Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 15

This report is a little late, but I wanted to get it down before I forgot what we did.  We had a full week, and aside from a doctor appointment that took all afternoon on Friday and Adelaide's suffering from teething, our week was pretty much the same as usual.

Lydia is solidly into addition within 10 right now.  She seems to have a very basic understanding of what is going on, so she's continuing to work in both EM (pages 40-47) and Miquon focusing on it.  She can do an addition problem by herself using c-rods.  She's really loving math right now.

She's been struggling with beginning blends and words that end with "s", so I've decided to pause and spend the next while on reviewing and solidifying what she's learned up until now.  This is a good point to pause because she's almost done with all her basic blending skills and I don't want anything to get in her way when things start getting more complicated.  We're using a combination of iPad apps and Reading Bear to accomplish this right now, although we might go back and re-read some sections of OPGTR.  I think I won't worry about progressing forward until after Christmas though.

We have also started a family read aloud (Daddy included!).  A few times since we got married, Tyler and I have read A Christmas Carol together around Christmas time.  This year we wanted to include the girls, so we bought this version with beautiful illustrations and are reading it in place of a bed time story nightly.  Lydia seems to like it and asks if we are going to read "Scrooge" again, so it is a success so far.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 14

We ended up taking Thanksgiving week off.  I wasn't in the mood to do school and our schedule was all messed up.  We had a great Thanksgiving at my in-law's house and got back in the swing of things this week, doing a full week's worth of schoolwork!

Doing one of her Winnie the Pooh puzzles

On Monday night for Family Night, we made apple-cinnamon ornaments for our tree.  We used this recipe.  I remember making one of these when I was about 8 years old at a church activity and that ornament smelled so good for years.  Since we had to keep all our breakable ornaments off our tree this year because of all the little ones, we thought this would be a fun activity for our poor little tree.

Making cinnamon ornament

This week we focused on number bonds.  Number bonds are basically just addition, but they are presented in such a way that they attempt to help the child understand that 10 is just made up of 4 and 6 or that 7 is made up of 2 and 2 and 3.  Lydia loved number bonds.  Every day this week, when we started math, she'd tell me, "number bonds are [my] favorite."  Because she enjoyed it so much, we got a lot done.  She did pages 28-39 in Essential Math B.  In the workbook, it shows pictures of things to represent the numbers, but for every problem, we also did number bonds with the c-rods and for a few problems we used our regular linking cubes as well.  This isn't the first time this concept will be demonstrated to her like this, so I'm not expecting mastery, but she seems to like it and mostly understand what is going on.

In Miquon, we "made" numbers.  The worksheets had a number at the top, say 7 and all the addition problems were trying to figure out how to make 7s.  Because these were very similar to number bonds (but technically super simple algebra), we did several of them for different numbers and then today started actual addition problems!  I see a lot of practice in our future, but she seems to be starting to grasp it all.

Lydia finished lesson 49 of OPGTR, so she'll start 50 next time we sit down.  She seems to be really understanding all that we have done so far.  She can now read words like "gifts" and "stuff." I'm afraid because in a few lessons (lesson 54) she'll start digraphs and I think they will be considerably more challenging.  I do she'll be up to the task, though.  And she's already exceeding my expectations for her for this year.  I was originally just going to be happy if she started to understand blending, and now it is looking like she will be reading on a first grade level or so by the end of the year!

Wearing their matching hoodies while playing with playdough.
We're still working on memorization.  She is working hard on Proverbs 3:5-6 still, and I think she'll get it soon, maybe by the end of next week.  We've stopped listening to Debussy because we're listening to Christmas music instead.  This will be the first year the girls will really be excited about Christmas, so my goal is to help them understand the cultural aspects as they are fairly concrete.  Christmas tree, Santa, Christmas songs, very basic Nativity story, etc.  So far they are having a lot of fun with it and one of their favorite parts so far has been the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 13

Our family had a great weekend and enjoyed the last of the beautiful weather.  It still isn't too bad out, but it was great last weekend.  Our week has been uneventful, but we did do school every day except for Wednesday.  Oh, and Adelaide is officially crawling.  She is still very inefficient at it, but it is there.  I'm sure she'll get better in the next few weeks, too. 

We started EM back up.  This week has been mostly focused on counting to 20, which is something Lydia has no problem with thanks to Tally Tots. Even Eleanor has almost got it down thanks to that fun little app.  Mostly I've been using this time to try to introduce the idea of place value, which will take a lot more time, I think.  Anyways, Lydia finished p.25-27 in EM and did a few pages of Miquon.  She almost has counting to 100 down, but it is going to take some more practice, I think.

Coloring her math book.
Lyddie is halfway through Lesson 48 in OPGTR.  She is doing so well.  I am really excited about her progress.  She continues to get faster and to understand more and more blending concepts.  A few more lessons and we'll be into digraphs!  She has yet to read spontaneously, but she's doing well in our lessons, so I don't mind. It will come, I'm sure.  She still wants me to tickle her at the end of every sentence, which seems to be fairly motivating.  It has the side effect of helping her recognize when a sentence is done, too, so I'm not complaining!

We started Handwriting Without Tears this week.  I bought the preschool teacher's manual and workbook because her fine motor skills are about a year behind where they should be.  So far she's loving it, even though we haven't even done any writing yet.  This week we worked on getting her familiar with the 4 different shapes that make up every capitol letter as well as the words "vertical," "horizontal," and "diagonal." 

HWT has wooden shapes you can buy, but I didn't think it was worth $30 for them, so I made my own from the template in the book.  It took me over an hour to cut them all out of cardstock and then laminate them, but they turned out pretty well, I think.  The 4 shapes that HWT teaches to make capitol letters are big curve, little curve, and big line, little line.  I made 6-8 of each, and Lydia has enjoyed playing with them to make letters on her own.

Lydia likes it if I help her spell her name.

We also have a chalk slate that I'll break out later, but this week was mostly just getting familiar with the shapes and learning about correct pencil grip.

Lydia finished "At the Seaside" and we started Proverbs 3:5-8.  She is amazing.  She's going to be almost done with what I planned for the whole year by Christmas.  I'm going to have to sit down and come up with some more for her to do.  She really loves doing memorization and we do it almost every day, even when we don't do the other subjects.  I usually quiz her on it while I make lunch and she acts very proud of herself when she gets them right.  Here's the list of we've done so far.

