Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 26 - October 1, 2011

October!  Already?

What we're working on this week:

  • Math - Saxon Math K: Lessons 10, 11, and 12 - Making a real graph, identifying the most and the fewest on a graph, counting to 10 with one-to-one correspondence, creating pattern block designs, identifying properties of pattern blocks
  • Language Arts - Hooked on Phonics: letters P and Q, Get Set for the Code: Complete letter p and begin letter s
  • Art - Draw Write Now Book 1: Boy
  • Science - Science is Simple: Read Isaac Newton and Gravity together.  The book is a little advanced, but we'll just skim through and look at the pictures and main topics.
  • Music - We continue listening to our classical music station on Pandora while we do our schoolwork.
  • Good Books - The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh: Section 2, Chapter 2
  • Religion - Who Am I? Preschool Book B: Miracles of Jesus; September 29th is Michaelmas Day , so we have some extra activities planned for that day.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Linking Cubes and Drawing Girls

We have a new winner in the Favorite Math Manipulative category: linking cubes.  When given the opportunity, Henry will play quietly with these for an hour or more at a time.  Works for me!

Oliver was picking through the bookshelf in the playroom and came across the Explode the Code wall chart activity book.  I could see the wheels turning in his noggin.  Looked at the book, furrowed his brow, glanced at the wall chart.  Looked at the book, walked over to the wall chart, held the cover up next to the chart to compare.

It was a good half hour of quiet comparison, touching a picture on the chart and then finding its match on the cover of the book.  Funny kid.

Friday's art lesson was a girl.  This was a neat picture to draw because you draw the girl from the word "girl."  If you look closely, you can see that the left side of the girl is the letter "g," the "i" is the decoration on the front of her dress, "r" is part of her sleeve on the right side, and "l" is part of the jump rope.

Also, Henry's Girl has obviously been working out.  Check out the size of those forearms!  Henry drew them that way on purpose.  When he finished them he said, "look, nice and strong!"

Today has been a busy day of making forts and playing with the new marble run.  Technically, the marble run is for next month's science demonstrations on objects in motion.  Daddy is home today, though, and all the boys are loving it while Jane takes her nap (the marbles aren't very baby-friendly).  We've got to get the play time in while we can.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Okay, this is really one of those things that makes me roll my eyes.  Apparently, today is International Peace Day.  Great.  We should all try to bring about peace in our lives.  I'm just not really sure how making pinwheels does anything to achieve that end.  The whole thing just kind of reminds me of that scene in Groundhog Day when Phil is trying to impress Rita:
Rita: What should we drink to?
Phil: I'd like to say a prayer and drink to world peace.

Still, the project itself is cute, quick, and easy enough to do with a preschooler.  So we did it.

You can use the template in the link or you can just wing it like we did.  The first step is to color a sheet of paper.  Square it off, then cut in from each corner toward the center, leaving about two inches uncut in the middle.  Then, fold the left corner of each cut piece in to the center, stick a pushpin through all the layers, and stick the whole thing to a pencil eraser.

Then say a prayer and blow to world peace.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Day at the Beach

We are not really beach people, despite living in Florida.  Matt and I have been married for almost 9 years and I can count the number of times we've been to the beach together on one hand.  We took Henry when he was a little younger than Jane and he hated it.  Couldn't handle the feeling of the sand.  So, we just never really went back. 

But Saturday was overcast and cool and Matt thought it would be fun to show the kids the Atlantic.  And I must say that it was a great idea.  It was blustery and a little drizzly, but the kids had a blast.  Henry had a minor freakout over the sand, but he worked through it in a couple of minutes and began building sandcastles with gusto.

Good idea, Daddy!

