A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Welcome to another Weekly Wrap Up!
The kids found another snake in the back yard.
I've gotten to the point where I kind of feel sorry for snakes that venture onto our property. If the cat misses them (and he's getting old, so it's more likely these days), the kids find them.
Picture this: I holler out the school room window, when I see the kids out front with a box. "What are you doing?" They answer, "We're taking the snake for a walk." Oh. Okay. It's not like you can put a snake on a leash...
We've started a new art curriculum that I'm really excited about. We're getting into some mediums we haven't tried before. Bri just divvied up some self hardening clay for us to work with.
These are new, even to me. Watercolor crayons! I'm anxious to show you the fun we had with these, but it will have to wait until our review post next month.
We'll call this free reading time to make it sound educational, okay? See my Honest Company treelings in the pots beside her? Those were freebies at Christmas. I do hope we don't kill them.
Hard to believe we went from nice and sunny to rain this week. Crazy weather.
I just love this picture. Sam floating mid-air, and Eli out to get him.
Yes, she's singing, "I can ride my bike with no handlebars," thanks to big brother Zach fixing her tire. It's been so wonderful for the kids to be able to ride again.
This week, we read the book of Jonah in the Bible. So we made Big Fish projects.
Eli's on top and Brianna's on bottom.
I think I was more into this project than the kids were. I told them they could glue beads on for air bubbles, or use googly eyes or add undersea stickers or put craft sand along the bottom.... and got bare minimum in response. Ah well, they come up with enough creative projects on their own, I guess.
Like these bracelets, for example. I had the beads out for Katie recently, and Brianna and Eli swooped in and started beading like crazy folk. I'm now the proud owner of a bead pencil, a bead tree, and a bead ballerina hanging onto my water bottle for dear life.
The kids were sent outside (in the COLD--you know, 58*) to find 5 leaves to study "shape."
I have to say, this wasn't a favorite with them, either.
The idea was to trace the leaves onto construction paper, cut them out, and affix them to a different color construction paper.
I love watching them concentrate.
Brianna decided to use both the leaves and the cutouts. She stuck them on with packing tape.
Cute picture of Katie has NOTHING to do with homeschooling, but she's so blasted happy about the Hello Kitty dress, I finally got pictures of her smiling. Usually, she does the 3 year old grimace when she sees the camera.
On Friday, we met up with some friends from our old homeschool co op. We're trying to get something new off the ground. The talk was about the digestive system, and the kids traced each other and drew in their organs.
It was a little weird to have one of the kids say to me, "Hey mom, what do you want me to do with the bodies?" when they brought them in from the van.
Zachary hung out here with us on Saturday. He's got quite a fan club around here, and everything turns into a group activity.
Next week, it looks like we'll be learning about Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jeremiah, as well as finishing up Assyria and moving on to Babylon. Watch for a couple of exciting reviews coming up, as well! Speaking of reviews, I hope you had a chance to read about new Spelling You See, and also enter our open giveaways.
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Friday, March 28, 2014
When I heard that the folks at Demme Learning, who brought us Math U See, a favorite of mine and many other homeschoolers, had a new spelling program coming out, I was very interested in being on the review team. Spelling You See is brand new, debuting March 2014.
I love the way there are no grade levels on these books! When signing up, I gave both Jack and Eli the placement test. Jack is 9 and Eli is 12. The program is intended for elementary students and can be used as remedial work for older students.
Eli tested into Level E, so we were sent Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E). The Instructor’s Handbook sells for $14, and the two book Student Pack is $30. The set also comes with a package of colored pencils.
Spelling You See turned the way I think about spelling on it's ear! It's totally different from other spelling programs. There are no word lists. Let me say that again: no list of spelling words.
The way it works is, there's a passage each week. Each day, you and your student read the passage together, then the student is assigned circling certain letter patterns, for example, vowel chunks, blends, etc, with the included colored pencils. The first 3 days of the week, they copy a portion of the passage you read. On Thursday and Friday, you dictate the passage to your student while they write it down.
