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There was how many???

Week 8 brought us hundreds of cats, thousands of cats… 

 To be completely honest, this book has been my least favorite so far. As an adult, I have issues with a lot of the story, and I don’t know why it actually win a children’s literature award. An elderly couple wish to adopt the prettiest cat in the world because they are bored and lonely. The man sets out and finds millions of cats. He brings them home, and the woman asks the cats which one is the most pretty. They all think they are the prettiest, and fight each other. They end up eating each other (cannibalism in a children’s book, really???). I modified it so that they all ran away.

Peanut, on the other hand, really liked the book. And in the end, that’s what counts.

I also added a few extra things to this week’s lessons. We are using a few levelled readers, and some worksheets to go with them. 

 Peanut is learning sight words, so I’m trying to introduce two new words a week. For week 8 the words were “pretty” and “my”. The let’s were c and b.

Peanut had a great week for fine motor skills. He cut and pasted these all on his own, even making sure when he was gluing them down that the pictures Sat in the correct direction!

I’ve noticed he’s Peanut is having some problems with math again. McRuffy relies heavily on the number line method for adding and subtracting. He’s just so confused. This is where the flexibility of homeschooling comes into play. Last year we used a math curriculum that was a big failure for us. I had set it aside since Peanut was overly frustrated with it. As I was trying to figure out how to help Peanut understand the concept of addition and subtraction, I noticed on the top shelf was our failed curriculum. I figured it’s been almost a year since I put it away, maybe Peanut is ready for it.

We started at lesson 12, where it begins to teach addition. All I can say is what a difference a year makes! Peanut understood! I got a front seat to Peanut’s “aha” moment. This is one of the best rewards of homeschooling!!!

This week is our scheduled week off, and I’ll be taking that time to get some Christmas gifts made. I also need to find Peanut a suitable replacement for the US thanksgiving unit, since the Canadian thanksgiving revolves around the fall harvest and not around pilgrims and bloodshed. 

So until next time, have a great week!

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But no elephants!

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Peanut absolutely loved this week’s book and activities. We spent the week with the book “But No Elephants” and it was a huge hit! Peanut learned the sight word “no”, and how to print the letter “E”.

We learned to act out the story with stick puppets, how to sort animals from the smallest to the largest, what each pet did to help Grandma Tildy, and touched on the concept of needs vs. wants.

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For math, Peanut was introduced to the geoboard. He learned how to create pictures from shapes – he even made a farmhouse without any instruction! We also began to add numbers by 1’s and 2’s. I’m not sure if the number line is helping or hindering… I may try to add in some more basic addition practice.

As a reward for a very hard three weeks, we went to the beach Friday evening to just relax by the ocean. Peanut and his brother Popeye enjoyed playing in the sand, finding crab holes, and just plain making memories. Hubby and I enjoyed the laughter, ocean breeze, and I of course had to dip my toes in the water at least once, and it was warm and wonderful. I actually wish I brought my swimsuit to bathe!

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This week was all about insects, bugs, and creepy crawlies!

What makes an insect an insect? Is a worm or a spider an insect? What about an ant?

This week, our book was called Fireflies, written and illustrated by Julie Brinckloe.

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We really enjoyed this book, and not to spoil it, it did bring up some concepts we had to discuss.

This week we learned that all insects have 2 sets of wings, 6 legs, antenna, and 3 body parts (head, abdomen, and thorax). Fireflies, ants, grasshoppers, ladybugs, dragonflies, butterflies are all insects. Spiders, worms, and millipedes are bugs, but not insects!

We worked on the word “said” and the letter “F”. Peanut can now reliably sight read all the 6 words we’ve learned so far: he, said, that, go, little, and you! He also can identify all the letters of the alphabet, and can identify all the numbers from 0-20, although when he recites them, he does skip a few!

Some of the fun things we’ve done this week are making a firefly from an egg carton, decorating a bug jar and trying to catch bugs to study (but we had no luck, it’s rainy season so all the bugs were hiding and staying dry!), watching videos about insects, and lots of coloring!

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Here you can see Peanut’s firefly. He painted the thorax yellow (and painted me, himself, and even his dog!), attached pipe cleaners for legs and antennas, glued on eyes, and even made wings and glued them on! This craft was a definite hit, and I appreciated that I only had to provide the egg carton and glue – everything else was in the kit!

