Sunday, July 3, 2016

School Year 2016/2017 Plans

July means a new homeschooling year in North Carolina and although we school year round, I do like to mark it by starting new subjects and a special first-day of school celebration. I also like to take the time to evaluate my overall school plans for each girl and see what I want to change or add. We had our annual first day of school celebration a few days ago. The girls got some special school supplies and got to eat brownies and ice cream for breakfast. We also went to a bounce house place, Chick-fil-a, and a science museum. All told, it was an exciting day.

Lydia, 2nd Grade

Eleanor, Kindergarten

Adelaide, PreK

The bounce house place took horrible pictures, but Clara did enjoy just taking it all in and sat happily in her stroller, looking around for a solid 2 hours.

Rainbow shadows at the science museum

Not sure what this race track was supposed to teach them science-wise, but they had a blast on it for like a half hour.
Here's our plans for the next year. These are always subject to change, but I am getting better at knowing what will work for us and what won't and feel fairly confident these plans will mostly work out.


  • Lydia-Finish the Mensa K-3 reading list. She's been working on it for a few years and I think she can get it done this year. Also do readings associated with our history and science. Aim for at least a half hour a day. Also do Pizza Hut Book-It
  • Eleanor- Start the Mensa K-3 reading list. Also finish Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. She has about 40 lessons left. I would like her to start doing independent reading along with daily lessons. I'm going to aim for 15 minutes a day and up that to 20 or 30 once she finishes OPGTR. Start Pizza Hut Book-It.
  • Adelaide- Continue to work in OPGTR. She will most likely not finish this year but should make good progress. 


  • Lydia- She's on Christian Light Education 205 right now. I'd like for her to be a year further along, so we're going to aim for CLE 305, but certainly no less than finishing 210 so that she doesn't get behind. I also might continue to do some Ronit Bird math to help her with her basic facts and number sense on the side. And we need to work on skip counting, so we'll probably do a lot of skip counting YouTube videos as well. 
  • Eleanor- Finish Miquon Green and Yellow and at least start the final book, Purple. Also Continue working through Beast Academy. Finish 3A and hopefully 3B, but no hurry. This is secondary to Miquon for right now, but will become primary next year once Miquon is completed, as Miquon only goes through 3rd grade. Also continue with Mathematics Enhancement Programme level 2 and then 3. This is really just extra after the other two and we've sort of been skipping through it as needed when topics are redundant. But I'd like it to be secondary once Miquon is over as it is a full elementary program, so we'll keep it up in the meantime.
  • Adelaide- Finish Miquon Orange, maybe even a bit in Red and make progress in MEP level 1. Miquon is our primary concern for this year though.


  • Lydia- Continue with Writing With Ease level 2. Probably start Writing With Ease level 3. Possibly start Killgallon writing supplements with WWE 3 for some variation, but we're not there yet.
  • Eleanor- Continue WWE Level 1, probably skip to level 2 in a few months as WWE 1 is a bit on the easy side for her.
  • Adelaide- Continue working on handwriting using Handwriting Without Tears PreK and Kindergarten as well as extra apps and copywork until mostly fluent in writing letters and numbers. Probably start Writing With Ease 1 sometime this spring.


  • Lydia- Continue with First Lanugage Lessons level 3. Once she finishes that, I think we may pause before moving to level 4 and do a different approach to grammar for a bit. I haven't decided what yet, though.
  • Eleanor (NEW!)- Start First Language Lessons Level 1, possibly through Level 2. She's been listening to her sister's lessons for a while and the accompanying CD and will probably pick it up very quickly. I have a feeling she will finish level 2 this year, but I won't push it.


  • Lydia- Continue All About Spelling level 3. After that, either move to Rod and Staff Spelling, or AAS level 4. I haven't decided yet. 
  • Eleanor- Continue AAS level 1 (almost done) and start level 2
  • Adelaide- Depending on how handwriting and reading go, possibly start AAS level 1 later in the year.


  • Lydia- Continue in the Complete book of Maps and Geography. It is teaching decent geography skills but also really working on her "following instructions" skills, which is important for her. My guess is that she won't finish it this year (it is really thick and I only make her do a page a day). That's fine, we're in no hurry.
  • Eleanor (NEW!)- She's been begging to do geography for more than a year now. I told her that her reading skills had to be a little better and I think she's finally ready. So she's going to start Evan Moor Beginning Geography

Latin (NEW!)

  • Lydia & Eleanor- This would be a new subject for both girls. I intended to only do it with Lydia, but Eleanor wants to do it too, so why not? I am going to start very gentle with a program called I Speak Latin, possibly combined or just followed with Getting Started with Latin. I want to be consistent with Latin, so if I see that this isn't happening, I might put off Latin for another year, but I hope we can start because I think they'll really enjoy it.


