Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Alyssa is in Kindergarten

WOW!  I am not doing a good job at all keeping this blog updated!

We are trucking right along!  We have made the decision to homeschool at least a portion of the summer.  The kids will be off almost the whole month of June due to vacation and trips.  But I am hoping to get in at least a couple of weeks in July and then most of August.  I mean - if we are home we might as well get school in.  It is a lot better than being stuck in the house (because it is too hot to go out) and hearing "I'm bored" all day!  Plus, like I told the kids, we only school in the mornings anyway!

And let me tell you - since I made that decision - the whole pressure of having to be finished with everything by a certain date has been lifted from me!  I am no longer trying to put "school year" labels on things...we just go when we finish and then start the next thing!  (and as I look at things I see that we are on track...if not a little ahead so we are GOOD!)  :-)

With that, Alyssa has started Kindergarten!  She has been begging me since her 5th birthday in April to start!  I was trying to hold off but realized - why? If I am not doing the "school year" labels then why not start her now.  So we started last week and she is LOVING it!  I have to admit that I am too!  I don't know if it is due to the fact that this is my third time to do kinder or the fact that this is my last kinder so I am trying to savor it....probably a little of both!  :-)

I am not doing a good job of getting pictures of school.  I did try to get some pictures though to show Alyssa's first days of kindergarten.  And I have a few others that I found on the camera :-)

 (working with Granny on her history journal - she does history and science with the boys (has been for a while)... sometimes she listens just as well if not better than the boys and can answer more questions sometimes too LOL!)
 (she LOVES to cut and paste!)

 (she takes such care to get  her handwriting just right too!)
 (this was her Nature name picture she did today - she LOVED it and took such care to get it just right)
(Aaron got my phone the other night - he was being silly wearing my sunglasses!)
(Alyssa showing her fish lips!  Doesn't she look like a movie star?!?! LOL!)

Just realized that I didn't get pictures of our new science journals we have started!  I will get pics of those and our history journals for a later post!  

Oh - and Aaron is now 2/3 way through with 2nd grade reading!!!!!  :-) we are taking a break for the summer to do some light literature studies!  He is going to start with Magic School Bus book 1 (Dinosaurs before Dark).  He is super excited about that!

Seth is fixing to finish his study on Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims and he is going to start a novel study on 'Because of Winn Dixie'!  :-)

Until next time,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aaron is becoming an artist!

Quick post to share some of Aaron's drawings that he is doing in his animal drawing class in co-op!  He is LOVING this class!!

 killer whales
 Mr Happy the cat
 Mr. Jop the penguin

Until next time,

Monday, March 3, 2014

New Plans!!

We continue to rock along in our school year!  Aaron just completed his first reader for 2nd grade reading!!  He will go ahead and complete the second one (which at the rate he is going he will finish it by the first of May!)  After that he will start his Summer reading (more on that in a minute).

Ok - so I am once again trying to get in some history into our school days.  My original plans for this for the year kind of fell through and just didn't click I guess because it was very easy to neglect and not do... to the point that we weren't doing anything. But I went looking through the resources I had and have come up with Early American History projects and so far we are having a blast with them!!

 We started with talking about Christopher Columbus.  I used my resources that I still have from Adventures in My Father's World.  We watched the Animated Hero Classic video about Christopher Columbus and made some drawings (from Draw Write Now) of Christopher Columbus and of his three ships). Right now we are doing projects about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims.  I am using a scholastic make and learn project ebook that I had purchased some time back for these.  That book has good synopsis material to use as teaching material and I am supplementing it with the My Father's World resources.  After this we will spend some time talking about the Indians (I have a couple of Scholastic project ebooks for that) and then we will move into colonial life.  I would to like to continue to find resources like this as we move, at a slow, leisurely pace, through American History.  The kids LOVE the hands on aspect of the project and I really think it will help them to retain the information.

I have even cleared off a shelf for us to put our projects.  Here are some pictures of how I have decorated our shelf and some of our first projects.

 Here is the shelf decorated and ready for projects 

 A "Old World vs New World" diorama that we made 

Here is the "old world" side - showing Holland, where the pilgrims tried to live

 and here is the "new world" side showing America after they landed on the Mayflower.  We had fun comparing and contrasting the two.

 Here is our 3D model of the Mayflower (standing in blue ocean waves)

 You can open the front flap to "peek" inside the ship - we had good discussions on what life must have been like on the ship.

The kids are enjoying this so much that they asked if we could do same thing for science!  So we are taking a break from Apologia science and going to start talking about animal habitats and doing projects for that.  Let me say that we LOVE Apologia and will continue to use that book...but it is a lot of reading...and I think, especially right now since they are still young, it's ok to take a break from that and do some "fun" science!!   I am also using Scholastic ebook project books that I have already purchased.  They also have some fun experiments and stuff to explore further with!  Today we started with caves (didn't get pics - I will have pics for my next post).  We made a cool "peek through" book on 'What lives in caves?'  I even found some pictures of stalactites and stalagmites online that I showed the kids as we talked about what a cave is and what it consists of.    Hopefully tomorrow we will be able to start our experiment of making stalactites.  When we come back from spring break (which is next week) we will make a cave diorama!  

