Saturday, May 30, 2009

A sad note

Mr. Bug, our lethocerus americanus, has passed away. He's eaten his last fish.
On the positive, we'll now send him on for a 4H project. And I'm contemplating what the next science pet should be. I'm leaning towards a translucent hybrid frog kit like this one. I'm not really interested in ant farms, and we don't want an actual pet at this time.

On another note, I still find myself waffling about math. Currently, we're using a combination of Miquon and Singapore Earlybird 2A. I also have Earlybird 2B. I've liked the Earlybird and I'm very impressed with Miquon, but I somehow feel that this all isn't concrete and drill oriented enough. Also, Sweet Pea is speeding through the Singapore. When she finished the books that we have I'd like to stick with the Miquon and maybe try something else. Maybe. Maybe?
I'm looking at A beka and Saxon. Saxon seems like it'd be too slow moving and I've read complaints that it leaves kids behind level. A beka gets really good reviews for the early years, but what would we move to after that?
For whatever reason, the choice of math curricula haunts me more then any other subject. I know it's slighty silly (or incredibly) but I really feel like no matter what I use I'll wish we've used something else.


We had to come home quicker then we expected, but we were rewarded by having packages waiting for us.
What I now have for fall:
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind, Vol. 1
Spelling Workout A
The Complete Writer Level 1
Memoria Press Cursive Copybook
Hooked on Phonics 1st grade
Miquon orange book
Singapore Earlybird 2A and 2B
Story of the World Volume 1 (and the Activity guide)
Prima Latina
and Catechism stuff from CPH.
I'm really excited. I think I've mapped it out in a feasible order from fall, and I know that we'll tweak it once we begin.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
First Spelling First Spelling First
Language Language Language
Lessons Lessons Lessons

Miquon Singapore Miquon Singapore Spelling

Complete Complete Complete Complete
Writer Writer Writer Writer

History History Science

Latin Latin Latin Latin Latin

Phonics Phonics Phonics Phonics Phonics

I don't have any times written in because I'd like to do each lesson until it's finished, not until the timer beeps. Most of the lessons are short and I've tried to alternate writing and oral exercises.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Observations about long distance driving with young children after this trip:
-I'm glad that we DON'T have a DVD player
-I actually ran out of verses of Old MacDonald's farm- there's only so many animals with sounds that I can think of
-Minnesota is a LONG state
-Living rurally has altered the way I see city drivers
-"I Spy" gets old fast
-Having the oldest read to the youngest in the car- sweetest sounds ever. Too cute.

We drove from about 11:30 AM until 10:30 PM with two short bathroom and gas breaks and a supper stop. It was long and tiring, but the kids did really well. It was neat to listen to Sweet Pea telling Little Bird stories. Sweet Pea has made up her own world called Strawberry Land with a fairy kitten family. The family all share the same name- Meow Meow and all seem to be pink with wings. And sometimes they change colors. There's a funny song to go with all this, as well. She's quirky and cute and all ours. <3

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Field trip!

Right after church tomorrow we are leaving for a field trip. We're headed all the way down to Chicago, IL. On the way we'll drive southeast to Duluth, through Eau Claire, then Madison, and finally to Illinios. There's no easy direct path from our part of northern MN to Illinois!
Hopefully Sweet Pea and Little Bird will have a good time and not get too wild in the car. And hopefully we get some good pictures and see some good sights.
Be back Thursday!

Friday, May 22, 2009

We're in a slight academic holding pattern at the moment. We have relatives from Texas staying here so we've been focusing on catching up. Sweet Pea does a little handwriting and her reading, but I'm not having her do much else.