  • Combined All Girls- History didn't really happen this year beyond the informal history as we visited places locally and on road trips and Liberty's Kids. So I'm hoping to be better. We will be working through Story of the World again this year, continuing where we've left off with Ancients.


  • Combined All Girls- We've been really awesome about doing science in a sort of unschooly way. We are really deliberate about bringing up science topics in day-to-day life and have lots of apps, shows, and toys to help facilitate that. I really don't see a problem with it for now and at this age, but I might try out Mystery Science, which looks like my favorite theoretical program (Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding) but much more open-and-go (which I need). I only recently learned about this new program, so I need to think about it for a bit.


  • Lydia & Eleanor- Continue Hoffman Academy. We are absolutely loving Mr. Hoffman and it is working very well for our family. I recently backed their Kickstarter, so we should be sticking with them for the long haul. They are both almost done with Unit 2, and I'd like them to be through Unit 4 or 5 by the end of next year.
  • Adelaide- Start Hoffman Academy in the spring when she turns 5. 


  • Lydia & Eleanor- Take 2 classes/semester at local co-op. They did it this year and it went pretty well, so I hope it continues to work for them. They will also continue in Girl Scouts.

These are not exhaustive. We use a lot of educational toys, apps, games, books, tv/movies, etc. I also try to be very deliberate in what we discuss and look for teaching opportunities all the time. Homeschooling is a lifestyle, in my opinion, and I try to include it in every aspect of our lives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

April Report

April was filled with beautiful weather. I've been encouraging the girls to spend as much time as they can outside and they've been enjoying that. We went to the zoo many times and also the park and other outdoor activities.

The tulips at our local public botanical garden

Mostly we've had an uneventful month. No big trips or happenings. We did enjoy a science day and talking to lots of local college students and volunteers about various scientific principles.

I'm gearing up for my epic road trip soon, so a lot of my thought and efforts has been devoted to that. I plan to take that time off formal school, although we will be doing lots of academic activities. I'm really looking forward to it, although time will tell if I'm crazy or not.

The only other big thing we've done this month is to introduce chores. I think I've finally come up with a system of chores that might work for us, so here's hoping. We are only on day 2, so it hasn't been proven yet. I was just getting sick of crafts and paper all over my house all the time, and the girls could use a little more personal responsibility. That and they've started playing with neighborhood kids. If people are going to be in my house all the time, it needs to be at least non-embarrassing.

Lydia reached her Book-It goal for April, the last month she can do it until the fall. I guess I'm going to have to come up with some other incentive for her. She is currently reading Trumpet of the Swan. I guess we're going through an E.B. White phase. Maybe I'll give her Stuart Little next.

Eleanor is doing well and starting to read a lot for fun. A lady at church gave us a whole bunch of those hard-backed Disney picture books and Eleanor has been devouring the princess-related ones (and Lydia is devouring the animal ones). She has also been regularly doing more than one lesson in OPGTR willingly most days. She's almost done with the r-changed vowel section and finished through lesson 175. Really though, at this point most of this is a formality. She's picking up a lot of the things she's being taught in her every-day free reading. 

Adelaide is doing well in OPGTR. She's doing simple blending words like "risk" and "stump." She is about to start Lesson 50.

Lydia finished CLE 204 and started 205 today. She's doing a little bit better with having a good attitude and if we need to, we take a break and do Ronit Bird remedial math for a few days. I'm seeing improvement in her abilities though, and I'm very pleased about that. She is also spending a lot of time on Prodigy. Seriously, I usually have to kick her off or she would spend the whole day playing. At least it is math. Heaven help me when she discovers "real" video games though.

Using our Blokus game to help her do Beast Academy

Eleanor finished Miquon Blue and started Green, which I believe is considered the second half of 2nd grade level. It is working wonderfully for her. I've also been jumping through MEP2 and only having her do non-redundant sections. As a result, she is already on lesson 38 despite just starting it last month (lessons are supposed to be 1/day). But the most exciting thing is her Beast Academy math. She loves it, even if it pushes her quite a bit. All the girls are enjoying the "guide" book, which is essentially a comic book of lovable monsters learning math together. It really is quite cute and there are lots of hidden jokes in the pictures. The practice book is where the problem sets are and some of those questions have even stumped me! She will finish the first chapter tomorrow. 

Adelaide continues with her math. Now that she's four, I've upped her schooling slightly and made it less optional. It is still very light, but I like to start the transition at this age, and I think she will just roll into our routine easily. She has finished 43/126 in Miquon Orange and I started her on MEP 1. She is on Lesson 5. MEP is definitely secondary for her and if Miquon is especially challenging, then I set it aside for the day. I imagine she will follow a similar math track to Eleanor.

