Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lucy's Poll

Lucy is working on graphing for her math. Can you take a minute and answer her questions in the right sidebar? Thanks! On the one about vacation - if you choose other, please leave a comment telling us where you would go?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday Follow-Up

August 22-26th

We had a busy week - lots of little "extras" going on, but we still had a great week of school.

Lucy is moving right along with her reading program. It is SO easy to follow/teach and she is picking things up quickly. She will be reading whole books in no time!! The best part is that she is so excited about reading!!!

She did a little sorting and graphing this week and a lot of counting. I briefly introduced her to the number words and she spelled then with letter tiles - while looking at the words. She did a little adding - which is is so excited to be doing!! While I know Lucy knows/recognizes numbers 1-20, I wanted her to practice matching the numbers to sets of objects so she worked with a puzzle similar to this.

Lucy is working her way through the You Can Read sight word curriculum from 1+1+1=1. I love it! You introduce 4 words at a time and there are so many different ways for Lucy to see/spell/read the sight words.
I am still reading Charlotte's Web to Lucy at quiet time. She can only handle one chapter a day (unlike Norah - I would never stop reading if it was up to her), so it is taking us a little while to get through it. We should finish up this week and I am going to read The Hundred Dresses - this is one of my favorite.

Norah's favorite subject this week was writing. She would finish her assigned writing and then would ask for more. Most days I just told her to write something in her journal. She wrote several letters, made some lists and by Friday she had written a little story. She is a great speller, but I still chuckle when I read words that she sounded out but is way off! I love that she is trying and not getting frustrated if she doesn't automatically know. My favorite this week was announcement - she spelled it "annownsmint." We also did a couple of Mad Libs on Thursday to reinforce what she learned about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. You can see from the picture below that she thought they were hilarious!!!
We played checkers this week to work on some logic and problem solving!! Norah's goal is to practice regularly so she can beat Kevin!

I am not sure if I have mentioned this or not, but Norah's least favorite thing to do is math. This is a little heartbreaking to me. Math was my thing. I LOVED it and always did better in math than anything else. She does fine - it isn't hard for her - there just isn't any creating/imagining involved! She worked on multiplication this week - we did a lot of hands on stuff. We used as many different counters/manipulatives as possible - just for the variety.

Norah loves to read so she flies through books. The Boxcar Children series is by far her favorite right now. This week she finished The Caboose Mystery and the Houseboat Mystery. She started Theater Shoes - this is a challenging book for her but so far she is really into it. I just found Mary Poppins at a used bookstore so she already said that is next.

History this week was about Columbus and other explorers. The girls made boats out of aluminum foil and raced them across the pool by blowing their sails. We talked about how wind really play a major role in how quickly the ships moved - which went right along with our science unit on air.

For art this week - we let the girls paint the plywood that is covering the big hole in our fence (a teenager drove into our backyard a couple of weeks ago).

I know I promised a post dedicated completely to Daphne's Tot School! It is coming - just not today!! For now, I will just give you a few pictures of a few of the things Daphne did this week!

a little play-doh time with Norah

putting hair rubber bands around a door handle

a little coloring - a favorite activity!

Monday, August 22, 2011

2011-2012 Curriculum Choices

Here it is - our curriculum list for this year.

I will start with Norah:
My Father's World for History, Geography, Bible and Science
Spelling Power - spelling, obviously:)
Writing will consist of a little bit from Writing with Ease and Games for Writing
Art - A little from here and a little from an Art textbook a friend gave me (this same friend is an art teacher and she often blesses the girls by giving them art lessons!)
Read alouds - many of them are recommended here and here (a list of 1000 - that really narrows it down for me, right?)

My Father's World for reading and Bible. We are also using this to help with sight words.
Lucy will also do a few activities suggested in Games for Writing.
Lucy is joining Norah for history, art, and science.
Her read alouds come mostly from this list.

I think that about sums it up - although, I keep thinking I am forgetting something. Our history this year is American history - the girls are excited about it. They can't wait to learn about the pioneers!

I will save Daphne's plans for a post of its own.

