Monday, August 25, 2014

First "real" day of school and FIAR: Papa Piccolo

Today was the first day of our 3rd year homeschooling and it was completely awesome! I hope it's a sign of things to come with our school year. I am still going back and forth on where to settle with our curriculum and style of learning this year. I am re-reading The Well Trained Mind and I feel that it is a good fit for us. We are trying to take a looser approach in that I know there are certain things that the kids need to know in order to be able to express themselves creatively later on, but if they are really interested in something particular I want to be able to fully explore that as well. So structure with a decent amount of flexibility I suppose!

I decided to keep up with Five in a Row this year. I was unsure because my daughter seems a bit young for some of the concepts and my son is too old so I am just trying to find a balance. We started with Volume 1 again and have a half a dozen or so more books I want to row from it. Today we did Papa Piccolo which we thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to read a child's story that was from a father's point of view and an adoptive father at that. I also appreciated the fact that the father wasn't presented as a bumbling buffoon, which seems to be common in children's books. We focused on most of the social studies today including finding Italy then Venice on a map, looking at Venice on Google Earth (which was so fun and interesting! We ended up looking at some other interesting areas around the world as well.), learning some Italian words, and making an Italian and Venetian flag. It was my son's idea to hang it from this corner guard like a flag pole. The top one is my daughter's (which is like the cutest lion I've ever seen) and the bottom one is my son's. We learned the Italian words from a children's Italian dictionary I picked up from the library book sale yesterday for .25! I ended up purchasing over 100 books yesterday. It was amazing!

We went over some vocabulary words from the book as well. This was a good activity for both of them as my son could explain the ones he knew to my daughter and I could explain the ones neither of them knew.
I also went to a "teacher sale" at a retired teacher's home yesterday. She had many books and workbooks for sale but what I was really interested in were manipulatives. I purchased an AIMS balance scale for a dollar and this awesome clown number balance scale for two dollars. My daughter actually came downstairs, pushed a chair over to the shelf, and got this down to play with first thing this morning. It's a wonderful tool and was my favorite school purchase from the sale.
We have been lightly covering some subjects for the last week and a half and this was our first full on school day. We are doing "Story of the World Volume 1: Ancients" again this year so I can get my kids on the same page. I felt like we should start at the beginning of time this go round though so we started with "The Usborne Book of World History" and began with dinosaurs. I bought them these excavation kits at a natural history museum we visited this summer and gave them to them today as a sort of first day of school gift.
They worked on them for a bit and although they were a challenge they weren't as hard as the mineral kit we purchased a few years ago. My son ended up freeing one piece of the dinosaur but I think he will need some help eventually or it will take him forever. The kit was only $7.50 though and well worth it. It came with a chisel and a hammer and a little brush. All the pieces will eventually be snapped together and we will have a neat little model to display.
We are also revisiting All About Spelling 1 with my son this year. My daughter is doing it for the first time alongside him. His spelling needs some brushing up on so I am hoping them doing it together will make it more interesting for them both. I am also waiting for my backordered Rainbow Resource order so it works well for now!
I am also going to try and display relevant books in the calendar area. I purchased the dinosaur ones at the book sale yesterday and I also displayed the FIAR books. I got my son The Magic Tree House #33, "Carnival at Candlelight" and he is reading that alongside our reading of Papa Piccolo. I also found some comprehension questions online that I ask him at the end of each chapter. He has always been interested in Venice so this is a fun time for him!

I am also finally trying to REALLY do Saxon Math K with my daughter. She didn't show too much interest last year but she is almost 5 now and is a little more willing. We did a lesson today on patterning and the A,B pattern. She wasn't too thrilled about it but she grasped the concept right away and then proceeded to do the rest of the lesson on her own with her instinct only and no instruction from me. It literally took 3 minutes which was great because I really just want to get her used to doing school daily and I'm not concerned with a specific time limit. We finished quite early and decided to take a last minute field trip to a local arboretum that we have never visited before. It was a great day and I hope a sign of what the year has in store for us!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

SOTW: Chapter 19 The Early Greeks

We are doing chapter 19 in The Story of the World and I am not too excited about the projects for this chapter. We did the map work, both coloring pages, and I found this short 4 minute video about the Mycenaeans from Rick Steves.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Simple Lego Birthday Decorations

W's 7th birthday party is tomorrow and of course it is Lego themed! We made these super simple Lego decorations last night using colored construction paper. Unfortunately the red looks more pink (due to the cheap $1 construction paper...grrr!), but he loves them anyways :)

We folded the paper in half and then 3 times lengthwise. I used a milk jug cap to trace the links for the Legos. I just love how this turned out! I am hoping to post some pics of the cake Sunday.

