Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Art: Tissue paper mosaics

After learning about mosaics, and making some glass mosaics for 4H (my oldest's mosaic even won a blue ribbon), we decided to make tissue paper ones yesterday.

Hands On Types of Sentences

I created this hands on activity for my daughter to sort out the types of sentences. It's simple to do. You simply write the types of sentences on the top of the peices of paper, and then I typed up some different examples of the sentences. I cut the sentences apart (because I'm neurotic...if crooked lines don't bother you, let the child to cut them apart) and then she read them and glued them to the appropriate sheet of paper.

She really enjoyed it.


So we all underwent surgery this morning. Some of the dialog was so comical that I decided to share it here. They operated on me, and then we took turns operating on each of the girls (the baby was not so cooperative as to lay down for his surgery).

DD: "Lets remove her stretchmarks." (A procedure performed with a vacuum attachment...oh if only it were so easy.)

DD: "Lets soak her organs in vinegar before we put them back." NICE. It is also important to note that the "vinegar" was an empty bottle of caffeine free coke. LOL

DD: "Stitch her up." (A procedure performed with a staple remover, strangely enough)

DD to DS: "Baby, do you want to cut sissy open?" DS: "UH HUHHHH" (I think this falls under things I never thought I'd hear my children say.)

DD1"Oh nooo, her liver flew out." DD2"I'll catch it in this bucket." DD1"Fry it up, medium rare please." Ewwww. That's all I can say.

DD1 (said after scooping out all of her sisters internal organs)"Let's stitch her up." ME: "Did you put her organs back in?" DD1"Oops." This last one provoked such fits of laughter....because it just rolled off her tongue...oops like that fixed it all!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Discovering Great Artists

Project #1: We made egg tempura paint, and painted with it. My girls thought the process was GREAT! They were suprised to be able to make their own paint so easily, and that the color (the pink specifically) was so vibrant.

Crushing Chalk:

Mixing it up:

Painting with the paint they made:
Finished Projects:

Rating: 9 out of 10

Back to School!

So, we officially started our "new" year on Monday. We didn't really take a break over the summer, we took a 2 week break the last two weeks, but that was really it. So, it seems strange to call it new, when we didn't really stop. But, we're working in all our new curriculum, so that makes it new. We've really been struggling. I'm not sure if it's just too much work, or if it's just new and going to take some time to get in the groove. I'm going to give it until the end of next week or so, and then reevaluate. Currently, it's taking us almost twice as long as usual to finish our daily work, and that's just TOO long! We've yet to finish before 4 in the afternoon. Now, granted we haven't been starting until nearly 11, and actually Monday we didn't start until closer to noon (DD#2 slept until almost 11 that day). I guess now that I think about it that way that's only 5 hours, including lunch in there....for 5th grade work, I guess that's not THAT much. I also must admit that we've veered off some, and we've had some great discussions going on while working on our election lapbook. See, blogging is therapeutic...I feel much better about it now. I'm sure we'll get in our groove, and it'll get a little shorter...and if we could get moving earlier (at least my oldest DD...she's an early riser) it'd be even better. We could still be done around lunch. There, crisis solved. Thanks for reading my ramble!

Now, on to what this post is really about. Aside from it taking way longer than I'd like (I hate feeling like ALL we did was school...ugh), it's going well. Here are some first day pictures, the girls coloring Cyrus the Great as I read to them from Story of the World.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Final Look at Summer

Our Family's Footprints in the Sand

For our final week of summer we spent it in Florida, visiting family. A couple years ago when we visited the beach, I took a picture of my girls standing and facing the ocean. Last year, on the babies first visit to the ocean, I took a pic of all 3 of them looking out at the water. We have an ocean themed bathroom, and the pictures have been framed on the wall, in frames that I covered in shells that we collected on that first trip, since. So, OF COURSE, I had to take a new shot to update the wall. Here it is.

Here the girls are VERY excited to be going out on Pop's john boat.

Sitting in the boat:

"Bye mom!"

The baby was VERY excited to play in this little "beach" (actually a small inlet off the Gulf of Mexico). And, yes, it was raining (we were going to get wet anyway, right? So why let a little shower ruin our fun!).

A few weeks back we went to this fantastic park near us. There is a HUGE rock by the river, and then a beautiful overlook you can hike up to from the river. Here are my girls in front of the rock (you can't see anywhere close to ALL of the rock, and they look TINY).

