Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Funny Hiking Humor

Cristina over at Homespun Juggling posted today about hiking and making up puns about hiking. I was laughing as I read them. Maybe you'll find them humorous as well!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly wrap-up--January 29, 2012

This week was a fairly good one as far a balance goes. We were both out and home, but not too much of either!

On Monday afternoon we went to the first of the Wescott Library Homeschool Science Series presentations. This one was presented by MAD Science. We have seen this presenter before, and loved him! He is highly engaging, but still gets the information across. Love presenters like that!

Tuesday we went to a new to us activity, Art Club. I learned about it through a friend, and really had no idea what to expect. It was great. Really enjoyable! There is a homeschool mom in our area who puts together a presentation on an artist (this month it was Kandinsky) and an art project that is related. It is very similar to the format that is used at the KidCreate Studios art classes we have been attending (but missed this month), but only costs, get this, $1 per child. Yep, she provides all the materials AND all the information, and it costs $1. Well worth it in my mind!

Art club is held at a library 3 blocks from where my husband works, so we went and had lunch with him! The kids love going to Daddy's work, so that was a treat.

After lunch, we headed back to the same library for Board Game club. Another homeschool mom has organized this group. People bring their own games and the kids (and parents!) play games for a couple of hours. I didn't enjoy this one as much. I am not huge on board games to begin with, I prefer card games and dice games and things like Bananagrams. It isn't that those games aren't welcome, just that there were lots of bored games, too. There were also a LOT of people there, and the energy level was a bit high for an indoor space. At least I felt it was high--I am used to fairly quiet kids! The kids had fun, but were getting tired, which may have clouded the experience as well.

Friday we went to another new to us activity, Homeschool Book Club. The same woman who does the Art Club also does a book club! Seriously, she is amazing! I know she has assistance, there are other moms who help her out (one of them being the friend who told me about these activities!), but she does the presenting, and does a great job with a wide age range. My kids are on the young side for this group. Kutey is perhaps the youngest actual participant, but she can sit that long, knows not to be disruptive, and loves to be with the older kids, so it works out fine! We loved this, too. The books this month were The Young Man and the Sea by Rodman Philbeck and the Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, focusing more on the former. It was a great morning out!

  • We read Chapter 20: The Diaspora in Story of the World, Volume 2. I didn't do much with this for extras, and I am finding myself doing less and less. I can't decide if that is good or bad!
  • We covered Earth in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey--Earth and Space. I still think there is a lack of depth in the study of the planets. I am still looking for a good way to bulk that up. Ideas are more than welcome!
  • Kiddo is nearly done with Singapore 3A, with only review and practice remaining. He is anxious to move into 3B, which is good.
  • Kutey started Singapore 1A. I am so excited for her. I had been doing basic math things with her, and will continue that, but this gives us something to guide our sessions. Much of it will be basic and review for her, which I think will help build her confidence!
  • Kutey continued with 100 Lessons, and it is going well. I have to remember to do it early in the day, before she gets too tired, but then it goes very well. Makes me wonder how teachers at school handle it! Particularly those kids in afternoon kindergarten!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oodles of free Kindle books...

I love my iPad. I didn't know how much I would use it until I got it. And I admit, I am only just scratching the surface of what we can do with it. I am constantly on the look-out for new apps that will help us in our school endeavors. Mostly I look for free apps, though I have splurged and bought a few, a topic for another post!

One of the things I love about my iPad is the Kindle app for reading books. Again, I am still reading mostly free books, but I am thoroughly enjoying them, none-the-less. I use it to read at night, so I can read in bed when hubby wants to go to sleep. The lights can be off, and I can still read perfectly.

Recently, however, I came across this list on Ami's blog Walking by the Way. Oh. My. Goodness. So many books! For free! For kids! There are several on her list that I have almost purchased in paperback form, but never quite felt the need. The Burgess books, for example. I am so excited that I can now download them to my iPad! I am also excited about the Lucy Fitch Perkins Twins books. I own an ancient copy of the Japanese Twins. It was a book that sat on my grandparents shelf through my entire childhood. I nabbed it when they were preparing to move, and it is a treasured book. Being able to read all of them, however, is very exciting!

Where do you find free and inexpensive books for your kindle/nook?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly wrap-up--January 20, 2012

We seem to have found our groove, though I hesitate to claim that because I don't want to jinx it! It might have something to do with the fact that we only left the house on Tuesday this week. Being home, I find, helps with the homeschooling!

