Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!

Thank you God for...

-sending the promised Savior
-loving me in the midst of my sins
-offering peace and hope in these troubled times
-the blessing of my family
-providing and caring for my family
-and all the other things that I would type if Henry weren't tugging at me for milk

What are you most thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another change of plans??

So my original plans for science this year were to finish the Apologia Botany book by the end of the year and begin the new Anatomy book in January. That is until yesterday when I read the following update from the author on the Yahoo group:

" ...After completing the Anatomy book, my plans were to have it in your
hands to begin at the start of next semester. That was your plan as
well! Yet, God has a better plan.

Apologia’s new owners, Davis and Rachael Carman, are committed to
improving the Elementary series for homeschoolers. (Which is why they
asked me to create the Notebooking Journals). Because of their desire
to see these books become the best they can be, they are going to be
redesigning each book to make it more visually appealing, exciting and
beautiful to increase your child’s enjoyment of the series. All this
will begin with the Anatomy book.

Because the book is being reformatted by the designer, it will delay
publication by a couple of months. Thus, the book will be in print at
the end of February.

Because so many of you are awaiting its release, we will be making a
couple of lessons available for you to use before the publication.
This will enable you to begin the book as planned, while you wait for
the hard copy to arrive.

The good news is that I have seen a lesson done with the new design.
Wow! It truly enhances the book! If it weren't so great, I would be
very disturbed about this delay. But, I'm convinced that the redesign
will make the book even more fun and readable. Let me assure you that
it will be worth the wait...."

First it was projected summer 2009. Then hopefully fall 2009. Then officially January 2010, and now the end of February 2010. Argh!! I may understand later when I see the book, but right now I'm frustrated. Maybe this would be a good time to reevaluate my science plans with a longer term perspective than next semester. (On second thought, I'd better finishing getting ready to start ancient Greece next week first. One step at a time..)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Great Buy!!

On Friday when we did our notebooking pages for history, I realized that apparently we have already used up the entire supply of gluesticks that I had bought back in August for the year. I was a bit annoyed at the thought of having to pay full price for gluesticks (and by the fact that I had grossly miscalculated the number we needed when they were on sale), but I consoled myself with the fact that I least I had a $13 Staples' Reward check that I had just received in the mail a couple of days earlier.

Fast forward to this morning...

We stopped at Staples on the way home from church and found a clearance bin with the large Elmer's gluesticks for 50 cents each. In the end we came home with 18 gluesticks, 1 regular washable glue bottle, a new index card box to replace Violet's broken one, and two 2-pocket folders that are hole punched for my binder (also on clearance) so I can start keeping the girls papers in my binder instead of saying go look on the printer. ;)

The total out of pocket expense $1.13 which is about a 98% savings off of regular prices.

Since I was neither expecting the rewards check earlier in the week nor the clearance bin of gluesticks at the store today, I can only humbly say thank you to the Lord for providing both to meet our needs.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Week 14: Completing a history term

It's been a good week. The girls have done well. Benny's school has been a bit hit and miss since DH has been home more than he's been hunting. I personally have had a hard time focusing on school. I have Christmas lists to finalize so I know what needs to be ordered. DH wants to paint the living room and hall, so I went to Lowe's to get a bunch of color swatches. Add housework, meals, school, paperwork, etc. and it all becomes a big blur. Anyway, here's a look at what we accomplished.


Jessie finished up fractions in her IP book. YEAH!!!!! She spent two days on a review exercise in the textbook. Friday we started a new unit on the area of triangles in the textbook and workbook. One page had her drawing lines to show the height of a triangle. She had a bit of trouble getting the lines perpendicular, but I think she finally got the idea. The next showed the height and asked her to find the base. The last two were actually calculating some area. Overall, she did very well.

Violet also started a new unit in Singapore this week. She's working on multiplying and dividing by 6, 7, 8 and 9. So far this week, she's only worked with 6s. We also discussed some mental math tricks that she can use to figure out some of the problems like 6x6 is 6 more than 5x6 or 8x6 is double 4x6. The most exciting part to her is that she has finished the Miquon Yellow book and started on the Purple book (which is the final book in the series).

Benny has completed some more of his IP unit on addition. In Miquon, he finished up the section on subtracting and has started a new section with a mix of both addition and subtraction. The first page was a bit trickier since he had to decide what type of problem it was and how to set up the blocks, but he had it figured out by the end of the page.


