Monday, December 29, 2008

Back to work

We dove back into school today after our break. Niles wasn't too hard to convince. :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It ended up being more of a winter break

and we went roller skating, to the movies to see the Tale of Desperaux and basically enjoyed Hanukkah. :-) Things should be picking up again w/in the week. I have the next science experiment lined up!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A 3 day break

Due to my crazy schedule, Niles is getting a 3 day break. Lucky him! :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So the good news about homeschooling is that you can follow tangents. Which of course leads to the bad news about homeschooling, which is that, you guessed it, you can follow tangents. In Astronomy, we read about the Mayan calendar, which led to finding pictures of the Mayan calendar, which led to Niles rediscovering that Mayans were in Guatemala, which led to Eliana is from Guatemala....and so on. Now I don't really mind this, as there was a progression, an interest, and excitement, but there's also Type A me, who is thinking "enough already, I wanted to get to this point in the lesson today and it had nothing to do w/looking up pictures of Mayan pyramids in Mexico...." So I tell myself that because I am homeschooling, I can relax, look up the pictures of the Mayan artifacts and we can read the rest of the dumb chapter tomorrow, so enjoy the fact that your kid just told you he loves history and run with it. He tried to talk me out of the actual history chapter I had planned today because studying about the Mayans in Astronomy was actually part history too....why do my children love to debate me? Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a good thing. And the history lesson was finishing up some of the American Indian studies we were doing so it was all connected in the long run I guess.

I feel to a certain degree I am doing parts of what he learned over again, but it's helping me to learn what he knows already, what he wants to learn more of, and plant the foundations for where we are going next. We started the Singapore math book today and this is a good example, as it starts with having you identify what numbers are in the thousands, hundreds, tens and ones columns. Plus, we're continuing the multiplication facts in the mathscore program. So, while it's review, it isn't hurting and he did ten pages with out prompting! I ran to switch laundry, fold it, etc and when I came back, he had finished the first two lessons. So to make up for the astronomy where I didn't get as far as I wanted, he completed two lessons in a book where I thought we'd do one. :-)

The other thing he asked me to do is what I was giving him for grades. I have a great excel spreadsheet where I keep track of everything and he sees me update this from time to time. Each sheet gets a grade, usually it works like this - each question is worth from one point up to five, depending on what it is. So math is straight forward, right or wrong, and mathscore even gives me his percentages. So anyhow, his grades are based on how well he answers each question, if it's right or wrong, etc, just like at his old school. I think he's discovering that Mom isn't necessarily going to be easier than his old teacher. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Zoo Borns - some great baby animal pictures

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Field Trip Day

Today, we went and spent the morning with Luca's preschool class. We peeled potatoes, grated them, and then Ms. Deborah fried up the latkes. Niles enjoys being the big kid in his old preschool class room. Then at pick up time, there was a magician there, so we got to see him perform as well! In between, we braved the rain and went to the Homeschool Gathering store. I had Niles take the Singapore Math assessment test the other day, to get an idea of what he knew/didn't know in terms of division, which is next. He's been working hard at the multiplication on math score and has really improved his skills. We've worked on some strategies and he's gotten to where more of the problems are now memorized.

Anyhow, I like math score for the drilling, but in terms of explaining, I like to have paper to hold in my hand and show him. So, having known a family that worked with the Singapore program before, I decided that I want to try it. I'd been using a Spectrum math book, but felt like it jumped through things too quickly. Luckily, the store we were at carries Singapore, so I was able to get the books I wanted w/o having to order them. I also picked up the first K book for Luca, since I'll be starting w/him in January.

I found a coloring book on the Lewis and Clark Expedition too. So picked that up as well, it was in the used section. In history, I like the set up of the book I'm using with the vocabulary, short lessons w/q&a afterwards, but there's a lot left out too. So I figure I'll supplement with other things I find. The L&C book will be later, but it was such a good deal, I couldnt' pass it up! I found information on the 13 colonies at CurrClick that I'm thinking of getting. It also has a copy book to practice handwriting, which my little leftie seriously needs. LOL!

Niles has been playing the games on spelling city and I think it's about time to move on to lesson 3 next week. The final things I picked up were a grammar book and a book on health to work through. I figure we can do that on the days he has TKD too - working in some health lesson to go w/the exercise.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Story by Niles

[I left his spelling intact]

One morning Templeton was looking for food. Then Wilber walked up and said what are you doing? Shooting lazers out of my eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Then a beam of light destroyed the barn and the marines were attracted to the exploshen.

