Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You know how your mother always said.....

not to run with a pencil in your hand?


she was right.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

U is for United States of America!

And pineapple upside down cake!

Cooking and baking are such wonderful activities for children for so many reasons. It's a tactile activity, the children feel as if they are doing something "big" and purposeful, and you can have such great conversations while cooking. Just look at their faces in these next pictures! I'm so thankful that we have been able to cook with the young 5's almost every week of co-op. This week Lisa, our young 5's teacher for March, had us make a pineapple upside down cake, and we took turns mixing up the cake and coloring our "U" pages.

While the cake was baking, we read books about the United States, and talked about the map of our country.

We made red, white, and blue foam star necklaces that said "I love the U.S.A.!"

And finally, the big moment we waited for all morning.....would the cake come out of the pan when we turned it upside down?

Ta-da! It did!

It was very delicious, and it was a nice enough day to eat outside!


My desktop computer is fixed!!!!!

Thankfully, my awesome and amazing husband was able to fix it last night. And double thankfully, he was able to do so with a FREE part provided by a colleague from work.

Thank you Lord!!!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Green Day

Well, it took some doing, but we have PICTURES!!

These are from St. Patrick's Day, aka "Green Day". We all dressed in green.

And had green eggs and ham for breakfast.

We listened to the Adventures in Odyssey episode where Whit tells the story of St. Patrick, British missionary to Ireland (it's on volume 31 for you fellow AiO fans). A really amazing story of God's redemption and how He used one man for His eternal purposes.

That evening was REAL moms and we had a wonderful speaker give us practical tips for how to positively effect the atmosphere in our homes. It was a great Green Day!

Updates and Randomness

Our computer still sits, awaiting its new part which has not even been ordered yet. But only 3 more days until payday! I'm still working on uploading pics to my blog through the old laptop I'm using. I am very thankful to have a way to check email, etc, but that and updating my blog are about all I can use the laptop for. I am really missing not being able to access my documents, and not being able to print anything! We went to the library 3 times this past week, and it was wonderful to be able to have 3 or 4 windows open at the same time and the computer not lock up. Technology is such a lovely convenience when it works. :0)

My husband's contract job has been extended through April, and at that point it will apparently end. The prospect of being hired directly by the company does not appear to be a viable option any longer. They did approve the hiring of one software developer, but the job description and compensation are for a junior position and would not be sufficient to support our family. So my husband is polishing his resume and looking for work in earnest again. Please pray with us for a solid job to be in place by the time this contract ends, and for us to trust Jesus with the details and not be worried about a repeat of last year. The final resolution to our mortgage restructuring is still in process, and we continue to be in dispute with the unemployment agency over benefits paid to us last summer which they say we did not qualify for, so to my human understanding this would be an awful time to be unemployed again. But I choose to trust and rest in God, day by day and step by step. (Pray that I will be able to make that choice even on those days when it's really hard!!)

Spring is definitely here. I put the winter boots away and it has NOT snowed again yet! We will probably get flurries at least once more, but I'm hoping actual accumulation is a thing of the past. My crocuses are about to bloom. There are beautiful chalk pictures decorating my front porch and sidewalks. The bikes are in the garage again. All happy signs of spring!

There were a LOT of wars in the 20th century. We are just wrapping up the Vietnam War in our history studies, and I chose to gloss over it pretty lightly with the younger boys. They've already learned about WW 1 and 2 this year. Then Stalin's purges, the Chinese Revolution, and the Korean War. So much violence. We talked about the country of Vietnam, where it is located, what the war was about, and how Vietnamese people live today. That was it. Instead we focused on the space race, and that has been really fun! We are working our way through the HBO miniseries "From Earth to the Moon", produced by Tom Hanks. Our daughter is not that into it (one space movie would be enough for her) but the boys are eating it up! Just fyi, should you choose to ever watch this series, there is quite a bit of swearing and virtually everyone smokes. I am amazed at what God has allowed man to do. In one sense it is clear that going to the moon was a huge accomplishment. But on the other hand, the moon is so close and the universe is so vast ~ it's like we barely left our block!

