Monday, August 29, 2011

Last weeks report

I can't believe how quickly time passes. Our days are so full and I have a lot of projects going so have little time to sit and post but I really want to keep a record of what we have been accomplishing so I am going to quickly do my weekly report for last week.

History - Story of the World chapter 2. We learned about the Nile and also about the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. The kids did a few Notebooking pages. These are working very well to give Sophie a little more work to do this year. She has been reading every book I bring home from the library so was able to fill in all sorts of interesting facts beyond just what SoTW had in the chapter.  I haven't taken a picture of all the books we read to go along with history but I am very sure my kids understand  why the Nile River was so important and many of the Gods and goddesses of Egypt by their pictures and could tell you a bit of their story.
We also did the Nile project again. So we filled a pan with dirt and built the Nile river. complete with pyramids and a bunch of Sphinx. We didn't plant grass we planted some sort of white ground cover flower. The seed packets were only 25 cents and that seems so much better than grass seed which came in big bags and cost a bunch more. So we will see what turns up once they get big enough. But we are already seeing sprouts and the kids are amazed.

Science - I am really enjoying Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology book. I bought workbooks for Ian and Sophie. Ian has the Jr. version and Sophie has the regular version.  It is sort of like a lapbook/notebook in one. It is making things a lot easier as far as doing writing to go along with our science lessons. Ian's has more coloring pages which he isn't really interested in doing but he enjoys the workbook pages.

Henry has been doing some coloring in his Anatomy coloring book. As well as the projects in this activity book. Sophie remembers doing those projects when we did the Human body four years ago. He doesn't do a lot of writing but he is having a good time reading the books and doing the projects.

Language Arts - We did Writing with Ease with Ian and Sophie. They both do very well at these but both hate the dictation. I wonder how long it will take before the complaining stops. Henry is plugging away at Explode the code 3 1/2. He usually can finish 2 lessons a week.

We also did a few "lessons" of Story Quest. We are actually still in Lesson 1 but we are breaking it into many small mini lessons. So we had a lesson on Protagonists and Antagonists one day and then the next we learned about how to make stories or sentences interesting by adding in great verbs, adjectives and adverbs. They LOVE these lessons. We had a great time with the two days we did this and they asked to do it on other days during the week but I wasn't prepared to move on so we kept to our twice a week schedule.

Math - Singapore Math is still going well. Ian finished 2B and Henry finished 1A. Before Ian moves onto 3A I have decided to have him do a Math Mammoth unit on Money. He couldn't remember how much each of the coins were worth so I figured he could use some practice. Sophie is doing really well at 5A. She is adding and subtracting fractions and it is really easy for her since we did Life of Fred Fractions as well as a Math Mammoth unit on Fractions. It is more of a review for her. But it is always good to review!

Music/ Art - didn't really happen this week. Back to our usual in this subject. I really need to stick to the schedule I printed up but something had to give this week and it was Music and art.

I am sure there was other things we accomplished. I know we listened to Jim Wiese tell us Egypt stories and we are almost done with Wind in the Door. And I am reading aloud The Lemonade War. I also picked up a bunch of Dick King-Smith books from the library so my kids have been reading about Babe the Gallant Pig and other animals on the Hoggert farm.  So there is all sorts of extra reading going on that isn't actually school related but is certainly good reading.

We also go outside a bit for outside play. We even visited a farm and picked blackberries, chased turkeys and fed some chickens. Molly loved saying hello to all the "baas" and "Maas", sheep and goats.

It was a busy week and it doesn't seem to be letting up this week. I have a party to finish preparing for which is keeping me a bit stressed and busy. Hopefully things will settle down after this week.  It most likely wont since that is just when our classes and lessons will start and we will be taxiing kids from one place to the other. Poor Molly is just going to get dragged around. We will see how well this works.

Monday, August 22, 2011


 We read through the first half of chapter 2 in Story of the World today. It was about the Nile River and how the farmers used the yearly flooding to grow crops along its banks. After we made a little Nile river model/experiment out of soil and rocks and tin foil. My kids decided they wanted to add a shaduf onto one of the banks. Not being prepared for this addition to the project I distracted them with K'nex. I told them we could make a shaduf but not for our model. They were happy with that.