Language Arts
Lydia is on lesson 4 in All About Spelling 3. She's on Week 12, Day 2 in Writing With Ease 2 and her summarizing skills are getting better. She did a great job with the selection from Pilgrim's Progress today, despite being unfamiliar with the story. I was proud of her and I love seeing her progress. And she's halfway through Lesson 30 in First Language Lessons. She learned about direct objects and adverbs in April and is enjoying learning how to diagram sentences. The lessons in FLL3 are longer than her grammar used to be, so I often split them into 2 days instead of one. Since she's already quite a bit ahead in grammar, I feel like she can take the time. And she is just powering along in her Geography book, which she claims is her favorite subject.

Eleanor is on Week 12, Day 1 in Writing With Ease 1 and enjoys it a lot. She will also be starting Level 22 in All About Spelling 1 tomorrow. 

Adelaide started Handwriting Without Tears PreK after her birthday. I usually just have her do a 2-page spread on any given day. She doesn't seem to have strong opinions about it either way.

Both Lydia and Eleanor have completed through lesson 28 in Hoffman Academy. They have started playing many of their exercises with a metronome, which they are finding quite challenging. But they are both progressing. In fact, I think they could go faster than they are, so I'm going to try to up their lessons to 3 per week now that we are doing piano more regularly. If they hit a wall, we can always slow down.

Friday, April 1, 2016

February/March Review

At the end of February, the girls and I took an impromptu trip to west Texas. My youngest sister was about to leave to go on a mission for a year and a half and asked if I could be there to go with her to the temple. It turned out, ALL my siblings were able to go. In fact, it was an entire family reunion (minus Tyler who couldn't get off). It was a 2 day drive, one way, and the girls were champs. I love going on road trips with them, even though it is exhausting. We have lots of fun, and even Clara was really good.

Fun with their cousins
More cousin fun
Making cookies with Grandpa
As a result of our impromptu trip, we aren't as far along with school as I would have hoped, but this is one of the perks of homeschooling. If Lydia was in school, there's no way we would have been able to have this trip, and it was a unique chance for the girls to see so much family.

Now that the weather is getting nicer (and I have a fitbit and am trying to hit my daily goals!), we've been spending a lot of time outside lately. We even got a zoo pass in order to have more active fun outside.

Flamingos are their favorite
We've also been hiking a lot. It has been such beautiful weather, that most days we have tried to spend the day outside either hiking or playing in the backyard.

Standing in front of the grave of 2 of the signers of the Declaration of Independence at Guilford Courthouse Battlefield.

Playing on some rocks during a break from hiking next to the Yadkin River
School is going well and I'm feeling pretty optimistic about our choices right now. Minus some attitude problems, things couldn't be going better. I also did Lydia's legally required standardized test this week. I went into it with no pre-conception with how she would do. Standardized testing isn't super important to me at this age, and we use many non-standard scope and sequence curricula. But she did amazing! She was at grade level or higher in every subject! It was very validating, even if it wasn't important.

Making an AM radio with Daddy

Lydia is doing well as she transitions to reading "real" books. I've decided to work harder on the Mensa reading list in hopes to get her that t-shirt in the next year or so. She read Ramona Quimby, Age 8, Frederick, Make Way for Ducklings, and a "free choice" book, which was Charlotte's Web. She's really into Charlotte's Web lately and has been making all sorts of little books based on it. She has also been enjoying reading on my old Kindle lately. If she keeps it up, I'll probably get her a Kindle of her own so she doesn't keep hogging "the family" one, or more accurately, Tyler's.

Eleanor is doing better and getting faster all the time. She has started checking out books like Clifford from the library and is able to read most of them. She even started the first Boxcar Children book on the Kindle. She's on lesson 156 in OPGTR

Adelaide is blowing me away with how well she is doing. She is done with the cvc section in OPGTR and is easily my best-prepared reading student yet. I often skip the word practice part of the lesson and go straight to the story part because she just doesn't need the extra instruction. She is picking it up so quickly. And because of her bubbly personality, teaching her is really a joy. "That's the end of my lesson? OK!" and off she goes. She is on lesson 41 in OPGTR

This month we discovered Prodigy Math. It is an online video game in the format of Final Fantasy that requires math problems to be solved in order to fight the monsters. My girls are loving it! They are using all their daily screen time playing it, even math-phobic Lydia. Gamification really motivates them, and it is great at working on sections the girls struggle with.

Lydia fininished 203 and is on 204 now (lesson 8). She's doing really well with math. In fact, her latest quiz was a 99%, her best ever quiz score. I was so proud of her.

