Friday, September 9, 2011

Five in a Row-Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley

This row took two weeks. We had a lot going on medically (see here for more info) plus Labor Day holiday so it didn’t flow as nicely as previous two did. I like doing it in one week because it makes it easier to stay focused on the story and culture. Oh well. The next two books I have planned will also take two weeks because of “life” so I will just have to adjust. Most of the activities are straight from the manual. I will list our activities by subject since we didn’t do it daily:

Social studies & History
We read the story and placed our story disk on Venice, Italy. We looked back through the book and talked more about Venice itself. We discussed what we would like and dislike about living there (with all the water). Then we watched youtube videos of Venice and gondola rides and singing gondoliers.

Language arts
We read the book and learned some of the vocabulary words and Italian words in the book. The girls pretended to ride a gondola to my café where I served biscotti and hot chocolate. We pretended to be Italian and used some of the words we had just learned. The cookbook had a recipe for biscotti but I just purchased some at the grocery store.

Character Study (sorta)
The weather was beautiful (finally!) so we ate an Italian snack outside (fruit with Nutella) and said lots of Italian words. We read the book again and talked about Papa Piccolo teaching the kittens and then talked about what their dad has taught them (riding a bike, washing their hair, etc). They got distracted so we didn’t get to finish our discussion.

For lunch we had an Italian grilled cheese sandwich (pesto, provolone, and mozzarella) which we dipped in marinara.

That afternoon, we watched Venice City Guide on Globe Trekker on PBS. I would recommend the first 5-10 minutes (tour of city) and last 10 minutes (shows regatta). There were some inappropriate discussions for kids (gondolier telling what adults like to do on his boat) but luckily Abby wasn’t really paying much attention and I had the sound turned down pretty low.

Another day we were watching Barney on PBS and he went to Venice.

We read the book and named all the colors on the 2 page spread in front of book (and made up our own names-golden yellow, sunshine yellow, etc).

We got out watercolors and made a color wheel and mixed the colors to make new ones. Then we made our own paintings. Except I didn’t know how to use tube watercolors-I didn’t add water! Oh well. Our paintings turned out lovely anyway.

That night we ate spaghetti by candlelight and made the ricotta cake from the cookbook. It was delicious! Daddy sang “That’s Amore” to us and pretended to speak Italian. The girls thought it was hilarious. Abby spontaneously reviewed all she had learned-she just started giving vocabulary words and definitions and talking about Venice. I was glad to know she had learned something!

Applied math
We skipped math this time!

I did milk/food coloring experiment that I found here. You place one drop of each color of food coloring on milk then touch it with dish soap on q-tip. The colors dance all over the milk! The girls loved it!

That was our last day of Papa Piccolo so we had pizza for dinner (and leftover ricotta cake) to celebrate. Daddy pulled up Venice on Google Earth and they looked at that for a while.

I had many other ideas for this book but with all the stress of our life right now, this was the best I could manage.

Our 3 R’s are still going well. The only problem is handwriting-she hates to do handwriting! I am not ready to switch programs yet but I may have to if this continues.

For the next two weeks we will be “rowing” How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World! I have some great stuff planned plus we will be going on our first home school field trip!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Five in a Row-Lentil by Robert McCloskey

We had a great time with Lentil this week! Most of the activities are straight from the manual. The other ideas are from FIAR forum archives and Homeschool Share. I will list our activities day by day:

Social studies & History: We read the story and placed our story disk on Ohio. We did a little worksheet from Homeschool Share about what direction we would have to go to get to Ohio. It was her first introduction to direction. We talked briefly about how the book was written in 1940 and you could tell by the pictures in the books-one room school house, horse and buggy, the girls all wearing dresses. We talked about what schools, stores, cars, and clothes look like now.

Next we looked at all the flags they used to decorate the town and got out our own flag (we say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning). We talked about what the flag looked like and what the stars and stripes meant. I explained what patriotism was and why we should be glad we live in the USA. I had a video from the library about the history of the flag so we watched that. It was a little over her head but she did learn a little from it. We read a few books from the library about patriotic songs and sang a few. Then we looked up some songs on youtube-I love Ray Charles singing “America the Beautiful.” I cried, the girls were bored. Oh well.
Abby wasn’t a very enthusiastic learner during all this. I guess it was a little over her head. I tried to make it simple but if I had it to do over I think I would have focused more on the difference in the 1940s and now. I had a lot of ideas on that after the day was over. Oh well.

