Friday, February 27, 2009

"I Want You To Teach Me How To Read"

This is the statement Sweet Baby threw at me earlier this week. Sweet Baby will be 5 at the end of May and thus should start Kindergarten in the fall. My original thought was that I would send her to 1/2 day kindergaten, just like Peanut did last year. She really loved it and because it was just 1/2 a day it wasn't to difficult on her. Besides, I can't teach someone to read - or can I? I know that some of my homeschooling friends think I'm crazy to assume that I can't do it or that it will take to much time. Part of my other reason for thinking she should attend Kindergarten is because Sweet Baby doesn't like to sit still for me, I had this grandiose idea that this year we would work on a letters notebook. I printed all these letter worksheets so we could do one letter a week and she could LEARN the capital letters and lowercase letters. Maybe we could move on to the sounds they make right? NOPE...she never did beyond letter "b". Every time I suggested she sit with me she had other stuff to do. So, I assume that she needs to go to Kindergarten to have a teacher show her how we sit and follow directions.

The other day though there was a lot of talk between her sisters about how well Peanut reads. Sissy was fretting over the fact that Peanut reads better than her and that is when Sweet Baby asked me to teach her how to read. (Kinda like potty training huh?) So I pulled out our Hooked on Phonics CD and put it in the computer (someone lovingly gifted me the first 5 levels last year, thinking that Peanut could benefit from them, but by the time we got them she was WELL above that reading level).

Well, near as I knew Sweet Baby didn't even know 1/2 of the uppercase letters. Boy did she surprise me! She breezed through the level that required them to identify the uppercase. Only had a bit of trouble with a few lower case and then went on to identify many of the SOUNDS THE LETTERS MAKE?!?! I was shocked. Could it be that she has actually been listening to the other girls practice the sounds of the phonograms when we do our spelling lessons?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cooking Her First Meal

For some reason Sissy has really been wanting to learn how to cook. A few weeks back at the library we found a Paula Dean cookbook for kids (which she keeps near her bed and looks at it each night!). We have renewed it twice! Her birthday is the first week in April...I wonder if I see a birthday idea here?!?! Anyway, she saw a recipe for "Stuffed Shells" and asked if she could cook for us. Since stuffed shells isn't something I have ever made I figured it would be something fun to try.

The recipe was very easy and all we added was ground meat. Sissy did most everything except drain the shells. I helped her get the ground beef started, but otherwise she did a great job. It was very good as well. Daddy even had seconds and then got up for another helping of brussel sprouts and Sissy said to me, "Oh, is daddy having thirds?" In addition, Peanut kept saying, "This is awesome!" She was so proud of herself!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So, What Do Your Kids DO In A Co-Op

I shared pictures of our Co-Op Valentines Day party last week, this week I thought I would explain how our co-op works. Since co-op stands for "cooperative" us moms are never lazin' around. The classes are taught by moms and run by moms. The teacher is always the same for a particular class and for a particular semester and then each week a different pair of moms take a turn as a helper. The classes that are offered at HomeTeam are chosen by the moms in the co-op. About this time of year we begin giving suggestions of classes we might like to have available to our children. We can just suggest them or we can suggest them, list the curriculum and supplies we will use, and volunteer to teach the class. Then the moms all vote on which classes we should offer.

We have co-op every other Tuesday and yesterday I was working with Peanut's class, the kindergartener's and first graders. This group of kids has 4 classes total which include a class called 5 In a Row (a type of curriculum), in this class the teacher reads a book and then they talk about various things in the book and do a scrapbook page relating to the book and follow by a snack. For example, a few weeks ago the teacher read Snowflake Bentley to the children. Mr. Bentley grew up in Vermont so they had a map of Vermont in their book that they colored indicating any mountains, rivers, etc. They also had a close up photograph of a snowflake and talked about how many sides they have. Their snack was french toast with real maple syrup - since Vermont is famous for maple syrup. After 45 minutes the kids switch to another class.

Then the kids go to gym and do....gym stuff! Peanut loves gym (as does Sissy). They love playing the games and running around like animals.

