~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~The Kids~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How do you walk on the ceiling?

This is what sweet Avrie asked me during our stay at a hotel recently. She took me by the hand to show me the crazy thing she saw at the end of the hallway. The stairs were on the ceiling!  How funny!  She laughed and laughed at the absurdity of it! 

I explained to Avrie that we can't walk on the ceiling. Her next question - Then why did they put stairs up there?

We then played a little game. I had Avrie go to the left side and stand. I went up and around the corner and knocked on the steps for her to hear. Then Avrie wanted to try so we switched places.  She thought that was the neatest thing ever. Aren't five year old's fun?

Have a blessed day! ~Tammy

My favorite school items so far

I must share my favorite school items so far. Of course the books we are reading are awesome!  Here are a few. ;-)

But, I'm not talking about those, I'm talking about my favorite organizational items.

First up we have Ellie's checklist, in its home on the infamous pink clipboard.

I took all of her HOD boxes and some other things she has to do throughout the day (piano practice and such) and listed them for her. They are color coded. The green boxes are things she needs to do with mom. The purple items are her independent work and the pink boxes are her independent reading. I separated the work and reading because sometimes we will be out and about and I can tell her to grab her reading for the day. I thought it would be easier for her to find this way.  Ellie seems to love that she knows what she must accomplish and can see what is done and what has yet to be done for the day. We are pleased with our list!

Next is our timeline. The timeline we are using this year happens to span over three pages. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it and I happened upon a file folder that opened into thirds! I got a cover sheet off of the wonderful HOD yahoo group shared files to make it pretty.

Then put the timeline pages inside.

 I love how it folds up for storage inside the binder but will fold out to show the years all at a glance.

Speaking of the binder........that is my next favorite item. Rather than blank pages, I printed off the History notebooking pages from a lovely HOD mom. I felt like it would help us out a bit. Ellie still has to fill in all of the information but there is not nearly the amount of writing she would have had otherwise. (I don't know why these pics are sideways. I have rotated them all different ways and it's not working.)


Next is the Science notebooking section. I just put a blank page in the page protectors for each unit. That way they are read to go and we don't have to hunt for a piece of paper. Ellie has a bible verse at the top and then she made a drawing of high tide and low tide. Since we were learning about the sea she drew a fish around her bible verse. :)


The last section (so far) is for her science experiments. I printed a worksheet off for each unit and it is all ready for Ellie to fill out. I had a picture but blogger is being difficult tonight.  I have to say that the page protectors are what makes this binder so perfect. I got the idea from Julie on the HOD forums. She is a genius!

Well, there you have it. My most favorite organizational items for the year. 

Have a blessed day! ~Tammy

Our school days

I finally got to take some pictures of the school areas in our home. My wonderful husband found these fabulous milk crates for me. Not the cheapie ones you find at stuffmart that would fall apart with any amount of weight. No these are the real deal!   We are using Heart of Dakota (You can learn about HOD HERE ) and have several read aloud books to use throughout the year during storytime. Each child has their own crate for their school books, but I only have the current storytime book in their crate (The rest are on our bookshelf.).

Ellie's crate contains:

1. A 3-ring binder. This holds her notebooking pages for history and science. I also tucked her timeline into the front pocket. I am considering keeping some of her artwork in here as well.
2. Math workbook 
3. Handwriting workbook
4. DITHR workbook and current independent reading book
5. Several books we are reading from daily for history and science.
6. Her current storytime book.
7. My HOD teacher's manual for the level she is doing.
8. Her vocabulary notebook.
9.. Her clipboard!  She is loving the list to check off each day.

I'm sure I missed something, but you get the idea.

Silas and Avrie don't have everything Ellie does but they do have a lot of the same items. Silas did make it a point to have his own clipboard. You can read about that in this post: My Son The Inventor if you missed it. 

Evelyn has a few read alouds, her own Bible, some coloring pages and her HOD teacher's manual. Yes I did get a TM for Evelyn. With the older kids I just did a hodge-podge of things for preschool but I needed something to make sure I covered all the bases since I am now so busy with the older ones.

These crates sit on the bookshelf when not in use. I know, it's not pretty, but until they find another home that is where they will live. When we begin school they each bring their crate in and sit it on the floor around my chair.

Whoever I am working with sits at the small wooden table (picked up at a yard sale by a wonderful family member!) right beside me. For some subjects I can give direction and they can take their work to the desk or the other table in the room to work independently. For other subjects they need mom right there along side for the duration of the lesson. So this little table works perfectly for us!

Then we have the ball gym there for Sadie. She crawls around and is currently trying to pull up. We have to watch her because she tries to pull up on the crates or tries to pull things out of the crates. We also have to keep an eye out for baby drool on the books. ;-) Then sometimes we have this:

Is it my turn?

