Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Months 4 & 5 Review

I forgot to do a review of our progress for September, and by the time I got around to it, I was halfway through the month of October and decided to just wait and do two months worth at once.  First, the extracurricular things.

We have been very busy.  In September we visited a butterfly farm.  It was really cute and the girls enjoyed letting the butterflies sit on their fingers.  There was also a little presentation about butterflies which set the girls on a butterfly information binge that we are still working on.

I caught Lydia reading her sisters a family favorite all on their own.  I love to see times like this.

For dress like a pirate day, we went to Krispy Kreme and got 2 dozen free donuts.  Two instead of 3 because Adelaide didn't want to be a pirate, only a bunny and for some reason that didn't count.

A few weeks ago, Tyler had a week vacation and we had a blast exploring our new area.  There are many things to see and do within an hour or two of our new home.  One of our favorite things was exploring Hanging Rock State Park.  There were many beautiful waterfalls and the girls were champs at hiking.  Eleanor, especially, would have gone miles and miles.

Dad with the girls behind a waterfall

Eleanor and Dad seeing a waterfall on their own without the rest of us because we were too tired after a full day of hiking.
Lydia looking at our first waterfall.
We spent a day at a nearby city park that had a carousel and train.  We got passes and rode them many times.  We also rented a canoe and Dad took the girls out on a really pretty lake for their first rides on a canoe.  
Eleanor on the carousel.
Dad and Adelaide on the train.

We also explored the traditional English gardens at Reynolda Gardens.  It was a fun morning and really pretty place.  The girls enjoyed frolicking in the garden.  They literally frolicked, but it was good to see.  We'll go back sometime, I think.

Our last family activity was to visit Old Salem.  This was probably the biggest bust, simply because the girls are a little small to enjoy the history aspect, although they did enjoy a lot of the more hands-on elements.  They enjoyed a puppet show, running the cider press, and the water pump.

Adelaide liked pumping water.

We had a fun Halloween.  Daddy had to leave to go to work at 7, so he took the girls out for a little early trick-or-treating and then we handed candy out to the kids who came by.
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Now for our school report:

Lydia had started fighting me on math and I was getting sick of how much time it took and decided that although it worked fairly well, we needed something more streamlined.  I switched Lydia over to Christian Light Education Math.  By all accounts, it was supposed to have all the pros of Saxon but be more streamlined, and this is exactly what I have found it to be.  It is a Mennonite math program and I am LOVING it.  We doubled up on the first several lessons in an effort to catch up since she was starting late and now our lessons are taking about a half hour a day.  She has completed through Lesson 32.  There are many more lessons in CLE than there were in Saxon in a given year, so we will be doing math most days, even when we don't do other school in an effort to get it done before next year.

Eleanor finished Essential Math A a while ago and is now well into B.  She is on page 64 (out of 158).  She is doing an amazing job and I'm already looking towards what she will do once she finishes.  She is also doing a great job with Miquon.  She is almost halfway through Miquon Orange.  I think I will try to introduce more math games rather than just worksheets in an effort to slow her down and help her have a deeper understanding of math.

Lydia finished OPGTR!  This was a major milestone.  We've been working on OPGTR since Lydia turned 4 years old and she went from not being able to blend two-letter words to now being able read fluently on about a 4th grade level.  She also finished her first chapter book, The Boxcar Children, and is halfway through Sarah, Plain, and Tall.  I found this reading list by Mensa and have decided to have Lydia work through it.  She has also started Book-It again and I'm struggling to figure out goals for her.  I'll just have to think on it.

Eleanor is on Lesson 46 in OPGTR.  She has moved from CVC words to simple blends.  She is doing a great job with it too.  She enjoys reading Bob books and has finished the first 8.

Language Arts:

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Month 3 Review

August...didn't go very well school-wise.  I just really wasn't on the ball and fell short of most of my goals for the month.  The good news is, I had built in enough extra so that I had a buffer.  The bad news is that I no longer have a buffer.  But I'm feeling a renewed sense of dedication and I think that September will be awesome.  August just had a lot of little things happen that got the better of me.  First was Lydia's birthday!

Sorry the picture is a bit blurry.  My phone has been doing that lately and I don't know how to fix it.  And yes, she was wearing her favorite Thomas PJ's and yes, she got a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Lego set.  She has played with it daily since and really enjoys it.  Our family rule is that birthdays are school holidays, so we didn't do any school that day.  We had to open her presents first thing in the morning so that Daddy could be there.

