Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fish Friends

We had the opportunity to fish "sit" for some friends:) Basil definitely enjoyed the visit from Walter:)

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
 "What! You too?
 I thought I was the only one.”  
 -C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Schedule Tweaks, Old School Stuff & Bowling

After our Play-Doh week, I thought I'd try to do the "Play-Doh"time after we finished our core work. It didn't work well... we completed a lot... but our days still don't have a flow that we'd like to have:/

 I also tried to schedule our time in one hour blocks...

 for a couple of reasons. One it gives a time for everything. Two it's motivating for the kids to finish those assignments in the given time versus dragging their feet ...which some tend to do...often:/ It's also nice for me to only be working on math with the kids for this set time versus the middle two doing Spelling, Anna doing math and then Grammar. I feel like the one hour blocks have given us some more structure. And we are able to give math the full hour... so the kids can fit in more hands-on activities or math fact practice.

Tweaking and tweaking to "get it all in" peacefully:)

This week we talked about taking personal responsibility. It was mostly applied to keeping our home more tidy, but also helping others when we saw an opportunity. I loved that later in the week we saw someone we knew carrying something that was very heavy for them. The kids looked at me and I looked at them... we knew exactly what to do:)

Language Arts
IMG_0082For spelling Chris and Lydia worked on the "air" sound...

it was a tricky lesson because there are numerous ways to make that sound:) They missed more words this week than usual but that is how this spelling system works... it shows us where we need to work:)

For Chris the challenge is making spelling fun, so I try to find unique ways to work with his spelling words. This week he made them out of pipe cleaners... and did well on his end of week spelling test;)

I also like them to write sentences with the words. It's "old school" but really helps them learn proper Grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and creativity in using the words.

Lydia did some sentences for her word "where" on the whiteboard... sweet:)


Another fun lesson was a Grammar lesson with Lydia and Chris... so fun that Anna joined in:) LOL!! They made postcards for people:) Postcards are different though because the address and "letter" are included right next to each other. The body of the letter has to be short, concise but still fun and interesting to read. Oh, and the stamp goes in a different place:) Now if this Momma can just get them in the mail:)

Our read aloud is Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith, its totally going to take a few weeks! But it fits within our history lessons, so it's all good;) Anna is reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln from Sowers and then she'll move into Little Women (possibility with me reading it with her). Lydia is reading through the Samantha American Girls books. Chris reads what suits his interest while he was at the library as well as his reading lessons since he is still reluctantly reading; even simpler books for his reading time with me has been good practice.

With our new tweak to the schedule, the kids had a little more hands-on math and math fact practice! Definitely a reason to keep the new "tweak" :)  Between all the different lessons, we worked on long division (YIKES!), telling time, addition facts, making graphs.... lots of lessons;)

Since Christopher started SAXON 3 which begins with a lot of review, he buzzed through his lessons and worksheets every morning. So he was also able to do and work on the old-school GeoSafari to practice telling time.

Lydia also found the "one hour" block to be plenty of time to complete her lessons, worksheets, fact sheets and xtramath! Poor Anna... the "one hour" didn't work as well with her. I am hoping she will get back into the routine of starting math earlier so during the "one hour block" she can work on just the questions that she needs my help to complete correctly.

Our history times were mostly spent reading about The Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), Children of the Civil War & what their schools looked like and the soldiers' life. We made two charts comparing the Union & Confederate soldiers and comparing schooling in the Union & Confederacy.

The kids also colored two soldiers... one Union & one Confederate. I was surprised how accurate they wanted to be, definitely nice to see them engaged in the lessons... even when it's coloring.

I felt like we didn't cover much in Science this week:( But with the impending "snow storm" there were plenty of snow and temperature conversations;) In fact, Nate's theme this week was snow so one of Chris' reading practice book was about snow and it's uses.

IMG_0102Since preparing for the snow, Lydia's birthday and getting to the library to get our books in on-time before the snow took priority, science was not done one Friday:/ I hadn't planned on doing school over the weekend but I could see we all needed some structure Saturday afternoon.... so back to the school room we went to work on Newton's 1st Law with a matchbox car:)

We did the activities for the 1st law and expanded on the activity by rolling the car on different surfaces to see which surface allowed the car to go the farthest (ie, less friction).

Since we had already written the 1St Law earlier in the week, the kids drew an example of that law under their definition.