This set up works pretty well as I can nurse Sadie while helping someone with math or reading aloud to everyone at once. They can color on the floor or at the various tables/desks and still be within earshot. Everything we need is right there with us, so they don't leave the room unless they are going to the bathroom or to get a drink.

Ellie will sometimes go read on her bed for her independent reading but she reports back within 10 or 15 minutes so that works well.

For a change of scenery we will come into the dining area and use the dry erase board. Todd nabbed this at an auction for a local college. It's 12 feet long! We LOVE it!  Above it we have our art-line where we hang the kids' artwork. We got that at Ikea. The art-line was hung before the dry erase board or else we would have hung it a bit higher.  It works well enough.

This is where we will do things such as:

         - Learn a new letter for handwriting.

          -Work on Ellie's DITHR (Drawn Into The Heart of Reading) brainstorming and such

          -Learn a new math concept

          -And of course we have dinner and just have fun drawing silly pictures ;-)

Another spot we use frequently is the couch, but you already know what a couch looks like.

I'll try to grab some pics of the kids in action. So far we are taking extra time getting our flow for things so I haven't had time for pictures.

Have a blessed day! ~Tammy

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Son The Inventor

Silas loves to create things. To build things. If he wants something he will try to make it before he even asks for it. A week or so ago he wanted to sew. I don't know why honestly, but he wanted to. Instead of coming to me and asking for a needle he took Todd's wire cutters and tried to make a needle from a safety pin.  When that didn't work he asked me for a needle. He then proceeded to sew anything he could get his hands on. His first project was a rip in the arm of the couch.

Yes, those are the wire cutters.

 Then he fixed a hole in one of our many baby dolls.  I think he got a little carried away on this one.

He went on to sew some holes in his jeans. When he got tired of cloth he resorted to paper. He made a book and a calendar!

Ellie got a clipboard for her school this year. It's small and pink and she keeps her to do list on it. Silas decided he wanted a clipboard. Did he ask me for one? Nope. He made one.

Yes that is a chip clip on cardboard. If you are wondering how he got the clip to stick..............he used JB Weld. Seriously. He didn't realize it was a two step process so it didn't dry properly at first. I had no idea it was JB weld at the time.  The "glue" (as he called it) wouldn't dry. He came to me asking when I would be putting another load in the dryer. I immediately told him that he could NOT put his clipboard in the clothes dryer. He said he wasn't doing that, he wanted to put it outside in the bushes right by the dryer vent to make it dry faster! His mind is always working. Todd came home and we figured out Silas had used JB weld but had not added the second compound so that was fixed in a jiffy.

Next we have a rocket ship out of cardboard with a drop open hatch for his stuffed animal to come out in a parachute (aka trash bag w/yarn)

-a pirate ship
-a "good guy" transformer

Here is a buzz light year suit for his little sister complete with the wings that fold out buy pulling a string. It didn't fit Evelyn and he decided Sadie would tear it up, so he put it on a doll instead.

-a picture frame made from sticks and yarn with a lovely drawing he made attached.

An earlier creation is his bear trap from wooden train tracks and yarn. (The boy really likes yarn. Thankfully I picked up a slew of it at goodwill.)  After discussing it  he figured out it wouldn't catch a bear but it might be able to catch a baby bear. He tried it out and he was able to catch a stuffed flamingo.

We have his astronaut suit, complete with straws to breath through.

He made a church to put in the window so the sun could shine through his stained glass windows.  The little one beside it is from a certain little sister. :)

Did you notice the vacuum in the background of the rocket picture?  That is used daily. Sometimes a few times a day. This is what it looks like after a very simple project.

This is only a small portion of the room. If all of the children are working on various projects we have little bits of cardboard and paper all over the place. Part of the reason, I admit, is because I don't let them have scissors unless I am supervising closely. We wouldn't want anyone getting hurt.

Speaking of hurt! The other day he killed a mole in our yard with a bow and arrow made from pvc pipe and heavy string.. (We are wondering if the mole was sickly or something.)

Don't look if you don't like dead animals.

By the way, Todd asked Silas how the mole got on its back and he said he moved it with his arrow.

Yes it drives me crazy, but he is going to be a great provider one of these days!

Oh and if anyone reading this is looking for gift ideas.........I'm thinking duct tape, packing tape, masking tape, glue, cardboard, paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls........ you get the idea.

Have a blessed day! ~Tammy

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Your Mark. . . Get Set . . . Go!

We have been on a break from school so I could get things ready to add in more children and more items to the schedule. After some major deliberating I think we are set!

Todd took the kids out this afternoon for several hours and I was able to get lots of things organized and ready. I am finding that having it ready ahead of time is better for me. I am an "all or nothing" personality. I am not one of those types that will print a worksheet off daily or weekly. So I printed Ellie's entire year of notebooking pages today. I would have taken pictures but Todd took the camera with him to capture some fun times at the park.

