Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Studies

I haven't done a school report in awhile. So just for my own records here is our rundown of the last little while.

Math - Sophie is still plugging away at Singapore Math 3B and came to another review this week so we also read through another of our Mathematicians are People too book. This time it was Pythagoras. I used some of the ideas from this lens on Squidoo to enhance our reading. The kids really loved making the 3D Shapes. I can't say I ever could get the mobile to balance out just right but the kids still wanted to hang it from the ceiling so now we have a little mobile in the corner.

We are doing well with Latin. I am really enjoying learning this language. We have been learning how to use direct objects and a few more nouns and verbs. I like the way the lessons in our bookbuild on each other. And they introduce the different concepts in English before moving on to Latin. I feel like I am learning English grammar along with Latin. Sophie still chooses to do Latin to postpone doing her math. And it is funny to hear Henry and Ian spout out Latin phrases once in awhile. They especially loved it when we pointed out Yoda speaks as Latin would be spoken. I have heard "Jedi ego sum" a number of times recently.

Reading is getting easier for Ian. Explode the Code is getting easier for him and he is about half way through the 1 1/2 book. He is finally getting some of the words by sight and not having to sound out each word. He is doing well reading his McGuffey primer. Sophie is working through her Reader as well and has no problems reading each lesson. I am tempted to move her up to the next book but don't want to miss all the fun little stories and such so instead we are reading and discussing two a day so we can move through the book more quickly.
Henry is all of the sudden getting interested in reading and writing so I may get him the Ready, Set, and Go for the Code primers and get him started on those.

We have been learning all about he Periodic Table this week. We have read a few books on the subject and still have one more we are going to make our way through next week. We started making a Periodic Table Lapbook with ideas from this Lens on Squidoo and some from this page on Homeschool share.
The kids have really gotten to know the elements through a few games we have played as well.

History has sort of been light the last few weeks. We still read our chapter of Story of the World and maybe read a few go- alongs but that is about it. I can't say this has been that exciting. It may be just the subjects or the time period or something but we have a bunch of other things to study and this hasn't been our first choice.

Sophie has chosen a new animal to study so we have been reading all about tigers the last few weeks. We are making another lapbook to go along with this. Ian is doing some of the work on the lapbook. I don't know if I should let him do his own animal report/lapbook or just have the kids do one together. At the moment one is all I can handle so I guess that question is answered.

There is all sorts of other things we have been doing and reading. But the baby is crying and I need to go... so maybe they are for another post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

He is Writing his Name

For a long time Henry has been signing his name as just an H. I have actually found this infamous signature drawn on the wall, in books and just about anywhere this little guy goes. We even have a nice red pencil H drawn onto the ceiling of his room above the door. He must have climbed the door frame with a pencil in hand and somehow drew his H while still holding on with the other hand.

Recently he is showing interest in doing the other letters of his name. Today I found him with a sheet of paper doing H and then E over and over. I wrote the rest of his name on the paper for him to use as a guide. He then proceeded to write those letters over and over again.

He wasn't concerned with putting them next to each other. He was just practicing the letters.

He is catching on to writing pretty well. I am not surprised. He is a very agile little guy and had lots of examples to follow around him. I just hope I don't see the E-N-R-Y on the ceiling to go along with the H that is already there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Outdoor Hour - Stop at the Oak

We take a lot of "walks" around the block. My kids don't usually like to actually walk. They always want to take their scooters or ride their bikes. They still stop along the way to look at, watch, pick, or examine different things. Lately I have been pushing the baby in a stroller and I find myself saying things like "don't go too far ahead" or "stay where I can see you". I realized today I can give much more specific instructions and my kids know exactly what I mean. Today I used phrases like "Stop at the skipper butterfly garden" , "don't go past the Morning Glories" or "stop at the big oak tree". We have become so acquainted with our neighborhood that the kids know exactly where these phrases are describing.

So today while the kids waited for me to catch up to them at the oak tree. I snapped this photo.
The boys were looking at a tree stump that is being pulled out while Sophie is gathering acorns which are all over the ground around this tree. When I finally reached them the boys were excited to tell me about the stump with all the roots showing. Sophie told me about the squirrels that must have munched some of these acorns.
We took a moment to look at the leaves of the oak tree which were very spikey. These should help us identify which kind of oak tree this is. (When I got home I looked it up and it is a Coastal Live Oak, I think).