Eleanor continues to do really well in math as well. So much so that I've decided to go ahead and get her Beast Academy, a 3rd grade math curricula that is reputed as being incredibly difficult but also very fun. It has always been my goal to get her to the Art of Problem Solving's curricula, of which Beast Academy is the youngest level available. It arrived today and even though she had already completed her math for the day, she still wanted to read the first section with me and do a practice page. I think she will be able to do it, but if not, we'll put it off for a little bit and try again later. In the meantime, she will continue on with Miquon and MEP. She is almost done with Miquon's 3rd book (78/103) and is about to start the 4th. She should also finish MEP1 soon (lesson 105/140). MEP is the most "normal" math she has, even though it isn't very traditional either. I often mark out sections and try to only have her do ones that help solidify her math thinking. They also have brain teasers that I try to have her do because it is good for her. We do use it behind where she is in her other math by about a 1/2 year to a year, so she usually flies through it, but it is good practice for her.
ETA 3/3/16: I've been thinking a lot about it, and have decided to skip the rest of MEP level 1 and move on to lesson 25 in MEP level 2. It was mostly going to be busy work for her. She was zooming through the pages (5 or 10 minutes to do an entire lesson). I want her to have a solid foundation, but not be bored and do busy work. After looking at it, lesson 25 is about when they start place value and pre-multiplication skills and I think she could benefit from more practice in that, although those skills are pretty decent already. Still, I think the different perspective and extra practice could help. I'm also going to be a bit more judicious with which parts of each lesson I give her. Doing 3 complete math programs at once is a bit much, so since I have to choose, I'm just going to go with the problem sets that I think will specifically benefit or challenge her from MEP. This will probably equal about half of each lesson rather than the whole thing.

Adelaide is still working on Miquon Orange. Since she's still only 3, I only "require" one page a day, if we feel like it. She really enjoys it and is doing a good job. She likes to make up little math problems for me all day or tell me little math problems she's figured out. Lately she has taken to counting to 100 for fun while she looks at our hundred chart. She has completed 30/126 in the Orange book.

Language Arts:
Lydia finished AAS2 and is in the first lesson in AAS3. She chose Adele's "Hello" as her dance party song when she finished. She also started FLL3 and is on lesson 16. It has started her diagramming sentences and even I'm learning some things about adjectives. My grammar instruction was not the best, so I'm looking forward to learning with her. She is doing a fairly good job in WWE2 as well. She is on week 9, day 2.

Eleanor just finished lesson 18 in AAS1 and is on week 8, day 3 in WWE1

Both of the older girls are enjoying Hoffman Academy and I'm fairly committed to stay with it for the long haul (next several years). We supported their Kickstarter last month and are excited about the expansion they are doing. Taking piano lessons from Mr. Hoffman is like taking piano lessons from Mr. Rogers, and the girls really respond to him. They are almost done with Unit 1 and we should be picking up our pace soon. I want to do at least 2 video lessons a week regularly.

Friday, February 12, 2016

November, December, and January Report!

It has been a while since I last blogged, but I have the best reason. At the beginning of December, our fourth daughter, Clara, was born.

Because I have c-sections and having a newborn is crazy in the best of circumstances, I planned on taking all of December off. As it so happened, Tyler was able to take off almost the entire month (except 2 days) which is almost unheard of for a resident. He helped SO MUCH and I never had him around that much for a baby before. We were also happy that his mother was able to come and stay with us and the girls when Clara was born. We had a wonderful Christmas at home since neither Clara or myself were up for travelling.

My first adventure out with the girls by myself was to a New Years Eve party at church since Tyler had to work that night. I did pretty well, I thought, and we stayed until 10 o'clock, which was VERY late for my girls who are used to going to bed at 7:30.

In the middle of January, my parents came to visit and meet Clara and attend Clara's baby blessing. The girls loved seeing almost all their grandparents within a month of each other. We are very blessed to have such a large family that cares about us.

With all of our adventures, we didn't get a whole lot of school done in January. We did some, but not tons. We've been better about it in February and I think we are finally back into our routine, even though our school days often look like this:

As for our progress, here goes:

Lydia is getting faster and faster with her reading. She can usually knock out a Magic Tree House book in 2 or 3 assigned reading times. I'm hoping to start transitioning her to real chapter books, and right now she's reading and enjoying Little House on the Prairie. She continues to be very motivated by Pizza Hut's Book-It Program.

Eleanor is doing well too. She is now on lesson 136 in OPGTR and is reading better every day. She is starting to use her reading in her everyday life, which is great to see.

Adelaide started reading lessons today! In our family, I usually start sometime around their fourth birthday, and I was planning on putting it off for a few more months (because honestly, teaching reading is not my favorite thing) until yesterday when she sat down and read half of a BOB book on her own! What? Apparently she already understands the concept of blending and her letter sounds. Thank you iPad! I realized I have no more excuses to put it off, so I'm starting my third go-through with OPGTR. She is on lesson 29. She's also working through our iPad's Hooked on Phonics app which has some readers in it too.

Lydia is on lesson 6 in CLE 203 and is doing pretty well. Math isn't her subject, but she is usually a good sport and works hard at it. CLE is really working for her. I'm also using a Ronit Bird on the side, which is for kids with dyscalculia (which I suspect she has). It is already helping her with picturing numbers.