Watching big sister work on school.
That's our week.  We'll probably do an abbreviated week next week because Daddy won't have school on Thursday and Friday.  I expect Monday-Wednesday to be business as usual, though.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 12.5

We had another week of school that had less school than I would have liked, so we'll call it week 12.5.  We only did two days of school.  I just couldn't get my act together.  Oh well.  We had a fun week though.  We went to the lake to go see the last of the fall leaves and the girls enjoyed throwing sticks and rocks into the water.  We also went to Grandma's house and then went "exploring" (a walk in a forest.  Lydia insisted that we were exploring).  On our "exploration," we saw a caterpillar and looked it it for a little while.  Lydia now knows that butterflies come from caterpillars, so we'll call that science. Our weather has been in the high 60s/ low 70s this week, so we've been trying to enjoy it while it holds.

Eleanor at the lake.  Notice Lydia's rock hitting the water

Not Adelaide's best picture, but she had fun at the lake too.

For math, Lydia worked on a few Miquon sheets.  Like I mentioned last week, we're sticking with Miquon only for a little while.  We'll come back to Essential Math in a few weeks.  She also read some.  And Lydia is coming along well with "At the Seaside."  Another week or so and she'll have it down.

I've read most of the instructor manual for Handwriting Without Tears and I'm busy acquiring all the little odds and ends needed to get going on it (chalk, etc.)  We'll officially start it next week.

And that's it for this week!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 12

This was a shorter than usual school week.  We only did 3 days of actual school.  I've been feeling unwell all and that combined with Halloween and my brother-in-law's wedding reception, it just didn't happen as much as I'd like.  Halloween was great, though.  Lydia and Eleanor did very well.  This time last year, there was no way that I would have thought Lydia would be able to go trick-or-treating.  But she did!  I was so proud of her.  She was very nervous and done with the experience after about 10 houses, but she still did it.  At the end, when she said, "You want to go home and go to bed...but no shower!" I decided that we could call it quits.  Eleanor kept going with Daddy for a little while longer, though.

Lydia did pages 15-24 of Essential Math B.  She seems to be catching on, but I'm sort of getting the feeling that we are going too fast for her right now.  She has a long attention span for math, but I think the concepts are moving quicker than she is capable of.  So I think starting this week I'm going to back off EM for a little while and work primarily with Miquon, which has been sitting more on the back burner for a little while.  Considering the fact that she has already finished Essential Math A, which was my goal for the whole year, I feel very comfortable with this decision.  More than anything I want her to get a strong foundation and I just need to keep telling myself that there is no hurry.

Lydia's attention span for reading is improving.  Where before, it was all I could do to get her to read 2 pages of my homemade readers (approximately 2 sentences per page), now she's reading 4-5 pages per sitting.  It helps that she's getting faster and starting to recognize words.  She finished lessons 41-44 and we'll start on lesson 45 tomorrow.  I've found a good motivator for her.  She likes for me to tickle her whenever she gets at the end of a sentence.

Lyddie loves memorization time.  She always tells me, "Don't forget memorization!"  So we do this more often than normal school.  Lydia started "At the Seaside" by Robert Louis Stevenson.  She is reacting more to this poem than most.  She recognized Robert Louis Stevenson from a previous poem she memorized, but I think she likes that it is about a beach and digging with a shovel.

I'll be figuring out and starting Handwriting Without Tears once I feel better.  I've skimmed the manual and I'm excited to start some of the activities with Lydia.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 11

This week was a bit unusual.  On Sunday, all three girls were a little sick, so we stayed home from church.  On Monday, they seemed better, but on Tuesday afternoon, the younger two had fevers and Lydia had a horrible sounding cough, so every day since we've stayed home.  Lydia only went to one day of therapy and missed dance class.  We also watched way to much tv.  And by "we," I mean the girls.  I don't mind letting them when they are sick, though.

On Sunday afternoon, the girls were well enough to "help" us make a jack-o-lantern.  They were very excited to pick out the pumpkin on Saturday.  Lydia and Eleanor seemed very nervous about touching the pumpkin "guts" and got bored watching Dad after about 5 minutes, but they were very excited with the end result when we put it on our front porch.  Afterwards, we watched the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," which they loved and have watched several times since.  This is the first time we've ever really attempted Halloween with them.  Lydia has come such a long way in the last year that we are actually contemplating taking her trick-or-treating, something that we would never have thought possible last year.  Next week, I'll post pictures of the girls in their costumes.  Lydia is going to be Winnie the Pooh and Ellie is going to be a frog.

School continues to go on like it should.  Every day during lunch, we work on calendar, memorization, and mapwork.  Then after lunch and when Ellie is down for a nap, I ask Lydia is she would rather go down for a nap now, or do math.  She always wants to do math, then reading.  We usually spend an hour or so combined doing them and then she goes down for her required hour-long nap.  This system is working really well for us right now.

I did decide to add a subject to our day.  Lydia's fine motor skills are coming along nicely and I think she's ready to start some early handwriting practice.  I decided on the program Handwriting Without Tears for her because it was designed by an occupational therapist and honestly, it looks like it was designed for her.  I don't love the font, but I only plan to use it until her skills are good enough, and then we'll probably switch to another program.  That probably won't be until 1st or 2nd grade, though, so we'll see.  I've ordered my materials and they should get here in the next week or two.  I'll write more about it then.

Lydia did pages 9-14 of Essential Math A.  I think she has officially figured out the concept of less/more.  It has been a long few weeks, but I feel proud that I was finally able to explain it to her in a way that she would understand.  I realized that it wasn't an issue of comparing (so which is more, 7 or 9) but that she honestly didn't even know what the words "less" and "more" meant in relation to each other.  So we spent and entire math lesson just taking the little people manipulatives I have and putting more in a group and less in that group.  We did this back and forth and back and forth.  After that, she seemed to catch on pretty quickly and today she did a less/more page in EMa and got them all correct!  We worked on a greater than/lesser than Miquon sheet all week, but I think we'll probably repeat it now that she seems to be understanding better.

