Archive | November 2016

Homeschooling Log: Stardate 11302016

Captain’s Log:

We are enjoying day 6 of our 10 days of shore leave. It has been a strange but fun 4 weeks of homeschooling, but we need this break for some rest and relaxation.

Ensign Peanut has done some amazing things between homeschooling weeks 11-14. He has navigated through new worlds, and explored them with enthusiasm.

Linguistics were a bit challenging, but he has made the attempt at duplicating various hieroglyphics. Letters such as o,p,q, s,t,e, and the numbers 0-3 were difficult with a pencil, but done on a bigger scale on the whiteboard there was some success. We are aiding Ensign Peanut with his fine motor control by the use of Lego blocks, Kumon Mazes, and various fun coloring and activity books.

Literature has been a well received endeavor. Ensign Peanut has mastered over 55 sight words now, and can phonetically read several more. He has begun chapter four of The Reading Lesson, and has mastered the first two Alphabetti Beginner Phonics books. He will be starting the third Alphabetti Beginner book when we return from shore leave!

Mathematics have seen some changes in curriculum, but Ensign Peanut did not get discouraged. We are now concentrating on mastering how to count to 20. It seems Ensign Peanut has an aversion to the numbers 13-16! He can recognize them by sight, but always skips them when counting to 20.  We will keep at it until he is ready to move on. No rush, though. He has also begun to understand the concept of addition to 10, and is starting to understand subtraction from 10.

Cartography is not one of his favorite things, but he is valiantly trying to understand the four compass points. We may save the rest of this curriculum for next year, as it’s meant more for someone who is skilled in the literary arts and linguistics…

Ensign Peanut has been really enjoying the Science bay. He has finished his unit on force and gravity, and has done several experiments to test his knowledge. He also has done some fun experiments with water beads, and even a spider that grows with water. It tripled in size in just 4 days!

The Thinking Skills lab is probably one of his favorite places to be. Ensign Peanut received a gift of a new game last month called Three Little Piggies and he has had so much fun with it that we don’t think he realizes he is actually learning too! He also received a Lego set, and has been spending much of his free time building with it.

Arts is not one of his favorites either, not unless it involves some form of mess. Ensign Peanut is not a fan of coloring, but he enjoys playdough, painting, clay, glue, and dirty hands! Ensign Peanut definitely likes more tactile art projects!

This captain will now return to her much needed furlough, until next Monday,  Captain out.

The joy in my chaotic life

via Daily Prompt: Chaotic

Everyone has a bit of chaos in their lives. It may not be daily, or even weekly, but it happens. There are some, like me, that seems to swim in it. It pours onto us like the rain, like the sun. It tries to get into our very pores.

I can choose to get angry, rage against it, but it’s about as effective as asking the moon not to rise at night. It is there. It’s going to happen. I accept it. I slowly breathe in, count to three, and let it go. Then I meet it head on.

When my daughters were little, three years old, just the cutest twins you could ever meet, they were the main source of my chaotic life. They were blessed with a mild form of autism called ADHD LLD. This made them impulsive and very active. One evening we were enjoying a rented vhs disney movie. We were sitting in the girl’s bedroom eating popcorn, watching some princess and prince trying to fall in love. Out of nowhere, sweet little girl #1 shoved a popcorn kernel into sweet little girl #2’s ear. Deep. Very deep. We had to go to the hospital to get it out.

We came home and I settled the girls into bed. I had just kissed them goodnight, tucked them into bed, and shut their door when I hear a blood curdling scream. Sweet little girl #2 shoved a popcorn kernel into sweet little girl #1’s ear. Deep. Very deep. Hospital trip #2 in less than an hour. Same nurse. Same doctor. Same questions, but with an “Um, didn’t we just take this out of her ear 45 minutes ago?” “Nope, different child, her sister got revenge.” CHAOS!!! No popcorn allowed till they are married!!!