And then for Lydia's birthday we went bowling as a family:) Talk about the PERFECT time to talk about Newton's Laws of Motion and friction.... nice how that works out sometimes;)

Pic(s) of the Week
from bowling;)
Our little bowler.... playing two full games;)
Watching his ball.... miss the pins:/
A little unsure of it all.
Nate cheering his ball down the lane:)
And this definitely shows, we don't bowl often.... just laugh at me! yes, I'm "K"!
Soooo very sad that I really am this bad at bowling... next time I'm using the bumper lane!

Linking up to
The Homeschool Village

Another Round of Potty Training

I'm not a good potty trainer:/ I think it's because many times when I've tried to train my kids ended up either constipated or I was "trained". So after two attempts of doing it when I was ready...

I finally came up with a new plan:)

Wait until they ask and are ready!!

So I"m both delighted and not completely ready for this stage with Nate!! But he wants to be ready:)

Now that you have that background....

I share a success from yesterday:)

And yes we use candy (jelly beans or a few smarties)... he loves candy and will find ways to get into it through the day. So now we're making him "work" for a treat:)

It's your turn:)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Whine Solution

This almost too simple to share:/

But it has transformed our schooling days... transformed!!

You see we had had a lot of playing, whining, fussing with the teacher and other normal kiddo antics... but I was spending WAY too much time dealing with the infractions!

So I introduced the CHART:) LOL!! Simple, sweet and to the point!!

When we have a whinny (or distracting silly) moment, I warn the child. And then I'll go on with what I was doing. If the whining continues I make a check next to their name:/

If they have to write 10 sentences (which has happened once or twice), the sentence is about correcting the behavior. And I told my Anna (almost 9) that she wouldn't be writing sentences but making her own paragraph about her behavior and how she should correct it! Thankfully we haven't gotten to that point, yet!

It has worked wonders:) So I'm working on making a "permanent" CHART so it doesn't stain the board.

There are other helps for whining, too, like:
  • Giving warnings before moving onto the next activity
  • Making even mundane tasks fun
  • Having expectations (and assigned work) clear and at the child's level
  • Having motivations is good too:) Like a special treat, trip to park or visiting with friends after work is complete
Ahhh... definitely a reason for our great week last week:)
Definitely works for me;)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Week the Started with Play-Doh & the Civil War

IMG_9927Last week was tough as we started back into schooling after the Christmas Break and everyone getting over sicknesses. But this week was unique, too... isn't every week. It started Monday with the kids getting into the school room before me and pulling out the Play-doh. I would definitely prefer them to work on bookwork first to get it over with..... but the last thing I wanted on Monday morning was for a "battle"! So I went with it:)

They played with Play-Doh and I did our devotional times, read history, later in the week I gave them their spelling works to practice with Play-doh and a knife and did our Grammar lessons orally. It was amazing how much we read this week and how quickly and smoothly our school days went! I told Brian a few days when he returned home from work how much we completed BEFORE lunch!!  I'm definitely willing to add in some Play-doh every week although maybe make the Play-doh after the basics?

And just as an FYI... they all sat at the table and worked on mats. Before we started bookwork all the Play-doh was cleaned up BY THEM. And they usually were the ones asking to complete their other work. To make history come alive a little more, since we're not able to visit some of these places right now.

This week we discussed working together, helping one another and accepting help! The biblical passages were mostly about cooperation in the church, but it's easy to see that we need to use these principles in every group we are a part of... church, family, or office/class.

Language Arts
spelling in Play-Doh... why not;)
Pronouns! pronouns! Pronouns!! LOL!! Just amazed again this week how much First Language Lessons vol1 &2 combo has prepared Anna for Grade 4 Grammar, definitely a GREAT reason for us to enjoy our time with FLL with Chris and Lydia;)

For writing we completed some story narrations from Writing with Ease (probably not going to use it next year.. or ever again) and then wrote more Thank You and pen pal letters;)

For individual (or with Momma) reading, Anna is still working through Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. Christopher is working through Just a Few Words, Mr Lincoln by Jean Fritz. And Lydia has gotten lost in the American Girl series... this week she finished Changes for Samantha and began working through Josephina books;) It's very exciting to have little readers and hear them explain the stories they are reading about!

We had 5 full days of schooling... so lots of Math... lots of word problems, math facts and some assessments:) Thankfully we all got through it well and had a BIG accomplishment:) Chris finished Saxon 2 on Friday:) He started Saxon halfway through his Kindergarten year so he is 1/2 year ahead in Math. But for Chris to do the work successfully is exciting... he likes Math and obviously is getting it DONE:) Congrats to Chris!!

