Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to All....

Merry Christmas to all of our "friends".

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Books BooksBooks

We have been reading a lot of great stories lately. I thought I would share some of them. The covers are linked to further information.

I saw Jotham's Journey on a new blog, The Architect & the Artist, along with the other two books in the series. I went to the library and it was sitting on the New Book display! Jotham is chapter/ devotional a day Advent story. It is a griping story. I would probably not read it to children under 2nd grade because there are some violent acts. I cannot wait each day to hear what happens next.

When we started studying multiplication, I scoured the library for storybooks to go along with it. I was surprised to find a chapter book. G enjoyed following Wilson's journey through the dreaded Timed Test. Other multiplication titles we enjoyed were: 2x2= Boo!, The Best of Times, and Too Many Kangaroo Things to Do.

Jack Stalwart, a pint sized James Bond. Jack receives a mystery country puzzle piece each night at 7:30. Placing this piece in his map whisks him off to his next assignment. These books are a similar reading level to Magic Tree House, in my opinion but are shelved with the next level up in our library. We devoured these books as soon as we could get our hands on the next one. There are 12 books in this series.

One Hen. Words cannot express how inspiring this book is. It gives me chills. Based on a true story, Kojo turns a few coins into a business which will, over his lifetime, change his country. It makes me want to do something somewhere.

My not so favorite books but hugely popular with our library friends. G goes to look at the selection every time we set foot in the building. The 8-10 year old boy set loves them. G likes the action and the "life risking" moments. Momma's not so much. I think the writing is a bit choppy and overly simple. They remind me of Goosebumps. Same storyline just change the name and location.

What have you been reading?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Static Magic

While trying to clean up after refilling a bean bag chair, we were treated to laughs by the magic of static electricity. G wants to submit it to America's Funniest Home Videos.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fall Fun

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Phases of the Moon

One of the great hands on experiments from our science book was this edible model of the moon phases. Educational and Yummy!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Homeschooling Mamas: Do you give grades to your elementary children?

G wants grades. I can thank this enlightenment to my beautiful nieces who ask him what his grades are. Before this he was living in blissful ignorance and I was enjoying the mastery lifestyle. Now we spend our days with "What'd I get? What'd I get?" Ugggh. Needless to say we will not be changing our mastery style of learning, one which I really believe in, but I can find some things to grade. Roll eyes.

One easy subject is handwriting. As G strives for a better grade obviously his penmanship improves. That one I am enjoying. I am also using the scores from MUS chapter tests, Book Adventure, and Explode the Code and soon spelling. But how am I going to organize these? I have EduTrack but couldn't figure out a simple encoding method so I Googled grade book. Tada! I should have know the homeschooler's friend Donna Young would have one. She has an Excel sheet that will do all of the calculating for you! I also looked up report cards, might as well go all the way. I found some with potential here and here.

So, Do you grade? What are your favorite forms?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coop: Animal Investigations

G has been taking the most amazing class this six weeks. Animal Investigations has been getting up close and personal with animal parts. One week they studied eyes, including dissecting cows. Then cells by making cell cookies. They dissected owl pellets and finally the piece de resistance, pig hearts, lungs and trachea. Their final session was on products that animals give us. I have never heard it is was gross but AWESOME so much in my life. The class was so popular it is beeing offered again next semester.

Astronaut Food

As we have been studying space, we purchased some Astronaut Food and tried it out. The mint chip even came with a book about the history of space food. Though out of date, published in 1988, it is full of interesting information.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream... yummy!
Ice Cream Sandwich... not so much.

Beef Stew & Corn... not too bad, except for the potatoes which were like marshmallows in Jello.

Earth Science Experiment: 1

Our new science curriculum, which I talked about here, includes two science experiments with each chapter. Several of these experiments throughout the book are Science Fair style with constants and variables, trials and charts. Our first experiment had to do with the distance of a meteor and the size of crater it would leave. G dropped a marble from a set height into a flour/ cocoa earth and measured the crater. It was really fun and provided hours of fun after the formal work was done.


One of my goals for G this year is that by the end of the year he will sit down and read a Magic Tree House size book on his own for pleasure. To build him up for this, he selects a book or two from a pile of books I have selected. We started the school year with simple easy readers and are getting progressively longer and more wordy. He has read almost 60 books in 9 weeks. Right now he is reading a Pokemon series I have been collecting at Goodwill & Paperback Swap.