This is the view from the overlook:

The girls up on the overlook:

Random shots of the hike:

A really cool piece of bark:
Baby checking out the "fairy house":
A ginormous mushroom my oldest dd wanted me to snap a shot of:

Sunday, September 7, 2008


So, one of my BIGGEST goals for this year is to incorporate more art. My oldest is an artist, in every sense of the word. She loves all things artistic (dance, theater, music, painting, drawing...etc, etc, etc). I have signed up for an art class, and she seems to really enjoy learning the more technical side. She is clearly a visual learner, and after reading "the way they learn" by Cynthia Tobias, I realize that I need to incorporate more artistic things across our curriculum for her. I also got a great art "curriculum" called Great Artists.

To tie into our unit on China, she was reading in "What Your 4th Grader Needs to Know" about Chinese art (calligraphy, and painting on silk specifically). So, for art one day we broke out a "Paint Your Own Silk Scarves" kit she had gotten last Christmas (she had done one or two, but I knew we had one more...I'm really glad that worked out, unfortuneatly I can't take credit for planning it that way). And, she painted on silk....

In DD#2's "What Your Third Grader Needs to Know" book, she was reading about Mary Cassatt, so I looked up Cassatt in our Great Artists book, and we did this "Monoprint" project. She painted her painting on a cookie sheet, then she pressed a piece of white cardstock onto it, and then lifted to get a print.

The print is now framed on our wall. This is an idea I got from somewhere in cyberspace.....I can't remember the resource! Each of the kids have a frame and I periodically change out our art work. When they do a new project that they really like (or I really like), I put it into the frame. They really enjoy having their artwork displayed in this way, and that people comment when they come into our house (the frames actually flank our hallway, one on each they are hard to miss).

I also used this Artists Coloring Pages website, which was shared with me on my Homepreschool group. She colored the Cassatt page, but they have MANY to choose from!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Throwing themselves into their learning.....

Yesterday afternoon, while my toddler napped, my big girls worked on their lapbooks. They are working on a lapbook about China and the 2008 Summer Olympics. Technically, we've completed the China part now, that is what they finished up yesterday. Here is a pic:

Quite the sprawl, huh? Scissors, glue, papers, folders, encyclopedia, laptop, stapler....check!
They are really enjoying this project, and soon we're going to start our election lapbook, which I hope they'll enjoy equally!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Less Stress, More FUN.

I've adopted a new personal motto.

It's been going well actually. I'm trying to bring back into focus the really important things in life. Often times, I get too caught up in what "needs" to get done, and why it isn't getting done. This robs me of the fun. I've decided to take it back!

Something else we've been working on as a family is "honor." Not only honoring your mom and dad, but also honoring your siblings, and honoring your friends. What does honoring mean? In our house, it means these things:

1. Make the other person feel SPECIAL.
2. Do MORE than what they expect from you.
3. Have a positive attitude even in negative situations.

In the spirit of honoring, my oldest DD (who is 10) suprised me last Monday with this:


It was an effort to make me feel SPECIAL, but it also played into my less stress, more fun goal. There isn't a ton of stuff you can do at home, with 3 kids, on a Monday morning that is more fun than a bubble bath. Thanks baby.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A typing program my kids actually like! ('s FREE!)

So, I've been on a quest to find a typing program, for free, that my kids actually enjoy doing.

All the free one's I've found so far are geared more towards adults, and are pretty boring.

I finally managed to google the right keywords apparently (I'm not the best googler!), and found this:

There are songs, and silly charachters, and my kids actually ASK to do typing!

I'm one of those people that is big on penmanship, and believe me my girls work on that too....but typing is one of those must have skills, and the earlier they learn the easier life is. And, it's they ask to do it. Win, Win, WIN!


Monday, June 16, 2008

Race Day

I SOOO wish I had taken my camera. Next year, I will for SURE!

Saturday DD#2 and I participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. We participated in the Family Fun 1 mile walk last year, and it was a good time but my very athletic DD wasn't satisfied. She requested that we do the 5K this year, and I decided it was something I could commit to.

Well, I am SO very proud of her. I knew I would hold her back (because I'm not in fantastic shape...while I did my very best, and am proud of myself too!) so I told her she could go ahead of me, just to stay with the crowd along the race route and when she crossed the finish line to move to the side and wait for me. After about 1/2 mile, I completley lost site of her.

