Monday, April 27, 2009

First Day of School....Now?

I don't know if I shared in a previous post or not, but we have decided that Sweet Baby will not be attending public school in the fall. When we began the process of home schooling this year, I had decided that she would attend 1/2 day kindergarten this coming fall so that she could get a good strong reading background. However, as the day has approached to sign her up, a few things have happened, which have changed my mind.

1) Conversations with Sweet Baby. Initially when I asked her if she wanted to stay home and do school with mom her answer was, "No, I want to go to school. Come on mom, I've been with you enough days already." This response just makes those of us who know and love her laugh out loud because this is her attitude with most things. However, a few months ago she started declaring that she changed her mind and didn't want to go to school because she didn't want to be away from me.

2) Conversations with dear home schooling friends who have been encouraging me. I didn't think I would have the time to teach Sweet Baby how to read in addition to keeping the other girls on task. However, I realized that I didn't have to wait to start to teach her how to read in September. I can start the process this summer when I don't have to be so scheduled with the other girls and have a good jump start.

3) The near abolition of half day kindergarten in our district. I discovered that the district is trying to do away with half day kindergarten all together and there was no guarantee that it would be available to us at all next year.

So...the decision has been made, the workbooks that I need to go along with the program a dear friend is loaning us have been received and I have a child who is excited and ready to go!

The other girls workload is winding down so I thought that today was as good a day as any to get Sweet Baby started. We started with writing her name. She has been able to write the letters to her name for a few months, but not on lines or even consistently. What I learned about her is that she is going to be tough! She has been a bit tougher in all areas than her sisters were but she is quite a perfectionist when it comes to writing and drawing. She was very angry with the fact that her letters did not look like mine and proceeded to throw her pencil down and cross her arms. In addition, one of her sheets told her to color the bus yellow. She looked at me and said, "I don't want to do that. I'll do the next page." I said, "No, you'll do this page because that is what you are supposed to do and if you don't do it today, you'll do it for school tomorrow." Her response was, "I don't want to do school tomorrow." Not a bad first day....SIGH!!!!

I wish I could share the picture of her when she completed writing her name (but it has her full name on it), when it was finished, she was so proud of herself and was grinning so big!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Bit of Privacy

You may notice that I didn't use Sweet Baby's name in the post below...that is because I have been thinking that since this blog is available for anyone to read it, I should keep the girls names hidden. I'm just trying to be responsible. So in the future you'll see these names:

Sissy (10 yo)
Peanut (6 yo)
Sweet Baby (4 yo)

The younger girls refer to Sissy as "Sissy" so that name was easy. When I was pregnant with our middle daughter we got an ultrasound VERY early and she looked like a little peanut sitting there all sung and I have called her that ever since. Finally Sweet Baby got her name from a lady at church who has always called her "Sweet Baby", it has kind of become our nickname for her as well.

I'm in the process of trying to clean up all of my past posts to reflect the changes.

Days Like Today....

Today was a sweet day..Every year my hubby takes the older kids to his brother's house for our annual yard sale. His brother lives right in town and their town has a Maple Syrup festival the last weekend in April. We spend the entire year cleaning out various items the kids are either to big for or we decide we don't need anymore, and take them 2 hours north for the sale. We usually end up selling nearly everything, making some money and the kids make memories with their cousins. Sweet Baby is still a bit young to go so it will be just the two of us today and tomorrow. It is time that we really need together.

We woke up this morning and drove about 30 minutes to go shopping and have lunch together. Now, this may not be Sweet Baby's idea of a good time but for me it sounded like fun because I would only need to take 1 child with me! However, I bribed her with the promise to play at the play area (which we haven't been to in 2 years) however, when we arrived we discovered it was closed for cleaning and repairs. So....I let her ride the carousel instead (something that I don't usually let the kids do at the mall since one ride is $2 and multiply that by 3 kids it costs a small fortune just for a carousel ride!)

Several times throughout the morning I was struck with how stinking cute she is, how smart she can be and the realization that I don't slow down and enjoy her enough. Especially now with home schooling, I find myself urging her to "go play" so that I can finish up school with the older kids. Of course after that, there is lunch to make and clean up after. After that the girls play together a bit and then she takes a nap. When she wakes up from that I am usually just getting the other girls started on spelling and then it is time to make dinner.

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't been taking time to enjoy her. My last baby who is growing up so fast. She has become a discipline problem and I am sure that part of that is because she is starved for attention from me. I promise to try to be much more aware of how much one on one attention I give to this little gem. God has blessed me with healthy children who enjoy being with their mother, what more could I ask for?
So tell me, don't you think she is cute?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jesus and a Sand Dollar?

We are getting toward the end of our animal kingdom study and have entered the world of echnioderms. Today we discussed sea urchins, starfish and sand dollars. When I mentioned to my mother that we were getting ready to study these creatures she mentioned that she actually had a starfish and some sand dollars at home that we could borrow to look at. I learned that there are "doves" that live inside the sand dollar and she said we were welcome to break open the smaller one so the girls could see the "doves". In addition to sharing the sand dollars and starfish, she shared a poem as well. We enjoyed this poem so much!

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

There’s a lovely little legend
that I would like to tell,
of the birth and death of Jesus,
found in this lovely shell.

If you examine closely,
you’ll see that you find here,
four nail holes and a fifth one,
made by a Roman’s spear.

On one side the Easter Lily,
its center is the star,
that appeared unto the shepherds
and lead them from afar.