Jessie successfully completed another SWO lesson. In grammar, she still working on verbs. This week has mostly been differentiating between verbs like sit and set, let and leave, and lie and lay. She covered what each verb meant, whether or not it took a direct object or was used in conjunction with another verb, and the 3 principle parts of each verb. In CW, she rewrote "The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard." She has completed reading Rip Van Winkle. We still have to finish discussing it next week.

Violet's spelling went well. In grammar, she close to finishing up the section on pronouns. This week we covered thou, thee, and thine. She also learned about the demonstrative pronouns this, that, these, and those and how to use them correctly in a sentence. In CW, she rewrote the fable "The Fox and the Crow." To make it a bit more fun, I typed up her final draft rather than have her rewrite it and then let her illustrate it. For literature, she completed read The Dragon of Lonely Island and is continuing with her other selections.

Benny's language arts was a bit on the spotty side this week. We did finish the phonics pages on the /sh/ and /th/ sounds. Friday, we took a dry erase board and did a bit of letter substitution to make words to read. (ie. mash to rash to rush to lush etc.) He only ended up doing a couple of days of handwriting so I don't have any pictures. Truthfully, with DH home, he just wants to finish as fast as possible to go do something with him so even the handwriting he did complete was a bit on the sloppy side. We've only done read alouds a couple of days, but we can catch up next week.


In OT times, we finished up the book of Judges covering Gideon's defeat of the Midianites and Samson's battles with the Philistines with a couple of minor judges in between. Violet wrote short summaries on the main judges. I gave Jessie a 4 column chart to fill in. The columns were Israel's mistakes, Israel's punishment, God's judge, and the judge's actions. Both girls also completed a map of the land that was supposed to belong to each of the tribes. On Jessie's map, she marked the location of the major judges. Samson and the Philistines went on the timeline.
In the Near East, we wrapped up our first history unit with the Babylonians and the Persians. The girls wrote about Nebuchadnezzar II. Violet picked 5 things she found interesting. Jessie wrote three paragraphs discussing his expansion of Babylon as an empire, the Hanging Gardens, and the steps he took to make the city of Babylon more secure. Basically, it was a summary of a portion of one chapter in The Babylonians by Landau. They made maps of the empire at its largest and used Draw and Write Through History: Greeks and Romans to complete a picture of the Hanging Gardens. For the Persian empire, Jessie outlined from Usborne Encyclopedia of the Ancient World and Violet wrote 5 more facts from Kingfisher Book of the Ancient World. Both girls also completed a map showing Persia and the Persian empire. Timeline figures for Nebuchadnezzar II and the Hanging Gardens were added as well.

The girls completed a page on Yemen.


We're studying trees in lesson 9. The girl's completed booklets identifying the different parts of twigs. We then went outside and identified the parts on a real tree and measured the growth of a few twigs of the last two years to compare which year had the most growth. We were supposed to estimated tree height on Thursday, but it was pouring down rain so we'll wait until next week.


Baby Henry has completed his schooling on how to act like a bear. Previously, he had established his cave in the school cabinet and practiced his growling. This week he mastered walking on his hands and feet like a bear.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Our favorite math manipulatives

Over the course of the last few years, we have used a variety of homemade math manipulatives. Dried beans are great for counting. M&Ms are the best for subtraction. (" I had to eat them. The problem told me to.") Popsicle sticks, both single ones or bundles of ten with a rubber band around them, are great for illustrating place value. (I don't recommend bundles of 100. That's just a mess waiting to happen.) We've made fraction strips out of construction paper, used a variety of coins, and probably a few other that I no longer recall. We do own an abacus that we use for counting and skip counting. Still, my favorite math manipulatives of all time are my cuisenaire rods. Adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, place value, addition with carrying, subtraction with borrowing, long division, measuring, area, volume, and more can all be illustrated with cuisenaire rods. You can use them to build, arrange them to make dinosaurs or letters (and many other things), create patterns, sort by size or color, and probably several other things that I haven't though of yet. Basically, they are the most versatile of all my manipulatives.

When I bought my set of cuisenaire rods a few years ago, there were only a few options. Now they come in regular or jumbo, plastic or wooden, and with or without unit markings. They can be also one piece or connecting like legos. The number of idea books for how to use cuisenaire rods has also grown. It boggles the mind when you see all the choices. Still my favorite are these. Why?