She finished in the top 10! She did the 5K in 30 minutes!! She's my hero. I wanted to share my pride with all of you. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Looking Ahead

**Adding that I've been working on this post since 6/8, and it may not be looking very far ahead by the time I finish!** Since the homeschool conference, I've been looking ahead at next years goals. We finished our state required testing just before I left, and we plan on filling in any gaps over the summer before officially starting the new year in late August/early September.

I'm using Home Learning Year by Year by Rupp as my guide, and went through it for each current grade level and found some things that we hadn't covered. So, that's my summer lesson plan. I, of course, true to my nature..completly nerded it up! I created a spreadsheet, broken down by subject area. You know, a list of what needs to be completed for Language Arts and Reading, Math, Science, etc. THEN in my further nerdom, I highlighted the things that are covered in our Core Knowldege books, or other text books that I know we have around the house. Therefore, I know what things I need to find stuff for on the internet or at the library.

This should really make covering the things that I need to get through over the summer much easier.

I'm one of "those" people, you know the kind who need to check things off a list to make myself feel like I've accomplished things. I also do this with housework btw, it's not solely a homeschooling thing!

Now, I just wanted to list some of the things we're looking forward to using next year!

We'll be using the Core Knowledge books. I'm torn with my youngest DD. She is very excited about being in "4th grade" (Don't ask me where this sort of thing comes from!), but in all reality she would only be in 3rd grade if she were in public school. So, I think I may slow her down a tad, and do the entire CK book for 3rd grade. Now, if she really wants to, we could push through it faster. Or maybe I'll combine some things....CK builds pretty methodically. So, for each subject we could start in the 3rd grade book, then move on to the same subject matter in the 4th grade book if she seems ready. That sounds good. See, you just read my thought process. As I typed that it became clear that that is a good plan for us. We'll move as quickly or as slowly as she needs/wants, and if we cover all of 4th grade by next summer, great. If not, great. I just have to sell her on the deal. :-)

My oldest DD will continue working in her 4th grade book over the summer, and then move into 5th grade in the fall. She's doing the Core Knowledge series.

Now, we'll be starting a Spanish curriculum called Learn Spanish in 10 Minutes a Day. It's a nice book, and is set up to cover as much or as little as you can comfortably do in 10 minutes. I like that it's short and sweet, so it won't be overwhelming. It came with a CD so you can hear the correct pronunciations of things, which is my favorite part I think. I have a French ancestry, and as such French comes much easier for me (I've had several years, and while I'm not fluent, I get by). So, some of you are asking...why then didn't I buy Learn French in 10 Minutes a Day? While, I wanted to, I really did. I would LOVE my girls to speak french! BUT, we live in the south, and while I don't know how it is everywhere else, but we have a large population of Spanish speaking citizens in our area. It is a HUGE plus on your resume if you can speak Spanish. So, I'm thinking of their lives down the road, and the fact that while French would be fun for me, it wouldnt' be as useful as learning Spanish (for them, or me). I know, we could learn French now and work on Spanish later, but I just feel like it would be great to start now and continue on through middle and high school levels, giving them a lot of competency as they enter college.

Currently, DD#2 uses Math Advantage which is a public school math text book. It is full of color pictures and I find it pretty thorough, with just enough repetition for her. So, I recently purchased the next level book for her. She is almost finished (will be before the end of summer) with her current book. I have recieved the new one in the mail, and it looks just as wonderful as the first one! It's a great book for visual and hands on kids, as it has a lot of color and pictures, but also uses a lot of maniupulatives. DD#1 is using Miquon Math, and will use the Key To series in the fall. Maybe. She really struggles with math (simple things like addition are difficult for her). So, we are going at a slow pace. Introducing concepts with Miquon, and then practice, practice, practice. So, if I feel like she's ready we'll start the Key To books, or if she shows more interest in decimals and fractions. Right now, I just want her to be able to add 3 digit numbers without it taking 10 minutes a problem, and her banging her head against the wall.

We'll continue using Story of the World. I love this book. The girls like the stories, and the activities are pretty good too. My goal for next year is to do MORE of the projects. Of course, with two babies (no, I'm not pregnant, but we do plan on trying for another baby soon), I can HOPE to do more projects. The girls really have liked the projects we've managed to do, but I haven't been super about planning for the projects or we could have done many more. It just always seems I forget and then I don't have time to get the supplies (which usually aren't that hard to come by) together in time, and I feel like we need to keep moving forward. One of my goals for the entire year (in every subject) is to do more hands on learning and more artistic things (as I have a kinesthetic child and an artistic/visual child) to go along with the material we are covering at any given time, so maybe that will help me be more motivated.