Then the marines launched a jet and shoot at Templeton. Then he shoots back at them. Back to Wilber, his mouth feel off and hit the ground.

The End.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I found a great new spelling website thanks to my friend Tammie, who is going back to school to get her elem ed degree. She gave me a few great ideas to try w/Niles so I'm looking forward to incorporating them into our h/s routine. Yeah, Tammie - you rock! Here is the link to our current lists of vocabulary words - one from his wordly wise book and the other from Charlotte's Web. It won't work if we are online using it, but that's probably not likely. What are the odds?!
This week we continued to work on handwriting, Charlotte's Web and American History. In Ch 2, Niles read about several Indian groups, including the Iroquois, Pueblos, Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. There was a discussion about how each group was different, and how the groups were similiar. He decided it would have been better to live among the Pueblo who were farmers, than the Iroquios who were warriors. [Even with his interest in weapons] Niles was dismayed by the fact that some groups carried out human sacrifices. This led us to a discussion of our own Torah story of Abraham and Isaac. Why did G-d test Abraham by using Isaac as a sacrifice? Why was it revolutionary when G-d stayed Abraham's hand and ruled that human sacrifice was not acceptable? It was a great conversation!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today, Niles worked on Wordly Wise spelling. The first unit was on marine life and specifically giant squids. His favorite fact was that their eyes are as large as dinner plates and he declared that he would enjoy seeing video of giant squids and sperm whales fighting. He also wanted to know why sperm whales were called "sperm" whales and I have no idea, so that's on our to do list for tomorrow.

He also worked on the kids astronomy, completing assignment 2 and most of assignment 3. Before Religious School, he had to go with me to the Doctor for a mole removal and read the Biography of Squanto, which he thought was cool. He's decided that he wants to go to a shooting range and is lobbying hard for that for Hanukkah. I'm not sure if I'm mortified or surprised it's taken this long, or both. Niles has always been fascinated with weapons, not just the shooting, but how they are made, watching things hit targets, etc. He loves the shows Myth Busters, How It's Made and the one about the weapons, whose name currently escapes me. Not sure we're going there anytime soon, but he's so very into helping set what he gets too study...military history is a part of early American history mom. And I can study how fast bullets go in math. And then we can take pictures and make a collage of the targets for art.....

Speaking of math, I really like the math score program a lot. It is really forcing him to practice what he doesn't know. I can see him improving a little each day. :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where did all our prayers go?

For Rivka and Gavriel.

May the great Name of God be exalted and sanctified, throughout the world, which he has created according to his will. May his Kingship be established in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of the entire household of Israel, swiftly and in the near future; and say, Amen.
May his great name be blessed, forever and ever.
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled, honored elevated and lauded be the Name of the holy one, Blessed is he- above and beyond any blessings and hymns, Praises and consolations which are uttered in the world; and say Amen. May there be abundant peace from Heaven, and life, upon us and upon all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who makes peace in his high holy places, may he bring peace upon us, and upon all Israel; and say Amen.


Yis'ga'dal v'yis'kadash sh'may ra'bbo, b'olmo dee'vro chir'usay v'yamlich malchu'say, b'chayaychon uv'yomay'chon uv'chayay d'chol bais Yisroel, ba'agolo u'viz'man koriv; v'imru Omein.
Y'hay shmay rabbo m'vorach l'olam ul'olmay olmayo.
Yisborach v'yishtabach v'yispoar v'yisromam v'yismasay, v'yishador v'yis'aleh v'yisalal, shmay d'kudsho, brich hu, l'aylo min kl birchoso v'sheeroso, tush'bechoso v'nechemoso, da,ameeran b'olmo; vimru Omein.
Y'hay shlomo rabbo min sh'mayo, v'chayim alaynu v'al kol Yisroel; v'imru Omein.
Oseh sholom bimromov, hu ya'aseh sholom olaynu, v'al kol yisroel; vimru Omein.