Lydia's reading is coming along.  This week she read her first 5-letter word, "bells."  We're almost done with Lesson 41 in OPGTR, but she's now 20% done with Reading Bears and still a bit ahead in it than her OPGTR lessons.  Her reading is getting quicker and she's starting to recognize a few common words without having to sound them out.

I went to a consignment sale this week and found this set of Nora Gaydos readers for $3 in like new condition.  They are perfect for where Lydia is right now, so we'll be using them as extra practice.  It was a nice score.

We've been working on solidifying her part for the Primary Program which is this Sunday.  I'm a little bit nervous because she's been gone from church for two weeks and hasn't been able to practice at all.  Tomorrow they are having a special practice, so I hope that will be enough for her.  It will have to do, I guess!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 10

We went out of town last weekend to attend Tyler's little brother's wedding.  As a result, we decided to go ahead and take off the whole week.  It was a fun trip, and especially fun because Tyler rarely gets to go with us on trips because of his schedule.  Lydia loved everything about it.  She was very excited about every aspect of the airport, from the airplanes to the escalator.

The girls had matching dresses for the wedding and looked adorable.

And Lydia loves to watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday mornings on TV, and she loved being able to see the Tabernacle in person.

So while it was a ton of work and quite exhausting, it was a fun weekend.

In other news, Lydia finally got to take off her splint.  The doctor's appointment was pretty fun too, because Tyler got to be her doctor!  We happened to have an appointment on the one afternoon he does family medicine rotations, and his doctor was assigned to us.  This was a great thing because Lydia is very nervous about doctors.  So although the doctor Tyler was assigned to had to check her after Tyler was done, Daddy did a bulk of the work.

As for school, we had a slow start after our trip.  We didn't do any school on Monday or Tuesday, but have gotten back into the swing of things since Wednesday.

We did pages 4-8 in Essential Math A and a page of Miquon.  Lydia is still struggling a bit with less and more, but is getting better, so I'm moving on and just continuing to review the concept every day.  We also continue to count to 100 with the abacus most days, as well as counting by 10s to 100.  She still needs a fair amount of help, but she's improving.

Still reading through the readers.  She is almost done doing all the reading through Lesson 40 in OPGTR (should finish tomorrow), although concept-wise, she has pretty much finished through lesson 48 or 50, though she still needs lots and lots of practice and solidifying.

 I've been horrible about read alouds.  Besides scripture study and Daddy's night time story, I haven't been reading much to them.  So this week I decided to read them The Hobbit.  It should take a while, but I wanted to reread it before the movie comes out, so I'm motivated.  They still don't get a whole lot out of chapter book read alouds, but I do want to make it a habit.

She's finished the 3rd Article of Faith and is now working on memorizing her part for the Primary Program at the end of October.  She'll have to say this part in front of the whole church, so I want her to have it down to give her the best chance at success.  The part she is memorizing is, "Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me. My favorite story about Jesus is when he helped Peter walk on the water."

Harvest Time:
We are going to do our activity tomorrow as a family.  There is a place nearby with a corn maze, petting zoo, pumpkin patch, etc.  We've been reading about autumn leaves and The Leaf Man especially has been a hit.  I don't even think that this book is part of the curriculum.  I just picked it up because it fit in the theme of leaves.

Same as usual.  Calendar, art, music, and pages 21-23 in Color, Count, and Cut.

And that was our lighter school week! 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 9

This week we went to the doctor to check on Lydia's arm.  She's going to have to keep the splint on for at least another 2 weeks.  Luckily, she doesn't seem to mind it too much and it isn't really affecting her daily activities.  On Tuesday, we went to the lake and the girls had a lot of fun throwing rocks in. We did school every day this week except for Wednesday because we were out of the house the whole day.

In this picture, Ellie had already fallen into the lake twice.  Luckily just her pants got wet.

Looking for rocks.

Rock in mid-flight
We did pages 1-4 in Essential Math B.  I can already tell that this is going to be much slower going.  Right now Lydia is struggling to understand the difference between less and more, and since most of the future lessons build on that concept, I'm trying to make sure she understands it before we move on.  So far we've used Cuisenaire rods and she is starting to understand that if a rod it taller than another, it is more, so I'm going to attempt to apply that concept to numbers.  I think I might also try to use a number line and show that if a number is to the right or left it is more or less.  We might be right here for a while, though.

We've also started counting to 100 with our new abacus every day, and then counting by 10s.  A week or two of doing this, and I think Lydia will have it down.

We're continuing reading through my readers.  Lydia is getting better and faster, but she's still pretty slow, which is ok.  We're also doing Reading Bear every day, and she has actually gone farther in concepts with it than with OPGTR.  She understands about double letters and "ck".  I still want to make sure she gets a good grounding, though, so I'll continue to make sure she's read all the selections in OPGTR.  I don't mind teaching her concepts ahead of time as they come up though!

She has memorized the directions on a compass, and she's working on the 3rd Article of Faith.  She's doing well with her review every day.

Harvest Time:
We did the bread/Little Red Hen unit last week.  The girls enjoyed the book and I got a DVD from the library about how bread is made, from growing grains to baking.  We also made the yellow pound cake that is suggested in the plans.  The recipe uses the same ingredients from the Little Red Hen book we read.  I halved the recipe, and although the girls enjoyed it, I didn't like it.  That's probably a good thing because it would likely have killed me if I ate more than one slice (so much butter!).  Lydia and Eleanor did enjoy helping me measure and mix the batter, too.

She did pages 16-20 in Color, Count and Cut.  Everything else is about the same.  We reviewed the Renoir prints and listened to our Debussy playlist.  I did get a children's book on impressionists that has a few Renoir paintings in it from the library, but we haven't read it yet.

And that was our simple week.  Next week we're going to take off because we have a wedding that is going to take up much of our time.  We may do school for a few days, but we'll see.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Quarter Review and New Goals

We've been doing preschool officially for 9 weeks now!  It's been great and I've really enjoyed myself.  I feel like Lydia is enjoying herself too.  I've wanted to homeschool for a long time, but one of my main concerns was whether I would be better at it in theory or in practice.  So far I'm loving it, so on we go.

