Tempers and technique.

I knew today was going to be rough when BigBoy woke up with a very croupy cough.  Luckily I saw this coming last night, and had his cool mist vaporizer running already, but still.  Nothing can derail a homeschool day faster than a sick baby kid.  Thankfully, a dose of Robitussin seems to have helped tremendously as he is currently rolling around on the floor playing legos, with very little of that nasty cough.

thePinkDiva kicked off our school day by asking to play with the Math-U-See blocks again.  (See, I told you it was a big hit!)  I have to watch her like a hawk though, because she has a tendency to take little pieces and run off with them.  I don’t mind her playing with them, but… We are still missing about half the counters we got with the K12 curriculum a few years back, Candy Land is missing most of it’s cards, and the rest of our kiddie board games all have pieces missing.  There is a reason why I got Family Game Night & Monopoly for the Wii.  And that reason’s name is thePinkDiva.

So, Diva and Geekboy ripped through their math lessons in record time.  They ran off just in time for BigBoy’s Robitussin to kick in.  He walked into the kitchen declaring he was now “good enough to leave my room.”  He snuggled up on my lap and whipped through MUS Primer Lesson 4 (the one on rectangles).  He ran off, and thePinkDiva came back for her phonics lesson.

This is where the drama started.  You’d have thought I asked her to read War & Peace, instead of HOP book 7, The Fog.  She screamed at me, and got sent off to her room for a 20 minute fit of temper & rage.  When she finally settled down, we compromised and only worked on sight words today.

Then GeekBoy continued the drama when I asked him to come back to the kitchen and do his language.  We started going over Prepositions yesterday and I realized that the “book” I have to use with him isn’t so much a grammar book as it is one of those testing review & reinforcement type books.  So, the two pages we did yesterday were obviously not enough. Today I used this site to find the nine most common prepositions, and listed them on the board.  Then we talked about how to tell if the word was being used as a preposition (if it comes before a noun).  I pulled one of his favorite mystery books off the shelf, picked a page at random, and we looked for prepositional phrases.  He seemed to really catch on after that.  Then we looked over today’s workbook pages and found a review of punctuation that he ripped right through.  Until we came to the writing part.

I know writing is his weak point.  He has struggled with it for years, and been officially diagnosed with Dysgraphia.  The main strategy for overcoming Dsygraphia is to practice writing. So I made him think about the things he wanted to write and tell me.  Then I dictated his sentences back to him, and let him write without thinking too much about what he wanted to say.  This is when I noticed the way he curls his hand over his page.  It kind of reminds of the way the lefty kid in high school used to write, except, my son is a righty.  Our new goal is to help GeekBoy re-learn his writing technique and use a straight wrist.  I’m hoping that once we get a good writing technique into his muscle memory, writing itself won’t be so much of a pain.

History today was just a review of the continents and compass direction.  We are working on American History this year using Heritage Studies 1 by BJU.  Should be a fun year.  I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the area’s rich history with field trips to various locations we’ll be studying.

Believe it or not, I’ve gone 2 days without picking up my camera!  So no pictures yet.  I’ll have to try to remember to take some tomorrow.

First Official Day of School

Day one done, & nobody got hurt. I’d call that a success.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  Math-U-See is a big hit.  The kids love the blocks, and the video.  It’s a great help for me, because I really have no clue how to use all these blocks and stuff with math.  I was never taught with manipulatives.  I was taught using the old flash card memory idea.  BigBoy blew threw lesson 3 in Primer, and is well on his way to catching up to thePinkDiva, who started on Primer lesson 9.  thePinkDiva loved Decimal Street and “-ty”.  Mr. Demme’s explanation of adding the “-ty” to all who live in the Tens house really helped her figure out how to say the double digit numbers.  GeekBoy, who started on lesson 18 in Alpha, has had trouble with the concept of subtraction in the past.  But after watching the video and playing with the blocks, the concept seems to have finally clicked.

thePinkDiva is still working on the Hooked on Phonics yellow book (aka Kindergarten).  We got about halfway through it last year before life overwhelmed our “school” year.  So today we just did a quick review of what we had already done.  It would seem that the 6 months or so we took off have actually helped her. She had no trouble at all reading the different sections we choose to go over as our review.

