Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where Are We?

I haven't posted a weekly report in ages. So perhaps I could call this a quarterly report.

History -
We are still working our way through Story of the World. We are still reading about Rome but took a little detour the last two weeks and revisited India with the Jakata Tales and then China with the Terracotta army and the Great Wall. We watched a few documentaries that I found on Netflix streaming about the Terracotta army. I am really enjoying have Netflix at my fingertips! The kids even requested to watch Big Bird in China. It seems every time we learn about China they want to rewatch this film. Thank goodness the library had it sitting there on the shelf this week. We are heading back into Rome next week.

To go along with history we always have a bunch of books we read through.

David MacCauley is always a favorite. We read through his book City recently. It was very interesting to see the engineering that went into those intricately designed cities. We also can't pass up the great You wouldn't want to be.... books. We read about Roman Soldiers, Gladiators and Pompeii.

We also read through Roman Diary which mostly reviewed things we already knew about Rome and Roman life but was interesting to see life through the eyes of a slave in ancient Rome.

We listened to The Bronze Bow. This one started off slow and took the kids a little while to get into but they soon started to really enjoy it and wanted to know what Daniel would do next. It really was ment for an older audience. Sophie liked it but I am sure she will like it even more in a few years. It is one we will revisit the next time we discuss Rome.

I know we have done a few workbook pages to go along with our studies but I can't say we have been very diligent about doing them. I really should have Sophie do more writing about what we study. I am just too lazy I guess.

Science -
I am done with the Human Body. We went through the Apologia Anatomy book and it is designed to take a full year to go through. I think that is a little long. I was ready to move on to something else long ago. But we flew through the last few chapters and are done...finally!  This past month we have taken a bit of a break from formal science and have been doing a sort of bird study. Ian's cub scout den has been working on different bird projects so I  had him read a few books and study a bit more about birds to make sure all the scout requirements were complete.  The others of course just taged along with this study.

Math -
Sophie finished her Singapore Math 5B workbook and before moving on is reading through Life of Fred Decimals and Percents. So far it seems easy but she has only just arrived at the first bridge.

Ian is working through Singapore 3B and doesn't seem to struggle too much. He mostly just gets distracted and puts his book away without finishing assignments so I have to really be on top of checking work or else he gets away with not completing his exercises.

Henry is plugging away at 2A. I picked up an extra practice book for him and when he completes a section in the regular book we have him work through the practice book's corresponding section.

All three kids are playing Times Attack almost every day to review their Times Tables.

Language Arts -

Henry has started IEW's PAL writing
I started him on the 2nd section which starts with copy work. It is very easy for him but it is going over some of the basics of sentences which I think is good for him. Ian often sits in on the little mini lesson. I really wish I had started both boys with this earlier.  It is going really well.

Ian and Sophie have been slowly going through IEW's Student Writing Intensive Level A. Ian is struggling with adding in all the dress ups so I don't make him add every one, every time. He just works on getting the new one along with one or two of the other ones. Sophie has no problem getting them all in.  This program is going really well and I really like that the kids watch the DVD lesson. I like letting someone else teach the concepts.

Piano - All three kids are doing great. They are learning how to take a song and change it to a different key. They have a few songs that are accompaniment so we all get to sing along. Playing so others can sing along is an important skill and I am happy they are being taught how to do this so early on. Henry took it upon himself to learn Book of Mormon Stories so now we all get to hear and sing along to it several times a day. It is a good thing Molly loves it so much. He always has a willing singing partner.

Latin -  We started Visual Latin a few weeks ago. This has been a good change for us. We have only done the first 3 lessons so we will see how this goes. So far all three kids are keeping up. I don't require Henry to do all the workbook pages but Ian and Sophie don't seem to struggle too much.

What have I forgotten? I am sure there is much much more we have been doing. We seem to be always busy and have a bunch of things going but this is about it as far a formal education. The rest just sort of happens.

Oh... we did finally finish Captain Blue Bear. We have moved onto something totally different. Bud, not Buddy couldn't be more different that that silly blue bear.  I for one am happy to have something new to listen to. I picked up a few books to go along with it. It will be fun to revisit Jazz again.  This book is the one I picked to discuss with our co-op next month.  (I am in charge of the co-op book club discussion) It a bit of a change from the other books we have read for this group. I hope they enjoy it.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

A little Scripture Study

Molly often makes family scripture study difficult. She usually starts asking for a drink of water or some cheese or something, anything.  This of course is very distracting for the one reading aloud but even more for all those trying to follow along or listen.

Lately though she has gotten a bit easier. I think it has something to do with actually giving her a book of her own and a chance to "read" too.
Molly's scriptures are the Gospel Principles book and the Book and of Mormon Reader for young Latter-day Saints.
Each of these books has pictures, and for her that is the fun part of scripture study.