Hiking #1

Last year, I had great intentions of making nature hikes a priority. However, our school year last year felt chaotic from beginning to end. Adding something extra - that had to be done away from the house, with snacks or food, drinks for everyone, sketch books, colored pencils, cameras, etc - seemed a little overwhelming. We did what we could in our backyard, but this year I hope to do more. So, after reading quite a bit about Charlotte Mason's theory behind nature walks and some help from this blog, I feel a little more prepared and ready to make this a regular part of our year.

Last week, with Kevin as our tour guide, we headed out to a local park for our first hike of the year. It was a beautiful day and the girls were thrilled - they all love to hike, look for bugs, take pictures, etc. When I go by myself, I put Daphne in a stroller and we take only paved paths. Since Kevin was with us, we decided to veer off the paved path and take a true nature hike.
. . .and we are off!

Here are some of our finds:
This squirrel was totally unaware of us watching him. He sat there and gnawed on his nut while we snapped pictures and watched him. Daphne was amazed - she kept pointing and giggling.

Look closely. . .on the red leaf

The girls spent some time drawing pictures in their nature journals. They gathered a few items: multi-colored leaves, flowers that had fallen on the ground, shells, dragonfly wing, etc. This year I am more prepared. I have nature journals, colored pencils, ziploc bags, and bug spray in a bag so all I have to do is grab the bag and head out (with water and snacks, of course).

Other than Kevin ending up with poison ivy (it was to be expected - he just looks at it from afar and ends up it all over), we had a great hike, and everyone napped/rested well after an hour hike. We are looking forward to the next one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Follow-Up & Our Schedule

We finished up our first full week of school and the girls did fantastic. We spent much of the week just establishing a routine - trying to manipulate our schedule to find what works. I know that with a toddler, what works one day may not work the next day - so we will try to be flexible.

When the girls finish breakfast - they get dressed, make beds, brush teeth, put jammies in laundry, do their devotions, and complete their morning chore.
We started our school day with a morning meeting - something both Norah and Lucy requested. We talk about our day (if anything is going to be different than normal), say the pledge, review the Bible verse for the week, read the passage from Samaritan's Purse PrayerPoint, and pray. This week we spent time reviewing our family rules - we won't do this everyday, but I wanted to review this first week.

Following the morning meeting, Norah and Lucy had time to read/look at books in their book basket. The book baskets are full of books related to our history topic, science magazines, seek and find books, puzzle books and other books that I know they like or picked out themselves from the library. While they are busy, I spent about 30 minutes with Daphne. We read some books, played with the rice tub, strung beads, put puzzles together, etc. I filled the shelves with manipulatives, puzzles, toys, sensory items that are age appropriate for Daphne. We basically did whatever she wanted out of the items I put on her shelves. She seemed to enjoy this time because following breakfast every morning, she would say, "Mommy, play me?" She would continue to ask me a dozen times until breakfast was cleaned up and everyone was ready to begin our school day.

After my time with Daphne, Norah spent about 15-20 minutes with Daphne while I worked with Lucy. Norah read to her, sang with her or they chose something to do off the shelves. Both girls loved this. Norah asked if she can plan an activity to do with Daphne, and Daphne talked all day long about Norah playing with her.

During this time, I worked with Lucy on her reading. She is doing so great! She learned all the letters and sounds last year so this year we are working on blending sounds together - this is also a bit of a review. She picked up a lot of great reading skills over the summer - so she is working on getting a little quicker at blends.

Lucy usually has a little bit of independent work - maybe matching pictures to letter sounds, capital and lowercase puzzles, circling letters that we are working on, etc. While she worked, I got Norah started on her writing/handwriting. Then when they are both busy, I took
Daphne to her room for some independent play time. Honestly, I wasn't sure how this would go. I thought Daphne might just cry at the gate and I would have to forget it. However, she is doing great!! I usually turn on a CD for Daphne and then I get her busy playing with something from her room, then I put up the gate and head downstairs to work with the girls. I can hear Daphne in the monitor - she talks to herself, sings, and just keeps herself busy for about 30 minutes.