The third class this semester is one of my favorites, Art. The program that is being used is Storybook Art. Again, the teacher reads a story and then the kids do a craft that relates to the story. This week the book was all about a brother and sister who made cookies with their mother and they were all set to eat 6 cookies a piece (YES! 6!) when friends started coming over to share and they had to divide the cookies up among their friends.

Here the kids are working on making their own "cookie". The "cookie" is a round piece of corrugated cardboard that they "iced" with white paint and confetti "sprinkles". Of course they couldn't forget to pipe "icing" on with the paint that was in squeeze containers. It was a great craft and one of those things that I wish I could think of myself! (And be willing to do! Art is so messy!)
Their final class is studying the human body. The teachers started the class by having us trace the kids body out on butcher paper. Each time they meet they will learn about a different part of the body, color and cut out the "organ" and glue it where it belongs on their paper body! Isn't that great!? The kids have talked about the brain and how it works, the heart - veins and arteries, and this week they talked about the kidneys and bladder. Here is a photo of Peanut inserting her kidneys and bladder.
One things the kids in this class really like is the model of the human that you can take apart. They love taking all the organs out and seeing if they can put them back in!
We all really love co-op. It is one of those things that helps me see other homeschooling moms and talk about challenges, curriculum and ordinary mom type of things. More importantly it is allowing my kids to socialize, learn about things I may not think to teach them and learn to follow directions and listen to a teacher (they get a lot of this at church as well, but you can never practice these skill to much!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Resources for Home Schoolers

I love finding sites that have free goodies I can download and use for school. When I first began school I found this site: which had some audio things I could download all about home schooling and I would listen to them while I made dinner. I have found a few other things as well. If you click on the link, you can sign up as well. They will send you a list on Mondays of all the links they will share each day of the week. On Wednesday of this week I'll be downloading an audio book for the kids to listen to that is all about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. It is perfect for us because we are studying slavery and the Civil War right now. Two weeks ago we spent several days talking about Harriet and the Underground Railroad. Check out their site, I hope you find some things that work for you!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Learning from Each Other

Sweet Baby is not the child who will sit still with me and patiently learn to write her letters. She asked me to teach her to read at the end of the summer, but at that point she didn't even know 10 letters of the alphabet. When I told her we needed to learn our letters and then learn the sounds and learn to read, she told me she didn't want to. She has her own ideas of how things are done.

Sweet Baby doesn't even participate in school with us. When we are working on various history periods and even on science, I look for picture books to go along with our course of study because I am hoping that they will be interesting enough to her to join in. She rarely does, so imagine my surprise when one day 2 weeks ago, she came to the table with a picture book in her hand ("Katy and the Big Snow"), a piece of paper and pencil. She promptly sat down and wrote the word "Katy" across her paper! I was shocked...that seemed to spur Peanut on to grab a book and she began copying the words off of each page and illustrating it herself. This has continued into this past week. One day last week I heard Peanut say, "WOW! Good job Sweet Baby, now do a 's'." I peeked around the corner and this is what I saw....

Peanut was "teaching" Sweet Baby how to write her letters. This was "one of those moments". One of those moments you just don't want to forget.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to you!

Not a Fan of Beethoven

We don't do a formal "music" program here at home. Peanut was taking violin, but that ended because she disliked it so much. A friend who home schools had a couple cd's she shared with us for our trip to Disney (which we never listed to). I decided to pop one in yesterday while the girls were writing. This series is a great idea and I am going to see if we carry any other at the library. They are made by Classical Kids . We started with Beethoven yesterday. It is a fictional story with true facts about the composer woven into the story and his various compositions are playing in the background. This one starts out with a thunderstorm and Beethoven's composition Symphony 7 and 5 are going. I walked into the dining room to see how the kids were doing and found Sweet Baby under the easel. I asked her what was wrong and she just said, "This is scary." Her and Peanut have never handled thunderstorms well so I'm not surprised that she didn't like it, but it was funny to see her under there! Watching her in her footed pj's being scared of the thunder made me realize that she is still just a baby. Sort of, a 4 year old baby (they grow up so fast!) It also made me realize that mom needs to trim those bangs!
The Classical Kids series includes Vivaldi (which we are borrowing), Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. I'm hoping to find some used or at our library because they aren't cheap. The individual cd's are $16.99 and apparently they have a teachers guide as well so you can really turn them into a study but those are $33 for both the cd and the guide---YIKES!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What's a Co-Op?

