Monday, November 30, 2015

November 2015

We are still studying animals for science. About mid month, we switched from invertebrates (mostly insects), to birds. It seemed fitting as Thanksgiving was coming up. You know, turkeys and all. So we had a spider themed dinner and watched "Charlotte's Web" to commemorate the end of learning about creepy crawlies. As we learned about birds, we tried to incorporate a few fun things there as well. We had turkey cinnamon rolls for dinner one night and made some bird feeders. We tried a new method this year using gelatin and cookies cutters. So far the birds don't seem very interested. We also fit in a few other science moments. With some left-over candy corns, we did a little experiment where we put some in water, some in oil and some in vinegar. We made predictions and then watched what happened over the course of the next few hours.

Here's a few things I've tried to keep learning our sight words fun. We built them with velcro sticks, a wrote them on cards and hung them up. Every time they jumped to smack one, they had to say the word. That one was a huge hit.


Miles and I were sick for a few days, so we tried to take it as easy as possible. We tried to keep ourselves resting, but still tried to fit in a few projects. It was fun painting the leaves I drew with crayons, with watercolor paints.

The kids and I finished learning about Africa this month. To celebrate, we had the Beckstroms over for an African dinner and watch Lion King. :) We also made salt-dough maps of Africa, which actually turned out really cool. I'll have to post a picture of that later.

Veteran's Day

I tried my best to stress the importance of Veteran's Day to the kids, but I still don't think they "got it". We invited Scotty (our neighbor) over to talk to the kids about his service to our country. He answered a few questions we wanted to ask and chatted a bit. Honestly, the kids got bored, but it was really interesting for Richie and I to learn more about our neighbor. :)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

October 2015

Reading is going well. I am trying to get Gwen up to Miles's level, which she is not far from. However, I fear that while I slow Miles down a little bit in order to push Gwen faster, I'm doing him a disservice. I feel like if he were in public school, he would be a more fluent reader than he is now. Not that he is struggling, he is very bright, I'm just not pushing him as much as I possibly could. I'm hoping to have both kids reading on their own and fluently by the end of the year. It will make things SO much easier.

I tried to do a few more fun things to help them with sight words. One of which was simply writing the words on cups and then having them build towers with the cups. The catch is that every time they stack a cup, they have to say the word written on it.

Math is math. We're plugging along and enjoying it. So far, it's nothing new, so the kids are doing just fine and think it's great. The only tough time we had with math this month is when Gwen had to trace some 5's. 5's are hard. :)

We're still studying different invertebrates. We were lucky enough to find a praying mantis on our front porch early on in October. We gave it a nice little home in a mason jar and watched it intensely. We looked online, and found that praying mantis's only eat live bugs. I managed to catch a few flies and put them in the jar. The kids were equally amazed and terrified as they watched the praying mantis catch and devour the fly. Then we watched the same thing, but online this time with extreme close-ups. That was enough to even creep me out a little!
We also studied ants. I even bought an ant farm online. We were so excited when it got here, only to find out it didn't come with any ants. So I ordered some ants, we put them in the farm, started taking notes, and then all the ants died. Literally, every single ant died within a few days. I still need to see if I can get a refund or replacement. Boo.


Midway through September we started talking about Africa. We started learning the Singing' Smart song to learn all the countries in Africa, opened our Africa envelope with pictures of Africa and other fun tid-bits like African money. We've tried to read books from Africa, and hopefully we'll wrap it up in a few weeks.

We hosted homeschool group once this month, and that particular week we were studying ancient China. We learned about how silk is made, ate some "authentic" Chinese rice with chopsticks, made paper dragon puppets, listened to traditional Chinese music, and practiced painting pictograms.

We also had a super fun ancient Africa/Halloween Party day.

I counted Halloween as a homeschool project. :) The kids decided with an ancient Egyptian theme, which I was super excited about. Miles was a Mummy, Gwen was Hatshepsut, Lindy was an archaeologist (Lindiana Jones). :)

Joy School
This month for Gwen's joy school, we went to a pumpkin patch for our field trip! Sadly, my camera died right as we arrived. We also had a fun Halloween party in addition to the regular school days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

September 2015

Well, we are officially back in the swing of things. I've read that you're supposed to really stick to your schedule for the first month or so, then you can slack off a bit and still be able to get back on schedule after a break. So we've been trying really hard to hit it hard and get back in gear.

There were still some Saxon K math worksheets we didn't get to by the end of last year, so we've just been easing ourselves into math by finishing all the worksheets. On this day however, we practiced our addition on a large scale. We had some extra butcher paper so I just divided it into squares and wrote simple equations in each. Then one kid would dot paint the first number, the next kid would dot paint the second, and then we'd count them all to add. It made simple addition so much cooler. :)

I guess I haven't photographed any science moments we've had this month. That doesn't mean we haven't been working on it! :) We are following the outline given in "The Well Trained Mind". So for the first 20 weeks of this school year, we'll be focusing on animals. This month we talked a lot about the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates; We sorted pictures, watched some Bill Nye etc. We decided to focus on invertebrates for the next little while. I have a book of animals, and the kids just pick which one they want to study, and then we study that one! So far we've studied bees and worms. We read all about the chosen topic, then I have them do a narration page for it, complete with illustration. If we get around to extra things, great. If not, at least the basics are covered. With bees, we made a bee art project and watched the magic school bus on bees. With worms, we went out to the garden and collected a few worms in a jar and we've been watching them.