Eleanor continues to rock math. She has finished 42 out of 106 pages in Miquon Blue, so almost halfway there. She also finished through lesson 86 in MEP.

Adelaide has started doing math in earnest with us. Right now I have her do one page of Miquon Orange every day while her sisters are doing math. We just started this pace a week ago, so she is only 9 pages in, but she calls it her "easy math" and is enjoying herself.

Language Arts:
Lydia is in lesson 23 in All About Spelling 2 and doing well. Again, thanks to the Logic of English iPad app that teaches the girls their phonograms, when I introduced "oy" and "oi", Lydia already knew the spelling rules about them! I love technology. She is also on Week 5, Day 2 in Writing With Ease 2 and doing pretty well with it. Her narrations and dictations have been steadily improving. As for First Language Lessons 2, I think we'll skip the rest of it and start on FLL 3 sometime in the next week. She only has about 20 lessons left. She has already memorized all the grammar definitions in it and understands how to apply them. So we'll skip to something a little more challenging. I have a feeling she will love diagramming sentences.

Eleanor is in lesson 15 in AAS1. She is doing well with spelling and it is also helping her handwriting. She doesn't love it, but it gets the job done. She is in Week 4, Day 2 of Writing With Ease 1 and she is really good at it. Honestly, if her handwriting fluency was better, I could probably skip her to WWE 2, but for now I'm using it as some good handwriting practice. She also likes the stories.

Monday, November 2, 2015

October Report

Our October was relatively quiet. We did school at least 4 days a week every week and visited the Children's Museum and the Science Museum a couple of times. Probably the biggest extra-curricular thing we did was go to the fair for a day.

Getting ready to watch the pig race
The girls riding their first "roller coaster."
Adelaide looking at her butterfly in the butterfly tent

We did enjoy a weekend of General Conference and Daddy made us cinnamon rolls as he is the baker in the family. When we were at Myrtle Beach, Eleanor saw her grandma sewing and was fascinated. I decided that although I am not a crafty person, she would probably enjoy it and I should facilitate that. The week before General Conference, I took her to Hobby Lobby and helped her pick out a kit for a stuffed animal she could sew by hand. She worked on it during General Conference and finished it after about 5 hours of work. I only helped by giving her directions and tying the starting and end knots. Everything else she did herself. Here's her completed project. I think it turned out very well:

And of course, we enjoyed Halloween this weekend. We went to a Trunk or Treat at our ward and then came home and Trick or Treated. They girls had a lot of fun and were very excited. Oh, and Daddy helped them carve a pumpkin, although I didn't get a picture of it. The girls requested it be a "happy" pumpkin, so it had a smile and goofy eyes.

A dragon, a super hero, and a fairy princess
We will only be schooling 3 weeks this month because baby #4 will be born by Nov. 30 and I'll be taking the week before that off for Thanksgiving and getting the house ready for baby. 

School was very productive in October, and Lydia and Eleanor finished several of their books and moved on to the next level. When they do this, we have a dance party where the child who completed their curriculum picks a song and we all dance to it. There were many dance parties this month.

Lydia had a Book-it goal to read 3 chapter books with a good attitude and she reached that goal and got her little pizza. That kid loves Book-it. She also read some books I got to go along with our history.

Eleanor is on lesson 115 in OPGTR and is doing well. She has even started reading a verse during family scripture study (with help). She also read a few little readers we got from the library and enjoyed reading "real books"

Lydia finished CLE math 1! She is officially moved onto second grade math and we were both very excited about this. I like it because it is formatted more towards the child, so there is less whining at me and more just doing the check list in the workbook. She finished October with Lesson 2.

Eleanor finished Miquon Red, which means she officially is in the third Miquon book, which is second grade level as well (each book is half a grade level and she finished Orange already). The chart she is holding is where we colored in every page she completed as we went. Since Miquon isn't linear, it is the best way I can keep track of her progress. She started Miquon Blue today.  She also continues to progress through MEP math and finished lesson 66 by the end of October, which means she is more than halfway through with the first grade level. I view Miquon as her primary math and sometimes if she had an especially difficult day with it, we will skip MEP. They both approach math so differently, though, that I see a lot of value in doing both. The biggest weakness I see for both programs is a lack of word problems, so I just ordered some word problem books that use the Singapore math style, so she'll be starting those soon enough.

Adelaide doing school isn't a high priority, and she only did math once last month. Oh well, the kid is only 3 and a half. :)

Language Arts:
Lydia is on step 20 in AAS, which means she is only 5 away from completing level 2! I went ahead and ordered level 3 so we'll just move right on as soon as she's ready. She also finished the first grade level of Writing With Ease and the first week of work for Writing With Ease 2. So far she seems to be handling the level of difficulty and I'm proud of her. She finished less 167/200 in First Language Lessons, her grammar. 