I just finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird this weekend, on the recommendation of my friend and fellow virtual co-op mom, Marcie. It was fantastic!! If you have not read this book, you need to. What a fascinating glimpse of life in a small southern town during the 1930's. The major conflict of the book is not fully revealed until chapter 15, but I was not bored in the slightest because the character development during the first 14 chapters was so rich! It must have been a great book for the high school literary analysis class (sorry I missed your lit discussion due to our computer troubles Marcie!). I don't recall reading it during high school or college. Assuming that since it is a classic I must have read it, I thought the plot would come back to me, but it seemed all new. I LOVE when that happens! I was seriously sad when it ended.

We're having a Bunco party at REAL moms this Wed. Before Wed I need to learn how to play Bunco. :0)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Computer Problems

We are back in the dark ages for awhile. Well, maybe not totally dark, but definitely dim. Our computer crashed a couple days ago. Best case scenario it needs a new power supply. Worst case scenario, it's dead. Currently I am using an old laptop that required hours of effort by my undaunted and very patient husband (thank you honey!) just to make it workable. It is super slow (hence the dark ages) and will be an effective tool in teaching me patience this week!

We have all our photos from the last 3 years on the crashed computer, as well as numerous documents I refer to frequently, my email address book, bookmarked sites, and the biggie....our history curriculum (I have just the digital edition for this unit, not the printed version). So please pray with us that it is the best case scenario, and if it's the worst case, that these items are retrievable (we last did a total computer back up in December).

This laptop has only one USB port, which is currently hosting my wireless mouse. But if I unplug the mouse I can plug in my camera cord and post photos, so later today I will work on that. If you later see a post with pics in it, give a virtual high five to my ancient laptop!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Our Week in Review - The Writing Process

Last week, our three older children who are in the writing class at co-op completed their final assignment from unit 6 of IEW, which is learning to write a report from multiple sources. I was very excited about this final assignment, as they could each choose a topic of their choice and then write a 3 paragraph report, practicing what we'd learned in that unit. Since it was to be a 3 paragraph report, they then had to select 3 sub-topics to write about, one paragraph each. The "taboos" for this assignment were, they could not use the internet as one of their sources (learning to use the internet as a source of info will come later, for now it is just tooooo overwhelming, as so many links and so much info comes up whenever you google something), and they could not choose a biography of a person (same deal, too much info for now). I love how IEW encourages us, the teachers, to give them appropriate parameters for success.

Once they had each chosen a topic, we headed to the library. I gave them a mini lesson on how to use the on-line catalog to find books on their topic, when they didn't know specific titles ahead of time. Then we stood in the stacks and carefully looked at each book we pulled out to see if it would make good source material. Did it have a table of contents and/or an index? Did it have pages and pages of info on each sub topic, or rather a manageable amount? Did it have headers to show each topic?

Some books had information for 2 of the subtopics, but not all 3. So in order to have 3 sources for each of the 3 paragraphs, we ended up checking out about 6 or 7 books each. Son G chose to write about medieval times.

Son L chose to write about rainforests. In both pictures above and below, you can see the boys working on their outlines. We are learning that the outline is KEY. If you have a good outline, and you have worked to organize your thoughts on the outline, the actual writing is pretty easy. At the beginning of the year, they would both say to me, "can't I just start writing?" but now they have learned the value of the outline!

We used large 11x17 paper, folded to make 6 squares, for our outlines. They had one of these large papers for each paragraph. The 3 squares across the top were used for writing outlines from each of the 3 sources for that particular sub topic. We looked through the books we'd checked out to find which pages had info on which subtopics, and then I helped the boys by jotting down in the bottom of each of these squares the title of the book and the page numbers where info on that sub topic could be found.

Once the 3 top squares were filled out, they used the middle bottom square to make a "fused" outline. This is simply choosing which facts from the 3 top outlines are the most interesting and important to the writer, and then transferring them to the outline below. Each top outline only got 3-5 facts, but the fused outline could have 4-7 facts. The fused outline then became the working outline that they wrote from. Below is son L's fused outline for his paragraph on jungle layers (click on picture to enlarge).

I will admit this was laborious. For the boys and for me. :-) But the process of practicing is where learning takes place!