I plan to homeschool year-round, taking breaks when we need them.  Even so, my goal is to do at least the 36 weeks that brick and mortar schools do.  I remember that every 9 weeks we'd get a report card, so I think 9 weeks is a good time to look back at my goals and see how we're doing.

Back in July I wrote down a few things that Lydia could do and what I'd like for her to accomplish by the end of the year.  Here's those milestones, with her current ones added.

July: "Right now she knows and recognizes all the letters and their sounds.  She can occasionally tell me the first letter of a word when she hears it.  She can also spell her name using magnet letters without any help."
October: She can read all cvc words.  She can also read several short vowel 4-letter words.  Mostly these are ones that end with double letters, like "mall," but also words that end in -ck.  She's still fairly slow at reading, but she is definitely improving and progressing.  We haven't worked at spelling at all.

July: " She can currently count to 20 without help and recognize numbers 1-12 when written.  She can mostly count small numbers of objects (10 or less) and tell me how many of something there is, but sometimes double counts things or guesses."
October: She can count to 30 without help and recognize numbers 1-30 when written.  She can count objects with accuracy if she takes the time.  She understands the concepts of smaller/larger, same/different.  She is struggling with the concept of more/less.

I think she's done very well in 9 weeks.  She's also memorized 2 religious pieces, 2 poems, and 4 facts/lists.  I've seen a marked improvement in her fine motor skills and her coloring has definitely improved, as has her tracing.

Goals for the year
July: My goals for this year are to have her reading at least cvc word on her own.  I want to complete Essential Math A and MEP Reception for math and be able to count to 50 or more on her own.  I'd also like for her to be able to write her own name.
October: Get through Section 6 in OPGTR (she's in section 4 right now), which includes many blends and digraphs.  It doesn't include silent "e".  For math, I'd like for her to finish Essential Math B and as a shooting high goal, I want her to also finish Miquon Orange (we dropped MEP Reception).  Once she finishes Essential Math B, we'll start on Math Mammoth 1A.  I think this will probably be sometime around February, but we'll see.  I also think it is totally possible for her to finish my memorization plan, so that is also another goal.

So there it is.  I'm doing these goals and progress reports more for me to have a record in the future than for any one else's benefit, so if you made it this far, congratulations!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Report: Week 8

Last weekend Lydia broke her arm.  She was riding in her Cozy Coupe in the backyard and it fell over.  I didn't see it happen, I just heard her cry more than usual when she was tipped over.  If you ask Lydia what happened, she'll say, "The car squished you [me]." (She has trouble with pronoun reversals.)

It was only a minor fracture and she's had to wear a splint all week, but should be able to take it off next week.  It did mean that I had to go to the ER twice in one week (once for Lydia, once for Adelaide).

Lydia finished Essential Math A!  She started it a little over 2 months ago.  I thought it would take us the entire PreK year to get through it.  She seems to understand almost all the concepts, and those that she doesn't will come up again soon.  I think we'll go ahead and just start Essential Math B and keep on trucking, taking it slow if we need to.

Miquon is still going well.  This week she used the rods to learn a little about addition.  She did her first few addition problems ever by "making 4" with the rods.

We continue to use the readers I made from the sentences in OPGTR.  Lydia can only ready four sentences or so before she loses all interest, so it is slow going.  But she is doing well.  We're also using ReadingBear still because she likes to and she willingly practices sounding out words if it is involved.

This was a big week for memorization.  Today, Lydia finished memorizing "The Falling Star," which we've been working on for a little over a week.  I think we'll start the Third Article of Faith next.  She also quickly memorized the four points of a compass and surprised me by already knowing all the planets in order.  I think she learned them from her Leap Frog Tag Solar System board, but it might also have been the solar system episode of Blue's Clues.  Either way, she knows them, so that was easy.

This week I got her speaking part for the Primary Program at church that is at the end of October.  I have no idea if she'll actually get up and give her part, but if she does, I want her to be prepared.  So we'll work on memorizing it. "Jesus Christ is the perfect example for me. My favorite story about Jesus is ____________."

As we finish up the memorization plan I laid out, I'm marking what we've done so far this year on this post. It's looking good, and I might need to find some more stuff before the year is through!

Harvest Time:
We didn't do anything this week.  With Lydia's broken arm and my laziness, it just didn't happen.  Luckily, it wasn't an exciting week (tractors).

Lydia did pages 13-15 of Color, Count, and Cut.  It is going much slower because it requires coloring every page.  I have seen a marked improvement in her fine motor skills over the last few months, so that's great.  I love seeing her progress.

She also has the name of the Renoir prints down now, including the French ones, so we'll continue to review them and I think I might get a book on Renoir from the library.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A few months ago I posted a list of all the curricula I planned on using with Lydia this year, including a post on math specifically.  When I wrote that, I really didn't understand my teaching style or Lydia's learning style.  At least I knew that fact, which is why I had many resources from which to pull.  I've already mentioned that I'm dropping MEP Reception.  I think it is probably a good program, but I didn't enjoy teaching it and Lydia didn't do well with it either.  We're also finding that Essential Math A is going way faster than I planned.  I planned on using it for the whole year and she's going to finish it this week! That means I have to decide whether to move to Essential Math B or take a break with it for a while.  Looking through it, EM B starts speeding up much faster, and I'm not sure if Lydia will be able to keep up with the concepts.  That, and I didn't plan on hitting it until Kindergarten, and she's still barely 4.  So now I have to decide whether to take a break or just spread it out. I'm not sure what I'll decide.

In the meantime, however, I'm absolutely loving Miquon!  I guess you could say that math always came easily to me.  I enjoyed it in school, and although I only got to Calculus, I did enjoy it up until then, and I feel like I understood it.  I want my daughters to really understand the why's of math and not just the how, you know?  Miquon looks very promising to accomplish just that.

For those unfamiliar with Miquon, here's a bit of history about how it works.  It was a math program developed at the Miquon School in Pennsylvania in the 70s for grades 1-3.  There isn't a "teacher's guide" per se, but there is quite a bit of guidance.  It relies a lot on the teacher being comfortable teaching concepts and facilitating learning through exploration.  There are 6 "lab sheet" books that are named different colors.  Right now we're working on the first one which is Orange.  There is also a book that has some guidance on how to use the lab sheets, called Lab Sheet Annotations.  You can buy a book called First Grade Diary that is basically just Lore Rasmussen's (the lady who developed Miquon Math) daily diary about what she did in her class and how she overcame different students' hangups.  These are the two most helpful books.