We also got out our new harmonicas and watched a few youtube videos of harmonica players. Macy really liked listening to the girls play them. Those harmonicas entertained us all week!

Language arts: We read the book again and talked about the elements of a good story. She wrote a story using those elements (we wrote it piece by piece-she couldn’t remember all those elements and neither could I). She loves to write stories so this was right up her ally!

She also asked me about a few words in the book-expert, citizen, and tone. I don’t know why I didn’t think to teach her some of the vocabulary in this book! I explained them to her and tried to use the words the rest of the week.
We made lentil stew (from the FIAR forum) and lemon bars (from the FIAR cookbook) for supper that night. Both were really good. Abby helped me peel carrots with our new veggie peeler. She did a great job-she will have to help me more often with that! She and Lyla both helped with the crust for the lemon bars. I had borrowed “The Andy Griffith Show” from the library and we watched a few episodes after supper. We talked about how life in Mayberry was probably a lot like Alto (even though Andy Griffith was 1960s).

Art: We talked about what the artist used to draw the pictures (charcoal) and how he used shading to make the characters look more realistic. We read the book again and looked carefully at all the pictures. She wanted to play I Spy with the pictures-there are a lot of details in this book. We noticed the writing on the buildings and found the letters we had been learning in Abeka K5 phonics.

Next I had her draw a picture to illustrate the story she wrote the day before using charcoal. She got so frustrated with it! It smeared and smudged and was just a mess. I didn’t realize she was such a perfectionist with her artwork! We put up the charcoal and used a pencil. I tried to spin a lesson on it-Robert McCloskey must have had to practice really hard with charcoal to become such an expert at it, just like Lentil and his harmonica.

We also got out our train set and she pretended that Colonel Carter was on board! We were going to set up the town of Alto but Godzilla (aka Macy) interfered with the building project, lol.

When we read the book today Abby commented that it was really good that Lentil couldn’t pucker since he ended up saving the celebration. I used it as an opportunity to incorporate the bible supplement-everyone has special gifts and talents and we aren’t all the same. I have had a hard time figuring out where to work in the bible portion so Abby really helped me out!

Applied math: We learned about fractions. I showed her what they were by using a sheet of paper that we cut in half, then in fourths. We also divided our snack (an apple) and a Melissa and Doug velcro pizza set. I also showed her that 4 quarters make a dollar. She looked amazed that 4 quarters is the same as $1 and declared that I am the smartest mom ever!

Science! Our experiment was on taste buds. I set up 4 tastes: salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. We blindfolded ourselves and tasted each thing then told what taste it was. We drew a map of our tongues and colored the different areas. We talked about which taste we liked best (sweet) and which we liked least (bitter). We read a little about taste buds in our Flip Flap Science Book from Usborne. Then we made lemon slushies (from FIAR forum).

At lunch, we picked up daddy and went to the library which is on Main Street of our small town. Our Main Street is historical so we took a walk up and down the street and talked about what it must have been like for Lentil to walk down Main Street practicing his harmonica. I had printed off some old pictures of our Main Street (probably 50s era) and we looked at those and talked about how our Main Street had a hardware store and a drug store, just like in Alto. We also have a train depot but I forgot to drive by it on our way home. Oh well. I took a funny picture of Abby sitting on a bench pretending to be Old Sneep! In front of our courthouse is a Civil War monument so we stopped and looked at that. She was excited that we had a monument just like Lentil. We also have a bell and the plaque used the word citizen over and over. Yea for carryover! We had a lot of fun!

Our 3 R’s went really well too. I solved our too much tv problem but created a new one! On Saturday we reorganized their bedroom and got some toys out of storage. Now they are having so much fun playing in their bedroom that I have a hard time getting her to come to the table for school work!

For the fine motor problem, I found some worksheets online with simple shapes for her to cut out. We do one every other day or so.

Next week we will be “rowing” Papa Piccolo. It’s off to Italy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our First Week-The Story About Ping and the 3 R’s

We just finished up our first week of kindergarten! It was wonderful, better than I could have ever imagined! Abby said it was awesome! Lyla and Macy did a great job being my helpers, haha. Lyla thinks she is a kindergartner too and sat with us during “school” and did any work I put in front of her with 100% effort. She is precious. Macy mainly ate cheerios and jabbered.