This week we started The Civil War. Story of the World vol 4 only has one week of material for the Civil War... I just felt like there was soo much to cover that ONE week wasn't enough. I was hoping to find a  recommended book to act as our spine, but I found a book I had reviewed a while ago and so I divided the topics chronologically and into separate "do-able" weeks.

So this week was our first week. Our topics were Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and the build up and  causes of the War. We colored a map of the US to show how the states alined themselves - Union, Confederate and Neutral.



We've read some fun Abraham Lincoln books;) In 2 books we read about some of Abraham Lincoln's homes. Chris wanted to build one... a lean-to:)
Definitely a highlight of his week to use my glue gun! 

Another simple, but fun activity was to see how tall Abraham Lincoln was. We printed off a head shot of Lincoln, measured his height of 6 foot 4 inches and then

For Jefferson Davis we had a coloring page of Davis and an issue of Cobblestone that we borrowed from our library! After all the reading the kids wrote out 2-4 sentences about each on the back of their painting/coloring page:)
Lincoln and J. Davis pictures painted with watercolor and Nate's contribution :)
We also found some short video clips at the History Channel and PBS to supplement what we already had read! I just want to warn that they were produced for adult viewers, so preview them before you watch them with the kids. And as an FYI, if you use Netflix there is an interesting PBS documentary called The Civil War by Ken Burns... it's like 8 episodes (we're still previewing it for the kids).

We learned about what "work" was:) After reading about forces and work on, we defined "work" and drew a picture of a stick figure kicking a ball.


Our experiment was called Falling Weight Does Work so we used a small plastic container of maple syrup and Play-doh, of course! I had a BIG rock to do the experiment outside, but we had a cool, wet morning, so I had to improvise.... and the Play-Doh was already out;) I wanted to show them a real-life example of  how this concept is used and How Stuff Works had an ok video of a pile driver at work.

Preschool Corner

Nate and I had two sessions of Before Five in a Row starting with his favorite book Goodnight Moon:) We have a few conversations about day and night, light and dark and finding the mouse on the colored pages;) It's one of his favorite books and he can often finish some of the phrases because we have read it soo much before this week;)

Since mid-November he has begun watching  Little Einsteins. Before then he was never still enough to watch anything on TV... which was fine! So now that he's watching (and asking to watch shows) we are introducing him to Leap Frog... can't believe he's already at this stage!

Next week I'm hoping to put together a few more plans for Nate using The Snowy Day by Keats. we'll see what happens as we ease into "pre-schooling" Nate.... hate to call it pre-school right now because he's young. But he's got his colors down, he's trying to count, he loves letters and maybe it's time to start doing some more slightly structured things with him... a little at a time;)

Photo of the Week
Walking into the school room after taking the dog out and I see this:)

Anyway, a GREAT Week... if you couldn't tell:) Add in a few visits with friends and Mommy finally going to the doctor for some meds... and it's a fun week:)

Linking up to
The Homeschool Village

The Kid's Words

During one of our Play-doh mornings, the kids noticed Nate sampling some Play-doh:/

I quickly told him not to eat the Play-doh!

Chris responded,"It tastes salty!"

I gave Chris the "mom look". Anna saw it and said,"Oh, Mom, we've all eaten Play-doh before!"


Chris (7 yrs) : "Why did they stop using shields when they started using guns? I don't understand because guns are dangerous?"

I really do have a thinker on my hands!

Nate likes to show us how urgent or important something is. I mentioned a while ago when he adds "real bad". He'll use this when he is hungry or thirsty, like "me need drwink real bad"!

He's added another way to show importance in his sentences;)  Just this week we've heard:

"Me want to play with Titus all night!" or

"Me want to eat candy all night!"

It's your turn:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Our Daily Notebook

Chris working on date, time and temperature sheet!
One of my goals this home school year is to be more INTENTIONAL!!!

Most of what I plan... we do!

 But a lot of things I want to do, but think I'll just "remember" or "add in", doesn't usually happen...

like practicing skip counting, doing a calendar time, practice/teach cursive or start memorizing all the US Presidents.

So to be intentional about some "little" things, I've decided to add a Daily Notebook to our mornings.