1. I like the durability of the wood. The thought of teeth marks on the plastic rods makes me cringe.
2. I love the tray. It keeps the rod sorted out. It's easy to count around the tray in the beginning know which rod is which. At the end of the day, I can look in the tray and know for certain whether or not we have all the pieces. Those little white ones are easy to miss, and I'd hate to worry about a baby or toddler choking on a missed block.

There you have it. My favorite math manipulative. For those of you that have them and don't know what to do with them, I plan on writing several posts over the next few months showing the different ways we use the rods in our house. It will help me in a few years when I start teaching Henry, and hopefully, it will help some other homeschooling moms along the way. I'll even give them their own tag so you (and I) can find all the entries easily.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One thing...

My goal for this past weekend was to get all of the school plans and needs for this week ready by Sunday afternoon. Saturday, I filled in the checksheets with everything except history and science. I even printed out math drill sheets and wrote down what type of problems I wanted each DD to do each day of the week. Sunday, I sat down, wrote out the history assignments, found and printed all the requisite maps, wrote out the science assignments, and created and printed out the booklet for the week. I was so sure I'd finally remembered everything.

Fast forward to this morning...

V: "Mom, what do I do next?"
M: "What does you checksheet say to do?"
V: "It says handwriting, but you haven't written it up yet."

Drat. So close. Now I'm off to write up the rest of the handwriting assignments for the week..

Friday, November 13, 2009

Week 13: Moving Forward

Overall it's been a good week here. Henry's stuffy nose is better than it was over the weekend. We're down to sleeping on the couch for only the second half of the night now. Jessie's finally getting used to the new work load. Violet's still wasting an amazing amount of time each day, while Benny zips through at the speed of light. If I average them all together, then I could say that we finished right on time every day. ;) Here's our week...


Jessie and I have finished reviewing the remainder of the fraction concepts in the textbook and workbook. I believe we covered dividing a fraction by a whole number and then a couple of days of word problems. On Thursday, she started back in with the IP section. After a brief moment of panic where she tried to claim that she had forgotten how to change improper fractions to mixed numbers to which I calmly replied she was more than welcome to use the fraction strips if she needed them, she did very well with her IP work without bothering to pull the strips out. So far, so good. She's actually been finishing early most of the week. I'm hoping to add the CWP book back in next week.

Violet has finished up the IP section on multiplying and dividing by 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10. On Friday, she had a review exercise in the textbook. Next week, she'll be ready to move on to a new unit in the textbook and workbook. She did start back into her CWP book this week. Her work is excellent, but it takes her forever. Part of the issue is that we haven't started working on memorizing any multiplication facts as yet, but a good bit of it is simply a lack of focus.

Benny continued working on addition in his 1A IP book and subtraction in his Miquon book. His math skills are excellent. We actually spent more time concentrating on writing the numbers more legibly than we did solving the problems. He tends to reverse a few of the numbers on occasion with seven being the trickiest. The one downside to the Singapore books is that he could really use a bit more space to write since he makes his numbers so large. We've currently compromised that he should try to write his numbers as small as he can, but they don't have to fit in the box on the page.


Jessie has finished up another review lesson in SWO G. In grammar, we're still mostly working on verbs and their principal parts. We did spend two days on a lesson covering taking notes and then completing a writing assignment using those notes. It was a good reinforcement of what we've been trying to do with her history assignments. For CW, we analyzed "The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard". Basically, it was more scene analysis, synonym work, diagramming, and paraphrasing. (I really need to go buy a thesaurus, but DH has my van again while his truck awaits a replacement for yet another electronic component. Does anyone besides me wish you could buy a vehicle without all the electronics?) Anyway, for literature she started reading Rip Van Winkle. It was the perfect size to fill in for a couple of weeks before she starts The Children's Homer in conjunction with our history unit on Greece. Her Age of the Fable reading are more familiar stories focused on people. This week she read about Atalanta and Hercules.

Violet correctly spelled all her words in lesson 19 on Thursday. In R&S 3, we're still working on pronouns. She finds the lessons to be very simple. For handwriting, we finally completed a full five days worth. I'm hoping to write out next week's over the weekend, instead of during the school morning. In CW, we analyzed the fable, The Fox and the Crow by looking at vocabulary, discussing quotations, and writing a direct quotation for dictation. She's continuing to enjoy all of her literature selections.

