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.

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.

Hanna hits the East Coast!

We took a few days off to prepare for what was supposed to be almost a direct hit from a fairly-powerful-Tropical-Storm-which-might-be-a-hurricane-when-it-gets-here.

Well, the storm was a bust.  The almost direct hit wound up being a state & a half away.  But, we had fun learning about hurricanes & weather patterrns. GeekBoy also did a few weather reports.  It was fun.



So, GeekBoy has decided to play soccer this year.  August 30th was his first day on the field, and yes, I’m just now getting to write this up!  tell you anything about our week?  *S*  Anyway, it was the Opening Day, come meet ur coach type clinic.  Coach K seems to be a nice coach.  He seems very mild mannered and understanding.  “He’s nice & good.  Teaching us good stuff. Showing us how to exercise our bodies and stuff,” says GeekBoy.

Practice was last Thursday.  After a few drill Coach broke everyone up into teams and let them play a little mini-game.  GeekBoy requested the goalie position, and he loves it!


Coach said he’s not nailed into it, but if Goalie is what he wants, it’s all his.

View more photos at flickr: the soccer set.

I feel stoopid 2day.

GeekBoy.  Subtraction.  The two do not mix.  After this mornings round, I decided maybe there is a better way to reach him with this then what I’m trying.  It suddenly dawned on me that he tested for being 61% right brained, and I tested as being a left brained. What’s the difference?  Left side of the brain is more logical, uses facts, & very detail oriented.  Right side is more feelings, big picture, symbols and images, imaginative types.  Essentially, I think in words, he thinks in pictures – that kind of thing.

So I asked the Homeschool group, knowing there are several moms in there with right-brained kids, what do I do???  How do I get this kid to do his subtraction???  The answers I got – well…  I didn’t get anything I didn’t already know.

  • Don’t push him.
  • Skip it! Right brainers will fill in the gaps as needed.
  • Let him pick and chose where to go in the book.
  • Real life/living math examples.
  • Work with money.

All things that I knew!!!  So why on earth aren’t I doing any of it?

So of course, my confidence is shaken.  It was just a few days ago I mentioned to my husband that for some reason I felt better abt this year, more prepared, etc?  Yea.  I still feel better then I have in the past, I’m not wistfully thinking about that big yellow bus as an answer to my problem.  But my confidence has taken a hit.  I’m not going to throw in the towel, just need to fall back and regroup, you know?

So, I’ve made a deal with him – Pass the test for Chapter 1, and we will skip it all.  Now, there is a page on order of operations (add first left-right, then subtract IE: 70-40-8+5) that we need to go over, so tomorrow we will do that, Friday the test.  And looking at the test for chapter two (multiplying 0-5), if we skip to the order of operations (Multiply first! Then ad & subtract!) I think he can breeze through chapt 2 in a day or so. I’m printing up Book B, so if he wants to skip to Division we can.

Oh, and by the way, on my brain test, I tested as 70% left brained, and the teaching was listed among the occupations I’d probably enjoy most.  Go figure!

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

This kinda explains so much.

The Geek is a Right brained learner according to the test I found at MindMedia via someone, I forget who. Sorry!

Your Brain Usage Profile:

Auditory : 50%
Visual : 50%
Left : 38%
Right : 61%

Geek, you are moderately right-hemisphere dominant and have even preferences between auditory and visual processing, traits that might make people perceive you as “slightly off balance.”

You are most likely to be slightly disorganized, a “dreamer” and a person who focuses more on the end result than the immediate task at hand. You are creative and spontaneous if somewhat lacking in direction and focus. You are a learner who is generally patient and a person for whom time is an ally, not an enemy.

You are more passionate than most people with regard to life and learning and recognize your own intuitive abilities. You have sufficient goal-direction to satisfy yourself and guarantee success without being or feeling driven. You are willing to be reflective about yourself and others without getting lost in rumination.

The balance of your sensory modes allows for both learning and expressive capabilities achieved by few. You are active and “seeing” while retaining an equally strong propensity for being reflective which slows you down a little but allows for a more comprehensive perception and analysis of situations and problems. You do not spend excessive time analyzing since you mostly trust your perceptions.

In all likelihood, you have a tendency to over commit and cannot understand why others get upset since you operate on a different “time table” than they do. Your organizational abilities are frequently overwhelmed by the stimulation seeking and active nature of your mind as well as by the tendency to create new categories and gloss over details, making categorization and classification almost impossible at times.

To the extent that your career path allows for creativity and abstraction as well as a bit of disorganization, you should find yourself equipped to handle any learning that is required. Your own personal adjustment to your style should come naturally although you are likely to feel frustrated by your own limited discipline and often wonder “Why?”

So, with that in mind, here are some resources I’ve found online for Right-brained learners:

Throwing Marshmallows.

Homeschooling a right-brained visual learner.

Understanding the Creative Learner.

Left Brain/Right Brain.

Tried a right-brained learning strategy for Spelling.

Right Brained learners in a left brained world. I’ve seen this book recommended many times just this morning. Haven’t read it though.

Right Brained Learner.

The Right Brained Learner.

Right Brain Math.

Smart Kids who hate to write.

I’ll have the steak, and a side of Physics. Thank you.

Last night, a conversation about roller coasters at the dinner table, turned into a 20 minute Physics lesson.

GeekBoy started it by talking about the rollercoaster he wants to build when he grows up. I told him he’d better learn his math and “Physics.” When the Geek asked, “What’s that?” it was the perfect springboard into a lesson on the forces of push, pull, gravity, and friction, along with the the first law of physics, An object at rest tend to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. (Yes, I know that’s not the complete law, but hello!!! he’s 7! lets work on the basics and then get to the technicalities.)

We even experimented with a notebook (inclined plane) and a car, to illustrate the amount of force needed to get the car up the hill. The best one was “too much force” that sent the car flying across the Kitchen. Awesome.

Side note: The first time the car rolled down the notebook instead of up, Before I mentioned anything else, I asked, “Why? Why did it go down instead of up?” GeekBoy said, “Gravity. Gravity pulled it down.” Awesome.  He knew all about Gravity and what it does thanks to watching the docu-drama From the Earth to the Moon.  Thank you Tom Hanks.  Please make more compelling docu-dramas.  The conversations they spur are amazing, and the things the kids pick up are just incredible.