Learning never stops… even if the blogging of it does

It’s been a rough week.  Giants won the Super Bowl!  Plus my Carpal Tunnel flared up.  Badly.  Like I didn’t want to see a computer by the time last Thursday rolled around.  But, it’s been productive nevertheless.

GeekBoy has been working on his multiplication table.  I’ve got a chart up on the wall in the kitchen, and when he feels like it, we fill in another row.  He’s also started playing Hot Shot Business, and is totally rocking it.  He’s learning a lot about business, and marketing, and keeping up with demand.

thePinkDiva has been working on her math and practicing her reading.   Seriously, she drives me insane.  Since birth, she has been the one to just lay back, and let you do everything for her.  If there is a way to get you to do it for her, she will find it. It’s frustrating the heck out of me.  I’ve completely backed off the reading.  It’s not that she can’t do it.  It’s not that she doesn’t want to.  She really does want to, as evidenced by her constantly bringing it up.  And she can, because she knows the letter names and sounds, knows how to put them together.  Heck, she’s even writing already!  GeekBoy barely writes, preferring to draw, but tPD would rather write her name, over and over, and over.  I don’t want to just plop her down and say, figure it out and walk away, because, HELLO!!!  She’s only 4! (well, almost 5, but still!)  But she is frustrating me to no end!!!  AHHHH!  and worse, she thinks it’s hilarious to see mom so frustrated!  AHHHH!

But, we had fun at PE the other day, and we’ve been having a great time, getting out to enjoy the nice, 60 degree weather while we have it.

Just like that…

My “first grader” has passed into 3rd grade math.

GeekBoy’s 2nd grade Math test

He completed his 2nd grade Math workbook last night.  I found these worksheets online to serve as a test.  He doesn’t like a lot of repetition, so once I prove he knows the concepts and how to do things, move on.

As a reward, I promised him no more “school” today.  Personally, I think he deserves it.

This just blows my mind.

This whole year has given me a whole new perspective on home education. It’s been terrifying for me, to not have a curriculum laid out for me. But the kids are flourishing.

We read, a lot. We haven’t gotten to the library yet since Christmas break, but we normally go once a week, check out about 20 books, and return them all the next, having read every one. I let them pick their own off the shelves, and I pick some that cover topics that we are interested in this week, or things I want us to learn for upcoming field trips or whatever.

For Math, I bought some workbooks from walmart, and had a kindergarten math book (sadlier-oxford) left over from our brief stint with a curriculum last year. thePinkDiva has worked her way to the half way point of the kindergarten book. With workbook-hating GeekBoy, we started using more real life examples, and situations. I’d have him help count out my change, we gave him a house bank account and he is responsible for keeping track of the money he earns for work done around the house above the norm, as well as computing his own interest (10% to make it easier to figure), and anything that he spends on Lego Star Wars or whatever. Then we visited the NASA open house, and spoke to the men in charge of the robotics. Homeschool graduate that he was, he got right down on GeekBoy’s level, and let him know that as a NASA engineer who worked with robots, he used math every day. He told my son that even though he didn’t really like math, he needed math to talk to the robots and work with the computer programs. Ever since then, my math-hating child has done a complete turn around. GeekBoy now randomly spouts math facts from the back seat while we drive, and is just about done with his 2nd grade math workbook. (a little test prep book from walmart which reviews all that 2nd graders are supposed to know.) By flipping through the 3rd grade workbook I have, I know that he’s really almost done with third grade too. A little work on his multiplication tables (he already knows how to multiply by 0, 1, and 2. if he thinks about it, he can do 3s & 5s also.), and learning to divide (we’ve already started talking about how divide is the opposite of multiply, and he’s doing simply division to help me figure out how many candies or cookies each person gets), and he will be in fourth grade math. And the kid is only in first grade according to age level. Gramma said it didn’t surprise her because she can see that he’s a smart kid, and that it won’t be long before we’ll be into algebra. I was like, “woah! Slow down!” Then I flipped through the fourth grade book. Well, yeah. With a bit more work in multiplication and division, and learning about estimating, he’ll whiz through fourth grade in no time. This from the kid who last September declared “I hate math!” We’re also working with him on financial stuff. He has his own house bank account that he needs to keep track of. When he does chores above what he is expected to do (like folds laundry for me, or empties the dishwasher) he gets paid. Right now he’s about 2/3rds of the way to earning enough money to buy the star wars lego pack he wants. We have a neat object lesson planned to teach him about sales taxes (percentages) and the differences between needs and wants, and the value of a dollar. I figure if we start training him to know the difference now, then maybe when he’s 20 he won’t be in the of living paycheck to paycheck with little understanding of how to get ahead.

