Monday, December 20, 2010

3rd quarter 2010-2011

I have finished fine tuning the last of 3rd quarter and am now ready to share!

Optimus' 3rd Quarter Workboxes (2nd grade)

Math-U-See and MEP -We are going to start this for the first time this quarter. It is in my budget (free) and seems like fun! I will write a review when we have gone through a few weeks.

1st Language Lessons, Level 3 - We have loved the first book. This book seems a bit more intensive, which is exactly what he needs right now. I only bought the teacher's manual, I have taken the time to write out the items needed on plain lined paper. I might buy the workbook for the next level as a time saver!

Handwriting - No real curriculum as handwriting is covered in some many other areas. I am adding poem review, cursive, reading selections (from McGuffey's), and some cursive copywork to this workbox.

Spelling Workout B - This might be the last of the Spelling Workout books. Optimus is really just learning the words now and absolutely hates filling in the activities. I am 99% sure we are switching to Sequential Spelling. It's on my wishlist, but I'm still looking around a bit before I buy.

Special Project - We are going to be working on writing paragraphs. I would like him to complete one per week. This will lead us to writing a full research page by mid-4th quarter.

TypingSue Patricks typing program is working well. I received it for free after my workbox system ebook purchase. I am also having him write 3 emails a week.

Computer Lessons - Twice a week I am having both kids go through a "page" of lessons from Head of the Class. I will write a review for this site later. We are really liking it so far.

Tink's 3rd Quarter Workboxes (Kindergarten)

MEP (Math)- We are just starting this, so I'll let you know how it goes. (link is at the top). I will also be adding dot-to-dots and some color-by-number pages. She loves her some coloring!

Handwriting - She is working on the alphabet and family names right now. When Optimus starts Sequential Spelling, I might see about adding it for her.

Language - She is loving and using Starfall. We pay a game called, "Find the vowels", it's just something I made up. I am adding reading comp activities for her this quarter also.

Reading - Still using 100 Easy Lessons for her. She found it difficult a few months ago, so we stopped and tried again. She now loves it and completes a few lessons in one sitting.

Other - We are all working on memorizing the ASL alphabet and how to finger spell. Tink also completes a few "pages" a week from Head of the Class (mentioned above). I am throwing in random unit studies for her. Examples of the unit studies are, What is a good Citizen?, the 5 Senses, and anything else I find that a Kindergartener should know.

3rd Quarter Family Lessons
These lessons are not in the workboxes. They are the lessons we complete together.

Science - We are using Dr. Nebel's science curriculum. We are really loving it so far. I am so thrilled that he has written a second book in the series. I wrote a review about it a few weeks ago. We will be completing ten lessons in 3rd quarter.

History - Story of the World continues to be our spine for history. The kids like it and I love that all of the resources are so handy in the Activity Book. We will go through ten chapters this quarter.

FIAR - I love Five in a Row! I wish I could get the curriculum, but for now I just use the free resources online. This quarter we are "rowing"; Make Way for Ducklings, Night of the Moon Jellies, Owl Moon, Tale of Peter Rabbit, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Paul Revere's Ride, Daniel's Duck, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, The Tiny Seed, and A Jackrabbit's Tale.

Music - For music we will be learning how to read notes and listening to the following masters: Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Wagner, and Beethoven.

Art - This quarter we are working on building an artist portfolio.

Nature Study - On our moring walks we will be taking our nature study notebooks and focusing on detail. Some activities are as simple as drawing a bird's tail or an insect antenae.

Logic - I am still looking into where we will be finding activities for this subject. This will probably be worksheet and game based.

Life Skills - For character building we are focusing on honesty, forgiveness, courtesy, kindness, and integrity. I will have the kids define the terms and use them daily to reinforce. I will also be asking them to point out real-life examples of these traits. We will also be learing what it means to be clean. Cleanliness is a life skill that my kids really need some training in! Animal care, baking, and lotion/soap making will complete our studies here.