So they went right to work. Each child wanted to do theirs all on their own and even though they all seemed to work in the end not one of them turned out the same. Ian was the quickest. He was clever and even added anchors to help it be more stable on the edge of the couch or table.

 We had some good discussions about how long our beams should be on either side of the fulcrum. I loved it that my kids remembered that term from our study of simple machines last year. They  experimented a bit with different  lengths and different weights on either end. It was a fun, impromptu review.
 Here is mine.
 Molly just had a great time playing with all the different pieces scattered about on the floor. She made a few lollipops and then just enjoyed putting the wheels on her fingers. I guess she got a thrill from being able to put her little fingers in those tiny holes.
 Ian started to really get creative and even built a little man who got to ride on the shaduf up and down, up and down.
 Sophie got in on that action and built herself a farmer but her little man was doing what the farmers were supposed to do and pulled on the rope end.
 Henry struggled a bit with his design. He hadn't quite figured out how to build a strong base and have the bars shift back and forth and he didn't want any help. He just diligently kept at it and finally came up with a shaduf all his own.
 He had to redo it and remake it over and over again until it worked like it was supposed to but he finally got it to work.
This was a great project. I wish I had thought of it but it just sort of happened because my kids asked for it.

We don't get the K'nex out enough. I love it when we get out some of our toys and we really make use of our knowledge as well as our imaginations.

Deconstructing Penguins

There are so many times I go to the library to pick up my holds and I discover a book that I don't remember putting on my list. I often read blogs with my library's catalog on another tab and I will look up books that are discussed or recommended. I don't remember who talked about this book but THANK YOU! It is wonderful. I may have to buy myself a copy just so I can refresh my memory from time to time.

Deconstructing Penguins is going to come in handy when I lead my first children's book club at co-op in a few weeks. It has given me the tools and ideas to really lead a discussion about a book. Sure it is going to take some work before hand on my part but I have a clearer picture of what we should be looking at and discussing. I will also pick the books we read a little differently. Not that the ones I already picked for the next few months are bad choices. I just will have to think them through a bit more, rather than just picking books I haven't read and that I think we should read or that are on lists of good books.

This is a great, quick read that is helpful in really figuring out books and what they are trying to tell us and leading children or adults on that journey.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things.

We officially started school this week. I have to actually keep attendance so I figure I need a start date. So here is the quick run down.

Scripture - Book of Mormon - We got to read about Samuel the Lamanite and today read about the signs of Jesus' birth. Each of the kids including Henry take turns reading aloud.

History - My kids have been anxious to start Story of the world so we listened to the Introduction about what history is and the difference between Historians and Archaeologists. The loved Archaeologists Dig for Clues.

The kids wanted a project but since I didn't have anything planned they just  did some drawings of archaeologists or what ever they wanted to related to the book and labeled it for me.  We did break out the Mummy's Treasure game and played a few rounds of this Archaeology based game.
Since this wasn't enough history for the week the kids decided we needed to do chapter 1 of Story of the World also. We listened to the Audio and looked at maps as he described where the Nomads lived.
I think Sophie can't wait to dig into Egyptian History because she actually wanted to move onto chapter 2 the next day as well. But I held her back and we read  Simon and Barklee in Egypt.
I can't say this was the most exciting book but the kids kept wanting me to continue reading when I came to the end of each chapter so I guess they enjoyed it. It wasn't really historical but it did introduce some of the geography of Egypt especially since we again broke out the atlas to look at all the places these little animals traveled on their adventures. I guess for the 25 cents I paid the Friends of the Library for the book, which was on the used book shelf a few months back, it was worth the money and the hour spent on the book.
Math - The kids are all doing their Singapore with little complaints. They much prefer it over the Math Mammoth I had them doing over the Summer. Henry is almost finished with 1A.  Ian is going to be done with 2B shortly as well. Sophie just reached the first review in 5A. They have her doing a lot of Division and it is so time consuming. She has to sit doing math long after the boys have finished and moved onto other things. I guess that is all part of the fun of being a 5th Grader.

Science - The kids were tired of birds and I have to say I was too. They all decided they wanted to do Anatomy instead. So even though I wasn't totally prepared for it be jumped into Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology.