Molly is saying a prayer by herself.
When it is her turn to "read". She turns to her Book of Mormon Reader and turns to a picture page and then tells us about Nephi, or the olive trees being thrown in the fire. I guess she is listening. She evidently really liked hearing the allegory of the Olive tree in Jacob 5. We keep getting her version of it almost every day when it is her turn.
I am just happy she enjoys scripture time and is less disruptive for the rest of us.
Sophie is the photographer in our house. She took these pictures one afternoon of Molly and I just found them when I uploaded pictures. I thought they were so cute of Molly. She certainly doesn't have any trouble posing for the camera.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Book that never ends!

A few weeks ago I read a list of books that Every Geek Should Read Aloud to their Kids. I put a number of these books on hold at the library. There were actually quite a few I had never heard of along many that I had and have already read aloud or listen to with my children.

Well..... one of the books on the list was The 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear.  I got the audio along with the thick text. I put the first of 13 disks into the car about 2 weeks ago.  The story was very silly but my kids were enjoying it so we kept on listening to these wacky tales of Mini pirates,  Hobgoblins and an Island that fattens you up just so it can eat you. Each of the lives of this blue bear are very crazy and at times very funny.

Today, after listening to this book in the car and at home, we finally came to the end of disk 9 and it told me that the story continues on disk 10. I honestly had a really hard time putting disk 10 into the player. I am really tired of this book. My kids are LOVING it but I personally am finished and done with this story. Yes it is funny and silly and the reader is doing a pretty good job with the voices but really... do I really have 3 more disks to make it through? That is almost 3 more hours of utter  silliness.

Sophie who picked up the hefty text of the book and read it all the way through already assures me that it is almost over. There are only two more lives. I don't know if I can stand to listen to it anymore.  I really wish I could convince my kids to give this one up and listen to one of the other audio books we have waiting. They won't hear of it. They want to finish.

So if your kids are interested in a really silly fantasy story about a blue bear and his many different adventures then this book is great. I just have to worn you it is a long, long book that just never seems to end!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sophie's Art

Sophie had her last online Art class today. She has already told me that she wants to take the class again. Here are a few more of works of art that she created for the class the last few weeks and turned into the teacher to fulfill assignments.
I really need to find a better way to photograph these pictures. Some of them are too big for the scanner so I take a photo of them instead. My lighting is way off.  I guess I should play with them a bit in iphoto to fix some of those issues but I am almost always doing it at the last minute. They just need to be photographed, uploaded, exported and then emailed to the teacher before class and I am always frantically doing it right at the last moment.
I was never like that in school. I was good about finishing my projects with plenty of time to spare.  This is not normally my way. But then it isn't supposed to be me right?! Sophie should take more responsibility for these assignments. I found myself always asking her what her assignment was and encouraging her to complete them. She didn't keep track of them herself and I need to let her take more of that responsibility.
For now she is happy with what she was able to do and learn from the class and looks forward to more online classes in the future.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sparkle Stories

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows we listen to a lot of audio books.  I don't know what I would do without books on CD. It is hard for me to sit and read book after book, after book. I can't give my kids the books they want without the help of the radio and a stack of CD's. I think we currently have about 7 different Audio books sitting here waiting to be listened to.

I have been hearing, from a number of different blogs, about Sparkle Stories. I bookmarked the site (I don't Pintrest) but it didn't go any further than that. When I can get free books from the library why would I spend money on Stories? Then, when reading yet another recommendation about Sparkle Stories, I saw that you could get a month free subscription for only a dollar. I could do that! So I gave it a go. I downloaded the first set of stories. I choose some fairy stories, the junkyard tales, and the Thistle stories.  They sat on my computer for a bit. We were finishing the audio book we already had going. I downloaded the next weeks tales when they became available. So now I had two of each of the stories. I put them on my ipod for my little guys and they are currently enjoying them.

When I asked Sophie (my 10 year old) what she thought of them she told me to shush because she was listening to the next story. I guess that means she is enjoying them!

So if you would like to try Sparkle Stories for a month you too can subscribe for $1.00 you can go to this link  and use the code SPARKLEFRIENDS at checkout.  You will get 12 stories over the 4 weeks which is 3.5 hours of audio stories.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Star Test

This week my older 2 kids took their first STAR Test. This is the California standardized test. Because we are now a part of a charter school they are required to take this test so that the school can continue to receive state funds and then give them to me. So I got my kids up early, earlier than usual because we had to travel 25 minutes to the testing place and had to be there bright and early at a quarter to 9:00 a.m. I also prepared them a lunch and just for fun put their sandwich, apple, crackers and power bar in a brown paper sack with their name written on the front.  This is the closest thing to sending my kids off to school I have ever gotten.

