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.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unifix Cubes

We have been playing with Unifix cubes this week. Writing went out this window this week but math is still going strong. Thanks in part to Unifix cubes and some new math games.
100 Unifix Cubes
We have used the cubes this week for visualizing skip counting, visualizing simple addition and subtraction problems, making patterns, and using to make estimates of length. I also picked up "Developing Mathematics with Unifix." I have not had much time to read through the book but it looks like it will be useful. By just paging through the book it seems I need more Unifix supplies in order to do some of the later lessons. It looks like I will need Tens and Units Trays, 1-100 Operational Board, and 1-100 Track

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Save pieces of packing paper you get when you order some things online. I got two 8 foot pieces of paper from 2 different amazon purchases. This paper works well for many different crafts and learning adventures. We have used pieces of this paper so far for our THANKSGIVING banner, our Jesse Tree, and our body prints. Plus, you can talk about reduce, reuse, recycle!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Learning Games

We like to play board games and card games. I just purchased a few games for school. It is nice to see the boys learning without even knowing it.

Sum Swamp This one I really liked. You roll 2 dice with numbers 1-6 and one die with three plus signs and three minus signs. You make a number sentence with the numbers and the sign and solve it to move forward. I played with J, age 5.5, and E, age 3 (4 in less than a month). They both did great. I gave each of them a pile of uncooked garbanzo beans to use as manipulatives to help with visualizing the problem. I could easily change a couple parts of this game when the boys are ready to move on to multiplication and division.

Money Bags: Again we played this with E and J. Both enjoyed playing. You collect money for doing different chores. Before collecting the money for the chore you landed on, you spin the spinner. If you land on a no nickels, you cannot use nickels to get to the total amount of money you got for the chore you landed on. Same for dimes and quarters. I can see many ways of changing this game to use when the boys can do higher math functions.

Cooperative Game of Jungle Suspense Danger and Teamwork, Caves and Claws

Caves and Claws: This is a cooperative game. Both E and J really like to play. We got this just yesterday and have already played five times. I like that it is cooperative.

Bananagrams: To play this according to the directions is a bit beyond the boys but it works well for learning letters. We poured the letters out on the table and flipped them all letter up. We then asked the two younger boys to find certain letters. S, age 2.5, and E are still learning letter names and sounds. With J, I gave him Bob Book Set 1, book 1 and had him spell out the first couple of pages with the Bananagrams.

Imaginative Play

This article reminded me why I wanted to homeschool J this year.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jesse Tree Day 2

We are a couple of days behind in our Jesse Tree because of a late start. Last night we read about taking care of the world that God created and discussed some ways that we could do that. One of those ways the kids came up with was picking up garbage outside. When we walk in our neighborhood we see A LOT of garbage on the ground. This is mostly because we are in the city and there are many student rentals near our apartment. This morning we had to walk to drop off our rent check about 8 blocks away. Before we left I armed the kids with plastic bags and we picked up garbage while we walked. We ended up filling 3 bags to overflowing. After returning to the apartment building, we went in the basement and sorted the garbage from the recyclables. I want my kids to have a mind for taking care of the world that God gave us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy December!

We started our Jesse Tree this morning. Thanks to the Reformed Church of America website, we have daily lessons and thanks to D and me, we have some (fairly awful) ornament pictures for the kids to color with each lesson.

We also finished up "Liberty or Death" this morning. Josiah was cheering, "yeah America! We won against so many British!"

Over the past month, J (sometimes E) has been listing to "The Chronicles of Narnia" radio theatre. I could not count how many hours he has had the stories playing. He LOVES them. If you are looking for a good CD version of the Chronicles of Narnia, I would highly recommend this version. Our house has been filled with Narnia quotes and sword fights ever since we started listening. We have also used it for long car trips. The kids will go for hours without a word while they listen.

We started learning about clocks this week using "Clockwise K-3" and an old book we have with a clock with hands that move. I also pulled out an old watch where I could turn the dial and move the time for J to see time changing. This morning he spent 9 minutes cuddling in bed with me while telling me each time our digital clock changed. I thought we should teach him to tell time because he kept reading the numbers this way: "it is now seven, dot dot, one five." Amusing.