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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 senior kindergarten begins!

Captain’s log

Stardate 07072017…

We have begun our new mission, a 1 year voyage to explore, find new and interesting things, to boldly go and learn!

Our first week has come to an end, but my promising young ensign has truly shown a lot of exuberance and determination.

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We spotted an interesting creature in a book we read, A Is For Musk Ox, and Ensign Peanut studied it in detail. I’m impressed by the facts that he was able to provide us with in the Social Studies lab – his knowledge of the Musk Oxen is quite astounding. He was able to inform me of their habitat (snowy tundra in   places like Canada’s North and in Greenland), their diet (mainly grass and plants), that they live in groups called a herd, they have hooves and horns, they charge as fast as a car, and that wolves are their predators.

In the Language Arts bay, he learned to print the capital and lowercase letter a, what sounds it makes, and also learned the vocabulary word “herd”.

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He also learned the sight word “you”. Also, he has almost completely memorized the alphabet song! He concluded his week of LA by using two pages in his journal. The first page has an illustration of a baby musk ox, and he wrote about it in his own “handwriting” . On the second page, he drew a picture of a dragon, a castle, and knights. He dictated his story to me, and I dutifully wrote it down, word for word (see photo below). This journal will definitely show his progress as he gets further along in his studies.

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He also spent time in the Mathematics department. He has successfully learned how to count to 14 without help, and recognized the numbers 0-20 with ease. He knows the basic 2D shapes, and has also learned what a cylinder, cone, and cube are. Sphere shapes are a bit trickier, he prefers to call them a ball! He also is learning to write the numbers from 0-10, and has been doing very well as you can see:

The arts lab seems to be a favorite for him. This week Ensign Peanut made several drawings of musk oxen, and even did a mixed media piece using crayons, glue, cotton balls, and yarn.

To help unwind, he also visited the gym, and had fun imitating a musk ox. He stomped his feet, let out a snort, then came crashing into a pillow head first just like a pair of musk oxen do.

We Now have two days of rest and relaxation, then on to our next adventure!

Captain out.

Almost ready for our 2017 – 2018 school year!

It has been a hard couple of weeks here. Rainy season is in full tilt. Tropical storm Bret ripped through the island. We all came down with a cold. But things got a bit bright last Saturday. Peanut’s curriculum from Moving Beyond the Page arrived!

This 27.7 pound box of awesomeness brightened up my day. I am amazed at how well this curricula is organized, and how much fun and learning will be taking place over the next year.

31 books were included, and they range from old classics, newberry award winners, and new books that should be in any children’s home library.

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Also in the box was pretty much all the materials to implement this curriculum. They came in a separate box, my 8″ fire tablet is on it to demonstrate the size, it’s huge!:

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And inside is an arts and crafts dream! General supplies like play dough, paint powder, yarn, butcher’s paper, construction paper, etc. plus 30 ziploc bags of supplies sorted out by each unit. No sorting out, no scrambling for weird items. It’s almost completely grab n go!

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Also included (yes, there’s more!) is 30 flash cards for the word of the week, alphabet flash cards, number 1 – 20 flash cards, an index box to store them in, and a laminated number chart from 1 – 100, and a laminated map of the world!

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I chose to use the online instruction guide and student pages, both for easier access to all the web links, and to save a bit of money since I wouldn’t have to pay shipping, duty or taxes on them. It’s exactly the same content as the hard copies, but to me it seems more convenient. I can access it on the computer, tablet, or smart phone! If I know ahead of time that we’ll be homeschooling somewhere without internet, I can easily copy and paste the unit into Word and print it out. Easy as can be!

So what is this curricula missing? What do we still need to get? The usual school supplies like pencils, crayons, colored pencils, markers, erasers, glue, a ruler, tape, and a stapler. Oh, and shaving cream. Yep, shaving cream!

I’m also getting a separate math curriculum, even though MBTP does cover math every week, Peanut can use the extra math practice from a stand-alone math program. I’ll write more about what we chose for math when we pick it up (it arrived at the shipping office yesterday, we’ll be picking it up Saturday!)

 

McRuffy math?

