Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lets talk about Math

Since I still don't have the option of posting photos. My computer is still not speaking to my camera and the card reader I bought doesn't work on our operating system (I guess our computer is just too old. It is seven years old.  I can't even upgrade to the correct operating system because it requires more megahertz. than what our computer has. I guess we are doomed to buy a new computer... eventually?!) So I will talk about something really exciting like Math.

The other day Henry asked me, "Why do you love math?".  I hadn't ever really thought that I loved math. Perhaps he just asked this because it is one of the subjects I require my kids to do every day.  He followed up his question by asking, "How do you know how to do all of this?". I guess he was amazed how I bounced from Ian's geometry to Sophie's fractions and then back to his addition. They were all doing their math at the same time and I was helping each one as they needed it.  I explained to him that I had been doing Math for years and years in school but also that Math is one of the things my mind just understands easily. He said "that is why you like to do Suduko". He knows I love to work those puzzles and thinks math is somehow involved.  I didn't go into the fact that Suduko really doesn't have anything to do with math. I guess logic is math but without the numbers but there isn't any adding or subtracting. And my mind certainly works very logically! I guess Henry was right. I do love Math!

We have been a very loyal Singapore Math family for years. Sophie has made it through 4 years of their workbooks. She finished 4B earlier this year. I admit we used to have a lot of trouble getting Sophie to do Math the first year or so but it has been quite some time since she really fought it. She knows we do Math everyday.  Singapore seems to move through topics in a logical way and explains them well. Nothing seems like a big jump. And there is quite a bit of practice so my kids have done well getting the concepts. Ian is finishing up 2B right now and Henry is still working on the 1A workbook.

Once Sophie finished the 4B workbook I gave her the option to start 5A or to give Life of Fred a try.
She had such a good time working through the first bit of this book. At about half way through the chapters and bridge sections she started to get very frustrated. She could never remember the concept that was taught in the last chapter. She loved reading the chapters but had such a hard time getting through the problems. I found myself having to remind her of the steps from before. I think the problem was that each chapter ended with a few problems, usually story problems, but there was usually only one that covered the topic learned in that chapter and then a few review ones. I think she got a little frustrated because she hadn't really gotten the method down with only one problem to solve. I think it takes a few problems to work through before you really have the topic or concept down.
Sophie didn't finish the book. She was in tears one day and I hadn't had to deal with tears about math for some time. So I decided to do something different.

I turned to Math Mammoth for practice. I have been visiting this ladies blog for a year or so but hadn't actually given any of the workbooks a try until Sophie got so frustrated with Life of Fred. I figured we needed to do something else.  These downloadable workbooks have been a good way to review some of the topics we have already covered. Sophie worked her way through the Division 1 workbook and is now finishing the Fractions. Ian didn't want to be left out so he is doing the Geometry workbook along with his Singapore. He doesn't seem to mind doing double math. The Geometry is fun because he gets to use rulers, triangles and such. Then he turns to his Singapore and does fractions or money or time. He is really good at math and flies through his two lessons each day.

Henry fights all school work and Math isn't any different, even though he is able to do it once he stops complaining. He was working through Singapore and doing well but once it got to double digit subtraction he just got too frustrated. So I downloaded the Addition 1 Math Mammoth workbook and started him on that in order to review the math facts for a bit. He just finished it today and is so excited to do the Subtraction 1 workbook next. We will see how he reacts tomorrow when he actually has to do it.  For today he is thrilled to punch holes in the pages and put them in the binder so he can have them ready for math tomorrow.

We will be going back to Singapore and I am sure we will eventually work through the Life of Fred books as well but at the moment they are all happily working through some of the Math Mammoth workbooks.

I am just happy my kids enjoy doing Math. (I am sure Henry will one day stop fighting it. He enjoys it once he gets over the fact that he is required to do something.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I have been absent here for awhile. I have just been busy I guess.

Or it could be the fact that our computer is slowly dying and no longer lets me upload pictures. There are two reasons for this. For some reason the computer doesn't recognize my camera when I plug it in and also we have no more space on our computer. I have been deleting old pictures just so I can upload new ones. I think it is time to finally burn them all to a disk or an external hard drive. We did that once but then the external somehow didn't work anymore. Computers are so finicky! We depend so much on them, and don't know how to live without them, yet they give us so much trouble.

We are all still here and doing well. I just haven't had much time to sit here and write. I don't know how others find the time to write such well thought out posts when they have more kids and activities than I do. I sure do enjoy reading blogs. It is what eats up a lot of the time I do have at the computer. I don't really Facebook. I check it maybe once or so a week now. But I do check my blog reader everyday.

I hope to have more time to post and hopefully I can get my camera to talk to my computer again because I don't know what I would do without pictures to help document our activities.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Depending on the Mood

On top of all the books I read with the kids I also try to fit in a little reading just for me. I almost always have a few books going at the same time. What I pick up depends on the mood I am in and how much time I have or how many distractions I know I will have while I try to make my way through the pages.

This is what I have been bouncing between when I get some time just for my own reading.

