Thursday, March 27, 2008

Week 29: Combining 2 partial weeks...

I didn't post a week in review last week because we cut the week short to start our spring break. Last Friday and Monday, the girls both completed their annual standardized tests and spent lots of extra time cleaning the house to make everything toddler-proof for my 1yo niece to visit. Other than that, they had a 5 day break from school to enjoy their birthdays, playing with my sister and her family, and even a few days of beautiful outside weather. Here's what we accomplished on our actual school days the past two weeks.

Not much to report here. Jessie is working steadily through the Singapore section on area and perimeter (on the left). I believe she has one more lesson in her IP book next week before we move on. With all of her extra lessons over the past couple of weeks, she should easily be finished with math by the beginning of May. Violet has finished the section on weight and done a few review exercises this week in Singapore. She's struggled a bit in the fractions section of Miquon mainly because she wasn't using her rods. We spent most of our time working together on math going over the Miquon exercises. I know we'll come back to fractions several more times in both books so really the only concept I care that she understands at this point is that the denominator tells you how many pieces to divide something into and the numerator tells you how many of those pieces you are counting.


Both girls have finished memorizing our latest poem, A Child's Prayer, this week as well as Psalm 1 for our Bible memory so we'll be ready to start some new memory work next week. Spelling is going well for both girls and should be finished up in the next couple of weeks. Jessie's dictation is still cruising along. We didn't manage to finish our CW writing assignment this week so that will have to be carried over into next week. (This is my fault for not remembering to do the work in the new time slot where I moved it a couple of weeks ago.) No literature again this week either. Now that swimming is over for a few weeks and our company is gone, we'll pick back up next week.


For geography, we finished booklets for Oregon and Pennsylvania (although I forgot to take picture of them). For history we covered our first week on the French and Indian war. We did make a map showing who claimed what land at the start of the war. I'll post pictures next week when we've finished our second map, our time lines, and booklets. We also took a day to read about James Cook and the discovery of Hawaii, which is why some of our hands on work didn't get done. It's a little out of order, but the ILL book had to be returned so we skipped ahead. In science we have finished lesson 5 about types of nests. Our booklet on the left simply contains flaps naming the different types of nests with pictures I found on google underneath.


No formal art just lots of coloring with the new pens they received for their birthdays. For music, they listened to Mozart's Magnificent Voyage by Classical Kids one afternoon while they were playing.


Benny's preschool is still going well. In letters, he is up to Uu. We played some different games with his new magnetic alphabetic letters. (See a couple of posts below for the new games we're playing and a review of the letters.) For numbers, it's been very light. A little dot to dot, a bit of counting, some how many fingers, and a day where we actually did some counting and then circled the correct number on the drawing board (pictured on the right). He also did several Kumon cutting pages, and a few mazes this week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Our Easter

The annual backyard egg hunt...

and the one who would just rather go fishing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Games and Activities for our letter magnets

On the refrigerator:

1. Letter matching - We line up all the uppercase letters on the left hand side and mix up the lowercase letters on the right hand side. Then Benny gets to match them back up. In our house it makes for a great competition as Benny tries to keep the letters straight while the girls try to sneak over and mix a few up when he is not looking.

2. Letter swapping for phonics - Take any 3 letter word (mat for example) then substitute as many other letters for the m as you can to make words. For variations try swapping out the vowel of the last letter instead.

3. Spelling - We often test spelling for SWO A and even B by making the words on the refrigerator instead of spelling them out loud. This is also a great way to teach a preschooler how to spell their name.

On the Fisher Price drawing board:

1. Letter matching stamps - Divide the letters into two piles (uppercase and lowercase). Mom or an older sibling can stamp a letter from their pile. Then Benny finds the match and stamps it beside that one. For a variation: Let Benny draw a letter from a bag or bucket to stamp and then find the match on the floor and stamp it.

2. Tracing stamps - Simply stamp the letter on the drawing board and then trace it with the drawing board pen. Benny loves this because his lines can be a little wobbly and he still stays within the stamp.

3. Stamping out words - We mainly do this with names for preschool. Sometimes we trace the names and sometimes not.

On the floor:

1. Sticky letter pairs - Basically another version of matching letters. Benny sticks the uppercase and lowercase letter back to back in pairs. He also likes to pounce on the letters as part of the game. It takes a little longer, but he has lots of fun.

2. Letter fishing - Place the letters face down on the floor. Using one of the magnetic fishing rods or a piece of string with a large paperclip on the end, pull up one letter at a time and identify it.

3. Letter hunt - Hide the letters around the room and identify them as you find them by either letter name or letter sound.