For math, we worked on counting to 100, used pattern tiles to make pictures, and on Friday we played a game. Peanut is even starting to know the days of the week by heart – although for math we say them every day, I stumbled across a website that said to use the tune of “the Aadams family” song, and it’s been working great!

Next week is our week off, so I’m hoping to take that time to get a bit more organized both for school and our house. Or start working on Christmas gifts.

 

Our 4th week (almost) done…

Last week we had a nice week. Our book of the week was “What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?”

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We learned all about the ways different animals adapted certain features and what they use them for. For instance, monkeys use their tails to hold onto branches like a hand. Archerfish can use their tongue to spit water into the air to shoot their prey like an arrow, and beavers use their tail to warn of danger. Elephants use their noses to spray water on themselves to keep cool. Amazing how different structures are adapted for each animal!

We played lots of games like pin the tail on the monkey, race car rally, and we did some nice arts and crafts too.

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The word of the week was “this” and Peanut had it memorized by sight within two days! The letter of the week was “T”, so we did a lot of practicing with it.

I did manage to assess his handwriting readiness again, and he still isn’t really ready to write yet. Instead of focusing on writing, I’m going to switch gears and have him do a lot more coloring and a bit more cutting.  Also, lots of Play Dough, sand play, anything to get his fingers moving. I’ll also be using the whiteboard more often for his handwriting practice, having him write huge letters.

One thing he can do now while we work on his fine motor skills is learn to read. I’m going to be introducing one easy reader a day now, and they will be using the words he knows as well as the words of the week. I’ve pulled some from This Reading Mama, Progressive Phonics, Reading A-Z  (I used a free 2 week trial, but won’t continue since it’s a $110 subscription fee per year, or raz plus which is $200 a year! Eeep! ) and a few other printable books I’ve stumbled across.

Just because he can’t write doesn’t mean he can’t learn to read and spell! We can use letter tiles for spelling, and when he’s ready to write, he’ll already know how to spell! Even if he only learns to type, I’m okay with it, as long as he can get his words on paper (or computer) eventually. Even if it takes him several more years. Until then, I’ll be his scribe, but also insist he at least try to write too. Effort is what counts.

I’m also beginning to use Alphabet Fun Pages which are fun and a little bit challenging, but not too much! Also, Reading the Alphabet  has some nice resources like word mazes etc to help reinforce our word of the week, and coloring pages as well as poke pages for the letter of the week! I have to admit, I really love This Reading Mama’s things. I’m becoming a fan!

I also stumbled across Discovery K-12 again after rejecting it two years ago. I may use part of their curriculum too, but only as a suppliment to what we do already. Unfortunately, Peanut works at a pre-k level for writing, K for reading, and K-1 for social studies, art, and science. The issue is that they don’t offer customization, so you have to pick one level and stay with it, or keep swapping your level out every day. They do say it will be customizable soon though.

So now it’s our week off, but we still have last Friday’s lessons to do this week sometime. Both Peanut and I have been a bit under the weather, so we’ll get to it by Sunday at the latest, gotta luv the flexibility of homeschooling!

Getting ready for homeschooling week #3!

It’s a rainy Sunday morning, Peanut just woke up, and he’s happily drinking some cocoa tea (aka hot chocolate), laying on the dog, and watching power rangers on his Fire tablet. 

I woke up about an hour and a half ago, did my usual morning routine of feeding the dog, tidying the living room and getting my first coffee of the day into me. Sunday mornings are my “getting organized for school” time. 

First I grab my planner, and depending on my mood, I either color it or glue stickers in it. Why? Because if I’m going to be looking at these two pages for 5 days, I want to be inspired, happy, and enjoy what I see! This week I crave flowers. The rain has turned the island into a lush green paradise, but I’m really missing my flower garden. I really need to get a garden going again, but that’s not in the plan for this week.

Now that my lesson plan book is pretty, time to decorate my Happy Planner! 

It’s a Classic Happy Planner. I use the “morning” boxes from Monday to Friday to take notes on how our homeschooling day went. The middle “afternoon” boxes are for my brain dump, and the ” evening ” boxes are to do meal planning, grocery lists, appointments, keep track of my water intake (one cannot live on coffee alone!),and any other notes.

Okay, so now the two planners are done. Time for another coffee while I get our weekly worksheets printed out. This week we’re working on the letter I and the numbers 7-9. The word of the week is “Little”. 