My kids love learning about the human body. They had The Way We Work out looking at the pictures that go along with the section we read about cells this week just so they could compare the two.

I did get the yellow jello and candy so we could make the edible cells. The kids loved this. I don't know if it exactly helped them remember the parts any better than drawing them did but they had fun and they got to eat the jello later. 

Writing - Henry is still plugging away at Explode the code which is what I count as his writing. I am still waiting for reading to really click with him before we move onto Writing with Ease. He is still really fighting reading.

Sophie started Writing with Ease 4 this week. She really didn't like the long sentence she had to write for Dictation on the 2nd day and had quite a tantrum about it but other than that one day it went smoothly.

Ian started Writing with Ease 2 and had to do dictation for the first time this week. He actually did really well.

Reading - I have Ian and Henry read aloud to me. Ian has been reading a chapter each day from the Magic Tree House reptile reference book, which is the book he choose as his summer reading prize from the library.  Henry has been reading any of the easy reader books we have on the shelf. We had one about mummies which was good.
I don't have Sophie read aloud to me because she does a lot of the reading for science and other subjects. She also gets to read books to Molly to keep her occupied while I do other things.

Art  - The artist I choose for the rest of August is John Audubon. I was thinking we were going to finish our science study of birds and Audubon would gone along well with that but now we are doing something different for Science but I have a bunch of books on Audubon. We still read The boy who drew birds. The kids also took one of his bird pictures and tried to sketch it.

Music - We are listening to Vivaldi this month. I turned on the Classics for Kids radio show about Vivaldi while the kids colored a picture of Vivaldi. Then they dug out the CD of Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery. It is sort of strange how little as far as biographies of Vivaldi there are at the library. But we listened to the Four Seasons a few times this week and the kids have a general idea of who it was and where he lived so I guess that is about all they really need.

Story Quest - This is something I have just added into our usual line up. It is from the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We did one little part of the first lesson and I can see I really need to go slowly through this for my kids at first. They really enjoyed discussing stories and the genres they fit in and even what makes up a plot. They got frustrated when I tried to have them write a story that first day even if it was together and out loud with me. I broke out the white board and markers for this lesson and I think they were a distraction. Henry just kept erasing things from the board and asking if he could have a pen. So I can't say the first try went smoothly but I will give it another go next week.

P.E. - I am actually required to do P.E. with my kids so I guess I should make more of an effort to put something in our schedule that looks like athletics. We did go on a few walks around the block. Molly requests "walk block"s quite often. The kids played some Wii Fit one morning. We did some yoga and sit-up one day as well.  I hope that counts as P.E.

It was a pretty full week. We were very busy and even made it to all the appointments we had scheduled, had a play date, got hair cuts, went to park day, watered a neighbors plants a few times while they are away and went to activity girls (the whole crew goes to this. The boys play with a bunch of other siblings too young for the activities but Mom brings them because Dad is still at work. So my boys have a great time with friends while Sophie has her class).

I don't know how we are going to fit everything in once piano lessons, science class, co-op, my band practice, and oh yeah... we didn't do any Latin this week either. I think I need a few more hours in the day or maybe just need to go to sleep earlier.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leaving the Doctors office in tears.

Today we had the 6 week visit with the surgeon who did Sophie's surgery. She had x-rays taken and everything is going great! He said there is all sorts of bone tissue up there and the bone is fusing and that her canine tooth is actually moving into place and may come through soon. Sophie has had such a large gap in her mouth on that side for years it seems. There is the hole for the tooth that she will never have because it is where the cleft actually is. The baby canine next to that hole fell out a few years ago but without bone for it to really grow into it never came through but thankfully it just was there just waiting and he said it was moving into the right position. So that is really good news. The surgery seems to be doing what it was meant to do. Sophie shouldn't need any more surgery until she is ready for her nose to be redone but that isn't done until she has finished growing. So of that we are all very happy.

