Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekly Report Aug. 20, 2011

Lydia is still "reading" her book after an hour in naptime.

 Things this week went about the same as they did last week.  We worked on most of the same things, went to therapy almost every day, and read lots and lots of books.  This week we added The Little Engine That Could, Click, Clack, Splish, Splash, Blueberries for Sal, and The Story About Ping.  I wasn't going to get Click, Clack, Splish, Splash, but as we were walking into the library to pick up the books I had on hold, Lydia suddenly insisted that we get Click, Clack, Moo, which I got for us once a few months ago.  I said sure, but would you believe it?  They didn't have it in the library, so we got Click, Clack, Splish, Splash instead.

Lydia insisted that we still read the books from last week this week too, so I'm just going to keep these books another week and read them again.  She's still reading Caps for Sale every night with Daddy, and she's still reading The House on Pooh Corner with him when he has a chance.  I'm not doing a great job of reading The Secret Garden with her, but I'm not too worried as we're doing so much other reading.

Lydia coloring on all our scratch paper.  Ellie saw that Lydia had dropped a crayon and decided she would try to see what all the fuss was about.
 She continues to color about 7 pages of paper a day.  Her favorite colors to color with are black and brown, which is a bit weird to us, but those are the colors she always picks, so more power to her!  She's been drawing circles a lot lately and coloring them in.  It is fun to watch her coloring get slowly more complex.

Oh, although this isn't necessarily school related, her new favorite song is "Don't Give Up (You Are Loved)" by Josh Groban.  She has made us listen to that song no fewer than 30 times this week.  Oy.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Report for Aug. 12, 2011

What a busy summer we've had!  Throughout Tyler's summer vacation from medical school, we were out of town for over 7 weeks!  And that wasn't all at once either.  On Monday, though, Tyler went back to school and I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of things.  I've been so much more productive than I was while he was home.

This week, Lydia had therapy 4 different days in the morning.  I think going to those helped me get started in the mornings, and I was able to do so much more than usual.  Now that she's 3 years old, I've been trying to do better about "preschool" stuff.  She's still a very concrete thinker, and even stories or themes seem to be lost on her still, so I've decided to do more concrete things.  For this week, I printed off pre-handwriting exercises, planning on having her do one a day.  She kept asking to do more, though, so we averaged three a day.  She's doing better and better with those.  It's now obvious that she's trying to follow the lines, and we're working on correct pencil grip.  She also spent hours coloring this week, which I think is also helping her.  Her new favorite show, Blue's Clues, has really influenced her coloring.  She is constantly "drawing" different clues, and I even overheard her one day talking to herself about how to draw a duck, per Steve's instructions, "First you draw a circle for the head..."  I used to be a hater when it came to Blues Clues, but for Lydia at least, it has done wonders.

We also had three books that I tried to read every day that were different from her normal favorite books.  This week's books were Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Little House, and Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse.  They were all hits, especially the last two.  I think she liked The Little House because there are trains and trucks in it, and after the first reading of Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse, she would always point out where the purple pebble was hiding as soon as we got to the page.

I also tried to read from The Secret Garden a little each day, but I only managed to do that a few days.  Still, she seems to be enjoying it and any time I ask her if she wants to read it with me, she's game.

I found this book called The Primer of Industry that someone linked to on Google Books.  It is a series of fine motor skills exercises that are supposed to help children be able to eventually do handicrafts.  Some of the exercises look more interesting than others, but the first series is called "stick laying."  Basically the book has a series of patterns, starting with two sticks and moving up to more complicated designs that you are supposed to have the children copy.  I was interested to see how Lydia would do, so I took some popsicle sticks and traced a few of the two-stick designs on paper.  Then I asked her to lay the sticks on the lines.  She was able to do some, but was confused at others, especially if the sticks crossed.  I think I'm going to have her do a few of these "puzzles" every day, because although I can't pin why, I think they will be good for her.

Tyler and I have made a deal that I will do the dishes if he reads to the girls the whole time.  This deal seems to be great for both of us, and he just finished reading Winnie the Pooh to Lydia.  I'm going to pick up The House at Pooh Corner for him to continue.  Every night, right before bed, he also reads a picture book to Lydia, and after weeks of her choosing Madeline, she is finally choosing a new book.  Her new favorite is Caps for Sale, which she received for her birthday from Grandma.

And I almost forgot!  Yesterday, I made Lydia some home made play dough.  She didn't really know what to do with it, so I just started making shapes and having her tell me what shapes they were.  Eventually, I just started making circles and had her count them.  She could actually count them so long as I was pointing.  Counting is something we've been working on, so I was excited to see some of the fruit of my effort.

As for Ellie, she's getting cuter every day.  She took her first steps this week and loves to stand by herself as often as she can.  She isn't very interested in walking yet, but she's almost there.