Making 1:1 corresponding tallies and then finding the rod that goes with the number of objects in the picture.

Every lab sheet is numbered with a letter and a number.  The letter corresponds to a concept (A is counting, C is addition, etc.) and the number just identifies the lab sheet within the concept.  Here's a chart that shows what I mean. Because the lab sheets are divided this way, you can jump around as necessary.  So if the addition concepts start getting to be too much for Lydia, we can switch over to clocks or whatever else she's ready for.  It really adds a lot of flexibility for the teacher and the student.

One integral part of Miquon is Cuisenaire Rods.  They are a very simple math manipulative.  There are 10 rods.  They are different lengths, in centimeters from 1 cm to 10 cm, and each length is the same color.  It is amazing all the math concepts that can be taught with these.

The first task we had to do was have Lydia learn the different number/color combinations.  We've had our rods for almost a year now and she has had lots of time to play with them.  For her, though, it took much more formal teaching to help her learn that the white equals 1 or the yellow equals 5 (at least for now.  They can change depending on what you are teaching).  She has them down now.

Because of my goals and the fact that she is 4 and is enjoying it, we are working very slowly.  I want to be sure that she actually understands before we move on.  This often requires demonstrating concepts not on the lab sheets.  For this, the videos at Education Unboxed are proving to be very valuable.  They show how to use the rods to teach various concepts.  I also use ideas from the First Grade Diary and the Lab Sheet Annotations book.

I'm hoping Miquon continues to be as great as it has so far.  It has a promising beginning at least.

Update 10-21-15:
Lydia didn't make it very far in Miquon Orange. She just wasn't internalizing the concepts the way the program wanted her to. She needed more explicit instruction. However, Eleanor is now finished the Orange book and is almost done with the Red book. It is perfect for her. She sees the connections it wants her to see. Here's how we do it.

Every day, I let her pick a page to do and I pick a page to do. The only rule is that it has to be the next page in a sequence, so if she wants a page from letter L, she has to do 1 before 2 or 3. This usually works pretty well for us because if I see that the page she picks looks like it will take a while, I pick a page that will be fairly quick, or vice versa. Plus, I can keep her working on more difficult concepts when she would naturally do all the easiest pages first. On occasion, pages take longer than I anticipate, in which case I won't make her do both that day.

To keep track of our progress, I mark each page she completes on the progress sheet at the beginning of each lab book. Some people prefer to let the kids keep going on a certain letter track over multiple books, but I prefer to finish a book at a time. That might change at some point, but it is working so far.

Despite having two very different math learners so far, I'm still in love with Miquon for those who make the connections naturally.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Week 7

This week was pretty standard, except that I did have an ER run with Adelaide that kept us both out until 3:30 in the morning.  Since Tyler is on his surgery rotation, I thought it would be better if he got sleep.  Unfortunately, this made me incredibly tired all day, so at least one day was pretty useless.  But we still managed to get some school done, even if the house did get trashed!  And Adelaide is doing much better now, so we just keep trucking along.

We did pages 121-136 in Essentials A.  This week we continued to cover size comparisons and started weights.  I'm excited that Lydia is almost done with A, as my goal was to finish it this year, not two months after we started it!  I've been amazed with how well she is learning new concepts, and she's definitely exceeding my expectations.  I'm thinking we'll just start Essentials B when she finishes A.  I'm sure this will slow her down a bit, because it is supposed to be at a higher difficulty level.

Miquon is still going well.  We went back and did some of the lab sheets we already completed, mostly because I think she still has a little bit to go before I feel comfortable using the rods to teach her concepts.  She is really enjoying it so far, and I'm finding that I am not having as difficult a time teaching it as I thought I would.  So far I've had to tweak most of our school work to Lydia's unique way of learning, so Miquon works because it is built to be a tool, not necessarily a set of step-by-step lessons.  So I guess you could say that I'm still feeling the Miquon love.

We're still working on reading through all the OPGTR sentences up to Lesson 40 via my homemade readers.  Lydia's attention span for reading is pretty low, so we're only getting a few minutes done a day, but she continues to do well.

Calendar is the same as usual and we started a new poem.  Lydia is now working on "The Falling Star."  It is longer than Lydia's last poem, so it may take us a bit longer.  We are also reviewing all her other memory work almost daily.

Harvest Time:
I decided to make this its own section in my Weekly Report.  I'm a little off on this one because our week for this curriculum is Thursdays-Wednesdays.  Because of the activities we do outside our house, this schedule makes the most sense for us time-wise.

This last week we talked about where milk comes from and read a book about Heifer International giving a goat to a little girl's family. We also read a different book about the process of getting milk from the cow to our home.  Then, as our activity, we made bread and butter.  I tried to let the girls help with the bread and they enjoyed watching the bread kneed.  As anyone who knows our family can attest, I am definitely not the baker in the family, so I wasn't sure how our bread would turn out, but it was pretty good!

Then the curriculum guide suggests you let the children do a "butter battle."  Basically you put cream in a container for the child to shake while you let the mixer make butter, and see who wins.  Well, I knew the "battle" part wouldn't work, but I thought I'd let the girls try to make butter in a jar.  Very quickly I moved them outside to the grass because their jars kept dropping on the ceramic tile (although luckily didn't break).  Both girls lost interest after about 30 seconds, so that was a flop too.  We came inside and I poured their cream in the Kitchen Aid and they watched it turn into butter.  Success!

They also enjoyed eating the bread and butter that they helped make.  Lydia kept saying, "Mmm, this is good bread!"

Lydia did pages 6-12 in Color, Count, and Cut.  We talked about our Renoir prints, and although Lydia can now successfully name all the ones that have English names, she's having difficulty remembering the French ones.  Makes sense.  We also continue to listen to Debussy on a regular basis, although lately Lydia has wanted to listen to Adele instead. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Week 6

We didn't get a whole lot of school done this week, although we did do some.  We had a birthday this week and that, combined with a playdate at our house, made our week pretty hectic.

