Curriculum time is here again!

After spending the better part of the last month alternately researching curriculum ideas, and procrastinating, I’ve finally finalized… well, mostly finalized our school year.

Math is going to be Math U See for all three.  GeekBoy is starting in Delta, but he’s already whizzed through the first 3 chapters, and that only took him 5 minutes!  So I have Epsilon standing by, and fully expect to be using it by middle of the year.  As much as the Geek claims to hate math, he is a math whiz.  ThePinkDiva is starting Alpha this year, and BigBoy won’t be very far behind.  He still has a few chapters of Primer to finish before moving on to Alpha.  The little guy is hoping to catch up to his big sister.

For Language, GeekBoy is still working through the Easy Grammar 4/5 book we found halfway through last year.  Its been working well for us, so we will keep going.  Since discovering thePinkDiva’s vision difficulties, we will be ditching Hooked on Phonics this year.  I’ve decided to give Spell to Write and Read a try.  It’s supposed to be good for dyslexics, which she is, and BigBoy will be doing this also since he really wants to learn to write.  ThePinkDiva will also be continuing her work in Explode The Code online.  She’s been doing pretty well with it, and I’m considering getting a subscription for BigBoy as well.  Especially since I can get such an awesome deal on the program via Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

GeekBoy’s writing progressed quickly once we worked on correcting his posture and grip.  This year we will continue working on “Pull, not push” to get him forming letters from the top, as well as lowercase letters.

History will be different this year.  GeekBoy has informed me that he has trouble concentrating when thePinkDiva goes off on a word-association rabbit trail.  Since she does this a lot (it’s her way of processing information), GeekBoy will be having his own history lesson, using Mystery of History.  ThePinkDiva and BigBoy will be doing year 2 of the American Heritage Studies by BJU. I’m planning to do time lines with each “class”.

Science was a hard one.  As much as I love the Apologia books, they seem to be just above the understanding of my younger two, and there doesn’t seem much in the text that interests my oldest.  So this year we will do things a bit different.  I got a subscription to AHA Science via Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  The kids adored the sample lessons, and we are looking forward to accessing the games and seeing what else the program has to offer.  I’m also planning to pull random experiments out of this book Gramma gave us, 101 Cool Science Experiments.

For art, I have GeeArt.  We’ve had the program for some time now, but I’ve never managed to get it together enough to get the projects done.  I’m hoping to overcome my own fear of messiness and allow the munchkins to get messy, and maybe even get messy myself.  But the biggest thing they will learn in the category of “art” this year — how to clean up their supplies!

It should be a fun, busy year.
Not Back to School Blog Hop

What happened to the Lost Colony?

Today we discussed the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  I knew this one would be a big hit because GeekBoy loves a good mystery.  So we read the short little bit in the book about the Roanoke colony, and then we watched the NatGeo special (embedded below). After ward, we discussed the Eleanor Dare stones, and some theories, and the kids each gave their own theory of what might have happened to the colonists at Roanoke Island.

GeekBoy’s idea:  A hurricane hit and wiped out most of their colony, forcing the survivors down to Croatoan Island.  Then another hurricane forced them to the mainland.  There they moved to South Carolina and married into the friendly Indian tribe down there.  I think Eleanor Dare carved the first stone.  Then some point later, she died.

thePinkDiva’s idea:  They got captured by Indians.

BigBoy’s idea: they married the Indians, then they died.

My personal theory, is that they, much like the colonists in Plymouth, got very sick that first winter.  Most of them would not have survived.  I think the few that did decided to move to the nearby Island of Croatoan with the friendly Native American tribe that lived there.  I believe it’s possible that a hurricane hit that drove the remaining survivors inland, where they intermarried with Hatteras Indian Tribe and the Pembroke Indian Tribe.  Both tribes are reported as having “light eyes” and speaking as the English did, and both tribes would have been in the right area.  The Hatteras are descended from the Croatoan.  There is documentation that the Pembroke Tribe had many of the last names of settlers, and claimed to have ancestors from Roanoke. (Here’s a link to one of many sources for my theory.)

One thing is certain.  Whatever happened to them, it’s a mystery to us.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a 2 part NatGeo special, hosted by Leonard Nimoy.

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.

Gearing up for a new “school” year.

So… yea. It’s that time of year again.  I’ve decided to start our “school” year off on Aug 31.  This has everything to do with Daddy getting home from a 6 month deployment at the end of July, retiring from the Navy at the beginning of August, and then taking a much-needed month long vacation.

So for the last month or so I’ve been gradually planning out the schedule for the next year, signing up for classes and activities, choosing curriculum, and lesson planning.