We also dealt with Tyler's Jeep breaking down beyond what was worth repairing, and we decided to buy on of my in-law's cars to replace it.  I had to fly to Arkansas and drive it back, all in a 36 hour period so that Tyler could go to work.  My flight was delayed by several hours and I ended up driving mostly through the night (it is a 16 hour drive).  I slept for a few hours in the car at a rest stop, but mostly relied on caffeine to get me home.  I made it home with one hour to spare.  It took a few days for me to recover from that experience.

This month was also the first day back to school for the local schools and the first day of what would have been Lydia's very first day of school if we were sending her.  It was sort of weird for me, and it in a way, it has helped me take school more seriously because I think about the fact that she would be in school if I wasn't doing this, so I should make sure to do a good job.

I took this during what would have been her first day of school ever.
Lydia finished through lesson 38 in Saxon, which is 29% of the way through.  Not as far ahead as I would like, but still on track.  She is still excelling at it.  We've started doing addition facts and the ones we've done so far she really has down pat (doubles and +1).  She's also doing well with her worksheets and tests, almost always getting 100%.  Saxon takes FOREVER to complete (I'm talking an hour and 15 minutes or so a day), which is a lot for a 1st grader, but the variation within it keeps her interested.  We do a homework page, then review her math facts, then do calendar, counting, pattern, and money jar, then the day's lesson, then a math facts sheet, then the worksheet for the day.  So it isn't the same thing the whole time.  Math isn't her most favorite thing ever, but she doesn't really whine about it and it really seems to be working for her.

Eleanor really likes when we do math.  She really wants to keep working through Essential Math A, so we've been doing that.  I think she likes the pictures.  We also do a page of Miquon each day we do math and she really seems to be getting it.  We started on some of the addition pages, specifically the ones where she has to figure out all the ways to "make" 5 or 7 or whatever number.  She really likes these.  She's almost done with Essential Math A, so we'll probably move to B as soon as that happens, but we'll continue with Miquon.

Lydia has finished through Lesson 208 in OPGTR.  She is working on three-syllable words now and is doing pretty well with it.  I've also started being more consistent in having assigned reading time.  I'm still working out how to best do that.  I tried just setting a timer, but she just played with the book.  Now I'm sitting with her while she reads to me.  I'd like to wean her off that though and be able to have her read by herself for a set amount of time, but she is still young and we'll get there.  Currently she is reading the first Boxcar Children book to me, a favorite of mine from when I was little.

Eleanor has been doing ok.  She still gets frustrated with reading very easily and since she's three, I'm letting her veto when we do school.  When she's 4 she doesn't get that choice, but everything right now is informal.  Her birthday is in a few weeks, so she better live it up while she can.  She is through lesson 34 in OPGTR.  She's still working on basic cvc words and just read her first BOB book, which she was very proud of.

Language Arts:
Writing With Ease is still going well and Lydia completed through Week 9, Day 3, which is the same as 39 days.  She enjoys it and I can see some improvement in her ability to answer my questions and give a narration.  She also likes the variety of stories.

Lydia also completed through lesson 35 in First Language Lessons, which has mostly covered proper vs. common nouns so far.  She has the definition of a noun down pat, but she still struggles to identify common or proper nouns.  I'm not sure how much of that is lack of understanding and how much is carelessness in answering, but we'll probably take a little break before FLL moves on to something else to solidify it a little better.

Lesson 23 of All About Spelling has been tricky for Lydia.  The lesson itself wasn't that hard and she actually understood it well (s or es to make a word plural).  But the fact that some of the other rules are starting to be used in her new words is tripping her up.  She has to remember that in a one syllable, short vowel word that ends in f, l, or s, they are doubled.  She knows this rule but almost always forgets it until I point it out.  This is just an example, but one of her more common mistakes.  That, combined with the fact that we can only do about 10 words a day before she gets frustrated means that Lesson 23 has been slow going.  But I think it has also been very good for her.  I want her to learn to spell, not finish the curriculum quickly, so we are taking our time.

Eleanor has been enjoying handwriting a lot lately.  She writes her own name all the time and tries to write her family's name as well.  She has only formally learned a few letters so far, but that hasn't stopped her.  I think I need to speed her up in handwriting, if only because she really wants to write letters.