The big event of the week was Homeschool Book Club. It is the first time we have attended one of these. The book this time was Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick which is one of the National Homeschool Book Award books. Really good book. Don't let the length (somewhere over 600 pages) frighten you off. It is a really fast read. We met at the Bell Museum, where they have a diorama of wolves. We talked about dioramas, learned a little sign language, and made our own dioramas. Diorama pictures forthcoming. They have been working on them all week. It was great fun, in spite of the fact that the museum is on the campus of the University, it was the first day of spring semester, and it turned cold for the first time all winter.

The rest of the week we spent our time working on dioramas, learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and doing our regular school routine.

  • Kiddo cruised through the adding money section of Singapore 3A. He would have moved into subtracting money, too, but we don't have the next books yet, so I tried to keep him in check!
  • Kutey is doing really well with her math! I had her identifying larger numbers, she understands odd numbers and even numbers, can count by tens all the way to 100, and add up to 20 with manipulatives.
  • Kutey worked on reading with 100 Easy Lessons. We are working through lessons we have previously completed. I want to build on success, which is not where we were. I also recognized this week that she gets tired easily when reading. That is one of the problems we were running into. I am considering getting her eyes checked, too.
  • We read Chapter 19--A New Kind of King in Story of the World, Vol. 2, about King Richard the Lion-Hearted, John Lackland, and Robin Hood. Instead of me reading all of the Robin Hood stories, I managed to find 5 of them on Storynory. I love listening to stories at lunch time, particularly if I don't have to read them!
  • We covered Venus in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth and Space. I am still looking for a really good activity to tie all the planets together. The curriculum seems a little thin. Any ideas?

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Piano Man

Kiddo decided to teach himself to play the piano. He has been saying he wants to learn for a while, and I have been a bit slow to find a teacher. I have my reasons, though I think they are likely my own blocks, not his. I took lessons for 4 years, and while I can play, I am certainly not fantastic. I didn't like to practice and my last piano teacher took all of the joy out of it for me. As an adult, I like to sit down and play and I enjoy the fruits of my labors, but as a child I did not. The teacher really wanted to be training pianists in the making, which I was not. Even thinking about trying to find a teacher who is gentle and would make playing the piano fun instead of a chore, whose expectations would match that of the student, is daunting.

So he is teaching himself. We have taught him a few things before. Middle C. Left and right hands. Very basic things. But that has been at least a year. Maybe two. We have various lesson books at the piano--mine from when I was a child, Hubby's from the same time, and a few I have picked up at garage sales and thrift shops. Recently I purchased a new copy of the piano books I started with and gave them to Kiddo as his very own. He was thrilled.

He goes in spurts, which is fine when one is teaching oneself! There will be a week or two where he plays a lot, asks for feedback on what he has played, challenges himself to move forward. He has even co-written a song with Kutey! She wrote the lyrics and he wrote the music. Over thanksgiving he had the chance to "jam" with his very talented cousin Dimples (I have called him Dimples since he was, um, 3. He is 16 now. He still finds it amusing.) Dimples attends a special arts high school because of his musical talent. He plays multiple instruments, including the piano. He and Kiddo played for several hours. Piano, trombone, trumpet, guitar, drums. Kiddo was in heaven. I wish Dimples lived closer to us and they could do that more often.

Kiddo hasn't asked for a teacher for a while, but he has also stopped moving forward in the book. He plays the songs he knows, changes them now and then, plays with tempo and the pedals, but hasn't really moved ahead. Do I get him a teacher? How does one go about finding someone?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Have you read Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick? Oh, you should. It is a fantastic book. And don't let the fact that it is at least 3 inches thick stop you. It is a very, VERY quick read. I read it aloud to the kids in less than 5 hours.

This is the first book we have read for the Homeschool Book Club in our area. It is also the first book we have read that is a nominee for the National Homeschool Book Award. I will admit, I was a little worried about Kutey. Kiddo's comprehension is excellent, so I knew he would be fine. Kutey loves to listen too books, but the book club is advertised for ages 8 to 12, ish. Given that she is 5, well, I was worried. I was even more worried when she decided, upon seeing the book, that it "looks boring!" Talk about judging a book by its cover! But I wanted to give it a shot.

