Homeschool Posts

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Junkyard Chair...

...or, things you wouldn't have thought you could sit on without noticing.

Ahem. Bit late posting this. These are all the things dear hubby found in this chair when we were getting ready to move it. There's some wooden track, plastic track, a TV remote (my in-laws TV remote, sheesh!), and a whole lot more. To be fair, they were crammed down in the corners, but that remote went missing for a year. Too bad we didn't find any overdue library books in there.

Hey, Blogger, stop rotating my pics! I really, really miss Live Writer, sigh.

Sibling Envy

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods...
...nor thy older brother's trip to upstate New York with Grandma...
...nor his bigger piece of chicken...
...nor his ability to read books that are way beyond your level of understanding...
...nor his going to a 7 pm baseball game with Daddy that'll keep him out way beyond your bedtime...

Mary (age 6) has an acute sense of justice. Translation: She knows when everything's not "Even Steven."

She'll count peanuts, if she has to.

Or even popcorn kernels.

So, when offered an overnight with Grandma and Grandpa to make up for her brother's trip earlier this summer to Nebraska, she asked: "Does this one night count for the WHOLE trip or for just one day of the trip?"

Do you think she'll be a lawyer some day?
Or maybe a politician?

Let me say that while Mary is very concerned that everyone gets what is coming to them (ahem, yeah, justice works both ways, you know), she also has a very generous nature.

When one of the eyes of David's (age 10) wooden snake popped out, never to be found again (and he pouted), she offered to actually pry out one of the eyes out of her wooden snake so he could put it on his. The one without paint on it, of course. And, she meant it.

This isn't about wanting more. It's not greed. (Ok, there's probably a little greed, she is human).

I think she feels like she's being left out. She's missing something, some integral part of being.

She has this sense of urgency, this feeling that if she doesn't do it this time, she's missing the opportunity of a lifetime---and it's lost forever.

Sure, I can say there will be other baseball games when she's older. But I also try to point out that...

Life isn't fair...

in the sense that everything is "Even Steven."

Each of us has different opportunities and challenges...she'll have opportunities in the future that her older brother won't have. And the whole of these is a part of the unique experience of God's world that each of us has.

She doesn't get it.

How can I expect her to, when I didn't get it myself until recently.

Childhood angst. I'm sure this is only a preview of what is to come.

How do you deal with feelings of inequity between your kiddos?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: A Few of My Favorite Things...

...about our new home...

The front porch. We can watch the world go by.

Some neat lighting.

This stained glass window is next to the front door.

All original door knobs. They are wood, smooth, warm and inviting.

Original woodwork and 6-panel doors throughout. This door is double-hinged!

The floors, not the walls so much. This is before the refinishing.

A mudroom (enclosed porched) off the kitchen!

A huge, eat-in if I can just keep that island clean for food prep.

For some reason Blogger keeps turning this photo (I miss Live Writer.
Dial-up and Live Writer do not mix), but I had to show you my extra deep sink.

Exterior access to the full basement, so convenient for hanging the laundry outside.

Yes, the yard is tiny, but well fenced and landscaped...and mowing takes about 10 minutes.

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mama, the Short Order Cook

Mary (age 6): "I want 2 pieces of toast with orange marmalade."
Mama: "How do you ask?"
Mary: "Can I pleeease have 2 pieces of toast with orange marmalade? But, I want the toast to not be brown."
Mama: "Not brown?"
Mary: "Not even a little bit brown. I don't like it brown. Just toasted, but not brown."
David (age 10): "So what you want is warmed bread?"
Mary: "Well, yeaaah, David, it's warm. It's toast. It's just not brown."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Evolution vs. Creationism?

OK, I'm going to say it. I'll probably get blasted for it. But I'm going to say it.

Someone left me a comment on a previous post that re-opened this can of worms. It's my blog, so I'm going to say it.

I have a real problem with Christians who insinuate that others cannot really be Christian if they teach/believe in evolution.

Let me make it perfectly clear: I am not preaching evolution, here. The verdict is still out on that one. If you are interested, here is the Catholic Church's stance on the subject of evolution.

I have also not banned the mention of evolution from my home. My children understand that not everything they read in books is substantiated fact. Some of it is hypothesis. We are explorers in God's universe, hoping to understand and appreciate as much of it as our limited beings will allow.

But evolution vs. creation? Black or white. We're right and you are wrong. Why is it in human nature to see everything that way? What if we are all wrong? Let's not forget that we are seeing creation and, yes, even the Bible, through fallible human eyes, pulled in one direction, then the other by our physical faults and weaknesses.

And beyond that, we often are not even talking about the same thing.

You can't have an argument about anything unless everyone knows exactly what they are arguing about. And yet the word "evolution" gets thrown around as if it means the same thing to everyone. It doesn't. Even Darwin knew that.