We added a uterus and muscles to their bodies.  The girls were fascinated by the uterus and the fact that only girls have them.  They both talk about that a lot.  We'll work on the digestive system soon, which I think will be another favorite.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Month 2 Review

Watching a video of the CC timeline while I get lunch ready.

This month was a little more productive than last month, although not a bunch more.  Eleanor has started doing more official schooly things, although I still give her power to overrule me until she is 4, which isn't for a few more months.  She wants to do school almost every time I ask, though, so she's doing pretty well too.

Lydia completed 15 lessons in Saxon, which puts her at 22% of the way through, which is still ahead of where we need to be right now.  She's building a nice little cushion for later if she struggles with a concept or if we take a break.  Saxon is still going wonderfully for her.

Eleanor started Miquon.  She completed 16 pages of Miquon Orange and did math on 9 days.  Since Miquon Orange and Red together are a first grade math program, I have no particularly strong goals for her to finish at any time soon.  I guess a tentative goal would be to finish Orange by next year, which is 126 pages, but I won't push it.  So far she really likes it but I see us mixing it up with other sources as well in the future.

Lydia did formal reading lessons and formal extra reading 9 days last month.  I would like to do better with it this next month, but she's still fine.  She spends a lot of her own time reading too, so she is still getting practice. (As I'm typing this I can hear her reading the Frozen golden book to herself, for example)

Eleanor started OPGTR!  All that time with the HOP app really helped and her blending is much improved and she was definitely ready to start.  She finished through Lesson 33 and did formal reading lessons 8 days in July.

I did read alouds 6 days last month, including reading the entire first Bone book, which they enjoyed a lot, especially Eleanor.  I picked up the whole set on a whim at a consignment sale a while back and haven't red them, although Tyler had.  I thought they might enjoy a graphic novel format, although I will say it is sort of tricky as a read aloud.  They are begging me to start the next one.  We also continue to do daily family scripture study and the girls listen to an audio book for 2 hours or so every night in bed.  Lately we've been rotating Story of the World 1&2, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, How to Train Your Dragon, The Complete Winnie the Pooh, the Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter, The Wizard of Oz, Little House in the Big Woods, and Paddington Bear.  Can you tell we love audio books?

Lydia's most recent narration.  She insisted on copying it herself.
As I planned, I tried to kick up writing this month.  Lydia completed 14 days of writing putting her in the middle of Week 7 in Writing With Ease.  She is enjoying it a lot and even does extra copywork for it by her own insistence.  She is getting better at answering the comprehension questions and she is starting to write a little quicker as well.  This puts us at 18% of the way through the program which is a little bit ahead of where we need to be.

We did 12 days of grammar and Lydia has finished through lesson 26 in First Language Lessons.  I am almost certain we'll start doing level 2 this year because there are only 100 lessons total in level 1.  We are definitely ahead.  I think Lydia likes it too because it is the first language arts that she always picks to do, although this may have to do with the fact that there is almost no writing.

We did science 4 days this month, so better than last month but still not great.  Maybe upping this should be my goal, although one of those 4 days was a "science" day where we only watched science shows, went to the science museum, watched a planetarium show, and worked on their MyBodies.  The girls have also watched the first season of Zula Patrol one and a half times while in the car.  They are enjoying it and we have been having lots of impromptu science discussions as a result.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Month 1 Review

Since we have officially been at this school year for one month now, I've decided to do an academic review of where we are, mostly for my own purposes so I can see if we need to speed up or slow down different subjects.  I'm mostly only doing this for Lydia as I don't have any substantial goals for Eleanor this year except to be deliberately heading towards reading.

Lydia has completed 13 lessons in Saxon.  There are 130 lessons total, so she's 1/10 of the way through.  Since we are schooling year round, that is about spot on for where we should be.  Saxon is also going really well, so I'm not going to mess with math.

Lydia is on lesson 194 in Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (out of 231).  She did reading lessons 10 days this month.  At this rate, she will finish in a few months, which is just fine.

She also did "formal" extra reading with me on 12 days.  She reads a lot on her own, though, so I'm not exactly sure how much she read, but it was lots!

Oh, and I did a read aloud 7 days, which is actually pretty good for me.  Read alouds have been a weak area for me for a while, so while I'd like to do better, I'm still pretty pleased at how well we did.  This isn't counting family scripture study and the story that Dad reads every night too.