Kutey and Kiddo loved it. They begged me to read more. It was their go to activity for the few precious days I read it. The story is engaging and has the adventure that appeals to kids. And it is unique. It begins in Northern Minnesota, which I will admit was a huge hook for my kids. That is one of our favorite areas, so it gave us an immediate connection to the book. I don't think it is necessary, though, to have that. The book is fabulous no matter where it takes place.

Weird Weather...

I just used a broom to sweep the snow off my driveway. It is highly unusual that we get that little snow. This winter is so weird!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Crafts for February

I am trying to be proactive. I am trying to plan ahead. Valentine's Day is coming soon, and rather than attempting to pull the crafts and activities together at the last minute, taking time out of our day to run around town picking up supplies, I am making my list now! I am hoping to gather all of the supplies together and start our festivities no later than February 1, but likely before then.
Right now, these are the activities and crafts I am looking at:
We'll probably have rice krispy treats with valentine's sprinkles, the kids love those, and strawberry bread, which comes out pink. Heart-shaped pizza for dinner is a distinct possibility.

What Valentine's activities do you have up your sleeve this year?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly wrap-up--January 13, 2012

I have been dreading this week for a month. Hubby is out of town. That may not seem like a big deal, but for us it is unusual. I was sure I was going to get tired and crabby, which would mean school did not go well. To add to the dread, there was nothing special on the calendar. No real field trips, no outside classes, nothing. Next week is loaded, but this week? Nada.

Turns out, however, that it was a decent week!

Kutey was sick Sunday to Monday with a stomach virus. Sunday was a whirlwind of that combined with getting Hubby off to the airport (thanks to friends who live close by and their willingness to drive him to the airport at the last minute!) Kiddo and I just went about our days. There was much more screen time than I normally like for those two days, but sometimes you just have to go with it. Hubby and I talked about that and buying Kutey pink Gator*de to drink. When kids are sick, we agreed, you just have to go with it.

Tuesday it was 53 degrees according to my van thermometer. 53! In January! In Minnesota! Unreal! We went to the park for a couple of hours in the afternoon with friends. T and I sat and soaked up the sun and warmth while the kids all ran around without coats. It was bliss!

Thursday we went to our friends' home for a knitting lesson. I was teaching. S knew how to knit, but forgot how to cast on. Her mom, N, didn't know anything, and Kiddo has been asking to learn since he saw Arthur learning on Arthur. So I taught. The time flew by! The kids played for a bit after that, we had some lunch with them, and then we headed home.

Today I had planned to take the kids to the Science Museum, but, well, hanging out at home is what they wanted to do. So we spent the day just hanging out here at home. Very relaxing.

  • Kiddo finished up the times tables in Singapore 3A. We move into money next week, then on to review and we'll be done! Next book is on the way.
  • We read Chapter 18--The Age of Crusades in Story of the World, Vol. 2. We spread the reading out over the week, it was a dense chapter.
  • We studied Mercury in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, Earth and Space. For Kiddo, most of this is review. He has read about space and the planets quite a bit. He is enjoying it, however.
  • Kutey moved back to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for reading. This is proving to be a difficulty, finding the right way to teach her. She can read, she is just 5 and easily distracted.
  • Kutey also did some math on the iPad this week, in addition to her little workbooks. I moved our theme book for this week, to give her more time to recover.
  • We have also been reading the book Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. We will be attending a homeschool book club next week, and this is the book. It seemed really long, but it is a remarkably quick read. It is also one of the National Homeschool Book Award nominees. Don't know about the National Homeschool Book Award? Check it out!

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Outside my window...

Outside my window, there is snow falling. It has varied from snow-globe to single drifting flakes for most of the morning. It hasn't amounted to much, but it has been beautiful. Given the paucity of snow we have had this winter, I am pleased to see it. I dread the drought warnings that come when we have a light snow winter, and this is certainly one of the lightest in my memory. Of course, it has also been warm. It was 53 degrees on Tuesday. It was 13 degrees yesterday. 40 degree difference in 48 hours. Sounds about right.

I am enjoying sitting here snuggled under my blanket listening to the kids play and sipping my tea. We had plans to go to the Science Museum today. As we got ready, however, it became apparent that what the kids longed for was a day of nothing. They wanted to play with their toys. They wanted to read. They wanted to stay home. Instead of forcing a field trip that didn't have to happen, I decided to listen to the kids and just stay home.

