Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review- more then half done!

I haven't put a review up in a few weeks, but we're still merrily chugging along.

Little Bird is getting closer and closer to doing a real school week. It's really exciting to see! She's working solidly through Get Ready for the Code A. Once she turns 4 we'll start Singapore. And possibly Cursive First.

This week Sweet Pea finished Unit 3 in math. She's now a total pro at adding and subtracting double digit numbers with regrouping, and pretty good at triple digit numbers.

For writing we are still free writing, although we did do a lesson from Maxwell's this week.

We've almost finished Sweet Pea's spelling book! She's spelling so well right now that I don't think we'll start the next level right away.

In science we did amphibians and reptiles. The girls were really interested in frogs because they see so many of them in the summer. I think it'd be neat to do one of those tadpole kids- but I don't want to have to keep the frog once it's grown, so that probably won't happen.

History- we are winding through the Greeks. Sweet Pea can locate different parts of Greece and the Persian empire on the globe with pretty good accuracy. We're also working on geography in relation to our home and country.

I've uploaded some pics of two lapbooks we made this week- Sweet Pea made a 10 Commandments one to go along with Catechism and Little Bird made one for the letter A.

Little Bird's.



And Sweet Pea's.

Inside with flaps closed.

Inside with a few flaps open.

View from the back.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How much is enough?

I struggle as a homeschooling mom with how much is enough. It's across the board for me. How much math practice? How much time on spelling? How much time on school, on free play, with other kids, with other teachers?

It's easy to feel like it's never right, and never enough. I've been thinking about this a lot specifically with math and writing.

Math is something that I think should be done frequently, without big breaks for primary students. We do math five times a week, and sometimes it's more then that. We are using two math programs together as well as extra practice sheets I print off online. I fall under the, "Deep, not wide" wisdom here- we are cementing math facts until I am nearly dreaming them. I'm fairly certain Sweet Pea is, as well. This is good, though. I know when we move on (gulp, multiplication) that we won't lose the ground we've already covered.

I think it's a fairly widely talked about fact that most homeschooled kids write less then their public schooled peers. It's not all a bad thing. Sometimes kids are pushed into churning out volume before mastering quality, and that's not how it should be. It's also easy to go to the opposite extreme and I'm always a little surprised when I hear so many kids Sweet Pea's age described as writing reluctant. How can you really know if you like writing or not when the process is still so new?

I expect 10-20 sentences a day. It's usually a combination of writing across history and science and doing a writing assignment I've made or or from Maxwell's Primary Lessons.

I know it's more then a lot of homeschooled kids in 1st do- but is it enough?

I guess we'll see.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Curriculum changin'

We are going to be dropping a fairly major part of our curriculum for next year. I feel badly about it. I've been trying and trying to make it work, but it's just not right anymore.

I'm dropping Story of the World. I'll say it again- I'm dropping Story of the World.

I've had some complaints and things that didn't fit well through the first volume, but looking at samples and reviews of volume 2 solidified for me that it's not going to work. Volume 2 covers 300- 1600 and leaves out parts of history that I think are important.

I've also grown uncomfortable with the slant and presentation of certain historical people. I also think it's very Eurocentric. Amazon has some reviews that share some of my concerns. It's interesting to note that people are complaining about the massive amount of church history omitted as well as secular people complaining there is too much. It seems like both sides dislike this volume.

It's like saying goodbye to a friend. I really loved SOTW. I really wanted it to work. I liked the idea of it.

It's something that bothers me, too, because I've so enthusiastically reccomended it to people as the be all, end all in elementary history. I'm removing my unconditional recommendation.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Future planning

It's that time again- we're midway through the year and that seems to be the normal time to start mapping out curriculum paths and even purchasing items.

For Little Bird- we bought the book, "What your preschooler needs to know" and we are using it with her current preschool program. When she turns 4 I will introduce Earlybird Mathematics. This will be all that I really want her to do book work wise. Other skills to work on for her include things like being quiet when asked, continuing to work on narrating skills and coloring.

Sweet Pea is a little more involved. :)

Language Arts

Spelling- we are on track to finish Rod and Staff Spelling early 2011. After this we will go through more lessons in McGuffey's Eclectic Speller and the probably start level 3 of R&S's program.

Penmanship- the Well Trained Mind calls to introduce cursive in second grade. We did Cursive First in Kindergarten, so this year we will do the opposite. Sweet Pea can write in print but has some letter formation and neatness issues. Spot correcting should solve this, we're not going to use a special program.

Reading- we are not using a reading program and don't plan to introduce one next year. Sweet Pea is an excellent reader and we discuss her books as she's reading them. This will continue on next year.

Grammar- I don't know what we are going to do for grammar. I have some ideas knocking around but nothing for sure. We could do Rod and Staff English 3, Growing with Grammar (although I have no idea what level), or some other program. I don't know. I don't know at all.

Memory work- we are currently doing no school memory work outside of Bible/Catechism. I'd like to introduce other memory work things this next year, probably tied into both LA and history. I haven't narrowed down lists or anything yet.


We are between writing programs. We will probably follow the WTM outline on this for second grade- writing letters, dictation 3 times a week, and writing across the other subjects.


I expect to begin Primary Mathematics 2A at the beginning of next year. We'll continue to supplement with Math Mammoth.


Second grade is medieval- early Renaissance (400-1600). I think at this time we will continue with Story of the World. This summer we are going to go out of order and do US History.


Basic earth science and astronomy. I plan to start working with Sweet Pea on outlining chapters this year.


We will be going through the New Testament. Sweet Pea should have a good portion of the Catechism memorized by the beginning of the year, so we'll continue to hone and improve her comprehension.


We will continue with Le Francais Facile. Once both girls know all the vocab we will work on usage more.


We will continue working through Artistic Pursuits. It's easy for mom- which makes it a winner.