Abeka K5 Phonics went really well. I think I am going to like it. Abby learned the vowels I, U, and E this week. It uses a multisensory approach: play doh, flashcards, dry erase board, real objects, songs, and even some action games. I thought it would be too much work to get all those things together every day but it really isn’t. I did have to order some flashcards that I tried to get away with not buying. I could have really used them this week. Hopefully they will be in soon and then it will be even better for us.

We love our math program! I am using Little Hearts for His Glory teacher’s manual math suggestions and Singapore Earlybird workbook. Every day has been some fun, hands on activity to reinforce the workbook pages. This week we worked on writing 1-5 and of course counting to 5. I can’t believe how good she is able to write those numbers!

Abby really doesn’t like handwriting. She says it is boring. I am trying to liven to up for her but haven’t figured out how yet. Luckily it takes less than five minutes.

We are listening to The Jesus Storybook Bible on CD every night before bed. We love this! I could listen to it for hours. It is very well written and I love how it is true to the front cover “every story whispers His name.”

Five in a Row-The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
I can’t even explain how much I love Five in a Row. I was only going to use it as an extra activity when I felt like it but this will probably be the heart of our home school this year. Most of the activities are straight from the manual. The other ideas are from Delightful Learning, FIAR forum archives, and Homeschool Share. I will list our activities day by day:

Monday was history/geography/social studies. We read the story and placed our story disk (small, round picture of Ping) on the Yangtze River in China (we have a huge wall map). We talked about how long the Yangtze River is and how there a lot of people in China. We looked at the pictures in the book of the clothing and hairstyles worn by the Chinese people in the book. We talked about living on a boat in the river and what that would be like. Later on we read a book about inventions and other things that originated in China. Some of the things were kites, rice, goldfish, kung fu, etc. That led us to youtube to watch some videos of the Dragon Dance on Chinese New Year, kids doing kung fu, and Chinese acrobats. We did a little kung fu and learned how to say hello and goodbye in Chinese. It was a very fun day!

Tuesday was language arts. We read the book again and talked about what a classic is and what fiction is. We compared the year the story was written to when her grandmas were born.

Art day! We talked about what the artist used to draw the pictures and how he made the sunset and how to draw movement in the water. We read the book again and looked carefully at all the pictures. She noticed things that she hadn’t the other two days (which is why you read the book over and over). She asked why the water of the Yangtze river is yellow and some other good questions that I can’t remember now! After we read the book we got out our colored pencils and she drew a wonderful picture using some of the techniques we had talked about. Her sunset was beautiful. She drew a boat with wise eyes just like in the book. And the water was yellow! Then we used an idea from Delightful Learning, found here, and drew a duck out of the Draw Write Now book. She did ok with it but then drew her own duck and it was much better than her first try. Maybe she doesn’t need guide books for her art! Abby absolutely loved art day. She wanted to draw with colored pencils all week!

Applied math: We did a worksheet from Homeschool Share where you color all of Ping’s family. She liked it and did a good job counting to 42! Later that day we read a few books about China and one about ducks that I got at the library.

Science! We read a few books about ducks, and I focused on how they float and how they stay dry to go along with our science experiments. I got these ideas from Delightful Learning. First we blew up a balloon and saw how easily it floated in a pan of water and how you couldn’t make it sink. Then we took an empty balloon and compared how it was easy to sink (although it does float). We read about why things float from Usborne’s First Encyclopedia of Science. They were distracted by their balloons  The next experiment was about how ducks stay dry (it’s called preening). I cut 2 ducks out of brown lunch sacks. One duck we painted with canola oil (lots and lots of oil) and the other we left alone (after much convincing that we HAD to leave it plain). Then we poured water on them to see the difference. It worked good except my sacks must have had a coating because I had to rub in the water on the plain duck to get it to soak it up. The girls didn’t care-they loved it! Then we packed a lunch, picked up daddy from work, and went to the duck pond. We fed the ducks some bread and watched them swim around and quack. We even saw one preening itself. Quite entertaining. Then Lyla had to go potty RIGHT THEN so we had to leave (this happens everywhere we go).

That night we cooked a Chinese dinner from the Five in a Row cookbook: egg rolls, fried rice, and egg drop soup. The girls helped when they wanted (mainly eating while I prepped veggies). We read in a book that in China they put all the food in the middle of the table and serve it like that. So we did too. The food was really good and the girls had a blast.