Our daughter G chose to write about the civil rights movement. This is also what we've been learning about in history. One of Marcia Somerville's (author of Tapestry of Grace) mantras is, read, discuss, write. In that order. We do lots of reading and discussing, but because we are going through all 9 IEW units in order this year, we have not always written about our history topics. In fact, rarely. So this was very exciting for me to watch G interact with our history material on a much deeper level. She did so much extra reading to find appropriate source material, and really thought hard about how she wanted to organize her paper and how she wanted to write it. She and the other 7th grader were given the option to write a 3, 4, or 5 paragraph paper, and she chose 5!

Here she is working on her paper in her room. Her fused outline is up on her magnetic board in front of her, and she is referring to that as she writes. She does virtually all of her independent work at this desk in her room.

Please forgive me for this proud homeschool mama moment, but I really am so proud of all 3 of them for working so hard on such a BIG writing project! The finished reports turned out very well. It was great for our character development too, to stick with a hard task and keep working at it little by little until it was done. And a public shout out to my friend Sally who taught the writer's class for this unit ~ well done Sally!!!! Thank you!

T is for Turtle!

Can you believe that yesterday we learned about the letter "U"? Somehow we are nearing the end of the alphabet. This year has just whizzed by, but we have sure had fun learning the sound of each letter, and learning about different things that begin with that sound! Last week in co-op, the young 5's learned about "T". We read books about turtles. And then we made a turtle craft.

We had tacos for snack!

It was a totally terrific morning!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dare I?

Put the winter boots away?

Or do you think it will snow





if I do??

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our Week in Review - Math

Our second grader is currently learning to add two digit numbers which require regrouping (or "carrying the one") in order to solve. This was a brand new concept for him, but one which our math program, Math U See, has prepared him well for. Still, there were tears and moans of "I can't dooooo this!" at the beginning of last week. And I have to say again, this is reason number 156 why I love homeschooling, because I got to see the lightbulb come on when he finally understood how to do it!! Literally watch the progression happen. SO rewarding and satisfying to see him work hard, struggle, and come through on the other side.

Not only do I love watching my children learn, I also love Math U See. Love, love, love it. All our children love it. It's clear, sequential, provides lots of practice, and is the perfect fit for us right now. I was doing some research earlier this winter into other pre-algebra programs for our daughter, when she caught wind of it and insisted that I NOT change from MUS!

Here is how MUS teaches regrouping. Son C was working on problem #3, 72 + 18.

First he built the problem with blocks. The 7 long blue rods are the 70, of course, and the small orange rod is the 2. The single blue rod is 10 and the brown rod is 8. He added the units together, the orange and brown rods.

And then "regrouped" them by laying a blue 10 rod next to them to see if they added up to more than 10. We have previously learned that only numbers up to 9 can live in the units place, so once the number in that spot gets to 10, it has to go live next door with the other tens.

He removed the brown and orange rods and had just the 10 in their spot that they had added up to. Since it was a 10, it couldn't stay in the units spot and he "carried" it over to the tens column, leaving zero in the units place. Once he added up all the ten rods, he found that the answer was 90!

At first he couldn't do these steps by himself, so I sat with him and we did problems like this over and over (and over and over and over.....). By last Thursday he got to the point where he could do most problems on his own, and by this week he is not even using the blocks anymore but doing all the regrouping in his head! Go C!

Thank you, Lord, for providing our children with just what they need to learn in a way that makes sense to them. Thank you for the freedom to choose our own curriculum, and to switch midstream to something else if it's not working. Thank you for the privilege of guiding my children to new knowledge and of watching them learn. Help me to always guide them to the knowledge of You. Amen.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

S is for Skating!!

For the letter "S", our whole co-op went on a field trip to a local rollerskating rink which was hosting a homeschool skate. What fun!

Everyone was willing to strap on skates, and I'm proud of them all because every single child tried. Even the 3 year old! For several of our children this was the first time they had been on skates!

Son C taking a break.

BFF's, who skated WITHOUT HELP the entire time. Yes, lots of falls, but they got right up and kept going!

Our daughter is in the blue shirt, and next to her is her BFF (also homeschooled but not in our co-op). Another friend from co-op is in the pink.

Us moms mostly visited and sat with the ones who were tired of trying. :-)

It was a fun, fun afternoon! I learned that lots of skating rinks host once a month homeschool skates, so check and see if there is one in your area! I also learned that our local rink is very.......what shall I say........ purple.