Top row - Oliver experiencing sand for the first time, Jane trying to feed me pretzels, Matt helping Henry get his sweatshirt off while Oliver decides to embrace the ocean
Center - Checking out the surf. 
Bottom - An adult osprey, a juvenile sanderling, and an adult nonbreeding Bonaparte's gull

September 19 - 25, 2011

What we're working on this week:

  • Math - Saxon Math K: Lessons 7, 8, and 9 - Counting to 5 with one-to-one correspondence, exploring linking cubes, creating an AB color pattern
  • Language Arts - Hooked on Phonics: letters N and O, Get Set for the Code: Letter p
  • Art - Draw Write Now Book 1: Girl
  • Science - Science is Simple: Complete "Condensing the Water in Our Breath" and "Sing About Condensation."
  • Music - We continue listening to our classical music station on Pandora while we do our schoolwork.
  • Good Books - The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh: Section 2, Chapter 1
  • Religion - Who Am I? Preschool Book B: Jesus is God the Son

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pictographs, Tractors, and Jane Turns One

What a week!  It's times like this when the flexibility of homeschooling truly shines.  We had a birthday, four doctor appointments, and one trip to base for new ID cards.  It's been busy, but everyone is healthy and we're all having fun.

This week, we finished up the first book in the Explode the Code series, Get Ready for the Code.  Starting next week, Henry will work from the second book, Get Set for the Code.  The second book covers the consonants p, j, h, s, n, and d.  I'm really pleased with the series.  It's been a great fit for Henry and the progression is wonderful.  All day long, all we hear is "Bed. Buh. Bed starts with b!" and so forth.  It's become a favorite game for Henry to figure out the beginning letters of just about everything he spots.

At this point, if I had to choose between Explode the Code and Hooked on Phonics,  we would definitely pick the Code.  For Henry, at least.  The workbook and penmanship aspects are perfect for his style of learning.  Hooked on Phonics is still a great program and all of the kids, including Jane, love watching the letter videos and playing the games.  I'm starting to look at it as more of a supplement, though, instead of a primary course.

Saxon Math K is rocking.  Henry loves playing with the teddy bear counters and pattern blocks.  This week, we made a pictograph of our family members, which Henry really enjoyed.

Personally, I love the Saxon format.  It's reassuring to have a scripted lesson when it comes to math.  I never liked math in school.  It was always my Waterloo.  Consequently, this is the aspect of homeschooling that has made me the most nervous.  However, if the rest of the Saxon series is like this, I think we'll make it through.  At Henry's checkup, his pediatrician said her kids' school has been using Saxon for a few years now and she and her children love it.

If anyone out there has experience with the later years of the program, I would love to hear about it!

Our condensation/evaporation unit is going well, although I'm starting to understand what The Well-Trained Mind was referring to when it said "formal science study isn't necessary at this age."  We're having fun with the demonstrations and Henry is enjoying the literature selections, but he really just doesn't grasp a lot of the cause and effect aspects of what we're doing.  Hey, he's four!  We'll continue with Science is Simple, but I'm going to keep it purposely superficial.

In art, today was Henry's last "On the Farm" lesson.  It culminated with a tractor.  The Draw*Write*Now series is a lot of fun so far and I think it's helping Henry to notice the shapes of things around us.  The next portion of Book 1 is "Kids and Critters" and I think he'll like it as much as the first part.

And last, but certainly not least, this week marked Jane's first birthday.  I'm feeling a twinge of maternal guilt over the fact that we did not have a big party for her.  We've just had a hectic couple of months and wanted to keep it low-key.  I don't think she minded much, though.

We followed what is fast becoming a family tradition and took the kids out for Japanese.  They all love it; it's really the only restaurant we can take the whole family to.  They are entertained by the chef's antics at the table and they love the food.  Soup, fried rice, steak, and vegetables make three happy kids in our family.

After dinner, we went home and had strawberry shortcake and watched Jane play with her Toddler Music Band.  It's a good thing it came with five instruments because Henry and Oliver couldn't resist joining in.

Any more kids and we're going to end up like the Partridge Family.

Reuben Kincaid!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 12 - 18, 2011

What we're working on this week:

  • Math - Saxon Math K: Lessons 4, 5, & 6 - Exploring teddy bear counters, making a pictograph, exploring teddy bear counters and pattern blocks
  • Language Arts - Hooked on Phonics: letters I-L review, letter M, Get Ready for the Code: Complete letter r
  • Art - Draw Write Now Book 1: Tractor
  • Science - Science is Simple: Complete "Condensing Water" and "Feel Water Evaporating from our Skin."
  • Music - We continue listening to our classical music station on Pandora while we do our schoolwork.
  • Good Books - The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh: Chapter 10
  • Religion - Who Am I? Preschool Book B: Prayer


Friday, September 9, 2011

Saxon Math K, Goose

Our first week of Saxon Math K is complete and, so far, Henry is really enjoying it.  Of course, so far, "math" has consisted of designing rocket launch towers with pattern blocks and lining up brightly colored plastic bears into an army of viciously cute warriors.  So, we may yet run into difficulty in the future.  I hope Henry will always remain excited about math, though.