Eleanor did reading lessons 12 days in June.  She is finished through Unit 3 in the Hooked on Phonics App (out of 12).  She is starting to catch on to blending and I think that when she finishes the app, she'll be very ready to start OPGTR.

Lydia did 11 days of writing and has finished through week 3 in Writing With Ease.  There are 36 weeks, so she is exactly 1/12 of the way through.  We should probably kick it up a notch, but we aren't behind yet!  WWE is going very well and I can definitely see it working on areas that Lydia has weaknesses with, so it is very good for her.

Lydia did 11 days of grammar too.  There are 100 lessons for this year, so we are well on track.  Many reviews have complained that it is too redundant, but Lydia is both needing and enjoying that redundancy, so it is a good fit for her so far.

We did spelling 10 days this month.  Lydia has almost finished lesson 20 in All About Spelling.  We are really taking our time, but she is doing well.  This is one area that I'd really like to do more regularly.

Science was done 3 days this month.  I didn't even start until halfway through the month so that is pretty decent since I don't consider it an every day subject.  The girls are really loving working on their MyBodies and the lapbooks so I think I might try to do more of this next month too.

Overall, this was a pretty decent month.  There's room for improvement but I'm not behind yet!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekly Report: June 20, 2014

I'm struggling with how to title these.  In the past, I've called my Weekly Reports by their week number, but that didn't work so well when I only did 2 or 3 days in a week.  Then I called them by their day numbers, but that is also tricky, because what counts as a "day" of school?

I recently decided (and started) to keep track of our work by which subjects we covered with a goal to finish each book by June 1st next year.  Saxon Math, for example, has 130 lessons for the year.  Writing With Ease has 4 lessons a week for 36 weeks, so 144 lessons.  I don't have to do all subjects every day, but I do want to make sure we're on track.

To that end, I printed off this checklist sheet from Donna Young.  Donna Young's page is so useful.  It is also where I print off all of our handwriting paper.  Anyway, I put Lydia's subjects on the first half and Eleanor's subjects on the second half of the page.  So I guess I'll just do my weekly report by date and not worry about how many "days" or "weeks" we've done, just that we're on track.

That said, we're doing really well.  I'm more deliberate with doing school that I've ever been before and the girls are having really good attitudes for the most part and are pretty happy to do their school work.  All of the subjects/materials I chose for them seem to be working exactly how I was hoping they would.  School is going as well as I could hope.

Last week, our family took a break from school and took a trip to the beach.  It was a 4.5 hour drive from here and then a 2.5 hour ferry ride to the island we camped on.  It was beautiful weather, although a little windy and it did rain one morning, but we had a lot of fun.  The girls have never been to the ocean that they remember, so they enjoyed it quite a bit as well.

On the ferry to the island.
We had the beach mostly to ourselves

Burying Daddy in the sand.
After we got home, we took a day or two to recover and clean up and then got right back into school.  Then, this last weekend, I had a massive allergic reaction to something and was out of commission for a few days.  I'm still recovering, but was able to get a good amount of school done this week too.

Oh, and on Monday we got 6 little baby chicks in the mail!  I've wanted chickens for years but we never lived anywhere that would let us, but now we do!  They are adorable and the girls are loving them, especially Lydia.

As for actual school...


She has finished through Lesson 8 in Saxon and we are continuing to do well with it.  I just hope it keeps going as well as it has been so far.  There are a lot of pieces to Saxon that many people ignore, but I am trying to do every little bit of it (morning meeting, lesson, work with mom, independent work).  I was concerned that this would be too much for Lydia, but there seems to be enough variation that is just right for her right now.

We do OPGTR almost every day and are now on Section 18 out of 25.  A lot of this she has picked up already, but there are some definite gaps in her knowledge that I'm noticing, so I'm glad we're finishing through the book.  It is a relatively painless 5 minutes or so a day right now.
Lydia is also reading me a library book every day still.  Lately she's been a fan of Curious George and anything Mo Willems.
We are also working through Raggedy Ann as a read aloud.  The girls are enjoying it well enough.

We have one day left in Week 2 of Writing With Ease.  This week the story is Pinocchio and I was interested to see how she would like it when the story was unfamiliar (opposed to Little House in the Big Woods which she knew really well).  She did great with it and I definitely think the skills she is practicing will come back and help her a lot as she gets better at it.
First Language Lessons is going well.  Lydia is working on mastering the difference between common nouns and proper nouns, but she's getting the hang of it.