I have cleared the top of the other bookshelf for our animal habitat projects.  Once again, I will have pictures of that in my next post!

So, at the beginning of the post I mentioned "Summer reading".  For the first time at Watson Christian Academy we will have summer school.  :-)  And before you start telling me how mean and cruel I am, hear me out!

Summer school will not be like our normal school year...it will be more relaxed and more "fun" than "normal" school!  We will be on a very relaxed schedule because we are wanting to get in a bunch of camping, and we have a big trip in June planned, and we will have park days and stuff with our friends...so we will NOT have any type of a rigid schedule.  BUT on the days when we are home we might as well be productive right?!?!  (and kids behave SO MUCH better when we are on our routine).

So here is what I am planning for our "summer school":

Literature Studies - Seth is going to be reading 'Squanto, Friend of Pilgrims' (we read it aloud together last year but he is going to read it on his own now and is super excited about this), an abridged verison of 'Tom Sawyer' and an abridged version of 'Huckleberry Finn'.  I am actually writing the literacy units to go with the books, which will consist of vocabulary and comprehension questions by chapter.  But this way he is keeping up his reading skills as he continues to focus on comprehension, as well as learning new vocabulary (and practicing using a dictionary to find meanings of words) etc...

Aaron will be reading Imagination Station's 'Voyage of the Vikings' as well as the first books in the Magic Tree House series (he is SUPER excited to start these).  He will also have literacy units like those described above that he will complete as he reads his books.

We will continue our history projects and our animal habitat projects.

We will also throw in some math games so that we keep fresh on our math skills!

At this point that is all I have planned.  See? Sounds like fun, right?!?!  :-)  

And of course I will also be planning out our "new" school year during the Summer as well.  Those who know me know that for the past 2 summers now I have used that time to plan out our school year!  Now every year I have had to tweak and change as I go...but it seems to be much easier to do that when the majority of your year is planned in advance :-)  It has worked well for me and I plan to continue in the same fashion!

And it is getting about time to have Alyssa "dive" into school since she will be turning 5 in April - YIKES!!!  

So as you can see things are staying busy around here!

Until next time,

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Rocking along...

Well we are rocking right along in this new year!  Things have been SUPER busy lately!  Seth is doing a public speaking workshop for 4H.  He also starts guitar lessons through the Salvation Army next week.  He is super excited about that!

The kids are still working on learning the recorder and doing well (our biggest issue is ME working in practice time but thankfully they are smart fast learners).

We went on a field trip to the Perot Museum last week and had a blast!!  Here are a few picture highlights from that trip.

 (cool thing about this one - we talked about the wooly mammoth in science this week - I pulled up this picture to help the kids to remember the skeleton we saw last week)

Then this week we went to the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park (see I told you - we have been crazy busy!!)  Here are some highlights from that trip :-)

 The boys enjoyed two different scavenger hunts that they had set up for them to do!

 the two pics above are of blue-eyed MJ, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, and we just fell in love with her!  She has BLUE eyes (very rare for turtles)

 This penguin pair were roaming the place while we were there!  We got to pet them too!

So the kids are getting super excited about our new semester of co-op that starts next Friday!  I am looking forward to a change of pace with the classes I teach - I am doing a couple more classes for Alyssa's age group :-)  (and of course still doing a science class for the boys age range - we are doing Magic School Bus Science this semester!)

But with the younger classes come more "art" stuff....my classroom has been looking like an art room lately.  In one of the classes the kids will be learning alphabet, numbers and shapes etc with animals!  On the first class we are going to read Eric Carle's 'Animals Animals' (thank you Karen Hare for the book if you are reading this!!!).  We are going to use Eric Carle's art technique to make a cover for a book that we will be making with all of our activities for the semester.  To do this I needed to texture paint some tissue paper!

Here is my tissue paper hanging to dry.

And see that AWESOME WONDERFUL wooden gadget with the two hooks!!  Seth made this for me one night when he was playing with Daddy in the shop!  It was his own invention and he was so excited to give to me.  I am so happy that I found the perfect use for it - it helped me to make a double rowed drying rack for these tissue papers!!  :-)

Here is another shot of the tissues hanging to dry!  We also decided to do these for our homemade valentines that we are making for friends for Valentines this year (there are a group of 57 kids that are exchanging valentines - kids are having a blast making them!)

And here is my finished example of the Eric Carle art!!  I am so excited to see how all the kids' turn out!

