Saturday, September 29, 2012

Little ones class at Co-op

The idea of participating in a homeschool co-op is for parents to take turns doing a class or activity. This year I volunteered to do the "Little Kids class".  This is the class for the little brothers and sisters that attend co-op that aren't even school age yet. So I have 3-5 year old mainly in my little class.  In the past we rotated parents, each week a different one of us would come up with something to do with this age group.  We used the theme of letters of the alphabet last year to try to unite or give continuity to the class.  But things often didn't go according to plan, parents forgot what letter they were assigned or were assigned other things at the same time they were supposed to be in charge of this class. So this year I took over the little kid class and do a short 30 minutes or so lesson with these kids.

I decided we would do some geography this year. Each month pick a new country to visit through books. I always like to apply lessons to a children's book. And my years of doing FIAR should help me come up with a few simple lessons and activities to do with these young children each week. We have three weeks each month where I need to prepare a lesson.

September was spent in France. After finding the country of France on a map and pointing it out to the kids I started by reading Madeline. Every kid was already acquainted with this story but we took a little time to look at the different landmarks around Paris in the illustrations.
We also read through a rather silly story called The Cows are going to Paris where we found many of the same landmarks.
I had some Eiffel tower pictures for the kids to color and some rectangles of Red, White and Blue for the kids to glue together a Flag of France.  That was it for week one and the kids seemed to enjoy it.

The next week I decided to focus on French food. We started by reading Bon Appetit Bertie.
This cute book has all sorts of french food and is just a silly story. The kids did get to point out any landmarks they remembered. They all got the Eiffel Tower!
I also picked out a great book calle Crepes by Suzette to read.  This was is so great on many different levels. It has actual photographs collaged into the background of the illustrations. There are also characters on each page portraying images from French paintings. I didn't point this out to the little kids but for older kids it would be fun to point that out.

After reading about french food we of course had to sample some so I followed the recipe at the end fo the Crepe's by Suzette book and the kids all got to put something into the bowl and all got to mix the batter.  We then proceeded to make crepes for everyone.  The kids loved this. I poured and swirled the batter on the pans but the kids took turns flipping them over. And of course they got to eat them too.  I only brought a little strawberry jam to top them but nobody complained.
 My kids now request crepes quite often. They are actually quite easy and I make them right on my cast iron skillet.
 They still enjoy them with just strawberry jam but they keep talking about one day trying them with pudding or chocolate syrup.
That was quite a hit on week 2. No other activity. We just read, cooked and ate.

On the third week we focused on French art. I read Katie meets the Impressionists. The kids loved this book! They loved how Katie goes in and out of the paintings and leaves flowers and such on the museum floor that she picks up in the paintings.

We also read Chasing Degas which actually talks a bit about many of the impressionists as well as Degas.

And since you can't talk about art without getting to do some I decided we needed to paint. But I didn't want this to get messy so I brought water color pencils and a few paintbrushes and the kids drew a bit and then used water to paint. 

That was it for that week and it for France. While there are plenty more books and many more subjects we could cover with this country I figured a month in one place was plenty. We are off to another country in October. 

My goal is to simply introduce these countries to this group. Share a few fun stories and hopefully they will pick up some of the landmarks and culture from that place.

We will see how well my plans go over the next few months.

We are still here....just busy!

 I never seem to get around to blogging. A whole week seems to go by and I have nothing posted.  The weeks just seem to fly by so quickly, and before I know it Saturday is back again.

So what have been been so busy doing.

Science - We did a science experiment. I am doing better about getting to science the last few weeks. And we have even been doing the activities.
 Here we are testing to see if life can exist on Mercury, Venus,  and Earth. My kids could have told you right away that the hot water used in the Venus bottle was too hot for the yeast. They have helped me make bread enough to know water that hot kills the yeast.  We left the balloons on the bottles for the rest of the day and the Earth Balloon kept getting bigger while the other two just sat there limp and empty! My kids love experiments.