We are working hard at All About Spelling lesson 19 still, although she's almost finished it up.  It is a tricky one for her.  She's learning when to end a word with "k" vs. "ck."  I honestly didn't even know the rule for that before this, but she's almost got it down.  I love that I'm learning things from my daughter's 1st grade spelling book.  We take our time with AAS and do every little piece and all the practice words.  Because she was having difficulty with this rule, we've done many of the words several times now.  Can I just say how much I love our Sound Literacy app?  It is WAY better than using magnetic phonogram tiles on a big white board.  Plus Lydia likes doing spelling on the iPad most days.

We started science this week!  We are starting with My Body, which the girls are LOVING.  I have the book, but it didn't copy well, so I went ahead and got the PDF so I could just print out the pages I needed.  I would highly recommend the PDF over the hard copy in this case.  We traced the girls' bodies and have added their brains.  We talked all about what brains do, looked at the brain on our iPad anatomy apps, and Lydia and I even did this brain lapbook together.

I think that this project will be very worthwhile. They are both very engaged with it and excited to talk about what they are learning.
I also just purchased the first season of Zula Patrol which is a science cartoon.  I had never seen it before but heard good things.  After previewing it I've decided that it isn't really my style of show, but it has some good science in it and I think it will be a fine show for the car and hopefully the girls will learn something.


We're still just working with the c-rods and doing activities from Education Unboxed to try to help familiarize Eleanor with how they work.  I have seen improvement in her comfort with them and here pretty soon I think we'll start doing some Miquon as well.  She also sits in on a lot of Lydia's math lessons and is picking up things from that too.

We are still doing Hooked on Phonics on the iPad.  She is getting a little better about trying new words and not guessing, but it is still a problem area.  My plan at the moment is to work all the way through the HOP app which covers basic cvc and cvcc words and then start with the cvc section of OPGTR.  I'm hoping with a little practice and confidence under her belt, she will do better with OPGTR than our first try.

Handwriting Without Tears is going well.  We are working slowly, but are in no rush and she's enjoying it.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Weekly Report: Days 1-5

I don't have many pictures for this week because most of them were taken on the first day.  It was a very productive first week, though.  It is weird, I feel like I am taking this year much more seriously than last year, or the year before.  Probably because this is the first year that Lydia would be going to school if we weren't homeschooling, so it is getting real!

We got family pictures back this week.  I loved this one of the girls


Saxon is going quite well so far. I am enjoying teaching it and Lydia seems to be responding well to the spiral format.  It does help that she already understands the content that we've been doing so far, but I'm hoping it will continue to be a good fit.
We did OPGTR every day and Lydia also read a book to me every day.
Language Arts:
Writing With Ease went well.  It definitely helped that the first selections were from Little House in the Big Woods, which she loves.  She did well with her narrations and copywork.
FLL also went well.  We're going to be skipping some of the lessons because we are doing poetry memorization somewhere else, so we'll probably speed through it.  I might supplement with Language Lessons Through Literature, but we'll see.


Essential Math is turning out to be a bit boring for her, so we did it a few days and then played with c-rods. We basically did living math.  I think I might change our focus from Essential Math to Miquon as our main curriculum.
We're working on her figuring out blending. She does ok, but gets frustrated very easily.  For the next little while, we'll probably be using the Hooked on Phonics app because she seems to respond better to the game format.
We started Handwriting Without Tears and she's enjoying it so far.


Read Aloud:
We read about half of Raggedy Ann Stories, and the girls are enjoying it well enough.  It isn't my favorite, but we'll power through.
We didn't do science this week, but we'll start up next week.

So that was our first week, uneventful, but enjoyable and a good start!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Other Plans 2014/2015

Most of these will be done together, some more regularly than others, but they are still important parts of our homeschool and I thought they deserved to be listed, if only for my own records.

We are very religious, and while I don't really consider us "religious homeschoolers," it is still an important part of our lives.  In the morning, immediately after breakfast, the girls and I will read one story out of the Illustrated Scripture Stories books put out by the Church.