For writing, we need some real help. My kids aren't writers. That's entirely my fault. Now, they like to write in their journals (just nonsense sort of stuff), but the mechanics of writing and the varied types of writing, I've failed them on. So, after reading at Little Acorns Treehouse (you should all be jealous that I know Jenny in real life!!) I decided to order Just Write. I recieved it and have briefly looked it over, it looks very good. I would expect nothing less though from a recommendation from Jenny. I've now had a chance to look it over more in depth, and I think it's going to work well for us. I've already started using it with my oldest, as she didn't like the idea of working from the same book as her sister (she's older, wiser, smarter, more mature, etc...) so I let her start earlier than I had anticipated starting, I was going to start them both together in Book 1 in the fall. But, now I'm hoping to move through Book 1 very quickly with DD#1, and maybe start Book 2 in late fall with her and Book 1 with her sister in the early fall.

For art, we'll be using a great book I found at the conference called Discovering Great Artists. It struck me as a great book because not only does it give good information about the artists, but it gives good info about technique and style. It also invites you to "copy" the style and tecniques used by each artists (something suggested by Heather in the past, and something my kids really enjoyed). I must admit, I'll be learning a lot from this curriculum as well!

For music, I picked up a CD-Rom called Music Games (from Rainbow Resource). The girls are excited to start this one (I'll be using it too, as I know NOTHING about music), and it really looks like A WHOLE LOT OF FUN!

You might have noticed that I'll be learning a lot WITH the children this year. The beauty of homeschooling, and a position that I have long held is that I don't need to know everything to adequately educate my children. I love learning alongside them.

I also want to note that my laptop is the ONLY reason I have finished the post, almost a month after it's inception (today is July 7, even though it posts to June 8). As I type this, I am sitting on my back step watching my children play in their pools. Ahhh, technology.

Summer fun pictures to follow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Responsibility Lottery!

My new responsibility system, I decided to share it with the world. Aren't you lucky?

So, I wrote out all the chores the girls are responsible for. Including detailed directions on what exactly that chore means. I put this in a page protector and hung it on the fridge for reference.

I wrote out the chores themselves on slips of paper, and folded them up. I placed them inside a bag and each morning the girls must draw slips of paper. Whatever they pull is what they are assigned for that day. This ended the "I wanted to do that!" and "She always gets the good chores" that we had before (because one of them would undoubetdly finish the morning routine first and therefore was able to pick which chores she wanted to do off the list and get the "fun" chores first). This eliminates that, and it pretty well ensures that you won't have the same set of jobs each day or week.

My kids are 8 1/2 and 10. So your chores would vary according to your kids ages obviously, but to get your juices flowing here is our list:

Set table
Clear table
Unload dishwasher
Laundry Helper
Empty trash (this is a Monday only chore)
Erase Chalk/Dry Erase boards
Water and Weed flower beds (every few days)
Clean dog bowls
Brother's Keeper (this is a favorite chore actually! What this means in our house is that when I need to get something done NOW--meaning I can't put it off until he is happier/asleep--they are in charge of playing with him. It also means that during errands they in charge of keeping him happy while I do what needs to be done.)
Shopping Helper (holds the list, makes sure we got everything on the list, keeps track of extra's--helping to keep us on our budget--and is responsible for making sure the bags get taken into the store, and put back in the car after we've unloaded the groceries at home)
Change the sheets (Wednesday only)
Refridgerator Clean Out (Thursday only)
Cooking Helper

As for my baby, well he's in charge of helping to put away the messes he creates throughout the day, as well as he's a great laundry helper! He absolutely loves to put things IN the baskets and to hlep put things in the dryer. He also has just started helping with unloading the dishwasher (for the things in the low cabinets), and putting away the groceries (which actually consists of unloading the bag, and occasionally bringing things to me).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Homeschool Conference

For the past two days I have had the great opportunity to be attending our states homeschool conference. First and foremost, the very nice benefit of this conference is seeing SO MANY homeschoolers in one place. If you ever have had that "I'm alone in this venture." feeling....this is the cure. It's nice to see all the adults, but I've really enjoyed also seeing the children! I didn't personally bring my children, although I think next year (if I come again, which I hope to), I will bring my oldest, possibly both of the older kids. But defineatly my oldest.