The meeting book concept is kind of interesting.  I suppose I never really thought of the calendar as a math concept, but they need to learn it somewhere.  It's kind of strange to listen to Henry puzzle it out.  Looking at a calendar and figuring out today's information seems like such a given that it's a little hard to remember actually learning what everything means, that days have names and numbers and months follow each other through the year.

I'll also give Saxon this: they certainly know how to whet a child's appetite to keep them coming back for more.  Limiting Henry's time playing with the manipulatives certainly makes him anxious for our next math lesson.  I was skeptical at first.  Three to five minutes of teddy bear time and then they get put away?  However, I completely see the point now.

And Henry's art lesson for today was a goose. 

Not this Goose.

This one.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

How to Think, How to Read

About a month ago, I posted about deciding to continue my own education through a thorough reading of the Great Books.  I created my own curriculum list on the sidebar based on the recommended course of study in The Great Conversation, the first volume of the Great Books set.  The first seven assignments were attacked cheerfully and checked off of the list.

And then I started to realize that I was doing it again.  Doing what?  Feeling like I'd "absorbed enough to pass the next test or get through the final exam" is what.  I felt like I needed to step back (again), refocus, and get a little deeper.

I think the issue is that the Great Ideas are so untouched by our modern school system that they are unfamiliar as concepts.  Not the ideas themselves, but the list of them.  It's not like we ever had a class on them or even heard them referenced for what they were.  We may have touched on summaries of different works (I remember having to memorize S.P.A. in order to get the order of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle correct.  Also, we were told that Clouds was really important.  Just not why.), but they were never presented as a flowing conversation through time between the great thinkers.

So, for the past few weeks, I've been reading Dr. Adler's How to Think About the Great Ideas.  This is actually a transcription of a half-hour weekly television show that aired in San Francisco in 1953 and 1954.  There are 52 "chapters" that cover different ideas like education, God, truth, justice, war and peace, etc.

This must have been a wonderful show.  I really can't think of anything airing today that approaches it.  Even the "educational" shows are so packaged and complete that you aren't really able to form your own opinion; you simply assimilate the information presented and move on to the next show.  Dr. Adler's show was completely different.  It was a conversation, literally, between himself and Lloyd Luckman and peppered with insightful questions mailed in by viewers.

I'm seriously considering purchasing DVDs of the original series, but the complete set is a little pricey (!).  While it would cost more to purchase them singly in the long run, my budget would not shriek so loudly if I spread the cost out a bit.  So, I think I may start accumulating these down the road.

Anyway, I feel like I have at least some grounding in what the Great Ideas actually are, but I thought I could still use some instruction on how to really get the most out of my reading.  So, now I've moved on to another book from Dr. Adler, How to Read a Book.  I must admit, I giggled a little over the title.  I mean, it's almost a parody.  A book on how to read a book?  And in the introduction (this is a republication from the 70s, the book was first published in the 30s), Dr. Adler himself says that the initial publication was followed by an actual parody entitled How to Read Two Books.  I didn't feel so bad about laughing after I read that.

The point of this book is to teach you how to read a book based on its level, to be an active and questioning reader, and to fully absorb the message the author is attempting to convey.  Dr. Adler says the sign of active reading is marking your books up, underlining, writing notes in the margins, circling phrases... all things I'd rather not do to my pretty set of Great Books.  Thankfully, you can pretty much get all of the Great Books on Kindle for free or close to it.  And while I love my Kindle, the tiny little keyboard isn't conducive to extensive note-taking, so I'll take advantage of the free Kindle for PC app Amazon provides and use my laptop to do some fully active reading once the kids are all asleep.

I am beginning to understand why the Great Conversation reading list is supposed to take a full ten years to complete.

Happy birthday, Mary!