History - We listened to two chapters of Story of the World this week about China, Japan and Korea. We also listened to A Single Shard. This was a GREAT book!  All my kids loved it and Sophie loved how much they talked about pottery. She has been throwing pots the last few weeks in her pottery class and understands how difficult it is to make beautiful pots. She doesn't even have to go out and dig up her own clay.
Language arts - Sophie and Ian are making progress with their IEW Fix-it. They quickly edit their sentence or paragraph and I am finding that they can catch almost all the errors unless the program throws something new at them. Which means they are learning. I haven't been good about their writing program. It tends to slip when things get busy.
Henry fights doing his writing but gets it done quite quickly once he actually sits down to do it. He just can't get pulled away from the fun. He also seems to think he does one thing and then needs to go outside to skate. So after each subject he takes a quick jaunt around the driveway.
 I never know what to do with Molly during school time. When I get out something for her to do it distracts the boys from doing any of their work as they quickly want to "help" her do hers. I have let her play Starfall on the tablet this week. She loves it but as usual Henry can't let a screen be on without him being right there to see the action. So I am still working on finding something for Molly to do that isn't disruptive.

Math - Everyone is doing well with math. Ian quickly grabs his book and finishes his exercise without much explanation from me. He is enjoying his online class and getting very quick at the times tables.
 Sophie has been doing her Teaching Textbooks now for a few weeks and seems to be doing alright with it. It is still pretty easy math but she finds she makes simple mistakes too often and then scores lower than she would like. I have to remind her not to try to do the math in her head but to get paper and pencil out so she can check her answers before entering them.
 Henry, when he is not distracted, gets through his math each day quite easily.

We broke out the multiplication angels game for Henry to practice his times tables. He matched up the angels to their wing pretty well. 

Reading and reading and reading.
Ian and Henry are fighting over the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book. I have told them they can't play the Wii game for the 5th- 7th books until they read the book so they are motivated.
 Sophie has been revisiting one her favorite series. Fablehaven books always seem to be floating around this house. She flits from one to the next in no particular order.
 This doesn't seem like enough to keep us busy all day, every day. Once you through in scripture, piano lessons, daily piano practice for three kids, choir, gymnastics, pottery, ballet, a library visit, cub scouts, activity girls, co-op, park day and all the other things that get thrown into our days you end up with one very packed full week where we don't have much left over time for anything else.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What to do?

Today I was faced with a dilema. My basket of ironing was spilling onto the floor. I am not good about getting to the ironing. My husband has to iron his own shirt and pants every morning before heading to work. Each Sunday morning I iron shirts for my boys and maybe a dress or skirt for Sophie but never seem to really make the pile shrink. So rather than just keep piling more and more into that already full basket I decided to tackle it. My kids were occupied with Legos. Some building a new robot with the Mindstorms and others building a new landscape with the regular old legos. I decided to flip on a movie to make my task easier. I pick a good long movie. The 2008 BBC version of Sense and Sensibility is always a good choice. (I just recommend skipping the first few minutes if younger kids are anywhere nearby. This particular screenplay has a little scene at the beginning that is not G rated).
My kids came in to make sure I was still here every once in awhile but then would head right back to their legos when they saw the film and my ironing continued.  I didn't quite finish the basket before the movie ended. Yes a three hour movie didn't give me enough time to finish the job. But I made a huge foray into that basket. My boys now have shirts enough to make it through a few Sundays. My husband has enough shirts to make it about 2 weeks without having to iron any shirts. Even Sophie, Molly and I had some things make their way to our closets that we have forgotten about.

I really should come up with a better solution than doing a ironing marathon when the ironing gets out of hand. I really should make more of an effort to teach my kids to iron. I have taught them but everything they iron ends up with more creases than it started with. I guess I haven't taught them well enough yet.

But at least these three hours went by very quickly and I have quite a bit to show for it! At least until the laundry get folded and the pile starts to grow again.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Soundtrack Playlist

My boys have discovered that they love to listen to music.  My ipod and an old one that Sophie had been using have now been taken over by each of my boys. While we sit and wait for Molly's Dance class to end or while Sophie has an orthodontist appointment my boys sit and listen to music. I guess it is better than having them beg me to let them play Fruit Ninja on the tablet.

So, what is on their playlists?

At the moment their favorite is the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

 There isn't any words but they sing along to all the songs with  a lot of "dunt, dunt, dun, dunt". Even Molly loves this one. She loves to put this CD on the radio and gets so upset when I tell her "no" because we have already listened to it.  My boys haven't ever watched these movies but they can tell you everything that happens in them because they borrowed the Wii game from the library  this Summer and finished the game a few weeks ago.  So while they listen to the music they know exactly what part of the story goes with it.