Secondly, the book fair. Oh, the book fair. I am a lover of books. My husband is going to be very dismayed when I get home later today. I packed my suitcase back up this morning, as I will be checking out of the hotel early today, and HALF of it is now full of books! Good, solid, eductaional books. I got my Core Knowledge book for my oldest for next year (5th grade, I ask you HOW is that possible??), I also got the 3rd grade book to recap with my younger one and prepare her better for the Grade 4 book her sister is currently using. We'll most likely skip around though, and not cover everything in the 3rd grade book, and then she'll start the 4th grade book in the fall.

Thirdly, the workshops. I've had both good and not so good experiences with the workshops. Some of them have been great, exactly what I needed and had hoped for, very informative and noteworthy. BUT, some of them have been less than up to par in my opinion, not really covering the issues laid forth in the outline, not giving the information *I* was looking for (not that I am the center of the universe, but I am the center of this blog so I can be perfectly honest), and not at all helpful. Nonetheless, I've enjoyed them.

My favorite workshops were the one on learning styles (I also bought the book "The Way They Learn" by Cynthia Tobias), and a vendor workshop on lapbooks. I really enjoy lapbooks, and want to do more of them in the coming year as I see them as such a valuable additon to just being plain fun! I also purchased a lapbook kit on the election, which I'm REALLY excited about getting into with the girls. They've been very interested in the election this year, so I'm going to capitalize on that interest. I'm also defineatly planning on buying more of the books that make it so much simpler to make the books. Hands of a Child has a quartley freebie, and currently it's an Amelia Earhart lapbook. I got that today as well! :-)

Today is the last day of the conference, and I'm looking forward to the last 3 seminars. One of them is on frustration...yeah, I have those days. One of them is on raising kids who make a difference. This is one of my big goals for my children's lives, raising children who go out in the world no afraid to do the important things (not that their important things will necessarily match mine). I want them to help others, and be of service to others. Then I head home! I'm excited to get home as this was my first time being away from my itty-bitty. I'm away from the girls for a few days at a time on a normal basis (because they spend weekends with their father pretty often), so while I still miss them (I miss them when I'm home and they're gone as well though), missing the baby is worse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Earth Day Acrostic Poems

In honor of Earth Day (which we are celebrating all week) my girls wrote these:

Electricity, save it!
You can collect buckets of rain water and use it to wash your car!
Carry cans and plastic bags to a recycling center.
Less watering!
Eat less beef!

Energy, use less of it!
You can save water by putting a bucket under the faucet when waiting for the water to get warm.
Consider volunteering to pick up trash around your neighborhood or local park.
Littering, don't do it!
Electricity, use less of it by taking the challenge to not use the lights during the day!! :) !! (that was the punctuation on her paper lol)

Hoping you're all inspired now!

Live long and Be green!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going Green for Earth Day

If you visit often, you may have noticed I changed my blog color scheme to a "greener" me.

In honor of tomorrow being earth day, I've been thinking of ways I can be more green! I am pretty green...we cloth diaper, we dont' have any paper towels in our house, we compost, we conserve water, we make sure unused appliances are unplugged, we use cloth grocery bags.

I challenge myself to not turn on the lights during the day (this will be a big challenge for my kids!) as it seems to just be habit to switch on a light. I challenge myself to line dry anything possible. I challenge myself to use the fans to help cut down on the air conditioner running as the weather warms up.

I challenge ALL of you to find even just a small way that you can challenge yourself to be even just a little greener. I read someone else's blog recently and she mentioned that she uses A LOT of paper towels, so she was challenging herself to use only one roll a week. That's a big change, and one that does effect the planet, even though it may seem like something small!

Leave me a comment letting me know what you're challenging yourself to do to save our planet.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Last week, I completed my "Sandpaper" letters (actually felt). I got the information on how to make them from an email group that I'm in. Here is the photo and info from the source. Mine look just like these, because I made them the same way. They were actually suprisingly simple!

This weeks project is to make the moveable alphabet. I've already printed the ones I chose to use, you can find different templates online. Now, I just have to cut them apart and laminate them. Originally, I was going to make them from dough, but I just couldn't get it right. So, for now, these printed ones will do. Eventually, I'd like to make some from a thick foam type board or maybe even just fun foam.

I also got caught up on my flags for the states.

Twister! and why EVERY home should have this game

(For those of you who read both blogs, this is a repeat...but I had to share it here for those who only view this one!)

Twister is such an EXCELLENT learning tool!

You can use it to teach colors (blue, red, green, yellow).

It teaches right and left!

It teaches body parts--hand and foot anyway. (this is the way in which we'll be using it with my toddler this week).

You can tape letters/numbers onto the dots and then call things like "Put your left foot on a red R."

