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.


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