We have been listening to classical music. I'd like to have Sweet Pea start piano lessons this year.

Obviously this is a work in progress, but it's good to start looking. And planning.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

E-reader schooling

Thanks to a thoughtful early Christmas/birthday/anniversary gift from my dear husband I am now the proud owner of a Kindle.

Of course this means I've scoured Amazon for all of the free classics and other books I can find and uploaded them. I've also looked at how to put PDFs on.

Would anyone be interested in a compiled list of free homeschooling resources for e-readers?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Question, answered- writing

We are doing Mommy led writing right now.

This means I assign something, we work through it, correct it, and then Sweet Pea rewrites it.

Today's assignment was five sentences about her stuffed animal and an adventure.

She wrote:

Sprinkles Adventures

Once apon a time there was a little, stuffed animal named Sprinkles. He was in a shelf in a sotre. One day he was picked for a friend by a little toddler, she loved him. Her parents paid for him.
"Sprinkles can crawl!" said Sweet Pea. He crawled around her. "Aaaah," said Spinkles. "Sprinkles wants to eat," said Mom. We made food for him. "Look at him eat" said Dad. "Well, I know Sprinkles was a little different that day." I said.
So the next day he got bord of waiting for me to wake up so he decided to explore.

She will write the end tomorrow, as well as fix the grammatical and spelling errors.

And that's what Mom led writing looks like for now.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent schooling

I've seen a lot of discussion here, there, and everywhere about Advent. Advent traditions, advent wreaths, ways to make the holiday season more meaningful.

I'm really excited to see the upswing in interest in Advent. It seems like a lot of people had forgotten about it and focused only on Christmas. I didn't know that some churches don't observe Advent.

Advent is early and long this year. It always starts the fourth Sunday before Christmas and since Christmas is on a Saturday this year we have a lot of time to observe the season!

So, what do we do here to mark Advent? It's hard to find materials that are geared to young kids. It's harder still that I want Lutheran materials, and even in that narrow category I'm picky.

We use an Advent calendar once we hit 25 days before Christmas. I really like the soft pieces with velcro because both my six year old and my three year old can take turns placing the pieces. The baby would love his own turn I'm sure, but I think his idea of fun is closer to eating the nativity figures then moving them.

For nightly family devotions we have Celebrate Jesus! At Christmas. I like the format of this- especially since it goes all the way through Epiphany. Every devotion has a Bible passage to read (you need your own Bible), a devotional, a song to sing, and a nativity activity. My husband and I are going through O Come Emmanuel which covers different music associated with the season.

Since our nightly devotions include setting up the Nativity, it's not all together yet.

This is the same Advent wreath from last year. It stays in the middle of our table but we only light it during devotions.

Finally, I saw a tutorial for these snowflakes online and had to make one. They are easy and beautiful and HUGE.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rediscovered love

This last week I rediscovered something that I initially loved and then tossed aside. My Cuisenaire rods. Incidentally, spell check shows me that's misspelled, but I know it's not. If you are unfamiliar with Cuisenaire rods they are math manipulatives of varying colors and lengths. Mine are plastic and interlock and have the measurements marked off, but some are wood and unmarked.

It's kind of personal preference what you get.

I bought these two years ago or so when we were doing Miquon math. Sweet Pea loved Miquon deeply- for a few weeks. Then the shine wore off and it was just too non-traditional for us. We dropped it, continued on with Singapore Primary Mathematics and all was well.

The Cuisenaire rods, so important for Miquon, were now something that the kids used to play with and that was about it.

This week, though, we moved on to double digit subtraction. We drew pictures. We played with the abacus. I drew more pictures. We talked. We talked some more.

It wasn't clicking which was strange because Sweet Pea KNEW place values and she knew her smaller math facts. Everyone was getting frustrated and confused.

In a moment of desperation I pulled the Cuisenaire rods back out and we modeled every problem in the textbook. Then every problem in the workbook. We did mental math sheets, then went back to worksheets I found online.

Eureka! It all made sense! All is now right in our mathy world once again.

I'd like to take this moment to thank the Cuisenaire rods. Thank you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekly Reporting strikes again!


We did Joseph and his brothers. I believe that this ends Joseph. When we started Joseph we were also doing ancient Egypt in History, but we stayed with him longer then we did Egypt, so I think we're all ready to move on now!


Sweet Pea continues to review the 10 Commandments and reciting them- usually she gets them right and is working on confidence. She is almost all the way through the Apostle's Creed and we will start really working on reciting that well.


We have covered the first 1/2 of Le Francais Facile now! We are going to spend the next few weeks working on vocab and pronunciation, then we will move on. I'm glad we introduced French this year- the girls really enjoy it and it provides a nice change of pace during the day since almost all of the "work" is oral and feels like play.


Sweet Pea has finished lesson 18 now. Lesson 18 was a big review lesson and we have covered a lot of the different vowel combinations as well as starting and ending sounds. I think that Sweet Pea's confidence as a speller has really improved since the beginning of the year.


We have done the first three units of Singapore Primary Mathematics 1B. This means Sweet Pea can now do subtraction problems like 43-25 or addition like 34+57, ect. Next unit is multiplication- wish us luck!


Maxwell's Primary Lessons is going well. Sweet Pea working on combining sentences using commas and making lists last week. We also did a lot of "free writing" where I asked her to write a certain number of sentences about a general topic (ie Harry Potter) and then we talked about ways to improve the sentences.


We did 3 lessons from Rod and Staff English orally for grammar practice this week.


We revisited ancient Greece this week. Sweet Pea was very excited to finally cover the Odyssey and learn about the time period Homer lived in. Sweet Pea was especially enthused about the Cyclops coloring page from the Story of the World activity pages.


We finished birds and began fish. This summer the girls fished a lot and remembered the physical parts of fish remarkably well. Thanks, Grandpa, for cleaning all those fish for them to see!

