Thursday, January 30, 2014

Makin' Music

This year at co-op, we signed up for the highly recommended Kindermusik class. I had always had the impression that Kindermusik would be a bunch of preschoolers sitting around singing nursery songs while shaking egg shakers. My friend showed me the supplies that her son (then in kindergarten) was using in class and instantly, I knew we needed to do it. Since the beginning of this school year, Saha has learned the very basics of music like pitch, and instrument names as well as composers. She's also learned to read some notes on the staff and how to play them on the glockenspiel. As a pianist and former glockenspiel player myself, I am loving Kindermusik's approach and firmly believe she will ease into piano lessons with a great foundation.

Saha has picked up the material quickly and is begging for piano lessons. Her music teacher and I were both hesitant to let her start as a young six but during our last class, her teacher approached me and told me that she really is ready and that if we are interested in starting lessons this summer, she would take her. I suppose we will if Saha is still interested come May.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When It's too easy?

We are truckin' right along and learning lots of new things but I'm still having a hard time truly challenging Saha in Math. I introduce her to a new concept in her math book and that's that. She's does her work, proclaims how easy it is and then moves on to the next thing. I'm really at a loss of how to handle this. She's not quick at her facts because I've never made her memorize them and memorizing isn't her strong suit to begin with. Yet she can quickly come up with the answers, working the problem out in her mind efficiently. And she enjoys that method. There isn't a doubt about her understanding the concept behind that math. Yet because of her lack of memorization ability, I hesitate and make her keep doing the same problems over and over that she mastered many moons ago. This is my problem, not hers and I need to let it go! This brings me to what do we do? We love Horizons math the best over the others we have tried (mutual agreement) so I know we don't want to stray from it. But do I just flip to new stuff in the book and let her try it and see how far we can get before she is challenged and then use that as a starting point? Or do I keep making her do these same types of problems over and over? I love the spiral approach because it is nice to have a review now and then but some of it tends to be a little too redundant for Saha. Admittedly, I do allow her to skip some of the repeated problems but I have some weird guilt and fear about letting her move on entirely despite her repeatedly telling me she has "mastered it". At what point do you say "my kid really gets this so we should move ahead....way ahead"?

Since I'm not a fan of memorization, we've not worked on capitals until now. I wanted to wait until we could go through them one at a time, state by state, and learn a bit about the state so it would all come full circle. The state tourism videos on Youtube sure are coming in handy!

Learning the basics of sound. 

Is it just me or did we NOT do variables in 2nd grade math? I showed her the examples and told her to set it up like they did in the book. She rolled her eyes at me and said "too easy" and wrote the answers in a snap. Stinker. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

It's almost too cool for school.

We started back to school yesterday but our school room is freezing and currently be used to house our normally outdoor cats. I don't want them out in these cold temps.

Our two school days thus far haven't been what I would call full days but it's hard to get back in the swing of things after a three week break, being too cold to move, not being in our school room, and having little brother right in the middle of it all (he goes back to his preschool tomorrow). 

We started Roman numerals yesterday without a hitch. I was hoping I would find some cute color in the Roman numeral type worksheets but I can't find hardly anything on the subject. Do brick and mortar schools no longer teach it?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Our Fall Semester

Those great intentions I had to keep up this blog didn't happen. So instead, you get a picture dump of some of the things we have done up until our blissful three week Christmas break.

We are still working hard on 2nd grade Reading Street and loving it. Yes, it's a primarily public school curriculum but I have tailored it for our needs and have found it to be a huge success. Saha's reading ability has sky-rocketed since beginning the program and every week her writing ability continues to improve. She keeps a journal in which she writes in each week and generally it goes along with something in her Reading Street lesson. Below is a picture of one of her first writing assignments when we were learning about exploring space. If someone asked me what I could learn by exploring space, I'm sure my answer would not be near as creative as Saha's.

 Saha decided one day that we needed to know more about stars. Hello impromptu lesson!

Her planet size comparison activity went along nicely with our space unit.

We spent a long time one afternoon hanging out with this guy.