And that's our week at Abbey Road Preschool.  It's been one of our busier weeks, but I think we've all enjoyed it, and I hope next week is as good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lydia's Birthday

I fell in love with this castle a few months ago.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to get it for my daughters.  Since Lydia's birthday is this week, my husband and I decided to get it for her and Ellie.  I then had to figure out what toys to get to go along with it.  There are some that Mellisa and Doug make to go with it, but they got mediocre reviews.  I also thought of Schliech or Papo toys, but all the reviews said that they were too big, plus they have lots of little pieces that my now 3 year old Lydia probably couldn't handle at this point.  Then I came across peg dolls.  I found several on Etsy, but they were outside my price range. After examining them, though, I thought that I could make some myself, so that's what I did!  I found this seller on Etsy who sells the peg dolls unfinished, and I bought 7.  Two were extra large, and 5 were regular large.  Here's the ones I got in the shape they arrived in:
Then I searched all over Etsy and the web for some inspiration.  I used Etsy and a few blogs for models so I could paint the people the best I could.  Here are the finished products, complete with castle and Schleich dragon from Grandma, ready for Lydia to discover tomorrow morning.
The peg people turned out to be adorable!  And they fit the castle just right.  As you can see, my husband and I had fun taking these pictures, and I think we were both tempted to keep playing with it when we were done.  I hope she likes it!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Read Alouds

A few days ago we finished Anne of Green Gables as a read aloud!  I completely love that book and it's sequels, and they will always hold a place near and dear to my heart.  Lydia enjoyed reading it with me although it is almost all over her head at this point.  I'm planning on rereading many of our read alouds when she gets older, but right now it is good just to get her used to it and to let her listen to great language.

I had a rough time deciding what to read next with her.  It came down to Anne of Avonlea, Little Women, The Girl of the Limberlost, or The Secret Garden.  As you can see on my sidebar, I chose The Secret Garden.  I actually didn't like this book when I was a kid, and I never read it all the way through.  I think I will like it much more now.  I recently read The Lost Prince, which is also by Frances Hodgson Burnett and A Little Princess has always been one of my favorite stories, so I think I'll like The Secret Garden this time around.  I will probably do Little Women and The Girl of the Limberlost as read alouds at a later date, and reread the Anne of Green Gables series by myself.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Little Triumph

Lydia had her first therapy appointment this week.  One of the things we're working on is getting her to draw a vertical line on paper.  She is also working on following small directions and not ignoring adults when they tell her to do something and she wants to just play.  These are just a few of the MANY goals she has, but my story is especially relevant to those.

A few months back Scholastic was having a sale on their website for $1 PDF books. This is a sale they have a few times a year, and I thought I'd look through and see what they had.  They had several workbooks for preschoolers that focus on pre-writing skills, and I bought a few.  I figured it would be better to print them out over and over than have to buy a bunch and go through them quickly.  Especially with our awesome laser printer and free paper I get at the back-to-school sales every year.  Because I had these on hand, I figured I'd look through them and see if there were any pages that focused on drawing lines in a controlled way.  I found a few pages in this book, and printed them out.

Well, this morning I sat down with Lydia and got a pencil and talked her through it.  She was whiny about it at first because she just wanted the pencil to scribble on the pages.  The first two pages we tried she just whined.  On the third page, however, we had a breakthrough.  The picture showed three dogs, with guidelines down to 3 bones.  The goal is to draw between the guidelines to help the dogs get to the bones.  I helped her do them, and then gave her the pencil to try to do it herself.  And she did!  She drew from the dogs down to the bones!  She had troubles staying in the lines, and that was fine because she's only two, but she tried!  I've never had a breakthrough like that with her before, and it was great!  It gave me hope that I will enjoy this homeschooling thing.  If I can find so much joy in my two year old drawing a few scribbles on a paper, I think will do fine.  I was also excited to see that I could get through to her and show her things without her entirely baulking at my attempts.

So that's my little story. Small, but it made me feel pretty good today.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekly Report June 17, 2011

This is our last week at my in-laws', and I'm excited to get home. It always throws you off to be away from home, and I'm excited to get back to our own way of doing things with our own things.  That also means that after today, Tyler is free for the rest of the summer, which should be fun!  We still have a few more trips to take, but not for a few weeks, so we should be able to get a lot done and spend a lot of good, quality time together.  One of those trips is to Sea World, so I'm thinking I should get Lydia some books about ocean animals so she can know what's going on.  She loves, and I mean LOVES aquariums, so I think she will have a blast as it is and having a little knowledge in advance will help her enjoy it all the more.

Academics were in short supply again this week, and probably will continue to be so for a while.  We did read several chapters of Anne of Green Gables out loud, and should finish it soon.  I'm reminded how much I love that book.  It was a major part of my girlhood and I think I might still have a little crush on Gilbert.  When I was a girl, he was my dream man.  Tall, dark, handsome, and a doctor.... oh wait!  I guess I married a Gilbert after all!

As I was reading, I noticed that Miss Stacy seems to be heavily influenced by Charlotte Mason.  That or L.M. Montgomery and Charlotte Mason came to similar conclusions about how children should be educated.  I admire Charlotte Mason's methods and hope to use some of them in our home school, although I do tend more towards The Well-Trained Mind in philosophy.  Luckily, they overlap in many ways.  I've been reading Charlotte Mason's books on education over the past while (they are long and involved and you can only read a bit at a time) and they are fascinating.  I definitely felt like I should be having the girls spend more time outside after reading her section about young children spending too much time inside.  Her books also make me wish I had a governess, but such is life!

I'm trying to figure out what to read out loud next, and I'm having a hard time.  However, with my Kindle I seem to be able to download more children's literature than we can get to, so I'm sure I'll figure out something.  We also read Othello and The Taming of the Shrew in Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  My 17 year old sister-in-law even listened in for a bit in those!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, Lydia successfully counted to 18 this week!  Without any mistakes or anything!  I was so proud of her.  We always count the stairs when we go upstairs or downstairs, and she counted them all by herself.

I've been focusing on my history reading this week and am looking for a good version of The Epic of Gilgamesh to read to go along with the section I'm in about ancient Sumer.  I'll probably just end up getting on from the library after we get back home.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about where we are and am excited to continue with this journey we are just starting!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekly Report 6/9/2011

Very little academics got done this week, which is just fine by me!  We did manage to read a few chapters of Anne of Green Gables out loud, though.  If anyone ever wants to know what we are reading aloud, you can check the bookshelf on the right in my blog. I keep it pretty updated.