Family Fun

We visited a lot of friends this week and had even more over to the house. We finished up the Halloween house (yummy) and played a lot of games. As I write this the snow is coming down and if there is enough we may make the first snow man of the season.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Question, answered

"Will you teach your son differently (different methodology, different subject matter?) from the girls?"

This is a really good question and probably something that anyone who reads my blog and doesn't know me wonders. Perhaps even some people who know our family still wonder this.

I know that in some conservative Christian circles there is a big divide between boys and girls educationally. Girls are taught to be keepers of the home and how to manage a household and children and boys are taught things that they will need to get into college or a trade. Is that how we're going to do it?

First, there is a certain amount of difference in the instruction of any child from another. Different children have different learning styles and that's one of the quoted benefits of homeschooling. I know that Sweet Pea and Little Bird are different- I often say that they are night and day and it's pretty accurate. I suspect that Little Bird will do things on a different time table then her older sister and I support that. When little Moose is of an age to be doing book work (and may it not come too soon) I am sure that he will learn differently, as well.

However, the small differences (comparatively) in learning styles does not mean that the material covered will be different. I expect my children to have a certain facility with the written word, good sense with numbers, enough logic to understand information as opposed to merely knowing it, and practical skills around the home.

Academically, I want all of my kids to go as far as their unique potential will take them. This will play out differently for each child and isn't something that I can pin down now, with their ages. I feel it would be presumptuous to talk that far in the future.

Around the home I know that all of my children, regardless of gender, need to know how to cook, clean, and maintain. It's important in case they don't get married right away, or in case they are the one in the marriage with those skills. Boys need to be able to make food other then microwave dinners, and girls need to be able to unplug drains.

This doesn't mean I'm expecting or advocating totally shucking gender roles. I like being a mother, and I will be happy if my girls are fulfilled as mothers. I'd like it if my son was a respectful gentleman and I want a passel of grandchildren. It just won't be at the expense of my girls doing calculus or my boy washing dishes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You are AWESOME!

Smrt Mama has made a post that I think you should go read. It's called, " You are Amazing (and Beautiful and Accomplished)..." and she means it. Go read it.

Here's my answers:

  • I have really pretty, long hair that I am very proud of
  • I like my smile
  • I have a lap big enough for all of my children to share, at the same time
  • My skin is clear
  • I like my eyes
  • I am great at learning other languages
  • I am good at puzzles and related activities
  • I am a voracious reader and I read quickly and fluently
  • I can remember things I read from years ago
  • I can forget wrongs and disappointments
  • I have three beautiful children
  • I am (almost) always am available to listen to people about their problems or disappointments
  • I am systematically working through a reading list of 1000 great books
  • I am a great cook
  • I can keep a home with 3 kids and a dog clean enough that I am not embarrassed when visitors drop in
Your turn!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Swans and Sweet Pea's hunting picture

Last Friday we went a little north of here to check out the swans. They migrate through and love to sit on the wild rice fields- it's really awesome and noisy to see so many in one place!

I had a terrible time trying to get a picture that captured just how many were hanging out in this one field- about 5,000!

Also of note is that Sweet Pea went hunting with her father and he got a deer! He has taken her out to the woods a few times but never shot a deer with her there before. This is the third deer this week for him, so we are almost set on meat for the next year. Sweet Pea was really excited and awed, and got an impromptu anatomy lesson in the field.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Writing shopping

Writing doesn't seem like something to shop for, does it? What I'm looking for is a writing curriculum that has 100% of what I'm looking for.

We're muddling through right now with a conglomeration of different materials and lots of mom improvisation, but after we finish our current lot of materials I'd really like something that provides more hand holding for me and less tweaking.

What we are currently using: Rod and Staff English 2: Preparing to Build, Primary Lessons in Language and Composition, Rod and Staff Spelling 2: Spelling by Sound and Structure, and Writing Strands 2. For comprehension and literature we're reading books together.

Grammar is currently coming from the R&S book and Primary Lessons. Primary Lessons focuses on applications of grammar and R&S introduces new topics to discuss. Using both of these is kind of unwieldy as neither is get in and get out grammar approach. I have been looking at something like Growing with Grammar to that end, but I'm not sure on what level to pick. Or if I want something all in one across LA?

Spelling is currently going well. It's very hands off for me which is nice since so much else of what we are doing is direct interaction. Sweet Pea spells well and is constantly improving. I probably will not change this unless I get LA with spelling included. Even then I may not switch since this fits so well for now.

Writing is my big area of discontent and confusion right now. I think that Sweet Pea is a pretty good writer (for her age) and pretty enthusiastic about writing. Writing With Ease did not provide enough writing for her, so we dropped it. Rod and Staff wasn't quite right either, so we switched to using it just orally for the grammar practice. Primary Lessons is nice and has copywork, picture study, and composition, but it's short- 63 lessons (and we've already done 15). I also am not so over the moon with it that I've stopped looking, either.

Reading is going well, but this is completely mom directed for now. Sweet Pea just finished the first Harry Potter book and sometime this week will get to watch it with mom and dad. Little Bird will NOT be watching. We discussed every chapter as she read, as well as the character development and plot lines. Now she is reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we are doing the same thing. I think this year we will work through some Newberry Award books, as well.

Looking back at this perhaps we are doing better then I thought? Who knows. I sure don't!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The down side of acceleration

Cost. Oh, my goodness. You know when you buy those shiny new books, expecting them to last a year or a semester? And then they don't?

Yeah, that.

Sweet Pea finished Primary Mathematics 1A yesterday. Today she did a week's worth of work in her PM 1B book.

Also, today she finished the first Harry Potter book! She really loved it and this weekend will watch the first movie.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Homeschool room

I post pictures off and on of the changes in our homeschool room. I just took more tonight. These maps have been on this wall since shortly after we moved in. They continue to be useful and frequently used, so they stay.

