Saturday, September 28, 2013

What a great afternoon!

The girls and I set of for some adventures this afternoon and checked out some great things that were happening near us.

First we visited the Wonderful Fine Market where a lovely lady demonstrated and explained how to spin wool with a drop spindle. She also told us a bit about how they dyed their wool and showed us products she had created using her wool. It was very interesting. This was just one of the many interesting exhibits at the market.

Next we visited the Blow Me Down Community Garden for their open garden day. One of the volunteers gave Sarah and me a tour of the garden, while another volunteer kept Anna entertained. We all enjoyed our visit and learned lots. I'm looking forward to learning more from them in the future.

Our last stop was at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre to check out the LAWN (League of Artists of Western Newfoundland) Growing Artistically exhibit, which was part of Culture Days. This is the second year for this exhibitition idea, which is described in this quote from LAWN's website - "Participating LAWN members each invited a young artist to create a piece for the show and then used it as the inspiration for their own work of art." We loved the exhibit. I wish we had more time to stay around and take in more of the activities that were part of the opening reception. The exhibit will be shown at the Arts and Culture Centre til the end of October and it is definitely worth checking out.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Weekly wrap-up - we're swimming along!

What a great week! We added something fun into our schedule this week - swimming! Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings we head to a near by pool for family swim time. It's been great!


Anna has made it to day 20 of the Walk With Jesus reading plan. She will finish it tomorrow. She hasn't mastered any new verses. She's just been reviewing her old ones. I'm going to have to encourage her to start working on some new ones next week.


Anna loves sketching. This week's sketches were off Dad flexing his muscles, a little guy we looked after one day this week, and one of her Barbie dolls. I'm thinking I'm going to have to try to add something different next week, but all she wants to do right now is sketch so we'll see how that goes.


Continuing with our lessons from First Language Lessons. We had some more fun reviewing linking verbs by making sentences with cards again. We talked about the four kinds of sentences and how commas are used in dates, addresses, and lists. We also started working on making a booklet of a poem called The Year.


I still can't get over Anna's attitude change towards math. She can't wait for math time. One day this week we looked after a little guy for a couple of hours so we included him in our math play. Anna enjoyed teaching him the names of the pattern blocks and helping him problem solve to make the patterns on the pattern mats. The rest of the week we had fun with a new math activity. I'm going to call it math fun with food. I'll tell you more about that in another post. Suffice it to say that we used split peas, chocolate chips, raisins, a teaspoon, and a tablespoon to cover a number of different math topics including estimating, counting by tens, counting higher numbers, adding, and subtracting.


This week we decided to learn our province's official anthem, The Ode to Newfoundland. I didn't realize there were so many verses in it. I only remember hearing the first and last verses. We found a YouTube Video of the Ode to Newfoundland and printed the lyrics and practiced all week. I think she did a pretty good job of learning it.


We finished listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz this week so we downloaded the movie and watched it. Anna often sketches on the white board while shes listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz chapters. Anna has been continuing reading her Magic Kitten book during silent reading and is almost finished it.

Social Studies

We finished chapter 3 of Story of the World and learned about Augustine and the medical monks. We googled for pictures of the monks manuscripts and talked about how much work it would be to write all books by hand. We also discussed municipal elections more, especially on voting day when we took Anna with us to vote and she anxiously awaited the results. We also took some time this week to review the continents.


Anna struggled some with spelling this week but still managed to keep a pretty good attitude. There were a few words that she just couldn't seem to remember, but finally did. She managed to finish all the words in groups seven and eight words lists.


Continuing with our lessons in Writing with Ease, we finished the week three lessons. She enjoys narrating the passages from Dr. Dolittle and doing the dictation exercises. We are also continuing with learning cursive writing. She finished all the rockin' round letters and is working her way through the glide n slide letters. She's doing great!

And that's our wrap-up for this week. Why not join in with the Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly wrap-up mime?


Friday, September 20, 2013

Weekly wrap-up - new grand baby added some craziness

In the wee hours of Sunday morning my second grandchild was born.