Blue and white, perfect for the occasion!
Since it is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, I thought it would be fun and appropriate to have a little birthday party for Mary today.  Henry, the Sugar Fiend, thought a cake would be a great idea, so I picked up a mini one from the bakery when I ran my errands this morning.

After lunch, we all gathered around the table and sang "Happy Birthday" for Our Lady.  Afterwards, Henry said, "I love cake and I love Mary!"

Warms the cockles of my heart. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

September 5 - 11, 2011

What we're working on this week:

  • Math - Saxon Math K: Lessons 1, 2, & 3 - Exploring pattern blocks and exploring teddy bear counters
  • Language Arts - Hooked on Phonics: letters K and L, Get Ready for the Code: Complete letter t, begin letter r.
  • Art - Draw Write Now Book 1: Goose
  • Science - Science is Simple: Complete "Meanwhile, Look at Condensation" and "Water on a Blackboard."
  • Music - We continue listening to our classical music station on Pandora while we do our schoolwork.
  • Good Books - The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh: Chapter 9
  • Religion - Who Am I? Preschool Book B: Forgiveness is an Act of Love

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Field Trip, Allowance Rules, and a Duck

When I was a kid, it became somewhat of a tradition in our family to take our out-of-state guests down to St. Augustine to see the sights.  The fort, the Fountain of Youth, the Cathedral Basilica... these were frequent sight-seeing destinations for our family.  My mom also just loved going down there by ourselves, so you can imagine how well we got to know the city.  Eventually, us kids would sigh heavily at yet another trip.  However, the idea of taking visitors there was so thoroughly ingrained that I find myself doing the same thing whenever we have guests.  So, with Matt's brother in town, down to St. Augustine we went!

We mainly just strolled up and down St. George Street, ate lunch, and ducked inside the Cathedral.  I had to chuckle over this sign affixed to the side of the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.  With the way the university system is heading, I thought it was quite apropos.

As the temperature rose, we abandoned the street and headed over to the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of la Leche.  This is the spot where the first Mass was celebrated way back in 1565.  The grounds are beautiful with huge live oaks shading the area and a wide view of the bay.


The pond above and to the right is salt-water and connects to the bay.  As we entered the grounds, we saw this egret stalking small fish in the tall grasses along the bank.

Here, Henry is standing on a platform underneath a campanile.  There's a real bell in it, but it's no longer rung.  Instead, there are speakers that play different chimes.  He was trying to figure out how the bell was ringing without moving.

There are many birds and squirrels on the grounds.  We heard this woodpecker pounding away and spotted it easily with it's bright-red head.  This is the second pileated woodpecker we've seen.  The other was in the backyard a few months ago.

This is the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.  It's a beautiful little building.  The sign next to it says:
The present chapel is the fourth building on this foundation.  Erected first by 1615, this shrine of Our Lady fell victim three times - to war, pirates, and storms.  The last reconstruction began in 1918.
The devotion to Our Lady of La Leche honors the divine motherhood of Mary.  The Spanish designation is Nuestra Senora de la Leche y Buen Parto (Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery).
This devotion to Mary as patroness of mothers and mothers-to-be was brought to Nombre de Dios from Spain in 1603.

All in all, it was a nice trip.  Henry got a small lesson on the rules of his allowance on the way there.  When he turned four, we began giving him an allowance.  He gets a dollar per week automatically, plus he can earn an additional dollar per week by doing chores like straightening his bed, helping with the dusting, vacuuming the couch cushions, and emptying the wastebaskets in the bathrooms.  We keep track of his chores with First Kid Bank.  It's been working really well and he had a little saved up in his spending jar that he decided to bring with him (he's got a saving jar and a giving jar, too).

On the way down, Henry spotted a McDonald's and wanted us to stop there for lunch.  When we told him no, he cheerfully said, "I'll buy it myself with my own money!"  Matt advised him that even though he had his own money, Mom and Dad still get final say over his purchases.  He then used the following not-quite-age-appropriate example of "we're not going to let you buy $4 worth of crack just because you've got your own money, son."  To which Henry replied brightly, "We're not going to the crack store, Daddy!"


Ultimately, he only spent 25 cents on our trip.  And it was not on illegal drugs.  He bought a gumball and was very happy.

And he drew this duck: