Friday, August 26, 2011

Week 01: Mostly Fail

Monday: Homeschool FAIL. I forgot we planned to start school this day and ended up just putting on educational cartoons for a couple hours. All of our textbooks are in storage and there is such a large amount of boxes in there, we don't know where to begin. Spent the day watching educational cartoons on Nick, Jr and discussed the topics within the episodes.

Tuesday: For the time being, I went ot Target and grabbed some basic educational supplies, and then to Walmart to replace our dry erase and bulletin boards. I also bought basic school supplies that needed replenishing that had been, unfortunately, destroyed during the move thanks to the triple-digit weather the south is suffering through these past two months. The girls spent time going over the books (not doing work, just skimming through pages) and asking questions about the material provided.

Wednesday: Absolutely nothing. J was studying for his finals and I was sick. Girls had a free day but we talked about being a hero without super powers and how to measure.

Thursday: All the boards and supplies were still not situated, but that didn't stop me. We still did our foreign language with the month, day of the week, number of the day, and color (orange) of the day in English, Spanish, French, German, and (phonetic) Chinese. Lily worked on her cursive by writing letters A - H and the sentence "Amanda eats apples." For math, I gave her a pretend object that she had to pay for. She had to add pretend coins in the exact change to buy the product.

Iris refused to do any work whatsoever that morning and kept making up excuses, so since she didn't want to "go to school" she spent the entire time in her room and missed out on 1/2 an hour of TV. For math, Lily took over while I made lunch (I didn't ask her to, she just did it anyway) and helped Iris practice addition using Othello pieces.

Rose worked on identifying colors. She refused all colors except orange (ownj) and black (back) and then threw a fit because she wanted to "write," too. Lol.

The day's lesson was: "Try new things; you never know if you may like it."

After lunch we tried some reading and comprehension. Iris actually did it, but was terrible at it. :) Lily refused. Rose enjoyed the pictures. The book I was trying to have Lily read was at a higher level than she was used to and she didn't want to try. She just refused. I had to remind her about the day's lesson and told her to sit at her bed and think about the lesson for the day and how it pertained to her assignment. Eventually Lily caved after some time spent contemplating in her room and read her story wonderfully (with minimal help from me) and did great at her quiz afterward.

By then it was already 3pm (we start our lessons at 10am) and I was pooped from all the whining and excuses laid out that day as to why no one wanted to do anything. I called it a day and took a nap.

Friday: The girls had an uncle and aunt come to visit so they didn't get started until sometime after 1:30. We did our basic foreign language with Yellow as the color of the day, then proceeded to our new arrival. Last week, J sent out for the Team UmiZoomi math kits and we broke one of them in, partially anyway. This covered reading and comprehension, math and recognition, and all three of the children were able to participate.

Rose surprised me by being able to point out the shapes when asked. She can't say the names at all, but knew which ones to point to. Lily read the entire story by herself as well as did some of the activities. Iris did the activities requested, and all three of them had a great time. Even the older two girls excelled at the reading comprehension quiz I surprised them with at the end of the story. They then watched a DVD of TUZ and took turns filling out the pages of the corresponding workbook.

We finished everything up by 4, which was nice. Hitting so many subjects at the same time is pretty awesome.

I wonder what next week will bring...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Secular Thursday: Sometimes, They Want "Proof"...

...even if it's not required.

So, to get welfare assistance where I am at, the application process is pretty extensive. One of the proofs needed is who is going to school, what school, and what are they learning. Since my husband and I both go to university, that's a bit easy. We can give them a partial transcript that has all of that information. There is the cumpolsory attendance here in Texas, but if you homeschool, according to state law, you don't need any paperwork. You don't even have to notify the school. However, the department of health and human services wants to make sure that your children are at least being taught the basics of every grade level. When I was told this by my caseworker at my interview yesterday, I almost threw a fit.

It is not mandatory to get this information unless requested. Most children go to public school, so they could always just check with the school, but it is still not a requirement for *me* to give them any sort of paperwork, and I told my caseworker that same thing. I understand she is trying to do her job, and this is apparently a first for her, so she just asked me to write her a letter saying that I am homeschooling so that no one gets up my ass about not sending my child to public school. Either way, no court could convict me. To be nice, however, I'm making a copy of what we plan to do this year, which is where I hit the roadblock.

I have absolutely no idea what we are doing this year. We've started taking an unschooling approach. We have a personal library full of non-fiction that the girls can peruse through. We like it when they pick a book and say "I want to learn that." They even have a set of encyclopedias for that purpose. We then take whatever information we can find on that topic and teach it to the girls. So I'm thinking I might as well just pull something out of my butt like I normally do. I didn't create the OMB curriculum last year just for S & Gs.

So this is what I'm planning...

Lily: age 5, grade 3
  • Reading: Short-story workbook for reading comprehension practice. Books to read (in no specific order) - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Veleveteen Rabbit, The Phantom Toll Booth. Reading comprehension tested.
  • Writing: Composition practice in manuscript - daily journal. Practice cursive.
  • Mathematics: Adding and Subtraction practice. Introduce multiplication
  • Social Studies: History Channel documentary - America: The Story of Us. in conjunction with The American Nation, Volume 1, John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes
  • Science: Introduce basic chemistry with toddler-safe expirements
  • Art: A World of Art by Henry M Sayre, third edition
  • Physical Education: 1/2 hour of Nick Jr. Wii Fit
  • Foreign language: Continued from last year - Bookwork: Using BBC's Muzzy series, draw picture, label picture in English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese. Continue practice of these languages.
  • Theology: basic history and practices of holidays
Iris: age 3, grade 1
  • Reading: Phonics practice. Read level 1 books (with help when needed). Lapbook activities for reading comprehension
  • Writing: Practice manuscript. Daily journal - topic given, picture drawn with descriptive words below.
  • Mathematics: Practice addition
  • Science: Basic chemistry with toddler-friendly expirement
  • Physical Education: 1/2 hour of Nick Jr. Wii Fit
  • Foreign language: Continued from last year - Using BBC's Muzzy series, practice English, Spanish, French, German, and Chinese
  • Theology: basic history and practices of holidays.

Rose: age 2, grade PK
  • Continue to work with vocabulary, shapes, colors, and letters. Story and nap times included.
FIN. That looks presentable, right? It's nothing fancy, and I literally just made this up on the spot, but I think we can work with this and still be able to add on to it whenever the girls get a bug up their butt to learn something new. I have absolutely no intention to be super committed to this curriculum considering I'm 4 months pregnant and my body HATES it, but this will do and show anyone who wants to be a pain in the ass we *know* what we are doing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Day 1: OOPS!

Hi, Everyone! Summer vacation is over and it's time to get back in the groove!

So, we have finally settled into our new home. As many of you already know, due to the economy, we could not keep our beloved house. We moved from our small town in Iowa to our hometown back in Texas. It took us two weeks to pack all of our things, two days to move, and two more weeks to settle down and not be so stressed. We are currenlty staying at my mother-in-law's house and have 90% of our things in a storage unit not too far from us.

Today is the first day of school here. We try and keep our school year similar to that of the public school system. There are a few changes, such as the Pagan holidays we observe are days off from our studies and we focus only on the history and celebration of that day. Not completely a day off, but not a complete day, either. (Every day is a learning day!) BUT, I *just* realized today is supposed to be the first day of school. Guess who still has the textbooks in storage? Yeah, that would be me. *facepalm* HOWEVER, Rose has been practicing her words by rhyming, so it hasn't been a complete homeschool fail. ;)

We'll see what the week brings...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Vacation

This school year ended for us on Friday the 13th, where we left (after the girls were asleep) on a 14 hour road trip down to Texas to come and visit family. We are still here, and will be her until about the 29th. It feels like we don't have enough time to do every fun thing we want!! <3

I know how you feel, Calvin.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Move Brainstorm

So it's official. We will be done with our lessons in May instead of in June like I'm going to wrap everything up on Wednesday, May 11, take a field trip to the train station that Thursday, and then start summer vacation a month early. We'll do the same with the lessons. Instead of starting in September, we'll start in August, after I leave for basic training. That way, we have the entire summer to pack and move peacefully, and then the girls will have lessons and expirements to distract them while I'm away.