4. Letter tag - Spread the letters out on the floor. Call out a letter name or sound and have the child hop over and tag the letter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Product Review: 52 Magnetic Wooden Letters from Rainbow Resource

Actually these wooden letters aren't a newcomer to our homeschool. I had bought a set from a local store back when my oldest was either 3 or 4; but in the last few years, some of the letters had gone missing so I had been looking for a new set similar to what we already had and finally found them at Rainbow Resource. YEAH!!

Here are the reasons we love these letters so much:

1. The 52 Magnetic Wooden Letters are between 1 1/2" and 2" tall. This makes them big enough that I don't have to worry about any younger children choking on them when I'm not looking. (Believe me there are a lot of teeth marks on the first set.) It also makes them easy for young fingers to grab on and manipulate.

2. There is one each of all of the capital letters and the lowercase letters. The letters come in a divided wooden box with uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side. I have always found it easier to teach the alphabet in pairs. This puts all the letters I need in one place. Since the letters are from the same set the letter colors coordinate, making it easier to find a matching letter when my kids have mastered over half of the alphabet cutting down on frustration.

3. The letters come in 4 different colors: red, blue, yellow, and green. Having each letter pair the same color eliminates a lot of letter confusion. The little b and the little d which my preschoolers commonly mix up are two different colors. When they are matching on their own, the color different helps them self-correct their own mistakes with these letters. I do wish the lowercase d and p were not the same color, but since my kids always spin the letter around anyway it doesn't make any difference.

4. There are two advantages to have the sheet magnets on the back of the letters. First, these magnet do not fall off of my refrigerator every time I open the door (or even when my kids close it too hard). Second, the letters can double as letter stamps on our Fisher Price drawing boards for tracing, spelling, etc.

If I were going to change anything about the letters, I would make the dots on the i and j a little better defined. My only other wish is that the manufacturer had provided a number which could be used to replace individual magnets that are lost. Then I could let the kids play with the magnets whenever and wherever they wanted instead of having them set aside with Nathan's preschool time items. Overall these are an excellent, versatile product that we have enjoyed very much.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Planning for Baby #4

We're getting down to crunch time. With less than 2 months to go, I'll need to start getting a few things together the first week in April. In order to make sure I don't forget anything, I decided to put together a list of must do baby items (and since any written list I make magically disappears around the house, I'll put it here for safe keeping.)

1. Pick out names.
2. Buy a carseat.
3. Buy newborn size diapers.
4. Wash cradle and crib bedding.
5. Wash newborn clothing.
6. Set up crib.
7. Determine if I need to buy furniture for the baby's room.
8. Rearrange and/or clear out the office to make room for baby items.
9. Wash newborn toys.
10. Put together diaper bag of supplies and items needed to take to the hospital.
11. Write out another birth plan so I don't have to be arguing while in labor.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Week 28: We're still adjusting to Daylight savings time.

We had another light week for us. Part of the blame falls on daylight savings time. It's harder for Mom and the kids to get up and moving when it's not really light outside yet (not counting the later bedtime because it's hard to make your body fall asleep an hour earlier.) As a result, school was late starting every day this week. Part of the blame falls on me. I had a gestational diabetes class Tuesday morning and just really haven't felt very well, much less energetic, this week. The last of the blame falls on the kids, who being tired from the time change, have been taking turns being cranky, irritable, moody, and/or quarrelsome this week. Despite the bad week, we did get a few things done.


Jessie spent most of her week with Singapore working on a section called geometry. Basically, she learned to identify angles, what a right angle is, and compared other angles to the right angle (bigger or smaller). Since we weren't actually using a protractor to measure the angles, I allowed her more leniency than usual in checking her work. Sometime she called something a right angle that I thought was close but probably not 90 degrees. Sometimes I would have called it a right angle, and she thought it was slightly larger or smaller. Overall I believe she understood the concept so I didn't push beyond what the book was teaching. (I think we'll use protractors next year anyway.) In Miquon she did some pages on Venn diagrams. No math drill at this point. It may have to be a math project for June.

Violet spent the week in Singapore learning about length. She was thrilled to be measuring with the ruler. The units introduced were cm, m, in, ft, and yds. The main focus was on measuring and how the units compared to one another. She did very well overall. In Time and Money, she learned how to figure out how much change she would receive after purchasing an item. We are making progress with her math drill. She's mastered the +6 key, almost mastered the +7 key, and is working on the +8 and +9. Despite knowing almost all of her addition facts, her subtraction is a bit slow so we may add in some subtraction drill for the summer time.


The girls are nearly finished memorizing our poem, A Child's Prayer. We'll finish that next week I'm sure before our break. No literature reading this week. We've had a hard time being consistent about afternoon reading time. I think we'll sneak some into bedtime reading (or maybe over dinner) this weekend and next week instead. Spelling, copywork, grammar and dictation are going well. Jessie is writing a full page from dictation now and actually enjoying it, which is something I had begun to think I would never say. For CW, we started the story The Lion and the Mouse this week. Jessie is still having trouble identifying nouns and verbs in a sentence with CW. I'm considering adding a daily sentence or sentences just to get in some more practice. We'll probably diagram the sentences as well since R&S is doing more writing work and less diagramming right now. I don't want to completely loss the progress we've made so far.


