogs
Basically this will be our current frog/fly matching game, but with the twist that he has to search for the frogs which I'll hide around the room and then bring them to the lily pad with the correct number of flies.

5. Sidewalk numbers
Since our letter games have outgrown the size of our sidewalk, I thought we'd try some number games instead. After writing the numbers on the sidewalk, we can take turns running, hopping, spinning, etc. to the number that is called out. We could step on each number and do something (clap our hands, stomp our feet, bark like a dog, etc.) the number of times listed on the sidewalk.

6. Counting with our fingers
Based on Benny's discovery that he can count to five by changing the number of fingers he hold up, we'll continue doing that through 10. (He thought it was hilarious that you needed two hands to make the number 6 this week.)

7. Make a number sticker book
We could make him a little book one week with the numbers 1-10 and let him put the correct number of stickers on each page.

That should keep us busy for a while. Vacation is definitely good for the brain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Checking Our Progress, Part 3

Benny really hasn't had much preschool time the last few weeks. Between vacation, my packing and unpacking, and a few other projects piling up around the house, I don't think we've consistently done 5 days of preschool since the last week of September. We also started preschool a week later than the girls so for preschool we're still finishing week 7. Still that leaves us 2 extra weeks to stretch things out if needed to finish everything. It may also be that we simply don't worry about finishing everything since I'm not going to put any pressure on him. We'll just wait and see how it goes and be happy with whatever we accomplish.

As far as the alphabet, between the refrigerator magnet, matching egg puzzle, games on the sidewalk, and just writing letters on the drawing board things are going well. We have forgotten to do shapes and colors recently, but since Benny already knew red and circles it hasn't mattered. In numbers, the only game we have is our frog matching one. I think we need to add a little more variety here. For topics and books, we are slowly straying farther and farther from the list. There either aren't enough books on a topic to fill the week or the books simply aren't that interesting. I guess I'll just have to start substituting some themes starting next week since the selection for sun isn't so great. Overall some things are working well and others are just OK, but Benny is still learning and having fun. I'm just having to do a bit more tweaking than I had hoped.

That concludes our progress check. Now I just need to go back and write down the things I need to work on before I forget. I must say it is truly encouraging to take a step back and see how far we've come so far this year.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Checking Our Progress, Part 2

After seeing how well Jessie's work is flowing yesterday, I almost didn't bother to make up a year at a glance table for Violet. Then I realized that I had better check to see if both girls were going to be finished at the same time. (Otherwise we might have a mutiny on our hands come May.) I still listed the FLL lessons in the grammar column even though I still want to adapt the lessons into a better format for us. Here's Violet's year so far:

Looks like Violet is going to finish everything except math 1 to 2 weeks before Jessie. I guess my choices are either to shorten the math assignments up by a week or do a couple of extra lessons a week at the end. The latter is probably the easier choice assuming we're able to maintain our pace. The last unit of 2A is on multiplication anyway which should be fairly easy.

Still need to work on that history schedule. Maybe I can get a couple more weeks done before Benny wakes up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Checking Our Progress, Part 1

It's hard to believe we're on week 9 already this year, almost 25% of the way through our year. As we finish our first quarter, I thought I would make some Year at a Glance projections to check up on our progress. Part 1 will check up on Jessie's progress so far. I didn't include Jessie's memory work, poetry, literature, or copywork because I haven't actually made schedules for any of these. It's easier to adjust them as I make the weekly schedules than try to lay them out in advance. Text in green is complete, and black text is still to be done.

I must say, I'm quite impressed that we're actually on schedule so far. Let's see... a week off at Christmas and another in March at birthday time. That gets the bulk of our work done by the first week in May.

Hmm, I had forgotten we had to skip Henry Hudson because we were waiting on the library book. Maybe I can squeeze that in this week. The only glaring problem I see on the chart is the fact that I have yet to schedule the second semester of history. Oh well, one project at a time.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meditations on Gratitude (from this morning's sermon)

We are the recipients of God's gifts.


1. made us
2. redeems us
3. sustains us
4. loves us

How do we choose to respond to His gifts?

Psalm 136

<>1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

2Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

4to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
5to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
6to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
7to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
8the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
9the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

17to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Week 8: Ready for vacation!! (As soon as I finish packing.)

It's been a tiring week between school and packing, but amazingly we got everything done. The girls are definitely ready for a week off and so am I. Monday was a long dragged out day with lots of dawdling and grumbling. Tuesday started out the same until I announced that any school work not done this week would go with us to the beach next week. (I know I'm a mean mommy.) The girls have been very diligent about getting their work done ever since then. Jessie even did math and her Reading Detective assignments first thing Wednesday morning (before breakfast even.) Here's the breakdown of our week.

Language Arts

Violet finished memorizing the poem An Evening Hymn. Both girls started working on our next poem, The Arrow and the Song by Longfellow. They began copying the poem for handwriting. On the left is Jessie's version of The Towne Mouse and the Country Mouse for Classical Writing. I was surprised when she added in the quotations since I hadn't ask for them. We only had to discuss the punctuation of the city mouse's last quote. I'm glad to see that the lessons in her Rod and Staff grammar are actually sinking in well enough that she can also apply them to her other work.
Violet and I skimmed the FLL lessons again. I definitely need change things up a bit there. In spelling she insisted that I take a picture of her work on Monday. She was very proud to have completed her first word scramble puzzle without any help from me.