We did pages 115-120 in Essential Math A.  We're working on comparison words like longer, taller, shorter, etc.  She was struggling with it at first, but is starting to get it.  I love seeing her learn a concept she didn't understand before.
A week or so ago, I can't remember, we were working on place names like 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Lately she's been telling me things that go in order.  She'll say, "Lydia is first, Ellie is second, and Adelaide is third!"  I'm happy to see her applying things to life.

The kitchen table ready for Lydia to start school!
Since we stopped doing MEP Reception, I decided we'd pick up Miquon Orange, which I have but have just been waiting to start for some reason.  It is a fairly intimidating curriculum, because it isn't written for parent educators.  There aren't lesson plans, or even a regular set of worksheets and problems.  It is also a very unusual approach to math.  After spending many hours studying it and learning about its methods, I was still nervous to start.  I wasn't even sure if its approach would even mesh with Lydia.

Well, it is going really well!  Miquon relies heavily on the use of Cusineaire Rods, and in order to use them to teach concepts, a child has to be familiar with them.  We've owned ours for several months and I let Lydia play with them regularly.  We did the first few lab sheets from the Orange book, and Lydia went from not having a clue which rod corresponded to which number, to now knowing about 70% of them.  As we were working on it, I could see how this would really help a child internalize a lot of math concepts, and I'm excited to continue.  And Lydia loves it so far too!

We're through Lesson 40 in OPGTR.  Well, that is, she's read words from each.  She hasn't read all of the assigned sentences from the lessons yet, so we aren't going to move on until she does.  Lesson 40 is the end of Section 3 in the book, so it is a good stopping point.  So far she can read all standard cvc words, the sight words "the," "I," and "a" (which give her more trouble than you would think), the sound "qu" and "s" as the sound "z" as in "has" or "as."  We're going to pause for a bit and work on fluency with these concepts before moving on.

Same as usual.  We didn't add anything new yet.  Although I did take a video of Lydia saying all of her memorization (minus the geography).  She lost interest quickly, but if you listen carefully, it is all there.  I promise she knows them.

We finished Bigger Steps and started Color, Count, and Cut, which is the third book in the Rod and Staff series.  We also started looking at our Renoir prints.  We talk about the names of the paintings and we talk about some of the things in the paintings.  We are still listening to our Debussy playlist regularly too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Our "School Room"

Now that I have everything I wanted for our learning area, I thought I'd post pictures of our "school room."  It's not a room unto itself, just our dining room.  I wanted to be able to not feel like we're living in a school, so all the things on the walls are not visible from the living room sitting area, which is awesome.

This is our art study wall.  We're doing Renoir this term, via Ambleside Online.  The prints were files that they have and I am allowed to use because of fair use.  I had them printed on cardstock at Office Max for a few dollars.

On the opposite wall is a world map, because Lydia is learning the continents, oceans, and compass rose this year.

 The calendar we use for calendar time daily is on the other side of the doorway.

 This shelf (which is on the back of the wall with the calendar) holds all my curriculum and supplies and the drawers underneath holds all my paper and most of my math manipulatives.  It's the only part of our schooling that is in the living room. You can see the art appreciation wall off to the left side a little bit.

So there it is.  Nothing special, but it works for us!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Week 5

This was another good week.  Last week I talked about how Lydia wouldn't go into her dance class.  This week I worked very hard at talking her through the process before we got there and made the expectations very clear.  She actually went in and participated this week!  I was worried, because I didn't know how she'd do once she got in there, and while she was very distractable, she wasn't any worse than a normal kid would be.  She seemed to have lots of fun.

We went to the library this week, did therapy and dance, and lots of learning!  In my last post I mentioned that I was planning on starting Harvest Time curriculum next week.  A friend pointed out to me that it is scheduled to be started this week.  So, because I already had the books from the library, I decided to go ahead and get going.  We read The Vegetables We Eat and Tops & Bottoms a few times.  Both of these books are about vegetables and talk about what part of the plant they come from, and I thought that both were very good.

This morning we made salt dough vegetables that I baked and we're going to paint them later (I'll edit this post with pictures when they are done).  The whole time were were playing with the salt dough, Lydia kept telling me that she was making "crops" or a hare or a bear.  I guess she was listening to the books!  Please forgive the girls' hair in these pictures.  It was morning and I hadn't brushed their hair yet.

Can you tell which ones I made and which ones Lydia and Eleanor made?

***Edited because we finished them:

They took several hours to dry out in the oven and we didn't get around to painting them until today (several days later).  We aren't artists, and yes, my pumpkin looks like a tiger, but we did it!***

Tomorrow we're going to either go to the grocery store produce department or the farmer's market for a field trip.  It will depend on if it is raining or not.

As for regular academics, here was our week:

We did pages 106-115 in Essential Math A.  We finished up patterns and started measurement.  Patterns took us a while and we spent a few days mostly practicing them with manipulatives.  She still struggles with more complex patterns like ABBABBA or ABCABC.   She has ABABA down though, and I decided that I'd keep working on patterns informally.  No doubt she'll see them again.
I think I've decided to ditch MEP Reception for now.  I just don't really like it for Lydia.  There are too many games and too much talking for her.  I bet Eleanor will like it when it is her turn, but it doesn't work very well for Lydia.

We're working on short "e" words as well as short "i" words.  We are through lesson 35 on OPGTR.  Because I am using the book as a guide and not scripted, like it is intended, I decided that at the very least I would have her read all the practice sentences in it.  I made up a reader for her to read off the iPad.  Basically, I just put a sentence or two on a page, added a relevant picture, and then moved to the next page.  This week I've had her read a page or two of our homemade reader and then she can do Reading Bear, which is her favorite.  She'll practice with Reading Bear for 45 minutes or more lots of days if I let her.  Her reading is definitely improving.

Calendar is more of the same, except I've noticed that Lydia is using her newly found reading skills to guess the day of the week.  She looks at the first letter of the name of the day (so "w" for Wednesday) and then guesses that it is Wednesday.  I'm happy to see her starting to decode these types of things, even if she isn't reading the whole word yet.
For Memorization, we finished the continents and started oceans and the 2nd Article of Faith.  We mostly practice the continents and oceans from a map of the world, but some days I'll get down the globe and we practice them from there.  She almost has the 2nd Article of Faith down.  Oh, and we practiced all of our past memorization every day too.