Opposite the maps is my china cabinet. I have candy stashed on the bottom shelf. And my newspaper stash.

I have a few super messes that stick around- mostly the large stash of newspaper I save for floor protection, crafts, and cleaning. I could probably whittle it down, but it doesn't bother me too much. My bookcase also doesn't stay lined up well- as you can see things are jammed in chaotically. The blanket covered thing next to the book case is the dog kennel- I also need a prettier cover for that!

I really like these two cabinets- the corner where they meet provides a nice, out of sight place to store posters that aren't currently in use.

Finally- this is the room as a whole, as seen from the kitchen doorway.
And that's where all the magic happens. :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Field trip week

Last week we drove down to Omaha, Nebraska, to meet my parents. They live in Texas, so it's more of a central place to meet.

It also gives us a chance to take the kids to do a lot of things that normally we don't have a chance to do.

We went to the Mallory Kountze Planetarium and saw a show about stars and the universe. We went as a private group during the day, so it was $40. However, this allowed the kids to ask as many questions as they wanted without us worrying about keeping them quiet. They also have quite a few neat displays that the kids really liked.

We also went to Pioneer Trail Orchard and Pumpkin Patch. This is actually across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I can not say enough good things about this place- the people who run it are sweet, accommodating, and you can really tell that they are running this because they love it and they love kids. They have been operating the pumpkin patch for sixteen years. Highlights for my kids were a hay ride (sans hay which was actually excellent since multiple members of our party have allergies), picking out their very own pumpkins (very reasonably priced), going through a corn maze, a "haunted" barn that is extremely age appropriate (they also have a more intense one for the older and braver crowd), and the playground. They also sell refreshments and have some small rides. It's a short drive from central Omaha and really worth the trip if you are looking for fun, seasonal activities that feature fall and Halloween.

The kids were also pleased to go to the Henry Doorly Zoo again. This was a favorite from last year, as well. I like the combination of indoor and outdoor exhibits. I was also really impressed with the Skyfari- at $4 a person it is a really long ride that takes you all the way across the park and back. I do wish that the zoo had coupons and more eating choices, but otherwise it's a great time.

Little Bird was under the weather, so she went to the doctor with grandma, little Moose, and myself while Sweet Pea went to the Omaha Children's Museum with her grandpa and father. The doctor was nice, but I think that Sweet Pea got the better end of that deal. She was a little less impressed with the museum and I heard that some of the exhibits were not working properly.

A high point of the trip for me was visiting Adoremus Bookstore. This is a Catholic bookstore with a large homeschool book selection and a nice staff that features at least one homeschooling mother. I was pleased to pick up the next level of Singapore math (although it is US Ed. not Standards, so we'll see how we like it) as well as the Explode the Code primers for Little Bird. Sweet Pea is pleased about the new math as well as her new coloring books.

This was a great trip and gave us some neat opportunities. I think it was a week well spent.

This upcoming week we will be studying Martin Luther and the Reformation all week in preparation for Reformation Day.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Weekly report, sick week

Mostly the mother, not the kids.

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

We have done the first 6 lessons of Maxwell's Primary Language Lessons and Composition. So far we have covered: copywork (daily), picture study (daily), and grammar (daily). This program feels very similar to me to Classical Writing from the scope and sequence and samples that I have seen. It's about 10-15 sentences per lesson. Every lesson also has an oral component to be done with the parent or teacher at the beginning- this is where the concepts and grammar are introduced.

We are also still using Rod and Staff's English 2, only we are now doing the lessons orally. I really like the amount of grammar in this, and we already have it, so we'll complete it orally and then switch to something else next year for just grammar.

Sweet Pea has done 14 lessons in her spelling program. She continues to be a good speller and is good and visualizing words in her head and being able to put that accurately on paper.

She is currently rereading Mary Pope Osbourne's retelling of the Odyssey for her personal, fun reading. We are reading Charlotte's Wed out loud together- Little Bird and baby Moose also listen to this to varying degrees.

Little Bird

Little Bird knows all of her capital letters! Well, usually. She's now working on her lower case ones and letter sounds. We are also working on dot to dots, coloring, properly holding a pencil, and enunciating the sounds she still struggles with- namely f, th, and v.

Sweet Pea

We did the review of numbers 0-20, addition and subtraction, this week. Next is shapes and measuring and money- so more review. That's good, though- when we move on to the next book it's a big jump in skills!

Little Bird

Little Bird can count to 20 (both in English and French) and can now recognize the numbers 1-5.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We finished Egypt, meandered through the Israelites , and then dissected the Phoenicians. I think that Sweet Pea liked the chapter on the Phoenicians the best, but she liked the Israelite crafts better. I highly suggest the Activity Guide for anyone doing SOTW!

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

Review on mammals. I think that they've retained a pretty good amount about what makes mammals unique and how to identify them.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We did Lesson 9 this week. We are not doing any of the writing anymore, we are just working on vocab and usage, as well as listening for accent. The girls watched some movies in French and listened to some children's songs in French.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

This week was Jacob's Ladder. Sweet Pea has a little bit of catch up to do- she still needs to draw a picture for this week as well as last week.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We are now working on the Apostle's Creed. Sweet Pea knows all 10 of the commandments, in order, and can easily recite them. She can say the Creed if someone else is saying it with her, but we are working on having her do it solo.

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea has been practicing reciting, "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod." I'm going to have her read it and say it more this next week, then she can illustrate a picture of it and we'll add it to her binder.

Family Fun

Our fun this week was kind of lame since I was sick. We made Jello in funny shapes and baked brownies. We got stickers and made sticker pages and colored them. Both girls spent time working on puzzles, and helped little Moose perfect the art of getting into a sitting position.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What to do with babies/toddlers

I chat a lot with friends about this- what to do with a toddler or baby during homeschool time. Toddlers can be fun and sweet, but they can also be really distracting during school time!