All I can say after today is...... I love page protectors!

I'll try to grab some pictures of everything in action tomorrow.

Have a blessed day! ~Tammy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

They broke their cats

Ellie came home from a visit with some family and said, "Mom. They broke their cats. All of them."  I  had no idea what she was talking about. Ellie said they told her they got the cats fixed.  She had been concerned for the cats. What was wrong with them?

Todd, being so very insightful, explained to Ellie that she need not worry.  The cats were not sick and there was nothing wrong that needed fixed.  "Well then why did they fix them?", she asked.

He went on to tell her that God never makes mistakes, but since the owners didn't want more kittens, they had "broken" them so they couldn't have babies, which is sometimes necessary with animals.

Believe it or not, we get asked quite often when we are "going to get that fixed.". 

Ummm..................... we aren't cats.

Ever hear of the old saying....... if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

Have a blessed day!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new stage in life

We are gearing up to add Avrie into our mix of school age children. I have been working on a schedule of sorts to make sure all the priorities get done. It's funny, every year I go through this sort of panic. Do my kids know enough? Are they learning well?Am I doing a good enough job?  Then I re-evaluate the many reasons why we are doing what we are doing and I feel better again. I wonder if there will ever be a year when that doesn't happen.

Now that Ellie is getting older I am seeing some things come to fruition. I always thought it would be this way, but I was never really 100% certain. One of the many books I have read on the subject is Teaching The Trivium by Harvey Bluedorn. This book is a wealth of information. As with any book (except the Bible of course) you take what works and pitch the rest. I will dare say that they have been 100% accurate in my experience thus far.   Since they can explain it better than I ever could, you can read about it HERE.

Another of their articles specifically addresses Math.  You can read it HERE.  Below is a quote from that article:

                "What we suggest is:
  1. Formal textbook or workbook instruction in arithmetic may begin at age ten. It is about age ten that the developmental light bulb goes on, and the child becomes capable of a great deal more mental and physical skill. (Of course that’s not an absolute rule. With a few children, it is as early as eight. We call them "bright" children because the developmental light bulb goes on early.) Waiting until the child is developmentally prepared to handle the concepts makes instruction in arithmetic very easy, because the child learns very quickly.
  2. There is no necessity for formal teaching in arithmetic before age ten. Once all of the developmental parts are there, most children can learn – in a few weeks – everything which they might have spent six years learning (kindergarten through fifth grade), that is, if they haven’t already learned it through questions and experiences and working things out on their own — which is generally the case.
  3. Depending upon the child, upon the method, and upon the subject matter covered, there exists the potential for developmental harm from the formal teaching of arithmetic before age ten. Small children cannot understand many arithmetic concepts at an early age. We can teach them to perform the process, but we cannot make them understand the concepts. The child "learns" to hate "learning." The child’s understanding develops along the wrong lines. He may actually develop mental "blocks" to arithmetic – actual physiological blocks in the brain. (This may give new meaning for the term "blockhead.")
  4. Not formally teaching arithmetic before age ten frees up a lot of time for other activities which will build the vocabulary of the child. Vocabulary is the number one index of intelligence. Developing vocabulary was one of the deliberate foci of ancient education. We waste valuable time for developing vocabulary and verbal language skills if we instead spend those hours teaching a five year old to count by fives. (He’ll know it intuitively by age ten anyway, without ever being taught.) Instead, we ought to spend those hours reading to him. We only have so much time in the day. Do we want to spend it trying to force math skills into a child who developmentally is not optimally prepared, or spend it doing what is developmentally natural to a young child – learning new words and associating them with new ideas and experiences. Stretch the child’s vocabulary during the formative years, and when he’s developmentally ready to do some deeper thinking, he’ll have a mind prepared to take on the task, and he’ll take off like a rocket.
Please note: We are not saying that no child should ever utter the name of a number before age ten. Not at all. About age four, most children discover money, and there is no hiding numbers from them after that. They encounter numbers all of the time. If we encourage learning, then they’ll be asking lots of questions, and we’ll be full of opportunities to teach numbers and measurement. But we would not encourage using a formal workbook before age ten, unless the child has a genuine desire to do so, he shows that he is competent to handle the work, and it does not take away time from other valuable activities. We are not going to ruin the child if we wait until age ten before beginning formal teaching of arithmetic."
I must admit that I was apprehensive at not doing Math as a school subject. So I caved and we do have something we use. It is called Math-U-See. MUS is fabulous, but we are taking it slow to make sure there is mastery of each skill. We also want it to continue to be fun. Remember, we are working on a love of learning! Another thing I recently purchased is called Life of Fred. It is a set of Living Math books. They are all based on a character named Fred. Starting with addition and going all the way up through calculus. So fun! We have done one chapter as a read-aloud and all three older children were begging for more.  I haven't decided if I am going to do these as a family time read-aloud or if I will do them more one-on-one with each child as they seem ready. Either way, I've got to get these worked into the schedule!