BigBoy decided he wants to learn to read.  So he is starting the Hooked on Phonics yellow book this year.  Yes, both kids are using the same book.Today we went over the alphabet and letter sounds.  He only missed a handful of letters, and already knows most of the sounds.  So, we’ll see how quickly he catches up to thePinkDiva.

The only hiccup of the day came when I asked GeekBoy to do his Grammar pages about prepositional phrases.  See, he was under the mistaken impression that when I said he was done with math that I meant he was done with school.  But he changed his tune when he learned that his latest Lego Brickmaster magazine had come in, and that I wouldn’t give it to him ’til he finished both Language and Science.  Mean rotten momma. 😉

Science is one of two classes that we are doing together this year (the other being History).  We are going to finish the Astronomy course we started last year.  We’re using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  Last year year, we got all the way through the solar system to Mercury!  Yea, that far.  So… today we reviewed what we did last year.

The funny part – it has taken me longer to write up our school day today, then it took to teach 3 children 3 different subjects.

Teachable moments are everywhere.

You just have learn to recognize them when you see them.  For example, fingernail cutting time.  In our house, this can be a big deal.  Our children are known for their over dramatic reactions, and clipping fingernails can turn into Emmy award winning performances involving the pain of cut nail.  *Side note – They are not really in any pain, as evidenced in the fact that distraction techniques work to stop the drama.  We do not cut fingernails to the quick.  They are just being over dramatic.*  A few nights ago, Daddy was cutting GeekBoy’s fingernails, and began to quiz him on multiplication facts.  It worked as a distractor until they got to one that GeekBoy did not know how to work out in his head.  I was passing through the room, and heard what was going on, so I pulled out the white board, and helped GeekBoy work through the problem.  Then we did several others.  He completely forgot what his father was doing.

Next up!  BigBoy.  He is too little from something like multiplication, but we are working on letter recognition.  So I started to write letters on the board and before he even knew Daddy had started, his fingernails were all cut.

Last, but most assuredly not least, thePinkDiva, our newly crowned 5 year old.   We’ve been working on simple math and reading, so I started of with some 1+1, and then we finished with a series of “_AT” words.  Finally, she read the sentence, “Fat cat sat on rat.”  all by herself.  And again, Daddy was done with her fingers before she even realized he had started.

A teachable moment can be anything.  It can be a lesson in morality brought on by a movie or tv show.  It can be a conversation over the dinner table.  Even a tick bite can be teachable.  When BigBoy got bit last Saturday, after killing the tick, we – the mom and dad – learned more about ticks in the area and the possible diseases and what to watch for.  Then when I found a tick crawling on my leg, I managed to capture it (after throwing it into the bathtub, recovering my wits, checking the kids for more ticks, and taking a picture so it could be more easily identified).  I plan to use it to let GeekBoy do his own tick research.  Even though I’ve identified it, I will let him take a stab at ID’ing it and see if he can figure it out too.  We will learn how to identify species of bugs, and how to research bugs to learn more about their habitat.  We will also learn about what to do if he finds one on him (call mom or dad!) and what not to do to.

It should be fun.  A science lesson from a tick.  Teachable moments.

Alphabet Breakthrough

So, since we started in July, thePinkDiva has had trouble recognizing her letters of the alphabet.  But we took a few days off, and really, I am not pushing her on this stuff.  She’s only 4!  only 4!

So today, I pulled out the letter magnets, and jumbled them up.  Then I had thePinkDiva sort them out and put them back in order.  She did it!  She recognized all her letters!  w00t! w00t!  WTG girlie girl!