There you have it. Third quarter in all it's glory! Now I can just sit back and relax for a few weeks until it's time to plan 4th quarter!!!

-take care and happy homeschooling

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Butterscotch Chip Cookies

Things have been a bit hectic here at home the last week. We are getting ready to move in the next few weeks and are having to run a lot of errands during our normal "school time". As a result, we have completed very little actual lessons. This has forced me to make greater use of those teachable moments when we are out and about.

So for no good reason we made cookies this morning.

I don't know why it was easier to sit on the table to mix the dough.


Butterscotch Chip Cookies (Low Protein)
based off of Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cook For Love

290 gm wheat starch (2¼ cups)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum
50 gm jell-o instant pudding, vanilla flavored
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), softened
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup brown sugar
25 gm mixed egg (1/2 large)
15 gm water (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75 gm butterscotch chips (1/3 cup)

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Story of the World

Many of my fellow homeschool buddies use Story of the World (SOTW), so either bowing to peer pressure or capitalizing on a good thing we are switching to SOTW.

Prior to SOTW we used Core Knowledge books for our history lessons. Core Knowledge books had the advantage of having both American History and World History for each year. Story of the World does not really have any American history until the Modern times books. So, I will be completing one Story of the World book and moving on to these for American history. Since we homeschool year-round we should be able to finish one book of each series in a year.

There are so many reviews already out there about SOTW that I do not want to add to them. I just wanted to write a quick post about how I use it. We follow a basic formula: Read SOTW chapter, complete some activities from SOTW Activity Guide Book, and follow up with IL Usborne Encyclopedia of World History.
I like using the chapter book with the encyclopedia, because I think it adds to the "realness" of history. The mummification process was just graphic enough in my kids opinion to be both gross and entertaining. I would have needed to buy the IL Usborne book anyway. We will continue to go through all four SOTW books, but as my oldest one..well, get older, I will let him use the Usborne book more on his own for further research. My kids LOVE the encyclopedia. Especially Tink, she likes the dinosaur pages.

Here is the worksheet I made for Optimus, occasionally I feel he "needs" one. In the end we used the worksheet to aide discussion. He put it in his binder without filling it in. I think it will come in handy for review. Speaking of review! There are these handy little review cards in the Activity Book for every four chapters. I let Optimus color these.

Anyway, good program overall. We will be skipping anything in it that does not coincide with our beliefs, but it is very easy to do with this program.

Short Bus helping me take pictures. (No neurotic cats were harmed in the writing of this post)

Happy Homeschooling!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Random Ravenclaw student and Dark Water Fairy (who is a princess when the wings are off).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding

After looking here and there and everywhere for a science curriculum. I have found it!

This curriculum works for me on several levels:

The Threads
The threads are broken into four areas; (A) Nature of Matter, (B) Life Science, (C) Physical Science, (D) Earth and Space Science. Lessons are outlined not in sequential order, but by these four threads. This has led to some confusion as to what order the lessons should be completed. There is a very informative yahoo group   (you will need to sign in and go to K5Science/) that is frequented by the author. My question was answered by the author the same day. Anyway, in the files section there is a wonderful sequence written by a member. I am using this for our sequence of study.
Lessons build on each other, but are not sequential if that makes sense. At the files section of the yahoo group someone has thoughtfully laid out the materials you will need by lesson. This is very helpful for pre-planning.

Ease of Use
The lessons in this curriculum are very easy to implement and simple to understand. Science is not really my thing, so I need clear instruction. Each lessons has about twelve sections: Overview, Time Required, Objectives, Required Background, Materials, Teachable Moments, Methods and Procedures, Questions/Discussion/Activities to Review..., To Parents and Others Providing Support, Connections to Other Topics and Follow-up to Higher Levels, National Science Education Standards, and lastly Books for Correlated Reading. Don't freak out this is still light reading.