I don't know if my husband will keep up with this blog while I'm away. I don't even know if the military will take me, but I have my hopes up. At least I won't have to worry about what the heck I'm going to do with my children while I pack.

From the 13th until about the 29th, we will be away on vacation visiting family. When we get back, I'll have a babysitter here and there to help watch the children while either my husband and I pack, or a few of my friends and I pack. Either way, I WILL be packing.

I'm packing the workbooks last, just so we can have them on hand if the children get bored during a summer storm. It wouldn't hurt for them to get a head start on next year's work. When it's time to move, I'll just give them each a backpack with their workbooks, coloring books, and utensils needed.

On a random note, Lily just accidently stepped on an ant, and is currently apologizing to it's corpse. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to squish you. I'm so sorry."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Spy and Phonics

So, as an expirement, you have decided to work phonnics into "I Spy." Instead of describing something's color or shape, we say the sound it starts with and the letter that sound makes. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it doesn't always work.

Lily: I spy with my little eye something that starts with juh
Me: No. Duh-ress does not start with a juh sound
J: Yes, but do you see a jacket?
Iris: No.
J: Then that doesn't ...
Iris: DRESS JACKET. Dress and Jacket RHYME!
*Here, J goes on to explain word families and that word families are words that rhyme, such as pain, stain, rain, etc.*
*sigh and face-palm*

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Homeschooling and Moving

So, I'm sitting here making a list of all the things I need to get rid of and the things I should pack first when it occurs to me that we still have two months left of "school" that needs to be done. We have the materials and everything, but I'm not sure if we have the time.

If anyone out there who reads this has homeschooled their children as well as moved at the same time, how did you go about the lessons while packing and organizing? Did part of the lesson take part during packing? I could see how this could work with a kinetic learner. I could easily do drills with one of the girls while they occupied their time sticking things in boxes. But I don't have many ideas further than that. I'd like to continue with the lessons we already do. Iris has been picking up on phonics so well, I'd hate to break her stride. Even Rose has figured out greetings in all the languages. Say "Adios!" and she'll wave a goodbye.

If push comes to shove, I think instead of both parents doing the lessons at the same time, one parent packs, the other teaches, and then switch after an hour or so. The only problem I see with that is if one parent needs help, then the whole idea goes out the window.

I seriously need to figure something out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Weekly Wrap-Up: The Universe

So, for science, we decided to start astronomy. Rose is currently emphasising this by singing "Twinkle Twinkle" at the top of her little 20-month-old lungs. :) We don't have cable, so use Netflix a lot for our documentaries, and we came across The Universe. It's a TV show that was aired on the History channel until Septemeber of last year, and, if you are a secular homeschooler like us, IS AWESOME.

So far, we watched the following episodes. We only watch one each day of the week, and we started them last Saturday, which is why we've watched seven instead of five. :)

101 "Secrets of the Sun" May 29, 2007 (aired: 2007-05-29)

A look at how the sun was formed and how it could potentially die; its physical composition; how it makes energy; and the nature of solar eclipses, solar flares and sunspot activity.

102 "Mars: The Red Planet" June 5, 2007 (aired: 2007-06-05)
A look at the planet Mars, the planet most similar to Earth in our solar system; an examination of Olympus Mons the largest volcano in the solar system; how NASA probes search for evidence of past life on the red planet, and what that life might have looked like.

103 "End of the Earth" June 12, 2007 (aired: 2007-06-12)
A look at end of the world scenarios involving killer asteroid or comet impact events, solar flare and gamma-ray bursts, and the plans that scientists have to potentially save the Earth from an interstellar disaster.

104 "Jupiter: The Giant Planet" June 19, 2007 (aired: 2007-06-19)
A look at the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter; its formation and composition and its mini-solar system of over 60 moons – some of which may have the potential to support extraterrestrial life.

105 "The Moon" June 26, 2007 (aired: 2007-06-26)
A look at the formation of the Moon; how it played a role in the evolution of life on Earth; and the future plans of NASA to establish a permanent base on the surface.

106 "Spaceship Earth" July 10, 2007 (aired: 2007-07-10)
A look at the planet Earth; how it was born out of a chaotic shooting gallery during the formation of the solar system; how life could have begun here; and what could ultimately cause its destruction.