I also downloaded the Funnix Math program which is available for free right now.  I downloaded the reading program back in January and Lydia seems to like it, although most of it goes over her head.  I expect the math one to be the same.  We have been working on counting quite a bit, though, and Lydia's getting close to being able to count to ten without forgetting "2" and "3".  Every time we go down the stairs to go to the basement we count the steps.  It's a great way to practice!  Mostly, though, we've just been hanging around or swimming in the pool on the back deck.


As for me, I've decided to postpone my Latin studies for the time being.  It was just getting to the point where my grammar was too lacking.  So I've decided to put it aside and work on grammar instead.  I'm specifically going to work on diagramming and KISS grammar, like I mentioned in my last post.  I managed to find a few free diagramming resources that should help me along.  I think that I'll probably need to invest in a diagramming program with more examples and an extensive answer key to make sure I'm doing it right, but I'll stick with the free ones at first.  I've started one and I think that I will continue, because I'm finding it very helpful.  I'm hoping that in the next few months I'll be able to get back to studying Latin.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's been a hectic month, so I haven't had much time to do anything formal with the girls or myself, but I thought I'd check in anyways.  Tyler finished his first year of medical school!  It feels like an accomplishment for me as well, because I played a very significant supportive role to him, as well as his practice dummy.  Right now he is doing a preceptorship for a few weeks, so we are staying with my in-laws at the moment.

In the few weeks before we left, I was spending a lot of time working on Early Intervention evaluations for Lydia.  Those of you who know us well are familiar with the struggles she's had since she was tiny.  Between moving so much in the last year, and the lengthy process of getting set up for evaluation, this is the first chance we've had to get her checked out since she was a baby.  I was worried that I was making stuff up and that she was doing just fine and I was just one of THOSE first-time parents.  It appears I wasn't making it up at all, because she qualified for 2 hours each (the maximum) of developmental, speech, and occupational therapy per week.  That's 6 hours a week!  Before I started this process, I was thinking I should sign Lydia up for a class or something to get her a little out of her comfort zone and out of the house on a regular basis, but I think 6 hours a week of therapy should be plenty of activities.  I am totally new to the area of special needs and therapies, so this will definitely be an adventure.  I have a good feeling about the company that is doing her therapies, though, and she really seems to like it there so far.  I'm looking forward to getting back home and getting her started.

For Music Study, Lydia has zero interest in Chopin.  Every time I start Chopin, she says, "Listen Baldi!, Wan to listen Baldi!"  I can see why she would prefer Vivaldi.  It's more exciting music, as opposed to Chopin that is quiet piano music for the most part.  I haven't been great about turning on Queen, but that's an album that gets listened to at our house all the time anyways, so I'm not too worried about her getting exposure to it right this minute.

As for Unit Studies, she wasn't really getting much out of it so I'm not doing them anymore for the moment.  She already knows all her letters and their sounds, and is learning her numbers through daily activities, like counting the stairs and her cars.  She doesn't really care about crafts at all at this point, either.  She enjoys scribbling with crayons, but that's about it.  The one part that was very successful was getting her a few books with a theme and reading them over and over again.  She especially enjoyed the penguin books and the kitten books.  She still recites The Three Little Kittens and Kitten's First Full Moon to herself while she plays.  I think I'll continue to get several books about the same basic theme, because she enjoys it.

Grandma's house has two back decks, each with a porch swing.  Lydia LOVES the swings.  She is almost always happy to go sit on it and swing with you for a long period of time.  I've been using this time to do read alouds.  Right now we're working on Anne of Green Gables, one of my personal favorites.  Both Lydia and Ellie will sit with me on the swing for a few chapters.  I'm most impressed with Ellie, who will just go limp and listen until I'm done reading, up to 45 minutes or more.  That's a pretty good attention span for an eight month old.

Ellie is getting bigger every day and is starting to want to be involved in things.  She follows Lydia or myself around everywhere.  She can pull herself up to her knees and sit up by herself now, as well as crawl and get into things.  She's fun and I look forward to getting to know her better as she gets older.

As for my studies, I'm still plugging along at Latin and Khan Academy.  I just finished Lesson 11 in Latin for Beginners this morning and have completed 49 exercises areas on Khan Academy for a total of 170,011 energy points!  In math, that puts me in simple geometry and pre-algebra.  It's all coming back to me and I'm finding it fun. I'm thinking that I should probably add in some formal grammar, specifically diagramming.  My grammar knowledge is all intuitive, and I would like to know it better formally.  I plan on having a heavy diagramming emphasis in grammar when I teach my daughters, so I think this would be a good place for me to start considering I did diagramming for all of 2 weeks in school.  I was thinking I might do KISS Grammar all the way through, but I've since found out that they don't do diagramming.  Maybe I'll just get a book on diagramming and do KISS?  KISS comes very highly recommended and it's free, so I'll probably at least try it.  Finally, I'm trying to get caught up in my history, so I've been reading History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer.  I really enjoy Ms. Bauer and plan on using her other book, The Well-Trained Mind, as my guide through educating my children.  HOAW is the first of four books that she will eventually finish (only two are out yet) that will chronicle the history of the whole world.  It's very dense, but I enjoy her style and find her way of viewing history to be both entertaining and informative.  I'm learning so much just by reading it, and I can't wait to do history with my girls.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt

Last week, some ladies from church decided to have an Easter egg hunt at the neat playground at Pinnacle Mountain with all the preschoolers.  Once we arrived there, however, we discovered that there were several hundred children from a school there, and the playground was packed.  We then moved our little party to a neighborhood playground a few miles away.  This turned out to be a great move because there was no one else there.  Lydia did pretty well with the Easter egg hunt.  She didn't quite seem to understand and would just go around picking up eggs and dumping out their contents, but she looked like she was having fun.  Here are some pictures my friend Lisa took:

Lydia was the first child to venture into the mud puddle.