The Christmas Poinsettia
etched on the other side,
reminds us of His birthday,
our happy Christmastide.

Now break the center open,
and here you will release,
the five white doves awaiting,
to spread Good Will and Peace.

This simple little symbol ,
Christ left for you and me,
to help us spread His Gospel,
through all Eternity.

Author Unknown

The girls actually gasped as I broke the sand dollar and the doves fell out. They were really having fun checking out the hollow center of the sand dollar and the doves.

Here is Peanut taking a VERY close up look.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter!

A day late, but that is because we were celebrating at church in the morning yesterday, and then off to my parents all day after church. I hope you had a beautiful day rejoicing in the gift that we were given when Jesus was raised!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WOW, The Things They Absorb

As you may know, for history we have been studying the American Girls. We have taken the various dolls/characters and studied their time in history. We took 6 weeks in each time period and read each of the sets of books about Felicity (1774), Kirsten (1854), Addy (1864), Samantha (1904) and Kit (1934). We just finished up Samantha in which we spent a couple weeks talking about Thomas Edison and his inventions. We even completed a Thomas Edison lapbook from Hands of a Child. The girls learned so much about various inventions and how they revolutionized the early 1900's and even today. Sweet Baby does not sit in on our lessons, I really just let her play all morning and if she seems interested I ask her if she would like to come to listen to what we are learning about. If she doesn't, I don't sweat it; however, I am really becoming surprised at the things she picks up just by playing next to us. Here she is pretending to read while we visited a museum last week.
This week we began our study of the 1930's (Kit) and we have started by talking about Amelia Earhart. I was reading a book and it talked about how when she returned home from one of her flights she was riding in a parade where there was a lot of "ticker tape" being thrown. Sissy said, "What is ticker tape? Is that like from a stock ticker?" Since we had learned that Thomas Edison invented the stock ticker I said, "Yes, and do you remember who invented the stock ticker?" I was surprised that both Sissy and Peanut had to think about it for a minute, but Sweet Baby yelled, "YES! Thomas. Thomas Edison!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Insect Study and some Crustaceans Too!

I have been so behind in my blogging that I am going back a couple weeks to share some photos with you and info about things we have been doing. We have been concentrating on science because I am trying to get us done with our Animal Kingdom book to prepare us to start plants next. Since we are approaching the spring planting season, it really is the best time to be learning about plants. We just studied insects, including bees and ended our study by making Styrofoam ball bees. The girls were required to make them as "realistically" as possible. They needed to make the bee have 3 segmented body parts, the appropriate number of legs and attach them to the thorax of the bee and put the correct number of wings on them. Megan chose to add saran wrap to the wings.

After insects we did crustaceans. The girls learned about their antennae, their jointed legs, etc. Then they had to build a crustacean out of playdough (it is driving me crazy to look at all the playdough colors mixed together! I'm definitely a type A personality!) They could create a crustacean we had learned about or make up a crustacean. The only rule was that their creature had to have the correct number of antennae and various body parts, they were even able to name their creation.

A Bit Emotional...

I simply cannot believe that my baby turned 10 this weekend. It dawned on me several times yesterday that if she moves out of the house by the time she is 20 her time in our home is 1/2 over and I honestly do not know where the first 10 years have gone. Now, yes, there are days I can't wait to get out of the house and get away for a couple hours. There are days the kids drive me crazy, but honestly, I cannot imagine my life without my girls.
Several times yesterday she looked so grown up to me. Her hair is getting so long and she is getting so tall. I bought her this adorable sun dress that she tried on that really made her look old! Can't I stop time? When she woke up I asked her, "SO, do you feel older?" Her comment was, "No, not really. But I do feel taller."
I hope you have a wonderful day today and take just a couple minutes to thank God for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, any child in your life who is growing up so fast!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Free Phonics and Reading Comprehension Testing

In Michigan we are not required to have any sort of follow up or testing by our state to see how our children are doing with school. I have mixed feelings about this. For me, I kind of wish there was some checks and balances system so that I knew I had my kids going in the right direction and I knew what they needed to work on. However, I also understand that if we were given a set of subjects that we HAD to teach each year (such as particulars in science or history), it would not afford us as many freedoms as we would like as the teacher. For example, I happen to know that 4th graders in Michigan study light and magnets for science. We chose not to study these topics this year and rather have studied the Animal Kingdom. In my opinion the order a child studies certain subjects like science and history is not as important as whether or not they study it by a certain age.
Subjects like math, reading, spelling and writing I wish there was a checks and balances and some "testing" so that I knew where my child is fitting with the average child of that age. We have the option of paying for independent testing but I did not feel this first year it was as necessary as it will be next year. However, I did find a FREE website that will test your child on their phonics and reading comprehension skills. If you check out the test at Test 4 Free your child can take a test that will take about 10 minutes to assess these two skills. In my humble opinion I think it is fairly accurate as well. Our 1st grader has been "advanced" when it comes to reading since midway through school last year and at the end of the test I discovered that her independent reading level is actually that of a 3rd grader, while her instructional level is that of a 4th grader. I knew she was advanced, but I didn't realize quite how much. Now, my 4th grader has always been a slower reader and her test said she was below average for her phonics and average for her reading comprehension. She tested at 4th grade for her independent reading and 5th for her instructional level.

So, if you are interested in where your kids are falling, but do not want to, or can't pay for testing, check out Test 4 Free.