He wanted you to see the pages.

On another reading note...
I find myself having conversations with other Mom's about teaching reading. And my constant response is what is your purpose/ goal. "Hmmm, I never thought of that", they say. We do several types of reading each day and each has a different purpose.

Basal Readers- fluency, confidence, new vocabulary, correctness
Explode the Code- phonetic solidification, independent work
Independent Reading- confidence, pleasure
Book Adventure- comprehension
Read Aloud- joy

Gamma Here We Come!

G finished the pages in Beta a few weeks ago but we have been reviewing and working on speed. Monday,we will start Gamma and spend the rest of the year in Multiplication.

I cannot wait to check out the resources listed by Jimmie & Dana.


We have been seeing a few Mantis around the house this year, something we have never seen before. I spied these two while working in the yard the other day. Bet we may see more next year, what do you think?

Fall Fun!

We spent a wonderful evening at the farm of one of our friends. Hay rides, egg toss, horseplay & camp fires. Many of the kids were in our Choir and it was hilarious to hear the tractor pull up with a chorus of The Lion Sleeps Tonight coming from the back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Life Gets in the Way

We are in one of those times when Life gets in the way. I have several posts in my head and hope to get them out soon. Here is some of what we did for 10 days...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hands On History

One of my goals this year is to do more hands on activities in our lessons. This week we tried out a few of the recommendations from Story of the World 2.

Crumbling Rome

Sugar cookie building the barbarians can devour.

Celtic Brooch
Yeah, G was suppose to make it but I got so inspired myself. I used brown Model Magic, a pencil, and a glue stick lid.
The Celts Attack

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What's Next?

What's next? What's next? What are we doing today?
It doesn't matter if you homeschool or go to school that is the question of the day. I've tried schedule boards and admired workboxes but those things just weren't for me. So this year I am trying laying out all of the days work in row across the floor and them placing it in the storage basket once completed. So far so good. It has eliminated the questions and allows G some choice of order.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Earth Science: Volcanoes

Our second hands- on activity in our Earth Science unit was volcanoes.
We read several books and watched some great videos (see list at the end).
We create one of each of the types of volcanoes out of homemade dough (not real successful) and made them erupted with vinegar & baking soda.

Earth Science: Starting Over

Global Connections
If you have followed my posts, you know that I piece together my own science curriculum following the Well Trained Mind outline. I was a classroom teacher and have loads of resources and ideas plus I have just not found the spine that speaks to me... until now. While reading through my Blogline feeds the other day, Crunchy Mama from Diosa Dotada Endeavor casually mentioned Mr. Q's Classic Chemistry. Mr. Q? I've never heard of Mr. Q. So a Google we must go. WOW ! Mr. Q is a mild- mannered middleschool science teacher who has written e-textbooks for the 6-12 year set. Each book includes 36 weeks of lessons broken down into 3 days. Day 1- Reading, Vocabulary & Worksheets, Days 2 & 3 EXPERIMENTS!! He will GIVE you the Life Science Book to review, while the other titles (Earth Science, Chemistry, Physics) are $50. I have to say the price tag for PDF made me stop a day and think but I decided it was well worth it. For one, I was having a diffucult time finding the resources at the library that make this topic flow the way I wish. Two, I want to make sure we incorporate lost of hands on activities, something I have not been good at. Mr. Q gives me both! As I mentioned, the texts are written for G's age and each week includes 2 days of experiements. Also the e-books are not skimpy, the Parent Guide for Earth Science is over 400 pages and the Student Text is over 300!!

Having only done two sections so far in my own lessons I don't feel like we will be losing any time. I will post our volcanoes from last week next. Thanks Crunchy Mama for directing me to a new source and thanks Mr. Q for writing your books!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Earth Science

We are starting self-written narrations this year.