Eleanor is on step 13 in AAS level 1 and is definitely slowing down. It is good though and she's starting to learn some things as they introduce more than just CVC words. She finished her Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten book, which means that she officially got to start Writing With Ease level 1 today. She was excited about that and that the first week's work revolved around Little House in the Big Woods, which she has listened to several times on CD.

We are on chapter 15 in Story of the World and just learned about the Phoenicians. We probably should have gotten a little farther than that, so I think I'll up our history pace this month.

The girls are still enjoying piano with Hoffman Academy quite a bit. It is challenging them at just the right level and they are both progressing well. So far, I've managed to keep them on the same lesson and they have finished through Lesson 7. They have learned the musical alphabet and where those letters are on a keyboard, 2 songs, and have started learning some exercises that I can see will benefit them later on.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September Report

We had a super busy September. 2 oceans, 2 birthdays, several doctor appointments, 2 weeks of school. The girls and I spent a week in Myrtle Beach with Grandma, Grandpa, 3 aunts, and all their cousins on my side of the family. They enjoyed swimming at the resort, playing on the beach, playing with family, and going on the Skywheel (Ferris wheel).

It was a great time to be there. The weather wasn't too hot, the beach wasn't crowded, and we had most of the pools to ourselves. It was quite leisurely and nice.
Adelaide and Eleanor playing with cousin Sam
On the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Hannah and cousin Sam
Lydia swimming in the "pirate ship" pool
Lydia reading to her sisters and cousin Belen
Adelaide being silly at the beach
Straight from Myrtle Beach, we flew to San Francisco to attend the wedding of Tyler's sister. Tyler was able to join us for the weekend, although the girls and I stayed a few extra days to visit with a friend who lives in Oakland and also tour around a bit. The girls looked adorable in their matching dresses and we were really happy to be there for Tyler's last sister to get married (the third one this year!). I didn't get any pictures though, and the official ones aren't out there for me to take yet.

Later that week the girls and I went on a hike in Muir Woods National Monument and saw the redwoods. It was a really great day. Besides an unfortunate incident where we were a mile away from a bathroom when the need was there (we made it!), the girls worked really hard and completed the Junior Ranger requirements to get their first ever Junior Ranger badges. The program was perfect for them and they paid a lot more attention to details about our unique surroundings than they would have otherwise. We will definitely be doing more in the future.

Starting out on our hike
Working on our scavenger hunt for the Junior Ranger program

Lydia looking up at the tall redwood
They got their Junior Ranger badges, made out of redwood!
By the end of our almost two weeks away (with only 2 of those days with Daddy, so Mommy was on her own), we were ready to be back. Luckily, the girls are champs when it comes to travelling and aren't too tricky to take on my own. Regardless, we are always glad to be home.

2 of the 3 asleep on the plane home.
Other fun things we did in September included taking advantage of our various museum memberships. The day we went to the children's museum, they had this funny tent set up outside full of things to help kids learn early learning skills or something, I'm not sure. However, they did let them dress up in a "profession" and take a picture against a green screen. Eleanor was the only one who wanted to do this, and I thought it turned out really cute.

Daddy also took the girls a Lowe's Build-and-grow workshop. Basically they have little wooden kits for the kids to do for free. They love these and this was the second one they did, but the first one in a while.

Their finished firetrucks.
We finished reading the Book of Mormon as a family, for what I think was the third time. Last time we started the tradition of going out for ice cream to celebrate, so of course we had to go out again!

So yeah, a busy and fun but not super scholastic month. Speaking of academics, here's what we accomplished when we were home.

Lydia read a few chapter books and some books to go along with our history. Book-it starts up again in, so we'll be working on that for the next few months.

Eleanor continues to do well with OPGTR. She's in lesson 101 and is getting more and more comfortable with it all while slowly picking up speed.  A lesson nowadays takes us 10-15 minutes for the whole thing. Here pretty soon, I might start her on some early readers like Little Bear.

Lydia just started the last light-unit (workbook) for the first grade level of CLE. We already have level two sitting here and she is very excited to start. I am too. The flashcards are getting to be a bit cumbersome to do on a daily basis and the 2nd grade math totally re-arranges them and it looks like there will be fewer to review every day. She should finish by the end of this month or the beginning of next month.

Eleanor has finished 93/120 pages of Miquon Red and is doing a great job. She should also finish it by the end of this month or beginning of next month. It still continues to be her favorite math, but that may be because she gets to pick a page every day. She likes the control over what she's going to do. In MEP math, she's on lesson 54. I'm amazed at some of the problems she's able to do, and what they are asking in a first grade math program. A few days ago, for example, she had to find all the answers 0 to 8 given problems like this: x+2>8-1. And she could do it! I'm finding that I am really loving MEP, which is funny because I totally planned on going a different direction before Eleanor came along. But it really is a great program that she is thriving with.

