Monday, November 2, 2015

October Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 6, 2015

August Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

July Report

We had a rather productive July, especially considering the many doctor appointments we had to attend. We also had a lot of fun as a family. Daddy had a rather laid back rotation for a resident.

Waiting for the fireworks on the 4th of July
Playing a board game for the first time without adult supervision
Dress Like a Cow Day!
One Saturday we went to Hanging Rock State Park. The girls really enjoyed hiking and playing in the water at the bottom of the waterfalls. 

Lydia lost her two front teeth this month!
The older two girls have been playing t-ball the last several weeks at our local YMCA. They've both learned a lot and this was really the first time they've participated in team sports. I think they have enjoyed themselves.

Lydia hitting a "swing pitch."
We've definitely stayed busy with extra-curriculars. As for school:

Lydia is on lesson 132 in CLE Math.  She doesn't love it, but she's doing well and progressing. Right now we're working more on attitude and dawdling than anything else, but even that is getting better.

Eleanor working on her Miquon lab sheet
Eleanor is rocking math lately. She actually cried a few days ago when I wouldn't do math with her. Every day we both pick a page for her to do in Miquon. Then she does a lesson in MEP. She is really starting to make connections and even absorb math facts. I see her making progress everyday. She is 39 pages (of 120) into Miquon Red and on lesson 30 (of 140) in MEP 1.

Lydia is reading 20 minutes a day from library books that I pick for her, usually related to our history readings. She also willingly read her first two chapter books on her own this month. Apparently she likes Cam Jensen mysteries.  She also reads a lot on her own in her own time and spends hours a day making her own books.

Eleanor is on Lesson 81 in OPGTR and progressing nicely. She is almost done with silent-e words and keeps trying to read things she sees around her.

Language Arts:
Lydia is on Step 12 in All About Spelling 2. It has been kind of fun because her spelling words are lining up nicely right now with what Eleanor is learning to read. Today, Eleanor sat down while I was giving Lydia her spelling phrases, and started trying to spell them too. She did a pretty good job, too, and only needed minimal hints.

Lydia doing some of her spelling in the iPad
In writing, Lydia is on week 30. For most of the program this year she has struggled with the narration part, where I read her a passage and she answers simple questions. The last few times, though, I've had her read along with me rather than just to her, and she has been much better. Hopefully this keeps working. She's also loving analyzing the sentences from her copywork, so much so that she wants to analyse the extra sentence that I don't even make her do. Thanks to the FLL grammar CD I bought them (and we listen to in the car), she's become a wiz at finding articles, different types of verbs, prepositions, and conjunctions, on top of the nouns, pronouns, and verbs she has learned in grammar so far. I think this kid will like diagramming when we get there in grammar next year. She's on lesson 119 in FLL 1/2 (out of 200). 

Lydia enjoys her geography page that she does on a daily basis and is already almost halfway through the book I bought for the year. In history, we have done through chapter 4 in Story of the World, which has mostly covered nomadic people and the early Egyptians, including mummies and and pyramids. The girls have been enjoying it a lot, especially Eleanor and Adelaide. We usually do a coloring sheet from the Activity Book or the girls draw what I'm reading about.

Lydia writing her name in cuneiform on a "clay tablet"

Eleanor also writing her name in "clay"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

First Day of Homeschool 2015

So the girls are really confused about this whole "first day of school" business. To them, we never stopped doing school and the idea of a school year just doesn't really make sense. I explained about the first day of school for other kids and that they don't go to school in the summer. I don't think they got it, but they aren't complaining! Here's a link to last year's first day of school.

I planned on doing the first day of school on July 1st, but that was a Wednesday and Dad had Friday off that week, so we waited until July 3rd this time so he could celebrate with us. Like last year, we had ice cream and brownies for breakfast, which they remembered. Then we took pictures in front of the giant ruler. I had Lydia pose with the first grade sign again because I've decided to officially keep her at that level because that's where I'd put her if I had to send her to school. Eleanor wouldn't legally be a Kindergartner in North Carolina this year, but I'm calling her one because she is so ready for it and can totally handle it.

After that, we went to a large indoor bouncy house and play ground area. The girls had a lot of fun, although Adelaide was pretty nervous the whole time. Lydia was even brave enough to go on the zipline. It took her 3 tries to work up the courage, but after she did it, she was fine and did it several more times. It was difficult to get good pictures because of the lighting, constant movement, and mesh walls, but I did get this photo of Lydia on the zipline and Adelaide on a little slide.

We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch, except I saw a Greek place right next to the bouncy house and made the family wait for me while I got a gyro (worth it!).

When we got home, we had a rest time for a while until everyone, including Dad, said they were bored and wanted to have more fun. So we looked it up and discovered that the Children's Museum in Greensboro had $2/person night that night. We had never been there before, so thought this sounded like a great opportunity to check it out.

By the time we were done, it was already past bedtime but we hadn't even had dinner yet!  So we went to CiCi's Pizza (much to Mom's chagrin and everyone else's delight.)

It was a fun day full of unhealthy food and lots of time out of the house. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and they are already starting to ask if we can have another first day of school. It may take me a whole year to recover from this year's celebration.