Friday, November 14, 2008

Congrats! You have a head, thorax, and abdomen!

ART DAY: We learned about Juan Miro , top-left.(Spain.) The girls drew their own Miro inspired pictures using bold black lines, shapes, bright colors, and wild imagination.

At the dinner table 3 yr-old Adrie said to Dad, "You have a HEAD, THORAX, ABDOMEN." What a compliment!--to Dad AND to our science lesson about insects 2 weeks ago.

One of the BEST investments of my time this week was to attend a local Love and Logic class specifically geared toward homeschoolers. It was just the shot in the arm I needed. I came away not only encouraged and praised but with some great ideas to incorporate into our schooling.

It came at the perfect time because I had been feeling quite overwhelmed with our busy days--homeschooling is hard work! When I'm not doing Kate's lesssons, I'm trying to give a 3 yr old attention--which she never can get enough of...or I'm changing diapers and feeding a baby-- and trying to keep the house in order on top of that!!!....
It didn't help that I had recently been criticized by some person that I was depriving my children socially...etc. HELLO, I live on a street teeming with children! I won't get started on that. ANYWAY, the lessons in the class and the stories shared CONFIRMED my belief deep down that what I am doing is GOOD for our family. Here are some examples:

  • We are never "behind." We are where we are.
  • Set the timer and do 15 minute rotations so each kid gets some one on one time.
  • take lessons outdoors: do math with sidewalk chalk. In the past I have had Kate do a problem set and then sent her on an obstacle course--like riding her bike around the house to find a gray rock,etc. but, this was a good reminder and I could incorporate it into other lessons.
  • teach life skills: math with cooking, measuring, shopping, estimating. Kate has been earning money by finishing units. Today she picked out a barbie , counted out the money and gave it to the cashier all on her own.I can't do EVERYTHING: the kids have to help out around the house. Yesterday I taught Kate how to measure the water and turn on the stove to make her own Ramen noodles for her and her sisters. Jobs help the whole family.
  • Each day, write all the lessons that need to be done, jobs, practicing etc. on a white board. As Kate completes each one she can cross it off or erase it. When it comes time for FUN and she asks "Can I play with friends" I can simply say, "I don't know, CAN YOU?" and refer to the chart. This has been working wonderfully the last 2 days. No more nagging!
  • TALK LESS, ASK MORE "How do you think you did on your handwriting?" "Do you feel like you practiced that song enough and are ready for your lesson?"
  • My opinion of Kate's work is not as important as Her opinion of her work. Let her evaluate herself based on these guidelines: I worked hard, I kept trying, I kept practing. When she finishes her work instead of me praising ad nauseum or correcting ask, "How did you do that?" (Working hard is the right answer.) This teaches them that they can accomplish anything if they work hard, etc. and when things do get hard they won't be as likely to quit.
  • MOVE ON with MY day. I can explain to Kate, "I am available to help you with this assignment for such and such time but then I need to....... blog??? Hope you can join us for that fun family activity later..." That way I can still have a life and not feel like a slave to school work.

It all came together, when, after taking whole week off of piano, (old me would have said to Kate, "Time to practice, you better get going, because you are SO not ready for your lesson.") new me said to Kate, "Let's see, you have your lesson in tomorrow. Do you feel like you are ready to play your songs for your teacher?" That's all I said, then as the class recommended, I "walked away and let her figure it out." A short while later, she actually started practing--first time ever it was her own idea!!!! Hallelujah! Then I was helping her get through some of the unfamiliar notes when (as usual) she had a come apart and threw her music and threatened to quit forever, blah blah blah. But because the new me has a life to get to I responded (coolly, if I may indulge) " Well, I'm available to help you for the next 10 minutes but after that I need to read to Brynn." I had already made it clear that piano would need to be done before any friends or computer time. Kate floundered on the floor complaining while I had a very fun time reading with my kindergartener (who really appreciated the time spent too.) After 5 minutes of wallowing around, Kate --wonder of wonders--ASKED me, "Mom, can you come help me with this song?" Glory Hallelujah!