Notice that Lydia is heading the opposite direction of all the other children.  That is so Lydia.

Ellie and Me!

Music Study for the Second Quarter of 2011 (Chopin and Queen)

Vivaldi last quarter was wildly successful.  Lydia completely loved it and asks to listen to it every day.  After a few months of Vivaldi every day, though, I was going to go nuts.  I was much relieved to be able to start our new unit of Chopin!  Like I've mentioned before, we're following Ambleside's recommendations for Classical music study, although they take the summers off, so I'll probably add an extra unit a year because of that.  Here's a link to what they recommend for Chopin, and here's a link to my playlist on on Grooveshark.  So far every time I turn on Chopin, Lydia just asks to listen to Vivaldi, so she doesn't seem to love it as much, and that sort of makes sense.  Chopin is mostly quiet piano music, and Vivaldi was more exciting orchestra music, and I could see how that would appeal to a toddler more.  As a result we're still listening to quite a bit of Vivaldi as well.

For our modern music study, my husband chose Queen for this quarter.  I was glad because I enjoy Queen very much, I mean, who doesn't?  Their music is so bombastic and silly that even kids can enjoy it.  Lydia hasn't really shown much preference towards it yet, but that's ok.  She has a lifetime to learn to enjoy Queen!  Tyler chose to have us listen to Queen's Greatest Hits Volume 1, plus the song "Under Pressure".

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weekly Report

Yeah, with Tyler's Spring Break last week, we didn't get a thing done.  It was a wonderful week of doing fun things, though.  I got a brand new double stroller that I've been wanting for years and we took it for a spin at Pinnacle Mountain.  We also went to the Tubes and the park and shopping.  It was a good week, but no "official" school got done, although all the outdoor and social time was very good for Lydia and Ellie.

And then this week was spent recovering from last week as I had neglected the dishes and laundry and general cleaning.  Luckily I'm caught up on all of those necessities, so we will be doing more schooley stuff soon.  I'm still planning on doing the file folder activity and I have all the materials I need, so I'll be posting that soon.  We did go to the Tubes and the park this week as well, so Lydia is certainly getting in the social time that she needs.   We also spent a lot of time playing Starfall and reading together.  We finished Nesbit's version of Merchant of Venice.  Although Lydia enjoys Starfall quite a bit, I think she has all the games that she is capable of doing memorized, so I'm going to be on the lookout for something on the computer that she can do to help her.  Funnix is pretty much over her head at this point, but she loves the "make a word" game on Starfall where you find the first letter of a word.

I didn't get much farther in Latin because I didn't do any last week during Spring Break and the chapter I'm on is tricky, so I'm working through it a little slowly.  I'm still going, though, and still loving it!  And I now have 74,677 energy points on Khan Academy and am finding that it is a nice review.  It was pretty embarrassing having my husband watch me and find out that I never learned my 6, 7, or 8 times tables.  And I was ashamed at how many tries it took me to complete Multiplication 3 without making a mistake on 10 problems in a row, but I did it!

Music Study is still going great.  Lydia asks to listen to "Baldi" several times a day, and we listen to Bob Dylan almost every day.  Because this is the last day of March, though, I'm working on our playlists for the next 3 months, but I'll have another post about that soon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekly Report

This week was mostly uneventful.  We didn't have a theme for the week and mostly just read books, colored, and did "letters," which consists of Funnix and Starfall.  She is on lesson 11 in Funnix.  Lydia loves to do anything involved with letters or numbers, although her grasp on them is pretty weak so far (Mom: "Hey Lydia, can you count to 9?" Lydia: "1,4,5,6,7,8,9!") That's just fine, though.  She's only 2 and a half, and we have a lot of fun where she is.

This week she listened to all of Winnie the Pooh and The House on Pooh Corner at least on and a half times on audio book during her quiet/nap times.  They are her favorites and asks for them every day.  We also read the story of Macbeth in Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  We read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Go Dog Go countless times as well as several other stories and a healthy dose of Sandra Boynton.  We also went to a few parks and the tubes this week, which is very good for Lydia as she has a very hard time with other children.  I'm going out of my way lately to try to get her to have social experiences to help her learn to deal with them, so that is also taking a lot of our time. 

Lately in family scripture study, which we do right before the girls go to bed, we've been noticing that Lydia is paying more attention.  Usually we do it in the girl's room and Lydia and I sit in the rocking chair while Tyler sits on the floor and reads out loud to us (Ellie is usually in her crib already).  We've been doing this since Lydia was a year old and it is what works for us.  Lately, though, she's started talking a lot while Tyler reads.  Only recently we realized that she was repeating the words he was saying.  She'll take a key word or maybe one he emphasizes and she'll say it too.  She'll say words like Nephites, Korihor, blessings, battle, etc.  It's been fun realizing that she isn't just sitting there daydreaming, but that she's actually listening to Tyler.  It definitely makes me more resolved to make sure we continue.

Oh, and Ellie made a breakthrough this week.  She learned to sit up!  I'm not sure she really likes it though, because every time I sit her down like that she doesn't seem to know what to do with herself and starts crying after a few minutes.  But she can do it!  She'll be joining in with us in no time.