Progress on the piggy banks

We added another layer to the paper mache piggy banks yesterday. This time, the mache part turned out better and was less clumpy. They are coming along nicely and I think we'll do one more layer before painting. Niles is also working on cursive. I found a book that is specifically designed for left handed writers so that's been good. I really like the mathscore website we're using. I get a summary each day and it's adaptive so it moves him quickly through what he knows, but slower, with review of wrong answers on what he does not.

During the past two weeks, I've been talking w/people about why I've chosen to homeschool. I have been surprised by the positive responses so far. I have gotten a few, "I think you are nuts" but those have been the minority. I think people have become frustrated with the conveyer belt approach to education. At least I know that is part of our issue. They are working on math concepts that I didn't learn until much later [algebra, geometry] when the kids haven't all got down the basics yet. But they must MOVE ON because they have to reach the EOG objectives in order for the kids to pass and not lose their rating on No Child Left Behind. While the intentions behind this are good, how does this help? The kids at the top of the class get bored, the kids in the middle get lost in the shuffle if they are quiet like Niles and the ones at the bottom of the class are maybe able to get help.

Let's can the PC stuff and admit that not everyone is equal in all things. I'd rather clean toilets than do math work, let's be honest here. It is not my strength. Nate, who enjoys math, would rather clean toilets than do English! It doesn't mean that either of us will love it anymore or get any further in life because of it. It just means that we like and enjoy different things. The horror! People are different and I just said it was ok?! What's wrong with me?

And don't even get me started on why English now must be called "Language Arts". I could fill a whole post on that one....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wasn't planning on doing school today, but it ended up being a good day to work on the paper mache piggy bank for Charlotte's Web. So we did that for awhile. Nate decided he wanted to make one too. We're letting them dry overnight before the next layer goes on. So I'll add more pictures as we get them. Niles also took a couple shots of himself and Eliana so I've included those as well. I've also found a good math site to help w/that as well. progress!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yellow Belt Testing & Field Trip Pix

Saturday was a big day for us. Niles tested and received his yellow belt! We also got his sparring gear too. He's very excited about that. Then we went to Native American Heritage Day at the History Museum downtown. The kids made jingle bells, like on the costumes, sassafrass tea bags for me and Nate made a bookmark. Niles enjoyed looking at the military exhibit the most though. From early American up until the Gulf War. Times sure have changed he said!

Friday, November 21, 2008

This Week

I've been reviewing basic addition and subtraction problems w/Niles to get an idea of what he knows and how confident he is in his skills. Plus, we've been doing the same thing w/multiplication problems 1-12. I'm going to wind up the lesson on add/sub with the test in the book I'm using, as I know that he's got that down pretty well. We also did a field trip w/Luca's dinosaur class to the grocery store to purchase items for the Thanksgiving soup and Backpack buddies. Niles' job was to estimate the cost for Luca and Joseph who rode with us. They each had a baggie w/$6 in it to spend.

In English, he's reading Charlotte's Web and working out of a workbook on identifying parts of sentences, incomplete sentences, etc. It's been going well so far. He has some trouble focusing during the day, but for the most part is doing well. We are going on our field trip tomorrow to the Museum of History for Native American Heritage Day and there's High White Belt Testing!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today's Work

Assignment 1 on packet 1 which is learning about 3 Astronomers and writing a paragraph about each of them. He chose Aristotle, Galileo and Jonathan Gottfried Galle.

Assignment 2 had a math problem regarding light years and for #3, he and Dad went out and found Ursa Major [aka The Big Dipper] after dark.

For reading, he read 2 chapters in Hear O Israel by Molly Cone.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Astronomy curriculum ideas

website on astronomy that lets kids complete a course online. Once your child has completed the course, they get a certificate stating they've finished. Plus there's some worksheets, puzzles and coloring pages for you to print out. Pretty neat stuff.

constellation information

The Planets of our Solar System

We got our official approval

so now we can begin any time! I'm a bit surprised as I sent it in like two days ago & it came in the mail already! But it's a good thing. We've been doing a few things here & there in the afternoon. And have our first field trip planned. That is also the same day as Niles' testing for his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do. So it should be a busy and fun day, ending with a drum recital for Nate!

Friday, November 14, 2008


is going to be our first science unit. Niles really enjoys it!! Here is a link I found with images of planet outside our solar system.

Friday, November 7, 2008

We begin the adventure

I've made the plunge and decided to homeschool two of our kids. One is a third grader, one is a rising kindergartener. Verdict is out yet on my sanity.