Some things that I have found to help, in no particular order:
-sink full of bubbles with cups to pour
-dry beans/rice to sort
-safety scissors and old magazines

Mostly, it is training the toddler to be quiet and to play solo for short periods of time.

I think babies are easier- they can sit on mom's lap, sleep, or nurse.

Anyone else have useful tips?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day's work and curricula review

Today happened to work well for doing a daily report again, so here it is!

We have done all the worksheets for our Bible story already this week, so today we read an Arch book about Abraham. This is our third week talking about Abraham, so by the end of this week I think the girls will know his story pretty well!

We did the First Article of the Apostles Creed today. I am so proud of how well Sweet Pea knows the 10 Commandments now!

Next was a math attack. I printed a worksheet off for review of math facts 0-20, then we did a Singapore lesson, and then a Math Mammoth page. This is more math then usual in a day and took about 45 minutes. We did so much because Sweet Pea needs quicker recall on some math facts before we can move on.

Sweet Pea did the first part of lesson 12 in spelling. This week is a big review week of all the spelling words we have already done and I'm very pleased by her retention.

We did the first lesson in that vintage LA book I linked to a few posts back- Primary Lessons in Language and Composition by William Henry Maxwell. I really, really like it! I received it a few days ago and spent quite a bit of my time in the evening reading through it and checking out the lessons. I really like how this follows the more traditional and classical model of writing.
Today in Sweet Pea's lesson we did picture study, narration, and copywork. All easily and concisely laid out for me.

I think we will either continue to do Rod and Staff, switching to doing the lessons orally or return to First Language Lessons for Grammar, eventually switching to something like Growing with Grammar. This is so perfect for writing, though, that I'm thrilled! Some warnings- it is not for reluctant writers. It assumes your child can read and write in cursive. Otherwise, it's awesome, and if those things don't bother you check it out!

Next Sweet Pea read chapter 12 of SOTW- more about Egyptians. Reading these selections have been great practical phonics review for her. ;)

And no, she isn't making a naughty finger gesture- she was tapping her fingers as she read.

While Sweet Pea was working on all this, Little Bird and I colored and cut out a paper doll and some clothes, then pretended to be the mom and family of the doll. Little Moose slept, army crawled around the room, and caused mischief.

After this was lunch and now the two littles are sleeping and Sweet Pea is reading.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Preparing to leap back in

This last week was nice. It was really nice. My children are still really young in the scheme of things so we aren't homeschooling really heavily or anything, but it was still a breath of fresh air to just relax and NOT have anything specific to do on any one day. No getting behind, no deadlines.

No more relaxation! Just kidding. :)

This week we are back to our regular program. I really hope to add art back in- Sweet Pea really likes it. The only reason it has been hard to do is that the younger kids really like the art supplies, as well.

So, here we go! Wish us luck!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Break

We spent this last week on fall break. It was wonderful! We began the week at a conference for my husband and spent time with friends. The girls had a wonderful time playing and I had a good time, as well.

We've spent our time coloring, crafting, cooking, and taking walks to enjoy the outside before the weather really gets chilly.

Next week we are back to our regular schedule.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I thought I'd weigh in since it's going around the internet. Sweet Pea needs pretty close supervision for most of her school. It's not that she isn't capable of the work, it's that without being attended she gets distracted or dawdles, or doodles, or repeatedly falls out of her chair.

Some things she does well by herself- reading being high on that list. She now reads most of her history lessons to herself and does the corresponding activities for the lessons by herself. I check in with her later and she narrates the story back. She does most of her math solo as well, now that I think about it.

I do think teaching time management and independent work ethics are really important. We're just not there yet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Any long term reader of my blog knows that no subject sends me into a tizzy quite like Language Arts. I stress, I fret, I switch. I lament costs and the amount of options.

I've come across another LA curricula that really excites me. It was written in the late 1800s/ early 1900s by a new York school superintendent named William Henry Maxwell. From what I've seen it's very compatible with classical education and writing progression. And, save the cost of ink and paper- it's FREE!

I think this is the order- if anyone has it different let me know!

Primary lessons in language and composition

First book in English, Volume 1

Introductory lessons in English grammar: for use in lower grammar classes

There are quite a few books more in the series available here.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Grade level

This is something I see going around right now, so I'm trying to organize my thoughts.

Right now I have Sweet Pea in her age grade- she is 6 years old and in the first grade.

I spent a lot of time last summer panicking about what level of work to give her because she was ahead of most Kindergarten programs I had access to. I never considered bumping up her grade, though.

This year she is doing a mix of work. Some of the things we are doing are not tied to a specific grade- history, science, and French are definitely in this category. The programs we are using are meant for general early elementary and are being successfully used by 1st graders and 3rd graders and even some older kids. I think that Bible and Catechism are hard to level, as well- it's mostly learning material (or gaining familiarity) and I don't see grade levels listed for the books we are using. For math we are wrapping up the "standard" 1st grade work and will soon be moving on to "advanced 1st grade/ 2nd grade" work. Our Language Arts program is all 2nd grade materials.

Even with how across the board Sweet Pea is, I consider her 1st grade. I think when most (non-related) people ask small children what grade they are in they are mostly interested in age. It really isn't meaningful to tell people that she is doing certain levels or work and turns people off more then it interests them.

Of course, there are kids who seem to really thrive from not only working at an accelerated pace but also being grade accelerated- I can't speak about those situations because I have no experience there.

For now... we're doing first grade.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly report, week 6

In which I realize that this blog has few entries as on late save these weekly reports. I need to post more- there's lots I'm thinking of and that I want to say- I just need the time to say it!

We had a lot of interruptions and chaos this week. We will be wrapping things up this weekend. Fortunately, the interruptions were of the fun and social variety, so it was time well spent.