Adelaide officially started Miquon Orange a few days ago. She learned the c-rods in record time although I have to be careful with her because she doesn't seem to have the attention span of her older sisters at that age. Right now I make math completely optional, just asking her if she wants to come do math with me. She seems to like it so far, although she turns me down as often as not.

Language Arts:
Lydia is on step 15 in AAS 2 and continues to do fairly well.  In writing, she is on Week 35, Day 1, so she will likely finish the first level of WWE in the next 2 weeks or so. We'll start up on level 2 when that happens. In grammar, she is on 154 of 200. We do just the grammar exercises in the book and skip the copywork and poetry, so it goes pretty quickly. She continues to love grammar.

Eleanor is still working through her HWT Kindergarten book and learn her lowercase letters. She loves to do two pages and then color the illustrations on the pages. She is on Step 11 in AAS 1, but I think she will soon start slowing down. So far the words have been almost completely cvc words with almost no dictation or even that many extra words. And I let her do the majority of it on the iPad since writing is still tricky for her. As we move towards her writing more and more difficult content, I imagine she will slow down considerably.

We are on chapter 12 of Story of the World. This month we read about ancient India, China, and Africa (non-Egypt). Obviously we didn't go into detail, but the girls really enjoy it so far and I absolutely consider this an introduction to all of these things. They love drawing or doing a coloring sheet while I read, and then I have them tell me what they learned. I also started keeping a notebook for Lydia of her narrations for each day we do history and then she draws a (usually) relevant picture to go with it.

We started piano for Lydia and Eleanor. I plan on keeping them at the same place for a while, although I'm open to speeding one up if needed. We are using Hoffman Academy which has free videos of lessons we watch on the iPad while sitting at the piano and I also bought the materials to go with it. The girls are LOVING it. They think Mr. Hoffman is funny and he is going slowly enough for them to not get overwhelmed. Although I play the piano, I don't feel comfortable enough to teach them beyond the first year or two, and even that I wanted to be solid with plenty of theory, which I am horrible at. Doing it this way looks like the perfect combination because I watch the lesson with the girls (individually), and make sure they are following and learning what they should, but the content of the lesson is up to Mr. Hoffman. So I'm more a piano tutor than anything. I'm also trying really hard to not get annoyed at hearing Hot Cross Buns played over, and over, and over again. I'm choosing to believe that it is joy to my ears to hear them play. His lessons should take about a year or two to get through, at which point I will probably have to find the girls a teacher. We'll cross that bridge when we get there, though.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

August Report

An elephant Lydia made in her Stories and Art class. She was the envy of all her sisters.
It was a good August. Dad was on night-shift all month long, so that was tricky and we saw him less than usual, but other than that, things went pretty smoothly. One of our big things was that all three girls started their homeschooling co-op this month. They've never participated in outside classes before, so I only signed them up for 2 hours worth of classes and I tried to pick ones they would see as fun. Eleanor and Adelaide are together in a pre-school class (poor Eleanor missed the cutoff for the bigger kid classes by a week or two), and Lydia is taking two. One is called Stories and Art, where they read a story and do a craft. The other is Five In a Row, which is an actual curriculum that is similar to Stories and Art, where they read a story and have a lesson loosely based on it. All three girls are enjoying themselves and so far the co-op experiment has been a success.

Wearing their backpacks for Co-op. This picture was taken so they could show Grandma in Japan.

We also had a birthday and for the first time, the girls have big-kid Legos. I've been really hesitant to get them before because I REALLY didn't want them all over my house, so we have some pretty strict rules about them, but so far, they've been a hit. All three girls have been enjoying them and have spent many hours playing together.

Lydia made this Dinosaur Train board game that they played for a while.
The girls doing a puppet show for me for fun one afternoon.

Last Saturday we went to a local "Big Toy" show where they brought in large vehicles from the area for kids to see. We saw airplanes, helicopters, fire-engines, tractors, armored cars, etc. The girls enjoyed it a lot and were able to climb on a bunch of them.

And Eleanor, ever the "princess," bought this dress with her own money after accompanying me to a consignment sale in search of baby clothes for new little sister. It was adorable and will be part of her Halloween Costume.

So while our August was fun, it wasn't super eventful. We had fewer doctor appointments this month, which was nice, so we stayed home a lot more and got a lot more school done. Since I'm a little late with the report and I can't remember where we started at the actual beginning of September, I'm just going to report from where we are now in the girls' various subjects. 

Lydia is on lesson 149 in CLE math. She's doing pretty well with it all and continues to pass all her quizzes and tests. Lately I've had Lydia and Eleanor at the table, one on either side of me, working on math at the same time. This has worked really well for Lydia and seems to keep her more focused and happier. I think she hated working on it while her sisters were playing, so I'll keep it up. Not to mention, it is more efficient for me to do them both at the same time. 