While Daphne is busy in her room, I worked with Lucy on her math and then we all did history together. After history, Daphne came down and we took a brief break for a snack and some running around. While they ate, I read our read aloud that goes along with our history lessons. Then I sent everyone outside to use up some energy and refocus before we finish up Lucy's school work.

Norah spent about 30 minutes reading, Daphne played independently in the same room as us, and Lucy finished her spelling and writing. Then Lucy and Daphne watched a short DVD - something somewhat educational such as, Leap Frog, Super Why, Word World or Sesame Street. Then Norah worked on grammar, spelling, and math (at the this point, Lu and D usually join us and just play for the remainder of the morning). Norah finished up her math - usually a workbook page, flashcards, or computer game - and I fixed lunch. We didn't eat until about 1 any day this week, but since they had a hearty snack, no one seems bothered by this.

During lunch, I read their Bible lesson and a chapter from Wisdom with the Millers. The girls really want to start reading Amy Carmichael - so I need to get it from the library. After lunch, Norah and Lucy each have a box of independent activities to work on while I put Daphne down for a nap. Each box includes activities from each of the following subjects: math, language arts, gross motor, fine motor and life skills.

Once Daphne was down for her nap, I read to Lucy - right now we are reading Charlotte's Web. Then Lucy has some quiet down time - as mentioned here, Lucy NEEDS a break from everyone and everything. This was very true this week - interestingly, she fell asleep one of the days. I was shocked, but thankful that she gave into her body's need for sleep.

Once Lucy is occupied, I read to Norah - we just finished the Mouse and the Motorcycle (one of my favorites from my elementary days). Then Norah read or listened to a book on CD for an hour. So, I have 1 hour to get done as much as I can before everyone is up and begging for attention!! Once everyone was up and had a snack, we did our science, art (science is 3 days a week and art is 1), or gymnastics(I bought a groupon for GymQuarters so they are taking a class once a week right now). Then everyone has an afternoon chore and then they are free to do anything they want.

Whew. I am exhausted just looking at this. Anyway, the week went really well - I was feeling a little overwhelmed on Sunday, but I continually prayed for patience and compassion and grace as we headed into a full week of school. I know we will have rough days - but I am thankful for the good days so far!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

First Day of School

We started school on Thursday and because no first day of school would be complete without pictures:

Lucy - Kindergarten (ahh! when did this happen!)

Norah - 2nd grade
(look here and tell me what the most noticeable difference is from last year)

Daphne - not to be left out of the "first day of school" pictures
(look closely at her eyes - she was actually running a fever of about 102 on that day)

. . .and they are ready to go! Poor Daphne tries to keep up even when she feels miserable.

ISO Week 4

One of the themes this week for the ISO Challenge is feet. I took several pictures of the girls feet but in the end like the lighting in this one - I like that the feet seem highlighted through the shadows.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Magic House

*edited after Kevin pointed out some typos! oops. should have read it over more closely!

Kevin took the day off on Tuesday so we could have one last "hurrah" before starting school. We took the girls to Panera Bread Co for breakfast - choosing a breakfast place is quite difficult when you have a child with an egg and nut allergy. The ONLY things she can have at Panera are a couple of their bagels - but we can't get them sliced because of the cross contamination. Crazy. I guess she could have a yogurt - but I didn't want to deal with that mess before heading to the Magic House.

The girls had a blast at the Magic House. We haven't been for a long time mainly because I don't think it is easy to take 3 kids there and keep track of everyone. Norah and Lucy want to go one way and Daphne wants to go somewhere else. With Kevin and I both there - we could divide and conquer!
We enjoyed many favorite exhibits:

the electrically charged ball
one of many slides
The Children's Village - the girls LOVED the baby hospital
The Star Spangled Center
The Construction Zone

The Alice in Wonderland Exhibit was super cute - the girls loved it! We are going to read Alice in Wonderland this year for school so it was fun for the girls to get to see some of the characters and scenes!

We stayed for about 4 1/2 hours before one (who shall remain nameless) of the girls started losing it.