The next time someone says the word "evolution" to you, ask them: "The evolution of what?" And see what they say.

Sometime I'll write about why Darwin is not evil incarnate (no, he's not a saint, but he's not evil).

And why Lincoln is no saint.

If I still have any readers.

When Mama's not Lookin'...

...the 10-year-old will be ruthlessly attacked by the 4-year-old, sustaining a cut and a goose-egg in the center of his forehead AirBender water cannon, a Happy Meal toy, I think. So much for makin' kids "Happy." Said 10-year-old will melt into a puddle of tears and feign ignorance when asked why there are puddles of water all over the kitchen floor and water is dripping from the hitherto before dry water cannon. (20 minutes later he will admit to filling said water cannon to see how it works---"Oh, that's what you mean, Mama!")

The 4-year-old will disappear into his room, letting out a blood-curdling scream when informed that the treasured water cannon will soon be entering a landfill (along with all those other "Happy" making toys).

Jump ahead about 20 minutes...

...after helping the 4-year-old with cleaning up after using the potty, Mama, hurries downstairs, fearful of leaving an unattended toddler to, oh, I dunno, pull a bag of cheddar pretzels off the table, stuff her face with pretzels and spread about a third of the bag all over the floor. Emma would be so cute with orange stains all around her mouth, all over her hands and all over her perfectly white, brand-new onesie, don't you think?

Mama carries the baby upstairs to change her diaper (the baby's), and other things, and pauses on the stairs when she hears the water running. Hmmm, the 4-year-old finished pottying at least 5 minutes ago...why is the water running?...

...and WHY is he up to his elbows in soap suds that are quickly overtaking the counter?


Peter dissolves into a puddle of tears and hides behind the door.

Mama: I am MAD at you, Peter!

Peter, very sweetly: If you stop being mad at me, I'll draw you a picture.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Woe is Math...

I admit it...I feel like a total failure when it comes to mathematics and my oldest son. My younger children are comfortable with math. To them it's just a part of life. A little game they play. Mary begs to do math. Really.

David (age 10) has a stress reaction every time he is approached with a math worksheet...or even the mention of the word "math."

It all started back when he was in school. Kindergarten was a breeze. Then came 1st grade...and the wheels came off.

He was stuck reading a 1st grade reader all year that he read from cover the cover the first day he brought it home.

He was taking spelling tests for 3 letter words, words he could spell with his eyes shut, and reading at a 5th grade level.

And he decided he absolutely hated math workbooks. Every single page was like wringing a quart of blood from him. Homework took hours. And every ounce of patience I had.

So second grade we did at home and things improved for him, but he still hated math.

Over the past 3 years, I've tried this math program and that math program (Singapore, Making Math Meaningful, Math Mammoth, Math on the Level, and supplements like Mathletics, Quarter-Mile Math, Calculadders, Time 4 Learning, and plenty more, I know I'm forgetting some:-). I've tried no math program in an effort to just shore up his current knowledge and use every day experiences.

The funny thing is...he's very good at math when he applies himself. He picks up concepts easily. But, he's convinced that he's not good at math. And he hates repetition. Once he's decided he knows something, he doesn't want to practice it. At all.

I'm at the end of my rope here. This kid wants to be a structural engineer or an architect or a scientist...some day. He needs the math. But now he's behind. I know there's still time for him to gain all the skills he needs for higher math, but I need to find something to use with him that we can both stick with without pulling our hair out. Preferably something mastery based, because endless spiraling review is something he won't stand for and it would take him forever to catch up that way. Possibly something that comes in smaller books instead of one huge book...or with a computer component.

I would say he's at a beginning 4th grade level (he'll be entering 5th, whatever that really means, in the fall).

Anybody have any suggestions? What math program do you use? And what do you like about it?

Review: Travel the World, A Schoolhouse Planner Module

The Schoolhouse Planner Modules are stand-alone unit studies (you do not need to own the planner to use them) in pdf form, complete with informational text, resource links, activities, coloring pages, copy work pages and more. The 56-page Travel the World (June 2010 module) is a basic overview of world geography, covering latitude, longitude, the hemispheres, the equator, the earth's axis and tilt, the continents and the oceans. The unit could be used for K-8 (optimally 2-5, this was a bit over the heads of my pre-k and 1st grader) and includes extension activities for high school use.

The text is hyper-linked to various sources on the web, including informational links, as well as little games and videos to help reinforce the material. Activities in the unit include mapping, a few mini-books for lapbooking, a crossword, a word search, fill-in the blank type questions, many pages of copywork (both in block print and cursive), and even a couple of recipes. Copy work includes both facts about the earth as well as verses from Scripture (translation used is King James, though I did not see that noted in the unit itself).