As we continued on our walk the kids also pointed out a few other things they found of interest. They noticed the citrus trees and the changing color of the fruit. The lemons, grapefruit and oranges all turning from green to their usual looking colors. They are headed toward ripeness.

Henry pointed these mushrooms out to me. They are quite large and he wanted to kick them and break them up. But I kept him from doing this so we could touch them and examine them a little closer. Sophie didn't want anything to do with them. I guess I have somehow instilled a real fear of touching mushrooms into her. She thinks any wild mushroom we see is poison.
I tried to tell her as long as we wash our hands after touching them we should be alright.

So we had a nice walk and I now have a better way to keep my kids from riding too far ahead of me as we go around the block. I just need to use the "landmarks" that they know and have learned on our many trips around the block. Why didn't I think of this sooner!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - What's in a Name?

I have one of the most common names in the world. It is an old Bible name and every culture has their own version. My Mom has told me that she had two names picked out for me. I was either going to be Sarah or Emily. Evidently my parents didn't even bother picking out a boys name for me. My mom wanted a girl so much. I am glad I ended up with Sarah. It is a lovely name with a lot of history and means Princess, the perfect name for a me. And it isn't a name kids could do a lot with when they tried to haze me in school. I think they tried Triceratops but usually they just took jabs at my last name, which was way easier.
I was one of 4 girls in my Kindergarden class that all had the same name. So I went by Sarah and my last names initial for the first few years of school. It seems like I have always known other girls, ladies and woman with my name. My brother even married someone with my name. (I remember the first time my sister Julie, who has downs syndrome, realized there were two "Sewahs". She just kept holding up two fingers and laughing and saying "two") Since they live in the town I grew up in she often got mistaken for me when people just saw the name. Often she ended up being called "the other Sarah _____". When I got engaged I told her I was finally going to let her have the name. The family I married into also already has a Sarah. So I will have to share my new name with her until she decides to get married.

Sarah isn't used quite as much any more but I do still hear it given to babies once in awhile. It is nice to hear girls of all different ages called by my name. It will never be an "old woman name". But also doesn't seem too youthful for an older woman. I like my name but then I haven't really had answer to any other except "Sister" (while I was a missionary and sometimes now at church) or "Mama" which is one of the best names around!

For other Wordful Wednesday posts on this topic check out Chocolate on my Cranium

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Outdoor Hour - Fall Tree Study - Boxelder

I took the kids out last week to pick a tree to study for our Year long Tree Study. I pointed out the ginko tree in the front of our neighbor's house, or there are several sweet gum trees growing in our neighborhood. But the kids wanted to do the boxelder trees. There are two of them in our neighborhood and the kids love these trees because of the seeds that they get to throw in the air and watch spiral as they fall. So we got on our bikes and scooters and rode over to these trees for our up close study. Henry of course wasted no time before climbing up into one. Ian and Sophie took a few minutes to look at the leaves and the seeds and the bark of the tree. The leaves are in the process of drying out. They don't really change color as much as just dry up. They do yellow but not a beautiful crisp yellow like some of the other trees around us. This one just sort of dries up and drops its leaves.

The seeds aren't dry enough yet for throwing. They are still rather green so the kids were happy to sit and do some drawings and rubbings of the leaves.

But only for a few minutes. They really wanted to continue their bike ride.
So our tree study was only about 10 minutes long but we will revisit this tree often as we ride around the block and for a few more tree studies as the seasons change.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fast Forward

Everyday seems to pass as if in fast forward. I keep thinking of things to share in a post but never seem to fit in the time to actually sit and write. Here are a few abreviated things that we have been up to over the past week.

I have been trying to make soup more, especially since the weather is turning colder. So I decided to give butternut squash soup a try. I took some of the squash that my Dad gave me recently and made a huge pot of soup. Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples and carrots along with the squash makes for a very sweet tasting soup.
It was rather labor intensive and I ended up with a burned hand and squash soup splattered all over my kitchen. Evidently my blender doesn't puree soup very well. I actually tried two different blenders and neither did that well. I think I need a square shaped jar rather than round. The soup just sprayed out the top every time I turned it on. I just don't know how to do it, I guess. It went everywhere. And hot soup flying around the kitchen isn't really that fun.