When it isn't pirates there are a few other things that do get played.

I don't know exactly how it got started but after watching the movie cars months ago, my boys started singing "Life is a Highway" but they got the words all mixed up. So I borrowed the soundtrack from the library to set them straight. Now they listen to all the songs and sometimes even get the words to "Life is a Highway" correct. But then there is nothing funnier than Molly playing air guitar and singing "Riding on a cruise ship.... all night long".
 So along with these Soundtracks there are of course a few other songs from Soundtracks that are also on their playlists.

They have a few of the themes from Star Wars.
 And of course Indiana Jones is still riding through now and again.

So my boys love soundtracks and I am alright with that. And it is even better that they can listen to it on the ipod when I don't have to hear it over and over and over again!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We do Not get to Everything!

Every week I have a basic idea of what we need to get done or cover that week. And every week we never get to it all. I guess that is a good thing. Isn't there a saying somewhere that says "Shoot for the stars and you will hit the trees. If you aim for the trees you will hit the mud".  So I just make sure I am aiming high and even if I don't make it completely to my goal I will still achieve more than if I changed my aim and shot for something less.

So this week.....

We covered Islam in History. We learned about Muhammad and the the 5 pilars of Islam. We didn't do anything fun and only listened to the SoTW chapter and then looked through the DK Islam book. We did watch the movie Aladin (which my kids had never seen). I can't say they really loved it.  They do LOVE the stories of the Arabian Nights. Sophie has it on her new Kindle and she has been reading them on her own but we have also been listening to Jim Weiss tell a few of the tales. I think we have listened to this CD about 3 times this week already.

The Sun was the subject of Science this week. The kids read about the sun and labeled the parts of the sun. We didn't get to the experiment but it is a good one and we will do it hopefully tomorrow if I can get to it.

Sophie and Ian are doing great at their Fix-it everyday. I haven't been as good about having them do their actual writing assignments. So All things Fun and Fascinating and Fables, Myths and Fairytales took a little break this week. Henry is doing great with PAL writing. I often forget that he is only in 2nd grade and needs to learn simple things like the days of week and the months of the year. Thank goodness for his PAL program which reminds me to teach these seemingly simple things.

Ian and Henry are doing great at their Singapore Math. Ian flies through each exercise quite easily and Henry is catching onto multiplication pretty well. It must be all that time doing Timez Attack.
Ian had the first of his online Multiplication classes this week and he seemed to enjoy it but didn't have a whole lot to say about it. Very typical for a boy.

I have changed Sophie's Math program. I was finding Singapore difficult. Not that the math itself was too hard but I wasn't finding their textbook less than effective in teaching the concepts. And without an answer book I didn't know if I was teaching it the way they wanted. I have loved the program up until level 6 but Sophie was no longer able to do her math workbook on her own after I went through the lesson.  I was having to sit through each exercise and walk her through the solving of each one of the problems.  And when she came to a review she couldn't do much of any of the problems on her own.  I don't know if this is a Singapore problem or if it is my issue with teaching the concepts but in any case we are trying something new. I got her Teaching Textbooks level 6 and now she is going to be doing Math on the computer each day. Hopefully something new will help.

We did one DVD Lesson with Visual Latin. We learned the Vocative case. Sophie then went through Harrius Potter and found places where they use that case. I didn't even ask her to do it. She has been reading Harry Potter in Latin for fun this week. Ian has been reading through Fabula de Petro Cuniculo and trying to translate it with me.
Henry has decided Latin is too hard for him and doesn't want to sit through the lessons so I have been allowing him to do Muzzy online which our Library has available for free. He is learning a little Spanish while we work on Latin. Plus he feels like he gets a little online class too.

The boys LOVE their Gymnastics class. Molly had her first ballet class and we all went swimming. I guess that counts for P.E. Right?

Sophie had her first pottery class this week and was a little frustrated with how difficult it was and that it didn't come easily to her. She needs to go back and give it another try.

Piano practice hasn't been as happening as often as it should and I haven't been diligent about getting these kids to do their chores. I end up just doing things for them because they need to get done and it is easier than trying to get them to do it.

We finished the Ella Enchanted audio book and watched the movie. My kids all hated the movie. I warned them that it wasn't anything like the book. I am glad they know that the movie is almost never as good as the book.  We started Igraine the Brave.  We have listened to this one before but they don't seem remember it.

