Saturday, May 30, 2015

May Report

I'm not sure what month of school this is, but since I'm trying to be good about blogging again, I thought I'd do a report for the month!

May was an eventful month for us, mostly in the form of news. Tyler took and found out he passed his Step 3 exam. This means that he is now a licensed physician! He still has to finish residency (2 more year) and then hopefully a fellowship (3 more years) and pass the boards for both of those, but it is still a major accomplishment.

We also found out some health news about Lydia that will affect her for the rest of her life and is a big deal, although nothing life-threatening. We will be in and out of doctors offices for the next few months as they do a bunch of tests related to it. This diagnoses has been difficult for all of us to deal with, but we're doing ok. If you are family or friends and want more information, send me a message and I'll tell you about it.

In other news, we bought a small above-ground pool on a whim. A goal I had for the summer was to get my girls more comfortable in the water and hopefully teach the older 2 how to swim. This was a tall order for 3 little girls that spend their pool time sitting on the stairs. When I saw this pool online, I knew it would be perfect for us. In fact, the older two girls are swimming in it right now.

This month was an awesome school month. We got a lot done and the girls worked hard.

Lydia is almost finished with Light Unit 106 (she finished 101-105 and there are 10 altogether in her level). She has been doing a great job on her tests and quizzes and is learning her math facts very well.

Eleanor started MEP 1 and is doing well with it. It has things that are very easy for her and things that are quite challenging for her. One question that challenged her was a picture of 6 sailboats with a flag, sail, and hull. She was told to color them yellow, red, and blue, but not to make any of them exactly the same.The lessons so far have been very short, so she is still working her way through Miquon Orange. She has been working on simple multiplication and fractions in Miquon and doing a great job.

Lydia has been really into Clifford lately and we've checked out almost all of the Clifford books the library has. She reads them during school time but she can often be found reading them throughout the day. On a friend's recommendation, I also got her Princess in Black which is technically a chapter book but has very large print and pictures on every page. She read it in a day. I'm finding that the "leaving books laying around the house" method is working pretty well for her. She is also reading from the Treadwell reader a few times a week so I can check up on her and catch any reading mistakes she might be making.

Eleanor is halfway through lesson 61 in OPGTR. It takes her 2 or 3 days to get through a lesson, mostly because she still has to sound out every word, but she's getting there. She also likes to read the BOB books and Nora Gaydos readers we have in her spare time.

Everything Else:
Everything else is mostly do the next thing and we continue to power through.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Martha Wins a Race

Lately, Lydia has been making lots of little illustrated books and having me staple them together. Most of them are based off characters she knows, although she does have a few original characters that are regulars in her stories as well. After listening to the Brave Writer podcast, I knew the Brave Writer style of teaching writing wasn't for me, but there was one suggestion I liked for Lydia's age. They say it is good to scribe the children's stories for them. It helps make writing seem more fun, and it helps them "write" much more complicated stories than they might be able to with their limited penmanship skills.

I decided to record one of Lydia's stories today and then I typed it up. Lydia was absolutely thrilled about this entire process and wants me to do it for all her other stories (which I'm not sure I can because she makes up like 3 or 4 a day!) This story is based on Martha the dog from Martha speaks. Martha's character in the show ate a bowl of alphabet soup, so now she can talk and go on lots of adventures.

Martha Wins a Race
by Lydia

We have lots of adventures together. I have lots of adventures with my speaking dog Martha. I took Martha for a walk one day, but today Martha said, “Let’s Go!” and I attached her leash. She ate her alphabet soup and we were ready to go. “I’m going to win,” she said, so we came to a contest with dogs.

Skits raced against a dog named Martha. The dogs were competing in pairs. The zig-zagging trick was first. The dogs had to zig-zag through the flags during it. Martha was good at that trick. “Go Martha! Go Martha!” I cheered. She was really fast, but for the next trick the dogs had to go over a ramp and through a tunnel. It was Skits’ turn now. Skits was fast too, but he didn’t do that trick right. Martha got ten points. Skits got four.

The next trick was easy for Martha, but not for Skits. The flying saucer trick was next. The dogs had to chase the saucer and jump high to catch it. But Martha was good at that trick, too. “Yay Martha!” I screamed. Skits was not good at that trick. Ten more points for Martha, but Skits had one more chance.