In the evenings, though, I've begun planning for fall. I have the first 4 chapters of Story of the World, Vol. 1 planned and I've picked the things from the activity guide that I think will fit best. I've also begun my science planning for next year. I picked the 20 animals for the first part of the year- so far I think we're going to study tigers, elephants, zebras, hippopotamii, wolves, bears, gorillas, lemurs, armadillos, walruses, whales, eagles, owls, penguins, komodo dragons, frogs and toads, seahorses, sharks, worms, and spiders. I've also started looking at resources for the next unit- the human body study. And I'm reasonably set that we'll use Rod and Staff's grade 2 science as the base for the botany study.
Copywork requires little to no advance planning- I'm using Memoria Press's cursive copybook and they planned it out. Same with Prima Latina. We'll start with the suggested schedule and tweak it from there. Math I'll do the way we did it last year. I still haven't received the First Language Lessons or the Complete Writer, so I don't have a good grasp on that yet.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sick day

For mama, not the kids.
Because I was too sick to take them to church we did some cleaning and homeschooling.
Sweet Pea did more handwriting- review on letters a, d, c, o, t, n, f, e, and l. We also did some counting on the abacus- practicing from 1-100 and then counting by 10s.
Once she's secure on that we'll start counting by 5s and then 2s.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nature Study

Today we spent a lot of time outside, playing and weeding the garden. It's still not hot out and we can't put all our plants out- it still frosts at night. But we do have some early shoots up. I overturned some of the paving blocks to get at weeds and we found a while world. A whole ant world, that it. They had hundreds of tiny white, wiggly eggs nestled into a divit and when the block was removed ants began pouring up to move the eggs to safety.
Fortunately for them, we came in peace. Sweet Pea and Little Bird were each enthralled- they lay on their bellies in the dirt watching the ants work quickly and efficiently.
I originally thought that Charlotte Mason style outdoor time would drive me nuts, but both kids love it. Sweet Pea is really getting interested in laying in the grass, face pressed close to the ground, to watch what all the insects are doing. Little Bird is much more into running around and chasing bunnies and seeing birds.
We can't do this all year long- it's so cold here for so long. But we'll enjoy the time outside that we have.
Speaking of natural wonders, Mr. Bug is still alive and hunting. I cleaned out his tank and we need to buy him more fish. I need to get a new picture of him- he's grown! He's also getting fiestier as the weather gets warmer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Phonics update!

We are officially half way through Hooked on Phonics 1st grade and one third of the way through McGuffey's Primer.
This means that we've finished the orange workbook and the yellow workbook in Hooked on Phonics. They've introduced most short vowel words and most word combination beginnings as well as the idea of multisyllable words like, "kitten and picnic." There's a pretty hefty stack of sight word flash cards that Sweet Pea has memorized and that's really opening up what she can read. Next is the red workbook which deals with word endings- multi-letter like pitch and more complex like -ing and -ed. It's upped the length of the included phonics readers to 16 pages and they are now in color. In between the two workbooks for the level are three 50 page chapter books. We'll start those with our next lesson.
In McGuffey's Primer we are on lesson 15 (or XV in the book) and page 20. There are 60 pages of reading and then some slate exercises. They've introduced concepts at a quicker clip- short vowels and some long, 3-5 letter words. A few sight words. Sweet Pea really likes these as a change of pace. She also likes the pictures and that most of the stories are about animals and children.
Overall, I'm very proud of Sweet Pea's progress with reading! She's slowly getting more confident. Reading a book with a lot of words can still be slow going while she sounds out the words she doesn't recognize but she is able to move through the material.
Great job, Sweatheart!

Monday, May 11, 2009

These are the slate exercises from McGuffey's. It's a nice change from Cursuve First now that Sweet Pea has done almost all of it. :) Go Sweet Pea!

It's a princess with a castle.