Apparently, I didn't take any "reading" pictures either. Really, the reading stuff is usually pretty normal/mundane/regular, so I never want to run and grab the camera. The kids are making good progress there though. Gwen is almost on par with Miles, so we do their main reading lesson together, and then I have them do some separate work. Gwen isn't doing any handwriting or grammar yet. Just the basics. Miles is doing more advanced handwriting than last year, some spelling "workouts", grammar lessons, and then regular reading.

Here's where all the pictures come in. :) As a homeschool group, we've decided to focus on Story of the World, Volume 1: The Ancients. It's been such a blast so far! So fun, in fact, that Miles and Gwen have decided to be ancient Egyptian characters for Halloween this year. (Mummy, Pharoah, Archaeologist) Every Monday afternoon, I whip out the play-doh and they play while I read them the history chapter for that week. Then they make a narration page. On Tuesday, we do fun projects with our group, then I try and fit some other things in throughout the week that correlate; like mapping, reading other books from the library, checking out fun movies that have to do with the reading, etc. I'm hoping to get ambitious, now that canning season is slowing down, and start making some foods from these countries we're learning about.

I also decided that my kids would be focusing a lot on world geography this year (along with history). So this month we learned the "Singin' Smart" song about all the continents and oceans. Then we read, "Me on the Map" and made a craft to go along with it, to help them visualize the difference between their city, state, country, continent etc.

Joy School
I was in charge of Gwen's joy school group this past month. Our theme was community helpers so we focused on firefighters, doctors, and mail carriers. If I was trying to share lesson plans etc, I'd write down everything we did, but suffice it to say, the kids had fun and it was a positive experience. The last Wednesday I was in charge of this month, we planned a field trip to the police station!

Back to School!

I already documented this particular trip on our family blog, but just to be thorough, I'll add it here also, since it was technically a school retreat. At the end of August all of our homeschooling families went up to BreAnn's family's cabin. They were so generous to share with us and we had such a great time. We went on walks and collected all sorts of treasures, we had a devotional about their divine worth and working hard this next school year, we went on a compass led treasure hunt, we went to a fish hatchery and learned all about that process, and played and played and played. The kids had such a good time building relationships with their homeschooling friends, and so did the moms! :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

May 2015

We watched our butterflies hatch! This was such a cool experience. We spent time diagramming the parts of a butterfly and making a few butterfly crafts in anticipation of their hatching. We read books and books about butterflies and watched a time lapse butterfly hatching on Youtube. When they finally made their appearance, they were hesitant to fly away immediately. So we got to hold them and watch them for as long as we liked. Definitely a favorite.

We also checked out another human body experiment type of book. This one gave us a few great, simple experiments to do regarding sight. I need to get back on the human body bandwagon. I've been letting that really slip.

My Mom and Dad were up in our neck of the woods briefly, and Mom always brings a few fun art projects for the kids to do. She teaches weekly art lessons to the St. George grandkids and I'm always so jealous that my kids can't participate. So I love it when the kids get a little taste of it.

Miles drew his first portrait the other day. He had Dad sit on the couch and hold a small figurine of Luke Skywalker, and told him to hold still. He sat on the coffee table and drew intently for quite a while. This is the first time he's drawn a face that's more realistic as opposed to 2 dots for eyes and a line for a smile. It made me happy.

I tried to get creative with their sight word practice, but it didn't go so well. I traced their sight words in glue and then covered them in salt. The idea is that you dab paint onto it after it dries, and the paint travels over the whole letter. Great idea, but the execution was lacking. :)

Whenever there is a lull and we're transitioning to a new thing, I love to whip out these word wheels and have the kids practice. They are cute and fun, so the kids don't even realize they are learning. Score!

BFG party!! Dad and the kids finished reading Rhode Dahl's "The BFG", one that I loved reading as a kid. To celebrate we had all the foods they ate at the Queen's feast. Sausages, biscuts, and "snozcumbers" and "fizzy pop". The kids thought it was hilarious that I bought some flarp and there were tooting noises all throughout dinner, just like in the book. Definite win.

I had made an "adding machine" on the white board a while back. I improved the idea by making a portable, more permanent one in an old doughnut box. It's always a big hit.
Honestly, the kids have gone through the entire Saxon Kindergarten curriculum as of about a month ago, so I'm just kind of winging it at this point. Filling in the gaps as I see fit.

Field Trips
Gwen's joy school group took us to the fire station in May. They were learning about community helpers, and the fire station is so close, it was a perfect match.

The weather has been so nice lately. We've loved having school outside on a blanket in the shade. Lindy is occupied by walking around the yard, and when she is occupied, it makes life so much easier for the rest of us. We read books as we look at clouds, and practice our graphing skills on a chalk graph with things we've found in the yard. It's so fantastic.

Homeschool Party
We got together with our group to have a barbecue and celebrate our first year as homeschoolers. It was so fun to get together with everyone, husbands included. We showcased a little of what we had learned, ate good food, and chatted it up. It's truly a great group to be apart of.