This year for science, the Well Trained Mind says we should study Earth Science & Astronomy. So we will be studying Earth Science for 18 weeks this Fall and Astronomy for 18 weeks this Winter. We are starting with the layers of the Earth and moving into Earthquakes & Volcanoes... boy stuff. Lets break it up and blow it up!!! MWAHAHAHAHA

Though I have a whole 50 gallon tub in the basement FULL of Astronomy resources from when I taught school, Earth things... not so much. The first thing in planning, I made a list of all of the topics I wanted to cover so I had a road map. Then I scoured the library for age appropriate ideas. I've not had the luck I had anticipated but I am resourceful and bright so I am making things fit.
The Earth Layers as an Egg from Krista West's Activity book.

Here are a few of the resources and activities I have found useful so far....

NASA : Case of the Shaky Quake
Changes in the Earth - Krista West
Geology Rocks- 50 Hands on Activities
Start Science: Earth & Space
The Reasons for Seasons- Gail Gibbons

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Year: 2nd Grade

SECOND GRADE!! When did that happen? Ugh

I am looking at this year with different eyes because I taught 2nd grade for 5 years before G was born. I know what 2nd grade looks like in public school both urban & rural. When I look at G and think about my past students, he is ahead in many areas and behind in others. This discrepancy has more to do with my philosophy path rather than G's abilities. I follow more of the Well Trained Mind/ Classical path which in my interpretation focus more on math and reading up until now (actually even until next year) rather than spelling & writing. G's reading is right on track if not a grade or so above. We will be spending the year studying multiplication. But he's never had a spelling test or written a prescribed story. He has written me notes while I am talking on the phone and I have been pretty impressed with his sound spelling. So as I plan this coming year I have to remember to stick to my plan, which I've been really happy with, and keep off my dusty public school glasses.

This year I have new goals in mind for both of us. For me, plan more hands on activities. I did too much oral work, lets get it done so we can move on last year. We are studying Medieval History and Earth Science think of all the cool things we could do! I want to do them! I also want to go on more field trips.... maybe one a month. For G, I want him to learn to enjoy reading for pleasure, write letters to his best friends who moved away and begin to complete some assignments without me sitting right next to him. If we can progress in these areas we will have a great year.

Our Curriculum includes:
Story of the World 2 with picture notebook for narration
I also bought loads of literature to support this
Explode the Code 3-5
Math U See Beta (6 weeks) & Gamma
Draw Write Now
Language Lessons for the Very Young & Elementary Child
Earth Science (Earth 18 wks, Space 18 wks)
I will make up my own lessons from library & classroom resources.

On the shelf if we need it (have I mentioned I LOVE Paperback Swap):
Natural Speller
Sequential Spelling
Minimus Latin
Writing Strands 1 & 2
Four Square Writing

University Homeschool Music & Gym classes
Piano lessons
Homeschool Children's Choir
Library Club

Online Resources & Supplements
Book Adventures
e- Learning
Leon's Math Dojo
Sheppard Math Games
IXL Math
Enchanted Learning

Whew... I'm tired already... giggle


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The theme of summer reading at our local library was nature and over the course of the program they displayed many live life cycles: frogs, butterflies, ladybugs, silkworms. Well, when the program was over the silkworm cocoons needed homes and yep, we got a set. We had studied silkworms last year in history so it was really amazing to watch them grow and change. The new eggs have not started hatching and I don't know what I am going to do when they do.

Walking with Dinosaurs

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We were fortunate enough to go see the Walking with Dinosaurs arena show when it was close by. While it was beautiful and quite a sight to behold the music drowned out the narrators story. What actually was more interesting to me was that a few days before our local PBS station showed the documentary of the year or so before it started. The engineering behind the behemoths is truly awe inspiring. So to have seen all the trial and error and inner workings of these life size puppets made the experience more enjoyable. On a side note, we sat about halfway up in an NBA field house paying in the middle of the price tier and I don't regret this cheaper choice. These tickets are so over priced and the dinosaurs are so big there is no reason to pay more to sit lower.

China Leaning Kit from CHINA

China Learning Kit
A few months ago Jimmie blogged about a fellow mom in China who was creating a business by selling China learning kits. I jumped at the chance to receive one of these kits because I am a tactile person and I love being able to see and touch real objects. I was not disappointed.

The kits are $13 and include 10 objects and an identification pamphlet. It took about 25 days for the package to arrive. The stamps and writing on the envelope were just as exciting as the items inside.

G looking at the package, trying to figure out where it is from.

Paper Lantern

Red Money Pouch

The entire kit