This week I got to lesson 10 in Latin for Beginners.  I'm still enjoying it very much.  In fact, my hard copy of the book arrived this week.  The picture above is of my new textbook and my Latin notebook.  The textbook is an original and I'm pretty sure it was used at a military high school back in 1911 or so.

Here's an example of my Latin translations. I just started on the second declension this week and moving along nicely!  I'm also going to start Khan Academy math.  I've been wanting to review my math skills, and this looks like a fun and free way to do it.  I'm starting at the very beginning, with addition and then graduating as I go.  I'll post more on it later if it turns out that I'm going to stick with it.  I already have 34,955 energy points, and I think it's going to go nicely.

Next week, we're going to do a unit study again.  This time on "Kittens."  I think that will be my pattern: one week I'll do a unit study, the next I'll take it more easy, then unit study and so on.  It works for us right now.  I even found a preschooler-appropriate lapbook to go with our topic next week, so that should be interesting.  I've never done a lapbook before!  I will, of course, post pictures when we do it.

Next week is Tyler's Spring Break, so I may have to see about getting Dad involved!  That would be interesting for sure.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Report

This week was  a pretty good one, school-wise.  Lydia and I did a unit on the jungle.  Most days we talked about the jungle, our vocab word of the week, "vine," and read our books about the jungle.  The latter was her favorite part.  Lydia would be read to all day long if I was willing.  Her favorite two were Jungle Drums and Bedtime in the Jungle.  We also did a few lessons in Funnix and we did Starfall a few times.  Lydia is now up to lesson 10 in Funnix, although I'm not sure how much is sticking for her.  She asks to do it every day, though, so I figure why not?  Other than that, Lydia has made great strides in counting in the last week or so.  She can count to ten on her own except that she usually forgets three.  But still, given she could only count to two last week, that's pretty good.

Yesterday, we had a fun day at the Tubes at Rock Creek Church, which, as another mom was there put it, are like a McDonald's play place on steroids.  I think the service they do the moms of this community by providing such a fun place to play for free is fantastic.  Lydia still won't climb them, but she did actually go play with everything on the ground level without having to be coerced, which is progress for her.  And she has a very difficult time being social with other children, so it was good to have her around so many for a while.

For the last few days Lydia has been grounded from all books that aren't board books because she's been ripping them on purpose.  We're trying to figure out how to stop that, because she's always been very trustworthy with books before, even when she was very very young.  And she loves books a lot and it is a shame to not let her read them when she wants to.  It broke my heart yesterday when I heard her recite all of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to herself while playing in her room, followed by Go Dog Go.  They are her two favorite books and they were put away where she couldn't have them.  Tyler and I agreed to give her another chance today, though, so we'll see how that goes.

The music study is still going great.  Lydia asks to listen to "Baldy" several times a day, and often asks for Bob Dylan as well.  When the Four Seasons starts, she gets so excited and runs and jumps on the couch.  It's good to see her enthusiastic about classical music!

Other than that, my week has been eventful because I started my study of Latin.  It is going great and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  I didn't expect to enjoy it so much, but I'm glad that I am.  I'm working on lesson 7 of Latin for Beginners and it is all sticking very well.  I do need to memorize the endings though, and as memorization is my weakness, I've got to figure out a way to do that well.  Does anyone have any recommendations for that?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Learning Latin

I'm doing it!  I'm learning Latin.  And I have to say, it is a total blast.  I'm really excited about it.  I dreamed about it last night, in fact.

Because I plan on following the Classical Education method when homeschooling our girls, I've run into the idea of teaching Latin many times.  At first I thought it seemed pointless.  Why teach a dead language?  Why bother with it when you could teach a useful language.  The more I studied about the benefits of Latin, though, the more convinced I became.  The very fact that it is a dead language means that it is an ideal one to teach in a home environment where the parent is not fluent.  Latin is read and written, but rarely spoken.  It does great things for test scores and it helps children in grammar, vocabulary, and in logic.

Then there is the history associated with it.  Latin was taught in almost every western school for the last several hundred years.  So much of our sciences and histories are in Latin and a knowledge of Latin will open my children's doors to original writings.  One of the biggest things I aim to do in homeschooling is to teach my children in an unfiltered way.  This means no textbooks for content subjects.  We will go straight to living books and original sources for history.  Having a Latin background will help enable them in this endeaver.

I'm sure I have more reasons than what I've listed, but I can't really think of them right now.  Needless to say, I became convinced to teach Latin.  I researched Latin curriculum.  I attended a few lectures at the homeschooling convention on the subject, and I talked to one of the developers of my favorite children's Latin curriculum for 10 minutes or so at his vendor booth.  Latin was on my mind.

But then there was the problem with me.  I have zero Latin experience.  Even my foreign language experience is pretty dismal.  I had two years of French and one year of Japanese in High School, followed by two semesters of German in college.  I remember almost none of it and I didn't feel like I was talented in the foreign language department.  I figured I'd just learn Latin along with my kids.  Maybe I'd even stay a month or so ahead of them so I could help them.

Then the other day I was playing around on the Old Fashioned Education website, which lists tons of free educational resources.  On a whim I clicked on their Latin section.  That's where I first saw it.  My new favorite book: Latin for Beginners by Benjamin D'ooge.  Latin for Beginners was written over a hundred years ago.  My previous experience with old texts was that there was very little hand-holding and a lot of information thrown at you very fast.  But as I started skimming this one, I realized that it was very modern in style.  And most importantly, it explained the grammar as if I had no previous knowledge about grammar terms.  It explains what the cases are, the parts of speach, etc. while teaching about their Latin counterparts.

