Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Divide and conquer library run

As I've written about before we love books. If food wasn't needed books might come before them in our family's list of needs. One tradition is at least 1 book run a week to our favorite library. It is a regional library that is about 8 minutes from our house. Closet library is 3 minutes, but it’s smaller and doesn’t have as many books and definitely doesn’t have the polar bear reading club that the regional one does. So we generally go to the one that’s 8 minutes away. And lately it's become a trip done on Saturday afternoons. The challenge had become is that it has slipped farther and farther in the afternoon depending on how busy we've been hanging out. And we've been busy ;) So this last week we did what I call “split and conquer library run" We literally finally got us all out the door, in the car seats and pulling out of the driveway, at 4:45. Then we missed the light at the end of our road and had to wait wan wait wan wait. We had 15 to get there and get our books and do the children's program and get out. They are pretty strict with their closing time. So we pull up and have 9 minutes there. Time must have warp or something because my husband does not drive fast (unlike other drivers in our household who will remain unnamed) and we go t there in half the time it usually takes. We rushed in, Husband went to get the books on hold shelf, I went to the reference librarian with the kids and then we went to check out. No browsing was planned. As we were standing in line, the kids and I kept leaving to get more books :) My oldest would ask, can't we get any movies? I said, "Ok lets go!", we ran-walked over the shelves and found 2 movies. Then we headed back to the line. I asked my husband, did you get the books from the list I gave you? He looked apologetic and said, "No when I would have done that?" I realized our time frame and off we went with paper in hand. It was hilarious. We were second in line and for some reason when we were checking out it took forever. So there stands my husband’s dutifully checking out books while his crazy wife with baby on hip and two towheads following are rushing all over the library picking up extra “needs”! :) And he still loves me. Bless him.

So after that rushed and harried trip, needless to say we'll be planning our library trip more carefully this week. But all things considered, leave it to us to be able to get 35 books checked out in 4minutes or less! I wonder if that's a world record? ;)

Don't let the Pigeon drive the bus

We love books. As such I have a "recommended but have not read yet" book list. As we need more reading material I see if it's at the library and ut it on reserve. There have been a n a lot bunch we have enjoyed and many that we have fallen in love with. We recently have found a new love or obsession could be the better word for it:

Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is by Mo Willems.

It is absolutely hilarious! I discovered these books when a dear friend of mine had a book bridal shower for her second daughter. I got a great list of books from that shower! And an idea for my own baby shower for my third :) Anyway I digress (as usual you'll find :) ) A gal at the shower gave the mother to be a set of these books and then read them out loud. There were times when we literally had to cover our ears (at her suggestion). She had a great set of character voices and made it so funny to listen to her read these after the gift giving part of the shower was over.
I recently found these books again and shared them with my girls.They are quite a hit!!! Oh my! Our sides are splitting and we're just laughing as we read these. They have become a favorite in a short time. When we did a "split and conquer library run" 5 minutes before they closed I grabbed these off the shelf:
I was able to grab:
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

I have the rest of what they had at the library on hold for fast pick up for our next trip. We'll be getting:
The pigeon wants a puppy!
Knuffle Bunny free : an unexpected diversion
The pigeon has feelings, too! : a smidgeon of pigeon

And then this morning as I was preparing breakfast I heard the story being read from under the table. My oldest was reading it to her sisters. There's a whole series of books and Mo Willem has quite a few. And since we homeschool I had to find a way to make this whole experience educational :) We'll be finishing the stories and making up what could happen next. The pigeon sees a truck at the end of the book which leads quite well into more possibilities outside of the book. Here are the resources I found that I plan on incorporating bits of into our lessons this week:
Short and sweet ideas

Full unit of ideas

These unit will be incorporated into our work boxes too! Hope you had a great day with your nearest and dearest!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What we use for Math: MEP (Math Enhancement Programme)

What it is and why we love it
This is a FREE math program started in Hungary that is also used in the UK. It is a spiral/mastery approach (more spiral in my opinion) and although not written for homeschoolers is very homeschool friendly. The total cost to access the Mateial is free. Yes that is right FREE! Meaning you don't have to pay anything to access it. NADA. It's is a well used program that started in Hungary and has been translated and used in Great Britain. You do have to pay to print it out, but that's still cheaper than anyother math program and it's a fantastic program. If you are doing Reception year (Kindergarten) or Year 1 there are about 20 colored pages to print. Everything else is black and white. We love it. Here's why:

Can be parent or child led once you get the hang of the way the lessons are outlined.
It is spiral mastery.
It uses lots of mental math and not so much writing.

Draw backs.
Does not touch on money or time much. But that's easily fixed with some workbooks nad activities.
There's a bit of a learning curve on getting a hang of the lessons and the hsort hand, but not too bad.

