Saturday, February 27, 2010

Our work week.

This week has been non stop revolution. We listened to the Story of the World chapter about the American Revolution we read books about the Revolutionary war and even watched Movies about the heros of that time period. And we still have so many more books and videos to get through. Maybe we need another week just to cover it all. I am happy that my children remember so much about the events of this time from when we did a unit study 2 summers ago based around the American Girl Felicity books. We read through a lot of these same books and about a lot of these same men when we did that study. Even Henry could tell me about the Boston Tea party and Paul Revere's ride before we even listened to the stories again. We made some American flags and read a biography of Betsy Ross. That is about it for projects. I just can't bring myself to be too creative. My kids didn't seem to mind.

Henry has graduated out of just cutting. I printed out a few sheets for him to cut and paste. This one is to help him with alphabet order as well as just cutting and pasting.
I really love the internet. It is so nice to be able to go to the computer and do a simple search and there are countless options right there me to print out.

Sophie has started a new Language Arts program. She has been fighting it for so long I thought a change of approach might work. It has reduced the outbursts but they haven't totally disappeared. The new program is sort of like Five in a Row. We have a picture book of the week and she has to find different devises that the author uses in that book. There is some writing involved but she doesn't seem to have as much trouble doing it as she has in the past. We have only done two different books, but this week went pretty smoothly. Sophie could work independently. She could also do as much or as little as she wanted each day as long as the assignments were done by the end of the week. This week's book was about spiders. Maybe that had something to do with it. Sophie loves non-fiction. Or maybe the workbook style is easier for her at the moment.

Ian is quickly making his way through Explode the code 2 1/2 and is reading at least a page or two of a book aloud to me each day. This week he decided to give The Cat in the Hat a try. It is very slow going but he is reading it, sounding out many of the longer words but getting most of the sight words.

Sophie received three of these Vox musician biographies for Christmas. We have listened to them several times. I keep thinking I need to order a few more. They are only $3 each on Amazon and it would be nice to listen to more than just Bach, Beethoven and Tchaikovski over and over again. They are well done and we love to listen to the music that is included.

Science didn't happen this week. Latin didn't either. I need to make sure to squeeze these in next week. I am just finding it hard to juggle all the different levels of each of the children. I do math one on one with each of them and reading one on one with each of them each day. It is hard to get in other subjects as well as all the normal house work and such. So I am still working on balancing everything. But I feel like we are getting in what is most important and the rest will come as it will.

Molly is still scooting around backward and getting herself into funny places.
It is going to be a lot of work keeping this girl out of trouble once she really gets fast. Any piece of paper on the floor becomes something to play with and eat. I have forgotten how hard it is to baby proof everything. With three older siblings who love to draw and leave their papers and pencils all over, it is going to be a challenge.

We had a pretty good week. We didn't get everything in but we still did a lot and hopefully we will be able to squeeze in some of the other things next week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

All in A Day

Wednesday is always one of the busiest days of the week for us. Here is a quick glance through this busy day.
Sophie had an audio book going right after breakfast. She is listening to King of the Wind again. Once we got to a stopping place we decided to finally get started on our academics.
After our usual start of day devotional time, I decided to do something a little different. I asked if the kids wanted to learn how to read music. Sophie was the only one who stuck with the lesson. We went through a few basics and looked a few of the simple music books that I have. I am certainly no music expert and have never really had any music theory but Sophie didn't seem to mind. She enjoyed me teaching her the letter names of the notes and where they are on the staff, we clapped out a few rhythms and even played a few of the really easy things. She even decided to write her own piece of music that she entitled "Flowers in the Wind".
Then the kids did their table work. Ian did Explode the Code and Math. Sophie did her Math.
Henry finished his cutting book. He is excited to try some cutting and pasting for a change. I haven't got a pasting workbook so I think I am going to have to look online to see if there are any free pages we can do tomorrow. Molly took a really good nap and woke up happy! She was very content to just sit on the floor and play with her toys.

After making and eating a little lunch (Green smoothies for all, YUMMY!) we had a little more work to do. Sophie needed to practice some spelling words so instead of having her write them we broke out the white board and she made her words with magnetic letters. The boys of course had to participate so Henry did the alphabet in order and Ian spelled out his entire name. He is really trying to learn how to spell his middle and last names.

Molly of course just hung out and looked cute and smiled at anyone who would look at her. She was in a good mood today!

