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!