I am also doing an Exploring Literature class for those young ones as well.   The first class we will be reading 'Joey Ran Away' and here is our kangaroo craft we are going to do!  :-)

I have to share this next picture :-)  Seth's Draw To Learn Proverbs lesson was from Proverbs 8:12-16 and it stated for him to draw a picture of his country's leader and pray for wisdom for him.  Well, he chose to draw this country's first leader - George Washington!   I loved it!!   

And Seth is learning his times tables - oh boy!!!  He is not happy at all about memorizing them!  I finally found a cool app that we tried out today and he is loving it!  After about 20 minutes on his app he about has his 2 and 3 facts down!!  :-)

Well as I type this it is snowing outside!  Probably won't be enough to amount to anything but it is sure pretty coming down!  We are trying to stay warm!!  I am so thankful that my hubby found an AWESOME deal on a 150 gallon propane tank and installed a gas heater (with a thermostat) in our school room!!  No more having to run out here at 6:30 in the morning to turn on some heat in this FREEZING room!!  It now stays at a good constant temp and we stay nice and toasty!!  I have to say - it has been one COLD winter!!!  Hopefully that means it will be a BEAUTIFUL spring!  :-)

Until next time,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2014 is off to a good start!

Well we started back to school this week after a two week Christmas break!  Christmas was a bit different this year.  Daddy got very sick with an infection in his chin and then I came down with strep throat and an ear infection on Christmas night :-(  This kept us from going to our Lucas Christmas celebration.  But my parents came up the next weekend and we had a very nice time with them and the kids and I will be going down soon to my parents to complete Christmas with my sister and her family and my grandmother.  This has probably been the longest, most drawn out Christmas ever, but oh well!  We make the best of it!

But the kids have made a very easy transition back into doing their studies.  I think some of it may be due to the fact that I have decided to have soft instrumental music playing while we are doing school.  I know it has helped me for sure and kids (especially Aaron) have commented several times about how much they like it!  (and in case anyone is interested I use Pandora and have been playing the 'Classical Musical Melody Radio').

If kids are having trouble focusing, or are agitated, or just hyper I am planning on putting them on headphones with pure classical music ('Classical Radio' on Pandora).  Aaron was having one of those mornings the other morning so we tried it out on him.  This boy LOVES classical music.

Of course, being a homeschool family, some (or a lot) of the Christmas gifts have an 'educational' quality about them and the kids have been loving playing with their new Christmas gifts!

Our family gift was a computerized telescope!!   This thing is AWESOME!!  It's our own little robot.  You type in where you want to go and it moves around until it gets you there!  We found more in the first 20 minute session we had out with it than we have found to date!  We are looking forward to many stargazing opportunities with this gem!

Seth got a Snap Circuits kit and has been playing with it A BUNCH!  He is doing really well following the directions to make so many things such as working sirens and even an AM radio (that surprisingly picks up a BUNCH of stations!)  I am looking forward to even bringing this kit to co-op to share with the kids there (Seth has given me permission to do so.)

Aaron got a Smithsonian dinosaur dig kit and he is enjoying being a paleontologist.  It is a slow process but he has finally revealed the spine of the dinosaur  and excited about excavating the entire thing (oh and he wants the classical music volume turned up while he works on it LOL!)

So Alyssa is showing more and more that she is ready for some "real" school...so I am presently easing her into it by finding a lot of hands-on activities for her (I am already finding that she works best with hands on).

I printed off a bunch of pattern block templates and she is enjoying them.

I printed off the alphabet and had her dot paint it using a q-tip and washable finger paint.

A friend gave me a set of wooden colored shape beads and I have printed off sequencing cards and easy addition cards and she has really enjoyed these!  She asked to do this a second day this week!

Here is one of the addition cards.  I set out the magnetic numbers and had her put the answer for the total number of beads on the card when she was done.

For a while now I have been making up "letter stories" to help the boys remember phonics rules... today I made up one for Aaron as he was learning the "oi" sound.  I was inspired to go ahead and actually put the story on paper with graphics and am planning on going ahead and putting them all on paper and making a Letter Stories book for the kids.  Seth even informed me today that he would like the book too - that it would help him "review".  :-)  I am excited about finally getting this done!!

Here is a screen shot of the one I did today.

The boys reading is going GREAT!!  Aaron completed 1st Grade Pathways (that he started Jan 2013) before Christmas so we started 2nd Grade Pathways this week.

Seth will finish his 3rd Grade Pathways the end of January.  Instead of trying to move on to 4th grade Pathways I have decided to do a literature study!  He is going to read Farmer Boy!!  I about fell over when I got the study guide and workbook in and found out that it so closely follows the method of the Pathway readers we have been using!!   I like that it will be a challenge for him and will really enrich his vocabulary!!  

And I already got the lessons planned out and it will take us right to the end of our "school year"!  (Even though I am looking at schooling at least 1/2 of the summer...but that is another discussion for another day)!!!  

I think we were meant to do this study because everything about it is fitting right into place!!!  This EXCITES me!!!  :-) 

Well that is it for now!

Until next time,