You can use it to teach ordinals. "Put your right hand on the third blue dot."

You can use it to teach addition/multiplication, tape the numbers into place. Spin the spinner twice. Have child do the math operation. "Add your left foot and your right hand."

You can use it for geography! Tape the names of states, countries, capitals, continents, etc to the dots. Spin the spinner. Have the child name the capital of the state/country they are on, have them identify the bordering countries, or bodies of water, etc.

Don't let your own imagination stop here! I'm telling you Twister can be used for just about anything!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I knew this day would come....

I knew the day would come when my children would refer to Tomato Soup, as just that, Tomato Soup. So, why you ask did this event make me want to cry?

This was one of the LAST 'baby' things they had left. So, it was a sad sad day. All their lives they have called tomato soup "cracker soup". Honestly, I don't remember a time since they could talk that they didn't refer to it as such. So when the words "tomato soup" came out of her mouth (my oldest that is), it nearly brought my world crashing to the ground.

I know I should be happy, she's growing, she's beautiful, she's talented, she's amazing.....

I'm writing this to remind you ALL that they are growing. Far too fast. And no matter how firmly you plant your feet, and drag them behind you, they just keep moving forward. Hug them, hold them close, these days are fleeting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Egg-citing Science

Tommorrow we'll be doing some Egg-citing Science. It will have a lot to do with colors, and color blending and light. But, I'll also be throwing in some animal science, and a "rubber egg" experiment.

We'll be dying Easter eggs the old fashioned way, with food coloring. This will allow for coloring mixing, as opposed to just dropping in the prepared tablets. Now, my big kids know what colors mixed together make what, but we've invited our preschool student over, and this should be a lot of fun for him. We'll be doing an "inquiry approach"..."What do you think will happen if we mix the red and the blue?"

I made a painted color wheel, and we'll be spinning it to see what happens when the colors spin around (it looks REALLY cool).

We'll be playing with our prism, and talking about how all colors are present in light.

We'll look at red liquid in a bottle with a light shining through it from the front, and a bottle of green liquid with a light shining through it from the back (it makes a difference!).

We'll have free exploration with our color paddles, and color window clings (examing tints and shades).

We'll also probably paint a spring themed picture, using only primary colors in our color palatte.

Lastly, we'll be talking about animals that are hatched from eggs (we'll start with T-Rex, as our preschool student is VERY into dinosaurs).

Rubber egg experiment: put an egg in a jar w/a lid. Cover with vinegar. Leave for 3 days, examine the differences in the eggs shell.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flat Zeke goes Around the World!

Over the weekend, we attended a Girl Scout International Festival with our Girl Scout troop. We took this opportunity to take Flat Zeke to something fun! So far his time with us has been pretty boring, as we are having a very sick winter for some reason, and haven't done much at all.

With A, ready to tour the globe!

At our troops booth, learning about Puerto Rico!

Close up with a coqui

Learning about Russia

With a Brasilian fox

Learning about Mexico (IN the sombrero)

Learning about China
Learning about Canada

Cuisenaire Rod Sites

Here are a few sites I've found with some good ideas using Cuisenaire Rods. We just started using Miquon Math (since my oldest is really struggling, and I'm hopeful this approach will help). Enjoy playing!

Cuisenaire Rods: Space, Color, and Mathe

Cooking with Cuisenaire Rods

Introduction to Fractions (5th grade lesson plan)

Play with the Rods online

Cuisenaire Fractions Lesson

Math Perimeter Problem Solving

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Math Game

As I type my kids are playing this game, and I wish you could hear them squealing and shouting.

I found this idea in an old Mailbox magazine I picked up at a thrift store, its from Feb/March of 1990! :-) I am a Mailbox subscriber, and so when I saw this one, for .25 I couldn't pass it up. And it has proven worth it's quarter, already!

It's similar to War, but it is titled "Porky" (Pigging Out on Place Value is the section it's in.)

It makes a great center if you have more than one child (they can play together like mine are) or as a family game if you have an only, or kids in to wide of an age range to play this together. I also can think of some different variations.

You take a deck of cards, and remove all the tens (and jokers or wild cards). Aces=1, and face cards=0. Deal out all of the cards, then you flip over the top two. The first card is your ones place, and the second card is your tens place. The child then 'reads' the number ("I have a 7 in my tens place, and a 4 in my ones place, I have 74." kind of thing). Then they compare with the other player(s) to see who has the highest number. Whomever has the highest number gets all 4 cards. If there is a tie, the first person to yell "PORKY!" wins the cards. First person to get ALL the cards, wins.