Wednesday is always park day. We headed to the park to play with some friends. Henry showed off his monkey skills. Molly enjoyed the Sunshine (There was a little sun the popped out between the clouds). Sophie and Ian gathered up sticks and built a Leprechaun trap. My kids always find fun things to do at the park.

We left the park early because Sophie needed to go to her Lego Robotics class. This is given at the YMCA so the boys and Molly went to the Kids corner and I went to the Cardio room, burned off a bunch of calories and watched some Hockey. I picked up the boys and let them shoot baskets while we waited for Sophie's class to finish.

This girl LOVES this class. She was so excited to show me what she had programed her robot to do.
15 minutes after Sophie's Robotics class ended, the three older kids went to Karate class. My husband met us there so he got to work out and picked up the kids from their class when it was over.

Molly and I went home and had a bubble bath.

Somewhere in there Laundry got put in the washer and dryer and even folded. Meals were cooked, eaten and the dishes cleaned. There were even a few story books read and I talked to my Mom briefly on ichat. I honestly don't know how it all fits into the day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Short School Week

We only had three normal school days this week. We took a nice long weekend which left us with just three days. Since most of the schools in our area have the whole week off of school for "ski week", I didn't push anything too hard but we still needed some structure and we all function a little better when we keep to our usual schedule.

We were really good at starting each day with our gospel study. After talking with my Sister in Law this weekend I added a few things to our devotional time routine. It now consists of a little scripture reading of some sort, at least one article from the current Friend magazine, singing through a primary song (usually the one we are working on this month in Primary), working on memorizing the articles of faith, and reading through one of the Gospel Standards. The kids have enjoyed this little mini FHE each morning. Sophie doesn't even mind doing most of the reading for this since this is usually done when I am nursing Molly. This takes about 20 min or so and I think it has worked out really well. We have only done it for 3 days so I guess we will see how well we keep to it.

Since Sophie has been doing the reading for devotional I decided to break out our Story of the World CD's so we could listen to our chapter rather than have her read it like she had been doing. I have missed listening to the CD's. The boys didn't want me to turn it off after just one chapter. I think I will have to put on some of the past chapters for us to listen to so we can review them. This week we heard about the wars over the Americas and specifically the French and Indian war.
In the afternoons I read aloud the book The Sign of the Beaver. I was surprised at how many chapters I made it through each day. The kids kept asking me to read the next one so I read, and read. I finished it in the three days and really enjoyed it. The author does a good job of depicting life just after the French and Indian War as settlers spread more and more onto Indian hunting lands. My kids broke out the indian dress up clothes that we had made a few years back when we read about the American Girl Kaya and had a great time dancing around like "savages".

Sophie did some Math each day. Negative numbers haven't thrown her off at all. She seems to get the concept and had no trouble flying through the exercises each day. Ian too is doing his math almost all by himself now. He certainly has his addition facts in his head. He doesn't have to think about them too much. He must have been listening all the time while we have reviewed things with Sophie.

Ian is doing 3 pages of Explode the Code each day. I don't do a whole lot with this except check his work afterward. He did have trouble when they showed him a picture of a boat and he had to figure out that it was a skiff. Other than that he is doing the work all on his own. His writing is getting better all the time and I can tell his spelling is better than Sophie's. She never went through Explode the Code or anything like it. She just read without me having to do any phonics programs but I can tell he is learning the phonics rules while Sophie is still writing words the way they sound and often leaving out letters.
Sophie and I did play a spelling game this week. I have some magnetic letters and we made a little crossword like puzzle together with the words from a book that we used last week for some of the Language lessons. She seemed to like this so I think I will get those letters out again for other games. We didn't really do any writing. I have decided to give her a break from writing or copy work since we had such fights about it recently. She did her Chinese writing and that was good enough for me.

As for Science we read a book about Calcium which the kids enjoyed. And as an impromptu lesson we learned how to identify spiders since we found a huge one in our house.
We wanted to make sure it wasn't a bad spider that we needed to worry about so I snapped a picture of it and then we went online to see if we could find out more about it. To the best of our knowledge we had a Zoropsis Sinimana Spider and most likely more living in our house. They are not native to the area but seem to be harmless, THANK GOODNESS! since it was found in the room where the baby sleeps.