Lesson planning sucks. I just hope and pray that GeekBoy isn’t bored to tears with the work I’m setting up for him.  I hope that the material is challenging enough for him, but also fun.  I hope that thePinkDiva gets it.  I hope I’m not pushing BigBoy too hard.  I’ve been playing with HomeschoolTracker Basic as I plan though.  So far, I like it.  I’m considering buying the full-featured Plus version.

This year we will be trying out Math-U-See.  We’re also going to try using Heritage Studies 1 as a basis for our history course.  I’m hoping we will  finish Apologia’s Astronomy book this year.  The little two will be doing phonics, while the big guy is going to be working on his writing and reading comprehension, with a dash of grammar and spelling thrown in there. The boys are signed up for soccer again, and looking forward to the season.  All three will be taking art classes at the local Cultural Center.  GeekBoy gets to take Martial Arts and Drama there, and thePinkDiva will be taking ballet as well.

The first semester is filling up fast.

Lessons at the dinner table

We had an impromptu Music Appreciation class last night at dinner.

I had music on in the back ground, and Skillet’s Comatose came on. GeekBoy said it sounded like it would give him nightmares. Well, the intro is kinda creepy because it’s really choppy violins & hardcore keyboard.  But we talked about the different instruments they were using, and listened more closely to the song to try to pick out the Violins, Keyboard, Drums, & Guitars.

Then we talked about the meaning of the song, and how it’s song about the singers relationship with God, and that he has drifted away and feels like without God he’s sleeping (comatose), and that he wants God nearby to help him “wake up” or deal with the stuff in his life. It was neat.

Trip to the Air & Space Museum

It’s been raining here since last Thursday (March 5th)  Today was the first day it hadn’t rained!!!  But, yesterday we escaped the house and visited the Air & Space Museum nearby.  It fits really well with our chosen Science curriculum, Apologia’s Astronomy.  Plus, It was Military FREEdom Days, so we got in free!  Awesome!!

Lunar something or other
Anyway, we got there around 1130am, after eating our PB&J’s in the car in the parking garage – hey, it was a nice change of pace from the four walls of our home!    Well, apparently it was Field Trip Tuesday or something.  There must have been like 4 schools there!  The place was packed with rowdy kids running every which way & teachers yelling out to stop them, with the occasional line of highly disciplined kids who weren’t able to see anything other than what the Docent showed them, poor kids.  So it was hairy there for a few minutes, but the schools all left to go get lunch around noon  & we had the place to ourselves.  Well, about as much as you can have a big museum to yourself.  There were people, just not the huge crowds of annoying kids anymore.

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We checked out almost everything!  I’ve got a set of photos, but it was fun.  The kids really loved the play area, & the big walk-through plane with all the flight simulators in it.  We also checked out this huge model of an aircraft carrier and talked about some of the things Daddy sees and does everyday at work.  We even checked out this “Mars transport” thing, which was more along the lines of a bad movie with light effects, where you are “along for the ride” as all kinds of craziness goes down on your trip to Mars.  Then the side door opens into the Mars exhibit with the rovers and stuff.  It was kinda cool, but WAY too loud for my bunch.  They lasted like 2 minutes in the video and we hit the button to open the door.   But we had fun, wandered around,  then we hit the gift shop, where we picked up some “Astronaut food” – freeze dried ice cream bars.

After dinner, while they were eating their Astronaut Ice Cream Bars, GeekBoy said he wanted to throw his in the trash.

“I thought I would like it, until I tasted it and remembered how bad it is.”

A funny end to a great day.

First Game of the Season

Kickin the ball

BigBoy had a great time kicking the ball around until the other parents took the field with their kids. There was like two parents for almost every kid!  We had two dads drag their screaming 3 yr olds on and insist they were going to play, and another mom rolled her stroller on the field… and keep in mind the whole “field” for the 2-3yr old is maybe 5 ft wide & maybe 10 ft long. Not very big, so with all the grown ups, the kids didn’t have much room!  Then there was the dad who decided that while the 3 yr olds were kicking balls into the goal, he would play goalie, and he kept blocking them! They are 3!!  AHHH!  Next week, I swear I’m taking more control of BigBoy’s side of field, and kicking off the parents and organizing the kids.  But whatever, the chaos was enough to make BigBoy decide he was done.  So we left & went to watch GeekBoy’s game.

My Ball!

GeekBoy played goalie.  They got one past him, but that was it.  I have photos of 7 different saves, and I know there was at least one that I didn’t get a picture of.  So, he had 8 saves.  He was all over that goal line.  Even his coach was impressed.  Coach said he has a natural talent for the position.  We have a few shots where you can see he was on the other side of the goal, and the ball looks like it’s going in, and in the next half a second, he’s behind the ball, and has caught it!  The boy moves fast!  At half time, one of the other boys on his team asked to be goalie.  GeekBoy didn’t mind, so the switch was made.  While GeekBoy was playing somewhere out in midfield he stopped the ball, with his chin.  Poor guy.  It stunned him more then anything, but after a tooth check, and a slug of water, he was back out on the field.  The other boy lasted in goal for all of about 5 minutes before he started yelling for GeekBoy to come take the “penny” shirt and be goalie instead.  GeekBoy didn’t mind one bit, he loves being goalie.