I guess that is about all I can think of at the moment. I know there are things I am leaving out that we did actually do and I know there are things that we just never got around to.

We haven't done anything with our Artist or Musician of the month and I would really like they to read a little more on their own rather than have them so dependent on me or audio books. They love to kill two birds with one stone and play with their new Mindstorms while listening to stories.

So that was it for this week.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Which one of these things is not like the other?

Molly had her first ballet/tap class the other day. I think we missed the memo about wearing pink. Molly was all in black. There was another little girl with a black leotard but she had a pink skirt.  Not that is mattered to her. She kept running out to the waiting room to tell me "girls are nice".

She did join in most all of the class but often took quick runs around the room and had to be reminded to get into line with all the other little girls. I also often saw her doing things the opposite of what the others girls were doing. I figured out that she was doing it the same way her teacher was doing. The teacher would be turned a certain way so she did too.

For such a young little girl an hour long class is a lot to ask of her. But she had such a good time and when it was time to leave she just thought it was time to change shoes again. (Half was through the class she switches the tap for the ballet slippers) She wanted to put her tap shoes back on and go out and dance some more.

Another Birthday, Shout Hurray!

Sophie is so excited to be another year older. She had a somewhat quiet birthday here at home this year. She actually had the red plate for dinner as well as cake and ice cream the night before since her actual birthday was going to be rather busy!
 As is the tradition she got to open a gift on her birthday morning.  She opened Grandma's gift of two new Webkinz and was so thrilled that they were ones she wanted. She named the owl Bubo which is Greek for Owl and is supposedly the name of Athena's owl. The Sabor Tooth cat is named Gladius which is sword in Latin.  She always picks excellent names for each of her pets.
 She spent the rest of the day playing with these new pets and doing school work just like a normal day. She attended her first Pottery wheel class and was exhausted and a little frustrated that it wasn't as easy as she thought it would be.

After dinner out with Grandma and Grandpa we returned home to finish the day with a few more gifts.
 A new Kindle, Owl necklace and Harrius Potter (Latin version) were her gifts from her Mom and Dad.
She had a great birthday and looks forward to reading a lot of great books on her Kindle and feels so grown up one of her very own.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A few Ups, downs, and opps

The last few days I have spent a lot of time asking Molly to sit on the toilet. She is three now and it is time she start heading toward under ware and away from diapers. Wow, will it be nice not to have to buy diapers!

A month or so after Sophie turned three, while at the mall, she saw the Build-a-Bear workshop and just fell in love with a unicorn she saw there. I told her that unicorn could only go home with girls who where under ware. Sophie went home and started wearing undies right away and never looked back. Once she was done with diapers, she was done and at night too.

I tried to find the right incentive for Molly to finally want to use the toilet and wear panties.  I think I found it because I told her about her ballet class that starts a few days. I also explained that ballerinas don't wear diapers so she needs to wear panties. She hasn't been quite as easily trained as Sophie was but she is wearing under ware and telling me when she needs to go. Hurray for that!  There have been a number of accidents over the last few days. Her only trouble is being away from home. She had an accident at the church while we played there during scouts the other day and she had another accident at co-op on Friday. That is it. Each day only one accident.

We aren't there yet but we are getting much better and today we haven't had any accidents even through we were out and about running errands all afternoon. I can't wait to put the money that is set to go to diapers to use elsewhere!

It feels like such a milestone in my life to have all my kids out of the baby stage.
Molly tells me "I'm a big girl" so many times everyday. I think I am starting to really believe her!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hiking around the lake

Up near where I grew up and and where my parents still reside there is a small lake. It is a beautiful spot to swim, boat, camp or hike. We choose to take a hike around the lake. It is about a 5-6 mile hike around.
It is such a great time to hike up in the Sierras. 
 At first the kids complained but before long the trail became a fun rock climbing play ground and they started to have a great time.

 By the time we got about half way around the lake we all started to really get tired and hot. We were heading into the sunny side of the hike where there was less shade.
 We decided to go back the way we came along the shady side of the lake rather than deal with the heat and sun.
 It was a good choice since most of the way back Molly had to be carried and that really makes hiking hard. Nothing tires you faster than having an extra 30 lbs on your shoulders.
It was a lovely hike and we enjoyed the great out doors.