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea and I are spending some time reviewing how to make uppercase letters. We're also making great progress through Rod and Staff English. We do one lesson a day, so we work through 5 lessons in a week and it takes about 5 weeks to do each unit. We are over 1/2 way through Unit 2 and there are only 6 units, so we are doing great! I have Writing Strands level 2 that we will be starting soon and at that point we may switch to doing Rod and Staff orally for the grammar instead of using it for grammar and writing. We'll see!

Spelling is currently going well. Sweet Pea floored me this week by telling me that she LIKES spelling because it helps her write her stories. I'm glad she sees a good reason for it!

Little Bird

Little Bird is still working on her ABCs. It's something that she does with both mommy and now daddy- it's something fun and special that they can do together without any prep work. She also continues to hone her fine motor skills with copious amounts of coloring, cutting, pasting, and playing with play-doh. This week I let her spend a lot of time cutting paper into tiny pieces, gluing them back together, then coloring the mess. She can now recognize all the uppercase letters and most of the lower- go Little Bird!

Sweet Pea

We had a small math breakthrough this week! Always exciting. Sweet Pea can now easily add a single digit number to a double digit number. Next we will work on adding two double digit numbers. I especially like the focus on mental math and regrouping numbers to a base 10 unit (12+5=10+2+5=17).

We also spent some quality time with flashcards to review math facts for sums 0-20. Other fun activities included spending time skip counting by 2s and 3s.


Sweet Pea and Little Bird

This week we finished ancient China. We had fun reading about silkworms and how farmers in China could grow rice while the farmers in Mesopotamia could not. Sweet Pea remembered the Nile delta and it's floods when we were talking about the Yellow River and it's flood patterns. It was also fun to introduce the idea of a dynasty and familial rule lasting for that long.


This week we talked about mammals who live in the water. We talked about generalities, then looked up some specific species. We looked up the baleen whale- and Sweet Pea exclaimed, "That's like the whale on Nemo!" Good to see that there are real world applications for science. ;)

We times ourselves holding our breath and we were worse at it then any of the ocean dwelling mammals. Good thing we don't need to rely on holding our breath for survival!

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

This week was a heavy vocabulary and usage review week. We went over all previously introduced terms and practiced integrating them throughout the day. We did lessons 1-5 again and next week we will move on to lesson 6.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

This week was the Flood. I think it's one of the best known and most artistically done Bible stories., but in reality it's a really dark story. Think about it- everyone save 8 people and the animals on board the ark lost to water? Kind of strange that images of the cute, fluffy ark are so commonly found on nursery items and children's toys. The lesson went well, though, and we're moving on.

Sweet Pea

I was all set to move on to the next section of the Catechism this week. I was! I had all my sheets together and everything! Then I decided to stop and review here, too. See a theme? Sweet Pea knows all 10 Commandments, but is still cementing their order. Once that's firm we will move on.

Family Fun

This week we saw quite a few friends. We also spent family time playing board games and the girls had some quality time together with stickers. They made this masterpiece together.

Just for fun I'm including my lesson plan form for the past 6 weeks. I am changing how I do it next quarter because this looks really cramped.

I hope everyone else had a great week- I know we did!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

We have worked through lesson 10 (the first review) of Unit 2 in Rod and Staff English. We are still working on nouns and locating them in sentences. Sweet Pea is getting good practice in classifying them and pulling them out of sentences.

Little Bird

Little Bird is still working on her ABCs. She also continues to hone her fine motor skills with copious amounts of coloring, cutting, pasting, and playing with play-doh.

Sweet Pea

We are now well into section 6 of Primary Mathematics! This means we are working on numbers 11-20. Sweet Pea is also getting good practice solving for X and has had a lot of story problems to work through lately. I think that we will start Challenging Word Problems (I got a complete set when they were being phased out) soon.


Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We reviewed history from the beginning of time-ancient China. Currently we are not doing most of the fun projects in the activity guide. We just aren't making it quite that far. We are doing the mapping and coloring pages.


This week we did primates. I think most kids loves primates- they are so common when you think of mammals. Doing the animal kingdom this year was a great choice!

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We did Lesson 5 of Le Francais Facile. We also reviewed colors, shapes, greetings, numbers, and size words. We also got a new CD of French children's songs to play when the girls are coloring or playing. I picked one with a France French accent since our main program has a decidedly Quebec sound to it.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We covered the children of Adam and Eve. I've always found this to be a sad story. The kids seemed to enjoy it, though, and we'll keep moving on.

Sweet Pea

We've done the 10 Commandments now. We'll review and move on! Yay!

Family Fun

We visited my inlaws' lake house. The kids played in the woods, colored, explored, and had adventures. We adults grilled and hung out. A good time was had by all!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day late, dollar short

We are homeschooling this week, I've just been too busy to post.

Weekly report on Saturday or Sunday!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

As promised

The watercolors the girls painted. Little Bird seemed to get the idea of lots of water better then Sweet Pea- Sweet Pea was more interested in making the picture look right.

Both girls had a great time!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekly Report, Week 4

We had a great week this week!

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

We are progressing well through R&S English. Today we did the first review lesson (lesson 5) in Unit 2. Sweet Pea is doing well with finding nouns and deciding what type of noun is what. We also worked on proper punctuation for list making this week.

Little Bird

Little Bird is still working on her ABCs. She is also now starting to do some "pre-writing" stuff. I don't think she'll be ready to make letters for some time yet, but it's fun to see her learning!

Sweet Pea

We finished section 5 in Primary Math, so we've done the positioning stuff. We may start the next section a little later then I'd planned because I'm taking a small break from the book to make sure that all math facts 0-10 and doubles 0-20 are firm in her mind.