Now I’m older, and (a bit) wiser, and I’ve realized that chaos has a life of it’s own. I now call him Mr. Chaos! I have accepted that he just wants to be a part of my life, wants to walk next to me and hold my hand. I now grab that hand and laugh at just how funny Mr. Chaos can be. And he keeps me on my toes.

He likes to make it rain just as I’m about to hang up the laundry on the clothesline. He will give us a flat tire when we have a hippotherapy session in the mountains. That stray cat we took in? Pregnant. Her kittens now have turned out house upside down. I have a huge roast to bake, oven breaks. We get popcorn as a special treat for youngest son, (yep, I finally allow it in the house again) and the microwave decides it’s done and wants to be put to pasture. Christmas is coming, and then my stepson’s wedding. I expect Mr. Chaos to be having the time of his life for the next few months.

His latest prank was to make our washing machine break mid cycle! I got to experience the joy of wringing out a large load of laundry by hand, and watching it take two whole days to dry in the rain… Funny Mr. Chaos. Funny. Good one! one… two… three…

Oh, and I homeschool. I can write a book about that one! Trying to keep an autistic boy (PDD and probably ADHD) focused and engaged is the definition of chaotic! Yep, Mr. Chaos thinks it’s hilarious to join in on the fun!

I think they invented coffee, chocolate, and other indulgences to send Mr. Chaos into the corner for a time out once and a while. Yes, he whines and sometimes yells, but when I have my coffee mug warming my hands, and that sweet elixir settling into my bones, it gives me a moment to pause, breathe, count to 3, and move on to the next crisis that Mr. Chaos has planned for me. Bring it on, my friend, I’m waiting!

Mazes, cutting, pasting, dot to dots, oh my! or all about Kumon books.

Fine Motor Skills is one of the biggest areas we are working on with Peanut. Those little fingers can take apart toys with ease, but put a pencil in his fingers and it becomes a sword, a light sabre, a teeter totter, even a catapult. Anything except a writing utensil. He finds writing and drawing so hard that he’d rather shove a crayon up his nose than use it to draw on paper.

Enter Kumon and their books. There’s books for cutting, tracing, pasting, mazes, even dot to dots. There’s even academic workbooks for math, spelling, reading, and other wonderful things! The age range starts at 2 years old for some of them, and goes all the way to grade 8.

These books are high quality and very cute! The colors are like magnets for kids. They beg to be used. Here is an example of a maze:

Easy enough for a young child, but still challenging, and not your typical black line maze. Peanut loves these!

The cutting books have fun things they can make, for example you cut along the grey line and then the monkey gets to eat the apple by moving the two pieces together!

Even the Uppercase Letters and Lowercase Letters books are very friendly and not intimidating to young learners

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So far we’ve used the Upper and Lowercase letter books, Mazes set, Let’s Cut Paper set, Let’s Sticker and Paste, Let’s trace set, and Numbers 1-30. We’ll be using the simple addition soon. We’ve loved every one of them!

My Book of Number Games 1-70 InsideMy Book of Simple Addition Inside

When Peanut is ready, there is even some spelling books I plan to use.

Rainbow Resourses have a wide selection of Kumon books ranging from fine motor skills, math, writing, crafts, logic, and other important skills.I am very impressed with the quality and the fun they bring to learning.

 

 

Being a mom, or the mythical ideal vs reality (at least for me)

via Daily Prompt: Mythical

We all have that idea of what a perfect family is, what a perfect mom is. I’m not it. I never will be. And most of the moms I know won’t be either. This was my reality, 20+ years ago when my two girls were in grade 1, and their baby brothers were one. It’s a bit different now with Peanut, since we homeschool, live in the Caribbean and not Canada, but the concept is still the same.

Myth: The kids wake up, and by the time they reach the kitchen, they are dressed, hair brushed, all smiles and ready to eat the hot breakfast consisting of bacon, eggs, pancakes, toast, and fresh squeezed juice that you, the mom slaved over for an hour. We all sit at the table and discuss what the plans are for the day. The loving kids eat with joy, then grab their bags and out the door for their school bus.