This picture was taken after most of the mess was already cleaned up.
It is now days later and I am still finding squash soup splatters in places. It is tasty and made enough that I put some in the freezer for another time. I just wish my kids would give it a try.

We have had a few rainy days recently. It is rather nice to hear the sound of a storm outside while we are inside, warm, dry and reading a book. But between blustery days we have hit the park a few times. Molly enjoys the swing.In fact all my kids love to swing. Ian and Henry have recently been able to get themselves going and pump themselves. It is so nice not to have to push them on the swings anymore.

Ian and Henry are always trying to show me how high they can climb up poles. I think I have a few monkeys in my house.
It does look a bit scary to see such a little guy dangling from such a high bar but he really does it all the time and is so proud of himself when he gets to the top.
The boys have also really enjoyed their sport classes. Ian is really doing well at Karate and my husband, who takes him each week, says it really is the sport for him. Ian is a very deliberate child. He thinks about things and doesn't want to do something until he can do it well. Karate seems to fit him like a glove.

Henry loves soccer. Ian usually goes along to "watch" his practices but Henry really enjoys getting out there and kicking the ball around. He came home from practice and showed me the right way to kick the ball using the inside of the foot rather than the toes. For a little 4 year old that is progress. I am just glad he is having fun.

Dad has been having a lot of fun tagging along too. He gets to play goalie most of the time.

We sort of took a light school week. I had a book I really needed to finish because it was due back to the library and I had renewed it as many times as they would let me. So I took one day and read it and let the kids play rather than do school. And then on another day I woke up and just didn't feel like pushing school work that day so we enjoyed some games, walks and baking instead. It certainly is nice that I have the option to just do nothing some days. My kids don't seem to mind either.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Was this boy raised in a Barn?

There are times I wonder what happened or what I have done/not done to make this boy such a trouble maker. He seems to constantly drive me crazy, push my buttons, and embarrass the heck out of me. He just seems to have come hard wired to make me work and try my patience.

This evening, after a long day of loud kids and lots of shopping, we decided to stop at Subway to partake of some of their $5.00 foot long sandwiches for dinner. The kids sat nicely at their table and enjoyed their meal and were pretty well behaved. As we were cleaning up our mess and getting the baby back into her car seat the three other kids went outside to wait. I looked out the window and saw that they were standing on one of the picnic tables that were in front of the shop. As waved to Sophie to tell her to get down I notice Henry pull his pants down so he can pee. I run out the door in hopes of stopping him before he....I didn't make it. He peed all over the picnic table. So now I am not only embarrassed that my kids would stand on the picnic table (evidently they were afraid of the rain that is supposed to be coming tonight and needed to be under the umbrella) but I have a little guy who feels like he needs to mark his territory. When I ask him why he did it he just says "I needed to go". I pointed out that there is a bathroom right inside the store. He just shrugged his shoulders and ran to the car.

This kind of behavior is pretty normal for Hen. He is a very spirited, wild, naughty, mischievous little guy and there are many days I just wonder what I can do with him. His behavior is so difficult to deal with. I have always joked that it is a good thing he is so cute or he would have been sent back long ago.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We spent a few days at Grandma's house this weekend. It is apple picking time so the adults spent a lot of time pealing, cutting and canning apples. The kids spent a lot of their time out side. The weather was perfect so I often sent them out to enjoy it rather than sit in front of the computer, which they do a lot while at Grandma's house.

At one point, early on in our visit, I realized I hadn't seen Sophie for a few hours. She had been outside for a really long time. The boys had come in and gone out several times but Sophie hadn't made an appearance. So I walked out onto the porch and looked around to see if I could see her.

I walked toward Grandpa's garden and orchard because I knew that was one of the kids favorite places to play. And sure enough, there was Sophie, in the orchard, very intent on what she was doing.

So I walked around to the gate and went inside. Sophie didn't even realize I had come out until I started to ask her about what she was doing. She quickly started telling me all about her project.

She welcomed me to "Roxaboxen" and showed me around. Roxaboxen is a book that we rowed a few years ago when we were going through the Five in a Row curriculum. It is still one of my kids favorite books to have read to them. I often find Sophie reading it to herself. But this is the first time she actually made her own little town of Roxaboxen. In the book the children made a little village or town, with houses, streets, and other buildings all outlined in rocks. The kids then played all sorts of games in this little town of Roxaboxen.