We will probably be focusing on the bible this year, as we focus on the Book of Mormon in the evening as a family.  Every night we read one page together out of the BoM and talk about it as we go.  Lydia reads a verse or two as well.  While we read, the girls look at The Illustrated Stories from the Book of Mormon set that we happen to own (thanks Mom and Dad!).  It is a 16 volume set that is out of print, but really detailed and awesome.  We recently finished the Book of Mormon for the second time as a family, so we are starting fresh right now and are only a few chapters in.

Since we stopped memorization for a while and are adding Eleanor in, I'll be focusing on reviewing ones Lydia has already learned for a while and teaching them to Eleanor.  So all of our previous memorization lists still apply.  If we finish that (and Lydia likely will, if not Eleanor) then I will just continue with last year's plan and the timeline.

Science is not a formal priority for us this year.  I do plan on doing some formal science though, specifically Building Foundations in Scientific Understanding.  The first volume is for K-2, so we will be doing 12 lessons out of it this year.  They are fairly meaty, though.  I also plan on doing some interest-led science this year, including a lot of time on the human body, which Lydia is especially interested in right now, and probably space.

We will be doing My Body which is a project where you build a life-size body diagram organ by organ.  We will also likely make a few lapbooks.  Lydia has been enjoying Human Body by Tinybop and My Incredible Body apps, both of which are excellent and she has learned a lot.

I am also getting chickens in a few weeks as day-old baby chicks, so we will probably do some informal science as they help me with them too.

We will do nothing formal for history this year.  The girls listen to Story of the World volumes 1&2 all the way through every few weeks at bedtime which covers from pre-history to the beginning of the renaissance.  We are still working on memorizing the Classical Conversations Timeline too.

And the girls watch Liberty's Kids all the way through every few months, which is a great program about the founding of the United States.  Besides those and reading library books, I plan on no history focus this year.  Actually, now that I list it out like that, this is a fairly decent history plan for a first grader and pre-schooler.

Computer Science:

I consider computer science an important subject in our homeschool, so we will be doing's new K-1st cs program when it comes out (promised to be this summer).  Looking at it, that is about 20 lessons total.  We will also be doing some pre-coding activities, mostly in the form of apps like Kodable.  I don't think Lydia will be ready for Scratch by the end of this year, but that is our goal in the next few years.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Language Arts Plans for 2014/2015

First Grade 

Reading:  Finish up The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  At this point it is almost just a formality but we will finish it, dang it!  Lydia is already reading as well as I could hope and it is mostly just practice and maturity at this point for her.

We will also be reading books together daily with the hopes of eventually moving her to free-reading time on her own.

We will be doing family read alouds daily.... I hope.  I haven't been great at this in the past, but here's hoping this is the year!

Writing: We will be using Writing With Ease Level 1.  This is almost exclusively narration and dictation, both of which will be good for her.

Grammar: First Language Lessons Level 1.

Spelling: All About Spelling Level 1 & 2.  We're mostly done with level 1, so when she finishes it, we'll move right on to level 2.


Reading: We're starting OPGTR!  One girl finishing it up, one starting!  I'm pretty sure I will be using this book for like 6 years straight, but here goes year 3.

She will be joining us for our family read aloud.

Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears PreK.  Eleanor will be learning all of her capital letters.

Math Plans for 2014/2015

First Grade Math

I've tried everything I can think of for math with Lydia, but it just hasn't been sinking in.  All my dreams of creative and alternative math methods have been thrown out the window with her.  I don't think it is a maturity thing either, I think it is just the way she is.  She just hasn't been getting it.  So for this year, I decided to go with the best, most thorough and incrimental traditional math program I could find: Saxon math.

When I first started looking into homeschooling, Saxon was one of the first math programs I heard about and I immediately dismissed it.  I consider myself fairly mathy and some of the other math programs appealed to me much more (Singapore, Hungarian, Miquon, Living Math).  I was sure I could make those work for my children.  But they just aren't, at least for Lydia.  Algorithms are what Lydia needs.  A deep understanding of number relationships is not.  Repitition and memorization are what she needs.  Spiral (constantly reviewing past concepts) and infuriatingly incremental are what she needs, so we're going with Saxon.

Honestly, it is a very respected, proven program that thousands of children have used with great success, but I am a little disappointed to go there.  Also, it is crazy involved!  I have a HUGE teacher's manual (like several inches thick) that is scripted (which I actually like).  I have two workbooks, a "meeting" book, and several masters.  Not to mention the tons of manipulatives that they require (which I mostly had on hand already).  Math is probably going to take us an hour or more a day.  But I am committed.  I am hopeful.  I really think this might work for her, and if it does, we are in it for the long haul, at least with Lydia.