We had a great day - the girls LOVED having Kevin take a day off in the middle of the week because he never does that.

Stay tuned for pictures of the first day of school.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Last Minutes Planning and Preparing

Hard to believe but the summer is gone. We start school this week - we are waiting until Thursday so we can ease into a routine. I have worked like crazy getting stuff ready. My house is clean, the laundry room is organized (I know, totally unrelated to school but I needed this done for myself), the art table is ready to go and the school lesson plans are done through November.

I still have a couple of things to do this week:
1. Lots of laminating (some BCC stuff and some school stuff) - this is actually almost done. I will finish it tonight.

2. I am doing some Montessori stuff with Daphne - I just need to decide how to display her activities and what to do when she is finished with her school time. I want her "school time" and her play time to be separate so I may just have to clean all her stuff up everyday. Not sure how I feel about this but I don't know what else to do. I am open to suggestions.

3. Our meals are planned for the next 10 days or so and most of my grocery shopping is done. I will just need to go to the produce stand at the end of the week for more fruits and veggies.

4. I need to try to put together some sort of schedule for myself when it comes to housekeeping and cooking. I would love to have 2 days a week that we do either a crock pot meal or something that is made ahead in the freezer. I need a weekend to cook, though. Maybe I can convince my sister to cook ahead with me. She is really good at that! My goal this year is to not obsess about my house. Yes, I want it clean and picked up but it doesn't have to be perfect AND the girls can help. We have tried chore charts in the past and for some reason as much as charts and list work for me - we couldn't be consistent about it with the girls. I am still thinking about that. They have been great about helping with some things this summer - folding laundry, sweeping the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher, and making beds - so I hope to just keep that up for now and figure out a schedule later.

5. Today I worked on snacks. We have never done a morning snack - unless we were out somewhere. The girls don't usually eat until 7:30 and we would eat lunch between 11 and 11:30 and then they would have a snack around 3ish. However, with Lucy in kindergarten now, our schedule needs to be a little different. Lucy shuts down around 2:00 in the afternoon. She doesn't nap - but she NEEDS time away from everyone else. We joke (not to her, but between ourselves) that she shuts down physically, mentally and morally. If she doesn't regularly have that time to rest/relax by herself, she forgets all the rules/values that she has been taught and just acts on impulse. That being said, she needs to be done with school work by lunch time. I know that some kids her age still go half day, but when I am teaching both girls different things,
some things may take longer and she will have breaks during her morning while I work with Norah. My plan is to have a schedule snack time for each of them. While I work with Norah on one subject, Lucy can take a break and have a snack and the same for Norah. I didn't want to have to stop what I am doing with one to get a snack for the other girls, so I put together a bunch of snacks for the girls to grab on their own. I wanted the snack to be substantial, though, not something that would give them immediate energy but make them crash 20 minutes later. So, they will each choose a protein and a carb for their morning snack. They know that if they have a favorite, once it is gone, that is it for the week. They will have to choose something else.
The protein options are - roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seed butter, cottage cheese, and string cheese. Their carb options are - goldfish crackers, rice cakes, several fruit options, carrots & cucumbers (with dip, of course). They also have a couple of options that covers both macronutrients - greek yogurt with fruit mixed in and trail mix (I used sunflower seeds instead of nuts). I marked the protein options with a 'p' and the carb options with a 'c' and anything that includes both I put 'p&c.' I am hoping that by giving them a hearty snack mid-morning that we can wait until about 1 for lunch and then Daphne will go down for a nap and Lucy will be ready for her rest time. They will still have a snack after rest time if they are hungry - but it will be lighter - just to get us to dinner.

I am sure I have several other things to take care of - just can't think of anything right now. Kevin is staying home tomorrow so we can have one last hurrah before we start school on Thursday. I bought the girls school supplies over the weekend and wrapped them in a bag. We will give them their gifts tomorrow - since they don't have the anticipation of going off to school we wanted to do something fun for them.

I will try to take some typical first day of school pics this week. Stay tuned!