The Student Whisperer is the latest from Oliver DeMille.  I love the principles of TJEd. I feel inspired when I read books about how to implement those principles but they also somewhat depress me. Depress may be the wrong word, perhaps uncomfortable may work better.  I know these are written to inspire and help those that wish to follow this method but often they make me feel like such a slacker.
I remember reading the TJEd Home Companion a few years ago and feeling a bit overwhelmed by how much I needed to change and implement in order to feel like I was doing things even remotely as described. This book, The Student Whisperer,  has me feeling much the same way except this one so far is just making me more and more aware of how shallow my education has been and how much farther I need to go before I actually feel like I am an educated, thinking, analyzing person.

I haven't even read through the first half of the book yet. I haven't even gotten to the part where Oliver teaches how to mentor. I am only reading Tiffany's experiences from her commonplace book about her experiences being mentored. Wow! It would be so great to be mentored like that. I just don't know how these people find the time. With 4 small kids, a husband, school, home and church commitments I just don't know how to do more and fit in more than I already do. I guess that is where the inspire comes in. These books help me see opportunities to improve even if my steps are very small. So I am a slacker but I am inching forward.

I borrowed To the Rescue from my brother a few weeks ago and have slowly been making my way through the life of this great man. It has been very interesting to read through his early life and look at pictures from his childhood. I feel like I already know so many of the stories that are shared because President Monson has already used these events to illustrate points he makes in the talks he has given. He really has had an interesting but at the same time ordinary life.

I would say this is my light reading at the moment. I read this when ever I can find a few moments in the day between the many activities and things going on around me. 
I have been having lots of trouble with Henry lately. We have had trouble getting him to do his chores, trouble helping him understand why we don't just watch movies or play the Wii all day. There have been lots of long drawn out tantrums and lots of missed privileges but nobody seems to be winning. So I a turning to books to see what I am doing wrong. What has worked in the past with the other kids doesn't seem to work with this one. So far I have only determined that indeed Henry is a "Strong-willed child". I really am hoping for some help or ideas on things to try so I can direct this behavior in more productive ways. The last few weeks everything I seem I try has only led to us butting heads, anger, loud screaming, and some crying on both our parts. I am feeling desperate for some understanding and I have heard good things about this book.

So I don't actually have a novel going right now. Usually they are my reading of choice. I love getting lost in a great novel but at the moment I guess I need some direction.  I am reading things that inspire me to do better and shoot a little higher than what I am already doing. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hey! This is Jazz

The other day I was reading through blogs and someone posted the link where you could download for FREE Popcorn Popping. I downloaded it because it was primary music and Free. What could it hurt, right?

Without even listening to it, I burned it onto a CD (I don't have speakers for my ipod) and that night after dinner I played it while were cleaning up. Molly quickly recognized Jesus Wants me for a Sunbeam and started doing the little bounce or jump where all the "beams" would be if there had been words. Even without lyrics she caught on to the tune!

The next song started, Follow the Prophet, and it has a little Jewish flavor to it. I really enjoyed it but Sophie loved it. She said "this sounds like Fiddler on the Roof".

Book of Mormon Stories came next and the little reed flute was a nice touch but we were already enthralled. We spent the rest of the CD trying to guess the primary song and the kids all were dancing around the living room. The songs weren't all recognizable right from the start and some of them are songs my kids didn't even know but they listened and enjoyed them anyway.

I loved it when Sophie, after listening to most of the CD, said "Hey Mom! This is Jazz".  She also made the connection that I Hope they Call me on a Mission starts like Rhapsody in Blue. I guess all those books and CDs we have been listening to the last few weeks have trained her ear a little.

So if you would like to hear these very fun renditions of classic Primary songs. Then click on over to LDS Music Now to download this CD for Free. I don't know how long this will be available but you really shouldn't miss it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some Russian History too.

Most of the history studies this whole year have mainly been US History. But I felt like it would be a good idea to throw in a little about other countries too. Especially since the rest of US History (the stuff from the last 100 years or so) is so tied to what is happening in the rest of the world. And since we need to introduce the ideas of Socialism and Communism (they play a big role in the space race, the cold war, and the Vietnam and Korean wars. I thought we should have a little better understanding of what happened in Russia. I am sure it will lead to some good discussions about forms of Government and of course I get to share my thoughts on the subject.

I decided to start by listening to the audio book The Royal Diaries - Anastasia the last Grand Duchess, Russia
I am often surprised at what my boys will let me play for them. They don't seem to mind the American Girl books and this is the second of the Royal Diaries we have read. They get involved in the story I guess and don't mind that it is a female protagonist.

We haven't finished this book quite yet (we still have half of the last disc to go) so I don't know how they deal with the actual end of this Grand Duchess. So far it has been very interesting to see the goings on of the Tzar's family before WWI and into their overthrow through the eyes of this young girl.

Sophie loves all the references to places or things we have studied years agao with FIAR units about Russia. It is nice to know she was listening and remembers.

I can't say our library is going to be lot of help when it comes to teaching Modern History through "Living books" I don't know if I would call this one a "Classic" but it is worth a read.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Small Project

 Molly got a very cute baby doll stroller for Christmas. She LOVES it. It travels around our house everyday. It carts around dolls and stuffed animals and sometimes blocks and trains. But it is an always present part of our lives.