We did page 23-27 in Bigger Steps and Lydia's handwriting skills continue to improve.  We also started listening to our Debussy selections for this term.  Tomorrow I pick up our Renoir prints and we'll start learning about those as well.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Trying to Round Out Our Preschool Experience

We are doing great with my current plan for preschool right now.  Lydia loves learning and once we get started with a subject, we often spend 45 minutes or more on it because she wants to keep going.  As I've mentioned, right now we're doing reading, math, and memorization.  I got to thinking about my teaching style and our preschool as it is, and it occurred to me that I'm not a project-doer.  I have never loved doing crafts more than 2 or 3 times a year.  It is just not something I am naturally attracted to.  But when I thought about what preschool should be like, I realized that I want my daughters to be able to do fun stuff like that.

After talking to my husband about it, he agreed.  Most of our memories from early schooling are of fun projects we did, and he especially doesn't want our kids to miss out on those types of experiences.  As a result, I think I'm going to try to follow a preschool curriculum, complete with books, crafts, and fieldtrips.  I could do this on my own, but I think that because I don't really want to do it, it probably wouldn't happen if I had to piece it together.

The curriculum I'm planning on following is the free preschool one over at Wee Folk Art.  It is a waldorfy, seasons-based curriculum, but it appears to be very gentle and the crafts appeal to me.  We are right in time to start the Harvest Time one, too.  My plan is to do week one starting next week.  I already have the books for it from the library even!  I'm not going to do the art appreciation or poems because I already have my own plan for those, but everything else is fair game.  I think I might even attempt the quilt!

Another thing I'm adding in is art appreciation and starting up music appreciation again.  I'm still happy to follow Ambleside Online's classical music appreciation.  This term they are studying Debussy.  I made a playlist of the recommended songs and will be playing it every day while the girls are playing.  For fine art, they are studying Renoir.  I've ordered prints of the 6 paintings and am going to put them on the wall in the playroom so the girls will see them often.  We'll also talk about the paintings' names every day and maybe a little about the individual paintings too.

I'm sure I'll go into detail more as we progress through all this, but this is my new plan!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Week 4

We're starting to fall into a rhythm.  Our weeks don't vary a lot, but they certainly keep us busy.  Lydia started dance this week, so that was new.  She is always afraid of new things and experiences, so she didn't actually make it into the dance room this last week, but I did get her to sit and watch for a little while.  I assume it will take her a few more weeks before she'll be in there loving it.  She loves the little ballet class DVD I got from the library a few weeks ago, and it almost the same thing.

We continued therapy and went to a playdate at the park.  Besides dance class, the only thing really different this week was that we went on a hike!  It is quite the adventure taking a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 4 month old hiking on a trail by myself, but it was fun.  We went to lake Wedington, which is about 15 minutes from our house.  The trail I chose is actually an overnight hiking trail, but we just went in maybe half a mile or so.  We had to take a very slow pace because both girls stopped often to pick up sticks and rocks and nuts.  Eleanor even found some blueberries.  At least, I think they were blueberries, but I wouldn't let her eat them in case.  I don't know nature well enough to say one way or the other.  I've been considering getting a few Audobon guides for the iPad and taking it with us on hikes like this so that we can identify things, but for now, they are just learning what pine cones are and other information I have off the top of my head.

 After the hike, Lydia wanted to go see the lake, so we went to the lake and both girls threw in rocks and sticks.  Lydia was very upset when we had to leave. "Want to look at the lake some more!"  She said this over and over all the way home until I mentioned that we were having pizza for dinner, which was sufficient to distract her.

We've done well with school this week and Lydia is right on track to reach all the goals I have set for her by the end of the year or even earlier.

In Essential Math A, we finished pages 88-105.  This ended number order for the moment and moved onto shapes.  We finished shapes and are now working on patterns.  I think we may be stuck here for a while because patterns are difficult for Lydia.  I expect we'll be doing a lot of supplementary work on patterns using manipulatives.
In MEP math, we got through lesson 4 in Reception and will be doing lesson 5 this afternoon.  MEP is sort of weird and I'm not sure I get it yet, but she seems to be able to do the lesson material so far and I plan on keeping it up for the time being.

This is more of the same.  We are still working on cvc "a" words, but I've seen a marked improvement in the last few days.  Starting tomorrow, I think we're going to move on to cvc short vowel "e" words too.  She seems to have grasped the concept of blending and is doing much better with sounding out words.  She still has a problem with guessing, but I think that comes with the territory.  I've found ReadingBear to be a very helpful tool.  Lydia doesn't like to practice reading very much, but she will ask for more practice with ReadingBear.
She read her first 2 books all by herself this week (mostly).  They were just BOB books, but she did it anyways.  It is sort of funny, though.  I bought them thinking we might use them, but because of Lydia's personality, I didn't think she'd care about the "reading a whole book by yourself" aspect.  But she really seemed to feel a sense of accomplishment when she was done.  I was very proud of her.
We also continue to work through Progressive Phonics and are through page 7 of the first reader.

We've continue to do the day of the month and day of the week.  For memorization, we review all our past memorization and have continued to work on the continents and their locations.  Lydia is almost done with that, so we'll probably start something new early next week.

We got through pages 11-22 in Rod and Staff's Bigger Steps.  Lydia's fine motor skills are coming along very well, and I talked to her OT about starting her on a handwriting program.  She agreed with me that Lydia isn't ready yet for actual writing, but that pre-writing activities are good for her.  So we'll continue doing these workbooks, and I think I'll throw in some Scholastic preschool worksheets I have for pre-writing practice.  Pre-writing is tracing lines and zigzags and circles.  Things like that.  I'm also being very strict with Lydia about using a correct pencil grip whenever she is coloring or doing school work.  It is starting to pay off and I am having to correct her less and less.

That was our week.  It is raining outside right now and I promised Lydia that she could play in the rain if there wasn't lightning.  I think that will be our afternoon and it is a good end to our week.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week 3

It was another good week at our house.  The girls are keeping me very busy, and it is only going to get more so when Lydia starts up dance and soccer within the next few weeks.  It's a good busy though, and it keeps them happy (and dirty).