For geography the girls completed booklets for Ohio and Oklahoma. For history, we've been reading a book for the topic of pioneers. At this point pioneers referring to the expansion into Vermont and the western sections of several of the colonies. We'll do some map work Monday hopefully to show the expansion and set up the French and Indian War. No official science this week. Jessie identified some blue jays in our neighbor's yard Tuesday while outside with DH. We spotted some robins outside of the building for swim class yesterday. DH finally cut the chicken bone in half so the girls could see how it is hollow inside.


Benny's had lots of DH time this week since he only worked 2 days. We did some reading. He's learned the letters Ss and Tt. No formal numbers work this week. Benny's been going around holding up various numbers of fingers and asking whomever will listen how many fingers he has up. No Kumon this week either since helping DH is always considered more fun.

That's all for this week. The next two weeks we'll be shortened. The plan is to do our standardized testing and take some time off for birthdays, company, and a much needed break from at least most of our work.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday:

Morning at home with Dad + beautiful day outside = quick work with Mom's list of school assignments and lots of time outside

Monday, March 10, 2008

First Thoughts on Using FLL next year....

My initial assessment of First Language Lessons from using it with Jessie was that it didn't provide enough practical application. After working with Jessie for 3rd grade grammar, I also see that the definitions and some of the lists that were memorized have turned out to be helpful. With that in mind, I'm going to try to set up some goals for what I want Violet to learn from FLL next year to use as a base for my modifications.

For sentences:
1. Memorize the definition of a sentence.
2. Recognize that a sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark.
3. Memorize the 4 types and sentences, be able to correctly identify them in a story, and correctly use the appropriate ending punctuation with each sentence type.

For nouns:
1. Memorize the definition of a noun.
2. Identify nouns in a sentence.
3. Explain the difference between common and proper nouns, correctly identify them, and use appropriate capitalization.

For pronouns:
1. Memorize the definition of a pronoun.
2. Learn the pronoun list.
3. Use the list to identify pronouns in a sentence.
4. Correctly capitalize the pronoun I in a sentence.

For verbs:
1. Memorize the definition of a verb.
2. Identify action verbs in a sentence.
3. Memorize the state of being verbs and correctly use them in a sentence.
4. Understand the concept of linking verbs.
5. Memorize the list of helping verbs.
6. Use the list to find helping verbs in a sentence.

For adjectives:
1. Memorize the definition of an adjective.
2. Identify adjectives in a sentence when located in front of the noun.
3. Identify adjectives in a sentence containing a linking verb.

For interjections:
1. Memorize the definition of an interjection and be able to give examples.

For conjunctions:
1. Memorize the definition of a conjunction and be able to identify the 3 most commonly used.

For adverbs:
1. Memorize the definition of an adverb.
2. To be able to correctly use adverbs in a sentence.

For articles:
1. To memorize the 3 articles.

For prepositions:
1. Memorize the definition of a preposition.
2. Memorize the list of prepositions.
3. Use the list to identify prepositions in a sentence.

1. Understand how to correctly form a contraction with an apostrophe.
2. To correctly apply basic capitalization to writing.
3. To correctly use commas in a series.
4. To understand the difference between direct and indirect quotations.
5. To correctly punctuate a direct quotation.
6. To understand the terms synonyms and antonyms and be able to give examples.

I guess overall I've seen the usefulness of the grammar memorization. We'll reinforce the memorization component by adding it to our memory box. I find FLL to be primarily auditory and want to alter the lessons to be used for more visual and tactile learning. I specifically want to include more application and identification of the parts of speech in sentences. I believe this will help Violet tremendously when we move onto R&S 3 the following year. Many of Jessie's problems with diagrams stem from incorrect identification of the parts of speech because she simply learned the definitions and didn't practice using them enough. While I find picture studies and copywork useful, I prefer to separate them from the grammar program and include them in art and writing instead. We'll probably use some of the poems from FLL for memorization, but will include those in our memory box instead of during grammar.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Week 27: We survived....

and actually accomplished a little bit more than I had expected in some areas. Jessie was a little bit disappointed that we didn't do science or history. Violet was perfectly happy with the extra free time. Benny loved having more play time with his sisters. I made a lot of progress on science planning on my morning out for my 3 hour glucose test, and the taxes went in the mail this morning. Yeah!! If you notice less pictures, it's because DH borrowed the camera last weekend and forgot to bring it back in from the truck for the first half of the week. Here's what we did:

Language Arts:

Jessie is almost finished memorizing A Child's Prayer and will probably be ready to move on next week. A couple of days during dictation she actually suggested we do one more sentence than I had planned. (Maybe I should let her plan what to use for dictation next year instead of doing it myself). We struggled a bit at our second attempt at amplifying the dialogue for CW this week but managed to agree on a few changes. Jessie is so used to (and comfortable with) simply retelling the facts that using her imagination to elaborate on a story is starting as an uphill battle. We'll make a few changes for the next lesson and see if that helps or not.
Violet is about 2/3 of the way through the poem. Spelling and writing are going well. We're still working on slowing down and speaking up during her read aloud time with me, but I'm quite happy with the progress that she has made this year in her reading ability.

It was actually in math that we made the most progress this week. The girls were both zooming through their books so fast that I gave them both extra lessons. Jessie ended up completing about 2 weeks of work zipping through the section on time in Singapore and finishing up the section on graphs in Miquon. Violet did about 1 1/2 weeks worth of work to finish up section 2 on addition and subtraction with renaming. She struggled a little bit with a few of the problems in the IP section, but I'm not concerned because those are the very same problems that gave Jessie trouble when she was at this point. In Time and Money she's up to dollar bills now and doing quite well. We may actually finish all of our math before the baby arrives which would be nice.

Geography / History / Science:

Basically we took the week off. The girls did complete booklets for North Carolina and North Dakota. We did read 3 chapters in The Burgess Bird Book for Children for science on Tuesday. No history or Apologia this week.

Music / Art were not done this week.

Benny's Preschool:

Benny's had a great week with preschool. For letters we added Pp, Qq, and Rr this week. (I'm beginning to suspect the girls have been teaching him more letters when I wasn't looking.) He loves his new letter magnets. I'll write some more about them and how we're using them in the next post. We didn't do much with numbers this week just a bit of counting here and there. He did lots of Kumon instead. We have a new maze book that he has started. He did several cutting pages another day, and finished off his Kumon coloring book.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Catching up on planning, 2nd status check

Well, February has come and gone, and I'm still working on this year's lessons. I've made some good progress, so I'm hoping to completey finish by the end of March. Here's where we stand currently.

All booklets are now printed. Still need to assemble Nevada through Wyoming.
All booklets are now printed and assembled.
Determine how big the lapbook bases need to be and assemble.

I've played around with a couple of different bases. I just need to pick one and put them together.

Preread and choose books for topics 33 to 51.
Prereading complete through topic 38.
Currently working on prereading topic 39.
Still need to preread topics 40 to 51.
Schedule books from topics 29-51.
Books scheduled through topic 37.
Still need to schedule topics 38 to 51.
Choose and print timeline figures and booklet figures for this week through the end of the year.
HTTA timeline figures printed for remainder of the year.
Still need to choose booklet figures for the remainder of the year.
Plan out and print map work for remainder of the year.
Still need to complete. No progress here.

Read from chapter 5 to the end taking notes.
Completed notes for chapters 5-9.
Notes for chapters 10 to end still need to be completed.
Create booklets for chapters 4 to end.
Booklets created for chapter 4.
Have rough draft of booklets for 5-8 on paper. Need to type up.
Need to create booklets for lessons 9 to the end.
Print booklets for lessons 3 to the end.
Lessons 3 and 4 printed. Awaiting completion of remaining booklets for more printing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday:

Jessie finished her first latchhook project this afternoon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Coping with an overloaded week

Normally, I prioritize school first and work it in around any other projects, appointments, activities, etc. This week, however, I'm feeling a bit overloaded. Beyond the normal school and housework, I have the following on my list of things to do:

1. Finish and mail the taxes. I've done my preliminary quick run through them. I need to go back and double check my figures and make sure I haven't missed or taken any deduction that I shouldn't have.
2. 3 hour glucose test Wednesday morning.
3. Regular OB appointment Friday just before lunch. (I'll have to take the kids this time.)
4. It's birthday season. If Jessie and Violet are to have the birthday parties that they want, I need to settle on themes, date and time, and make and mail invitations out.

To top it off, I spent so much time working on taxes and history pre-reading last week that I haven't made the science booklet for lesson 5 yet.

So in deference to my sanity, I've decided to drop a few things this week from school. The plan is to drop history for the week. Today, we spent the time reading a literature selection instead. Friday, if we're not rushed, we can assemble our history booklets into a lapbook. For science, we'll drop Apologia for the week and just read from the Burgess book. I'm sure we'll skip art. Music will be optional, if the kids want to listen to the tape one afternoon. I think we can accomplish the rest of the school work. I made a menu plan for the week to make dinner easier on Tuesday and Thursday after swim lessons. Some of the housework may get pushed back to Saturday. We'll see how it goes.