I will not be supplementing Saxon at all this year, at least in the foreseeable future.  It is already so involved that I don't think I'll be up to it!


For Eleanor this year we will be finishing Essential Math.  She is already on about page 100 in Essential Math A and will probably finish it up in the month.  Essential Math B, from what I learned with Lydia, is much more challenging and I'm sure she'll need to slow down.  I also plan on trying all my beautiful math dreams out on her.  We'll be doing a lot of work with our cuisenaire rods and probably working through Miquon and possibly even starting Math Mammoth if she gets there.  Eleanor is very bright, but she is still very young (almost 4 years old), so we'll take our time and see what happens.

She will also be sitting in a lot on the verbal stuff I do with Lydia, like skip counting and counting backwards, as well as calendar and patterns, so I expect Saxon to benefit her too, somewhat.

First Day of Homeschool 2014

Today was our first day of school.  Lydia started 1st grade and Eleanor started PreK.  I was going to wait a bit but they were bored and I think we were all ready.  I wanted to make the first day special because back when I first decided to homeschool, the first day of school was the part that made me saddest to give up.  I always loved the first day of school and I want my kids to think it is special too.

We started with a breakfast of ice cream and brownies, which is very special at our house.  We almost never have ice cream, much less for breakfast, and the girls enjoyed it.  I also let them pick everything about what they wore today, including their hair.  Then we took pictures.  We are at that fun stage where the kids are so squirmy the pictures are a bit blurry, and their "smiles" look more like grimaces.

Lydia- 1st Grade
Eleanor- PreK (yes, she and Lydia are the exact same height)
Adelaide- Just wanted a picture too.
School itself went pretty well.  We will need to work through some discipline issues, but for the most part, things went fairly well.  And Eleanor is now reading two-letter words (am, at, etc.)!  I'm excited for her to start learning how to read.

After school, we went to McDonald's for lunch (their favorite) and then the we went to the Children's museum.

This is a hand-crocheted climbing structure that was really fun.  Even Tyler and I climbed up in it.
Eleanor at the top
The whole family at the top.
Adelaide and Daddy inside of it.
Adelaide got a bit worn out.
So we had a good day, I think.  I hope the rest of our week goes just as well!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sorry and an Update

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  Life got really hectic and we didn't really do much school in the last few weeks anyways.  Therapy is over, which means I get to have my girls all to myself again.  Tyler graduated medical school and we moved to a new state.  We are almost settled in our new house.  Daily naptime for all three girls has been re-instituted.  Life is starting to get into a new regular flow and I couldn't be more happy about it.

School...well, I pretty much gave up on school weeks ago.  Besides reading with Lydia, everything else just felt like too much for Lydia's therapy-filled schedule.  She was having a really hard time with all that was expected of her and I made the decision to back off for a while.  We finished 116 days of school total and I feel good calling it a year and starting over in a few weeks.  I still haven't decided if we will call this upcoming year another Kindergarten year or 1st grade for Lydia, but either way, my plans are the same (and will be detailed in an upcoming post).  Eleanor will be starting PreK which she is very excited about.   I'm excited to get a fresh start and school in earnest.

In the meantime, we have been having a lot of fun adventures.  Here are pictures from some of them:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Weekly Report: Days 100-104

The last week has seen a change in Lydia's therapy here at home.  She has a new therapist that is alternating times with her old therapist and her program has changed to be a bit more rigorous.  She is struggling a bit with the expectations of her, but she is equal to the task and has been able to keep up with her basic school lessons.  The last day for therapy is in the beginning of May, so she only has a few weeks left and we want to make the most of her time.

I'm also giving a lot of thought to how I will do school after we move.  It is very likely Lydia won't be in any therapy at all after we move.  Tyler will also be a 1st year resident and will be gone almost all the time.  I will have my kids 100% to myself and I would like to up our schedule and formalize a little more of our learning time.  I just need to figure out how to do it.  We'll re-institute memorization time which we are currently ignoring because of Lydia's tough schedule.  The rest of it is up in the air.  I'm sure I'll be talking more about that as time goes on.