I'll tell you more about that in another post. His birth added a little craziness into our week but we wouldn't trade it for anything.

The fact that he was born in the wee hours of the morning meant that our sleep was completely disturbed that night and we've been struggling to get back on track all week. That has affected our starting times each day but we haven't done too bad.

We've also been anxious to see him as much as possible so we've been trying to get our work done as fast as possible so we would be free to go see him. This has been a great motivator for actually getting our work done, so that's a bonus.

There was just one day this week that we ended up shortening our official learning time. That was the day our little Isaac went home from the hospital. We helped get them settled in at home. I recorded that day as a half day of school in the Homeschool Helper but I was still pleased with the amount of work we did manage to do that day.

Here's a summary of what we did this week in each subject area:


Anna is still enjoying doing the Walk With Jesus: 21 Days Through Matthew reading plan in the YouVersion App and reviewing her Bible verses with the Scripture Typer App. She's made it to day thirteen of the reading plan and has mastered seven verses.


Art was a mod podge of things this week. Anna decided to draw on some balloons. She drew a dog face on one balloon and a cat face on another.

She also did a few sketches this week. She sat outside and looked for thing to draw. One day she did two sketches - one of a tree and the other of Buddy, our neighbour's dog. Another day she sketched Brody, the little guy that lives next door.

I did just one quick sketch one day this week of a picture I took of my new grandson sucking on his daddy's finger.



Continuing on with our lessons in First Language Lessons, we learned about linking verbs this week. One activity involved writing nouns on some cards, linking verbs on others, and adjectives on others and then selecting a card from each group to put together to make sentences. Anna really enjoyed that.



I am thrilled with the change in Anna's attitude toward math. She's really loving math time right now, and she is really learning. We are continuing playing games to review math facts. Anna wanted to make up her own game one day this week and we've been playing it every day since. You can read about it in a post with the title she game the game - I Love to Do Addition Game. Friday we spent some time playing with pattern blocks, learning the names of the shapes and problem solving as we made pictures with them.


This week we worked on learning O Canada. Anna didn't quite have the tune down by taping time. She was still struggling to stay in tune in a couple of sections so I suggested that she use her ear phones to listen to the YouTube Video of O Canada that we'd been listening to all week while I taped her singing it. If you listen closely you can hear where she starts to stray from the tune but she did a pretty good job.



We are continuing to listen to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We've made it up to chapter 18. We've had some great discussion inspired by the book so far. Anna finished the Magic kitten book she was reading during silent reading so we went to the library to get a new one for her to start next week.

Social Studies

We managed to do two sections in Story of the World: Middles Ages this week. We really enjoyed reading the version of the story of Beowulf in the book. The lyrical way it was written made it fun to listen to.

This coming Tuesday is municipal election time in our province. We spent some time this week discussing the elections and the three tier government system of Canada. Anna read the candidate flyers that came to our house and we checked out the information sheet about polling booths to see where we needed to go to vote. Anna was quite upset to learn that she can't vote yet. I'm hoping she still wants to vote when she's old enough to.


Anna is still loving spelling. She did her first review test this week in Spelling Power and got 100%! We made it almost all the way through list seven this week. Anna is really starting to pay attention to spelling and I love watching her stop to see if a word looks right the way she's written it before asking for it to be checked. She is doing great!


Did the week two lessons in Writing With Ease. We really enjoyed the passages that we had to narrate from Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Anna is doing great with her dictation exercises and copy work.

This week we started introducing cursive writing. We are working our way through the Cursive Writing Worksheets at Kidzone. She's mastered a, d, and g so far.

And that's our Weekly Wrap, inspired by the Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-up. Why not fun in the fun and tell us about your week?


Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Love To Do Addition Game

"Let's do math now so we can have some fun." That's not a sentence that passed my 7 year old's lips last year, but it was spoken by her today. I give Denise Gaskin and her book Let's Play Math credit for the change. Following Denise's advice I have laid aside the work book and instituted some games to teach and practice math concepts and facts. We are learning and having fun.

Our math time has consisted of us playing lots of games, many with cuisenaire rods. One day this week Anna wanted to make up a new game for us to play, and she titled the game "I Love to Do Addition".