OK, I'm not sure exactly what it is, but Sweet Pea thinks that Miquon is the most incredible thing ever. She really enjoys it. If that isn't a great review for a math curriculum, I don't know what is. :)
Also, having now read and reread the new Well Trained Mind, I'm at a crossroads for next year. Incredibly, I'm leaning towards continuing what we've been doing this summer and then starting first grade, not Kindergarten, this fall. I'm a little apprehensive, but the more I read and look around at standards and curriculum and what Sweet Pea is doing and what she WANTS to do, it seems like the best option.
In the book she lists these as the goals for:
Reading: basic phonics 10 mins at beginning of year, move to 30 by end she is doing advanced phonics, practice easy readers we're doing this currently
writing: practice printing work up to 10 mins a day she prints really well and we're currently doing cursive copy short sentences from model- check
Math: count from 1-100, write 1-100, skip count by 2s, 5s and 10s I'm pretty sure she will be doing all this by fall but if not her math curriculum isn't tied to anything else
And First Grade:
Language: spelling 5-15 mins per day, grammar 15-20 mins per day and 30 mins per day making notebook pages (like illustrated short book reports), 30 mins fun reading and penmanship as needed writing: 5-20 mins a day write short letters to family or copy sentences Math: 30 to 40 mins a day of a program history: story of the world and activities/ 3 hours a week
Science: animals, human body, and plants for 2 60 minute blocks
Religion: world religions and lutheran blah blah blah
Music: begin piano

I'm not decided by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm really looking into it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We received the new copy of the Well Trained Mind today-I'm so pleased!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

McGuffey's Readers

We just got these and we've started them as our daily phonics lesson in conjunction with Hooked on Phonics. I'm not leaning towards dropping Hooked on Phonics, at least for a while.
Sweet Pea seems to like them and I like the rate of introduction for new sounds.
We're on Lesson 6 and I think by Lesson 16 or so we'll start hitting new material. I'm a little irked that after completing all of Hooked on Phonics Kindergarten and almost half of Hooked on Phonics 1st grade that it's only introduced 16 lessons worth of McGuffey's, but you live and learn.
I also really like the included slate exercises and that they are in cursive, so it’s a nice complement to the Cursive First work we’ve been doing.
Who says that newer is better?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happy Brithday Little Bird!

Little Bird is 2! Happy birthday!

We've started the spelling lists from McGuffey's Eclectic Speller. Sweet Pea doesn't know all the cursive letters yet, but her handwriting has markedly improved since we began Cursive First.

I am so glad that we got pattern blocks- they are so fun for the girls!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Musings for next year

I feel like I'm in a holding pattern right now for a few reasons.
Most annoying is that I made a huge order 4 weeks ago and a lot of it still hasn't shipped. I want the books so I can start planning more for next year! I'm currently eagerly awaiting Story of the World Volume 1, the SOTW activity guide, the McGuffey readers, and a new copy of the Well Trained Mind. I just received the McGuffey speller.
We're also in limbo because it's coming up on summer. I don't want to do as much schooling over the summer- I want to take advantage of the all too brief warm season and let the kids out to play. I also don't want to completely jettison all bookwork, especially at the stage Sweet Pea is at. She's still so new to reading, especially, that we're going to keep gently working on it, I think.
I remember when I was in school the beginning of every year was always a lot of review to refresh everything that had been forgotten while we frolicked outside. I'd prefer to do things often enough that there isn't a huge gap and that need to revisit.
I'm also trying to figure out exactly what I want to do this fall. And when. I'm a planned- I love to have things laid out in a pretty, color coordinated schedule that I can refer back to. I'm itching to start mapping things out but I'm having a hard time deciding exactly what we're going to fit in, why and how.
I know that we need the basics- the reading, writing, and math. And recicitation- that's the 4th "R", right? What else should come in for Kindergarten, though? Should we start SOTW? Should we start science? What about formal art, music, a PE program? Latin?
What should be daily work, what should rotate through the week? It seems like a lot of the homeschoolers I talk to online are on the relaxed side and many people don't do any Kindergarten curriculum, but at this point in time I think that would drive me absolutely bonkers. Realistically it would drive Sweet Pea bonkers, as well. I know Little Bird is still fully flexible- she's still so little (turning 2 in a matter of days!). And that's not what I want for us, either. I don't understand the arguements about young kids needing lots and lots of play time and curriculum being stifling- we spend an hour or so a day on book work- and all the rest is unstructured free play time. How does that curb creativity and learning opportunities for motor skills?


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