When we arrived, the trappings of school continued as Ian had to go and find the sign that said 2nd grade and stand there with all the other kids his age while Sophie found the 5th graders and waited with them to be taken to their respective classrooms for the tests.  Luckily each found a few friends that they know from science classes and such to be with for the day.  I took Henry (who is only in first grade so didn't need to take the test) and Molly home leaving Sophie and Ian there to spend the next 4+ hours filling in bubble sheets.

I went home and did school work with Henry. Wow was it so easy to get him to finish his math and writing assignments without the older two there. Henry was so fast he even got to play a little Wii sports as P.E. since it was raining.

We went to pick up the kids and they were itching to get out into the sunshine and fresh air after being inside for so much of the day.  Sophie said the tests were really easy but then also said she just guessed on some of the math since it contained some algebra. She also explained that the test needed to be edited because there were several questions that didn't have the right answer as one of the choices.  I had to giggle at that one. She knew she was right so therefore it had to be the test that was wrong.  The proctor who administered the test for her grades told me she got through the different sections really quickly. I have a feeling this girl just skimmed all the reading sections and jumped right to the questions and then just gave everything a good guess.

Ian didn't have a whole lot to say about his tests. He said they weren't very hard it was just long. Evidently for the 2nd graders the proctor actually reads the questions to the kids. He had to move as slowly as the rest of the class since he was told to wait for the proctor. He had less tests to take than Sophie but was later coming out because his grade had to all finish together.  He did say something about working out problems on the scratch paper they gave him. Sophie then replied..."oh, is that what that paper was for?"  I guess she just did all the math in her head because she was told she couldn't write in the booklet but didn't even think to use the blank sheet of paper they gave her.

Ian only had two subjects upon which he was being tested, Sophie had 4. Along with Language Arts and Math, which were the two Ian had, Sophie also had Science and P.E.  Sophie said the science was really easy and that she only struggled with Math and some of the P.E. tests. Ian didn't have much to say about anything. After two days of testing he was just done.

Yes they took two 5 hour days to complete the STAR tests. I guess in the public schools near us they take a whole week to do the tests. Doing only and hour or so each day rather than doing them all in one. It is hard to say if this is better or not. I am sure my kids were tired of sitting there all day but at least they got it over with pretty quickly rather than dragging it out.

It will be interesting to see how my kids faired on these tests.  At least they got some practice taking standardized tests. There are some test taking skills that I think they could improve upon. Doing these yearly hopefully will give them a little practice.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Few Random Photos

I finally uploaded photos from my camera today. So I have a whole week and some worth of pictures. Usually there is just a handful but since Sophie has got the pictures taking but she has snagged the camera more and more.  There are a few that really were fun to find. 

This little family of quail adorn a mailbox that we pass every time we go up the road for "the walk" while at Grandma's house.  Sophie was rather clever to catch this shot of some of us heading up the street along with her quail. Perhaps she didn't mean to do that but it was a very fun picture. 

Here is another jem. My sister Julie all bundled up (something she hates!) for the walk up the street. These horses almost always come running thinking the kids are bringing them carrots or apples.

Since most of these pictures are from lasst weekend and since last weekend was spent mostly infront of the t.v. watching conference. Sophie decided to take a few pictures of what everyone was doing during one of the sessions.
 Here is Grandma looking very serious while listening.

Minton was the subject of about 100+ pictures on the camera. Sophie must have chased her around the house disturbing every place she settled. Poor Minton was tired and just wanted to take a nap.

Here is Molly sitting with her Dad playing with some old maid cards she found in Grandma's game closet.

Just to keep it real I am including this lovely shot Sophie took of me. I am listening to conference while also playing Majong on my tablet. No I do not take notes. I have found I listen better when I play a somewhat mindless game. 

These other pictures are just a few other pictures that I actually took this week. 
Molly asleep in the big blue chair one afternoon.
This one is from today after the kids had an Easter egg hunt at the park with some friends. Molly and her little friend were so cute looking through their eggs and talking about the candies and such that they found in their basket or bag. 

So that is it for random photos for now. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sophie's Photography

Last week Sophie's Art class was about Digital Photography. So she spent the rest of the week taking pictures. While we were at the park she took over 200 pictures.  We looked through them and found a few for her to turn in. It is so nice to be able to take as many pictures as you want and then just delete all those that didn't turn out or that you just don't need.

This is what she turned in.

Sophie was really excited when her teacher used this picture in class the next week when they were reviewing the last assignment. I guess the teacher really liked the grass with the spring blossoms in the background.

It really was a beautiful time to be outside taking pictures. Lots of pretty flowers all around to photograph.
I think Sophie took over a hundred pictures of this little squirrel. Most of them were fuzzy. There was popcorn on the ground that the squirrel kept coming back to eat.  

Molly always likes to be the subject of photos. Sophie got down low to take this upward looking shot of Molly on the teeter totter at the park.

Sophie really likes taking pictures and I may not ever need to be in charge of the camera again.