The quiet and peace of the snow, the warm tea, the kids playing happily together, are all wonderful. This is one of those moments I want to bottle up and preserve.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly wrap-up January 6, 2012

I haven't blogged much since last spring. Honestly? I was burned out. See, somewhere in my head, I had this idea that this blog had to be "perfect." This blog needed to "attract readers." I wanted to have freebies to give away of worksheets or units or whatever that we had done. But it never became that. And I got discouraged and decided to just not blog.

That was an OK plan, except that I miss being able to go back and see what we have done! I like my weekly updates, if for no other reason than they give me a record of what we have done.

I am giving it a go again, but this time with less expectations. I am only committing to once a week blogging, my weekly summary. If other things pop up, so be it. But I am not going to aim for more than once a week. And I won't guarantee pictures. I take oodles of photos, but often my kids are in them. I don't want to have to worry about whether or not I got a shot without my kids. It takes energy away from where I need to be focused right now, and that is on educating my kids.

With that, here is our week in review!

We had a quiet week, a great way to start the new year.

We are still working through Story of the World Vol. 2. We read Chapter 16--England After the Conquest where we learned about the English Language, Castles, and Feudalism. We also read Chapter 17--Knights and Samurai on, well, Knights and Samurai. We read two chapters this week to try to get caught up to where I planned for us to be by now. We might be there, I can't really tell. Either way, we are still enjoying Story of the world.

We started learning about the solar system in R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey--Earth and Space. We drew our own solar systems (Kutey's was quite creative!) and read about the sun. We have also all been singing Why does the Sun Shine by They Might Be Giants. I know, I know, not the most accurate song, but it is more catchy that the more correct one! We were supposed to make a solar oven, but it is January in Minnesota. We should have tried today, when temps were in the upper 40's (Not normal in January in Minnesota, in case you wondered!), but it wasn't looking like the sun would cooperate, so I didn't start the project. Turns out it was sunny, though I am still not sure we could cook a hot dog in a small solar oven at this time of year.

Kiddo wrote 2 reports this week, one on sharks the other on tropical fish. This was something he wanted to do. He came up with the topics himself, found the books, and wrote the reports. His construction was pretty good, but we need to work on spelling and penmanship!

Kiddo continues to work through the times tables in Singapore Math 3A. He'll be on schedule to move into 3B in February. He needs to work on memorizing the tables, but at least the concepts of multiplication and division are fairly well understood.

I ramped up school with Kutey a bit. I had become a bit lazy with her. She is resistant to doing most things ("I don't like to..." was heard daily!), but she is almost 6 and I am feeling the need to get her a bit more on track. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons was not working well for us, she was having trouble focusing long enough to get through a lesson because they were boring, so I gave up for a while. For the last month or so I have had her read Bob Books. She likes those more, though she still complains. I can tell her reading is improving, though, so I have stuck with it. We are currently reading Level B, Set 1, Kids! (Set 3 in the new numbering) We are just over halfway through our first reading. I'll have her read them at least once more before we move on.

I also printed off the Preschool pack and Kindergarten add-on for Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree from Homeschool Creations. I love Jolanthe's collections. I will have to supplement for Kutey, since she is really halfway through kindergarten already, but she enjoys the activities (as much as she enjoys anything!) I used the stocking counting activity to cover skip counting by 2's. We also covered odd and even numbers with the ornament addition page and the stockings. Kutey grasped both concepts quickly. She counted by two's in her head the very first time we covered it! When I asked her, she said she just told herself to skip the number in between. Guess no formal math teaching this year hasn't hurt her! We are going to have to cover larger numbers in the coming weeks, she is more than ready.

We ventured out for our Tuesday group where the kids put on a performance of Cinderella for the moms. We also ventured out on Friday to run errands, buy birthday presents for Daddy (though I am not sure who the presents are really for...), and get some books for Kiddo's next reports (he is really enjoying them!).

And that brings us to the end of the week!

How was your week?

We are linking up to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Click to see what others did this week!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Better Caffeinated

Me, that is. I am so much better with caffeine. Really. I even tested it this morning.

See, I was grumpy, and grouching at the kids. School is much more painful when you are crabby! So I decided to have a cup of tea, chai to be more accurate. I love chai. I started drinking it, and suddenly the world was brighter. Seriously. We floated through the morning, blissfully working on school, which was done--get this!--BEFORE LUNCH! Yep, that's right, we worked everything on the schedule before lunch! I could hardly believe it. There was much less complaining, and I was so much less crabby.

So I have decided to embrace it. Caffeine, after all, is a small vice to have, right?