Now to grab all the stuff I need for the week. Moving Beyond the Page makes it easy. All I need is to grab Unit 3’s materials bag, and from the general supplies bag I get a paintbrush, play dough, some construction paper, and of course the book of the week, the word flashcards, and we’re good to go! I’ll take the paint out later in the week. 

Finally I get our math ready for the week. This week Peanut will be introduced to the calendar. We’ll also be measuring using cubes, and doing some patterning.

The best part, I have the week planned, organized, and ready to go in under 10 minutes. I actually spent more time decorating my planners! 

I have to admit, I love this curriculum! Last week was a week off for us, and we actually missed doing school. I could easily do 3 or 4 units a month, but we’d be done our homeschooling year by mid March next year! Not a great idea since we’d have 3.5 months before our next school year starts! So slow and steady wins out for us!

(It’s raining) dogs and cats…

We made it through our second week of homeschool, and our soundtrack was the pouring rain outside. It’s rainy season here, but you would think that means the air would be a bit cooler. Nope! Once the rain stops and the sun comes out, it’s still as hot and humid as ever.

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This week our focus was on friendship, similarities, differences, and description. We read the book Hondo & Fabian, a sweet book that Peanut really enjoyed.  The word of the week was “he”, and the letter was “H”.

Language Arts revolved around asking and answering questions about key details in the story, comparing and contrasting the adventures Hondo and Fabial had, both together and apart, and even had Peanut retell the story in his own words, using the pictures as a guide.

Science had Peanut observing and describing similarities and differences in the appearance and behavior of plants and animals. He also learned different ways objects and organisms move including falling to the ground, straight, zigzag, round and round, back and forth, fast and slow.

For art, Peanut painted a wonderful picture all about friendship. It’s a bit abstract, but I love it! He and his friends are playing power rangers. He’s red, and his friends are blue, yellow and green.

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For Phys Ed, he acted out what Hondo and Fabian were doing on each page. He jumped and zig zagged in waves, ran back and forth around the house, went around in circles fishing, etc. and had a great time!

MBTP math again dealt with identifying whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group, and when counting objects, say the number while pairing each object with one and only one number card, and each number card with one and only one object.

For McRuffy math, Peanut worked on writing the numbers 0-10, and was introduced to the number line. He learned more shapes, including hexagon and rhombus. We played games to reinforce what he’s learning, and we both had a great time!

One thing I’ve noticed and am beginning to wonder about is Peanut’s writing ability. He does pretty well with tracing the letters and numbers, but when he does them freehand it’s almost like he doesn’t see the lines. To me, this is sending up a red flag that maybe he might have dysgraphia. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this, and doing a bit more research into it.

This coming week is our first week off, so we may take out the past two books and read them just for fun this week. I’m hoping to get a few things done around the house like some sewing, tidying up the bedroom, and getting a head start on some Christmas gifts I want to make.

I hope your week was as exciting and fun as ours was! Till next time, may your mornings be filled with coffee, and your nights filled with chocolate!

Our first week of Moving Beyond the Page level 4-5 (kindergarten) and McRuffy Color Math Kindergarten

 

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I have to admit, I really love these two curricula! I know, it’s only the first week, but instead of feeling like “oh, gosh, I guess we better get our school day done”, I’m now thinking that I can’t wait to get into our school day, it’s so addictive, so fun and educational. I’m actually enjoying teaching Peanut! In fact, some mornings this week I actually was tempted to wake up Peanut early just so I could start our day! I didn’t though, because I really do cherish the couple of hours I get when he’s asleep. Plus I need my coffeee to kick in before taking on the world! Still, I noticed that this was a real nice change from last year!

So what makes these curricula stand out from the crowd? Wow, where to start! I think what I appreciate most is how both McRuffy and Moving Beyond the Page are organized by each day. I love that they aren’t overly scripted, but gives me enough information that I can teach with ease. Also, each list exactly what I will need each day.