Back to School--here's what else we covered this week:

Language Arts: spelling, reading fables and discussing morals, pronouns, plot, setting, characters. vocab and reading comprehension, and handwriting.

Math with Dad: adding double digits.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night....

Actually, it was the best weather ever for trick-or-treating. I couldn't believe we could be out in shorts sleeves and sandals--that is a first!
The storm was during the day when Brynn and I were sick and throwing up!
Everyone managed to get a little trick-or-treating in by the end of the day so it wasn't a total dud. Kate and Adrie went to a neighborhood Halloween party earlier in the day.
All the anticipation of the candy-filled holiday made it just a bit harder to concentrate on school work this week. Kate did some extra lessons at the first of the week so she could have Friday off.
Kate has been doing awesome with her spelling words (ae, ai, ae, and ay words) and moving right along to more challenging words. We reviewed verbs, past, present, and irregular. Also, we reviewed what it means to proofread: check spelling, capitals, periods, and putting sentences in correct order.
The Long Way to a New Land was a chapter book Kate read about a family who immigrated to America from Sweden during the "hunger years." The girls were grateful they didn't have to eat bitter bread made from moss in the woods. The follow up to it was The Long Way Westward .
It continued the story of the same family traveling in rough conditions on the "emigrant cars" on their way to settle the Midwest.
The mathletes are working on counting money and telling time. Kate is very adept at counting money because almost every day she gets out her stash and counts it--just to make sure it is all there. Right now she has $30.00 plus we owe her $7.00 in school rewards, $1 for practicing all week, and $3 that I borrowed earlier this week. Yeah! I know, it's sad when your 7 yr old is lending you cash. She has been saving money for 3 months now waiting for that perfect thing to buy.....will it still be rockstar microphone?
Online, we have a fun activity with other k12-ers called "Who wants to be a millionaire." It is an game that the 2nd graders can log-in to and play together to review math and language arts. The goal is to help them prepare for end of year testing. Kate really was excited to participate so I'm sure we'll be logging in to join every Tues. and Thurs. and adding up more "cash."
For science we are studying Animal Life Cycles. We acted out the life cycle of a butterfly. First rolling up into an egg then hatching into a larva (caterpillar) then wrapping up in a blanket cocoon in the pupa stage and emerging out as a butterfly (with tinkerbell fairy wings.)
We also learned about the reptile life cyle using modeling clay. First the egg, then the hatchling (we made baby snakes) then they grew into adult snakes. I made a big snake to eat their snakes and we I gave them a good n gory description of how constrictors first sneak up on their prey, then strike and bite it, then squeeze it to death, and finally swallow it whole. Kate had invited her friend Emily over to join us for Thurs. science. They both made a steady diet of cute little mice for my snake to devour again and again.
Spanish has been a lot of fun with the PowerGlide program. The other day we went to Wal-Mart and Adrie was delighted to hear a Spanish speaking mom yell to her son, "MALO!" She has been telling everyone about it. That has to be the favorite foreign phrase around here, along with CUIDADO! NO! and NUNCA! I like to have a little fun with that last one. Sometimes when they ask a question, "Can I have a snack? NUNCA "Can we get a TV?" NUNCA and "When is it going to be Christmas? NUNCA. Try it! It's lots of fun because it makes anyone sound like a wicked step-mother.
Last of all, for Art we looked at some paintings of animals and studied how they are depicted in art: using tiny brushstrokes for fur, for example. The girls painted their own animal pictures. Brynn's was a turtle, Kate did a bear and a bird, Adrie is good at bugs. Their favorite things to make and color however, are MERMAIDS. We made mermaid paper dolls that the girls colored making faces, hair, and seashell bikinis.
And that's the week in a wrap: Next week we'll be having a little Fall Vacation to Sunny St. George! Travel is the best education afterall ;)