About a week after Christmas the little plastic fabric seat started to rip on the edges. I knew trying to mend with needle and thread wouldn't work. The plastic would fray even more.  I even tried adding some iron on patches to add some strength to those edges. But they don't seem to work either.
It was time to make a new one. I took the old frayed one and drew up a pattern. I then looked in my sewing stuff to see if I had something that would work. I settled on some old scraps from a pair of gray sweats that I had cut off to make capris. The cut off part was just the right size to use. I had some navy blue binding tape so used that to edge it and for the straps. I wish I had had elastic in blue or even black but I only had white.
I think it turned out alright. There are flaws but I have never been a great seamstress. I am just happy to make things that are functional. This is surely functional so I think I succeeded.
It isn't very frilly or particularly feminine but I don't think Molly seems to mind.
Lets hope Henry doesn't decide to take a ride in this one like he did in the last. I think that may have something to do with why the old one didn't last very long. I think I better keep my paper pattern. I have a feeling it may come in handy again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Music Study - Jazz

I used to be really good about picking a composer for us to study each month. I haven't done any formal music study with my kids in awhile. A lot of things have seemed to have changed this year. We have listened to music but it usually went along with the time period of history we are studying. And since this seems to be the way our composer study has been going this year and since we have reached the roaring 20's and the Jazz age, I figured it was a great time to introduce my kids to some Jazz. Not that I am a great fan of Jazz, but I can appreciate it and do enjoy listening to it.

So of course I found just about every book about Jazz in the picture book section of our library. 

 Here are a few more. But some of them made it into both pictures so it looks like more.
I really enjoyed the ones that came with a CD. It was nice to hear the actual singing and music of the time. I think the kids enjoyed the ones where I got to read and try to scat. They all got a good laugh. I think the best of the bunch were Jazz on a Saturday night (It came with a CD) and Ella Fitzgerald: a tale of a Vocal Virtuosa (the CD on this one too was a lot of fun to listen to. Ella's Big Chance: a Jazz age Cinderella didn't have much to do with Jazz but the illustrations are great! The rest were fun to read but I am glad I don't have to read scat very often it is almost harder than some Dr. Seuss.
I also picked up a few books about the history of the Radio. My kids know some of the early radio shows that they spoke about since I have downloaded many of the stories from Kiddie Records Weekly and they have been listening to them for years.

I can't say our Library had a large selection as far as jazz for kids goes. I guess I could have looked in that adult music section but I didn't. We listened to Cool Jazz 4 Cool Kids. Sophie loved hearing Alice in Wonderland music in a Jazz style. But this CD was rather slow and mellow and my kids wanted to dance so I also picked up the soundtrack to Swing Kids and we branched off into swing and the kids enjoyed the fast pace of this music.

I think I need to find some Benny Goodman and Glen Miller next. They will take us right into the WWII years. But first we need to study the hard years of the Great Depression. That is where we are going next. I have another stack of books for this time period too. I love my library!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swinging into Spring

This weekend the weather was perfect, cool but not cold, sunny but not hot, and since it rained last week everything was green. The weekend was also great because we spent it at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was General Conference weekend. We don't get it on t.v. at our house so we decided to come at view it on BYUtv with my parents.
Isn't the place I grew up lovely. Big front yard and pasture in which to run around. We spent as much time outside this weekend at we could.

One thing that the kids took advantage of is the tire swing that one of their uncles rigged up on one of the trees in the pasture. It has been there for a few months but hasn't seen quite so much action as it did this weekend.
My kids were out on the swing almost all day long. They would only come in to eat and beg someone to come out and push them.
Grandpa got chosen this time.

Molly just enjoyed being allowed to run around outside and sit in the tall grass and pick flowers and grass.

She was given a few pushes on the swing as well but most of her time was spent sitting in the grass.
Everyone spent a lot of time outside giving the kids pushes on the swing. It is nice that the tire itself is big enough and the chain and tree are strong enough for all the kids to get on at once.
Henry of course had to test out some of his Indiana Jones moves.

Every time we went out to see what the kids were doing, they were out in the pasture playing on the swing or out in the grass.

It was especially fun when the cousins came over to play too.

But then there were so many kids that you had to actually take turns riding and pushing. But nobody seemed to mind. They all had a great time out making forts in the grass while they waited for their turn.

I spent a fair amount of time out there too. Not just taking pictures. I got a good amount of pushing time in as well.

The kids loved being able to walk through the grass. It isn't always this green and soft. It is often full of stickers and then they spend a lot of time picking burrs out of their socks and pants.
But this weekend it was perfect for roaming and crushing to make trails.

We did make the trek up the street for "the walk" too. The kids got to see little tadpoles in the pond. Sophie said she found some baby snakes under a rock on one of the walks. And we all got to see birds, horses and dogs as we headed up the hill.

Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for the beautiful weekend.  What could have been better than spending time outside with family interspersed with word of the prophets. We liked it soo much we took an extra day and didn't come home until Monday night.

It is going to take some time to adjust to being back home in the city where there just isn't as much fun right outside our door.