Simple. Fun!

A couple Variations:

  • You could easily make it three cards or more to include higher place values as they move up (we are playing a higher place value version).
  • You could also do a variation where you added or multiplied the numbers, instead of doing place value.
  • You could have the child BUILD the number they draw with cuisenaire rods (or other math manipulatives).


Sunday, March 9, 2008

The girls have been sick. My middle has had a fever since Wednesday! Seriously, 5 days so far. She's still feverish, but the two days in the middle (Thurs and Fri) she was HOT HOT HOT. Today it's pretty mild. Friday the oldest got the fever as well. Yesterday was her HOT HOT HOT day, today is better. We went to the ped on Wed morning because I was afraid it was strep (again), and it wasn't strep or the flu (the other thing I was concerned about). So, it's just a really nasty cold. Hopefully, the rest of the house will be spared.

Having them lay around on the couch for hours and hours staring at various screens that required no mental or physical effort on their part did allow for me to clean the house up needed it. Have you ever noticed that once it gets a teensy weensy bit out of hand, it's a fast, out of control, down hill spiral? Or is that just the vortex that is my house? Hmm. Either way, we had a stomach bug (I mentioned that) on Valentines Day (fortuneatly, only affecting the three oldest members of our house). And, I swear, it's been 3 weeks and my house STILL hasn't recovered from the 3 days I didn't clean. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Currently, the kitchen looks really great, as does the living room. The babe's room is also fantastic (He recently got some new storage solutions in there), and our bedroom isn't the pit it was a month ago, so I'll take it.

Another day of laying around will give me time to plan out a bit further ahead in our curriculum as well. So, we'll be having another 'sick' day tomorrow. Hopefully, that will be the last of it though as running a fever for this long simply can't be good.

It's Girl Scout cookie time, that'll throw a kink in your plans to lose 20 lbs by May! LOL Especially, when you have 2 scouts IN your house. It's ok though, the weather is starting to warm and I'll be able to run again soon. Afterall, I have to train for that 5k in June! Yikes. What have I gotten myself in to?

Recently, I've been thinking about priorities. I wish this blog was higher on my list. I do wish I documented more of what we do on here, for the world to see. I enjoy our homeschooling so much, and I spend so much time reading more and learning more and growing more, I wish I made it more of a priority to share with the homeschooling (and non homeschoolers who may find their way here somehow) community. I'll try. That's the best I can do.

Currently, I am reading Essential Montessori, and Montessori in the Home: The School Years. I'm working on making the materials. Recently I completed the grammar symbols. I've fallen behind on my flags of the US though, as a result of working on other projects (including preschool/toddler things). I also made a big batch of colored pasta for sorting, patterning, counting, etc. The girls helped with that, and thought it was fun. I'm attempting to make a moveable alphabet this week....I already attempted it once but made my letters too thick and when I baked them to harden them, they plumped WAY up. I could just let them harden on the counter I suppose, I'm just in a rush to get them done (for no particular reason except that I think the kids will have a great time playing with them). I'd also like to make a set of sandpaper letters. That may be the next project, oh and finishing my flags!

I recently ordered Miquon math. My oldest really struggles with math, and after many approaches, and knowing that she is a visual learner, I hope Miquon will be a good fit and will help it "click". It's the only area she's 'behind' in. We'll start with it this week, provided she recovers soon. I really like how visual and hands on it is. I'd also like to create some of the Montessori bead material for her to use.

I also recently ordered some Weekly Reader books on the election process. They wont' be here until August, but I'm already excited. I have one book on the process of elections and voting called Woodrow for President (also from Weekly Reader) that the kids liked and learned quite a bit from. With it being EVERYWHERE these days, it's such a great chance to really show the kids the democratic process in action, and share with them the things I'd like to see changed!

My kids are in bed (well 2/3 of them are...the bigger two even!), my wee one is playing outside with my husband--man do I love him....that could fill another whole blog, how much I love the man I get to share my life with. And, now, I am off to read, plan, and make materials.

Much love, and happy homeschooling to you all!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New blog: Preschool

I started a second blog, specifically for preschool and toddler activities.

Waterfront Preschool

I'm still going to blog here about the older kids, and their many activities, and our family life in general, but the second blog allows me to keep track of all my preschool lesson plans (something I was unable to do the last time through) so that I can use them in the future, and also might give some others ideas.