Reality: Mom overslept. Now I have to shake each child awake like they are experiencing a 8.0 earthquake, and yelling at them to hurry up, get dressed, tell them to brush their hair. By the time they stumble down to the kitchen, one half dressed, one only in undies and shoes, I have their bowls of cereal on the table. The fighting begins… One wants Capt’n Crunch, one wants Kraft Dinner… As they eat, I frantically brush their hair, locate their boots (didn’t they leave them at the door last night? did they get up and hide somewhere as we slept?), stuff their schoolbags with their lunches. What did I make for them? I hope it’s something the school won’t refuse. These days all they can eat seems to be tofu sandwiches with sprouts. Oh, and don’t wrap em in anything, your garbage will come back home since the school is ‘green’ now… When they’re done wolfing down their breakfast, I send them scurrying to finish getting dressed. I sip my coffee, wishing it had something stronger in it. As one girl is almost ready for meltdown #100 because she doesn’t want to wear a coat today  – it’s winter, coats are NOT an option I tell her! – I hear the school bus driver angrily honking the horn at us. I shove the girls into their snowsuits and out the door and hope that they behave at school!

Myth: The house is spotless, and I only have light dusting to do.

Reality: I think my house was hit by a tornado. Four kids leave a house looking like a disaster zone. EVERY DAY!!  Thank goodness for modern conveniences like dishwashers. Still, someone wrote “wash me” in the dust on the TV. The dust bunnies are asking for food and water. But do I have time to clean? Bwahahaha, NO. Just as I’m about to start dusting, the little ones wake up. Yes, twins. Again. These boys hit the ground running. My job is to keep them out of danger, fed, dressed, and alive. Everything else is icing on the cake. Cleaning? Are you kidding? Heck, by noon I’ve got them to nap, and cleaning will have to wait, I need a shower. I think my last one may have been 2 days ago.

Myth: A full three course meal is on the table by 5pm, the kids are dressed and groomed, I’m in a cute dress and wearing heels and pearls. We sit and dine by candle light, and talk about all the interesting things we did that day.

Reality: Fast food burger place, here we come. Bonus if they have a play structure.

Myth: Kids snuggled up, falling asleep to a sweet fairy tale read my mom, sitting at the edge of their bed. When they are asleep, mom kisses their foreheads. It’s now maybe 8pm, Parents get time to put up their feet, relax and enjoy each other’s company as they talk, read the newspaper, or watch tv.

Reality. I have read the same story at least 5 times to 4 kids who do not want to sleep, not ever! No, you don’t need to go pee, you just went 2 minutes ago. No, there are no monsters in the closet or under the bed… Finally, it’s an hour past their bedtime and they’re still wide awake. I kiss them all, turn off the light, and pray they fall asleep soon. It’s 9pm!  I pick up all the toys strewn all over the house, finally dust off the ‘wash me’ sign, pass the broom over the floor and evict the dust bunnies. Dishes go in the dishwasher, and the kitchen counters get scrubbed. The kitchen floor gets mopped, and a load of laundry goes into the washing machine. The clothes in the dryer get ironed and folded, lunches for tomorrow get made (tofu again?) and I reward myself with a chocolate bar I hid in the empty box of oatmeal. By 11 pm I’m ready for bed, and I settle in for a much deserved sleep.

Myth: Mom wakes up to the break of dawn, feeling fresh and alert.

Reality: And I forgot to set the alarm again…

Our homeschool journey… week 13

Time has flown by so fast. We have done 13 weeks of Kindergarten. 51 days of learning, only 93 more days to go!

Instead of recapping the week, I want to give a sort of ‘progress report’ on Peanut’s reading journey through Kindergarten so far. He’s come so very far in just 13 weeks. I’m so proud of him, and proud that I was the one who was able to teach him! Yay for both of us!