We use a blank sheet of colored paper to block out the passage in the student book during dictation. Then, I have Eli remove the paper and check his work for errors. After he's looked it over, I check for spelling, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes, which I have him fix.
The beauty of this program is that spelling, which can be a real chore sometimes, is over in 10 minutes. You are instructed in the teacher's book to allow the child to STOP copywork or dictation after 10 minutes. I laughed a little when I thought to myself, "It's like the FlyLady approach to spelling! You can do anything for 10 minutes!" It's easier to get a child to do something for 10 minutes than to tell them they're going to, "Sit! In that chair! Until it's done! And I don't have any plans until Tuesday, young man, so you take all the time you need!" Ahem. Or, you know, however it goes in your house. 10 minutes we can do.
I like that the passages all relate around a central theme for each level. For example, our level E book, American Spirit, has fascinating tidbits of American History as the copywork. Eli actually went through BOTH whole workbooks, reading the passages ahead of time, which tells me they're pretty interesting! Week 5 talks about Eli Whitney, who invented the cotton gin, and when we looked up more information about him online, my Eli discovered that Eli Whitney was also instrumental in standardizing gun parts. Obviously, he found this more fascinating than the cotton gin, but he wouldn't have learned it at all without Spelling You See.
Once Eli and I got started with this review, I realized this would be a great product for Jack. I love the boy, but he's a deplorable speller. When he does creative writing--it really IS creative! I have to have him read his work to me because I truly cannot decipher what he's trying to say half the time. I decided to get him Level C, Wild Tales.
Level C is a little bit different than Level E. Most noticable is the fact that the Level C student books are landscape bound instead of portrait bound. Inside, the biggest difference is that Thursdays, instead of doing dictation, Jack is instructed to draw a picture of the rhyme or write his own story.
While we're only a couple weeks in with Jack, I've noticed a difference in his dictation passages already. The material he's been copying Mon.-Wed. comes out with much more recognizable spelling on Friday's dictation pages than his random journal entries or other free writing that he does.
Since it only takes 10 minutes, it should be easy to convince him to work on spelling through the summer. I have high hopes that Spelling You See might be the breakthrough we've been looking for that helps him catch up in reading and spelling.
Two more levels are in the works (Level F, Ancient Achievements, sounds interesting!), but I don't know when they'll be released. I am hoping that Level F comes out by the time Eli completes level E, because I would absolutely have him continue the program.
To read what more review families had to say about the other levels, please check out the rest of the Crew reviews by clicking on the box below:
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Thursday, March 27, 2014
Imagine having more than 60 other moms you can call on, any time, day or night, when you have a parenting question. Now imagine those moms are all doctors, so you can count on their helpful advice for medical issues, too. That's what this book is like.
The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years is part of a family of books from Momosa Publishing.
Pregnancy and Birth, Your Baby's First Year, and Your Baby's First Year are the other books in the series.
Unlike another similar book series I've read, The Mommy MD Guides don't present a single opinion or suggestion, but many, varied opinions. I think this is very beneficial, because parenting styles are different. Some tips will be helpful to you, and some will not, and that's okay, because there's more than 900 bits of wisdom here, so there's something for everyone.
The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years is a helpful, comprehensive look at typical parenting and health concerns for parents of toddlers. Growth, feeding, safety, discipline, learning, and sleep are covered in depth.
The one thing I felt it lacked was any information on special needs kids. There are pages about haircuts, or taking your child to church, or transitioning from crib to bed, but the only mention of autism in the entire book is two sentences under Constipation. "Special needs" doesn't even have an entry in the index, although speech delays and early intervention are briefly mentioned in passing.
I think this would be a helpful book for a first time parent, or a family that hasn't had a toddler in a few years. I like that there are specific product recommendations shared. Many of them, I'd heard of before, but some were new to me, and I'll be keeping an eye out for those.
The Mommy MD Guides is generously allowing me to give away one of their books (your choice!) to one lucky reader. US residents only, please.
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I received a free copy of The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, and no other compensation was made.
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