After talking with the doctor for a little while we left. Sophie left with tears in her eyes. When I asked her why she was upset she explained that she was sad about still noting getting to EAT FOOD. The doctor said we should continue with the soft food diet for at least another month. We have been gravitating toward a more soft food rather than liquid diet the last week or two. Sophie eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, very tiny pieces of cut up meat, as well as a variety of other things I let her pop bite size pieces into her mouth and push to the back so that she only grinds it up with her back teeth. The tears were a result of her thinking he was saying she couldn't go out and get a burger. She is very tired of being limited in what she can eat. I asked her what food she was wanting and we would see what we could do. She couldn't really tell me anything. She eats pizza and all the fruits and even hot dogs at Costco. I just cut everything up in tiny bites like I did when she was a baby and just learning to eat solids. I don't blame her, it isn't a very ideal way of eating. But we are going to keep at the soft food diet for awhile.

I didn't leave the office in tears but if I had had tears it would have been tears of embarrassment or weariness or maybe tears of frustration. The doctor was very paitient with us but it is always a challenge when I have to take all the kids with me to the doctor's office. There is just something about the little dentist type chair in the room with all the buttons that control it's angle and height. The movable lights on the wall just scream out to be positioned over and over again as well as flipped on and off. The sink in the room calls out to Molly to wash her hand every two seconds. The drawers of tools and bandages and such have to opened and explored. I would have one sitting only to have the others up and getting into something. I think because Molly is two and into everything the boys seem to follow her lead and act like two year olds as well. They seem to forget how to behave when confined in the tiny rooms as a wait for doctors. As I walked out to the car I told the boys their behavior just cost them their Wii time on Saturday. So the tears leaving the doctor's office weren't mine but my boys who were hopefully regretting their behavior since it cost them the hour with Indiana Jones or Luke Skywalker.

I need to go make some pesto pasta with brocolli which is still Sophie's favorite meal that I make which she can eat. Now she doesn't even have to have ground up in the blender.


The pictures are from a swimming party we went to this past week. Molly was unstoppable. She went down the slide and jumped off the board. Thank goodness for the float she was wearing. She has no fear of swimming and going under the water. She just needs to learn how to swim. Everyone had a great time!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I admit I am not a very good planner. At least I don't do a whole lot of written, detailed plans until I have to. I don't usually plan out an entire school year week by week. I don't even use a lesson plan book or planner. I guess I rely on my memory and a lot of luck to keep things running smoothly.

This week has been a busy week while we get ready for the next school year. I know... we don't really start or end school because we just keep learning and "doing school" all year long. But we will be starting co-op in a few weeks and we have some outside of the house type classes that my kids are going to be starting soon.  I have had to research, plan and go to meetings for each of these things. My kids are getting excited about making changes to the schedule and doing some new things.

Starting in September the kids will be starting piano lessons. For the last few months I have had the kids spend 15 min practicing piano each day. They have been working through the Teaching Little Fingers to play book as well as a five finger movie theme book. Henry is very good at the Harry Potter song and plays it every time he has access to a piano. So if we stop by your house for what ever reason and Henry sees your piano he will ask to play Hedwig's Theme. I guess I should be happy it isn't the Darth Vader music he used to play all the time. We will see how lessons go with each of the kids.

I have also signed them up for a science class. It is an anatomy class for the boys and a genetics class for Sophie. It is done by the same people that we have done science classes with before so I already know the kids will love these.

At co-op the kids will be doing Art once a month, a Lego class (My kids will LOVE this one!), and all the normal singing, sharing and game playing, as well as a new Geography class we are starting. It is more of a world cultures class. We plan to highlight one country every week and have one of the children prepare a little presentation about that country including any food, culture, customs and language from that country. It should be fun. I am in charge of the book club for the 6-12 year olds. It is a somewhat difficult class to pick books for since there are kids who are still newer readers and the older ones in the group are needing to be challenged. So I just picked some books from the middle of that age range and I am hoping for the best. The Lemonade War is my pick for September's meeting. The Saturdays is for October, Where the Mountain meets the Moon for November and Nim's Island is for December.  I hope these are challenging and interesting enough for the older kids without being too difficult for the younger ones in the group.

I still wish I could find some sort of gymnastics or swimming class for the kids but I think for now we are booked up pretty tight. I don't know how we are going to fit in all these outside things in while still getting the usual school work done.

 As for the usual.....