There are tons of free materials out there to put into a Daily Notebook. I am so very thankful for the home school moms out there that are willing to make their printables available... it's definitely a ministry to those of us un-"designers".
Anna practicing cursive.. daily :)

So I made some.. well, 3! And they use them:)

Lydia working on the Number of the Day worksheet!
Here is what is included in our Daily Notebooks... (and where I found them)

Daily Info. Worksheet
Number of the Day (where they make math facts with the date)
Cursive Days of the Week
Print (and Cursive for Anna) Months of the Year
Prayer request ( lined loose leaf in a plastic sleeve)
History Sentence of the Week  (lined loose leaf in a plastic sleeve)
Skip Counting
US  Presidents
Cursive Letter (for Chris and Lydia)
Daily Grams Grammar 4th (for Anna)
Drawing of the Day (Chris right now, but the girls are asking for this sheet, too)
Chris following drawing directions for his Drawing of the Day!

IMG_9866The kids have willingly done their notebooks these 2 weeks. They do it together most mornings and it's a time when they "get it done" but while chatting:)

 I like how laid back it is but they are still covering a lot of information and tasks. I love that the middle two are starting cursive in a very low pressure way... they like practicing their letter each day... a few tries each time:) And Anna is getting the extra Grammar practice that she enjoys:)

After some training, I'm praying this will be an activity that the kids will complete together with me in the room but maybe not !  And maybe it will be the 15-20 minutes I can use to sit down with Nate and work with him a bit:)
The Homeschool Village
Submitting to Works for Me Wednesday  because it's definitely working for us and

First Spring Flower and Takt

The day was awesome on Monday so the kids packed themselves into the minivan and we headed to the park... yes, another awesome thing that my kids can put themselves safely in the van (one of the older ones buckling Nate in his seat)! I had no idea... but they were determined to go and got ready themselves... or maybe trying to convince me to stop at Sonic for slushies on the way:) LOL!!

Heading out of the community, Jack had his paws on the middle seat while standing on the backseat with his mouth wide open panting. Chris calls out,"Hey Mom, Jack looks like a real dog when he hangs his tongue out like that!"


Chris came in from walking Jack!

He was very excited about what he had in his hand...

The First Flower of Spring:)

We've been giving Nate some opportunities to see if he is ready to potty train. Truth be told he LOVES candy and instead of giving him a piece when he asks, we thought it might be beneficial to make him WORK for it! So he is given one jelly bean for business done on the potty.

This week I put him in cloth diapers to see if he would be less likely to potty in them. And mine are "velcro" so they go on and off really easy... Nate can pull them off to potty and I can refasten the clean diaper back onto him.

I was right:) He liked choosing the blue one and was glad to put it on. He did well for a few hours (and a couple reminders)!!

After lunch he hid for awhile and came back with a little more than pee:/ As I changed him I grabbed a disposable (we were heading out)! Nate protested saying,"Momma, me make stinky in green diaper! Green one!"


IMG_9905On the phone, Grandma was asking Lydia what she wanted for her birthday (in weeks I will have a 6 yr old)! Lydia didn't have any answers....

but Nate did!!

"Me birfday. Me birfday, too!"

Grandma asked,"What do you want for your birthday, Nate?"

He responded,"Takt!"

It took us a few guesses....

Cake! :)

Now it's your turn to link up about what your kiddos are saying;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Week Back

Well after our week (and more) of sickness, we jumped back into schooling last Monday.  I felt like we were totally unprepared and  none of us really FELT like doing school... but we pulled out the books and did it anyway....

totally NOT the way I wanted to start :(

Regardless, we did it!! Looking back over the week... we had a few bumps, made a new discipline policy for whining (when they felt well) and we had a good week. Like I was told in the midst of a tough morning, "It can only get better!!" LOL!! Definitely a good way to look at a tough day;)

We talked about being do-ers, not just hearers. And then we applied it to taking the initiative in doing chores.... being told (and having explained) their chores and then the kids taking responsibility in doing them. Of course, this will definitely be something that is worked on and encouraged. Too bad it could be mastered in a week:)

Language Arts
During some recovering days, we worked on some Thank You notes from Christmas. Too precious to see Lydia working on hers "without help" and Nate wanting to help with his:)

We also jumped into Grammar, Reading and Spelling lessons;) Lydia, Chris and I worked on writing/narration. Anna and I talked about putting together a book report! Maybe she'll be willing to blog it next week when she finishes the book:)

The kids all jumped back into Saxon:)

I also noticed that their math fact recall needed work again. So we will be including into our weekly routine. We had gotten out of the habit of doing math fact practice. I think trying to find 3 times a week to do will be good for the kids;)

Our history this week was filled with uprisings, not ones that are often studied by little ones though. We did read aloud the chapter, filled in the outline together, and completed the map work for each country. Anna also did a little "country study" on Italy, one of the countries that we were reading about in the chapter.