At her suggestion we've been using eraser pencil toppers as player tokens, even though we don't really need player tokens to play the game. She assigns each of us a token and gives each of us a cuisenaire rod that matches the colour of the token we have. Our eraser pencil toppers are blue, yellow, and orange so we each end up with either a nine, five or ten rod. That makes it pretty easy to practice adding nines, fives, and tens.

To play the game each player takes turns making up an addition problems for the other player. One of the addends in the addition problem has to be the number that is represented by the players rod. For example, if I have a blue token I get a blue rod, which represents the number 9. Anna makes up additions problems for me that always has 9 as one of the addends. If Anna has a yellow token she gets a yellow rod, which represents the number five, and I have to make up addition problems for her that always has the number 5 as one of the addends. We take turns giving each other problems and figuring out the answers using the cuisenaire rods.

While we are playing I record the addition equations on a sheet of paper just to give Anna a visual of what we are doing. I don't make a big deal of pointing it out to her I just do it in plain view so she can see it.

I noticed today that she is really getting adding by tens and adding by nines and often doesn't have to use the rods to figure out the answer. She really has learned a lot through this game that she made up, and she's having a ball playing it.

Thanks, Denise Gaskin, for helping me realize I need to put some fun back into our math time.

Math is the theme for the Homeschool Weekly Photo Challenge this week so I'm linking the post there. Do you have a math inspired photo to share?


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Week 1 Art Projects

For art this year, I have decided that we will work on at least one art project each week. My original idea was that we would take a walk on Mondays and find something to sketch while on our walk. We would do a rough sketch Monday and then enhance that sketch all week long. Friday would be the last day to make improvements. It didn't quite go that way this week.

Monday we did go outside in the back yard and pick something to sketch. Tuesday I suggested we try to improve the sketch. At first Anna didn't want to make any improvements to hers but finally she came around and worked on it a bit. Wednesday I suggested we add some colour to our sketches. Thursday I suggested we work on the sketches some more. Anna decided her sketch was done and she wanted to draw another one, so I told her to go ahead. Friday I suggested she add colour to her second sketch.

I wish I had taken pictures of our sketches each day to show the changes but I didn't think of it the first three days.

I had decided to sketch a fallen log in our back yard. I didn't spend much time on my sketch, but here is my finished sketch


Anna decided to sit on the steps to our basement and sketch our dog, Pepsi. In her sketch you can see her feet on the steps and Pepsi sitting at the bottom of the steps. The thought balloon above Pepsi's head shows that Pepsi is thinking about how much she loves Anna.The second day she added the background of the railing and the concrete area Pepsi was sitting in and the tree and play equipment in the backyard behind it. The third day she added some colour. Here is her finished sketch


For her second sketch she decided to draw one of her dolls. Here is her initial sketch


Friday she added some colour to her sketch. Here is the finished sketch, with the doll she was sketching in the background.


I think she did a super job!


First full week of school - so far so good :-)

This was our first full week of school and if every week is as good as this week we will have a good year. Dare I hope? I feel much more together this year than I have at this time any other year. We seem to be nicely falling into a grove. I really hope it continues.

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers does a homeschool weekly wrap-up and I've decided try to participate this year. That's the inspiration for this post.

I think one of the reasons for our success so far this year is the Homeschool Helper app. I am loving it! I can see room for some improvement in the app but it is definitely a help in keeping me focused. I love checking the completed lesson box as we complete each lesson.

Another reason for our success so far is the method I've come up with to keep us on track. Besides the Homeschool Helper app, where I input our lesson plans before we do them, Anna and I also both have our own clip board to hold papers for us to journal about the lessons after the fact and our own binders to hold completed papers.


Anna does daily journaling pages. Every day she puts the date at the top of a new page and then as we do the subject throughout the day she writes the subject name on the page and writes at least one sentence about the lesson for that subject when we complete it for the day. Once both sides of a journaling page have been filled in, so after two days, the page gets taken out of the clipboard and placed into Anna's binder.