OPGTR is going well.  She is on lesson 169 and moving along nicely.  She also reads an easy reader book from the library almost every day with her therapist and is now reading two verses every night at family scripture study.  Her reading is starting to show a little more fluency and she has started adding emotion to her reading and sounds a lot less like a robot.

I have some big changes in store for Lydia for math.  As you might have noticed, we are sort of floundering with math right now.  Lydia seems to have hit a wall with my current methods and I don't think what we have been doing is particularly effective for her.  Lately she has been working on Xtramath as a sort of minimal math and placeholder while she's been doing therapy, but I think I have come up with a solution for our math woes with her for after we move.  I'm going to take a very new approach that I'll talk about in another post.

Spelling is going well, although it is fairly low on the totem pole right now for us.  She just finished lesson 17 in AAS1.

I realized that I never had her finish the HWT book a little while back, so she's been working on the last few pages.


While Eleanor isn't going to officially start school until this fall, it seems like we are unofficially going ahead with it.  Most days, Eleanor will practice her letter phonograms with the LOE phonogram app.  She has them down pretty well by now.  I usually quiz her on first sounds of words at random times throughout the day as well ("Can you tell me the first letter of the word 'TABLE'?").  Now I am starting her on blending.  I'm using an app for this, but it is almost as easy on my own.  Basically I just say the three letter sounds of a simple word separately and help her figure out what word it is.  Once she gets that, we'll start OPGTR.

Almost daily Eleanor asks to do math. I went ahead and started her in Essential Math A and she is flying through it.  She loves doing her own math and I usually have to cut her off.  Right now she is on page 36.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Weekly Report: Days 81-99

It has been a while since I did an update, so I thought I should probably do one.  One of the reasons for this is that Lydia's schooling is at a minimum right now.  Her therapy takes up so much of her time that I am focusing on the 3Rs and that's it.  Her therapy should end here in a month or two, though, so we should be getting back to normal after that.

Another reason for my long silence is my trip to Japan!  Tyler and I were able to visit his parents in Tokyo for a little over a week while the girls spent the week with my parents.  We all had fun, but we were happy to be back together.

We also just found out where Tyler matched for residency!  So we'll be moving to North Carolina in a few months.  I am so excited and think this will be a great thing for our family.

Me and Tyler in Japan
All three girls at a science center in Lubbock
Eleanor the vet
Eleanor and Lydia walking Grandma's dog Brodi
Lydia is now a mostly fluent reader and is able to decipher many of the words she comes across.  She is on lesson 163 in OPGTR (r-changed vowels) and is zooming through it.  I think she understood about r-changed vowels naturally, so she isn't having to struggle with it at all.  Our OPGTR lessons take 5 mins or less per day right now.
She is also still participating in Book-it.  She reached her February goal and is well on her way to get her March goal.  Book-it ends this month, so I need to figure out if I want to do a mommy-subsidized book-it program or what in the meantime.  For Book-it, she is checking out several leveled readers from the library every week and can read almost all the books in the beginner reading section of the library.
Finally, we've had her start reading a verse every night when we do family scripture study.  She has been doing a great job and I'm surprised at how many words she can read.

Paper dolls I printed for Ellie

Lydia wasn't loving the flashcards for math facts practice, so I started  After the placement test, she scored a 1 (out of 100) for addition facts.  We do xtramath every day now and she now has a score of 17, so that's good progress.  I feel like for now, this is enough.  After Lydia's therapy is over, I will add some extra math concepts, but right now, she's making lots of connections like I hoped she would.  I think Lydia works the opposite of a lot of other kids, so while I wouldn't go this direction with my other children, math facts and then concepts may be a better option for her.

Eleanor wanted to do some math too, so I went ahead and started her Essential Math A book.  She breezed through several pages and keeps asking for more.  I also showed her the Arithmetic Village pdfs I have and she LOVED them.  I told her I could make them into books for her and she said yes.  So I made the first one and she has made me read it to her several times over the last few days.  I'm going to work on making the other four in the next week or so.  She also did some of the stick designs from the vintage book, Primer of Industry that I found a while back.

Spelling and Handwriting:
Lydia is in lesson 17 in AAS and progressing nicely.  She is understanding when to use c or k as the first letter in a word.  I also have her finishing up her HWT K book, which I sort of ignored for a while.  She is writing noticeably faster now and fairly legibly.
The other day she wrote the word "William" as "Wileeyum" on one of her pictures.  I thought is was super cute.