And here are some links to get you started:


Here are some links to guide you through set up and deciding if you want to us it:

set up now that's it's all printed out:

Here's the yahoo group

Here are some other great links:

Charlotte Mason and MEP: Compatible or not?


So I completely love this program and we are cruising along with it and also using living math (livingmath.net ) in everyday life. I am so grateful to have found this program!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Standized testing and our family

I'm not a fan in the long term of standardized testing. However it is fulfilling a need right now. Our state requires either standardized testing or a portfolio. No one and I mean no one in any of my state groups in real life or online uses a portfolio. I didn't even know how to go about it when I started. It's still vague. However I think that when my SDD starts officially homeschooling we will go to the portfolio if we are still in this state and I can figure out how to do it.

Here are the reasons I don't like Standardized test:
What we are studying and learning are not generally what is on the tests so I have to sometimes teach topics on the tests that we are not quite ready for.

I don't feel that some of the testing is done at the right level. Many kids aren't ready for these types of tests at 6 which is when we need to turn in the test for VA.

Multiple choice is a poor way to find out what any one has learned- especially a child

The reasons we are using standardized testing for now:
It's an easy way to follow state guidelines and keep doing what we're doing.
My ODD does great on Standardized testing and loves it
Desire of husband and supportive, but leary family that what we are doing is indeed working and I'm not stunting my children's intellectual and social growth,
It's a an way to see that we have covered most of what the schools are covering in the same grade level.

So for now this is how we fulfill the state requirements. I'm looking into a portfolio situation and finding an advisor to read the portfolio, but not sure when we will turn to that. It seems like a lot more work, but that could be a misconception on my part. What do you do to fulfill requirements in your state? Do you use standardized testing or portfolios or something else? I'd love to hear from you!

Works for me Wednesday

For our state requirements here in Virginia, we use the California Achievement Test (CAT). We order if from Seton testing and wow do they have a fast turn around! I usually get the test bake within 2-3 days! It does help that they are a two hour drive from us, but still
that's impressive!
Our state gives us the option to so the standardized test or a portfolio. I think we may be doing a portfolio in a year or so to help include all the kids. I'm not sure how well Beta will do with testing. But for now it works for us. And incredibly Alpha LOVES testing.
In order to understand how much she love sit, I need to share a story. On Christmas vacation I ordered the test. We usually go March to February and homeschool year round. We started in March because I had a baby due in May when we were anticipating starting homeschool Kindergarten for my oldest some homeschooling routines in before we had baby #3 (Gamma) to add to the mix.
Anyway,here we are on Christmas vacation at the grandparents and the new tests arrive. As soon as she found out what it was, she wanted to take it. And she finished it in record time. I have been using the next grade to see where she is each year. Kind of as a pretest for the next school year, but also to see if I'm keeping up with her level in the work I assign her. Amazingly to me, she also cruised through parts of Second grade. This is not a brag at all it's just where she is and shows how much she enjoys standardized testing. It's kind of an odd phenomenon around here. I wouldn't say I love standardized testing myself, but there's a certain logic to them and I tend to do well on them. My darling husband absolutely can't stand them and doesn't do as well on them.
So for now, Standardized testing is what works for me!

Spicing up the blog

So as I have been looking at my blog I realize it's pretty boring because there are no pictures. We have been having camera issues lately (gone through 5 second hand camera people have loaned us.) I am hoping to get the Cannon one we had that was great for 2 years until I dropped it before Christmas. I really enjoyed being able to do videos and up load easily. So now I need to save and hopefully buy it next week. Until then I'm going to add some pictures of books that we are using and other public domain pics. Stay tuned for some new pics!

Weekly Wrap up Jan 9

Well, With everyone sick this week our last week plans pretty much become this week plans. And since we have 2 doctor appointments, that will take up the time we did the lessons last week.
I'm really excited that last week, SDD is "reading" books instead of always asking for a movie (DVD). It's nice to see her changing that way. Yesterday we had a quiet Sat and played two games I found online. One was Number Lotto game I found here from Gentle Shepherd. We also played the farm matching game found here. It's only free until tomorrow. It's a matching game, but with a twist. You use the Spanish, french or German name for the animal instead of the English words. Since we are working on Spanish I thought I would try it out. My kids really enjoyed it and so did their Dad and I. When our youngest woke up she loved it, but wanted to keep the cards and then through a fit when that wasn't part of the plan.
I am thinking of using a new Spanish interactive curriculum I found on a favorite blog of mine. Speekee is uses Castillian Spanish(from Spain) and has puppets similar to Sesame Street. Since we don't do much on the computer, this will be fun to try out as an addition to our daily Spanish words.
We're going to be working some more on our George Washington unit. It seems like it isn't as interesting as it was for the kids this past week as it was before. If that's the case, we'll finish up the unit plan this week and move on to something else next week. I have a few ideas, but haven't decided on one yet. I have found that it is very difficult to get through a unit if they have no interest, but I also don't want them to get used to stopping what they are doing midstream just because they aren't as interested.
The girls have also started to love baking so we're going to be doing some cooking from the time of Felicity and George Washington. Changing old time recipes to Gluten Free will be an interesting challenge.
Speaking of cooking gluten free, I've been so excited to find that we've had some more successes in gluten free cooking this week. Today we made this cake from Allrecipes.com I still have issues with it not wuite being cooked through even when I ad extra time. A friend of mine has suggested that it's my oven. I sure hope not, but we'll soon find out with our baking this week!
So that's our weekly wrap up! I'm looking forward to this week and hearing what the doctors say we can incorporate into out routine to help my SDD who has some sensory and walking issues.