Unfortunately, I did add anything extra:/ But we will be starting the Civil War this week and will start with Lincoln; we began the readings already and I have already learned a lot about the 16th President! I already promised Chris he could built with Popsicle sticks and a glue gun:/ Looking forward to his creation:)

We started a new section of our physics experiments talking about Motion. We did an experiment, read about Motion on and defined terms. The experiment was very simple but we were able to do it at a local park since the weather was soo beautiful:)

Two bowls of cookie dough + sticky finger prints all over the mixer = sweet memories
We watched WAY TOO much TV while we were sick, so I really tried to give them other things to do last week so they didn't watch as much as TV!! One of my favorite memories this week was having Chris and Anna in the kitchen making their own batches of Oatmeal Cookies, Chris was adding chocolate chips and Anna was including raisins, while I made dinner. The counters were a mess... but they had fun, they read and followed the directions and we had cookies into the weekend;) LOL!!

Another fun opportunity was getting to play with friends. We had 3 opportunities to play at the park or at our home and each time was different!! We are blessed to have friends willing to meet us and be flexible with plans when the clouds roll in!!

Finally, we started something new last week that we are calling Our Daily Notebooks. The kids really have done well with them and I look forward to sharing more later this week!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Please Hold Me, Momma!

I had high hopes for the first week of the New Year. We returned from the Grandparents' on Sunday and we had a week to get our New Year started well...

  • An Eve evening with friends from church
  • A few days to get back into a routine
  • A day or so to clean the house & put away Christmas decor
  • Things to get our school organized
  • Some quiet evenings to get my online classes started strong

And it hit!!

A strange cold virus or something that knocked us all over.... we had chills, coughing, no energy, no appetite, some throwing up.... basically what people refer to as "the crud"!

Besides the fact that I had NO energy, nasty congestion (I sounded like an old man for a couple of days... no offense to "old men") and a killer headache, the kids needed me to be their Momma.

The first days I was sick, only Nate was down with me. We snuggled on the couch for almost 2 days straight watching Little Einstein DVDs.... not quite "the life":) But it was sweet... kind of, minus the snot, croupy coughs and body aches.

Somewhere in all the days, as I looked around at my not-getting-cleaned, but getting-worse house and the pile to school work needed to be organized and planned, wasn't happening:( I began to get discouraged.

When the Ibruprofen started kicking in, I began to do a little. But I never seemed to get much done when I'd hear, "Please hold me, Momma!" precious! A welcome call to rest with him and do what Momma's do best when they really want to do the Momma-ing;)

Needless to say, my to-so list was set aside for almost our whole week. I did get "enough" done and we started school again Monday although I know none of us were really ready physically. We accomplished what we needed to and vegged again after the school work:)

Hoping we can "shake" this soon... so we can enjoy moving again!! And yes, get to some "fun stuff"!!

And if you haven't seen the video called One Mom Heart to Another.... it's a must SEE!! We need to hear the message... over and over;)

 I definitely look forward to reading through Sally Clarkson's new book as soon as I get my hands on a copy... oh, and a few hours to read it;)

More Nate-isms;)

Overheard from another room:
Nate: "Wydia, you play train track wif me?"
Lydia: I can't.
Nate: Why, you not play train track wif me?
Lydia: Because you're sitting on top of me. I can't get up!
Nate: Oh!

And they  both walk into the playroom:)


Me: Nate, what is you're baby's name?
Nate : Miss Johnson [beaming]


While visiting with grandparents Chris and I were in our bedroom and Chris noticed a picture on the dresser. It was a picture taken when Brian and I met his parents in Austria for a couple of days before we attended a conference in Hungary.... oh, the travels when we were kid-less;)

But I mistakenly told Chris that the picture was taken in Hungary. 

Chris looked at me confused, "Mom, why would you visit a country where everyone is hungry?"

Very sweetly and innocently asked;)

Now it's your turn to link up about what your kiddos are saying;)