Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Few Changes

Mead® Square Deal® Black Marble Journal Composition BookHomeschooling has been going well as of late. I still have times where I feel like I am failing at my current job but I know that is a normal feeling. We are still doing 2 pages of Singapore Math each day, a lesson in "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons," and an art project but I have added more cards to our organizer chart. J needed more "breaks" and things he looks forward to so we added "documentary", "Starfall", and brought back "English".

I have been reading MANY different homeschooling blogs trolling for ideas. I liked one Mom's use of nature or history videos for30 minutes as a break for the kids and for herself. We play starfall anyway so adding a card for it just means we schedule it in in the morning. As for "English", it returns. I just forgot about our English notebook that we had started in September. We had used it until around December but then it got stuck on the bottom of some pile and was out of sight, out of mind. It is a picture composition book. J listens to me read or listens to a story on a Playaway from the library. While he listens he draws pictures of what he is listening too. After listening and drawing for about 20 minutes I give him a 2 minute warning that his listening time is about done. He then tells me about what he has been listening too and he comes up with a sentence or a few words to describe the picture. I write the words for him first with his help sounding it out then he copies the words.

10 Minute Stations

After reading a friend's blog about how she uses stations to give her kids some structure and her some quiet, I decided to give it a try. I made 5 different stations. Each area had toys that a child could play with on their own. I set our timer for 10 minutes. When the timer went off, the boys would switch stations. Each boy did 3 stations this morning.

It worked really well for the two older boys. The youngest could do about 5 minutes before he would start wandering.
Most of us are still in our PJ's and it is near noon because it is a snow day today. I know, we are usually home but some days you just need a PJ day. We had a big snow storm last night and 30 mph blustery winds today. D stayed home from work (he usually cross country skies to work over the lake but the University closed down today). D spent the morning in our apartment building's business office.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Day in the Life

Essential Math, Kindergarten Level A
One of the blogs I follow is doing a series where contributors write about what they do during their home school days. Here is my attempt.

Our days are never exactly the same. I have not scheduled an exact time that school work needs to happen. Our schoolwork usually goes in the same order though. We start with our Singapore Math books (E is in Kindergarten 1A and J is in Kindergarten 1B). While I help E do his work, J plays with S (he is 2 years old). We try to do two pages of math work each day. While J does his math pages, E and S play Starfall.

After math, J works on his writing skills while E and I do "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons." This book is definitely not easy for E but we are sticking to it for now. I may need to stop at some point and start over because the lessons are getting a bit too much for him. After E finishes his lesson, which usually takes about 15 minutes, J takes his turn and E works on his preschool writing book.

After we are finished with reading and writing, the boys play starfall together for 15 minutes or so while I set up art. We have been using "Letter Shapes" book. It does a neat art project for each letter of the alphabet. After both E and J have finished their letter, we paste or tape them to our huge piece of paper hanging on the wall. I used one of those pieces of brown packing paper we got with an amazon order. It works great!

After we are finished with math, writing, and reading we take a break and play until lunch. After lunch S and sometimes J and E take a nap. If J and E are not napping that day, we play a game and read some books. Right now we are working though a graphic novel "Mouse Guard" and the novel "Rasco and the Rats of NIMH."

Mouse Guard Volume 2: Winter 1152 (Mouse Guard Graphic Novels) Racso and the Rats of NIMH

After nap I do my Wii Active workout while the boys watch a Netflix show. After I am done working out and showering, we head downstairs and read books. D, their dad, has been reading their ancient history book, "The Story of our World," with them in the evenings along with a chapter from their children's Bible.
The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised EditionThe Bible For Children

In the evening the boys often get a little time to play a game on the Wii or play "Age of Mythology," a computer game, with D. At least once a month we try to have a movie night together. We watch movies on the computer which means we are all camped out on my bed. This means I end up with popcorn in my bed. A small price to pay for a nice time with the boys.

Another activity we try to schedule in once a month is special time with mama. I try to take each boy out on their own. This usually means going to the grocery store together but sometimes is a trip to the library or a trip for some hot cocoa at a coffee shop. The boys love this time (in part because they usually get a special treat all to themselves).

Monday, December 20, 2010


J has much higher motivation to do all of our school tasks for the day if he has a part in planning when he gets to do them. I have been making cards for each day and having J and E put them in the order they want to do them but I wanted something we could hang up so the boys could look at it. I also wanted to incorporate day of the week, month, and date into our learning. I bought a pocket chart.
Product Details
I made cards for each day of the week, date, month, subjects, and play time. In the morning J, E, and I change the day, date, and if necessary the month cards and put the subjects that we need to cover that day in the order the boys want to do them in. This system has also helped me get a bit more order in our days and has helped the boys anticipate what their day will look like.

Learning to Write

We have been working through "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons." As many of the reviews said and I heard from some homeschooling friends, the book it boring but the lessons are quick. I am using the book with both J and E. The book has a writing section for the sounds they are learning in the lesson. J does fine writing with a pencil but it was too frustrating for E. After the first frustrating lesson, I decided I needed to use something else for teaching writing with E. I filled the bottom of a 9x13 glass dish with flour and E writes with his pointer finger. This is working really well. I always give him the choice to write on the chalk board, the white board, or in the flour and he always chooses flour. He takes the flour out at other points in the day just to write in it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Math Game

E just discovered War (the card game). This has been a great way to teach him number order and more and less.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dealing with Difficult Days

We had a hard day yesterday. Everything went wrong. Everybody was cranky. So last night I spent a bit of time coming up with some ideas to give the kids a little more control in deciding when they get to do different activites each day. This morning we brain stormed all of the things we wanted and needed to do today. We put each activity on an index card and I had the kids order the activities how they wanted to do them. J decided we should do the longest thing first so he decided to put learning to read and write first. It is actually not the longest activity but it is his least favorite at this point. Some examples of our activity cards: Read Book (this one made it in 3 times), play Hide and Seek, play bow and arrows + princess (I was the princess today), coloring time, learn to read, cook with mama, go to grocery store, and play math game. Tonight I ordered a pocket chart to make things more permanent and so that I do not need to have index cards taped to my wall. The kids and I will
Smethport Midsize Pocket chart (742)make a stack of activity cards which they will put in the order they would like to do them each day.

I also made a star chart. My boys love prizes. This seemed to work well today. I gave them a star if they got the activity card done without complaining. If they fill up the chart they will get some sort of prize.