This is exactly what I needed.  I got all A's in school in English, but I couldn't use a lick of it to save my life (as may be noticed from my poor writing).  After researching, I found that I'm not the only person who loves this text.  There is a whole forum about it, as well as several free resources including virtual vocab flashcards, audio lectures, and a downloadable answer key.  From what I can tell, it is supposed to be comparable to Henle Latin and will prepare the student to read Caesar by the end.

I have completed the first 5 lessons out of 76 and am having a blast.  I can't wait until the girls' bed time so that I can do some more.  It is perfect for me, and I just had to share.  Every time I sit down to work on a lesson, time flies by very fast.  It's like I'm working on a really interesting puzzle.

After working on the first few lessons, I realized that while possible, it would be onconvenient to do the whole book in PDF format on my computer.  I simply need to go back and forth to look things up too much.  So I bought on original copy off Abe Books for $5.  I'm thinking this will be one of the best $5 I've ever spent.

If you are interested, here are some links to the resources I've mentioned:

Latin for Beginners, Benjamin D'Ooge
Latin for Beginners Answer Key
Latin for Beginners Flash Cards (search for DB/LFB/001, changing the last number to represent the lesson you are looking for, so DB/LFB/002 for lesson 2)
Latin for Beginners Forum
Latin for Beginners Audio

(Although I gave up on this a few months ago, I just discovered that there is also an original teacher's manual available for it as well.  It thought that I would link to it with the rest of the resources.)

Latin for Beginners Teacher's Manual

I'm excited to see where this takes me!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Conference Week

I got home last night from the Mid-South Homeschooling Convention in Memphis.  It was a ton of fun.  I went by myself, without any kids or anything.  I was a little nervous about that because I've never left the girls over night before, but it was ok.  My wonderful mother-in-law came and helped my husband while he was in classes, so I didn't need to worry.  I did miss them though!

The conference itself was fun.  I enjoyed several of the lectures, especially Susan Wise Bauer and Jim Weiss.  I also really enjoyed walking around the vendor hall and seeing all there was to see.  Because Lydia is only 2 and a half, I didn't have much I could buy, but I did go ahead and buy her the preschool math program I'm planning on starting in a year and a half.  I don't know that I'm going to plan on going again any time soon, but it was definitely worth going once.

We didn't do much "school" this week, partially because I was gone for half of it.  Back in January I downloaded Funnix for free.  It's a computer program that teaches reading and Lydia loves it.  We're on lesson 9, and although it's a little over her head still, I think she's definitely enjoying it and learning things.  Every day she asks to "do letters" and would do it all day if I had the sanity to help her the whole time.  I plan on starting The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading as soon as she can grasp the material, but for now Funnix is a fun substitute. She also has totally fallen in love with Vivaldi.  She asks to listen to our Vivaldi playlist several times a day, although she calls him "Baldy."  We have also continued to read many books every day.

Some advice I was given when Lydia was a baby was that if I plan on homeschooling, I should never let Lydia give up her afternoon nap.  I should just transition it into a rest time for a few hours in the afternoon.  This has been some of the best advice I've ever been given.  Lydia hasn't napped much for about a year now, but every afternoon she plays in her room by herself for two hours.  I usually give her books and a few toys and turn on an audio book.  She has listened to Winnie the Pooh and the House on Pooh Corner all the way through several times now, and loves it.  She actually gets angry after lunch if I don't put her down IMMEDIATELY.  And I get two Lydia-free (and sometimes Ellie-free) hours in the afternoon.  It's a win-win!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sick Week

We didn't really do anything schoolish last week for a number of reasons.  The first being that we were all sick.  Lydia had an ear infection, Tyler and I had colds, and Ellie had something that made her cranky.  On Friday and Saturday we went to Tyler's hometown because one of his best friends from childhood was having her wedding open house.  It was good to be able to go and spend a day away, but stack that with doctor's appointments and Tyler studying at home for finals every waking hour, and we pretty much had a recipe for laziness.  Luckily, Lydia is still so young that it doesn't really matter if I do anything preschooly with her or not.  We read a few books and she's good.

This week, unfortunately, isn't going to get much better.  I'm leaving on Thursday to go the the Memphis homeschooling convention for a few days, all by my self!  I've never been without the girls overnight, except when I was in the hospital having Ellie.  Tyler can't come because of class, but his mother has volunteered to come down and spend a few days watching the girls while Tyler is in class and studying.  My original plan was to bring both girls by myself, but this is a MUCH better option.  I'm really looking forward to getting to hear all the lectures, but I'm really going to miss my girls.  I'm still on the fence about whether I'm taking Ellie with me or not, but I probably won't.

Next week, though, we're doing a unit on Jungles!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine's Day Party

A really sweet lady at my church who has kids about the same age as ours undertook the huge task of hosting a Valentine's Day party for all the toddler/preschoolers she knew.  They live about 2 blocks from here and we've gone to her house several times.  She's lots of fun.  She was even really smart and decided to throw it 2 days AFTER Valentine's Day so that we could all get Valentines on clearance!

Although Lydia doesn't really understand about Valentine's Day, I figured it would be fun for her, if only to just get her out of the house and around other kids.  She has always struggled with being around other children, so any opportunity for her to get some "socialization" is good.

Lunch was provided and Lydia kept stealing the marshmallow hearts from off the table because she could reach them.  After lunch, which was served outside, she went around to all of the abandoned plates and ate everyone else's left over potato chips.  She's a funny kid and has always struggled with putting on weight, so I don't begrudge her a few potato chips, especially since they are a rare treat.  Luckily no one minded. (She's the kid in the middle of the blanket with all the food while the other kids are off playing.)