History will be Story of the World again. We are starting over with Ancients and my kids are SOO excited to get to mummify a chicken this year. I picked up a little cornish hen a week or so ago for us to use for this project and the kids keep asking when we are going to start it. We are going to just work our way through the book and read through as many of the suggested readings as we can. This week we have been reading about Adam and Eve and the Creation of the world in our scriptures and also story books in preparation to starting chapter one on Monday.

Math will be Singapore Math. My kids were tired of Math Mammoth and were eager to go back to Signapore. Henry is going to be starting 1B, Ian will be in 3A, and Sophie is already half way through 5A. She needs review of Multiplication tables because they aren't quick in her head and it is hard to make the connections between numbers without having those down.

Science - We made it through about 7 of the lessons in the Apologia Zoology book. I think when we finish the section on birds we will switch to Anatomy and then go back and do bats and insects in the spring.

Language Arts - I really like Writing with Ease and will continue to use it with all the kids. I have rushed Sophie through the 2nd and now the 3rd and will start the 4th workbook in the series. We haven't done all the lessons in the workbooks. I have skipped around making sure she is comfortable doing the reading and writing before pushing on. So far it has been pretty easy so I hope the 4th one will challenge her a little more.
Ian is going to start workbook 2 on Monday. We will be working slowly through the book with him. He is doing well but I don't feel like we need to push him at all. He is right where he should be.
Henry is still plugging away at Explode the Code. He is finishing up the 3 1/2 book. I don't know how much more he is going to do. We may switch him to Writing with Ease 1 and drop Explode the Code.  I haven't decided yet. He isn't quite as proficient in his reading yet but things could change quickly. They did for Ian and now Ian is reading really well.

They all read aloud to me each day from a book of their choosing or their McGuffy Reader and then Narrate what they have read. They also daily work on memorization of scriptures and poetry.

Artist/Musician - I am going to really make an effort to do our artist and musician each month. In September we will study the artwork of Audubon (since science is all about birds I thought this would be a good way to incorporate the two) while we listen to Vivaldi. We are starting with people we have already studied. It has been awhile though so the review will be good for us and I know the boys didn't pay all that much attention first time.

Latin - Plugging away the Getting Started with Latin. We may need to switch to something else because I never seem to remember to do this. But would something different suddenly make me fit it in? We will see. I really need to set a more defined schedule to make sure Latin makes it into the mix.

P.E. - I am required by law to teach P.E. but haven't ever done anything more than take walks, ride bikes and play some basketball in the driveway. I guess swimming once or twice a week at the YMCA counts. Maybe I need to think about this one some more.

Anyway.. these are the plans for the near future. We will see how well it all fits in. I know we don't cover nearly as many subjects as others seem to. We don't do any formal grammar or spelling but I hope those things will come along as we write more. I just don't know how to fit it all in without burning my kids and me out. So for now we do what we can do and the rest will just have to find its way.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Reading

We attended the last of the Library's Summer Reading club activities yesterday. I can not believe the Summer is already winding down. That seemed to fly by.

 In June my kids each had to post a goal of how many books they would read during the summer. If they reach their goal then at the end of the summer they get to pick a book as a prize. Sophie usually gives herself a huge number as a goal but I convinced her to only put 25 books as her goal this year. Ian decided to put 15 and Henry set his goal at 10. I told them these were books they had to actually read themselves. We wouldn't count all the books I read to them or the ones we listen to.

Sophie has read a few new series of books which helped her reach her goal. Of course she read all 5 of the Fablehaven books. But she has recently discovered the Warriors series. They are about cats which of course is a big draw for my cat loving girl. She flies through the books rather quickly. Ian has started the first one but is distracted by picture books and such that are a bit easier for him.

The Dinotopia books were a big hit for a long time. I finally convinced my kids to return them to the library yesterday. They had finally got their fill but they floated around here for over a month and the kids loved them. Sophie drew all sorts of dinosaurs in her sketch books and now knows all the names of all the dinosaurs in the books.  She is quickly convincing me to let her read all the Harry Potter books. She read the entire Half Blood Prince in one day. She stayed up late reading and then hid away in her room all morning to finish it. I guess with only one book left in the series I might as well let her finish. So much for making my kids wait until they are older to read these books. I am still going to hold back on watching the movies however.