So my little Peanut has started to read! So far, between The Reading Lesson and Alphabetti Phonics, he can now read the following words:

  • at, bat, cat, fat, hat, mat, Nat, pat,rat, sat, tat, vat
  • am, bam, Cam, ham, Pam, ram, Sam, tam
  • bad, dad, had, mad, sad
  • rag, sag
  • can, fan, man, Nan, pan, ran, van
  • bed, red
  • hen, men, ten
  • leg
  • get, let, set, vet, wet, yet
  • yes
  • it, bit, fit
  • did, hid, kid
  • win
  • cot, dot, got
  • I
  • dog
  • mom
  • tom
  • the
  • egg

He’s still struggling with the words gag, tag, Ted, met,& got. Still, wow, this is 63 words Peanut can read either by sight or phonetically! 63 words in 51 days!

To be honest, sometimes I’m amazed at this journey. Some days it feels like the path is too rough and daunting to keep going. That’s when we take a break, I take a deep breath, then I look at Peanut’s tiny hand in mine, his eyes bright with wonder. I turn back to look at how far we’ve come. We’ve climbed a few mountains, crossed bridges, and we’re still on that path! We can do this. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. As long as we’re making progress, no matter how small, we’re going in the right direction. We are both learning a lot on this trip, and the best part is that I get to experience it all with Peanut!

 

Beginning Geography, a lesson in waiting until we are ready.

Kindergarten is a fickle year. You don’t want to overwhelm your child, but you also want to push them along, delicately showing them new doors to open and new ways of thinking. Sometimes, as a homeschooling parent, we see that not all doors are ready to be open wide. We turn the handle, peek inside, and realize that we need to wait a bit before stepping through. Sometimes we try another door, sometimes we just wait.

I love maps. I have been fascinated with them since I was a young child, as young as Peanut. I can remember pouring over all those map inserts that came with the National Geographic magazines my parents subscribed to. Dreams of faraway places, exotic people, new foods and cultures… As I got older, those same maps hung on my walls, reminding me of how big and wonderous this world really is. Maps brought the world to my doorstep.

I wanted this same sense of wonder to be a big part of Peanut’s world too. Timberdoodle uses Evan Moor Beginning Geography as its Kindergarten Geography option. It’s also available as an E-text you can purchase for download from Evan Moor.

Image result for beginning geography

I have heard great things about it, read the review of kids as young as 4 breezing through this book in under 6 months. Not Peanut. But first let me get into the things I really like before I get much further.

If you want to get through this in a typical 36 week school year, you need to do 3 pages a week. This is a nice and easy pace for any child that is capable of reading and writing.

The maps are cute, and remind me of a coloring book. It’s pages are all fun, and ready for a crayon or colored pencil to bring it to life.

Beginning Geography is a gentle introduction to map skills. It has 4 sections:

  1. Map Skills
  2. Landforms and Bodies of Water
  3. Continents and Oceans
  4. Around the World with Animals

There is no teacher prep, except certain pages may need to be copied if you are not using the e-text, since there are some pages that are meant to be cut and pasted. If you use the page in the book you will destroy the next page, so either copy the pages you need to cut, or do the next page first, then cut… Evan Moor also allows you to reproduce their pages, a big plus!

Image result for beginning geography

It begins with “What is a Map?” and the child colors in various objects by color. Easy and fun.

Now the problem we had…Page 6 gave us a reason to pause…Related image

Three pages in, and we hit a problem. Peanut can’t read yet! How am I going to deal with street names? I can tell him what the names are, who lives in the houses, what the other buildings are, but how can I expect a 5 year old to remember 5 street names and 8 building identities? We colored green street green, brown street brown, put the number 1 on first ave, 2 on second ave. Still, this was going to be a challenge.

By page 11, I was starting to consider putting it away for a while till Peanut was older and more advanced in his reading, writing, and drawing skills. By Page 16, that’s what we did.

Here is a link to the first 20 pages so you can see if your little one would be ready for this or not: Beginning Geography Sample

Some Kindergartners will be ready and able to use this book, but it depends on how well they can read and write. Peanut isn’t ready. Not yet. But he will be in a year, maybe two.