Also, we bought GeeArt subscriptions last July when it was super duper cheap. The kids just LOVE Ruby and Furnace and Tickles. Admittedly, I haven’t been so good at following up on the DoArt sections, but I’ve downloaded all the teacher lesson plans and we’re starting fresh. GeekBoy is already through a large portion of the lessons, but we’ll be going over them with thePinkDiva and reviewing with GeekBoy before launching into the various art projects associated with each lesson. Today we started a mixed media collage. So far, it’s freakin’ awesome.

And every so often, they come up with things that just astound me.

And then… Today. The ultimate. My 4 year old darling daughter, thePinkDiva, read a story. The first story ever, and she read it, all by herself. *S* WOO HOO!

All Aboard!

We did a lapbook themed around the Grinch last week.  This week, Momma is going to work some things up surrounding the the Polar Express.  This is a bit more difficult for me, because, unlike the Grinch, I can’t find one (cheap enough) all laid out for me already.  So I’m making it up as I go along.  *S*

I found plenty of resources online with lots of Ideas, and I’m pooling it all together to make something my kids will enjoy.  We’ll read the book, chart a path to the north pole, help the conductor solve some math facts, learn about how the legend of Santa is different around the world, and write a letter to Santa.  Then we’ll draw what we’d see out the train window, pull some vocabulary words from the book, sing Christmas Carols while playing with bells, and end it all with a plate of sugar cookies and some hot chocolate while we watch the movie.

Should be fun!

no such thing as a sick day

We’ve actually done more “school” today then we have in several weeks. Yet the fact that we are all sick, some sicker then others, has not slowed us down today!

In between movies, GeekBoy has done a page of a math workbook (which is something he almost never touches!), and 4 pages from a language workbook. Meanwhile, thePinkDiva and Lil’Chicano practiced identifying their numbers with flashcards. tPD is working on numbers 9-12 right now, and the Lil’Chicano is already id’ing 1-4 all on his own! How awesome is that?

I continue to be amazed at how much information these kids soak up, just living life. I grew up in the “sit at your desk for 8 hours a day” environment. It really is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that it is not necessary. This is the point where you could start calling us “unschoolers”, and we are… but not really. We jump from topic to topic with lightning speed. Usually the kids, all three, are interested in knowing everything they can fit into their heads about a subject for about one week. Then they are on to something new. But I do insist on the classic fundamentals of Math and Language. We gravitate towards books, a la Charlotte Mason Method, and utilize unit studies and lapbooks on occasion. All of that makes us more of an Eclectic Homeschool.

Speaking of being eclectic…  I found this great Thanksgiving Lapbook unit over at HomeschoolEstore (soon to be Currclick.com).  Looks like fun.  I’ve got to get into it and really figure out how it’s supposed to work and all, but it looks like my kids will love it.  We shall see.

NASA Rocks.

Last Saturday (and yes, I’m just now finding time to blog it!)  we checked out a rare NASA Open House.  Took a “journey into Tomorrow” where Geekboy got to play astronaut and do a Duplo experiment through the glove box.

NASA 1

After we checked out the Moon Rock, we caught up with LittleBlueSchool and the kids made a new friend.

Then we made slime, but not useable pictures, because it’s hard to take pictures and police three children making slime all at once.  However, I now know that slime is made with dishsoap colored green, and the stuff they put into a disposable diaper…  Hmmm….   I smell a future experiment. *S*  Then we walked through some exhibits, and talked to the wind tunnel guy, and then… we found them.

The robots.

NASA 2

It was actually pretty cool.  Turns out, the two guys running the exhibit were homeschooled.  It was really neat because the  older one got down on GeekBoy’s level and talked to him about the importane of Math, and how engineers may not like it, but they still need it.

After that, we wandered back to the Gym area and stood in line for roughly 30 minutes for some balloon swords and a pink poodle.  Oh yea.  Super fun!  By then the little ones were worn out, so we headed out.  ut we did check out the historic wind tunnel on the way back to the car.

NASA 3

We headed home, and the kids showed dad their goodies, and played with their slime.  And of course, you just can’t play with slime without making slime-boogers.

NASA 4

“Is this fall be-cation?”

thePinkDiva asked me that earlier this week after her daddy told her he would be on “vacation” this weekend.  Being that Mom, aka theTeacher, is so stressed out over the upcoming wedding, and Lil’Chicano’s potty training…   Yes, this is fall vacation.

Sort of.

thePinkDiva has been doing her math every morning, and we still read, read, read.  We even made it to PE with the rest of the co-op this past Wednesday, although the kids were ornery and we left early.  And, technically, since I’ve made “Photography” part of GeekBoy’s art curriculum this year, it will be a working vacation for all of us.  thePinkDiva actually wants to bring her math book to show her Gramma.  I think my heart smiled when she said that.