Eleanor playing Dragon Box
Eleanor is still doing a great job with math. She is zooming through both of her math curricula. She's on lesson 47 in MEP and has finished 76/120 pages in Miquon Red. She really seems to be understanding it and is getting to where she knows most of her +/- facts within 10 (and often 20) without ever having drilled them. The other day, one of her problems asked for 3+9. I told her to use the rods, but then she said "12." I asked how she knew that and she said because 9 is almost 10, so if you take one from 3, it makes it be 12. I love this!  She's also been adoring DragonBox and the associated apps. They are math apps that teach Algebra and Geometry without the kids knowing until is slowly becomes straight up math problems. She beat the one for ages 5+ and is well into the geometry one and the 12+ Algebra one. They have been great for her because they are challenging and she doesn't always solve them her first try. She has always struggled with not getting things on her first try, but she is determined to beat these games, so it is teaching her some patience.

Adelaide's first "official" math lesson
Adelaide has started some very beginning math with me. Really it is more pre-math, but still. I decided that I was sick of Singapore Essentials. It was fine, but I don't want to do it again. So this time I'm just going to do Miquon and some other informal math for pre-school. Adelaide has a one-up on her sisters in that she has listened and sat in on many math lessons and discussions, so she's had a rich pre-math experience. Thanks to listening to math songs and her sisters, she can count pretty well, read her letters, and even knows some skip-counting and basic mathematical concepts. So right now, I'm working on getting her familiar with the c-rods (with activities I've learned from Education Unboxed and experience) so we can start Miquon Orange. She's been building stairs and looking at equivalencies, and once, Eleanor even sat in and "translated" the math problems we were doing with the rods into equations on paper for fun. We've also done some "more and less" as well as learning the values of the various colors of the rods. Adelaide is loving having her own math time with me so far, and despite being silly sometimes, is doing pretty well. I also just found out about Gattegno Math. He used c-rods extensively, and while looking through his Textbook 1, I see a lot of overlap with Miquon. I might look into it more to see if there is anything I can take away from his methods, especially at this early level. Here's an old-school video of him teaching a class with the rods, and here's his Textbook 1.

Lydia's preferred reading method and spot.
I upped Lydia's silent reading to 25 minutes a day, partially because she gets distracted a lot and wastes a lot of time, and partially because I want to slowly build her stamina. She read several books relating to our history this month as well as a few more Cam Jensen mysteries and a Magic Treehouse book. It looks like I am slowly getting her over her fear of chapter books. She continues to read a lot of picture books in her own time as well and she's a favorite of her younger sisters because she will often read them books if they ask.

Eleanor doing her reading lesson. I love that you can see Lydia reading on the beanbag in the background and Adelaid on the floor looking at a book too.

Eleanor is on Lesson 94 in OPGTR and still progressing nicely. She's learning about all sorts of vowel teams and it is opening up a lot of the world around her. Today at church, she saw the first Hymn number on the wall before the meeting, found the page in the Hymnal and told me it was called "Did You Think to Pray?" She was so proud of herself.

Adelaide isn't doing formal reading with me yet, but I am being more deliberate about pointing out letters and talking about letter sounds with her in preparation for teaching her to read. I think I'll start formal lessons after the baby is born, but for now her sisters play a lot of rhyming games with her and we talk a lot about sounds that begin words and things like that. She also does some phonics apps on the iPad during school time, so that's helping her too.

Language Arts:
Lydia is on Step 14 in All About Spelling 2 and doing well. She is learning about vowel teams and "er" words. In writing she is on Week 33 Day 3 and in grammar she is on lesson 143. It was fun this week because Daddy just started reading the girls a book at bedtime that he got through Kickstarter called Augie and the Green Knight. In her writing, Lydia did excerpts from King Arthur with one specifically about Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. She really likes the story where they chop each other's heads off and even drew blood dripping from the illustrated head on her writing page. Gorey, but she loved hearing the same story in different places and I got a more positive reaction from it than most of the stories she's read.

Eleanor started All About Spelling level 1 because she was showing interest and I knew that she was capable of spelling the words in level 1. Because the first few lessons are mostly phonetic awareness, she has been zooming through them and is on Step 9. I also don't make her write all the words for now, only a few of them because her handwriting needs to catch up. So she is mostly using the tiles to spell while she continues to work the Handwriting Without Tears Kindergarten.

History is going well and we are on Chapter 9 in Story of the World. The girls have been doing coloring sheets along with what we read and building Legos based on our reading too. I also get lots of books from the library about the various subjects that Lydia either reads or I read to the girls. Eleanor, especially, is loving history.

Lydia is well into her geography and will finish long before the year is up. I don't know what I'm going to use to replace it, but she likes it and seems to be doing pretty well with it. 

This next month isn't going to be nearly as productive because we'll be traveling the country from coast to coast and seeing lots of family for two weeks. I'm hoping to do some informal science and history as it comes up, but mostly we will have fun