One thing that spurred my decision to home school was visiting a local home school co-op for a couple hours about this time last year. A friend was a member and suggested that I come see what they do. I didn't want just another "play group". I wanted some classes for my kids that would enhance what I was able to do here at home. I showed up a bit skeptical that I would only find families with 12 kids, moms and daughters who only wore dresses and had hair down to their knees. Surely they would all bake their own bread and raise goats as well, right?
Well, that wasn't what I saw. Yes, there were some families that had 6 kids, but there were plenty of families with 2 or 3 kids as well. No one was selling bread and no one smelled like goats. I specifically remember being brought to silent tears when I sat and watched a group of 1st graders in class. Seeing them interacting "normally" with one another and they all seemed so happy. I had the thought that "I can do this." I was immediately put on the waiting list for the group and was thrilled when we got the call in July that they had room for our girls.
Our co-op meets every other Tuesday. The two older girls go into classes with kids their age. The classes are about 45 minutes each. They include gym (something I can't do at home), art (something I don't really want to do at home - I hate getting all the stuff out for painting, cutting, etc.), oceanography for my 1st grader, character education for both girls, Zoology for our oldest, the human body for the 1st grader. Really great classes. Of course the girls don't love all the classes, but they wouldn't love all the classes in public school either.
Sissy specifically has made some friends (the "socialization" issue was a big part of my fear of homeschooling and Sissy had several really good friends in public school, as my quiet one, I was afraid it would frustrate her to not know anyone at co-op). One friend she has made lives close to us and the two of them really enjoy hanging out. The co-op had an end of the semester pizza party in December for the kids and moms. That gave us a nice chance to hang out with the other home schooling families. We have gone on some field trips as well (a dairy farm, a local theatre) and yesterday we had a Valentines party.
We met at Jeepers, which is a glorified Chuck-E-Cheese. This place has rides (including a small roller coaster), pizza and games. The kids were really excited because we don't go to places like this, hardly ever. They are so expensive! Our co-op paid the fee for every child (there were about 60 of them there) from our tuition. What a great way to spend the day!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Most Exciting Thing So Far (Educationally)

Ahhh, spelling. A subject that always come sort of naturally to me. So, last year when Sissy struggled so much it was hard. It was hard for me to watch her shed tears over practicing words. She tried hard, but she never really got it. It is very difficult for me to teach a subject that just comes naturally to me because when it comes to spelling, I don't know why I know how to spell it, I just do. So, I had no way to explain it to her. This year one of my goals was for her to begin to understand spelling. We found All About Spelling in October and it has made a world of difference.
Sissy has cruised through the first two levels (which honestly are pretty easy for a 4th grader). The crazy thing is that this kid actually ASKS to do extra spelling lessons and I have noticed that some words she never would have been able to spell last year, she can spell this year. Even if they aren't words we have worked on in our program yet. She really wanted to get done with Level 2 so she could move on to level 3. The other day she got the mail and there was a note in the box that there was a package on the porch. She said "maybe it is my spelling level 3!" She opened the door and grabbed the box yelling, "It is!!". I took these photos because it warms my heart to see that the kid didn't even take her coat off before ripping into her package and getting all giddy that her spelling program was here!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Use for Toys

Kira is beginning to learn about money. She gets the concept of a penny and how much that is worth, we moved on to dimes next and since shee seems to understand that we moved on to using money "in the real world" of our living room. She went through her room and picked out various items that we made price tags for. Of course we kept the prices in her "store" simple, everything under a $1.00.
Next she was able to "buy" the items. We started easy with single items and I asked her to count out how much money she would need to buy it using her dimes and pennies. She really thought this was great fun. Then we moved up to multiple items and we even wrote reciepts. She was having a blast!
The funny thing was that Megan (9) said, "Mom, that is such a great fun way for her to learn about money." I explained that Kira's Saxon Math told me to teach it to her that way and that I probaly would never have thought about anything so cool!