This is definitely a Christian study, with scriptural references throughout. On the first page we are informed:

The word geography comes from the Greek geo, which means earth, and graphy which mean to write. So geography is God's handwriting on the earth. When you study geography, you are studying God's story, and plan for man on earth.

Ignoring the grammatical errors in that paragraph, I was a bit taken aback by the logical errors. Sentence 2 simply does not follow sentence 1 in any logical sense. Geography means to write about (describe) the world. There's no so geography is God's handwriting on the earth about it. If you want to make it your mission to view geography as a study of God's handwriting on the earth, I'm cool with that. But, please, do not try to say that the Greek roots of the word say it's so. They do not.

To be fair, this was the only instance where I felt that the author's convictions interfered with the sharing of information and the only part I felt needed to be skipped with my children.

Overall, Travel the World is a compact, handy little study to serve as an introduction to world geography. While the information provided is fairly generic and could just at easily be read from an encyclopedia or retrieved through Google, it's helpful to have it collected here in one spot.

I like the hyper-linked text, but was surprised to find that many of the informational links simply repeat the information given in the text itself. The links to activities for latitude/longitude and placing countries and states are good finds and having them embedded in the study saves me from cluttering my browser's bookmarks (I never can organize my bookmarks, ahem).

I like the inclusion of rebus puzzles (our family loves word puzzles), but we simply could not get the first one. The second picture is so vague we weren't able to guess at what it was supposed to refer to (lucky the answers are included)...of course, someone else might get it right away.

The coloring pages keep little hands busy while listening to the text. The hand-drawn quality of the pictures is endearing and the use of little pictures within the individual country maps is a good way to link features with location. Plenty of practice coloring very small areas---good for fine motor skills.

The lapbooking components (2 mini-books) are minimal, but are meant merely as a starting point. Links are given to some general lapbooking resources and we often find that it's more fun to create your own lapbooking elements.

The high school extension activities are pretty good and could also be used for an advanced middle schooler or upper elementary student who needs more of a challenge. They are a nice mix of research and thinking questions. I may try these with my 10-year-old (he was out of town during the review period).

Worth a look if you want to ease into a study of the world.

Travel the World, the June 2010 Schoolhouse Planner Module, is available from the Old Schoolhouse Store for $7.95. Be sure to visit the link for a sample of the product.

I received a free copy of Travel the World for review purposes. I received no other compensation. This review reflects my honest opinion.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Science of Stuffed Animals

Peter: Look, Eeyore's shatterin'!
Daddy: ???
Peter: Eeyore's SHATTERIN'!
Daddy: What?
Peter: You know, the planet with the rings around it! {rolls eyes}
Daddy: Oh! Saturn! {smiles}
Peter: Look! Shatterin's got a tail!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peter is Practicing His Letters

He gets that they are symbols for sounds.

He also gets that these are not real words (though, he did ask me how to spell "Boom").

And he gets plenty of belly laughs when he asks Mama to "read" what he wrote.

Mama: umm puh mooo, moo pooo, uh mop mmm ppuh, mm, oop moom, opoooom, boom!
Peter: That's a bullet shooting through a machinery and going back into a cannon.
Mama: That's what it sounds like?
Peter: Yep!
Mama: Cool!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Walmart Dash

Amount of time it took Emma to remove shoe #1?
-2 minutes
Came off in the parking lot.

Amount of time it took Peter to whine, "I wanna go hooome?"
1 minute
At least he waited until we were in the store.
Too bad he decided to go off like a siren every other minute.

Amount of time wasted randomly wandering the aisles trying to remember what I was there for?
20 minutes
Would you believe I had a list?
Seems I have a hard time concentrating
when there's a siren in the background.

Amount of time before I realized that Emma had removed shoe #2...and that I had no idea where it was?
About 30 minutes
This would also be about the time
I realized that we needed to make tracks
to make it to the library in time for the sharks program.

Amount of time spent retracing our steps looking for the shoe?
15 minutes
We found it about 3 minutes before the sippy went missing.

Sigh, is it any wonder I prefer to shop at midnight?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Background Graphics and Dial-Up Don't Mix, Folks

So, I've been toodling around the internet and I have to say I'm avoiding any blogs that use graphics as a background. They are so sloooow to load and many don't load properly at all, leaving garish lines. Or worse...the graphic doesn't load at all, and the blog is set to some bizarre background color which appears instead...too bad the mint green text on the fuchsia background causes my eyes to spaz out. Here's a tip: make sure your background color is set to something that works with your text color, even if you have a background image.

According to the most current figures I could find, about 9% of U.S. home internet users are on dial up. Many will intentionally turn off images to get faster load times...make it easy for them to read what you have to say and they might come back.