A Simple Valentine: Cupcake Paper Flowers

For The Day of the Dead, we made some pretty cool coffee filter flowers. The kids colored the filters with marker, we sprayed them with water which made the colors run and gave the flowers a cool tie-dyed look, punched two holes in the paper, and used a pipe cleaner for a stem. I wanted to do the same thing for Valentine's Day but on a smaller scale.

You will need markers, cupcake liners (this is where I messed up, I got cheap $1 store liners that were waxy so we couldn't use the spray bottle), hole puncher, scissors, pipe cleaners, and not pictured but a spray bottle if you get the papery kind of liners.

The kids colored a whole bunch of them. I used three liners per flower.

Fold them in half and punch them. This way you have two holes you can stick the pipe cleaner through. You could also add  lollipop if you wanted. We are planning on adding a little to: and from: tag.

The finished product! I scrunched them a little to give them body. I really like how these turned out. They were a simple and easy homemade Valentine. We just might have to make these every year (if the kids don't get sick of them ;)).

BFSU: Chapter 1

We started Building Foundation of Scientific Understanding this week and I am very pleased with it. This is an absolute shock because it is so unlike anything I thought I would like. A lot of the work is left to the parent which I wasn't sure if I would like but it actually makes me feel extremely useful, like I am actually teaching my children and not just teaching them through what someone else wrote. Who knows, maybe I will actually search out more curriculum like this! I hope to expand on my thoughts on BFSU in later posts. So the first chapter is about organizing. From what I understand, and I haven't quite finished reading the parental parts of the book (tsk tsk I know), this will help children understand at a deeper level all aspects of sorting and organizing in science. To help us understand and visualize sorting, I made up a little "game" to play. I recently bought a ton of old buttons at an antique show, so we busted those out.

C got her own pile to "do science" with :) Love those little hands!

Although my sophisticated gentleman had already covered such topics in ps kindergarten, he was still very excited to get going. I let him sort them however he wanted so he chose colors.
Then we went with size (the ones on the right look smaller due to the camera angle but they are actually bigger than the ones on the left). We also had a weird shaped one which he is holding.
Then we sorted the lacing beads by color and discussed other ways we could sort them. We went on to talk about all the different things in life that are sorted into categories. We just went with the flow and it was a very natural discussion. Quite refreshing from the rather stale curriculum we have been doing up until now. I have certainly learned a lot about my son and the way he learns best. If only I had more money to get all new curriculum :) Oh well, we will have to make do for now.

Homeschool Science: Jello Plant Cell

We have been searching for a science curriculum for awhile now and I thought we were going to go with REAL Science Odyssey (RSO). We even tried out a couple of their sample activities and really enjoyed them. The program just didn't seem to stand out enough to justify the price of the pdf so I decided to go with Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU) which I had heard so many good things about. It is a lot more work but I think the way the lessons are planned out are genius. You really do build the foundations of understanding that allow you and your child to appreciate science. It seems to be very meaningful. I am sure I will be writing more about that program in the near future. Here is one of the projects that we did for RSO (still seems to be a very good program with lots of good reviews).

Our delicious jello plant cell! We were supposed to make an animal cell as well but we didn't have enough jello :) Only some of the parts of the cell are represented. I assume that more parts are introduced as the child goes on. It didn't mention that, but I told W anyways so he wouldn't get confused later when I busted out all these other parts. The cell was very tasty. Who knew lemon jello was so good? My grandma used to make a dish with lemon jello and stewed tomatoes (she was an adventurous cook) and perhaps these bad memories are why it never occurred to me to purchase it until now!

Story of the World, Chapter 16: Lego Siege Tower

We completed chapter 16, "The Return of Assyria" in The Story of the World. We both enjoyed it but I knew the activity would be the big hit! W loves OBSESSED, so I knew he would want to make the Lego siege tower which is an activity in the activity book. Here are some pictures of what he made...

The side view. He changed the actual battering ram component a few times.

Just look at those faces. Clearly ready for combat. I love the spear with the flame. He came up with that all on his own because he only had one bow and arrow (something I can't believe for a child who has 10,000+ *literally* Legos, but whatever).

After the first few attempts broke the battering ram we decided to follow the advice in the book and go for a crack in the wall. It worked much better and there was a lot less damage to our battering ram. As you can see, he also added a cannon. Not a historically accurate weapon but I am sure the Assyrians would have loved to have them!