Sweet Pea and Little Bird

This week was Ancient India. This lesson was particularly interesting for my girls because they know a sweet little girl who is from India.


Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea research bats and wrote a report about them. I am seeing that the First Animals Encyclopedia we have is not enough for what we need and I'm looking for something with large pictures but more information.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We did Lesson 4 of Le Francais Facile. We also reviewed colors, shapes, greetings, numbers, and size words. We also got a new CD of French children's songs to play when the girls are coloring or playing. I picked one with a France French accent since our main program has a decidedly Quebec sound to it.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We covered the promised savior this week. Little Bird was relieved to add this in- she was a little upset at where it ended last week!

Sweet Pea

We have covered through the 9th Commandment now. I think we'll finished the sheets for the commandments this week and then we'll review and move on.

Family Fun

I'll post pictures tomorrow, but this evening I let the girls spread out on the kitchen floor with water colors and paint pictures. They were really excited- we haven't gotten to do as much messy art since the baby has gotten mobile. This was a great treat for them!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sweet Pea's first report

I'll post a huge group of pictures and list of what we've done this week tomorrow- I think that's probably better then little sound bites everyday.
Today I will show you how my lesson tracking is going and Sweet Pea's first report (rough draft).

It reads, "Bats
Bats can live in trees. Bats grow to be 1.5 meters long. Bats eat insects, and fruits, and even some bats eat blood. Sometimes people kill bats. bats have babies one at a time. I like bats because I like everything about them."

Tomorrow we'll revise and improve it and I'll have her write it in her best handwriting for her animal notebook.

This is her picture of bats to accompany it.

I've been asked a few times what we are doing for Bible this quarter, so I'm including my (very) messy chart for every day. It uses the Child's Garden of Bible Stories book and workbook, the Early Reader's Bible, a regular Bible, the Arch books series, Ergermeier's Bible Stories and paper to write on/ paper to draw on. Both children do this together.

I also have these 4 weeks written down in a lesson planner. This is what was actually accomplished, not what was planned. I feel really good about what we've gotten done!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Religion and mythology

This probably fits best under the, "Ask a religious homeschooler" heading. I've talked to people both online and face to face about this, so it seems to be a pretty common concern.

I'm referring to the concerns about teaching ancient history, with all the varied gods and goddesses. I have to say that it never occurred to me to be concerned with talking about ancient beliefs and mythology- I felt quite chagrined when I first heard the concerns voiced. Once I got over my mommy guilt, however, I felt pretty good about extensively covering ancients with my small children.

First, we read a lot here. I think reading to small children is very important, and I think that's something I can say pretty safely and without any controversy. One of the things my children have been read from early on is fairy tales and fables. Is there really that big of a difference between reading about a lion and a mouse working together to remove a thorn then talking about Gilgamesh and Enkidu? Why would one be more faith damaging then the other?

I also looked at a basic premise of classical education- that this certain type of pedagogy has produced some of the most flexible and brilliant minds in western history. Church fathers were well versed in the classics and the mythology behind them- and if the faith of Martin Luther and Augustine remained strong it seemed likely that it would be possible to expose my children to the same enduring works and ideas with similar results.

I think that children have a great capacity to understand the differences in their world. We pretend to fly or be animals around here and I've never seen an indication that my children believe they are actually flying cats. Perhaps they wish they were, but they know that they are children. I think talking about other people's beliefs is a wonderful way to frame our own. I'm confident enough in the apologetics of my faith that I think open discussion can only strengthen our family beliefs.

So I embrace talking about other religions and cultures in our homeschooling. I think there are real benefits in producing culturally literate, articulate citizens.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sharing inspiration

I've been thinking of buying a giant pocket calendar to add to our morning routine, but I think this idea is much, much cooler. And won't cost me money- something my husband is a big fan of. ;)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekly Report, Week 3

Wow, is it REALLY week three already? How does time go so quickly?

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

We finished unit 1 of our English program. 1/6 of the way through! We worked a lot on sentence order, proper sentence beginning, and ending.

We have also finished 4 lessons of spelling now.

I think overall we're making great LA progress!

Little Bird

Little Bird is still working on her ABCs. This is one of her favorite parts of "doing school."

Sweet Pea

We finished another section in Primary Mathematics. We have also finished 2/3 of Math Mammoth Addition 1 now! Math is going really well, and is something Sweet Pea looks forward to everyday.


Sweet Pea and Little Bird

Together we talked about the Assyrians this week.


Sweet Pea

We talked about animal classification, focusing on the differences between invertebrates and vertebrates. We talked about the 5 animal kingdoms, and where commonly thought of animals fit in.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We did Lesson 3 of Le Francais Facile. We also reviewed colors, shapes, greetings, numbers, and size words.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We covered the first sin this week. We also talked a lot about Heaven, forgiveness, and death.

Sweet Pea

We have covered through the 6th Commandment now. I'm glad we are doing this daily and incorporating the Catechism into our daily life on a regular, intentional basis.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daily Report, cute book, and grass is greener syndrome

First things first, our daily reporting.

We're talking about the first sin this week. Both Sweet Pea and Little Bird seem to have a good grasp of the basic events of the story. I'm interested to see the pictures they come up with tomorrow!We finished through the 6th Commandment so far. Sweet Pea is doing a great job.French is also going really well- we are incorporating more and more French throughout the day.
We finished Unit One in Rod and Staff English today! Sweet Pea made a super cute book yesterday and we discussed the end of chapter poetry selection. I am including the book in it's entirety because I think it's really, really cute.

This page says, "I write in school."

This is her science page. It says, "I do science". There is an "e" on the end, I just cut it off taking the pics. Sorry, Sweet Pea!

This page reads, "I make books."

I cut the "h" off the end of math, as well as the period. They are there, though.

This last page reads, "The end. Au revoir."