We colored bags and exchanged valentines.  Overall it was a fun morning!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Well, I've decided to refocus my unit studies.  I was having a hard time coming up with themes that Lydia would enjoy.  I've had my eye on the possibility of a Letter of the Week style program with her.  Lydia already knows all her letter sounds and she recognizes many numbers, shapes, and colors, but she's certainly not ready to begin reading yet.  She just doesn't have the vocabulary abilities and understanding to grasp blending.  As a result, my focus is more for fun and to help her develop her speech and fine motor skills.

This brings my to my new plan.  I will do Letter of the Week as done by Brightly Beaming Resources found here.  Specifically, we'll be doing the preparatory curriculum.  Basically, the idea is that every day you do a different shape/ vocab word/ letter /number and you also have a theme for the whole week as well as a small passage or poem to memorize.

Here's our learning board:

I did decide to switch up the memorization a bit.  I hate most nursery rhymes and see no need to make my daughter learn them, so I'm picking out small passages from the scriptures or other resources for her to learn.  I also plan on keeping them up for more than a week as memorizing these will be difficult for her.

Unfortunately, I already returned all our cow books from the library so I don't have a picture of them.  They were a hit, though.  Here's the titles we read:

Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type
The Cow That Laid an Egg
The Cow Loves Cookies
Millie Waits for the Mail

I'd have to say my favorite was Click Clack Moo, but Lydia enjoyed them all. I even found a really cute little animated video of Click Clack Moo on YouTube here.  We read each of these books several times throughout the week.

Oh, and the girls are totally loving our music study.  Today, I asked Lydia if she wanted to listen to Vivaldi or Bob Dylan, and she said, "OK, Bob Dylan!"  That made Daddy proud.  Even Ellie enjoys Dylan.  The other day she was whining until I put it on and didn't make a peep for the entire hour.  As soon as it ended though, she started whining again.  I guess we'll keep doing the music study, then!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Music Study Update- Bob Dylan

So, Tyler finally made a playlist for the girls.  He hesitated for so long because he felt like the task was so overwhelming.  How could he possibly make a one hour playlist for them to represent a single artist?!?  Anyways, after my encouragement, he managed to make their first "modern" music study playlist.  Rather than The Beatles, though, he chose to do Bob Dylan first.  I thought it was an interesting choice, but as I'm trying to use Grooveshark as much as possible for this and The Beatles aren't really on Grooveshark, it made sense.  So here's his first playlist.  You can listen to it here.

Bob Dylan:

Blowin' In the Wind
Tangled Up in Blue
The Times They Are A-changin'
Mr. Tambourine Man 
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Positively 4th Street
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
It Ain't Me, Babe
Maggie's Farm
If Not for You
Like a Rolling Stone
Lay Lady Lay
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
I Want You
Ballad of a Thin Man
Knockin' On Heaven's Door

So, my current goal is to listen to each of these (classical and modern) playlists at least once every other day.  If we want to listen to more, that's just fine.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Snowy Day and Potty Training

Sorry I didn't post last week.  Last week I decided to concentrate my efforts and potty train Lydia.  She's two and a half now and has shown all sorts of readiness signs.  However, it was a total disaster and after 4 days of next to no progress, I gave up for now.  I have also decided that potty training is one of my least favorite things about being a parent so far.  Yup, hated it. A lot.

Other than that, though, the last week and a half has been rather uneventful.  Tyler has spent a lot of time studying at home lately, and that always seems to throw me off a bit.  There's something about having your husband at home that makes you not want to work at all.  That, and this week he has been experimenting with not going to class at all and just listening to the recorded lectures at home.  For better or for worse, it seems to be working out much better for him, so I guess I just need to get used to not having free reign of the house all day.

In other news, today is a snow day here in Arkansas!  It is snowing a ton as I speak and we'll probably be home-bound for the next several days.  Lydia likes snow in theory, but she hates playing in it, so we probably won't be going outside.  Because it's so cold and our 70 year old rental house isn't really made for the cold, we are spending the day as a family in only two rooms of the house: our bedroom, and the girl's bedroom.  When the weather gets under 30 degrees, our house's ancient heating system (Basically a gas fire under a large grate in the hallway between our bedrooms.  It's crazy dangerous and Lydia has already burned herself on it a few tiems) has a really hard time keeping up, so we're trying to make it easy on it.  This means that Lydia is currently eating lunch on the floor, I'm sitting on the bed, and Tyler is across the room working on his studies.  I almost feel like a pioneer!

So there you have it!  Oh, I've also changed up my unit studies plan (not for the last time, I'm sure!) and I'll be writing a post on that soon.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Ever since Lydia got a plastic t-rex from the dollar section at Walmart, Tyler has hoped that she would love dinosaurs.  And she does.  She enjoys her little toy dinosaurs (we have since added to her collection), but she's more likely to make them kiss than she is to have them destroy things.  In hopes that she would become more educated on all things dinosaur, Tyler requested I do our next unit on dinosaurs.  I happily agreed.

This one didn't go as smoothly as the Penguin week, though.  For one thing, she didn't recognize any dinosaur except T-rex as a dinosaur. I got several books from the library about dinosaurs, but because I got them without looking through them first (you try bringing two kids two and under to the library past naptime), only two ended up being at Lydia's level.  And even then, she only liked the one that was more about butterflies than dinosaurs.  Oh well, she did enjoy our dinosaur craft, though!  Anyways, here's what we did this week.