The week was wonderful but there are a few things I may have to tweak. Lyla wanted her own work to do so I may buy her a few workbooks (maybe Abeka or Rod & Staff). I also realized we didn’t do many fine motor activities so I may need to come up with some cutting tasks for Abby. I am also trying to brainstorm more activities for Abby because school doesn’t take very long and she wanted to watch too much tv. Her and Lyla play in their bedroom for long periods of time but when you are stuck inside all day (when will 100+ heat index days end?), you get bored with your toys fast. She doesn’t take a nap any more (but does rest for one hour) so she has a lot of time to fill. When the weather improves, we will spend all the extra time outside but for now I need to come up with something to keep her busy.

Next week we will be “rowing” Lentil. I love this story and can’t wait!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our Kindergarten Curriculum

After a ton of research and reading and blog browsing and going to the home school convention and praying and thinking and pondering and fretting and praying some more…I was finally able to decide on our kindergarten curriculum.

I was going to use Heart of Dakota’s Little Hearts for His Glory (LHFHG) but I decided I wanted a slightly gentler approach. It looks awesome but I wasn’t so sure about history for a kindergartner. I think I might use it for 1st grade. I kept being drawn to their math though. It uses Singapore Earlybird but the author has included tons of hands on activities to go along with the workbook so…I bought the LHFHG manual and the Singapore workbooks.

For phonics and reading, I went with Abeka K5. I was very unsure about this and almost switched to the Reading Lesson. I didn’t like all the materials you needed: flashcards, books, etc. I ordered off Ebay and went with the minimum I thought I could get by with. We shall see how it goes.

I am using A Reason for Handwriting for handwriting. Again, I was unsure and almost went with Handwriting Without Tears, but after looking at the workbooks over and over at the home school convention I finally made a decision.

Finally, I am using Five in A Row (FIAR) for everything else. With FIAR you read the same story every day, with a different emphasis each day. The first day is history/geography, second day is language arts, third day is art, fourth day is applied math, and fifth day is science. I was very excited when I ordered it but was extremely disappointed when it came in (its hard to find samples online of this curriculum). It seemed vague and general to me. Some books had a lot of suggested activities and others had very few. Then I went online and looked at blogs of people who “row” (that’s what they call it) and became overwhelmed with the amount of work that went into it. I put it aside for a few months and when I came back to it, I fell in love. After spending so much time looking at workbooks and lesson plans, I was drawn to its simplicity and gentleness. I read a post from the creator, Jane Lambert, about how all the extras were good and fine but if you will stick to the manual you will be surprised at what your child can learn. I decided to go with this approach. I am now super excited to start “rowing.”

I don’t have anything formal planned for music or PE. And there may be other area I have neglected but I can always add to it.

We will also be joining the home school co-op in our area. Abby and Lyla are very excited about this! We will go on Mondays for a few hours to have some learning time with others their age. It will also give us the opportunity to go on field trips with others. I am looking forward to meeting others who home school-I don't know many other home schoolers yet.

So those are our choices for our kindergarten year. I am sure we will have to tweak and change a little but hopefully all that praying led me in the right direction.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where Have I Been?

I can’t believe it has been a year since I posted anything on this site! I really wanted to keep up with this blog so I would have a record of all the fun things we did but life got in the way. The last month of my pregnancy I was pretty tired and cranky and I pretty much gave up on the idea of keeping up with blogging.

Macy was born in October. She has grown so quickly! She is a wonderful baby and the three of them keep me hopping! We did some school stuff off and on when I had time to get it together. I learned an important lesson…I am not supermom. I couldn’t keep up with all the printing and cutting and preparing that the Raising Rock Stars and Confessions of a Homeschooler preschool curriculums required. I also got tired of printing the Learn Your Letters curriculum (its great but a lot of pages). So we spent most of the time playing and reading with occasional memory verses, crafts, and letter/number games thrown in there. They didn’t suffer any :) I also learned that although those curriculums are great, they just aren’t for me. I need something that is open and go. No cutting, printing, making, etc. It really helped me pick a better curriculum for kindergarten.

Around April or May we decided to home school Abby for kindergarten. It had been on our hearts for a while but we had been unsure if it was the best thing for our family. We just wanted to do God’s will and it took a while to discern that. One of these days I will write all about our reasons for home schooling but for now just know that we really felt like it was what God was calling us to do.

In May we found out that we were expecting another baby, due in January. I still can’t believe how blessed we are! I get scared from time to time (daily?) and wonder how I can possibly manage all this but I remind myself that God is the one steering this ship and I just have to sit back and enjoy the ride!