One thing we can do, since we have the E-text, is to only use the maps and I have Peanut color them as I tell him what to color, for example “color the tree green, the swings yellow, and the bike red”. Fine motor skill practice!

Not to give up on Geography, I decided to try another of Evan Moor’s books – Daily Geography grade 1. Timberdoodle uses this in their grade 1 curriculum kit, and you can see the first 20 pages hereImage result for daily geography practice grade 1

I know we won’t be doing everything in this book this year, but I want to keep Geography in Peanut’s school week. Like Beginning Geography, Daily Geography Grade 1 is open and go, it’s done with that same coloring book style and encourages coloring. Again, more fine motor practice for Peanut!

Image result for daily geography practice grade 1

Since we have the E-text of this, just like Beginning Geography, I can easily print out what we can use now, and the rest will be waiting for us when Peanut is ready for it.

I really like many of the products put out by Evan Moor. Their spelling, daily writing, etc, will also be on my list of things to use with Peanut in the future.

 

 

 

Science and the Kindergartener

My little Peanut loves science. He loves seeing things change, expand, explode, and really loves the hands-on aspect of science. Remember, this kit is for ages 4 and up, but a 4 or 5 year old won’t grasp the concepts behind the experiments, they are just for fun at this age

.Image result for my first super science kit

We began the year with Timberdoodle’s Science With Tots Deluxe Kit which includes My First Super Science Kit from Be Amazing, plus Timberdoodle adds an oversized pair of tweezers, a second magnifying glass since the one in the kit is kind of inadequate, and a horseshoe magnet. Also included is Timberdoodle’s 36 week schedule of experiments.

Going through Timberdoodle’s guide, I soon realized that the 75 experiments touted by Be Amazing, or even the 36 experiments from Timberdoodle, was definitely stretching it.

For example, Week 1 – 5 is all about the magnifying glass. And week 1-5 should really be condensed into 1 week. Here’s what was in the guide:

week:

  1. examine your magnifying glass and notice if the lens is convex or concave
  2. figure out if you like to use it close to the object or close to your eye
  3. look at a few objects with the magnifier and write down what you observe
  4. find the focal point
  5. use the magnifier to sort tiny photos

There are other weeks like this, ones where 2 or more weeks should really be just 1 week. I can expect us to do 21 weeks of experiments from this kit.

At first I thought this was not good, I need 36 weeks! but I soon realized that we do 1 science experiment on the last day of each week, BUT on the very last day of the month we do a project from one of our art kits. So this means I actually only need 24 experiments since 12 days are going to be for art instead! This means I only need to come up with 3 new experiments, or revisit 3 old ones and do them again.

After a couple of weeks, Peanut was begging for more science. I was searching online for a daily kindergarten science program I could download and print out, and I stumbled across Complete Curriculum Kindergarten and thought “hmmm, a full science curriculum for kindergarten 130 daily lessons, complete with teacher and student texts, it’s secular, even a top pick from Cathy Duffy, all for $11 or less! How can I go wrong?

Image result for complete curriculum kindergarten educents

Believe it or not, it actually is a great curriculum! Peanut and I are enjoying it. We’ve skipped maybe 5 lessons, but that’s it. The lessons are usually short, but fun. For example, the past 4 lessons have been about gravity, and today we are making parachutes to test out how gravity affects them.

Complete Curriculum K Science has 7 units:

  1. Science is Everywhere
  2. Senses
  3. Shapes, Pushes and Pulls
  4. Life Science
  5. My Earth
  6. I Dig Dinosaurs
  7. Energy

The units covers topics like different scientists, the 5 senses, shapes and postitions (including left and right, up, down, etc), force and motion, gravity, magnets, living things (animals, plants), food chain, rocks and minerals, environment, soil, and dinosaurs.

Complete Curriculum also offers Math, Social Studies, Science, and Language arts all bundled together for under $30. I’m seriously thinking of getting the grade 1 bundle next year, and possibly the Language Arts K after Christmas.