Sophie showed me her house, the general store (complete with some of Grandpa's tomatoes to sell), the church, Ian's house and the jail (Ian is the policeman). Each house or building was built around one of the fruit trees.
We came out to the orchard several times during our visit in order to see the progress the kids were making on their little town. Every time we pulled them away from this project for a bit, they would quickly ask to go out again and work on their village.

After two days of hard work the little town was looking good. The streets were outlined starting from the gate and each tree was nicely decorated to look like whatever purpose it was designated for.

I always love to see what my kids come up with when they have nothing to do. The cousins they usually play with were busy during the few days we were up there and I tried to make sure we kept the movie and computer time to a minimum during our stay. Especially since one of the days we were up there was a school day.

Roxaboxen was almost all Sophie. It was her plan and she carried out most of the construction but the boys sure had a good time playing out there and helping her dreamed up little world come to life. I love to see their imaginations take over.

As we were loading up the car to head back home Ian made the comment "We didn't get to see our cousins even once while we've been here. But we had fun anyway".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Educating Ourselves

The other day while at the library I ran into another homeschooling Mother. Our kids were in a science class last year at the community center and we have run into each other a few times at the park. We started talking about homeschooling and how we go about it. She is part of a charter school in the area and receives funds from the state because she is a member of this charter school. I asked her what being a member of the charter school entails. She explained that her kids have to take a standardized test at the end of the year and that she has a teacher/mentor that comes once a month or so to check on things and make sure they cover all the required subjects. She explained that the mentor doesn't really do a whole lot with her. Mostly just looks at the children's work and tells her that she is doing a good job.

I have often been tempted to join this same charter school so I too can receive a little extra money to pay for classes and activities for the kids. This mother explained that she uses her charter school money to pay for gymnastics and karate classes for her kids as well as the science club classes that we had originally met at. I am tempted by the money but then hate the idea of loosing some of my homeschooling freedom. I really like being in charge of choosing the subjects and they way those subjects are taught. I like the freedom of setting my own schedule and moving at the speed of my child rather than what someone else thinks my kids should be able to do. So for now I continue to fill out my private school affidavit and forgo the dangling carrot of money from the state. It has been really tempting lately because of the state of the economy and what it has meant to our family. We have decided it is better to tighten our belts rather than give up some of liberty.

That being said.... what have we been doing for school lately?

Sophie finished her Singapore Math 3A book recently and was so excited to start the next book that she did the first exercise the same day as doing the last review in the old one.
Ian has been doing a few file folder Math games rather than his Singapore Math book. Thanks Cellista for the links to the file folder games. I also had a file folder games book sitting on my shelf that I broke out and finally made the games. The kids sure have enjoyed them.

In our history studies, we have recently traveled to Canada with Henry Hudson and then visited so Samurai in Japan and this week celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the pilgrims at Plymouth. Story of the World is still our guide and we have enjoyed a few read alongs each week and a lot of coloring pages. Henry and Ian have even started to really enjoy coloring and actually finished the entire dover coloring book "The story of the Pilgrims" this week. One Story of the World chapter a week seems to be working out quite well so far. And we enjoy jumping around from country to country each week.

Science has been interesting. We have been reading a few different biographies of Marie Curie and Sophie even wrote a short report on her. The Mike Venezia biography has even been part of Sophie's night time reading of late. She loves this particular biography series.
We have also been trying to do experiments as much as we can. We have made chocolate dipped pretzels and discussed the states of matter and how heat and cold can alter the state of chocolates matter (a very fun experiment, one we all enjoyed and the kids have asked for us to do it again.) We have also made oceans in a bottle to see how oil and water do not make a solution.
Sophie has also decided she wants to have an animal of the month for us to study. She has always been an animal lover and even if we do other science she still wants to learn all she can about certain animals. She choose dolphins for October and we have been reading a number of books about dolphins and have started a dolphin lapbook to guide our studies and collect our findings.

Ian has been doing his explode the code rather reluctantly recently. He finished ETC book 1 and has started Book 1 1/2. It is a bit more difficult than the first book and he has to do more reading and thinking than before and it is stretching him a bit. But he is learning and reading more and more all the time. He has also been reading a few beginning readers to me as well.