I do subject journaling pages. I have a page in my clipboard for each subject and I write the date and a summary of what we've done each day on each subject after we have completed it. Once both sides of a sheet have been filled in it gets transferred from my clipboard to my binder.


One other thing that helps us stay on track and feel accomplished is Anna's subject list on her ipad. We made the list in the reminders app and she gets to choose what order she wants to do the subjects in and to check them off when they are complete. She really enjoys that. Every morning we just uncheck the list and start again.


I tend to start school slow each year and gradually introduce the subjects into our schedule, but we're further ahead this year than past years. So far the subjects that we are doing are Bible, language arts (reading, writing, spelling, and grammar), math, social studies (history and current events), art, and music.

We start each day with what we call calendar time. Basically this is just a time when we write today's day and date on our white board and Anna writes it on her journaling page. We also discuss how many days are left in the month and if there is anything special about the day.

Next comes Bible time. Anna has been watching me do my bible reading using the YouVersion app on my iPad for some time now and she asked if she could do the same, so I set up an account for her and we checked out the reading plans to see which ones would be good for her. We were excited to find they had some Bible reading plans from Phil Vischer, creator of the What's in the Bible DVDs which Anna loves. She decided she wanted to do the Walk With Jesus: 21 Days Through Matthew plan. Each day there's a video, a devotional reading and scripture passage to read, and many days there is a colouring sheet to print. She has been working through it all week and loving it.

Scripture memory is also a part of our Bible time. We are working our way through the list of scriptures in the Parent Handbook for Scripture Memory. Although the list is grouped by age we are ignoring the age indicators and simply working our way through the list. We are using the Scripture Typer app to learn the verses. I've been using the app for a while now myself and thought Anna would enjoy it so I set her up on it. I loaded the first lot of verses into the app for her and she has mastered 5 verses this week. Every day she reviews the verses that need reviewing and starts a new one if she feels ready. She has been enjoying it so far.

Once the calendar time and Bible time are done Anna is free to do the rest in whatever order she wants, and everyday was different this week so in no particular order here is a summary of what we did in each subject this week.

For grammar we are using First Language Lessons. I love how simple, yet thorough the lessons are in this program. We started Level two this year and this week we did the first five lessons. We talked about common and proper nouns, pronouns, action verbs and state of being verbs. All but the state of being verb lesson was a review of last year's work. Poem memorization is also part of the program and this week we reviewed the poems we learned last year and started work on a new poem - The Goops. We don't quite have the poem memorized yet but Anna does read it with great expression.


We started using Writing With Ease for writing last year. We enjoyed it, so we are continuing with it this year and have started Level two. We did the lessons for week one this week which involved narrating Aseop's The Grasshopper and the Owl and The Fox and the Stork. Anna had her first dictation exercise this week and was excited to do her second dictation exercise also. Hopefully the excitement keeps up.

Spelling Power is a program I used with my other children and I decided it was time to start spelling with Anna. I love the way this program is set up for short lessons and you can move along at the pace appropriate for your child. Each day you give the child a pretest/teaching test of about 5 minutes and then you spend about 5 minutes studying the words the child got wrong. You're also supposed to spend about 5 minutes doing skill exercises but so far our pretest and studying has been taking up more than the suggested time so we've skipped the skill exercises. We're getting faster though so maybe we'll fit some skill exercises in next week. Anna has really been enjoying spelling so far. This week we got through the first four word lists, learning the rules for four of the short vowels (a,e,i,o). Anna did a great job! She misspelled just one or two words each day and needed only one extra day to study a word before mastering it. She loves that one of the studying steps is to write the word in the box of sugar we made just for that purpose. The words have been very simple so far and I'm hoping she can keep up the good attitude as the words get harder.


I am not using a set program for reading. My plan is that we always have a read aloud we are working on together and that we have a time of silent reading every day when Anna can read whatever she wants to herself.