For Lesson A-3 : Air Is a Substance, there are three parts to the Methods and Procedures section. Part 1 is Introductory Discussion, Part 2 is Does Air Occupy Space?, and Part 3 is Does Air Have Weight? You are encouraged to pick and choose which parts of the Methods and Procedures you will use for each given lesson. You are also advised to vary the parts you complete. For example, completing parts 1 and 3 for Lesson A-3 and parts 2 and 3 for Lesson B-7.

Activities and Experiments
There are plenty of "teachable moments", activities, and experiments in each of the lessons. You can definitely use this as a one stop shop for science. I have found that the library and various websites can be used easily to supplement to the lessons if I feel the need.

Further Study
Dr. Nebel has the next volume out soon, so you won't have to change curriculum/approaches again for a few years.

You will need the book, Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding. Amazon has this for about $23.00. I was able to find mine used at Abebooks. You probably need very little "fancy" equipment to complete the experiments in the book. A minimally stocked science shelf and a kitchen "junk drawer", you should already of everything you need.

A possible drawback to the curriculum would be that there are no workbooks or worksheets to go with the curriculum. Every once in a while I feel that Optimus really "must" have a worksheet for a lesson. I find that I can easily whip one up in a Word document. Something like this worksheet I made for Air is a Substance.

All in all, I really like this curriculum. I would say that most of it could also be used for kids older than K-2. It would certainly be a great idea to give them a firm foundation for future science exploration!

take care

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Current Curriculum : November

(the picture is here because it is COOL)

Optimus' (age 7)  

Math-U-See Gamma
Read-Alouds from the library
1st Language Lessons (we are on the last of year 2)
Spelling Workout
Handwriting - Cursive copywork, cursive dry erase book, and McGuffey Reader reading selection
Typing - Sue Patrick's typing system (free with workbox order), return email
Computer lessons - Head of the Class lessons
Scouts - go to Cub Scouts, complete scout homework

Tink's (age 5)

Math-U-See Alpha, Mighty Mind game, block counting
Language - Starfall, find the vowels with alphabet cards
Reading - Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons
Computer Lessons - Head of the Class
Fun - PKU nutritional cards (sorting low protein/high protein foods), pumpkin craft or coloring page

Work Together

Five In A Row
Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, K-2
Story of the World, Volume 1
Art - Who is John James Audubon?, surf website, practice drawing bird's heads.
Music - Bach (listening)
Lifeskills - sewing and making Christmas gifts and cards

PE class and playtime
Tennis Lessons
Movie night with Aunt
Thanksgiving Party with family

Monday, October 25, 2010

Okay, the revamp of the Workbox System ends!

For a few weeks we have been using a version of the Workbox System that has evolved for more than two years. I started using the system almost exactly. Now the only thing our system has in common with the original is the use of the name "workbox".

I set up plastic tower organizers. One for each child. The kids have five drawers in their tower. Each drawer is labeled with the subject. When they are finished with the subject, they put the work and books back into the drawer.
This way I am not having to revisit the drawers to organize each day.

I set it up at the begining of the week and don't have to touch it again! I like this soooo much better. I have enough to do during the day than keep that task on my list. It is also teaching the kids to clean up after themselves (which they could always use more practice with).

Optimus' drawers are labeled:
1st Language Lessons

Tink's drawers are labeled:

Okay, then I have my tower! This is for all the subjects we do together. My drawers are labeled:
Unit Studies
Art & Music

Each child's binder is laid onto of their towers. Optimus has a keyboard for typing practice and Tink has the Math-U-See blocks box on top of hers.

The binders hold everything they need to "do" their work. Page protectors with subject headings separate subjects. They can put finished work in the binder and they also have plenty of paper inside. Optimus added a pencil case to his last week.

In the front sleeve of the binder, I put their weekly assignment sheet. This has been a major thing for us. I told the kids that if they wanted to work ahead they could finish things early. The condition is that they must AT LEAST finish the tasks assigned for the day. Optimus tried to convince me that he could save things for the end of the week and finish it all then. Uh, let me think about that, NO! He is such a negotiator.

You can view a sample assignment sheet here.