Speaking of the baby... Molly has officially started getting mobile. She isn't crawling exactly. She pushes herself backward on her tummy and then back to sitting.The kids just get a good laugh at Molly when she gets stuck under to couch. Nothing is safe, we have installed a baby gate in our hallway to make sure she doesn't end up in the lego strewn boys room or the bathroom which never seems to get the door shut or the toilet flushed. I think we are going to need to work on some of these basic life skills.

That was our busy few days.


Hurray it is Saturday. Henry is always asking how many more days until it is Saturday. He loves Saturday because this is the day my kids FINALLY get to play computer games. They do get to play computer games on other days but not the "fun ones".

This is the only day (unless we are at Grandma's house) that my kids get to play things like Lego Star Wars or Lego Indiana Jones on the lego site or visit their pets in Webkinz world. It is also the only day I allow spiderman to come out of hiding as well.

They are each given one hour on Saturday to play whatever game or games they want. Which means they spend a lot of time thinking about, watching and playing games on Saturday. They even try to convince us to take them to Fry's so they can play Mario Brothers on the Wii. They still dream on getting a Wii but each Saturday I am reminded exactly why we don't have one and why we will probably never get one.

They do get some time on the computer on other days but they have to finish all their school work, clean their rooms and finish any other chores I give them before getting to play. Often it never happens because they get lost in playing with actual toys. Legos, playmobil or some combination of things usually ends up scattered about their rooms so computer games are forgotten. But when they do earn computer time during the week they usually only have a choice of more education games. Henry loves Alice Green Fingers where he gets to plant and harvest a little farm and then sell the produce. Ian has had Sophie teaching him Zoo Tycoon which has been Sophie's favorite game for years. She knows everything there is to know about that game. They also occationally play Venture Africa where they get to create an african habitat and see how all the animals interact. This one is actually really hard. I haven't been able to get very far through the tutorial rounds.
Every once in awhile we even have Zuma tournaments.I know this isn't educational at all but it is fun and it is something we do all together.

So Saturday is game day. They don't have to earn their hour like they do on other days, and they get to choose any game they want. My kids aren't deprived because we don't have a Wii. They get to play games it is just not available everyday and at anytime.

Ian is bugging me to let him have his hour. Evidently I have had my computer time for the day and it is time to turn it over to the kids for the rest of the day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Try Chinese

Over the past few weeks I have have had a very difficult time getting Sophie to write anything. She throws tantrums about doing copy work. Hates having to do write ups for Science or History. She won't even write a story to go along with a picture she draws. So I was a little shocked to see what her new favorite free time activity is.

I picked up a number of books about China, Chinese New Year, and one book called Long is a Dragon , which is about Chinese writing.
Sophie has spent a lot of time with this book the last few days. She made a bunch of Valentines to give to family with Chinese proverbs on them. She has been making up sentences and writing them in English and then Chinese. She writes them left to right like we do in English rather than vertical like Chinese is usually written. I am not complaining at least she is writing.

These are some of her early attempts. I didn't get pictures of the really good ones before she gave them to Grandma and Grandpa.

I love it that she finds things to entertain herself like this. Our table, the past two weeks has almost always been covered with little scraps of paper she has cut into dragons, masks or Valentines of some sort, each with a little chinese saying on them.

I need to stop getting so frustrated that she doesn't write enough. She finds ways to learn what she need to as long as I fill our home with interesting books and supplies to create with. She takes over the rest.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Weekend

We took a long weekend and spent a number of days at Grandma's house. This is always our vacation spot of choice. It has it all. Great outdoor activities and lots of playmates. The cousins that live nearby come over and play, run around and make a lot of noise. Just what the kids need.

Grandpa always seems to have a big bunch of sticks and such to burn out in the pasture. I have a bunch of fire bugs that have a little too much fun throwing things into the flames.

Aunt Julie is always excited to see us come for a visit. She really likes to watch the little kids play and makes sure they don't get into trouble.

My boys are always so excited to see the one boy cousin in the area. He is 12, but doesn't seem to mind too much that these boys think he is GREAT!

And finally for Valentines day this year I decided to get each of the kids a poster for their room rather than a card or toys or anything (I couldn't swing, and didn't want to do, the expensive Valentines Day gifts like they got last year). These are the ones I picked out for them. Sophie was given Esther, Ian received Joseph of Egypt and Henry loves his David and Goliath.

They are now hanging on their walls and they love them.

I hope you all had a great Valentines day!