Benny has started his first consonant digraphs in Phonics Pathways. We spent 3 days working on the /sh/ sound and 2 days on the /th/ sound. He does the typical mistake of making a /f/ sound instead of a /th/ one. The hardest part is balancing correcting his pronunciation without making him completely frustrated with the book. For copywork, he wrote his full name and the names of other family members this week. We did try using the third grade handwriting paper, but he is my first to prefer the larger lined K paper so we switched back. (At least I finally have a use for that stack of paper. It's been on my shelf for over 5 years now.) The picture on the write is one of his pages from Building Thinking Skills Primary since I don't post the children's names online. He's continuing to enjoy his literature selections and our afternoon reading time.


This week for Old Testament history, we finished up learning about Joshua and started reading about the judges up to Gideon. Violet finished up narration of Joshua from last week. For Jessie, I changed up her Joshua assignment. I asked her to write 3 paragraphs. The first paragraph was to cover how Joshua learned to be a leader, which required some discussion since I was asking her to remember information from the book of Exodus. For the next two paragraphs, I asked her to evaluate the actions and decisions of Joshua with the first paragraph recounting his successes and the second his errors. The map shows the land conquered by the Israelites under Joshua and the land that still needed to be conquered. We added timeline figures for Joshua, the conquest of Canaan, the period of the judges, and Gideon. In Near East history, we studied the Phoenicians and the Assyrians. Jessie read The Phoenicians by Odjik and The Assyrians by Landau. For the first, I had Jessie take notes on general information (when and where they lived, etc.), their trading (attitude, products, and ships), and influence (alphabet and colonies) which was turned into a summary. For the Assyrians, I simply asked her to summarize a block of pages covering some of the basic everyday life type information. (Neither of us were captivated by the Assyrian civilization to want to go any deeper.) Violet had to list 5 interesting things she learned about each from The Kingfisher Book of the Ancient World. Both girls completed maps of the Phoenician colonies and the Assyrian kingdom and empire. Each civilization had a timeline figure as well. Benny and I read from The Usborne Book of World History, although I confess to editing both selections in several places.


We covered lesson 8 this week about stems. The girls completed booklets. We put a piece of celery in water with red food coloring and watched the results. We also made a playdough stem to demonstrate how stretching one side cause the stem to bend.


The girls covered Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.


Jessie's logic continues to go well. In LfC B, we covered lesson 11 with NO NEW VOCABULARY!! The vocabulary was a review of the accusative prepositions. I've decided to drop Prima Latina with Violet. It really just felt like busywork. My new plan is to work on her personal responsibility for staying on task and completing her work through the end of the year. Then in January, we'll start LfC A at a slower pace of one lesson every two weeks since she won't know the majority of the vocabulary.


As always, Henry was underfoot and up to mischief the entire week. He's also been practicing his growling noises basically nonstop.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reader Questions...

I'm going to try to get better at answering questions. Here are a couple of questions from the last month or so.

1. Is your 5th grader enjoying Bulfinch's Mythology?

Jessie's answer to this question varies by the day. She loves mythology in general so most days she will tell you she enjoys it. Other days she will say it's not very interesting. Part of the answer depends on the story itself for that particular day (A story about Pandora for example is more interesting that reading about different mythological creatures.) Part of it depends on how carefully she reads the material. Miller's All Through the Ages places Bulfinch in the 7-9 grade range. If Jessie reads it carefully, she retains the information, gives good summaries, and enjoys herself. If she tries to read it at the same speed she read Little Women, then she generally doesn't comprehend the material as well and is frustrated when I ask her to reread the chapter.

For starting out in mythology, I would recommend D'Aulaire's Greek Myths if covering both the gods and the heroes. If you would rather emphasize the heroes (which is Jessie's favorite part), I would recommend The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles by Colum.

2. I notice you do timelines in your notebooks... do you feel like they get enough of the "big picture?"

One of the reasons I like the timelines in notebooks is the versatility. We can look at one page if we want to focus on a specific time period. We can also pull the pages out and line them up on the floor if we want to look at a larger time frame. It's simply a matter of what which we are trying to emphasize at a given time. HTH

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week 12: Back to normal

It's been a much more normal week this time with the up and down of good and not so good days. Baby Henry has been a little cranky because of the stuffy nose with his cold. I've been a little tired from sleepy on the sofa bed with a very wiggly baby Henry. We've had several school items get lost and turn up either later the same day or the next day. Still we accomplished our work for the week, and I even had some time to work on projects around the house. They are a few less pictures this week. The batteries in my camera died on Friday as I was trying to take the last few pictures. Here's a look at our week.