All in all this is the best way of "doing" school for us. It is easy for me to pull together supplies and type in assignments. The kids like it because they can see how much they have left for the day/week. The days are easier! That is the best part.

-take care all

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reid Park Zoo's Howl-o-ween Event

Each year for the last six. Hubby's Star Wars group (501st) has volunteered their time to dress-up and greet trick-or-treaters at the zoo. It's a big event for the zoo, raising gobs of money. The "guys" all have a wonderful time. I go with him for one to two days each year. I always have an excellent time. I just thought I would share some of the photos from the event this year.

Hubby as Captain Rex.

This duck was very brave! I couldn't resist taking this pic. lol

These men and women do so much during the year for charities. I am so thankful that they get an opportunity to have such a great time serving their communities in a way that brings joy to so many.

October Activities

Hubby led his cub scouts on a nature hike in Catalina State Park.

We took the kids to the zoo. This time we seemed to focus on the birds. The kids finally seemed to appreciate the aviary instead of wanting to race to the end. Optimus used a photographic guide to tell us which birds we were seeing.
Alex found an African Stork feather.

Bearded Dragon

Beautiful corn snake.

These birds were very strange. They were making a next and their was a dove inside of it. It was odd, almost like the dove was their baby.

Tink. My little actress.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Camping and Fishing at Spencer Canyon

This weekend we had a fabulous camping trip to Spencer Canyon. This is on Mt. Lemmon, just north of Rose Canyon Lake.

We fished at Rose Canyon Lake. All three of them caught fish. Tink was first. She pretty much picked up the pole, tugged, and got a fish. Optimus' fish took a little more technique.

After a day of fishing we went back to camp. Optimus and I stayed up while Hubby and Tink napped. It was a very low key and relaxing day. While it was quite, I worked on scout "stuff" and Optimus tended the fire and took LOTS of pictures. 

When Optimus and I finally woke up Sleeping Beauty and Sleeping Beast, we were surprised by a deer!

This was the most ideal camping/fishing trip we have ever been on! Everything we could have hoped for was just right. It was great and we can't wait to get out there again. take care-Michele

Saturday, September 18, 2010

October Things to Do

I haven't posted one of these since May.  Hope you can join us for something!

2nd - Star Wars Toy Drive

any Thursday - Flandrau Science Center. Laser Light shows are back! Thursdays are Family Fun Nights.

22nd-24th - Howloween event at Reid Park Zoo

Sea Life Aquarium in Phoenix

Yesterday while in Phoenix we went to the Sea Life Aguarium .

They stamp your hand at the door, so you can go through as many times as you want until the end of day. We took two turns around. After starting out together, Optimus and Hubby went off on their own. Tink and I hung back so that she could draw in her Aquarium book.

I made simple books using my PrintShop program, cardstock paper, typing paper, and some printables I found off of . Tink's book was mostly seahorses and Optimus' was about swordfish and sharks. Tink was very interested in sitting down in front of various aquariums and drawing. She had a few little girls stop and talk. Tink explained about the animals that were swimming in front of them. The girls were mostly interested in coloring.

There was this great little tide pool with water shooting out of the rocks every few minutes. There were a lot of Cortez seastars.

There were three tanks that had seastars, rock lobster, sea anemone, and sea urchins. The staff rotates the animals that people are allowed to touch. The kids were nervous as first, but got over it pretty quickly. Tink touched the rock lobster's tail. Optimus wasn't so sure about that one. We all touched the sea anemone. It was like passing your hand over water. It was just very difficult to feel it. The staff person informed us that the reason for this was due to the fact that sea anemones are made up of mostly water. Very cool!

Hubby made use of one of the many bubbles that "kids" are allowed to go in. The aquarium had a lot of little alcoves and areas where kids could explore.

For an aquarium in Arizona, this one was great. I have been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and was a bit spoiled by that one. This is no where near the scale of the MB aquarium. I would recommend going if you are in the area. The kids had a great time and there was a lot for them to explore.

take care,