We read the book, Dinosaurs Roar, Butterflies Soar as well as Dinosaurs Big and Small.  As I mentioned, the former was certainly her favorite.  And I have to say that I enjoyed it as well.  The illustrations were bright and fun.  We read both of these books several times.  With Dinosaurs Big and Small, we learned some new vocabulary such as "carnivore," "herbivore," as well as several dinosaur names.  If you ever want to have fun, try to get a two and a half year old to say dinosaur names.

We also watched the movie, The Land Before Time.  This was a mistake.  It is crazy violent for a G-rated movie.  I don't mind the violence, but Lydia has always been very sensitive to tense scenes in movies.  I let her watch it while I was doing some chores and she kept coming to me and saying, "Scared dinosaur movie."  I'd tell her that's ok, we can watch something else, and she would say, "Go finish dinosaur movie."  So I said ok, and she'd go back.  I think in the end she enjoyed it well enough, but I don't think I'll be having her watch it again any time soon.

We also did a few dinosaur coloring sheets as well as a dinosaur craft.  I bet you can't tell which is mine and which is Lydia's.

For a sidenote, Ellie learned how to roll over this week!  What a big girl.  This is a picture I took of her today.

For fun, I've been reading Lydia Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare.  I got it for free on my Kindle, and now Lydia asks me several times a day to "read Shakespit!"  It makes a mama proud, and I'm learning a few new things too.

This week had a few beautiful days, so we spent a lot of time in the backyard.  I let Lydia bring her dinosaurs outside.  Even after all her education this week, she still made them kiss goodbye.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music Study

If you know my husband you know that music is a very important part of our lives, especially his.  He has a very strong passion for music, especially rock and roll music.  As a result, we both want our daughters to grow up being exposed to lots of different kinds of music.  I'm interested in our daughters being familiar with the great composers and their works.  My husband wants our daughters to be familiar with the great artists of the last 50 years.  So what I did was to create a playlist on for the Ambleside composer study recommendations.  We listen to this every other day.  It's about an hour long and I just put it on when the girls are playing.  Here's the link to Ambleside's composer schedule.

Right now that means we're listen to Vivaldi.  Specifically (and I don't know if I'm writing these correctly, but there you have it):

The Four Seasons
Trio Sonata in C major
Concerto in D for Guitar
Concerto for Oboe, Violin, and Strings in B-flat major.
Concerto Senza Cantin in re minore

My husband thought it would be a good idea for the girls to start with The Beatles, so he's working on a playlist for them.  I have will have them listen to this on the days we don't listen to Vivaldi.  My plan is to do two new artists (one classical, one modern) every four months.  In this way I'm hoping they will gain familiarity with them all.  I'll update this post with my husband's Beatles playlist when he gives it to me.

Today, Lydia fell asleep while listening to Vivaldi.  I guess that's a good side-effect of a classical music education!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


My first Unit Study ever!  Now, in theory I'm not really a unit study kind of gal.  I am actually pretty hard-core classical.  But for preschool and for fun, unit studies are great.  So for my first attempt at "organized" preschool, I decided to do a unit on my husband's favorite animal, penguins.

This week has been ALL penguins.  The four books pictured I got from the library.  And can I just say, I love our library system?  It has several libraries in it, and I can request a book from any of them and they will be at my library, waiting for me to pick them up!  I love it.  Anyways, we really enjoyed all these books, but Lydia especially enjoyed A Penguin Story, while my husband's favorite was Pierre the Penguin.  He actually called it "charming."  We have read each of these books at least once a day this week.

We also did a heart penguin craft.  Lydia loves hearts because there are some on her shoes and we call them her "pretty heart shoes," so I knew she'd love this one.  Here's the link to the template.  We colored the hearts black and red and talked about the colors.  Then I cut them out and we counted the hearts (several times.  Lydia loves counting).  Then Lydia wanted to talk about which ones were big and which ones were little.

After that discussion, I glued them together and we each had our very own heart penguin.  I named mine Snowflake, after the pink penguin in Scamper the Penguin, which we're watching later this week and I'm ashamed to say I actually own on DVD.

Other Penguiny things we've done or are going to do: We watched this short interactive story, we have a number of coloring sheets and a few more crafts to do.  I did find an adorable Oreo penguin snack, but that would require having lots of leftover Oreos, and as we have recently renewed our efforts to eat healthily, that wouldn't be a good idea.

We also play with Starfall everyday and Lydia's getting closer to being able to recognize that reading is just putting letters together.  Before this week she knew all her letter sounds if you asked her, "what does B say?" or "what sound does L make?," but she didn't know how to reverse it.  So if you said, "what letter says sssss?" she wouldn't have a clue.  After the last three or four days of working on it, though, she had a breakthrough and now recognizes what I call the Transitive Property of Letter Sounds.

I would say, overall, that this has been a very successful first attempt, and now I'm just faced with the question of what unit study to do next?


Well, as Lydia gets older, I am now finally starting to get to where I can "teach" her things, so I decided to go ahead and start a homeschooling blog to chronicle our adventures.  I plan on homeschooling our girls, and even though Lydia is only 2 and a half now, I'm going to go ahead and start doing some really light activities with her.

You may be wondering about the name of our homeschool.  Well, in order to try to convince my husband that homeschooling was for us, I offered to let him name our school.  And as he's a very big Beatles fan...well, you get it.  So Abbey Road Preschool it is!

This blog is going to be dedicated to sharing and keeping track of what we do together.  I'm also probably going to write about homeschooling topics that interest me as well.  It will be fun to see what happens over the next few years!