Math has gone much more smoothly this week since I backed both of the girls up in their textbooks. Jessie used her fraction strips to review adding and subtracting fractions with and without common denominators, multiplying a fraction and a whole number, and multiplying two fractions. We probably could have skipped the adding and subtracting, but it was a good confidence booster for Jessie. All fractions are no longer too hard. Most days she did either all or parts of two separate exercises in the workbook. No more whining or tears, so the concepts seem to be sinking in better this time.

Violet spent the first part of the week reviewing long division. We used the cuisenaire rods, just the tens and ones, to illustrate division. We'd separate the tens into equal piles, exchange any leftover tens for tens ones, and then separate the ones. Then we took the same problem and reworked it on the dry erase board explaining how each step lined up with what we had done with the blocks. On the day we need hundreds, I just cut some squares out of cardstock to represent the hundreds, and we used a combination of 10 and 5 blocks to have enough tens. The hard work seems to have paid off. She had no problem with the workbook exercises. There was no whining or coming to ask me every 2 minutes if she was doing a problem correctly. She finished up the section in the workbook by Wednesday and spent Thursday and Friday back in the corresponding IP section.

Benny has moved on from the textbook and workbook to the IP section on addition this week. Tuesday's Singapore assignment (pictured on the left) was by far the longest exercise we've done. I pulled out most of the rods, and he determined the answer and colored it in. I was very impressed with his hard work. In Miquon, he's finished the section on addition and moved on to the first subtraction page on Friday. We used the blocks to solve the problems but pretended they stood for cookies being eaten. It's amazing how fast he answered the problems once we started talking in terms of cookies.;)


Jessie's spelling words were mostly Spanish based this week, ie. tortilla, siesta, etc. She scored a 100 on her test. In grammar, she finished and tested the first unit on verbs and has moved on to a second unit on verbs. We're back to diagramming sentences with direct objects. Friday we diagrammed sentences with more than one direct object. In CW this week she rewrote "The Good Samaritan" using the chart of the different parts of a scene for a reference. In literature, she has completed reading The Cat of Bubastes and is now about halfway through Age of the Fable.

Violet has reached the halfway point in SWO E. In grammar, we're still working with pronouns. Much of the week covered how to determine which pronoun to use when the pronoun was combined with a noun. (ie. Mary and she read the book to Jessie and me.) In CW, Violet rewrote the story of "Pandora". She's decided she doesn't really care for the myths and is glad that we'll go back to using a fable for the model next week. Her handwriting this week came from her new literature selection, The Dragon of Lonely Island.

Benny has finished up the paper in his handwriting book. We're going to try out the 3rd grade paper over the weekend to see if he finds it easier for writing. I guess that means next week we're ready to move on to regular copywork. In phonics, he's finished the pages covering words ending in -y and worked one day on words with the final consonant doubled (ie. tell, buzz, etc.). His new read aloud is The Boxcar Children. Now that he is actually hearing the story himself, he is much more enthusiastic about playing boxcar children with his sisters.


In Bible history this week, we covered most of the story of Joshua. The actual summaries and notebooking will be done Monday after we read the last few chapters. In ancient history, we finished our last week in Egypt!! YEAH!! We covered Rameses II and the decline of Egypt. Jessie also read Science in Ancient Egypt by Woods. Violet was writing messages in hieroglyphics since we finally received the book by Milton with the hieroglyphic stencil. Benny and I looked through and talked about the pictures in the coloring book Life in Ancient Egypt. The girls each put together one page on Egypt and added Rameses II to their timelines.


This week in science, we covered roots in lesson 7. The girls completed two booklets on the information in the book. On Tuesday, I used our hands on time to go vote, but Thursday, we did an experiment with carrots. Violet cuts the ends off of two carrots. Jessie added blue food coloring to water, put in one of the carrots, and placed it in the window. Benny put the second carrot in the refrigerator. On Friday, we compare the two carrots on the outside and inside. The girls wrote up the lab. (No pictures. I was trying to take the science pictures when the camera batteries died.)


The girls each completed a page on Iraq.


Benny did lots of drawing this week. Part of the time, he was making thanksgiving decorations for the back door. I didn't get a picture of the door, but I did take a picture of his drawing of Rabbit and Roo.
Henry's triumph for week has been discovering that he can answer yes or no by nodding or shaking his head. He's also started signing milk with his own hand and will hold his nose when I ask if his diaper is stinky. It's so much easier to communicate with him now that we're not trying to guess what he's pointing at.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009