Speaking of schedules....off to tweak ours a bit and I'll post the final work soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Life is a lesson!

A few years back when Ellie was about Kindergarten age we were out in public somewhere. A nice lady (who happened to teach kindergarten for our local public school system.) was talking with Ellie. Here's a bit of the conversation:

Nice Lady:  Hi Ellie. How are you today?

Ellie:  I'm fine. <smile>

Nice Lady: So, what grade are you in now?

Ellie: huh?

Me: Oh, we homeschool. Ellie is in Kindergarten this year. (Note to self. Teach the kids what grade they are in.)

Nice Lady: Homeschool?? Ooooh!

*side note here* At this point in a conversation I am trying to figure out which type of person we are dealing with. Is it someone who is fascinated by homeschoolers and genuinely wants to learn about it or is it someone who thinks we are crazy people and wants to make us look bad?

Nice Lady: So, Ellie, what are you learning in school?

Ellie: Well, the letter A says "aaahhhh" if he's scared but if there is another vowel to help him then he will be brave and say his name.

Nice Lady: (Looking at me with a confused stare.) What is she talking about?

Me: That's from her phonics games.

Nice Lady: Oh, okay. Sooooo Ellie, what do you do for Math?

Ellie: What's Math?

Me: Ellie, do you remember when we made cornbread and you helped mommy measure? That's Math.
(Note to self. Tell the children when they are doing Math.)

This conversation went on and was actually quite pleasant. Turns out this very nice lady was intrigued by homeschooling and later asked to learn more about the phonics games we had been playing. We actually had a lot in common.

Sadly, not all conversations end up this way. Some people feel that children should be little machines spewing out facts and figures all day. If a child cannot.......

-name all the presidents of the United States
-each state and it's capitol
-know their math facts backward and forward

......then they are a failure. Or better yet, we are failing our children.

I believe first and foremost that a child should learn good character. They have a lifetime for academics, but good character starts young. As far as academics go, the most important thing is to instill a love of learning. That's why we haven't pushed on our children that they are "doing" school during these early years. Several times we have encountered inquisitive people. On a few occasions I have heard Ellie say, "Life is a lesson!" in response to probing about her school work. It's so refreshing that my little girl truly loves to learn. She understands that learning happens all day, every day, not just at a desk from 8:00-3:00. Her most favorite thing to do is read. If a person can read......they can learn anything.  We surround our children with good quality literature. They have tons of educational games. Even if I let them do nothing but play all day, they would be learning.

One of the funniest songs I have heard is "It's Not On The Test" by Tom Chapin. Sadly, the reason it is funny is that it is so very true of our schools today. You can listen to it HERE  and here are the LYRICS .

I believe I have learned more as an adult than in all my school years. It's amazing!  One of the main reasons is because I have a passion to learn. I would not have been able to learn any of it without the skill of reading and the love of learning.  When the kids are interested in something we try to pursue it. Yes, my children will work on things that they do not find appealing, but I plan to make it as fun as possible!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When did THAT happen?

It's funny how we can always seem to remember when something started, but never seem to notice when it stops.

My sweet Avrie had this cute word she would say often.

kweeps (aka keeps)

Avrie from a couple years ago. She "kweeped" looking so cute!

"Moooooommmm!! She kweeps taking my food!"

 "He kweeps kicking my foot!"

Okay, so the phrases aren't all that cute, but the word is adorable. Avrie spoke fairly clearly and only had a couple things she said incorrectly, so we didn't try to correct this one word.

Just the other day I noticed that she is no longer saying it wrong. :(  Sweet girl is growing up so fast!

A quick pic from today.

I'm sure there are so many other things that I have forgotten. One of these days I'll do a post with a few I can recall.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Heard today at my house......

The kids put together a little puppet show. It was called "The Legend of the Sunny Swamp". Has a catchy little ring to it, dontcha think? They colored several pieces of copy paper brown and taped it to the front of our little table. Then they colored several pieces blue and left some white spots for clouds. One also had a nice big sunshine with sunglasses on and everything. These papers were attached to a piece of yarn that they strung across the room attached to a broom stick and a basket handle. My kids are inventive!

So they were having their puppet show and Ellie was making her crocodile puppet swim under the water. She made a sound like the croc was taking a huge breath to hold while swimming. Here is the conversation:

       Silas: You don't need to make him hold his breath. Crocodiles can breath under water.

       Ellie: I know but this one has sinus trouble.

       Silas:  Oh. Okay.

I had to hide my face so I didn't laugh in front of them.