The weather continues to be nice, so we are spending a lot of time outside.  On Saturday, we took a drive to Eureka Springs and rode on an old fashioned train.  Lydia absolutely LOVES trains and has for years.  I think that this ride was the highlight of her life.  Every day since she has asked me if it is Saturday again so we can go ride a train.  The train ride itself was fun.  It had an old fashioned conductor who we enjoyed and at one point they let us get out and put pennies on the track to see them get squished.  We are definitely going to try to take a ride on the trains in Utah when we are there this fall.

We did pages 75-87 in Essential Math A.  Lydia keeps flying through it, even though we are getting to stuff that she didn't know before we started and are actually doing the lesson part of each page, and not just the worksheet.  This week has mostly been about teaching her that numbers have an order, both forwards and backwards.  Essential Math A only deals in numbers 1-10, so we've done a lot of counting forwards and backwards and a lot of filling in the blank and looking for patterns with number orders.  For example, today we got out 10 little plastic people and counted them.  Then I told her one walked away, and asked how many were left.  I kept doing this until we got to zero.  The point was to show that counting backwards was the same as removing one each time.

We also started MEP Reception.  It is a little different, and we only did the first lesson, so I don't have a whole lot to report on that yet, except that I can already see that it will stretch her a little.

We continued to work on short vowel "a" cvc words and are working through lesson 30 in OPGTR.  I think she's getting it better and better.  I discovered that she will practice longer if I use the iPad or laptop to help her instead of letter magnets.  So we are doing ABC Magic Phonics on our iPad, which is basically just an app of words that you can sound out.  I also discovered, and I think I'll be using it a lot.  It is a website of videos that sound out words and then show you what the words are.  It is pretty well done and Lydia enjoyed it.  We're still having a problem with guessing, but I think that's fairly normal.  Oh, and we also are learning our first sight word, "the."

Lydia started reading her first Progressive Phonics reader.  It has text that the parent reads and then the child reads the words in bold.  It allows a more complex story than a reader that the child does on their own, and I like it so far.  We are on page 6.

Memorization/Calendar Time:
We continue to do calendar almost every day.  We have moved on from "Happy Thoughts" for memorzation and have started learning all the continents and their locations.  We still review the First Article of Faith and "Happy Thoughts" every day, though.  I am especially focusing on making sure Lydia says all the words and says them clearly.

Lydia finished About Three early this week.  She started the next workbook in the series called Bigger Steps.  She is doing fairly well with it and got through page 10.

A few of Lydia's favorite things to watch are the Life and Planet Earth documentaries by the BBC.  We often watch these on Sundays before church.  Lydia's favorite is the Life one on birds, and she loves to draw lammergeiers with sidewalk chalk.  These documentaries, combined with the things that come up in day-to-day life are all the science we are doing right now, but I think she's still learning a lot.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 2

This week was rather hectic.  Lydia started a new schedule at therapy and we did a lot of out of the house activities.  Monday was so beautiful, that we spent the entire afternoon playing outside.  On Wednesday, we went to my in-law's house for the day and played there and at the splash park near their home.  The girls LOVE the splash park and I really wish we had one nearer to us. (This picture is from earlier in the summer).

On Thursday, we had a play date with several kids at our house, which is always fun.  Lydia and Eleanor both got completely filthy, digging in the dirt, but they loved it. Tyler came home early from his rotations, so I was finally able to get a new driver's license (I lost mine a few weeks ago), go grocery shopping, and hit up the Rhea Lana half-priced sale.  I got the girls some new clothes and a few stuffed animals.  My favorites of the animals were a raccoon, otter, and ostrich.

As for school, we didn't do quite as much as I would have hoped, but I did reach my minimum goal.

We did pages 61-74 in Essential Math A.  We are now getting to stuff that is a little more challenging for Lydia.  Up until now we've been coasting quite a bit, so I expect we'll start slowing down.  Lydia already knew how to count things and could read her numbers.  Starting today we're going to be focusing on number order and patterns.

We're still working on figuring out blending.  I'm seeing that Lydia is completely capable of blending, she just doesn't really want to do the work lots of times.  So she'll see the word "can" and will tell me that it is "cat."  So we're focusing on looking at the whole word and taking the time to sound out each letter or section of the word.  She also has very little stamina for it, which is age appropriate. So right now I'll do a main 5 minute lesson where we work on a few words, and then throughout the day, I'll ask her to sound out a word here and there.  We're staying on lesson 29 of OPGTR until she masters this.

Read Alouds:
I was bad about these this week.  We read several picture books, but I'm not sure we read the Book of Greek Myths at all this week.  Oh well. And Eleanor ripped another library picture book.  Grrr.

Memorization/Calendar Time:
We continued to solidify the First Article of Faith, focusing on saying every word exactly right.  We also began memorizing "Happy Thought" by Robert Louis Stevenson.
For calendar, we talked about the date, and she now knows it is August and can read the year as well.  We continue to say all the days of the week every day, focusing on what today is and what tomorrow is.  She has the week mostly memorized, but is having difficulty translating that to today and tomorrow.  I think doing it every day over time will clear this up for her.

We did pages 15-28 of About Three.  Mostly it was pre-writing skills like tracing lines, but there was some matching as well.  I was especially encouraged today, because we did a page of same/different, and Lydia picked out all the different objects perfectly.  We've been working on this, and just a week ago, she couldn't do it!

Oh, and Lydia and Eleanor spent a ton of time with their Leap Frog tag reader this week.  We have a U.S. map a solar system map that go with it, as well as this set of animal flashcards.  Lydia can pick out Pennsylvania, Texas, and California, and she knows where both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean are compared to the U.S.  So that's nifty, especially since we're doing the oceans later this year as one of our memorization items.  She's learning a lot from the solar system one too, especially combined with the Make a Scene: Outer Space app that she loves.  The app is basically an interactive sticker book, but she's getting familiar with the planet's names and several constellations too.  They're both learning so much from our tag games, that I'm considering getting the World Map and the Human Body ones also.  Maybe for Christmas.

That was our week.  I'm loving homeschool preschool so far!