After English was math- something that I am completely thrilled with both what we are using and how well Sweet Pea is doing. She is almost finished with Math Mammoth Addition 1, making great progress through MM Subtraction 1, and making huge leaps through Primary Mathematics. She's really getting more at ease with her math facts. Yay, Sweet Pea!

After that we read SOTW Ch. 8- the Assyrians. It was interesting to compare the Assyrian king with last week's king (Hammurabi) and then talk about infighting and conquering.

And now, for my case of Grass is Greeneritis. It's serious, folks. I don't know why, but LA continues to be an area of discontent and angst for me. I feel so good about most of what we are doing in school- I feel like it's a great fit, that the kids are happy, learning well, and doing fun things. And yet I keep coming back to Language Arts and poking at it, switching around, and disliking my program choices.

We started with Writing with Ease and Spelling Workout, and those we dropped last year. I knew that they weren't our long term fits. Now we are doing Rod and Staff English 2 and Spelling 2. I feel like these are very solid programs. Sweet Pea is learning a lot. She doesn't mind either of them and does the work well.

Why can't I leave well enough alone? Lately I've been looking a lot at a program called Writing Tales and I think that I want to try it. Now the question is when? Do we finish R&S? Quit it now? Do them together?

I don't know!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Homeschooling with a baby

Instead of regaling you with thrilling tales from our school week today I thought I'd talk about how homeschooling is going with the baby.

For the record, my children are 6, 3, and 5.5 months old.

Having an increasingly mobile and interested baby rolling around makes things interesting. We're moving everything up vertically by degrees. We do have more time to read- when I'm sitting and nursing is a great time to read to/with the girls.

It makes some things more complicated, though. Anything with little pieces needs to be kept carefully picked up. The days of money strewn about to play store are over! Working on art projects with him awake is an adventure- he reaches and grabs and eats everything he possibly can.

Now that we've adjusted, it's not as complicated as I worried it would be. We're doing more structured schooling then last year, and I honestly think it's going better.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Weekly Report, Week 2

Week Two had two unplanned no-to- minimal school days, so that hurt our progress a little. We'll finish the rest of the work tomorrow afternoon. Fortunately, the school time we missed was missed for fun reasons, not anything bad.

Language Arts
Sweet Pea

We didn't do any Language Arts last week, so this was the first of the school year. We did writing, grammar, and spelling. Sweet Pea is a visual learner, and she spells words by picturing them in her mind (her description). This seems to be working pretty well for her, but we're doing a systematic spelling program, anyway. This is a short and sweet part of our day and takes less then 5 minutes, three times a week. The plan was to do writing and grammar 5 times this week, but we only accomplished 4. We will do that final lesson tomorrow afternoon.

My overall feelings in this area for the week are very good. Sweet Pea is very capable of the current workload while still being appropriately challenged.

Little Bird

Little Bird was happy this week to get her own ABC draw erase cards. I also am having her go through pages when we are reading and find the letters she knows.

Sweet Pea

We did four complete days of math instruction so far this week- day 5 will be tomorrow afternoon. This means that we did work from both of our programs. Sweet Pea did Primary Mathematics workbook pages 49-52, covering addition and subtraction, and worked through pages of addition and subtraction from Math Mammoth, as well. We continue to work on cementing math facts, as well as increasing ease in playing with numbers.


Sweet Pea and Little Bird

Together we talked about Hammurabi and written laws, and how they impact society. We built a ziggurat from Duplos. We may or may not cover some material on the Assyrians tomorrow- we'll try but it's a lower priority then some of the other catch up work.


Sweet Pea

We talked about animal classification, focusing on the differences between invertebrates and vertebrates. We talked about the 5 animal kingdoms, and where commonly thought of animals fit in.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We did Lesson 2 of Le Francais Facile. We also reviewed colors, shapes, greetings, numbers, and size words.

Sweet Pea and Little Bird

We covered the first home/ garden of Eden this week. This was a good week to cover this since we brought the rest of the potatoes out of our garden.

Sweet Pea

We have covered through the 5th Commandment now. I'm glad we are doing this daily and incorporating the Catechism into our daily life on a regular, intentional basis.

Family Fun/ Field Trip

We had friends over multiple times this week- something that the children always enjoy. We also went to visit my in-laws at their lake home 2 hours to the south of us, so the girls got the chance to swim, attend another fair, and play in the woods.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not school day

We started with great intentions- really, we did! We sat down, pulled out the folders and books, and did our Bible work.

And then I got a call that a little girl Sweet Pea is friends with had had a difficult night and would like to come over- and that was fine with me, of course!

So there was no school today.

We'll catch up tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Daily Report

Last night we went to a picnic where my kids got to see some animals and even get donkey rides. A great time was had by all, despite the weather and Little Bird falling off a donkey.

We were out late last night, though, so this morning we started late and slow. This means that we did things out of order and ended up even doing some of the work after rest time.
We started the morning with writing because I can set Sweet Pea up with it, do the lesson together and then she can work on her part independently. This gave me extra time with my coffee and my tired little children. This is what works looks like before it's corrected- Sweet Pea is a pretty good speller but obviously needs some more time and work!

We talked about the Garden of Eden today, as well as prayer. My girls have very different perspectives at this point!

The we worked on the Third Commandment and it's meaning. Sweet Pea knows the 10 Commandments, but we are still working on the meanings.

After that we did French. I like that we do one lesson a week so we have all week to work on pronunciation and vocabulary retention.

We did 1/2 of the math I had planned for the day. Today we mostly did addition.

We had lunch, then rest time, and then Sweet Pea finished math and we did history. We talked about Hammurabi and his written laws. I like having examples of what he considered fair to discuss. Sweet Pea always really enjoys the mapping portion of our lessons and seeing where things happened and what is there now.

Just one of the many flashcards we laminated so Little Bird can have lots of practice with the dry erase markers.


Related Posts with Thumbnails