Presently for our read aloud we are listening to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the Books Should Be Free site. I also downloaded the book from that site into IBooks so we are following along in IBooks with the audio. We actually started this about a week or so ago and by the end of this week we made it to chapter 13. In a notebook we have been keeping a list of characters as they appear in the book and writing a short summary of each chapter after we listen to it. Anna is really enjoying it and asks to listen to a couple of chapters most days.

At the beginning of the week Anna started a new Magic Kitten book. She has read a few books in this series lately. Moonlight Mischief is the book she is working on at the moment and she's made it to chapter seven so far. She enjoys silent reading time and is quick to grab her book and set in to reading.

Last year we started using Story of the World for history. We worked our way through Volume One: Ancient Times last year and enjoyed it, so we started Volume Two: The Middle Ages this year. This week we finished chapter one, about the fall of Rome, and started chapter two, about the early days of Britian. We read a section for the book each day doing shared reading - Anna and I taking turns reading paragraphs. Then we do the review questions and write a sentence or two narration about what we read. We did pretty good with this most of the week but Friday was a disaster. Anna had left history for last and she was tired and her attention was gone. She couldn't recall any of the information when we did the review questions so we will be repeating that reading on Monday, hopefully with better results.

Along with our history, we also covered a couple of current events in social studies this week. On September 11th we spent some time discussing what happened on September 11, 2001. We googled for pictures of New York before and after the destruction of the twin towers. We looked up New York and Washington, D.C. on our map. Friday we spent some time learning about Jonathan Trappe and his attempted crossing of the Atlantic powered by 370 hellium balloons. He failed in his attempt and landed on the west coast of Newfoundland not too far from where we live. We had some fun exploring Jonathan Trappe's sight and watching the videos on it earlier in the day and then Anna was quite interested in watching the news reports about his landing in Newfoundland later.

Anna has been struggling with Math. We've tried a number of different approaches and programs but it just does not seem to be clicking and sticking. Last month I downloaded and read Let's Play Math and I've decided to take the author's advice and put the textbooks and teachers manuals aside for a while and work on cultivating the aha! factor in math. This week I realized that I had tried too quickly to move Anna from concrete to abstract in math and that she needs me to slow down a bit and have some fun with her, so that's what we've been doing. And we really have had fun. And she really is learning. I intend to write more about this in another blog post later in the week so suffice it to say that this past week we touched on the concepts of measuring, money recognition and value, counting by tens, and adding and subtracting to ten. We did this by playing games such as race to ten, coin trade in (which we have retitled capture the looney), race to 100, add/equal, and measure me. I will add links to explanations of these games as I blog about them.

For music this year we are going to pick a song to learn each week. This week we decided to learn Chris Tomlin's Jesus Messiah. We found a YouTube video of Jesus Messiah and we listened to that and sang along with it each day. We printed off the lyrics so we could practice without the video when we got confident as the week progressed. Friday I taped Anna singing the song accapella.


For art this year I have decided that we will work on a least one art project each week. I have a blog post all ready to post about that with pictures of our projects from this week so suffice it to say here that Anna did two great sketches this week.

And that's our report for this week. It is a lot longer than I intended it to be. I promise next week won't be as long - maybe. :-)

So how was your week?


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Homeschool Space

Lisa, at Canadian Homeschooler, is posting a weekly homeschool photo challenge. I think I might try to participate throughout the year.

The first challenge - to post a picture of your school space - was posted earlier this week.

We don't have a space dedicated exclusively to homeschooling. Our homeschooling takes place all over our house. This is a picture I snapped today of Anna doing her silent reading. The white board sharing the couch with her tends to follow us wherever we might be working at the moment. There is a small bookcase at the end of the couch which holds most of our material. The two fold-up desks in the foreground are are new additions, and we're loving them. They, too, get moved around wherever we happen to need them. One is mine and one is Anna's.


The big world map on our living room wall plays a major role in our homeschooling. It gets references any time a place is mentioned throughout the day, be it in a book we're reading, a history or geography lesson, or a video, movie, or tv show we're watching. Along side the map is where we post printout of poems, songs, or other memory material we are working on.


My girl is big time into art so her art work is displayed in many places throughout the house.



So, that's a little peep into some of the homeschooling spaces in our home.