We had our first day back at co-op, complete with an American Girl history class.

 And then there was this.....

We seem to hang out with sheep a lot.

Saha's did a report on a notable person from the Great Depression. Her choice, Amelia Earhart. I love it! Notice how much her writing ability improved from the first photo.

We talked about slavery and read The Drinking Gourd.

Both kids got to see a local dam after Saha wanted to learn more about different ways we get energy.

Obviously, that's just a small snippet of everything we have done so far this year. Next week we start learning about Roman numerals, just in time for the Olympics and Super Bowl. I promise I didn't time it like that. It just happens to be the next section in her math book.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week One Done

Week one is done. Okay, so really it's more than one week. We did have one day in there we ended up skipping thanks to a filling of a cavity that left one certain little girl quite grumpy. Can you blame her?

First day of First Grade!
The obligatory "get to know" sheet. I love these! From Down Under Teacher
Outdoor shape search- Evan-Moor How to Teach Art to Children

learning to spell high frequency words

Reading her big story in Reading Street

Learning about mammals- Idea from Mrs. Rings K-Crew

We've learned about the butterfly life cycle several times. It's one of her favorites! Idea from The Pinay Homeschooler
 So far, we are loving Reading Street. I've had to work hard to adapt it to homeschool because they do not include a teacher's plan with their homeschool bundle, but I think I've got it figured out and created a good plan for us. Cutting up the high frequency words and then making a scramble game out of them using mini pocket charts (Target $1 bin!) has been a huge hit. We've also been using the free services on for practice. Today I found some Word Strips in the Target $1 bin that she can use to practice writing her high frequency words. She also is doing BJU Spelling so I'm going to start having her practice those words as well in the same ways we are doing her Reading Street HFW's.

She is breezing through Horizon's 2 Math Book 1. Maybe I should have just skipped to Book 2 after all. The practice is good for her and I need to remind myself that the reason for starting Book 1 was so we could make sure her math foundation was solid.

We did about 10 minutes of BJU Heritage Studies then put it away until either Christmas or even next year. She was excited about it but I felt like it was too mature. There is a big jump between 2nd and 3rd grade content isn't there?! I don't think I realized how much a of a leap it would be. In lieu of our original plan, I'm piecing together my own curriculum that is more social studies focused and covering topics like Citizenship, State Symbols, Rules and Laws, etc... Plus she has American Girl History starting soon at Co-Op and I have a feeling we are going to have our hands full with that.

Science this past week consisted of learning about mammals and life cycles. We've had fun going outside and searching for insect eggs under leaves. I've never done that before!

This week our theme is space, just in time for the meteor shower. Keeping my fingers crossed that the sky clears up!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Finalized Curriculum for 2013-2014

One more day until the first official day of the 2013-2014 school year! Just when I thought I had our curriculum all figured out, I switched everything around.

Language Arts: After being turned onto Reading Street by my stepmom, I ended up going that route and ordering their homeschool bundle. It has been a bit of a headache to convert to homeschooling but I think I've gotten it under control and am looking forward to diving into it. We'll be doing it on a four day plan so we will not actually start it fully until next Monday so that I can get a good feel for how heavy or light the lessons are if we do them consecutively. I researched the first grade Reading Street bundle and felt that we had indeed covered all of the material in our LifePac Language Arts Grade 1, so I in the end I went with the second grade set and it looks right on track for where she is academically. There is a spelling and writing component that can be added into Reading Street but we'll be doing other curriculum for those two areas. We are still going to recognize the High Frequency Words and Amazing Words but I don't feel like it's as solid as our BJU Spelling.

Math: This is where I made our other big switch. We've done Singapore and Math Mammoth and enjoyed them for the most part but some of the way math is taught in Singapore and MM was pulling her back a bit. She didn't need to break up problems different ways to get to her answer. I know this is the "new way" to do math with the Common Core, but we don't like it and we can get to our answers much faster with traditional algorithms. We moved over to Horizons 2 because it appears to take the traditional approach and I think it might be nice to try a spiral math for a change. A good chunk of her book is going to be review and I expect her to fly through it but I feel better about making sure she's got a good foundation before moving on to 3rd grade math. I feel like there will be a lot less wasted time on trying to answer one math problem several different ways.