Friday, January 7, 2011

End of the week goal check in

So how are you're goals going? It's the end of the first full week of the new year. Have you already stopped moving forward in you goal?

My goals and where we are:
I found a PT for my SDD (Second Dear Daughter) and a Phsyiatrist. (Say that there times fast-I'm not sure I could even spell it correctly three times!). We have two appointments for this next week. I'm cautiously optimistic. She needs a weekly appointment and with moving it's been difficult to make it to the previous PT. So we FINALLY found one near our home and we'll try it out. This is something I've had a hard time finding (Local Physical Therapist) and so I'm so excited to get this into our routine. THe good news is I found one the bad news is they are out of network :( But since every in network provider one is as far as the previous PT, we'll try this new one and see how it goes.

I Wanted desperately to plan a month of homeschool. I got two weeks done. But a funny thing happens when you and the kids get sick. All the plans get pushed off! So I actually have plans for two more weeks! We did lots of reading this week and started our new English plan, but other than that we didn't do any structured learning. However ODD (Oldest Dear Daughter) read 4 chapter books (The Littles, The Little Go Exploring and two others in the Series) and we had lots of discussion about what it would be like to be a little person amidst the coughing and caring for the sickest and youngest in our family. So all things considered, I'm ok with that change in plans (Good thing eh?) and thankfully so is my Dear Husband.

My goals for the new year:

Find three names of a PT to call. Need to find a good one for my 2nd DD.
Plan 1 month of homeschooling
plan 2-4 weeks of gluten free meals and shopping list
plan extras for food storage needs
Plan one thing per day to clean out

To do over holiday:
Clean bedroom
finish school room
clean off poor
clear out carport
tidy/org laundry room
put stuff in attic

Types of goals to set:
homeschooling H and S
play/toddler school E
scripture study
family scripture study
new routines
family history
personal scripture/kids scripture
couple scriptures
booklist:wants to read
theme for unit studies
weekly/monthly menu
food storage plans

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year goals in Progress

So Here is how I am doing on my goals:
After looking at my list and going through this I feel pretty good. The things I need to get done are done or nearly and the rest are "wish lists" Things that you wish would get done and are good to do, but if they don't get done they won't kill you. Putting away juice so it won't get moldy is NOT in that category! I'm hoping to get the partial things done today, but since I also need to find some recipes and make food for dinner that may happen tomorrow

Find three names of a PT to call. Done, now we need to find a good Pediatric Orthopedic Dr.
Plan 1 month of homeschooling 2 weeks done
plan 2-4 weeks of gluten free meals and shopping list. Need to finish shopping list
plan addition for gluten free food storage needs
Plan one thing per day to clean out

To do over holiday:
Clean bedroom
finish school room
clean off porch Halfway done
clear out carport
tidy/org laundry room
put stuff in attic

Types of goals to set:
homeschooling H and S
play/toddler school E
scripture study
family scripture study
new routines
family history
personal scripture/kids scripture
couple scriptures
booklist:wants to read
theme for unit studies
weekly/monthly menu
food storage plans




Happy New Year!!

We spent a nice New Years Eve Cleaning in the Am and hanging out with another Homeschooling family. They even brought a fun craft to do for New Years. My friend suggested that the kids each write a goal on the poster. Her daughter wrote "love" My oldest wrote "2011". We talked more about it last night and she came up with some good goals. She wants to read her scriptures this year and have a prayer journal and pray morning and night every day. I'm pretty proud of her that those are her goals that she came up with on her own.
I was able to get a few of my goals started and in progress, so that's feeling good. I'm hoping to get them more focused and done and post about it today.
We've been clearing up the last of the leaves now that the snow is melted and will spend the rest of the day with friends and hanging out as a family. I hope you have a good day as well and great year! We're going to make it our best yet!