We had a nasty stomach bug last week, right after I had spent a week getting my house in SUCH good shape it was amazing. Of course, it all fell apart when we were throwing up! LOL

I agreed to teach my neighbor preschool stuff, and I was feeling overwhelmed! LOL I guess I'm over that notion now. It must have been a bad week.

We exchanged flat travelers with our friend Heather's family, and my daughter loved seeing the pictures on their blog! We just got our traveler, and we're very excited to start taking him to do fun things.

School is going fine, after we recovered anyway.

More later!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


So I must confess, I'm feeling really overwhelmed lately.

And yet, I keep thinking about getting pregnant again in the summer. How does this make sense? I'm overwhelmed, so add more!

It's my strange sense of logic.

I guess mostly I feel over-extended. Which also doesn't make sense considering that we don't do NEARLY as much now, as we once did. There was a time when we were out of the house, at different events, 4 times a week. And that actually didn't include sports! So now that ALL we do is sports and Girl Scouts, and an occasional playdate, how can I feel like it's TOO much! It's not to much for the children, in fact, I think my oldest would be happy if we went back to 4 days a week of outings, in fact I know she'd like that and not only because she's a complete extrovert, but also because she'd think that would take the pressure off actually getting her work done (more on that later). I've made the decision that I need to step out of my Girl Scout responsibilities next year, and just be involved as a mom, not a leader. This was a hard decision for me, as I truly do love "my girls", they are so much fun, but I don't feel it's fair to not feel like I'm giving them 100%. This year hasn't been nearly as successful in my personal review of my progress. I think the girls are still having a good time, and learning new things, I just feel like it could be so much better. In fact, I know it can be, because it was! It's very frustrating for me. I need to get it together.

And, third and fourth grade is time consuming! LOL Who knew! My younger dd is doing mostly 3rd grade work, with the exceptions of reading and writing, which have been slower to develop. My older is doing 4th grade with the exception of math-oh and the exception that she has made the decision to fail 4th grade. I've made the decision to let her. I decided I'm no longer in the reminder business. I spend ample time planning, and they are old enough to work independently a lot. So, I give them their assignment sheets each day. Things they need help with need to be completed by dinner, but they are free to work on things they can do unassissted until bedtime. Things that aren't completed by bedtime get zero's. My 8 yr old has yet to get a zero, in fact she's well on her way to straight A's! However, her sister...not so much. She had 20 zero's the first week we went to this system (we're about to enter week 3). I'm pretty sure she's going to have to fail before she learns this lesson. She needs to gain personal responsibility for her education, I don't think it's to early or that it will do her any great service to allow this lesson to wait. If she fails (which seriously, I think she will), she will be able to catch up...on her own desire to do so. If she is willing to work extra hard to get back "on grade level", then I will help her with that. If she isn't, then I will accept that decision as well. I'm hoping *crossing fingers EXTRA TIGHT* she will find her own inner motivation. She's not the most responsible being, and sadly I've realized I created this irresponsible, immature being before me! I robbed her of many opportunities to experience the natural consequence of her irresponsibility by constantly being that little voice in her head that said "did you get that done?" "what needs to be done now?" "do you have things you need to finish before class?" By being that voice, I've caused her true voice to grow silent. I'm hoping it will return.

I have a lot of planning to do. I have tons of stuff I want to share, but I haven't made blogging a priority yet. I'd really truly like to. I enjoy it immensely. I need to carve out a time once a week at least to get this done! It's not that I don't have the time...especially with the new laptop, it's that it hasn't been high on my priority list. Which would be fine, if I were spending that available computer time doing something important or worthwhile...but it's nothing that noble.

I want to share one quick thing about our school work, then I'm going to go and get on that planning, and cleaning my home, and going to ULTRA FUN things with my kids this weekend (We're seeing High School Musical 2-stage tour this afternoon, and the Hannah Montana 3-d digital movie tomorrow!!!). I will really try to blog more next week!

We did our first "research project" this month. We completed it with oral presentations this Wed. And, while it became apparent to me that I need to teach my kids how to take notes....after years of saying "complete sentences" they don't get it! It did go very well. They researched Coretta Scott King, and Harriet Tubman. They did internet research, and book research at the library. They collected the info then presented it orally (which wasn't the original plan...but was what our assignment morphed into). They both did a VERY good job, and I was very proud of them!

Now, I'm out.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Baby's First Birthday

Here are some pictures of the little one, enjoying his cake, and his present at his birthday party!