History: Heritage Studies 3. We did Heritage Studies 2 last year and loved it. She is also doing the American Girl History Curriculum at our Co-Op.

Social Studies and Geography: Reading Street and Heritage Studies do a phenomenal job at integrating Social Studies into their lessons but I am also supplementing with lessons from Evan-Moor Teacher Filebox to cover not only Social Studies but Geography as well.

Science: Reading Street also does a good job at including Science into their reading lessons but I still feel like it needs some supplementation. Enter Evan-Moore Teacher Filebox.

Bible and Character: We are still working on 2nd grade Finding God's Promises and will be doing Who is God at Co-Op

Health: Evan-Moore Teacher File Box and a random assortment of living books and doing PE at Co-Op

Language: Sign Language at Co-Op

Music: Kindermusik at Co-Op and composer studies

Art: Evan-Moore How to Teach Art, Teacher File Box, and artist studies I've found online (thanks Pinterest!)

What am I forgetting? I know it sounds like a lot and it seems crazy for a 5 year old but that is where we are and we embrace it!

Now to figure out what to do with my preschooler on his days when he's not gone to preschool...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I suppose I should start planning.

It's July already? Goodness that came fast. I love summer so I'm not complaining but when July 1st rolled around I realized that the new homeschool year is just a month away and that I need to get down to business with planning. I still haven't even re-registered with our umbrella or turned in last years attendance sheet! Thankfully I got the new school room up and running and so far we are loving it. I do wish I had more wall space but hey, I now have a dedicated school room so I'm going to take it as is and take advantage of what I do have. I'll try and take some pictures in the next few days and post them.

School room. Check.

Curriculum. Check.

Everything else. Yeah, no checks.

I have enough of our curriculum that I can say I'm ready to go on that end. I haven't bought our next handwriting book yet but truth be told, we didn't finish the last one. I felt like I've needed to wait a bit until her motor skills improved. We tried formal handwriting lessons which she did great with but when it came time to write outside of those lessons, she wants to do it her way and gets very frustrated when you correct her and starts shutting down. I'm not sure how else to handle this other than to wait it out a bit. And no, Handwriting Without Tears is not the answer. She did that program in the past and hated it.

I'm suddenly a bit shook up on Language Arts. I had planned on continuing with LifePac but my stepmother introduced me to Reading Street which is popular among the public schools. I took a long hard look at it and fell in love. I even showed Saha some of the videos and games and she enjoyed them. The program is Common Core aligned; not that I follow the Common Core rigorously or fully agree with it, but I do use it as a guide of sorts for what we should master for each grade. The catch? It's $114 for the homeschool package on CBD and I've already purchased LifePac LA 2. Granted I found a brand new set marked at the used price of $39 but still, I have it and hate to waste it. I do like their workbooks and found they work well so I don't know what to do. Plus we already have BJU Spelling in place and love it. I don't want to overload her.

This year I'm going to do a lot more planning than in the past. Previously, I stayed extremely lax with our schooling time because 1. She started school a year early. 2. She's way ahead. 3. I disagreed with making a 5 year old do school work if she wasn't in the mood. Now that she is actually supposed to be in school, it's time to tighten up a bit and be more structured. Having a school room will make that so much easier. Planning a fun school year will also benefit us. That means lots of crafts, music, P.E., field trips, and science experiments. She's more apt to do her 3 R's when she has fun stuff interspersed throughout the day. I do have to take into account that little man is with us on 2 of our 4 days at home but he's starting to understand now that big sis has to do school and he can either do his preschool with us or watch movies or just play whatever it is he wants to play. I'm still not doing any formal preschool with him unless he asks for it (for those of you new around here, my little guy has Autism and attends a special ed preschool twice a week).

Now where to start planning? Overwhelmed? Yes!