107 "Mercury & Venus: The Inner Planets" July 17, 2007 (aired: 2007-07-17)
A look at the two most hostile planets in the solar system – Mercury and Venus; one gouged with craters, the other a greenhouse cauldron of toxic gases and acid rain; both scorched by their close proximity to the sun. Scientists theorize about what sort of life could evolve on these alien worlds.

We continue our work with foreign language by using a dry erase board and a dry-erase calendar. We use a calendar similar to the one shown, with a space on the left hand side usually used for notes. What we do instead is write the day of the week in the different languages we are learning. For example, today is Friday. After writing "Friday" on the notes side, it is followed by Vendredi (French), viernes (Spanish), Freitag (German), and 星期五, writen both in simplified Chinese and phonetically as Xīngqí wǔ.

On the dry erase board we have the month in all four languages (April, Avril, abril, April, 四月[Sì yuè]), the number of the day (which is based on the date), and the color of the day. We've gotten into the habit of writing on the dry erase board with the same color as the color of the day.

Nothing was really planned for history this week. Lily has been keeping track of our paper calendar and asked about the holidays listed, so she learned about Easter, Passover, and the like, with my husband in the background making stuff up. He's an atheist, and, though open-minded, he doesn't really know much about the meanings of the holidays associated to a certain relgions. So when Lily asked the meaning behind Palm Sunday, the converstaion went a lot like this:
Lily: What's Palm Sunday?

Me: It's when Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem and...
J: Gave everybody high-fives. They were like, "Whassup, Jesus!" *gives self high-five*
Everyone seemed to like his explanation. He then added that Palm Sunday came after Thumbs Sunday and before Fingers Sunday. *facepalm*

Math, writing, and reading has been basic, using workbooks we bought at Target for $1 each last summer as well as our Brain Quest books and any other books we find in our personal library.

It's been a crazy week. The weather can't make up it's mind, but today was lovely, so we all went outside to play. :) Happy Earth Day! Rejoice in Nature! Hope everyone had a great week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Secular Thursday: Sometimes, Life Just Sucks.

So I've just realized how nonexistant we have been lately. The homeschooling is still going, with Lily now learning how to write in cursive, and Iris now actually writing. We are all learning Chinese, German, French and Spanish and I have an entire curriculim for both of the older children. Things have just been full of fail.

I can't remember if I mentioned this in earlier posts or not, but my husband was laid off of work in May of last year. Almost a year later, 11 months yesterday to be exact, and he still has not been able to acquire a job. Since then I worked two part-time jobs at a measley 7.25/hr as well as going to school full time on top of helping my husband with the girls' lessons. I crashed and burned miserably, failing two classes, missing a month of homeschooling, getting fired from one job and quitting the other. I have been so brain dead this past year that I surprised my husband when I told him the only connection Mexico and Puerto Rico had were the ones who came on a boat; the Spaniards and Africans, but that the natives were Taino in Puerto Rico and Maya and Aztec in Mexico.

Sometimes, life just really sucks, and homeschooling gets thrown in there. I feel sorry for the girls because I feel like I have failed them. My husband and I have been looking for work constantly and studying for our own classes that we haven't put much detail in our lessons. Experiments and themes that would originally only take a couple of days at most, take anywhere from a week to a month. The schedule that we had been following went right out the window. Everything is a mess and I am surprised 90% of the time when my children come out with something I actually taught them this year, like Iris properly writing her name in manuscript and Lily writing hers in cursive.

I am grateful that we are relaxed in our lesson plans enough to deal with what we have been hit with. Because of our losses, we've had to make a lot of changes, such as getting on welfare (booooo!), and getting ready to sell our house. (boo again!) Within the next couple of months we will be moving out of Iowa to live with my mother-in-law in Texas. Between packing up our things, teaching my children new languages, getting my youngest to talk, and going to school myself, it feels like things are on the brink of falling apart. Days have been stressfull and I long for the days when we could easily go through our lesson plans.....oh, wait. We never easily went through our lessons, but life seemed much simpler then.....

On the bright side, Texas homeschooling laws are the best!!! <3