The Not-At-Home School Day

Yesterday, we took school with us to the dealership. Dad’s car needed some work done, so we packed it up and headed out. Math was done on a table in the waiting room at the dealership. We took turns reading books, meaning Geekboy read one, and Mommy read one book each for thePinkDiva and Lil’Chicano. Then we walked around and checked out the garage through the window… then they found the playroom.They played nicely for a while. Then the room got stuffy and we went for a walk around the parking lot to check out all the pretty new cars. We talked about how a ramp is a simple machine. Then, upon seeing a pumpkin orange GT, GeekBoy said, “Eww! That’s not a good color!” I concur.

When we got back to the service area, the car was ready! Only… it really wasn’t, and the nice lady put Ice Age on in the theater – yes. there was a theater. About 20-30 minutes before the movie was over, I was told the car was ready. S, after promising to borrow the flick from Gramma, we headed home.

at the dealership

Field Trip Friday: Beach Edition

Day started off good. thePinkDiva was up at 7am, and did her math. She aced her Cumulative review of Chapters 1 -3!!! I mean aced it! Awesome!!! Next week we start learning how to write our numbers… oooo! Should be fun. Then the kids helped me get us ready for the beach. During the drive, we discussed the 2 rules of the beach. #1 – do not go in the ocean without mommy. #2 – Come to mommy right away when she calls.

Took us about 45 minutes to get there… the beach is great, and is sooo the place to hang out next summer. We set out blanket out… and really, I’m not sure why I brought it… I think it was to catch sand, because once GeekBoy saw the waves he about did a backflip begging to go in. and Lil’Chicano, of course, wanted to follow… so down to the water we went. And that was about all the action the blanket saw the rest of the two hours we were there. The next two hours were spent shouting instructions to GeekBoy, and teaching him to never ever turn his back on the sea. (something my Uncle taught me the first summer I visited his beach house and knocked over by a wave.) Then helping thePinkDiva over her intial fear of the water… she was cool with it till one wave surprised her and knocked her over… after that she mostly played tag with the waves – because another little girl introduced her to the game while I was busy corralling Lil’Chicano…

The boy has no fear. None. He ran straight into the water at full steam and did not care that it would knock him back. I had to stick to him like white on rice because he literally did not stop. So I spent most of the time helping him jump the waves. Toward the end, my arms got really sore, and I convinced him to play tag with the waves with his sister. But I had to watch him super close.

Finally, after the group photo, I talked the kids into leaving to get burgers (since it was 1pm and they hadn’t touched the sandwhiches, which had pretty much cooked in the sun)… so we left… On the way out, I said goodbye to P. – the leader, and C. – the woman who organized the trip (she has like 7 kids now and has homeschooled all of them!) C. informed I had the “most spectacular bucket catch” she had ever seen.

See… early on, The kids had taken their buckets down to the water to gather water to wet sand to build a sandcastle (they never did really, but whatever)… GeekBoy had wandered about 3-5 yards down the beach… but he lost the bucket in the water. He tried to get it back, but the waves pulled it out of his reach. I saw it just as the waves snatched away from him… I grabbed Lil’Chicano and thePinkDiva out of the waves, and stood them up, out of the reach of the water, and told them, “Don’t Move.” tPD grabbed Lil’Chicano’s hand and held on. (Sometimes the “Mommy” in her works to my advantage.) GeekBoy was running back to get me and I hollered for him to stand with his brother… then I sprinted down the beach (good thing the wet sand is packed well) and jumped into the water just in time to grab the bucket before it got swept too far out. Then dumped the water and sprinted back, just in case Lil’Chicano broke loose and headed for the sea again. But I need not worry. The kids were awesome and stood right where I told them and didn’t move. How totally awesome!

I can not stress enough that it was only possible because we have taught these kids to OBEY. If I had known that they would not stay where I put them, I would have had to chalk it up as an Oh well! and lose the bucket to the sea. As it was, I am still unsure about the little guy. He obeys very well, I wasn’t worried that he wouldn’t stay put. But I was concerned that excitement over the ocean and the waves would take over and he wouldn’t stay put long.

Then we left, got some burgers, and went home to wash the sand off. The little guy wasn’t too bad, cuz I had to dust him off to get a diaper on him before we left the beach. thePinkDiva wasn’t so bad either, seeing how she pretty much stayed out of the water. But GeekBoy. I swear, GeekBoy’s suit looked like he had crapped sand. Ick. He was sooo full of sand, it must have been a painful ride home!

All in all. It was great fun. I have a few pictures.. but it’s late. I’ll have to dl them tomorrow.