Moving beyond the Page even goes a step further than other curricula – the 4-5 level includes a materials kit, and inside this huge box is almost everything we need for each and every lesson! Oh, and it’s not just all tossed into the box, each of the 30 units have all the needed items for that specific unit bagged up, labeled with the unit number, and ready to go. There is also a few “general materials” bags that contain things you will use over and over for several units – things like paint brushes, paint, play dough, etc. I absolutely love how it’s so grab n go! Also, the quality of the materials is definitely first rate! I haven’t reached the unit on dinosaurs yet, but I hear that this is the only unit that gives families issues since the cardstock dinosaur skeleton is too delicate. I’m thinking about looking for a balsa wood puzzle/model instead, but if I can’t find one, I may try to reinforce the cardstock with cardboard from cereal boxes or boxes we get at the grocery.

So what did our first school week look like? Well, we read the book A is For Musk Ox every morning. It’s really funny, and we found lots of different things to do each day with it. First day we just read it cover to cover. Second day we introduced the sight word “you”, so I had Peanut look for that word on each page. Third day we tried to find the pictures of the things the musk ox covered up (ie. C is for clown musk ox – we looked for the clown on the page). The fourth day we concentrated on the sounds the letters of the alphabet made, and paid attention to how the musk ox described himself. The fifth day, Peanut told me in his words what was going on in each page.

For Social Studies and Science we studied musk oxen. We learned where they live, what they eat, their preditors, and even watched some videos of wolves hunting them, two males fighting, and even watched an episode of Wild Kratts about musk oxen! Did you know that they are the largest member of the goat family? Even I learned something new!

For Language arts we are learning the alphabet song, we learned the sight word “you”, and we practiced making the letter “a”. Since Peanut has fine motor issues, we have always had problems with writing. Moving Beyond the Page has helped us already. They have 2 handwriting options. Option 1 is a worksheet where the first few letters are traced, then the last few letters are done without any guidelines. Option 2 is for kids that can’t write yet. This option always helps to exercise the fine motor muscles, and still had Peanut learning the letter! For the uppercase A, Peanut placed tiny apple stickers on a die cut letter A.

The lowercase “a” had Peanut putting glue over 4 large letter “a’s”  then cutting some yarn and gluing it down to form the letter “a”.   After he did option 2, I had him try to do option 1, and he did pretty well!

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Then we learned the sound that “a” makes, and cut and glued the proper picture under the letter. Messy but fun!

On day 5 of this unit, we did a reading workshop – Peanut spent about 5 minutes with the book “A is For Musk Ox” and just enjoyed it on his own. Then we did a writing workshop. He began his student journal by drawing a picture of a musk ox, and then “wrote” about it himself. On the second page, he made a drawing of a dragon, some knights, and a castle, all under a nice yellow sun. He then dictated his story to me and I wrote it down for him.

Mathematics is included in Moving Beyond the Page, but it’s pretty basic. We practiced counting to 20, and wrote the numbers 1,2, and 3. Like Language Arts, this has 2 options, so first we took some shaving cream and put it in a tray, and Peanut wrote the numbers with his fingers in the shaving cream, messy but effective! Next I had him write them on the worksheet.

McRuffy Math is definitely worth the money! This week Peanut counted to 10, learned grouping (ie. take 4 counters and make 2 groups of 2 with them, setting up the groundwork for addition). He is learning to slow down and carefully count the items in front of him, but he also is learning to recognize what a group of 1, 2, 3, and 4 items look like without counting them. He reviewed his basic 2D shapes (square, triangle, etc) and actually learned some basic 3D shapes (cylinder, cube, cone, sphere). We did some work on patterning too, and also biggest, smallest, middle sized. Then he put all the numbers from 1-10 in order, and also learned to count backwards from 10-1! Each day also saw him tracing the numbers in the workbook, and even doing this brought on laughter. McRuffy Math is such a great fit for us!

For Art and Phys Ed we go back to Moving Beyond the Page. Peanut did at least one art project per day, either drawing or making a collage, and even though it was fun, it also reinforced those fine motor skills! A win-win!!! For gym, he acted like a musk oxen. He loved stamping his hooves and charging at a pillow, giving it a good head butt!

So our first week was fun, full of games, laughter, videos, too much glue (I need to get some glue sticks, the liquid ‘elmer’s glue’ is just way too messy for me – Peanut loves it though!) and tons of learning for both Peanut and me!

Would I recommend Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 for a Kindergarten aged child? No way! I would INSIST on it!!!! I truly wish I would have stumbled across it last year, but then I don’t think Peanut would have been ready for it then. The right curriculum at the right time makes a world of difference.

So now it’s Saturday, and I’m already anxiously and eagerly waiting for Monday and our 2nd unit to begin!