Ian's list of books includes a lot of Berenstain Bears, Magic Tree house books as well as a few other random books and then I relented and let him put on the 3 Fablehaven books and the 2 Narnia books we listened to recently.

Henry only needed 10 books and his list has things like Danny and the Dinosaur, Small Pig and a few easy reading Berenstain bears along with a few that I read aloud to him. He still isn't a strong reader and prefers me to read to him. But I do insist on him reading aloud to me at least a little each day.

I don't usually keep track of the books my kids read and I can't say I was very diligent about keeping track even when we were supposed to for this reading club.  I have never been a very good record keeper. That is why it is good I at least sometimes talk about some of the books we read here on this blog. That way I can look back and see what we have been reading.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Playing Snape and Olivander

One of the tasks I have this August is to prepare for Henry's big Birthday party. I don't throw big birthday parties with lots of friends and such for my kids usually. So far each of my kids has had very small parties with family and sometimes with friends. Sophie had a big friend party for her sixth birthday with tons of kids, a theme, party games,  presents and everything. Ian too had his big Indiana Jones party when he turned 6 as well. Henry turns 6 this year and is planning quite a celebration. He has chosen to have a Harry Potter theme and has quite a large imagination as far as what we are going to do during this party. I have been racking my brain and searching the internet for things we can do for this party.
 So far we have tried out some potion making things so we can have a little potions class. I bought one of these Magic Science kits and gave the projects a try. The boys had a great time doing each of the experiments. Luckily there was included enough of most of the ingredients so I can do the projects again. So we will certainly have a good time throwing things together to watch them react.

 I searched for wands online and couldn't find any inexpensive enough for me to be able to get one for each of our guests. I did, however, find a tutorial for making wands out of paper.  I decided to give it a try. At first I started to make only 4 of them but after rolling up the first few I decided I might as well just make 15. That should be enough for all the guests at the party plus a few.
 First you just roll up the paper. This is just normal 8.5'' x 11'' paper rolled so that one end is slightly smaller than the other. I used lots of Elmer's glue to make sure the paper was well coated and the edges stuck down well. I let these dry for a few hours but ended up putting the whole tray in the warm oven for a about 20 min. They came out nice and dry and pretty stiff.
 I then took my little glue gun and filled in the two ends of each of the rolls and then embellished them with rings, twists or just globs of glue to add some texture and a bit more strength to the wands.

 One nice sunny and breezy afternoon I took the wands outside and spray painted them a nice brown color. I left them outside for a few hours to let the paint smell dissipate.  Now I know why Michael's keep their spray paint under lock and key. That stuff stinks! I am glad I did all these at the same time. I don't want to have to spray paint again any time soon.

At this point the wands were all the same color and looked sort of like chocolate.  But I broke out my box of acrylic paints and went to work distressing them with a variety of colors. My kids kept wanting me to paint them bright colors. They hadn't caught the vision of these actually looking like wood.

I did add some purple, red and greens into the mix along with the browns and blacks. The brown ones turned out better in my mind but the kids liked them all.  Each wand turned out very different from the others in shape decoration and color. 
 I don't know if I am quite done yet with these wands. There are some that turned out really well and others I am still not happy with so I may go back and touch them up a little more or add some gold paint to give them a little pizzazz.  But hey I think they look really great. It is amazing what you can make with paper and glue.
 Sophie really wanted a vine covered wand like Hermione's wand and this is what my version turned out like. It is a little more green colored but Sophie was happy with it.
 This little guy is happy with the results. I sure hope all the kids will enjoy their wands at the party. But since the only thing I didn't already have  on hand and that  had to spend money on was the bottle of spray paint (which I bought with a 50% off coupon) I am thrilled with the results.

I have a frog mold so I can make chocolate frogs. I think I will have to give them a trail run soon so I can make sure I know what I am doing.  That will be a yummy experiment. Has anyone ever made a caramel filling for this type of thing. I can't do peanut butter because some of the kids that will be invited have nut allergies? I am sure I can find something online.

Seriously what did people do before the internet and blogs where people shared their tips and tricks?