Sophie hasn't been doing any formal grammar studies. I do feel sort of guilty about this. But she is writing reports in her other subjects so she is at least writing things. And she does practice her penmanship by copying some of her favorite poems. In our Latin lessons there is also some grammar covered as well. Learning how latin works is also helping us figure out how English works. Before we learn a new concept in Latin there is often a lesson in English grammar to show us how it works in English. So Latin is doing a lot of good for us.

We have been listening to Ginger Pye and reading the American Girl Rebecca books in the afternoons.

We have been spending time outside walking/riding around the block or playing at the park a lot. It has been nice fall weather and we have tried to enjoy it at much as we can.

The kids each have their activities and classes too. Sophie has really enjoyed her cooking class. They have made their own noodles and sauce, Pizza, a thai food dish and some different dips so far. She looks forward to it each week. Ian has had a month of Karate and has been showing off his new kicks and punches. Henry usually goes to "watch" since he isn't old enough for the class yet. He and Ian practice their moves on each other a bit too often however. Henry loves having soccer practice and this time Ian usually goes to "watch" and often partners up with Henry to practice kicking the ball to each other.
Sophie also has started her weekly activity days with church and has brought home a number of cute projects.

So we are very busy and tired by the end of each day. My husband and I usually end up falling asleep if we turn on a movie at night and often don't even bother to try. We just read a little and go to bed early so we can get up and do it all over again. It sure feels nice to know that we have been blessed so abundantly to have the opportunity to have these 4 beautiful children and the means in order to provide for their needs and education.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Musings

I haven't posted much of late. I guess I just don't feel like anything is exciting or interesting enough to post about. But here is a sampling of what I have been up, or thinking about lately.

  • I have been reading a lot. I finally got around to reading Ender's Game. It has sat on my shelf for months and months. It was very good and now I need to find the next books in the series.
    I also read Wednesday Wars which was a very fun read. It is interesting to get inside the mind of an 11 year old boy. Ender was also and 11 year old boy... hmm.... I think I need to read something about an 11 year old girl. I guess it is good I picked up Before Green Gables from the library last week.
    I know none of these books is real difficult reading but I need something to read while I sit and nurse or rock the baby. These seem to fit the bill perfectly. Wednesday Wars did get me to read Shakespere's The Tempest since it was the only Shakespeare play mentioned in the book that I hadn't read yet. It was a quick read and now I can really giggle thinking of Ariel wearing yellow tights with feathers on the.... well you know.

  • I have been baking a lot lately. I think it is because the temperature has dropped and turning on the oven actually feels nice now. Or it may have something to do with all the great pumpkin recipes that people keep posting. Sophie actually yold me she was all pumpkined out for awhile. I guess I will have to find other recipes to bake. It has been fun trying out new things.

  • Sophie had ear tubes put back in. This is her third set but fluids behind the ear drum are affecting her hearing so we put them in again. I have to make sure to pick up some new wax ear plugs so she can swim and bathe without water getting in. An inconvenience but I don't want her hearing affected, or worse, her ears damaged.

  • My husband drinks Almond Milk and I think we are all going to switch to drinking it. It is more expensive (If I had that blendtec then I could make my own) but the more I read about cow's milk or even soy milk the less I like them. We are slowly heading toward a vegan diet. I don't see us entirely giving up animal meats but dairy is one we may faze out.

  • My kids aren't that excited about green smoothies anymore. I guess having one everyday got a little old. Ian still drinks his without complaining but Sophie and Henry act like I am torturing them. So I need to get creative again or else cook a plate of spinach and have them try to eat it that way. Then we will see who is torturing who. I personally think the spinach and other veggies go down a lot easier when mixed with the banana, apples, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries or oranges. One small cup a day is all I have been "forcing" them to drink. Is that too much to ask?

  • Christmas is only a short two months and some, away and I haven't done any shopping for it yet. I think I am in trouble. Usually I have a few things stashed away that I had been collecting over the year. This year I have nothing. I guess I need to really start online shopping or something. I don't even know what my kids really need or even if they really need anything. We already have too much stuff in our house. I wonder how upset they would be if there wasn't anything under the tree? Maybe I will just buy next year's school workbooks and such and put them under the tree. That is about all my kids really need. They are spoiled as it is and I hate to buy things just because I know they expect something. I want it to be something they could really use or need. I guess we will see what turns up come Christmas morning, at the moment I am at a loss and funds are tight so it will be a "less is more" kind of year.

I guess that is it for now... Molly is getting too fussy to even pretend to ignore.