That trick looked the hardest of all. The dogs had to go down that slide and make a big splash, but Skits knew he could do this one. But the contest wasn’t over yet. The end result was that Skits did not win the contest. Martha did. “I won!” she said when she grabbed her award. The award was a trophy with no handles. She was a super dog now. Skits did not win the contest, but he’d always been a dog champion.

~The End~

Friday, May 15, 2015

What We've Been Up To

Well, I sort of stopped bloggging for a bit, but I've been wanting to get back into it, if only for the personal accountability.

A few highlights of the last few months:

Thanksgiving, Daddy had to work so I took the girls last minute to Texas to visit my parents.

Helping Grandpa decorate their Christmas Tree
Christmas was fun, although Daddy had to stay in North Carolina and work again while the rest of us went to visit family in Arkansas.

Cooking with Grandma at Christmas
We also got to see Tyler's sister get married in Las Vegas right after Christmas.

After that trip, we were a bit tired.  Then in February, everyone got sick several times for pretty much the whole month, even Daddy.  And our heat went out downstairs for almost 2 weeks, so we were stuck in our rooms upstairs. Between the two, almost no school got done for the entire month.

March was uneventful and we spent most of the month just enjoying the nice weather and working on our yard.

April was fun. Tyler had a week off and we spent a few days in Washington, DC. We were able to visit a bunch of family and see the sights. I've never really "done" Washington, DC, so I was especially looking forward to the trip. We saw the Natural History and Air and Space Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo.

Lydia watching the panda playing

They were getting grumpy by the last day. This was the best we could get in front of the Lincoln Memorial
At the end of April, we were able to go to Kansas City and Arkansas to see another one of Tyler's sister's get married.

Our girls don't much like posing for family pictures.
So far in May we were able to go pick strawberries.

Overall, I'd say we've had a good year so far. As for academics, Lydia and Eleanor seem to be progressing nicely...

In Math, Lydia is doing very well with CLE. It is the perfect fit for her right now and for the foreseeable future. She is on lesson 101, and while I don't think she will finish it before July (which is the beginning of our new year), she won't be too far behind considering we spent the first few months of school doing Saxon and started this one late. 

Eleanor is doing really well with math. She just finished Essential Math B, meaning she is officially done with Kindergarten math and we will be starting 1st grade math in the next few days. I've given it a lot of thought and am going to try Eleanor with the Mathematics Enhancement Programme Year 1. It is a British program that is free online, but I'm using it because it is a really solid, deep program unlike anything I've ever seen. I've never used it before, so I'm going to give it a trial run and see if it is a good fit. If that doesn't work, we'll probably try Math Mammoth, which I have already on hand.  Eleanor is also doing well with Miquon and is almost done with the first level (orange). I plan to continue with it as well and move her to level 2 (red) when she finishes it in the next few weeks.

Lydia reads for 20 minutes every day from library books during mandatory reading time, although she reads many other books throughout the day. Even though her reading level and fluency is quite high, she really doesn't like reading chapter books yet and prefers picture books. Too many words on a page overwhelm her still. So for now, she is reading mostly picture books and higher leveled readers. I also have her read to me every day so I can make sure she doesn't forget her phonics. For that I am using the old vintage Treadwell Readers (sort of like the McGuffey readers pioneers used, but I like these better). She has been enjoying the stories and illustrations, and the way they are typed out isn't intimidating to her. This is a fairly recent change in our routine, so we are only about a third of the way through the first reader. At this point, I plan on having her go through all of them until she hits a road block.

Eleanor is doing well with OPGTR. She is on lesson 58 and is learning about her first digraphs like "sh" and "ch". Today she read the sentence, "The dog will catch the stick and bring it back." just to give you an idea of where she is (approximately a mid-first grade level).

Language Arts:
Lydia is still working on the same levels she was in writing, grammar, and spelling. She's powering through.

Eleanor finished her PreK handwriting book and has started HWT Kindergarten. She is very excited to learn how to write and copies lots of what she sees, even if she can't read it. My favorite was a few days ago when she copied "Disney. Made in China." from the back of one of her toys.

I recently started Lydia on Evan-Moor Beginning Geography. I thought she would enjoy it and maybe learn a few valuable skills. So far I am correct. It is painless and she has fun doing her one page a day of geography.  Eleanor wants to do it too, but I'm making her wait until she can read a little better.

I'm in the midst of planning for next year since we are only about a month and a half away. It isn't going to be very complicated as we will mostly be continuing what we are already doing, but I will be doing more science and history now. I also plan to make memorization a larger priority this year, so will be working on that. I'll be doing a post on our plans in the next few weeks.