Jessie really struggled with the x9 exercises at the beginning of the week. Apparently part of the problem was her frustration over our dry erase markers not working. (I'm never buying any brand but Expo again.) She switched to doing her work in pencil in a separate notebook. The only downside to this is when she decides to write as small as possible, and then I have to try to read it. On the left is her review exercise on Thursday.
Violet has moved on to a time section in Singapore, which so far has just reviewed what she already learned in her Time and Money workbook. She was excited Thursday when I told her to pull out the addition wrap up. Groans quickly replaced smiles when I told her we were going to try the +3 and +4 keys. The +3 key was review so that went fine. The +4 key gave us a chance to review a couple of adding strategies. For 7+4 and 8+4, we made 10 first and then figured out the answer. For 9+4, I simply had to ask what's 10+4 and then she figured out the answer to 9+4. In the end, the keys were easier than she expected. I just have to remember to take it slowly enough for her to gain confidence before moving on.


For geography, we finished up Colorado and began our Connecticut booklet. I actually kept forgetting to review the Fifty Nifty United States song. Finally after 3 days of practicing it on their own, Violet reminded me on Thursday to review the song, and we added on the states Iowa through Louisiana. On a cuter note, guess who I overheard quietly singing the girls' geography song. It was Benny. He's picked up parts of the chorus from the girls. It never ceases to amaze me what he learns just from hanging around his sisters.

In history, we had to make a few adjustments this week because of our vacation next week. I had intended to cover just the beginnings of Jamestown now and save the biographies of John Smith and Pocahontas until we return. Unfortunately our biography of John Smith came from ILL and was due back next week so it has to be returned before we go out of town tomorrow. We focused hard on getting through the reading and didn't have time for all of our hands on stuff. The timeline is done, and Jamestown was added to our colony map, but we didn't get to make any booklets again this week. That just means we'll have a booklet day after vacation to catch up. The Pocahontas biography won't take us 4 days anyway.


For art this week we drew frogs using the cover of the book Jump, Frog, Jump as a model. Violet and I sat down to talk about the picture and worked through the elements step by step again for her first frog. Then she decided to add a second one all on her own. The frogs on the left are Violet's, and Jessie's frog is on the right.


With DH home 3 out of 5 days this week, I gave Benny the week off to spend with him. He's been feeling a bit Daddy deprived because DH has been teaching the last three weekends. We read a couple of books informally. On his own he's been practicing holding up his fingers for different numbers. Thursday, he proudly showed me how he can count to five with his fingers without having to use his other hand to get the fingers where he wants them. Then he counted out loud to 12 just because he knows how. DH quizzed him a couple of times on the letters on the fridge, and he actually decided to show off what he knew. (E and e still need some work, but he did great with the others.)

That's our week. Now to finish up some last minute packing... It's VACATION TIME!!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Christmas already!?!

It was bad enough to see Christmas trees up in our Sam's Club in SEPTEMBER! Not to mention WalMart and JCPenneys. Now here it is October 3rd, and I haven't even started thinking about Christmas this year. Usually by now, I have at least some shopping done on Ebay, and a list sent to my mom with gift ideas for the kids. This year I'm drawing a blank. (The truth is I think the kids have enough toys already, and I don't want to have to find a place for any more. Hmm. Maybe I should list some toys on Ebay when we get back to make some room.)

What has me thinking about Christmas already? The blame falls squarely on my sister this time. She sent me a second email asking what our plans are for Christmas. (I conveniently forgot to answer the first one and let it become buried in my inbox.) This email included an updated baby registry with ideas for my 10 month old niece for her birthday (12/1) and for Christmas.

What I really want is to find a way to simplify Christmas, to focus on God's gift, and to block out a lot of the unnecessary hustle and bustle (and stress).

Step 1. I hereby refuse to think about Christmas for another 12 days (until after vacation).

Step 2. I'll figure that out when I get to it. Now to go do some packing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Expanding math drill from flash cards

Although I find flash cards to be an effective way to teach math facts, they do get boring after a while. We have tried doing written math drill similar to the concept in CalcuLadders. So far that has proven to be completely ineffective for Violet. Given a page of 25 problems, Violet's mind seems to go completely blank to the extent that she forgets what 2+3 equals. Here are some other ideas that I have found to use for reinforcing our addition facts.

1. Bring back the Learning Wrap Up for addition. This is a great, simple way for Violet to cover her math drill. We have used the keys through +3 so far. We put it away when Violet was getting bogged down in the higher keys. I think we'll give it another try and work on the +4 and maybe +5 keys this month after vacation.

2. Addition War is similar to the regular war card game. Using the all of the cards ace through 10, all the cards our dealt between 2 players. Each player turns over 2 cards. The player with the higher sum when the cards are added gets all the cards. If the sums are equal, I think we'll turn over 3 cards saying I declare war letting the higher sum of 3 win.

3. Make 10 Pyramid is a great variation on the pyramid solitaire game I played growing up. Again using all of the cards ace through 10, deal cards out in a pyramid shape. (Row 1= 1 card, Row 2 = 2 cards, etc. to Row 6) Each row overlaps the one above it. Then looking at row 6, you remove any fully exposed cards that make 10. When you can no longer make 10, you turn over a card from the stack, and try to use it to make 10. Your score is the number of cards left over, the smaller the better.

4. Domino sorting. I haven't decided if I want to use our actual dominoes or make card stock ones with numbers. Then I'll set out styrofoam cups with the answers on them and have Violet add the numbers and sort them into the correct cup. (Maybe after a couple times, we'll try timing this and let her race against herself for a best time.)

5. Make 10 go fish. Same rules as go fish using all the cards from ace to 10. Instead of finding a matching number, you match by making 10.

6. Snap It Up! Addition / Subtraction Game available from Rainbow Resource looks like a lot of fun. I can't buy it this month so I think we'll test drive a homemade version of the game first to see how it goes over. Basically each player starts with 3 cards. When the card in the middle is turned over, each player tries to make that number by adding or subtracting the numbers in their hand.

That should be enough to get us started. If you know of or have any links to other addition games, I'd love to hear about them.