HA HA! Denied!

Final Score – Our team – 3, their team – 1.

View the whole set here.

First week of school ’08

First official week of school is over.  GeekBoy needs to work on his comprehension.  He’s got the mechanics of math down, he can read really really big words, but has no clue what it all means.  We’re working on it, and I think the light is dawning.  He is doing book reports this year, and since he wants a grade, doing quizzes and such too.  He did well this first week.  thePinkDiva did great too.  She aced her math quiz, and proved that she can read more then she lets on.  I’m trying some new strategies to get her to cooperate.  Big Boy is just having a blast.  They all love the history program – Story of the World is great.  We talked about nomads, did cave paintings, and sewed “game bags.”  Game as in hunting game, not game as in scrabble, although you could probably carry a game in one of these bags.

Mom & Diva Sewing

Cave paintings
The biggest change around here is the rule – no Wii/computer/video until school work is done.  It’s been the only motivating factor to get them to work.  My biggest challenge is to stay firm on that and not bend the rule, esp when DH is gone and I have to do something like mow the lawn.  But you know, they actually played outside while I mowed the lawn?  Wow!  My kids are like me, a Melman (Ahh! Nature!  Get it off me!), and usually prefer the indoors.  This has been great for us.

GeekBoy decided he wants to play soccer.  So, after much discussion, and making it clear that he would follow this through to the end no matter what, there will be no changing of the mind in 3 weeks, we went ahead and contacted the local homeschool sports co-op.  He’s still jazzed about it.  We got him registered and got him a ball, and shin guards.  He’s so excited.  Practice doesn’t start until Aug 30.  He’s on the Junior team – 5-7 yr olds.  Practice is once a week.  Games will be every Saturday.  I’m excited because this it the first time any of my spawn have shown an interest in organized sports!  I loved Volleyball and Basketball (the only sports available to me in my small school), so I’m thrilled to see my son finally take an interest in sports.

Gettin' his kicks

BigBoy got a bike on Friday, and yes, he’s already figured out how to ride.  He obviously needs practice, but more importantly, he’s already figured out the brake!  We spent about an hour out front on the street riding up and down.  He caught on really quickly.  Personally, I think riding a bike must seem like a mental cake walk compared to some of the video games he plays.  His biggest challenge seems to be that his body can’t seem to keep up with his brain.  Oh yea, he’s going to play soccer too.  The Sports Co-op has a “tots” team for the little ones ages 2-4.  No practices, nothing serious, just pretty much the kids get to kick a ball around while big brother (or sister) is playing.  He’s excited.

I wanna play too!

Gramma, Nani, and AnnoyingPenguin came over this weekend.  The kids camped out in GeekBoy’s room.  The tent and everything. With the Geek’s ceiling full of glow stars, it was like sleeping under the stars, only better because they had air conditioning and no bugs.  Since our history lesson this week was all about nomads, we talked about how the nomads slept in tents everyday.  Diva mentioned that she was very glad for her cotton/polyester sleeping bag, because if she had to sleep on an animal skin, she wouldn’t want to sleep there.  All week she has tripped out over nomads using animal skins for everything.

the best kind of camping

Monkey Butt!!!

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We went to the Zoo. It was fun. The kids had a blast, and couldn’t help but compare the real zoo to their Zoo Tycoon 2 game that they all love so much. There were several times the Diva would comment, “Mom! They need to put in a girl camel so the Camel will be happy!” The Mandril (pictured above) was the favorite. And to prove the kids actually learned something, once we got home and checked out the photos, GeekBoy declared, “His butt is so colorful so his family can follow him through the jungle.” See… they do learn! And the best part… I didn’t tell him that! He read it off the sign in front of the monkey cage. Learning from everyday life. It can happen folks.

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The Emu was pretty pissed about having his sleep disturbed.

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Check those birds with the weird red things! “Uh, it says they are ‘Hornbills’ Dad!”

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The GeekBoy even took some photos of his own.  Lookie!  Art class!  Photography practice.

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“Look mom!  Elephant butt!”

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No trip to the zoo is complete without a chance to feed the goats.  Immediately after this photo, thePinkDiva completely lost her marbles because a goat’s tongue had dared to touch her hand.  She insisted on washing her hands, right that second.  The best we could do was a purell dispenser on a post at the end of the fence.  *Note to self – next time we visit the zoo, bring wipes!

And of course, I just couldn’t post this without this most excellent shot of the day…

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Monkey Butt!!!   Ha ha ha!