So by now I am absolutely convinced I want Moving Beyond the page level 4-5 for Peanut’s  2017-2018 school year. That’s a given! I honestly am very excited and anxious to order it, and can’t wait till it arrives so we can jump right into all the wonderful stories, activities, and leaning some amazing things along the journey through this coming school year!

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But math. Oh boy, why are you so hard to choose! What I really wanted was RightStart Math 2nd edition, but WOWZERS!!!! the price!!!! I would need to sell a kidney and take out a second mortgage! $294 for one year’s worth of math!!!!! Ouch! Don’t forget the cost to ship it here – probably another $150! That’s $450 for one year of math!!! No way! not in this lifetime!

Moving Beyond the page offers RightStart Math 1st edition, and it’s a more reasonable $157.50, but it’s 16 years old, it’s format is much more confusing, and it has a lot less hands on games than the 2nd edition. I mean, they updated it for a reason, right? I was set to just suck it up and order it along with our main curriculum, but it just felt like I was settling for second best somehow. I was not happy. So I thought maybe there may be a way to ‘tweak’ it, or find something very similar but more affordable.

So with a heavy sigh, I did some online research. With my trusted coffee steaming away in my hand, and soothing my frazzled soul, I read tons of reviews. Then I stumbled onto a website with a math curriculum selector and that was a total game changer! It has a fairly in depth quiz about your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and then spits out your scores for various math curricula.

The secular grade K-6 rates your compatibility for Beast Academy, Math Mammoth, Mathematical Reasoning, McRuffy, Miquon, RightStart, Saxon, Shiller, Singapore, and  Teaching Textbooks. The Christian math k-6 rates your compatibility for Abeka, Bob Jones, Christian Light Education, Horizons, Life of Fred, Lifepac, Math U See, Rod and Staff, and Switched on Schoolhouse.

Yes, I was surprised to learn that even math can have religion thrown in! I’m speechless! Not that I’m not spiritual, but for me, I’m not integrating our faith and beliefs with our school curriculum, it’s a very personal choice.

So I did the quiz, and was surprised (sort of) by our results! Our scores:

  • Score for Math Mammoth: 3 I own this, and was thinking of using it in a couple of years. Seems it may not be a good fit, at least not right now. Maybe down the road…
  • Score for Mathematical Reasoning: 8 We are using this now! It’s not awful, but not great either. It gets the job done, but with no explanations.
  • Score for McRuffy: 13 Wow! look at that! Tied with my first choice, and costs significantly less too! This just became my first choice!
  • Score for RightStart: 13 Reinforcing what I thought, RightStart would be the best option for us!
  • Score for Saxon: 6 this was my backup, and was seriously considering this since on paper it’s almost a RightStart clone! But look at that score! Less than what we use now!!!
  • Score for Math U See: 2 Ironic! This is what we started with at the beginning of our 2016-2017 year! We were not even half way through Primer when we decided enough was enough, and put it on the shelf. We may try to use it in a year or two, but it just wasn’t working for us on so many levels!

I had heard of McRuffy once before, but never thought anything about it. Maybe the name turned me off? I don’t know. But now, here I am looking at their website, checking out reviews, and falling more and more under McRuffy’s spell! I like it. I really like it.

Check out this Video, It lists the “cons” of this program as only going to grade 5! Wow!!! This says a lot. This program is so good that it’s a “con” that it doesn’t continue on into higher grades!

I am usually totally against getting curriculum from two or more places, but this year, I think I’ll make an exception. Two places. Two boxes to ship. And I’ll still come in just at my budget, maybe a few dollars more.

Kindergarten Color Math Curriculum | Main photo (Cover)

The best place I’ve found to get McRuffy’s is at Rainbow Resources, and they also sell the manipulatives kit too!

Math Manipulative Super Set (K-3) | Main photo (Cover)

So now I’m feeling pretty good about this year’s choices. I hope it’s a fun, eventful, learning filled year filled with tons of those light bulb turning on “aha” moments for Peanut! And lots of hands on art and crafts. And sparklies. We need sparklies! Now to reward myself with a warm cup of coffee, with a sprinkle of cocoa and a dash of vanilla! Way to go Mama!!!